The Minnesota Twins Are A Mess

Miguel Sano has been a pleasant surprise in Minnesota this season. (Photo by Keith Allison on Flickr (Original version) UCinternational (Crop) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons)

Miguel Sano is having trouble repeating his performance from a year ago. (Photo by Keith Allison on Flickr (Original version) UCinternational (Crop) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons)

The Minnesota Twins are off to a dreadful start, and that’s despite being well stocked with young talent. In episode 44 of the podcast, I spend some time wondering who needs to be held accountable for the sorry state of the franchise. Is it Terry Ryan and is questionable trades/signings and tendency to rush young players to the Majors, or is it Paul Molitor?

Look, I know Molitor is close to a God to Minnesota Twins fans, so I’ll probably be skewered for even suggesting that. However, Ron Gardenhire always seemed to be able to bring along young players, and he always managed to find a way to keep the team competitive. I am not saying Molitor can’t, but he hasn’t shown that ability yet.

Ryan is another story. I could spend all day questioning many of the moves he made. In fact, in the podcast I do! This the guy who signed pitchers like Kevin Correia, Ricky Nolasco, and Mike Pelfrey. This is the guy who rushed Aaron Hicks to the Majors from AA, skipping AAA entirely. Hicks, a great defender, wound up hitting .192, .212, and .256 in three seasons, and Ryan traded him to the NY Yankees for backup catcher John Ryan Murphy (who started the year 3-40 and got sent down). He also rushed Eddie Rosario after less than 100 AAA at bats.

He is also the guy who traded away guys like Denard Span and Ben Revere for pitchers Alex Meyer and Trevor May. Meyer has be so-so at best in the minors, and was lit up like a Christmas tree in Minnesota. May, who they thought was going to be a top-of-the-rotation starter, was a bust starting games. He may wind up a decent reliever, so I’ll give Ryan a pass on that one.

I also question the decision to have Miguel Sano, who is normally a third baseman, play right field this year. With no chance to learn the position in winter ball or the minors, you thrust a great hitter into an unfamiliar role at the Major League level.

Sano is hitting .234 with three homers and 12 RBI in 111 ABs. This from a guy who had 18 homers, 52 RBI, and a .270 batting average in 279 ABs last season. I have to believe his focus on learning the position has carried over to his offense. I know they have Trevor Plouffe at third, but he is far from the second coming of Brooks Robinson. I’d rather keep my potential stud in Sano happy and comfortable and look to use Plouffe as a chip to get some pitching,

I don’t know who the eventual hammer will fall on, but at some point the Minnesota Twins ownership will have to do something before the fan base revolts.

Also in This Episode:

  • The unsubstantiated whispering about PED use of successful players needs to stop.
  • Speaking of stop, the Angels are not going to trade Mike Trout.
  • The Bartolo Colon homer last week was priceless.
  • Steven Wright is the Red Sox rotation savior.
  • Is Dustin Pedroia the Red Sox next pitching coach?
  • My pick for team of the week

I appreciate you listening and following me every week. You can listen to the latest podcast here, or subscribe to it on iTunes to have it automatically downloaded to your iOS devices.

As always, I welcome your comments and suggestions here or at ggumbs@sbcglobal.net. Please let me know what you think. See you next week!

Jake Arrieta – One the O’s Let Get Away

Jake Arrieta

(Photo By Mateocubs – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=47452415)

In episode 43 of the Sports Microscope podcast, host Gene Gumbs points out that Jake Arrieta isn’t the only quality pitcher that Baltimore Oriole GM Dan Duquette let get away. Roger Clemens anyone?

In 1996, Duquette declared that Clemens was in the “twilight of his career.” All Clemens did was go on to win four more Cy Young awards with teams not located in Boston. Jake Arrieta is on his way to doing the same thing with a team not located in Baltimore. I’m not saying there’s a correlation… but maybe I am.

I am sure Duquette gets a little queasy every time he reads the incredible numbers Arrieta has put up since last June – numbers that not even the great Bob Gibson could match. I won’t bore you with all of them here, but I urge you to read the piece by Carrie Muskat on MLB.com.

Suffice it to say that we are looking at one of the greatest runs in the history of baseball – and that’s saying something!

