Welcome to Part 2 of my 2nd annual MLB free agency predictions. Last off-season, things took a long time to get going due to a relatively dull free agent market. This year, that is not the case. We might have the best MLB free agent class in the history of my blog, and it’s bound to get going any minute now. That’s why I’m releasing my predictions in November and December this year rather than January. I wanted to get these out before the Winter Meetings, where a lot of big moves could occur.
Today, I will be sharing my predictions for free agent catchers and infielders, including Wilson Ramos, Josh Donaldson, and Manny Machado. Feel free to comment with your thoughts.
Below is my tentative schedule for my 2018-19 MLB free agency coverage.
Week of November 26 or December 3: MLB 2018-19 Free Agency Predictions: Outfielders & Trade Ideas
Week of December 3 or 10: Baseball Bits #11: Big Free Agent Contracts
Note: These predictions were made before Atlanta’s signings of Josh Donaldson and Brian McCann on November 26.
The Nationals signed C Kurt Suzuki this week, and the Mariners dealt off C Mike Zunino to Tampa Bay. That should cause the catcher market to keep moving quickly. The Angels need a catcher upgrade desperately. They will be in the market for top options Wilson Ramos and Jonathan Lucroy. The A’s will also look for a catcher after losing Lucroy. I could see them adding Ramos. I have Grandal returning to the Padres, where his career started. He will split time with C Austin Hedges. Wieters will head to Seattle. The Mariners are looking for a cheap option at catcher to support C David Freitas. I have the Marlins signing McCann after trading C J.T. Realmuto (I think he’s going to either Atlanta or Milwaukee). That leaves Devin Mesoraco, who will sign with the Phillies and split time with C Jorge Alfaro. The Mets will miss out in the catcher market and stick with Travis d’Arnaud at catcher.
Corner Infielders (Combined 1B and 3B due to shortage of options)
The Braves’ biggest hole is at third base. They are doing whatever it takes to add a top line third baseman to help their contention efforts. Donaldson is a great fit. I think the Yankees will pass on Manny Machado and use Didi Gregorius in the long term. But they will add 3B Mike Moustakas to give them flexibility in the infield, whether Gregorius is hurt or not.
The Marlins are looking for a cheap replacement for Justin Bour, and Duda is a strong fit. That will cause Matt Adams to return to St. Louis, and the Royals will add Logan Morrison with Duda signed. The Orioles do need free agent help, but they will look for bargains. Valbuena could be a good bargain signing. He can provide support at second and third.
The Twins are in it to win it, and reuniting with Dozier after a deadline deal will help fill one of their biggest holes: middle infield. They may need a shortstop next to Dozier. I also have LeMahieu returning to Colorado. If the Rockies part ways with LeMahieu, they may have a hard time finding a replacement. They definitely need a second baseman, and LeMahieu is the best fit. I have Murphy heading to the A’s, who will be able to afford him. It was a down year for Murphy, and it could make for a bargain signing for a small market team with a hole at second like Oakland. That leaves Asdrubal Cabrera, Jed Lowrie, and Logan Forsythe as the top 2B options remaining. The Angels will sign Cabrera as an upgrade over Ian Kinsler. Lowrie and Forsythe could be afforded by rebuilding/small market teams like the Tigers and Rays. The Tigers desperately need middle infield help. They will look for bargains as they find their free agents.
Whoever signs Machado will need to offer a lot, and the Phillies have enough to sign Machado with money to spare for Mike Trout or another big free agent in a couple years. The Phillies are ready to make the jump to contention, and Machado plus some cheaper free agents might be enough to do it. The Twins will add Mercer to support Dozier, and Alcides Escobar will go to the Padres, who will seek veterans as insurance for their younger players. That leaves guys like Adeiny Hechavarria, Jose Iglesias, and Freddy Galvis for rebuilding teams. I have the Royals adding Hechavarria as another infield option, the Tigers reuniting with Iglesias, and the Marlins adding Galvis to support the young J.T. Riddle.
That’s all for today’s predictions. Stay tuned for Part 3, where I will predict where the top outfielders and designated hitters sign. I will also add some ideas for trades. Unlike others, I do not have many big stars being traded, but I could see some smaller trades occuring.
Each year since 2014, David Schoenfield has ranked all 30 teams in tiers during the preseason. For the fourth year straight, I am creating my own version. Throughout the week, I will be posting my rankings. However, I started a little late this year due to the MLB’s slow off-season. Today they start with the bottom 6.
Boston Sports Mania MLB Pre-Season Power Rankings
Friday, March 23: Ranking The Teams 30-25, My Version: Who’s In The Basement?
Friday, March 23: Ranking The Teams 24-19, My Version: Teams That Will Struggle
Saturday, March 24: Ranking The Teams 18-13, My Version: The Middle of the Pack
Saturday, March 24: Ranking The Teams 12-7, My Version: Who Will Contend in 2018?
Sunday, March 25: Ranking The Teams 6-1, My Version: How The Best of the Best Line Up*
*I will also have my latest Baseball Bits coming this Sunday or sometime next week.
30. Miami Marlins
The Marlins underwent a complete overhaul this off-season. They traded four key pieces from their lineup last year: Christian Yelich, Giancarlo Stanton, Marcell Ozuna, and Dee Gordon. Those guys were leaders for the Marlins. They could have gone on to contend with that group, but after no success making the playoffs in recent years, they decided to fully rebuild. Rather than signing a couple pitchers and going for an NL East title, they decided not to sign too many pitchers and to make the series of trades they made. In these trades, they added members of their future core, such as Lewis Brinson, Monte Harrison, and Magneuris Sierra. They also acquired Starlin Castro to play second and signed a veteran or two including Cameron Maybin to be placeholders in the new look outfield. These trades further advanced teams like the Yankees, Cardinals, and Brewers as well.
