J.T. Realmuto goes to the Phillies

Politics has gotten stupid this week, so we’re going to talk some more about Baseball.  The Marlins are currently trying to become as bad/low-cost as possible, so one of the major story lines has been if they will trade JT Realmuto.  I’m not sure Realmuto is one of the best players in the game (which seems like where the Marlins had him valued most of the off-season), but he is one of the best Catchers in the game in a Catcher drought.

I think my basic take is this: I’m glad the Braves didn’t trade for him, but I’m disappointed the Phillies ended up with him.  The Marlins initial asking price initially included Ozzie Albies, which is obscene.  I saw some speculation that the Marlins were trying to make-up for undervaluing Giancarlo Stanton last year, and I’m glad AA didn’t fall for that.  Supposedly the Braves later said no to Ian Anderson and Austin Riley once the price came down later.  I have no problem with that, as they are both high-ceiling players who I wouldn’t want to play on a division rival down the road.

At the same time, the Phillies continue to improve, and you have to think they’re probably still going to add either Bryce Harper or Manny Machado.  That line-up is going to be tough to knock off this season.  I don’t know what AA still has up his sleeves.  Maybe Craig Kimbrel is still in play if the price settles down. Maybe there’s another move to improve the pitching staff or bullpen we don’t know about yet (Madison Bumgarner? Corey Kluber?).  I’m glad the Braves didn’t overpay to get Realmuto, but it still feels like unless everything happens to fall together perfectly with this line-up, they still have some moves to make if they’re going to repeat as Division Champions in 2019.

So, what would this current line-up need to repeat as is? It probably involves at least most of:

  • Dansby Swanson would need to hit better or risk Camargo taking over SS.
  • Ozzie Albies would need to improve his R/L splits.
  • Nick Markakis looks like his early 2018 instead of basically the rest of his tenure in Atlanta.
  • Sean Newcomb needs to shake off his second-half stuggles from last year.
  • Find solid production at Spots 4 and 5 in the rotation between Julio Teheran and the young guys (Mike Soroka, Max Fried, Bryse Wilson, Luiz Gohara, etc.
  • More overall productivity out of the bullpen.

Is all of that possible.  I think so, since all of those players except Markakis and Teheran are young and conceivably have room for development.  Is it reasonable to assume all of these things will happen though?  I obviously don’t know what to expect from these players, but that seems like a very uncertain notion.  I would guess AA thinks more teams will be sellers at a better price once we’re in the season and thinks this team can wait until then, and that seems like a fair guess.

Baseball is Mostly Fine As It Is

Rob Manfred is out rattling cages again:

Full article is here (ESPN)

Let’s take these one at a time:

  • When to use Relief Pitchers and Pinch-Hitters is an important part of the strategy of the game that a 3-batter minimum rips away.
  • Watching Pitchers bat is fun, and the dividing the DH between AL and NL as it stands right now gives us the best of both worlds.
  • Having a late trade deadline allows more time for wheeling and dealing and gives teams a better chance to determine if they’re buyers or sellers, thus creating more deals.
  • The pitch clock isn’t inherently bad, but the lengths of games isn’t a huge issue right now.
  • I don’t have a problem with light active-roster expansion either, but let teams split the roster spots however they want instead of a Pitcher maximum.
  • Something needs to be done about tanking, but rewarding winning teams in the draft just creates more parity.
  • The mound is fine as it is.
  • Looking into two-sport athletes signing Major-League deals is perfectly fine.  It is the one good idea on this list.

Baseball is a perfectly fine sport.  It has a long established tradition, has some fun young up-and-comers, and doesn’t cause life-altering head injuries.  If we’re trying to make Baseball more appealing to more people, how about doing something about racist owners, players who commit domestic violence, and colluding owners who won’t sign some of the sports best players and spend money?

