26 Apr MLB Mail Bag: Fan Questions Answered
By: Lou Landers – @realsportscrew
One of the things I love about my job is being able to interact with the fans. This is the first edition of MLB Mail Bag where I will be answering questions submitted by the fans for their viewing enjoyment. If you would like to submit a question of your own, come find me on Facebook at Lou Landers (The SportsCrew).
1) It’s early but have many of the experts overrated the Dodgers?
Like the question states, it is very early and we know the Dodgers have the resources to go out and make improvements to their ball club throughout the season. Their 2 biggest issues right now as a team are that they still cannot hit LHP and their SP behind Ace Clayton Kershaw is suspect at best. Another factor to consider here is that their divisional foes the Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks have also taken big steps forward this season, giving the Dodgers more teams to contend with in the NL West, creating much stiffer competition. The Dodgers seem like they may be a tad bit old at certain positions and we know that they have a number of over paid players as well. What I am asking myself is if they are struggling more because of their own personnel or due to the fact that the other teams around them have improved. My gut is telling me that it’s the latter. The Diamondbacks pitching staff seems to be performing to the level that was expected out of them in 2016 an the Rockies seem to have finally put together and adequate starting rotation and a terrific bullpen.
2) Is Eric Thames the real deal?
Thames does seem to be for real, however, I do not expect his power numbers to continue at this pace. The league is bound to adjust to him eventually and begin to pitch him differently. One thing I have noticed in the early going with Thames is that even when he is not recording hits, he is drawing a ton of walks and has proven to be a very tough AB. He is hitting both RH and LH pitching and there is nothing I’ve seen from him thus far that would indicate that changing. He appears to be a complete hitter, who is using all fields and hitting the ball where it is pitched, rather than trying to do to much. The Brewers lineup is young and filled with a number of talented players, which will help Thames be a force for them and Fantasy Baseball Owners. For season long fantasy baseball owners, it’s also worth noting that Thames should now have dual position eligibility, at OF and 1B. The Brewers will likely end up in 4th or 5th place in the NL Central when all things are said and done, however, it won’t be from a lack of offense, it will be because their pitching staff is garbage.
3) Do the blue jays look a lot like the Yankees of the past 3 years? Overpriced players who are too old?
It is still quite early to tell what will be of the 2017 Blue Jays, but it’s not looking to good through the first 3 weeks of the season. It is very rare for a team to dig such a hole for themselves and then find a way to climb out of it to qualify for the post season. The Jays are a team that has been to the American League Championship series each of the last 2 seasons and this point, i don’t see them getting back there. This lack of success is due to a combination of injuries and players who are getting older and unproductive. The comparison to the Yankees of the last few season is definitely an accurate one, however, there is still a ton of talent on this Blue Jays roster, specifically in their starting rotation, which leads me to believe that they can turn things around still. They will be getting Aaron Sanchez back soon who was their best SP last season and will be relied upon to keep the Jays competitive in the next 3-4 seasons as they start to transition from older to younger players again.
3A) do you the blue Jays wait to sell pieces until the deadline or do we think they can pull out of this funk?
They definitely cannot start to sell pieces off just yet. It’s far to early for any team to be thinking that way and as I mentioned in my previous answer, they have the talent to turn things around. Where things might get tricky for them however, is that they play in a division that is highly competitive and should see at least 4 of the 5 teams finish with a .500 record or better. If they want any chance in getting back in the race and the playoff picture, they will be to beat the teams in their division head to head. With the way the scheduling is in MLB, playing each of your divisional opponents 19 times per season, that’s truly the only opportunity the Jays will have to make up all of this ground.
4) Are the New York Yankees for real?
This is a tough question because it is still so early in the season. I think fans need to be encouraged with what they have seen so far from the middle to back end of the rotation, more specifically Michael Pineda, Luis Severino and rookie Jordan Montgomery. The offense has been one of the best in baseball so far and they’re doing it without arguably their 2 best hitters in SS Didi Gregorius and C Gary Sanchez. They’ve gotten more than they could have asked for thus far from Chase Headley, Jacoby Ellsbury and Aaron Judge. Their bullpen has been lights out so far this year and if they continue to get above average SP, the Yankees should be able to stay relevant and in the hunt all season long. This weeks series against the hated rival Boston Red Sox will be a good indication of how good the Yankees really are. Their ace Masahiro Tanaka has gotten off to his worst April since coming to MLB from Japan and will need to be much better and more consistent if this Yankees team has playoff aspirations.
4A) Who could the Yankees trade to make room for star INF Gleyber Torres next season?
Torres, who is currently on the minor league disabled list had been seeing reps at SS, 2B and 3B in the minor leagues prior to his injury. This leads me to believe that the Yankees haven’t decided on a full time position for him just yet. The obvious choice for a trade would be Chase Headley based on his age in comparison to the other infielders on the team in Didi Gregarious and Starlin Castro. From a General Managers perspective however, the player they could get in return by trading Didi or Castro would be much better than what they can get for trading Chase Headley. The yankees also already have a number of other young INF prospects and will look to sign star 3B Manny Machado of the Baltimore Orioles following the 2018 season when he becomes a free agent. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Castro or Didi traded, along with prospects Jorge Mateo and/or thei 3B prospect Miguel Andujar in an effort to bring in a front line starting pitcher for their future. For the first time since the mid 90’s, the Yankees have one of baseballs best farm systems and when the time is right, I expect them to trade a number of young players to get that one desired superstar, similar to what the Red Sox did this past offseason with Chris Sale.
5) Maddison Bumgarner Injury:
Will the accident affect his future with the ball club or contract negotiations?
I’m not sure it will affect either one. Of course the Giants and their fans cannot be happy with what transpired here, but you also have to remember that Mad Bum is a franchise caliber pitcher, who has a proven track record in the regular season and post season. The Giants would be crazy not to lock this guy up to a long term deal and keep him in San Fran for life. Yes he is expected to be out 8+ weeks, and their season is likely over now before it really began, but its also worth noting how durable Bumgarner has been in his career. This is only the first time that he has hit the DL in his big league career and according to multiple reports, he is expected to make a full recovery.
5A) Why was he on a dirt bike during the season? What was he thinking?
This is something that really only Bumgarner can answer but i’ll take a stab at it. It’s one thing to partake in a dangerous activity during the offseason, but to do so during the the year is borderline idiotic. This injury is a let down to the fans, his teammates and the Giants organization. I think the answer is simply that it was his off day and he wasn’t thinking. This should be a lesson to all players around MLB, young and old, that there is a time and a place to do this sort of thing, and during the season is not one of them. This guy is getting paid way to much money to make a mistake like this and he should be disciplined by the organization so that they can set an example for the rest of their ball players. I hope for a speedy recovery for Bumgarner as I will miss watching him pitch every 5th day. At this point, lets just be thankful that his injuries weren’t more severe.