Ranking The Teams 30-25, My Version: The Ugly

Each year since 2014, David Schoenfield has ranked all 30 teams in tiers during the preseason.  For the third year straight, I am creating my own version.  I am out of school this week, so throughout the week, I will be posting my rankings.  Today they start with the bottom 6.  

30. minnesota-twins Minnesota Twins

Off-season Review

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In the process of a rebuild, the Twins let older players Kurt Suzuki and Trevor Plouffe sign elsewhere in free agency.  However, they also lost young pitcher Tommy Milone.  They signed veterans Jason Castro, J.B. Shuck and Ryan Vogelsong.  These guys are nice veteran boosters and mentors, but are unnecessary signings.  The young Minnesota Twins just need a little time to develop before coming back to contention.  

The Case for the Twins

The Twins will not contend in any way this year.  They are in the midst of a rebuild, and actually have a bright future ahead.  The Tigers and Royals will get old and decline which will leave room open for the Twins in coming years.  For now, they need to focus on establishing their young players, and wins and losses will not matter for them this year.  But in coming years, look for the Twins to finally get better.   

The Bright Spot

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Joe Mauer and Brian Dozier are getting older, and I’m liking the young talent on the Twins.  The younger players they have will do well this year, and eventually bring the team up with them. Third year player Miguel Sano is one guy who could make an impact.  He will take a full time job at third base in 2017, and will be a bigger contributor to the lineup.  He could be a team leader in the future.  Byron Buxton is another player to keep an eye on.  Despite a disappointing 2016 for both of them, 2017 should be a good year for Buxton and Sano.  

Best Case Scenario: The Twins surprise many, as their young guns bounce back and lead the Twins to a second place finish in the AL Central.

Worst Case Scenario: Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano continue to regress and the Twins finish with the worst record in baseball.

Projected Finish: 63-99, 5th in AL Central

29. san diego-padres San Diego Padres

Off-season Review

The Padres didn’t do much in the off-season.  After losing veterans they shouldn’t have spent their money on, the Padres are at a desperate state.  They will not compete this season, so it’s time for a rebuild.  They did sign veteran Erick Aybar to a minor league deal, but he’s no more than a veteran mentor, and will not lead the Padres to contend.  The Padres will focus on building upon their young roster, and if they did that a couple of years back, they might of had a legitimate chance this year.

The Case for the Padres

The Padres may be at their worst ever.  While building a young roster, they will not compete this season.  None of their starting pitchers are very established yet, and the lineup has some bright spots, but needs work.  This rebuild could take a long time, but it’s worth it.  If the Padres tried to go for it this season, the end result would be the biggest MLB failure in a long time.

The Bright Spot

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One investment from a couple of years ago that was worth it was the signing of Wil Myers.  Myers has done well for the Padres, and him, Yangervis Solarte and Erick Aybar make up a nice infield of veterans to teach the younger players.  Myers will actually put up some impressive stats in 2017.  In 2016, he was a Home Run Derby participant and All Star.  Myers will continue to put up good numbers in 2017, and he will make the Padres look just a tiny bit better.

Best Case Scenario: Wil Myers boosts the lineup, and the young rotation breaks through as the Padres finish just under .500.

Worst Case Scenario: The Padres have their worst season in history, the young players struggle at the major league level, and the Padres barely endure a dismal season.

Projected Finish: 63-99, 5th in NL West

28. oakland-a's Oakland Athletics

Off-season Review

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The Athletics weren’t quite as active as they usually are this off-season, but they did fine-tune their team.  They aren’t anywhere near contending, but adding some depth with experienced players will at least prevent disaster in 2017.  Rajai Davis recently came back to Oakland.  Alejandro De Aza, Ross Detwiler and Jaff Decker were invited to spring training among other veterans.  They also signed young third baseman Trevor Plouffe.  They filled most of their major off-season needs, and that will help them despite other problems.

The Case for the Athletics

The A’s have a nice mix of veterans and younger players.  Once their prospects develop, this will benefit them and they will thrive.  But that might not happen for a while, and right now, they’re just going to be considered an old team that won’t contend.  If they rebuild a little, maybe they’ll season their young players more and see more success soon.  But whether they rebuild or stay put, the Athletics aren’t going to have a winning season.

The Bright Spot

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Khris Davis was acquired from Milwaukee in the 2015-16 off-season, and since joining the Athletics, he has been their best hitter, and has been a bright spot on the Athletics by putting up impressive stats.  Davis was a home run hitter in 2016, with 42 dingers.  He drove in 102 runs and got a career best 137 hits.  The 42 dingers, also his career best, were enough to tie Edwin Encarnacion and Brian Dozier for 3rd in the MLB.  Encarnacion and Dozier are team leading stars, and Davis may be developing to be just that.  Davis had more home runs than the Rockies’ star third baseman Nolan Arenado!  I also think starting pitcher Sonny Gray could look good in a bounce back year, but Davis is the safest bet.

