Friday, March 30, 2018

Washington Nationals 2018 season preview

          With a 97-65 record, the Washington Nationals won the NL East in 2017, making the playoffs once again. Once again though, it was an NLDS exit for them, as the Chicago Cubs eliminated them. The team didn't need too much, but there was some work to do. Let's take a look at what they did this offseason.

         Notable additions: 1B Matt Adams, C Miguel Montero, RHP Joaquin Benoit, RHP Jeremy Hellickson.

         Notable subtractions: LF Jayson Werth, 1B Adam Lind, RHP Matt Albers, RHP Edwin Jackson, LHP Oliver Perez, RHP Joe Blanton, C Jose Lobaton, OF Chris Heisey.

          What they did well: Nothing.

          What they did bad: Nothing, once again. They didn't do anything.

          Sneaky sleeper: With Joe Ross out, A.J. Cole will secure the 5th rotation spot. Now 26, Cole had a decent 3.81 ERA in 11 appearances, eight starts in 2017. That's pretty decent for a spot starter.

           Incoming outbreak: The backup infielder, Wilmer Difo stole 10 bases and hit .271 in 365 Plate Appearances. Plus, he's only 25. If someone goes down, then Difo to the rescue!

           Unsuspected slump: Since 2013, Matt Wieters hasn't been too good. In his first season in D.C., Wieters only hit 10 homers, and had a weak .225 batting average. With the addition of Montero, Wieters now has a better backup, which can't be good for his job.

            Blue-chip Bopper: Since I don't like Bryce Harper, let's talk about Trea Turner instead. Turner. At just 24, Turner stole 46 bases last season, and could break 50 this year. He also hit .284. His 11 homers is nothing to write home about, but Turner is still very good.

           Astounding ace: Baseball's best healthy pitcher, Max Scherzer won another Cy Young in 2017, with a 2.51 ERA in 200.2 innings, with 268 strikeouts. The man with a blue and green eye could capture a third Cy Young this season.

          Here's their projected lineup.

 SS Trea Turner (R)
 2B Daniel Murphy (L) (currently on 10 day DL)
 RF Bryce Harper (L)
 3B Anthony Rendon (R)
 1B Ryan Zimmerman (R)
 CF Adam Eaton (L)
 LF Michael Taylor (R)
 C Matt Wieters (S)

       Here's their projected rotation.

 RHP Max Scherzer
 RHP Stephen Strasburg
 LHP Gio Gonzalez
 RHP Tanner Roark
 RHP A.J. Cole

  Brandon Kintzler (R) is their closer, with Sean Doolittle (L), Ryan Madson (R), Trevor Gott (R), Matt Grace (L), Shawn Kelley (R) and Enny Romero (L) in the bullpen (Sammy Solis, L, is currently on roster, but will probably be replaced when Murphy returns).

 C Miguel Montero (L), INF Wilmer Difo (S), OF Brian Goodwin (L) and OF/2B Howie Kendrick (R) are on the bench.

 Finally, for my prediction, I think the Nationals, a really good team, will make the playoffs in 2018.


Thursday, March 29, 2018

Toronto Blue Jays 2018 season preview

         In a disappointing season for Jose Bautista, Troy Tulowitzki and just about half the team, the Toronto Blue Jays finished 4th in the AL East with a 76-86 record, missing the playoffs. With Baustista facing free agency again, and the roster not looking sharp, the Jays had their work cut out for them this offseason. Let's take a look at what they did.

         Notable additions: RHP Seung-Hwan Oh, OF Randal Grichuk, INF Yangervis Solarte, SS Aledmys Diaz, RHP Tyler Clippard, LHP Jaime Garcia, RHP John Axford, OF Curtis Granderson, INF Gift Ngoepe, RHP Sam Gaviglo.

        Notable subtractions: RF Jose Bautista, 2B Ryan Goins, SS Darwin Barney, C Miguel Montero, OF Ezequiel Carrera, RHP Dominic Leone, Tom Koehler.

        What they did well: The Diaz and Solarte trades were nice. All their free agent signings are coming off rough seasons, but it's not like they got any big deals.

         What they did bad: Leone looks like he has a high ceiling in St. Louis, and is already auditioning for the closing role.

         Sneaky sleeper: He's starting the season in AAA, but Teoscar Hernandez played very well after coming over in the midseason Fransisco Liriano deal. He hit .261 with eight homers in just 95 PAs, opening up many eyes that thought he would be the starting RF (included mine). He wasn't but he'll get his chance this season.

         Incoming outbreak: For years, Yangervis Solarte bounced around the San Diego infield, playing multiple positions. He'll probably do the same for Toronto, but I think the 30 year old will be more successful.

         Unsuspected slump: Well, since Troy Tulowitzki is already injured, I'll go over to Devon Travis. Travis had a promising start to his career, but has had injuries in his path since, stopping him from really doing anything productive. In just 50 games last season, Travis hit just .259, stealing four bases. That's very low for his standards.

          Blue-chip Bopper: An upcoming free agent, expect even more Josh Donaldson trade rumors as the year progresses. In his three year career in Toronto, Donaldson has bashed 111 homers with 300 RBIs, plus hitting a decent .285 batting average. He's a superstar, even though injuries are starting to linger for him.

          Astounding ace: One of the few good things of the Blue Jays 2017 season was Marcus Stroman. Stroman had an ERA of 3.09 in 201 innings, showing everybody he's their official ace. Expect bigger things coming forward from Stroman.

           Here's their projected lineup.

 2B Devon Travis (R)
 CF Kevin Pillar (R)
 1B Justin Smoak (S)
 3B Josh Donaldson (R)
 DH Kendrys Morales (S)
 SS Aledmys Diaz (R)
 LF Curtis Granderson (L)
 RF Randal Grichuk (R)
 C Russell Martin (R)

           Here's their projected rotation

 LHP J.A. Happ
 RHP Marcus Stroman
 RHP Aaron Sanchez
 LHP Jaime Garcia
 RHP Marco Estrada

   Roberto Osuna (R) is their closer, with Aaron Loup (L), John Axford (R), Danny Barnes (R), Tyler Clippard (R), Seung-Hwan Oh (R) and Ryan Tepera (R) in the bullpen.

   C Luke Maile (R), INF Yangervis Solarte (S), INF Gift Nogoepe (R) and OF Steve Pearce (R) are on the bench.

   Finally, for my prediction, I think the Blue Jays, a team lacking lots of skill, will miss the playoffs in 2018.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Texas Rangers 2018 season preview

        In a very forgetful year, the Texas Rangers tied with the Seattle Mariners for third in the AL West with a 78-84 record. They missed the playoffs, and traded Yu Darvish at the trade deadline. With the team facing a serious decision, the team had some moves to make. Let's take a look at what they did in the offseason.

        Notable additions: LHP Mike Minor LHP Matt Moore, RHP Jesse Chavez, RHP Doug Fister, RHP Tim Lincecum, C Juan Centeno, 1B Tommy Joseph, RHP Edinson Volquez, RHP Shawn Tolleson, OF/P Anthony Gose, INF Darwin Barney, RHP Kevin Jepsen, LHP Jon Niese, OF Destin Hood.

