143 Games Later

Once again, the Padres shocked MLB by extending Fernando Tatis Jr. to a 14 year 340 million dollar extension which makes it the third largest contract in baseball history (Mike Trout & Mookie Betts). As a diehard Friar fan I am ecstatic but remain cautiously optimistic. Before I talk Tatis Jr., I want to give some love to the man who has changed the Padres culture. That would be A.J. Preller.

Preller joined the Padres on August 6th, 2014. The Padres were bad in 2014, where they finished with a record of 77-85. San Diego is considered a small market team and are used to having cheap owners. Not much was expected from Preller because of the misery that looms over San Diego sports. Preller, the former GM for the Texas Rangers, played a large role during the 2010-11 World Series runs Texas had. A.J. promised fans he had a plan. His first batch of moves was to trade top end farm talent like pitcher Max Fried (Braves) & shortstop Trea Turner (Nationals). The Pads in return got Wil Myers and Justin Upton. He wasn’t done there. Preller called the Dodgers and made a deal to bring in LA’s beloved Matt Kemp for Yasmani Grandal and prospects. Let’s not forget about free agent signing of big game James Shields to a 4 year 75 million dollar contract. For the first time since 1998, there was true excitement for Padre fans. They took over headlines and were projected in the playoff hunt which is foreign to the Pads. Preller let San Diego know that he was not afraid to trade, sign free agents, and take some risk. Traits that are necessary to have success.

2015 ended up being a disaster. Matt Kemp’s trade almost did not go through because he did not pass his physical the first time (arthritis). Kemp ended up not being the MVP candidate he used to be in his prime. Justin Upton was subpar at best and Wil Myers only played 60 games. It was easy to go down a dark rabbit hole and convince yourself that the Padres are forever cursed like the Chargers. Meanwhile, Yasmani Grandal became a top offensive catcher, Max Fried prospered through the minors and Trea Turner bursted out onto the scene in 2016.

Preller had to act. Quickly, he came up with a rebuild plan that originally upset fans at the time because that has been the Padres story of the 00’s. Have a great farm system and trade away superstar players like (Anthony Rizzo, Trea Turner, Corey Kluber…) and the rest never come to fruition. James Shields was having an OK year but had a good enough resume to be traded to a potential contender. June 4th, 2016 the Padres are 11.5 games back, have depleted their farm system, and then the greatest possible thing happened. The Padres ate half of James Shields contract and traded him to the WhiteSox for a few prospects including 17 year shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr.

Preller went full rebuild mode. It was similar how the Astros built their Championship caliber team (that was before the trash cans). They spent money internationally, drafted well, continued making trades and brought in key free agents that used to be considered impossible for a “small market team”. After the 2017 season, Preller signed Eric Hosmer to an 8yr/144 million contract that was the largest in Padres history. 2018 was another rebuilding year but that offseason Preller doubled down. February 21st, 2019 Manny Machado signed a 10yr/300 million dollar contract. The Padres had been one of the lower payroll teams for so long and signing well known superstars in the league made Gaslamp Quarter giddy. The number two overall prospect Fernando Tatis Jr., was ready but many wondered if he would stay in the minor leagues for a month to get an extra year of eligibility. Recent examples of teams manipulating service time are how the Blue Jays waited to call up Valddy Jr. and the Cubs doing the same to Kris Bryant.

Eric Hosmer and Machado talked to A.J. saying that they should start Tatis on Opening Day and send a message to the team, city, and MLB that the Friar’s are going for it now. A.J. took advice from his 444 million dollar investments. Tatis Jr. played opening day and immediately San Diego fell in love. Even the way he walks is charismatic. Tatis Jr. would have won rookie of the year but only played 84 games. There was nothing to dislike about the energy and dominance he brought as a 20 year old. I remember saying the only other person I have watched enough and have this much impact on a game is Mike Trout. I no longer feel crazy believing that. Despite bringing in Machado and Tatis (for a half season) 2019 ended like most seasons, last place in the NL West. However, unlike 2015 Padres, there was a core of legit superstars this time. Hope has arrived.

