Return of The Hack(s): April 18 – May 1, 2016

Throughout the 2016 season, JT Rozzero & Cowboy Morrissette will be engaging in a Facebook chat about what is happening in the world of Major League Baseball. They will then share it here for you fine readers to enjoy. Agree or disagree with their takes? Let us know on Facebook or Twitter!


JT Rozzero: So the Red Sox lose the last two to Toronto but bigger issues may abound as John Farrell is getting roasted locally for some real poor (honestly, brutal) decisions lately, namely Sunday. Does he last until June?

Cowboy Morrissette: I think he does, as the Sox should be in the thick of the race. If there’s one place on the country where you don’t want to put too much stock in what you hear on the radio, it’s Boston.

JT Rozzero: This isn’t sports radio fodder; it’s basic baseball management and he has proven he isn’t very good at in-game tactics. The AL East is going to be very tight all year and minor mistakes that cost games could really mean something at the end of the day. They have a bench coach (Torey Lovullo) they love making a lot of money. And honestly the only reason Farrell stayed is because he beat cancer last year. He isn’t that good and the rationale for his decisions is mind-numbing.

Cowboy Morrissette: I don’t think they’ll ice him unless they fall out of the race, but I suppose I could be wrong.

JT Rozzero: I think they need to be within a few games of first at the ASB. If they are like .500 and 5-6 games out, they may pull the trigger just because (Farrell) is a bit of a clown. He let Ryan Hannigan bat down 2 in the 9th with no outs because he didn’t want to have to use Cristian Vasquez if it went extras. Talk about playing to lose.

Cowboy Morrissette: I agree the moves are questionable. Let’s move on: How good does Thor look? He is the early favorite for the Cy Young in the National League. The Mets’ bats have shown some life in the last couple of games. If they are able to stay in the race, they will point to Noah’s early season dominance while their other big guns were either unavailable (deGrom) or ineffective (Harvey) as a big reason why.

JT Rozzero: Yeah. Syndergaard has been unreal so far and is definitely buoying the team. He has struck out 29 in 20 innings to date and features the two hardest pitches in MLB. Lethal. The Mets offense isn’t putrid. It’s going to have hot stretches for sure, they just need to lengthen the lineup to give their pitching some rope.

Cowboy Morrissette: Agreed – they are off to a good start tonight as well against Velasquez.

JT Rozzero: Big series in Baltimore kicking off tonight as Toronto heads into the Inner Harbor. Good test for both teams.

Cowboy Morrissette: The Jays really need to get this one. Stroman vs Wright.

JT Rozzero: Jays are up early so it’s up to Stroman now. Interesting series for the Indians here too against the Mariners, coming off their series win in the Bronx. Week three is when you start to a little feel for which teams are gonna hover at .500 and a few teams that show some daylight.

Cowboy Morrissette: Yes, very interesting. Again – today’s pitching matchup really favored Cleveland with Carrasco going against Miley. They are taking care of business as of now.

JT Rozzero: Reds just stole five bases in the second inning against De La Rosa. Hold a guy on maybe?

Cowboy Morrissette: He must have gone to the Jon Lester school of holding runners! He’s a lefty!

JT Rozzero: Andrew Miller with an eight-pitch ninth. Maybe the Yankees can score a run to help him out!

Cowboy Morrissette: Unfortunately it did not work out. Both the Sox and Yanks seem to have an aversion to hitting, and both teams now sit below .500. Meanwhile, the Jays get a big win against the Orioles. Real tough matchup for the Sox tonight with Porcello against Archer. The Yanks and A’s should put up crooked numbers as Graveman takes on Eovaldi. Aaron Hicks with the fastest throw ever recorded at 105.5 mph!

JT Rozzero: Yeah that was a fucking missile. Too bad they can’t hit for shit. Any thoughts on the NL West so far? Colorado and Arizona kind of lingering a bit early. Either of those teams have enough to stick in the race for a while?


Cowboy Morrissette: I think it shakes out as a two-horse race between the Giants and Dodgers. Arizona has a better chance to hang around than the Rockies because of Grienke. They need Miller to get right in the worst way for that to be a possibility. The Rockies just don’t have anywhere close to the required pitching to hang with these teams.

JT Rozzero: Agreed on the Rockies. No way to sustain, but at least for their fans they are having some early success. Tough go for David Price today. Given a 5-1 lead at home vs. Tampa and coughs it up bad. Back to the DBacks, they finish a sweep at SF in an impressive showing. Toronto looking to take 2 of 3 in Baltimore as well. Tampa won the series in Boston too after that Price implosion. Anything standing out for you today?

Cowboy Morrissette: I wouldn’t read too much into Price’s start. He’s a proven commodity if there ever was one. Just one of those days. Strange day all around for aces as Scherzer and Keuchel both got lit up pretty good as well. Nice win for the Mariners in Cleveland. Encouraging start for Chris Tillman for Baltimore as well. The game is still going on, but he’s performed pretty well against Toronto’s Murderer’s Row. You can say the same for Estrada on the Blue Jays’ side in that game. Those two guys are hugely important for the success of those teams.

