Pillars of Salt: Welcome to the Rebuild

“Atkins and Shapiro are ruining this team!”

“FIRE SHATKINS!!”

“How can you trade one of your best players in Pillar!?”

“They are reducing the team to dust. You need winners to win. We want the win THIS YEAR!!!”

“Annnnnnnd I’m boycotting baseball for a while. So annoyed.”

This is a small sample size of the type of uneducated garbage that littered social media comment boards yesterday morning when news broke that Kevin Pillar had been traded to the San Francisco Giants. The emotional outpouring at losing one of the biggest fan favourites in recent memory is completely understandable and even defensible; it’s the NOT understanding the reason WHY he was traded that is inexcusable.

For those who haven’t noticed, the Blue Jays are in a rebuild. The ownership and management have (finally) committed to a complete tear down, bare bones rebuild that should have been started at the immediate end of the 2016 ALCS. The willingness for the front office to pay for players to play for other teams should be an indication at how deep this rebuild is going to get.

The trades of Pillar and Kendrys Morales appear to be the mere tip of the proverbial iceberg. It should come as no surprise if/when the likes of Justin Smoak, Marcus Stroman, Aaron Sanchez, and even relievers Ryan Tepera and Ken Giles are dealt for younger, cheaper, and more controllable players. In fact, I would almost be willing to guarantee that both Stroman and Sanchez would have already been dealt if they had any real kind of trade value over the offseason.

Not only does moving these veteran assets bring back prospect capital for your farm system, but it also moves “roadblocks” from the paths of prospects who are ready to take the next step. By moving Pillar, the rebuilding Blue Jays can now give long time prospect Anthony Alford a legitimate look as an everyday outfielder. Despite a rash of injuries and a slower development (due to his attempt at continuing as a two sport athlete), Alford has earned his shot following a hot second half in AAA last year and a great showing during this year’s Spring Training.

While the memories of Pillars heroic defensive efforts will always remain, so will his struggles at the plate. A “speedy” player and base stealing “threat,” Pillar couldn’t draw a walk or get on base at a consistent enough clip to ever be seen as a top of the order type player. I know it hurts losing a guy who was passionate and played with no regard for his own safety. But we have to remember that he is on the wrong side of 30 and you have to wonder how many more years he has playing that grinder style at a high level.

The fact that the Jays were able to get three pieces – one that could actually help out following the rebuild – and not have to eat any of his contract for an all around average 30 year outfielder is an absolute win and the type of trade that real fans of the team should be excited about.

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Opening Day 2019 – Quick Picks

AL East

New York Yankees

Boston Red Sox*

Tampa Bay Rays

Toronto Blue Jays

Baltimore Orioles

AL Central

Cleveland Indians

Minnesota Twins*

Chicago White Sox

Detroit Tigers

Kansas City Royals

AL West

Houston Astros

Los Angeles Angels

Oakland Athletics

Seattle Mariners

Texas Rangers

MVP: OF Aaron Judge

Cy Young: RHP Jose Berrios

Rookie of the Year: OF Eloy Jiminez

Coach of the Year: Rick Renteria – CWS

Comeback Player: OF Byron Buxton

Biggest Surprise: Chicago White Sox

Biggest Disappointment: Oakland A’s

NL East

Philadelphia Phillies

Washington Nationals

Atlanta Braves

New York Mets

Miami Marlins

NL Central

St. Louis Cardinals

Chicago Cubs*

Milwaukee Brewers

Cincinnati Reds

Pittsburgh Pirates

NL West

Los Angeles Dodgers

Colorado Rockies*

San Diego Padres

Arizona Diamondbacks

San Francisco Giants

MVP: 1B Paul Goldschmidt

Cy Young: RHP Aaron Nola

Rookie of the Year: 3B/OF Nick Senzel

Coach of the Year: Mike Shildt – StL

Comeback Player: SS Corey Seager

Biggest Surprise: San Diego Padres

Biggest Disappointment: New York Mets

Yankees over Dodgers in World Series

Excuse me, I have to go an shower now after writing the above…

-$

Spare Change – Week Two Reflections

harper-slide.jpg

 

What We Loved

  • Wil Myers hitting for the cycle becoming only the 2nd Padre to ever do so. Nice to see the Padres giving their fans something to cheer for.
  • The Marlins players turning the late Jose Fernandez’s locker into a shrine  – http://thesco.re/2oGTAaY
  • Jharel Cotton’s filthy change-up that even amazed the great Pedro Martinez –  http://thesco.re/2oGVGaW – But in all seriousness, let’s get another view of that filth – http://bit.ly/2oj1kiq
  • The swing on Tulo’s 3yr old son, Taz, Can we say #parentinggoals? – http://thesco.re/2pM37gf
  • Yoenis Cespedes smashing three ding dangs in four AB’s
  • Bryce doing his best Enos Slaughter mad dash home to beat the Phillies in extras – http://thesco.re/2oGZdG0
  • Chris Sale 1149 strikeouts through 150 career starts – most in MLB history
  • Ender Inciarte opening SunTrust Park with it’s 1st hit, out, run and HR .
  • Players playing catch with kids. Even Mike Trout is getting in on the fad.
  • Speaking of Mike Trout, the great Trout will pass Joe Mauer, David Wright and likely Justin Verlander for career WAR before May 1st of this year. To put it into further perspective, Trout has already passed Jim Rice and will soon pass Kirby Puckett (both of whom are Hall of Fame outfielders). Mike Trout is 25 years old.
  • Zack Britton’s consecutive save streak. The Orioles closer passed Jeurys Famila for 3rd and is now tied with Tom Gordon with 54 saves.
  • In other Orioles news, Trey Mancini has had quite the start to his MLB career- 7 HR in 12 games.
  • For the first time in MLB history, their was an outfield entirely comprised of players with the last name Garcia – http://thesco.re/2pvYzLA
  • Rod Carew receiving a new heart and kidney. The Hall of Famer received the organs from former NFL TE, Konrad Reuland, who passed away at the age of 28 back in December. For further reading check out this link from SI.com – http://on.si.com/2oQNneJ
  • Aaron Judge’s light tower power. Judge, who looks like a create a player or Vince McMahon’s dream, already has three HR and eight RBI on the young season.
  • The Mariners unveiling a statue of the Kid. Arguably every kid in the 90’s favourite player growing up, the Mariners honoured their franchise icon by imortalizing him outside of Safeco Field – http://cbsprt.co/2pM1M9m
  • The Dodgers unveiling a statue of Jackie Robinson. But seriously, how was there not one already there? – http://thesco.re/2pccsSw
  • Plans for a Jose Fernandez statue. I know that this is a controversial decision because of the circumstances surrounding his death but it isn’t up to the court of pubic justice and outrage to determine if this should take place, it’s up to the Marlins franchise who lost one of their own and have every right to honour him. What happened was tragic all around. It was also very much avoidable and perhaps the Marlins could use this as a chance to acknowledge the very dumb and selfish decision(s) that Fernandez made as well.
  • Any and all of Vin Scully’s stories. Scully was on hand at Dodger Stadium on Jackie Robinson day and spun this yarn about him and Jackie skating – http://thesco.re/2pvVqvv
  • *In Jim Ross voice* GOOD GOD, THAT’S THE EASTER BUNNY’S MUSIC!! – http://atmlb.com/2p86kdQ
  • The absolute arrogance of this bat flip in Japan – http://bit.ly/2oj3lvf
  • The tribute to Tim Raines during the Blue Jays Home Opener. Not only was it classy because it honoured the recent Hall of Fame inductee but it (further) proved that the Blue Jays are Canada’s team, especially when they honour a great player from another team. Hell, not even the Nationals, who were once the Expos, have given any love to the man they call “Rock.”
  • The sweet sounds of Dan Shulman in the broadcasting booth. Nothing against Buck and Pat but Shulman’s voice adds 5% more to each game he covers.
  • The early returns on Kendrys Morales. Sure he’s not Edwin Encarnacion and sure he’s not exactly setting the world on fire, but who the hell cares? All Morales has done so far is create the only two (positive) highlights for the Jays during this dismal start. Last week it was a grand slam for his first HR in a Jays uniform. On Saturday he hit a walk off homer in the 9th inning to give the Blue Jays their 2nd win on the season