A.J. kept busy making moves for 2020. They added: Trent Grisham, Drew Pomeranz, Tommy Pham, and rookie of the year runner-up Jake Cronenworth. There were flashes of pure dominance… remember Slam Diego. They were “controversial” when Tatis swung at a 3-0 pitch. They had the 2nd best record in the NL. It was Padres, Tatis & Machado, it was brown and gold. In a shortened season, many thought teams would be skeptical making trades. The Padres didn’t care and made several. They brought in Mike Clevinger (missing 2021 season), Mitch Moreland, Jason Castro, Austin Nola, and Trevor Rosenthal. For the first time since 2006 they played in a playoff game. There were playoff moments (Tatis bat flip) which is now the cover of MLB the Show. Unfortunately, it ended to the lame ass Dodgers but watching tempers flare got me pumped up. I will do whatever I need to do to protect Machado, Tatis, Preller, and the rest of the Padres. It is my duty.

All of that led to the Pads going all in and acquiring Blake Snell, Yu Darvish, Ha Seong Kim and Joe Musgrove this offseason. They no longer have a top 3 farm system but still have 4 of the top 100 prospects. This is what A.J.’s promise was to San Diego and starting this year the pressure is on.

Now if you have made it this far bless you. You are a true Friar and I appreciate you. I am going to debunk some anti Tatis contract theories. Now why is this Tatis contract good? Simple, you have the potential face of baseball locked up until he is 35. I am hearing a lot of “well look at what Pujols and Hamilton did to the Angels!” “Long contracts never work out!” What I have to say to that is, you are right. Those contracts were detrimental and there is no defending that except here is the difference. Albert Pujols, Robby Cano and Josh Hamilton were all 31-32 years old when they signed. Tatis is a decade younger. The point is people thought an athletes prime used to be roughly 28-32 years old. That has not been the trend over the past 30 years. Check out: Mike Trout, Mookie Betts, Juan Soto, Ronald Acuna, Trevor Story, Alex Bregman, Manny Machado, Nolan Arenado, Walker Buehler, Clayton Kershaw, Derek Jeter, Ken Griffey Jr, Pedro Martinez, Greg Maddux, Roy Halladay… Pujols, Hamilton, and Cano were also amazing in there 20’s. Signing Tatis and getting him for his best years and still only being 35 when his contract expires is completely different than signing a 32 year old free agent to a mega deal.

This is the second common question I hear, “Well they could have waited 3 more years and kept him under team control.” Again, yes that is true and what virtually every team has done to this point besides the Ronald Acuna deal a few years back (8yr/100 million, what a steal). Remember when Mookie was traded last year? Or when the Indians traded Francicso Lindor to the Mets this year? As a fan of MLB who likes that? When you draft or sign a player like Betts or Lindor, what else do you want? I mean seriously, how many times do you hit and draft someone with the talent of a Betts/Lindor or any superstar? It is not good for the game and it seems like more teams are doing the Rays approach where you trade your talent away to avoid paying big money for young prospects then flip them in a year. Now other owners find themselves in a unique spot where players like Juan Soto, Trevor Story, & Javy Baez are smiling knowing that they have leverage now, thanks to Preller and Tatis. Maybe in a couple of years if the Nats don’t offer you what you like, call Mr. Preller. Just a thought Mr. Soto. Ya know sometimes when you know you have a generational talent it is smart to make the individual/ fanbase happy before others can get to them.

“Well he’s only played one season basically.” That is also true and this is why I remain optimistically cautious. Nobody can predict injuries but with any investment there is always going to be some risk. I could say the same thing about Trout, Mookie, and Manny. They could all get hurt and not be worth their contract. Tatis could get injured or maybe he will not perform to expectations. It is only a 143 game sample size after all but seeing how young stars have flourished makes me feel confident Tatis is no different.

