Welcome to the first ever Rich’s Replies. This is where I answer questions/comments sent to me by the readers (you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org). Each Friday (today’s is a day early due to the New Year’s Holiday), I will answer all questions or comments sent to me by Wednesday each week (provided they are family-friendly). The questions/comments don’t only have to be about baseball or sports, they can be about anything (no politics or religion though!). Please ensure you include your first name and location. I will also pick a Question of the Week and a Comment of the Week. Hopefully I receive enough emails that the owners of this site determine Rich’s Replies is worthy of “featured” status on the Sports Nickel main page!
Where is Philly getting money to sign their bullpen and where do you see the Astros finishing in the NL central, this upcoming season. Who would you say are their upcoming prospects? – Marcos M., Austin, Texas
This was the first email I received in response to putting this idea for a weekly article out there. So thanks Marcos! Oh, and in the interest of full disclosure, Marcos is a fellow writer for the Sports Nickel. Now, onto his questions. First, the Phillies, like every MLB team, has the money to spend, if they are willing to do so. Yes, no teams have the money that the Yankees have, but no MLB team is losing money – it’s just a matter of having an owner willing to put less into their pockets and more into actual, on-the-field talent. The Phillies in recent years have decided to reinvest in their players – resigning Howard, extending Halladay and bringing back Lee; so it’s no surprise that they’ve decided to also invest in key areas like the bullpen. As for the Astros – I think they’ll finish at best 4th in the NL Central. The Reds, Cardinals and Brewers (who greatly improved this off-season) should be 1-3, with the Astros and Cubs fighting for 4th and the Pirates in the basement in 6th. In regards to Astros prospects, I truly have no idea. I don’t pay too close attention to minor league players until they actually do something in the majors – the minors are full of overrated prospects, hyped by each team to increase their trade-value and over my career of watching baseball, I’ve seen many a “can’t miss prospect” fail as soon as they get to the “big show”. However, Baseball America lists the Astros’ Top 10 Prospects and they believe the Astros have squandered many opportunities to trade big leaguers for prospects, thus hurting their farm system (and they are 100% right). They basically only have three prospects of note – catcher Jason Castro, right-hander Jordan Lyles and shortstop Jiovanni Mier; but as I said before, I don’t look at minor leaguers, so I’ll take Baseball America’s word for who their best prospects are. So Marcos, if you’re looking at the Astros improving through rebuilding internally, you’ll have to wait several years for them to see how (and if) draft picks improve and if they finally decide that signing aging free agents isn’t the way to go.
Why does a player the caliber of Edgar Renteria continuously go from team to team? He’s not that expensive considering his skillset and seems to be a good presence on & off the field. Just wondering. Trevor A. – Sacremento, CA
Edgar Renteria constantly changes teams (6 teams in his career so far) for one main reason – he doesn’t produce offensively at the level that teams desire from their shortstop anymore. Gone are the days where teams wanted their SS to be excellent defensively and anything offensively was just gravy (his recent World Series MVP performance not withstanding). Edgar’s career .287 BA, .344 OBP and .400 Slugging % with an OPS+ of 94 just can’t compare with guys like Hanley Ramirez or Troy Tulowitzki who bat over .300, have OBPs over .360, Slugging % over .475 and OPS+ over 114. Also, Edgar has played 15 seasons and hasn’t played in over 150 games in a single season since 2005. Now, he’s a free agent (the Giants declined his $10.5 million option), the best offers so far have been 1 year, $1 million deals from several teams (Giants, Cardinals and Marlins are all rumored to be interested). Renteria may be a great guy on and off the field, but that doesn’t change the fact that he’s an aging shortstop who is basically just a utility infielder now.
My final email of the week and the first ever Question of the Week:
As an avid White Sox fan for 31 years, and a member of the broader technology community, I wondered what you thought the impact social media would have on MLB over time? We here in Chicago are dealing with the Oney Guillen Twitter posts which seem to be shaking things up a bit in the clubhouse and management and causing some heartburn for a lot of folks. With applications like Facebook, Twitter and personal blogs, you don’t need a microphone on the 10 o’clock news to throw dirt at your boss, other players or raise eyebrows. How can ball clubs deal with this and how will it impact the game in the future? Steve M. – Chicago, IL
Once again, in the interest of full disclosure, Steve was a friend of mine from back in the day when I was stationed in Tucson, Arizona for the US Air Force and if this wasn’t a family friendly website, I could tell you some stories but I digress. However, that’s not why this is the Question of the Week. Athletes and technology like Twitter and Facebook are concerns for teams in all sports, not just baseball. Like Steve said, these athletes no longer need a microphone in front of them to say something stupid and when a Guillen is involved, you just know it will be something stupid. Teams in all sports need to put a lock down on tweets and Facebook statuses (or is that statusi?). Teams already limit traditional media access to players or coach by having set press conference times and time set aside for media access before/after games. I’m not saying the leagues/teams should ban employees from using Twitter etc (except during games which if I’m not mistaken some leagues already do) but don’t be suprised if you start to see teams hire someone to monitor the Twitter/Facebook feeds of team personnel and fines/suspensions/firings start to happen for it. The Eagles have already fired one team employee for what he said on Facebook after they let Brian Dawkins go. Team employees have the right to say whatever they want, however, they have to face any consequences from what they say, especially if it’s against their employer. A lot of normal jobs won’t allow their employees to say anything against their company or the company policies in public and this is even more important when it comes to people in the public eye. If I slam my company on Twitter or Facebook, it may go unnoticed; however, if a high profile player says something, it will be on every news outlet (not just ESPN) in a matter of minutes. I’m sure there are several “journalists” that only follow people like Ozzie Guillen or Chad OchoCinco on Twitter because they just know it’s only a matter of time before they say something that is guaranteed to give them days worth of articles or hours worth of coverage on ESPN. Also, I would expect player/coach contracts and maybe even each league’s collective bargaining agreements to contain language dealing with repercussions for “improper” Tweets, Facebook posts etc. It is something all sports are having to deal with more and more lately and with the techology becoming a greater presence in daily life, it’s going to become a bigger concern in the future. The athletes, coaches and team employees just have to realize that being in the public eye comes with certain restrictions that normal people may not have.
That’s it for this week – three emails. I’m hoping to receive more emails each week – all emails will be included, so one week may be three emails, the next week, 20. Like I said earlier, the questions or comments don’t just have to be about sports!
Remember to come back each Friday for another edition of Rich’s Replies! You can email me questions or comments for inclusion at email@example.com or you can send me one on my Facebook Page or on Twitter. If you comment on one of my articles here on the Nickel, that comment may just get pulled into an edition of Rich’s Replies as well!