Ranking The Teams #30-25, My Version: The Bottom of the Barrel

Welcome to Article #1 of my 6th annual set of MLB preseason power rankings and 5th annual MLB power ranking series. Back in 2015, I got the idea to break up my pre-season Power Rankings into 5 articles from David Schoenfield of ESPN. Even though Schoenfield no longer posts power rankings in this format, I have stuck with it and given the rankings my own flavor in recent years.  In this article, though I am covering some of the worst teams in the league, all of these teams have some good pieces, and I will be pointing those out.  Click the links below for other articles in the series (I will add them as I post them):

 

Image result for mlb opening day 2019

2019 MLB Preseason Power Rankings Series:

Ranking The Teams #30-25, My Version: The Bottom of the Barrel

Ranking The Teams #24-19, My Version: Who will have to Wait till Next Year?

Ranking The Teams #18-13, My Version: Who else Misses out on Playoff Contention?

Ranking The Teams #12-7, My Version: Who has Playoff Chances?

Ranking The Teams #6-1, My Version: Super Six?

I also released my 3rd annual preseason Baseball Bits!

30. Image result for marlins new logo Miami Marlins

The Case for the Marlins

The Marlins traded away most of their best players a year ago, and after dealing away C J.T. Realmuto this off-season, things can only get worse from here.  The hole Realmuto left behind should outweigh the upside of Miami’s younger players, for now.  The Marlins did add a couple veterans to the lineup and signed a new closer in Sergio Romo.  Plus, the bulk of the prospects acquired from their recent rebuild should be making their way up as 2020 and 2021 approach, and when that time comes, this team will be on the rise again.  But for now, they remain in the NL East basement after a rough 2018.

The Bright Spot

It was not easy coming up with something here.  A lot has gone wrong in Miami in the last year and a half.  But I think the bright spot of this team is the top of the rotation.  Jose Urena, Miami’s longest tenured player, leads the group, with seasoned veterans in Wei-Yin Chen and Dan Straily behind him.  Straily has had a lot of success with the Marlins, and when Chen is healthy, he shows flashes of dominance.

Projected Finish: 61-101, 5th in NL East

29. Related image Baltimore Orioles

The Case for the Orioles

Baltimore’s 2018 season was historically bad, as they won just 47 games. But with Dylan Bundy and Alex Cobb (likely out of it early in 2018 after lack of Spring Training time) primed to bounce back, they should improve at least slightly from their nightmare season.  Adam Jones’ departure hurts, but Cedric Mullins is ready to replace him, and Yusniel Diaz will be here soon. Maybe Chris Davis can even rise to the occasion with Jones out of the lineup. The bullpen is still a major concern, and the lineup could be better, but I don’t think we’ll see any team perform worse than the 2018 Orioles for a long time.

The Bright Spot

The rotation could be better, but so long as Bundy and Cobb bounce back, the rotation could potentially be a bright spot for this team.  Bundy and Cobb could provide Baltimore a 1-2 punch, with Andrew Cashner and Nathan Karns among others serving as depth.

Projected Finish: 66-96, 5th in AL East

28. detroit-tigers Detroit Tigers

The Case for the Tigers

Detroit’s rebuild kicked into full swing in 2018 after they dealt away several older players at the 2017 Trade Deadline. Their remaining veterans, even Miguel Cabrera, are declining quickly. This rebuild has dragged on for a while now, leaving the Tigers among the league’s worst teams for a third straight season. Even in a weak division, I can’t see them doing much.  Before they contend, Casey Mize and Matt Manning will need to make their way up and Christin Stewart, Jeimer Candelario, and others will need to make their big break through. In the meantime, it could be a long year for the Tigers despite some new additions to their lineup including Jordy Mercer and Josh Harrison.

The Bright Spot

The infield could shine with the additions of Mercer and Harrison.  If Candelario continues to develop this year, and Cabrera regains a bit of what he has lost during the last couple of years, people may begin to wonder how the Tigers are stuck in the AL Central basement.

Projected Finish: 66-96, 5th in AL Central

27. kansas-city-royals Kansas City Royals

The Case for the Royals

The Hosmer-Moustakas era in Kansas City is officially over, with Alcides Escobar leaving in free agency, and Mike Moustakas leaving at the 2018 Trade Deadline. The team still has a capable rotation, but the bullpen lacks the depth it has contained in past years. The lineup may lack power this year with Salvador Perez on the IL and Hosmer and Moose gone, but hopefully, Billy Hamilton’s speed will at least partially make up for it. Even with Hamilton and Chris Owings on board, this team is bound to decline a little bit more before the rebuilding is over. The next crop of prospects is not ready yet, and during this transitional period for the Royals, things could get ugly.