This is what I believe the plan is. Gamble on Tatis as the face of the franchise/ baseball so regardless he is selling seats and merchandise. Tatis will be making an annual of 24.2 million per year which will be an absolute bargain down the road. Snell, Darvish, and others will be off the books soon. Hosmer’s contract was front-loaded so 13 million per year after 2022 is not going to kill the Pads. They have more studs coming up (Gore & CJ Abrams) and by then they wont have to worry about getting into a bidding war with Tatis Jr. in free agency. They will have Machado, they will have Hosmer and now Tatis Jr. joins. Beyond those three after 3-4 years they have no significant money invested elsewhere. That is when you can pay the Mackenzie Gore’s of the world. In other words, the cycle will continue if Tatis Jr. stays on his current path. Agree or disagree A.J., has made the Padres relevant, sparked hope and built a culture that has been missing since Mr. Padre himself, Tony Gwynn. Tatis Jr. said he wants to be the Derek Jeter of San Diego and to have a statue of him. That is quite an aspiration for a 22 year old. But why not? When Fernando does anything, it’s always big. Go and get that cake for us. Well played Preller. Go Dads.


Big Dawg’s Three

Three things over the past week:

Trevor Bauer:  This is the the biggest thing that happened in the baseball world the past week. The reigning champs got the reigning Cy Young winner.   That just does not happen, especially when he is slated as a number three starter. The Dodgers were already the deepest team, kinda by a lot, and adding Trevor makes this team an empire.  Dustin May is an absolute stud and that is the Dodgers 7th/8th option…  I am trying to think of a team that compares to the starpower and depth the Dodgers have… ever. They are the best baseball team I have seen.  Last year, they cruised through the entire season without David Price (former Cy Young winner) and he will probably be their 5th starter, unless traded.  I get zero joy talking about how good the Dodgers are but adding Mookie Betts, David Price, and Trevor Bauer in a year on top of an already World Series Caliber team, is just stupid.  The Dodgers have the potential to go on a 1998-2000 run like the Yankees.

Love him or hate him, Bauer will be the highest paid player for the next two seasons.  He will literally earn over a million dollars every start (good or bad). Trust me when I say, nothing would make me happier watching the Dodgers meltdown and choke.  I will manifest that into existence. MLB fans believe the Dodgers and Padres can be the new Yankees/Red Sox rivalry over the next five years.  I agree, but the Padres are going to have to win to make it a rivalry.  Currently, the only advantage the Padres have is that “the hungry dog runs faster,” one of my favorite quotes. Baseball is weird so keep your heads-up Padre fans. This city is starving and the Pads have the chemistry/ talent to do the impossible. Friars aren’t going anywhere for awhile. “Keep the faith” as Uncle Teddy (Ted Leitner) would say.

MLB Health Protocols: MLB and the MLBPA came to agreement on the health and safety protocols for 2021.  Here they are:  7- inning double headers, Runner starts on 2nd base in extra innings, No DH in National League, Active roster of 26, wearable contact tracing devices, and face mask enforcement officers. 

I only cared about the universal DH.  I think the only positive from the agreement is that baseball will start on time.  I get where the players are coming from and wanting to do 7 inning double headers instead of 9 innings, but I feel like double headers are too rare to make it a rule.  Never was a fan of the runner starting on 2nd base in extra innings because it feels like you are playing a mini mode in a baseball video game. However, I didn’t take my eye off a pitch in extra-inning games knowing how quick it could end (maybe the rule will grow on me).  Shoot me if the universal DH is not implemented after the CBA next year. Nobody wants to watch a pitcher hit. It’s not exciting and makes little sense for how serious player safety is taken these days.

PECOTA: PECOTA stands for Player Empirical Comparison and Optimization Test Algorithm.  It takes a player’s past performance and projects the most likely outcomes for the upcoming season.  So, a computer is predicting the future.  Three teams’ projections stood out to me.  The Angels, Braves, and Cardinals. 

