06 Jul Hot Topics Around MLB: Week 14
By: Lou Landers – @RealSportsCrew
Today’s hot topics feature Freddie Freeman, the Kansas City Royals, Justin Verlander/Kate Upton and Kyle Schwarber. You can also tune into the Best Damn MLB Show Ever & Ever to hear these topics discussed and debated. You can listen to the show right here.
1B Freddie Freeman will be playing 3B for ATL:
Before his injury, Freeman was having a career year for the Braves and when he went down with an injury, many people wrote off the Braves as a possible playoff contender. The team moved quickly, bringing in Matt Adams from the Cardinals and since that move, Adams has been the unsung hero for the Braves. Adams’ has rejuvenated his career and the Braves are now somewhat in striking distance of a wild card spot. The question on everyones mind was what would happen with Adam’s when Freddie Freeman was set to return to the lineup?
When Adams was in STL, he always seemed to get the shit end of the stick, seeing that he was only valuable as a 1B and the Cards had numerous other options at the position. So of course the initial thought in Atlanta was that Adams would be riding the bench upon Freeman’s return, but instead, Freddie Freeman swallowed his pride and decided he would do what he felt was best for the ball club. He has been playing 3B this week, and although there is bound to be some growing pains, this move no doubt makes the Braves a better team and allows them to deploy their best lineup every day.
Royals holding onto impending free agents and being potential buyers:
Although they struggled early on this season, the Royals have been playing great baseball as of late. There were many rumors flying around before the season as well as in April and May about them looking to trade impeding free agents Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Lorenzo Cain and Alcides Escobar. The need for players of that caliber is massive right now, and there are many teams around the league who could have used them. Now with their recent success, the Royals are looking like they are going to stand pat, if not look to buy at the deadline. They currently find themselves within striking distance of the AL Central leading Indians and the Wild Card spots as well, and it is worth mentioning that as recently as yesterday, Manager Ned Yost said that his team will be buyers at the deadline.
The question here is, should they go for it this year or should they sell these players and start their rebuilds? On one hand, keeping their players and going for it this year is exciting for their fans and if they were to sell and start a rebuild, it could take 5-7 years before they are ready to compete. So why not try for one last hurrah with this core? On the other hand, if they keep everyone and go for it this year, and even if they happened to shock the baseball world and win a World Series, they’d be setting themselves up for disaster following this season. Yes, they would get draft pick compensation for these players, but those draft picks will either be years away from being ready, assuming they even pan out at all. The Royals are a small market team and don’t have the financial resources to re-sign all of these players, and may not be able to sign any.
Where will Justin Verlander get traded? Cubs? Dodgers? Mystery team?
The Tigers are ready to throw in the towel and besides J.D Martinez, Justin Verlander may be their biggest trade asset. Despite Verlander’s struggles this season, he still has the name value, is a veteran and could help a team not only make a playoff push but also get to and win a World Championship. A change of scenery for Verlander might be exactly what he needs to get back on track.
There are 2 teams that really stand out to me as perfect destinations for JV. The first is the LA Dodgers. The Dodgers have the best record in the Majors right now, but still lack a consistent and reliable RHP in their rotation. It is also worth mentioning that Verlander’s girl friend Kate Upton works out of LA, making a trade to the Dodgers something that would make Verlander very happy. Wouldn’t that make you happy if you were dating Kate Upton? Going to the NL should also help Verlander, as we have seen career AL pitchers really succeed if/when they make the move to the NL.
Speaking of the move to the NL, another possible destination for JV could be the Cubs. Although they already have an aging rotation, they will likely lose Lackey this offseason to retirement and Arieta in free agency, so adding a pitcher like Verlander who can help them this season and beyond could be a sneaky move by GM Theo Epstein. The addition this year would also allow the Cubs to move Mike Montgomery back to the bullpen where he’s been much more valuable to them.
One last team that is an obvious fit is the American League leading Houston Astros. The Astros are a very young ball club, with a young starting rotation and would benefit from adding a veteran SP, especially for when they enter October. Houston has been linked to Jose Quintana, Sonny Gray and even Jacob DeGrom, but a move for Verlander would likely cost them less to make.
Schwarber Expected to be recalled from the Minors soon…which version of him will we see?
There were huge expectations for Schwarber coming into this season after missing nearly all of 2016. The Cubs experimented with him in the lead off spot and needless to say, it didn’t work well. He was striking out at an alarming rate, was hitting for no average and wasn’t even flashing the big power numbers that everyone expected from him. His struggles led to a demotion to AAA where the power numbers started to come back.
Schwarber is back in the big leagues again, but can he turn his season around? If he does, will he even remain a Cub? He is a liability in the OF, does not play catcher for them and would be much better served as an AL player where he can DH. The Cubs would be wise to trade Scwarber if he starts to hit well, and bring in either a true CF to replace Dexter Fowler from last season, or bring in a controllable SP. Personally, I see Schwarber being a very similar type of hitter to Joey Gallo of the Rangers; a guy who will hit around .220, strike out over 180 times and hit 35+ home runs.