Oops, sorry for the late start. Had to finish posting this from Jim Bowden, on why the Indians are for real: http://espn.go.com/blog/SweetSpot/post/_/id/10522/defense-pitching-means-indians-are-for-real
Halladay or Pedro?
Pedro, at his peak/prime, was the most devastating pitcher I've ever seen ... and I would argue the most dominant of all time. I'm not saying he's the best ... he didn't have longevity and durability of other guys, but I don't think any pitcher has had the array of pitches he had. Halladay is great, but I would still rank behind Pedro, Randy, Maddux and Clemens, of recent vintage.
Do you see Jurrjens and Hanson both getting some CY Young consideration? The Braves might not have a Elite pitcher but when Derek Lowe is considered your worst starter you have one hell of a staff. Cheers.
Hanson was my Cy Young sleeper heading into the season. He's going to be special if he stays healthy. Jurrjens isn't on the same level -- don't miss enough bats to become an ace-type Cy Young guy in my book (plus, he's had some health issues).
Hey David how to you see Atlanta's rotation shaping out as time goes on? With the current rotation all under contract for next season and Minor,Teheran pushing to be in the bigs and Medlen returing from injury this team is in the driver's seat. What do they do?
It's a nice problem to have. Lowe has one more at $15 million for 2012, so he'd be hard to deal at that salary. I don't think Teheran is quite ready to make an impact this year ... maybe out of the bullpen late in the season. Minor has good numbers at Triple-A: 32 IP, 25 H, 10 BB, 35 SO, so I don't think he has much to prove down there. Anyway, it's great trade bait, maybe for a future CF or 3B when Chipper retires.
Heyward is again in another slump. What are pitchers doing to keep this guy in a funk? What adjustments does he need to make.
We just had a post on this on ESPN Insider from Dan Szymborski: http://insider.espn.go.com/mlb/insider/news/story?id=6519723. Dan isn't too worried. Anyway, without analyzing what's going on, I'm not too worried either. Sometimes a patient hitter like Heyward can work himself into too many pitcher's counts. I'm not sure if that is what's going on or not. Plus .. the Braves faced some really good pitchers last week -- Phillies, Brewers.
Is the early call up of Hosmer and Teheran an all in bet by their teams that there will be a change in the Collective Bargaining Agreement as it relates to arbitration rules? Or do you think these teams sincerely believe that extra month of service will help them get to the playoffs this year?
There is definitely a possibility the CBA will change its arbitration and draft (compensation for free agent losses) rules this winter. Teheran was sent back down -- it was a spot start since the team had a played a doubleheader. With Hosmer, I think it was as simple as what you said: the Royals feel anything can happen in the AL Central and Hosmer gives them the best chance to win, service time be damned. Which I applaud. If the kid is one of your best starting nine, he should be out there.
Why is it even a question anymore if the Indians are real? we're nearly a quarter way through the season, they have a commanding lead, and show no signs of slowing down after facing the toughest pitching this past weekend.
I think it's still a legitimate question. This is a team that lost 93 and 97 games the past two seasons, I believe. Masterson and Tomlin are succeeding right now despite low K rates. Can they keep it up? The bullpen has been terrific. Can they keep it up? They have a much tougher sked this month: Tampa (twice), Boston, Cincy, Texas, Toronto, so that will be a good test. I DO think they'll be there all season, as the AL Central is up for grabs.
David,How long can you see the Pirates starting rotation maintaining their current performance? What are the odds of the Pirates finally winning 82+ games this season?
A Pirates question! I don't want to break your heart, but I have my doubts. But I love seeing the Pirates play well. An underrated baseball city and the best park in the game. Check ESPN tomorrow -- Jayson Stark is writing on the Pirates in his Rumblings and Grumblings column.
David -- Do you think Early Wynn and Bob Lemon were mediocre pitchers because they have the same career ERA+ I do?
Joba -- you're only 280 wins behind Early! Good try.
I know you hate the Indians. But c'mon, you do an article about top bullpens of the contenders and leave out the team with the best record in baseball??? AND probably one of the best bullpens in the league?
Yep, that's it. I actually do think the Indians have one of the best bullpens, but I didn't list them because I hate them. C'mon, Phil, that's the best you got?
David, I understand the K-rate theory, but in the Indians case they are ground ball pitchers. That is why they went out and sured up the defense. I think this is a case where the stat geeks are deceived.
@Rob Indians are like the Padre's from last season. A HUGE surprise to everyone that eventually shows there true colors near the end.
