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Mark P
Let's open up the Weekend Chat, and take some of your bees beads baseball-related questions...
What needs to happen in San Francisco to compete next year? They have looked as lifeless as a team can be the past month and a half
Mark P
The Giants did get one of their most stirring wins of the season today, but yeah, they're 17-19 since the start of July.  With the Dodgers catching fire, the Giants' chances of the NL West are getting more remote by the minute, but they're still in a wild card position.

So to your point, the Giants are competing now, since they'd be a playoff team if the postseason began today.  In theory they'll be helped now that Estrada and others (Yaz, Haniger) are starting to get healthy.  In terms of 2024 and beyond, it seems likely that they'll again try to land that elusive big-name talent.
Whether that's Ohtani in the biggest splurge of all, or perhaps looking for another big free agent or trade acquisition, it remains to be seen.
What moves should Cleveland make to try and change their hitting philosophy? Any coaches in other organizations they should go after in the offseason?
Mark P
The idea of prioritizing contact hitting is fine in theory, but the Guardians simply need to do a better job of identifying and developing position-player talent.  Having all this great starting pitching seems like almost a waste if the Guards can't score any runs, or if so many games become a one-run coin flip.
Of course, their attempts at landing a power bat last winter didn't work out, so hopefully that doesn't make them entirely gunshy over testing free agency again
Pirates will start trading prospects for a ringer this offseason? Luis Robert Jr, Pete Alonso or maybe Vlad jr?
Mark P
Alonso is only controlled through 2024 and Vlad through 2025, so neither really seem like the kind of longer-term pieces the Pirates would be targeting if they did want to turn the corner and push to contend.

Robert is controlled via club options through 2027, but the White Sox aren't moving him unless they decided to rebuild entirely.  Pittsburgh does have a lot of prospect depth and could be well-positioned to make an offer if Robert was made available, but a lot of other teams would naturally be in on that bidding
Does my team get enough credit for just plugging away this season?
Mark P
Playing in a relatively weak division has helped the Brewers but hey, they're still getting it done.  All you need to do to have a shot in the playoffs is to get into the bracket, so we shouldn't count out Milwaukee's chances if they keep taking care of business in the NLC
Who goes first, Preller or Melvin? Or neither?
Mark P
Preller is signed through 2026 and Melvin through 2024, so Melvin is much more likely to be fired first if the Padres wanted to make such a move.

fwiw, Peter Seidler gave a full-on vote of confidence to Preller in July, but less so for Melvin
Whit Merrifield, assuming he hits FA ($18M mutual option): o/u 3.5 years, o/u $50MM
Mark P
Merrifield is having a very solid year, but that's a pretty big commitment to a player entering his age-35 season.

I do think Merrifield will decline his end of the mutual option looking for a multi-year deal somewhere, whether it's back in Toronto or on a new team.  The lack of free agent depth this winter might help Merrifield's chances of landing a bigger deal, but for now a two-year pact with a club/vesting option seems likelier than a full guaranteed three years
Disaster of a team season aside for the Yankees, what is your take on Volpe - more, less, or what was expected?
Mark P
He's been very good defensively but still very much a work in progress at the plate.  This shouldn't be a surprising result for a 22-year-old in his rookie season, yet I think the hype machine (and perhaps the Yankees themselves) did some disservice by creating the impression that Volpe would hit the ground running as the "next Derek Jeter"
There have been enough pluses to Volpe's performance that Yankees fans shouldn't feel too downbeat about his status as their SS of the future
Jays got rid of two and Lourdes, then spent the trade deadline looking for a right handed bat. What gives?
Mark P
The Jays' offense has been so inconsistent all year, and adding another RH bat would have deepened the bench.  It's still not a good sign that a team overloaded with RHH last year and is still righty-leaning this season felt the need to pursue more hitting, yet that's due to the uninspiring performance of most of their current right-handed bats
Predicted timeline before we see Mason Wynn in the majors?  His AAA fielding percentage and he his offensive numbers in AAA are better than what Edman is putting out at the MLB level. Is there a viable reason to NOT bring him up?
Mark P
Wynn just missed a few days with a minor injury, so the Cardinals might want to make sure he's fully healthy before deciding on a promotion.  Feels like he'll be in the majors by the start of September.
Will Ohtani's missing his next turn drop his price a little?
Mark P
From $500MM to $499MM?
Jackson Holliday to the show this year gonna happen? He can’t stop hitting
Mark P
As great as Holliday has looked, it would be pretty aggressive for the Orioles to promote him to the majors at age 19 after barely a year as a pro.
Chance Alonso is traded and where
Mark P
Any number of teams could fit for a one-year splurge on Alonso....Padres, Guardians, Giants, Twins, Cubs, Brewers, maybe the Rays, and possibly several others based on how things shake out in free agency/trades/injuries/etc.
Obviously the Mets will want a lot even for one year of Alonso's services, but hypothetically, a team like Cleveland deep in pitching prospects might be willing to give up one of their good young arms in such a deal, or perhaps as part of a larger trade package involving multiple players.

This isn't exactly the Guardians' style, granted, so perhaps they're not the team to be watching in this scenario
Cards rule
Should we be disappointed in Walkers performance this year or were some expecting too much for a 21 year old kid thrown into a new position in the majors?  BTW it is Masyn Winn.  Not Wynn.  I know no one likes a spelling geek,
Mark P
Blast it, I got the unusual first name correct but not the most common last name!

Like we noted earlier with Volpe, expectations need to be curbed when dealing with these star prospects.  Yes, some of them are awesome from day one, but in many, many more cases, these players need time to acclimate to big league baseball.
Besides, if you're listing disappointing elements of the 2023 Cardinals season, you could list off 30 things before getting around to Walker
Reds Fan
Joey Votto 2024 contract: $20 million with $7 buyout. Is one year $13 million an overpay for him. If so, what would a fair contract look like. If Cin does not bring him back, I assume he will retire.
Mark P
Votto has hit well enough that I can see why the Reds would want him back for 2024, though I expect the team might explore negotiating a lower price tag rather than pick up that option. As much as Votto's presence would take up a spot within a crowded infield, he looks like his bat is still viable, and he's a great clubhouse leader for a young roster.

And in terms of retirement, it might be that Votto could be ready to hang it up anyway, regardless of his contract situation
What’s your take on the NL East recent standings switch-up? The “scrappy” Nats, my favorite team, have pulled ahead of the Mets in the standings after securing a series sweep against the Athletics. What’s the future for guys like Jeter Downs, Blake Rutherford, and Jake Alu, all of whom have seen a recent selection from the front office? Do you think they have a .future with team?
Mark P
It costs the Nationals nothing to take a look at former highly-touted players as Downs or Rutherford, and it would be a huge boost to the rebuild if any of them turn into real building blocks.

The Nationals' move into fourth place might have as much to do with the demoralized Mets as it does their own success, but Washington has quietly posted a very good record over the last month.  It builds some nice momentum for next year and it's a sign the rebuild is going in the right direction
Reds fan Kaci
Do we finish about .500?
Mark P
They're 61-58 after today's loss in the first game of the doubleheader, and the way they've stumbled lately, .500 might be a good finish.

As disappointing as that would feel for a lot of Cincy fans, just remember....if you'd learned in March that the Reds would finish with 81 wins, you would've been ecstatic
Alonso to Cleveland with Naylor and Manzardo?
Mark P
Perhaps Manzardo could be flipped to the Mets as part of an Alonso trade package
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