PECOTA projects the Angels 87 wins which seems laughable because they haven’t addressed their pitching issues.  Yes, they got Raisel Iglesias for their bullpen and added starting pitchers Jose Quintana and Alex Cobb who were good… ya know four years ago.  I am not saying these can’t be decent pitchers still, but the Angels do this every year.  Remember Trevor Cahill? Matt Harvey? I’ll even be half glass full guy.  Let’s say the Angels starters click and have a top 5 rotation in the AL.  Who is going to pitch the 7th, 8th, and 9th? I’m waitng… They led the MLB in blown saves with 14 last year. I can’t imagine how frustrated Mike Trout is.  He’s turning 30 this year. That means the Halos have about four years to give him a true shot at a ring.  

I don’t see the Angels beating the A’s by 8 games because the A’s have won 88 plus games six of the last nine years. I don’t care that the A’s lost Liam Hendriks, Marcus Semien and Khris Davis. This is how they work. Of course there are still the Astros. This is the most vulnerable they have been in years. They won’t have Verlander, lost Springer in free agency, and are we sure Altuve and Bregman are still that good? The fans will gladly remind them about the trash cans and I still want to see how they can adjust. I am not going to waste yours or my time trying to come up with a case for the Rangers and Mariners. The Angels had the best record in baseball in 2014 and then got 85 wins in 2015. They have been under .500 every year since. This is the worst the AL West has been in a bit. Good luck Anaheim. 

Braves: How are the Braves are going to finish 4th in the NL East?  The Braves were the only team to make the Dodgers sweat last year when they went up 3-1 in the NLCS.  Keep in mind that Mike Soroka was injured and now they added Charlie Morton.  They have MVP winner Freddie Freeman and arguably the most exciting player in Ronald Acuna Jr.  They brought back Marcell Ozuna and I just want to know what am I missing here?  Im laughing seeing that the Mets are projected 96 wins.  I do not care who they added.  They are cursed and always get plagued with injuries/ drama. The Phillies are basically the National League Angels. They do have Aaron Nola and Zack Wheeler but I don’t buy into them at all. I think the Nationals give a better run towards Atlanta before Philadelphia. And last there is Miami, who actually made the NLDS. That was cute but Miami will come back to reality this year.  I’m taking the Braves every time.

Cardinals:  The Cardinals are one of the best run organizations in all of sports. They are always in the hunt for playoffs and if your team has to play them you never feel secure.  They are pesky and I believe they are the clear frontrunners after adding Nolan Arenado.  The NL Central have made virtually no moves other than the Cubs trading away Yu Darvish. The Pirates stink. Brewers seem average and need Yelich to have an MVP year to have a shot.  The Cubs are trying to figure out if they want to rebuild or not. And the Reds lost Raisel Iglesias and Trevor Bauer.  Also, Cincy finished last in team batting average. So what does the smart front office do? They add an MVP player to pair up with Paul Goldschmidt.  Yeah, I’m taking St. Louis to win more than 80 games and the division, sorry computer. 

See you next week

Big Dawg

Let the Kid’s Play

I know, I know, it has been quite some time.  My last article was the day before COVID lockdowns were enforced.  Many of us can agree it has been an odd year with several distractions, difficulties etc.  All of that being said, Bigdawg is back.  Six days from now is the Superbowl and we are about to approach the toughest 4-8 week stretch of sports where really there is only NBA, NHL, and college hoops.  However, that means pitchers and catchers are two weeks away from reporting and settling back into their routines.  I myself, will also be getting back into the swing of things.  Today, we are going to talk about what is going on between the MLBPA (Major League Baseball Player Association), Rob Manfred and the lovely owners. 

As we know last year was sort of like a trial year in the sense that MLB had a universal DH, expanded playoffs, 7 inning double-headers and a runner starting on 2nd in extra innings. The most popular rule seemed to be the universal DH (Designated Hitter). I did not see many complaints from fans/players missing pitchers’ step in the box, after decades of National League fans opposing the DH.  Overall, the universal DH seemed like the most successful rule added and many want it to be added permanently. Rob Manfred and the owners know that, and they want to use the universal DH as a bargaining chip. 

