2017 MLB Season Preview- American League East

MLB: MAR 14 Spring Training - Phillies at Orioles

Baltimore Orioles

2016 Record: 89-73 • 3rd AL East

O/U on Wins: 84.5 • Under

Moving In: C Wellington Castillo • P Vidal Nuno • OF Seth Smith

Moving Out: C Matt Wieters • DH Pedro Alvarez • UT Steve Pearce • P Vance Worley • P Yovanni Gallardo • P Tommy Hunter

Key Player(s) in 2017: P Kevin Gausman and P Dylan Bundy. The pitching starved O’s will need both former first round picks to be both healthy and consistent in order to compete for a playoff spot. If both can give solid contributions than the O’s could definitely challenge for top spot in the East. Gausman set career highs in 2016 by making 30 starts, throwing 179.2 innings and punching out 174 batters, all despite beginning the season on the DL with tendinitis in his shoulder. Entering his fifth season, the O’s will look for Gausman to pick up where he left off in the second half of 2016 (8-6/3.10 ERA) and continue to strive toward unlocking his true potential.

Potential Breakout: P Dylan Bundy. The former 3rd overall pick has battled injuries throughout his short career but if he can stay healthy, Bundy could finally reach the potential that the O’s and baseball fans have been waiting for. Early indications show that Bundy will not have an innings limit imposed on him this season which could either mean a new career high in starts and innings pitched or a possible breakdown.

Top Prospect: C Chance Sisco • Age: 22 • MLB ETA: 2017

First Round Draft Miss: 3B Billy Rowell over Pitchers Tim Lincecum and Max Scherzer.

Fantasy Stud: 3B Manny Machado. 2016 Stats: .294/.876/37/96/6.7 WAR in 640 AB

Money’s Man Crush: Machado’s skill set. A perennial MVP candidate with Gold Glove defense.

2017 Prediction: 3rd AL East

red-sox-dance

Boston Red Sox

2016 Record: 93-69 • 1st AL East

O/U on Wins: 90.5 • Over

Moving In: P Chris Sale • P Tyler Thornburg • 1B Mitch Moreland • OF Junior Lake • 2B Josh Rutledge

Moving Out: DH David Ortiz • 2B Yoan Moncada • 1B/3B Travis Shaw • P Clay Buchholz • P Junichi Tazawa • P Koji Uehara • C Ryan Hanigan • IF Aaron Hill • P Michael Kopech

Key Player(s) in 2017: 3B Pablo Sandoval and P Tyler Thornburg. A slimmer and healthier Panda will look to make good on his 5yrs/$95 mil contract after a dismal 2015 and injury derailed 2016. If Sandoval regains his approach at the plate, he could give the Red Sox another weapon in an already loaded lineup. As for Thornburg, the Red Sox traded for him to (hopefully) be their 8th inning set up man. Last year, the Red Sox used Junichi Tazawa, Brad Ziegler, Robbie Ross, Matt Barnes and Joe Kelly in that role, all to mixed or negative reviews.

Potential Breakout: OF Andrew Benitendi. The newest member of the Killer B outfield has rocketed up the depth chart since being drafted 7th overall in 2015. Benitendi got his feet wet in 2016 and showed some glimpses of what he’s capable of. It wouldn’t be surprising at all to see him become a 20/20 player at the MLB level. Benitendi is currently considered one of, if not the favourite to win Rookie of the Year in the American League.

Top Prospect: 3B Rafael Devers • Age: 20 • MLB ETA: 2018

First Round Draft Miss: Kolbrin Vitek (20) over Christian Yelich (23) in 2010

Fantasy Stud: Mookie Betts • 2016 Stats: .318/.897/31/113/9.6 WAR in 672AB

Money’s Man Crush: The Killer B’s (Betts, Benitendi, Bradley Jr) in the OF. Although as a Blue Jays fan, just saying that kills me.

2017 Prediction: 1st AL East

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New York Yankees

2016 Record: 84-78 • 4th AL East

O/U on Wins: 83.5 • Under

Moving In: P Aroldis Chapman • 1B/0F Matt Holliday • 1B Chris Carter • UT Reuben Tejada • P Jon Niese

Moving Out: C Brian McCann • 1B Mark Teixera • P Nathan Eovaldi • DH Billy Butler • 0F Dustin Ackley

Key Player(s) in 2017: P Luis Severino. The Yankees will need Severino to pitch like his 2015 self, where he showed glimpses of dominance over the 2016 version that didn’t earn a W as a starter, if they have any hope of making the playoffs for the first time in 5 seasons. Severino will also need to impress in the rotation in order to stay a starter long term. Despite being committed to him for a whole season as a starter, the Yanks may eventually move him to the pen if he continues to struggle with consistency.

Potential Breakout: OF Aaron Judge. the 6’7 Judge is equipped with both a cannon for an arm, and light tower power, but he’ll need to change his approach at the plate and cut down on the strikeouts in order to make an impact in 2017. If he can do that, there is a good chance he could challenge for the Rookie of the Year.

Top Prospect: OF Clint Frazier • Age: 22 • MLB ETA: 2018

First Round Draft Miss: SS Cito Culver (32) over Pitchers Aaron Sanchez (34) and Noah Syndergaard (38) in 2010.

Fantasy Stud: C Gary Sanchez. 2016 Stats: .299/1.032/20/42/3.0 WAR in 201 AB

Money’s Man Crush: The bright future of the Baby Bombers (Gary Sanchez, Aaron Judge, Clint Frazier and Gleybar Torres). See above comment in regards to the anguish it causes me to write that.

2017 Prediction: 4th AL East

longo

Tampa Bay Rays

2016 Record: 68-94 • 5th AL East

O/U on Wins: 75.5 • Over

Moving In: C Wilson Ramos • 0F Colby Rasmus • P Cory Rasmus • P Nathan Eovaldi • OF Mallex Smith • P Jose De Leon

Moving Out: 2B Logan Forsythe • SS Alexi Ramirez • P Kevin Jepsen • 1B/0F Richie Shaffer

Key Player(s) in 2017: P Chris Archer. Archer posted his worst season in his career in 2015 when he went 9-19, with the only bright spot being that he punched-out 233 batters. It’s really a no brainer here to say that any Rays success will hinge on Archer’s performance. He the de facto ace, as well as being a veteran and leader in the locker room. The Rays obviously still believe in him as they were reluctant to part with him via trade in the offseason despite having more than one offer on the table.

Potential Breakout: P Blake Snell. The 2015 Rays minor leaguer of the year had some decent success in his debut. Snell made 19 starts and went 6-8 with a 3.54 ERA and 1.61 WHIP while adding 98 strikeouts in 89 innings in 2016.Snell will need to cut down on both the walks and hits if he is to continue get success in the MLB. It should be interesting to see how he adapts now that teams have had more exposure and tape on him.

Top Prospect: SS Willy Adames • Age: 21 • MLB ETA: 2018

First Round Draft Miss: SS Tim Beckham (1) over 1B Pedro Alvarez (2), 1B Eric Hosmer (3) and C Buster Posey (5) in 2008.