The Bright Spot

Speed and youth will make the Royals special this year.  A lot of young players are primed to breakout, including INF Hunter Dozier, RHP Jorge Lopez, and C Cam Gallagher.  Hamilton and Gore will make for a dynamic outfield and add speed to an otherwise dull starting lineup.

Projected Finish: 67-95, 4th in AL Central

26. arizona-dbacks Arizona Diamondbacks

The Case for the Diamondbacks

The Diamondbacks declined a bit in 2018 despite minimal roster subtractions. You might think they would bounce back considering their young roster, but after trading away star 1B Paul Goldschmidt, this team is not going far. The lineup lacks big hitters beyond underrated outfielder David Peralta and new addition Adam Jones. The pitching staff is thin behind Zack Greinke and Robbie Ray. In a tough division, the Diamondbacks will struggle this year, as Manny Machado leads the Padres to outperform them, the Giants exceed expectations, and the Rockies and Dodgers sit on top.

The Bright Spot

The rotation may have lost some of its depth.  But until Greinke or Ray leaves, the rotation will still highlight this team.  Taijuan Walker’s return from the IL will only boost this strong rotation further.  Luke Weaver is also underrated and could make an impact.

Projected Finish: 68-94, 5th in NL West

25. pittsburgh-pirates Pittsburgh Pirates

The Case for the Pirates

The Pirates exceeded expectations with a sub-.500 season in 2018. But the departures of Josh Harrison and Jordy Mercer (both fled for Detroit) leave a huge hole in the middle infield, and the rotation is extremely top-heavy. The Pirates would perform better with 5 average starters than their Big 3 and little depth behind them. The outfield is this team’s strong point right now, but Gregory Polanco will be missed during his time on the IL. 3B Ke’Bryan Hayes and other top prospects may fix Pittsburgh’s infield problems once they make their way up, and Mitch Keller could make this rotation even scarier. But for now, the Pirates will be stuck on the bottom of a tough division.

The Bright Spot

There are multiple bright spots to consider for this team.  But the infield is in such bad shape that it’s hard to rank them much higher than this in such a tough NL Central.  The outfield could make things interesting once Polanco returns, as they will own three outfielders who could be considered Top 10 at their positions.  The incoming prospects could help accelerate their progress as well.

Projected Finish: 67-95, 5th in NL Central


 

That’s all for Part 1 of my MLB 2019 preseason power rankings.  Stay tuned for my next power rankings article, where I will look at the teams I ranked #24-19 and discuss things to look forward too for those teams.

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Scouting Report: Baltimore Orioles