       Notable subtractions: OF Carlos Gomez, RHP Andrew Cashner, 1B Mike Napoli, RHP A.J. Griffin, RHP Tyson Ross, RHP Miguel Gonzalez, RHP Jason Grilli, LHP Dario Alvarez.

       What they did well: Moore and Fister were much needed additions to their rotation. Plus, Mike Napoli is out of town.

        What they did bad: Nothing, besides released Bartolo Colon.

         Sneaky sleeper: Jonathan Lucroy had a horrible season until his midseason trade to Denver, but his backup, Robinson Chirinos had a pretty good season. Despite driving in just 38 batters, Chirinos still mashed 17 homers, pretty good for a catcher.

        Incoming outbreak: The main part of the Darvish trade, Willie Calhoun, one of baseball's top prospects, probably won't start the season with the team, but the 2B/LF has a very good chance to play a lot this season. After playing in 13 games last season, Calhoun will open many eyes this season, trust me.

         Unsuspected slump: Once one of baseball's best aces, Cole Hamels is slipping. With a weak 4.20 ERA in 148 innings, Hamels is starting to fall into the "average" group right above the "below average" group.

          Blue-chip Bopper: This would be where I write my Adrian Beltre paragraph. But, that is a Nomar Mazara. It always seems like Mazara has an insane start, slows down, and finishes with average numbers, like 20 homers and a .253 batting average, which he yielded in 2017.

          Astounding ace: Hamels again. They don't have anything better.

          Here's their projected lineup.

 CF Delino DeShields (R)
 SS Elvis Andrus (R)
 RF Nomar Mazara (L)
 3B Adrian Beltre (R)
 1B Joey Gallo (L)
 2B Roughned Odor (L)
 C Robinson Chirinos (R)
 DH Shin-Soo Choo (L)
 LF Ryan Rua (R)

          Here's their projected rotation.

 LHP Cole Hamels
 LHP Mike Minor
 RHP Doug Fister
 LHP Martin Perez
 LHP Matt Moore

 Keone Kela (R) is their closer, with Tony Barnette (R), Alex Claudio (L), Matt Bush (R), Jake Diekman (L), Jesse Chavez (R) and Jose Leclerc (R) in the bullpen.

 C Juan Ceteno (L), U Jurickson Profar (S), OF Drew Robinson (L) and OF Carlos Tocci (R) are on the bench.

 Finally, for my prediction, I think the Rangers, a team in need of pitching, will miss the playoffs in 2018.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Tampa Bay Rays 2018 season preview

        In a surprising but rebuilding season, the Tampa Bay Rays finished 3rd in the AL East with an 80-82 record, missing the playoffs. With decisions to make on franchise players Chris Archer and Evan Longoria, the Rays had some moves to make in 2018. Let's take a look at their offseason.

       Notable additions: 1B C.J. Cron, LHP Anthony Banda, RHP Dan Hudson, OF Denard Span, OF Carlos Gomez, U Rob Refsnyder, 3B Christian Arroyo, 2B Joey Wendle, RHP Dustin McGowan, RHP Evan Scribner, LHP Vidal Nuno.

       Notable subtractions: 3B Evan Longoria, 1B Logan Morrison, LF Corey Dickerson, RF Steven Souza Jr., RHP Jake Odorizzi, RHP Brad Boxberger, 1B Lucas Duda, OF Peter Bourjos, OF Colby Rasmus, C Derek Norris, RHPs Tommy Hunter, Steve Cishek.

       What they did well: They got a really good deal on Longoria, receiving back Arroyo and Span in a package.

       What they did bad: Souza, Morrison, Dickerson, Odorizzi, Duda and Boxberger for Nick Solak, Banda, Jermaine Palacios, Tristan Gray and Hudson. Boo!!!!

       Sneaky sleeper: Though he played in just half the season, Mallex Smith left a pretty good impact on the Rays, hitting .270, and swiping 16 bags. With Dickerson and Souza out of the picture, Smith will get his big shot in 2018.

       Incoming outbreak: Oh wait, Smith again. Okay, I won't be lazy. It's Jake Faria. When manager Kevin Cash announced the Rays would go with a 4-man rotation, with Matt Andriese going to the pen, he all but confirmed Faria's presence in the opening day rotation. Faria, 24, had a 3.43 ERA and 84 strikeouts in 86.2 innings in his first career season, 2017. Expect bigger things from Faria moving on.

       Unsuspected slump: The reason Denard Span was in the Longoria trade? The Giants didn't want him anymore, and were happy to dump him off to Tampa. Span hasn't stolen 20 bases since 2014, or hit .300 in a full season since then. Though his power numbers are spiking, Span wasn't the same player he has always been in San Fransisco.

       Blue-chip Bopper: With Longoria out of town, that will go to Wilson Ramos. Ramos is one of baseball's most underrated catchers, hitting 11 bombs in less than half a year. It's not great but it's the best they have.

       Astounding ace: They have a horrible offense, but Chris Archer is still around. One of baseball's top pitchers, Archer had another rough year, finishing with a 4.07 ERA. But, his 3.63 ERA in his career is very good. Archer is still a star.

       Here's their projected lineup.

 LF Mallex Smith (L)
 CF Kevin Kiermaier (L)
 C Wilson Ramos (R)
 3B Matt Duffy (R)
 2B Brad Miller (L)
 1B C.J. Cron (R)
 DH Denard Span (L)
 RF Carlos Gomez (R)
 SS Adeiny Hechavarria (R)

            Here's their rotation.

 RHP Chris Archer
 RHP Jake Faria
 LHP Blake Snell
 RHP Nathan Eovaldi

  Alex Colome (R) is their closer, with Matt Andriese (R), Sergio Romo (R), Jose Alvarado (L), Yonny Chirinos (R), Andrew Kittredge (R) and Dan Hudson (R) in the bullpen.

  C Jesus Sucre (R), INF Daniel Robertson (R), 2B Joey Wendle (L) and U Rob Refsnyder (R) are on the bench.

  Finally, for my prediction, I think the Rays, a bad team, will miss the playoffs in 2018.uj

Monday, March 26, 2018

St. Louis Cardinals 2018 season preview

          With one of the league's worst bullpens, the St. Louis Cardinals missed the playoffs in 2017 by finishing 3rd in the NL Central with an 83-79 record. With breakout star Tommy Pham and defined ace Carlos Martinez, the Cardinals still have a squad. Let's take a look at what they did in the offseason.

           Notable additions: CF Marcell Ozuna, RHP Luke Gregerson, RHP Dominic Leone, RHP Bud Norris, RHP Miles Mikolas.

           Notable subtractions: RHP Lance Lynn, RF Stephen Piscotty, LF Randal Grichuk, SS Aledmys Diaz, RHP Seung-Hwan Oh, RHP Trevor Rosenthal, LHP Zach Duke.

           What they did well: The Ozuna trade was pretty good for them, as they didn't give up top prospects Tyler O'Neill or Jack Flaherty. No top 100 prospects were lost as well.

           What they did bad: They lost Lynn, Piscotty, Grichuk and Diaz for just Leone and some not great prospects.

            Sneaky sleeper: The Grichuk trade was the best trade they made that they were sellers in. Why? They received Dominic Leone, who could start the season as closer if Gregerson's injury keeps him out. Leone had a 2.56 ERA and 81 strikeouts in 70.1 innings for Toronto last season, and St. Louis sees him with his full potential. He's only 26, by the way.

