Correctly, now that the Carlos Correa saga has reached a conclusion — pending a bodily, in any case — the baseball world can switch onto topics previous the purview of Correa and the properly being of his correct ankle. So let’s get to a mailbag! These reader questions have been calmly edited for readability.

The Dodgers look weaker than abnormal (on paper, a minimal of) and the Padres seem to have a troublesome time with clubhouse custom affecting on-field effectivity, however they’re the obvious entrance runners for the NL West. Should each be concerned regarding the Giants or Diamondbacks (or Rockies?) or is that this a two-horse race for the division and Wild Card? — Spencer O.

I am to see what the last word PECOTA projections seem like, because of the Padres appear like the clear favorite heading into the season. I may probably be fallacious. It seems dumb to wager in direction of the Dodgers. Nonetheless Los Angeles misplaced an enormous amount of experience in free firm and solely made marginal upgrades. San Diego made splashes on the deadline remaining August, added Xander Bogaerts this winter, and later this 12 months will welcome once more Fernando Tatis Jr. Will that be adequate to make up remaining 12 months’s 22-win distinction between the two teams?

The star power nonetheless nestled in Los Angeles — Mookie Betts, Freddie Freeman, Clayton Kershaw, Julio Urías — ought to carry the membership elevated above Arizona and San Francisco. I don’t foresee the Giants or the Diamondbacks contending for first place, nevertheless they have to be greater than they’ve been in 2023, which suggests fewer victories obtainable for the Dodgers, and fewer obtainable for the Padres.

I can say this with confidence: The Dodgers gained’t achieve success 111 as soon as extra this 12 months. (Remind me about this prediction in September, when the crew collects victory No. 112.)

Given the departures and lack of free-agent signings all through the Dodgers offseason, inform me one good issue to look forward to in 2023. — Jeff G.

You get to watch Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman bat on the prime of the order nearly every recreation. Most teams want to have that combination.

Given that Dodgers in the mean time are so close to the aggressive stability tax threshold (with the Trevor Bauer decision), does that indicate they now decide to spend cash on (or commerce for) higher-priced avid gamers and go over the “cap”? Or has that “ship sailed” since there are actually not any free brokers they could use? I consider the penalties for repeat CBT offenders normally will not be that onerous notably for a crew similar to the Dodgers. — David V.

I agree with you regarding the lack of tooth throughout the punishment for teams who surpass the CBT threshold. It should not preclude householders from spending. Nonetheless it does. The Dodgers tried this winter to be “opportunistic,” as they on a regular basis say, and wait out the market to see if they could uncover a straggler. Usually that works, and in addition you land Freddie Freeman. And usually, like this 12 months, it doesn’t. The Dodgers weren’t eager at hand out a decade-long pact to any of the shortstops, and wouldn’t set an AAV doc for Justin Verlander. So that’s what you get. It’s too late now to begin out spending.

It is not too late, in any case, to begin out shopping for and promoting. The Dodgers may probably be pretty aggressive as a result of the mid-summer commerce deadline approaches, notably if Milwaukee dangles thought of one among its stud starters.

I seem like one among many few Dodgers followers not fazed by their inactivity all through the offseason. Given the insane contracts given to 39-year-old pitchers, pitchers who spend a lot much less time on the hill than Sisyphus, and shortstops whose offense is frequent at best, it seems prudent for Massive Blue to avoid ruinous long-term commitments, lean on their stacked farm system and offers guys a chance to develop. Presumably we should at all times let age and monetary forces carry teams once more to sanity instead of plunging into the free-agent market in a panic to appease followers who on a regular basis want the next, shiniest issue, beggar the charge. Am I being a Pollyanna proper right here, or is there some sense in avoiding the baseball equal of Black Friday at Walmart, notably when you might have children like Miguel Vargas, James Outman, Ryan Pepiot, and Bobby Miller prepared throughout the wings? — Tim V.

Tim, I’m going to guess that the “V” in your remaining title stands for “Vassegh.” Moreover, I is also misremembering my mythology, nevertheless Sisyphus spent a ton of time on that proverbial hill; he merely not at all reached the summit.

Anyway.

So this can be the counterargument to frustration regarding the lack of Dodgers strikes: Loads of these contracts are significantly bonkers. There is a respectable likelihood for purchaser’s remorse in a lot of places. Nonetheless even sooner than the market went wild, Stan Kasten telegraphed the crew’s intentions on this interview with Bill Plaschke of the Los Angeles Events. The membership needs to assemble a runway for the prospects you talked about, together with giving Gavin Lux a clear shot at shortstop, and see the best way it goes.

