Red Sox Offense Sparks Comeback vs. Yankees

It was the bottom of the 7th, with the Sox down 6-3.  But the bases were loaded for Mookie Betts.  He flew out, but Vazquez scored from third.  That was followed by an Andrew Benintendi single that knocked in JBJ.  After Hanley Ramirez loaded the bases again with a walk, Mitch Moreland came in to pinch hit.  He got a nice pinch hit single, and both Nunez and Benintendi scored!  The Red Sox had taken the 7-6 lead with a 4-run 7th!  

The Red Sox won the series opener against the Yankees 9-6, in a back and forth game.  Drew Pomeranz did exit in the 4th with back spasms, and the bullpen gave up 6 runs in the next 3 innings.  However, the Red Sox were able to come back as the offense sparked and both Addison Reed and Craig Kimbrel had good outings.  

Pomeranz started off the night strong.  He struck out 4 and gave up just 4 hits in the first 3 innings.  Meanwhile, the Red Sox offense was ambitious to start off the game strong.   With 2 outs in the bottom of the 2nd, Xander Bogaerts hit a huge double off the monster that almost left the ballpark.  Then with Bogey on 2nd, the red hot Rafael Devers came up to bat.  Devers hit it in the same direction, right towards the monster.  But this one was gone!  Rafael Devers had hit another home run, his 7th career dinger, and he had only played 19 games so far.  


The Red Sox had a 2-0 lead through 3.  However, in the 4th, Pomeranz started throwing the ball way off, and they knew he was hurt.  He had to be pulled from the game.  Christian Vazquez extended Boston’s lead in the 5th though with a leadoff solo shot.  He crushed it and it almost left the park completely.  


But the Yankees struck back in the 6th.  Headley singled, and Todd Frazier hit a 2-run shot to left center.  The Red Sox were leading 3-2 but the Yankees were on a roll, and it continued in the 7th, starting with a Gary Sanchez leadoff solo shot to tie the game.  


The Yankees weren’t done after that.  Joe Kelly walked Gregorius and Headley singled to make it 1st and 2nd.  Then Heath Hembree came in, only to walk another batter and load the bases for Ronald Torreyes.  Torreyes hit a long single off the monster, and not just 1, but 2 runs scored.  It was now 5-3 Yankees.  

The Yanks weren’t done either.  A Brett Gardner walk loaded the bases again, and after Robby Scott, the third pitcher of the inning hit Aaron Hicks by the pitch, the Yankees had a 3-run lead!  The Red Sox ended up bringing in Addison Reed to finish the inning, their 4th pitcher in the 7th.  

But the Red Sox struck back in the bottom of the 7th.  Vazquez got on base again with a single, and JBJ walked to make it 1st and 2nd.  Nunez got on base on an infield single, and the bases were loaded with just 1 out.  Mookie Betts hit a sac fly to score in Vazquez.  Then with men on 1st and 2nd, Benintendi singled to knock in JBJ!  It was now just 6-5 Yankees.  The Red Sox were coming back, and Mitch Moreland got the lead back for Boston with a pinch hit 2-run single!  It was now 7-6 Red Sox going into the 8th.  

Addison Reed pitched a quality inning for the Sox, and they scored again in the 8th.  Devers singled and Vazquez walked.  With JBJ batting, they each stole a base!  So JBJ was up with 2 runners in scoring position, and single was enough to knock them both in.  Now the Red Sox were the team with a 3 run lead.  

Kimbrel came in and struck out the side to end the game!  The Red Sox had won 9-6!  What a game to start another series in this epic rivalry.  

Chris Sale takes the mound tomorrow in hopes of another 10+ K game, and a win for the Red Sox.  Will the Sox clinch the series with their ace on the mound?

Benintendi Hits 2 Dingers as Red Sox Cream Yankees

With every win there’s a different Hero for this team.  Yesterday, it was Andrew Benintendi.  He was up at the plate in the 5th with 2nd and 3rd.  He had already hit a 3-run shot in the 3rd inning.  Then he nailed another one to right, and just like the last one, it was gone!  Benny had hit two 3-run jacks on the day.  