Sarasota, Fl - Yovani Gallardo takes part in Orioles Spring training.
The Orioles may not have made the biggest splash this off season but they made some quality moves.  Unfortunately for O’s fans, I don’t necessarily think that the Orioles have gotten better since last season.  They may have made some moves to maintain their status from last season but some things have not worked out and they aren’t quite as good as they were last season.
Off Season Review
The Orioles had an effective off season in some ways and an ineffective one in another way.  They started with bringing back Matt Wieters on a qualifying offer.  They really needed their star catcher back as their backup options are limited.  They made some trades later in November, bringing in L.J. Hoes for cash and inviting him to spring training.  In early December they got Mark Trumbo and C.J. Riefenhauser for Steve Clevenger.  I thought the Orioles won the trade but still, nobody great was given out to either team in that trade and it didn’t fit their needs.  Riefenhauser later got claimed off waivers by the Cubs.  That was very recently though.
At the non-tender deadline, they had to get rid of starting right fielder David Lough.  They now had not one, but two open outfield spots unless Mark Trumbo or Nolan Reimold stepped up to start.  They later signed Japanese outfielder Hyun-Soo Kim to at least take his place.  They also lost prospects Junior Lake and Edgar Olmos to waivers. Lake was another outfield option!!!  They were really thin now!!  There went another reliever too!!  However, they resigned star reliever Darren O’ Day for four years.
As January came, They traded for Odrisamer Despaigne and resigned Chris Davis long-term (seven years) in what was known as “A serious game of chicken” by MLB.com.  In late free agency, a lot of rumors were flying around Baltimore, and they still are.  Some of the names included Yovani Gallardo, Dexter Fowler, Tim Lincecum, Austin Jackson even Justin Upton and Yoenis Cespedes at one point.  They signed Gallardo for two years, but Fowler went to the Cubs despite almost signing in Baltimore, Jackson went to the White Sox, Upton went to Detroit and Cespedes resigned in New York.
Lincecum is still being rumored, and the Jackson to the Sox isn’t official yet.  In fact, I think Lincecum will sign with the Orioles enough that I put him on their predicted roster. The Orioles made some impact moves, but they still have some unfilled holes.  They did not fulfill the opportunity they had this off season  to improve.  All those rumors and big name signings for a mediocre to bad team.  Not ideal.
Off Season Grade: D+
Spring Training Storylines
Will the big name signings and re-signings make an impact?
Depends on if these guys have up or down seasons, hopefully for Bostonians like me, a down one.  Chris Davis I still don’t think is satisfied in Baltimore.  Hey, at least Yovani Gallardo and maybe Hyun-Soo Kim are good fits.  They still have Adam Jones better than ever, even without his precious pie celebrations.  They have some pretty good sleepers in the lineup to cover.  But still no matter what this team will have holes.  This might not matter.
How will the O’s fill the holes in the outfield and rotation?
Well, prospects play a big role.  Miguel Gonzalez needs more attention as a strong vet that will fight for a slot in the rotation.  Mike Wright, Dylan Bundy and Odrisamer Despaigne could get some spot starts.  In the outfield, sure, they lost Junior Lake who was developing well but they have Dariel Alvarez, they have Nolan Reimold, Jimmy Paredes may transition to right field and then Hyun-Soo Kim will move to left.
But even with prospects, a late signing would really help, even if its only like Alex Rios, Tim Lincecum or Cliff Lee.  I don’t think prospects plus what they have in the majors is going to be quite enough to fill the holes.
Who are some prospects who will be known this year?
Some of the prospects I mentioned above could be good but further down in the system, I’m liking sleep pitching prospect Andrew Triggs, who has looked alright this spring, veteran outfield spring training invitee L.J. Hoes, who returned to Baltimore this off season, and infielder Christian Walker.
Walker got some good time last year and looked ready to take over for Chris Davis, at least if Davis was still playing like he did in 2014 and Hoes got some good backup time in Houston but between their younger outfield prospects and the everyday starters, there was no room for him to shine last year.  There’s a lot of potential in the O’s system.  Despite a bad current team, they have future hope.

 Baltimore Orioles Projected Roster

Rotation               Bullpen
Chris Tillman        Zach Britton (CL)
Yovani Gallardo    Darren O’ Day
Tim Lincecum**    Brad Brach
Kevin Gausman    Miguel Gonzalez
Ubaldo Jimenez    Brian Matusz
                              Chaz Roe
                          Odrisamer Despaigne
Lineup                       Bench
C: Matt Wieters         Caleb Joseph
1B: Chris Davis          Christian Walker
2B: Jonathan Schoop  Nolan Reimold
SS: J.J. Hardy            Ryan Flaherty
3B: Manny Machado
LF: Hyun-Soo Kim
CF: Adam Jones
RF: Mark Trumbo
DH: Jimmy Paredes
**If Tim Lincecum does not come to the Orioles I have Miguel Gonzalez replacing him in the rotation.
Potential candidates to fill Gonzalez’s relief role would be:
           Dylan Bundy
           Mychal Givens
           Mike Wright
           T.J. McFarland
           Vance Worley
           Tyler Wilson
Projected Record: 74-88
That’s all for today.  Check out my Boston Red Sox report tomorrow!

Buchholz, Red Sox Blowout Orioles

The Red Sox put together a 5-1 win with just one strong inning.  Through the first five innings, both pitchers had great games, and Bud Norris had a perfect game through the 3rd.  They gave up their hits and walks, but nobody scored. In the 6th, the Orioles struck and scored their only run of the game.  Ramirez went down to an injury, and Holt took over left field, while Napoli took first base for the remainder of the game. Chris Parmeelee doubled and Chris Davis singled him in.  1-0 Orioles.  The Red Sox were losing again.  But not for long.  They had a huge 5-run rally in the bottom of the inning.

De Aza reached on an error by Chris Davis.  De Aza went to second on a passed ball by Caleb Joseph.  Then Sandy Leon sacrificed, De Aza went to third, and Leon reached on another error by Bud Norris.  Betts sinngled to tie the game 1-1 and make it 1st and 2nd with no outs.  Then Dustin Pedroia gota base hit to score both Leon and Betts, but he hurt is right foot by putting too much pressure on it when running the step before touching the bag.  So Travis Shaw stepped in to run for Pedroia.  Then David Ortiz hit a 2 run home run and it was 5-1 Red Sox.  That’s when Norris left the game.  But sadly, Brian Matusz held the Red Sox off to end the inning.

