You asked me questions on Twitter. So I shall answer them.

32 Comments

It’s Thursday, so it’s Twitter mailbag day. These are the ones that did not make the cut for today’s edition of HBT Daily (stay tuned for those) The reason a lot of them didn’t make that cut: they were way, way, way too geeky for Tiffany to get through without incredible amounts of self-loathing, because she did got get into this business to talk about Star Trek and stuff with a bald guy in his basement. Anyway:

Q: What is this “NHL” and why is my twitter feed full of it?

Good question. I’ve been trying to figure that out for a few weeks now.

Q: Why does Boston have to win? AGAIN?

Because there is no God.

Q: How old do you think Livan Hernandez actually is?

He’s supposedly 36. Maybe he’s 36 in Euros, but in good old American years, no way.

Q: At this rate, does Edwin Rodriguez make it through the season?

The idea that the Marlins will continue to lose at this rate is shocking, but no, I would not be at all surprised to see him gone before the season is out. I think Loria wants a clean slate heading into the new ballpark.

Q: Will I be able to watch the Moneyball movie without rolling my eyes the whole time?

I can’t say I was enthralled by the trailer. My guess: people who are total baseball freaks like us will feel like our intelligence is being insulted, people who are not won’t find the kind of personal story that they made out of “The Blind Side,” which was the last Michael Lewis sports book adaptation.

Q: Should slump-busters be considered “performance enhancers”?

Note: that question came courtesy of the inimitable Old Hoss Radbourn. Well, I suppose that, since it is an account pretending to be Old Hoss Radbourn that the real deal is totally imitable. But the fake one is inimitable, that I can tell you.

As for the question: First, I’d like to see the testing regimen if they are.  More broadly, as was the case with steroids, I think the real injustice in this sort of performance enhancer is when those who would not otherwise partake feel forced to. So, if there are poor, poor players hooking up with slump busters against their will, then yes, it is a scourge upon the game.

Q: If Hegel’s dialectic holds true, what will result from Mauer (thesis) joining the Twins (antithesis) this weekend?

I object to the premise of the question, because most of the time the antithesis in any dialectic is selected to suit the user’s subjective purpose. Plus, I faked my way through Hegel back in college because he was the absolute worst writer of all of the major philosophers. At least if you’re the sort of person who does not enjoy 18-part sentences with 22 dependent clauses in each. I read just enough so I could understand Marx, who is way more fun. At least now that the “killing and enslaving millions while falsely invoking his theories” part of history is almost over.

Q:  Is addition through subtraction a part of sabremetrics?

I would have said no, but ever since I heard about “OPSBI’s” this morning my brain has been melting and I don’t know what to think.

Q:  If the Braves grounds crew were screwing with players hurting them should they go after Jose Reyes or Dan Uggla?

The fact that they didn’t stake a hungry tiger next to where Uggla sets up on defense is proof positive that their primary motive was not to give the Braves a competitive advantage.

Q: When the Astros move to the AL, 1 or 2 yrs before Berkman is their DH?

I don’t think there is anything more inevitable in the entire galaxy than this happening.

And speaking of the galaxy, let’s do some sci-fi, OK?

Q: Compare major league managers to Star Trek characters. 

I’ll let someone else make a list because that’s what comments sections are made for, but I know for certain that Tony La Russa is Captain Edward Jellico, who briefly took over the Enterprise when Picard was on a secret mission on Cardassia. Stern, difficult, and insists on his unorthodox manner to such a degree that he alienates even the most useful members of his crew (Riker, who is roughly equivalent to Scott Rolen for these purposes). But in the end? Effective, and we just have to reconcile that.

Q: Well, how many lights are there?

There are … four … lights [stalks off naked, eschewing assistance from the guards]

Q: Why did [character redacted] have to die?

That question was about the movie “Serenity,” and I redacted the character in the interest of not spoiling anything. But for those who know who I’m talking about: no, I can’t think of any dramatic reason for that character’s death and it was one of my problems with the movie.

Q: What’s a more devestating loss: Anderson to the A’s or Spock to Kirk?

If only Anderson could be recovered as easily as Spock was after his death.

Q: Did you cry at the end of “The Inner Light?”

No. [maybe].

Q:  Most accurate film involving law/lawyers? Most inaccurate? 

There aren’t many accurate ones, which is why watching legal movies when you’re a lawyer is difficult (and why baseball geeks watching Moneyball will be difficult). But I ain’t lying when I say that “My Cousin Vinnie” gets more right than the vast majority of courtroom movies.  The most inaccurate: there are a ton of possibilities, but “Primal Fear” was godawful from a legal perspective.

Q:  If bourbon was never invented would you choose suicide or euthanasia?

My darling, don’t be silly. I’d choose scotch.

Q: Better miracle worker: Dave Duncan or Geordi LaForge?

Duncan, because he doesn’t have Data bailing his butt out all the time. LaForge: biggest glory hound in history. Yeah, I said it.

Q: Matt Smith, David Tennant or Christopher Ecclesto?

I’ll admit it: I’ve never ever watched Dr. Who in any of its incarnations. Just never came up. I’m a geek, but more of a narrow one than a renaissance geek.

Q: Are Fox Mulder and Dana Scully perfect together or completely wrong for each other?

Completely wrong. Or, at least that’s what I thought the last time I considered the matter, which happened to be, oh, 1996 or so, when I was under the strong conviction that Dana Scully should have married me.

