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.

 

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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.

 

– $

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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.

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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.

 

– $

2016 MLB Regular Season Predictions – National League

2016-opening-day

 

National League East

 

freeman

 

Atlanta Braves

2015 Record: 67-95 (4th NL East)

O/U Wins in 2016: 66.5 Wins • Under

X-Factor: Freddie Freeman • 1B

Potential Breakout Player: Ender Inciarte • OF

Futures Report: Dansby Swanson • SS

2016 Final Standing: 5th NL East

 

stanton

 

Miami Marlins

2015 Record: 71-91 (3rd NL East)

O/U Wins in 2016: 80 Wins • Over

X-Factor: Jose Fernandez • SP

Potential Breakout Player: Adam Conley.• SP

Futures Report: Tyler Kolek • RHP

2016 Final Standing: 3rd NL East

 

mets

 

New York Mets

2015 Record: 90-72 • (1st NL East)

O/U Wins in 2016: Wins 90.5 • Over

X-Factor: David Wright • 3B

Potential Breakout Player: Steven Matz • SP

Futures Report: Steven Matz • LHP

2016 Final Standing: 1st NL East

 

MLB: Tampa Bay Rays at Philadelphia Phillies

 

Philadelphia Phillies

2015 Record: 63-99 • (5th NL East)

O/U Wins in 2016: 67 Wins • Under

X-Factor: Maikel Franco • 3B

Potential Breakout Player: Vincent Velasquez • SP

Futures Report: JP Crawford • SS

2016 Final Standing: 4th NL East

 

Bryce Harper

Washington Nationals

2015 Record: 83-79 • (2nd NL East)

O/U Wins in 2016: 89.5 Wins • Under

X-Factor: Stephen Strasburg • SP

Potential Breakout Player: Joe Ross • SP

Futures Report: Lucas Giolito • RHP

2016 Final Standing: 2nd NL East

 

National League Central

 

Kris Bryant

 

Chicago Cubs

2015 Record: 97-65 • (3rd NL Central)

O/U Wins in 2016: 93.5 Wins • Over

X-Factor: Kyle Schwarber • C/OF

Potential Breakout Player: Addison Russell • SS

Futures Report: Greyber Torres • SS

2016 Final Standing: 1st NL Central

 

reds

 

Cincinnati Reds

2015 Record: 64-98 • (5th NL Central)

O/U Wins in 2016: 68.5 Wins • Under

X-Factor: Devin Mesoroco • C

Potential Breakout Player: Raisel Iglesias • SP

Futures Report: Jesse Winkler • OF

2016 Final Standing: 4th NL Central

 

MLB: JUL 26 Brewers at Diamondbacks

 

Milwaukee Brewers

2015 Record: 68-94 • (4th NL Central)

O/U Wins in 2016: 69.5 Wins • Under

X-Factor: Ryan Braun • OF

Potential Breakout Player: Domingo Santana • OF

Futures Report: Orlando Arcia • SS

2016 Final Standing: 5th NL Central

 

pirates

 

Pittsburgh Pirates

2015 Record: 98-64 • (2nd NL Central)

O/U Wins in 2016: 85.5 Wins • Over

X-Factor: Andrew McCutchen • OF

Potential Breakout Player: Gregory Polanco • OF

Futures Report: Tyler Glasnow • RHP

2016 Final Standing: 2nd NL Central

 

MLB: MAY 02 Pirates at Cardinals

 

St. Louis Cardinals

2015 Record: 100-62 • (1st NL Central)

O/U Wins in 2016: 86 Wins • Under

X-Factor: Michael Wacha • SP

Potential Breakout Player: Stephen Piscotty • OF

Futures Report: Alex Reyes • RHP

2016 Final Standing: 3rd NL Central

 

National League West

 

PaulGoldschmidt_2014_4

 

Arizona Diamondbacks

2015 Record: 79-83 • (3rd NL West)

O/U Wins in 2016: 82.5 Wins • Over

X-Factor: Paul Goldschmidt • 1B

Potential Breakout Player: Socrates Brito • OF

Futures Report: Braeden Shipley • RHP

2016 Final Standing: 2nd NL West

 

