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.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Seven MLB Teams Will Lose 95 Games in 2016

Baseball Predictions 2016
We are less than two weeks away from the start of the 2016 MLB season. It's not quite time yet to release official predictions, so therefore it is a good time to release a round of “bold predictions”, meaning these could happen. Not saying they won't or will, but they could happen.

Nobody in the American League East will win 85 games. The American League East will be baseball's most competitive division in 2016. You could literally make a case for all five teams to win it, even the Rays, and you could also make an argument as to why all five teams could finish last. Bottom line, there is no team in this division that really stands out. The difference between first and last place in this division could be less than 10 games, yes that close this division will be competitive, but competitively mediocre because of it.

The Twins will trade for an ace. The Minnesota Twins are two pieces away from being able to go with anyone- a better bullpen, and an ace. The better bullpen will come, as the organization has a bunch of young pitching prospects who are considered to be good bullpen types that could make their way to the Twins pen by the end of the summer. You can't just call someone up and declare them an ace though. They might have an ace's arm, but it takes time to turn into one, kind of like an All-Pro quarterback in football. Unlike football though, you can easily trade for an ace in baseball. If the Twins are in contention this summer, look for them to use their excess of young position player talent, specifically at the corner outfield/first base/designated hitter position, as bait to go fishing for someone's ace.

Eight teams in the National League could win 90 games. The National League in 2016 is literally split right down the middle. The Giants, Diamondbacks, Dodgers, Cubs, Cardinals, Pirates, Mets, and Nationals will all be really good. They could all be really good to the point where they all win over 90 games in 2016. Not all of them will make the postseason, so that means that three of these teams will be watching from home in October. But which three will it be? There is a potential downside to all of these teams winning 90 games though, which is my next bold prediction.

Seven teams could lose 95 games. For as good as the eight teams above are at the moment, the other seven, the Rockies, Padres, Reds, Brewers, Marlins, Braves, and Phillies are all that bad. All seven of them could be staring at records of 67-95 or worse at the end of the season if the above prediction comes true. But which one is truly the worst? Out of common decency, and since it isn't nearly as fun as debating who will finish first, we will let that one go for now.

Chris Sale will be in a different uniform by the end of the trade deadline. The Chicago White Sox have talked about moving Chris Sale for quite a while now, on and off, depending on what they think of their teams chances that day. Well after the White Sox find themselves in last place in July, Sale will be put up for sale, literally. No, he will not be in Minnesota as stated above in the Twins search for an ace. He could though, be on his way to a contender, possibly headed into the heart of Texas. Hint hint.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Brewers 2016 Position Questions Still Unanswered | Brewers Spring Training

Brewers 2016 Roster
Over the past week, players have begun reporting for Spring Training for all 32 teams. Our own Milwaukee Brewers are beginning a full rebuild and have many questions to answer before opening day. Here are some of those questions.

Who will play center field? We know that Ryan Braun will move back to left field and Domingo Santana will play right field. But who will play center? There are a ton of players in the mix. Right now, I would say they are going to give Michael Reed the first chance, and he should technically enter Spring Training number one on the depth chart, although this early in camp, and with this many players in the mix, that doesn't mean much. If he falters or proves to be not ready, look for them to give Shane Peterson the next opportunity. After Peterson the former New York Met Kirk Nieuwenhuis will get a shot. After him, look for the likes of Keon Broxton, Rymer Liriano, and Ramon Flores, three interesting younger-ish players the Brewers have. After them, it's non-roster invitees Alex Presley and Eric Young Jr. Last would be 21-year-old Brett Phillips, who has a very outside chance, but isn't ready yet, and since the Brewers are just beginning a rebuild, I don' think they would want to start his service clock just yet.