Fantasy Stud: 3B Evan Longoria. 2016 Stats: .273/.840/36/98/3.8 WAR in 633 AB

Money’s Man Crush: Kevin Kiermaier. Not sure what to love more, his glove in CF, his wheels on the base path or those eyes.

2017 Prediction: 5th AL East

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Toronto Blue Jays:

2016 Record: 89-73 • 2nd AL East

O/U on Wins: 86.5 • Over

Moving In: DH Kendrys Morales • UT Steve Pearce • P JP Howell • P Joe Smith • C Jared Saltalamacchia • P Mat Latos • P Brett Oberholtzer • P TJ House • P Lucas Farrell • C Juan Graterol

Moving Out: 1B Edwin Encarnacion • OF Michael Saunders • P Brett Cecil • P Joaquin Benoit • P RA Dickey • P Scott Feldman • C Dioner Navarro

Key Player(s) in 2017: 2B Devon Travis. Snake bitten or injury prone, these are the two terms that have been floating around Devon Travis since he saw his (impressive) 2015 debut ended after a month with a shoulder injury. Despite returning to play in 101 games in 2016, Travis was still nagged by his shoulder injury as well as having his post season cut short with an injury to his knee. When healthy, Travis has proven to be one of the better, young 2B in the game. He plays average to above average defense at 2B and has excelled at the plate. The Blue Jays will need Travis to play in as many games as possible in order to keep all glove, no bat, Ryan Goins out of the lineup.

Potential Breakout: P Marcus Stroman. The Stro show entered 2016 with ace intentions following a remarkable September and post season run in 2015 after returning from ACL surgery. Unfortunately for Stroman, his 2016 was marred by an inconsistent first half that saw him routinely get pounded once the opposing lineup saw him for a 3rd time. Even though he did look to turn a corner post all star break, Stroman will need to cut down on the amount of solid contact that he surrenders. This might be difficult considering that he is a groundball inducing machine. Stroman definitely has the drive and stuff to have a big breakout but he’ll need to keep control of his emotions and remain composed when he does struggle in order to limit the damage.

Top Prospect: 3B Vladmir Guerrero Jr. • Age: 17 • MLB ETA: 2019

First Round Draft Miss: Deck McGuire (10) over C Yasmani Grandal (11) and P Chris Sale (12) in 2010

Fantasy Stud: Josh Donaldson. • 2016 Stats: .284/.953/37/99/7.4 WAR in 577 AB.

Money’s Man Crush: Defense on the left side of the infield featuring perennial Gold Glove threats 3B Josh Donaldson and SS Troy Tulowitzki

2017 Prediction: 2nd AL East

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2016 MLB Regular Season Predictions • American League

2016-opening-day

Happy Opening Day to all of the baseball fans out there! I’d be lying if I said that I wasn’t still emotionally hungover from last years Blue Jays playoff run. Every baseball moment from the “Bat Flip Heard Around the World” has been a complete blur, as was the subsequent offseason. Yet all of that is past us. Every team has a clean slate, and anything can happen.

 

American League East

MLB: Tampa Bay Rays at Baltimore Orioles

Baltimore Orioles

2015 Record: 81-81 (3rd AL East)

O/U Wins in 2016: 78 Wins • Push

X-Factor: Chris Tillman • SP

Potential Breakout Player: Dylan Bundy • RHP

Futures Report: Hunter Harvey • RHP

2016 Final Standing: 4th AL East

 

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Boston Red Sox

2015 Record: 78-84 (5th AL East)

O/U Wins in 2016: 87 Wins • Over

X-Factor: Clay Buchholz • SP

Potential Breakout Player: Jackie Bradley Jr. • OF

Futures Report: Yoan Moancada • 2B

2016 Final Standing: 2nd AL East

 

AP Blue Jays Yankees Baseball

 

New York Yankees

2015 Record: 87-75 • (2nd AL East)

O/U Wins in 2016: 85 Wins • Under

X-Factor: Nathan Eovaldi • SP

Potential Breakout Player: Luis Severino • SP

Futures Report: Jorge Mateo • SS

2016 Final Standing: 3rd AL East

 

archer

 

Tampa Bay Rays

2015 Record: 80-82 • (4th AL East)

O/U Wins in 2016: 82 Wins • Under

X-Factor: Corey Dickerson • OF

Potential Breakout Player: Jake Odorizzi • SP

Futures Report: Blake Snell • LHP

2016 Final Standing: 4th AL East

 

joey

 

Toronto Blue Jays

2015 Record: 93-69 • (1st AL East)

O/U Wins in 2016: 87 Wins • Over

X-Factor: Troy Tulowitzki • SS

Potential Breakout Player: Aaron Sanchez • SP

Futures Report: Anthony Alford • OF

2016 Final Standing: 1st AL East

 

 

American League Central

 

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Chicago White Sox

2015 Record: 76-86 • (4th AL Central)

O/U Wins in 2016: 82 Wins • Under

X-Factor: Todd Frazier • 3B

Potential Breakout Player: Carlos Rodon • SP

Futures Report: Carson Fullmer • RHP

2016 Final Standing: 4th AL Central

 

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Cleveland Indians

2015 Record: 81-80 • (3rd AL Central)

O/U Wins in 2016: 87 Wins • Under

X-Factor: Michael Brantley • OF

Potential Breakout Player: Tyler Naquin • OF

Futures Report: Bradley Zimmer • OF

2016 Final Standing: 2nd AL Central

 

Detroit Tigers batter Miguel Cabrera watches the ball as he hits a two-run, two-strike, two-out, home run to tie the game in New York

 

Detroit Tigers

2015 Record: 74-87 • (5th AL Central)

O/U Wins in 2016: 82.5 Wins • Under

X-Factor: Justin Verlander • SP

Potential Breakout Player: Daniel Norris • SP

Futures Report: Michael Fulmer • RHP

2016 Final Standing: 5th AL Central

 

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Kansas City Royals

2015 Record: 95-67 • (1st AL Central)

O/U Wins in 2016: 84.5 Wins • Over

X-Factor: Lorenzo Cain • OF

Potential Breakout Player: Danny Duffy • SP

Futures Report: Raul Adalberto Mondesi • 2B/SS

2016 Final Standing: 1st AL Central

 

MLB: Minnesota Twins at Chicago White Sox

 

Minnesota Twins

2015 Record: 83-79 • (3rd AL Central)

O/U Wins in 2016: 80 Wins • Over

X-Factor: Miguel Sano • 3B

Potential Breakout Player: Byron Buxton • OF

Futures Report: Jose Berrios • RHP

2016 Final Standing: 3rd AL Central

 

 

American League West

 

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Houston Astros

2015 Record: 86-76 • (2nd AL West)

O/U Wins in 2016: 87.5 Wins • Over

X-Factor: Carlos Correa • SS

Potential Breakout Player: Ken Giles • RP

Futures Report: Alex Bergman • SS

2016 Final Standing: 1st AL West

 

