Thursday, July 14, 2016

Baseball Review 2016 All Star Break Edition

2016 All Star Break
Another two weeks in the 2016 MLB season have come and gone. The term that could be best used to describe the last two weeks in baseball is “flip the script”.

The Minnesota Twins, who have been the biggest disappointment in baseball in 2016, have been playing their best baseball of the season as we enter the All-Star break. The Twins are 9-5 in their last 14 games, including 7-2 in their last nine. They made some lineup adjustments to get to this point. Miguel Sano who began the season out in right field, spent some time on the DL with a hamstring injury. Since his return, he has been moved back to his natural position third base, and it has worked out like a charm. Sano looks so comfortable back at his natural position and is seeing the ball very well. Byung Ho-Park, the Twins big off season signing, struggled the first half of the season, so to help settle him down, was option to Triple A and the powerful switch hitting Kennys Vargas was called up to take his place. Vargas has been splitting time between DH and first base with Joe Mauer, which has worked out well. Max Kepler, the talented German kid, has been called up, and is playing well full time in right field. The Twins are not as bad of a team as their first half record shows. I think, and so do a lot of people, now that they figured some things out, they will play much better in the second half than they did in the first, as in perhaps .500 baseball the rest of the way.

The Los Angeles Dodgers are playing some great baseball without star ace Clayton Kershaw. Over their last 14, the Dodgers are 10-4, and their pitching has been just phenomenal during this stretch. During this 14 game stretch, the Dodgers have allow just 51 runs in that 14 game stretch. Also during this 14 game stretch, on five occasions the Dodgers have allowed just one run or less. Also playing better are the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Pirates were drowning there for quite a while, but have gotten really hot the last several weeks. The Pirates are 12-4 in their last 16 games, and in the process, have chopped the Chicago Cubs lead in the NL Central in half, down to just 7.5 games.

Speaking of those Chicago Cubs, they are the coldest team in baseball at the moment, minus the Tampa Bay Rays who are a whole other conversation for a whole different day. The Cubs are just a woeful 6-15 in their last 21 games. The potential trip-up for the Cubs this season has reared it's ugly head in a major way- the bullpen. Nobody down there is pitching good right now, and they still don't have a closer. Look for them to trade for one as we move towards the trade deadline. Also getting the script flipped on them are the Texas Rangers. The Rangers are just 3-9 in their last 12 games. Of those 12 games, they have played seven against the Twins, and are just 2-5 in those 7 games. You have got to do better than that against the teams at the bottom of the divisions.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

2016 Trade Deadline Big Name Players On The Move

2016 Trade Deadline MLB
The 2016 Major League Baseball season has arrived at June, so that means it is time to start sizing up the trade deadline. This year's trade deadline will feature plenty of names, and will be focused around our very own Milwaukee Brewers. Let's dive right in.

Jonathan Lucroy- “The Jonathan Lucroy watch” is on. He could end up in several places, but the leader is Texas. Rangers GM Jon Daniels and Brewers GM David Sterns are in a blinking contest over the package the Brewers will get in return. Daniels wants to give the Brewers a “ready now” prospect. Sterns wants long range prospects, specifically teenage pitchers he can project long term. Basically, Daniels told Sterns this is what I will give you, Sterns told Daniels we have other packages from other teams that are just as good and make more sense for us. Daniels told Sterns I don't believe you. Hunker down folks, because this one isn't going to be resolved anytime soon.

Ryan Braun- Another big name being thrown around out there is Lucroy's teammate, outfielder Ryan Braun. Two years ago we all thought Braun was finished, and I even wrote post asking the question, “How will Braun be remembered?” Well, looks like we were all really wrong. Braun has return to form in 2016, proving the doubters wrong. He isn't in Milwaukee's long term plans and the fire is hot to trade him now. The Giants and Dodgers are two teams to keep an eye on.

Evan Longoria- At some point the Rays are going to have to move this man. He is the best two-way third basemen in the game, and is baseball's current iron man. The Red Sox, Astros (Who has a massive sized hole at third base), Mariners, or Mets could be interested.