 

What Caused Us to Cringe

  • Robbie Alomar’s painted on skinny jeans. I mean come on Robbie, we can see your McCain’s frozen punch through them.
  • The three man booth of Buck, Pat and Dan Shulman. It’s nothing against the talent itself, it just comes across as being forced. I feel bad for Tabby in this scenerio because he really seems like the odd man out. I kind of picture him raising his hand like a child in class when he wants to add something to the conversation.
  • Edubray Ramos head hunting Asdrubal Cabrera. Last September, Cabrera hit an important homer off of the Phillies reliever. Fast forward to last week when Ramos decided to get even by whizzing a 94mph fastball over the head of the Mets player.
  • Buster Posey getting drilled in the head by a 94 mph fastball.
  • Gary Sanchez’s biceps strain – keeps young star out for next 4 weeks.
  • Jon Gray’s fractured foot keeping him out for the next month.
  • Sam Dyson closing games – blows 3rd straight save. Although as a Blue Jays fan I can’t help but smile a little bit.
  • Dale Scott being stretchered off the field. The home plate ump was forced to leave Friday’s contest after taking a foul tip off of the mask. Thankfully, it was only a minor concussion and he should be back soon.
  • Donno’s calf… again. This time it’s a trip to the DL. The kicker being that it could be 10 days or a month, that’s according to Blue Jays president, Mark Shapiro
  • The dismal Blue Jays offense. As if it were possible, these guys actually look worse than the guys who got carved up by the Indians in the 2016 ALCS
  • Aaron Sanchez’s pitching hand. A blister on the righty’s hand will keep him out for the next 1 to 2 starts.
  • JA Happ’s forearm strain. Hopefully this won’t lead to them cueing up Dr. James Andrews’ music. Although part of me believes that this is karma for all the “classy” Blue Jays fans cheering when David Price went down with an elbow injury in Spring Training.

 

Happ injury.jpg

 

The Blue Jays Early Season Misery –  Where Do They Go From Here?

Sure we’re only twelve games in but at 2-10 how long can we keep making the “it’s still early” argument? It’s not like these have been “good” losses either as the Blue Jays sputtering offense looks completely lost at the dish. Furthermore, the injury bug, something that wasn’t a huge factor last year, has already started to rear it’s ugly head and we’re not even out of April.

This past week alone the Blue Jays have lost the trio of Josh Donaldson, Aaron Sanchez, and JA Happ, and let’s be honest here, we know the durability issues that this team has, how long until something else goes wrong? We’ve already seen the likes of Dominic Leone, Casey Lawrence, and now Chris Coghlan. Who is next? Mat Latos? TJ House? Brian Bolsinger? I mean it feels like this team is a Mike McCoy sighting away from flying the white flag.

So where do they go from here? What are the options? The way I see it, it’s one of two possible outcomes:

The Wait It Out Approach or the (eventual) Rebuild Route

Waiting it out is what is most likely to happen. This is a veteran team that (apparently) knows what it is capable of and knows how to turn it around; they’ve even gotten a vote of confidence from their President. For all you Gibby haters out there you can stop calling for his head now, he isn’t going anywhere, especially not after being just handed a new contract not even a month ago, and if they Shatkins regime won’t release Smoak after giving him an extension than they’re not getting rid of Gibby either. I would also bet that his two trips to the ALCS also get him a stay of execution for at least this year.

What you have to assume is that Hitting Coach, Brooks Jacoby, will be the first up to the chopping block. Despite being the hitting coach for the big bad Blue Jays bats of 2015, the lineups inability to change their approach at the plate could very well see Jacoby in the hunt for a new gig sooner rather than later.

But let’s say that this atrocious start carries on and turns into a disastrous season, would a potential “fire sale” take place? Despite making a statement about “trusting the players track record(s),” you have to think that Shapiro and Atkins are at least thinking about the possibility of selling some players off and building for the future.

It’s no secret that they want to rebuild the farm and put their stamp on the roster, not to mention get younger on the field. All three of these could factor into the decision to become a seller as the trade deadline nears. The brain trust could take a look at what the Yankees did last year – sell off valuable pieces for top prospects and remain competitive with prospects already in place- and hope to replicate it.

Now despite having some big names on the roster, the Blue Jays might find it hard to get the same return as the Yankees got last year mainly because the players they’ll be looking to offload are older and tied to long and expensive contracts. That doesn’t mean that they still won’t try to move them, even for a lesser return. As fans, let’s hope that this stays more hypothetical than a reality.

 

– $

Spare Change – Week One Reflections and More

opening day

 

 

What We Loved

  • Maddy Bumgarner’s Opening Day performance – 11k 2 HR
  • Kyle Schwarber in the leadoff position. The big LF is making Joe Maddon look like an even bigger genius with his torrid start out of the one hole.
  • Stephen Piscotty’s perilous trip around the bases. The Cardinals RF got hit by the ball 3x during the same journey. At least he was rewarded with a spot on Kimmel.
  • The absurd power throughout the Orioles lineup – Is JJ Hardy the weak spot? He did hit 30 in 2011
  • Unintentional comedy of the picture of 6’7 Aaron Judge and 5’8 Ronald Torryes
  • Bryce Harper on opening day… 5th HR in as many Opening Day’s
  • Not to be outdone, Mike Trout hit his 3rd HR on Opening Day
  • Albert Almora Jr. in CF – http://atmlb.com/2p4Hybi – http://atmlb.com/2owiSL1
  • Greg Holland closing out games. Former All Star has looked good upon his return from Tommy John.
  • Manny Machado’s glove work. Not only (arguably) the best 3B in the AL but also might be the best in the entire business.
  • The ludicrous power of Joey Gallo. The Rangers 1B caused a glitch in stat cast.
  • Fans turning Cueto into a horse via photoshop – http://www.thescore.com/news/1272381
  • The entire toolkit of Francisco Lindor. Add a late game grand slam to take the lead to his already impressive resume.
  • Eric Thames going yard in the show for the first time since 2012.
  • Jameson Taillon and Chris Sale lock horns at Fenway.
  • Bartolo’s return to Citi. Serious goosebumps – http://www.thescore.com/news/1272906
  • Josh Donaldson’s Barry Bonds earring. The Dangly cross just drips with swag from the late 80s and early 90s.
  • Manny Margot’s MLB debut. Padres top prospect hit back to back ding dongs in his first two MLB AB’s.
  • Yadier Molina’s chest protector. No way there isn’t something sprayed on that thing.
  • Jumbo Diaz jogging in from the pen. I’ll eat my hat if he is actually the 278 lbs that he is listed at.
  • Andrelton Simmons ridiculous tag – http://on.si.com/2pq8SQz.
  • The D-Backs red hot start. Last year’s bigger disappointments are already looking better than they did in 2016.

