MLBRT 2/15


This week’s questions and discussion…

1) Pitcher Zach Wheeler just beat the New York Mets in salary arbitration earlier this month and will get a raise from $800,000 to $1.9 million instead of the $1.5 million the team had offered.

In 2017 He went 3-7 with a 5.21 ERA in 17 starts.

Wheeler was sidelined by biceps tendinitis in June, went 0-2 in four starts when he returned while allowing 24 hits and 11 walks in 20 innings, then went on the disabled list for the rest of the season with the stress reaction.

Is the arbitration system broke when a player can underperform by a large margin. yet get a significant raise going into his next year? Or, is it a sign of a more grievous problem in baseball… sports… when raises are given to players who have a season of mostly negative performances?

(Note: The Mets had offered to raise his salary by $700,000.)

Zack Wheeler wins arbitration case

Archie: IT’s total BS. The system apparently is broken.

The team offered to dang near double his salary and that was not good enough. This is going to cause ownership and management of  clubs to start putting more and more “performance” clauses in many contracts of younger players to come.

Joe: Let me say I think arbitration in MLB does more harm than good. The entire premise is that the team and the player go into the process and try to justify why they are submitting their salary figures…

The player is there to justify why he deserves the figure he has proposed. He brings up all the good things he has done so far in his career as well as what positives he brings to the team.

The team obviously wants the player on their team and that they also want him to be happy to be on the team. But, in arbitration they have to bring up all these negative things about a player in order to justify to an arbiter why he should side with them in not giving the player a raise or at least limiting any raise by a significant amount.

Not exactly a real good way to build a player’s confidence or desire to be on a team if you ask me.

Now… having said all of that… How in the hell does a player who was injured for most of a season and when he did play, he essentially stunk the place up … how in the hell is it justified that he should get a significant raise? As it was the Mets had offered to almost double his salary for the year, but nope that wasn’t good enough for Wheeler. He thought his for crap record in 2017 warranted an even larger raise to almost three times what  he made in 2017.  (Actually, it was 2.375 times more.) And a dumbass arbitrator agreed with him.

The system is definitely broke.

Steve: I have never been a fan of arbitration in the first place mainly because these guys are getting paid far too much money anyway. Let’s be real, is 700k really that much money to these guys? Not really.

But to the question, no it is not right for someone who posted a 5 plus ERA and a losing record that he should  be getting paid more money, not until he proves that he is worth it.

2) MLB will see six new managers at the helm of teams this season. Four have had no previous managerial experience at the major league level. The six are Aaron Boone of the Yankees (no previous managerial experience at any level), Alex Cora of the Red Sox (no managerial experience except at Winter League or the Arizona Fall League), Dave Martinez of the Nationals (10 years’ experience as a bench coach), Mickey Callaway of the Mets (previously the pitching coach for Cleveland), Ron Gardenhire of the Tigers (previously won six AL Central titles in thirteen years with Minnesota), and Gabe Kapler of the Phillies (one season as the manager of Class A Greenville and mangers Team Israel in a qualifying game for the WBC). 

In your opinion is all of this fresh blood entering into the MLB managerial pool good, bad or needs time to sort itself out before any salient opinion can be made? Why? 

Alex Cora adjusts his cap as he is introduced as the Boston Red Sox new manager for 2018.

Archie: This too shall take some time.

When it is all said and done it will probably be a 50/50 strike. Half of those teams expect to contend and the other half has plenty of unknowns going in. So, we will see.

Joe: It certainly can’t hurt that some new blood gets a chance to manage in the majors, instead of just recycling some of the same old people/old farts that have been already managing and for the most part have been failures. Else why did they get fired in the first place?

The one really big question mark that I see will be Boone for the Yanks. He has no coaching or managerial experience at any level and that to me could be something that might come back to bite the Yankees during the season, or maybe even in a key situation in the playoffs. (Yeah, I am penciling them in as a playoff team.)  I don’t care how much he is supposed to be from a “baseball family’ or how touchy feely Joe Torre-like he may be with dealing with the players.

Steve: It’s good to get some new blood in there, and give some of these guys a chance.

I think the Tigers got a good one in Gardenhire, as his record speaks for itself. I like the Martinez hire for Washington as he has had many years on the bench to learn from some of the best. I think he will do great.

Not sold on Cora and Boone for the Sox and the Yankees, though I think both will be in contention just based of their rosters alone. A bird could lead those teams to a post season berth, but that could mean more pressure because if either of them do not make the playoffs, it may be an early exit for Cora or Boone. Its good for the game though, and gives others a chance to see what they can do.

