The 9th Inning Column: MLB Draft Week, Jose Ramirez’ struggles, and RIP Bill Buckner

Welcome back to the 9th Inning. This is the second edition of this in the 2019 MLB season. This is a monthly column on Pro Sports Fandom in which I roundup the month’s biggest happenings in the baseball realm. I’ll discuss what teams are hot and what teams are not. I will also give my personal thoughts on a few notable baseball-related events as well as giving out monthly awards for team of the month, players of the month, and rookies of the month. It’s basically a baseball podcast squeezed into an article that happens near the end of every month. This is the second article of this season and I hope for some immense success with this column. If you’d like, be sure to share with your friends, social media, and family! I’d love my column to reach as big a global outreach as possible.

I’m going to start the 9th Inning Column for May with a few rounded-up thoughts in recap of the biggest stories recently, both on the field and off.

It is almost time for the MLB Draft!

We are less than a week away from the 2019 MLB Draft and there’s a lot of speculation swirling about the first few rounds. Firstly, nearly everybody in the business believes that the Orioles have to take Adley Rutschman with the top pick. Rutschman, a catcher for Oregon State, is a switch-hitter with solid power and great defensive skills behind the plate. Secondly, a lot of people believe that the Royals will take Bobby Witt Jr. with the second pick. Witt Jr. is a five-tool shortstop coming out of Colleyville Heritage High School in Texas, and he’s the son of a former big league starter. Overall, we are looking at a draft class that is somewhat weak on quality arms but more than makes it up for it with high potential position players.

What is wrong with Jose Ramirez?

In the past few seasons, Jose Ramirez gave the Cleveland Indians another budding star to put alongside Francisco Lindor. Yet in 2019, Ramírez looks to be well off his game. He doesn’t look like he’ll achieve a three peat of third place AL MVP finishes. In 55 games, the 26 year old third baseman is batting a mere .211 with only 4 home runs and 17 RBIs. He’s striking out more, walking less, and seems to have lost his touch at the plate. A good thing for Ramirez is that he’s been playing well lately, batting .357 in his last three games. Still though, the Indians are struggling as a team and falling way back in the race for the AL Central, and they’ll need Ramírez to start putting up the numbers that he’s capable of if they want to get back in it.

Former batting champ Bill Buckner passes away

An MLB legend passed away on Monday after a battle with dementia. Bill Buckner played in the big leagues for 22 seasons and totaled 2,715 hits on a career .289 batting average. Buckner was a great teammate and was highly valued as a utility player during his time in the MLB. In 1980, he batted .324 and was the National League Batting Champion. In 1981, he made his only All-Star team. Buckner deserves respect across the league for his great career. Rest In Peace, Bill Buckner.

Who’s Hot and Who’s Not?

The New York Yankees were the best team in baseball throughout the month of May and I’ll discuss them later, because they won one of the column’s awards.

The Minnesota Twins were certainly in the mix for the team of the month award in May, but they were just edged out by the Yanks. They’re pulling away from the Indians in the AL Central, as they currently have a 9.5 game cushion. Newfound ace Jake Odorizzi was phenomenal in May, pitching his way to a 0.94 ERA in five starts. First baseman C.J. Cron led the high powered Twins offensive attack in May as he hit eight home runs, batted .301, and tallied 21 RBIs. The Twins continue to surprise folks and they are seriously one of the top five teams in baseball right now, without any doubt.

The Oakland Athletics have recently gotten themselves firmly back in the hunt for the AL West crown with a 10-game winning streak and an 8-2 stretch over their past ten games. They are alone in second place in their division and sit 7.5 games back of the Houston Astros. The Athletics were led by Frankie Montas strong pitching (2.64 ERA in 30.2 IP) and the offense was helped a lot by Josh Phegley (4 HRs and 20 RBI). With franchise cornerstone Matt Chapman and a solid pitching staff, last year’s second AL Wildcard team could be well on their way to another postseason appearance.

If you haven’t heard about Cody Bellinger’s stellar start of a 2019 campaign, then you’ve been living under a rock. Combine that with a dominating pitching staff and you can see why the Los Angeles Dodgers are continuing to build a sizeable lead in the NL West Standings. They either won or split every series in the month of May, proving that they can compete in every single game. Sitting at a 38-19 record, the Dodgers look to be well on their way to another NL West crown.

The St. Louis Cardinals were very good in the first month or so of 2019, but they’ve fallen off to a below .500 record as we turn the calendar to June. They are 4-6 in their last ten games and now sit 4.5 games back of the first place Cubs in the NL Central. The Cardinals play in perhaps the toughest division in all of Major League Baseball, so they’ll need to stop skidding before they find themselves in too big of a hole.

Remember when the Seattle Mariners were hitting all sorts of bombs every day and were in first place in the AL West? Yeah, I do too, and those days are long gone as the Mariners have the worst record in all of Major League Baseball in the month of May at 6-21. They’ve struggled as a pitching staff and had tough offensive nights, leading to their fall to dead last in the AL West standings. It looks like the Mariners have run out of magic.

In last month’s column, I talked extensively about what the San Francisco Giants should do if they didn’t start winning soon. Well, the Giants haven’t done any better and are still in last place in their division as they’ve been extremely cold as of late. They’re in the midst of a 2-8 stretch in their last ten games and they are on their way to being an early seller on the summer trade market.

The Monthly Awards:

Team of the Month is…

The New York Yankees (19-7)

The New York Yankees have surged to the top of the American League East recently due to a continued stretch of dominance. They’ve gone 12-3 since May 12th and that includes series victory over the Tampa Bay Rays (twice) and the San Diego Padres. Masahiro Tanaka had been dominant in May until his start on Tuesday, having a 2.80 earned run average in 35.1 innings of work. Gleyber Torres (.308 AVG and 9 HRs) and Gary Sanchez (.288 AVG and 9 HRs) have carried the load offensively for the Yanks throughout the month. The bullpen is starting to round into form as well, proving it is as good as advertised with Chapman, Britton, Kahnle, and Ottavino all in peak form right now. With so many injuries, the Yankees performance has simply been impressive.

The Hitter of the Month is…

Pittsburgh Pirates 1B Josh Bell

One of the best hitters in all of the majors through the season thus far, Pirates first baseman Josh Bell has been absolutely smoking baseballs left and right. He is undoubtedly the hitter of the month of May, as he hit at a .389 batting average with a .444 on-base percentage and an .814 slugging percentage. He also has hit 12 homers in the month and has racked up 30 RBIs. He’s shown considerable improvements in the 2019 campaign so far, as he’s close to reaching previously career high numbers already. Bell is the unquestioned leader in Pittsburgh and if he continues hitting like this, he will be in Cleveland as an All-Star this summer.