           Incoming outbreak: In 2016, Alex Reyes came to the bigs hot, with a 1.57 ERA in 46 innings. Tommy John surgery kept him out of all of 2017, but he'll return in early May, where we will see him breakout.

           Unsuspected slump: Last season, we saw some regression from Matt Carpenter, who yielded a weak .241 batting average. His OBP was still .384, but Carpenter isn't the same player he was in 2015.

           Blue-chip Bopper: I guess Marcell Ozuna, but their one weakness is no one is really a star.

           Astounding ace: Carlos Martinez took the realms as their ace with a 3.64 ERA, plus 217 strikeouts in 205 innings. Especially with Adam Wainwright's decline, Martinez is the new ace in town.

           Here is their projected lineup.

 CF Dexter Fowler (S)
 RF Tommy Pham (R)
 1B Matt Carpenter (L)
 SS Paul De Jong (R)
 LF Marcell Ozuna (R)
 2B Kolten Wong (L)
 C Yadier Molina (R)
 3B Jedd Gyorko (R)

            Here's their rotation.

 RHP Carlos Martinez
 RHP Adam Wainwright
 RHP Michael Wacha
 RHP Luke Weaver
 RHP Miles Mikolas

   Luke Gregerson (R) is their closer, with Dominic Leone (R), Tyler Lyons (L), Bud Norris (R), Matt Bowman (R), Brett Cecil (L) and John Brebbia (R) in the bullpen.

  1B Jose Martinez (R), INF Greg Garcia (L) and INF Yairo Munez (R) are on the bench.

  Finally, for my prediction, I think the Cardinals, an aging team, will miss the playoffs in 2018.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Seattle Mariners 2018 season preview

         In another season filled with injuries, the Seattle Mariners tied for third in the AL West with a 78-84 record, missing the playoffs. With ace James Paxton finally breaking out, the Ms had some moves to make. Let's take a look at what they did.

        Notable additions: CF (?) Dee Gordon, 1B Ryon Healy, OF Ichiro Suzuki, RHP Juan Nicasio, RHP Nick Rumbelow, RHP Chasen Bradford, LHP Dario Alvarez, RHP Mike Morin, OF Kirk Nieuwenhuis.

        Notable subtractions: 1B Danny Valencia, CF Jarrod Dyson, C Carlos Ruiz, RHP Sam Gaviglo, RHP Yovani Gallardo, RHP Emilio Pagan, 1B Yonder Alonso.

       What they did well: Despite a horrible farm system, the M's were able to get good deals on both Gordon and Healy, with Pagan being the only roster player going out.

       Sneaky sleeper: Injuries limited Mitch Haniger to just 96 games in 2017, but he was solid in them, with 16 homers and a .352 OBP. If Haniger can stay healthy all year in 2018, watch out for him.

       Incoming outbreak: He will probably start the season on the DL, but watch out for Ben Gamel when he returns. Gamel hit .275 with 11 homers in his surprise rookie season, and also can leadoff with his speed. This could be Gamel's year.

      Unsuspected slump: It's not a secret anymore. King Felix, aka Felix Hernandez isn't very good. Felix had a 4.36 ERA last season, below league average. He is still treated like an ace, but isn't.

      Blue-chip Bopper: Either Nelson Cruz, who hit 39 homers and drove in 119 runs while batting .288, or Robinson Cano, who drove in 97 and hit .280. I'll go with Cruz, who has been dominant in the last couple of seasons.

     Astounding ace: Injuries limited James Paxton as well in 2017, but he was amazing in his 136 innings, striking out 156 batters with his 2.98 ERA. The Maple Leaf has a great chance to show everybody his potential this season.

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

 CF Dee Gordon (L)
 SS Jean Segura (R)
 2B Robinson Cano (L)
 DH Nelson Cruz (R)
 3B Kyle Seager (L)
 C Mike Zunino (R)
 1B Ryon Healy (R)
 RF Mitch Haniger (R)
 LF Guillermo Heredia (R)

        Here's their rotation.

 RHP Felix Hernandez
 LHP James Paxton
 LHP Ariel Miranda
 RHP Mike Leake
 RHP Erasmo Ramirez

  Edwin Diaz (R) is their closer, with Nick Vincent (R), Mark Rzepczynski (L), Juan Nicasio (R), James Pazos (L) and Dan Altavilla (R) in the bullpen.

 1B Dan Vogelbach (L), C Tuffy Gosewisch (R), OF Ichiro Suzuki (L) and INF Taylor Motter (R) are on the bench.

 Finally, for my prediction, I think the Mariners, a really good team, will just barely miss the playoffs due to pitching in 2018.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

San Fransisco Giants 2018 season preview

       In a disappointing season plagued by injuries, the San Fransisco Giants finished last in the NL, last in the NL West and second to last in the MLB with a 64-98 record. But, the Giants still felt like contenders, but had to do some retooling. So, let's take a look at what the Giants did this offseason.

       Notable additions: OF Andrew McCutchen, 3B Evan Longoria, OF Austin Jackson, LHP Tony Watson, LHP Derek Holland, SS Andres Blanco, 2B Josh Rutledge, OF Gregor Blanco, INF Chase d'Arnaud, INF Alen Hansen.

       Notable subtractions: CF Denard Span, 3B Christian Arroyo, LHP Matt Moore, RHP Matt Cain, RHP Kyle Crick.

       What they did well: The McCutchen trade was an absolute steal.

        What they did bad: The Longoria trade wasn't.

        Sneaky sleeper: You won't normally see someone with no MLB experience here, but Steve Duggar is their biggest sleeper. Duggar has a serious shot at the Giants CF spot, assuming McCutchen plays LF. At 24, the Giants really like Duggar, and I think he can be a late round fantasy bargain.

          Incoming outbreak: The stats show that Ty Blach had a bad year. He had a 4.78 ERA in 163.2 innings. But, his 1.35 WHIP wasn't horrible. I believe that Blach can have a better year.

          Unsuspected slump: For years, Evan Longoria was a star on a lowly Rays team. But, he's now on a Giants team that has many players better than him. I think Longoria will take a step back this season.

          Blue-chip Bopper: Gary Sanchez is making a run for his best catcher spot, but Buster Posey is still a star. He had a .400 OBP, leading the team by far. Posey is very good, and I think most people forget that.

          Astounding ace: Though him and Jeff Samardzija will both be missing from the projected roster due to injuries, Madison Bumgarner is their ace by far. Bumgarner had a 3.32 ERA in just 111 innings, showing everybody he's still good. "Mad Bum" will be sidelined for about two months once again, but he'll come back hungry.

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

 CF Steve Duggar (L)
 LF Andrew McCutchen (R)
 1B Brandon Belt (L)
 C Buster Posey (R)
 3B Evan Longoria (R)
 2B Joe Panik (L)
 RF Hunter Pence (R)
 SS Brandon Crawford (L)

           Here's their rotation.

 RHP Johnny Cueto
 LHP Ty Blach
 RHP Chris Stratton
 LHP Derek Holland
 Trade for a 5th starter?

  Mark Melancon (R) is their closer, with Sam Dyson (R), Tony Watson (L), Hunter Strickland (R), John Osich (L) and Cory Gearrin (R) in the bullpen.