The counter to the counterargument may very well be that you might create options for rookies whereas nonetheless spending. That’s what the Yankees are doing. The crew bought some goodwill for its farm-oriented shortstop choices by spending a boatload on Aaron Resolve, Carlos Rodón and Anthony Rizzo. The Dodgers may need executed that to strengthen deficiencies throughout the rotation or the outfield. In its place, they went for short-term gives with restricted risk.

It’d work. It moreover might not. Kershaw would possibly retire after this season. Urías can change right into a free agent. Freeman and Betts are solely getting older. If the Dodgers are counting on a youth movement in 2023, their hopes in 2024 and previous would possibly depend on these children being alright sooner barely than later.

Brian Cashman (John Minchillo / Associated Press)

It’s no secret that many Yankees followers are terribly aggravated with Brian Cashman. Optimistic, the crew continually makes the postseason (which does deserve some kudos), though Cashman works with an unlimited funds. Positional participant progress has been a weak spot for just a few years. Not too way back some extraordinarily questionable gives have been made (chances are you’ll argue that the Josh Donaldson deal was fireable). Season after season the org has this method of working once more getting older/usually injured guys betting that they magically become their former selves.

Question is why will we maintain listening to that Cashman is that this genius GM? What’s it that he does successfully? — Michael F.

OK, I take once more what I acknowledged regarding the Yankees searching for themselves some goodwill.

The precept issue Brian Cashman does successfully is he builds baseball teams that win video video games. The membership has averaged 97 victories per full season since 2017. Since taking the reins in 1998, he has not at all put collectively a crew with a shedding doc. That is onerous to do.

Among the many specific criticism you levied proper right here is professional: Many rival evaluators do think about the offense can have too homogenous of an technique, and too usually relies upon upon getting older avid gamers. The place we half strategies is suggesting that one unhealthy acquisition, similar to the deal for Josh Donaldson, must be a fireable offense for a embellished authorities who has constructed a relentless machine that yearly contends for a title.

The drought is, clearly, irritating to Yankees followers. It must be. That’s the aim of sports activities actions. Nonetheless the federal government who made the deal for Donaldson — or caught with Isiah Kiner-Falefa for too prolonged in 2022 — is similar one who acquired Nestor Cortes and Jose Trevino. He’s similar authorities who oversaw the most recent overhaul of its pitching system, which has made the big-league membership a few of the environment friendly run-prevention objects throughout the sport. Cashman and his staff do quite a lot of points pretty successfully.

I get the irritation. Really, I do. I lined the Dodgers from 2016 to 2018, as a result of the championship drought entered its second decade. It might be onerous to take. Nonetheless let’s be inexpensive about this. Brian Cashman is good at his job.

Who will sign Shohei Ohtani subsequent offseason, the Dodgers or Mets? Or one other crew, in your opinion? — Steven S.

Handicapping the bidding for Shohei Ohtani is an issue because of the participant controls the tactic, and no one is strictly constructive what Ohtani needs. Would he wish to stay on the West Coast? Will he demand suitors to disclose they will form-fit their roster spherical his talents? Does he value profitable above all?

Or does he merely want most likely essentially the most money?

We truly don’t know. However when he needs most likely essentially the most money, the Mets have most likely essentially the most money. For that blunt-edged trigger, I’d make them the favorite.

Hey Andy, yearly we see a crew with a shedding doc make the playoffs the subsequent season. Is there any particular crew you might have your eye on that may escape in an unlimited method? — Anthony F.

Let’s put collectively a quickly executed, roughly-hewn power rankings of the 14 golf tools who accomplished 2022 with shedding info.

NOPE

14. Oakland Athletics (60 wins)
13. Cincinnati Reds (62)
12. Colorado Rockies (68)
11. Pittsburgh Pirates (62)
10. Washington Nationals (55)

Not loads to see proper right here.

YOU REALLY HAVE TO SQUINT
9. Kansas Metropolis Royals (65)
8. Detroit Tigers (66)
7. Miami Marlins (69)
6. Chicago Cubs (74)
5. Arizona Diamondbacks (74)

Presumably the Royals catch hearth, if Bobby Witt Jr. begins to technique his ceiling, and if MJ Melendez and Vinnie Pasquantino hit for power, and if Adalberto Mondesi stays healthful. Presumably the Tigers can recapture the spark that carried them throughout the second half of 2021. Presumably the Marlins win adequate 2-1 video video games to stay afloat throughout the Nationwide League East. Presumably the arrival of Dansby Swanson in Wrigleyville coincides with revivals from former All-Stars Cody Bellinger and Eric Hosmer. Presumably the Diamondbacks uncover some daylight if the Padres are overhyped and the Dodgers are undermanned.

