MLB.com analyst Jim Duquette fielded fans' questions on Twitter at @Jim_Duquette on Monday. Read his answers to some of the best Q's below. (Questions have been edited for clarity.)Which team has the best offense in the Majors?
--@gleybermaniaI take into account a number of factors when evaluating offenses: power, speed, lineup
MLB.com analyst Jim Duquette fielded fans' questions on Twitter at @Jim_Duquette on Monday. Read his answers to some of the best Q's below. (Questions have been edited for clarity.)
Which team has the best offense in the Majors?
I take into account a number of factors when evaluating offenses: power, speed, lineup depth and balance, command of the strike zone as a unit and production away from the confines of their home park, among other things. With that in mind, here is my ranking of the Majors' top five offenses:
1. Astros: The reigning World Series champions had MLB's highest-scoring lineup last season and are returning all of their key players for 2018.
2. Yankees: Having added Giancarlo Stanton, Brandon Drury and Neil Walker to a group that ranked second in the Majors in runs last season, the Yankees boast a deep, versatile and powerful offense.
3. Nationals: While some of Washington's core players -- including Bryce Harper, Daniel Murphy, Trea Turner, Adam Eaton and Ryan Zimmerman -- come with injury concerns, the Nats have as much offensive potential as anyone in baseball.
4. Red Sox: Boston ranked 10th in runs scored last season despite finishing among the bottom five in homers. Enter J.D. Martinez, who should fill the middle-of-the-order void created by David Ortiz's 2016 retirement and ease some of the burden on Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts, Hanley Ramirez and company.
5. Cubs: What the Cubs lack in speed they make up for in power, on-base skills, balance and versatility.
Which team will disappoint and which will surprise this season?
The Giants expect to contend after making big splashes with the offseason acquisitions of Evan Longoria and Andrew McCutchen, but their health problems in the bullpen and uncertainty at the back end of the rotation are troubling. Another cause for concern? San Francisco remains heavily reliant on many of the same veterans who have been with the club during its 94-140 (.402) stretch since the 2016 All-Star break. Staying in the Bay Area, the A's are a team to watch this season. Oakland has some question marks in the rotation behind Kendall Graveman and Sean Manaea, but Jharel Cotton, Daniel Mengden, Paul Blackburn, Andrew Triggs and top prospect A.J. Puk all have their share of promise. Meanwhile, the A's have some quality options in the bullpen and will run out a powerful lineup that was deepened by the additions of Stephen Piscotty and Jonathan Lucroy.
Are the Orioles in the mix for Alex Cobb?
I'm told that Cobb is close to finalizing a destination spot for 2018, with Baltimore and Milwaukee among the teams in pursuit. Because Cobb has pitched well in the hard-hitting AL East during his career, I think he significantly upgrades any rotation. He would be especially helpful for the Orioles, who finished last in the Majors in starting pitcher ERA (5.70) last season.
Is the general manager responsible for selecting players in the Draft?
The overall responsibility and strategy fall under the supervision of the general manager, and many times a team's top Draft pick is made by the scouting director with direct input from the GM. Beyond that, most general managers entrust the task of drafting players to their scouting director and others who scout amateur players on a year-round basis.
Is Seth Lugo out of contention for the Mets' fifth-starter position?
Lugo has pitched well during Spring Training, keeping himself in the competition for a rotation spot. He was terrific as a rookie in 2016 (2.67 ERA) and shined for Puerto Rico in the 2017 World Baseball Classic before injuring his flexor tendon, so he could play an important role for the Mets this season -- even if he doesn't open 2018 with a starting job.