 C Nick Hundley (R), OF Gorkys Hernandez (R), OF Austin Jackson (R) and 2B Kelby Tomlinson (R) are on the bench.

 Finally, for my prediction, I think the Giants, a contending team, will miss the playoffs in 2018 due to pitching.

Friday, March 23, 2018

San Diego Padres 2018 season preview

           In what was supposed to be another rebuilding year, the San Diego Padres had what was well... a rebuilding season. The finished 4th in the NL West with a 71-91 record, missing the playoffs. With GM A.J. Preller aggressive towards ending the rebuild, the Padres were a surprising team this offseason. Let's take a look at what they did this offseason.

           Notable additions: 1B Eric Hosmer, SS Freddy Galvis, RHP Bryan Mitchell, 3B Chase Headley, RHP Jordan Lyles, RHP Tyson Ross, RHP Chris Young, RHP Tom Wilhelmsen, C A.J. Ellis, OF Allen Craig.

            Notable subtractions: SS Erick Aybar, 2B Yangervis Solarte, 3B Ryan Schimpf, RHP Jhoulys Chacin, LHP Travis Wood, OF Jabari Blash, RHP Jered Weaver.

            What they did well: As rebuilders, it was a huge surprise they were able to land Hosmer over teams like the Red Sox, Royals and other contenders.

             What they did bad: Hosmer was overpaid.

              Sneaky sleeper: As a Yankee fan, it's hard to say, but Jose Pirela was sneaky good in 2017. He had a .288 batting average and hit 10 bombs in just 83 games. As he fights for a starting spot, Pirela can surprise some in 2018. Trust me, he already surprised me.

             Incoming outbreak: Despite his low .231 batting average, Hunter Renfroe still bashed 26 balls out of the park in just 445 ABs. Renfroe survived trade rumors in the offseason, and is probably going to be the starting RF this year. If he can avoid injuries, he might hit 30 bombs.

             Unsuspected slump: I still strongly believe that the Padres missed their window to trade Brad Hand. Hand's 2.16 ERA and 104 strikeouts in 79.1 innings in 2017 surprised many, but they should've traded him at the trade deadline. I don't think that his success will last that much.

             Blue-chip Bopper: Though this spot should go to Hosmer, I don't like picking new additions in these categories, so I'll go with Wil Myers. Myers was part pf the triple double club, stealing 20 bags and hitting 30 bombs. The best part for San Diego? He's only 27.

              Astounding ace: Though it's really Hand, I'll go with their best starter, Clayton Richard. His 4.79 ERA in 197.1 innings doesn't seem too positive, Richard is much better than the stats show, and the Friars know it.

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

 CF Manuel Margot (R)
 2B Cory Spangenberg (L)
 LF Wil Myers (R)
 1B Eric Hosmer (L)
 RF Hunter Renfroe (R)
 C Austin Hedges (R)
 SS Freddy Galvis (S)
 3B Carlos Asuaje (L)

                 Here's their rotation.

 LHP Clayton Richard
 RHP Dinelson Lamet
 RHP Luis Perdomo
 RHP Bryan Mitchell
 RHP Jordan Lyles

   Brad Hand (L) is their closer, with Carter Capps (R), Tyson Ross (R), Phil Maton (R), Matt Strahm (L) and Craig Stammen (R) in the bullpen.

   C A.J. Ellis (R), 3B Chase Headley (S), U Jose Pirela (R) and OF Travis Jankowski (L) are on the bench.

  Finally, for my prediction, I think the Padres, a still rebuilding team, will miss the playoffs in 2018.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Pittsburgh Pirates 2018 season preview

             Coming off a disappointing season by both the team and star Andrew McCutchen, the Pittsburgh Pirates attempted a big turn-around in 2017. But, they failed drastically. The Pirates finished 4th in the NL Central with a 75-87 record, missing the playoffs. With trade rumors surrounding most of their players, the Pirates had some moves to make. Let's take a look at what they did in the offseason.

             Notable additions: OF Corey Dickerson, RHP Joe Musgrove, 3B Colin Moran, RHP Michael Feliz, OF Bryce Brentz, LHP Josh Smoker, LHP Kevin Siegrist, OF Daniel Nava, C Ryan Lavarnway.

              Notable subtractions: CF Andrew McCutchen, RHP Gerrit Cole, RHP Dan Hudson, LHP Wade LeBlanc, RF John Jaso, C Chris Stewart, INF Gift Ngoepe.

              What they did well: The addition of Dickerson, an all-star last season, for just Hudson and a prospect was a steal of a trade.

               What they did bad: They didn't get enough for McCutchen and Cole, their best two players.

               Sneaky sleeper: Since the Pirates decided to hold on to Josh Harrison, it will be hard for Adam Frazier to get too much playing time. Frazier can play second base, right field and other positions, as he showed last year. he stole nine bases and hit .276 in his short time. If Frazier can get a starting role after an injury or trade, watch out for him.

               Incoming outbreak: The most intriguing player in the Cole trade to me, the fight for a rotation spot got a lot easier for Joe Musgrove after his trade to Pittsburgh. Musgrove failed to do too much in Houston, with a 4.52 ERA in 171.1 innings. But, he's still just 25, and can surprise many in this upcoming season.

               Unsuspected slump: Once looked at as a future star, Gregory Polanco isn't that anymore after hitting .251 with 11 homers, just 35 RBIs, and more importantly, only eight stolen bases in 2017. This season is a make-or-break year for him.

              Blue-chip Bopper: A suspension due to steroids cut his season short, but Starling Marte still swiped 21 bags in 339 Plate Appearances, and drove in just four batters less than Polanco (31). A full season can bring Marte back to his 2016 dominance.

              Astounding ace: With Cole out of the picture, I guess closer Felipe Rivero, fresh off a new extension, will be their guy. Rivero had a 1.67 ERA and struck out 88 batters in 75.1 innings, showing everybody that he is their closer. It looks like the Pirates have come close to winning the Mark Melancon deal with this gem.

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

 2B Josh Harrison (R)
 RF Gregory Polanco (L)
 CF Starling Marte (R)
 LF Corey Dickerson (L)
 1B Josh Bell (L)
 3B David Freese (R)
 SS Jordy Mercer (R)
 C Fransisco Cervelli (R)

              Here's their rotation.

 RHP Ivan Nova
 RHP Chad Kuhl
 RHP Jameson Taillon
 RHP Trevor Williams
 RHP Joe Musgrove
 RHP Tyler Glasnow

   Felipe Rivero (L) is their closer, with George Kontos (R), Michael Feliz (R), Josh Smoker (L), A.J. Schugel (R) and Edgar Santana (R) in the bullpen.

  3B Colin Moran (L), U Adam Frazier (R), C Elias Diaz (R), INF Jose Osuna (R) and U Sean Rodriguez (R) are on the bench.

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

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.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Minnesota Twins 2018 season preview

              In 2017. the Minnesota Twins surprised everybody by making the playoffs in the Wild Card game, by finishing 2nd in the AL Central with an 85-77 record. But, they were eliminated by the New York Yankees in the Wild Card game. With the team now established as contenders, the Twins had some work to do this offseason. Let's take a look at what they did.

