Good afternoon/morning everyone. Red Sox, Mariners, Rays and Astros fans may disagree, but we're off to a great start to the baseball seasons. Lots of interesting storylines and developments so far.Let's get to the questions and comments ...
Break out those Injuns. When Shady Grady comes back, and if he produces anywhere near to what he is capable of, this team will be even better than it is now. I feel like the Indians are buidling themselves quite a little mini-dynasty team.
I wrote about the Indians last night. I'm a long way from saying they're building a little dynasty as the pitching will be unable to keep this going, but I like the potential lineup they could have a year from now, with Choo, Santana, Sizemore, A. Cabrera, Chisenhall and Kipnis. That could be one of the better lineups in the league.
with all of the winter news about the Yankees pitching woes, surprising that we didn't hear the same thing about the Sox. Beckett, Lackey and DiceK were horrible last year, and but for one start by Beckett, have been horrible this year. Over under on the Sox - 85 wins?
I think offseason would show the Red Sox had *something* to be concerned about, but not as much as the Yankees. Lackey wasn't great, but I think terrible is a bit strong. Beckett was bad, but he still had an excellent strikeout/walk ratio and was a good bet to bounce back. I won't defend Dice-K.I'm still taking the over. Too much offense and they have the farm system to trade for a starter if needed.
AT THIS POINT DOES PHILLIES SENDING BLANTON TO REDSOX FOR ELLSBURY MAKE SENSE FOR BOTH CLUBS
You know ... it kind of does. Blanton's salary ($8.5 million this year and next isn't so bad), they have Ryan Kalish ready. Phillies could use another outfielder. I think the Sox will give Dice-K at least 6-7 starts before pulling the plug, but it seems like Ellsbury could be trade bait for a pitcher at some point.
I can't remember the last time I got to watch an Indians team that was ready to play in April. I think Manny Acta and the coaching staff deserve much of the credit.
I know that you have been with espn.com for a while, but your initial efforts in the Sweet Spot have been very good. Now all you have to do is a 6 hour chat.
Thanks, Bob. Good idea ... I'll have to do one at some point!
How long can Fredi continue to harm his lineup by putting Heyward in the 6spot? He needs to move him to the 2 spot and put nate in the 6-8 ranges.
Completely agree. I think this is the most obvious "bad move" we've seen early on. Yes, lineups are overrated, but the Braves are giving fewer at-bats to their best hitter by batting him so low in the lineup. Inexcusable.
The twins came into the season with question marks in their starting rotation, but people assumed they would be okay because they had the bats to score runs. Now that the bats are not doing anything and the pitching has been fairly good what will happen with this team? As a team they will start scoring more runs and hitting for average, right?
Twins are hitting .214/.266/.288. Obviously, they're not that bad. Morneau, Mauer, Kubel, Cuddyer and Delmon have combined for zero home runs. But the Twins concern me: While they have a deep rotation, Liriano is up and down and a health risk. I'm not sure Pavano can repeat his 2010. The bullpen lost some good production from last year.What do you guys think of the Twins?
The pitching back when they had those stellar teams was just average. It was the hitting that made the so good. This lineup has tons of potential to make some noise. I know that Hannahan and the wizard of OC won't continue to play as they have offensively, but with Chiz and Kipnis waiting in the wings, this team has the look of a dynasty. Their bullpen is STRONG. They have a few pitching prospects that could develop and make some noise with the big club.
I like Dave's enthusiasm. I'm rooting for the Indians -- that franchise could use some good breaks.
So are you ready to give the Phillies praise yet?
Of course I'll give them. Hey, I wrote an article explaining why the Phillies aren't playoff locks. That was my rational opintion. I said they'd win 90 games. That's pretty good praise, no?It's a long season, they're off to a great start. But I'll make a wild prediction: They're not going to hit .334 all season. The bullpen won't sustain its 1.47 ERA.
How much can we believe in the Phillies' offense so far? Looks like they've completely changed their approach at the plate... no longer looking for the longball all the time.
Have they changed their approach? They have eight home runs in nine games. Last year, they had 166 in 162 games. Right now, they're hot, but I wouldn't chalk this up to a new approach. This is a lineup of old hitters. They're going to revamp their approach much at the plate. Seems like a small sample size explanation to me.