True test for the Tribe will be this week as they face off against the Hot Tampa Bay Rays.... after this series, we will see...
If the White Sox continue to struggle, should trade off Danks and Floyd (Maybe even Buehrle since he's a FA after this year) to contenders? do you think they would get a decent return for those 2 ?
It doesn't sound like Kenny Williams to give up, so I don't think so. Although hasn't Buerhle said he'd like to pitch for the Cardinals some day? (I think he's from there.) So maybe a slim chance the Sox try to deal him if they're way back ... but I'm still thinking they'll get back in the race.
Ogando or McCarthy going forward?
Hmm, good question. Ogando has surprised me. He had trouble getting lefties out as a reliever last year, but is holding them .193 average so far. (Although 4 of his 5 HRs have been against lefties). I guess it's a question of Ogando showing he can maintain durability versus McCarthy's health record. I guess I'd say Ogando. Can McCarthy keep up that HR rate? (1 HR in 49 IP.)
I'm a Cardinals fan and I don't really want Buehrle to play for them. Maybe for $2-3M, but not more than that. He's just not that good any more. Even against the NL Central.
Wouldn't the Braves be able to trade Lowe to the Yankees at the deadline. The Yanks are desparate for starters and Lowe might be as good as it gets on the trade market. Not saying the Braves would get anything back, but getting that $15 mil off the books next year might be nice.
Well, I wouldn't discount that possibility. It seems to be universal consensus the Yankees will try to upgrade their rotation. On the other hand, maybe they feel Manny Banuelos will be ready by the All-Star break (and who knows what will happen with Hughes).
hey read the best cap post and thought it was a good take on that what would you say would be the better Phillies cap the modern red or the older maroon and no to baby blue
I happen to like the modern colors a little better than that old maroon. (And I think the Phillies' cream uniforms are the best in baseball.)
Good segway to caps. Which team has the best/worst caps in baseball and why? Favorite old-school cap? Which teams need to change? Should the Red Sox have an alternate cap (with the socks)? Any thoughts on caps?
with the pitching flexibility the braves have, what are the possibilities they make a move for a guy like kemp? Since the dodgers are in financial troubles. thank you
Kemp is making $7 million this year, so I don't think the Dodgers would be so urgent to deal him. Plus, I think the rest of baseball would be pretty irate if the Dodgers did make a deal like that.
Considering the lack of runs scored over the past couple of seasons, pitchers are ruling the roost which probably isn't good for the casual fan (and the owner's pockets). That said, is MLB considering any rule changes (e.g., dropping the mound) to help out the offenses around the league?
I haven't heard any talk like that. Only if baseball attendance starts *really* dropping would they consider any such moves. If anything, it's a good marketing to *prove* (wink, wink) that baseball is free of PEDs.
Thoughts on Granderson's resurgence this year? He's a great guy and it's nice to see him do well (even if not here any more)
Agreed on all accounts. Five of his 11 HRs have come against lefties, obviously that's been the big knock against him. I guess he changed his stance a bit at the end of last year (when he got) and he's remained hitting well. If he continues to hit lefties, I see no reason he won't hit 30 HRs this year.
Worst (most offensive) cap is the Chief Wahoo. The Sox socks are lame. Love the original Padres (circa 1969, pre-mustard).
Old expos cap was awesome. mlb in the old logo was a great look.
Old red, white, and blue Expos caps are the best...hands down. Got a problem with that? Talk to Youppi
I miss the old Expos caps, the multi-colored red, white and blue. I find that Nationals' caps to be boring... and I really like Cardinals' caps.
Funny ... I had three submissions in a row on the old Expos cap. I used to have one of those actually ...
The old Devil Rays caps....awful
Yankees have the best Caps in baseball. Interlocking NY...
Red sox "B" cap is classic. No change needed!
haha, The old D Rays cap, rainbow on it... yeah.. that's bad.
Worst cap (current) = any of the stars/stripes alt caps teams wear - they all look terribleWorst cap (all time) = Seattle Pilots "Captain's Hat" with wings
Great call on the Pilots. Sadly, I once purchased a Pilots cap (I'm from Seattle, after all), and then quickly realized I wasted $20.
Here's the cap in case you aren't familiar with it: http://www.strictlyfitteds.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2008/12/new-era-59fifty-fitted-baseball-cap-cooperstown-seattle-pilots-front.jpg
Worst for me was the bright orange Astros cap they used to wear. They looked like construction workers on the field. Yuck.