             Notable additions: RHP Lance Lynn, RHP Addison Reed, RHP Fernando Rodney, RHP Jake Odorizzi, 1B Logan Morrison, LHP Zach Duke, RHP Michael Pineda, OF Jake Cave, INF Erick Aybar, OF Chris Heisey, C Bobby Wilson.

            Notable subtractions: RHP Bartolo Colon, RHP Matt Belisle, LHP Hector Santiago, RHP Dillon Gee, DH Kennys Vargas, C Chris Gimenez, LHP Glen Perkins.

             What they did well: They had one of the best offseasons in the league with one of the most boring offseasons happening around them. Plus, they got Lynn, Reed and Morrison, who were projected to get big multiyear deals at the beginning of winter, for cheap deals. It was good for them in many ways.

               What they did bad: Nothing, really. They just got unsexier with their most notable subtraction.

                Sneaky Sleeper: Truthfully one of their best players, Eddie Rosario had an insane season in 2017, with a .290 batting average and 27 homers. But, everyone will always just look at Byron Buxton, and forget about Rosario.

                Incoming outbreak:After securing himself the starting SS spot, Jorge Polanco had a decent season, stealing 13 bases, hitting .256 and knocking in 74 batters. The 24 year old can have a big breakout campaign this year.

                Unsuspected slump: Despite a really good first year in Minnesota, Phil Hughes' next three seasons, and especially his last two, have been a monstrosity. Hughes hasn't pitched over 60 innings in them, and has an ERA in the 5.80-90 range. Hughes might not even make their rotation.

               Astounding ace: In 2017, Ervin Santana showed everyone he was still good. In 211.1 innings, Santana struck out 167, and had a 3.28 ERA. Really, really good for a 35 year old. He's not in my projected rotation due to an injury, but he'll be back eventually.

                Blue-chip Bopper: Through his Minnesota days, Brian Dozier has escaped all the trade rumors, and is still in the twin cities today. Dozier hit 34 homers. stole 16 bases and still hit .271. He's baseball's 2nd best 2nd baseman, which is kind of fitting for #2 on the Twins.

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

 CF Byron Buxton (R)
 2B Brian Dozier (R)
 3B Miguel Sano (R)
 LF Eddie Rosario (L)
 1B Joe Mauer (L)
 DH Logan Morrison (L)
 RF Max Kepler (L)
 C Jason Castro (L)
 SS Jorge Polanco (S)

             Here's their rotation

 RHP Jose Berrios
 RHP Lance Lynn
 RHP Jake Odorizzi
 RHP Kyle Gibson
 LHP Albaderto Mejia

  Fernando Rodney (R) is their closer, with Addison Reed (R), Zach Duke (L), Ryan Pressly (R), Taylor Rogers (L), Tyler Duffey (R) and Trevor Hildenberger (R) in the bullpen.

  INF Eduardo Escobar (S), C Mitch Garver (R), OF Robbie Grossman (S) and OF Zack Granite (L) are on the bench.

 Finally, for my prediction, I think the Twins, a good team, will contend for a Wild Card spot but ultimately miss the playoffs.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Milwaukee Brewers 2018 season preview

             After surprising the entire league and finishing second in the NL Central with an 86-76 record, the Milwaukee Brewers still missed the playoffs. But, determined for more, they had some work to do. Let's take a look at what they did this offseason.

               Notable additions: OF Christian Yelich, CF Lorenzo Cain, RHP Jhoulys Chacin, RHP Matt Albers, RHP Yovani Gallardo, LHP Boone Logan, LHP Wade Miley, RHP Ernesto Frieri, RHP J.J. Hoover, 1B Ji-Man Choi.

                Notable subtractions: OF Lewis Brinson, 2B Neil Walker, RHP Matt Garza, RHP Carlos Torres, RHP Jared Hughes, RHP Anthony Swarzak, RHP Wily Peralta, RHP Michael Blazek.

                Sneaky Sleeper: Until the time of this writing, I didn't know about how good the year Chase Anderson had was. Anderson was third on the team in innings pitched, and led all starters with a 2.74 ERA. His 8.5 strikeout/9 isn't too bad either.

                 Incoming outbreak: A call-up sparked excellence for Josh Hader, who had a 2.08 ERA and 68 strikeouts in just 47.2 innings. At 23, that's pretty good. Expect Hader to really breakout this year.

                   Unsuspected slump: With the acquisition of Cain and Yelich, plus no one's departure, a big jam has come. Face-of-the-franchise LF Ryan Braun might move to 1B, signaling an end for Eric Thames' Milwaukee days. Despite an insane start, Thames finished with a subpar .247 batting average. The acquisitions aren't good for him, unless there is a trade.

                      Blue-chip Bopper: straight out of Miami, Christian Yelich goes here. Yelich had a setback in 2017, with a .282 batting average, and 18 homers. Though, at least his OBP is still a very good .369. Yelich is a star, and now their future with Brinson traded for him.

                        Astounding ace: Well, with Jimmy Nelson injured til June, I'll just list Corey Knebel. Knebel took on the closing job mid-season, and was my reliever of the year. Knebel had a 1.78 ERA and struck out 126 batters in 76 innings! That is a 14.9 K/9! Knebel was insane, for both Milwaukee and my fantasy team.

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

 2B Jonathan Villar (S)
 CF Lorenzo Cain (R)
 LF Christian Yelich (L)
 1B Ryan Braun (R)
 3B Travis Shaw (L)
 RF Domingo Santana (R)
 C Stephen Vogt (L)
 SS Orlando Arcia (R)

                      Here's their rotation.

 RHP Zach Davies
 RHP Chase Anderson
 RHP Jhoulys Chacin
 LHP Brent Suter
 RHP Yovani Gallardo

   Corey Knebel (R) is their closer, with Josh Hader (L), Jeremy Jeffres (R), Matt Albers (R), Oliver Drake (R), Junior Guerra (R), Brandon Woodruff (R) and Boone Logan (L) in the bullpen.

   U Hernan Perez, (R), CF Keon Broxton (R), 1B Eric Thames (L), 2B Eric Sogard (L) and C Many Pina (R) are on the bench.

   Finally, for my prediction, I think the Brewers, a rising team, will make the playoffs in 2018.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Miami Marlins 2018 season preview

            In 2017, the Miami Marlins finished 2nd in the NL East, but they had a 77-85 record, which wasn't nearly good enough to make the playoffs. With new owners open to rebuilding, the Marlins had some moves to make this offseason. Let's take a look a what they did.

              Notable additions: 2B Starlin Castro, OF Cameron Maybin, OF Lewis Brinson, RHP Sandy Alcantara, OF Magneuris Sierra,1B Garrett Cooper, LHP Caleb Smith, RHP Jumbo Diaz, C Bryan Holaday, 2B Johnny Giovotella, OF J.B. Shuck, OF Scott van Slyke, SS Christhian Adames, INF Eric Campbell, OF Rafael Ortega.

               Notable subtractions: OF Giancarlo Stanton, OF Christian Yelich, OF Marcel Ozuna, 2B Dee Gordon, RHP Edinson Volquez, RHP Vance Worley, OF Ichiro Suzuki, 1B Tyler Moore, C A.J. Ellis, U Mike Aviles.

                 What they did well: They at least got value for Yelich, Stanton Ozuna and Gordon, like Castro, Brinson, Sierra and Alcantara. But....