The CBA (Collective Bargaining Agreement) is set to expire after this upcoming 2021 season.  This is where the players, owners, and commissioner negotiate nearly every aspect of the working relationship between management (the clubs) and the players.  Naturally, the owners who already have bad blood with the MLBPA, are going to squeeze out every penny they can, before having to revise the CBA.  Knowing that most players would like the universal DH, they recently had a proposal which included: 154 game season with full pay, season delayed a month (April 28th start), expanded postseason and universal DH. The initial feeling is that players will reject this proposal for a few reasons.

 First, the 154-game season does not differ much from 162 games, but MLBPA does not like the idea of having the season pushed back.  Players (particularly pitchers) have routines and if those routines are interfered it can throw a player off mentally and physically.  Pitchers anticipate reporting to camp to start training around February 17th.  For players who have already started training this would force them to shut down for a month and then restart to get back where they were.  A lot of this has to do with COVID, but MLBPA are probably wondering why they couldn’t use similar protocols like the NBA, NHL, NFL, and NCAA.  Jeff Passan, writer for ESPN, states that players have concerns about a later start day because if games need to be cancelled, it allows Manfred the opportunity to cut into players salaries.  

 Second, the expanded postseason is just an attempt to make up for lost money from last season.  Last June, Cardinals owner Bill DeWitt Jr. claimed that “MLB isn’t very profitable.”  Not much sympathy was given to DeWitt Jr. who has a net worth north of 4 billion dollars, but we understand these are how most owners think.  The 2020 version of playoffs had 16 playoff teams while the 2021 proposal has 14 teams.  I have heard both sides on how people enjoyed the expanded playoffs because the excitement feels like a March Madness baseball tournament.  On the contrary, MLB traditionalists argue that there is no reward for doing well in a 162 game regular season if more than half the teams make the dance. 

The players dislike the expanded playoffs because they feel like it is an “out” for owners.  Think about how satisfying it is getting into the playoffs for smaller market teams like the Rays, A’s, Brewers, and Royals.  Particularly the Rays and A’s are notorious for having incredible teams while having one of the lowest payrolls in the game.  Because they are frugal, players get frustrated with business models like the Rays and A’s because it seems no matter how good they are doing they refuse to make significant trades or free agent signings. We saw it again this year when the Rays parted ways with Blake Snell and others right after making the World Series.  The A’s didn’t even consider re-signing fan favorite and all-star, Marcus Semien.  In other words, players do not want more teams to become less inclined to spend money or make big splashes because making the playoffs is “good enough”.  They want teams to “go get that cake” as Fernando Tatis Jr. would say. 

To wrap up, I am so glad there will be about 100 more baseball games this year regardless of what proposal ends up getting approved.  All I hope is that the MLBPA and owners can figure it out so we can watch baseball drama not owner/ player drama.  I miss this game and I am still upset MLB got impacted the most out of any major sport last year.  That is in the past just like the Dodgers winning the World Series*.  My Padres are coming.  I love you and see you next week.


American League Preview 2020

We are 15 days away from having baseball on nearly everyday until the end of October.  This has been one of the crazier off-season’s MLB has had in recent memory.  The past few months MLB has gotten more attention than it is used to with the Astros sign stealing scandal, Mookie Betts & David Price traded to the Dodgers, Anthony Rendon joining forces with Mike Trout, and more.  It’s hard to keep up with more than one team over the course of 6 months but take a deep breath that’s why I (Bigdawg) am here.  I am going to recap the good, the bad, and the angry from MLB each week.  Today we are breaking down the American League.  We are going over power rankings and awards.  LETS GO:

AL Power Rankings:

1. New York Yankees: The Yankees won a 103 games last year while having the most players land on the Injured List (IL).  Already, there are questions whether or not Stanton and Judge will be ready for Opening Day. Their pitching staff is depleted with Severino out for the year. Paxton will miss two months recovering from back surgery and Domingo German is suspended until mid season. All of that being said the Yankees will still be the team to beat once their horses get back in the lineup. Oh yeah, they added Gerrit Cole too.