Danny Valencia- The Athletics' third basemen is having a career year. So far this season, Valencia is batting .338 with 10 home runs and 25 RBI's. His value couldn't be any higher, so now would be a good time to move him. He would come cheap as well, so a lot of teams could be interested. The Royals, Indians, Mariners, and Mets could all use a third basemen right now.

Carlos Gonzalez- When healthy, the Rockies outfielder is one of the best, in the GAME. The problem is when healthy. So far, Gonzalez only has one full season in his career. So far this season though, he has stayed healthy, and is having a big season. Gonzalez is batting .298 with 14 home runs and 34 RBI's. Now would be a time to move him. The Giants, Nationals, Cubs, and Rangers could all show interest.

Mike Trout- The Angels have flirted with the idea of trading Trout away to replenish their farm. After all, they are fading fast this season and they have a bunch of old contracts that will prevent them from making any short term moves. Trout is the best in the game, and will demand a monster asking price. The Red Sox, Yankees, or Giants would all have to dump their farm to acquire him.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Indians Are Hot Now and Cubs Go Cold

Another two weeks has come and gone in the 2016 Major League Baseball season and we have quite a bit to get to so let's jump right on in.

After such a focus on a top-heavy National League all off season and the first two months into 2016, the focus has now shifted to the American League, where the three hottest teams in baseball at the moment all reside. The Houston Astros, who have been slumping all season so far, and whom everyone is has been waiting for a big breakout from, have finally pulled it off. The Astros finally lost today to the Royals, ending an eight game winning streak. Overall, the Astros are 10-2 in their last 12 games and 23-9 in their last 32 games. Over the last month, the Astros have gotten back to what they did so well last year, hitting home runs and getting outstanding work from their bullpen.

The second of these three hot teams in the American League is the Cleveland Indians. What a time it is to be a Cleveland sports fan. After Lebron James willed the Cavaliers to the NBA title, and ending five-plus decades of suffering for the city, the Indians are on FIRE right now and have surged to the top of the American League Central. The Indians have won nine in a row, and it is time for us to finally take these Young Indians seriously. The third of these three hot teams in the American League are the Texas Rangers. The Rangers are 27-8 in their last 35 games, 49-27 overall, good for the second best record in baseball at the moment, and have emerged as the odds-on favorites to win the American League. This run of success really makes the Jonathan Lucroy situation more interesting by the day, as the Rangers are the one and only team he is linked to at the moment.

Then you have the flip side of that, pretty much the entire National League. The Cubs, who have been pillaging, plundering, and taking no prisoners all season, raced out to a 47-20 record, the best in baseball a week ago. They still have the best record in baseball, but they are just 1-6 in their last seven games, and their bullpen issues are starting to surface. Rumors are now popping up linking them to the Yankees Aroldis Chapman and the Brewers Jeremy Jeffress. The Pittsburgh Pirates, at least until this weekend anyways, were the coldest team in baseball. Prior to their three game sweep of the Dodgers this weekend, the Pirates were just a woeful 2-13 in their last 15 games. Their rotation was just failing them. Time will tell if this weekend was the turning point.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

The Past Two Weeks of Baseball Were a "Snoozefest"

Two Weeks of Baseball 2016
It has been a very quiet two weeks in the world of baseball, so this is not going to be the most detailed review. Let's get started.

The biggest story of the last two weeks has been the play of the Chicago White Sox. After starting the 2016 season 23-10, many people were dreaming of an all-Chicago World Series between the Cubs and White Sox. The last two weeks may have changed that. After starting the season with their pants on fire, the White Sox are just 4-13 in their last 17 games, and are showing serious holes. One such hole is the starting rotation behind Chris Sale. It appears that Kenny Williams and Rich Hahn aren't going to wait for the trade deadline to try to fix this, as they are already shopping around the league looking for help. The biggest name that has come up is San Diego Padres ace James Shields, who has kind of fallen off the map in the last 18 months, and is looking to get back to the American League. Meanwhile their cross-town rival, the Chicago Cubs, are continuing to run away from everyone in the National League. The Cubs are currently riding a four game winning streak and are 33-14, the best record in all of Major League Baseball.