What Caused Us to Cringe

  • Masahiro Tanaka on opening day. The Yankees ace gave up a career high 7 earned in just 2.2 innings.
  • Tanaka’s UCL. The 28 year old is still pitching with a partially torn UCL which could possibly snap at any moment.
  • Waino pulling a 50 Cent but does it to allegedly protect Yadi. The Cardinals righty told reporters that he uncorked the egregiously wild pitch because he noticed that his catcher was set up for a curveball instead of the fastball that Wainwright was throwing. Commendable and all, but still ugly as hell.
  • Brett Cecil’s introduction to Cardinals fans. The former Blue Jay serves up a moonshot to Kyle Schwarber to give the Cubs the lead and the eventual game.
  • They aren’t who we thought they were. The Royals bullpen getting shelled for 12 runs through 2 games
  • Clayton Kershaw making more than the entire Padres roster. How is AJ Preller still employed?
  • Pretty much everything that the Blue Jays have done so far.
  • Jason Grilli at Camden Yards – The Grilled Cheese blows his 2nd consecutive save on the Orioles turf.
  • Josh Donaldson’s calves – why do I get the feeling that this could be a theme all season long?
  • Casey Lawrence’s introduction to Blue Jays fan (for further reading see below).
  • Walking in the winning run with the bases loaded and 2 outs. Seriously though, why not throw it right down the cock instead of trying to finesse it in there?

 

The (New) Golden Age of Shortstops 

As baseball fans, we are currently being treated to the best crop of talented, young SS since Jeter, ARod, Alex S Gonzalez, Edgar Renteria and Rey Ordonez were posing shirtless on the cover of Sports Illustrated.

shirtless-ss_orig.jpg

What makes that cover even more ridiculous is that future All Star and AL MVP Miguel Tejada wasn’t even invited; neither was Boston folk hero NOMAH! At the time of posting this, the likes of Carlos Correa, Francisco Lindor, Xander Bogaerts, Addy Russell, Dansby Swanson, Trevor Story, Tim Anderson, Trea Turner, Aldames Diaz, Corey Seager, Ketel Marte and Orlando Arcia are all 25 or younger. And that’s not even including the top SS prospects that are still in the minors like Gleybar Torres, Ahmed Rosario, Brendan Rogers, JP Crawford, Nick Gordon, Willy Adames, Kevin Maitan, Franklin Barretto, Jorge Mateo or Kevin Newman. This list also does not include Manny Machado who just turned himself into (arguably) the best 3B in the game. Nor does it include other SS who have changed positions to accommodate their teams needs a la Alex Bregman.

Besides the abundance of young and upcoming SS, we are also still witnessing the play of exceptional talent from those who are 30 and under such as Elvis Andrus, Jean Segura, Brandon Crawford, Jose Iglesias and Andrelton Simmons; Simmons alone being a treat himself and might just be the best defensive SS to ever play the game. I say that with full respect, love and admiration for the Wizard of Oz (Ozzie Smith). Furthermore, Troy Tulowitzki, who has just been the best SS for the past decade, is entering the latter half of his SS career, and although his bat doesn’t seem to be what it used to be, his glove alone is worth the price of admission.

Not only are we experiencing an increase in talent alone, but also one in the power department. In that shirtless shortstop year of 1997, only three shortstops hit 20 or more homers (Nomar, Arod, and Jay Bell), whereas last year ELEVEN different shortstops (not counting Machado) hit 20 or more, including Didi Gregorious and Freddy Galvis! Enjoy it while it lasts. It’s not everyday that you are treated to a renaissance like this.

 

Games Without G-Ma

I honestly thought that losing Eddy to the Indians would be the biggest loss that I suffered this off season. Little did I know that it would barely be a dent in comparison to losing my grandmother. My grandmother was, and still is, the biggest Blue Jays fan that I have ever known. And I am not saying that because she listened or watched each and every game. I am saying that because like myself, she lived and breathed everything Blue Jays. Even the teams that I could barely talk myself into (I’m looking at you Ty Taubenheim, Terry Adams, and Doug Creek) she would tune in as if it was the hey days of the 80’s or early 90’s. She knew all of the players, coaches, trainers and prospects. She loved the scrappy underdogs like Johnny Mac and Craig Grebeck, and hated showboats or selfish players. Not a phone call between us went by without at least a five minute breakdown of the weeks past games, impromptu scouting reports or prospect profiles. I can’t tell you how many times I tried to talk her into such and such prospect or insert recent addition only to have her rebuff me with a “Ill believe it when I see it” attitude.

Like her favourite coach (Cito Gaston) she was overly protective of her veteran players and would fight with me tooth and nail if I tried to side with any kind of youth movement; especially when it came to her favourite, Jose Bautista. Of all the players whom she claimed as “favourites” over the years (Stieb, Key, Borders, Gruber, Carter, Molitor Delgado, Wells, Halladay), I am certain that Joey Bats was her favourite; she was even cremated with his shersey.

Although she passed away after Christmas, I am starting to feel her loss more now than I did then and that’s because it was during the baseball season that we bonded the most. I can’t tell you how much I wish I had just one more conversation with her about the Blue Jays; even if it was just over the phone for five minutes like we used to. Despite my heart feeling like a million pounds from sadness, I take solace in two things:

  1. Knowing that she got to watch the Blue Jays make the playoffs not only once more, but twice.
  2. Remembering her calling our house after midnight in 1992 when they won their first World Series. I can still remember hearing her gravely voice choking back tears of joy and excitement because her boys had finally done it.

It’s moments like that that will never die and are what will get me through this difficult season ahead. Rest in peace G-Ma, I know you’re up there somewhere cursing this 1-5 start like the rest of us. Hope you enjoy the Home Opener tonight.

 

– $

Spare Change – Opening Day Hot Takes

Happy Opening Day!! Hard to believe that for the first time since 1909, the Cubs begin the season as the reigning World Series Champs. Will they be able to repeat or will they suffer from the dreaded World Series hangover? We’ll find out after 162 glorious games and Playoffs. Until then, sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride that is the Major League Baseball season.

