MLB News & Views @ MLBRT 10/26

This week’s questions…

1) MLB named Justin Verlander the MVP of the recently completed ALCS… 

Did they get it right or should another player have been picked the MVP?

Justin Verlander

Archie: I am okay with that decision. He won two games that he started. He only gave up 1 ER during those two starts and what’s more he seems to bring a certain “spark” to the team when he pitches.

There were two other Houston players that could have easily picked up that honor as well in Correa and Altuve but in this case I guess Verlander was the right choice. 

Dan: Justin Verlander deserves that MVP honor for the ALCS.

He dominated both appearances pitching 16 innings (7 in game two, complete game in game one) giving up only one run on ten hits. He struck out 21 batters including 13 in his complete game while only walking two batters. He was lights out. He wasn’t letting people on base and he definitely wasn’t letting them score. It’s very hard to top that.

Joe: Yes, they did get it right.

Verlander was dominating in Game 2 striking out 13 and throwing a rare complete game in this current age of pitch counts and strong bullpens. Then he came back in Game 6 and changed the momentum of the ALCS  as he tossed another gem by holding the Yankees scoreless over seven innings and striking out 8. As far as I am concerned, that effectively stifled the Yankee bats which were never able to regain the momentum they had built in their three wins in the Bronx and essentially the Yanks went down quietly to a pitcher they should have been able to score against in Charlie Morton.

But as people are sometimes wont to say… That’s baseball. you just can’t figure the game out sometimes.

Steve: A hundred percent they got this right.

Game 2, Verlander records thirteen strikeouts in a 2-1 victory for the Astros. And in Game 6, facing elimination, he shuts down the Yankees again.

Two wins; one when it mattered the most? He is the MVP of the ALCS and I don’t think it was close. One could make an argument for Altuve, but he was no where near as dominant as he was in the ALDS.

2) If you are the GM of the New York Yankees do you offer CC Sabathia a contract… why or why not?

And, if yes what type of offer is on the table from the Yankees’ viewpoint?

CC Sabathia

Archie: If, I were the Yankees, I would offer him a contract but it would most definitely be less than the $25 million he earned this season. I think, maybe I would start at around the $15 million and let the two sides work it out.

IF, he wants upwards of the $20 mark then it would only be for one year.

Dan: I would offer CC Sabathia a contract if I was the general manager of the New York Yankees.

His season reflected how his career numbers look all across the board. He was better than career in strikeout-to-walk numbers (50 walks/120 strikeouts on the season; career: 1009 walks/2846 strikeouts). He went 14-5 with a 3.69 ERA, 1.27 WHIP and held hitters to a .246 BAA. His career numbers are all higher than those, except WHIP (1.25 career).

This post-season, he was 1-1 with the loss to Houston which was game seven, but only allowed 1 run in 3.1 innings pitched and the Yankees’ offense was shutout. He posted a 2.37 ERA and held batters to a 2.16 BAA.

I’d give him a two-year, $35 million deal. He pitched well enough to deserve that this season.

Joe: I don’t necessarily low ball him, but I don’t give him anywhere near what he was making either.

I offer him one year at $12 to 15 million with performance incentives for innings pitched and wins.

Steve: I think he has earned it. He had a pretty good bounce back season for the Yankees, and with all the young guys in the locker room, Sabathia would be a great veteran presence for the Yankees. He can win in the playoffs, and he shut down the Astros in Game 3, and for the first part of Game 7 before the bats woke up.

I could see him getting a one year deal for about 10-15 million, with a club option for a second year.

3) Following Game 5 of the NLCS MLB named Justin Turner and Chris Taylor as co-Most Valuable Players.  

Did they get it right or should they have made another decision by either choosing one player over the other or maybe someone else entirely?

Justin Turner and Chris Taylor were named 2017 National League Championship Series co-MVPs, marking a second consecutive year it’s been presented to teammates

Archie: In this case no.

JT was definitely the clear winner of the award in my opinion. Only player with double digit RBIs. 1.177 OPS, .387 BA; he definitely deserved it.

Dan: I think you could make a claim and call both the co-MVPs, but I’m all for one player being named the MVP, not having two tie. So, I’ll go ahead and pick Justin Turner as my NLCS MVP.

He had a better batting average, on-base percentage, drove in more runs and had more total runs accounted for. In my opinion, he gave his team more opportunities to win and contributed more on offense with scoring runs.

Joe: Nope, I do not.

I think the MVP should  have gone to Turner alone. His numbers were just that much better than Taylor’s. Not that Taylor’s ALCS perform was chopped liver but Turner was the one guy that the Cubs probably did not want up in with men on base because he was that hot.

Steve: I probably would have given it to Turner because he scared all the Cubs pitchers to death, and produced all series.

Not to say Taylor did not contribute, he had a fantastic series. Turner just got the hits when they were needed.

4) The Washington Nationals have announced that Dusty Baker will not return as their manager… his contract expired at the end of the season. GM Mike Rizzo said, “Winning a lot of games in the regular season and division titles is not enough.” Baker had back to back 95-plus-win seasons as the Nationals’ manager.

The question could be asked is Baker deserving of this lack of faith in his abilities, but considering that Baker is the Nats’ 6th manager since the Nationals have been in DC is there more here than meets the eye? 

Is the problem maybe more of poor front office management or even of poor ownership who ultimately makes the final decisions?  

Dusty Baker

Archie: As a Manager, when has a Dusty Baker led team ever won a WS? Answer: Never. that I can remember.

