Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Philadelphia Phillies 2018 season preview

               In a developing season, the Philadelphia Phillies finished last in the NL East with a 66-96 record, obviously missing the playoffs. The Phillies had a big year of free agency ahead of them, with the team trying to break out of their rebuild. Let's take a look at what they did this offseason.

               Notable additions: RHP Jake Arrieta, 1B Carlos Santana, RHP Pat Neshek, RHP Tommy Hunter, LHP Fernando Abad, RHP Fransisco Rodriguez, RHP Drew Hutchison, INF Adam Rosales, OF Collin Cowgill, 3B Will Middlebrooks, INF Ryan Flaherty.

               Notable subtractions: SS Freddy Galvis, 1B Tommy Joseph, OF Hyun-Soo Kim, RHP Joaquin Benoit, INF Andres Blanco.

              What they did well: They got Arrieta on a very cheap deal. Santana was a pretty good signing as well.

                What they did bad: Not much. Signing Santana earlier makes the signing look bad, but it isn't.

                Sneaky sleeper: Both the sneaky sleeper and incoming outbreaks are really just both incoming outbreaks, but I couldn't find another sneaky sleeper better than Nick Williams. Williams, one of their better prospects, along with the incoming outbreak, J.P. Crawford, Scott Kingery and Rhys Hoskins, who will all get a large amount of time this season (maybe not Kingery). Williams was called-up in 2017, and played well, despite being overshadowed by Hoskins' dominance. Williams hit .288 with 12 homers in just 343 Plate Appearances. This year's potentially starting right fielder, Williams will need to be taken seriously.

                  Incoming outbreak: In that list of upcoming prospects is the likely starting catcher, Jorge Alfaro. Alfaro was also called up last season, and hit .318 in 29 games. There isn't many good catching prospects out there, but keep an eye out for Alfaro and the Indians' Fransisco Mejia.

                 Unsuspected slump: In a big year for him, Jerad Eickhoff kind of flopped, with a 4.71 ERA in 128 innings. If Eickhoff had a lower ERA, he might have a chance at the number two spot. Not as much anymore.

                  Blue-chip Bopper: He may of had a bad season, but the correct answer is still Maikel Franco. Franco hit just .230, with 24 homers in a year he was predicted to become a star. This could be Franco's year.

                   Astounding ace: Well, Eickhoff and Franco both failed to take off in 2017, but Aaron Nola didn't. He showed everyone that he was the ace of the staff (even though they went out and got Arrieta) with his 3.54 ERA and 9.9 K/9. He also led the team in innings pitched. Nola was truly an ace.

                   Here's their projected roster, starting with their lineup.

 2B Cesar Hernandez (S)
 CF Odubel Herrera (L)
 3B Maikel Franco (R)
 1B Carlos Santana (S)
 LF Rhys Hoskins (R)
 RF Aaron Altherr (R)
 SS J.P. Crawford (L)
 C Jorge Alfaro (R)

                Here's their rotation.

 RHP Aaron Nola
 RHP Jake Arrieta
 RHP Jerad Eickhoff
 RHP Nick Pivetta
 RHP Vince Velasquez
 RHP Ben Lively

   Hector Neris (R) is their closer, with Pat Neshek (R), Tommy Hunter (R), Luis Garcia (R), Jake Thompson (R),  Edubray Ramos (R) and Adam Morgan (L) in the bullpen.

   C Cameron Rupp (R), OF Nick Williams (L) and OF Roman Quinn (S) are on the bench.

   Finally, for my prediction, I think the Phillies, a rising team, will not make the playoffs in 2018.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Oakland Athletics 2018 season preview

                 In another rebuilding season, the Oakland Athletics finished last in the AL West with a 75-87 record, obviously missing the playoffs. They didn't have that many pieces to move, besides 1B Ryon Healy. But, as rebuilders, there is always something to do. Let's take a look at the A's offseason.

                Notable additions: C Jonathan Lucroy, OF Stephen Piscotty, LHP Ryan Buchter, RHP Trevor Cahill, LHP Brett Anderson, RHP Yusmeiro Petit, RHP Emilio Pagan, OF Slade Heathcott, INF Steve Lombardozzi.

                 Notable subtractions: 1B/3B Ryon Healy, OF Rajai Davis, OF Jaycob Brugman, RHPs  Jesse Hahn, John Axford.

                What they did well: The Lucroy signing was a steal. So was the Piscotty trade, but it was a dump off for St. Louis.

                What they did bad: They got fleeced in the Healy trade. I know he didn't have a spot, but they could've gotten more for him.

