Red Sox Rally Their Way to Victory over Detroit 

3-3 ballgame.  It was the bottom of the 8th, and ex-Red Sox pitcher Alex Wilson was on the mound.  It was high in the air.  I knew it was gone the minute I saw it.  JBJ had just nailed a go-ahead home run to give the Red Sox the 5-3 lead.  

The Red Sox went on to top the Tigers 5-3.  Each team got 11 hits in this big hitting game.  Mitch Moreland went 3-4 with 2 RBI, JBJ went 2-4 with another 3 RBI.  Lots of good plays by JBJ and Mookie Betts made the game interesting and I was at the game and witnessed the great comeback victory.  

It started out ugly for the Sox though.  Brian Johnson gave up a dinger with 1 out in the 1st inning to Nicholas Castellanos.  But the Tigers weren’t done.  Both Victor and J.D. Martinez got on base, and it was 1st and 2nd with 2 down.  Then Justin Upton knocked Victor Martinez in with his single up the middle.  It was 2-0 Tigers after 1 inning and Brian Johnson had thrown almost 30 pitches.  Johnson tried to settle down after that, but in the next two innings he reached 70 pitches.  He had given up 5 hits and a walk in 3 innings.  

Then to begin the 4th, Mikie Mahtook nailed a dinger into the bleachers.  3-0 Detroit.  

However, the Red Sox began to rally in the 4th inning.  Mitch Moreland answered with a leadoff home run to center.  Then after a Benintendi single and Ramirez walk, it was 1st and 2nd. Then Bradley Jr. hit a line drive single to knock in a 2nd run.  3-2 Tigers.  

However, Pablo Sandoval ended the rally on a double play.  Panda struggled all game, striking out twice and grounding into this double play.  He also made 2 plays that could’ve been called errors. 

The Tigers tried to strike back.  Victor Martinez got a base hit, and then J.D. Martinez doubled to center and Victor was on third, but it wasn’t enough.  After Brian Johnson and Heath Hembree were done, Joe Kelly was an absolute machine against Detroit in the 7th.  

Mookie Betts tried to start another rally when he doubled, but it failed.  However, the Red Sox came back in the 8th.  Alex Wilson, the former Red Sox player, was pitching.  Fans were booing and taunting him.  Bogaerts got on base, and then he reached second when Wilson wildly tried to pick him off at first.  Then Moreland drove in another run with an RBI single.  It was a tie ballgame, 3-3.  Benintendi lined out, and Ramirez was out on a lazy fly ball. 


Then, JBJ hit a huge dinger to right.  Everyone was cheering.  They had come back!  The Red Sox were up 5-3 going into the top of the 9th, and Craig Kimbrel came right into the game.  After a strikeout, a foul pop up and another strikeout, the Red Sox won 5-3.  Kimbrel got the 3 out, 10 pitch save.  


Here’s the final strike.  My good luck may have factored in again.  I even got a picture of the win dance, where JBJ was honored.  They did their ski jump and I got it on camera.  


Can they get into a good stretch after a big win tonight?  Chris Sale starts tomorrow and it should be a rude awakening for Detroit tomorrow night.  

Opening Day: Modified Standings and Bold Predictions

opening-day-16

 

It’s just a couple of hours until the first full day of regular season games starts, and I’m here to get you ready.  Sure, you may have have seen my MLB Preview, but this is a condensed, more accurate version.  I even have some bold predictions for the season.  Let’s get started.

 

AL East

  1. Boston Red Sox 91-71
  2. Toronto Blue Jays 86-76
  3. Tampa Bay Rays 82-80
  4. New York Yankees 76-86
  5. Baltimore Orioles 72-90

The Red Sox made a good move starting Travis Shaw over Pablo Sandoval, and Hanley Ramirez has adjusted well to first.  This lineup is new and improved, and ready to take over a weak but tight division.  Even if the rotation behind David Price is a concern, their bullpen makes up for it.

