But the two metric geniuses and Plaschke are dead wrong about this hiring, especially since Roberts seems to want to go along with being a front office stooge to analytic tyrants, and one wonders why of the almost dozen managerial prospects interviewed none were ex catchers.
Most of the great winning managers this century have been catchers, who possess a better feel for and grasp of the game, understand nuances, and, most important, unlike Terry Collins of the New York Mets (a former infielder), would never allow a pitcher to talk them into staying in a game after their minds were made up, and especially a headstrong egotist like Matt Harvey in a crucial World Series game.
There’s no way Harvey even gets a word in with Bruce Bochy, Mike Scioscia, Mike Matheny, Ned Yost, and especially ironclad, Marine-tough Joe Girardi, all former catchers. Not a chance. Along with Maddon, (who also caught) these are the premier managers in major league baseball, men who year after year cobble together competitive teams despite a dearth of talent or a raft of key injuries. Nobody understands the game or sees it in the same perspective as a catcher, and nobody understands the idiosyncracies and mind games of a pitcher when they trek to the mound.
The Dodgers let go of a former catcher in Joe Torre, who won 4 World Series, and hired a firstbaseman in Don Mattingly, and the genius nerds let him go, and have found themselves an outfielder. The geniuses have outsmarted themselves again.
On the other hand, the Dodgers were smart to not sign Zach Greinke. He’ll never have a year like he just had and players, like Albert Pujols, no matter what position, unless they’re on steroids, go downhill fast in their mid thirties. Just check your baseball encyclopedia.
The Angels made a shrewd move in signing Yunel Escobar. A solid defender who can play second and third, get on base, run the bases well, drive in runs, and not be a load like David Freese, who strikes out too much, leaves too many runs on base, does not run well and hits into too many doubleplays, and is only an average thirdbaseman, at best, and only a thirdbaseman.
The new Angel hitting coach needs to go over Kole Calhoun’s first half and second half and observe him during his hot streak holding his bat flatly on his shoulder and cutting loose with a quick, compact swing that propelled line drive home runs, and later in the season, when he began holding his bat up more vertically, jiggling it around, and upper-cutting pitches, which led to giving up at bats and striking out repeatedly like Josh Hamilton.
Their best choice of the outfielders available for the Angels is Alex Gordon, a terrific fielder, accomplished hitter who fights left-handers at the plate and would give them a solid left handed bat. If they can’t sign him, take back Murphy.
Kansas City will not be the same team if they don’t resign Gordon, especially after losing Zobrist. They can coast during the season with guys like Orlando and Tyson, but not in the playoffs. Madson is not that big of a loss to their bullpen. He was the least dependable of a great relief staff.
The toughest task for a team like Kansas City, with their home-grown players, is keeping one of its long time fully developed stars like Gordon, which messes with team chemistry. They will need to trade for an ace sometime late in the season if they’re in a pennant race or have a chance for the playoffs.
St. Louis has to feel hijacked by the Cubs, stealing John Lackey, a money pitcher, and Jason Hayward, but despite the so-called WAR rating by the sabermetric geniuses, Hayward has continued as an underachiever, injury prone, never hitting .300 or even 20 homeruns and is not worth star or superstar money.
Still, for the Cubs, the choice is a good one even if Hayward is grossly over-paid at $184 million over 8 years. He could not carry a St. Louis line-up lacking power with Matt Holliday hurt all year and a power outage at all positions. At Chicago Hayward, who cannot carry a team with his bat, will be carried by the likes of Bryant and Rizzo and a slew of young power hitters who strike out too much in a smaller ball park where strong winds should jack Hayward up to at least 20 homeruns if he stays healthy.
Seattle’s trade for Lind could balance out that line-up, even if they have too many left-handed hitters.
Any team that offers Chris Davis, a one tool player, $150 million, is a baseball moron or so rich they don’t care.
What do the San Francisco Giants, who signed Jeff Samardzija with his 4.96 era and BP stuff the second half, know that we don’t to give him $90 million for 5 years? And why dish out $130 million to Johnny Cueto, with a history of arm and back troubles and a delivery and mechanics that shriek of Tommy John surgery?
St. Louis could be in trouble. Lackey gone, Lynn out with Tommy John surgery, a bunch of dynamic young arms that wore out the last month of the season, Holiday slowing down with injuries, shortstop Peralta and catcher Molina both showing age at key positions, farm system finally growing thin, and stuck in a division with the surging Cubs and rock-solid Pirates. Maybe they sacrifice a down year for the future.
The Angels should unload C. J. Wilson, no matter the cost, because he is the opposite of John Lackey, who has good stuff but makes great pitches in clutch situations. Wilson, in tight spots, with great stuff but poor command, gets behind in counts and comes in fat and falls prey to big innings.
Don’t get too excited over the Arizona Diamondbacks, even with the addition of Greinke, and ask yourself if, like the Dodgers, they’re strong up the middle.
Here’s hoping Bryce Harper, the most exciting player in the game, even more so than Mike Trout, isn’t stripped of his potential by the thinning out of the National line-up, even if getting rid of sour-ass Matt Williams as manager ought to give them a new lease on life.
Thank the baseball Gods for one more year of octogenarian Vin Scully.