This is a brand new series on Place to Be Nation that will feature a running dialog of conversation about baseball between myself, Matt “The Stat Man” Davis, and a friend of mine, Ryan King. We will discuss the week that was in Major League Baseball, preview the current week, and discuss some player predictions for the week. Ryan and I have known each other for almost fifteen years and he loves baseball as much as anyone else I know. It will be a pleasure to sit and talk about baseball with him each and every week. So here we are baseball fanatics, Week 4 of the major league season! Sit back, grab a drink, relax, and stretch!
Matt: The biggest news coming out of Major League Baseball this week has to be the brawl between the Chicago White Sox and Kansas City Royals, right? We have now heard that seven players are going to be suspended as a result of that, and Matt Albers was placed on the disabled list with an injury which occurred during the melee. Most of them are starting pitchers, so this has little effect on most daily and weekly fantasy lineups, but, what is your take on all the suspensions and how do you think it could affect things for the teams, and for fantasy players in the coming week?
Ryan: I’d say the brawl was a big deal. But suspensions for pitchers are largely meaningless. Look at Edison Volquez. He started Sunday and the only punishment he’ll have is an extra day of rest. Manfred should really re-visit suspensions for pitchers. But it is good news for fantasy owners, so maybe not. I think this will light a fire under Shark [Samardzija] who has been pitching better lately and is trying to put distance between himself and those first couple of starts.
Matt: Suspensions for starting pitchers should largely be monetary if baseball can’t give them just suspensions which don’t carry weight. Jeff Samardzija will be exposed in the American League this year. There is a big difference between facing pitchers and bench players opposed to facing professional designated hitters who’s one job is to smash and bash. Anyone who owns Samardzija needs to take that in to consideration. He has a career 5.27 ERA in 70 IP against the American League in his career. That’s alarming…
With that news out of the way, do you want to discuss Hanley Ramirez and his season thusfar? He’s rejuvinated the Red Sox with his bat this year. If he was still playing shortstop, I could build a strong case for an MVP season, but, with him in the outfield, his statistics and value take a slight downward angle, as there are so many outfielders capable of putting up numbers like this every year, all season. And his penchance for hitting solo homeruns is alarming. You’d think with 21 hits and 8 homeruns he’d have more than 17 RBI. As a Red Sox fan, are you intrigued by this trend? What did you think of his signing? With six games at home this week against the Blue Jays and Yankees, do you think he could reach double digit homeruns by May 1st?
Ryan: I did not like the Hanley signing when I found out he would be in the outfield. The Red Sox outfield is crowded as it is and him being there, I feel, is a defensive liability. Early offensive numbers are promising but I’m curious how he holds up. I’d rather see him at third-base. I think the Sox best offense is one with Hanley at third but the Sandoval signing killed that potential. Pablo Sandoval should not be on this Red Sox roster. That contract was unnecessary and over its’ life he will prove to be a bad signing. The Red Sox should have focused that money into ANY starting pitching, and slotted Hanley at third so there would be room for who will be a mid-season sensation in Rusney Castillo. With Victorino already on the DL in April, if owners in your league were impatient with Castillo, scoop him up NOW! His shoulder is fine and he’s slated to come back Wednesday. I could see him up with the big club by Sunday. Speaking of young talent, who are your surprises so far this season as far as rookies go? You know mine is Devon Travis, second baseman for the Toronto Blue Jays.
Matt: I knew you’d eventually ask about rookies. You and I both have en eye for young talent. I found Jose Abreu last year in the league we are both in, and he carried my offense most of the year on the way to a Rookie of the Year campaign. This year I have my eye on Kris Bryant of the Chicago Cubs who could easily be a budding superstar in front of our eyes. The young third baseman was drafted not even 24 months ago, and here is he on a major league roster which is huge for a baseball prospect. With 8 walks in only 42 PA this year (on pace for over 130 over 162 games), he is showing his potential to be a patient hitter. Pitchers can’t decide what to throw him, or where. He’s batting .333 on top of those 8 walks, so, he’s putting their strikes in play and biding his time with balls out of the zone. Though without any homeruns yet, some fans are wondering when the power will show up for the youngster. I projected he wouldn’t break the 20 homerun mark in his rookie year, while still being an elite bat. Guys like Alex Gordon manage to hit over 60 XBH and have a wrecking ball of a bat, which I can see for Bryant this year. How do you feel about an over/under of 20 homeruns this season?
Ryan: Bryant will probably end up under 20 home runs for the season, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him get to 40 doubles. I am concerned for him when he starts seeing more pitches inside because he doesn’t look good on those. He’s young enough to make adjustments, so who knows what his limit is. I project him to be more of an Adam Dunn in his prime, which is NOT a bad thing at all. That said, people should temper their expectations for Kris Bryant this year. Give him time to grow. Miguel Cabrera didn’t become a Triple Crown winner over night. Continue with the youth movement, this is absolutely THE year to own Cleveland Indians pitching. If Danny Salazar is available in your league, pick him up because after what I saw versus the Tigers (7 IP, 11 K, 3 BB, 1 ER), I’m a believer. He’s poised for big things! Along with Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco, and Trevor Bauer, the Indians look like they’re ready to fight it out with Royals and Tigers for years to come.
Matt: I don’t think the Tigers roster has years left in it. It looks as fragile as Joe Nathan right now. That team was built to win a World Series between 2008 and 2013, and it faltered at doing do. Dombrowski has proven himself to be a competetant general manager, but, he just can’t get Detroit to it’s lofty expectations of a World Series win. Verlander is toast, Miguel Cabrera isn’t getting any younger, and David Price is a free agent this offseason. Not to mention they’ve lost Porcello, Scherzer, and Fister in the last handful of years depleting the team of elite starting pitching. I know you’re a fan of Shane Greene, but, he’s not close to anyone on that list in terms of replacing their talent.
Let’s wrap up our first edition with a fun note for all the New York Mets fans out there. Even though I’m a Yankees fan, the Mets have really impressed me this year. Elias Sports reported that for the first time since 1986, two Mets starting pitchers (Colon and Harvey) have started the season 4-0. If that season rings a bell for Mets fans, it was the last time the Mets won a World Series. What are your thoughts on the Mets this year? They are without David Wright, Zach Wheeler, Travis d’Arnaud, Jennry Meija, and Bobby Parnell and they have started hot. Granted the return of Matt Harvey certainly helped them, but, the offense seems to be clicking and manufacturing runs, and Lucas Duda is destroying the stitches off any ball thrown to him. Could this year be the year the Mets return to the post-season? Could they win the NL pennant? Or are they overachieving?
Ryan: The Mets have looked good this year, and that’s with Daniel Murphy struggling. Granted he’s not a power guy, but he is a consistent bat and OBP guy in that lineup and once he gets going they could get more dangerous. I don’t think the Mets are World Series contenders… this year. I’d like to see them add another pitcher such as David Price to go along with Harvey and Wheeler. Of course, how Wheeler bounces back next year from his surgery will be important as well. We’ll see where they are in July. I think they can pull a wildcard spot, but it’s not for sure. Teams start out hot and fall off, and the Mets could definitely fall victim to that.
That will do it for this week. If you love baseball like we do, please continue to read Seventh Inning Stretch all season long as we discuss and ins and outs, and ups and downs of everything Major League Baseball in 2015! You can message us on Facebook, or reply to the article comment section on Facebook on the Place to Be Nation page if you’d like to ask us any questions, comment, or discuss any thing related to baseball. If we get enough support we may answer a couple of those questions in a future article.