What We Loved:
- 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
What We Hated:
- 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…
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 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.
- 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:
- 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.
- 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!
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
Home Field: Turner Field
2014: 79 – 83 · 2nd NL East
O/U in 2015: 73.5 Wins · Over
What We Love:
- Depth of Starting Rotation. Braves start the season with a rotation consisting of: RHP Julio Teheran, LHP Alex Wood, RHP Shelby Miller, LHP Eric Stults and RHP Trevor Cahill. The Braves also have LHP Manny Banuelos and RHP Mike Foltynewicz in AAA, LHP Mike Minor on the DL, and a trio of top pitching prospects on the farm (Max Fried, Matt Wisler and Lucas Sims).
- Andrelton Simmons making glove in the field. Simmons has won the NL Gold Glove at SS in both of his two full seasons in MLB. Here are a “few” of his web gems from last season: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m38fxtOA6Tk
- Freddie Freeman at 1B. One of the few bright spots to look forward to in Atlanta this season.
- John Smoltz getting the call to join Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, and manager, Bobby Cox, in Cooperstown.
What We Hate:
- Lackluster offense. Offseason house cleaning may have turned Atlanta into a contender for worst offense in baseball.
- Being Nick Markakis. I wonder if Markakis was aware of the Braves plans to rebuild when he inked his 4yr/$44mil contract in the offseason. Speaking of…
- Nick Markakis contract. Why make a point of shedding payroll and getting out from under “bad contracts,” just to dole out (potentially) another bad contract? Doesn’t make sense during (apparent) rebuild phase.
- No more Craig Kimbrel closing games. Latest name to be shipped out of town. Takes his 90.7 SV% with him to San Diego.
- The Tomahawk Chop. Not just racially/culturally insensitive but also flat out ANNOYING. It was annoying back in 1992, and it’s equally as annoying now. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JYc_s4vLFNI
Impact Player: 1B Freddie Freeman
Potential Breakout Candidate: LHP Alex Wood
Potential Bust Candidate: OF Nick Markakis
Top Prospect: Jose Peraza · 2B · MLB ETA: 2015
MLB.com Top 30 Prospects: http://m.mlb.com/prospects/2015?list=atl
Irrelevant Throwback Player: LHP Damian Moss (2001-02)
Six Degrees of (Octavio) Dotel: The Braves were one of two teams that Dotel pitched for in 2007; the Royals being the other.
Final Prediction: 4th NL East.
Home Field: Marlins Park
2014: 77 – 85 · 4th NL East
O/U in 2015: 81.5 · Over
What We Love:
- Gio Stanton. Current Monster of Mash will be a fixture in Miami for the foreseeable future after inking the biggest contract in MLB history this past offseason. The Marlins slugger will make $325 million over the next 13 seasons to punish pitchers mistakes. If you like to see a ball get smashed, than Stanton at bats should be considered MUST WATCH TV.
- Offseason acquisitions. The Marlins used their depth of pitching to bring in SP Mat Latos, SP Dan Haren, 2B Dee Gordon and 3B Martin Prado via trade. They also added the big bat of Mike Morse through free agency.
- Christian Yelich’s toolbox. In 2015, the 23yr old Yelich hit .284/9/53 and added 21 SB in 144 games, it was his first full season with the Marlins; he also added a Gold Glove.
- The return of Jose Fernandez. The 2013 NL Rookie of the Year missed the majority of 2014 following Tommy John surgery. The 22 year old, and his FILTHY pitching arsenal, should be back around the All Star Break.
- Adeiny Hechavarria’s Glove. Not AS GOOD as Andrelton Simmons’ but also not that far off.
What We Hate:
- Bullpen behind Cishek. Not a whole lot of depth here. Former All Star reliever, Aaron Crow, was brought in via trade from the Royals in exchange for another reliever, Brian Flynn. Unfortunately for the Fish, the newly acquired Crow will miss the entire 2015 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery.
- Jarred Cosart’s (apparent) betting. The Marlins pitcher was investigated by MLB officials and fined by the Marlins in relation to gambling on sports other than baseball. Not only does it look bad on Cosart, but it also comes in the same year that Pete Rose is seeking reinstatement to MLB from new commissioner, Rob Manfred.
- That tacky home run structure in CF. It looks like a Midway game featured at a fair or carnival. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EGCZTqDjXBc
- Jeffrey Loria. No reason needed.
Impact Player: RF Giancarlo Stanton
Potential Breakout Candidate: LF Christian Yelich
Potential Bust Candidate: SP Mat Latos
Top Prospect: Tyler Kolek · RHP · MLB ETA: 2018
MLB.com Top 30 Prospects: http://m.mlb.com/prospects/2015?list=mia
Irrelevant Throwback Player: 2B Luis Castillo (1997-2005)
Six Degrees of (Octavio) Dotel: The veteran Dotel was a member of the Blue Jays bullpen during Henderson Alvarez’s rookie season in 2011.
Final Prediction: 2nd NL East
New York Mets
Home Field: Citi Field
2014: 79 – 83 · 3rd NL East
O/U in 2015: 81 Wins · Over
What We Love:
- Matt Harvey’s return. The Mets ace missed all of 2014 after undergoing Tommy John at the end of the 2013 season. Harvey was one of the breakout stars of 2013 and, barring any setbacks, he should return back to his 2013 form. May be on a Strasburg-esque innings limit this season.
- Future of starting rotation. Mets fans have already seen the trio of Harvey, Zack Wheeler and Jacob deGrom graduate to the bigs. Up next, RHP Noah Syndergaard, LHP Steven Matz and RHP Rafael Montero.
