MLB News & Views @ MLBRT 10/19

 

This week’s questions…

1) When things go wrong with a professional sports team, in general it’s a hell of a lot easier to fire someone in management than various players, especially star players who are underperforming. And, that is also true for baseball teams as big contract players have guaranteed deals, as do all MLB players do. So, with this in mind, recently the Boston Red Sox fired their field manager John Farrell.

Did Farrell deserve to be fired? Why or why not?

Boston Red Sox manager John Farrell (left), Boston Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski

Archie:  No. But that does not matter. When an organization spends that much money to put a team together, anything less than the top spot is a failure in the eyes of the Board of Directors and SOMEONE has to pay the price. Most times it is the guy calling the shots from the dugout.

We have seen this a thousand times and this will not be the last time. 

Joe: I was never a big fan of Farrell, and trustfully, I thought the Red Sox were kid of stupid to fire the guy they had as a manager before they hired Farrell.. Terry Francona…  which is maybe… at least partially a reason why I never cottoned that much towards Farrell.

Having said that… the dude led the Red Sox to back to back division titles and just happened to meet better teams in the playoffs. Plus, I didn’t see Red Sox president of baseball operations, Dave Dombrowski, who really is the guy who rules the Red Sox roost, go out and get anyone who could reasonably come close to replacing Big Papi’s lost bat. Added to that, I think the signings of Rick Porcello… yeah, he won the Cy Young last year but check his overall record at baseball-reference.com, take away his 22 wins last year  as well as his 4 losses and his  lifetime record goes from 118-99 to  96-95; not that great… and Doug Fister… again, check baseball-reference.com and his lifetime record of 82-85.

So, no John Farrell did not deserve to be fired for the Red Sox failing to advance in the playoffs. Dombrowski might have been a more appropriate firing.

Steve: This was disappointing to see.

John Farrell did something that no other Boston Red Sox manager did in the entire 120 year history of the Boston Red Sox. He won back to back division titles for the Red Sox. He just ran into a better team.

There can really be no argument made that Houston was a better team than Boston this season. You also threw out Chris Sale in his first post season start. He put him in during Game 4 and he excelled for a few innings. He did everything he had to do to win the game and the series. No way he should have been fired. This is ludicrous.

2) The New York Yankees shortstop, Didi Gregorius is beginning to make a name for himself on a national stage, especially with his two key HRs, including driving in the winning run, in game 5 of the recently completed ALDS.

How good is Gregorius, and if you had to rate Gregorius among the MLB shortstops where do you place him?

Didi Gregorius

Archie: I place him and Lindor at #1 and #2, you pick which is which on any given day.

He seems to thrive on the big stage and playing for the Yankees is the biggest of them all.

Joe: Gregorius is good but exactly how good, I think I will leave that to others much more capable of judging his abilities to compared to the other guys playing the position. I just don’ see enough of those players to really be fair in my judgement. But I believe he deserves to be in the conversation with players such as Cory Seager, Francisco Lindor, Andrelton Simmons and Carlos Correa.

What I do know is this… Right now I think he is the best offensive shortstop they have ever had at the position when you look at his overall game… power and batting average… yeah, even Mr. 3,000 hits for his career, Mr. Jeter. Do I think he will have 3000 hits? Nope. But I do think he could have the most HRs of any Yankee shortstop ever and I think he just might get to the point where he scores 100 runs and drives in another 100 as long as he stays away from injuries. Career wise he will never pass Jeter on the offensive end but right now Gregorius has excelled at his position in the field and is making plays Jeter never would have even thought of. I believe that defensively he might just be about the best Yankee shortstop I have seen since my time watching the Yanks play. And, I have seen them all play since Tony Kubek back in the 50’s and 60’s.

Steve: He has a chance to be right there with guys like Altuve and Seager, just to name a few.

I don’t think he is there yet, but he is easily in the top five in MLB right now among short stops.

3) The Dodgers’ Justin Turner has never had any especially exceptional statistical years in any of his nine years in MLB, yet when playoff time comes around he seems to turn into another baseball player entirely as his career numbers in four years of the post season (all with the Dodgers) are: .377 BA, .478 OBP, .636 SlgA and a 1.115 OPS.

His latest feat of baseball heroism is he just belted a walk-off three-run HR to beat the Cubs in the second game of the NLCS.