Also in This Episode:

  • Anyone else tired of athletes saying they don’t know how PEDs got into their system?
  • Yasiel Puig makes on of the greatest throws I have ever seen
  • Curt Schilling has the right to speak his mind. ESPN has the right to fire him.
  • Vin Scully skewers people comparing Joe Dimaggio and Ryan Howard
  • My pick for team of the week

I appreciate you listening and following me every week. You can listen to the latest podcast here, or subscribe to it on iTunes to have it automatically downloaded to your iOS devices.

As always, I welcome your comments and suggestions here or at ggumbs@sbcglobal.net. Please let me know what you think. See you next week!

 

Podcast #42 – Chris Archer Dazzles on Opening Day

Chris Archer

(Photo by Keith Allison on Flickr (Original version) UCinternational (Crop) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons)

I want to say right up front that Chris Archer rubs me the wrong way, but there is no denying the talent that the 27-year-old possesses. He exhibited electric stuff on Sunday, striking out 12 in just five innings of work. In fact, if not for some opening-inning jitters, which saw him throw 31 pitches, he might have gone deeper and given his team a chance to win.

What impressed me the most was that he came back out for the fifth inning trailing 3-1 and having already thrown 93 pitches. He came out for the fifth and struck out Edwin Encarnacion, Troy Tulowitzki, and Chris Colabello on 14 pitches. Hell, I half expected him to come out for the fifth.

So why does Chris Archer bug me? I think he shows far too much cockiness for someone who has barely three years in the bigs. I think the straw that broke the camel’s back for me was thi spring when he berated a Rays rookie for showing up “only” 30 minutes early for a meeting? How about he just worries about himself instead of trying to be a big man on campus?

I honestly think he has the ability to be a Cy Young Award winner one day. His fastball has a lot of late movement and his slider looks near impossible to hit at times. The only thing standing in his way is him. He needs to focus on his game and not worry about his desire to be a team leader, or team “spokesman” when he decides to tell veteran players how they should play the game. (Ask a few of the Red Sox vets about that – and I’ll bet they are one in a long line.)

But I love to watch him pitch.

Also in this Episode:

I appreciate you listening and following me every week. You can listen to the latest podcast here, or subscribe to it on iTunes to have it automatically downloaded to your iOS devices.

As always, I welcome your comments and suggestions here or at ggumbs@sbcglobal.net. Please let me know what you think!

No Winners in White Sox Fiasco

Adam LaRoche Chicago White Sox

Adam LaRoche (photo by By Keith Allison on Flickr (Originally posted to Flickr as “Adam LaRoche”) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons}

When the whole mess with Adam LaRoche and the Chicago White Sox started last week, I only felt bad for one person – LaRoche’s son, Drake. That 14-year-old kid has had a hell of a lot put on him simply because his father wanted to teach the White Sox a “lesson” and walk away from the game on principle.

So before we nominate LaRoche for Father of the Year, think about that. Let’s also remember that, while $13 million is a lot of money, LaRoche is also a multimillionaire. It’s not like you and me walking away from a $50,000 job and having to worry about not being able to feed our families. It’s far from that.

And what about the young man going to school? I know LaRoche once gave an interview where he said “We’re not big on school,” but wouldn’t the Father of the Year make sure his kid was prepared for his future?

Look, I get it’s cool for a boy to be able to hang out with pro baseball players. Kids love that stuff. I worked in Division I college athletics for years. I sometimes took my kids to games or on road trips, but I never took them into a locker room. That is not where they belong.

The White Sox and LaRoche could have reached some middle ground. The White Sox totally mishandled the situation and LaRoche overreacted, in my opinion.

Perhaps LaRoche saw the end of his career was near and this was an easy way out. I don’t know. All I know is that Drake LaRoche has to take on part of a burden he didn’t ask for and doesn’t deserve.

In Podcast #41, host Gene Gumbs talks about that and a number of other things happening in Major League Baseball spring training camps.

Also in this Episode:

  • Jim Kaat presented an interesting idea on how to make MLB less “tired”
  • The injuries in LA continue to mount with Andre Ethier now out 3-4 months
  • Travis Shaw is making things difficult in Red Sox camp
  • A look at the NCAA Tournament
  • Steve Pikiell lands men’s basketball job at Rutgers after reach NCAAs with Stony Brook
  • My pick for team of the week

I appreciate you listening and following me every week. You can listen to the latest podcast here, or subscribe to it on iTunes to have it automatically downloaded to your iOS devices.