Early in the game, it was looking like a pitcher’s duel, as Luis Severino put up a 6-pitch 1-2-3 inning.  Pomeranz was ready to match that, he had pitched well all year.  But he let up a leadoff single to Brett Gardner.  He shut down Hicks and Judge, which was promising, but with Gardner still on first, Gary Sanchez hit a home run around the right field pole.  It was a relatively easy HR to hit, but the Yankees had taken a 2-0 lead.  That probably would’ve been a routine fly ball at Fenway, but this is Yankee Stadium.  


Both pitchers settled down in the 2nd inning, but the Red Sox offense was ready to rumble in the 3rd.  Severino started the inning well, as Devers lined out to left.  But after giving up 2 consecutive walks, Eduardo Nunez was brought up to the plate with 1st and 2nd.  He reached on an error to load the bases for Betts.  Would Betts hit a grand slam and put an end to the Yankee lead?  He didn’t hit a grand slam, but he did hit it past the shortstop for an RBI single.  Both JBJ and Vazquez scored, and it was a 2-2 tie game. 


Benintendi was up with men on 1st and 2nd.  He nailed the ball to right center, and it made it out of the park!  The Sox now took a 5-2 lead.  That’s what you can call payback for the Yankees’ 5 run inning on Friday night.  Were they done?  I didn’t think so after Hanley and Moreland singled back-to-back.  But Bogaerts lined out to left, and Hanley Ramirez was called out at 2nd.  It was a double play to end the inning, and another out on the bases for this team.  However, the Sox had secured a 3-run lead going into the bottom of the 3rd.  

Pomeranz had another solid inning, that was followed by a better inning by Severino, who struck out the side.  But the Yankees tried to strike back in the bottom of the 4th.  Gregorius got his 2nd hit of the day, and Frazier walked to make it first and second, and a Chase Headley hit loaded the bases.  Ellsbury, who had struggled all year, was up, but the bases were loaded with nobody out.  Although Ellsbury grounded out, a run came in to score.  It was now 5-3 Red Sox.  The lead had been cut short.  However, Pomeranz was lucky enough to shut down the next 2 batters and get out of the inning giving up just 1 run.  

The Red Sox didn’t want to let the Yanks come back on them, again.  So in the 5th, they went all out.  Nunez led off with a base hit, and he was sent to third by a Mookie Betts doubled.  Then, with two runners in scoring position, Benintendi came up to the plate.  He hit another one high into right field, and it was gone!  Andrew Benintendi had just hit his 2nd 3-run shot on the day!  The Red Sox had an 8-3 lead, and once again, they weren’t done after the dinger.  Moreland doubled to get on base, and Bogey reached on an error.  Severino was officially done.  With runners on the corners and just one out, Devers was up.  His double to center knocked in both Bogaerts and Moreland!  It was now a 10-3 Red Sox lead.   

It began to quiet down after that.  Pomeranz went 6.2 innings after a relatively strong 5th and 6th.  Brandon Workman got the final out in the 7th, shutting down Aaron Judge.  In the 8th, the Red Sox got three consecutive hits, but no runs scored.  Devers had singled, but he got out at 2nd.  Another out on the bases!   Although Vazquez and JBJ each had a single, the Red Sox couldn’t knock them in with 1 down as Benny didn’t get an at bat before the inning ended.  

In the bottom of the 9th, the Yankees still had something left in the tank though.  Chase Headley led off with a homer to center.  Ellsbury hit another homer to right to make it back to back jacks.  It was 10-5 Yankees.  Would the Yankees be able to come back after all this?  


No.  Robby Scott got 3 quick outs to end the game.  The Sox had won 10-5, tying the series.  Tonight, they will play the final game in this epic series.  Chris Sale, the AL leader in ERA, wins and strikeouts, will take the mound for Boston as Jordan Montgomery starts for the Yankees.  Sale has been great against the Yanks and he’s shut down Judge.  Will Sale give the Sox this series, or will the Yankees win it at home?  Find out tonight on Sunday Night Baseball.

