Hey folks, David got caught up with something so we're rescheduling his chat for Wednesday.
Happy Wednesday, everyone. Let's get right to it. And don't miss my piece on ranking all 42 postseason walk-off home runs: http://espn.go.com/blog/sweetspot/post/_/id/17478/ranking-all-42-postseason-walk-off-hrs
FYI ... Adrian Beltre is in the Texas lineup today, batting fifth.
Let's start the "Theo Epstein and the Cubs" hour with a few softballs. What do you expect Epstein's first order of business to be with the Cubs? Is 3-5 years a reasonable time frame to turn around what appears to be a sinking ship?
I hesitate to call the Cubs a sinking ship, if only because their revenue streams are still pretty high, as witnessed by their annual top-10 rankings in payroll in recent years. But ... well, it certainly has a few leaks. First task: Pick up Aramis Ramirez's $16 million option? Next order of business will be deciding how much to offer Prince Fielder and/or Albert Pujols. In some ways, Fielder may actually be the better play for the Cubs: Left-handed bat, a few years younger, and very durable despite his body. But the rest of the organization is pretty stale. Brett Jackson seems the only major league-ready prospect, he's more of a B or B+ guy than A. Good piece from Insider Kevin Goldstein on the state of the Cubs: http://insider.espn.go.com/mlb/story/_/id/7091223/mlb-chicago-cubs-provide-opportunity-gm
Hey Dave! Now that Theo appears on board with the Cubs, how do you think this changes the Pujols sweepstakes? More likely Cubs go after Pujols? Less? He probably will have the money available..it would be a big splash, a "welcome to the Theo Epstein era Cub fans" moment.
Good question: Certainly with Boston, Theo wasn't afraid to go after the big free agents. He likes signing/trading for two-way players (J.D. Drew, Crawford, Gonzalez were all good defenders), so that philosophy may suggest the Cubs would be more interested in Pujols than Fielder.
What are your predictions as to where Pujols and Fielder will end up playing (team/total dollars/years)?
Let's throw this out to the reader ...
Initial reports are that Epstein will get $20 million over 4 years? Is this an indication that GMs may have been underpaid over the years or is this just another example of the Cubs' "buying high" on a free agent?
Good question. I'm assuming that makes Theo one of the highest-paid -- or THE highest-paid GM -- in the sport. Cubs will also have to give up cash and/or a minor league prospect, according to reports. Is a GM worth that much? I think it probably is to the Cubs. As much everyone like Jim Hendry, it never seemed that he had adapted to the modern scouts + stats approach, so I think the Cubs did need an overhaul of the front office, and you're better off paying for a proven guy.
Hey David. Why isn't the SweetSpot blog linked to the MLB home page anymore? I have to type "sweetspot" into the search box just to find it. Strange...
It's still there ... scroll down to the middle of the page. Where don't you see it? On the top navigation bar? Hmm ... I need to alert my editors!
The team with the best regular season record rarely wins the World Series in baseball. Do you think this is a problem? Do you think winning 102 games in the regular season should get you more than home field advantage in a 5 game series?
As baseball adds another wild-card team, I think that's the central question it needs to ask itself: What's important? Are we trying to crown the best team in baseball or just have a fun and wacky playoffs?Do they want the regular to matter MORE? For years, that's what they told us -- every game matters. But as more teams make and the rewards become less important (as you say, one extra home game) and the playoffs more of a crapshoot, the regular season becomes less important. Baseball is trying to do both, I guess.
Dont you think Doug Fister is the real Tigers MVP, especially for the second half of the season? He has outpitched Verlander in the playoffs.
It's funny ... I read where one scout graded Verlander's fastball an 80 and his curve an 80 in his (second) start against the Yankees. Scout said that was the first time he'd ever given an 80 on two pitches. That's great ... but Verlander gave up four runs that game. He's give up 8 runs in 13 IP in the postseason. It's time for him to deliver. (And, no, Fister isn't the Tigers' MVP, although he's been great and I keep telling people this guy is a good pitcher.)
What's wrong with Shaun Marcum? If Milwaukee's down 3-2 in the series is there any chance they use him in game 6 and if not what do they do?
He just looks gassed to me. Strikeout rate is way down, home runs are up. Five of his last six starts have been bad -- I think he's allowed 31 runs in his last 30 innings. I wouldn't use him. I'd give the start to Narveson. Which doesn't give me much confidence either ...
By the way, Hulk Hogan just walked past me. Walking very slowly.
For Dan in Harrisburg, if you scroll over the "MLB" link on espn.com, the Sweetspot is at the bottom and if you are on the main page, the sweetspot is in the middle of the page.
The only advantage this year that would've helped the Phillies is if they got 2 extra runs per game. Or if they got to hit on the moon while everyone else plays here.
I was surprised by your comment in the last chat about how the Cardinals *might* make the Rasmus trade worthwhile. Wouldn't you say that securing a playoff spot through a trade makes most any trade worthwhile by itself? I think most teams would trade any one prospect for a playoff spot and that's not even taking into account Rasmus' huge struggles in Toronto.