 

The Little Things to Look Forward to in 2017

  • Clayton Kershaw’s curve
  • Maddy Bumgarner’s intensity
  • Marco Estrada’s change up
  • Noah Syndergaard’s fastball slider combo
  • Kevin Gausman’s splitter
  • Stephen Wright’s knuckler
  • Everything Yu Darvish’s throws
  • Yadier Molina’s game calling
  • Kris Bryant’s smile
  • Kevin Kiermaier’s eyes and glove
  • Manny Machado’s resemblance to Ariana Grande
  • Yoenis Cespedes’ arm
  • Andrelton Simmons’ glove
  • Everything and anything related to Mike Trout (http://bit.ly/2nP7rgJ)
  • Maddy Bumgarner and Jake Arrieta at the dish
  • A full year of Dansby Swanson, Andrew Benitendi and Hunter Renfroe
  • Anthony Rizzo navigating the walls in foul territory
  • The unintentional comedy that is the double play duo of Carlos Correa and Jose Altuve
  • Dylan Bundy becoming what we thought he’d be – *In Dennis Green voice*
  • Bartolo still doing his thing (in the NL no less – moar #bartolobombs)
  • Donno barehanding slow rollers up the line
  • Everything Adrian Beltre
  • Bonus coverage of West coast games
  • Miguel Cabrera’s oppo hits
  • Buck Martinez wheeze-laughing at his own jokes
  • Pictures of Jake Arrieta in a onesie
  • The fact that Ichiro is still playing
  • The Mets rotation
  • Increasing in-game broadcast use of StatsCast powered by Amazon
  • Jackie Robinson Day
  • Pink bats and accessories for Mother’s day
  • Blue bats and accessories for Father’s day

Things That Will Surely Test My Patience in 2017

  • Justin Smoak vs. A breaking pitch
  • Kevin Pillar v. Plate discipline
  • John Gibbons v. a challenge
  • Hearing about Scott Boras now that he represents Sanchez
  • Another fully year of Mike Wilner and his smarmy demeanor
  • Edwin walking the parrot at Progressive Field
  • The moniker “Believeland” *wretches*
  • Cubs fans turning from lovable losers into pretentious pricks a la Red Sox fans post 2004
  • Buck Showalter standing on the steps of the dugout and dragging out a (potential) challenge
  • Having to hear about how great the Baby Bombers are, and how rejuvenated the Yanks farm system is
  • Ditto goes for the Red Sox
  • Televised games from the Trop
  • Another year of Longo rotting in Tampa
  • Baseball in Tampa but not in Montreal
  • Rougned Odor’s face
  • The annual sewer backup at the Oakland Co.
  • No More Papi
  • No Jose or Yordano
  • No more soothing voice of Vin Scully

 

Seventh Inning Stretch – Top 7 Players at Each Position

Top 7 Catcher

Texas Rangers v Baltimore Orioles

American League

  1. Jonathan Lucroy
  2. Gary Sanchez
  3. Sal Perez
  4. Wellington Castillo
  5. Stephen Vogt
  6. Wilson Ramos
  7. Russell Martin

 

posey

National League

  1. Buster Posey
  2. Yasmani Grandal
  3. Wilson Contreras
  4. Matt Wieters
  5. J.T Realmuto
  6. Yadier Molina
  7. Francisco Cervelli

 

Top 7 First Basemen

 

Minnesota Twins v Detroit Tigers

 

American League

  1. Miguel Cabrera
  2. Edwin Encarnacion
  3. Chris Davis
  4. Eric Hosmer
  5. Hanley Ramirez
  6. Jose Abreu
  7. Albert Pujols

 

Paul Goldschmidt

 

National League

  1. Paul Goldschmidt
  2. Anthony Rizzo
  3. Joey Votto
  4. Freddie Freeman
  5. Brandon Belt
  6. Matt Carpenter
  7. Adrian Gonzalez

 

Top 7 Second Basemen

 

cano.jpg

 

American League

  1. Robinson Cano
  2. Jason Kipnis
  3. Brian Dozier
  4. Ian Kinsler
  5. Dustin Pedroia
  6. Jonathan Schoop
  7. Devon Travis

 

javier baez

 

National League

  1. Javier Baez
  2. Daniel Murphy
  3. DJ LeMehieu
  4. Dee Gordon
  5. Logan Forsythe
  6. Jose Peraza
  7. Joe Panik

 

Top 7 Third Basemen

 

MLB: MAR 14 Spring Training - Phillies at Orioles

 

American League

  1. Manny Machado
  2. Josh Donaldson
  3. Evan Longoria
  4. Adrian Beltre
  5. Miguel Sano
  6. Todd Frazier
  7. Kyle Seager

 

nolan-arenado

 

National League

  1. Nolan Arenado
  2. Kris Bryant
  3. Justin Turner
  4. Anthony Rendon
  5. Jake Lamb
  6. Maikel Franco
  7. Eduardo Nunez

 

Top 7 Shortstops

 

xman

 

American League

  1. Xander Bogaerts
  2. Francisco Lindor
  3. Troy Tulowitzki
  4. Didi Gregorious
  5. Andrelton Simmons
  6. Jean Segura
  7. Tim Anderson

 

seager

 

National League

  1. Corey Seager
  2. Trea Turner
  3. Addison Russell
  4. Brandon Crawford
  5. Dansby Swanson
  6. Aldames Diaz
  7. Jonathan Villar

 

Top 7 Left Fielders

 

 

brantley

 

American League

  1. Michael Brantley
  2. Khris Davis
  3. Justin Upton
  4. Nomar Mazara
  5. Brett Gardner
  6. Alex Gordon
  7. Andrew Benitendi

 

USP MLB: MIAMI MARLINS AT NEW YORK METS S BBN USA NY

 

National League

  1. Yoenis Cespedes
  2. Gregory Polanco
  3. Kyle Schwarber
  4. Ryan Braun
  5. Marcell Ozuna
  6. David Dahl
  7. David Peralta

 

 

Top 7 Center Fielders

 

mike-trout

 

American League

  1. Mike Trout
  2. George Springer
  3. Jackie Bradley JR.
  4. Kevin Kiermier
  5. Adam Jones
  6. Lorenzo Cain
  7. Jacoby Ellsbury

 

Starling-Marte-2.jpg

 

National League

  1. Starling Marte
  2. Christian Yelich
  3. Dexter Fowler
  4. AJ Pollock
  5. Joc Pederson
  6. Adam Eaton
  7. Odubal Herrera

 

 

Top 7 Right Fielders

 

MLB: Boston Red Sox at New York Yankees

 

American League

  1. Mookie Betts
  2. Nelson Cruz
  3. JD Martinez
  4. Jose Bautista
  5. Kole Calhoun
  6. Josh Reddick
  7. Shin Soo Choo

 

Bryce Harper

 

National League

  1. Bryce Harper
  2. Giancarlo Stanton
  3. Andrew McCutcheon
  4. Carlos Gonzalez
  5. Stephen Piscotty
  6. Jason Heyward
  7. Hunter Pence

