In this week’s edition of Around the Dorm, “Ref” Malcolm Luck asked our panel of three experts — Kyle Olszak, Ryan Vander Werf and Andrew Santonocito — three questions: 1. Will José Bautista make an impact on the Atlanta Braves? 2. Who do you think the New York Giants should take with their No. 2 draft pick? 3. How many seasons does LeBron have left until he shows signs of age?
1. Will José Bautista make an impact on the Atlanta Braves?
Kyle: José Bautista will increase attendance for Atlanta’s minor league games, but that will ultimately be the only impact he will have on the organization. Bautista, once a star in the MLB, is now 37 and after a season where he batted only .203, it would not be surprising if he never played another game in the majors again. It is important, however, to note that there is rarely, if ever, a such thing as a poor minor league signing. By signing Bautista to a minor league deal, the Braves are taking little to no risk. Ultimately, it is impossible to say with certainty whether or not Bautista will make an impact with Atlanta, but as of right now it seems unlikely.
Ryan: I think José Bautista will make little to no impact on the Braves. With the Braves currently sitting at 10-7, three games back of the New York Mets for the division lead, they aren’t in a position where they’ll be throwing Bautista into the lineup just yet. His contract is a minor league deal, so I assume he’ll play in their system for majority of the year to prove what he still has left in the tank. José was known for his big bat and right now the Braves aren’t in need of a home run hitter. Only if they’re having a hard time scoring runs in the future do I see them throwing Bautista into the mix.
Andrew: Personally, I do not believe José Bautista will have any impact on the Atlanta Braves. Bautista, who was signed to a minor league deal on April 18, will now be playing the hot corner for the Braves, which he has done only 12 times since 2012, when he was 31 years old. Bautista is now 37 years old and his best games are behind him. The days of Bautista erupting the Rogers Centre with monstrous bat flips in the playoffs are over, and the chances of him making it up to the big leagues and having an impact are slim to none. After a horrid second half in 2017 when Bautista hit an underwhelming .156 with nine homers and 27 RBIs, the Blue Jays declined to pick up his option for 2018 simply because his bat is just not the same. “Joey Bats” is a career .250 hitter with 331 homers and 927 RBIs, but in my opinion, he will have a hard time making it back to the big leagues and making an impact with his decreased numbers and current second basemen Ryan Flaherty hitting .354 for the Braves ahead of him.
Andrew receives 3 points for highlighting Bautista’s awful stats. Kyle receives 2 points for mentioning the harmlessness of minor league deals. Ryan receives 1 point for mentioning the Braves’ lack of desire for a home run hitter.
2. Who do you think the New York Giants should take with their No. 2 draft pick?
Kyle: This question is obviously dependent on who the Browns draft with the first overall pick. If we assume that recent reports are accurate, and the Browns select quarterback Josh Allen, then the Giants should take quarterback Sam Darnold. Though the product from the University of Southern California struggled with turnovers during his college career, he made up for it with his hard work. Darnold also has some of the more physical intangibles as opposed to a prospect like quarterback Baker Mayfield, as Darnold is 6 feet 3 inches tall and over 220 pounds. He played tight end and linebacker in high school, which is something he should quickly overcome after working with an NFL training staff and coaches. In a draft that appears to have four NFL-ready quarterbacks, a team like the Giants who need a replacement for quarterback Eli Manning should not pass on Darnold at the number two spot.
Ryan: The Giants should draft Sam Darnold with the No. 2 overall pick if he is available. Darnold is thought by many to be the best overall quarterback coming out of the draft this year. With Eli Manning only having about two more years left in the tank, this would be a great opportunity for the Giants to draft his replacement and allow Darnold, who is only 20 years old, time to develop and adapt in the NFL. With that being said, in the case that the Browns draft Darnold first overall, the Giants should draft running back Saquon Barkley. Saquon is the most dynamic player in the draft. Saquon has the ability to make people miss while running the ball, but also I think an underrated aspect of his game is his pass blocking ability. Saquon will provide the Giants needed help in the pass game while also bringing his running abilities to the plate. Barkley is the safest pick in this draft.