I just don’t believe the Blue Jays can function without better pitching.  When they lost David Price and LaTroy Hawkins, it was back to square one.  The Rays made some good off season improvements but their lineup still lacks power, and the Yankees are just getting too old to be good anymore.  Starlin Castro was a good first step.  Lastly, the O’s don’t have anything to convince me.  Their outfield is seconds away from shattering, and after Miguel Gonzalez’s release, their rotation is still short a pitcher.   So it looks like easy pickings for the Red Sox, even if they’re a shaky team.

yankees-2b-castro

AL Central

  1. Kansas City Royals 93-69
  2. Detroit Tigers 89-73 (WC)
  3. Chicago White Sox 87-75
  4. Minnesota Twins 78-84
  5. Cleveland Indians 74-88

The Royals cannot be beaten in this division, it just won’t happen.  With a strong lineup and balanced rotation, they’re not going down.  They will be closely challenged however as the Tigers and White Sox improve.  They still have weak areas more than the Royals, but they will compete for wild card spots.  They made key signings like Justin Upton and Austin Jackson that take their teams to the next level.

The Indians aren’t horrible like I said but can’t compete in a tough division after such a quiet off season.

The Twins have a reborn lineup but the pitching can’t support young sensations Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano yet.  This division is up for grabs beyond Kansas City, but the Royals have first place locked up.

 

AL West

  1. Texas Rangers 95-67
  2. Houston Astros 88-74 (WC)
  3. Seattle Mariners 81-81
  4. Oakland Athletics 76-86
  5. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim 68-94

 

Alright, at least I have the Astros in the playoffs.  I just believe that the Rangers have more than Houston.  The Astros don’t even have a starting first baseman, and their young rotation is inconsistent.  The Rangers probably have the best trio of batters in the AL with Prince Fielder, Adrian Beltre and Elvis Andrus.  They have some good lineup improvements to support their lineup this off season and their rotation is completely revamped and healthy.

The Mariners went on a full shopping spree this off season, but they didn’t necessarily fill their main holes, so they’ll only be mediocre.  The Athletics are only slightly improved, and the Angels clearly aren’t going anywhere with such an inconsistent rotation and lineup.  So this division will be a tight dogfight between the Rangers and Astros with the Mariners in the wild card bidding.

AL Playoffs

Wild Card: Tigers over Astros

ALDS: Red Sox over Royals

Rangers over Tigers

ALCS: Rangers over Red Sox

 

NL East

  1. Washington Nationals 93-69
  2. New York Mets 90-72 (WC)
  3. Miami Marlins 83-79
  4. Philadelphia Phillies 67-95
  5. Atlanta Braves 64-98

 

Yes, in my modified predictions, the Mets make the playoffs.  I have always underrated them so maybe if I predict a wild card, they’ll win the division.  Even though I usually overrate the Nationals above them, the Nats have a case this year with an improved lineup, and strong rotation.  Who needs Jordan Zimmermann when you have Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg and Gio Gonzalez?

The Marlins have the next best chance but are still working on a weak bullpen, and the Phillies and Braves have absolutely no chance and have practically abandoned their teams for the year.  So that leaves the Mets and Nats to have the best battle yet.  I say they both make the playoffs and lose in the NLDS.  What do you think?

 

NL Central

  1. Chicago Cubs 97-65
  2. St. Louis Cardinals 91-71 (WC)
  3. Pittsburgh Pirates 88-74
  4. Cincinnati Reds 73-89
  5. Milwaukee Brewes 69-93

With the exception of maybe last year, this Cubs team is by far the best Cubs team of the century.  They are favorites to win the World Series, and will not be stopped in this division.  The Pirates and Cards still had good off seasons, but have tapered off from last season’s teams.  They have lost many of their best like Neil Walker, Lance Lynn (temporarily) and Jason Heyward.  They will only compete for the playoff spots behind Chicago.

The Brewers and Reds are both in rebuilding stages after making a splash in 2013 and 2014.  They are two of the worst teams in the league and will not compete for this division in any way, shape or form.