The Starter of the Month is…

Los Angeles Dodgers LHP Hyun-Jin Ryu

Garnering praise as a “left handed Greg Maddux”, the 32-year old veteran Ryu is off to a Cy Young-esque start in 2019. In May, he was nearly unhittable, going 5-0 and pitching his way to a 0.59 ERA in 45.2 innings on the mound. Opposing hitters had just a .177 batting average against him in his six starts and he continues to provide great outings for the dominating LA Dodgers club. If Ryu continues to control the strike zone and limit walks, I could easily see him being named the Cy Young award winner for the National League in the fall.

The Reliever of the Month is…

New York Yankees RHP Adam Ottavino

Adam Ottavino has started off his 2019 campaign still right in his dominant 2018 form. The veteran reliever was superb in May, appearing in 13 games and not giving up any runs. Since April 21st, Ottavino has not given up a run. Thus far in 2019, the former Rockie has a 2-1 record with 12 holds and a 1.37 ERA in 26.1 innings pitched. He’s been exactly the guy that the Yankees wanted him to be when they signed him in the offseason. He undoubtedly deserves the reliever of the month award for his performance in May.

Rookie Hitter of the Month:

Boston Red Sox 2B Michael Chavis

The third best prospect in the Boston farm system, Chavis has immediately come up into the big leagues and helped provide a stable bat in the lineup. In May, he batted .255 with seven home runs and he’s showing off his advanced hitting tool. With other rookies struggling, Chavis has climbed his way up near the top of the American League Rookie of the Year award race.

Rookie Pitcher of the Month:

Atlanta Braves RHP Mike Soroka

Mike Soroka has been more than just a valuable contributor for the Braves rotation this season. He’s been dominant and looks to be firmly in the mix for the NL Rookie of the Year award. If the award was won in May, Soroka may have just clinched it. He pitched his way to a 0.79 ERA in 34 innings during the month. He only gave up three earned runs and opponents hit just .145 against him in the month. Soroka has been just as good as his prospect evaluation hyped him up to be, and he’s on his way to becoming the ace of the Braves already.

Thanks for reading the May edition of the 9th Inning column! I hope you enjoyed! Don’t forget to share with your friends, family, and on social media! Feel free to contact me on my Twitter @TBeckmann24 if you have any questions! I’ll be back next month! Peace!

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The 9th Inning (April): Vlad Jr’s debut, Mize’s Double-A gem, and what’s wrong with the Red Sox?

Welcome to the 9th Inning. This is the first edition of this in the 2019 MLB season. This is going to be a monthly column on Pro Sports Fandom in which I roundup the month’s biggest happenings in the baseball realm. I’ll discuss what teams are hot and what teams are not. I will also give my personal thoughts on a few notable baseball-related events as well as giving out monthly awards for team of the month, players of the month, and rookies of the month. It’s basically a baseball podcast squeezed into an article that will happen near the end of every month. This is the debut article of this season and I hope for some immense success with this column. If you’d like, be sure to share with your friends, social media, and family! I’d love my column to reach as big a global outreach as possible.

I’m going to start the 9th Inning Column for April with a few rounded-up thoughts in recap of the biggest stories recently, both on the field and off.

Vlad Jr’s debut

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. made his highly anticipated MLB debut this past weekend for the Toronto Blue Jays. MLB Pipeline’s number one prospect may have been the most hyped up debut since Bryce Harper. Guerrero is only batting .250 after his first series is in the books, but part of that is due to him not getting great pitches to hit. MLB.com says that Guerrero had a 37.3% zone rate over his first few games. The Blue Jays are set to take on the Angels in Anaheim in their weekday series, and it’ll be a great series to watch!

2018 top draft pick dominates in first AA Start

Not often will I talk about a player in the Double-A levels of minor league ball in this column, but I feel that this one is well deserved. Casey Mize, the number one overall pick in the 2018 MLB Draft, made his AA debut with the Detroit Tigers on Monday. The Auburn product dominated and sent a message to the scouts, throwing a nine inning no-hitter in a win for the Erie Seawolves. It was an impressive performance that caught the eyes of many, as Mize only walked one batter and hit another. If he continues to pitch like this, Detroit may soon have a bonafide ace on their big league roster.

What’s wrong with the Red Sox?

The defending champion Boston Red Sox are off to a sour start in the 2019 season, having a 12-17 record to show for it just one month in. They’ve cleaned it up as of late, but there’s still cause for concern with the Beantown squad. Jackie Bradley Jr. has been horrible with the bat, 2018 World Series MVP Steve Pearce is struggling, and Eduardo Rodriguez/Chris Sale both have ERAs over 6. If the pitching staff doesn’t get going soon, Boston may find itself in a hole too big to overcome, but there’s certainly reason to believe in this team. I mean heck, they are the defending World Series Champs after all!

Where do the Giants go from here?

A lot of talk has circulated about how the San Francisco Giants will attack the summer trade deadline. It’s the final season for manager Bruce Bochy, and it is perhaps the final year for longtime franchise ace Madison Bumgarner in the Bay Area. The Giants have built a team of veterans in hopes of competing in 2019, but it’s gone very badly thus far. They are 12-17 in the NL West, which is last in the division. They are not doing well at the plate, and Jeff Samardzija is their only qualified starting pitcher with an ERA below four. As we near June, the Giants are creeping closer and closer to being the first team to sell off their top veterans to buyers.

Who’s Hot and Who’s Not?

The banged-up New York Yankees are the hottest team in baseball right now, as they’ve gone 11-2 since losing a home series to the Chicago White Sox on April 14th. Luke Voit was dominant for the Bronx Bombers last week on their West Coast road trip, winning AL Player of the Week Honors by going 13 for 30 with four home runs and 10 RBIs. In doing so, Voit has continued a ridiculous 39-game on base streak into the Yankees two game series against the Diamondbacks.

The Minnesota Twins have won 8 of their last 10 games and have taken 2.5 game lead in the AL Central over the Cleveland Indians. Eddie Rosario (11 HRs) and Jorge Polanco (.948 OPS) have lead the scorching hot Twins offensive attack and Jose Berrios continues to grow into an ace, leaving the Twins in great position to make a run at the postseason in 2019.

The St. Louis Cardinals have won 8 of their last 10 games as well, en route to taking a three game lead over the Cubs and Brewers in the NL Central Division. Paul DeJong (.342 AVG, 5 HRs) and Marcell Ozuna (.271 AVG, 10 HRs) are leading a Redbirds offense that is still awaiting an inevitable annual hot stretch from All-Star first baseman Paul Goldschmidt.