2. Oakland A’s: Yeah you read that right.  This is the year the Oakland A’s not only win the West but go to the ALCS.  The A’s are overlooked all the time and once again coming off back-to-back 97 wins seasons, this team is projected to win around 83ish games.  A lot of people are focusing on how the Astros screwed the Yankees and Dodgers… what about the team that plays them 19 times per year?  They’re pissed and sneaky good.  Matt Chapman is an MVP candidate. Marcus Semien is in a contract year plus his WAR was 4th best in MLB last year at 8.1 trailing only Bellinger, Bregman, and Trout.  Matt Olson is an undervalued 1B and the pitching staff is loaded.  Jesus Luzardo and AJ Puk are highly touted pitching prospects and check out Sean Manaea’s hair.  Oakland seems to find a way with what they have, but have true starpower to go with their complimentary players in 2020. 

3. Houston Astros: What a time to be an Astros fan.  This will be one of the most interesting seasons in MLB seeing how each stadium and player reacts in game to the Astros.  They should have a hired a better Public Relations person to tell Carlos Correa and Jose Altuve to shut up.  They dug the hole much deeper and pissed off a lot of players/fans in the process.  I am curious on how they will respond to 6 months of being heckled and whether or not they breakdown or use it as motivation.  I had to put them as the third best team because they have won 101 games or more the past three years.  I see them finishing at 91-71.  They have an incredible lineup… I think.  I am not as high on Verlander this year and he is starting spring with some arm issues. Losing Gerrit Cole hurts as the Astros starters need to eat innings. I see every team playing the Astros as if it was a playoff game and I think a 16 game drop off from last year is reasonable.  Still a loaded team. 

Image result for tyler glasnow and blake snell

4. Tampa Bay Rays: I love the Rays other than their God-awful stadium.  Like the A’s, they are better at playing moneyball than the rest of the league.  They flipped a washed Chris Archer for pitcher Tyler Glasnow and stud outfielder Austin Meadows two years ago.  Pittsburgh is scratching their head.  I think this team goes as far as two pictured above.  Blake Snell won the Cy Young in 2018 and had a disappointing start to the 2019 campaign.  He’s going to bounce back and get into Cy Young form while his teammate Tyler Glasnow is going to (spoiler) win the Cy Young this year.  Glasnow before getting hurt had an incredible 1.78 ERA in 60.2 innings to go along with 76 strikeouts.  If he is able to start at least 25 games, the Rays have a legit 1-2 punch that can compete against anyone.  Don’t forget about Mr. Charlie Morton as their number 3. This team is deadly.

5. Minnesota Twins: The Twins quietly won 101 games last year.  They only got better with additions of Rich Hill, Kenta Maeda, Homer Bailey, and gave one year deals to Micheal Pineda and Jake Odorizzi.  Jose Berrios had a decent year but I expect he takes a leap this season.  Last year the Twins led the MLB in homeruns and they added a former MVP in Josh Donaldson.  Donaldson has gone under the radar but still produced a stellar 37 HR, 94 RBI, and 96 runs to a team that already scores a ton. We should see 2017’s number 1 pick Royce Lewis get some action as well. Minnesota is in great position to secure the Central yet again.     

6. Cleveland Indians: I simply do not understand the Indians.  When you draft someone with Franciso Lindor’s talent, you pay and keep him there as long as humanly possible (Ask Red Sox about Mookie).  This team has a lot to like but their vibe just sucks. Probably because they are in Cleveland but they have a solid lineup with Lindor, Jose Ramirez, Carlos Santana, and the Franimal (Franmil Reyes).  The starting rotation is competitive with Shane Bieber, Zach Plesac, Carlos Carrasco and Mike Clevinger who is really good.  It is up to how the Indians start.  If they come out hot, they probably won’t trade Lindor.  And if they start off cold, we might see a total destruction of this team.  Cleveland has no clue what they want and that is their issue.  