Top 5 MLB Trade Deadline Scenarios

The trade deadline is coming up.  Buyers and sellers have been determined.  Who will make the biggest deals of the weekend?

Well, I made a few trade predictions this week, and here are a few of the most likely trades.  

HM: Yonder Alonso to the Yankees for Chase Headley and a prospect


The A’s and Yankees will both be busy at the deadline.  The A’s will continue to sell while the Yankees try to become the best team in the AL East.  This trade does make sense.  The Yanks get a strong first baseman for veteran infielder Headley and some prospects.  The Yankees won’t need Headley with Frazier at third and Alonso at First.  It would make sense for the Yanks to also get Sonny Gray in this trade, but I can see them going after a different pitcher.  

5. Yu Darvish to the Yankees for 2 pitching prospects


Yup, the Yankees aren’t done after the Frazier and Alonso trades.  Yu Darvish did put ten teams on his no-trade clause, including the Rockies and Red Sox, but the Yankees were not on that list.  The Rangers are done at this point.  Time to sell.  Darvish should give the Yankees rotation a much needed boost.  With Pineda hurt, the rotation needs some more depth.  

4. Sonny Gray to the Rockies for 2 prospects


I would be shocked if Gray is still in Oakland by the end of the day on Monday.  The A’s need to rebuild, and there are other teams that need him more.  The Rockies have a fine young rotation, but a veteran mentor to boost the rotation would be helpful to this contending Rockies club.  The Rockies are likely in contention at this point, I do not see them as pretenders.  The Rockies just acquired reliever Pat Neshek, it’s time to upgrade the rotation next.  

3. Yangervis Solarte to the Cardinals for 3 prospects



The Padres have some young talent that can eventually lead their team.  But first, they have to get rid of the veterans.  It’s good to have veteran mentors, and they should hold on to Wil Myers, but Solarte has value in the market, and they can add to their farm system if they dish him off to teams like St. Louis or Boston.  Sure, the Cardinals are on the buyer/seller line, but they have done well lately and should bolster their team.  

2. Edinson Volquez to the Brewers for Jonathan Villar and a prospect


Once again, the Marlins came in with a nice team and ended up failing to push their record over .500 leading up to the deadline.  Time to sell, again.  The last few years, this team has sold at the deadline, but been active in the off-season to improve their roster.  They still haven’t had their breakthrough year.  The Brewers are looking to chase the Cubs in the NL Central. Without a trade, they could fall out of it.  The Marlins will trade at least one pitcher before the deadline, and I think Volquez will fit in in Milwaukee.  

1. Khris Davis to the Nationals for 2 prospects 


The A’s still have more good trade nuggets after these three trades.  The Athletics need to rebuild.  They are out of it.  Gray, Alonso and Davis have a lot of value in the market and should all be traded.  Lowrie may even be dished away.  The Nats need an outfielder with Eaton and Werth on the 60 day DL and Eaton done for the year.  They have some nice young outfielder, but a veteran who can hit for power is needed in Washington.  I actually thought Davis might be a nice trade target for the Red Sox back when JBJ was struggling, but the Nats need an outfielder much more.  
So, the trade deadline is tomorrow.  Which of these deals will be done?  Will there be more than this?  Find out tomorrow.  I will also be updating the Red Sox’s situation at the deadline tomorrow on sportalk.com, where I will start interning tomorrow.  If you are looking for a good experience to start your career in sports, apply to SPORTalk now.  

Ranking The Teams 18-13, My Version: The Mediocre

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.

Missed a previous article?  Check below:

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

Ranking The Teams 24-19, My Version: The Bad

 

18. kansas-city-royals Kansas City Royals

Off-season Review

Image result for jason hammel welcome to royals

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 Pittsburgh Pirates

Off-season Review

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 Colorado Rockies

Off-season Review

Related image

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-logo Seattle Mariners

Off-season Review

Image result for jean segura welcome to 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 Miami Marlins

Off-season Review

Image result for edinson volquez welcome to 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

Image result for justin bour and adeiny hechavarria

 

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 New York Yankees

Off-season Review

Image result for matt holliday 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.