 

NL West

  1. Los Angeles Dodgers 92-70
  2. Arizona Diamondbacks 87-75
  3. San Diego Padres 86-76
  4. San Francisco Giants 86-76
  5. Colorado Rockies 63-99

The Dodgers still rule this division even after a weak off season.  The Giants are overrated and young, the D-Backs just aren’t ready yet, and the Padres are a big sleeper but have the potential to be a bust as well.  LA has a strong rotation with great depth and despite numerous injuries, the Dodgers’ spot starters are happy to help, and they do.  The Rockies have done a minimal amount of improvements, and I don’t see them going anywhere.  Their rotation is a mess, and they have such big holes at positions like first base that they’ll have to call up players off of the 40-man roster.

NL Playoffs

 

Wild Card: Mets over Cardinals

NLDS: Dodgers over Nationals

Cubs over Mets

NLCS: Cubs over Dodgers

 

World Series: Rangers over Cubs

 

10 Bold Predictions for the 2016 Season

  1. Former Mariners Smoak and Saunders both bat above .270

Justin_Smoak

Justin Smoak and Michael Saunders’ contributions in Seattle have not yet showed up on the Blue Jays.  I say they both have comeback years and Smoak earns his job back from Chris Colabello easily.  After a .273 avergage in 2014, Saunders batted just .194 in ’15 in just 9 games played.  Saunders missed most of the year.  Smoak has never put up that good of stats, but he has a chance to rebound from the last two years, as he sucked in 2014.

  1. Starlin Castro finally breaks through, as the Yankees star player

You can’t spell Starlin without Star.  Year after year the Cubs have gotten their hopes up about the young shortstop.  However, this young guy has showed his skills and I think he’s ready to fully breakthrough.  I have this guy hitting between .310 and .320 with a personal best in average and dingers.  Hopefully, he can adjust to the Yankees system and be strengthened by the Yanks.

  1. White Sox and Tigers will each get at least 85 wins

Both teams sucked last season, what happened?  They both made very bold moves in the off season, as I had said.  The Tigers have a much better rotation in 2016, while the White Sox have revamped their lineup.  They may not beat the Royals in the division race, but between the two of them, they could put on a big fight.

  1. Eric Hosmer and Jason Heyward win MVPs

eric-hosmer-jason-heyward

The Royals have had Hosmer his entire career and he’s just been a subpar star the whole time.  When will he fully breakout and have a rampage season?  2016 of course.  Hosmer’s stats have increased recently as he takes a lead role on the Royals.  He is a well known veteran in Kansas City and it’s time that his name is known league-wide.  Heyward meanwhile has developed really well and after a strong year with the Cardinals, he looks like a serious MVP candidate.  He put up a career best .293 average last season.  The Cubs have put him in a crucial role and Heyward’s ready to nail it.

  1. Yu Darvish wins AL Comeback Player and AL CY Young

yu-darvish

I have Yu Darvish winning both the AL Cy Young and AL Comeback Player of the Year.  The guy looked outstanding in his rookie season and when he’s healthy, I think he could still do great things.

  1. Mets infield hits 3 times more homers than Yoenis Cespedes

Between Asdrubal Cabrera and Neil Walker, the Mets have made a splash in the infield.  Add on David Wright and Lucas Duda, and you’ve got yourself the infield of a super-team.  Between all those guys, I think they will hit 3 times the homers of Yoenis Cespedes.  I think Cespedes will hit about 40 homers.  However, I think each of the Mets infielders will hit 20-35 dingers this year.  They have a lot of potential.  That’s what potential can do.

  1. Harrison and Freese combine for 70 dingers and Pirates only win 88 games

Yes, even with the Pirates winning just 88 games and missing the playoffs, I see the hitting doing surprisingly well this year.  I have two mediocre guys combining for 70 taters, and one of them isn’t even a full time starter.  That doesn’t even include Andrew McCutchen, Gregory Polanco and Starling Marte.  The Pirates lineup is overpowered to an extreme level.

