Sources: Yankees reportedly finalizing deal with Orioles that will bring All-Star closer Zach Britton to the Bronx

According to multiple reports, Zach Britton is close to being a New York Yankee. Ken Rosenthal first reported that the Yankees had emerged as a clear front-runner to acquire the veteran lefty’s services late in the afternoon. Jon Heyman reported that the deal had been agreed to at 9pm EST. The Yankees and Orioles are exchanging medicals and finalizing the parameters of the deal.

Joel Sherman of the NY Post reported that if the deal is finalized, the Yankees would be sending their ninth best prospect, RHP Dillon Tate, AAA prospect LHP Josh Rogers, and the Yanks #15 prospect in AAA reliever Cody Carroll. The Yankees give up a pretty fair haul for Britton, whom is a two-time All Star and when healthy, is one of the best left handed relievers in the major leagues. If he stays healthy, the Yankees add onto a bullpen that was already the best in baseball and it will become one of the fiercest that the baseball world has seen in years.

Britton made his MLB debut in 2011 for the Orioles and has played there ever since. He is 30-22 in his career with 139 saves and a 3.22 earned run average. He also has 425 career strikeouts to only 194 walks issued. He rarely gets beat by the long ball which is a key factor due to the transitioned focus to power for most major league hitters.

Britton’s career season came in 2016 when he stayed healthy and made appearances in 69 games for the O’s. He had a 2-1 record, 47 saves, 0.54 ERA, 1.94 FIP, 2.5 WAR, and only surrendered one home run in 67 innings on the bump. He even finished fourth in the AL Cy Young voting.

If Britton can return to those numbers, the rest of the MLB should watch out, because the Yankees bullpen could be merely unstoppable. According to his 2018 Pitch/FX numbers, Britton has heavily relied on his nasty 95 mph sinker and his 81 mph knee buckling curveball.

Barring a major meltdown in trade talks, it seems like a foregone conclusion that the Yankees have bolstered their bullpen with the two time All-Star.

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Ultimate MLB Second Half Guide: Analysis and Predictions for Trade Deadline, Standings, Awards, and the Playoffs

We are one week away from the MLB All-Star break and inching ever closer to the July 31st league-wide non-waiver trade deadline. We have watched more than one half of the season and we are starting to get a good idea of the playoff picture, trade fits, standings, and award candidates. That’s why I felt that it was the perfect time to release a massive guide to the second half of the baseball season. My guide is here, complete with predictions and analysis on the trade deadline, final standings, playoffs, and season awards.

Table of Contents:

Trade Deadline Predictions- PG. 2

Standings Predictions- PG. 3

AL Playoff Predictions- PG. 4

NL Playoff Predictions- PG. 5

World Series Predictions- PG. 6

Season Awards Predictions- PG. 7

Concluding Thoughts- PG. 8

Why “Old-Timer’s Day” Should Be More Common Across Baseball

Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw famously said “We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing”. This quote holds true today, and I realized so while watching the New York Yankees 72nd Annual Old Timer’s Day Game. I was watching the game with my dad, and we were laughing and joking about the old Yankees players who were competing in the game. Even though I am not a Yankees fan, this was one of the most fun baseball games I’ve watched. This brings me to my point, that more teams should have Old Timer’s Day games.

As far as I know, only the Yankees and Red Sox have Old Timer’s Day, but this celebration of teams histories should be more common across MLB. Who wouldn’t want to see Ozzie Smith face Bruce Sutter, or watch Mike Piazza step in the box against Doc Gooden. Even though some teams don’t have histories as rich as the Yankees or Red Sox, Old Timer’s Day is a time to watch the colorful characters of your team’s past play one more time.

One of the most famous quotes in any baseball movie is “If you build it, they will come”, and while that quote obviously is about building the Field of Dreams, I think it can also relate to Old Timer’s Day, because people will come for “reasons they can’t even fathom” (another Field of Dreams reference), and they will be able to relive the teams of the past which people so fondly remember. I understand that if every team does Old Timer’s Day, it will lose some of its grandeur, but every fan should have the opportunity to watch their favorite players take the field one more time.