As always, I welcome your comments and suggestions here or at ggumbs@sbcglobal.net. Please let me know what you think!

Bryce Harper Has a Point

"BryceHarper2015SD002" by Johnmaxmena2 - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:BryceHarper2015SD002.jpg#/media/File:BryceHarper2015SD002.jpg

“Bryce Harper2015SD002” by Johnmaxmena2 – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:BryceHarper2015SD002.jpg#/media/File:BryceHarper2015SD002.jpg

Despite the fact that I’m a traditionalist, I have to admit that Bryce Harper has a point when it comes to his assertion that baseball needs to inject a little more personality into the game. This week’s edition of the Sports Microscope podcast talks about that, and the rather unhinged comments by Hall of Famer Rich Gossage.

There is little doubt that the average age of the baseball fan keeps going up. There can also be no arguing that Major League Baseball needs to find a way to attract young fans and get kids excited about actually playing baseball. Players loosening up some of those unwritten rules about bat flips, etc. might be a good start.

Don’t get me wrong, some unwritten rules are good and necessary. Up eight runs and still trying to steal bases? The middle infielders covering second need to police that, or the pitcher needs to make the next batter wear a baseball. Not showing up the opponent should be the primary unwritten rule. Does flipping a bat, yelling after striking out an opponent, or strutting a bit after hitting a homer constitute showing up the opponent? I don’t think so. That kind of thing has been going on for years. Hell, wouldn’t Kirk Gibson‘s arm pumps after hitting the game-winning homer off Dennis Eckersley in 1988 be considered showboating?

There’s no easy answer here. Someone is always going to take offense at some perceived slight. David Price had perhaps the best solution – how about the shoes? Why not let player express their personality through their footwear? Why shouldn’t MLB change their policy that cleats have to be 51 percent of the team’s primary color? I like Price’s idea a lot and it brings the sport a little closer to what Bryce Harper suggests.

Also in this Episode:

  • Could Jered Weaver be at the end of the line?
  • Travis Shaw is hitting the heck out of the ball in spring training. What do the Red Sox do?
  • Jenrry Mejia must all think we are as dumb as he is
  • The mess in Baltimore continues as they sign human statue Pedro Alavarez
  • Brock Osweiler parlays seven career starts into 18 million a year
  • My pick for team of the week

I appreciate you listening and following me every week. You can listen to the latest podcast here, or subscribe to it on iTunes to have it automatically downloaded to your iOS devices.

As always, I welcome your comments and suggestions here or at ggumbs@sbcglobal.net. Please let me know what you think!

 

NL West Title Path Now Easier for Giants

Brett Anderson's injury will make it tougher for the Dodgers to win the NL West.  (photo by Arturo Pardavila III [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons)

Brett Anderson’s injury will make it tougher for the Dodgers to win the NL West. (photo by Arturo Pardavila III [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons)

In episode 39 of the Sports Microscope Podcast, host Gene Gumbs discusses why the path to the NL West crown just got a little easier for the San Francisco Giants. With the announcement that Brett Anderson is out for 3-5 months, and the continued injury issues for Hyun-Jin Ryu (shoulder) and Brandon McCarthy (elbow), the Dodger rotation becomes a little thinner behind ace Clayton Kershaw.

To have a shot at the NL West, the Dodgers have to hope they are getting the Scott Kazmir that pitched in Oakland last year, not the one that pitched to a four ERA and 1.4 WHIP in Houston. They’ll also need rookie Kenta Maeda to live up to the hype he created in the Japanese League. Of course he signed an eight-year contract, so they must really believe in him. They also have Alex Wood, who is serviceable but allows way too many men to get on base.

I am sure the Giants aren’t shedding any tears, and the Arizona Diamondbacks are probably licking their chops, thinking that this might be the thing they need to stay relevant and remain in the NL West race all season. I’ll match their top three of Zack Greinke, Shelby Miller and Patrick Corbin against the top three the Dodgers have right now.