ACTUAL PROGRESS WAS MADE
4. Texas Rangers (68)
3. Los Angeles Angels (74)
2. Minnesota Twins (78)

The Rangers made a very powerful splash of the entire sub-.500 teams, throwing $185 million at Jacob deGrom, who will lead a rotation that features fellow new additions Nathan Eovaldi, Andrew Heaney and Jake Odorizzi. There are a variety of outcomes for a gaggle like that. You can see a state of affairs the place they lead the crew into rivalry, and you will see a state of affairs with three injured guys and Odorizzi with a 4.50 ERA.

The Angels did good work on the margins of the roster. Perry Minasian scooped up a variety of useful avid gamers to plug holes throughout the rotation (Tyler Anderson), bullpen (Carlos Estévez), infield (Brandon Drury), outfield (Hunter Renfroe) and bench (Gio Urshela). Fairly a bit will nonetheless depend on the properly being of Mike Trout and Anthony Rendon. It may be the membership’s remaining go-round with Ohtani, so they should make it rely.

For Minnesota, bringing once more Carlos Correa nets an enormous improve — nevertheless then as soon as extra, he was on this membership remaining 12 months when the Twins cratered down the stretch. The crew’s foremost acquisition was a multi-year deal with catcher Christian Vázquez, which ought to help. Spending $11 million on Joey Gallo was a curious choice. The hopes will nonetheless depend on the homegrown core — Byron Buxton, Luis Arraez, Jorge Polanco, Max Kepler — who’ve been spherical all through this newest foray into postseason rivalry.

THE FUNNIEST POSSIBLE OUTCOME
1. Boston Crimson Sox (78)

The Crimson Sox normally have a tendency to finish remaining throughout the American League East than first. Nonetheless that claims further regarding the difficulty of the division than the exact experience on the roster. No matter the entire well-deserved criticism heaved at Fenway Sports activities actions Group and Chaim Bloom after the dearth of Xander Bogaerts, there are nonetheless some pretty good avid gamers in Boston. Justin Turner might profit from frequent rendezvouses with the Inexperienced Monster. Enrique Hernandez is coming into the 12 months healthful. The bullpen may probably be pretty sturdy. To quote one different Bostonian icon, one thing is possible.

Who’s your early World Sequence select? — Shane F.

Braves over Astros.

If Nick Castellanos returns to kind, are the Phillies contenders for the division? — Douglas B.

Even when Nick Castellanos reproduces his disappointing 2022 kind — 95 OPS+, -0.1 bWAR — the Phillies will possible be contenders. It’s an excellent crew. Nonetheless so are the Braves, and so are the Mets. With Bryce Harper on the mend, an excellent 12 months from Castellanos feels nearly vital to Philadelphia profitable the Nationwide League East.

What are the chances of MLB establishing a wage cap and creating further parity throughout the league? What have been the roadblocks to a wage cap? Wouldn’t further parity help improve the popularity of the game? — Ken Z.

I do not foresee a wage cap in Major League Baseball. The MLBPA is towards it and is taken under consideration terribly unlikely to budge. It is a degree of enjoyment that the union has staved off the implementation of a cap by the home house owners, in distinction to the other leagues.

Personally I uncover parity to be boring. I like watching super-teams. My platonic ideally fitted to a playoff assortment is the 2019 American League Championship Sequence between the Astros and the Yankees. That’s the good issues. The home house owners must spend accordingly to assemble teams like that. They will all afford it. If Peter Seidler can do it in San Diego, so can the rich fellow who owns your crew.

Which of these avid gamers who’ve not too way back obtained $300M+ contracts (Aaron Resolve, Bryce Harper, Corey Seager, Carlos Correa, Manny Machado, Trea Turner, Fernando Tatis Jr., Francisco Lindor, Rafael Devers, Mike Trout) do not make Hall of Fame? Can we confidently say all of them will get in? — Mark Okay.

With the caveat that I don’t vote for the Hall of Fame, and gained’t vote for the Hall of Fame, I’ll take a shot at this, whereas together with Mookie Betts to the document. The fast reply to your second question is: I am unable to confidently say that every one among them will get in. It’s moderately onerous to make the Hall of Fame.