After a decent start, the Reds are really sputtering in recent weeks, although that was sort of expected. The Reds began the season 14-19, but are just 2-14 in their last 16 games. Their entire pitching staff is a mess, but they are just going to continue to run those guys out there and let them see if they can fix it on their own. Staying in the National League Central, the Cardinals were getting ready for the return of veteran shortstop Johnny Peralta. However they are going to stall that due to him cutting his thumb now.

Moving out to the National League West, the San Francisco Giants are the hottest team in the game right now. The Giants started the season 16-18, and were kind of stuck in first gear. The Giants have taken off in recent weeks, and are 14-2 in their last 16 games. This was expected though. The Giants are now looking like what we all thought they would look like, the team most suited to prevent the Cubs from winning their first World Series in a century. The Major League debut of the Dodgers 19-year-old phenom pitcher, Julio Arias, was short lived. After not even making it out of the 4th inning in his first start, the Dodgers quickly sent him back down to Triple A. The Dodgers are desperately searching for answers for their rotation before the Giants runaway with the National League West, which it appears is going to happen.

Outside of the White Sox, there has been nothing to talk about in the American League over the last two weeks, I will forsake reviewing the AL in this post.

Friday, May 6, 2016

First Month of Major League Baseball 2016 Brings Big Surprises

MLB 2016
Well that was an interesting month now wasn't it? The first month of the 2016 MLB season is now in the books, and there is plenty for us to digest. The two biggest surprises in a bad way from April are the starts of the Minnesota Twins and Houston Astros. Before the season began these two teams were considered playoff teams according to most. I had the Twins in the ALDS and the Astros, were well, my 2016 World Series champions. But here they are, the Astros sitting at 8-17 entering May and the Twins sitting at 7-18 entering May. Guess what? They play each other this week. At the beginning of the season, this could have been looked at as one of the highlight series of the week. Instead, it is a series between two teams that are nearing the panic button. For the Astros, it is their offense that is failing them. For the Twins, it is their starting pitching and bullpen depth that are failing them. The Twins have already called up their mega pitching prospect Jose Berrios to try to rectify some of the problem.

The two biggest positive surprises are the play of the Chicago White Sox and Philadelphia Phillies. The White Sox currently sit at 18-8 and own baseball's second best record. For the White Sox, Todd Frazier has been everything they could have hoped for and their pitching has been phenomenal, well above anything they could have asked for. Chris Sale has been the best pitcher in the game to begin the season. For the Phillies, they currently sit at 15-10, good for third place on the NL East behind the Mets and Nationals. The Phillies the offense has been good, especially lately, and they have won a lot of close games. Of the two, it is more likely the Phillies fade, but I expect both teams to eventually fade as the season drags along.

Another team that is off to a disappointing start according to most experts is the New York Yankees. Of all of the “contenders” to begin the season, this could have been the candidate to be the most likely to come up short though, due to their age and lack of a rotation. Problem is for the Yankees, they owe a lot of old players a lot money, and it may be time to start thinking about the future for the first time in a long time, especially with the league-wide usage of the shift, making all of those Yankee left handed hitters even less effective.

Does Clayton Kershaw really need to do everything for the Dodgers? He pitched a complete game shutout against the San Diego Padres on Sunday and drove in the game’s only run. Despite his efforts this season, the Dodgers are just 13-13. He is probably asking himself, what else do I have to do? There is a chance, a small chance, that at some point. Kershaw might say enough is enough, and ask for a trade out of Los Angeles.

As we enter May, we also begin to look at possible trade possibilities for the deadline. Two that are really heating up involve two Milwaukee Brewers, left fielder Ryan Braun and catcher Jonathan Lucroy. For Braun, he is being tagged to the Angels. But Arte Moreno, the Angels owner, doesn't want to give up the prospects and pay Braun's salary, so David Sterns may have to choose from one of the two. If I were him, I would choose the salary dump, and wash my hands of Braun so I can move on. Lucroy is being linked to the Rangers. It always has been the Rangers for Lucroy and it always will be. The only question is when does the Brewers catcher head for Arlington?

Monday, April 18, 2016

Twins Tank | Brewers Start Well | MLB Baseball 2016

Brewers Home Field
This may be hard to believe, but the first two weeks of the 2016 Major League Baseball season have already come and gone. This post covers the first two weeks of the season, but this will be a weekly occurrence for this point forward for remainder of the 2016 season.