Also in this NL West Themed Episode:

  • Injuries already becoming a factor for season’s start
  • Enough of the Yoenis Cespedes three-ring circus already!
  • Could the Minnesota Twins be the Astros of 2016?
  • Doc Emrick makes cool appearance in Pirate radio booth
  • Anyone else wonder how Ian Desmond is getting along with his agent?
  • My pick for team of the week

I appreciate you listening and following me every week. You can listen to the latest podcast here, or subscribe to it on iTunes to have it automatically downloaded to your iOS devices.

As always, I welcome your comments and suggestions here or at ggumbs@sbcglobal.net. Please let me know what you think!

 

Spring Training Press Conferences Entertaining

Grapefruit league logoIt’s snowing here in New England, but it’s spring in my mind. Baseball spring training has begun! In podcast #38, host Gene Gumbs bounces around the Cactus and Grapefruit leagues to talk about some of the happenings.and comments made in the pre-season player press conferences, which are always entertaining.

Leading the list is Washington’s Bryce Harper, who has already floated the idea of a $400 million contract when he becomes a free agent in a few years. In this age of Monopoly money, is anyone surprised? And considering what the top pitchers are getting now, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that Harper gets 40 mil for 10 years when he becomes a free agent in 2019.

Anyone want to start a pool on how fast the Red Sox start offering Pablo Sandoval to anyone who will take him in exchange for a bag of balls? The Jenny Craig soap opera began right at the start of spring training. After manager John Farrell and others said that they expected Sandoval to show up slimmed down and ready to go, Sandoval appeared looking just like the Michelin Man again, saying that no one in the organization ever asked him to lose weight. First off, I call BS. Second, even if they didn’t, should they have to?

In the same vain, how long do you think it will be before Dan Duquette gets fired in Baltimore. He was a horrible GM in Boston, and proving to be the same in Baltimore. This is the guy who said Roger Clemens was washed up. The same Clemens who went out and won four more Cy Youngs elsewhere. He’s completely botched this off season, leaving the O’s to take the bottom of the barrel of the remaining free agents. Buck Showalter can only overcome so much.

Also in this Spring Training Episode:

I appreciate you listening and following me every week. You can listen to the latest podcast here, or subscribe to it on iTunes to have it automatically downloaded to your iOS devices.

As always, I welcome your comments and suggestions here or at ggumbs@sbcglobal.net. Please let me know what you think!

MLB Free Agent Pool Drying Up

Justin Upton

Justin Upton in 2015. (photo by Johnmaxmena2 – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Upton_sd_2015.jpg#/media/File:Upton_sd_2015.jpg)

They haven’t turned the hot stove off yet, but the gas (read: money) supply may be running out. With the majority of the cash being spent on pitching this off season, the market and cash for the remaining MLB free agent position players on the market may be limited. In the first podcast of 2016, host Gene Gumbs looks at the latest MLB moves and the biggest names still left out there.

Free agent outfielders Yoenis Cespedes, Justin Upton and Dexter Fowler are still sitting out there wondering when they are going to get some love and money. First baseman Chris Davis turned down a lot of money from the Orioles and has yet to get another. (He’d be a great sign in Boston with the impending David Ortiz retirement and Hanley Ramirez experiment at first. Just sayin’.}

There are still a couple of starting pitchers left out there, but only a couple of those would seem to be of the caliber that could make them difference makers. Wei-Yin Chen, late of the Orioles, and Yovani Gallardo, who turned down a qualifying offer from the Texas Rangers, could both step into the #3 slot of a team’s rotation. Gallardo, 29, obviously believes he is worth more than the 15.8 million Texas offered. Chen, 30, is reportedly looking for a five-year deal in the 80 million dollar range.

Other notable arms still on the market are Doug Fister, Mat Latos, Tim Lincecum, Ian Kennedy. Of that list, the one that might command the most is Fister. He had a sub-par 2015, but this is a guy with a career 3.42 ERA and a WHIP of 1.2. He’d make a great middle-of-the-rotation acquisition.

Also in this MLB Free Agent Episode:

  • Dodgers have signed a couple of pitchers, but they have big problems
  • Gonna be a looooong year in Cincinnati
  • San Francisco Giants may be top Hot Stove chefs
  • Marshawn Lynch is a disgrace
  • Road warriors rule in NFL playoffs
  • My pick for team of the week

I appreciate you listening and following me every week. You can listen to the latest podcast here, or subscribe to it on iTunes to have it automatically downloaded to your iOS devices.

