The Red Sox beat the Dodgers in the World Series. Happy?
James: I’m always happy when the Dodgers lose. Honestly, I would have rather seen a Houston/Los Angeles re-match, but I’m fine with the Red Sox doing the job. I’m not terribly fond of Boston, but there is no team in baseball I would root for the Dodgers to beat, not even the Yankees.
Cumulus: Seeing the Dodgers eliminated from the World Series at Dodger Stadium for the second consecutive year was pure ecstasy, and I got a pretty good kick out of trash talking Dodgers fans on Twitter after the fact. Like James said, I would’ve preferred to see the Astros win it all again, but an embarrassing Dodgers loss on a national stage is great no matter the opponent.
Makakilo: Baseball is better with a friendly fan, or even a friendly rival! In my Zumba class, when I said I was cheering for the Red Sox, I discovered a Dodgers fan. Just as my praise of the D-backs was endlessly optimistic, her praise for the Dodgers was never ending.
Her best game was game 3, when she texted me often to share her excitement – the Dodgers won in 18 innings, many cliff-hanging. For me, the best game was game 5. In the sixth inning, the Dodgers were up 4-0 - she was celebrating to the max. In the seventh it was 4-3. In the eighth it was tied. In her text messages, she continued cheering wildly, especially when the Dodgers had scoring chances.
In the ninth, when the Red Sox scored 5 runs, she was shocked and sad…and she switched to watching University of Hawaii football. So yes, I was happy with the World Series.
Jack: I hope I get to chant 1988 back at Dodger fans for 30 more years.
Jim: The best team in the majors won - which is probably rarer than you think. And they didn’t just win, they dominated, going 11-3 against three opponents who averaged 98 wins in the regular season. Can’t complain about that. Nice to have a relatively low stress World Series, rather than one going all the way to Game 7, though after the 18-inning marathon drained the Red Sox pitching, I felt sure that they’d level it. Blowing a four-run lead in Game 4 was basically the nail in the Dodgers coffin.
Was extending Eduardo Escobar a good move for the D-backs?
James: Absolutely. You always jump at the opportunity to lock up a quality player on a discount contract. Because this was an extension, he is eligible to be traded this offseason if the team goes full-rebuild. I don’t see either of those things happening. However, that’s just an example of the sort of option having Escobar locked up provides.
Cumulus: It’s too early to say. Escobar is a good player, but he was never someone that blew me away. Whether Hazen plans to use him as a trade chip or start him at third base and trade away Jake Lamb instead or do any number of other things remains to be seen. Still, I can’t say I’m not content with the signing. Getting a player of his caliber on such a team friendly contract is never a bad thing, and his smile alone is enough to make him worth having around.
Makakilo: Yes for several reasons:
- Escobar gave the D-backs a home-team discount because he wanted to play for the D-backs. Obtaining excellent an player at a discount was a great opportunity.
- Escobar in the lineup improves the team because he can hit well. Among 2018 D-backs with more than 10 games, he ranked fifth in on-base percent, and he ranked fourth in slugging.
- Escobar’s flexibility in playing in several positions (second, third, shortstop) gives Torey Lovullo more choices, and serves as depth in case of injury.
Jack: At 3/21, there is very little risk to the DBacks as long as he doesn’t get seriously injured. Even if he is just a 1-2 WAR player per year going forward, the team breaks even at the very least. Solid signing. Good team guy. Flexible. If the power sticks, then it will be a winner.
Jim: I liked the flexibility, which gives the team to trade almost anyone else on the infield. Nick Ahmed might be the odd man out, since his value will likely never be higher: a good chunk of control, and a Gold Glove winner at shortstop who hit 16 home-runs last year. It’s likely not an overpay either, and as such, if the team decided to go full rebuild, would still be tradeable. Solid move. .
Will A.J. Pollock accept the qualifying offer from Arizona?
James: I doubt it. Whether or not he breaks the hoped-for $50 million total contract outlay is a bigger question for me.
Cumulus: Probably not – he can get much more money elsewhere.
Some important points are:
- 2018 was a down year. Although next season he is on the decline at age 31, nevertheless he underperformed in 2018. It is possible he could perform better in 2019, which would increase his value as a free agent.
- Pollock has often been injured. It is possible he could play the entire 2019 season without injury, which would increase his value as a free agent.
- Timing is important. Instead of this off-season, next off-season could be a better time for Pollock as a free agent. This off-season, he will compete with outfielders/MVPs Bryce Harper and Andrew McCutchen. Several clubs who need a center fielder are not thought to be contenders, so they will not offer much.