Listed below are how these 11 avid gamers stack up in FanGraphs’s mannequin of wins above substitute:

  • Mike Trout, 82.1 WAR
  • Mookie Betts, 50.1
  • Manny Machado, 46.6
  • Bryce Harper, 44.2
  • Francisco Lindor, 42.0
  • Aaron Resolve, 36.1
  • Trea Turner, 31.6
  • Carlos Correa, 31.3
  • Corey Seager, 26.2
  • Rafael Devers, 18.1
  • Fernando Tatis Jr., 13.6
  • For cross-reference, listed below are the rankings for Baseball Reference’s mannequin of WAR:

  • Trout, 82.4
  • Betts, 56.4
  • Machado, 52.0
  • Harper, 42.5
  • Correa, 39.5
  • Resolve, 37.0
  • Lindor, 36.6
  • Turner, 29.7
  • Seager, 25.3
  • Devers, 15.2
  • Tatis, 13.6
  • If Trout’s occupation ended proper this second, he must be a slam-dunk, first-ballot unanimous Hall of Famer. Betts and Machado are pretty good bets to affix him in Cooperstown. Betts ranks barely beneath fellow nook outfielder Tony Gwynn, in accordance with Jay Jaffe’s vital JAWS system. Machado merely put collectively his best season — .298/.366/.531, 32 HR, 100 RBI, 7.4 fWAR — and tends to stay healthful. There are questions on Harper’s properly being, notably as he returns from Tommy John surgical process, nevertheless I am going to wager on his means to remain an elite hitter deep into his 30s. (Neither Nolan Arenado nor José Ramírez makes adequate money to make this document, nevertheless I’ll put them in, too. Comparable for Paul Goldschmidt and Freddie Freeman.)

    After that, it begins to get fascinating. The two WAR metrics disagree significantly about Correa; there’s moreover some newfound concern regarding the stability of his correct ankle. Resolve lives contained in the bodily physique that is least conducive to long-term success. Lindor is also a larger wager than every. He does not miss many video video games. He must be succesful to stay at shortstop. His 125 OPS+ in 2022 was the second-best mark of his occupation. All three are on monitor, nevertheless good properly being will possible be important.

    After that, I consider the avid gamers fall off. Turner’s recreation relies on velocity, which tends to age poorly. Seager misplaced an extreme quantity of of his 20s to hurt, which makes him extra sturdy to endeavor. And Devers, whereas a beautiful hitter, merely hasn’t carried out prolonged adequate to benefit a extreme dialogue. His prime two comparable avid gamers on Baseball Reference, by the use of his age-25 season, are Eric Chavez and Ryan Zimmerman, a pair of unbelievable avid gamers who normally will not be throughout the Hall.

    As for Tatis: Clearly, the experience is immense. Nonetheless I might wait until he performs 135 video video games in a season with out getting injured or suspended sooner than turning into him for his plaque.

    Hey Andy, since Grant Brisbee makes every Roundtable podcast, isn’t he the glue? Thanks and I’ll take my reply off the air. — Juan R.

    Juan, whereas we truly respect you listening to the pod, please go kick rocks. Being The Glue requires rather more than good attendance.

    Can you recommend any good books, baseball or completely different? — Asif Q.

    Baseball-wise: Don’t inform him I acknowledged this, nevertheless you could pre-order “Worthwhile Fixes All of the items” by Evan Drellich. My buddy Tim Brown has a model new e e book coming out that will also be a blast. Completely different favorites embody “The Lords of The Realm” by John Helyar, “Juicing The Recreation” by Howard Bryant, and “The Remaining Evening time of the Yankee Dynasty” by Buster Olney. The books by Helyar and Bryant are vital for understanding the modern labor dynamic between the home house owners and the avid gamers. I moreover not too way back re-read Molly Knight’s “The Best Crew Money Can Buy,” and actually loads liked the experience.

    Non-baseball division: My favorite books I be taught in 2022 have been “Hawk Mountain” by Connor Habib and “Unhealthy Metropolis” by Paul Pringle.

    Favorite albums of 2022? — Matt B.

    It was an excellent 12 months for music. Three of my favorite bands — Joyce Manor, The Shock Years and The 1975 — put out new info. I adored all three. After that, I might recommend Gang of Youths and Caracara.

    (Prime {photograph}: Gary A. Vasquez / USA Proper now)

    By Editor

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