The Case for the Marlins
The Marlins have no intention of contending in 2018. This year, expect to see veteran placeholders make up the lineup alongside their more seasoned prospects like J.T. Riddle and Lewis Brinson. In the meantime, the Marlins will be getting their next generation of players ready to play at a big league level. Starlin Castro was only acquired as a veteran mentor, don’t think he’s a sign that the Marlins aren’t ready to rebuild yet. They are in full rebuild mode. But did they rebuild too early? Could they be contending down the stretch rather than sitting in the basement of the NL East, waiting for their prospects to further develop, and carrying around a bunch of older veterans who are past their prime?
The Bright Spot
The Marlins may have overhauled most of their lineup, but they still have a couple strong pieces in catcher J.T. Realmuto and first baseman Justin Bour. Their lineup will remain their strong point in 2018, especially the very core of it. Their rotation needs work. They may have a couple good pitchers, but they need to find guys within their system who can lead the next generation of pitching in Miami. They have plenty of hitting/fielding prospects already making their way towards the majors.
Best Case Scenario: The veterans Miami has signed are consistent and show signs that they still have what it takes to be as successful as they were earlier in their career, and Miami’s prospects get called up quickly and thrive in the majors, leading the Marlins just over 70 wins in Year 1 of a rebuild.
Worst Case Scenario: Miami’s top prospects struggle at the major league level, and their veteran leaders fail to find momentum, as the Marlins lose 100+ games.
Projected Finish: 64-98, 5th in NL East
29. Chicago White Sox
As they plan to let a strong group of prospects lead the team in 2018, the White Sox were relatively quiet this off-season. They added Wellington Castillo after several young catchers failed them, and they added a few guys to their bullpen. They also signed Hector Santiago to top off the rotation. But for the most part, they are happy with their young roster. Sure, they could’ve added a veteran leader in the outfield or at third, or even added a new ace, but they can manage with the roster they have, especially if their younger players begin to break out.
The Case for the White Sox
After a rebuild, the White Sox are ready to take steps back towards contention. They will start off slow, but they will improve over the next few years, slowly but surely. Guys like 2B Yoan Moncada, SS Tim Anderson, and CF Adam Engel are hoping to have strong seasons and help lead the team. Meanwhile, guys like Eloy Jimenez, Michael Kopech, and Lucas Giolito are looking to make an impact at the big league level. This year will be about finding young leaders to help lead the team in the future alongside veteran 1B Jose Abreu. I could see Giolito and Engel having strong seasons.
The Bright Spot
It’s younger players who are looking to become the new faces of the team. But in the meantime, the White Sox have some strong veteran leaders. Expect Jose Abreu to build upon a strong season. I could also see James Shields bouncing back to lead the pitching staff and become a mentor for young pitchers like Kopech and Giolito. Also, keep an eye out for younger breakout players. Who do you think will emerge as a star on the White Sox in 2018?
Best Case Scenario: Chicago’s strong group of prospects are successful in the majors very quickly and lead the White Sox to a decent year in the AL Central alongside their veteran influences, who have very strong seasons. In this scenario, they would come in 3rd over Kansas City and Detroit.
Worst Case Scenario: Jimenez, Kopech, and others fail to succeed at the major league level, and Abreu and Shields begin to decline quickly as the White Sox crumble.
Projected Finish: 66-96, 5th in AL Central
28. Detroit Tigers
The Tigers started off 2017 expecting to contend. But injuries and old age caught up with them, and they ended up trading away their older players and heading into rebuild mode. They still held onto Miguel Cabrera, Nick Castellanos, Jose Iglesias, and Victor Martinez though. Those four will mentor the younger players taking over, like Jeimer Candelario and Dixon Machado. They could’ve used another veteran infielder, but instead, Candelario and Machado will start full time, and the only major free agent signings by Detroit were signing OF Leonys Martin and SP Mike Fiers, both of which they got done much earlier in the off-season than most of the free agent signings occurred. Meanwhile, veterans Jordan Zimmermann, Francisco Liriano, and Mike Fiers, as well as younger starters Michael Fulmer and Daniel Norris, will headline the new look rotation.
The Case for the Tigers
The Tigers don’t have any blatant holes on their roster, but their roster lacks upside. They have a lot of average players, but no clear superstar. Even Miguel Cabrera’s numbers have taken a dip from dominant to average. The question is, can Miggy rebound and lead this young team in 2018? The Tigers will need someone to step it up and emerge as a true leader. They have a good amount of veteran mentors, but nobody who can carry the team. Who will break out and emerge as a star for them?
The Bright Spot
Like I said, it’s hard to name one leader or bright spot on this mediocre team, and mediocre teams with a lack of a leader and few experienced players are known to struggle. I see Miggy and Victor Martinez rebounding for strong seasons and emerging as leaders. Once the Tigers can find themselves a leader, they could be going places, as the younger players follow in their footsteps and help bring the Tigers back to the playoffs a couple years down the road.
Best Case Scenario: Detroit’s young roster gets off to a hot start, the well-balanced rotation thrives and Miguel Cabrera bounces back to lead the team as the Tigers jump right back into third place in Year 2 of a rebuild.
Worst Case Scenario: The rotation cannot find an identity, Detroit’s younger players struggle and disappoint, Miggy continues to struggle, and nobody else steps up to lead as they end up in the American League basement.