Who will play shortstop? With the trade of Jean Segura, the name the comes to people's minds first and foremost is the Brewers own mega-prospect, 21-year-old Orlando Arcia, the little brother of Minnesota Twins outfielder Oswaldo Arcia. However, he isn't quite ready yet, so as the Brewers hold of starting his service clock as long as possible, the list of names that could get the opening day start is long. I would say that the first chance goes to Yadiel Rivera, a Brewers farmhand who isn't nearly as talented as Arcia, but is a little farther advanced. After Rivera look for the former Houston Astro Jonathan Villar. After them it opens up a little. Colin Walsh, and non-roster invitees Hernan Perez and Jake Elmoe. If none of those names emerge, look for the trusty veteran Aaron Hill, who came over on the Jean Segura trade, to get the job for the time being.

Who will play third base? This one is not as complicated as the first two questions. There are two names here that will get every opportunity to win the job. Garin Cecchini will get the first chance. He will compete with the former San Diego Padre and Boston Red Sox who will be given the opportunity to try and recapture his 2012 form. After that, the list includes many of the names from the shortstop list, but that is only if Cecchini and Middlebrooks prove to be that bad this spring.

Who will be the closer? With the trade of Francisco Rodriguez, the Milwaukee Brewers closer role becomes wide, WIDE open. In fact, since they are beginning a rebuild, and having a good closer is not really necessary at this stage, the team may take this one on a week to week basis during the season. The hard throwing David Goforth will begin camp as the closer by default, although that means nothing at this point. Former Brewers prospect Jeremy Jefress, who has had his ups and downs, could also get a chance. Tyler Thornburg, another former prospect, could get a shot. I would look for Ariel Pena, whom scouts say has a closers arm, to get his fair chance as well, and could very well end up being the long term solution.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

World Series Champion Royals Set To Win in 2016 | Twins Will Be A Close Second

Kansas City Royals
The Kansas City Royals will begin their 2016 Spring Training with a title they have not had in a long time. They are now the defending World Series champions. In fact, they would be two time defending World Series champions with one swing of the bat, or had Mike Jirschele waved Alex Gordon around third. Still, they are the defending World Series champions, so there is no need to dwell on what might have been.

The Royals enter 2016 with pretty much the same roster they won the World Series with, minus Ben Zobrist and Johnny Cueto, who have moved on to the Chicago Cubs and San Francisco Giants. They signed Ian Kennedy to replace Johnny Cueto in the rotation. Kennedy provides them with something they so desperately need in the rotation, an “innings eater” who can take some stress off of their overused bullpen. Yes, their bullpen the best in the game, but they have relied upon it almost too much in the last two seasons. That does need to change this season. They need more out of Edison Volquez and Chris Young. They also need Yordano Ventura to finally step up and become the ace Royals fans know he can be.

There are a few questions to answer during Spring Training. First, can Tim Holland win his job back? Holland was one of the best in the game for a while there, but a poor stretch of play cost him his closer job to Wade Davis late last season. Davis enters as the default closer, but if Holland spends his time wisely in the coming months, he can find a way to get his job back. The next question is who will win the backup catching job? That is a two horse race between former St. Louis Cardinal Tony Cruz and Drew Butera from the Twins. I say Butera keeps his job. They Royals also have a lot of outfield decisions to make. They already have Alex Gordon, Jarrod Dyson, and Lorenzo Cain in their outfield as establish players. But they also have young talent in Terrance Gore, and he’s itching for playing time. The Royals “mega-prospect” Bubba Starling is also coming along.

Twins Might Upset Royals In 2016

Perhaps the biggest challenge to the Royals, if they are to win the American League Central again in 2016, will be taking down the Minnesota Twins. Minnesota is working on a long rebuild at the moment. The good news is they won't have to wait long to get the party started.  The Twins take on the Royals in the second series of the season, on April 8th.  Also down, but not out, are the Detroit Tigers. The Royals play the Tigers for the first time in 2016, beginning April 19 for a three game series at home. The Royals will hook up with the Cleveland Indians for the first time in 2016 on May 6th for a three-game stint on the road. To round out the American League Central head to head matchups, the Royals travel to Chicago to take on the White Sox for a three game series beginning May 20th.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

What the 2016 Brewers Rebuild Looks Like | It's Going to Take Time

Brewers 2016 Rebuild
Relax Brewers fans, the team is in a full blown rebuild. That is obvious to just about everyone at this point that knows anything about baseball and it is the correct decision as well. Right now, the Brewers are simply staring up at three teams in the division, which at the end of the day, are just better than they are. Since the start of the trade deadline last season, Milwaukee has made a bevy of moves, trading veterans for prospects. Aramis Ramirez is gone. Carlos Gomez is gone. Geraldo Parra is gone. Jonathan Broxton is gone. That was all before the trade deadline. So far this offseason, Francisco Rodriguez has been shipped off to Detroit and Adam Lind has been sent packing to the Seattle Mariners. Still on the table to be moved are Khris Davis, Jean Segura, and Jonathan Lucroy for the right price.