Thanks for the entry about the Tribe! It's nice to see them get noticed as something other than the generic opponent of big-market teams.I think when considering their chances of keeping up their good play it's important to mention that Choo and Santana are off to slow starts. Sure, it's unlikely that the team will keep up the .800 winning percentage but they're not exactly firing on all cylinders.
6 of the Phillies 8 regulars were on the DL last year, and every but Werth and Ruiz had a down year...and they still won 97 games. With 50 additional starts from Oswalt/Lee and a reasonable expectation of SOME kind of bounceback from guys like Rollins and Howard (each of whom had an OPS 70 to 85 points below tey're career averages), what was your thought process behind the Phils not making the playoffs? Do you expect NONE of their key guys to bounce back? Don't those 50 starts make up for the Werth/Francisco swap and Utley missing perhaps 60-70 games (he missed almost 50 last season)?
Utley out, Ruiz had a career year, decline from Ibanez/Polanco, questionable bullpen, loss of Werth. Rollins and Howard both at the age where we can't EXPECT a return to where they were in 2007.Look, I LIKE the Phillies. Absolutely one of the most fun teams to watch. My 90-win prediction fell in line with what most of the expert predictive systems projected (Baseball Prospectus, etc.). But saying they'll win 90 means there is a large spread. They could win 80 (unlikely) or they could win 100+.
So who is the best/most likely farm player for the Sox/Yankees that the Indians will send them this summer? It seems every summer the Indians give one of those teams something they need.
Maybe this is the year the Indians trade for a pitcher ... well, if only their owner would up his budget to a $45 million payroll.
Well, the Braves, stats wise look like they should be 0-10, but they managed to go 4-6. our $60+ million dollar investment is batting .158. Fredi thinks it's alright to have our BEST hitter bat 6th in the lineup. What do you think our best idea at this point would be to turn things around?
It's early. Uggla is a streaky hitter, like a lot of guys who strike out a lot. Freeman will hit. On the bright side, Kimbrel and Venters look great, Hudson has picked up where he left off, Lowe has been solid. I'm not too worried about the Braves. Other than Heyward needs to move into the 2, 3 or 4 hole.
Tell Dave he's in lala land. You can't be a dynasty if you haven't even won 1 world series in 50-60 years. Let alone 2 or 3 in a row to be considered a dynasty.
Thomas, true statement on Santana and Choo. The Tribe's two projected two top hitters are both struggling right now. I think the early season success can be attributed not only by the sizzling hitting, but the magician-like defense of the entire team, including first base, where both LaPorta and Santana have been Houdini's out there.
I think it was a brave decision to leave Ryan Madsen in his set-up role, but Crashburn Alley did a good job of showing that he actually faced the heart of opposing teams' orders more than Lidge did--- while pitching in the 8th. Saves aside, isn't reserving your best reliever to face the opposing teams best hitters a better strategy? Keeping Madsen in the set-up role is one thing, reserving him to pitch EITHER the 8th or 9th as the situation demands would have been better. Will baseball ever get over THE SAVE?
Absolutely. This could be a situation where Charlie Manuel knows exactly what he's doing -- that Madson is his best reliever and will actually get more "big" outs than Contreras, even if Contreras will get the saves. Charlie is sneaky smart sometimes.
The Phillies' .334 average and 1.47 bullpen ERA aren't sustainable, but isn't it safe to assume that their 4.74 rotation ERA will improve significantly and they will start to hit a few more homers as well?
Sure, the rotation will likely be better. One or bad starts 10 games into a season can throw an ERA out of whack. Like I pointed out, the Phillies have eight HRs in nine games, about the same rate as last year (especially with Utley out).
I'm in an over/under pool where I took the Twins over 85.5 wins so that tells you what I think. No real logic there besides the whole idea of "let's see them lose the division before we start pickeing against them".
Hey KT... The team that they built in the 90's was a dynasty and fell short each time because of some bad hops or luck. The team that had Belle, Baerga, Lofton, Sorrento, Ramirez, Alomar, Alomar Fryman and Vizquel was a juggernaut.
I agree with Dave -- that was a dynasty. Best team in baseball in 1995, just ran into Maddux/Glavine/Smoltz in the World Series. Should have won the WS in 1997, of course. Six division titles in seven years.