If I were to become the Commissioner in my own little world, here is what I would do:

  • More youth outreach to recruit young players based around the idea that Baseball is a safe, accessible sport.
  • Pay Minor League Players a living wage.
  • Create a Salary floor for teams to prevent small markets selling off all their marketable players for money and prevent collusion in free agency.
  • Move the start of the season up a week (and take a week off Spring Training) to create more off-days in the season and try to prevent wear and tear.
  • Expand the Wild Card to Best of 3 and Division Series to Best of 7.
  • Try to cluster inter-league games more in the Summer to break up the monotony of the schedule.

Super Bowl Links + Prediction

Colin Kaepernick and his influence on the NFL

From the Atlantic, Football and the NFL are facing White Flight

Tony Romo is Ready

I’ll be rooting for the Rams.  Obviously the Patriots are the worst, but John Kelly also provided one of the very few bright spots in UT’s 2017 season.

Also, for Atlanta fans, the thought of the Patriots winning a Super Bowl on their home field 2 years after 28-3 is just too much.  I say between a big performance from Aaron Donald and an advantage in Special Teams, the Rams take this one 37-31.

Room for Braves Roster Improvements

As we get closer to the start of spring training, some Braves fans are getting a little nervous.  While the Braves added Josh Donaldson, they haven’t really improved anywhere else, all while the Phillies and Mets have made serious moves.  With free agency winding down, Gabe Burns of the AJC asked on Twitter today, are there any free-agents outside the Big 3 (Harper, Machado, Kimbrel) you would like to see the Braves bring in?

Looking at free agents, I’m a little skeptical.  The 3 needs I can see the Braves looking for outside help for at this point are OF, Starting P, and Relief P.  There really aren’t any Relief Ps left in free agency who strike me as a significant upgrade.  For the first two positions, I wouldn’t mind either Marwin Gonzalez or Dallas Keuchel on team-friendly deals.  That said, there were rumors Gonzalez was coming on a 3-year/$53 million deal earlier this off-season, and I definitely wouldn’t want him at that price.  Additionally, while Keuchel wouldn’t be a bad addition to the rotation, I think I might rather trade for a different P with perhaps more team-friendly terms (Madison Bumgarner and Corey Kluber are both names that have come up).

That said, I don’t think there’s not room for the Braves to still make improvements with the right creativity.  For example, David O’Brien of the Athletic threw out the suggestion that the Braves trade Ender Inciarte + Prospect for Kluber, dump Teheran’s salary somewhere, and then sign Bryce Harper.  That’s the type of thinking that could upgrade the Braves roster while still keeping a mid-market payroll.  My biggest concern with that specific scenario is still having Harper on the books when it comes time for the Braves’ young core (Acuna, Albies, etc) to resign, but I do think creative trading is probably the best route for improving the Braves roster at this point in the off-season.

Atlanta Braves Re-sign Nick Markakis

I’m seeing a lot of disappointment about this. I think Markakis is fine, especially at 1 year/$4 million with a club option for a Second year. That leaves them with room to add more. They’ve really only improved at 3B, which wasn’t bad with #CamarGOAT there already.

They could use a top-half of the rotation Pitcher or a strong Closer. It really depends on how comfortable they are with Mike Soroka, Touki Toussaint, and/or Max Fried making up the back of the rotation. If they think that combination can make up for the losses of Anibal Sanchez and Brandon McCarthy from last year, I would look more at a higher-end Closer. If there’s doubt there, I would look more at Starter.

Random NFL Thoughts (1/20)

– I was rooting for the Saints, and it’s garbage that they lost. Drew Brees and Ben Watson are some of the good guys, not to mention VFL Alvin Kamara. That the pass interference call was missed cost them the game, and those officials should be repudiated.

– I’m not a big Rams fan, but they aren’t the Patriots (and they have VFL John Kelly).

– The Patriots definitely got more than their share of calls as well. The Chiefs more blatantly cost themselves than the Saints (the Dee Ford penalty was killer).

– The NFL OT rules need to be changed (at least for the postseason). My proposal is each offense gets a possession like in College ball, but start at the 50 instead of the opponents 25.

– Tony Romo is as good as everyone says in the booth. Watching Nantz/Romo right after Buck/Aikman put the later crew to shame.