 

Top 7 Right-Handed Pitchers

 

kluber.JPG

 

American League

  1. Corey Kluber
  2. Carlos Carrasco
  3. Yu Darvish
  4. Felix Hernandez
  5. Rick Porcello
  6. Aaron Sanchez
  7. Justin Verlander

 

MLB: Detroit Tigers at Washington Nationals

 

National League

  1. Max Scherzer
  2. Noah Syndergaard
  3. Johnny Cueto
  4. Stephen Strasburg
  5. Jacob deGrom
  6. Carlos Martinez
  7. Gerrit Cole

 

 

Top 7 Left-Handed Pitchers

 

sale

 

American League

  1. Chris Sale
  2. Jose Quintana
  3. David Price
  4. JA Happ
  5. Danny Duffy
  6. Drew Smyly
  7. Sean Manaea

 

kershaw

 

National League

  1. Clayton Kershaw
  2. Madison Bumgarner
  3. Jon Lester
  4. Robbie Ray
  5. Julio Urias
  6. Stephen Matz
  7. Rich Hill

 

Top 7 Closing Pitchers

 

Britton

 

American League

  1. Zach Britton
  2. Andrew Miller
  3. Craig Kimbel
  4. Aroldis Chapman
  5. Roberto Osuna
  6. Sean Doolittle
  7. David Robertson

 

jansen.jpg

 

National League

  1. Kenley Jansen
  2. Wade Davis
  3. Mark Melancon
  4. Seung-hwan Oh
  5. Jeurys Familla
  6. Fernando Rodney
  7. Tony Watson

 

KB

 

The Kris Bryant All-Stars: The All Man Pretty Team or The All Good Face Team

  • C: Buster Posey • San Francisco Giants
  • 1B: Chris Davis • Baltimore Orioles
  • 2B: Javier Baez • Chicago Cubs
  • 3B: Kris Bryant • Chicago Cubs
  • SS: Dansby Swanson • Atlanta Braves
  • OF: Kevin Kiermaier • Tampa Bay Rays
  • OF: Mike Trout • Anaheim Angels
  • OF: Giancarlo Stanton • Miami Marlins
  • RHP: Jake Arrieta • Chicago Cubs
  • LHP: Cole Hamels • Texas Rangers
  • CP: David Robertson • Chicago White Sox

 

– $

 

2017 MLB Season Predictions and Storylines 

 

Final Standing Predictions

American League East

  1. Boston Red Sox
  2. Toronto Blue Jays
  3. Baltimore Orioles
  4. New York Yankees
  5. Tampa Bay Rays

American League Central

  1. Cleveland Indians
  2. Kansas City Royals
  3. Detroit Tigers
  4. Minnesota Twins
  5. Chicago White Sox

American League West

  1. Houston Astros
  2. Seattle Mariners
  3. Texas Rangers
  4. Oakland Athletics
  5. Los Angeles Angels

 

National League 

National League East 

  1. Washington Nationals
  2. New York Mets
  3. Atlanta Braves
  4. Miami Marlins
  5. Philadelphia Phillies

National League Central

  1. Chicago Cubs
  2. Pittsburgh Pirates
  3. St Louis Cardinals
  4. Milwaukee Brewers
  5. Cincinnati Reds

National League West

  1. Los Angeles Dodgers
  2. San Francisco Giants
  3. Arizona Diamondbacks
  4. Colorado Rockies
  5. San Diego Padres

 

MLB Award Predictions

 

MLB: Boston Red Sox at New York Yankees

 

American League MVP:

  1. Mookie Betts • OF • Boston Red Sox
  2. Manny Machado • 3B • Baltimore Orioles
  3. Mike Trout • OF • Los Angeles Angels

 

nolan-arenado

 

National League MVP:

  1. Nolan Arenado • 3B • Colorado Rockies
  2. Bryce Harper • OF • Washington Nationals
  3. Kris Bryant • 3B • Chicago Cubs

 

carlos-carrasco-

 

American League Cy Young:

  1. Carlos Carrasco • RHP • Cleveland Indians
  2. Chris Sale • LHP • Boston Red Sox
  3. Corey Kluber • RHP • Cleveland Indians

 

MLB: Detroit Tigers at Washington Nationals

 

National League Cy Young:

  1. Max Scherzer • RHP • Washington Nationals
  2. Clayton Kershaw • LHP • Los Angeles Dodgers
  3. Jake Arrieta • RHP • Chicago Cubs

 

Benintendi1280_lhsi39qt_h8gf3kr6

 

American League Rookie of the Year:

  1. Andrew Benitendi • OF • Boston Red Sox
  2. Yoan Moncada • 2B • Chicago White Sox
  3. Jharel Cotton • P • Oakland Athletics

 

dansby swanson

 

National League Rookie of the Year:

  1. Dansby Swanson • SS • Atlanta Braves
  2. Hunter Renfroe • OF • San Diego Padres
  3. Jose Peraza • 2B • Cincinnati Reds

AL Comeback Player of the Year:

  1. Pablo Sandoval • 3B • Boston Red Sox

NL Comeback Player of the Year:

  1. Greg Holland • P • Colorado Rockies

 

Storylines to Follow Throughout the Season

 

vin

 

 

No More Vin. This will be the first year since 1950 (67 seasons) that you won’t be able to hear the “voice of baseball.” The Dodgers will now be called by the voice of Joe Davis, who will have some help along the way from the likes of Orel Hershiser and Nomar Garciaparra. The loss of Scully’s iconic voice and one man booth is unparalleled. It’s like a little bit of the game itself retired. Imagine if hot dogs were no longer sold at stadiums or if they stopped piping “Take me out to the Ballgame” during the 7th inning stretch. One of the last living ties to the golden age of baseball, besides his voice and canter, it’s his knowledge that will be missed most.

 

manfred

 

New Rule Changes for 2017. New to the rules this season will be the “No pitch” intentional walk. Managers will now signal the umpire that they want to issue a walk and the player will simply take his base. There will also be new guidelines for reviewing a play. Managers now have 30 seconds to decide whether or not to challenge and the umpires have a two minute limit on reviewing before issuing their decision. Personally, I believe that eliminating the ability to call someone from the dugout phone and have them decide whether or not to challenge, would be a better change but I guess this is a step in the right direction. In addition to those two rules, there will no longer be allowed the use of marking instruments or marking of fields themselves for defensive positioning (think the Dodgers and their laser pointers last season). And lastly, there will be an expansion of the balk rule(s). Pitchers can no longer take a second step toward home with either foot or otherwise reset their pivot foot in their delivery. This could cause Padres reliever, Carter Capps, a lot of headaches and balks. In all honesty, all of these changes seem pretty petty to me. Why not do something of substance like eliminating the ability to dress and field upwards of 40 players during the pennant race in September? Or how about how many times an inning/AB a catcher or player can visit the pitcher? Wouldn’t that speed up the proverbial “pace of play” a lot more than having a manager signal to the ump that they’re going to issue an intentional walk?