He had great teams with the Giants, Cubs, Reds and now the Nationals. For 22 seasons he has been at the helm and only 1 NL Pennant to showcase his achievements. I think the Nats are more deserving of someone that can get them over the top. I don’t know if it is poor judgement or just poor game planning from the beginning but his teams just do not get it done.

Dan: This is a serious mystery, in my eyes. Why you would fire Dusty Baker who improved Washington’s win total by two while dealing with major injuries.

Werth was out for most of the season, Eaton was gone for the year, both Trea Turner and Bryce Harper were out for extender periods of time while having no bullpen until acquiring Sean Doolittle and a couple other key relievers, where Doolittle was named closer by… Dusty Baker. He brought the Nationals to places no other manager has based on the season. Yet, they still can’t get it done in the playoffs being there four out of the last six seasons, losing three in deciding game five at home. That’s not all Dusty’s fault.

I don’t know who they expect to get to take them to the World Series now with this amount of pressure put on the manager’s back. Dusty Baker should’ve gotten renewed and continued managing. They were a VERY good team. And, Baker made them better. 

Joe: Without going into all the injuries the team had, plus the bullpen problems they had which were not addressed until late in the season, I will say Baker is not the problem… at least not in a total sense. While I do think Baker may be one of those managers/head coaches who are excellent in getting the most out of a team in a season, he also seems to be one of those managers/head coaches who just don’ seem to be able to get a team over the hump to win the bling… the championship… the ring. For example, Marvin Lewis in the NFL. Great regular seasons, always loses in the first round in the playoffs.

Having said that, the real problem is Management…  the front office, Mike Rizzo, and ultimately all the way up to the owner, Ted Lerner, who controls the final decision making power.

Mike Rizzo

Rizzo has been in control of the Nats as the GM and president of baseball operations since 2007. Under his reign the Nationals have won division titles in 2012, 2014, 2016, and 2017, yet never were able to advance out of the first round in the playoffs.

Davey Johnson manages them for three years; in 2012 takes them to a regular season record of 98-64 (team record 98 wins) and a division title, yet they lose in the first round of the playoffs. He is named Manager of the Year. The next year they tail off a bit to only 86 wins and suddenly Johnson retires and gets job as a Nats consultant. Not saying anything than beyond, he was around 70 and maybe he did walk away on his own but maybe with a little shove and a golden parachute package to make walking a tad easier?

Matt Williams takes over the manager’s job. In 2013, takes them to a regular season record of 96-66; they lose in the first round. The next year despite high expectations from just about everyone, the Nationals tail off to only 83 wins. He is fired.

We know the story with Baker… but here Rizzo changes tactics; fires Baker’s his ass before he has a chance to tail off. Says essentially the reason is being good in the regular season just ain’t good enough.

Maybe… just maybe it is more of a GM problem than a manger problem… and by extension the owner for continuing to listen to Rizzo?

Steve: The manager is always going to be the one to blame when a team does not succeed. Is it Baker’s fault? Hell no it is not his fault. They just ran into a very hot Cubs team in the division series. The Cubs bats came alive in Game 5, and the bullpen struggled throughout the series. That is not on Baker, that is on the front office.

They need to address the bullpen issue, and need to stop just going after the attractive guys that people know. That will win you 90 plus games, but those guys don’t always do well in the playoffs.

5) Out of all the playoff teams, if you had to pick one team who won’t make it back to MLB’s post-season tournament which team would it be and why?

Twins exceed expectations in 2017; can they do it again in 2018?

Archie: That’s a tough question given we do not know what will happen in the FA and trade market during the offseason. IF, I had to guess and ASSUME that all the current teams stand pat with what they have I would think that maybe the Yankees would have the toughest road ahead. Factors would include that CC Sabathia will be another year older and maybe not as effective. Judge might have the dreaded Sophomore slump.

But, we really don’t know and it’s too early to say.

Dan: The Minnesota Twins.

I think this was just a fluke season and they’ll be around .500 next year, missing the playoffs. The next closest teams was under .500 at 80-82; Kansas City Royals, Tampa Bay Rays, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. They were more impressive and had a quicker turn-around than everybody expected. Expect them to fall back to .500 and regain strength in 2019.

Joe: The Twins.

They exceeded expectations and got into the playoffs but just barely. They snuck in because the Los Angeles Angels choked in the end more than they did.

Steve: If I have to pick one, I will say the Minnesota Twins.

The American League is a tough league, and there are a handful of teams that are going to compete for the playoffs. The Angels, Mariners, Rangers, Royals, Orioles, Rays, even the Blue Jays are all going to be in the playoff conversation. I think the Yankees, Red Sox, Indians, and Astros will all be back, so the Twins are the odd man out. As for the NL, I think all three division winners will be back, and the Diamondbacks and Rockies are two very talented baseball teams. Milwaukee and St Louis may be in the mix of things but I think all six teams will be back in the post-season next year if they return the same lineup as this year.

Extra Innings…

In 1997 …

On this day in 1997, Edgar Renteria ended one of the most thrilling Game 7s ever, singling with two outs in the bottom of the 11th inning to give the Florida Marlins their first World Series championship with a 3-2 win over the Cleveland Indians.

The 5-year-old Marlins became the youngest expansion team to win a championship.

Edgar Renteria (C) celebrates his game-winning hit against the Cleveland Indians in game 7 of the 1997 World Series

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