  1. At least one Reds player comes in the Top 5 in the NL for AVG, HRs or ERA

There are many candidates on the team that could do this.  Joey Votto, Brandon Phillips, even Raisel Iglesias or Homer Bailey.  But I think despite the Reds not being that good as a team, they have veteran players that can do big things when given the chance.  The Reds had a somewhat healthy year last year, and I’m feeling it will happen again.

  1. Giants run out of even-year luck, miss playoffs

Yes, the Giants don’t win the World Series in 2016, or even make the playoffs.  The NL just has too many teams that are better this year.  The Mets aren’t going to miss the playoffs even if the Nats beat them out in the NL East!  That leaves the Cards, D-Backs, Pirates and Giants to fight over Wild Card #2. Compared to those three teams, the Giants look like garbage.  Well what if they win the division?  No way, not happening.  The Dodgers are just too hard to beat even after such an empty off season, and if they don’t win, the D-Backs have a pretty good chance too.

  1. Entire Dodgers rotation ends up with ERAs under 3.50

kmaeda

The Dodgers rotation is stacked.  Despite injuries, it’ll start the season looking like this:

  1. Clayton Kershaw
  2. Kenta Maeda
  3. Scott Kazmir
  4. Hyun-Jin Ryu
  5. Alex Wood

Even without Brett Anderson and Brandon McCarthy, that rotation is pretty overpowered.  Kenta Maeda was a star in Japan and I think he can adjust, and if Scott Kazmir pitches like he did in Houston, then the Dodgers top 3 is ready to shut down the league.  Hyun-Jin Ryu is efficient and powerful when he’s healthy, and Alex Wood can really pitch if they need him.

 

Enjoy your Opening Day!  Go Red Sox!

 

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!

MLB 2016 Preview: Cubs, Red Sox Among Most Improved

MLB 2016 Preview

 

There’s just one week till spring training, so its just about time for my MLB 2016 Preview.  Below is a video that has some of what I’ll be looking at, but this post is more detailed than the video.

https://s3.amazonaws.com/embed.animoto.com/play.html?w=swf/production/vp1&e=1454716309&f=i3wsqO8iPHL12x2paS1hvw&d=0&m=p&r=360p&volume=100&start_res=360p&i=m&asset_domain=s3-p.animoto.com&animoto_domain=animoto.com&options=

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.

Projected Records

AL East

  1. boston-red-sox Boston Red Sox 92-70
  2. Toronto_Blue_Jays Toronto Blue Jays 89-73
  3. new-york-yankees New York Yankees 85-77
  4. Tampa_Bay_Rays Tampa Bay Rays 83-79
  5. Baltimore-Orioles-Logo 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.

David Price Red Sox
David Price signing a 7 year, 217 million dollar deal with the Red Sox.

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.

... photo desmond jennings desmond jennings 8 of the tampa bay rays makes
Desmond Jennings returns to the lineup after spending 2015 on the DL.

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.

 

AL Central

  1.  detroit-tigers Detroit Tigers 93-69
  2.  chicago-white-sox Chicago White Sox  89-73
  3.  kansas-city-royals Kansas City Royals  89-73
  4.  minnesota-twins.png Minnesota Twins  73-89
  5.  cleveland-indians.jpg 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.

FullSizeRender(5).jpg
After several signings, the Detroit Tigers’ rotation is looking good.

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.

 

AL West

  1. texas-rangers.png  Texas Rangers  90-72
  2. seattle-mariners-logo.png   Seattle Mariners  87-75
  3. houston-astros.jpg  Houston Astros  79-83
  4. oakland-a's.png  Oakland Athletics  78-84
  5. la-angels-of-anaheim.png   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.

Yu Darvish threw bullpen session yesterday - iFreePress iFreePress
Yu Darvish is ready to bounce back after missing nearly two full seasons.

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.