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Los Angeles Angels

2015 Record: 85-77 • (3rd AL West)

O/U Wins in 2016: 79.5 Wins • Under

X-Factor: Albert Pujols • 1B/DH

Potential Breakout Player: Andrew Heaney • SP

Futures Report: Taylor Ward • C

2016 Final Standing: 4th AL West

 

Oakland Athletics v Houston Astros

 

Oakland A’s

2015 Record: 68-94 • (5th AL West)

O/U Wins in 2016: 76 Wins • Under

X-Factor: Sonny Gray • SP

Potential Breakout Player: Kendall Graveman • SP

Futures Report: Franklin Barreto • SS

2016 Final Standing: 5th AL West

 

MLB: Los Angeles Angels at Seattle Mariners

 

Seattle Mariners

2015 Record: 76-86 • (4th AL West)

O/U Wins in 2016: 82.5 Wins • Under

X-Factor: Kyle Seager • 3B

Potential Breakout Player: Taijuan Walker • SP

Futures Report: Alex Jackson • OF

2016 Final Standing: 3rd AL West

 

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Texas Rangers

2015 Record: 88-74 • (1st AL West)

O/U Wins in 2016: 82.5 Wins • Over

X-Factor: Yu Darvish • SP

Potential Breakout Player: Roughned Odor • 2B

Futures Report: Joey Gallo • 3B

2016 Final Standing: 2nd AL West

 

Awards

American League MVP

  1. Troy Tulowitzki • SS • Toronto Blue Jays
  2. Carlos Correa • SS • Houston Astros
  3. Mookie Betts • OF • Boston Red Sox

 

American League Cy Young

  1. Chris Sale • LHP • Chicago White Sox
  2. Cole Hamels • LHP • Texas Rangers
  3. Chris Archer • RHP • Tampa Bay Rays

 

American League Rookie of the Year

  1. Byron Buxton • OF • Minnesota Twins
  2. Joey Gallo • 3B • Texas Rangers
  3. Blake Snell • SP • Tampa Bay Rays

 

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Spare Change – Pretenders and Contenders – All Star Game Reflections

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Distinguishing the Pretenders from the Contenders:

Heading into today, the Yankees, Royals and Angels all sit atop their respective decisions. Meanwhile, the two AL Wild Card spots are being held by the Houston Astros and the Minnesota Twins. The two (surprise) teams have a 3 game lead over their closest threat (Toronto Blue Jays) and both are in dire need of reinforcements.

In the National League (to no one’s real surprise), the Nationals, Cardinals and Dodgers lead their respective divisions, with the Pirates and Cubs holding the two Wild Card positions. As it stands right now, the Pirates have a 3.5 game cushion on the Cubs, with the Giants (1 GB) and the Mets (2 GB) being the only real threat to the Cubs.

Despite all of, if not most of these teams currently sitting in, or near a playoff position, many of them still have glaring holes to fill and needs to address before it can be determined which teams are legit contenders, and which teams are just pretending.

Pretenders with NO CHANCE:

miggy

Detroit Tigers

Current Record: 46-47 (4 GB in Wild Card and 10.5 GB in the AL Central)

Biggest Need(s): Starting pitching and bullpen help.

Reason(s) They’re a Pretender:
• Justin Verlander looks completely lost on the mound.
• Outside of David Price, the entire starting pitching staff has been woeful and far from consistent.
• The Tigers pitching staff currently ranks in or near the bottom 5 in most major pitching statistics.
• Seem to be more in a position to sell off assets than to add them.
• Soon to be free agent players like David Price and Yoenis Cespedes could fetch a sizeable reward and help the Tigers in the near future.
• Depleted farm system might not be deep enough to make any trades of importance.

Bartolo Witness

New York Mets

Current Record: 49-46 (2 GB in Wild Card and 3 GB in the NL East)

Biggest Need(s): Offense.

Reason(s) They’re a Pretender:
• Sure they have a solid pitching rotation, but the Mets have one of the more inconsistent offenses in all of MLB. They currently rank in the bottom 10 in almost all of the major offensive categories.
• Injuries and durability concerns to key contributors like David Wright, Michael Cuddyer, David Murphy and Travis d`Arnaud.
• Despite being loaded with young pitching talent, the Mets management seems to be unwilling to move key pieces of the future for offensive help today.
• Could be more tempted to spend money on offense in the offseason than to move prospects at the trade deadline.

maddy bumgarner

San Francisco Giants

Current Record: 50-44 (1 GB in Wild Card and 2.5 GB in the NL West)

Biggest Need(s): Outfield offense and pitching help.

Reason(s) They’re a Pretender:

• Matt Cain hasn’t been Matt Cain for a while
• Tim Lincecum has become even more of a shell of himself and was recently diagnosed with a degenerative hip disorder
• The veteran trio of Jake Peavy, Tim Hudson and Ryan Vogelsong, have performed more like washed up vets than crafty one.
• In the outfield, Nori Aoki and Angel Pagan have been pedestrian at best and have struggled to contribute consistent run production.
• It’s not an even numbered year…
• Not possessing the deepest of farm systems, the Giants may be hesitant to further deplete a system that is in the middle of a rebuild.
• More likely to attempt to add a big named starter in the offseason. Recent rumours have them linked to pursue Zack Greinke if and when he hits the open market.

Honourable Mention: Tampa Bay Rays.

Pretenders with SOME chance:

donno

Toronto Blue Jays

Current Record: 48-47 (3 GB in AL Wild Card and 4.5 GB in the AL East)

Biggest Need(s): Pitching, pitching, pitching and even MORE pitching.

Reason(s) They Still Have a Chance:

• Their ridiculous offense. The big bad bats of the Blue Jays currently sit atop or in the top 5 in nearly every MLB offensive category.
• No seriously… the offense, nothing else.

Reason They Will Remain A Pretender:

• Despite having one of the deeper farm systems in the majors, one that could (easily) be dipped into it in order to make a move or two, and an apparent $10 million in payroll flexibility, the Blue Jays front office seems unwilling to mortgage the future for a chance today.
• Even though he hasn’t been shy to make a move in the past, GM Alex Anthopolous seems to be a bit hesitant when it comes to moving top prospects, especially after being burned in the Dickey trade.
• If they don’t make a trade to help their poor pitching staff, the Blue Jays will definitely be adding another year to their playoff drought; 22 and counting.

bux

Minnesota Twins

Current Record: 50-43 (Leader in AL Wild Card and 6.5 GB in the AL Central)

Biggest Need(s): Offensive and pitching depth.

Reason(s) They Still Have a Chance:

• Received fairly consistent production from a somewhat unheralded or “no name” offense.
• Pitching staff has been above average to good and the return of Ervin Santana from suspension gives the Twins some pitching depth without having to make a big move.
• Similar to the Royals in 2014, the inexperience of the Twins helps them to shrug off stressful situations. It has been a big factor in their “never give up” attitude.