Colorado-Rockies

 

Colorado Rockies

2015 Record: 74-88 • (5th NL West)

O/U Wins in 2016: 70.5 Wins • Under

X-Factor: Carlos Gonzalez • OF

Potential Breakout Player: Trevor Story • SS

Futures Report: Brendan Rogers • SS

2016 Final Standing: 5th NL West

 

Los Angeles Dodgers v San Diego Padres

 

Los Angeles Dodgers

2015 Record: 92-70 • (1st NL West)

O/U Wins in 2016: 90 Wins • Over

X-Factor: Yasiel Puig • OF

Potential Breakout Player: Corey Seager • SS

Futures Report: Julio Urias • SP

2016 Final Standing: 1st NL West

 

San Francisco Giants v San Diego Padres

 

San Diego Padres

2015 Record: 74-88 • (4th NL West)

O/U Wins in 2016: 72 Wins • Over

X-Factor: Andrew Cashner • SP

Potential Breakout Player: Drew Pomeranz • SP

Futures Report: Manny Margot • OF

2016 Final Standing: 4th NL West

 

MLB: World Series-Kansas City Royals at San Francisco Giants

 

San Francisco Giants

2015 Record: 84-78 • (2nd NL West)

O/U Wins in 2016: 88.5 Wins • Under

X-Factor: Buster Posey • C

Potential Breakout Player: Joe Panik • 2B

Futures Report: Christian Arroyo • SS

2016 Final Standing: 3rd NL West

 

Awards

National League MVP

  1. Andrew McCutchen • OF • Pittsburgh Pirates
  2. Paul Goldschmidt • 1B • Arizona Diamondbacks
  3. Nolan Arenado • 3B • Colorado Rockies

National League Cy Young

  1. Jose Fernandez • RHP • Miami Marlins
  2. Clayton Kershaw • LHP • Los Angeles Dodgers
  3. Gerrit Cole • RHP • Pittsburgh Pirates

National League Rookie of the Year

  1. Corey Seager • SS • Los Angeles Dodgers
  2. Steven Matz • LHP • New York Mets
  3. Trea Turner • SS • Washington Nationals

 

– $

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

 

price

 

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

 

sale

 

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

 

indians

 

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

 

royals

 

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

 

correa altuve

 

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

 

trout

 

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

 

rangers

 

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

all-star-game-baseball-ca8da7757f9d04a5

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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The Pulse on MLB – Prospects Abound, All Star Rant and Blue Jay Ramblings

Correa

Prospect Pipe Line

It is very difficult to think of another season that rivals this one in terms of top prospects making their MLB debuts. The only year that really comes to mind would be the 1995 season which marked the first appearance of the Yankees “Core Four” (Jeter, Posada, Pettite and Rivera) and Jason Giambi, Johnny Damon, Hideo Nomo, Billy Wagner, Troy Percival, Jason Isringhausen, Mike Cameron, Phil Nevin, Brian Giles, Matt Lawton, Esteban Loaiza, Brad Radke and (current Rockies pitcher) LaTroy Hawkins.

Through 64 games this season, not only have we seen the arrivals of MLB.com’s Top 5 prospects (Kris Bryant, Byron Buxton, Carlos Correa, Addison Russell and Francisco Lindor), but we have also had the privilege of witnessing the MLB introductions of: Joey Gallo, Noah Syndergaard, Kevin Plawecki, Carlos Rodon, Archie Bradley, Blake Swihart, Eduardo Rodriguez, Austin Hedges, Lance McCullers, Vincent Velasquez, AJ Cole, Chi Chi Gonzalez, Yasmany Tomas, as well as a trio of Blue Jays (Roberto Osuna, Miguel Castro and Devin Travis). And that is not even including the highly talked about debut of ambidextrous relief pitcher, Pat Venditte.