After a rough start to the 2019 campaign, the Chicago Cubs have gotten back near the top of the NL Central with a recent hot stretch. They are winners of 7 of their last 10 games, climbing into a tie for second in the division with the Milwaukee Brewers. Javier Baez has been otherworldly thus far, hitting .315 with 9 home runs and 22 RBIs. The Cubs are also getting great contribution from catcher Willson Contreras (1.033 OPS). They can certainly push for the NL Central, and I fully expect them to do so.

The Pittsburgh Pirates were 12-6 after a win over the San Francisco Giants on Saturday, April 20th. Since then? They’ve been one of the worst teams in baseball, losing eight straight and falling to fourth place in the NL Central Division. With competition like the Cubs, Brewers, and Cardinals, the Pirates cannot have losing streaks like this and expect to stay atop the division. If they don’t figure it out soon, Pittsburgh could be in serious hot water.

The Washington Nationals have also caught a case of the cold as we flip the calendar to May. They’ve lost three series in a row to teams that I’m just not quite sure they should be losing to. On paper, the Nats have one of the best complete rosters in all of Major League Baseball, but they haven’t been able to put it together just yet in 2019. Let’s see what this team does in May before we press the panic button!

The Oakland Athletics are in serious danger of not getting back to the postseason already in 2019, and that’s not because I don’t have faith in their ability to turn it around after a rough start. The AL West is more competitive this year, and the A’s have struggled as of late, getting swept by Toronto twice in two weeks and losing 7 of their last 10. Will Khris Davis and the Oakland crew figure it out before it’s too late?

The Monthly Awards:

Team of the Month is…

The Tampa Bay Rays (19-9)

The Rays definitely were not a lot of experts picks to lead the AL East through one month, but here we are. Tampa Bay holds a 1.5 game lead on the Yankees as we speak, and they’ve had a terrific first month of baseball. A big reason for their success is the pitching staff, as Tyler Glasgow (5 wins, 1.75 ERA), 2018 AL Cy Young award winner Blake Snell (2 wins, 2.54 ERA), and free agent acquisition Charlie Morton (3 wins, 2.76 ERA) lead the MLB’s top pitching staff thus far. Jose Alvarado has been one of baseball’s best relievers (we’ll discuss him later) and the Rays are much deeper than this, but there’s too many people to name. Austin Meadows was absolutely raking before he got injured (.351, 6 HRs, 19 RBIs), and he should be back rather soon. Yandy Diaz (.298, 7 HRs, 18 RBIs) is having a breakout season at the hot corner for Tampa Bay and veteran outfielder Tommy Pham continues to put up productive numbers (.294, 4 HRs, 12 RBIs). They should be taken seriously as one of the premier World Series contenders.

The Hitter of the Month is …

Los Angeles Dodgers OF/1B Cody Bellinger

Cody Bellinger has played at both right field and first base this year, so I’m not sure what to call him with such a small sample size. But I can call him something, and that is an absolutely on-fire baseball player. The third-year superstar has been nothing short of spectacular in 2019, batting .434 with 14 homers and 37 RBIs. His on-base percentage is over .500 and his slugging percentage sits firmly at .906. What’s even more impressive is that Bellinger has increased his base on balls percentage from 10.9% to 14.1%, while also cutting down his strikeout percentage from 23.9% in 2018 to 11.7% through one month of 2019. If he continues to play like this, he will shatter records, and with this hot start, he’s certainly the favorite to win NL MVP!

Starter of the Month is …

Cincinnati Reds RHP Luis Castillo

When called up to the bigs in 2017, Luis Castillo was the tenth best prospect in the Reds farm system. With a lot of patience by Cincinnati’s staff, Castillo looks to be turning the corner into one of the best pitchers in the National League. His first month of 2019 certainly proved such, as the 26 year old rising phenom has made six starts, going 3-1 with a 1.23 ERA in 36.1 innings of work. He’s striking out more batters than he has at any point in his young career, and has reduced his home runs per nine innings rate from a sour 1.49 in 2018 to an impressive 0.25 thus far in 2019. His HR/FB rate sits at a solid 4.5%, showing that Castillo has been stingy in terms of preventing the longball. At this point, batters just haven’t been able to hit his stuff, as hitters are hitting just .165 against him. If he continues to pitch like this, he may just deliver the NL Cy Young Award to Great American Ball Park.

The Reliever of the Month is …

Tampa Bay Rays LHP Jose Alvarado

Dating back to 2018, the 23 year old Alvarado has been one of the best relievers in all of Major League Baseball, and that trend has continued to pick up steam as we turn the calendar to May. Thrust into a big late-inning role in 2019, the lefty has been nothing short of excellent thus far. He’s made four saves in 14 appearances, pitching his way to a 1.38 ERA and a 1.82 FIP, proving his performance is no fluke. Alvarado has not surrendered a home run yet this season, and he’s striking out 13.1 batters per nine innings. The only negative in 2019 is that Alvarado’s walks per nine innings rate has increased a bit from 4.08 to 4.85, but it’s not too severe of a jump.

The Rookie Hitter of the Month is …

New York Mets 1B Peter Alonso

A second round selection by the Mets in the 2016 MLB Draft, Peter Alonso has made a quick transition to the pros. He is a phenomenal hitter and subpar defender at first base, and he showed that in the minor leagues all the way up until earning the Mets starting first baseman job in 2019. Since he earned the job, Alonso has proven why he was one of the Mets untradeable chips as they rebuilt last year. He’s an early frontrunner for the NL Rookie of the Year award, as he’s batting .304 with nine home runs and 25 RBIs in 2019. He will have to continue to work on balancing his approach and limiting strikeouts, but right now, Alonso is hot and off to the races, and he’s showing no signs of slowing down.

The Rookie Pitcher of the Month is …

San Diego Padres RHP Chris Paddack

Paddack is the 31st best prospect in all of Major League Baseball according to MLB Pipeline, but after one month of him in the bigs, I think he may deserve a huge boost before he loses his eligibility on such lists. He’s 23 years old and has been firing on all cylinders to start his MLB career. He’s made five starts, going 1-1 and pitching 27 innings with a 1.67 ERA, ranking third amongst all National League pitchers with 25 or more innings pitched. He’s just been purely unhittable, as opposing hitters have a .111 batting average against him. He’s striking out 10 batters per nine innings, only walking about 2.6 per nine, and only surrenders 0.6 home runs per nine. If he continues to pitch like this, he’ll be right in the thick of the battle for NL Rookie of the Year with his teammate Fernando Tatis Jr. and Mets slugger Pete Alonso (mentioned above).