                   What they did bad: They could of gotten way more for them. Clint Frazier for Stanton, Tyler O'Neill for Ozuna. At least they did very well with the Yelich trade.

                    Sneaky Sleeper: Quietly their second best starter, Jose Urena had a great season, and led all Marlins pitchers in WAR. He had a 3.82 ERA and even though he only struck out on average six batters for every nine innings, he still allowed just 3.4 walks per nine innings. Not too shabby. He could be the incoming outbreak, but him and that guy are kind of interchangeable.

                       Incoming outbreak: Though he should be the Sneaky Sleeper, Derek Dietrich is the incoming outbreak. He's a guy who I like, and could hit 20 bombs on a lowly Marlins team. He got an extended amount of time in 2017, and hit 13 homers. I have faith in Dietrich.

                      Blue-chip Bopper: All his friends are traded. Push him to the block. That's the case for J.T. Realmuto, who is basically Lil Uzi. Realmuto hit .278 and 17 homers, and is a top four catcher in my opinion. Just Gary Sanchez, Buster Posey and maybe Willson Contreras are ahead of him.

                       Astounding ace: Well, with everybody gone, that will be Dan Straily, the only one to want to stay. Even though Urena has better numbers, I'm going with Straily, who struck out 170 and had a solid 4.26 ERA in 2017. He's officially the ace of a lowly staff.

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

 CF Magneuris Sierra (L)
 2B Starlin Castro (R)
 C J.T. Realmuto (R)
 1B Justin Bour (L)
 3B Miguel Rojas (R)
 RF Derek Dietrich (L)
 LF Lewis Brinson (R)
 SS J.T. Riddle (L)

            Here's their rotation.

 RHP Dan Straily
 RHP Jose Urena
 LHP Adam Conley
 LHP Dillon Peters
 LHP Justin Nicolino

   Kyle Barraclough (R) is their closer, with RHP Brad Ziegler, RHP Junichi Tazawa, LHP Caleb Smith, RHP Odrisamer Despaigne and Drew Steckenrider (R) in the bullpen as well.

   C Tomas Telis (S), 1B Garrett Cooper, INF Brian Anderson and OF Cameron Maybin are on the bench.

   Finally, for my prediction, I think the Marlins, a team in the worst part of the rebuild, will not make the playoffs in 2018.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Los Angeles Dodgers 2018 season preview

             Fueled by an outstanding start, the Los Angeles continued all the way to the top of the MLB in 2017, with a 104-58 record. Their rivals, the San Fransisco Giants, finished 40 (!) games behind them. The Dodgers eliminated the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Chicago Cubs, and made the world series. But, they fell to the Houston Astros in seven games. Motivated for a title, the Dodgers had some moves to make this offseason. Let's take a look at their offseason.

              Notable additions: OF Matt Kemp, RHP Tom Koehler, LHP Scott Alexander, INF Donovan Solano, SHP Pat Venditte.

               Notable subtractions: RHP Yu Darvish, RHP Brandon Morrow, LHP Tony Watson, 1B Adrian Gonzalez, LHP Scott Kazmir, RHP Brandon McCarthy, INF Charlie Culberson, OF Andre Eithier, OF Franklin Gutierrez, OF Curtis Granderson.

                What they did well: The Kemp for Gonzalez, Kazmir, McCarthy and Culberson trade was made so the Dodgers could clear up money for this offseason.

                  What they did bad: They didn't use that money. Though Darvish struggled in the postseason, Morrow was excellent, and they didn't make too much of an effort to bring one of them back. You might say that they already had good enough pitching for them, but Darvish and Morrow both went to the Cubs, who have a better staff, in my opinion.

                     Sneaky Sleeper: Now a sleeper candidate for the starting left field role, Andrew Toles had his season cut very short due to a torn ACL. Now 26, Toles has been pretty solid in his short, 79 game career. He has a .294 batting average and eight homers plus 31 RBIs in 217 Plate Appearances. Toles is still young, and there is more to come from him.

                          Incoming outbreak: I don't know why, but I've always liked Ross Stripling. He's a starter and a reliever at the same time. He reminds me of David Phelps in his Yankees days, but now he's a full-time reliever. He could be like another Yankee, Chad Green. Stripling has had an ERA in the high 3s in his first two seasons. But, I just have a gut feeling he can be this year's Alex Wood (and I liked Wood from his Atlanta days).

                          Unsuspected slump: In 2017, Kenta Maeda failed pretty much all of the expectations people had for him. He had a 4.22 ERA, and even though he had a similar K/9, he pitched less innings due to injury. This is a make-or-break season for Maeda.

                           Blue-chip Bopper: Yet again, Kyle's Brother had a great season. He hit 22 homers, had a .295 batting average, and had a .375 OBP. Oh, and by the way, his name is Corey Seager and he's good.

                            Astounding ace: this is easy, once again. Clayton Kershaw. Next.

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

 CF Chris Taylor (R)
 SS Corey Seager (L)
 3B Justin Turner (R)
 1B Cody Bellinger (L)
 LF Matt Kemp (R)
 RF Yasiel Puig (R)
 C Yasmani Grandal (S)
 2B Logan Forsythe (R)

         Here's their rotation.

 LHP Clayton Kershaw
 RHP Kenta Maeda
 LHP Alex Wood
 LHP Rich Hill
 RHP Tom Koehler

    Kenley Jansen (R) is their closer, with Pedro Baez (R), Adam Libertore (L), Hyun-Jin Ryu (L), Josh Fields (R), Tony Cingrani (L), Yimi Garicia (R), Scott Alexander (L) and Ross Stripling (R) in the bullpen as well.

    C Austin Barnes (R), OF Andrew Toles (L), OF Joc Pederson (L) and 2B Chase Utley (L) are on the bench.

    Finally, for my prediction, I think the Dodgers, a really good team, will make the playoffs in 2018.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Los Angeles Angels 2018 season preview

            After a big push at the waiver trade deadline, the Los Angeles Angels still finished in second place in the AL West, and missed the playoffs with an 80-82 record. With most of the team looking pretty ugly, the Angels had work cut out for them. Let's take a look at what they did this offseason.

             Notable additions: P/DH Shohei Ohtani, 2B Ian Kinsler, 3B Zack Cozart, OF Chris Young, C Rene Rivera, OF Jabari Blash, RHP Jim Johnson, RHP Noe Ramirez, LHP Ian Krol, LHP John Lamb, 1B Chris Carter, OF Rymer Liriano.

              Notable subtractions: 2B Brandon Phillips, RHP Ricky Nolasco, RHP Bud Norris, 1B C.J. Cron, 3B Yunel Escobar, OF Ben Revere, SS Cliff Pennington, RHPs Jesse Chavez, Yusmeiro Petit, David Hernandez, RHP Fernando Salas, OF Ramon Flores, OF Shane Robinson.

               What they did well: They pretty much won the offseason. Ohtani, the 23 year old Japanese two way star is nicknamed the Japanese Babe Ruth, and is on an international rookie deal. Kinsler and Cozart are two really good additions as well. They didn't lose anything, either. Kinsler and Cozart are better than Escobar and Phillips, and well, no more Ricky Nolasco!