- The financial risk of turning down the QO is high. In 2015, center fielder Dexter Fowler rejected a $15.8 million QO, and instead signed a 1-year, $13 million contract.
- Accepting the QO has two upsides. First, the QO exceeds the predicted average-annual-value of Pollock’s free-agent contract. Second, because he is attached to a QO, his value is reduced. Under the latest rules, it cannot be offered a second time, so next season, his value will be higher without a QO.
Jack: Very tough call either way. I asked around and although players and their agents are not allowed to indicate to their team whether a player is likely to accept a QO or not, as it’s also considered tampering, it wouldn’t be unusual to see attempts to break the rules in roundabout ways in MLB. Happens all the time. That said I think the Dbacks took a pretty big risk. I touched on the subject of whether or not AJ would get a multi year deal over 50M at the end of my Arizona Fall League All Star Game Report. Michael Brantley not getting a QO from Cleveland may loom large here. It really depends on how AJ and his agent see things though. Tough to predict whether or not he will accept it. I am pretty sure the Dbacks are banking on him NOT taking it. And he probably won’t. But it’s far from certain to those of us on the outside looking in.
Jim: Odds against. Last year only two of ten accepted the qualifying offer, and in 2017 it went 0-for-9. However, Pollock is certainly considerably more possible than some - Bryce Harper, for example, will not be troubled, and Patrick Corbin is hardly much less likely. Of the seven to get QO’s this season, perhaps Hyun-jin Ryu is the only one who might be better served than Pollock by taking it. I’m still inclined to think no, since A.J. is perhaps the best center fielder on the free-agent market (on a per-162 game basis, so health taken as read). But it wouldn’t surprise me, either way.
Predict the contracts Patrick Corbin and A.J. Pollock will end up signing.
James: I still think, despite some injury concern, that Pollock could come away with a 4 yr/$60 million deal, especially if there are built-in protections for the team. Corbin is a harder one to predict. He helped his cause about as much as anyone possibly could with the season he put together in 2018. If there is a bit of a bidding war, I could see him getting 5 yr/$125 million.
Cumulus: I get the feeling that there’s a team out there desperate enough for a quality outfielder to way overpay for Pollock, resulting in him getting a 5 year/$100 million contract. That would keep him signed through his age 35 season and feels exactly like one of the moves you read about during the off-season that just makes you softly chuckle to yourself out of embarrassment. *REVISE*
Corbin is in an interesting position this off-season as arguably the best starting pitcher available as a free agent. I fully expect him to go to the Yankees on a deal similar to the one James suggested above, 5 years/$125 million. *REVISE*
Makakilo: MLB Trade Rumors predicted Corbin’s contract will be 6 years/$129 Million. His ERA of 3.15 and FIP of 2.47 are exceptional. He is young at 29 years old. I predict 6 years/$147 Million.
I predict Pollock will accept the Qualifying Offer, for the reasons previously discussed.
Jack: Corbin gets 5/100. Concern about TJ survivorship shaves a year off the predictions from Trade Rumors
Pollock gets 3/42 assuming he rejects QO. The accumulative weight of various factors I’ve seen and heard leads me to believe his market will not be as robust as once thought.
Jim: The Kershaw extension probably helps Corbin, as he’s now clearly the best starting pitcher available this winter. I think he’s far enough removed from TJ that this won’t be an issue. As noted previously, I’d have Yu Darvish as a good comparable, both being Tommy John survivors, with similar performance post-surgery. That would be six years, $126 million. Might be a year less, but the AAV would still be there or thereabouts.
Pollock is a lot harder to assess, because of his repeated injury issues. While there’s nothing chronic there which would seem likely to occur, averaging only 79 games per year over the last three seasons is a damper. Even if the AAV ends up below the QO, I think Pollock will appreciate getting longer-term security, and I imagine he’ll be willing to trade annual value for length. Four years, $52 million.
Discuss the Gold Glove results.
Jack: Glad to see Nick and Zack get their awards of course. They really were the best. Overall seems the awards are much better than they were years ago. You can argue for this guy or that, but at least we don’t see historically bad defenders like Jeter or DH’s like Palmeiro winning gold gloves anymore.
James: For the most part, I am quite satisfied with the overall results. I might have chosen a bit differently on a few of the names, but those that were chosen at least make sense. Specifically regarding the Diamondbacks, it was nice to see Greinke continue to fill his mantle with awards. When it comes time for Hall of Fame voting in about 10 more years, they will help his case - maybe not a lot, but they sure will help, especially if he can add a few more in that time.
Nick Ahmed was as deserving of the award as one can ever be. I was honestly worried about this one. I expected Crawford to get a bunch of legacy love, possibly resulting in an Ahmed snub. This is what happened with Molina winning the catching award for the NL. That’s the award I have the biggest issue with out of the batch.