Best Case Scenario: The rotation bounces back, the lineup finally finds a way to do strongly and the A’s attempt to return to the playoffs.

Worst Case Scenario: The injury bug hits Oakland at its hardest, and the Athletics finish terribly, with one of the worst records.

Projected Finish: 65-97, 5th in AL West

27. philadelphia.phillies Philadelphia Phillies

Off-season in Review

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The Phillies have finally established a young roster, but it will take a couple years to return to stardom.  The rotation still needs work but they added some veteran mentors/big hitters to help their case.  They acquired starting pitcher Clay Buchholz, and added Howie Kendrick and Michael Saunders to the lineup.  Now, with veteran mentors to help a young, talented roster, the Phillies could be back to contention a couple of years from now.

The Case for the Phillies

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The era of washed up, old Phillies is over.  Ryan Howard, Carlos Ruiz, Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, Ben Revere, John Mayberry Jr. and Domonic Brown are all gone. Now, it’s time for the young guns to take over this team.  This puts this year’s team pretty low in the rankings.  However, don’t be surprised if the Phillies are the next surprise wild card in 2018.  These young players are very talented, and once they’re developed, which will happen over the next year or two, the Phillies will be good once again.

The Bright Spot

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Putting the older guys aside, there are a few talented young guns that have already broke out.  Odubel Herrera, Freddy Galvis and Maikel Franco are already doing strongly.  Franco is the Phillies’ bright spot.  He is keeping this lineup alive.  In a couple of years, Franco could be a superstar.  The new environment in Philly leaves him with an important role in the lineup, and I think he will come through in that role.

Best Case Scenario: The Phillies return to contention with an impressive season by a lot of young players.

Worst Case Scenario: The Phillies fail again, and the young guns go full bust.

Projected Finish: 65-97, 5th in NL East

26. atlanta-braves Atlanta Braves

Off-season Review

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The Braves are in the midst of a rebuild.  The starting rotation is getting old after they added Bartolo Colon and R.A. Dickey, but the older players are still good.  The lineup also includes veteran mentor Matt Kemp.  The rest of it consists of young stars and players ready to breakout.  Dansby Swanson is the favorite for the NL Rookie of The Year, Freddie Freeman continues to shine, Nick Markakis has done alright in Atlanta, and new acquisitions Brandon Phillips and Kurt Suzuki will help this team improve.

The Case for the Braves

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The Braves won’t compete this season, but they’ve put together a nice mix of old and young that could do well in the future.  The pitching staff still needs to develop and be fine-tuned, but the lineup is looking better, and could be a lot more powerful this year and in future years.  The Braves currently lack depth, but once more prospects break the majors, the Braves could have some of the best hitting in the MLB, with a strong lineup led by Freddie Freeman.

The Bright Spot

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Some of the older players provide power to the lineup, but younger players Freddie Freeman and Dansby Swanson make the Braves a little more fun to watch.  Freeman really broke out last year, with a stellar performance especially in the 2nd half.  Freeman had already established himself as a franchise player, but he really went all out in 2o16.  Swanson has a potentially great rookie season ahead of him.  The Braves have opened up a spot at shortstop for him, and Swanson will take advantage of that.

Best Case Scenario: The rotation finally gathers itself, the lineup is dominant, and the Braves compete for a wild card in the NL East.

Worst Case Scenario: The rotation is a bust, the lineup doesn’t perform like it should, and the Braves finish last in the NL East.

Projected Finish: 67-95, 4th in NL East

 

25. Tampa_Bay_Rays Tampa Bay Rays

Off-season Review

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The Rays didn’t have a huge off-season.  They lost some crucial guys, and they traded away Logan Forsythe and Drew Smyly.  However, they added to their pitching depth in that trade by acquiring Jose De Leon.  Despite losing Desmond Jennings, they resigned Logan Morrison and signed Colby Rasmus to help fill out the starting lineup.  Wilson Ramos and Nathan Eovaldi were also signed but are recovering from injuries.  They made a lot of small moves, but nothing major enough to impact the Rays.

The Case for the Rays

The Rays play in the toughest division in the MLB.  They have a talented team, but just don’t stack up to the rest of the AL East.  They would be a mediocre team in a weaker division.  But this is just how it is.  The Rays don’t stack up with everybody else.  A rebuild is not needed, now is just a big wait.  A big wait for the Rays to able to do well again.  They have a good roster, but some of these guys are getting old, or just aren’t as good as the other stars of the league.