7. Chicago White Sox: The White Sox are going to be fun and have and one of the more exciting offenses in the league.  They added Yasmani Grandal who is a top 2 offensive catcher and a good pitch framer.  Jose Abreu put up another solid year with .288 AVG, 33 HR, 123 RBI.  Tim Anderson won the batting title last year and Yoan Moncada seems to be figuring it out after batting .315 with 25 bombs.  He was rewarded with a 5yr/70mil extension this past week.  The outfield consists of former top prospect Eloy Jimenez, the current number 3 overall prospect Luis Robert, and former Ranger, Nomar Mazara, who has shown snippets of his potential.  They improved their rotation by adding Dallas Keuchel and Lucas Giolito finally showed up last year.  Micheal Kopech is the next young starter the Chisox are hoping to make his presence known. He throws 100 mph in his sleep. This team is young and fun.

8. Los Angeles Angels: The Angels did the most Angel thing after missing out on Gerrit Cole.  The past decade has been miserable for Halo fans as they keep whiffing on finding a consistent top of the rotation guy to help Mike Trout get into the playoffs.  So what do they do with their money?  Get Anthony Rendon, who is great, but true Angel fans are holding their breath for two reasons.  (1) They didn’t address pitching issues and (2) Josh Hamilton, Albert Pujols, and C.J. Wilson are all I need to say.  I think Rendon will be fine but the Angels have not done well with free agent signings as of late.  The other notable move was bringing back Joe Maddon.  Joe Maddon vibes are a real thing and is the only hope to one of the worst pitching rotations in all of MLB.  Arte Moreno singlehandedly revoked the trade between the Dodgers that would have sent Joc Pederson and Ross Stripling to the Angels, for a 3rd string 2b (Luis Rengifo).  It sure would be nice to have Stripling, especially, with Canning having arm issues.   Made zero sense to revoke the trade other than ignorance. Cheers Arte!

9. Boston Red Sox: Boston traded away a generational talent in Mookie Betts and their return was not what you would expect.  They got Alex Verdugo, prospect Jeter Downs, and a catching prospect.  The biggest problem I have with Boston is that many are projecting around 84 wins, which makes you wonder why they would trade Mookie if they were that competitive.  Chris Sale is having health issues again and the biggest problem with the Sox is pitching.  If you are going trade Mookie, fix the problem!  J.D. Martinez, Andrew Benintendi, Xander Bogaerts, Rafael Devers, and now Verdugo are good… But with Sale likely to miss time and trading away Price, the rotation is Eduardo Rodriguez, Nathan Eovaldi, and I won’t bore you with the rest.   My other concern is how the team is coming to fruition.  Many players were bummed to see Betts and Price go but what about Alex Cora being fired?  We still do not know what the Red Sox did during 2018 season and now the report might be pushed back for a third time due to the Coronavirus (that makes no sense either).  Red flags. 

10.  Toronto Blue Jays: Toronto might be the most exciting team to stream this year.  Three infield slots are sons of former MLB players.  How cool is that?  Guerrero Jr. is the only prospect to have a hit grade scale of 80/80 and we seem to forget he is going to turn only 21 on March 16th. Cavan Biggio did not wow with his batting average, however, to hit .234 and to have an on base of .365 is incredible.   To put in perspective, Acuna Jr., Josh Bell, and Charlie Blackmon all finished with a .365 OBP.   Bo Bichette is a great name and showed us a small sample size of how legit he can be.  In 46 games, he had a .311 AVG to go with 11 homeruns.   He is also 21 years old.  For the pitching staff, they added Hyun-Jin Ryu who is coming off his best season.  The Jays have a top prospect and flamethrower Nate Pearson who has turned several heads this Spring.   This is the beginning of something special for Canada.  