 

 

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

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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

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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: Boston Red Sox

 

After a 2013 World Series win, the Red Sox have been washed up earning themselves last place two years straight.  Hopefully, this off season’s moves finally did the trick.  The Red Sox have tried to make their team better but it’s been Murphy’s Law; all the players they sign have had horrible seasons in their first year on the team.  If things work out their second years will be better.  Also, hopefully guys they got this off season like David Price and Craig Kimbrel are a different story.

 

Off-Season Review

The Red Sox have had a pretty strong off season.  They filled their holes at starting ace and in the bullpen, but the lineup is a concern.  They didn’t focus on the lower rotation either.

The Red Sox started the off season relatively quiet.  In Mid-November, they boosted their bullpen by receiving Craig Kimbrel from the Padres for Manuel Margot, Javier Guerra, Logan Allen and one other prospect.  Kimbrel is one of the premier closers in the league. Aroldis Chapman, the only better closer in the MLB, in my opinion and was traded to their rivals the Yankees.  However, he will miss 30 games due to taking PEDs.  Andrew Miller will continue to close until that is over.

They also exercised Clay Buchholz’s club option to save him his spot in the rotation.  However he looked crummy yesterday, which is fearful because of his even year struggles recently.  The rest of November was quiet, but rumors surrounding pitchers David Price, Zack Greinke, Johnny Cueto and Darren O’ Day were in the air.  They were favorites to sign Price.  They finally reached a seven year, 217 million dollar deal in early December, just a couple days after the two-year signing of Chris Young, the ex-Yankees outfielder, not the Royals pitcher.

As the winter meetings came around they were trying to trade a lower rotation starter to save a rotation spot for either Joe Kelly or Henry Owens.  Despite bad starts to the year, they had a great run late in the season.  On December 7th, just a few days after the Price signing, the Sox traded Wade Miley and Jonathan Aro to the Mariners for more bullpen depth in Carson Smith and Roenis Elias.  They filled their main needs, but they still had some minor ones afloat.

Besides minor league deals, the rest of the off season was relatively quiet, and they will have to figure out the rest in spring training.  Anthony Varvaro, Roman Mendez, Carlos Marmol, Sandy Leon, Ali Solis, Chris Dominguez, David Murphy, Ryan LaMarre and Brennan Boesch highlighted the minor league non-roster invitees.

Off Season Grade: B+

 

Spring Training Questions

 

Will Christian Vazquez be ready to go?

Don’t expect Vazquez to start the season in the majors.  He may need some more seasoning just to make sure he’s good to go, although in a Red Sox sim game, he said he was okay.  Vazquez underwent Tommy John surgery in March 2015. He is almost one year removed, but catcher Matt Wieters returned too early, and that’s never a good thing.  However, what other options do they have?

Unless Ryan Hanigan can stay at the majors level for an extended time again, Vazquez may be wanted as a backup catcher to Blake Swihart.  It’s a tough decision.

 

Will the back end of the rotation perform?

Guys like Eduardo Rodriguez and Rick Porcello have potential for a bounce back season, but Clay Buchholz and Joe Kelly may be questionable.  I was very worried when E-Rod got hurt — all that potential gone but when he’s ready to pitch, he can emerge into an SP2 role.  Porcello had one bad year.  He’s still in his prime and he was once a mediocre SP3-SP4 in the league.  Buchholz also worried me on Sunday when he pitched badly.  But the back end of the Red Sox rotation can bounce back if they have enough good pitching to beat out the bad.

 

How will the young guys do?

I’m a little worried about JBJ and Rusney Castillo’s abilities to hit, but Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts and Eduardo Rodriguez are a young trio of breakout candidates across the team.  Yoan Moncada and Andrew Benintendi could crash the majors in 2016.  Deven Marrero and Travis Shaw looked like they could stay in the majors.  Henry Owens could start in a relief role, and eventually become a spot starter.