NL East

  1. washington-nats Washington Nationals 93-69
  2. new-york-mets New York Mets 87-75
  3. miami-marlins Miami Marlins 77-85
  4. philadelphia.phillies Philadelphia Phillies 75-87
  5. atlanta-braves.jpg 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 VelasquezBobby 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.

 NL Central

  1. Chicago_Cubs Chicago Cubs 96-66
  2. St_Louis_Cardinals St. Louis Cardinals 91-71
  3. pittsburgh-pirates Pittsburgh Pirates 88-74
  4. cincinnati_reds_logo Cincinnati Reds 79-83
  5. milwaukee-brewers 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.

Offseason moves increase pressure on 2016 Cubs to live up to the hype
Jason Heyward is just one major signing the Cubs made this off season.

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.

Homer Bailey Homer Bailey #34 of the Cincinnati Reds pitches during ...
In his return from Tommy John Surgery, Homer Bailey should be able to bounce back in 2016.

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.

NL West

  1. los-angeles-dodgers.png Los Angeles Dodgers 94-68
  2. san diego-padres.png San Diego Padres 91-71
  3. arizona-dbacks.png Arizona Diamondbacks 88-74
  4. sanfran-giants.png San Francisco Giants 84-78
  5. colorado-rockies.png 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 KazmirHyun-Jin Ryu and Brandon McCarthy will also return this season.  They have a secure lineup with very few holes and a strong rotation.

Kenta Maeda Pictures - Los Angeles Dodgers Introduce Kenta Maeda ...
The Dodgers won a tight race for Japanese star Kenta Maeda.

 

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

 

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My MLB 2016 Playoff Bracket.  I have the Dodgers over the Red Sox in the World Series

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?

MLB Awards

Now its time to make my predictions for some MLB Awards in 2016.

AL MVP

Jose Bautista, RF, Blue Jays

Jose Bautista
Jose Bautista, 2016 Projected AL MVP

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.

 

Honorable Mentions

Josh Donaldson, Nelson Cruz, Michael Brantley, Carlos Beltran, Xander Bogaerts

 

NL MVP

Bryce Harper, OF, Nationals

Bryce Harper, 2016 Projected NL MVP

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.

 

Honorable Mentions

Freddie Freeman, Joey Votto, Giancarlo Stanton, Adrian Gonzalez, Jason Heyward

 

AL Cy Young Award

David Price, Red Sox

... David Price ‘Going To Get Even Better’ With Red Sox | Boston Red
David Price, 2016 Projected AL Cy Young Winner

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.

 

Honorable Mentions

Cole Hamels, Dallas Keuchel, Felix Hernandez, Justin Verlander, Chris Archer, Yu Darvish

 

NL Cy Young Award

James Shields, Padres

james shields padres
James Shields, 2016 Projected NL Cy Young Winner

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.

Honorable Mentions

Zack Greinke, Kenta Maeda, Stephen Strasburg, Max Scherzer, Clayton Kershaw

 

AL Rookie Of The Year

Byron Buxton, OF, Twins

Byron Buxton’s game-changing speed will be a vital asset to the ...
Byron Buxton, 2016 Projected AL Rookie Of The Year

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.

Honorable Mentions

Byung-Ho Park, Sean Nolin, Blake Snell, Gary Sanchez, Dylan Bundy

NL Rookie Of The Year

Corey Seager, SS/3B, Dodgers

Corey Seager will bat third in his first postseason game. (Hans ...
Corey Seager, 2016 Projected NL Rookie Of The Year

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.

 

Honorable Mentions

Steven Matz, Tyler Glasnow, Trayce Thompson, Jose Peraza

 

AL Comeback Player Of The Year

Yu Darvish, SP, Rangers

Yu Darvish threw bullpen session yesterday - iFreePress iFreePress
Yu Darvish, 2016 Projected AL Comeback Player Of The Year

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.