Venditte

This year’s “bumper crop” of prospects is just the latest in a five year boom of young talent arriving at the MLB level. Since 2010 baseball fans have had the privilege of witnessing the arrivals of: Mike Trout, Giancarlo Stanton, Bryce Harper, Buster Posey, Paul Goldschmidt, Manny Machado, Josh Donaldson, Kyle Seager, Freddie Freeman, Andrelton Simmons, Dee Gordon, Billy Hamilton, George Springer, Anthony Rendon, Madison Bumgarner, Chris Sale, Stephen Strasburg, Michael Wacha, Matt Harvey, Jose Fernandez, Sonny Gray, Zach Wheeler, Matt Moore, Corey Kluber, Shelby Miller, Trevor Rosenthal, Craig Kimbrel and half of the foundation of the Kansas City Royals roster (Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Greg Holland, Lorenzo Cain) to name a few .

Hosmer Moose

And those are just players who were drafted through the MLB Draft; we’re not including players who were signed as International Free Agents like: Yasiel Puig, Aroldis Chapman, Jose Abreu, Yu Darvish, Masahiro Tanaka, Alex Guerrero and the rest of the Royals roster foundation (Yordano Ventura, Salvador Perez and Kelvin Herrera).

yordano sal

The funny thing is that this recent prospect yield is far from over. Obviously in the coming years we will be privy to see the arrivals of numerous prospects, but with this year not even half way over, we may be in line to witness more (young) talent embark upon their career. Depending on how the division and wild card races play out down the stretch, not to mention the rosters expanding in September, we could see the likes of Corey Seager (LAD), Mark Appel (HOU), Steven Matz (NYM), Alex Meyer (MIN), Miguel Sano (MIN), Carl Edwards (CHC), Aaron Nola (PHI) and J.P Crawford (PHI) before all is said and done.

2015 MLB ASG

Thoughts on the Mid Summer Classic

With EIGHT Royals set to start for the AL in Cincinnati in just under a month’s time, a lot of bitching and moaning has been cast toward the fan’s ability to vote and decide the starters for the All Star team. Even the players have been sharing their two cents. Detroit Tigers starting pitcher and an All Star himself, David Price, tweeted that the voting system “is not funny but it’s kind of a joke,” and further chided “I wanna know how many votes Jeter has right now… I know people have written him in and voted… my guess is 1.5 million.”

Despite the American League All Star roster starting to look more like a regular season affair, some of the Royals own players weighed in on the voting process. Outfielder Alex Gordon, who is currently sitting as one of the starting OF in the game, had this to say when interviewed by USA Today Sports:

“To be honest with you, I’ve never agreed with the All-Star voting, I always thought that guys most deserving, and having the best years, should go, especially now that the All-Star Game decides who wins home-field advantage. But it’s a popularity thing now, and after getting to the World Series, we got popular.”

It is hard not to agree with Price, Gordon and the side who vehemently oppose fans having the final say on who starts the All Star game. In fact, I am one of those people who believe that the system needs to be changed.

Having the fate of All Star starters rest in a fan held vote robs players who DESERVE to be there! With a fan vote, a player who is having a career year or one who is a “feel good story” might not get the chance to be named an All Star because one fan base is larger than another and voted more often for their hometown players; regardless of the season they’re having.

With that in mind, I do believe that fans should still play a role in selecting players, just not the starters. Why can they not vote on who will take place in the Home Run Derby? I understand that not everybody is an option to take part, but why can they not vote out of those who are willing to participate? I also like the idea of fans selecting the last player to be named to the All Star game. It really tends to be a selection made more for depth in case of extra innings, so why can we not limit them to voting for that, or even expand it so they can vote for the last three roster positions?

All that being said, until the system is changed, I (unfortunately) have to side with Kansas City Royals manager, Ned Yost, on the fan voting and All Star selection…  “If you don’t like it, go out there and vote.”

Thor

 

The Return of Thor and Bitching About the Blue Jays in Bullet Points

  • Grantland’s Jonah Keri put out an incredible Blue Jays article and an accompanying podcast. The Blue Jays are discussed in the first twenty minutes of the podcast and Jonah is joined by Scott MacArthur from TSN 1050 for the segment.

http://grantland.com/the-triangle/the-jonah-keri-podcast-scott-macarthur-on-the-blue-jays-and-justin-halpern-on-the-padres/

http://grantland.com/the-triangle/mlb-toronto-blue-jays-playoffs-historic-offense-starting-pitching/