 

Cubs

 

Start of a Dynasty at Wrigley? Their young core is signed or controllable through 2020. Their ownership has deep enough pockets to retain not only their own upcoming free agents (Arrieta and Rizzo) but also has the financial flexibility to go after other teams top free agents; although the current Jason Heyward experiment might curtail that. If the Cubs do opt to go the trade route in order to add a piece or two, their farm system is cast enough to allow them to target high profile trade candidates; rental or otherwise. What I am trying to say is that they can easily do what they want.

 

MLB: Kansas City Royals at Detroit Tigers

 

End of a Dynasty at Kauffman? World Series losers in 2014 and winners in 2015 but is the end of the Royal dynasty in sight? With OF Lorenzo Cain, 1B Eric Hosmer and 3B Mike Moustakas set to be free agents at seasons end there is a (very) good chance that all three of them have new teams in 2018. What could further signal the end of the Royals is that in the quest of their World Series title, they unloaded a fair amount of their farm system. The depleted minors means that their are few clear cut candidates able to step into the everyday lineup.

 

baby bombers.jpg

 

Full Year of the Baby Bombers in the Bronx. The first wave made their mark in 2016 with the arrival of C Gary Sanchez, OF Aaron Judge and 1B/OF Tyler Austin. 2017 could see those names joined by the likes of newly acquired top prospects, OF Clint Frazier and SS Gleyber Torres. If the Yanks can get any semblance of a decent rotation, this could be (one of) the surprise teams of 2017. At the same time, there is no sense of urgency or rush for the Yanks to compete; well besides their rabid fan base and media outlets. It is completely plausible for the Yankees to be sellers at the deadline again and further improve their DEEP DEEP farm system.

 

moncada.0

 

Rise of the Rebuilds. Rapid rebuilds in Chicago and Atlanta could see them contending for a playoff spot sooner rather than later. The Braves have taken a few years to retool their roster with the mindset of being ready to compete once they move into their new home. Well that’s this season and they’re not far off. In fact, I believe that given a few breaks and perhaps a move or two, they could make some noise this season. The White Sox on the other hand are new to the rebuild game but have made a few moves that could impact their roster as soon as this year. By acquiring 2B Yoan Moncada and P Lucas Giolito in separate trades, the White Six added two pieces that could feasibly start the year in Chicago. They could be joined by the likes of Michael Kopech and Reynaldo Lopez by next year.

 

BP.jpg

 

Coming Soon to a Rebuild Near You. With the trade of Brandon Phillips are the Reds signaling that they are open for business? Was Brandon Phillips merely the first domino to fall? Even with his hefty contract, will the Reds try and trade Votto? What about the other veterans like Homer Bailey, Zack Cosart and Devin Mesoroco? You can bet that any team looking to improve their roster throughout the season will be placing a call to Cincinnati first. One place that could be an intriguing seller if they opt to go the rebuild route will be Detroit. With the death of owner Mike Ilitch the Tigers front office might (finally) have the green light to start offloading their veterans. You can bet that any first half struggles will be followed by the firing of Brad Ausmus and the FOR SALE sign being put on the front of Comerica Park.

 

dipoto

 

Moves For the Mariners. To date, GM Jerry Dipoto has made more trades than any other GM. His 16 trades since the end of the 2016 season has completely revamped the Mariners roster but will it be enough to fend off the Rangers and Astros, and get the Mariners back in the playoffs? Mariners have the talent on the roster to have an extremely high performance ceiling. However, that same roster also has an incredibly low performance floor too. The Mariners will need consistent production from their core of veterans (Cano, Nelly Cruz, Seager and the King), as well as a breakout or two in order to get back to October baseball. And that’s not even mentioning their rotation which, on paper, could be among the best in the bigs. That being said, it is also an injury or dismal performance away from being among the worst in MLB.

 

mets5.jpg

 

Who Has the Best Rotation in the Majors? Take your pick. Is it the Mets (Harvey, deGrom, Syndergaard, Wheeler and Matz)? Giants (Bumgarner, Cueto, Samardzjia, Cain and Moore)? Nationals (Scherzer, Strasburg, Gonzalez, Ross, Roark)? Red Sox (Price, Sale, Porcello, Rodriguez and Pomeranz)? Indians (Kluber, Carrasco, Salazar, Bauer and Tomlin? Blue Jays (Sanchez, Happ, Estrada, Stroman and Liriano)?

 

rip

 

Heavy Hearts in Miami and K.C. The loss of both Jose Fernandez last September and Yordano Ventura in the offseason have their respective teams playing in their honour for the 2017 season. How those teams respond is anybody’s guess. It could give them extra motivation in an emotional form or it could have the complete opposite effect. One thing that is for sure is that both losses will definitely be felt on the field. How each team manages to deal with that aspect could be the difference between possible postseason baseball or being out of it by the trade deadline.

 

Bold Predictions

Note: These are a combination of outlandish predictions from myself and frequent contributor and longtime friend, GP.

  • Jose Bautista wins the AL Home Run Title. Thanks the chip on his shoulder during his acceptance speech.
  • White Sox trade Jose Quintana at the deadline to the Astros.
  • Not finished, the White Sox find a taker for David Robertson, and his replacement, Nate Jones, emerges as one of the top closers in the AL by season’s end.
  • One of the surprise teams within reach of a playoff spot (Kansas City, New York Yankees, Oakland, Seattle, Atlanta, Colorado) will land the big fish available at the trade deadline (Sonny Gray, Chris Archer, etc…).
  • Nomar Mazara leads the Rangers offense with 35+ homers and 100+ RBI.
  • Kevin Kiermaier develops some pop, hitting 25 homers, stealing 25 bags, and becoming a first time All Star, but gets beaten out in GG balloting by Kevin Pillar.
  • Miguel Sano hits 40 homers for the Twins, but it’s not enough to keep Paul Molitor from being the first AL Manager fired.
  • Led by one of the American League’s best pitching staffs and a powerful offense, the Mariners end their playoff hiatus, sneaking in as a wildcard entry.
  • Another brilliant season from Mike Trout is not enough to keep the Angels out of the AL West basement, resulting in Mike Scioscia’s lengthy tenure drawing to a close in Anaheim
  • Trea Turner. NL All Star and MLB Stolen Base Champ
  • Rockies trade Carlos Gonzalez to the Cardinals at the deadline.
  • Despite Rockies missing the playoffs, Nolan Arenado wins the first NL MVP of his career. He also adds his 5th Gold Glove in as many years.
  • New arrival, Clay Buchholz, is a surprise top 5 finisher in the NL ERA title chase
  • The Pirates send two outfielders to the All Star Game, neither of whom is Cutch.
  • DJ Lemahieu repeats as NL batting champ, wins another GG, and finally begins to get national media attention/love.

and perhaps the boldest one…

  • Jedd Gyorko comes out of nowhere to lead the NL in home runs (hit 30 last year in 438 PAs, or 1 HR/14 every 6 PA vs NL leader Arenado 1 HR/17 PA)