The Bright Spot

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The lineup is just mediocre.  The true bright spots in Tampa are Chris Archer and Alex Cobb.  Archer struggled in 2016, but is still the ace of the Rays.  Cobb has been injured the last two years, but will perform well when healthy.  Both of these guys should make a big impact for the Rays in 2017.

Best Case Scenario: The strong rotation leads the Rays to compete towards the top of the AL East, in hopes of a playoff spot.

Worst Case Scenario: Injuries hit hard again, and the Rays look worse than ever, finishing not just last in the AL East, but the whole American League.

Projected Finish: 69-93, 5th in AL East

 

Baseball season is almost here.  This is just the start of my rankings series.  Comment your thoughts and predictions, and check back tomorrow for my 24-19 rankings.  Who will be next on the list?  Check tomorrow to find out!

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Betts’s Big Night, Porcello’s Deep Outing Lead Red Sox to Victory

1 out.  Man on 2nd.  All-around big hitter Mookie Betts was at the plate.  The count at 2-1, he nailed it high into left field and it was gone!  Mookie Betts had hit his third homer of the season, as it flew over the monster then hit a stairwell and bounced back down onto the field.

That was the mood for most of the night as their lineup powered them over the Rays, 7-3.  After losing Joe Kelly 0.2 innings in last night to injury, the bullpen was exhausted, but Rick Porcello helped them out by going 7 innings, giving up just 6 hits, 3 runs, a walk and a homer and striking out 9.  He got the win; he is now 3-0 with a 4.66 ERA, a large improvement from last season so far.  Chris Archer continued his slump. Giving up 8 hits, 6 runs, 3 walks and a homer and striking out just 6 in a 4.1 inning outing.  He got the loss and is 0-4 with a whopping 7.32 ERA.

The Red Sox went big in the 1st inning as they stole the first run.  With Mookie Betts walked, Dustin Pedroia hit a one-hopper into left, sending Betts to 2nd.  Xander Bogaerts drove Betts in and advanced Pedroia to second on a single to left.  David Ortiz drove in Bogaerts and Pedroia with a line drive double into center.  It was 3-0 Red Sox already.  The Red Sox carried their momentum to the 2nd.  With JBJ on second, Mookie Betts blasted a homer over the monster to score two more.  It was now 5-0.

In the top of the 3rd, the Rays couldn’t score but at least got their first hit off Rick Porcello when Steven Souza Jr. reached on an infield single.  The next play was similar, a grounder to 3rd, but this time the Red Sox challenged the hit.  They won the challenge and it was 1 down with a man on 2nd.  Souza stole third when the next batter came up, but the Rays didn’t have the chance to drive him in.

In the top of the 4th, after a Corey Dickerson double and a walk by Desmond Jennings to make it 1st and 2nd, Mookie Betts made a jumping grab for out #3.  In the bottom of the 5th, Xander Bogaerts got back on base and Big Papi drove him in on a sharp line drive double to right.  That did it for Chris Archer.  Dana Eveland came in for him with one out on the inning.  Brock Holt kept things going with 2 outs on a base hit, and stole second with Vazquez up, but Vazquez struck out.  Vazquez may not be a benefit in the lineup, but he is behind the plate.  The Red Sox are currently trying to move Blake Swihart (a good offensive catcher who struggles on defense) to the outfield.

However, when the 6th inning came, Brock Holt was at shortstop and Chris Young in left.  Bogaerts had hurt his quad on his way home in the 5th.  He was day to day, but it was since announced he will play in Thursday’s game vs. Tampa with David Price on the hill.  With that, the Rays took off.  Logan Forsythe tripled, and after Logan Morrison’s strike out, he went home on Evan Longoria’s ground out.  Up came Corey Dickerson, who they got from Colorado for reliever Jake McGee to add a little power to the lineup.  He hit a solo blast off Rick Porcello, his 4th tater of the season.

In the 6th, Mookie Betts got a base hit and stole second.  Chris Young drove him in on a two out line drive single.  Young only had 2 hits until that, and that was his first RBI.  In the 7th, the Rays answered on a Kevin Kiermaier double and Hank Conger RBI single.  It was now 7-3, the Rays still trailing the BoSox.  In the next couple of innings, the Red Sox bullpen took control.  Between Junichi Tazawa and Noe Ramirez, they only gave up 1 hit and 1 walk, and struck out 2.  Red Sox, 7, Rays, 3.  That was the final score from Boston.

The Red Sox have a chance to win the series if they grab a W in today’s 1:30 game.  Do you think this year’s team has a chance?  Comment below.

Home Runs Boost Red Sox Past Rays

The Red Sox hit 3 homers in their 5-3 win over the Tampa Bay Rays.  Justin Masterson made his first start of June, striking out six, and only giving up one run.  Masterson should keep his starting job over Joe Kelly, sent to Pawtucket recently.

