May Musings on Baseball & My GM Fantasies

I Wanna Be a GM for a Day!

Okay, I'm eating crow on the Arizona Diamondbacks, whom I picked to finish dead last in the NL West. I still don't think they will win the West, but when you take twenty of your first thirty, odds are good you'll make the playoffs. To put that in perspective, if the D'Backs won just half of their remaining games, they'd finish with 85 wins—probably good enough. If they scratched that to 90, it's definitely good enough. As of this writing, they've won 25 of 43. May I please have some sauce for my crow?

I've also been wrong about the Texas Rangers, whose pitching I figured would at least be mediocre. That's what it's been—except for ageless wonder Bartolo Colon—but everything else has gone south. Is Joey Gallo a bust (like Profar)? What happened to Odor? I predicted management would break up the team midseason, but now I think it will come earlier. It's probably not too soon to begin that process in Baltimore, Kansas City, or Cincinnati either.

We will see what the Boston Red Sox are made of. It has to be disheartening to have the greatest start in team history and still be looking up at the Yankees. If David Price doesn't pitch better, the Sox rotation might not be as solid as anticipated. They also have bullpen issues and are probably going to have to make trades they'd rather not make. One sensible move would be to trade Jackie Bradley while he still has some value. He's a streak hitter who is better than his current .171, but not much better. Great glove, but lifetime he's a .235 hitter. The Sox perennially overhype players; if you can get a decent middle reliever for Bradley, you make the trade. Swihart will definitely be moved and he won't get top value either as the Sox didn't showcase him.

Speaking of showcasing, a boo hiss to the Red Sox for burying Rusney Castillo in Pawtucket, where he's knocked the cover off the ball. Release him so he gets his shot at the Bigs. Yes, you'll have to eat some money, but it's just not fair to let such considerations keep a talented player down on the farm. Alternatively, in Boston he'd probably hit better than Bradley.

How long will the rope be before the Dodgers give Dave Roberts a tug?  It also looks as if the Buck Showalter train has jumped the track.

The Mets dumped Matt Harvey—shocking, but needed. Other teams with tough decisions include the Yankees, who simply must cut ties with Jacoby Ellsbury. There are six current outfielders ahead of him on the depth chart and several more just a year or two behind. Put me in GM Brian Cashman's place and Ellsbury goes on revocable waivers. If no direct rival claims him, wave goodbye. By the way, who had spring training in the annual "Jacoby Goes Lame" pool? The Yankees may also face an issue with Greg Bird, whom I believe isn't a real person. There's a zipper in his back and Nick Johnson resides within. Seriously, folks, trade Bird. Tyler Austin has been fine and first basemen aren't that hard to replace.

Speaking of trades you don't want to make, the Yankees desperately need another pitcher if they want to go deep into the postseason. That probably means they'll have to part with Clint Frazier, who is blocked by Ellsbury's contract.

I said the Phillies might mature earlier than expected. Looks like that is happening. The Braves also seem well along on their youthful rebuild and are currently in first in the NL East. I don't think that will last—this year—but the Braves have seriously good young prospects. And I really like the Brewers.

Raise your hand if you're happy your team didn't sign Yu Darvish. Or Lance Lynn. Or Jaime Garcia.

I wonder why no one has taken a flyer on Matt Garza or Melky Cabrera? 

The biggest disappointment early on has to be the Twins. Maybe those young prospects just aren't as good as advertised. Lucky for the Twins, they are in the AL Central and the Indians have had a horrible start.

Since I've been speculating, time for one of my favorite games: If I Were a General Manager. Here are: Rob's Rules for Being a Smart GM.
            1. Never ever sign a speedy player to a long-term contract unless his name is Ricky Henderson. When speed merchants slow down you're left with: Jacoby Ellsbury.

            2. Never trade even middling prospect pitchers for position players unless the position players are named Trout or Stanton. 

            3. Never shell out big bucks for an infielder over 30 or an outfielder over 32.

            4. Fire every trainer and pitching consultant in your system and start over. It's time to recognize that all the Tommy John surgeries have something to do with flawed training habits. For starters I'd not allow a pitcher anywhere near a weight room. Let's hear it for Bartolo Colon body types.

            5. Never waste roster space on one-trick ponies. What good is a lefty specialist who tosses 2/3 of an inning per week, or a DH you can't send onto the field? On my team, every position player gets a day off, as my DH and utility players are good enough to play multiple positions. Ideally my backup catcher can also play first base. And a lefty specialist who gets clubbed by right-handed batters is a thrower, not a pitcher. No thanks.

            6. Conventional wisdom is wrong about how hitters should be distributed in the lineup. Why put your contact hitters 1-2 when they will only hit that way in the first inning. And why stack all the power 3-6? For most clubs, 7-9 is where you try to hide weak hitters. My ideal lineup would look like this:

                        1. Fastest player on team if he is a high OBP player that doesn't whiff.
                        2. Contact hitter who puts the ball into play and has decent power. (Although I like the Yanks using Judge as #2.)
                        3. Slugger # 1
                        4. High OBP player who is patient at the plate.
                        5. Slugger # 2
                        6. Contact hitter
                        7. Player with highest strikeout rate
                        8. Slugger # 3
                        9. Contact hitter

            7. Use rational metrics and tell the crazies to get lost. On-base percentage matters, dammit! And so do strikeouts. There is no excuse for not advancing a runner from second with nobody out, or failing to plate a runner on third with less than two outs. Statheads can kiss my Home Plate: Wins matter for pitchers. Look at Jack Morris. He never worried about gaudy stats; he pitched to the situation and won 254 games. I'm still miffed that Felix Hernandez took the Cy Young in a year he won only 14 games. While I'm ranting, I've had it with the Michael Pineda/Sonny Gray/Kevin Gausman/Chris Archer types that manage to hit bats at the worst possible time yet keep their Stathead numbers high. 

            8. Hire a manager to make decisions, not make buddies or placate agents. They may turn out okay but turning over a team like the Red Sox or the Yankees to guys who've never managed is like building a world-class research lab and hiring a junior high school chemist to run it. 

            9. Never believe a single word out of Scott Boras' mouth.

            10. Never build a roster around two or three superstars and backfill the rest. You'll end up like the Orioles or the Reds—or like the Angels until they decided it might be a good idea to have a few decent pitchers.  


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