JABO Mailbag: Baseball news and Tom Brady all in one

It’s time for another JABO Mailbag via Facebook (Presented by People Who Send Rob Neyer Food Money Every Two Weeks). It’s too late to get YOUR question answered this week. But that’s why they invented next week!

Do the Cardinals need to do anything to improve their rotation? The three- and four-inning spot starts are taxing on the bullpen and I feel like they need a proven guy come playoff time.

– Joe McCampbell

What’s your definition of “proven guy,” Joe? John Lackey’s certainly been around for a long time, and Thursday he dominated the Cubs. Which gave the 21-7 Cardinals a 6½-game lead over those Cubs. That said, Lance Lynn is the only starter with a great strikeout-to-walk ratio, with Michael Wacha’s strikeouts down and Carlos Martinez’s walks up. Could the Cardinals use a legitimate ace? Sure. Or at the very least, a good No. 5 starter, since right now that’s the only real question mark. But in the absence of serious injury troubles, the Cardinals are good enough right now to win at least half their games the rest of the way. Which would mean 88 wins and probably the playoffs.

Too early to panic as a White Sox fan? Reinforcements are available as Davidson is hitting in AAA again (Gillaspie stinks) and Rodon is ready to take a rotation spot. I think we make a run.

– Dayton Cripe

Well, being a fan is all about optimism (sorry; the we sorta gave you away). Not being a fan of this particular team, I don’t foresee a run. There’s some upside here, though. Nobody who was really paying attention thought the White Sox would have good hitting, but this has been ridiculous. And the starting pitchers! Those are some ugly ERAs, granted most of them have pitched better than their ERAs. The White Sox should hit better, and they will pitch better (ERA-wise, anyway).

Better enough, though? That’s the hard part. They’ve got the worst record in the league and they’re 6½ games behind the Royals (and 6 behind the Tigers). Matt Davidson? He might be a slight upgrade at third base over Cono Gillaspie. We would certainly expect more from Carlos Rodon than the White Sox are getting from Hector Noesi. But the signal/noise ratio for this team three months ago might have led the majors. Until we see more signal, it’s far too early to consider these guys real contenders.

I’ve often wondered when a team pulls the plug on a player going through a slump. I know there are a lot of variables but I hope my Mariners don’t give up on Brad Miller!

– Colin Larkin

Well, I think they might have given up on him as an every-day shortstop, if only because Chris Taylor’s probably a better hitter and a better fielder. Which doesn’t leave much room for Miller at all, unless the M’s cut the cord with Willie Bloomquist. And even then, Miller will be fighting for utility scraps. Ultimately, seems like his future, if he’s got one, will be with a club that needs a decent shortstop.

As for pulling the plug, every story’s different. Depends on the guy, the best candidate to replace the guy, the guy’s manager, and a dozen other guy-related things.

Steroids in baseball versus deflated footballs in the NFL: Discuss.

– David Schoenfield

Man, I don’t even … I still can’t quite figure out how under-inflated footballs would really help a quarterback, but then people have said the same thing about corked bats. Which, come to think of it, have never been held against batters who got caught using them.

It’s clear that a culture of cheating in the NFL is largely accepted. By the league itself, but especially by those who cover the game. Baseball’s different, right? Not really so much. Cheating’s always been tolerated in baseball, too … except for one, era-centric form of cheating. Right or wrong, our nation’s sportswriters and broadcasters have collectively decided that this particularly group of players that did (or might have done) this particular thing deserve a singular opprobrium, while everyone else gets a pass. This remains a strange position to defend, but many of these writers and broadcasters will die on a remote hill, defending it.

Under-inflated footballs are, I think, like spitballs and corked bats, i.e. if you ain’t cheatin’ you ain’t trying, it’s only cheating if you get caught, all’s fair in love and professional sports, etc.

Or to address the latest news more directly, I’m pretty sure Tom Brady’s still getting one of those weird busts in Canton, Ohio.

The Brewers fired their manager and announce everyone is available outside of LuCroy. What will it take the Mets to get Segura to play SS and leadoff. Seemingly a perfect fit. Syndegaard, Matz, Wheeler?

– John W. Ortiz

It’s obviously rebuilding time for the Brewers? But it’s not clear that Segura’s primed for a big season … and if he is, still only 25, why should the Brewers trade him? And while it’s true that management reportedly says Lucroy is untouchable, he also seems like exactly the sort who should be on the block. Not that anything’s going to happen today, or next week. But if the Brewers are still buried in a couple of months, anybody older than Segura and Gennett – and that includes not just Lucroy, but also Aramis Ramirez and just about anybody on the pitching staff – should be available. But it’s been a long time since this franchise has gone into full rebuilding mode. I’m not sure the current management even knows how.