The Twins concern me. Agreed, there is no way to expect Pavano, Thome, & Valencia to repeat '10. Cannot expect Cuddyer to not get older, or Morneau to step straight into the 4 hole and perform like July 6th never happened. Cannot expect Nishi to perform like Twins, that have been in the system for years, defensively. I did expect to see similar production out of Delmon Young and Denard Span. I did expect to see Casilla play a lot better than he has, just at second base. Expected to see Hughes or Plouffe starting the year at SS. And really, expected a lot more out of Gardy too. He's really grabbing at straws now after starting Cuddyer at second, in order to get another bat in the lineup...that coupled with poor game management at the end of the Yankees series and Saturday night's game, has got me rattled. And lastly, I did not see the troubles coming in the bullpen, honestly. The core was still there, Mijares, Capps, Perkins, Duensing and add back Nathan, D. Hughes and Slowey--that adds up to a quality and deep pen, however they have been unable to properly deliver. But all of this together has given me great concern of what 2011 will be. This might be the last year this group is together, might be time to move some pieces around, restock the minors and bring up the kids like Revere, Plouffe, Slamma and Burnett.
Twins are on cruise control. They've won too many division titles for their own good and just can't seem to get their heads in the game so far. They also have too many station to station players with no speed, so if they don't hit enough, they are going to find it hard to win. Who gets traded first if they don't turn it around- Cuddyer or Kubel? Gardy already lost Punto- can he survive losing his two most favorite players?
I don't think Kubel has much trade value. He's really a DH and doesn't hit lefties. Twins wouldn't get much for a guy like that.
Phillies need offense, Cubs need a 1st base prospect. Marlon Byrd or Kosuke Fukudome and cash for Jon Singleton? Might could even work Blake DeWitt in their somewhere?
I think the Phillies would be wise to hold on to Singleton. He could be a dynamic bat in a couple years. Plus, no need for Philly to do anything right now. They're still the heavy favorites to win the division and I'm not sure Byrd or Fukudome is that much of an improvement over what they have.
I think we need to calm down throwing around the word dynasty. A team that didn't win 1 world series is in no way shape or form a dynasty. A very good team yes, but calling it a dynasty is insane. A team that wins 4 out of 5 years and 3 in a row...dynasty. Those 2 cannot go by the same heading
Is this the weekly Phillies chat? The Cardinals offense when Pujols starts to hit combined with their starting pitching should carry them past the reds this season, or does the emergence of Kyle McClellan make Chris Carpenter the Card's best mid-season trade bate ever?
OK ... no more Phillies today. (To be fair: We have a lot more interest in Phillies, Red Sox, Yankees, etc.)Anyway ... I still like the Reds to win the division (they were my pick). I see the Cardinals as too top-heavy .. Pujols, Holliday, Rasmus, Carpenter and a bunch of stuff I don't like. Carpenter has a $15 million club option for 2012, so that does potentially make him attractive trade bait if the Cardinals fall out of the race.
Hey David, how cool would it be if someone with a decent fastball added a knuckleball to their repetoire? Why doesn't anyone try it? I know it was done back in the day by a few guys. Is it just too unorthodox that nobody's willing to try it or is it just a lot to ask from a pitcher. It would be sick if someone could pull it off.
Lots of guys threw knuckleballs as an offspeed pitch in the '30s, '40s, '50s and '60s and then for some reason it fell from favor (other than the few guys who threw it all the time). I think there is still a bias in baseball against knuckleballers, and obviously they aren't many coaches who can teach it. But I don't know why more pitchers don't try it.
So, question to everyone: Which of the early surprise teams is most likely to keep it up -- Orioles, Indians or Royals?
Quick note: Predicting the NL is a fool's errand. Only four teams out of 16 have a positive run differential ... which tells how closely everyone is bunched once you get past the Phillies, Reds and Rockies.
Orioles... only because they seem to have pitchers with better stuff than the Indians or Royals. Tough division, though. Although, if this Boston collapse is for real... the O's could do it.
Definately Royals - as long as Alex Gordon can keep it up.
Orioles- solid lineup, great coaching, good pitching
Ellsbury for Blanton, are you nuts? If the Sox are trading a Ellsbury, they're going to want something good in return, not a pitcher the Phillies couldn't dump in the offseason.
Here's thing with Ellsbury: He's not that good.
None of the above? Small sample sizes!!
It seems like you gave the Red Sox starters the benefit of a doubt in terms of "bouncing back" but you didn't give the same benefit of the doubt to the Phillies hitters. Why chose one but not the other? Lackey has been on a steady decline since 2007 but all I heard about all offseason was how how Jimmy Rollins and Ryan Howard are on decline
I'm looking at the peripheral numbers. Howard once drew 108 walks in a season. That was down to 59 last year. Rollins has been in a steady decline since 2007 as well. I'm not so big on Lackey, but I did think Beckett was a solid candidate to pitch better.