But they went so well with the rainbow unis!
Im still having a hard time with the Jeter contract. Being honest Alex Gonzalez of Atlanta is a better SS. There only paying him 2.5 million. Just because we have money doesnt mean we have to dish out top dollar! Jeter wouldnt have got no more than 8 million on the open market. I love Jeter, but lets get real....
I agree with the salary. Not sure I agree that Gonzalez is better. He has .284 OBP and wasn't much higher last season. He has more power, but makes a ton of outs. As bad as Jeter's start was ... he's actually 15th among SSs in OPS right now. http://espn.go.com/mlb/stats/batting/_/position/ss/sort/OPS/order/true
You cant beat the Old English "D" - that is just classic
The Tigers Old English D is the sharpest cap in all of baseball and always have been, on the other hand the Blue Jay's caps of the 80's where horrendous!!
I'm not a big fan of the current Toronto hats. That's a team that could use a uni/hat makeover.
OK, I said the old Astros orange was the worst but I forgot how bad rhe D-Rays old hat was. I must have had professional help to block that from my memopry bank.
Best was the Reds of the mid 90's when they brought back the 3/4 jerserys....Cap- Red bill, cream top with red pinstripes.....Sweet!
We want the B cap back at Ebbets Field!
How about the old-school Pirates hats? Hated them at the time, but now I'm a bit nostalgic for them... black hats with the yellow stripes on the side...
To answer Ricky (NY): Why would he care how much Jeter makes? The question for fans should be what does/can Jeter still bring to the table. He probably will never approach his career BA again, but he still is one of the better all round SS's in the game. plus he brings continued class to the Yankee organization.
I am the biggest Jeter realist out there, and a HUGE Yankees fan, but I have to say A Gone is in no way, shape, or form better than Cap'n Jetes....
What does Jeter end up the season at? He's currently .276/.331/.350 ... amazing what one four-hit, two-homer game will do. I say that's about what I expect his final line to be.
Has the KC Royals cap ever changed more than marginally? If no, it's time for a change. Heck, wouldn't that force the 17.5 KC fans left remaining to go out and buy new gear, thus increasing revenue?
Ouch, uncalled for rip of the Royals! Well, they do have the alternate light blue cap: http://www.espnshop.com/family/index.jsp?categoryId=708158&cp=.4404603.4404597.1452354.1452780
No need to change the Royals cap to create revenue. Eric Hosmer has already solved the financial problems of the Royals...and America.
As good as Jeter may be, there is no one that has ever been more over rated.
Ditto to John. Old School Pirates hats were the BEST. Especially Willie Stargell's with all the stars on it.
Haha. Hard to argue with that. Here's Willie:http://slanchreport.files.wordpress.com/2009/08/willie-stargell-civil-war-hat.jpg
Jeter is somewhere between Gonzalez and his contract, closer to Gonzalez. He got a lifetime deal (which I'm glad the Twins gave Joe Mauer, but the Twins might end up with a worse deal over time)
To what extent is the better pitching the result of better handling of young pitchers?
I think this is a *huge* reason. I've done some research on the top pitching prospects that were coming up in the early/mid'90s and a lot of them got hurt/never made it. Pitchers are handled much more carefully now coming up through the minors (and early in their careers). Plus improvements in surgery. A big, big reason pitching is better now.
@ Christopher, very interesting question, but I have no idea how you would ever be able to accurately track something like that.
I kind of like the Indians "C" look. They seem to be wearing it on road and at home, wonder if they are secretly retiring Chief Wahoo?
Agreed. I like their look this season. And I do think it's time they retire the Chief.
In response to Mark of Allentown, Jeter is and deserves to be a first-ballot Hall of Famer. Overrated is in the eye of the beholder.
As a Sox fan who had to deal with those terrible 80's hats, I love the switch over to the black uniforms in the early 90's with the scripted Sox. Couldn't have made a better switch, in my opinon.
No doubt. Those hats with the big SOX block lettering were among the worst ever.
I'm going to ger a ton of flack for this, but I would say Nolan Ryan is just as overrated as Jeter. His totals are massive, but it's a lot of bulk and I think ranking him among the uber elite all time ptichers is way too high.
Mike ... I agree 100 percent. Ryan is simultaneously a great pitcher, but also the most overrated pitcher of all time. The casual/average fan thinks he's the best ever, or one of the best, when he really wasn't. He WAS the most unique.
Hey Dave, can the Rays find a bargin bin first basemen somewhere? Johnson is awful.