Overall, the biggest thing that jumps off the page to me as well as every other pundit out there, and it's not even a contest, is the start of the Minnesota Twins. This was a team that before the season, most said would contend, and some said would even make the playoffs. I myself, if you remember back to my season preview, penciled in this team for 88 wins and the Wild Card game win, advancing as far as the ALDS before losing to the Royals. The Twins began the 2016 season 0-9, and couldn't get a hit with two outs and runners in scoring position to save their life. But, the Twins have begun to turn it around this weekend. They swept the Los Angeles Angels, winning 3-2 today in extra innings. Their offense is finally starting to show signs of life. They begin a huge 4 game series with the Brewers this week. They will play two in Minnesota and two in Milwaukee. The Twins will need to win at least two.

Speaking of those Brewers, two weeks into the season they are playing better than expected. They were 5-5 two days ago before getting dump trucked by the Pirates the last two games. That places them at 5-7 after the first two weeks. Their schedule gets a little easier in the coming weeks other than the Cubs, so expect them to hover around just under .500 longer than expected before dropping off eventually by June.

The most pleasant surprise so far has been the play of the Colorado Rockies, specifically one Trevor Story. The Rockies are currently 7-5 and have an early lead in the NL West. Story is one of the big reasons why, and he has been a story. He hit seven home runs in the first six games of the season, setting a Major League record for a rookie. He cooled off in week two, but still played well. Dusty Baker has been exactly what the doctor ordered so far in Washington. Baker was brought into ease the tensions between the players. He has done exactly that so far, and the Nationals are currently 9-2, owners of the best record here in the early going across all of baseball.

Pablo Sandoval is looking like he is going to end up as one of the biggest free agent busts in sports history. After a nightmare 2015, Sandoval has had a worse 2016. He showed up for Red Sox Spring Training even more overweight than he was. He lost his job in Spring Training to Brock Holt and is now on the DL. I am also worried a little about my World Series champions Houston Astros. They are really struggling to hit the ball out of the ballpark so far this season. Still it's early, and I expect they will turn it around. 

Friday, April 1, 2016

Brewers Will Finish 2016 With One of the Worst Records in MLB | Baseball Win-Loss Record By Team

2016 Baseball MLB
We are just days away from the start of the 2016 baseball season. At long last, here is my preview of the entire MLB season, beginning with the American League. Who will win, and who will lose? If you are a Brewers fan, you might not like what I have to say.

AL East
1. Baltimore Orioles (85-75) - Let's face it. The American League East will be baseball's most competitive, yet mediocre division, top to bottom, in 2016. Baltimore will win the East thanks in part to their loaded offense. The pitching will do just enough to make a difference.

2. New York Yankees (82-80) - The Yankees are going to try the Royals approach, and attempt to win with an elite bullpen. There are several things wrong with this idea. First and foremost, the Royals bullpen was a lot fresher and younger than the Yankees is now. Second of all, the entire Royals team is a lot younger and fresher than the Yankees are now. That age will eventually get the best of this team as the season drags along.

3. Toronto Blue Jays (79-83) - The Blue Jays lost David Price in free agency and are trying to figure out what to do with Jose Bautista. They will finish third in a mediocre AL East.

4. Boston Red Sox (77-85) - I'm sorry, but an ace and a closer are not the difference between last place and the World Series for this bunch. They have a long way to go.

5. Tampa Bay Rays (75-87) - The Rays have the best rotation in the division, but their lack of offense will get the best of them, and they may even finally decide to move Evan Longoria at the deadline.

AL Central
1. Kansas City Royals (94-68) - Still the team to beat in the division, and maybe the entire league for that matter. They are 90 feet away from being the two time defending World Series champions at the moment.

2. Minnesota Twins (88-74) - Five years of rebuilding, and now the Twins are starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. This is a mega-talented young team that is only getting better and better. They are an "ace and more" bullpen depth away from being able to go with anyone. Those bullpen pieces will arrive as the season goes along from the minor leagues and they might flip one of their mega-talented young position players for ace at the deadline. I simply don't understand the low preseason rankings for this team.