JT Rozzero: Been more than one bad day for Price though. I think he will be fine, but there has to at least a slight concern around mounting pressure of the deal, the market, and being the only real high quality SP on the team. Something to monitor. What’s the big weekend series you are eyeing coming up?

Cowboy Morrissette: I have zero concerns about Price. The same is true of Greinke. These guys are studs and top 10 pitchers in the game. There are no injury concerns. Their velocity isn’t down. They’ll be just fine.

JT Rozzero: Looking forward to the first Price vs. Angry Sox Fan Twitter fight that is inevitable, but I digress.

Cowboy Morrissette: Rays/Yanks is an interesting series. The Rays are coming in hot and the Yanks have to face both Moore and Smyly, who have both been lights out. Also, I’m interested in the Dodgers heading to Coors. Particularly if Maeda can keep the good times rolling at the launching pad.


JT Rozzero: Jake Arrieta with a no-no through seven… Yankees are in trouble because they can’t hit lefties at all. Rich Hill mowed them down tonight but they finally got some hits with RISP after going 2-for-46 before this on the homestand. This is a good chance for Colorado to show something like we discussed earlier.

Cowboy Morrissette: Arrieta is incredible. It’s amazing how much he’s elevated his game since the break last year. Moore vs Sabathia is a brutal matchup for the Yanks. Smyly vs Pineda is better and they should have the upper hand with Tanaka against Erasmo Ramirez. The Rays are always capable of throwing up four runs in three games, but on paper, it looks like the Smyly/Pineda matchup will most likely decide the series.

JT Rozzero: Sabathia has been quietly OK but Tampa could give him issues as they have more RHB than LHB and that is where CC runs into trouble. If they can get five out of him in this one, it is a win. The pitching hasn’t been an issue in the Bronx; the bats have been dormant and they have coughed up winnable games as a result. Gallardo to the DL: Blow to Baltimore’s already thin staff?

Cowboy Morrissette: That hurts them much more than it should. A couple of crazy long games today with the Nats winning in 16 and the Pirates in 13. How good is Bryce Harper?

JT Rozzero: Best in baseball for sure these days, passing Mike Trout.

Cowboy Morrissette: Miggy Cabrera breaking out in a big way tonight. Detroit needs him in the worst way. Their bats have been anemic.

JT Rozzero: And Ellsbury goes deep in Texas, another guy whose team desperately needs to break out.

Cowboy Morrissette: Absolutely! Gausman looking very solid in his first start as well. If he can put it together, it would be huge for the O’s.

JT Rozzero: Pretty cool night tonight as far as big time pitchers going.

Cowboy Morrissette: Absolutely – and who would’ve thought that Rick Porcello and Nate Eovaldi would be the pitching stars of the night?

JT Rozzero: Yeah definitely not. Big win for Tampa at home and bigger win for the ChiSox at Rogers Centre.

Cowboy Morrissette: Archer was lights out tonight shutting down the O’s. Much needed for him as he was pretty bad up to this point. I’m still waiting for the other shoe to drop on the ChiSox. I’m shocked they’ve been able to do this without really hitting (tonight not withstanding).


JT Rozzero: Yeah I am starting to feel Chicago could be the team that is somehow still there in August and then falls apart in the last month to miss the playoffs.

Cowboy Morrissette: Their pitching can’t continue to be this good. Sale is the real deal, but Latos is nowhere near as good as he’s been so far. You could argue he’s been the best pitcher in the AL up to this point.

JT Rozzero: It is more surprising because KC is KC, Cleveland is a team many thought would be legit contenders and Detroit still has a pretty solid team. But there they are nearly a month in.

Cowboy Morrissette: Nice to see Price straighten things out tonight. 14 K’s.

JT Rozzero: I would hope he could dominate a AAA team.

Cowboy Morrissette: Good for his confidence. That Twitter war will have to wait another few weeks I guess!

JT Rozzero: It is coming, he has a history of engaging and those types rarely disengage.

Cowboy Morrissette: If he performs the way he’s capable, all the engagement will be positive.

JT Rozzero: Time will tell. Boston fans aren’t the most stable when it comes to the Sox underperforming.

Cowboy Morrissette: McCutchen with three bombs (and counting) in Coors tonight and somehow the Phillies beat Scherzer. Another day, another White Sox win. Sale dominant.

JT Rozzero: They have taken Toronto to the woodshed. They need to bank as many wins as they can now and try to build up a division lead while hot.

Cowboy Morrissette: Definitely. There has to be at least a little concern in Toronto right?

JT Rozzero: Oh for sure. We have talked about it here but there were plenty of signs of regression for them. Their staff took a big hit that they didn’t replace. Tulowitzki has been secretly shitty on offense since they traded for him. Lot of pressure and expectations now after finally getting over the hump. Pending free agency for the Roid…er, Bash Brothers.


Cowboy Morrissette: And the pitching has been really bad. Stroman needs to be an ace for them and he has been just ok. Dickey throwing batting practice every fifth day.

