Tuesday, July 1, 2014
Rapid Fire! Harper, Arrieta ... Uggla?
By David Schoenfield
OK, my apologies: We ran out of time today before taping the Rapid Fire video, so I'll make it a written post instead.
From @JoshLumley: Bruce Harper could make better lineups than Matt Williams.
Answer: True. Hey, Harper shouldn't have essentially thrown Denard Span under the bus like he did with his comments about wanting to play center field, but isn't it time Matt Williams at least gives up on the idea of hitting his worst regular in the leadoff spot? Span isn't terrible but his .312 OBP is hardly what you want from a leadoff guy. Meanwhile, Harper hit sixth in his return to the lineup. I'm seeing a lot of grumbling from Nationals fans that Williams is in over his head.
From @neal_kendrick: Jake Arrieta is the best pitcher on the Cubs roster.
Answer: I'm going false for now, if only because one great month (Arrieta finished with a 0.92 ERA in June after taking a no-hitter into the eighth inning on Monday) isn't yet enough to leap Arrieta ahead of Jeff Samardzija. But I do believe Arrieta is the real deal, with improved command and a nasty cutter that dives down like a slider. After the game on Monday, he told MLB Network that a big key has been "just being confident and comfortable with my routine throughout the week." I have to think getting away from Camden Yards has probably helped that confidence -- he doesn't have to worry about every mistake leaving the ballpark. Eric Karabell says "Put Arrieta on the All-Star team!" (Here's more of Eric and Tristan Cockcroft discussing Arrieta on the Fantasy Focus podcast.)
From @Venturecaps: Raul Ibanez gets a start for the Royals this week.
Answer: True. Ned Yost said he'd use Ibanez in the outfield, at first base and DH. Plus he called him a "professional hitter." I love Ned Yost. Look, Ibanez is probably done and in the end he won't do much more than pinch-hit, but it's at least worth a look to see if he has anything left.
From @Papa_Clarke: Terry Collins and Sandy Alderson will be the manager and general manager of the Mets on Opening Day 2015.
Answer: True. Eric agrees. No need here to clean house. The Mets' problems begin with ownership, not the front office and manager.
From @Orioles_Fever: The Orioles will trade for a second baseman.
Answer: False. I think they're more likely to go for pitching and hope for offensive improvement from Chris Davis and Manny Machado in the second half. Eric has another idea: Give Dan Uggla a shot. The Orioles do love power and you can get him for an order of crab cakes. Aaron Hill would also fit nicely if Arizona picks up some of his salary.
From @TheDeliMan1: Dee Gordon will have a career as a starting second baseman.
Answer: True. He slumped in May after his hot April but rebounded with a solid June (.303/.358/.475). With his speed and average-ish defense, he's good enough to start on a championship team.
From @darinself: The current division leaders will still be there at the end of September.
Answer: False. Eric and I agree on the two most vulnerable teams: the Braves (0.5-game lead over the Nationals) and Blue Jays (one game over the Orioles, 2.5 over the Yankees). I like the Nationals in the NL East and the Orioles in the AL East.