Reason They Will Remain A Pretender:

• They don’t have the payroll flexibility of big market teams to take on additional payroll.
• May be unwilling to dip into their deep farm system in order to make a run at it this season.
• Inexperience could work against them as the season progresses.

kris bryant

Chicago Cubs

Current Record: 51-43 (Leader in NL Wild Card and 9 GB in the NL Central)

Biggest Need(s): Starting pitching and bullpen help.

Reason(s) They Still Have a Chance:

• Joe Maddon’s supply of fairy dust that he brought with him from his tenure in Tampa Bay.
• Currently possess one of the best statistical pitching staffs in MLB.
• Depth of farm system and a management team that is hungry to win and willing to spend to do so, could see the Cubs be one of the more active teams at the trade deadline; and not as a seller for once.
• Similar to the Royals in 2014, the inexperience of the Cubs could be a blessing in disguise for the Cubs and could help them shrug off stressful situations down the stretch.

Reason They Will Remain A Pretender:

• Asking price on trade targets could be more than Theo Epstein and crew are willing to spend. Sure the Cubs are looking good this season, but don’t think that they will mortgage their very bright future for a chance this season.
• Could be more willing to take on payroll and spend money in the offseason, especially with a deep pool of free agent pitching help.
• Youthful Cubs could succumb to the grind of a 162 game season and start to break down as the season goes on.

Honurable Mention: Baltimore Orioles

Contenders with BIG Needs:

arod pouty

New York Yankees

Record: 51-41 (1st AL East) • 4.5 game lead.

Biggest Need(s):

• Regression of C.C Sabathia and the durability concerns of Masahiro Tanaka, Michael Pineda and Ivan Nova, could see the Bronx Bombers pursue a starting pitcher or two.
• Could also look to add infield and outfield depth to take load off of aging roster.

Most Likely Outcome:

• GM Brian Cashman was quoted as saying that he predicts that the Yankees were “more likely not doing anything than something significant.” He then followed that up by saying that they were “still making their calls” though.
• My take away from this is that the Yankees aren’t necessarily looking for the big name addition, but could look to add depth to the back end of their rotation like they did last season when they added Brandon McCarthy.
• Even with their respectable division lead, the Yankees will need to make a move in order to firmly solidify their grasp on the AL East.

Division Series - Kansas City Royals v Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim - Game Two

Kansas City Royals

Record: 56-36 (1st AL Central) • 6.5 game lead.

Biggest Need(s):

• The season long struggles of Yordano Ventura and the recent news that Jason Vargas needs Tommy John surgery will have the Royals tied to every big name pitcher available leading up to the trade deadline.
• With the injury to Alex Gordon and the durability concerns that are Alex Rios and Kendrys Morales, don’t be surprised to see the Royals also look to add some outfield depth or some bench help.

Most Likely Outcome:

• I would honestly be shocked to see the Royals not make a move of significance to bolster their starting rotation. They have enough top prospects and a deep enough farm system to add one, if not two, starting pitchers.

Correaa

Houston Astros

Record: 52-43 (AL Wild Card leader and 2nd AL West)

Biggest Need(s):

• With rookie phenom, Lance McCullers Jr., facing an innings limit and the back end of the rotation being suspect at best, the Astros could and will be in the market to add an impactful starter.
• George Springer’s injury could mean that the Astros will also be on the hunt for some outfield help or depth. This isn’t a top priority, but it could be something that is addressed nonetheless.
• It wouldn’t be surprising for them to look for some 1B help, especially with Chris Carter currently hitting under .200.

Most Likely Outcome:

• Rumours have already started to swirl in regards to the Astros being tied to the big names available on the trade market. This week alone they have been linked to the trio of Johnny Cueto, Cole Hamels and David Price.
• No guarantees that the Astros land one of the big name pitchers available, but they may look to add an arm or two of lesser status.

Joc Pederson

Los Angeles Dodgers

Record: 54-42 (1st NL West) • 2.5 game lead.

Biggest Need(s):

• The injury to Brett Anderson earlier in the week was just the latest blow to an already paper thin Dodgers rotation. Outside of the dynamic duo of Kershaw and Greinke, the Dodgers had also been leaning heavily on Anderson and Mike Bolsinger to fill the void left by Hyun Jin Ryu and Brandon McCarthy, who both suffered season ending injuries.

Most Likely Outcome:

• The severity of Anderson’s injury will really dictate just how active the Dodgers are leading up to the deadline. That being said, even if the injury isn’t severe, you can bet that the Dodgers will be looking to add some starting pitching depth. This week alone the have been linked to actively pursuing Cole Hamels.

Honourable Mention: Pittsburgh Pirates

Contenders with Minimal Needs:

• Los Angeles Angels
• Washington Nationals
• St. Louis Cardinals

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Reflections on the Dinger Derby and Mid Summer Classic:

• Introduction of the new format helped revitalize the Home Run Derby, not only from a timing standpoint, but also helped add some much needed life into something that had become stagnant in the past couple seasons.
• A combination of seasoned veterans (Pujols and Fielder), up and coming stars (Rizzo and Donaldson), the 23 and under stud club (Pederson, Bryant and Machado) and the home town favourite (Todd Frazier), easily made fans forget about the “big” names (Trout, Harper and Stanton) not in attendance.
• Even if you’re not a Reds fan, hearing the Cincinnati crowd basically will Frazier to the finals and the Derby title, was one of the best moments in recent All Star game memory.
• This interaction between Albert Pujols and Joc Pederson’s brother, Champ. Moments like this are really what the game is all about.

• The “Franchise Four” announcements prior to the All Star game fun to hear, especially with teams like the Rays naming 4 players who are not only still playing, but also 2 that are no longer with the team.
• On the whole, there weren’t too many snubs or surprises in the balloting, although Marlins fans selecting Gio over Josh Beckett and DBacks fans naming Goldy over Steve Finley could be considered a bit of a shock. I’m also a tad surprised that Mets fans went with Piazza over the Kid, Gary Carter.
• No matter what your thoughts or opinions are about him, you have to admit that it was hard not to get goose bumps when Pete Rose was announced to the Cincinnati crowd.
• The naming of the four “Greatest Living Players” (Sandy Koufax, Willie Mays, Hank Aaron and Johnny Bench) was an emotional moment that is up there with Ted Williams being carted out for the 1999 All Star Game at Fenway.
• Sandy Koufax showing us, and 50 cent, how to properly throw out a first pitch:

• Mike Trout doing Mike Trout things. With the leadoff home run, Trout became the first batter since the legendary Bo Jackson to lead the game off with a ding dong. Not to mention that it helped to complete his career All Star Game cycle. Keep in mind that this was only his 4th All Star appearance.
• Very fitting that Trout would become the first player since Bo to leadoff the game with a home run, especially with his AL All Star teammate, Adam Jones, referring to him as the “white” Bo Jackson.
• It would be amusing to see what Trout could do on the gridiron seeing as he could play either offense (fullback) or defense (safety).
• Jacob deGrom needed just 10 pitches and his 98 mph fastball to strike out the AL side in the 6th inning. In doing so, deGrom joined 19yr old Doc Gooden as the only Mets pitcher to strike out the side in the All Star game.