3. Detroit Tigers (83-79) - The Tigers spent a ton of money this offseason. Too bad they overpaid for average players. This is a team that needs to let it go, and rebuild, not keep going on and maintaining mediocrity, just because the owner is old, and wants to win before he dies.

4. Cleveland Indians (75-87) - Another season, another fourth place finish for Cleveland.

5. Chicago White Sox (71-91) - The White Sox are in the same boat as the Tigers. Fortunately for the rest of baseball, the White Sox hand will be forced and they will sell at the deadline.

AL West
1. Houston Astros (97-65) - At long last, after five years of rebuilding, much like the Twins, the Astros are coming into their own. In my opinion, this is the best team in the American League. But are they the best in baseball?

2. Texas Rangers (86-76) - The Rangers are counting on a healthy Yu Darvish to go along with Cole Hamels at the top of the rotation. They are in desperate need of a catcher, and will be linked to Jonathan Lucroy every day until he is moved to the Rangers, or wherever it may be.

3. Los Angeles Angels (84-78) - After splurging for years in free agency on players like Albert Pujols, Josh Hamilton and C.J. Wilson with nothing to show for it, the Angels are trying to rein it in and get back to their roots of small ball.

4. Seattle Mariners (73-89) - The Mariners thought they had a plan, spend some money to go along with prized prospects coming through the system. The problem is we have never seen a situation unfold like this where all of a team's prized prospects end up being busts. The Mariners will finish fourth, and Felix Hernandez may finally want out of Seattle as a result.

5. Oakland Athletics (68-94) - The Athletics will be the worst team in the American League in 2016.

AL Playoffs
Wild Card Game: Rangers @ Twins- By this point in time, the Twins will have a legitimate ace going in this game against either Darvish or Hamels. The Twins will win late when Trevor Plouffe yanks a double down the left field line in the bottom of the 8th inning to plate Mauer and a pinch runner for Sano as the Twins take a 5-3 lead, hanging on to win by that score.

Twins vs. Royals - The Twins made massive improvements in 2016. But they are not ready to compete with the Royals; soon they will be, but NOT YET. The Royals win in five games.
Orioles vs. Astros- This should be rather easy for the Astros as they win in four, and it's not really much of a contest in the Astros three solid wins.

Royals vs. Astros- A rematch of the ALCS from a year ago, this time Houston takes it in six games.

AL Awards
Comeback player of the year: Yu Darvish/SP/Rangers- Darvish will return from Tommy John, and help anchor a pitching staff with Cole Hamels that will lead the Rangers to the wild card game.

Manager: Paul Molitor/Twins- A case could have been made a year ago for Molitor. He will win it this year after the Twins win 88 games and advance to the ALDS

Rookie of the year: Jose Berrios/SP/Twins- A large part of the improvement of the Twins rotation in addition to trading for an ace will be the emergence of their young arm Jose Berrios.

Cy Young: Dallas Kuechel/SP/Astros- Through all of the noise, Dallas Kuechel has emerged as the Astros ace. A crafty lefty who relies on off-speed and location, Kuechel will win his second straight Cy Young award.

MVP: Adam Jones/CF/Orioles- Let's be very clear, Baltimore will win the American League East based on their offense, not their pitching, and Jones will lead the way, having his best season to date.

National League
The National League will not be as balanced as the American League, and the divide between the top and the bottom will be that much more significant.

NL East
1. New York Mets (94-68) - The Mets are for real. This might be the best rotation we have seen in DECADES.

2. Washington Nationals (90-72) - The Nationals have a great roster, and a bunch of bad blood between the players. Dusty Baker, who is one of baseball's greatest diplomats ever, was brought in to ease the tension between the players.

3. Miami Marlins (69-93) - The Marlins are forever stuck in third place, as their owner refuses to budge one way or the other. The league may need to step in and force a sale like they did with Frank McCourt and the Dodgers. Before you scream personal right, remember, this is Major League Baseball, not some local business. They can do whatever they want. Normal rules don't apply to our major sports leagues.

4. Atlanta Braves (67-95) - The Braves are in full blown rebuild, and I don't quite understand how exactly John Hart is going about this.