There is a lot of strong prospects high and low in the Red Sox system.  Between their non-roster invitees, younger starters, and minor league prospects on the 40-man roster, the Red Sox’s farm system is piled with strong players.

 

Will Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez adjust?

This is a tough one to answer.  These are two former all star sluggers that were good for a long period of time on just a couple of teams who signed with the Red Sox last off season.  In the end, Murphy’s Law; as soon as they joined the Sox, they suddenly sucked and Ramirez didn’t even have a place in the organization after a failed attempt to move to left field.

Hanley Ramirez reportedly looked good in fielding drills with Brian Butterfield at first.  He struggled in the first few exhibition games, but has bounced back recently.  Sandoval however, came in to camp in very bad shape, and is attempting to adjust back to switch hitting.  He made some decemy catches and plate appearances in some of the games, but has had a high number of errors in the games.

Right now it’s Hanley on an uptrend, Panda not so much, but that could change.  Panda did look good at the plate despite fielding and health issues.  Ramirez needs work at the plate, too.  Changing to first still could be a little rough though.  He may have hope if he can hit like he did early in 2015.  So, it could go either way with these two mysteries.

 

Red Sox Projected Roster

 

 

Rotation

 

David Price

Eduardo Rodriguez

Clay Buchholz

Joe Kelly

Rick Porcello

 

Bullpen

 

Craig Kimbrel (CL)

Koji Uehara

Junichi Tazawa

Carson Smith

Roenis Elias

Robbie Ross Jr.

Tommy Layne

 

Lineup

  1. Mookie Betts (RF)
  2. Dustin Pedroia (2B)
  3. Xander Bogaerts (SS)
  4. David Ortiz (DH)
  5. Hanley Ramirez (1B)
  6. Pablo Sandoval (3B)
  7. Rusney Castillo (LF)
  8. Blake Swihart (C)
  9. Jackie Bradley Jr. (CF)

 

 

Bench

 

Chris Young

Christian Vazquez**

Brock Holt

Travis Shaw/David Muprhy

 

**If Vazquez isn’t ready to go by Opening Day, it will be Ryan Hanigan in his place.

 

That’s all for today.  Check out my Cubs article coming soon.

 

Ranking The Teams 18-13: My Version: Who’s Weaker Than You Think?

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Alright, welcome to Part 3 of my preseason power rankings.  Most of the bad teams have been mentioned, but there are 18 teams left.  The rest of these teams are playoff contenders, but what teams have unclear weaknesses that will cause them to just miss the playoffs?

18. sanfran-giants San Francisco Giants

So, the Giants did all this stuff in the off season to improve their team and attempt to win their fourth straight even year world series, but what happened?  They have holes.  The rotation has really improved between Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija.

However,  the bullpen is short on people and the lineup has some missing aspects.  They have a solid closer and set-up crew but beyond that, what is there?  Especially after losing Yusmeiro Petit the Giants are short on extra bullpen insurance.

The lineup also has some issues.  The lineup has some really bold players, like Hunter Pence, Buster Posey and Denard Span, but the rest of the lineup lacks power.  Sure, Matt Duffy, Joe Panik and Brandon Crawford are all right, and they make up for it on defense, but in the lineup, they aren’t major contributors.  They needed to sign some powerful hitters if they wanted to win another World Series.  So, the Giants may look good on paper, but when it comes to game-time scenarios, they are somewhat deprived.

Projected Record: 84-78

 

17.  houston-astros Houston Astros

I know what you’re thinking.  “The Astros?”  “They’re stacked, and they’re going to be a contender”.  Yes, the rebuild helped this team escape insanely bad times but sometimes there’s such thing as too young.  They don’t have enough veterans.  I think that the young, short duo of Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa are overrated.  Some aspects of the lineup are short on power.  Sure, they have a very strong outfield, but the infield players are overrated hitters and don’t contribute as much of the lineup.

The rotation is mixed between very good veteran pitchers and young new guys to the rotation,  The rotation is really good but they do have their weaknesses.  The bullpen needs depth and the lineup is lacking power.  This team looks similar to the Giants, but younger, and some of these once prospects aren’t paying off. causing them to be worse.