  • Move over Mike Trout, there is a new man crush in town. Josh Donaldson seriously makes me swoon like a high school student getting noticed by their crush. I just get butterflies looking at the dude…
  • Apparently I am not the only one either… The Don (Don Cherry) made a televised plea to baseball fans to vote for the “Bringer of Rain”
  • I am still reeling after that 11th inning loss to the Mets on Monday night that ended the 11 game win streak. Regardless of how many runs we put up on a nightly basis, it is losses like that that will define, and subsequently doom, a season

thor1

  • That Noah Syndergaard kid looked pretty damn good (6 IP · 2 H · 1 ER · 2 BB · 11 SO), but hey who needs him when you got good ol’ Runs Allowed Dickey
  • More impressive than his stat line was Syndergaard’s ability to throw his secondary pitches for strikes in fastball counts, following the Bautista home run in the 1st.
  • Gregg (Two G) Zaun made a decent point about our whipping boy Dickey during the pregame broadcast. He said that Dickey is effectively the same guy he was when he was pitching for the Mets, the main difference being that when he was with the Mets, he was pitching in a bigger ballpark, in a weaker division and against weaker lineups. I hate giving RA any benefit of doubt, but I do agree with Zaun’s analysis on this one.
  • What I don’t agree with is anytime Zaun, or any Jays other analyst (I’m looking at you Wilner) for that matter, tries to defend trading Syndergaard and d’Arnaud for Dickey. Trading Syndergaard straight up for Dickey would have been egregious enough, let alone throwing d’Arnaud into the package. I am sure if you ask AA, he’ll agree this is one he wants a mulligan on
  • I have said it before and I will say it again, but I have as much faith in Brett Cecil closing out a win, as I do in bargain bin folding chairs supporting my rotund frame

Cecil

  • Can we please (FINALLY) address our lack of pitching!? I fully understand that everybody fears making another R.A Dickey/Syndergaard type of trade, but you know what we really should fear?!?!? Not making the playoffs… AGAIN!!!
  • I am totally on board with dealing some of our tomorrow for today! You have to be willing to take a chance in order to make it to the playoffs. It might work, it might not, but it is worth trying especially when the opportunity presents itself.
  • The Giants for instance traded Zach Wheeler to the Mets for three months of Carlos Beltran in an attempt to win. Sure it didn’t work for them that season, but those are chances contenders and winning franchises make. Why can’t we?
  • As much as I love prospects like Norris, Castro and Pompey, I wouldn’t hesitate to package them for a closer and a starter. You have to figure that those three (at least) get the conversation started on a Cueto/Chapman or Clippard/Kazmir deal? Hell, just one of them should be enough to land Papelbon from Philadelphia.
  • If the prospects can’t contribute this season in helping us win, then why not use them via trade to help improve the roster and give us a chance this season? I completely agree with Scott MacArthur when he says that it is time to “bleep or get of the pot.”
  • On a positive note, the Blue Jays have signed almost all of their draft class to contracts. This includes the top three picks, all of whom signed for or under slot value. For more info, check out the link from BlueBirdBanter:

http://www.bluebirdbanter.com/2015/6/10/8755563/2015-draft-signing-table

– $

2015 MLB Season Preview · NL West

Chase Field

Arizona Diamondbacks

Home Field: Chase Field

2014: 64 – 98 · 5th NL West

O/U in 2015: 72.5 Wins · Under

What We Love:

  • Paul Goldschmidt. Runner up for the NL MVP in 2014, Goldy was limited to a mere 109 games in 2014, thanks to a fractured left hand, but he still was able to hit .300/19/69 with a .938 OPS in 406 AB. With the 2015 season having the potential to be a very long and dismal one, Goldy could be one of the (few) bright spots in the desert this season.
  • Power in the middle of the lineup. The duo of Goldschmidt and Trumbo have the power between them to hit a combined 70+ HR this season. That number could, and will go up when offseason addition, Yasmani Tomas, makes his debut in a D-Backs jersey.
  • Quantity of Starting Pitching. The D-Backs will begin the season with a starting rotation of: Josh Collmenter, Jeremy Hellickson, Archie Bradley, Rubby De La Rosa and Chase Anderson. They also have Daniel Hudson, Allen Webster, Robbie Ray and Randall Delgado on the 40 man roster, all of whom can, and have started in their career. Meanwhile starters Patrick Corbin and Bronson Arroyo will open the season on the DL.
  • Archie Bradley’s upside. D-Backs top prospect could have a big impact after an impressive showing in the Arizona Fall League and Spring Training.
  • Tuffy Gosewich’s name. Throwback to the days when players were named Pud and Nap.