MLB Summer Trade Market 2018: An early forecast on this year’s trade deadline

The MLB season is in full swing and we are getting ready to reach the start of the summer of the long baseball season. June is a few days away and that means that we are inching closer and closer to the trade market heating up in its classic summer form. With my knowledge, I’ve mapped out multiple trades that I think could happen during the trade deadline. So without further ado, let’s get into my early trade deadline predictions. And we will surely look back at this in July and see if I was right with any of my predictions. Let’s go!

  • The Boston Red Sox acquire catcher J.T. Realmuto and second baseman Starlin Castro from the Miami Marlins.
  • The Philadelphia Phillies acquire third baseman Josh Donaldson from the Toronto Blue Jays in exchange for multiple young, talented prospects.
  • The Cleveland Indians acquire reliever Kelvin Herrera from the Kansas City Royals in exchange for a prospect or two.
  • The Atlanta Braves acquire third baseman Mike Moustakas and veteran starter Ian Kennedy from the Kansas City Royals.
  • The New York Yankees acquire reliever Brad Hand from the San Diego Padres.
  • The New York Yankees acquire left handed starter Patrick Corbin from the Arizona Diamondbacks.
  • The Chicago Cubs acquire right handed starter Chris Archer from the Tampa Bay Rays.
  • The Milwaukee Brewers acquire first baseman Justin Bour from the Miami Marlins.
  • The Houston Astros acquire left handed reliever Zach Britton from the Baltimore Orioles.
  • The Los Angeles Angels acquire left handed starter J.A. Happ from the Toronto Blue Jays.
  • The Cleveland Indians acquire veteran outfielder Adam Jones from the Baltimore Orioles.
  • The Los Angeles Dodgers acquire utility specialist Jed Lowrie from the Oakland Athletics.
  • The Milwaukee Brewers acquire veteran lefty Cole Hamels from the Texas Rangers.
  • The Philadelphia Phillies acquire right handed reliever Brad Brach from the Baltimore Orioles.
  • The Seattle Mariners acquire veteran second baseman Brian Dozier from the Minnesota Twins.
  • The Milwaukee Brewers bring back veteran catcher Jonathan Lucroy in a trade with the Oakland Athletics.
  • The Cleveland Indians acquire second baseman Scooter Gennett from the Cincinnati Reds.
  • Despite the Orioles being huge sellers at the deadline, they hold off on swinging a deal trading away All-Star shortstop Manny Machado.

The Obstructed AL East Preview

The AL East has always been the Yankees/Red Sox division since the 5-team division realignment began in 1994.  They are of course, the Evil Empires of baseball.  Both are.  Sorry Yankee and Red Sox fans, you both are.  Accept it and move on.

But for nearly a decade now, the other three teams, the Orioles, Blue Jays, and Rays have gotten into the mix as since 2008, only the Yankees and Red Sox have won 60% of the division titles, as opposed to winning the division 12 of 13 years from 1995-2007.  But maybe we are back to the trend as the Yankees and Red Sox are going back to the great arms race of stockpiling stars and the Orioles, Rays, and Blue Jays fall back again as we somewhat saw in 2017.

 

To me, the Red Sox and the Yankees are a cut above while the Rays seem to zero in on getting the farm for their (finally) new ballpark down the road while Baltimore and Toronto face serious questions on replenishing their farm and starting over.

My outlooks are where I project the teams to finish in 2018.