Over Looked Season of Yesteryear:

1996: Ellis Burks • Colorado Rockies • 3rd NL MVP

156 G • 613 AB • 142 R • 211 H • 40 HR • 128 RBI • 32 SB • .344 BA • 1.047 OPS

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Love it or Hate it · Week Three · 2015 MLB Season

What We Loved:

Hamilton

  • An Arlington reunion. With the relationship between the Angels and Josh Hamilton in disrepair, it looks like the much maligned OF will be returning to the place where he experienced his biggest successes, Texas. With the Rangers, Hamilton already has an organization that is familiar with his struggles and has a solid support system already in place. This could turn out to be a move with mutual benefit to both Hamilton and the Rangers. If Hamilton can come back healthy and sober, he could be a big upgrade for a team that is struggling offensively.
  • A meaningful subway series. The Yankees and Mets clashed in the Bronx over the weekend in a weekend series that saw the Yankees take two of three and end the Mets 11 game win streak. Depending on how season plays out for both teams, their next meeting, in September, could be very interesting and very entertaining.
  • Mitch Harris’ debut. The 29 yr old Cardinals pitcher became the 1st Navy grad in 94 years to make his MLB debut. He wound up striking out the first batter he faced (Adam Lind) on four pitches, before going on to hold the Brewers scoreless through 1 1/3.
  • Adrian Beltre and Garrett Richards. We all knew that the dude didn’t like his head being touched for whatever reason. Now we know not to mess with his bats either. The Rangers 3B sent the Angels starter an invoice for three broken bats following their most recent matchup that saw Richards break three of Beltre’s bats, in three at bats. No word if the invoice was paid.
  • Slugfest between Brewers and Reds. Reds beat the Brewers 16-10 in a game that saw the teams combine to hit 7 homers, including 3 grand slams.
  • Early season overreactions. The Astros… ASTROS… are currently sitting atop the AL West with a 2.5 game lead over the 2nd place Angels. I know it’s early, but it’s hard not to like seeing the Astros sitting in any position that isn’t dead last.
  • Everything that is Bartolo Colon

Bartolo Witness

What We Hated:

yordano-ventura

  • The chip on Yordano Ventura’s shoulder. Ventura is listed as being and even “six foot,” yet that chip developing on his shoulder, is at least twice that size. I love this kid. I love his arsenal, his confidence and his swagger. What I cannot stand though is this “take on all comers” attitude that he has displayed thus far. I don’t hate him for throwing at batters in retaliation for his own players getting hit. What I hate is him running his mouth at Adam Eaton after fielding a routine comebacker. There is no one else to blame for sparking that melee than Ventura; he was the catalyst. This comes one week after Ventura was one of the prominent figures in the A’s/Royals brawl(s). Ventura is only 23 years old, and he is already becoming one of MLB’s most hated players.
  • Pitchers getting injured while batting. After jamming his thumb during an at bat, it was announced that Nationals pitcher, Max Scherzer, would not make his next start, but he would also miss a trip to the DL. The Nationals should consider themselves blessed to have received that injury update, it was abundantly better than the news that the Cardinals received in regards to Adam Wainwright. The Cardinals ace will miss the next 8-12 months after suffering a torn achillies tendon. The injury occurred as Wainwright ran up the 1st base line following an at bat. Luckily for the Cardinals, if there is one team that should have no problem in handling a key loss like this, it is the Cardinals.
  • Pitchers batting. After the Giants catcher, Buster Posey, suffered a broken leg following a collision at home plate, MLB wasted no time in altering the rules of how a catcher could block the plate. This was done to protect catchers from experiencing an injury like the one that Posey had suffered. Perhaps it is time MLB follows suit regarding pitchers batting in the National League. This isn’t my idea though, even players are advocating for it. Following his injury while batting, Max Scherzer was quoted as saying that he believes that it’s time that the NL follows the AL and adopts the DH rule. Scherzer wasn’t advocating for it because of his recent injury, but rather on the basis of improving offense and entertainment. This is what he said to Jon Heyman of CBS:

“If you look at it from the macro side, who’d people rather see hit — Big Papi [Red Sox first baseman/DH David Ortiz] or me? Who would people rather see, a real hitter hitting home runs or a pitcher swinging a wet newspaper? Both leagues need to be on the same set of rules … Those kids, they want to see V-Mart hit,” Scherzer said, pointing out a group of children on the field at Marlins Park. “Those kids don’t want to see me hit. No one wants to see a pitcher hit. No one pays money for that … We keep searching for offense,” Scherzer added. “This would be the easiest way to add offense.”

Should be interesting to see how this plays out in the future; especially given new Commissioner Rob Manfred’s penchant for change.

  • The Angels front office. For the third week in a row, the Angels front office has publicly struggled with what to do in regards to Josh Hamilton. We now know that the Angels were more willing to ship Hamilton back to Texas, eat (almost) all of his remaining contract, and receive NOTHING in return, over dealing with Hamilton’s relapse. Must be nice to have the money to make mistakes like this go away…

miguel cairo

Irrelevant Major Leaguer of the Week:

2B Miguel Cairo · 17 yrs · 1490 G · 3956 AB · 41 HR · 394 RBI · .264 AVG · .675 OPS

Blue Jays Love/Hate

What We Loved:

bautista

  • Bautista vs. the O’s bullpen. Another series against Baltimore and another O’s reliever throws behind Joey Bats. Of course, Bautista smashes the next pitch into the LF bleachers. Only thing that made it better was Bautista’s reaction following the homer.

http://m.mlb.com/video/topic/8877962/v83003983/baltor-bautista-thrown-behind-then-homers

  • Sweeping the O’s at the ‘dome.
  • Anticipating every upcoming O’s/Jays series.
  • The raw power of Edwin and Donaldson.
  • Devin Travis looking more and more like a steal!

 What We Hated:

Blue Jays Rays Baseball

  • Being swept by the Rays. 1-6 on the season vs. Tampa.
  • Knowing we still have 12 more games against the Rays.
  • Guys throwing behind Bautista… no matter what he does after.

http://m.mlb.com/video/?content_id=82997483&topic_id=8877962

  • Dalton Pompey’s defence of late.
  • Jose Reyes’ rib. Put money on this injury plaguing him ALL SEASON long.
  • Showalter pissing and moaning about the turf.
  • Inability to close out games. Castro/Hendriks combine to give up 4 earned in last game vs. O’s. Bullpen blows 2-1 lead in 8th against Rays.
  • The bullpen is who we thought it was…. it’s who we thought it was!

aquilino_lopez

Irrelevant Blue Jay of the Week:

RP Aquilino Lopez (2003-04) · 90 G · 94.2 IP · 2-4 W/L · 3.99 ERA · 1.33 WHIP

– $

2015 MLB Season Preview · AL East · Boston Red Sox

Fenway Park

Boston Red Sox

Home Ballpark: Fenway (Pahk) Park

2014 Finish: 5th AL East · (71 – 91)

Over/Under Wins in 2015: 86 · Over

What We Love:

  • Moves, Moves and More Moves: The Red Sox were not shy in throwing the dollars around this offseason. The Sox landed two of the biggest free agents on the market (Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez) and picked up a nice, low risk/high upside, reclamation project (Justin Masterson). Not content with just inking players, the Sox flipped OF Yoenis Cespedes to the Tigers for SP Rick Porcello, then moved pitchers Allen Webster and Rubby de la Rosa to the Diamondbacks in exchange for SP Wade Miley. They even bolstered their (already) deep bench by trading 3B Will Middlebrooks to the Padres for C Ryan Hanigan. Now just because you go out and throw money around and bring players in doesn’t guarantee you a trip to the World Series, or even the playoffs for that matter. But what the Red Sox have done is gone out and strengthened a glaring area of weakness (starting rotation), as well as added a pair of potent bats to their already stacked lineup. Sure there are no guarantees, but it’s hard not to like the Red Sox chances of taking advantage of what looks like a WIDE OPEN AL East. Perhaps there are even more moves to come… paging Cole Hamels.

