From the episode notes: “Ben and Sam answer listener emails about whether the Marlins or Astros will win more games in 2013, who’ll be the next retiring player to get the Chipper Jones treatment, when Yasmani Grandal will play for the Padres, and how the Angels should align their outfielders.”
The EW Wednesday column returns after a long delay. In an effort to build up the listener email database, let’s jump back into it:
Intro sound: “Must be Thursday, I could never get the hang of Thursdays.” A quote from the film version of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Apparently, the line in the original book goes “never could.”
Banter: Limited to Ben correcting Sam on the episode number. This email show had been postponed due to a big 12-player trade the previous day, involving the likes of Mark Buehrle, Josh Johnson, and Jose Reyes for the likes of Henderson Alvarez and Yunel Escobar. A detailed look back should be found in our EW Rewind column, eventually.
Sam adds that not all emails could be read because it’s a “14- to 22-minute show.”
Email #1: James, “friend of the show,” asks who will win more games in 2013 between the Marlins and the Astros. He likes the Marlins, barely.
Ben goes with the Astros, as he expects the Marlins to keep selling. At this point, the Astros were in the middle of moving to the AL, which Sam had almost forgotten. Ultimately, Sam goes with the Astros as well.
As it turned out, it was an appropriate question, as both teams ended up in last place. But it wasn’t close between them, as the Marlins won 62 games (and a game behind the White Sox). The Astros won 51. James has apparently not been invited to take over as host since then.
Email #2: Saxon, “friend of the show,” asks about Yasmani Grandal’s eventual return from his 50-game PED suspension, which had been announced a week before the episode. The question was inspired in part by Melky Cabrera, who was not added to the Giants playoff roster upon his return from a similar case (as discussed just today in EW Rewind).
Ben and Sam talk about the rehab policy for suspended players (it turns out they can rehab at minor league facilities, but not play in games). Sam wonders if Grandal could conceivably get in more games than normal because of the off-days that catchers get more than others.
Grandal ultimately did return to the Padres in late May after a few games in AAA, before a season-ending knee injury in July. He ended up with an .693 OPS (108 PA), after hitting .863 (226) in 2012, and went on to hit .728 (443) in 2014.
Email #3: Another James, “friend of the show,” brings up Chipper Jones’ retirement tour, inspiring him to ask which players would be most likely to get the same treatment.
A couple weeks earlier, Ben had penned a futuristic short story regarding Jones and his gifts (Sam laments that Jones did not retweet the link). Sam wonders who these retirement/milestone ceremonies are for, particularly in cases where fans aren’t particularly fond of the recipient Then the two talk about the necessary elements for a retirement tour to be warranted. Mariano Rivera comes up first as a candidate, then speculate on Jim Thome, Ichiro, and Roy Halladay
After taking on a front office role with the White Sox in 2013, Thome signed a one-day contract with Cleveland the next year to officially retire. Halladay did likewise with Toronto in December of 2013. Rivera and Derek Jeter went on to have retirement tours. You may have heard about them at the time.
Email #4: Yet another James(?), “also a friend of the show,” asks about the Angels outfield — which had then consisted of Mike Trout in LF, Peter Bourjos in CF, and Mark Trumbo in RF — and wonders if Trumbo should be in CF considering the range of the other two.
Sam loves the idea, but surmises that the desired range of a center fielder may have more to do with depth than lateral movement. He also cites that whenever Vernon Wells got starts in CF, the other outfielders didn’t adjust their positions significantly in comparison. Scouting reports based on each hitter’s tendencies seem to be the main factor. Ben reluctantly agrees that Trumbo in CF wouldn’t be a good idea either. Both gleefully speculate on his potential defensive numbers, and the ideal park design for this outfield alignment.
Obviously this never happened, and Trumbo would be traded in 2014 (splitting time between 1B and LF for Arizona), as would Bourjos (seeing part-time action in CF for St Louis). Trout returned to CF for the Angels.
In closing, Sam reminds listeners to send emails to firstname.lastname@example.org. At this time, Sam still hadn’t yet gotten the hang of whether “podcast” was singular or plural.
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