1ST PLACE: BOSTON RED SOX

Sale

2017: 93-69 1st place (Lost in ALDS to Houston)

OFF-SEASON: ADDS: OF-JD Martinez (FA-Arizona)  SUBTRACTS: OF-Rajai Davis (FA-Cleveland), OF-Chris Young (FA-Los Angeles Angels), P-Doug Fister (FA-Texas), P-Fernando Abad (P-Philadelphia), P-Blaine Boyer (FA-Kansas City), P-Addison Reed (FA-Minnesota)

Outlook: Boston may have won the division last year but they did an unusual thing, well at least for them.  They lacked major power.  Losing David Ortiz to retirement stung obviously, but they really had no sting in the bats.  While the Red Sox had 4 players with 20 or more HR and 3 others with double digits in HR, they finished dead last in the American League in home runs.  So the need to get a power-hitter was high and they did so in JD Martinez, who punched out 45 HR in both Detroit and Arizona in 2017.  Martinez fills the need of the power and will likely see most of the time at DH, which could be more helpful given he’s had his own injury woes in the past.  But Boston still has a formidable lineup with Betts, Bogaerts, Benintendi, and if Devers shows he can play 3rd and Jackie Bradley can figure out how to be consistent at the plate, Boston can be a legit threat.  The pitching, on paper, should be excellent with 2 former Cy Young winners in the rotation with Price and Porcello, but both have to improve last year’s performances (and Price has to keep healthy and not act like a knucklehead either).  But Chris Sale is one of the game’s best pitchers and if the Red Sox pitch what they are capable of pitching, they can rival the Astros rotation without question.  And they have probably the game’s best closer in Craig Kimbrel, who heads a solid relieving group.  What more can you ask for?  It is time for Boston to show it on the field and not just on paper.

2018 PROJECTION: 96-66 (I like Boston to get better with their bats and arms in 2018)

2ND PLACE: NEW YORK YANKEES

Stanton

2017: 91-71 (Beat Minnesota in Wild Card; Beat Cleveland in ALDS, Lost to Houston in ALCS)

OFF-SEASON: ADDS: OF-Giancarlo Stanton (Trade-Miami), 3B-Brandon Drury (Trade-Arizona); 1B-Adam Lind (FA-Washington) SUBTRACTS: 3B-Chase Headley (Trade-San Diego), 2B-Starlin Castro (Trade-Miami), P-Bryan Mitchell (Trade-San Diego), 3B-Todd Frazier (FA-New York Mets), P-Jaime Garcia (FA-Toronto), P-Michael Pineda (FA-Minnesota)

Outlook: The Yankees, already having young superstar Aaron Judge in the lineup, added a piece that many Bronx Bomber fans hope will become a New Murderer’s Row in Giancarlo Stanton from the Marlins for Starlin Castro. Of course, it has gotten most baseball fans thinking the Yankees are the team to beat in the AL, over Boston, Cleveland and Houston.  And for me, to quote Lee Corso, “not so fast.”  The Yankees offense is still top notch, don’t get me wrong with those two, Gary Sanchez, Didi Gregorius, and others.  But the question will be the pitching.  Are they capable of pitching well with Severino, Tanaka, Gray, and Sabathia?  It’s possible yes, but save for Severino (who is young), the others are question marks with consistency (Tanaka, Sabathia) or durability (Gray).  The bullpen, however, when they are on, is lights out with Green, Betances, and Robertson to go along with Chapman, but Aroldis has to pitch better because he nearly imploded everything at the end of the season.  So there are some questions as well as if Aaron Boone can manage as he hasn’t managed on any level yet.  But overall, the Yankees should be in the thick of things especially if their rotation pitches well.

2018 PROJECTION: 95-67 (Still unsure if they have the same arms as the other AL powers, but the bullpen will save face).

3RD PLACE: TORONTO BLUE JAYS

Donaldson

Last year: 76-86, 4th place

OFF-SEASON: ADDS: OF-Curtis Granderson (FA-Los Angeles Dodgers), OF-Randall Grichuk (Trade-St. Louis), SS-Aledmys Diaz (Trade- St. Louis), IF-Yangervis Solarte (Trade-San Diego), P-Jaime Garcia (FA-New York Yankees), P-Seung-hwan Oh (FA-St. Louis), P-Tyler Clippard (FA-Houston), P-John Axford (FA-Oakland) SUBTRACTS: P-Tom Koehler (FA-Los Angeles Dodgers), Mike Bolsinger (FA-Japan), 2B-Ryan Goins (FA-Kansas City), IF-Darwin Barney (FA-Texas), C-Miguel Montero (FA-Washington), OF-Michael Saunders (Pittsburgh), OF-Jose Bautista (FA)