As always, I welcome your comments and suggestions here or at ggumbs@sbcglobal.net. Please let me know what you think!

Pete Rose Decision Understandable, But Flawed

Pete Rose

Pete Rose (photo by Kjunstorm from Laguna Niguel, CA, US. Color-corrected, cropped and red eye removed by Daniel Case 2008-07-16 – Pete Rose. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org)

It was a near certainty that MLB commissioner Rob Manfred was going to deny Pete Rose the chance to be reinstated in baseball. Podcast #36 and host Gene Gumbs breaks down why this decision, while understandable, has flaws. Major League Baseball needs to clean up its house in regards to the daily gambling of fantasy games on sites like Draft Kings and Fan Duel before it can preach that it wants to keep the specter of wagering away from its sport.

Is it a stretch to think that there are current players participating in fantasy games/leagues on those sites? I don’t think so. Is that not gambling? Is that not betting on baseball, the same thing Pete Rose was banned for? I’d be willing to be the ranch that it’s happening. Those companies aren’t going to divulge who is playing. Even if they did, it’s nothing to have a friend or family member place the bet for you.

While the idea doesn’t actually bother me all that much, it does bother me to think that Major League Baseball is in bed with these companies. Hell, their hosts on the MLB Network’s morning show picked guys for a Draft Kings fantasy lineup every morning! Are you kidding me? You can’t ban a guy for gambling on baseball but then accept advertising money from these companies and have your employees engaged in promoting them!

As to the Hall of Fame? That’s another issue. There’s quite a rant on that in the podcast. Enjoy.

Also in this Episode:

  • A look at the pans still cooking on the hot stove
  • Jason Heyward signs with the Cubs
  • With the addition of Cueto, the Giant’s rotation is scary good.
  • Mets still need a bat, but Neil Walker makes them better
  • My pick for team of the week

I appreciate you listening and following me every week. You can listen to the latest podcast here, or subscribe to it on iTunes to have it automatically downloaded to your iOS devices.

As always, I welcome your comments and suggestions here or at ggumbs@sbcglobal.net. Please let me know what you think!

MLB Free Agent Contracts Reaching New Heights

David Price

(Photo by Arturo Pardavila III on Flickr (Original version) UCinternational (Crop) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons)

The monopoly-money carousel turned a little faster this week when David Price (31 million/year) and Zack Greinke (34 million/year) signed new MLB free agent contracts. Add to that a flurry of trades, and the recent general manager meetings in Nashville have been the busiest in years. In his latest podcast, Sports Microscope host Gene Gumbs breaks down all the recent activity.

Heck, compared to the numbers that Price and Greinke got, the 16 million a year for John Lackey seems like chump change. Johnny Cueto recently turned down 20 million a year from Arizona. As one of the last big free agent pitchers yet to sign, some desperate team is liable to step up and offer him 25 million. It’s down right ridiculous.

To be sure, the Price signing, and the other moves they Red Sox made, moves Boston right to the top of the class in the American League – at least on paper. Ask the San Diego Padres how their paper championship worked out last year. In addition to Price, the Red Sox got one of the best closers in the game in 27-year-old Craig Kimbrel, and then traded Wade Miley to get another great bullpen arm in Carson Smith, as well as Roenis Elias. Hell, the trade of Miley alone is addition by subtraction!

Likewise, the signing of Greinke, and then the trade for Shelby Miller with the Atlanta Braves, puts the Arizona Diamondbacks in the mix for the NL West title. They still probably need to add a bat or two, but a rotation that starts with Greinke, Miller, and a healthy Patrick Corbin ain’t bad.

Also in this MLB Free Agent Episode:

  • Are the Chicago Cubs overvaluing Ben Zobrist?
  • Jon Jay headed to San Diego
  • Starlin Castro traded to the Yankees
  • Steve Sarkisian is suing USC because he’s a drunk
  • My pick for team of the week

I appreciate you listening and following me every week. You can listen to the latest podcast here, or subscribe to it on iTunes to have it automatically downloaded to your iOS devices.

As always, I welcome your comments and suggestions here or at ggumbs@sbcglobal.net.