5. Philadelphia Phillies(65-97)- Once the most dominant team in the game, the Phillies will finally close the book on the previous era this summer when they trade away first baseman Ryan Howard, the last remaining piece to the previous run.

NL Central
1. Chicago Cubs (100-62) - I don't think the hype train could get any more real for this bunch. It is for good reason though. This is the best team in the National League.

2. Pittsburgh Pirates (95-67) - The poor Pirates, they would be three time defending champions in most divisions, but they are stuck in the ultra-tough NL Central.

3. St. Louis Cardinals(92-70)- The Cardinals, who are aging fast, will finish third, and for the first time in a long time, the Cardinals will be sitting at home watching in October. The question becomes, how long before the Cardinals start trading some of their older players to reload?

4. Cincinnati Reds (62-100) - The Reds are bad, really bad. They are only 4th in this division though.

5. Milwaukee Brewers (58-104) - This is the worst team in the game heading into 2016. I am not saying that in a bad tone though. I like what David Stearns is doing. The Brewers finally have a direction, and it needed to be done. But, they won't be easy to watch at times this year. The only thing the fans ask is that the players play hard right now.

NL West
1. San Francisco Giants (98-64) - The Giants spent a ton of money this offseason, and I mean a TON. They will win what has quickly become a very tough NL West.

2. Arizona Diamondbacks (94-68) - The Diamondbacks also spent a ton of money this offseason. Question is, after a third place finish last season in which they really weren't close, can they create instant championship?

3. Los Angeles Dodgers (90-72) - The Dodgers went backwards in the offseason. Now they go backwards on the field, and will be watching from home in October as well.

4. San Diego Padres (68-94) - The Padres tried to do the instant championship thing a year ago, and it blew up in their face. Now they are right back where they were five years ago, with nothing to show for it.

5. Colorado Rockies (63-99) - The Rockies are a mess right now. Thing is, they are just a little more talented than the Brewers at the moment.

NL Playoffs
Wild Card Game: Diamondbacks @ Pirates- The Pirates finally get the job done in the wild card game after back to back years of heartbreak when Andrew McCutchen hits a walk off home run to win the game 4-3.

Pirates vs. Giants- The Pirates come into this game with confidence after the McCutchen walk off. The problem is that they run into the 800 pound gorilla known as the San Francisco Giants, who win this series in five tough games.

Mets vs. Cubs- A rematch of the 2015 NLCS, The Cubs this time get the best of the Mets in five hard fought games.

Giants vs. Cubs- Every other year, right? Well, not this year. The Cubs finally get rid of this every other year business and knock the Giants out in seven games. This hard fought NLCS will wear them out a little come the World Series though, so stay tuned.

NL Awards
Comeback player of the year: Adam Wainwright/SP/Cardinals- There isn't much to choose from in the National League for this award this season, so we give it to the returning Wainwright, who is coming back from Tommy John.

Manager: Joe Maddon/Cubs- This will be an easy decision after winning 100 games and the fact that there will be no surprises in the National League this year.

Rookie of the year: Tyler Glasnow/SP/Pirates- The big, powerful right-hander from Newhall, California will be called up sometime early in the season and will quickly make his mark in the Pirates rotation.

Cy Young: Madison Bumgarner/SP/Giants- This really isn't fair. You have about 100 good preseason candidates for this award in the National League. Still, I say Bumgarner puts together his best regular season to date, and walks away with the Cy Young award.

MVP: Paul Goldschmidt/1B/Diamondbacks- After being locked out of the race the last two seasons because the Diamondbacks weren't good enough, Goldy finally gets his due, and wins his first NL MVP award after the Diamondbacks make the playoffs.

World Series
Astros vs. Cubs- The Astros will be somewhat rested. The Cubs will be tired after a 12 round fight in the National League playoffs just to get here. The Astros have the better bullpen. The Astros win the 2016 World Series in seven games and with that, all of those people who criticized the Astros rebuild can go shove it somewhere for good. I am a fan of the way they did it, which is the same way the Cubs did it, the same way the Twins did it, and the same way the Mets did it. There is no “well let's see what happens”. I hate that. All you do by taking that approach is shoot for mediocrity and you end up watering down the product for everyone else. You are coming or going, one or the other, you can't do both.