Outlook: Toronto is going to be very different as it looks like they are fielding a team more to just field a team in the season as opposed to being a threat in the AL East.  And they do have a farm that is up and coming.  If the Jays are out of it by the deadline, don’t be surprised if they try to move Josh Donaldson before as he is a free agent at season’s end.  Whether the Jays compete or not will be dependent on Marcus Stroman and JA Happ.  If they can pitch like they did in 2016, the Jays may push for the second Wild Card spot.  If not, Toronto will have some pieces to sell at the deadline.

2018 PROJECTION: 79-83 (Toronto just doesn’t have the same firepower that they had when Bautista and Encarnacion were there in 2015 and 16).

4TH PLACE: TAMPA BAY RAYS 

Kevin

2017: 80-82, 3rd place

OFF-SEASON: ADDS: OF-Denard Span (Trade-San Francisco), OF-Carlos Gomez (FA-Texas), 1B-CJ Cron (Trade-Los Angeles Angels), IF-Christian Arroyo (Trade-San Francisco), IF-Joey Wendle (Trade-Oakland), P-Daniel Hudson (Trade-Pittsburgh), P-Anthony Banda (Trade-Arizona) SUBTRACTS: 3B-Evan Longoria (Trade-San Francisco), 1B-Logan Morrison (FA-Minnesota), IF-Trevor Plouffe (FA-Texas), OF-Peter Bourjos (FA-Chicago Cubs), P-Steve Cishek (FA-Chicago Cubs), P-Jake Odorizzi (Trade-Minnesota), P-Tommy Hunter (FA-Philadelphia), OF-Steven Souza Jr (Trade-Arizona), P-Alex Cobb (FA)

Outlook: The Rays begin life without Evan Longoria, which may be a blessing in disguise.  Yes, he was the face of the franchise, but the money locked into his contract, but with a new park finally in the picture, the Rays can save some money, get the farm ready for the move, and things are good down the road.  But in 2018?  Not so sure.  But the Rays way is simple: if you are looking for a re-birth, Tampa Bay is the place and you have to think the likes of Denard Span and Carlos Gomez are hoping that is the case.  Adding Christian Arroyo, a top prospect in the Giants farm system in the Longoria trade will give hope that the Rays will be at least competitive in 2018.  If Chris Archer has a good year, he can probably net a good return for the Rays if they do end up being out (which many believe they will be) and it will only help Tampa Bay’s future even more.

2018 PROJECTION: 73-89 (The Rays play hard every night and the pitching will keep them in games, but they’re outmatched by the talent on other teams).

5TH PLACE: BALTIMORE ORIOLES

Manny.jpg

2017: 75-87, 5th place

OFF-SEASON: ADDS: OF-Colby Rasmus (FA-Tampa Bay), IF-Engelb Vielma (Trade-San Francisco), P-Andrew Cashner (FA-Texas) SUBTRACTS: C-Wellington Castillo (FA-Chicago White Sox), IF-Ryan Flaherty (FA-Philadelphia), P-Wade Miley (FA-Milwaukee), SS-JJ Hardy (FA), P-Ubaldo Jimenez (FA), P-Jeremy Hellickson (FA), OF-Seth Smith (FA)

Outlook: One does wonder if Baltimore may have doomed themselves similar to the Orioles teams of the late 90’s where they held on to players too long (similar to what the Phillies did early on this decade and the Tigers had done recently).  The Orioles are somewhat of that all-or-nothing power team.  Chris Davis and Mark Trumbo are either going to send baseballs 450 feet away into the outfield at any park, or they will take a walk back to the dugout on strikeouts as that is what they are primarily good for at this point.  There are some key players like Trey Mancini, Jonathan Schoop, and the reliable Adam Jones for offense and Tim Beckham tore the cover off the ball when he came from Tampa Bay at the deadline, but it seems like it won’t be enough in the division.  And if Manny Machado has the year like he had last year where he was nearly in a slump for the entire first half, Baltimore will likely be sellers because the rotation is a gigantic mess.  Which of course brings up the possibility of Machado being dealt as he too, is a free agent.  Baltimore’s best bet is if they are not in the mix of a Wild Card is to just clear the deck and start anew, which is what they really need.