For those of you who are thinking this is speeding up the Brewers rebuild and they will be “back” sooner than you think, maybe as soon as 2017, you need to relax. This is not football. Baseball rebuilds take significantly longer, and the Brewers are just getting started. In fact, Milwaukee hasn't even bottomed out yet, that is coming this upcoming season, depending on if they can move the final three leftover pieces before then- Segura, Lucroy, and Davis, which I think they will be able to. Look at the four prime examples- the Cubs, Twins, Astros, and Mets. These four teams didn't just throw up the white flag a couple of years ago, give it a half effort, and say “okay, we are back now”. No, these teams, circa the turn of the last decade, threw up the white flag. So if I am counting this correctly, about five years or so, and they are just now, returning to the spotlight. Actually, if you think about it, all of them returned a year early.

Some of you might point to the moves the Brewers have made, and claim that they already have all the key pieces in place. I am sorry to say this, but that is just not true. Yes, they have acquired some nice pieces in all of these moves, but none of them really possess the “wow” factor. For example, Domingo Santana is the best player they have acquired. He is, at best, a borderline All-Star, meaning if he reaches his full potential, he will have the chance to sneak onto one or two All-Star teams in his career. But he doesn't really wow me. The cornerstone “wow” factor pieces will be coming in the next few drafts, as the Brewers, beginning this season, will probably have the opportunity to draft in the top 5 of each round of the draft the next few years. This is where they will acquire their own version of Khris Bryant, or Carlos Corriea, or Miguel Sano, or Bryce Harper, or whoever you want to name. So settle in Brewers fans, because this is going to take a while.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Hot Pitchers In The 2015 MLB Playoffs

Pitchers in the MLB Playoffs
We are down to four in the 2015 playoffs. The New York Mets, the Chicago Cubs, the Toronto Blue Jays, and the Kansas City Royals. I don't have much to say at the moment about the playoffs so therefore I decided it was a good name to preview the 2015 free agent period. Most of this year's best free agents are pitchers, specifically four of them. So let's start there, shall we?

Zack Grienke- The Dodgers number two starter has already stated he is going to opt out of the remaining three years, and 71 million dollars he has left on his contract, which was expected. Greinke is 32 and is going to capitalize on a magnificent 2015 campaign by going for one last big contract. He will get it to. Possible destinations are all of the big markets- a return to the Dodgers, the Yankees, the Red Sox, the The Cubs, the Tigers, and the Angels.

Johnny Cueto- In June, this man's stock was through the roof, and he was looking at possibly 10 years and 200 million-plus on the open market. Following a trade to the Royals at the deadline, Cueto has struggled greatly in Kansas City, and his value has taken a dip. Still, he will be highly sought after- Destinations are the same as Grienke's.

Jeff Samardzija- Has there been a more talked about player in recent memory, not for what he has done, but what he still could be? A couple of years ago Samardzija was looking at 5 years, 100 million on the open market. He struggled recently, and has had an up-and-down 2015. Right now he is looking at four years, 50 million. Possible destinations are a return to the White Sox, and all of the big markets. That Is going to be a theme this offseason. Right now, the big markets are really short on starting pitching across the board.

David Price- Traded at the 2015 deadline for the second straight year, Price was big for the Blue Jays down the stretch in 2015. However, he has had a miserable postseason, and could have made his last start for the Blue Jays the other night in game two loss in the ACLS. The experts are all saying that there is no chance Price returns to the Blue Jays. He will have the same market as the other big name starting pitchers.