JT Rozzero: My thoughts on them are well documented. I don’t believe in them at all. I don’t think Gibbons is a great manager and I think they play dumb and hot headed. They got the run of a lifetime out of Donaldson and were buoyed by Price last year and were able to stamp out an old Yankees team that broke down late. Then they beat up a soft Rangers team before falling to Kansas City. Nothing about them screamed that they were set up for long term success. There is a reason Anthopolous bailed. He went all in, they came up short and the team is going to pay for those moves in a couple of years.

Cowboy Morrissette: It is a vicious lineup on paper, but their pitching leaves such a small margin for error. The East is officially wide open.

JT Rozzero: White Sox at it again in Toronto.

Cowboy Morrissette: Great series for them. Jose Quintana very impressive tonight. Imagine if Todd Frazier starts hitting!

JT Rozzero: So as we reach the end of the month here, let’s give out some awards. Best pitcher of each league, best hitter, biggest surprise team, biggest disappointment team, biggest storyline of the month, coach on the hottest seat and then your (updated) World Series prediction.

Cowboy Morrissette: Pitcher: Jake Arrieta, Mat Latos. Hitter: Bryce Harper, Robinson Cano. Surprise: White Sox, Phillies. Disappointment: Astros, Giants (by default). Storyline: Arrieta is the best pitcher in baseball. Hot Seat: Tough one, but I’ll say A.J. Hinch because they have been so awful. World Series: Nats/Royals. Clay Buchholz proves that not everyone can dominate a AAA team by giving up a three-spot in the 2nd.

JT Rozzero: The story of Clay’s career. Absurdly inconsistent. He got everyone’s dander up when he tossed a no-no against a shit Orioles team filled with call ups in his rookie year and never delivered consistently since. Tough night for Dee Gordon.

Cowboy Morrissette: Jeez – I hate this stuff. Especially nowadays when one would assume the vast majority of guys are clean. It is always interesting to me when a guy like Gordon is popped. He certainly isn’t a power hitter.

JT Rozzero: His numbers did jump drastically though. But yeah it definitely sucks when a breakout star that is exciting to watch gets whacked like this.

Cowboy Morrissette: Don’t worry though – he didn’t take it knowingly.


JT Rozzero: Pressure building for Chase Headley. Brutal month.

Cowboy Morrissette: Not a huge fan. He’s had exactly one good season. I think he’ll be better than he has been, but .250 with 15 homers is his ceiling at this point.

JT Rozzero: I think that’s all they need from him. Steady D, a little pop, and a decent average. He is hitting in the bottom third. He is an automatic out, or even worse, a regular GIDP, right now.

Cowboy Morrissette: I know it’s very early, but this is a big series for the Yanks.

JT Rozzero: Hanging on tonight is imperative given the match-ups. Then hope to steal one of the next two and get back on track. Yankees have gotten 10 of 20 hitters on base tonight and only have two runs.

Cowboy Morrissette: Owens hasn’t been very good to say the least. To your point, this is a matchup the Yanks have to win and with their bullpen they should be good. But … it’s turned into a battle of the bullpens in Boston!

JT Rozzero: Yankees offense is maxed out … not feeling a win here. Big series in Baltimore this weekend. White Sox on the losing end tonight. Mets laying the wood on the Giants.

Cowboy Morrissette: The Mets have really been playing well. After Papi’s homer, the Yanks will have to do it against Kimbrel. Big win for the O’s and we are seeing the ChiSox comeback down to Earth a bit here.

JT Rozzero: Yankees need a major offensive shakeup and I am not sure where they are going to get it. Can’t expect their starters to give up two or fewer runs a start.

Cowboy Morrissette: It’s still early, so there is time to turn things around. Looking at their lineup, there are a lot of older guys. They just need to get going.

JT Rozzero: I think they need to make a bold move to mix it up. They did it back in 2005 when they shuttled Tony Womack into platoon OF duty and brought up Cano in May. Seemed like a panic move but it turned them around. They need something like that here. Headley’s on the chopping block, in my opinion. Not a ton of money to eat, expendable, and maybe sends a message.

Cowboy Morrissette: Do they have another Cano in the minors now or would you be looking to deal for a bat?

JT Rozzero: Aaron Judge is the closest they’ve got. He plays RF though so it is a tough call because Beltran has been steady. It would have to be a trade at 3B I think. Every loss brings the Yankees closer to a trade deadline firesale and the inevitable arrival of Bryce Harper in two years. Any final thoughts for April? White Sox took 2 of 3 from Baltimore and set up for Boston to arrive this week. NL West is knotted up, Mariners are looking sharp, Mets still rocking and rolling.

Cowboy Morrissette: I was very impressed with the way the Mets bounced back from a slow start. I very much expect the ChiSox to take a step back in May. I’m pretty encouraged with the Red Sox in the first month. I’m not convinced the Astros will turn things around. I think the NL East and NL Central are going to be the two best races in the league.

JT Rozzero: Sounds like a good way to wrap the month to me. We kick off May proper for the Hacks tomorrow!

Cowboy Morrissette: Yes sir!