What We Hate:

  • Catching situation. After trading incumbent catcher, Miguel Montero, to the Cubs in the offseason, the D-Backs will head into the 2015 season with the duo of Tuffy Gosewich and Jordan Pacheco splitting duties behind the dish. For their careers, Gosewich and Pacheco have played a combined 382 games in 8 combined seasons, with Pacheco (322 games) being the more experienced of the two. The D-Backs also have Oscar Hernandez in the minors, as well as veteran catcher, Gerald Laird. Laird was signed to a minor league deal in the offseason, but he will neither help nor harm this dearth of catching talent.
  • Quality of Starting Pitching. Jeremy Hellickson has been average at best since winning the AL Rookie of the Year back in 2011 and will need to rebound from elbow surgery that cut his 2014 short. Josh Collmenter would be a mid rotation guy in the majority of other ML teams and highly touted pitching prospect, Archie Bradley, will be pitching in his first full season. In addition to Bradley, the rest of the rotation (De La Rosa and Anderson) are also pitching in their first full seasons in the majors. The other starters, who are opening the season in the minors (Delgado, Webster and Ray), also lack an abundance of major league experience. In addition to the inexperience, the D-Backs rotation has also been shrouded in questions about their durability. As mentioned above, Patrick Corbin and Bronson Arroyo will open the season on the DL, while Jeremy Hellickson will attempt to rebound from bone chip removal surgery on his pitching elbow. Daniel Hudson has also spent considerable time on the DL during his career.
  • The Yasmany Tomas 3B experience. The D-Backs were hoping that their big free agent signing would be able 3B decent enough to allow his bat to be in their everyday lineup. That did not work as expected. Tomas looked lost at the hot corner during Spring Training and was sent to AAA to open the season to refine his defensive positioning. It was recently announced that Tomas will now primarily play RF at AAA.

Impact Player: 1B Paul Goldschmidt

Potential Breakout Candidate: SP Archie Bradley

Potential Bust Candidate: SP Jeremy Hellickson

Top Prospect: Archie Bradley · SP · MLB ETA: 2015

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

Augie Ojeda

Irrelevant Throwback Player: IF Augie Ojeda (2007-10)

Six Degrees of (Octavio) Dotel: Aaron Hill and Dotel were briefly teammates back in Toronto in 2011, before both were shipped out of town in separate trades.

Final Prediction: 5th NL West

Coors Field

Colorado Rockies

Home Field: Coors Field

2014: 66 – 96 · 4th NL West

O/U in 2015: 70.5 · Over

What We Love:

  • The Dynamic Duo of Cargo and Tulo. When healthy, these two are tops at their respective positions and among the best players in the game today. In fact, there are few teams that can offer the production that the Rockies get out of these two. It should be interesting to follow what happens with these two over the course of the season, as they are also two of the best trade chips in the game.
  • Trio of young starters. 2014 rookie, Tyler Matzek, will be joined in the rotation by one of the Rockies top pitching prospects, Eddie Butler. Meanwhile in AAA, 2nd overall pick in 2013 and top pitching prospect, Jon Gray, should be up in Colorado at some point this season.
  • Batting order could be sneaky good. The Rockies order for Opening Week: CF Charlie Blackmon, RF Carlos Gonzalez, SS Troy Tulowitzki, 1B Justin Morneau, 3B Nolan Arenado, LF Chris Dickerson, 2B DJ LeMahieu and C Nick Hundley.