Thanks for reading the season debut of the 9th Inning column! I hope you enjoyed! Don’t forget to share with your friends, family, and on social media! Feel free to contact me on my Twitter @TBeckmann24 if you have any questions! I’ll be back next month! Peace!

The Obstructed NL West Preview-2019

The National League West has been dominated by the Dodgers for a while now. Last year we saw jumps however from the Rockies, hoping to take that next step after winning the Wild Card game and getting to the NLDS. Do they have enough to take the Dodgers down in 2019? The Padres made one of the biggest splashes in the off-season by bringing in Manny Machado and the hope is that the farm system, which is prime as prime can be, can pay off dividends starting this year. The Giants, if healthy (keyword: IF) can make some noise but the likes of Cueto, Bumgarner, and Posey need to be healthy and have better years from the Brandon boys (Crawford and Belt-who also needs to stay healthy). And the Diamondbacks look more towards a rebuild after the losses of Goldschmidt, Pollock, and others. So let’s take a look at how this year could fare out in the NL West. Again, my previews are how I believe the teams will play out in 2019 for predictions.

Arenado will prove why he is a big money player for the Rockies

(1) COLORADO ROCKIES

Last year: 91-72

KEY ADDITIONS: 1B-Mark Reynolds (FA-Washington)

KEY LOSSES: C-Drew Butera (FA-Philadelphia), 2B-DJ LeMahieu (FA-New York Yankees), OF-Carlos Gonzalez (FA-Cleveland), OF-Gerardo Parra (FA-San Francisco, P-Adam Ottavino (FA-New York Yankees)

The Rockies were one game back behind the Dodgers last year. Surprisingly the pitching of the Rockies really kept them in the race and getting into October baseball, notably by the arms of German Marquez and Kyle Freeland. However, there is hope the live armed Jon Gray turns it around this year which would be huge for the Rockies. The bullpen was decent, but Wade Davis needs to regain his form like he had in Kansas City and with the Cubs. If that happens, they will be a major threat for the NL in 2019. The offense of the Rockies, well, is the offense. Nolan Arenado, Charlie Blackmon, and Trevor Story will lead the way. But they do need more consistency out of their big free agent pickup from a couple of years ago in Ian Desmond and now we get to see Ryan McMahon play on an everyday level (and a guy I have high hopes for-he better since I have him on my fantasy team). If all goes well, the Rockies could be a major threat to the National League to get to the World Series in 2019….yes, I finally bought in to the Rockies after a few years of being a Doubting Thomas. MY PREDICTION: 93-69

Muncy will need to continue his streak in Los Angeles to help keep the Dodgers in the running

(2) LOS ANGELES DODGERS

Last year: 92-71 (Defeated Atlanta in NLDS, Defeated Milwaukee in NLCS, Lost to Boston in World Series)

KEY ADDITIONS: OF-AJ Pollock (FA-Arizona), C-Russell Martin (Trade-Toronto) P-Joe Kelly (FA-Boston),

KEY LOSSES: OF-Matt Kemp (Trade-Cincinnati), OF-Yasiel Puig (Trade-Cincinnati), P-Alex Wood (Trade-Cincinnati) C-Yasmani Grandal (FA-Milwaukee), 2B-Brian Dozier (FA-Washington), SS-Manny Machado (FA-San Diego) P-John Axford (FA-Toronto) P-Daniel Hudson (FA-Los Angeles Angels) 2B-Chase Utley (retired)

The Dodgers had a unique off-season to say the least. People (myself included) thought the Kemp/Puig/Wood trade to Cincinnati opened the door to the Dodgers signing Bryce Harper after all that payroll was freed. And that obviously didn’t happen. Also gone was reliable catcher Yasmani Grandal to Milwaukee, and prized trade acquisition Manny Machado. Los Angeles added the Diamondbacks prized free agent AJ Pollock which was a decent move and the reliable reliever in Joe Kelly, but did it off-set the losses? I’m not sure. And Clayton Kershaw is having injury issues and at times didn’t look as dominant last year. Corey Seager is also coming back from injury and the hope is that Max Muncy is a legit baseball player after exploding onto the scene last year. The other hope is if Cody Bellinger and Joc Pederson can find any way to get consistent as to me this one of the years that the Dodgers have a few more question marks than prior. But if their farm system (which is still strong) can step up with the young players, they should figure to be a threat in the West. MY PREDICTION: 89-73

The Machado signing may be the birth of something grand in San Diego

(3) SAN DIEGO PADRES

Last year: 66-96

KEY ADDITIONS: 3B-Manny Machado (FA-Los Angeles Dodgers), 2B-Ian Kinsler (FA-Boston) IF-Greg Garcia (Waivers-St. Louis), P-Adam Warren (FA-Seattle), P-Aaron Loup (FA-Philadelphia), P-Garret Richards (FA-Los Angeles Angels)

KEY LOSSES: P-Clayton Richard (Trade-Toronto), C-AJ Ellis (retired), 2B-Corey Spangenberg (FA-Miami), SS-Freddy Galvis (FA-Toronto)

A lot of high hopes now run in San Diego thanks in part to the signing of Manny Machado. He fills the need of that offensive weapon that the Padres have sorely lacked since really Adrian Gonzalez. If Wil Myers can stay healthy and Eric Hosmer can get a little more pop, the Padres have a nice offense going in what it seems like it’s forever. The other hope is that we start seeing some of San Diego’s top prospects come into play such as Fernando Tatis Jr (who should be up with San Diego by May) and Luis Urias making an impact. Of course, what will really slow down the Padres will be the starting pitching. San Diego ranked near the bottom in everything with starting pitching and Garret Richards isn’t likely to pitch in 2019 so the starting five are Joey Lucchesi, Chris Paddack (one of their top prospects), Matt Strahm, Eric Lauer, and Robbie Erlin. So it may be a rough stretch for the Padres, but I think as the season unfolds, they will get better and will try to swing a trade to get an established ace (Corey Kluber’s name has come up, but doubtful the Indians would trade them especially if they are in the hunt for the post-season). But the first steps are rolling in the land of Ron Burgundy for the Padres. They will show vast improvement in 2019. MY PREDICTION: 82-80

Posey is continuing to battle for the Giants

(4) SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS

Last year: 73-89

KEY ADDITIONS: OF-Gerardo Parra (FA-Colorado), IF-Yangervis Solarte (FA-Toronto) OF-Cameron Maybin (FA-Seattle) P-Drew Pomeranz (FA-Boston), C-Stephen Vogt (FA-Milwaukee)

KEY LOSSES: C-Nick Hundley (FA-Oakland), OF-Gregor Blanco (FA-New York Mets), OF-Hunter Pence (FA-Texas), P-Hunter Strickland (FA-Seattle)

