1. Before last night's All-Star debacle even wrapped up, Justin Verlander spoke candidly to the media about how the game is for the fans, how they didn't want to see him "throw 90 and hit the corners" but instead fill up the zone with max-velocity heat, and, after being shelled, he remarked that he was able to detach himself from the outcome of the game: "I was able to laugh about it right away. Hey, I had fun." He also admitted that by maxing out the velocity early, he wasn't able to attain his usual rhythm/command, and, of course, the National League never really looked back after hitting Verlander for five runs in the first inning.
Are you bothered/annoyed at all by Verlander's attitude/approach to his start, or do you side with Verlander on all of his comments -- and, in any event, can we all agree on how stupid it is to pin home-field advantage on the outcome of a game that even the players acknowledge is for the entertainment of the fans first?
2. Let's say that there really is something to the Rangers' interest in Cole Hamels, and that they're going to make a legit push to acquire him. Let's also divide the cream of the Rangers' tradeable minor league crop into a few different value-based tiers (special thanks to Lone Star Dugout's Jason Cole for his input here -- do not interpret these tiers as gospel, however, as I left a few guys off due to spacing, and since there is a lot of wiggle room in play here, and since this is intended more as a guideline to assist in this conceptual exercise than as a strict ranking of players in the system):
Tier 1: Jurickson Profar, Mike Olt
Tier 2: Martin Perez, Leonys Martin, Justin Grimm, Cody Buckel, Rougned Odor
Tier 3: Neil Ramirez, Tanner Scheppers, Jorge Alfaro, Wilmer Font, Roman Mendez
What best combination of major league talent and/or minor league assets -- using this tier-based system -- would you offer to the Phillies? In other words, this is your last, best offer before you become too uncomfortable with the price to advance the talks any further; are you dealing one Tier 1 guy and a couple of Tier 2 players, or are you declaring Tier 1 off limits and only willing to deal a couple of guys out of Tiers 2-3, or ...
3. I enjoyed this hypothetical posed to me on Twitter last night, and I'd like to repeat it here, albeit with a minor variation: Let's say that every player in professional baseball -- both in the major and minor leagues -- had their existing contracts nullified, and every player entered an open-market, free-agent pool. Under that scenario, which two pitchers and which two hitters would receive the largest guaranteed contracts among their respective groups?
4. Who are your picks for the top-performing hitter and pitcher on the Rangers during the second half of the season -- in other words, who you feel will perform the best down the stretch? And, conversely, who is your gut pick for the worst-performing regular on the club during the second half?