 

Honorable Mentions

Justin Verlander, Pablo Sandoval, Jarrod Parker,  Desmond Jennings

 

NL Comeback Player Of The Year

Matt Kemp, OF, Padres

Matt Kemp Trade Rumors: Latest News, Speculation on Padres of ...
Matt Kemp, 2016 Projected NL Comeback Player Of The Year

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.

 

 Honorable Mentions

Hyun-Jin Ryu, Brandon McCarthy, Jon Niese,  Travis Wood, Bartolo Colon

Triple Crown Award (NL)

Bryce Harper, OF, Nationals

... Bryce Harper Edition - Daily Fantasy Baseball Strategy, The Fake
Bryce Harper, 2016 Projected NL Triple Crown Winner

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.

10 Free Agent Moves I Think Should Happen

10 Free Agent Moves I Think Will Happen
The free agent market has been slow starting up so far early in to this hot stove season, but I think that is going to change. It already has began too, as teams have sucked the blood out of the catcher position’s free agent options, the best going from Matt Wieters to John Jaso.

1. Greinke Returns To The Brew Crew

I don’t think that Zack Greinke is returning to L.A. after becoming the ace he’s turned into. The Dodgers would be an ace hog if they had him and Clayton Kershaw, both Cy Young candidates. Other teams like the D-Backs, Rockies, Brewers, Phillies, Indians and Red Sox need an ace. I know, most of those are very bad, low money teams, except the Red Sox and Indians, middle ground teams. However, not one of those teams has much money, and despite the Phillies and Red Sox being options, I think the Brewers will be the team that have enough in their budget to sign Greinke. They don’t absolutely stink, and they don’t have enough stars to be hogging the money Greinke wants.

2. White Sox Ink Zobrist

Emilio Bonifacio is gone. Gordon Beckham is lost in free agency, and he wasn’t the greatest anyways. But now, as Hot Stove Season goes on, there are so many options for second basemen. The best choices would be Howie Kendrick, Daniel Murphy, Chase Utley or Ben Zobrist. Murphy is likely returning to the Mets after his great playoff triumph, and either Kendrick or Utley will likely resign with L.A. unless Jose Peraza starts now at second. Peraza needs to start slow. So, that leaves the White Sox’ best bet being Ben Zobrist. They could go lower, at guys like Kelly Johnson or Dan Uggla, but without Bonifacio, they want a solid guy. So, welcome to Chicago, Ben Zobrist.

3. Jays Resign Buerhle and Sign Southpaw Samardzija

With Buerhle and Samardzija, the Blue Jays rotation would look like this:

R.A. Dickey
Mark Buerhle
J.A. Happ
Jeff Samardzija
Marcus Stroman

That rotation is the strongest rotation I’ve ever seen. But I think they should trade R.A. Dickey, (see 10 Trades I’d Like To See), so this is more realistic:

Mark Buerhle
J.A. Happ
Jeff Samardzija
Marcus Stroman
Jesse Chavez/Marco Estrada

That is one strong rotation. So, why exactly Buerhle and Samardzija? Why not David Price? Well, Price will probably go to one of those 5 remaining ace hungry teams, the Red Sox, Indians, Phillies, Rockies or D-Backs, considering that Greinke will go to Milwaukee. So, if they want to bring back their pitchers, which apparently they do, Buerhle is their best bet. Samardzija is the best non-ace superstar out there, and that is what Toronto needs.

4. Set Up Man Broxton Returns To Dodgers

The Dodgers lack a bullpen, and Kenley Jansen is their closer. What other closers are out there? Just Joakim Soria, Neftali Feliz and Fernando Rodney. Feliz can re-sign with the Tigers as a set up man, the Mariners need Rodney back and Soria is getting old and is not a long-term option. That leaves Jonathan Broxton. A pretty young set-up guy that can close better than anyone in this weak bullpen besides maybe Jansen. If Jansen closes, he can be set up. So it’s worth a shot. His old team, the Cardinals is fine without him. Move on, Broxton.