Projected Finish: 69-93, 4th in AL Central
27. Pittsburgh Pirates
In 2016 and 2017, the Pirates found themselves stuck in the middle. They had a strong, but declining lineup and a rotation that was beginning to collapse. This off-season, they made a definitive choice to begin a rebuild, and they started by trading Andrew McCutchen and Gerrit Cole, their best hitter and their best pitcher. After that, their off-season was very quiet, and Spring Training will be focused on getting their young prospects ready to play every day in the MLB. They got some of those prospects as a return from the Astros (who acquired Cole) and the Giants (who acquired Cutch). That group includes RHP Kyle Crick, RHP Joe Musgrove, and 3B Colin Moran.
The Case for the Pirates
The Pirates have made it clear what direction they’re headed in, and they will not contend in 2018. They have some nice pieces that will help them alongside their top prospects in the coming years, but right now, the veterans are just there to keep the Pirates playing at a major league level (at the very least). In the meantime, the Pirates will focus on getting their prospects ready. Expect to see a lot of Austin Meadows, Colin Moran, Jordan Luplow, Josh Bell, Bryce Brentz and Max Moroff in the Pirates lineup. All those guys are potential leaders for the next generation in Pittsburgh.
Meanwhile, their biggest need is a successful young pitcher. They have yet to find one, but as soon as they do, expect to see him up in the majors getting a chance to prove himself. The Pirates still have a decent lineup, so if they can get a few young hitters ready and fix up their rotation, expect to see them back in the playoffs in a few years.
The Bright Spot
The Pirates still have a great group of guys in the outfield. Not only do the Pirates have some good defense out there, but these guys will continue to lead the Pirates lineup. Despite trading away Cutch, they have brought in Corey Dickerson, another power hitting outfielder to replace him. They also have plenty of prospects who will see time back there including top prospect Austin Meadows. Starling Marte and Gregory Polanco will also continue to serve as leaders on this team. Their rotation may need work, and the infield has yet to find their starting mix, but this Pirates outfield is all set.
Best Case Scenario: Pittsburgh’s prospects crack the majors and make an impact quickly, Polanco and Marte continue to serve as leaders and mentors, and the young rotation looks a little better as the Pirates get right above the 70-win line.
Worst Case Scenario: Injuries and struggles plague the Pirates rotation, Pittsburgh’s veterans decline, and the prospects are forced to lead the team and fail to handle the pressure as Pittsburgh collapses in Year 1 of their rebuild.
Projected Finish: 67-95, 5th in NL Central
26. San Diego Padres
Last season I said the Padres were in a horrific rebuild after making a mistake in signing a bunch of veterans past their prime to lead the 2016 team and some of you disagreed, saying that the Padres have talent that will anchor their next generation. Whoever said that is correct because now that the Padres have gotten their top prospects MLB ready, they are ready to take steps back toward contention mode. Manuel Margot and Fernando Tatis Jr. are some of the young guns who can help lead this team, and the Padres have added a couple veterans to further boost the roster.
They may have made the biggest signing of the off-season when they added 1B Eric Hosmer. They also acquired SS Freddy Galvis and 3B Chase Headley (who was here to start his MLB career) after giving up infielder Yangervis Solarte. Wil Myers will also continue to be a veteran mentor as he returns to the outfield. He will allow San Diego’s younger outfielders to platoon, and they will not be pressured to perform like everyday starters.
The Case for the Padres
After a brief rebuild, the Padres are headed back in an upward direction. But legitimate playoff contention will take a year or two. This year, their young roster will continue to develop as their veterans lead the team in an upward direction. Once guys like Carlos Asuaje and 19-year old prospect Fernando Tatis Jr. are ready to contend alongside Hosmer, Myers, and co., the Padres will be going places.
The Bright Spot
In my opinion, Hosmer will emerge as a leader, star, and mentor on his new team. With the Royals, Hosmer was never a sole leader or the face of the team, but he was on the brink of stardom as he continued to thrive in Kansas City. In San Diego, he will emerge as one of the league’s premium position players as he leads the team and emerges as a superstar. He is already an All-Star Game regular, but he hasn’t received the love and respect he deserves. Now that he’s arguably the best player on his new team, he will completely breakout, and the league will recognize that.
Best Case Scenario: With an upgraded, well-balanced roster, the Padres will get off to a fast start and compete in the NL West. However, in what’s arguably the toughest division in the league, they will not see the playoffs quite yet.
Worst Case Scenario: San Diego’s prospects disappoint in their first years, and the Padres fail to find leaders and mentors in their veterans, which will further affect the young guns as the Padres end up in dead last after they cannot handle the pressure of their division.
Projected Finish: 69-93, 5th in NL West
25. Oakland Athletics
Oakland did not do much this off-season, as many of their younger players are finally ready to become everyday players. But they did make a few moves to enhance the roster. They added young OF Stephen Piscotty to take some pressure off rookie CF Dustin Fowler. Now Boog Powell and Jake Smolinski will be able to back Fowler up. They also signed SP Trevor Cahill when Jharel Cotton lost his 2018 season to Tommy John Surgery. Now the rotation will look something like this:
Kendall Graveman RHP
Sean Manaea LHP
Andrew Triggs RHP
Trevor Cahill RHP
Paul Blackburn/Daniel Mendgen*
* A.J. Puk could eventually snag this rotation slot
Other than that, Oakland was pretty quiet this off-season, and it will not hurt them. They didn’t need to do much to keep the roster in good shape. But they will not contend yet. That all depends on when guys like Matt Olson, Matt Chapman, and A.J. Puk breakout.