- David Wright and Michael Cuddyer’s bromance. The two played baseball in the same town as kids. The older Cuddyer, was drafted in the 1st round (9th overall) out of high school in 1997.Wright, who is four years younger than Cuddyer, modelled his game after Cuddyer’s style of play.
- Any Bartolo Colon start. Not because of his pitching, but because you know Colon will get a chance to bat and (maybe) run the bases.
What We Hate:
- Zack Wheeler’s torn UCL. Just as the Mets get Matt Harvey back from Tommy John, they lose the 24yr old Wheeler to the same injury.
- Josh Edgin’s torn UCL. An already weak looking bullpen lost their top LH option before the start of the season.
- Travis d’Arnaud’s durability. Offensive minded catcher has struggled with injuries throughout his professional career.
- David Wright’s durability. The face of the franchise as missed (large) parts out of 3 of the last 4 seasons. Mets will need him on the field and in the lineup if they want to finish above .500 in 2015.
Impact Player: SP Matt Harvey
Potential Breakout Candidate: C Travis d’Arnaud
Potential Bust Candidate: OF Michael Cuddyer
Top Prospect: Noah Syndergaard · RHP · MLB: 2015
Irrelevant Throwback Player: OF Benny Agbayani (1998-2001)
Six Degrees of (Octavio) Dotel: The Mets were the first, of thirteen teams, that Dotel played for. They signed him as a 20yr old international free agent in 1993 and he made his MLB debut for them in 1999.
Final Prediction: 3rd NL East
Home Field: Citizens Bank Park
2014: 73 – 89 · 5th NL East
O/U in 2015: 67 Wins · Over
What We Love:
- Cole Hamels. Still one of the top pitchers, and southpaws, in the game today. It wouldn’t be surprising to see Hamels get traded as some point throughout the season (Boston anyone?) but until that day comes, he will remain one of the few bright spots on the Phillies roster.
- Backend of Bullpen. If the Phillies manage to get a lead early on, the trio of Jonathan Papelbon, RHP Ken Giles and LHP Jake Diekman could slam the door shut from the 7th inning on. But that is a big IF.
- Ben Revere’s wheels. Revere had a breakout year in 2014, hitting for a .306 average and stealing 49 bags in 151 games; he also accounted for 71 runs.
- Chase Utley playing 155 games last season. A very bright spot for the oft-injured All Star.
- The Mike Schmidt era throwback jerseys.
What We Hate:
- Reuben Amaro Jr’s. Phillies GM unwillingness to commit to a rebuild has left them with more untradeable contracts (Cliff Lee, Ryan Howard, Utley, and Papelbon) than valuable trade pieces. Let’s hope that he doesn’t make the same mistake when it comes to Cole Hamels’ long term future.
- Cliff Lee’s future. Former Cy Young winner faces an uncertain future as he attempts to comeback from a torn flexor tendon in his elbow.
- Ryan Howard’s remaining contract. Making $25mil through 2016. Club has a $23mil option in 2017 or will face a $10mil buyout. That $10mil buyout looks like a steal to get out from under this contract.
Impact Player: SP Cole Hamels
Potential Breakout Candidate: RP Ken Giles
Potential Bust Candidate: 2B Chase Utley
Top Prospect: J.P Crawford · SS · MLB: 2016
Irrelevant Throwback Player: P Rheal Cormier (2001-06)
Six Degrees of (Octavio) Dotel: Was teammates with Phillies OF Jeff Francoeur when the two were members of the Braves back in 2007.
Final Prediction: 5th NL East
Home Field: Nationals Park
2014: 96 – 66 · 1st NL East
O/U in 2015: 93 Wins · Over
What We Love:
- That Pitching Rotation. RHP Max Scherzer, RHP Stephen Strasburg, RHP Jordan Zimmerman, LHP Gio Gonzalez and RHP Doug Fister. When Doug Fister is your 5th starter, you know your team has a loaded starting rotation. Nationals also have 15 game winner, Tanner Roark, working as the long man in the bullpen.
- Bryce Harper’s ridiculous combo of bat speed and power. If he can stay healthy, Harper could be one of the big breakouts of 2015.
- Anthony Rendon’s continuing emergence as an elite 3B. Although fans will have to wait for his 2015 debut as he is currently on the DL.
- Ryan Zimmerman no longer being a defensive liability at 3B.
- Betting on Honest Abe in the Presidents race. His 264 wins, since the race begin in 2006, have him miles ahead of George Washington (188) in 2nd
What We Hate:
- Durability Concerns. Ryan Zimmerman, Anthony Rendon, Bryce Harper, Denard Span, Jayson Werth, Stephen Strasburg, Casey Janssen and Wilson Ramos have all spent time on the Disabled List during their career. In fact, Rendon, Werth, Span and Janssen will (all) open the season on the DL.
- Weak bullpen. Trading Tyler Clippard to the A’s didn’t help either.
- Poor post season performers. Unceremoniously bounced in two NLDS appearances.
- Imagining this team playing in Montreal
Impact Player: RHP Max Scherzer
Potential Breakout Candidate: OF Bryce Harper
Potential Bust Candidate: 1B Ryan Zimmerman
Top Prospect: RHP Lucas Giolito · RHP · MLB ETA: 2016
MLB.com Top 30 Prospects: http://m.mlb.com/prospects/2015?list=was
Irrelevant Throwback Player: OF Elijah Dukes (2008-10)
Six Degrees of (Octavio) Dotel: Free agent acquisition, Casey Janssen, pitched in the Toronto Blue Jays bullpen with the well travelled Dotel back in 2011.
Final Prediction: 1st NL East