What We Hate:

  • Durability of Cargo and Tulo. Sure they are among the game’s elite players, but they are also among the game’s most injury prone. Both Cargo and Tulo have spent lengthy trips on the DL FOUR times in their careers. Seeing as both players play a very physical, all out style of play, it’s hard not to believe that that DL number is only going to rise.
  • End of an Era? There is also the possibility that both of the Rockies talented, but oft-injured stars get traded at some point this season. Although this could be a good thing for the long term future of the Rockies, it also could go South quickly if the Rockies fail to trade the stars before their value diminishes.

Impact Player: SS Troy Tulowitzki

Potential Breakout Candidate: SP Tyler Matzek

Potential Bust Candidate: 1B Justin Morneau

Top Prospect: Jon Gray · LHP · MLB ETA: 2015

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

Jose Jiminez

Irrelevant Throwback Player: SP Jose Jiminez (2000-03)

Six Degrees of (Octavio) Dotel: Dotel had a cup of tea with the Rockies back in 2010 and was unspectacular at best. He pitched 5.1 innings over 8 games, posted an ERA of 5.06 and walked 4 batters to 6 strikeouts. The Rockies were also one of three teams that the right hander pitched for in 2010.

Final Prediction: 5th NL West

Dodger Stadium

Los Angeles Dodgers

Home Field: Dodger Stadium

2014: 94 – 68 · 1st NL West

O/U in 2015: 91.5 Wins · Over

What We Love:

  • Batting Order. The Dodgers should throw out an everyday lineup that is among the best in MLB. It should look something like this: SS Jimmy Rollins, LF Carl Crawford, RF Yasiel Puig, 1B Adrian Gonzalez, 2B Howie Kendrick, 3B Juan Uribe, C Yasmani Grandal and CF Joc Pederson. They also have OF Andre Ethier, IF Justin Turner and C A.J Ellis on the pine.
  • Top of the rotation. The trio of LHP Clayton Kershaw, RHP Zack Greinke and LHP Hyun-Jin Ryu give the Dodgers one of the best top of the rotations in MLB. Both Kershaw and Greinke are former Cy Young winners and perennial candidates for the award. Ryu is no slouch in his own regard, and has been one of the better LHP since coming to North America in 2013.
  • Addition of Andrew Friedman to the front office. Friedman, who built the Rays into a perennial contender, is considered one of the brightest minds in the game.

What We Hate:

  • Back of rotation. Sure the top three are beyond impressive, but the bottom two leave something to be desired. The 4th and 5th rotation spots belong to oft-injured starters Brandon McCarthy and Brett Anderson. Both pitchers have missed considerable amount of time during their career due to injuries, and there is no reason not to believe that a DL stint or two is in the cards for this season.
  • Bullpen woes. Closer Kenley Jensen is out until at least May and setup man, Brandon League, could be done for the entire season. The Dodgers will lean on Joel Peralta and JP Howell to get them through until Jensen is back throwing smoke in the 9th.

Impact Player: SP Clayton Kershaw

Potential Breakout Candidate: OF Joc Pederson

Potential Bust Candidate: LHP Brett Anderson

Top Prospect: Corey Seager · SS · MLB: 2015

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

Yhency Brazoban

Irrelevant Throwback Player: P Yhency Brazoban (2004-08)

Six Degrees of (Octavio) Dotel: Dotel pitched 18.2 innings in 19 games for the Dodgers back in 2010. The Dodgers were one of three teams that Dotel played for in 2010.

Final Prediction: 1st NL West

At&t Park

San Francisco Giants

Home Field: AT&T Park

2014: 88 – 74 · 2nd NL West

O/U in 2015: 85.5 Wins · Under

What We Love:

  • Madison Bumgarner. You may have heard of Bumgarner after his near legendary post season pitching performance in 2014. Postseason success aside, Bumgarner is a legitimate ace, one of the best southpaws in the game today and only 25 years old. If injuries don’t derail it, we could be looking at a future Hall of Famer.
  • Buster Posey. Arguably the best catcher in the game today, Posey has three World Series rings, two All Star appearances, two Silver Sluggers and an MVP to his credit, all before the age of 28.
  • Bruce Bochy’s Bag of Post Season Fairy Dust. The Giants manager had it bequeathed to him when Tony LaRussa retired from the dugout.
  • AT&T Park. Pound for pound the most beautiful ballpark in the game.
  • The cream coloured, Willie Mays era jerseys.