The Case for the Athletics
Like I said, the A’s are on the brink of contention, but they need a breakout star or two first. They have a lot of great young pieces, and they are headed in an upward direction now. They have a home run hitter too. But they need a couple younger players to lead the A’s if they want to get back to the playoffs. I don’t care who. It could be Matt Olson, Sean Manaea, Matt Chapman, Andrew Triggs, anyone. I could personally see Manaea or Triggs breaking through, and I also like Olson and Chapman. A.J. Puk is also a breakout candidate. Although I do not have the Athletics contending this year, they could be in a great position by Opening Day 2019.
The Bright Spot
The A’s may not be contending yet, but if they can combine rotation and lineup consistency with the power hitting core they already have, they can make a run at the playoffs. Khris Davis was one of the Top 5 HR hitters of 2017 (the top three are now all part of the AL East). Yes, only Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Judge, and J.D. Martinez hit more. I see Davis repeating this over the next couple years, and combining that with Oakland’s flurry of young talent on the brink of a breakout could make for great things. The future is very bright in Oakland.
Best Case Scenario: Davis continues to keep up with the best in the power-hitting department, many of Oakland’s younger players break through, and the A’s jump right back into contention with a record around .500, putting them in great shape for 2019.
Worst Case Scenario: Davis drops off, the rotation is plagued by injuries, and nobody emerges as a leader/star as the A’s disappoint and bore many in 2018.
Projected Finish: 68-94, 5th in AL West*
Note: Although I see a lot of potential here, they need to prove themselves before I can rank them too much higher.
That’s all for this article. Stay tuned for Part 2 coming soon. I will also have my preseason Baseball Bits up before the regular season begins next week. On a side note, I was unable to finish my March Madness previews, but my bracket is busted anyway, and you can click here for my second chance picks. Also, stay tuned for my update on NFL free agency.
Welcome to Day 3 of my preseason power rankings. Yesterday, we had a look at more bad teams. However, these teams had strong points that lifted them higher in my rankings. Well, today we made it to the middle of the pack. Each of these teams have some pros and some cons. We’ll take a look at that. Let’s start off with #18.
The Royals were somewhat active this off-season. The core of their lineup is still made up of the same six guys. But they added Brandon Moss, Jorge Soler and some prospects to it. In the process of a rebuild, younger players on this team will have a bigger impact. Their rotation has been given a boost. Despite the death of Yordano Ventura, and the loss of Edinson Volquez, they got Nathan Karns, Jason Hammel, and Travis Wood. However, between trades and free agency, they lost Wade Davis, Kendrys Morales, and Jarrod Dyson.
The Case for the Royals
The Royals do have a strong core in the lineup, and the rotation is okay, but the bullpen is falling apart, and depth is a major problem. The veterans added to the bullpen aren’t enough for the depth they need. The younger players are being forced into holes, and some of them are not quite ready. If it weren’t for the hole at second, Whit Merrifield would be in the minors. Before this off-season, the Royals also had a hole in the outfield, and they still have some depth problems there although their starting positions are filled. I just can’t see the Royals doing much better than this with all these holes and problems, and I can’t see them beating the Indians in the division.
The Pros and Cons
Like I said, the Royals’ strengths are the core of the lineup, which consists of six long-time Royals teammates, and the rebuilt rotation. However, depth is a major problem, and the Royals have holes in several places. Second base is a big problem. The bullpen is a pretty big problem, too. The Royals haven’t found a legitimate designated hitter since Kendrys Morales left either, which they would have if they had enough good hitters to fill out the lineup.
Best Case Scenario: The lineup is killer again, the rotation gets better, and the Royals win the AL Central.
Worst Case Scenario: The rotation is a bust, depth problems really bite back hard, and the Royals get knocked out of the postseason race.
Projected Finish: 81-81, 3rd in AL Central
17. Pittsburgh Pirates
The Pirates were very quiet this off-season, probably too quiet. They only signed one major free agent, and it was resigning Ivan Nova. The Pirates are pretty situated where they are. They have a good lineup and a decent bullpen. The rotation is a bit of a problem, but they’re trying to resolve that. However, in the position they’re in, they’re not going to win the Wolrd Series. Is it time to rebuild? Could it be time for a blockbuster trade? After being very active in the trade market in the 2015-16 off-season, they haven’t done much about that this off-season.
The Case For Pirates
If you’re looking for the most mediocre team in the league, it’s the Pirates right now. They are stuck in the middle. What exactly does that mean? Like I said, they are not in World Series contender mode. But they’re not exactly rebuilding either. Maybe rebuilding is the answer. I wouldn’t make that decision right now, but don’t be surprised if Andrew McCutchen is traded away, or the Pirates sell somebody else. There is no team that is as stuck in this endless loophole as the Pirates are.
The Pros and Cons
The Pirates may have one of the best lineups in the league, but face it, the rotation is not living up to the expectations, not for the Pirates or for a contender. Until the rotation improves, the lineup will not lead this team to another postseason run. The question remains: is it time to rebuild or try and go for it? Is the rotation going to be as easy a fix as it seems?
Best Case Scenario: The rotation gets better, allowing a powerful lineup to lead Pittsburgh back to the playoffs.
Worst Case Scenario: The rotation completely flops and the Pirates are forced to sell and rebuild, in hopes of winning in the future.
Projected Finish: 85-77, 3rd in NL Central
16. Colorado Rockies
The Rockies had big plans this off-season. Signing utility player Ian Desmond was a smart move, as he can fill the hole at first base. The Rockies also signed Alexi Amarista for depth and signed Mike Dunn and Greg Holland to fill the spot that Boone Logan left. The rotation is also looking better and younger after some changes this off-season. Could the Rockies finally be a contender?