Panda

  • The farm system that just won’t quit: It really isn’t fair just how LOADED the Red Sox farm system is, especially given the fact that they are (usually) considered a perennial contender. Where most top teams in the MLB have stripped their farm systems bare via the trade market, the Red Sox have stockpiled a considerable number of high ceiling prospects whom can be used as on the field assets or as potential trade bait. Not only do the Sox have “homegrown” players on the cusp of contributing to their everyday lineup in Blake Swihart, Mookie Betts, Henry Owens, Matt Barnes and Jackie Bradley Jr, but they also have managed to lock up two highly touted Cuban players in Rusney Castillo and the 19 year old uber prospect, Yoan Moncada. Remarkably, the Sox system will only continue to get deeper as they are slated to pick 7th overall in the 2015 MLB Amateur Draft.
  • Don’t call it a comeback: Three seasons featuring a variety of hand and wrist surgeries. Two straight seasons of dropping power numbers. So why do we love Dustin Pedroia in 2015? Because he is determined to be back at 100% and if that happens, then you just know that a vintage Dustin Pedroia season is in play for 2015. Even with nagging injuries sapping him off his power, Pedroia still managed to appear in 135 games in 2014, where he contributed .278/7/53 and won a Gold Glove. Big Papi may be the soul of the Red Sox, but Pedroia is the heart of that team. A big year by the 2B could be the difference between a playoff berth and (another) Championship. Remember that whole curse deal??

New York Yankees v Boston Red Sox

Honourable Mentions:

  • Watching the twilight years of one of the games premiere power hitters – Big Papi.
  • The rifle attached to C Christian Vazquez’s right arm.
  • The return of the Knuckleball to Fenway Park in the form of SP Steven Wright.
  • Boston Fans being forced to cheer for a player named Mookie.
  • Jerry Remy’s attempts at pronouncing Cuban imports Rusney Castillo and Yoan Moncada.

 

 What We Hate:

  • Trick or Treat Starting Rotation: Sure the Red Sox brought in a trio of starting pitchers in the offseason, but what version of those starters will show up? Rick Porcello enjoyed his best season last year (15-13 · 3.43 ERA · 204.2 IP) but his low velocity and lack of a “put away” pitch leaves him susceptible to getting hit (career ERA/WHIP: 4.30/1.36). Wade Miley is basically the same pitcher as Porcello but from the left side, and with a few more strikeouts. Of the three new hurlers, the one with the biggest question marks surrounding them will be Justin Masterson. An All Star in 2013, Masterson infamously turned down a contract extension from the Indians at the end of the 2013 campaign in the hopes of cashing in during free agency after the 2014 season. Wrong. Wrong. Masterson had an absolutely atrocious 2014, which not only saw him demoted from the rotation to the bullpen, but also saw him dealt from Cleveland to St. Louis. Shockingly, there weren’t a whole lot of big dollar, multiyear contracts awaiting him at season’s end, so he signed a 1 year/$9.5 million dollar deal in the hopes of rebuilding his value; a far cry from the supposed $17.5 mil a year he was seeking before 2014. The biggest trick or treat pitcher in the rotation however is, Mr. Clay Buchholz. Talk about flashes of brilliance, here is a look at Clay’s last 5 seasons:

2010: 17-7 · 2.33 ERA · 173.2 IP · 1.20 WHIP · AS

2011: 6-3 · 3.48 ERA · 82.2 IP · 1.29 WHIP

2012: 11-8 · 4.56 ERA · 189.1 IP · 1.33 WHIP

2013: 12-1 · 1.74 ERA · 108.1 IP · 1.03 WHIP · AS

2014: 8-11 · 5.34 ERA · 170.1 IP · 1.39 WHIP

 The two biggest obstacles preventing Buchholz from maintaining a successful career have been injuries and himself (control/confidence). When healthy and on top of his game, Buchholz has the makings of an elite pitcher. However, last year it looked like Buchholz could barely find himself, let alone the strike zone. A healthy and dominant Buchholz could give the Red Sox the ace this rotation sorely needs. If not, I am sure they’ll be in the market for a legit #1; see Hamels, Cole.

clay buchholz

 

Honourable Mention:

  • Barren bullpen and an aging, soft tossing closer.
  • The Panda’s attempts at becoming bigger than the Green Monster.
  • Mike Napoli’s days as an everyday 1B.
  • The thought of giving starting RF job to 34yr old, Shane Victorino, over Mookie Betts.

 

Player to Watch: SP Joe Kelly. A lot of people will probably have one of either Rusney Castillo or Mookie Betts down in this spot and for good reason. I too am a big fan of both players, especially Betts, and believe that they deserve to be on everyone’s “Watch List.” Instead of going with the sexy or obvious pick, I decided to take a look at Joe Kelly. Kelly was a guy who went 10-5 for a Cardinals team that went to the World Series against these very Red Sox back in 2013. Kelly pitched 124 innings for the Cards in 2013, mainly out of the ‘pen, but he did make 15 starts too. The Red Sox acquired Kelly, along with Allen Craig, from the Cardinals in exchange for “Kentucky Fried” John Lackey. Kelly should slot in as the Sox 4th or 5th starter, but he has the stuff that translates more towards a mid rotation arm, opposed to a back of the rotation one.

joe kelly

Top Pitching Prospect:  Henry Owens · LHP · MLB ETA: 2015

owens

Top Positional Prospect: Yoan Moncada · 2B · MLB ETA: 2017

Moncada ACM_3160 7 x 5.jpg

Top 30 Prospects (MLB.com): http://m.mlb.com/prospects/2015?list=bos

Final Prediction: 1st AL East

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2015 MLB Season Preview · AL East · Baltimore Orioles

Oriole Park at Camden Yards

Baltimore Orioles

Home Ballpark: Oriole Park at Camden Yards.