What We Hate:

  • Durability of starting rotation. Maddy Bumgarner is the only member of the rotation to have not spent time on the DL during his career. Tim Hudson, Ryan Vogelsong and Jake Peavy have all spent considerable time on the DL. And in the case of Matt Cain, there is no guarantees that he ever returns to the form that made him a 3x All Star.
  • Loss of the Panda. After fan favourite, Pablo Sandoval, left for Boston via free agency, the Giants decided to sign Casey McGehee to replace the departed Panda. McGehee enjoyed a comeback season in his return to MLB, after spending a year in Japan, but there is as likely to replicate his 2014 success as he is to return to the player who was out of the majors as recently as two seasons ago. What makes it worse is that the Giants have practically no depth at 3B (Joaquin Arias?) behind McGehee.
  • Post season success in even number years. The Giants have appeared in four World Series since 2001 (2002, 2010, 2012 and 2014). After losing to the Angels in 2002, they manage to win it all in their next three trips.

Impact Player: SP Madison Bumgarner

Potential Breakout Candidate: 2B Joe Panik

Potential Bust Candidate: 3B Casey McGehee

Top Prospect: Kyle Crick · RHP · MLB: 2016

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

Jesse Foppert

Irrelevant Throwback Player: P Jesse Foppert (2003-05)

Six Degrees of (Octavio) Dotel: Tim Hudson and Dotel were teammates on the Braves in 2007.

Final Prediction: 3rd NL West

Petco Park

San Diego Padres

Home Field: Petco Park

2014: 77 – 85 · 3rd NL West

O/U in 2015: 84.5 Wins · Over

What We Love:

  • A.J Preller’s Shopping Spree. The new Padres GM wasted no time in showing MLB that he intended on turning the Padres into contenders over night. Acting like he was playing an elite version of MLB the Show, Preller added the likes of: Justin Upton, Matt Kemp, Wil Myers, Will Middlebrooks, Derek Norris and James Shields, this past offseason. Not content with those moves, Preller than acquired All Star closer Craig Kimbrel and the Upton formerly known as B.J from the Braves on MLB’s Opening Night. Amazingly, Preller managed to make all of these additions without having to completely deplete his farm system.
  • The Bullpen. It was already suppose to be an area of strength heading into the season, but the last minute addition of Craig Kimbrel, now makes this one of the deepest pens in MLB. Kimbrel will be joined in the pen by hard throwing setup men, Joaquin Benoit and Kevin Quackenbush. While the rest of the bullpen will be rounded out by Dale Thayer, Nick Vincent, Shawn Kelley and Brandon Maurer. Aside from shutting the door on the opposition, the depth of their bullpen could allow GM A.J Preller and the Padres to use it as potential trade bait.
  • The Padres being the FINAL winner of the Wil Myers/James Shield trade.
  • The Tony Gwynn era brown jerseys.
  • The Friar mascot.

What We Hate:

  • Durability concerns in the rotation. Aside from medium sized game James, the rest of the Padres starting rotation have all spent time on the DL during their career. Andrew Cashner and Brandon Morrow both offer tremendous upsides and near unhittable stuff when they are healthy, unfortunately for the duo (mainly Morrow) their durability has held them back from making great leaps in pitching dominance. It looks like the durability issues have started early as the Padres placed starter, Ian Kennedy, on the DL last week.
  • Inexperience at SS. The Padres released Everth Cabrera and his off the field issues during the offseason and will turn to Alexi Amarista to take over the SS position.
  • Who is leading off in this lineup? Sure the Padres revamped (nearly) every area of their roster and lineup, but the one area they failed to address was finding a leadoff hitter.

Impact Player: OF Justin Upton

Potential Breakout Candidate: OF Wil Myers

Potential Bust Candidate: OF Matt Kemp

Top Prospect: Hunter Renfroe · OF · MLB ETA: 2016

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

Sean Burroughs

Irrelevant Throwback Player: 3B Sean Burroughs (2002-05)

Six Degrees of Octavio Dotel: Brandon Morrow and Octavio Dotel were teammates as Blue Jays, back in 2011.

Final Prediction: 2nd NL West

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