                 Sneaky sleeper: Right from L.A., Yusmeiro Petit had one of his best years yet with the Angels last season. Petit had a 2.76 ERA and 101 strikeouts in 91.1 innings. Those stats look more like a dominant starter (that was injured) than a reliever. He's already one of their top relievers.

                 Incoming outbreak: After a midseason call-up, Matt Chapman had a decent season, hitting 14 homers, but yielding a .234 average. That was just in 290 ABs. With Healy gone, Chapman will be the opening day third baseman. Chapman can really break out in 2018. Watch out for Matt Olsen as well. He has a very similar story to Chapman, and can also breakout.

                   Unsuspected slump: After a mediocre 2016 got him kicked out of San Fransisco, Santiago Castilla had an even worse 2017. With a 4.27 ERA in 59 innings, the now 37 year old isn't as effective as before. Castilla isn't closer material, and is barely a decent middle reliever.

                    Blue-chip Bopper: Even though his 195 strikeouts are ugly, Khris Davis still hit 43 homers and drove in 110 runs in 2017. A move to full-time DH will help him focus more on his hitting. That will make him more dangerous.

                    Astounding ace: This is more like spot a random pitcher. I'll spot Kendall Graveman, who had an average 4.19 ERA. But, since Sonny Gray is a Yankee, the A's don't have anything better. 

                Here is the A's projected roster, starting with their lineup.

 CF Dustin Fowler (L)
 2B Jed Lowrie (S)
 DH Khris Davis (R)
 C Jonathan Lucroy (R)
 1B Matt Olsen (L)
 3B Matt Chapman (R)
 RF Stephen Piscotty (R)
 SS Marcus Semien (R)
 LF Mark Canha (R)

                     Here's their rotation.

 RHP Kendall Graveman
 RHP Trevor Cahill
 LHP Sean Manaea
 RHP Andrew Triggs
 RHP Paul Blackburn
 LHP Brett Anderson

     Blake Treinen (R) is their closer, with Ryan Dull (R), Dan Coulombe (L), Santiago Castilla (R), Ryan Buchter (L), Liam Hendriks (R) and Yusmeiro Petit (R) in the bullpen.

     C Bruce Maxwell (R), 2B Chad Pinder (R) and OF Matt Joyce (L) are on the bench.

     Finally, for my prediction, I think the A's, a developing team, will miss the playoffs in 2018.

Monday, March 19, 2018

New York Yankees 2018 season preview

               With help from Rookie of the Year winner and MVP runner-up Aaron Judge, the New York Yankees finished 2nd in the AL East with a 91-71 record, which was good enough for the first Wild card spot. After beating the Minnesota Twins in that game and the Cleveland Indians in the ALDS, the Yanks fell to the Houston Astros in the ALCS. Needing to add, the Yanks had a productive offseason. Let's take a look at it.

                 Notable additions: OF Giancarlo Stanton, 3B Brandon Drury, 2B Neil Walker, LHP Wade LeBlanc, INF Jace Pederson, OF Shane Robinson.

                 Notable subtractions: 2B Starlin Castro, DH Matt Holliday, 3B Todd Frazier, LHP Jaime Garcia, 1B Garrett Cooper, RHP Michael Pineda, LHP Caleb Smith, 3B Chase Headley, RHP Bryan Mitchell, OF Mason Williams, 1B Ji-Man Choi.

                What they did well: Giancarlo Stanton

                What they did bad: Frazier should of been re-signed, but traded for Drury instead, but that's okay because Drury is much younger.

                Sneaky Sleeper: One of baseball's best relievers, Chad Green had his first full season in the bullpen in 2017 (he gets credit for one spot start early in the season, but it was only about 2 innings of work for him). Green struck out 103 batters in 2017 in just 69 innings, allowing just 14 runs in that time (1.83 ERA). They considered moving him to the rotation in 2018, but it won't happen for now. Green is really good, and not everyone knows it.

               Incoming outbreak: If I told you to name one player who blossomed with the Yankees after an Arizona stint, you'd name Didi Gregorius. The same thing could happen to Brandon Drury. Featured in a late offseason three team trade, Drury hit 13 homers and had a .267 average in 2017, I'd say about league average. Maybe a change of scenery to a better team could help him.

               Unsuspected slump: This will hurt to say as a Yankee fan, but their fourth best reliever is Dellin Betances. It goes David Robertson, Green, Aroldis Chapman, then Betances. Betancces has had late season troubles in his career, and struggled in the postseason. His stats show a career 2.29 ERA, and a 14.4 K/9. His postseason numbers show a 4.76 ERA, and though he still strikes guys out, his ERA has risen the last two seasons. I think he's just slightly overrated.