I think I said that before St. Louis beat Philadelphia ... anyway, I guess that's more for Cardinals fans to decide. In St. Louis' case, yes the trade ended up being a crucial reason they made the playoffs by one win, so that helps the argument that it was a smart deal. (But you can use the Jeff Bagwell or John Smoltz trades to say it's always wise to wait before making a final ruling ... and, no, I'm not comparing Colby Rasmus to Bagwell or Smoltz.)
One more note: Does a deal become "smart" because the Braves' collapsed? Do you need to isolate the deal by itself or in the context of luck (the Braves collapsing)? Jackson didn't really pitch THAT well with St. Louis ... 3.58 ERA, 1.46 WHIP, although I guess that's better than what Kyle McClellan would have likely done.
How about Fister brining it once again. He has got to be one of the best trad acquisitions in a while. On another topic we will now see how good Theo is with restricted payroll. I don't see the Cubs going on a spendin spree.
What happened to the Pujols' homerun against Lidge? Why was not included?
That one wasn't walk-off homer -- came in the top of the ninth, not the bottom.
Apparently Jimmy Rollins is looking for a 5 year deal this offseason (also said he would take 4 years with a player option). Do you think a team gives him that long of a deal and would the Phillies be a team that would do that considering there seemingly lack of payroll flexibility from other ridiculously bloated contracts *cough* Howard *cough*?
He'll be 33 in November. Five-year deal takes him through 37. OPS+ past four seasons is 94 (below league average hitter). So ... yes, I think some team will do it, although I suspect the fifth year is more likely to be a team option than a player option. Hey, the Phillies do lose Lidge and Ibanez, so I think they have room to sign Rollins and I predict he'll return.
It seems like umpires are really having undesired effects this postseason. In the first round both Girardi and Larussa had some choice words in the first round, Sabathia seemed to get crushed by calls in his last start, the first 2 games of Rangers Tigers have been horrendous, and I watched the Brewers get robbed of a run when Rickie Weeks was called out at first, just to name a few. When will baseball people give up the "human error is part of the game" fallacy and make this game better, or is this just all in my head compared to, say, last year?
It seems the umpiring has become a big issue EVERY postseason the past several years, or least going back to 2005 and the infamous A.J. Pierzynski play in the ALCS. I actually don't think it's been as bad this year (yet), although the Weeks call was terrible and not really that close. But they've also made some good/tough calls -- like calling Utley out on the SB attempt. I don't know what the solution is: strike zone are going to be different, you can expand instant replay for the playoffs but we all know the games are long enough already. But with today's technology, I'm not sure how much longer we can go with "human error" is part of the game as an excuse. In the end, it makes the sport look bad and it turns fans off the game. Change will come. I think.
To Mike in San Diego - the Phils outscored and outhit (average) the Cards in the 5 game series.
I agree with Michael from Austin that the umpiring this year -- and in other recent years -- appears to have degraded from traditional levels. But I think the bigger problem -- as it is in the regular season -- is the umpire's attitudes. They have become increasingly confrontational and aggressive with players, often initiating arguments rather than diffusing them.
We've been reading that umpires are too confrontational for 25 years now. Heck, Ron Luciano used to go after Earl Weaver every chance he took. So I'm not *really* sure umps are initiating more arguments. Not excusing the behavior when it happens, just saying I don't think they've really changed all that much.
Buster Olney said "don't be surprised" if the Yankees go after Votto this winter in a 1B/DH/RF type role. What would it take? It's gotta start with Banuelos and Gardner, in my opinion...and that would only be a start.
Forget trading Votto, how about acquiring a true cleanup hitter - Alonso, Grandal, Heisey and Wood/Bailey for Mike Stanton. How bout it?
Walt Jocketty said the other he's not shopping Votto! But that doesn't mean he won't listen to offers, right? As for the two proposals: I'm not a big fan of Alonso. I know he played great after getting called up, but his Triple-A numbers don't scream star (12 HRs in 358 ABs, .296/.374/.486 ... and remember, he's already 24). Seems more like a Lyle Overbay-type to me. Grandal could be good ... but, no, I don't think I do that deal for Stanton.
Yankees ... I just don't see how the Yankees can find room for another guy in the 1B/DH spectrum ... Votto is decent athlete and played some outfield in the minors, but I think he's stretched a bit defensively to play out there. A-Rod really needs to DH half the time anyway to preserve his health, Tex is locked in at first base ... I think they need to play Montero, Banuelos, Betances, etc. and get younger and hope they have a new wave of stars.
Predictions about Fielder and Pujols:Pujols: Cardinals-- 8 years, $202 million ($25+ million/year), and Fielder: Toronto-- 7 years, $154 million ($22 million/year)
There have been reports about the Jays possibly increasing their payroll for 2012. Will be interesting to see if they make a big push for Fielder. I assume he doesn't want to DH, so that leaves Toronto as one of the few AL clubs with a first-base opening AND possibly the money to spend. Of course, they could also try and go after Votto ... :-)
Posada hangs it up or signs with another team?