The Giants….well, it seems like they avoided giving the heavy contract out that always seems to bite them on the rear end this year (though the Johnny Cueto signing was fine until he got injured). But the biggest things with San Francisco that has plagued them in the past two years have been injuries and inconsistencies. The injuries have taken its toll with this veteran bunch all over the place and they haven’t has been as consistent as we remembered them when they won 3 titles in 5 seasons. And they are getting older on top of it while having a farm system that is not exactly in the best of shapes. But if Buster Posey can keep healthy, and Crawford and Belt can be more consistent, they have a shot at competing. Similar case can go for Madison Bumgarner (health) and Jeff Samardzija (consistency) If those guys can do their thing, they will be a tough out in the NL West. But there are just too many questions in San Francisco for me to think they have a major chance to bring down the Rockies or Dodgers in 2019. MY PREDICTION: 76-86

Peralta and Arizona could be in for a long year

(5) ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS

Last year: 82-80

KEY ADDITIONS: 2B-Wilmer Flores (FA-New York Mets), C-Carson Kelly (Trade-St. Louis), OF-Adam Jones (FA-Baltimore), P-Luke Weaver (Trade-St. Louis), P-Greg Holland (FA-Washington)

KEY LOSSES: 1B-Paul Goldschmidt (Trade-St. Louis), C-Jeff Mathis (FA-Texas), IF-Daniel Descalso (FA-Chicago Cubs), OF-Chris Owings (FA-Kansas City), OF-Jon Jay (FA-Chicago White Sox), P-Patrick Corbin (FA-Washington), P-Shelby Miller (FA-Texas), P-Brad Boxberger (FA-Kansas City), P-Randall Delgado (FA-Chicago White Sox), P-Jake Diekman (FA-Kansas City)

While my fellow baseball friends keep telling me the Diamondbacks aren’t in a full rebuild, it certainly looks that way. One of your aces in Patrick Corbin is gone. Your stellar outfielder in AJ Pollock is gone. And you traded one of the best first basemen in all of baseball in Paul Goldschmidt away. And then you bring in a veteran well past his prime in Jones, a utility player that never really exploded on the scene in Flores, and a guy who hasn’t been the same since his arm injury in Holland. And now the Diamondbacks are hoping the likes of David Peralta and Eduardo Escobar can carry the load for them as well as Jake Lamb who is coming off of injury. If the Diamondbacks are to go anywhere, Zack Greinke has to look like the Dodgers version of himself and also step up to be a leader as opposed to being the stand-offish kind of guy. If Robbie Ray looks like 2017 Robbie Ray and Zack Godley continues his improvement while Luke Weaver steps up, the Diamondbacks may frustrate some hitters in the NL West. However, I don’t figure Arizona to be in the race and also don’t figure them to keep somebody like Greinke by the deadline. That offense looks to maligned right now for me to think the Diamondbacks have a shot in the NL West. MY PREDICTION: 69-93

That’s it for this go-around.

-Fan in the Obstructed Seat

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The 2017-18 Moves That Got the Teams to the Postseason

We are sitting on the end of the 2018 MLB regular season.  And 11 teams are still alive (maybe 10 assuming the Rockies and Dodgers win either today or tomorrow OR if St. Louis loses one of the next two days).  So for argument’s sake, we will look at the teams that are in plus the Rockies and Dodgers.  How did this come to be for the teams this year?

Of course we have a couple of new faces in postseason (Braves, Brewers, Athletics) that we haven’t seen before and we have teams who hope to get over the top while the defending champion Astros keep their title for one more season.  So let’s look at how things changed for these teams and what moves they made to get them there.

Atlanta

ATLANTA BRAVES:  Calling up Ronald Acuña and trading for Kevin Gausman.  We know about the Braves rebuild and many believe the moves that were made were the ones that got them over the top.  In reality, Acuña (and Ozzie Albies) were actually Frank Wren signings before Atlanta used him as the fall guy at the end of the 2014 season.  And the major impact guy in all those fire sale trades this year was Mike Foltynewicz (part of the Evan Gattis deal).  The two trades made with San Diego (Uptons, Kimbrel), nobody has made an impact (and most of them are gone), and the Simmons-Newcomb trade has been mixed at best for Atlanta.  The Braves were on the up until they called up Acuña and he tore the cover off the ball.  He got injured but when he came back he remained a monster for the Braves and many in the Atlanta area believe not only should he get Rookie of the Year but an MVP.  The Braves all season up through July were either in the lead of the NL East or never more than 2.5 games back of Philadelphia in the division.  With Newcomb struggling and unease with Teheran as well as questions if Anibal Sanchez (a great pickup too) reverting back to more of his last years with the Tigers instead of 2013 Sanchez pushed Atlanta to trade for Kevin Gausman.  Gausman had been a flop for Baltimore (who isn’t right now?) and the Braves may have bought him low.  But many felt Gausman would improve with a change of scenery out of the rough AL East.  And he has.  Since joining Atlanta Gausman has gone 5-2 with a 2.86 ERA and a WHIP of 1.09.  Needless to say, all of that have been the best he’s pitched to this point.  The K/9 rate is slightly concerning (only 6.3) but he’s been everything the Braves needed.  And it also improved the rotation’s morale as Julio Teheran has been pitching far better since Gausman’s arrival.  After the trade, the Braves have gone 33-23 and went up 9.5 games on the division that was originally close with them and the Phillies (also helped with Philadelphia collapsing down the stretch).  But these two moves catapulted the Braves into October.

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BOSTON RED SOX: Signing JD Martinez.  Boston last year made the playoffs but the offense was stagnant and lacked any power ever since David Ortiz retired.  Martinez came on a contract that would net him over $100 million (and some believed the Sox overpaid him because he was a liability in the outfield).   But comparing Martinez to what Giancarlo Stanton that the Yankees did, the signing looks like a bargain compared to what the Yankees have to pay Stanton.  Boston’s offense clicked and everybody started hitting in Beantown.  Mookie Betts is also an MVP candidate and the likes of Andrew Benintendi and Xander Bogaerts stepped up in a big way.  With the starting pitching capable of going against anybody (assuming if they are healthy), Boston is considered a favorite and are well north of 100 wins this year.  Martinez was obviously the best free agent signing in the off-season.  And it has paid dividends for Boston.