The Case for the Rockies
The Rockies are back in business. Their lineup is looking better than ever in a hitter friendly ballpark, and although the rotation has not been the focus, this young rotation at least looks good enough to contend. The bullpen is also loaded in case the rotation doesn’t do its job. Adam Ottavino and Greg Holland should compete for an important closer job. The Rockies are starting to look a lot better, and I think they finally have a chance.
The Pros and Cons
The lineup and the bullpen are both overpowered and are really lifting up this team. Although the rotation is holding this team back a little bit, they are at least good enough that the Rockies won’t completely suck. There’s not much holding this team back. They just have a tough environment to compete in.
Best Case Scenario: The rotation improves, and the loaded lineup leads the Rockies through the playoffs.
Worst Case Scenario: The rotation flops and the Rockies fail to do well in the NL West.
Projected Finish: 85-77, 3rd in NL West
15. Seattle Mariners
As always, Jerry Dipoto was active in the trade market. So active that he traded for and traded away Mallex Smith within 77 minutes. They traded for three pitchers, Drew Smyly, Yovani Gallardo and Chris Heston. They also traded Ketel Marte and Taijuan Walker for Jean Segura and acquired Jarrod Dyson. That’s just the beginning! The Mariners were active as always, but will these moves pay off, or not?
The Case for the Mariners
Okay, I understand that last section is very overwhelming. But to sum it all up, the rotation now has a lot of depth and will be very good. The rotation is top notch, with a powerful ace, and a lot of options after that. The lineup is good but has some holes. The Mariners don’t have many options in the outfield, and they’re left with a gaping hole at first base. Hopefully, new utility Danny Valencia can fill one of those spots. That brings us to our next section.
The Pros and Cons
First things first, I want to make it clear that this rotation is spotless. So spotless that the bullpen depth problems won’t be a major factor. The Mariners do have a strong core of the lineup but have some problems at the bottom of the lineup. Those problems also show up in the field. You can’t take give a team with two legitimate outfielders and a gaping hole at first base and put them in your playoff predictions.
Best Case Scenario: The rotation dominates and the lineup holes don’t affect the Mariners, as Seattle grabs a wild card.
Worst Case Scenario: The holes and depth problems cause the Mariners to finish 4th in the AL West.
Projected Finish: 86-76, 3rd in AL West
14. Miami Marlins
The Marlins have a pretty situated lineup but really bolstered their pitching this off-season. They signed Brad Ziegler among others to upgrade the bullpen, and Edinson Volquez and Jeff Locke along with Kyle Lobstein to upgrade the rotation. This should really pay off, but did they pick the right guys to fill out the rotation? Without Jose Fernandez, it’s pretty hard to fill the rotation right, and pretty hard to find a new ace.
The Case for the Marlins
The Marlins already had a pretty good, young lineup. The holes they had in the infield in previous years are now filled by young guns like Justin Bour and Adeiny Hechavarria. Led by Dee Gordon and Giancarlo Stanton, this lineup will be able to kick butt. The rotation is also looking better for 2017 but doesn’t match up to rotations around the league. They don’t have an ace anymore, and that will hurt. The bullpen is better but they don’t have the depth they need to back up the rotation. Rest in peace Jose Fernandez, you’ll really be missed in 2017.
The Pros and Cons
There’s good news and bad news for the Marlins. The good news is, the lineup is all set, and the pitching looks a whole lot better after this off-season’s acquisitions and moves. The bad news is, the rotation may not be good enough, especially without a clear cut ace. They don’t have many pitchers that will be good enough to pitch more than 6 or 7 innings on average. The bullpen is looking better but doesn’t have the depth that they need be able to backup tired starters without getting tired after multiple days straight of relief innings themselves. They have a lot of options in the bullpen, but besides a few good late inning guys, there aren’t many strong relievers, which they need when they are missing top of the rotation guys.
Best Case Scenario: The off-season rotation boosters pay off, the lineup does better than ever, and the Marlins make the playoffs easily.
Worst Case Scenario: The absence of Jose Fernandez truly hurts, the lineup doesn’t do much better than in previous years, and the Marlins finish below .500.
Projected Finish: 87-75, 3rd in NL East
13. New York Yankees
The Yankees had a pretty quiet off-season. However, they did boost a young rotation by signing Jon Niese, and they got star closer Aroldis Chapman back. The Yankees were also able to snag Matt Holliday on a one-year deal. After many of their older guys retired or looked for careers elsewhere, the Yankees really began to season some of their younger players. Now, those players are good enough that it’s worth signing power hitters to help contend. Holliday will help out in the outfield and play DH.
The Case for the Yankees
The Yankees are seasoning their deep farm system in the majors, and the prospects are good enough to help the veterans on the team contend. There aren’t many small market teams who can do that, and the Yankees have the biggest market in the league. Could that have something to do with why the Yankees never have a terrible season? Those damn Yankees are always in the picture, you can never count them out. This season, they must hope that their young rotation succeeds, and the strong bullpen can back them up. They also must hope that their young guns have the same kind of success at the plate.
The Pros and Cons
The Yankees are another one of those good news/bad news teams. Well, the good news is, the lineup succeeded without A-Rod and Teixeira last season, and the bullpen is powerful enough to provide good relief for young starters. The bad news is, you can’t always trust young guns to help you contend, especially consistently. That’s why these young teams are so unpredictable. Inexperienced players can be very inconsistent.
Best Case Scenario: All the prospects live up to their expectations, and they lead the Yankees to their first playoff berth in 5 years.
Worst Case Scenario: The young talent is inconsistent and the Yankees completely flop, finishing below .500.
