This week’s questions and discussion…
1) Last week a video/news report on ESPN.com reported that Dan Le Batard wanted MLB commissioner Rob Manfred to come on his show and explain “why he let Derek Jeter dismantle the Marlins.”
In your opinion, should the commissioner have stepped in and either stopped, or at least limit, how much the Marlins could sell off the talent of the team?
Joe: There is precedent for the commissioner to do this. Back in 1976 the Oakland As owner Charley Finely tried to sell off most, if not all, of his talent on the As. He worked out deal with the Red Sox for Joe Rudi and Rollie Fingers at a million apiece. Plus, he sold Vida Blue to the Yankees for $1.5 million. When Bowie Kuhn, the then commissioner of MLB, caught wind of Finley’s fire sale he the fire sale and after meeting with Finley put the kibosh on the entire affair and voided all sales per the “best interest of baseball” catchall rule. All players were returned to the As.
Now… in this instance I really do not see Rob Manfred, MLB’s present commissioner, pulling a Bowie Kuhn, but I also think he needs to make sure that the Marlins have an actual and comprehensive strategy or plan to get the Marlins to be competitive or else the team will return to just being run as if Jeffrey Loria had never sold the team.
Steve: Not at all, Derek Jeter is going to start all over and build the Marlins from the ground up the way he wants to. I don’t fault him at all for doing this. Sure, it sucks for the fans, but the old saying is “trust the process.” Jeter is a baseball guy, and I think he knows what he is doing, and give the Marlins a good five years, and they could start to compete.
2) The Los Angeles Angels traded two minor league players (18-year-old right-hander Wilkel Hernandez and 23-year-old outfielder Troy Montgomery) to the Detroit Tigers for 35-year-old second baseman Ian Kinsler.
FYI: According to ESPN.com… “Hernandez has made 17 appearances and 12 starts, all at the rookie-ball level. He has gone 6-1 with a 2.28 ERA and is young enough that just about anything could happen with his career.
Montgomery hit .271 with eight homers and 38 RBIs in 100 games last season at Class A and Double-A.”
What is your opinion of the trade?
Joe: This trade, combined with the Angels’ other moves so far this offseason, shows me they are making a real concerted effort to make a run at winning it all while they still have Mike Trout as a player.
Kinsler isn’t the player he once was, but he is not yet ready to be tossed upon the scrap heap either. He helps solidify the Angels middle infield and will still provide some pop with his bat.
Meanwhile, the Tigers get two decent prospects to try and rebuild their team.
Steve: It’s a good move for the Angels in theory as they are going to get an All Star caliber second basemen in Kinsler, however, giving up two solid prospects for an aging player could be risky. It tells me that the Angels, after getting Ohtani, that they are wanting to compete and try to win right now, they don’t want to develop rookies and wait. For the Tigers, this is a great move because they get two solid prospects and we know that was the direction they were going.
3) The Nationals starter Stephen Strasberg recently said he might skip any All-Star game he is elected to because he fears it “was the issue I felt like was the reason why I got hurt.”
In your opinion, unless a pitcher has started a game before he would be able to have his normal days rest or is already injured should he be allowed to simply decide to skip the All-Star game or be required to show up and be ready to play?
Give all the players a three day vacation at the half way point of the season. Maybe hold some sort of MLB fan fest with players being available to the fans to meet and get autographs. But, as far as it being anything meaningful like the real game it was back in the 1960’s or so… fuhgeddaboudit.
Steve: The All Star game is simply an exhibition game, and no player should be forced to participate in it. I like the call by Strasburg to think of his health first before taking advantage of individual accomplishments and honors. He wants to be able to be healthy for a full season. Smart!
4) Recently, some teams have made trades that were designed to simply shed salary… notably the Dodgers and Yankees so they could get under the luxury tax cap and reset their tax money penalties.
Should MLB step in and put a stop to this practice of salary dumping and require that teams get something of value in return besides just salary relief?
Because this is totally different than a simple salary dump. Each team is getting value in return. The team that takes on the player with an expensive salary is also getting some prospects to help build the team into a competitive one. And, the team trading away the salary is trying to get their overall payroll down to a manageable number that also is helping them to avoid paying exorbitant luxury tax amounts.
And, besides it is all within the rules of the game and actually is doing what the luxury tax is designed to do… curtailing teams from spending huge sums and “having a monetary advantage” over small market teams and ability in signing star players. If, the players are going to bitch about it then they should have thought about this possibility when the union agreed to a soft cap to begin with by allowing MLB to manipulate the luxury tax. .
I think that teams are simply managing their team the right way. I may not agree with it, but there is no rule against it, and I just don’t foresee MLB stepping in and telling someone how to run their franchise as I stated in the first question.
5) Many people are saying that Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge could be the best HR combination never… Of course, it’s all speculation at this point as we have yet to see what will really transpire.
There have, however, been some previous power duos in MLB that were historic… NY’s Ruth and Gehrig and then Maris and Mantle, Oakland A’s Canseco and McGwire, Giants’ Mays and McCovey, Braves’ Aaron and Matthews, Mariners’ Griffey and Rodriguez, and The Red Sox’ Ortiz and Ramirez…
In your opinion, which of these was the best… either for one season or more or for a career.
For more than one season… it’s a tossup between Ruth and Gehrig (1,207 HRs) or Aaron and Matthews (1,267 HRs.)
Steve: When I first saw the first part of this question the best HR combo ever, I immediately thought of Maris and Mantle, followed by McGwire and Canseco. So, I would go with those two for one and two, but I reserve Judgement to see what Stanton and Judge can do. Let’s not count out Gary Sanchez, he can hit a few home-runs himself.
This Yankee squad is going to be insane on offense, but can they stop teams from scoring, as I don’t think their pitching is too hot.
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