Q:  Who’d be the best MLB’er? Data, Worf or Geordi?

Data, but all the MSM writers would disparage him because of his analytic approach to the game. They’d love Worf because of his passion.

Q: Which is worse: Fox cancels Firefly after 14 episodes or has Joe Buck and Tim McCarver doing the World Series?

See above answer about there being no God.

Thanks for the questions, folks. There were a ton more of the sci-fi ones I didn’t get to, but at some point I have to stop or I’m not going to be able to be productive for the rest of the day. Which, ain’t a bad thing, but you know how it is.

Kevin Gausman to start Opening Day for the Orioles

Patrick Smith/Getty Images
Leave a comment

The Orioles have tabbed Kevin Gausman to start on Opening Day, April 3 against the Blue Jays at Camden Yards, MASN’s Roch Kubatko reports. Chris Tillman started the previous three Opening Days for the O’s. This will be Gausman’s first Opening Day nod.

Gausman, 26, finished the 2016 season with a 3.61 ERA and a 174/47 K/BB ratio in 179 2/3 innings. The Orioles selected him in the first round (fourth overall) of the 2012 draft and moved him through their minor league system quickly. Gausman debuted in the majors in May 2013.

2017 Preview: Detroit Tigers

Getty Images
8 Comments

Between now and Opening Day, HardballTalk will take a look at each of baseball’s 30 teams, asking the key questions, the not-so-key questions, and generally breaking down their chances for the 2017 season. Next up: The Detroit Tigers.

I feel like every year, for the past several years, our Tigers preview has been some variation of “do the Tigers still have a run left in them with the Cabrera-Verlander core?”

If you’re tired of reading that one I have some bad news for you: it’s the same dang story this year as it has been every year. A great pitcher and a great hitter, a very solid supporting cast, a handful of holes that could be critical weaknesses and enough to make them look strong enough to contend but not enough to contend strongly, if that makes any sense.

Let’s start with the pitching. Justin Verlander returned to Cy Young-caliber form in 2016, thanks mostly to health and a big, big leap in his strikeout rate, suggesting that it was health and not an overall decline which harmed him in 2014 and 2015. He’ll lead the way again, followed by Rookie of the Year Michael Fulmer, who was a wonderful surprise last season. The back end of the rotation is problematic, however, with Jordan Zimmermann and Anibal Sanchez stinking up the joint for most of last year and young Daniel Norris suffering through injuries. For the Tigers to contend, they’ll need at least one of those veterans to return to their old form — or someone like Matt Boyd or Mike Pelfrey to, well, not be Matt Boyd and Mike Pelfrey– and for Norris to be healthy.

Fine, let’s say Verlander and Fulmer repeat their 2016 success and say that Norris is a strong, healthy and effective number three. Who then does Brad Ausmus turn the ball over to in the late innings? If you think the overall take on the Tigers is rehashed from year to year, well, the same goes for the pen. It, as always, is a liability in Detroit. And it’s not going to be terribly different than it was last year. Francisco Rodriguez will close. A couple of Wilsons in Alex and Justin. Shane Greene. Maybe one of the veteran starters who doesn’t make the rotation. The always interesting Bruce Rondon. It’s not terrible but it’s not the strongest bunch in the world and it’s being handled by a guy in Ausmus who has yet to show that he can get the most out of a less-than-steller relief corps. You can Google the phrase “Tigers bullpen woes” and find results from every season for most of the past decade. You’ll probably be able to do it again this year.

The offense, of course, is fantastic, at least at the top end. Miguel Cabrera is still an MVP-caliber player and even when his decline begins he’ll be better than almost any hitter in the game. Ian Kinsler is still low-key excellent. Nick Castellanos took a big leap forward last year. J.D. Martinez is going to miss the first month or so of the season with a sprained ligament in his foot, but he’s in his walk year and will likely be fine once he returns. Justin Upton has always been super uneven and has always failed to meet the insane expectations he set early in his career, but as he showed late last season, he’s capable of carrying a team for a stretch. I’ve been saying it for a pushing a decade, but one of these years he’s going to put it all together.

The big question is going to be the bottom third of the lineup where catcher James McCann, shortstop Jose Iglesias and center fielder Tyler Collins all look to be offensive liabilities at the moment. A bigger than usual year from any of them could help matters greatly.

Of course all of this — the strong lineup with critical holes, the rotation that starts well but has question marks and the spotty bullpen — has been the Tigers story for years. It’s a story that could end happily with 85-90 wins, a playoff spot and a bunch of seasoned veterans getting hot at the right time and riding it to glory. It could just as easily get sprinkled with a slow start or a few injuries and result in a 75-80 win season like they had back in 2015.

In the past, that would lead to yet another “wait until next year.” This year, however, you get the strong sense that there is no next year if this year is disappointing. There was talk that the Tigers could sell off veteran parts this past winter, but they didn’t. Then longtime owner Mike Ilitch, who was seen as a man who pushed to win now despite the costs, passed away in February. It’s not hard to imagine his son giving different instructions to GM Al Avila if the Tigers don’t get off to a fast start this year. It’s not hard to imagine the great unwinding of the core that has kept this Tigers team in contention for so long if 2017 is a disappointment.

I’m still optimistic, though. The Indians are the class of the division but the Royals are likely taking a step back and the Twins and White Sox are not yet a threat. I won’t predict October glory for them, but I think, barring major injuries to key players, the Tigers will be playing meaningful baseball in September.

Prediction: Second place, American League Central