Projected Finish: 87-75, 3rd in AL East
That’s all for Day 3 of my preseason ranks. Part 4 will look at teams 12-7 and is coming between today and tomorrow.
By the way, I actually have the Dodgers winning the world series, but I wanted to show my Red Sox fandom on my Animoto account.
Alright, let’s dig in.
Boston Red Sox 92-70
Toronto Blue Jays 89-73
New York Yankees 85-77
Tampa Bay Rays 83-79
Baltimore Orioles 74-88
I have the Red Sox bouncing back from an ugly season and going from worst to first once again. The Red Sox were even bolder than they were last off season, acquiring Craig Kimbrel from the Padres, despite giving up former #3 and #7 prospects Manuel Margot and Javier Guerra. Then they signed AL Cy Young runner up David Price to a seven year, 217 million dollar deal. They also signed Chris Young to a two year deal and traded Wade Miley for relievers Roenis Elias and Carson Smith. They now have a strong rotation front and a top closer, along with the powerful lineup the 2015 Red Sox provided.
Meanwhile I think the Blue Jays will stay strong even without their 2015 ace and closer (David Price & LaTroy Hawkins). They still have a strong lineup and some amazing prospects, and they acquired some new starters like J.A. Happ and Jesse Chavez, plus closer/set-up man Drew Storen. I think they still have some playoff relevance.
The Yankees meanwhile have done majority of their moves via trade. They acquired Starlin Castro for Adam Warren and Brendan Ryan, plus star closer Aroldis Chapman from Cincy. Having Chapman in New York will heat up the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry as the Sox acquired Kimbrel. The Yanks should be competitive in the division.
The Rays upgraded their pretty empty offense with Logan Morrison and Brad Miller. Centerfielder Desmond Jennings also will return from injury this season. Alex Cobb will also return. I think the Rays are still a little washed up in their lineup, but they have good defense and pitching.
Meanwhile I don’t think the Orioles’ acquistions are efficient. Mark Trumbo is not a full time starter, Hyun-Soo Kim might not be as good in America, and they still have a serious hole in the rotation. They already had a pretty bad team last year, they just made it a lot worse. The Orioles are by far the worst team in this division. Besides maybe the Rays, every other team in this division will still be in the playoff race at the beginning of September.
Detroit Tigers 93-69
Chicago White Sox 89-73
Kansas City Royals 89-73
Minnesota Twins 73-89
Cleveland Indians 68-94
This division’s teams have made many impact transactions but not every team that made an impact in free agency can do well, especially all in the same division.
The Tigers have really improved their pitching game and outfield to match the rest of their good teams. They signed Justin Upton, Mark Lowe, Mike Pelfrey and Jordan Zimmermann and have acquired Cameron Maybin and Justin Wilson via trade. They only gave up Ian Krol to trade and Alfredo Simon and Rajai Davis to free agency. Even after a bad season, I think that the top prospects and star players will combine to make a bad team in 2015 a great, powerful team that will make an impact in 2016.
Meanwhile the White Sox have also been very active in the hot stove. They’ve revamped their infield by trading for both Todd Frazier and Brett Lawrie. Lawrie was a third baseman like Frazier but will play at second to make room for Todd Frazier. They still have a hole at shortstop though.
The Royals are still good, but are once again lacking a rotation. They also have a hole in the outfield unless Jarrod Dyson can step it up. So, they’ll compete, but they aren’t necessarily make the playoffs.
Meanwhile, I don’t think the Twins’ youth plus Byung-Ho Park is enough to bring a good season in the Twin Cities. The Indians haven’t done enough by getting Mike Napoli and Rajai Davis. So there are teams in the Central that aren’t competitive as well.
Texas Rangers 90-72
Seattle Mariners 87-75
Houston Astros 79-83
Oakland Athletics 78-84
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim 71-91
I have the Texas Rangers at the top of this division. Look at their rotation. Personally, I think that both Cole Hamels and Yu Darvish are serious Cy Young candidates. The two ace-like pitchers are joined by wing man Derek Holland. They also have a powerful lineup with some guys like Josh Hamilton, Elvis Andrus, Shin-Soo Choo and Prince Fielder who have a ton of potential.
The Mariners also made a lot of impact trades. Despite giving up Logan Morrison, Brad Miller, Roenis Elias and Carson Smith, they traded for Wade Miley, Joaquin Benoit, Jonathan Aro, Nathan Karns, Adam Lind, Leonys Martin and Luis Sardinas. They also signed closer Steve Cishek, outfielder Norichika Aoki and resigned King Felix’s trusty wing-man, Hisashi Iwakuma. So this is a pretty revamped team.
The Astros are also still a somewhat powerful, young team. Guys like Carlos Correa really stepped it up last year, and they signed some strong veterans like Doug Fister. Some veterans, like Mike Fiers and Carlos Gomez, are also playing their first full season in Houston and others like Brad Peacock are returning from injury this year. The Astros have a lot of potential but aren’t quite as good as the Mariners and Rangers.
There are teams worse than that though. The Athletics made some minor moves as usual, and they’ve recovered from some injuries to players, so they will be better, just not enough to make an impact. Jarrod Parker returns from Tommy John surgery, and hopefully the former star Coco Crisp can bounce back.
The Los Angeles Angels also will get C.J. Wilson back, but this team is in need of some serious luck. Craig Gentry and Daniel Nava must create an efficient platoon in left, the rotation is full of people who are either feast or famine or fresh off a breakout, and they still have serious problems at second.
So the AL West is competitive, but there is a wide division between the good teams, decent teams and bad teams.