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CHICAGO CUBS: Signing Steve Cishek and trading for Cole Hamels.  Over the past year and a half, the Cubs moves were in question with the overpaying of prospects for Jose Quintana (who has not lived up to the expectations), the trade for Justin Wilson, and the Yu Darvish signing.  However, the Cubs made an under the radar move of getting Steve Cishek and he has helped keep the bullpen pretty strong for them.  And then the Cubs traded for Cole Hamels (as Chicago had been tapped out of prospects with the Quintana and Wilson trades) to take on his salary.  He has pitched great, going 4-2 with a 2.47 ERA and a WHIP of 1.14.  Hamels and Cishek are two major reasons why the Cubs are still slightly ahead of Milwaukee in the NL Central race.

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COLORADO ROCKIES: Signing Chris Iannetta.  The Rockies made no massive moves outside of Iannetta.  While his WAR according to Baseball Reference has him at a -0.6, I don’t think you can put a value to what he means to the Rockies starting rotation that is actually not bad.  While he obviously won’t win the Cy Young, Kyle Freeland will get a couple of Cy Young votes with his record (17-7, 2.85 ERA and the ability to not give up home runs).  Geman Marquez is a strikeout machine and has strong numbers across the board.  And Jon Gray since his return from Albuquerque has been more like the Jon Gray Rockies fans and “live arm” fans have hoped he would be.  And it was needed this year as save for Trevor Story’s MVP push and Nolan Arenado, Colorado’s offense is not a massive juggernaut like we have come to known.

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CLEVELAND INDIANS: Trading for Brad Hand.  Well, Cleveland pretty much sleepwalked to the AL Central title this year given the problems of the other four teams in that division.  And they played like it at times.  They lost a lot in the way of their bullpen from a year ago, which was so dominant and when you factor in Andrew Miller’s injury, the Indians weren’t the same squad at all.  Getting Brad Hand at the price was a bit risky, but he’s been solid for them and has re-established Cleveland as a team to watch in October.

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HOUSTON ASTROS: Trading for Gerrit Cole.  Houston may have robbed the Yankees in getting this guy as before the Astros got him it looked all but finished that New York was going to get him and in that aspect, kept the Yankees from REALLY dominating.  And at the same time it also kept the Astros afloat in picture.  Houston’s pitching is very stout with Verlander, Keuchel, and Morton, but needed Cole especially as the offense is not the same strong offense like their championship run last year.  Altuve is still Altuve but his numbers are well down.  Even when he’s been on the field Carlos Correa has been WAY down.  Adding on, the outfield hasn’t produced either.  So the move for Cole was big for them this year especially with how the Athletics came on.

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LOS ANGELES DODGERS: Calling up Walker Buehler & Max Muncy.  Los Angeles was plagued by injuries early on in the season and widespread panic hit Dodgertown.  However, things started to look up when the Dodgers called up Walker Buehler to start and he has been nothing short of stout.  He has a 7-5 record with a 2.86 ERA and a WHIP of under 1 and has ace written all over him.  He should garner some Rookie of the Year votes too.  But Max Muncy came out of nowhere and was that guy that just could rocket bombs into the outfield seats for Los Angeles as the Dodgers offense needed when Seager, Turner, and Puig were on the DL.  It is surprising that Manny Machado, who is a key add at the deadline obviously isn’t here, and he has been strong, but the average hasn’t been as high.

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MILWAUKEE BREWERS: Trading for Christian Yelich.  Yelich may have the inside track for MVP given how he has terrorized pitching in the past month.  The move was pretty big at the time, but it is huge now given that Milwaukee is chasing down the hated Cubs for the division lead.  The numbers speak volumes but what he’s done in the 2nd half alone reminds me of what Chipper Jones did down the stretch for the Braves in 1999, always stepping up in that key moment.  In the second half, Yelich is hitting .363 with 22 HR and an OPS of an astounding 1.193.  Wow.

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NEW YORK YANKEES: Trading for Giancarlo Stanton and calling up Gleyber Torres & Miguel Andujar.  While I think the Yankees are going to pay a steep price for Stanton in terms of money, Stanton stepped up when it mattered the most: when Aaron Judge was injured.  Stanton’s numbers aren’t the MVP ones he had last year in Miami, but still has 37 HR to his credit.  And for Torres/Andujar, 50 HR total from the rookies and the Yankees remained well ahead of the rest of the AL save Boston and Houston.

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OAKLAND ATHLETICS: Trading for Stephen Piscotty.  This move when it was made and you found out why the move was made seemed like it was a move that was more personal than a professional move.  Piscotty wanted to remain close to home near his mother with ALS.  Understandable as there are more things to life than sports.  But Piscotty’s value to the team should not be overlooked as he was a great veteran presence and he had a career year with 26 HR.  He alongside Jed Lowrie provided that winning veteran presence while keeping that Athletics brand of baseball going of just having fun and playing until the last out.

Later on I will put my playoff power rankings of the teams that are in, once I know which teams are in.

-Fan in the Obstructed Seat

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Tuesday Trade Market: Should the Rockies Trade Nolan Arenado?

Don’t look now but we are almost a month away from the trade deadline.  Of course, the deadline has some faces that many believe will be on the move: Machado, Realmuto, Hamels, etc. and one key face has already been traded in Kelvin Herrera. Now it looks like there will be a nice market for infielders: Starlin Castro, Jed Lowrie, Jose Iglesias, etc. but the market will be a deep one at third.  Alongside Machado, the likes of Mike Moustakas and Josh Donaldson will also be available given the Royals and Blue Jays struggles.  And given the Mets freefall, Todd Frazier.  But one name is slowly coming up and it isn’t any of those guys.  It is Rockies hot corner player Nolan Arenado.

Arenado has been at the forefront of MVP talks over the last few years with Colorado.  His numbers get better every year, he is a .300 or a near-.300 hitter, hits around 40 HR yearly, and has an OPS of .950 or higher (including this year where it is nearly 1.000).

Of course a few things plague Arenado.  The obvious one is that he plays in Colorado, where most fans (including myself) believe players’ spiked offensive numbers are a result of being at Coors Field.  Secondly, there seems to be somebody else that is having a better season over this run (Harper, Votto, Goldschmidt, Bryant, and Freddie Freeman).

Nolan Arenado,r m

To look at the Coors Field split, yes, Arenado does benefit from the Coors Field advantage.  I thought last year it was an issue for Charlie Blackmon, who many believed was considered for an MVP vote here & there as the gap was a bit wide (oddly this year, Blackmon’s numbers away from Coors has been better).  But Arenado’s numbers are a bit of a gap issue.  He’s hitting .357 at home with 12 HR and a 1.123 OPS.  On the flip side, he’s only hitting .276 with 6 HR and an .868 OPS.  I mean those numbers aren’t bad, but anything from Coors levels.  Then again, if three of your divisional foes have home parks that are a nightmare for hitters (LA, SD, SF though he’s done alright with being by the Bay Area), expect your numbers to decline and also Arenado has gone to two other pitcher’s parks of Miami and Washington and hasn’t fared well.  However, to say that he is just flat-out terrible away and he’s a Vinny Castilla 2.0 is not called for.