In your opinion, is there anything that has ever foreshadowed Turner’s post season “greatness” or is he just one of those players who just seems to shine in the game’s bigger moments when it really counts?

Justin Turner

Archie: What? Really? .322 BA, .945 OPS, 21 HR, this season. His OPS+ for the last five seasons is 132. While his post-season numbers are even better I don’t see where he is “just a post-season hero”. This young man gets it done all the time.

He might excel when the big light is on him OR it could be pitchers just fail to achieve at the wrong time. Last night (Game 2 of the NLCS) IMO Joe Madden screwed up by not taking Lackey out and inserting Davis.

Joe: Simply put, I just think he is one of those guys who just rises to the occasion.

And, when the stage is even bigger, as it is in the playoffs, he just seems to shine a little brighter and even rise a little higher.

Steve: Turner’s numbers this year have been off the charts as far as consistency goes.

I think he just likes the October environment, and like a man we will talk about shortly, he shines in the spotlight and has a chance to win his first championship with Los Angeles.

4) It’s been said in baseball that a player should never make the first or third out at third base.

But in the third inning of the Yankees’ 2-1 loss to the Astro’s in Game 2 of the ALCS on Saturday, the Yanks’ Brett Gardner did just as he was thrown out trying to stretch a double into a triple for the final out of the frame with, albeit in a horrendous playoff slump, the slugging Aaron Judge next up.

In your opinion, was Gardner’s base running faux pas a legitimate attempt to make something happen or something that never should have happened regardless of what the stage/situation it happened to be?

New York Yankees’ Brett Gardner driving for third base in the ALCS game 2 at Minute Maid Park

Archie: Should NOT have happened.

It does not matter who was next up or the current hot/cold streak. IF he stayed at second Judge would have had a chance. Getting thrown out at 3rd even Babe Ruth or Barry Bonds on a hot streak still could not have produced a run in that case. 

Joe: It’s also been said that if you are going to try for third base with either no one out or wit two out you had better make it.

He should have never tried to make it to third despite the fact if he had tried to tag third with his right hand on his head first slide instead of his left, he just might have snuck into the base. It was close, but regardless, it was still stupid and he never should have done it. Especially with a batter that had 52 home runs during the regular season up next.

He ran a double into an inning ending out. Stupid, stupid, stupid!

Steve: In a one run game, ninth inning, your best power hitter is up, who has been hitting the ball a lot better on a consistent basis. You, in no way shape or form can make the last out at third base with a chance to tie the game or take the lead.

This is a huge mistake for Gardner, who is a veteran of this game. He made a rookie mistake as he got over anxious in the moment.

5) Since becoming a Houston Astro, Justin Verlander’s numbers look like this: 5-0 with a 1.06 ERA and a 0.647 Whip in the regular season and 3-0 with a 2.09 ERA, including a 2-1, 9-inning complete game win in the ALCS.

To what do attribute Verlander’s turn-back-the-clock performances since becoming a Houston Astro? 

Justin Verlander

Archie: Sometimes a change of venue seems to revitalize a pitcher and sometimes it is because of the coaching philosophy backing that pitcher. I think maybe the Tiger’s Pitching staff began failing him by NOT helping him work out things whereas with a new start at Houston both he and the coaching staff worked shit out as they got to know each other and his success is a benefit of that work.

Joe: Verlander is not the first veteran guy who was a star but then had somewhat lackluster numbers in a season but after he got traded to a team in the hunt for October (and November as the situation is lately) gold he saw his performance get elevated. And that is it in a nutshell.. he got traded to a team that was a lot better than the one he was on, playing competitive and meaningful baseball and that just picked up and rejuvenated his overall performance.

Steve: It is simple motivation. He has something to play for.

As a member of the Tigers, they were all but out of it, and had not reached the post season for several years. Houston is a contender and Verlander has a legit shot at winning a World Series championship with Houston this year. So that explains his solid pitching. He is playing for a championship!

Extra Innings…

On this date in October 2004…

In an ALCS game which features two reversed calls by the umpires, the Red Sox become the first team in baseball history after trailing the series 0-3 to force a Game 7.

Boston, who was three outs from being swept in Game 4, gets an outstanding pitching performance from Curt Schilling to beat the Yankees at the Bronx ballpark, 4-2.

They eventually went on to break their so-called curse and win their first World Series championship since 1918 when they swept the St. Louis Cardinals 4 games to zip.

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