3) The Chicago Cubs have agreed to a six-year, $126 million contract with free-agent starter 31-year old Yu Darvish. The deal includes incentives that can boost the total value to $150 million and Darvish can opt out of the contract after the second season of the deal.

What is your opinion of this deal?

Cubs sign Darvish to 6-year deal

Archie: Yu is a serviceable to good , not great starter.

With that statement, I have to wonder, “what the hell were they thinking?” He is 31 and never made more than $11 mil per season for a reason.

Time will tell on this one as well, but me thinks the Cubbies will regret this deal in the long run.

Joe: Considering that most so-called experts expected Darvish to get a contract more in line with $180.5 million over the six years and a $30.08 million average annual value, I think the Cubs got a veritable bargain for the actual numbers they were able t o sign Darvish.

However, I think they still over paid if not in dollars then definitely in years.  If, Darvish helps the Cubbies win another one or two World Series rings then Theo Epstein will be able to justify the expenditure. But by the time that fourth year rolls around in the contract I think Darvish will be decidedly on the downside of his career at age 35 and the Cubs will be looking for a way out of the deal if they can finagle it.

Steve: I’m not sure as of yet.

I am a Cubs fan, and on the surface I like the fact that the Cubs made a move for a top quality pitcher. However, I don’t really trust Darvish. The tipping of pitches needs to get under control, and he needs better command of his fastball at times.

I think he will have a decent season, maybe a 15 game winner, with a sub 3 ERA, but the post season could be a concern.

4) Has the signing of Yu Darvish finally broke open the cold Hot Stove season? At least as far as the remaining best available free agent pitchers… Jake Arrieta, Alex Cobb and Lance Lynn… who are still looking for teams as opening day for 2018 nears?

In short… should we now expect a flurry of signings as pitchers and catchers of MLB teams have already begun reporting as of Tuesday?

Arrieta, Cobb & Lynn still unsigned.

Archie: I don’t think so.

I still believe it is the level of talent compared to the level of contracts being sought. Screw Scott Boras and his collusion crap, it is deals like the Darvish deal that most teams needing help are also trying to avoid.

Joe: I am not convinced there will be a flood gates opening type of scenario where we will see bunches of free agents suddenly getting signed. I do expect the top pitchers… Arrieta, Cobb and Lynn… to get signed relatively soon, but I still think teams are bargain shopping because they just do not  want to get tied up in long term deals for bunches of money.

So, yes, in light of the Darvish deal, more free agents will be signed, just not right away.

Steve: You know, I just don’t know.

The Darvish signing was a start, but I just don’t see the flood gates opening. Honestly, I think Darvish may have folded a little bit and took the best offer available at that time, and did not want to wait to see if anything better came open.

Arrieta is not going to cave, as he is going to get his max deal, or at least wait for it. So, I think they will be signed, but I don’t think we will see a barrage of signings in the next month.

5) As noted already MLB spring training camps have opened for most teams, if not all teams, by the time this column will go to publication…

What is your outlook for the 2018 season?

Archie: Shit, shit and more shit.

I don’t see where any teams have improved enough, except the Yankees, for any fan to really get excited. The poor fans in Miami should boycott every home game. The rest of the league appears content to let the big dogs rule again for the most part. If anything, it will be interesting to see if the Astros can repeat.

Joe: The fact that pitchers and catchers have begun reporting, is a sign to me that all is now right in the universe… baseball is back!

My outlook for 2018? Very optimistic, I am a Yankee fan. I expect a lot of home runs… the Bronx Bombers are back and the Baby Bombers are a thing of the past. Anything less than at least a playoff spot would disappoint me. BUT… I still think they need to find another starter or two either from the minors or by signing (or trading) for them.

Steve: While, it is still way too early for me to start picking winners, I do think we are in for another year of an obscene amount of home runs and strikeouts.

Right now, I think the Yankees should be the odds on favorites to win the World Series, though I still think they need to sign a pitcher like Cobb or Arrieta. Still, with that offense, I can’t see many teams hanging with them.

The Cubs should win the NL Central again for the third straight year, and should at the very least advance to their fourth straight NLCS, perhaps a third straight meeting with the Dodgers.

I like the Nationals in the NL East. Indians in the AL Central, and the Astros in the AL West.

I will reserve my picks for the wild card a little later, but look for the Red Sox, Angels, and Mariners to be in the mix in the AL, and the Brewers, Cardinals, and Giants in the NL to be in the mix.

Extra innings…

On this date…

February 15th in 1956…

The Pirates and the Kansas City A’s cancel an exhibition game in Birmingham, Alabama, because of a local ordinance barring black players from playing against white players.

The two teams moved the game to New Orleans.

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