Andrew: With the NFL draft just over a week away, it is coming down to the wire and teams are scrambling on who to select. Whether it be one of the top three quarterbacks like Allen, Rosen and Darnold. After doing some research, I think the New York Giants should take Barkley out of Penn State with their No. 2 draft pick in the 2018 draft. Giants general manager Dave Gettleman once told the press about drafting a hall-of-fame caliber player. Who would be a better selection than a 21-year-old out of the Bronx, New York? The Giants do not need to select a quarterback right away while they still have Eli. It would be a tragedy to pass up on Barkley, who ran for a whopping 3,843 yards with 43 touchdowns and racked up 1,195 receiving yards and 8 touchdown receptions in his collegiate career. Barkley is exactly the hall of fame player Gettleman was talking about.
Kyle and Ryan receive 3 points for presenting multiple options contingent on the Browns’ decision. Andrew gets 1 point for alluding to Barkley’s college stats.
3. How many seasons does LeBron James have left until he shows signs of age?
Kyle: If you did not already know, LeBron James is a freak of nature. No player in his 15th season should be able to put up 46 points in a playoff game so easily. This, coupled with his amazing regular season in which he improved his shooting and played in all 82 games, suggests that LeBron still has several years left. In order to maximize these years, LeBron has to leave Cleveland this summer and sign with a team that has two young, generational talents. This team I am referencing is the Philadelphia 76ers. Point guard Ben Simmons looks like the closest thing the NBA has seen to another Magic Johnson, and Joel Embiid has already become one of the top centers in the league. My prediction is that by partnering with them, LeBron could remain at his level of dominance for at least another five years. With that being said, I think the answer to the question is that it depends — if LeBron stays in Cleveland and posts another 82-game season next year while carrying the team on his back.
Ryan: LeBron, in his 15th season, has shown no signs of deterioration. He’s actually on par, if not better, than he was in his prime. I believe LeBron won’t show signs of his age for another three seasons, making him 36 years old. LeBron is playing great basketball, but this does take a toll on your body after playing as many games as he has and making deep playoff runs year after year. The only way I see LeBron showing a drop-off anytime sooner than three years is if he gets seriously injured. We’ve seen this with other basketball players and athletes who dominated their sports, such as point guard Derrick Rose, who dropped off after several serious injuries and even quarterback Peyton Manning, who had a neck injury and surgery before dropping off and retiring. LeBron is one of the best athletes of any sport of our generation and I truly believe he has more left in the tank and will prove many people wrong for years to come.
Andrew: The multi-billion-dollar question, “when will LeBron James start showing signs of age” is one that not even LeBron himself could provide an answer for. James, who is currently 33 years old, has been in the league since 2003 and has not showed any signs of fatigue or deterioration. LeBron is simply built like a beast and I do not see him slowing down for at least another three to five years. This is credited to LeBron taking care of himself and realizing he isn’t that 18-year-old kid anymore and he has to make the right decisions. LeBron spends 1.5 million dollars a year taking care of his body to ensure he is always ready to dominate and take over the game. While others are fatigued after the 82-game season, LeBron’s season starts now with the playoffs. LeBron is an athlete like no other and his age may never hold him back. It is unreal to watch him dominate every game he plays in. We are truly witnessing greatness before our eyes, and to LeBron, age is simply just a number.
Kyle receives 3 points for mentioning LeBron’s longer career potential. Ryan gets 2 points for alluding to the possibility of a major injury shortening LeBron’s career. Andrew gets 1 point for discussing LeBron’s ability to take care of himself.
Kyle wins ATD 8-6-5
“Hurry up and draft me because I want to be there. I want to wreck this league together.” — Johnny Manziel