2018 PROJECTION: 68-94 (porous pitching and some holes in the lineup will really doom the O’s in 2018).

That’s it for the AL East

-Fan in the Obstructed Seat

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Midseason MVP Candidates 

 

AL MVP CANDIDATES

Video Games–Amazon.com

1. Aaron Judge

Judge is having one of the best seasons ever as a Rookie. Judge slash line is currently .329/.448/.691 posting a 197 wRC+ and a 5.5 WAR that currently leads the league. Judge also leads the league with 30 HRs and ranks 2nd in AL with 66 RBIs. The 6’7 young star has shown great progress after his struggles last season posting a slash line of .193/.263/.345 with a 63 wRC+ and a -0.3 WAR. This is a no brainer unless Judge slows down mightly you’re loooking at your AL MVP.

 

2. George Springer

Springer has been the spark of the 1st place Houston Astros since moving to the leadoff spot. Springer slash line is currently .310/.380/.613 posting 164 wRC+ and 3.7 WAR. Springer has 27 HRs which ranks 2nd in MLB and ranks 5th in RBIs in the AL from the leadoff spot. Springer who’s 29 is having a career year at the plate looks to lead the Houston Astros to a World Series.

3. Jose Ramirez

Ramirez is having a career season with Cleveland Indians. He is a great utility player he can play LF,RF,SS and 2B which is very valuable to the Indians. Ramirez current slash line is .332/.388/.601 posting 157 wRC+ and a 3.9 WAR. Ramirez 3.9 WAR ranks 5th in the AL and his wRC+ also ranks 5th in the AL. Ramirez has 17 HRs and 48 RBIs which ranks 17th and 26th in the AL. Ramirez is a very underrated player who went 2-2 in the ASG, keep a eye out for Ramirez doesn’t look like he’s slowing down anytime soon.


NL MVP CANDIDATES

1. Paul Goldschmidt 

What can you say about Goldschmidt, basesballs most underrated superstar, who is consistently one of the best players in the league. Goldschmidt’s current slash line .312/.428/.577 posting 153 wRC+ and a 4.0 WAR. Goldschmidts 153 wRC+ ranks 3rd in the NL and his 4.0 WAR ranks 2nd in the NL. Goldschmidt also posting 20 HRs and 67 RBIs which ranks 8th and 4th in the NL. With the Arizona Diamondbacks having a great season look for Goldschmidt to stay at the top of the NL MVP race.

2. Bryce Harper

The young phenom is having another great season after winning the NL MVP in 2016. Harper’s current slash line is .325/.431/.590 posting 161 wRC+ and a 3.8 WAR. Harper’s 161 wRC+ ranks 2nd in the NL and 3.8 WAR is 4th in the NL. Harper has 20 HRs which is tied for 8th in the NL and his 65 RBIs are 5th in the NL. Harper is a great young star for the game and looks to be at the top of NL MVP race for many more years to come.

3. Joey Votto
 Votto is another great superstar who is having a phenomenal season with the Cincinnati Reds. Votto’s current slash line is.315/.427/.631 posting 167 wRC+ and a 3.8 WAR. Votto’s 167 wRC+ ranks 1st in the NL and his 3.8 WAR ranks 3rd in the NL. Votto has 26 HRs which is tied for 1st in the NL with Miami Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton, Votto ranks 3rd in NL RBIs with 68. Votto is such a pheonmenal player and has been the face of the Reds franchise for many seasons.
Video Games–Amazon.com