Here's the thing with Blanton: He sucks.
Ellsbury has a career OPS+ of 92. He's worse than a league-average hitter. The defensive metrics didn't rate him as a good fielder in 2009. He has speed but that's pretty much the extent of his game right now. One of the most overrated players in baseball.
Thanks for sharing your private conversation with Chowda-head James. Why didn't people realize that Boston lost its two best hitters from last year (Beltre and V. martinez) and that their rotation was filled with question marks? Aside from dreaming Buchholz would suddenly become a strikeout pitcher, there's only one reliable starter on the team.
Here's the thing with Ellsbury: Red Sox fans VASTLY overrate him.
Personal foul on James (Boston) for being combative for no reason. Watch your mouth. 1st down.
David, does the Mariners poor start amp up the pressure to bring Dustin Ackley to the bigs? We saw it happen in 1994 when they brought up A-Rod, and he was a non-factor those first several months.
I think the Mariners will stick to their plans and wait until late May/early June to call up Ackley. It's a bad team going nowhere. At this point, just put off his service time as long as possible.
Worst thing I read today in a blog about Furcal's injury: "more playing time for Aaron Miles."
Aaron Miles is still in the majors? Ugh.
How has a guy like Justin Masterson still not developed a weapon against lefties? He has to know that's what is holding him back from being a number 2 starter.
I think it's his delivery. From that angle, it's just too easy for lefties to pick up the ball. Most sidearmers have big platoon splits, no matter their stuff.
with all this phillies talk, i can't help but think that maybe the angels have the best 1-2 punch in baseball...what say you?
I actually want to write a post about this. I LOVE Weaver and Haren. They go deep into games, don't walk guys, rack up strikeouts. Both give up some homers, but they're in a great park to cut that effect down.
How long before we declare Johnny Gomes' walk rate for real? Having watched a lot of his ABs he seems to have actually changed his approach.
Good question. Gomes actually at a decent rate in 2006, then devolved into more of a hacker. Something must have sunk in? Maybe Votto is rubbing off? It can happen -- look at Jose Bautista.
Is the Orioles' Adam Jones going to breakout this season?
See Jonny Gomes. I don't think so. Jones is still a wild hacker at the plate. No discipline means too many easy outs for pitchers.
Angels 1-2 as the best? I can go with that. Could John Danks and Gavin Floyd be the most underrated 1-2? I don't think people appreciate how good Danks has been.
Agreed. And Danks would be better in almost any other park besides homer-happy Chicago.
As a Phillies fan, I have to say that this chat is top-notch. Well played David, well played.
Does Chris Sale ever get a rotation shot?
I hope so. Always hate to see teams waste a good arm in the bullpen without even seeing how he fares as a starter. But it's not the worst idea to use him relief this year and try the rotation next year.
what do the Dodgers do about Furcal and his hand?
We're about to put up a post from Christina Kahrl examining the Furcal and Zimmerman injuries.
I'm sorry, but to say that the Angels have the best 1-2 punch in all of baseball is just absurd. The Phillies and Giants easily have a better 1-2 punch. The best (or 2nd best, depending if you like Felix more), and somewhere around the 8th best pitcher? Please.
Why do teams pass on drafting guys like Sale, Leake and Storen, that appear major league ready?
Teams still prefer the upside when drafting guys in the first round. Leake and Storen weren't projected in that way. (I think Sale went in the top 10, so hard to say that he was passed over.)
At what point is the sample size sufficient for us to infer how the rest of the season will go? For example, Rollins is playing well but at what point could we determine that we may expect this for the whole season instead of just a hot streak that coincides with the start of the season?
On a team level, May 1 is a better starting point. Individuals are much more difficult ... I'm sure you can pick any month from last and look at the batting leaders (say, June) and find a bunch of guys who had good months but overall still had mediocre/bad seasons.
David, given your obvious intellect and prognosticating skills predicting who'll win this year's World Series is mere child's play? Why not stretch yourself a little and predict who'll win the 2012 World Series? I predict Yankees and play historical odds. What about you?
I think this is a sign to wrap things up. Thanks for all the questions.Oh, I'll go Indians. Won't that be the first year of their dynasty?