               Blue-chip Bopper: Though Stanton led the league in homers and was the NL MVP, Aaron Judge is still the team's best player. Judge hit 52 homers in his rookie season, and still maintained a .422 OBP. Judge is one of the best players out there.

                 Astounding ace: In his big breakout season, Luis Severino rebounded big in 2017, with a 2.98 ERA and 230 strikeouts, and finished third in CY Young voting. One of baseball's youngest aces, Severino still has many years to dominate.

             Here's the Yankees' projected roster, starting with their lineup.

 LF Brett Gardner (L)
 RF Aaron Judge (R)
 DH Giancarlo Stanton (R)
 SS Didi Gregorius (L)
 C Gary Sanchez (R)
 1B Greg Bird (L)
 CF Aaron Hicks (S)
 2B Neil Walker (S)
 3B Brandon Drury (R)

                Here's their projected rotation.

 RHP Luis Severino
 RHP Masahiro Tanaka
 LHP C.C. Sabathia
 RHP Sonny Gray
 LHP Jordan Montgomery

  Aroldis Chapman (L) is their closer, with Chad Green (R), David Robertson (R), Dellin Betances (R), Tommy Kahnle (R), Adam Warren (R), Chasen Shreve (L) and Domingo German (R) are in the bullpen.

 C Austin Romine (R), 2B Tyler Wade (L) and INF Ronald Torreyes (R) are on the bench.

   Finally, for my prediction, I think the Yankees, a rising but very good team, will make the playoffs in 2018.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

New York Mets 2018 season preview

            In a season hurt drastically by injuries, the New York Mets finished 4th in the NL East with a 70-92 record, missing the playoffs. With the Marlins and Braves falling and the Phillies rising, plus the Nats keeping their powerhouse status, the Mets had some work to do. Let's take a look at what they did this offseason.

             Notable additions: 3B Todd Frazier, RHP Anthony Swarzak, LHP Jason Vargas, 1B Adrian Gonzalez, OF Jay Bruce, C Jose Lobaton, OF Matt den Dekker.

             Notable subtractions: LHP Josh Smoker, RHP Chasen Bradford, OF Nori Aoki, LHP Josh Edgin.

             What they did well: They overpayed for Swarzak, but they still got good deals on Vargas, Bruce and Frazier. It's a win for them.

             What they did bad: There was nothing bad to do, since everyone was shipped out at the deadline.

             Sneaky sleeper: In 2017, it was clear who their best left handed pitcher was. It was Jerry Blevins, who had a 2.94 ERA in 49 innings, striking out 69. It's not amazing, but neither was this Mets team.

                Incoming outbreak: With an injury to Michael Conforto (the reason him and Jason Vargas aren't in the projected roster below), Brandon Nimmo will get his big shot. He will probably be the starting LF, and his .379 OBP last year shows he can start.

                Unsuspected slump: With more injury issues, Steven Matz struggled again in 2017, with a 6.08 ERA in 66.2 innings. Matz is 26, so this season is a make-or-break one for him. He needs to make something good happen.

               Blue-chip Bopper: Since his 2015 trade to the Mets, Yoenis Cespedes has been outstanding for the team, with a .285 batting average and 65 homers in 1000 ABs exactly. He's been their best hitter in that span.

                Astounding ace: Since Noah Syndergaard missed most of 2017, Jacob DeGrom goes here. DeGrom was just about the only good Mets pitcher in 2017, with a 3.53 ERA and 239 strikeouts in 201.1 innings. That's definitely ace material.

                 Here's the Mets projected roster, starting with their lineup.

 LF Brandon Nimmo (L)
 2B Asdrubal Cabrera (S)
 CF Yoenis Cespedes (R)
 RF Jay Bruce (L)
 3B Todd Frazier (R)
 1B Dominic Smith (L)
 SS Amed Rosario (R)
 C Kevin Plawecki (R)

                      Here's their rotation

 RHP Jacob DeGrom
 RHP Noah Syndergaard
 LHP Steven Matz
 RHP Matt Harvey
 RHP Zack Wheeler
 RHP Robert Gsellman

        Jeurys Familia (R) is their closer, with AJ Ramos (R), Jerry Blevins (L), Paul Sewald (R), Anthony Swarzak (R), Seth Lugo (R) and Rafael Montero (R) in the bullpen.

       C Travis d'Arnaud (R), INF Jose Reyes (S), CF Juan Lagares (R), INF Wilmer Flores (R) and 1B Adrian Gonzalez (L) are on the bench.

        Finally, for my prediction, I think the Mets, a falling team, will miss the playoffs in 2018.