This week’s questions and discussion…
1) How much should Hall of Fame voters care about defense, for example Omar Vizquel, Scott Rolen or Andruw Jones, when it comes to voting for entry into the Hall?
FYI: Vizquel is presently polling at 30.3% of the publicly revealed ballots, while Rolen and Jones are polling at 11.9% and 5.4% respectively.
Joe: If we’re talking just defense without a fair amount of either some years of outstanding offense, or a consistent pattern over a career of maybe not leading the league but hitting certain yearly benchmarks, such as 100 RBIs or runs scored, then nope.
Defense alone should never get someone into the Hall no matter how stellar it is. Sorry, in my mind that is not a Hall of Famer. For instance, as great as Brooks Robinson was, I might not have ever cast a vote for him to be a Hall of Famer if I had had a vote.
However, I do think great defense can put an offensively Hall of the Very Good player into the Hall of Fame conversation.
For instance… maybe like an Andruw Jones?
I honestly would give more credit to Rolen and Jones over Vizquel, only because not only did they have stellar defense, but they could hit for power as well. Both put up big offensive numbers, while being the best at their position for a number of years. So yes, defense should be given at least partial consideration.
2) Vegasinsider.com recently reported that Las Vegas bookmakers are making the Yankees a 9-2 favorite to win it all in 2018… the Yanks are followed by the Dodgers (5-1), Indians (7-1), Astros (7-1) and the Cubs (8-1) to round out the top five.
What is your opinion on these odds to win it all in 2018? Are the Yanks now the favorite? Or, in your opinion, is another team really the favorite to end up with a WS ring at the end of the 2018 season?
Joe: I’m not sure if the Yankees should be given top billing in Vegas as far as the favorite to win it all.
Maybe the Dodgers. Or Houston. I got the Yankees at maybe number three, possibly number 4.
Steve: It has to be the Yankees, I mean have you seen this lineup from top to bottom? The only thing that will hurt the Yankees is going to be starting pitching. Sabathia and Tanaka are a good 1-2 punch, but outside of that, it is weak. If they can some how manage to get a quality starting pitcher, they are easily the favorites.
3) The Astros have added Gerrit Cole to strengthen what was already considered to be a strong starting pitching staff. Some say maybe the best in MLB.
In your opinion, as of right now, which team has the best starting pitcher staff? Why?
Joe: I have to go Houston.
Houston adding Cole doesn’t overly impress me. With Verlander, Keuchel, Morton and McCullers they already had a real good front four and with Peacock and McHugh they were fair to middling for the fifth starter. But as the old adage says… you can never have enough pitching. So, why the hell not add another starter who at least at one point was successful in MLB and has potential to reclaim that success.
Steve: I think it is the Red Sox, you have Chris Sale, David Price, and Rick Porcello, two Cy Young Award winners, and one perennial top five finisher. I can’t see any other rotation that matches up to what the Sox have. Porcello had a down year, but if he can rebound and get back to at least 75% of his Cy Young year, then the Sox are going to be a tough out for the Yankees.
4) As of right now the Yankees have “holes” at second base and third base. GM Brian Cashman recently told reporters it is the team’s objective to play two rookies, Gleyber Torres and Miguel Andujar, at those positions as they head into the 2018 season when he said, “… it’s kind of the plan right now. We certainly could deviate from that at any point if we want to buy us some more time. But when we made the decision to move (Starlin) Castro and (Chase) Headley, it was obviously gravitating to the use and upside … including growing pains … of Tyler Wade, Torres, Thairo Estrada, Andujar and Ronald Torreyes.”
Can the Yankees, with their power ladened lineup, live with two rookies in their starting nine? Or, will they make at least one semi-major move to fill one or the other of the two positions with a veteran player?
Joe: I do not care what sport it is, in my mind defense wins when you have to play the best of the best… also known as the playoffs. Can a team bludgeon their way to a championship. Of course but defense will get a team to the top more times than not.
Having said that…
I don’t think the Yanks defense is bad, in fact I think it is pretty good, especially in the outfield.
B/R.com final 2017 defensive rankings list Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton as their 1 and 2 best defensive corner outfielders/right fielders,respectively, Brett Gardner (LF) is around 9 and has won a Gold Glove, Aaron Hicks is listed as B/R’s 12th best centerfielder but as they say “(with) his rocket arm played well at all three outfield spots, and (by) playing deeper in center field, it translated into good range.” And with Jacoby Ellsbury as a very expensive backup on the bench, I think their outfielder s rank with anyone else in MLB.
