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
Kansas City Royals
Home Ballpark: Kauffman Stadium
2014 Finish: 89-72 · 2nd AL Central
Over/Under Wins in 2015: 83 · Push/Under
What We Love:
- Gold Glove Defense: With an above average defender manning every defensive position on the field, the Royals may very well have the best defense in MLB. The 2014 season saw the trio of Eric Hosmer, Salvador Perez and Alex Gordon win back to back Gold Gloves at their respective positions; for Alex Gordon it was his 4th in a row. In fact, if it wasn’t for J.J Hardy’s glove in Baltimore, the Royals could very well have had a fourth Gold Glover in the fold, as SS Alcides Escobar has been an exceptional defender these past few seasons. The Royals also have the glove (and wheels) of OF Jarrod Dyson waiting on the bench. Dyson’s speed allows him to patrol the spacious outfield of Kauffman with relative ease. The Royals love being able to move Cain to RF to allow for Dyson’s glove and wheels to roam freely in CF.
- The K.C Bullpen: Not too sure if you were aware of this or not, but the Royals bullpen may have played a small role in their 2014 success. The power armed trio of closer, Greg Holland, and setup men, Wade Davis and Kelvin Herrera, combined for a 1.27 ERA over 204 innings pitched and helped the Royals to a MLB best 65-4 record when leading after six innings. Behind those three, the Royals have a duo of righties, Jason Frasor and Luke Hochevar, and a lefty, Brian Flynn, who was brought over from the Marlins and will replace the injured Tim Collins (Tommy John). Meanwhile, postseason revelation, Brandon Finnegan, is slated to open the season AAA Omaha, as he gets stretched out to start. The K.C bullpen is SO deep that there was talk in the offseason that the Royals were entertaining offers on Holland, who had just won the Mariano Rivera Award for being the best reliever in MLB.
- Thievery on the base paths: 153 stolen bases led the MLB
- The low risk/high reward signing of SP Kris Medlen (2 yrs/$8.5 mil) which, if healthy, could be an ABSOLUTE steal of a deal.
- Yordano Ventura’s Pedro-esque arsenal.
- Kauffman Stadium’s waterfalls.
- Kansas City BBQ over the other main types of BBQ (Texas, Memphis and North Carolina).
What We Hate:
- Odds of Replicating 2014 Success: Anyone who predicted the run the Royals had in 2014 is either a prophet, or a liar. The Royals came out of (seemingly) nowhere last season to make both the playoffs and the World Series; ending their 29 year old playoff drought in the process. Unfortunately for the Royals, while other teams in the AL Central went out and added depth to their roster, the Royals were more concerned in replacing the pieces they had lost. Gone from the 2014 AL Pennant winners are the likes of SP “Mediocre Game” James Shields, OF Nori Aoki and DH Billy “Country Breakfast” Butler. Replacing them will be a trio of free agent signed in the offseason: SP Edinson Volquez, DH Kendrys Morales and OF Alex Rios. Those additions, while decent replacements for the departed, are a slight downgrade and come with more question marks. Can Volquez make the transition from NL to AL? How many at bats will the oft-injured Morales get? And, which Alex Rios did the Royals get? The biggest issue for the Royals though this season will be just competing in, what could be, a very tough AL Central.
- Not a whole lot of power in the lineup. Additions of Alex Rios and Kendrys Morales won’t be huge difference makers in a lineup that hit an MLB low 95 HR in 2014.
- Lack of catching depth (Erik Kratz and Francisco Pena) could result in an eventual breakdown of Sal Perez.
- Ability to draw walks – lead the MLB in fewest walks (380) in 2014.
- Waiting for Mike Moustakas to (ever) have a breakout season.
Player to Watch: SP Danny Duffy. The Royals have been waiting for Duffy to enjoy a breakthrough season since he made 20 starts for them in 2011. Unfortunately for Duffy and the Royals, the left hander has been plagued with durability issues. He was sidetracked by Tommy John surgery in 2012 and struggled with oblique and shoulder injuries down the stretch last season. If he remains healthy though, you can expect Duffy to build on an impressive 2014 that saw him make 25 starts, post a 9-12 record with a 2.53 ERA and strikeout 113 batters over 149.1 innings. A double digit win total is definitely in the cards for 2015, especially with the Royals looking to increase his workload to the 180-200 inning mark.
Top Pitching Prospect: Sean Manaea · LHP · MLB ETA: 2016
Top Positional Prospect: Raul Adalberto Mondesi · SS · MLB ETA: 2017
Top 30 Prospects (MLB.com): http://m.mlb.com/prospects/2015?list=kc
Final Prediction: 4th AL Central