5. David Price To Red Sox

The Red Sox are already front-runners to sign Price. They’re among the only decent teams that need an ace. Greinke, as I said should go to Milwaukee and this is the only other ace the Sox are favorites to sign. Just the idea of having David Price here in Boston excites me.

Price had a stellar 2015 season, starting relatively slow in Detroit, then heading for playoff contention while heating up in Toronto, where he got traded at the deadline. Now he’s already a free agent after just 3 months. Do you think it’s realistic? Come on Price, save us!!!!! Bring us back to victory!!!!

Also, if we sign him, this time he’ll want a big money, long term deal. We’d be happy to keep him several years, but do we have the money to afford a big deal? If we do, this is totally a realistic move.
6. Cespedes Follows Cruz, Cano to Starville

The Mariners has become the team for the best stars in free agency. First Robinson Cano (2013-2014) and then Nelson Cruz (2014-2015). I think LF Yoenis Cespedes is the next to join them. The Mariners clearly need a left fielder, with Nelson Cruz at DH and Franklin Guiterrez taking right. A Trumbo-Martin-Guiterrez outfield is not good enough. Sure, they have Seth Smith. NOT ENOUGH!!! After losing Austin Jackson, the Mariners need a star outfielder. All of their guys are meant to be platooning players, not everyday starters!!! They need a solid everyday starter like Cespedes to join the outfield.

7. Kendrick Returns to Anaheim

You may be surprised to hear this, but I don’t think Howie Kendrick will even think of leaving the L.A. area. Kendrick began his career an Angel, before being traded to the Dodgers with only a year left on his contract. They didn’t think that that was Kendrick’s permanent solution. Trading him in the first place was a bad idea. The Dodgers could’ve given him some crazy extension, and then he was long gone if Johnny Giovatella failed to start efficiently at second base.

But now he’s out in the open again. This is likely the Angels’ last chance to fix their mistake in time to prevent themselves from flopping without him again. They fell in to third place as a non-Kendrick team last year. Can they resign him and bring the Angels back their playoff hopes from 2014? I think a big money deal should keep him in L.A. for possibly the rest of his career.

8. Cabrera Resigns Big Money Deal With Rays

Asdrubal Cabrera had a smooth season last year in his first year in Tampa. I think that although there has been no talk of it, Cabrera would nicely fit in the Rays’ new scheme. He’s also worth much more money and a bigger deal. I think they should sign him to a big-time long-term contract. Is Cabrera going to do it, and does he fit in between Brad Miller and Logan Forsythe?

9. Royals Sign Another Chen

The Royals could use an ace, but it’s not a major need. They do need a better middle tier guy for the rotation, with Johnny Cueto and Jeremy Guthrie going into free agency. Wei-Yin Chen is a solid, middle of the rotation guy. The former Oriole (2012-2015) was signed to a four year contract by Baltimore from the NPB, a pro baseball league in Japan. Chen is the perfect fit for this Royals team. Can he help them to a third straight World Series and help them win a second?
10. Twins Sign Another Vet Outfielder In Upton

Torii Hunter announced his retirement late last October. Then the Twins traded Aaron Hicks in November. Their outfield went from this:

LF: Eduardo Escobar
CF: Aaron Hicks
RF: Torii Hunter

To eventually this:

LF: Escobar
CF: Byron Buxton
RF: Eddie Rosario

With Justin Upton in right, Rosario can move to center and Buxton can be a pinch-hitter, ahead of Oswaldo Arcia and Max Kepler. Why exactly Upton? The next best options for right field are Jason Heyward (long shot for Twins), Grady Sizemore, Alex Rios, Gerardo Parra and Shane Victorino. In all of outfield, Dexter Fowler, Denard Span, Austin Jackson, Jonny Gomes, Alex Gordon, Rajai Davis, Nate McLouth, Marlon Byrd, Yoenis Cespedes, Skip Schumaker and David DeJesus. Most, if not all of those are either inconsistent, reaching out to other teams, or are a long shot for the little old Twins. Upton is the perfect fit, a Torii Hunter type.