Catching is good, too. Whatever problem’s Gary Sanchez has with his passed balls allowed can be smoothed out with some consistent and dedicated work. But has a cannon arm and posted a a 38 CS%, B/R has him as their number 2 catcher in MLB in 2017 and says “And while there’s room for improvement with his framing, he did secure a solid 85.6 percent of in-zone pitches for strikes.”
It is their infield that has the question marks.
Especially, the aforementioned two spots that are right now earmarked for two unproven, albeit very talented, but unproven players on the big league stage. And Greg Bird has looked real good at first in very limited time but that is the problem… that limited time is due to injuries. Can he stay healthy?
Shortstop is what it is… Didi Gregorious has vastly improved the Yanks defense there since Jeter retired and Gregorious replaced him. B/R lists him at number 7 and says, “The metrics continue to give mixed signals on Gregorius’ defense. That doesn’t match up with the eye test, wherein one can get entranced by his smooth actions and cannon arm.”
And their rotation? I’m not convinced it is as good as many “experts” say it is. They need at least one more starter who can be either a 2 or a 2A pitcher for their rotation. But then again that seems to be their problem right now, too. They have about four pitchers on their staff who can be 2 or 2A starters with Luis Severino, Masahiro Tanaka, Sonny Gray (who I’m not completely sold on yet) and maybe Luis Cessa. Someone needs to step up big time to be that number 1 guy, or they need to finally bring up one their two top pitching prospects and hope he fulfills his potential.
Still, when all is said and done?
They will win plenty of games just because they can clobber other team’s starters one through five and maybe deeper in their batting order.
Steve: All I am going to say is this, the Yankees are loaded right now offensively, and they have quality guys all over the diamond. I think the Yankees are going to be able to afford to experiment a little bit with what they want to do at second base. I don’t think its going to hurt them at all, plus it will give them a chance to see what they have with some of their young talent.
5) Revisiting the slow Hot Stove season for the top free agents…
That dirty word collusion is once more beginning to pop up. But, in your opinion, is it collusion or are the owners simply getting wiser and saying giving out 5-year contacts, or longer, to players in their thirties, or close to it, for millions upon millions is just not a good business move?
Or, is it simply, wait until next year when it comes to the free agent market? And, then there are no holds barred and the owners once again will spend like children in a candy shop with unlimited cash?
I think teams are just becoming more frugal with their payroll and understanding investing millions of dollars in players for more than five years, or maybe even four, is just bad business sense. I also think some teams simply don’t want to pay the huge luxury taxes they have been ladened down with in past years. The Dodgers for instance… paid $31.8 million in taxes a year ago, will again pay another bill exceeding $30 million, calculated at 50% for a third-time or more offender. It also includes a 12% surtax on the $40 million above the $195 million payroll, and 42.5% for the total amount above $235 million. That is a chunk of change. Even for them.
The Yankees aren’t far behind them either in how much they have to pay out. Plus, the Yankees he Yankees have now paid a luxury tax 15 consecutive years since it was implemented in the Collective Bargaining Agreement. And, they paid $22.3 million to players not on the 2017 roster, $21 million of that to the retired Alex Rodriguez. That is not being smart with your money. Think what those “paltry’ millions could have brought for the team in the terms of quality bench players if nothing else.
And while it is not as huge as the Dodgers and the Yankees these teams also had to pay out luxury tax dollars in 2017… Detroit Tigers, Boston Red Sox, Chicago Cubs and San Francisco Giants.
Will teams spend big in 2018 for the much ballyhooed free agent class? Maybe. Maybe not.
Take the Yankees… In my answer to the last question I spoke about heir present outfield. They don’t need an outfielder, so why would they go after and pay big for Bryce Harper? Plus, they have two top flight right-fielders as it stands right now. Manny Machado? They don’t need him.. at third if their minor league prospect pans out big or even if he plays slightly above the average offensively but with decent to plus defense. If Machado plays at short? Still don’t need him. They got Gregorious at a lot less dollars and years. He ain’t Manny but he ain’t that shabby either.
The point is: Why spend millions for lots of years when you already have players locked in for at least four or five years in some cases before they can be free agents?
Steve: No, I think they are getting smart and not wanting to over pay players for long term contracts. I don’t know if it is collusion or not, but they are not giving in to the high demands of the players. Next year could have something to do with it with a guy from Washington likely to demand nearly 400 million dollars. I think more so, it has to do with not wanting to take a risk on a long term deal for a 32 year old guy.
Congratulations to the MLB Hall of Fame newest members…
Trevor Hoffman, Chipper Jones, Jim Thome and Vladimir Guerrero.
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