Washington Nationals 93-69
New York Mets 87-75
Miami Marlins 77-85
Philadelphia Phillies 75-87
Atlanta Braves 66-96
The Nationals continue to improve their team. They got solid second baseman Daniel Murphy. They also got Ben Revere for their second unneeded closer Drew Storen. The Jays did need him. They already had a good team, now they have a great and healthy one built off Bryce Harper and star pitchers Stephen Strasburg and Max Scherzer.
The Mets also resigned Yoenis Cespedes and signed Asdrubal Cabrera for the first time. They additionally traded for Neil Walker. They have a strong rotation but still lack power in their lineup. They should be good, but not necessarily a playoff contender as there are much better wild card candidates in the NL.
The Marlins also have improved their pitching to match the lineup they revamped in 2015. But some of the guys like shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria, utility Derek Dietrich and first baseman Justin Bour are still developing. At least they have Martin Prado and Don Kelly in the infield, and a pretty powerful, but somewhat old outfield.
The Phillies have gotten better as well. They’ve really improved their rotation, including the acquisition of veterans Jeremy Hellickson, Charlie Morton, Brett Oberholtzer and Vincent Velasquez. Bobby LaFramboise, Jerad Eickhoff, Luis Garcia and Jeanmar Gomez will lead the bullpen. They also have acquired Peter Bourjos to join Odubel Herrera and Cody Asche in the outfield. They have a stronger, more developed lineup and rotation, but still aren’t above .500 material.
Meanwhile, the Braves are much worse. They have some serious holes in the infield, despite acquiring Erick Aybar. Their pitching is worse, even more devastated despite signing minor league players Kyle Kendrick, Alexi Ogando and David Holmberg.
Chicago Cubs 96-66
St. Louis Cardinals 91-71
Pittsburgh Pirates 88-74
Cincinnati Reds 79-83
Milwaukee Brewers 65-97
The Cubs already had a good team last year with Kris Bryant and some other dominant young stars making it to the majors. This off season, the really stacked up. They already had Jon Lester and Jake Arrieta, they inked John Lackey to a deal too. Ben Zobrist and Jason Heyward also got deals in Chicago. This team now looks to be one of the most powerful MLB teams while still having a starting lineup that’s almost 50% MLB rookies or sophomores.
The Cardinals still have power in the division, but were fed on just like the 2014-15 Tigers were fed on by the Nationals. What I mean is that without any trades, one team is taking a lot of the Cardinals’ top 2015 free agents, that team is their division rival the Cubs. Their rotation is shorthanded without Lance Lynn and there outfield will miss Jason Heyward, Jon Jay and Peter Bourjos. Even Matt Holliday will hit free agency next season. However they have picked up Jedd Gyorko and Seung-Hwan Oh, and got some good insurance in Brandon Moss and Jonathan Broxton at the 2015 trade deadline. They also could still sign a big bat like Dexter Fowler, Austin Jackson or Ian Desmond.
The Pirates are clearly at loss after losing Neil Walker and Pedro Alvarez, but with A.J. Burnett retiring, they stacked up on some pitchers. They acquired Jon Niese, A.J. Schugel and Kyle Lobstein, and signed Ryan Vogelsong. yet they still have thriving prospect Tyler Glasnow. Man, their pitching staff is stacked. They additionally signed slugger John Jaso. But in the end, compared to the Cards and Cubs, they aren’t too good.
The Reds even have some potential. I see potential in this rotation. Homer Bailey, Anthony DeSclafani, Brandon Finnegan, Raisel Iglesias and Michael Lorenzen is who I think will make up the rotation. They could also sign a veteran like Tim Lincecum and let Finnegan or Lorenzen rest after Bailey’s return from Tommy John surgery. If not, Keyvius Sampson or John Lamb will have to start until then, unless Robert Stephenson is in the Opening Day rotation. This team also has some serious holes, and needs some better hitting from Billy Hamilton, Jay Bruce and Brandon Phillips. They desperately need a third baseman and an outfielder, and may have a ton of last minute signings if they don’t want to suck. Hey, maybe Scott Schebler takes the outfield, Jose Peraza platoons at third with Ivan DeJesus efficiently, and Homer Bailey comes back early and shines. Or they snag the older guys like Juan Uribe last minute.
The Brewers don’t look any better. Right now, Matt Garza and Wilin Peralta are their best pitchers, Will Smith is their closer, and they need some serious help in certain other positions. What are they going to do? Suck is what.
Los Angeles Dodgers 94-68
San Diego Padres 91-71
Arizona Diamondbacks 88-74
San Francisco Giants 84-78
Colorado Rockies 67-95
This division may surprise you a lot. The Giants put so much money into this off season, and they only go 84-78. The Padres have the season they were expecting a year ago. The D-Backs and Giants both miss the playoffs and are short of a 90-win season after acquiring or signing a combined four top 50 pitchers in the MLB, two apiece. The Dodgers still rule the division after all that drama. Finally, despite a strong rebuild, the Rockies still suck.
The Dodgers however also acquired some good pitchers in Kenta Maeda and Scott Kazmir. Hyun-Jin Ryu and Brandon McCarthy will also return this season. They have a secure lineup with very few holes and a strong rotation.
But what happened to the even year luck in San Francisco? Pablo Sandoval brought it to Boston. Oh well, Giants, all that hard work and my Red Sox still get all the glory, with little to pay up at all.
The D-Backs are also looking better but do you honestly think they can win a division title with the lineup they have? Not happening.