Holt moved to second, and Shaw, like he’s the new Brock Holt, went to LEFT FIELD!!!!  Could SHAW be the next all position utility?  Buchholz came out after 7 well worth innings, having a great 1 earned run game.  It was a pitcher’s duel again to end the game, and Koji closed and got the save in a 1-2-3 ninth, and the Red Sox had won.  Be on the lookout for my post on today’s 1:30 game later today.  Eddie Rodriguez will start for the Sox, and Miguel Gonzalez for the O’s.  I’m sure the Red Sox have their edge secured here, as Gonzalez would stink if you compare him to E-Rod.  Make sure to watch the game today, as it’s sure to be a fun one for the Sox.

Orioles Defeat Red Sox With Early Lead

Are you serious?  This is now my 2nd straight Fenway loss.  The Sox haven’t won when I’ve attended a 2015 game.  Well,it’s the Orioles lineup to blame.  Besides, according to a story I wrote at the start of the school year, my luck ended last year.  I’d made up a myth that somebody else brought the luck (AKA, My Monkey Story).  It’s worked against me since.

In the 2nd inning, it was bases loaded on three singles given up by Joe Kelly to Chris Davis, Travis Snider and J.J. Hardy.  Ryan Flaherty hit a sac fly to score Davis.  Then David Lough hit a bomb into the Red Sox bullpen and all of the sudden it was 4-0 Orioles.  Chris Parmeelee, a fairly new major league player, had also tripled in the first inning.

But for the Red Sox, things didn’t come together until the 3rd inning.  So far, Ubaldo Jimenez had only given up 1 hit and 1 walk.  But that would change.  Sandy Leon singled, and Mookie Betts doubled to make it 2nd and 3rd.  Then Pedroia grounded out, but Leon scored, and Betts went to third!!  Sadly, no more runs occured in that inning.  4-1 Orioles.

The Orioles had their moment again in the 4th inning.  Hardy singled, then David Lough gorunded into fielder’s choice and Hardy was out.  Lough reached first.  Machado singled, and it was 1st and 2nd.  Robbie Ross Jr. came in on long relief for Kelly.  He was responsible for the earned run as Jimmy Paredes singled Lough in.  5-1 Orioles.

In the 4th, the Sox also struck.  Ramirez singled.  He advanced to second on a wild pitch.  Then when Panda came up, he singled Ramirez in and it was 5-2.  The Red Sox were starting to come back.  In the 5th, it was first and second with walks by Pedroia and Ortiz. Ramirez singled Pedroia in.  5-3.  Were the Red Sox really coming back?    Nope.  Bogaerts ended it all with a strikeout, preventing any more runs from scoring.

In the 6th, Flaherty walked.  Lough sacrificed him to second, and when Alexi Ogando came in, Manny Machado doubled Flaherty home.  6-3 Orioles.  From there, it was pretty quiet.  Little to no hits every inning, up until the bottom of the 9th.  Betts walked, and Dustin Pedroia doubled as Betts crossed the plate.  6-4 Orioles.  But Big Papi ended it all with a line out to the shortstop and the Orioles won 6-4.  Joe Kelly just isn’t good enough for the Red Sox.  When Justin Masterson returns, hopefully in time for Kelly’s start, they should send Kelly to the bullpen and let Masterson take his place n the starting rotation.

In Detail: Baltimore Orioles

This is my 9th post in my MLB In Detail post series this April.  The Orioles have lost many of their good players, but have still held on to some of them.  The rotation they had last year has clearly stuck around.  Chris Tillman, Kevin Gausman and Bud Norris should still be effective this year.  They have plenty of good pitchers to help.  They’ve also held on to some of their big hitters.  Unfortunately, some of those guys are injured.  J.J. Hardy and Matt Wieters are both on the 15 day disabled list.  Chris Davis is due for a much better year.  Adam Jones is still a huge hitter.  Manny Machado should be great, even coming back from his injury.  However, they’ve lost the player that led the big hitters last year to getting the Orioles a surprising division win.  Nelson Cruz was signed by the Seattle Mariners in the off season.  However, they’ve picked up some important lineup additions,  and are keeping some great backups and starters like Jonathan Schoop that I haven’t mentioned yet.  Travis Snider is important to fill in in the outfield, although the injured David Lough could later fill in at that position.  Alejandro De Aza also was added to the team in the off season, being one of the only White Sox losses, although they haven’t had too many additions either.  My final prediction for the Orioles is for them to be in 5th place in the AL East, having a 77-85 record, being ranked 22nd overall.  The Orioles still have some good in them to get them near .500, but they don’t have as much as they did last year, making it so they can’t make the playoffs.