All the teams in the American League East and National League East are above .500. Our experts discuss this and much more in Monday's Triple Play.
1. All 10 teams in the two Eastern divisions are above .500. What do you make of that, and what does it mean?
David Schoenfield (@dschoenfield), SweetSpot
Well, it means we have two tough divisions and four bad ones, but a more positive spin is that it means we have 10 teams in the playoff chase. In fact, 19 of 30 teams are within five games of first place and none of those are named the Detroit Tigers. It's shaping up as the ultimate season of parity, especially once the East teams start beating up on each other (the Red Sox and Yankees, for example, have played just twice).
Bill Baer (@CrashburnAlley), Crashburn Alley
Well, it means that all 10 teams are pretty good. You can argue that the two last-place teams -- the Phillies and Blue Jays -- would be in second place in any other division (after adjusting for schedule, of course). That's important to consider, given the extra wild-card spot.
Nick Faleris, Camden Depot
Two things: 1) Teams such as Baltimore and Toronto should be glad there is now an extra playoff spot, and 2) more front offices are making better decisions than in the past. The AL East is still a mess from the standpoint of competitive balance, but until baseball figures out what (if anything) it is going to do about teams having drastically different financial resources, this will have to suffice.
2. With the amateur draft starting Monday night, some team rebuilding projects will get a boost. Speaking of rebuilds, who needs to be thinking about blasting to the foundation and why?
Schoenfield: Really, only three teams have been declared legally dead -- the Padres, Cubs and Twins. The Padres have already blasted, and the Twins don't have anything to blast (other than Denard Span). So that leaves the Cubs, who actually have tradable parts in Ryan Dempster and Matt Garza, but if you trade those two, what are you left with? A rotation of Jeff Samardzija, Shawn Boskie, Steve Trout, Randy Martz and Bill Bonham?
Baer: You may be surprised, but the Phillies, if they don't make up significant ground in the next two months. It probably won't happen this early, but it's inevitable. Their farm system is barren and the team is aging to the point of no return. They owe over $100 million to just six players next year. They are showing you can't solve problems by throwing money at them. At least not when you throw money at poorly reasoned targets, anyway.
Faleris: The Cubs have a number of interesting pieces on their major league team that can be used to stock the farm system via trade. The Twins are in a fantastic position to grab a lot of talent in the draft because of their draft slots, extra picks and bonus allotment. Both front offices have a chance to do some creative things on different fronts and jump-start their climb back to the playoffs.
3. Speaking of the draft, do you think teams should be allowed to trade picks? Would that help or hurt anyone in particular?
Schoenfield: I like any idea that gives teams more flexibility with their roster decisions, so a strong "yes" here. There is a risk that this would serve only to help the "rich" teams -- that the Yankees, Red Sox, Phillies and Rangers would just deal unproven, crapshoot draft picks for proven players. But the smart franchises also understand the risk of trading away too much young talent, especially first-round picks, so that may not happen.
Baer: This is an interesting question and one I haven't considered enough for a well-reasoned argument. But yes, I do think teams should be allowed to trade draft picks. Those picks are assets, and teams should be allowed to acquire or send away their assets as they see fit, within reason.
Faleris: Teams should definitely be permitted to trade picks, and the teams that will benefit first and foremost will be innovative front offices and front offices that excel at class-wide and individual player valuations. Next year will tell us a little more about the utility of pick trading, as limited trades will be permitted. We'll see how teams react. Hopefully, more freedom in this area is built in when draft rules are revisited in a couple years.