 

– $

 

2017 Season Preview – National League West

greinke

 

Arizona Diamondbacks

2016 Record: 69-93 • 4th NL West

O/U on Wins: 78.5 • Over

Moving In: P Taijuan Walker • P Fernando Rodney • SS Ketel Marte • C Jeff Mathis • C Chris Iannetta

Moving Out: SS Jean Segura • C Wellington Castillo • P Daniel Hudson • P Rubby de la Rosa • C Tuffy Gosewich • OF Rickie Weekes

Key Player(s) in 2017: Pitchers Zack Greinke and Shelby Miller. Both Greinke and Miller were brought into the fold for the 2016 season with one goal in mind: postseason baseball. That did not pan out though. Greinke, who was signed to a 6yr/$205.5mil contract in the 2015 offseason, saw his ERA balloon from an unrealistic 1.66 in 2015 to a 4.37 last year. Although he did win 13 games in his Arizona debut, he also saw both his BB/9 and H/9 increase too. To make matters worse, Greinke was also sidelined with an oblique injury for six weeks. Another thing to watch for this season will be Greinke’s fastball velocity which has apparently been down so far in Spring Training. If Greinke is 100% or close to and hasn’t seen a Jered Weaver-esque drop in velocity, a return to his dominant self should be a very realistic scenario.

Even with Greinke’s struggles, the Diamondbacks have to be pleased with his results in comparison to their other big offseason acquisition, Shelby Miller. Miller was atrocious in his first season in the desert. In 20 starts the right-hander went 3-12/6.15/1.67/70/-0.7 WAR in 101 innings pitched; hitting a low point with a demotion to AAA. Besides the awful stats and poor play, the proverbial salt in the wounds is that the Diamondbacks traded SS Dansby Swanson, OF Ender Inciarte and P Aaron Blair (a top pitching prospect) to Atlanta to acquire Miller. Both Swanson and Inciarte look like building blocks for the new look Braves while Miller looks like he took a step back in his progression. If the Diamondbacks have any thoughts or ambitions of catching the Giants, let alone the Dodgers, they will need significant bounce back campaigns from these two.

Potential Breakout: P Archie Bradley. The former top prospect got called up to the show in May and never looked back. Although he struggled for the first half after his call-up, Bradley turned it around in the second half and had a strong finish. In 26 starts, Bradley went 8-9/5.02/1.56/143 in 141 innings pitched. With the Diamondbacks bringing in Taijuan Walker via trade and former first round pick, Braeden Shipley, waiting in the wings, there is no guarantee that Bradley will start the season in the rotation or even in the majors. Besides the two names mentioned above, Bradley will also need to compete against veterans Patrick Corbin and Shelby Miller, who will get all the chances available to stick in the rotation after poor 2016’s; not to mention the likes of top prospect, Anthony Banda too. Bradley definitely has the stuff to pitch at the MLB level but he will need to have better control of said stuff in order to succeed at it. A strong showing in Spring Training could give him a shot at making the rotation out of camp, but he will need to cut down on both his H/9 (9.8) and BB/9 (4.3) in order to do so.

Top Prospect: P Anthony Banda• Age: 23 • MLB ETA: 2017

First Round Draft Miss: P Barret Loux (6th) over Matt Harvey (7th) in 2010

Fantasy Stud: Paul Goldschmidt • 2016 Stats: .297/.899/24/95/4.8 WAR in 579 AB

Money’s Man Crush: Paul Goldschmidt. 6’3, 222 lbs, perennial All Star, Silver Slugger and Gold Glove recipient, the ability to launch moonshots, oh ya, and he can swipe bases. Goldy could legitimately be a 30/30 guy as he is more than capable of hitting over 30 ding dangs a season, and he nabbed 32 bags last season. For his career, Goldy now has 99 stolen bases in 779 games and has only been caught 23 times.

2017 Prediction: •3rd NL West

 

nolan-arenado

 

Colorado Rockies

2016 Record: 75-87 • 3rd NL West

O/U on Wins: 79.5 • Under

Moving In: UT Ian Desmond • P Greg Holland • P Mike Dunn • UT Alexi Amarista

Moving Out: P Boone Logan • C Nick Hundley • P Jorge de la Rosa

Key Player(s) in 2017: P Jon Gray. The former 3rd overall pick in 2013 had an above average season in his first full year. The big right-hander made 29 starts and went 10-10/4.61/1.26/185/2.3 WAR in 161 innings, he even garnered some votes for Rookie of theYear; finishing 6th. If Gray could somehow manage to cut down on his amount of BB/9 (3.2), H/9( 8.8), and long balls (18 in 2016), he could make quite the statement this season. Now that’s easier said than done when you play half your games at Coors. With Chad Bettis cancer sadly returning, Gray could become the de facto ace of this upstart Rockies team. The fate of the Rockies post season goals could hinge on the progression of Gray and how he pitches this season.

Potential Breakout: P Jeff Hoffman. Acquired in deal for Troy Tulowitzki. Made MLB debut in 2016 and went winless in 6 starts. Managed a 4.88/1.72/22 in 31 innings. Will need to cut down on H/9 (10.6) and BB/9 (4.9) if he wants to stick in the Rockies rotation but with their need for pitching, he will get every opportunity too. The question will be how much of a leash will he have in regards to poor outings; not to mention a possible innings limit. The Rockies can ill afford Hoffman to struggle while trying to remain in contention for a playoff spot, but you don’t want to shatter his confidence by demoting him too soon. That being said, a breakout from Hoffman could help the Rockies achieve their goal of competing for a postseason spot.

Top Prospect: SS/2B Brendan Rogers • Age: 20 • MLB ETA: 2018

First Round Draft Miss: P Greg Reynolds (2nd) over 3B Evan Longoria in 2006

Fantasy Stud: 3B Nolan Arenado • 2016 Stats: .294/.932/41/133/6.5 WAR in 618 AB

Money’s Man Crush: 3B Nolan Arenado. (Arguably) the best 3B in baseball both at the dish and in the field. In the field, Arenado has played 4 seasons and won 4 straight Gold Gloves. Meanwhile at the plate he has had back to back 40+ HR/130+ RBI  and is a .285 hitter in 2152 career AB.

2017 Prediction: 4th NL West

 

kershaw

 

Los Angeles Dodgers

2016 Record: 91-71 • 1st NL West

O/U on Wins: 91.5 • Over

Moving In: 2B Logan Forsythe

Moving Out: OF Josh Reddick • 2B Howie Kendrick • C Carlos Ruiz • P Joe Blanton • P Brett Anderson • P JP Howell • P Jesse Chavez • P Chase de Jong • P Jose de Leon

Key Player(s) in 2017: OF Yasiel Puig. Which version of Puig will show up for the Dodgers in 2016? Will it be the one who broke out in 2013 at a clip of .319/925/19/42 and finished 2nd in Rookie of the Year voting? Or will it be the one who limped through 2016 to a .263/.740/11/45 line and was demoted to AAA at one point? It’s no secret that the Dodgers actively shopped Puig over the offseason but found nothing worth moving him for. Puig is still young enough (26 at seasons end) and talented enough to easily turn around. Rumour has it that Puig isn’t the most mature of players and that could be (one of) the reasons for his poor play. If he is committed to baseball as he said he is upon his recall from AAA then there should be no questions about who will be the Dodgers everyday RF. His talent alone should keep him from sitting on the bench but his attitude and maturity might have other ideas.