                What they did bad, my column:

                 Sneaky Sleeper: If I asked you who led the Angels in WAR, and finished eighth in the league in that category, you'd guess Mike Trout, like an educated baseball person. But, I guess most educated baseball persons (don't judge my grammar, it's for fun) are wrong. The player who was the right answer is Andrelton Simmons, who had a 7.14 WAR. He had lots of help from his defensive WAR of 4.17, which led the league. The runner-up there? Reds catcher Tucker Barnhart, who had a 2.82 defensive WAR. Simmons is undoubtedly our generation's Ozzie Smith.

                  Incoming outbreak: At age 25, Parker Bridwell finally got some MLB time, with a 3.64 ERA in 21 appearances, with 20 of them being starts. Though his strikeout numbers are low (5.4 K/9), Bridwell is still good enough to be in their rotation this season.

                   Unsuspected slump: After a promising 2015, Kole Calhoun has been unable to match his numbers in two seasons since. He hit 26 homers in 2015, but has hit 18 and 19 in the next two seasons. Also, despite a 15 point raise in batting average from 2015 to 2016, Calhoun's BA dropped 27 points to .244 in 2017. Not very good. Let's face it. Calhoun has fallen in his prime, an odd thing to see.

                     Blue-chip Bopper: Well, this is easy. I don't think I need explaining when I say Mike Trout, Mike Trout and Mike Trout. he's just simply baseball's best player.

                     Astounding ace: Since we don't know what to expect from Shohei Ohtani, I'll go with someone else instead. Though his last two seasons were cut short, Garrett Richards has been great since 2014, when he posted a 2.61 ERA in 168.2 innings. If Richards can finally stay healthy, you'll see his full potential.

          Here is the Angels projected roster, starting with their lineup.

 2B Ian Kinsler (R)
 SS Andrelton Simmons (R)
 CF Mike Trout (R)
 LF Justin Upton (R)
 DH Albert Pujols (R)
 3B Zack Cozart (R)
 RF Kole Calhoun (L)
 1B Luis Valbuena (L)
 C Martin Maldonado (R)
Also, DH Shohei Ohtani (L) will get a lot of lineup time
                 Here's their projected rotation.

 RHP Garrett Richards
 RHP Shohei Ohtani
 LHP Andrew Heaney
 RHP Parker Bridwell
 RHP Matt Shoemaker
 LHP Tyler Skaggs
 RHP JC Ramirez
 Obviously, one (probably Ramirez or Bridwell) will be moved to the pen.

    Blake Parker (R) is their closer, with Cam Bedrosian (R), Keynan Middleton (R), Jose Alvarez (L), Jim Johnson (R), Luke Bard (R) and Ian Krol (L) are in the bullpen.

     C Rene Rivera (R), OF Chris Young (R), INF Caleb Kowart (S) and OF Eric Young (S) are on the bench.

      Finally, for my prediction, I think the Angels, a team that improved drastically over the offseason, will make the playoffs as the second wild card team in the American league.

Monday, March 12, 2018

My interview with #isles captain John Tavares

          Most 1st overall picks are superstars. The New York Islanders owned the 1st pick in the 2009 draft, and chose the right player. Now their captain, John Tavares has been amazing since being drafted. The now 27 year old Mississauga native has scored 31 goals and 38 assists for 69 points in 69 games. In his NHL career, all with the Islanders, Tavares has scored 266 goals and 340 assists for 606 points in 656 games. Just this past Sunday, Tavares passed John Tonelli for 5th on the Islanders all-time assists list, with his 340. The top 4? They are Bryan Trottier, Denis Potvin, Clark Gillies and Mike Bossy, who all have their numbers retired by the team. Tavares' 91 will be retired soon after he retires. Still the centerpiece of the team, Tavares' contract is up after this season, and he hasn't come close to signing a extension yet, creating lots of media speculation.

           At teammate Anders Lee's kancer jam, I was able to talk to John about the future and more.

           Carter LaCorte (me): What do you think it will be like playing in two arenas next season?

           John Tavares: It'll be different, but two arenas, I've played in before, obviously. I think it will be pretty familiar to be back at the Colisuem soon.

            CL: You just played in your fifth all-star game. Does the weekend ever get old?

            JT: No. When you're named an all-star you are having a good season. It's great to be organized with that group of players there. To grow up hoping for that opportunity, it's great to be there.

             CL: What's it like being back here at Anders' second kan jam?

              JT: It's great. People are raising a lot of money for a great cause. He's a great guy and a great teammate, so I'm happy to support him.

               CL: If you could name the NHL team in Seattle, what would you name it?

                JT: I have no idea. I would think it would have to do with something with the area. Like how the Islanders became the Islanders.


Kansas City Royals 2018 season preview

             A horrible finish ruined the 2017 season for the Kansas City Royals, who finished third in the AL Central with a 80-82 record, missing the playoffs. The Royals needed to have a great offseason, with stars Eric Hosmer, Lorenzo Cain and Mike Moustakas all facing free agency. Let's take a look at what they did in the offseason.

               Notable additions: 1B Lucas Duda, CF Jon Jay, RHP Wily Peralta, OF Michael Saunders, Ricky Nolasco, 3B/OF Cody Asche, INF Ryan Goins, RHP Blaine Boyer, OF Tyler Collins.

                Notable subtractions: 1B Eric Hosmer, CF Lorenzo Cain, LHP Jason Vargas, LHP Mike Minor, LHP Scott Alexander, RHP Joakim Soria, RHP Peter Moylan, RHP Trevor Cahill, RHP Chris Young, OF Melky Cabrera, DH Brandon Moss.

                 What they did well: not much. They were able to get a steal on Moustakas, who signed a one year deal for $6.5 million. That's about it.

                  What they did bad: The entire team is gone. It seems like everybody left, but Moustakas and Alcides Escobar, who re-signed. They made some trades to help them, but nothing major, like a Danny Duffy move.

                   Sneaky sleeper: With Jorge Bonifacio suspended, someone else will go here. That's where Whit Merrifield comes in. Merrifield secured the starting second base job in 2017, hitting 19 homers, having a .288 batting average, and stealing 34 bases on top of that. The Royals may be bad, but that's no reason for Merrifield to not be noticed.

                    Incoming outbreak: In his rookie season, Jake Junis was quietly good for both the Royals and my fantasy team. Junis had a 4.30 ERA in 98.1 innings, and with the departure of Vargas, Junis is now their second or third best starter.

                   Unsuspected slump: The starting shortstop and leadoff hitter, Alcides Escobar played in 162 games for the second consecutive season, and the third year in four years. But, his all-around game is falling, especially his specialty of stealing bases. The former 30 base stealer nabbed just four bases in 2017, the same amount he stole in 38 games in 2009. If he lost his speed, he's lost his game.

                   Blue-chip Bopper. With everybody gone, Mike Moustakas goes here. Moustakas broke the Royals' single season home run record in 2017 with 38. Though his surgery from two years ago is slowing him down, he's still their best hitter.

                    Astounding ace: After the tragic passing of Yordano Ventura before last season, Danny Duffy took the realms of being their ace, and had a 3.81 ERA in 146.1 innings. He's not that great, but it's the best they got.