I think it was Jonah Keri yesterday who suggested Russell Branyan. Pretty clear they need an upgrade. Unless Casey Kotchman keeps hitting .350.
Jeter: Lifetime BA of .315 / Key player on 5 Championships plus 2 other WS appearances / Clutch player / Will have over 3000 hits. If you want to make the argument that he would go largely unnoticed if he played his entire career in Pittsburgh, I'll only agree that his fame would not be @ the same level.
Who do you fell has the higher ceiling, Ike Davis or Freddie Freeman?
Good guestion. Freeman doesn't turn 22 until September. Davis is 24, so Freddie's got two years on him. I really like what I've seen from Davis this season and I think his 924 OPS start is legit. From what the scouts say, they're not sure Freeman will develop that kind of power, so he'll have to hit for a higher average, which he may do. I call it a toss-up right now.
The cartoon Oriole was awful. An embarassment on some great baseball heads.
I think Milwaukee used to have a great cap with the MB in the shape of a glove. What possessed them to change? Now it looks the same as the Mariners!
responding to Les (Koenig), if Jeter were in Pittsburgh we wouldn't have been so bad for so long -- except that we couldn't have afforded to keep him.
To expand on Chris from Nashville point, what about teams getting younger and more efficient in general? Younger correlates with faster pitches, better range & defense, and less mediocre old relievers and corner OFs.
I was talking about this with Jim Caple the other day. Everybody is saying teams are putting more emphasis on defense (especially, as you mention, with the corner OFers), but I'd like to see a little more evidence on this. Good homework assignment for me!
Another overrated all time great was Pete Rose. He is one of the best ever, but not top 25.
Pete was great at his peak in the late '60s/early '70s, but generally overrated and hung on way too long.
As a tried and true Simpsons fan, the best hat is clearly the Albuquerque Isotopes. (Damn you Howard K. Duff VIII!!!)
re: Rays 1B problem- Shouldn't Niemann+ a prospect land them Brandon Allen?
Niemann isn't looking so good right now. And I'm not sure TB would want to test a rookie like that in the heat of the AL East.
Can Teheran become an elite starter at the major league level with just the fastball and change, and an "ok" breaking ball. Or his breaking ball going to have to get better?
Many great starters were two-pitch guys, but from what I saw Saturday night, he needs to improve command of all his pitches and the breaking ball probably DOES have to get better. But he's only 20.
Oops, got interrupted there ... couple final questions coming up.
The Tigers arguably have the best clean up hitter in the game, in your opinion is Miggy better served hitting 4th, or should Leyland consider hitting him In the 3 hole?
Studies have indicated your best hitters should bat 1,2 and 4, so it makes sense to leave him in the cleanup spot. But, really, 3 or 4 ... minimal effect (if any) and overall runs scored.
I think for your weekly preview, in addition to your "Series of the Week", you should add a "Series of the Weak" for the week's worst series. Seattle comes to Petco next weekend! What a way to kick it off!
How dare you rip my Mariners! (Even if you're right.)
With the season almost 1/4 over, what player or team has surprised you most?
Well, I'll admit to being surprised by the Indians. I just didn't see their rotation being even close to league-average. Certainly Pirates being 18-17 and 2 games out is a pleasant surprise. I didn't think Michael Pineda would be this good, this soon. Lance Berkman ... holy cow, where did this come from? Carlos Beltran could barely walk in spring training and is putting up good numbers. Alexi Ogando in the rotation. Disappointing: Carlos Gonzalez, pretty much every hitter on the Orioles, Colby Lewis (11 HRs?), Clay Buchholz, Gallardo.
Speaking only of offense, who do you think was the better 3B...Chipper or Schmidt? Schmidt has more homers, but Chipper kills him in average, and wins most other categories.
OK, great final question: I have to go Schmidt. I ranked him the ninth-best player of all time last week. (Check out the post here: http://espn.go.com/blog/sweetspot/post/_/id/10316/vote-the-30-greatest-players-of-all-time). Couple notes: 1. Schmidt is one of the greatest defensive 3B ever; Chipper never really more than average with the glove. 2. Schmidt dominated his own time more than Chipper ... 8-time HR champ. That said, I think Chipper is underrated and probably one of the top 35-40 position players ever. Great, great career.
Thanks everyone. Lots of great content coming up this week on the SweetSpot blog, so check it out here: http://espn.go.com/blog/sweetspot and you can follow me on Twitter @dschoenfield.