So why would the Rockies trade Arenado given he is a free agent after 2019 and probably the head of his class (I was mistaken to think he was a free agent after this year-my apologies)?  A couple of things: 1.  They have a prospect on the farm in Colton Welker, who many compare him to Arenado in how he hits and such.  He is in High-A Lancaster and putting up decent numbers.  It’s possible that he may be a September call-up in 2019 and then ready to take the reins in 2020.  2.  The Rockies, well, are the Rockies.  Since their inception 25 years ago, Colorado has been a team that will live and die from the Beer League ball games.  They’ll tear the cover off the ball with their hitters and hope that their pitchers doesn’t stink as less as the opposing team.  In other words, they will always have a strong offense, but one of the worst pitching staffs in baseball (this year, dead last in ERA at 5.13), thus making them a team religiously of an 82-80, 81-81, 80-82, or a 79-83 squad.  “But, but, Arizona and Los Angeles haven’t ran away with the division!”   Yet.  And it looks like both are slowly picking it up while the Rockies are 8-15 in their last 23 games.

I don’t see Colorado just pick it up with their staff.  The problem is that there isn’t an established veteran on the rotation (and probably for good reason as nobody wants to pitch at Coors).  Your live arms (as a couple of my friends put it) may have a good fastball but without movement or location and not mixing up the other pitches, is nothing more than a glorified pitching machine (Jon Gray anybody?)  The pitchers are talented, but you have to think with a group relatively young and no real veteran presence in the rotation may have that “block” of being in Coors Field.  And like last year, the pen was upgraded, but unless the last name is Ottavino it is already overworked and struggling, especially their prized pickup Wade Davis.  So at this point, seeing a division title for the first time since ever won’t happen, seeing a Wild Card is also slim at this time as you probably expect the Nationals and Cubs (both not in first place right now) to turn it on while the Braves, Phillies, and Brewers don’t expect to go anywhere).  So to me it is more feasible to sell for the Rockies at this point, which means trading Arenado does come into play.

The Rockies main question is going to be, can they be strongly competitive in 2019 and hope the pitching staff improves by a wide margin.  If the answer is yes, they can do two things: 1. Keep Arenado and go World Series or bust in 2019.  2.  Trade Arenado for MLB ready prospects and top ones at that.  The one advantage that Colorado has assuming if they trade Arenado away THIS year opposed to Baltimore, Kansas City, or Toronto with their star third basemen is that Arenado has one more year left on his deal and is possible to signing an extension.  That means the Rockies could get a great deal in return than what even Baltimore could get for Machado.  So, there is that.  Of course, from a business standpoint, Arenado is a key draw for the Rockies and their fans as Colorado is currently 5th in attendance in the NL.  Trading him would have a hit at the gates from all likelihoods.  So this is not the best of stances for the franchise as they have a tough decision to make.  Does Colorado get high value in return for Arenado now especially if they don’t believe he can be signed to an extension while maybe adding key pieces and more arms, notably ones who can get ground-ball outs? Or do you keep him, hope that 2019 the Rockies starting pitching develops more, and make a strong run in October?

My take is that I think you keep him and keep the fans coming out and pray that the young Colorado arms improve next season to make a big push.  However, if a team makes an offer that the Rockies can’t refuse, they have to make that trade.  That said, the Rockies are in a bit of a rock-and-hard-place situation.  If they keep him for next year and the Rockies fall flat, then they would look at it as a missed opportunity to improve the team down the road as whatever trade they do make won’t be as nice as it was the year before.

So it will be an interesting to see what the Rockies do the rest of the way.

-Fan in the Obstructed Seat

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The Obstructed National League West Preview

One of the things about the National League West that I don’t think gets enough credit is they are a dog-eat-dog division.  It seems like year after year you have a fight among the teams from first through fifth.  And how each team goes about their way is different.  We know historically that the Dodgers, Giants, and Padres, thanks in part to their ballparks, are more oriented with pitching and it shows year in and year out while the Rockies and Diamondbacks, known for having two great offensive parks, are more inclined to rely heavy on the bats.

Dodgers

Last year we saw the Dodgers roll in the NL West though the Rockies and Diamondbacks both played out of their minds to snag both Wild Cards.  The Padres were still in the midst of rebuilding and the Giants just had really bad luck all year round (or so Giants fans think and hope) and weren’t a factor in the division.

Even the off-season had a strange feel for all the teams.  The Dodgers unusually stood pat for the most part.  The Rockies added more bullpen help while their young arms in the rotation can get them over.  Arizona stood pat (and probably lost ground by letting JD Martinez walk).  But the Padres and Giants made key moves as San Diego was a player in the free agent market by getting one of the top prizes in Eric Hosmer and the Giants have gone all in for the 2018 season adding Evan Longoria and Andrew McCutchen in the mix to hopefully solidify a lineup that really fell apart in 2017.

My team previews are where I see them in the standings in 2018 so in other words, this where I think they will be.

Kershaw

1ST PLACE: LOS ANGELES DODGERS

2017: 104-58 (1st place; beat Arizona in NLDS, beat Chicago Cubs in NLCS, lost to Houston in World Series)

OFF-SEASON: ADDS:  OF-Matt Kemp (trade-Atlanta), P-Scott Alexander (trade-Kansas City), P-Tom Koehler (FA-Toronto), SUBTRACTS: P-Yu Darvish (FA-Chicago Cubs), P-Brandon Morrow (FA-Chicago Cubs), P-Tony Watson (FA-San Francisco), OF-Curtis Granderson (FA-Toronto), OF-Franklin Gutierrez (FA), OF-Andre Ethier (FA), P-Grant Dayton (Waivers-Atlanta), 1B-Adrian Gonzalez (Trade-Atlanta), IF-Charlie Culberson (Trade-Atlanta), P-Brandon McCarthy (Trade-Atlanta), P-Scott Kazmir (Trade-Atlanta), P-Luis Avilan (Trade-Chicago White Sox)

Outlook:  You do have to think that the Dodgers did a lot of addition by subtraction here by gutting some roster with sending away players who were high priced and not living up to the expectations (Kazmir, Gonzalez).  Los Angeles still has one of the most all-around rosters in all of baseball and a great young group while having a farm system that is very good.  So barring injuries, it is hard to think the Dodgers won’t be playing October baseball.  However, some players do need to make an impact like many had hoped when they first arrived, notably Joc Pederson and Yasiel Puig.  If those two can get it going at the right time, oh boy.  Are there questions in the rotation behind Kershaw as in can Rich Hill and Alex Wood show 2017 wasn’t a fluke?  Perhaps, but right now I don’t see either one sliding off too much in 2018 (barring injury).  If the Dodgers can keep healthy, a repeat to the World Series is a very strong chance.