In the second inning, the Red Sox had two solo blasts, by Pablo Sandoval and Alejandro De Aza, Panda’s seventh and De Aza’s sixth.  De Aza’s hit 3 for the Red Sox this season, and only the same amount in double that time with the Orioles.  Napoli also got ejected for fighting the call, and Deven Marrero took over second, moving Brock Holt to first base.  In the 4th, David Ortiz hit a 2 run homer to right, scoring along with Xander Bogaerts, coming from first base.  It was 4-0 Red Sox on only four hits!!!!!!  So far, nobody had been left on base.

In the fifth, Justin Masterson began to get tired and gave up his earned run.  Brandon Guyer reached on an infield single, and Asdrubal Cabrera singled Guyer in.  Guyer only had two bases to run, because he advanced to second Blake Swihart’s first of what would be two passed balls.

In the sixth inning, the Sox struck again.   Xander Bogaerts doubled.  He went to third on a passed ball.  It was first and third as Ortiz walked.  It was a fly ball hit by Sandoval, and it was caught, but Bogaerts came around to score on the sacrifice fly.  The Red Sox took a 5-1 lead.

In the seventh, Jonathan Aro, recently recalled from Pawtucket, made his second MLB appearance.  But he didn’t help, in fact he collapsed.  Guyer had doubled, and Asdrubal Cabrera doubled to score him.  On an error by JBJ, Cabrera advanced to third.  Then Sizemore singled him in.  It was 5-3, and technically, it wasn’t all Aro’s fault.  Tazawa came in to face Sizemore on his final pitch, and he was responsible for the third Rays run.

From there, it was quiet, and despite giving up a double to Sizemore with Longoria on deck, Koji Uehara earned the save for the Red Sox.  The Red Sox defeated the Rays 5-3, the home runs being the deciding factor.  Let’s just hope the Sox  keep on winning like they have.

Red Sox Edge Rays In 10

The Boston Red Sox Edged over the Tampa Bay Rays in the 10th inning. Betts just kept up his hitting streak to score the final run with a double, and single by Holt. The Sox had won it 4-3. But how did they get there? Let’s go back all the way to the 2nd inning.

In the 2nd, Napoli led off by walking. On the next at bat, De Aza doubled to score Napoli, and give the Red Sox a 1-0 lead. He advanced to third on a ground out by Blake Swihart. Jackie Bradley Jr., who came up after working a lot harder to hit in Pawtucket, hit a sac fly and De Aza came home. 2-0 Red Sox after just two innings. Pretty amazing.

The Rays struck in the bottom of the 2nd inning. Logan Forsythe singled, then Asdrubal Cabrera did the same, and Forsythe was on third base. Marc Krauss, a new first baseman for the injury struck Rays, doubled to score Forsythe and send Cabrera to third. 2nd and 3rd, 2-1 Sox. They blew the inning with two RISP.

The Red Sox scored again in the 4th inning. Napoli walked again, then Blake Swihart singled. 1st and 3rd, 1 down. Then, Napoli and Swihart attempted a double steal. Swihart was out at 2nd, but Napoli, who isn’t a base stealer, made it home and it was 3-1 Red Sox.   It was a pitchers duel for the next couple innings, between Porcello and Alex Colome. Napoli walked a third time solo in the 6th, and stole another base!!! Was he changing his hitting style? Was he becoming a base stealer despite the fact he’s slower than most? So many questions.

In the bottom of the 6th, the Rays tied the game. Joey Butler singled, and Longoria then doubled to make it 2nd and 3rd. David DeJesus hit a sac fly to score Butler. 3-2. Then Porcello had blown things for a long while when he threw a wild pitch that Longoria scored on.   He was pulled from the game in the 7th, and Tommy Layne came in on relief. Kevin Jepsen also relieved Colome to begin the 7th. Both pitchers pitched 6 full innings, giving up three runs. Pitcher after pitcher came in for the Sox, from Tazawa to Breslow to Ogando, but it was very quiet, and nobody gave up any more runs.

In the 10th, it was still 3-3, but not for long. Off Steven Geltz, Mookie Betts doubled, and Brock Holt saved the game for the Sox after Porcello’s collapse with an RBI single to score Betts. The Red Sox took a 4-3 lead. Koji Uehara earned the save with a 1-2-3 10th for the Rays lineup, and the Red Sox went on to win. See my post on today’s 4:00 game as Wade Miley faces Rays elite ace Chris Archer.

Also, try out MLB Connect. It’s a fun game where you connect four correctly predicted plays. You get automatic tiles, or you can swap them out for your own predictions chosen from multiple categories, and you play live during any baseball game. It’s a free app and for me, it’s replaced MLB PrePlay. You will see me as Andrew if you play during the Red Sox game today.