Makakilo: Days before the award was announced, Nick Ahmed said he doesn’t seek out external-validation when evaluating his performance. That is a great attitude and it shows a lot of maturity. Also, he said winning would be cool. And winning is cool!
Cumulus: nick 4 gg or riot thx *OBVIOUSLY REVISE* [If you don’t, this is going in as written!]
Jim: Jon Jay was robbed! Less facetiously, great to see Ahmed honored, and a well deserved honor. The focus on defense this year was notable, and continued the improvement shown last season, with Ahmed just the most outstanding candidate. As for Zack… Well, Greinke gonna Greink.
What should be Mike Hazen’s top priority this winter?
James: Set the team on its new course and commit to it fully. If retooling, the team needs starting pitching and OF help. If rebuilding, the team needs to maximize the returns on the players it moves.
Cumulus: I fully agree with James on this one. Hazen can’t be indecisive when it comes to this team’s direction. If we’re going to rebuild, commit to a rebuild and ensure that every player not part of the future is expendable for the right price. If we’re going to retool in the hope of being competitive, Hazen needs to identify the team’s areas of weakness and address them with trades and/or free agent signings, which, yes, is complicated by our limited cap space.
At the very least, Hazen needs to be open to listening to offers for each and every player on the roster and in the minors.
Makakilo: After the Escobar signing, it looks like the D-backs are re-tooling. GM Mike Hazen will make moves to improve the team whenever they don’t significantly damage long term sustainability.
What moves should be top priority? Two top priorities: better hitting to balance the excellent defense and adding players with defensive flexibility.
- GM Mike Hazen needs to make moves that improve the team’s offense. And more. GM Mike Hazen needs to visibly support Darnell Coles, the new hitting coach, who is responsible to improve each player’s hitting process. One area of hitting focus should be pinch hitting (how to-be-ready and at-the-plate mental-approach). Another area of hitting focus is a flexible hitting approach, allowing each player to decide whether to focus on OBP, Power RBIs, or both.
- GM Mike Hazen needs to add players with flexibility in positions played. This is the lowest cost way to have depth for injuries, with the added advantage of giving Torey Lovullo additional flexibility in pinch hitting and managing the team. Four examples of high flexibility players are Escobar (second, third, and shortstop), Marte (second and shortstop), Descalso(second and third), and Christian Walker(first and left field).
Two sustainability priorities:
- During the off-season, add long-term affordable contracts to increase sustainability.
- Draft well (especially with first round picks), keep them, and develop them.
Jack: Convince KK to spend 180 million ? ….oh we’ve moved past that ? ;) Ok,...well then what James said. Succinct and to the point.
Jim: Starting pitching. This was a big issue last season, and if it wasn’t for Mike Hazen striking gold on the trash-heap, in the shape of Clay Buchholz… Well, four words: regular starter Troy Scribner. Things won’t be helped with the departure of Corbin, and I’d like to see us get a long-term solution as his replacement.
What mythical creature would improve the world if it existed?
James: So many to choose from I have a hard time picking just one. I am enamoured with dragons, but I suspect they might make the world a much more dangerous and unstable place. I guess I am going to cop out and go with the unicorn, or possibly the pegasus, assuming they could be tamed to ride.
Cumulus: I’m not sure if this counts, but Pokémon. As in all of them. You can’t tell me the world wouldn’t be a happier place if you could chill out with a Pikachu or take to the skies (with the proper safety equipment of course) on a Charizard.
- Menehune are between 3 inches and 2 feet tall, naked with long straight hair that falls to their knees.
- Menehune love to play and make mischief. The Hawaiian goddess Ra’i watches over the Menehune, and often urges them to work before playing. If the Menehunes become too mischievous, the Hawaiian owl god, Paupueo, sends owls to chase them away.
- Menehune are superb craftspeople and builders. Two examples of their work are Kikiaola, a historic irrigation ditch that funnels water from the Waimea River on Kauai; and Alekoko Fishpond on Kauai, which they created overnight.
- Menehune shoot magic arrows to pierce the heart of angry people, igniting feelings of love instead.
- Menuhune’s favorite food is banana. They love to cliff dive. They live underground and emerge at night.
Jim: Cthulhu? Oh, improve. I thought it said “destroy” for a minute. I’d go with brownies. No, not the chocolate/weed flavored desert. The little people whose role in life is to come into your house at night, tidy it up and make you breakfast. Works for me.
Or maybe Mothra. Yeah, Mothra. What world wouldn’t be better with a giant, benevolent moth in it?
Jack: An honest politician