This week’s questions and discussion…

1) What is your most favorite memory from the 2017 MLB season? Why?

Archie: I guess finally seeing the Houston team win a WS.

Although they could never get it done as a NL team I guess I will forgive them for that.

Joe: As a Yankee fan…. the Yankees actually being relevant with a young core of talent  headed by Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez.

As a baseball fan.. the fact the Houston Astros won the World Series.

I wouldn’t say I didn’t give them a chance.. hell, you get to the finals then anything can happen… but I seriously expected the Dodgers to take the WS in five. The fact that they played competitively and had the Dodgers sort of on their heels from the get go, and then won the World Series made it probably the baseball event of the year.

2) What is your worst favorite memory from the 2017 MLB season? Why? 

Archie: While it did not happen on the field it was most certainly a HUGE disappointment for Braves’ fans.

The international signings that led to the Braves losing many young international prospects because Coppolella’s stupid shit will hurt the Braves for many years to come in my opinion. These violations were NOT something that was “Ooops, I did not know”. In fact, Coppolella’s team did it intentionally to “hide” the way they conducted business and to me this warranted the fines the team and JC had to pay. I for one am glad to see Coppolella barred for life.

Joe: The worst moment of every MLB season for me is when the Yankees don’t win the World Series… or… put another way, get eliminated from a chance to win the World Series.

Having said that… the second worst moment of the 2017 season was two injuries to two players I wanted to see be the best they could be in 2017… Mike Trout and Noah Syndergaard.

Trout because I would have liked to see him put up a whole season of his usually stellar numbers against players like Aaron Judge and Jose Altuve.

And, Syndergaard because I was expecting him to be a stud pitcher competing for the Cy Young Award in 2017 and for seemingly a stupid reason… he bulked up too much in the off season which led him to pull a lat muscle that effectively disabled him for the year… he was a bust for 2017.  

3) It’s a baseball mantra “You can never have too much pitching.” However, this off-season it appears that most teams are concentrating on signing free agent pitchers who are relievers rather than any of the most notable starters. 

Is this just an anomaly that will eventual transition over to teams signing the starting pitching free agents?  Or, is this just another proof that MLB teams are building strong bullpens to shorten games and have bullpens do most of the work to win games in MLB?

Archie: Many teams have learned you can win with “specialty” pitching; you know, bringing in that one flame throwing or knee buckling pitch for specific situations later in the game. I for one will never believe you can win a WS without good starting rotation but I have seen the Bullpen by Committee work.

So, go figure it financially; when a team can bolster their bullpen with the same annual funding one A- to A+ starter cost you then guess what, you will win games with the pen. Another way of looking at it; let’s say Kershaw who makes $35 million per year accounts for 20 wins a season. Those wins just cost the team $1.75 million per win AND someone probably had to finish at least 18 of those wins. Forget about wins for a second and let’s say he gave you 30 starts (average for today’s starters); that is $1.1 million per start regardless of how many wins he gets. Someone STILL has to close out at least 27-28 of those games for him. For his salary alone I could sign at least 6 QUALITY bullpen guys.

Joe: At this point in time, yes, MLB is trending to building a strong bullpen over committing big bucks  for many years to starting pitchers. In my opinion I hope this is only a trend, or anomaly, and like other trends it eventually fades away. I would rather see teams developing starting pitchers in their minor league systems to avoid the big buck contracts than to competently go away from keeping starting pitching as a priority.

The other reason, teams are building strong bullpens is the stupid pitch count “rule,” where once pitchers near 100 pitches for a game the bullpen is already warming up and getting ready to take over by the sixth inning or so. They really should do away with pitch counts altogether. Instead of allowing pitchers to bulk up and throw as hard as they can, they need to help pitchers understand how to stretch, etc… to become more flexible in how they pitch. Plus they need to teach these starters  how to work on and develop third and fourth pitches to go along with their primary and secondary pitches.

But in my opinion, right now, I just don’t see that occurring and I think it is a shame and sorry state of affairs for baseball.  

4) According to news reports the two top teams interested in Yu Darvish are the Astros and the Yankees. 

In your opinion does he sign with either one of these teams? Or does he go to some other team? 

Yu Darvish

Archie: I don’t think the Astros will sign him without someone being able to work on his mechanics to “tip” him off to the right path. The Yankees, maybe.

I personally think he will end up with a NL Central team, (just guessing.)

Joe: Unless the price tag for Darvish falls dramatically  and/or he just wants to pitch for the Yankees, he is not going to be signed by the Yankees. If, the Yanks are sincere in getting under the luxury tax cap, then they have no room, or flexibility, to include him on their roster. 

Houston could sign him but I just don’t think they will.

I have heard rumors that eventually he will go to the Angels and pair up with the so-called Babe Ruth of Japan Shoshei Otani. Otani is a  friendly with Darvish and also looks up to him as personal pitching idol. Plus, the Angels are building a team to go a World Series ring now and as we have already said in this column today: “You can never have too much pitching.”

5) Matt Snyder of suggests that Kris Bryant needs to lead off for the Cubs in 2018.

In your opinion is this a wise move or a waste of Bryant’s offensive talents?

Kris Bryant

Archie: This would give him on average only 30 additional At Bats for a whole season, IMO this is NOT enough to take him out of those extra RBI chances he would lose. The #2 and #3 hitters will ALWAYS have way more chances to produce RBIs than those few extra Abs he would get in the lead off, especially in the NL. IF he were in the AL where the #9 hole hitter produced a little more than the typical pitchers, then well, maybe. But not in the NL.

Joe: My first inclination was to dismiss this as a  waste of Bryant’s talents. Then after checking Snyder’s arguments… I thought why not? Who do the Cubs have better than him to lead off?

They really wouldn’t lose Bryant’s offensive abilities and RBI potential if they move him to the top sport simply because once the opposing pitcher goes through the order the first time who knows how the players will be positioned to bat in the following innings. And hell, as Snyder says he ain’t a slow of foot man for his size, can steal a base and is super hard to double up on ground balls, he consistently makes contact with the ball, was fourth in the NL in OBP (first on the Cubs) and every year he has been on the downward trend in his strikeouts and walking more. Besides every now and again he will just lead off with a HR and what is wrong with an early 1-0 lead?

Sandberg (l) & Boggs at their induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

Extra Innings…

 On this day in 2004…

Five-time batting champ Wade Boggs, who receives 92% of the record number of the 516 votes cast, becomes the 41st player elected to the Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility.

The Baseball Writers also elect former Cubs second baseman Ryne Sandberg, the 1984 National League MVP, in his third year of eligibility.


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