MLB 2016 Postseason
Okay, okay, I might be getting a little carried away with the Padres doing so well, because the Cubs wouldn’t lose to them likely. Well here’s something I’ll throw at you, even though I have the Dodgers winning the World Series, I nearly considered the Nats to beat them in the NLDS. Bryce Harper is primed for a bigger breakout than even last year’s. I know I always overrate the Nats, and again, I could be wrong with the Nats even making the playoffs. The Mets could take their spot or San Diego’s. You may have actually noticed that I had the Sox over LA in the Animoto video, I was just showing my Red Sox fandom. But lets be honest here, the Dodgers rotation is by far better than the Red Sox’s. They also have a slight edge with their outfield.
Alright, now the AL. Again, I may be exaggerating with the White Sox, I did say the Tigers are ready to bounce back. Now I don’t have them winning a single playoff game. That’s up for debate. But especially if Chicago signs Ian Desmond, think about it. Jose Abreu, Brett Lawrie, Ian Desmond and Todd Frazier all in one infield. Not bad. I see potential for both sides. Again, Red Sox-Rangers could also be debatable, I just believe the Sox have a slight edge in the match-up and will simply win 3-2 in the ALDS. Besides that, I think I agree with my original instinct. What do you think?
Now its time to make my predictions for some MLB Awards in 2016.
Jose Bautista, RF, Blue Jays
This is just going to make Bautista way more valuable. Well, what’s my case? Bautista was injured for a good amount of 2015, and played through some of it. He had unsatisfactory results for much of the season. But 2016 is the year for Jose Bautista to bounce back. He didn’t have terrible results last year, but he definitely has room for improvement. When he gets heated up, he reaches MVP level.
Josh Donaldson, Nelson Cruz, Michael Brantley, Carlos Beltran, Xander Bogaerts
Bryce Harper, OF, Nationals
I almost considered Joey Votto for MVP, but I just think that his team won’t support his relevance well enough. But Harper, he’s ready to dominate. Harper is fresh off a breakout season, and the 23-year old superstar is ready for another one. I also have him winning a very special award, which I’ll surprise you with at the end.
Freddie Freeman, Joey Votto, Giancarlo Stanton, Adrian Gonzalez, Jason Heyward
AL Cy Young Award
David Price, Red Sox
Price has a seven year deal with the Red Sox, so he’s pressured to do amazing. Besides, there aren’t many other good choices. Cole Hamels, maybe Dallas Keuchel. Guys like that don’t match up to Price at his best, which he wasn’t last year. I don’t think Detroit was the right fit for Price. Boston or Toronto, that’s another story. Price is ready to dominate this year.
Cole Hamels, Dallas Keuchel, Felix Hernandez, Justin Verlander, Chris Archer, Yu Darvish
NL Cy Young Award
James Shields, Padres
You might say Jake Arrieta, Max Scherzer, Zack Greinke or Clayton Kershaw will win the NL Cy Young, but where’s the love for James Shields? Especially if the Padres have their long-awaited breakout year, Shields will be a legitimate competitor for the Cy Young. He put up stellar stats for the Royals, he just hasn’t really fit in to the Padres’ system, but I think he’s found a spot as their ace. He is ready to go back to all star form after only a subpar 2015.
Zack Greinke, Kenta Maeda, Stephen Strasburg, Max Scherzer, Clayton Kershaw
AL Rookie Of The Year
Byron Buxton, OF, Twins
I’m not as big of a believer in Buxton as most people, but look at the other options in the AL. Byung-Ho Park is typically someone who would be too old to typically be a ro0kie. But Buxton really is a prospect, he’s a typical rookie, he plays like a young rookie. He’s actually one of the best at it in the AL, and I admire that. Plus, I have some serious issues underrating Buxton.
Byung-Ho Park, Sean Nolin, Blake Snell, Gary Sanchez, Dylan Bundy
NL Rookie Of The Year
Corey Seager, SS/3B, Dodgers
Unlike Buxton, I see off the charts potential for this guy. He’s the younger brother of a star third baseman in the league, and he proved himself byputting up great numbers while playing in the majors for the end of last season. There has been so much hype for this kid and I believe it. If there was one Rookie Of The Year for all of the MLB, it would be Seager all the way.
Steven Matz, Tyler Glasnow, Trayce Thompson, Jose Peraza
AL Comeback Player Of The Year
Yu Darvish, SP, Rangers
Darvish has spent nearly two full seasons on the DL. Two years before even that, he was a great new MLB pitcher fresh out of Japan’s best bunch. Darvish put up outstanding stats in 2012 and 2013. I know he’ll never be able to do that again, he’s too old and crippled, but can he at least return to All Star form? I am a firm believer in Darvish and I’d like to see him try.
Justin Verlander, Pablo Sandoval, Jarrod Parker, Desmond Jennings
NL Comeback Player Of The Year
Matt Kemp, OF, Padres
Kemp was a superstar with the Dodgers. He’s old, but if he can do the same in San Diego, that would greatly benefit them. Right now, he’s just a washed up outfielder forced to start. But as the season progresses, I think he has potential to put up some all star stats.
Hyun-Jin Ryu, Brandon McCarthy, Jon Niese, Travis Wood, Bartolo Colon
Triple Crown Award (NL)
Bryce Harper, OF, Nationals
This is the big surprise we’ve been waiting for. Surprise, surprise, we have a Triple Crown winner! Guess who it is? Red hot, young Bryce Harper, already claiming the NL MVP. Harper is fresh of a long-awaited breakout and is ready to become an all time great in the MLB. A Triple Crown would really help his relevance, and I think he’s good enough to snag it at only age 23.
So that’s all for my MLB 2016 Preview. Comment with your thoughts.