Projected Record: 79-83

 

16. new-york-yankees New York Yankees

The Yankees had a decent 2015, but besides a few trades, they haven’t changed or improved much.  The pitching staff is stacked.  After adding closer Aroldis ChapmanAndrew Miller and Dellin Betances will serve as strong set-up men.  The rotation is also really good but it lacks an ace.  Masahiro Tanaka and Michael Pineda, maybe even CC Sabathia may have to share the role.

The lineup is a bit of an issue.  First things first, it again lacks power, they don’t have any all star players to lead the lineup.  Also, the lineup has no youth to it.  It is made of a bunch of washed-up older players.  This whole team is a very old team, the players, even the franchise itself.  Unless they rebuild, working with their strong farm system, it looks like the Yanks will be stuck in this position for a while.

Projected Record: 85-77

 

15. arizona-dbacks Arizona Diamondbacks

The D-Backs were very bold in the off season.  They went from one of the most horrible teams just after a rebuild to a middle ground team that could potentially be a playoff contender.  They now have some foundation to their pitching staff, a good front three starters, and a good closer and set-up man.  New additions to the Diamondbacks pitching staff include Zack Greinke, Shelby Miller and Tyler Clippard.  They already had a strong closer in Brad Ziegler who will now take the spot of A.J. Schugel, helping Evan Marshall in the 8th inning.  The rotation is looking a lot better, with Greinke, Miller and Patrick Corbin taking the top, and young pitchers with lots of potential, Robbie Ray and Rubby De La Rosa, in the back end.  However the lineup still lacks power.

They might have Paul Goldschmidt and A.J. Pollock, with David Peralta and Yasmany Tomas making some contributions but there are no solid hitters besides that.  Neither Jean Segura nor Chris Owings have learned to hit much.

Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating a bit, I’ve never been fond of young D-Backs stars Jake Lamb and Chris Owings, and I might be underrating them.  I might  be underrating this team.  If you D-Backs fans and players think I am, show me what your team can do and I’ll give them more credit mid-season.  Could the D-Backs be world series champs of the future, and playoff, even division contenders now?

Projected Record: 88-74

 

14. seattle-mariners-logo Seattle Mariners

The Seattle Mariners were a very sucky, disappointing 2015 team.  But, they made a bunch of off season moves that made them look a whole lot better.  The lineup still doesn’t have enough strength in it between Kyle Seager, Nelson Cruz, newcomer Norichika Aoki and others, but they really improved their pitching.

Their bullpen looks a lot better, now led by Steve Cishek and Joaquin Benoit.  Justin De Fratus is another contributing factor along with Charlie Furbush.    The rotation looks better too.  The Mariners re-signed Hisashi Iwakuma and acquired Wade Miley and Nathan Karns to help.  Taijuan Walker also has a lot of room to grow and develop into a high level pitcher.

Between a mediocre lineup with a new look and a completely revamped pitching staff it looks like the Mariners could be contenders.  Their not necessarily going to dominate the postseason, but they could snag a wild card for their first playoff appearance in ages.

Projected Record: 87-75

 

13. Toronto_Blue_Jays Toronto Blue Jays

The Blue Jays had the best lineup in baseball going into 2015 but didn’t really have much pitching until the trade deadline.  They lost their ace David Price but have a strong back end to the rotation and an acceptable bullpen.  But the Blue Jays lost more than just their ace this off season.  They lost outfielder Ben Revere, and some reserves in their lineup.

Their bullpen still lacks back of the bullpen pitchers and is mostly filled with middle relievers and long relievers who missed the rotation.  Their lineup is a little too old despite a decent farm system ready to take over some of the team and their rotation has no clear SP1 or ace that can be a leader in the pitching staff.  This team has some good players, but what they have doesn’t quite fit their specific needs.  It’s a great team if they have other players to fill the holes and all a stars have a position to play.

Projected Record: 89-73

 

 

So, that’s all for this portion of my preseason power rankings.  Who will be in Part 4?