Potential Breakout: P Julio Urias. The Dodgers top pitching prospect debuted in 2016 and appeared in 18 games, making 15 starts. In those starts Urias went 5-2/3.39/1.46/84 in 77 innings pitched. The 20 year old lefty easily has the stuff and confidence to start the year in the Dodgers rotation but a surplus of veteran starting pitchers could force him to start the season in the minors. If and when he does make it into the Dodgers starting rotation, Urias will most likely be subjected to some form of an innings limit. Even with some form of innings cap imposed, Urias’ impact could give the Dodgers the push they need to make an appearance in the World Series.

Top Prospect: 1B/OF Cody Bellinger • Age: 21 • MLB ETA: 2017

First Round Draft Miss: P Chris Reed (16) over P Sonny Gray (18) in 2011.

Fantasy Stud: P Clayton Kershaw • 2016 Stats: 12/1.69/.72/172/5.9 WAR in 149 IP

Money’s Man Crush: Clayton Kershaw based on stuff alone – that curveball. *sprays Febreeze.*

2017 Prediction: 1st NL West

 

wil-myers

 

San Diego Padres

2016 Record: 68-94 • 5th NL West

O/U on Wins: 64.5 • Over

Moving In: P Jered Weaver • P Jhoulys Chacin • P Clayton Richard • P Trevor Cahill •P Zach Lee

Moving Out: P Tyson Ross • C Derek Norris • OF Jon Jay • UT Alexi Amarista

Key Player(s) in 2017: P Luis Perdomo and OF Travis Jankowski. Both players enjoyed breakout seasons in 2016 and will need to prove that it wasn’t an anomaly or fluke. The play of Jankowski, a former supplemental first round pick (44th) in 2012, was one of the few bright spots in San Diego last season. Used predominantly as a lead off hitter for the Padres, Jankowski performed admirably, hitting .245/.646/2/12, swiping 30 bags and scoring 53 runs. He should get first crack at both the starting LF job and the lead-off position in 2017, and if he can replicate or improve his numbers from the season before, he’ll give the Padres lineup a homegrown table setter for their future.

Another bright spot for the Padres last year was rookie right-hander, Luis Perdomo. He begin the season in the bullpen but moved into the rotation during the season and made 20 starts. In those 20 starts, Perdomo went 9-10/5.71/1.59/105 in 146.2 innings. Although he is a ground ball inducing pitcher (GB% of 59%), Perdomo still struggled to miss hitters bats as he had a H/9 of 11.5. Perdomo won’t necessarily rack up the strikeouts (6.4 K/9) but he will need to find other ways of getting batters out in order to see his ERA and WHIP come down to more respectable levels.

Potential Breakout: OF Hunter Renfroe. The 13th overall pick in 2013 made a BIG first impression as a September call-up in 2016. Though he only appeared in 11 games, Renfroe absolutely tore the cover off the ball in that limited sample size. He went .371/1.189/4/14 and added 3 doubles in a meager 35 AB. Although its completely unrealistic to expect him to match those numbers over a 162 game season (.371/1.189/59/206), what would be realistic would to see him compete with the likes of Dansby Swanson for NL Rookie of the Year. The continuing emergence of Renfroe will give the Padres a trio of OF (Wil Myers, Renfroe and Jankowski) with an extremely high ceiling; and that’s not even factoring in Manny Margot.

Top Prospect: OF Manuel Margot • Age: 22 • MLB ETA: 2017

First Round Draft Miss: OF Donovan Tate (3rd) over P Zack Wheeler (6th) in 2009.

Fantasy Stud: OF Wil Myers  2016 Stats: .259/.797/28/94/3.2 WAR in 599 AB

Money’s Man Crush: The Padres have a few sexy throwbacks that they could use. Unfortunately they have dedcided to abandon their mustard yellow, Gaylrd Perry era jerseys for the upcoming season. Here’s hoping that they replace them with the (almost) equally as sexy, Robbie Alomar era, brown and orange jerseys.Oh, and Wil Myers isn’t too shabby of an option either.

2017 Prediction: 5th NL West

 

giants

 

San Francisco Giants

2016 Record: 87-75 • 2nd NL West

O/U on Wins: 87.5 • Over

Moving In: P Mark Melancon • SS Jimmy Rollins • P David Hernandez

Moving Out: P Chris Heston • P Sergio Romo • P Jake Peavy • P Javier Lopez • OF Angel Pagan

Key Player(s) in 2017: P Mark Melancon. Once a staple of their championship runs, the Giants bullpen was woeful, with no clear cut closer to put out late inning fires. The Giants addressed that issue in the offseason by inking one pf the marquee free agents, P Mark Melancon, to a 4yr/$62 mil contract. Melancon has been one of the better closers in the National League since taking over the Pirates closer role in 2013. Splittingi time between the Pirates and the Nationals in 2016, the three time All Star went 2-2/1.64/.90/47 SV in 71.1 innings; he also finished a career high 67 games. Although there is little doubt that Melancon will prove to be worth the investment, the Giants front office decided to spend their budget by going after Melancon instead of a lesser name which would’ve allowed them to address their need for a LF. Any early stumbles or faltering by Melancon will likely bring out the naysayers and armchair GM’s who will be quick to point out the above.

Potential Breakout: OF Mac Williamson or OF Jarrett Parker. With the Giants allotting the majority of their offseason budget to bringing in Mark Melancon they failed to address a glaring hole in LF. To start the season, the Giants will most likely use a platoon of the right handed hitting, Mac Williamson and the left handed hitting, Jarrett Parker. Although neither is what you would call a “household name,” what they lack in name recognition they make up for in being a bargain for the cash strapped Giants. Williamson, a former 3rd round pick by the Giants in 2013, played in 54 games in 2016 and hit .223/.726/6/15 in 112 AB. Parker, on the other hand, is a former 2nd round pick by the Giants in 2010, and hit .267/.865/11/28 in 176 AB. Look for Parker to get the majority of playing time out of Spring Training as he is both a left handed hitter and has shown the better ability to hit for power, something the power starved Giants (3rd fewest HR in MLB in 2016) are hurting for

Top Prospect: P Tyler Beede • Age: 23 • MLB ETA: 2017

First Round Draft Miss: P Chris Stratton (20th) over P Marcus Stroman (22) in 2012

Fantasy Stud: C Buster Posey • 2016 Stats: .288/.796/14/80/4.7 WAR in 539 AB

Money’s Man Crush: Pitching battery of Maddy Bumgarner and Buster Posey. Both are (arguably) the best players at their respective position and as batterymates, no other team can match these two.

2017 Prediction: 2nd NL West

– $