Sounded to me like he still wants to play. But will any team give him a chance? Seems like a long shot to me, unless somebody thinks he can still catch (backup catcher, DH a little).
Isn't the first thing Theo has to do is escort Soriano out of town?
How's he going to do that? Tony Reagins isn't GM of the Angels anymore.
What are the odds that Ryan Howard actually plays to a level that merits $25M per year for the next five years? 1% or 2%? (It can't be any higher than that, right?)
Less than 1 percent.
I'm not a huge intangibles guy, but it seems like Colby may have just worn out his welcome in St. Louis. It almost seems like once he left, a huge weight was lifted off of the team's shoulders.
Mike -- I won't disagree with that. And I really like Jon Jay. Seems like he plays a nice center field and does just enough with the bat.
Sabathia has to opt out right? With the Yankees starting pitching woes, how much more is he worth now?
I'm sure he'll opt out. Similar money -- $23 million per -- but a couple more years tacked on at the end.
Can you name any "Greineke" type of guys who may get moved for money this winter? And please don't say Kershaw or Kemp.
Besides Joey Votto, you'll hear B.J. Upton, maybe one of the Tampa Bay starters to clear room for Matt Moore (although I can't see them trading Shields after his big year) ... hmm, I'm having trouble thinking of anybody else ... Angel Pagan ($5M+, bad season) ...
who wins tonight
I'm going Cardinals in a tight pitcher's deal, but Gallardo gives up a couple long ones. And I'll take Rangers over Tigers, with the Texas bullpen once again coming to the rescue after Harrison only goes five.
Noonan: Phillies outscored the Cardinals by 2 runs, with 5 of their runs coming in one inning. Also, the Cards outhit Philly by quite a bit:Cards slash line: .259/.315/.388Phillies slash line: .226/.269/.335
Posada wouldn't be the worst back-up for Avila. Based on Avila's performance in the post season we need someone who can catch 60 games or so.
You meant escort Zambrano out of town, right?
The reason I think that Fielder/Pujols DON'T go to the Cubs is simple...winning. While if both really wanted to just win, they might just stay pat, but the Cubs are not that close to really being contenders. I just can't see these two competitive guys going to a middle of the road team even for a high price tag.
Good point. And as Carl Crawford showed: Go where you WANT, not where the most money is. Crawford would probably have been happier with the Angels for $30 million less.I wonder tied Pujols is to La Russa? If La Russa isn't brought back (obviously, more likely now that he will be brought back), will that make it more likely Pujols leaves? And the Brewers are drawing 3 million fans per season, so don't necessarily rule them out making a big run at Fielder.
Thoughts on Braun's contract? Only downside I see is health concerns with the length of the contract, but those are just maybes.
Joe Posnanski had a good piece yesterday on the worst contracts in baseball. He speculated that maybe teams need to start offering shorter, but with more money up front. In other words, maybe you sign a guy for 4 years, $100 million, rather than 6 years, $100 million. Interesting idea. Anyway, all the bad contracts, of course, are those megadeals where the player gets old/declines/regresses ... Braun looks great now, health has been great, but nine years is a long time.
David,Is there a reasonable explanation why Babe Ruth only finished in the top five MVP vote one time?
The awards we now know as the MVP Awards -- the ones given out by the Baseball Writers -- didn't start until 1931. Before then, a different system existed and once a player won, he was ineligible thereafter. Would have been, however, to see how many Ruth would have won under the modern system.
Someone get me that Mariners GM on the horn. That guy will love Soriano!
What exactly is the difference between 4y/100m and 6y/100 mil? It is the same amount of money, if a player is bad after year 4 he is a sunk cost, you don't need to play him and hurt your team, just bench him!
Joe's argument was that it saves everyone the headache of dealing with a bad contract -- unhappy fans, unhappy player, unhappy manager, etc.
What Fielder wants is irrelevant. Fielder is a Boras client. That means he goes where Boras can collect the biggest commission. Boras would have him go to Seattle if they offered the most money.
I believe mother nature is going to win tonight. 80% chance of thunderstorms. Given what happened to Verlander, should the Cards look to push Carp to tomorrow and not have him game 7 or risk getting two innings and then there might not be a game 7?
Good question. But what if the rain holds off? I guess either way ... if he goes 2 and the game gets rained out, he would be ready for Game 5 or 6 ... if you hold him for Game 4, he'd have to pitch Game 7 on short rest anyway (and like you say, you may not get there). Maybe you do the old Jim Leyland trick: Start Fernando Salas and if the rain holds off bring in Carpenter.
Nice piece on the 42 walk-offs, and I generally agree with the rankings at the top. For those who complained that the Yankees win because they get helped by bad umpire calls in the postseason, it says something that they've hit 11 walk-offs and only given up 4. (And having last licks isn't that much of the reason since the World Series was the only series until 1969 and home field was based on the year until recently)
pinging on the STL weather question, what's the call if game 3 gets suspended in the 3rd, 5th, etc inning, in terms of playing only the suspended innings the next day, or suspended innings + game 4?
I believe they finish the suspended game and push everything back a day. OK ... have to run. Thanks for all the questions!! Should be two great games tonight!