OVERALL PROJECTION: 99-63 (Dodgers may not have a better record than 17, but may have a better team in 2018)

 

Miami Marlins v Arizona Diamondbacks

2ND PLACE: ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS

2017: 93-69, 2nd place (defeated Colorado in Wild Card round; lost to Los Angeles Dodgers in NLDS)

OFF-SEASON: ADDS:  P-Brad Boxberger (Trade-Tampa Bay), OF-Steven Souza Jr. (Trade-Tampa Bay) C-Alex Avila (FA-Chicago Cubs) SUBTRACTS: C-Chris Iannetta (FA-Colorado), IF-Adam Rosales (FA-Philadelphia), OF-Gregor Blanco (FA-San Francisco), OF-JD Martinez (FA-Boston), P-David Hernandez (FA-Cincinnati), P-Fernando Rodney (FA-Minnesota)

Outlook:  Arizona may have lost a bit in the off-season, notably from JD Martinez, who played HUGE for them after coming from Detroit in a mid-season trade.  But it’s hard to say they will take a huge step backwards.  After all, they have Paul Goldschmidt and Jake Lamb leading the way in the lineup.  The rest of the lineup is solid if anything where the likes of AJ Pollock, David Peralta, and Steven Souza Jr. can really hurt you if you aren’t careful.  The starting rotation is as good as any with Zack Greinke (though he has got to pitch better than what we’ve seen since he’s joined Arizona), Robbie Ray, and Patrick Corbin as well as Taijuan Walker.  The big question will be the pen as can Archie Bradley close out games and Brad Boxberger help set up?  That has to be somewhat of a question as well as keeping healthy.

2018 PROJECTION:  91-71 (look for Arizona to make a splash at the deadline to improve a need; catcher?)

 

Buster

3RD PLACE: SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS

2017: 64-98, 5th Place

OFF-SEASON: ADDS: 3B-Evan Longoria (Trade-Tampa Bay), OF-Andrew McCutchen (Trade-Pittsburgh), OF-Austin Jackson (FA-Cleveland), P-Tony Watson (FA-Los Angeles Dodgers)  SUBTRACTS: P-Matt Moore (Trade-Texas), 3B-Christian Arroyo (Trade-Tampa Bay), OF-Denard Span (Trade-Tampa Bay), P-Kyle Crick (Trade-Pittsburgh), P-Matt Cain (retired)

Outlook: The Giants SHOULD get better from their miserable 2017 season.  They had down years from practically all the guys that didn’t need down years save Buster Posey.  Brandon Belt was way down as was Brandon Crawford.  Hunter Pence struggled tremendously while Madison Bumgarner was lost for a long period of time.  The rotation struggled with Johnny Cueto being very off and Jeff Samardzija being a victim of bad luck at times.  In case that the Brandon boys struggled again, the Giants added more depth by getting a former MVP in Andrew McCutchen and a former MVP candidate in Evan Longoria to really pick up the offense, that is if McCutchen can continue upward from a bad 2016 season (he had a good year in 2017 with Pittsburgh) and Longoria rebounds from a very down year (probably his worst season to date).  So San Francisco is hoping with the year being even again that the high risk will mean a high reward again.

2018 PROJECTION: 85-77 (Too many what-ifs for me to give the Giants a 2nd place finish).

 

Arenado

4TH PLACE: COLORADO ROCKIES

2017: 87-75 (3rd place, lost to Arizona in Wild Card)

OFF-SEASON: ADDS: C-Chris Iannetta (FA-Arizona), P-Wade Davis (FA-Chicago Cubs), P-Bryan Shaw (FA-Cleveland); SUBTRACTS: C-Ryan Hanigan (FA-Cleveland), C-Jonathan Lucroy (FA-Oakland), IF-Alexi Amarista (FA-Detroit), P-Tyler Chatwood (FA-Chicago Cubs), P-Pat Neshek (FA-Philadelphia) 1B/3B-Mark Reynolds (FA)

Outlook:  Colorado’s torrid start in 2017 was enough to get the Rockies a Wild Card spot in October.  The key reason why they got off to a great start was the Rockies bullpen started out great with the moves they made.  However, the starters did not eat a lot of innings, any of them and the bullpen got overworked and underachieved.  And really like every other year for the past 25 years in Denver, the Rockies pitching failed.  They did sign closer Wade Davis away from Chicago which helps and added a quality reliever in Bryan Shaw, but again, if the Rockies starters fail to deliver, it will be a similar situation to 2017.  Part of me thinks last year the Rockies sneaked up on some teams with their offense and how they crushed the ball at Coors, but when the Rockies slipped, they were human, especially on the road (similar to the last 25 years).  The Rockies have to play better away from Coors and the rotation has to pitch better, and that has always been the dilemma in Colorado.  I’m not sure if they will sneak up on anybody especially if San Francisco and San Diego get better.

2018 PROJECTION: 79-83 (Forgive me for not going in on the Rockies, they are the same group as we remembered in the old Blake Street Bombers days).

 

Hosmer

5TH PLACE: SAN DIEGO PADRES

OFF-SEASON: ADDS:  1B-Eric Hosmer (FA-Kansas City), 3B-Chase Headley (Trade-New York Yankees), SS-Freddy Galvis (Trade-Philadelphia), C-AJ Ellis (FA-Miami), P-Kazuhisa Makita (FA-Japan), P-Bryan Mitchell (Trade-New York Yankees); SUBTRACTS:  P-Jabari Blash (Trade-New York Yankees), 2B-Ryan Schimpf (Trade-Tampa Bay), SS-Erick Aybar (FA-Minnesota), P-Jhoulys Chacin (FA-Milwaukee)

Outlook: San Diego always comes off as baseball’s red-headed stepchild to me.  They don’t do anything that makes anybody impressed.  They have historically played a stale style of baseball since the expansive Petco Park opened in 2004 and nobody is ever excited about them year in and year out.  And they haven’t been a legit threat in the West for nearly 15 years.  But they did try to make a splash in the off-season signing Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer to generate some offense to go alongside Wil Myers, who should have a better year in 2018.  Adding on, San Diego has one of the best farm systems in all of baseball so it could be a new dawn for Padres fans real soon.  Maybe not this year but soon enough.

2018 PROJECTION: 77-85 (San Diego may be a spoiler to the rest of the NL West down the stretch)

That’s it for now.

 

-Fan in the Obstructed Seat

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