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

 SS Alcides Escobar (R)
 2B Whit Merrifield (R)
 3B Mike Moustakas (L)
 C Salvador Perez (R)
 1B Lucas Duda (L)
 LF Alex Gordon (L)
 RF Jorge Soler (R)
 DH Cheslor Cuthbert (R)
 CF Jon Jay (L)

        Here's their rotation.

 LHP Danny Duffy
 RHP Jason Hammel
 RHP Jake Junis
 RHP Ian Kennedy
 RHP Wily Peralta

   Kelvin Herrera (R) is their closer, with Brandon Maurer (R), Nate Karns (R), Brian Flynn (L), Blaine Boyer (R) and Sam Gaviglo (R) in the bullpen as well.

   C Cam Gallagher (R), OF Paulo Orlando (R), INF Adalberto Mondesi (S) and C Drew Butera (R) are on the bench.

   Finally, for my prediction. I think the Royals, a team on the decline, will not make the playoffs in 2018.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Houston Astros 2018 season preview

           With the city of Houston destructed from Hurricane Harvey, the Houston Astros played upon themselves, and won the 2017 World Series, with some help from their 101-61 record, plus their playoff victories over the Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers. The Stros didn't need to do too much in the offseason, but let's take a look at what they did.

           Notable additions: RHP Gerrit Cole, RHP Hector Rondon, RHP Joe Smith.

           Notable subtractions: DH Carlos Beltran, 3B Colin Moran, RHP Luke Gregerson, RHP Mike Fiers, RHP Michael Feliz, RHP Joe Musgrove, LHP Fransisco Liriano, RHP Tyler Clippard.

            What they did well: They fleeced the Pirates in the Cole trade (they gave up Moran, Musgrove, Feliz and Jason Martin), even though Cole is overrated. That's really all they did.

              What they did bad: They have a really bad bullpen for a playoff team, and it didn't get that much better. They needed bullpen help, not rotation help.

              Sneaky sleeper: Chris Devenski had yet another great season, striking out 100 batters in 80.2 innings. In his two year career, Devenski has a 2.38 ERA and 204 strikeouts in 189 innings. He's their best reliever, but not that many people know about him.

                Incoming outbreak: Derek Fisher deserves more attention. Stuck behind Marwin Gonzalez and Josh Reddick, the Astros' best prospect has no where to go but the bench. Fisher didn't play that much in 2017, but struggled when he played. Give him more time, or trade him.

                 Unsuspected slump: Even though he had a good regular season, with a 2.30 ERA and 83 strikeouts in 62.2 innings, Ken Giles was horrible in the postseason, allowing 10 runs in 7.2 innings. With the rise of Devenski, it doesn't like like Giles is their reliever anymore.

                  Blue-chip Bopper. 2017 AL MVP Jose Altuve led the league in batting average for the third time, with a .346 mark. He also led the league in hits for the 4th consecutive time, with 204. He is almost guaranteed to steal thirty bases, and now that his power is coming along, Altuve is finally a five tool player.

                   Astounding ace: Even though Justin Verlander was the best player in the postseason, Dallas Keuchel is still their ace. Keuchel had a 2.90 ERA, and a 1.12 WHIP in 145.2 innings. It's not really that close between Keuchel and Verlander.

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

 CF George Springer (R)
 2B Jose Altuve (R)
 SS Carlos Correa (R)
 DH Evan Gattis (R)
 LF Marwin Gonzalez (S)
 RF Josh Reddick (L)
 3B Alex Bregman (R)
 C Brian McCann (L)
 1B Yuli Gurriel (R) (when returning from suspension)

  Here is their rotation.

 LHP Dallas Keuchel
 RHP Justin Verlander
 RHP Lance McCullers
 RHP Gerrit Cole
 RHP Charlie Morton

 Ken Giles (R) is their closer, with Chris Devenski (R), Will Harris (R), Hector Rondon (R), Joe Smith (R), Tony Sipp (L), Brad Peacock (R) and Collin McHugh (R) in the bullpen as well.

 C Max Stassi (R), 2B Tony Kemp (L), OF Derek Fisher (L) and OF Jake Marisnick (R) are on the bench.

 Finally, for my prediction, I think the Astros, who are still a very good team, will make the playoffs in 2018.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Detroit Tigers 2018 season preview

          In a tanking season, the Detroit Tigers successfully landed the first overall draft pick, by finishing worst in the league with a 64-98 record. That included J.D. Martinez being traded, plus Justin Verlander, Justin Upton, Alex Avila and Justin Wilson. With more rebuilding to go, let's take a look at the Tigers' most recent offseason.

           Notable additions: OF Leonys Martin, LHP Fransisco Liriano, RHP Mike Fiers, INF Alexi Amarista, SS Pete Kozma, C Derek Norris, C Jarrod Saltalamacchia, RHP Johnny Barbato.

            Notable subtractions: 2B Ian Kinsler, RHP Anibal Sanchez, U Andrew Romine, RHP Bruce Rondon, OF Alex Presley, OF Tyler Collins.

             What they did well: It was a very quiet offseason for the Tigers. And by quiet, I mean not too good. Amarista is a very underrated signing, so there's that. They were at least able to trade Kinsler.

             What they did bad: They could have gotten more for Kinsler, but that's about it.

              Sneaky sleeper: Though he didn't play too much in 2017, Mikie Mahtook was good in his 348 ABs, hitting 12 homers and a solid .276 batting average. If Mahtook can get the starting left field or center field spot, he can finally get enough time.

                Unsuspected slump: Irregular heartbeats and the second lowest batting average of his 16 year career showed that at age 39, Victor Martinez is just a shade of his old self. He hit just 10 bombs, his lowest since 2008, when he wasn't that much of a power hitter. He can't run, he can't play the field, if his hitting game stops, that it might be all said and done for Martinez's career.

                 Incoming outbreak: The main return of the Avila/Wilson trade, Jeimer Candelario was solid in his short time o Detroit last season, going 31 for 94, for a .330 batting average. With a secured starting third base position, expect more from Candelario in 2018.

                 Blue-chip Bopper: Despite his worst season of his career, Miguel Cabrera is still the best player on this team. They might decide to trade him, and I'm surprised he wasn't dealt. He hit just .249 and slugged a low 16 homers in 469 At Bats. But, on a lowly team, he's the best player.

                 Astounding ace: Despite not having as good a season as his rookie year, 24 year old Michael Fulmer escaped trade rumors in the offseason. His 3.83 ERA was still pretty good, and even though he has a low strikeout rate, he still limited opponents to a .243 batting average as a starter. Still very effective.

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

 SS Jose Iglesias (R)
 RF Nick Castellanos (R)
 1B Miguel Cabrera (R)
 DH Victor Martinez (S)
 C James McCann (R)
 3B Jeimer Candelario (S)
 LF Mikie Mahtook (R)
 CF Leonys Martin (L)
 2B Alexi Amarista (L)

          Here's their rotation.

 RHP Michael Fulmer
 RHP Jordan Zimmerman
 LHP Matt Boyd
 LHP Daniel Norris
 LHP Fransisco Liriano

   Shane Greene (R) is their closer, with Alex Wilson (R), Daniel Stumpf (L), Mike Fiers (R), Buck Farmer (R), Joe Jimenez (R) and Blaine Hardy (L) in the bullpen.

   C John Hicks (R), INF Dixon Machado (R) and OF JaCoby Jones are on the bench.

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