2014 Finish: 1st AL East · (96 – 66)

Over/Under Wins in 2015: 84.5 · Over

What We Love:

  • A full season of Kevin Gausman helping impact an already sneaky good starting rotation: The Orioles had four starters reach 10 or more wins in 2014 (Chen, Tillman, Norris and Miguel Gonzalez) and they will need to rely heavily on their rotation if they want to reach the post season again in 2015. Nothing against Chris Tillman or any of the other blue collared starters in the Orioles rotation, but Gausman has the stuff (94-96 mph heater, nasty split finger) that could translate into a legitimate number one.

MLB: Baltimore Orioles at Toronto Blue Jays

  • The potential of a Dylan Bundy appearance in same rotation sometime in 2015. Bundy has been at the top of the Orioles and MLB top prospect list since the Orioles drafted him out of high school with the 4th overall pick, back in 2011. After reaching Baltimore with a September call up in 2012, Bundy had his fast track to the MLB derailed by the all too familiar Tommy John surgery in 2013. Despite being shut down for a lat strain in late 2014, Bundy showed great promise, and some of his 2012 form, following the TJ surgery. His 2015 will be spent focussing on increasing his workload, but we could see him up in the MLB sooner rather than later.
  • The throwback managerial presence of Buck Showalter. Showalter won his third Manager of the Year in 2014 and has helped shape the Orioles into a perennial contender. Despite injuries to key cogs of his lineup, Showalter has proven to be able to get everything out of career journeyman and minor leaguers, Steve Pearce and Caleb Joseph being the latest to benefit from his whispering ability.

showalter1

  • The return of three All Stars (Machado, Wieters and Davis): Injuries limited Manny Machado to just 82 games, while Matt Wieters played in only 26 contests before undergoing Tommy John surgery. Meanwhile, the man formerly known as Crush (Chris Davis) was suspended for 25 games following a positive test for PED’s (perhaps that was the reason for the dismal season). When healthy, and non juicing, these three help give the Orioles one of the more potent lineups in the AL. Given the Orioles lack of bench and OF depth, they will need these three to be healthy and in the everyday lineup in order to return to the postseason.
  • The Golden standard for defense: 2015 marked the third straight year that the Orioles had three players win Gold Gloves at their respective positions (Jones, Hardy and Markakis). The Orioles franchise has now had 70 Gold Gloves awarded, which is the most in the American League by 6 awards. In fact, they only trail the St. Louis Cardinals (85) for the all time record. One would have to imagine that with the return of former Gold Glove recipients Machado and Wieters that the total can only continue to climb.

gold_glove

 

Honourable Mentions:

  • The back end of the Orioles bullpen (O’Day, Hunter and Britton).
  • Everything that Adam Jones brings to the table.
  • Jonathan Schoop’s pop – 16 HR’s as a rookie.

 

 What We Hate:

  • Manny Machado’s knees and future as a SS: Machado, who is still only 22 years old, has proven to be one of the games more exciting younger players since he made his debut back in 2012. At 22, he already has one All Star appearance and one Gold Glove to his name. Unfortunately he also has two major knee injuries to his name too. Not only have these injuries robbed Machado of paying time and post season experience, but they also could be robbing Machado of fulfilling his potential of being one of the games elite shortstops. Machado was drafted as a SS and only moved to 3B to accommodate for JJ Hardy… and spell the end of Wilson Betemit. It’s hard to imagine Machado’s knees holding up under the rigours of playing a physically demanding position like SS. It also doesn’t help that JJ Hardy inked a 3 year extension in the offseason to stay and play SS in Baltimore either.

MLB: New York Yankees at Baltimore Orioles

  • The Orioles corner OF situation or lack thereof: The 2014 offseason saw the Orioles lose two starting corner OF, when their management failed to bring back either one of Nick Markakis or Nelson Cruz. Cruz, the reigning HR champ, decided to take his big bat to Seattle, while the long time Oriole, Markakis, ended up in Ted Turner land (Atlanta). It’s not surprising that the Orioles chose not to resign either of the players, it is surprising however that they did not go out and sign any replacements for those departed players though. If the season were to start tomorrow, the Orioles would be looking to fill their corner OF positions with some combo of Alejandro de Aza, Travis Snider and Delmon Young. Not to mention that one-baggers, Steve Pearce and Chris Davis, have also been rumoured to be in the mix to get some reps in the outfield this season.
  • Everything to do with the Dan Duquette situation: To be honest, everyone involved in this situation needs to give their head a shake. The Blue Jays organization should be embarrassed how they approached this situation and should count themselves blessed to not have had a tampering charge filed against them. Peter Angelos, the Orioles owner, despite taking a stand and refusing to let Duquette out of his contract and demanding the ENTIRE farm in return for him, still loses in this situation because he clearly has a guy who DOES NOT want to be there, making important decisions for HIS team. But I really question what the hell Duquette is doing. He lets Cruz and Markakis walk. He doesn’t find replacements for them. And he doesn’t do anything to add depth to a very thin bench. Luckily he has Buck Showalter in the dugout to patch up any leaks that Duquette puts in the ship.

 

duquette

Honourable Mention:

  • Matt Wieters nagging UCL.
  • Steve Pearce replicating 2014 numbers – .293/21/49.

Player to Watch: Travis Snider. The Orioles traded for Snider in the offseason and a lack of OF depth could help Snider slide into an everyday, or a platoon role. Still only 27, the former first round selection by the Blue Jays could benefit under the tutelage of baseball guru, Buck Showalter, who has had success in the past unlocking hitters potential. The man known as Lunchbox has some definite pop in his bat and it could play up in a HR happy park like Camden Yard. Honourable Mention: Kevin Gausman.

MLB: Cincinnati Reds at Pittsburgh Pirates

Top Pitching Prospect:  Dylan Bundy · RHP · MLB ETA: 2015

Bundy

Top Positional Prospect: Christian Walker · 1B · MLB ETA: 2015

walker

Top 30 Prospects (MLB.com): http://m.mlb.com/prospects/2015?list=bal

Final Prediction: 3rd AL East

– $

Hot Stove Season Wrap Up – Vol. 1

opening day1

With the countdown to pitchers and catchers reporting now being under a month (February 18th) and one of the biggest free agents finally landing his record breaking deal (Max Scherzer), I would say that now is better than ever to take a look back at the always fun and exciting Hot Stove Season.

Most Surprising Free Agent Signing:

Chicago Cubs Introduce Jon Lester

It’s hard to imagine in an offseason that saw the Red Sox land not one but two marquee free agents (Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez) that we would be discussing a more surprising signing, but here we are. Although not made by the Red Sox per se, the biggest free agent splash did involve two of their former employees. The signing of Jon Lester by the Chicago Cubs has to be the most surprising move because of what it signifies for the game; the Cubs are ready to contend again.

Since Theo Epstein took over as President of the Cubs back in October 2011, he has done a great job of trading away everyday players for prospects, all while filling the Cubs minor leagues with high draft picks and international free agents. And now it looks like those moves are poised to pay off perhaps as soon as 2015. With top prospects Kris Bryant, Javier Baez, Addison Russell and Jorge Soler looking to crack the everyday lineup and join offensive threats like Anthony Rizzo and Starlin Castro, the Cubs could be a team on the rise this season.

The Lester signing shows that the Cubs know that they are close and are now willing to be spenders opposed to sellers. More so, the Cubs are not afraid to gamble and spend on the big name free agents, opposed to picking up place holders and temporary solutions to long term problems. Realistically, the Cubs are probably still at least one season away from truly challenging for a Wild Card berth, let alone the NL Central. But the Lester signing now offers the Cubs a legitimate ace to anchor their rotation and allow them to be competitive while they wait for the fruits of their farm system to pay off.

Let’s be honest here, baseball is ALWAYS more fun and interesting when the Cubbies are good.

Most Surprising Trade:

wil myers1

As fun as it is to see the big name free agents changing teams and landing their proverbial paydays, the real joy of the Hot Stove season are the trades. There are few things that amuse this guy more than imagining a bunch of MLB GM’s tossing around hypothetical trades at the Winter Meetings like it’s a rotisserie league. And that’s exactly what happened this offseason.

Since Maddy Bumgarner led the Giants to (another) World Series title, we have seen the likes of Shelby Miller, Jeff Samardzjia, Mat Latos, Rick Porcello, Jason Heyward, Justin Upton, Yoenis Cespedes, Evan Gattis, Howie Kendrick, Dee Gordon, Jimmy Rollins, Brandon Moss, Matt Kemp and Josh Donaldson all get moved to new cities. And yet none of those moves were as shocking as the three team deal that saw the Padres land Wil Myers from the Rays. The actual deal looked like this:

Padres: OF Wil Myers (Rays), C Ryan Hanigan (Rays), P Jose Castillo (Rays) and P Gerardo Reyes (Rays)

Rays: OF Steven Souza (Nationals), P Burch Smith (Padres), 1B Jake Bauers (Padres), P Travis Ott (Nationals) and C Rene Rivera (Padres)

Nationals: SS Trea Turner (Pardes) and P Joe Ross (Padres)

This trade is shocking for a few reasons. The biggest reason is the fact that the Rays were willing to move Wil Myers in the first place.

Sure the kid had a down year in 2014 (.222/6/35 in 325 AB compared to .293/13/53 in 335 AB in 2013) but for the Rays to give up on someone who wont be 25 until the end of the 2015 season just for one bad season is completely absurd. I would argue that 2014 was probably the first time in his entire playing career (amateur or pro) that Myers struggled as badly as he did, and rather than see how he would rebound in 2015, the Rays were more willing to give up on him.

What also makes this shocking is the fact that the Rays didn’t even get a good haul in return for Myers. When the Rays landed Myers and prospects from the Royals for James Shields and Wade Davis, the consensus from the MLB world was that the Rays had stolen Myers from the Royals. This year the Royals made it to the Game 7 of the World Series thanks to James Shields and Wade Davis, meanwhile the Rays flipped Wil Myers for essentially Steven Souza, Burch Smith and Rene Rivera. Nothing against those guys, but none of them have the ceiling that Wil Myers has.

wil myers

Even more astounding is the fact that the Nationals got a better return for losing Souza (Turner and Ross) than the Rays got for Myers. I have to assume that if Andrew Friedman was still in charge in Tampa, this is a move that does not get made.

Biggest Winner (Thus Far):

aj prolly

It’s hard not to like the moves made by Ben Cherington and the Red Sox. This offseason alone he has brought in free agents Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez and traded to bring in pitchers Wade Miley and Rick Porcello. The Marlins made a handful of additions (Mat Latos, Dee Gordon, Martin Prado and Mike Morse) in the hopes of capitalizing in a weak NL East. Even the lowly Astros made some nice moves in the hopes of just securing a winnind season (Luke Gregerson, Pat Neshek, Jed Lowrie, Evan Gattis and Dan Straily).

With that being said, the clear cut winner of the offseason has been the San Diego Padres and their new GM, AJ Preller. The Padres have not only been cellar dwellers for the better part of the past decade but they have also been unable to parlay any of their high draft picks into serviceable everyday players, let alone all stars. Because of this, the Padres have fielded one of the worst offensive lineups in recent history. This offseason, Preller looked to change all of that overnight.

Since the middle of December, the Padres have added the likes of Wil Myers, Matt Kemp, Justin Upton, Derek Norris and Will Middlebrooks, while only losing one everyday player (Yasmani Grandal), two high ceiling prospects (Trea Turner and Max Fried) and a handful of fringe prospects and depth players.

kemp_myers_upton_700

What is truly amazing is the fact that the Padres were able to make the above additions without having to part with any of their big three starting pitchers (Andrew Cashner, Tyson Ross and Ian Kennedy) or their top prospect, C Austin Hedges. In addition to the above “big” moves, the Padres also added some nice pitching depth with the signings of Brandon Morrow and Josh Johnson, and the addition of Brandon Maurer from Seattle for Seth Smith.

There are no guarantees that the above moves will ensure an NL West crown or even a playoff berth, but it definitely gives the Padres a better chance at making a run for the post season. At worse, they will sure be entertaining to watch.

Biggest Loser (Thus Far):

showalter1

For a minute their it looked like Billy Beane and the A’s were going to be the ones to go home with this title. In the span of a few weeks, the A’s had traded away Josh Donaldson, Brandon Moss, Derek Norris and Jeff Samardzijia and only brought in Billy “Country Breakfast” Butler as a replacement; it seemed that the A’s were going into a rebuild. But then Billy Beane did Billy Beane things and flipped prospects and catching depth to the Rays for Ben Zobrist and Yunel Escobar, then subsequently flipped Escobar to the Nationals for Tyler Clippard. All of a sudden this rebuild went to a retooling and Beane and the A’s no longer were in running for loser of the offseason.

Instead that title has now been handed off to the Baltimore Orioles. It’s funny that in an offseason that saw the Rays lose their coach, GM and one of it’s best players, the Orioles still come out as a bigger loser. To date, the Orioles have lost 2/3 of their everyday outfield (Nelson Cruz and Nick Markakis), their everyday catcher (Matt Wieters) is coming off of Tommy John surgery, their promising 3B (Manny Machado) still looks to be suffering from the effects of the knee he tore up in 2013 and Crush Davis is coming off of a dismal season that was marred by an ugly 25 game suspension for PED’s.

What makes things worse is that the Orioles have done nothing to replace their departed outfielders, nor have they addressed issues with their bullpen, rotation and bench. Right now the best available free agent outfielder is Colby Rasmus and after that the list drops off considerably. The Orioles stalling has caused them to miss out on Melky Cabrera, Nori Aoki and Mike Morse; even Torii Hunter would be looking pretty good right about now.

duquette

Another interesting Orioles storyline to follow in the coming weeks will be the future of GM Dan Duquette who has been rumoured to be attached to the Blue Jays Presidency. Duquette is under contract through 2018 and the Jays would have to give the Orioles compensation for hiring Duquette away. The big question though will be whether Orioles owner, Peter Angelos, allows Duquette to leave.

Stay tuned for more Hot Stove season rumblings and rants….

– $