11.  Texas Rangers: The Rangers are getting a new ballpark and new uniforms to kick off the decade.  They traded for former Cy Young winner Corey Kluber to build around Mike Minor and Lance Lynn.  Both Minor and Lynn had respectable seasons and if Kluber can put it together they can be a sleeper team.  When I think of Texas I think of the early 10’s teams where they had sluggers like Josh Hamilton, Nelson Cruz, Ian Kinsler, and Adrian Beltre.  Oddly enough, the Rangers lack offensive firepower besides a few notables like Joey Gallo and potentially Willie Calhoun.  Other than that Texas is banking on their pitching.  Weird. 

12. Kansas City Royals: The Royals have some fun players that include Whit Merrifield, Jorge Soler, Adalberto Mondesi, and the return of Salvador Perez.   They really did not make any splashes this offseason and my best advice would be to trade away Whit Merrifield to a contender for prospects.  He is under a friendly contract and is coming off a 206 hit season that can steal at least 20 bags.  Since winning the World Series, the Royals have quickly become irrelevant again and most likely that won’t change anytime soon. 

Automatic 10 year rebuild.

13. Seattle Mariners: The Mariners stink.  Jerry Dipoto their General Manager stinks.  For those who aren’t fond of Mr. Dipoto here is a breakdown of some the contracts he handed out last decade.  (1) 10yr/250 mil Albert Pujols.  (2) C.J. Wilson 5yr/75 mil (3) Josh Hamilton 5yr/125 mil (4) Robinson Cano 10yr/240mil.  Jerry loves rewarding 32 year olds clearly out of their prime with contracts that won’t live up to the hype.  The Mariners must have been drunk when they gave Dipoto an extension back in 2018.  Something to look forward to is that they have 5 top 100 prospects but most will not impact the 2020 Mariners.

14. Detroit Tigers: Detroit will not be making many headlines until the trade deadline as they have quality arms to negotiate trades.  Trade rumors circulated around Matthew Boyd and I think teams may be interested in Ivan Nova or Daniel Norris.  They brought in veteran Jonathan Schoop and have a top-pitching prospect in Casey Mize who is expected to contribute this year.  This will be another long six months for Detroit.  Get your paper bags ready.  But hey, they have a top 5-farm system.  Patience. 

15. Baltimore Orioles: Baltimore is the worst team in baseball.  The best player on their roster is probably Trey Mancini and he is out indefinitely for unknown reasons. They have to play AL East opponents 76 times.  There’s a legit shot this team goes 15-61 in their division.  I think I’m being a bit generous too.  The only thing this team has going for them is that they have 4 prospects in the top 100, good unis, and a cool stadium.  The most intriguing player is the number 4 overall prospect, catcher Adley Rutschman.  He is expected to come up next year but I have never been a fan of drafting catchers in the first round, let alone first overall pick.  The Angels took back-to-back first round catchers a few years ago and they are nowhere to be found.  I would just take the best talent over a catcher any-day and sign a veteran to short term deals. Most catchers are done by age 30-32 and have to switch to first base like Joe Mauer. Baltimore is at least five years from being somewhat competitive and by then, Rutschman, will be 28 years old. The Orioles are stuck with the Yankees, Rays, Red Sox, and now the upcoming Blue Jays.  I don’t see this team making the playoffs until the 2030’s.  Prove me wrong O’s!


MVP:  Mike TroutWith Mookie out of the AL, Judge having health issues, Bregman being an Astro and Rendon now protecting- makes this an easy lock. 

AL Cy Young: Tyler Glasnow-  I do not see Gerrit Cole replicating a similar season like last year because he is going to Yankee Stadium where the left field fence is 318ft and the short porch in right is just 314ft.  Glasnow was the most dominant pitcher when he was out there and I see him picking up where he left off despite coming off an injury-plagued season. 

AL Rookie of the Year:  Luis Robert– Robert is most likely going to be on the White Sox Opening Day roster, plus the guy is going to hit for a high average and possibly swipe 40 bags.  

AL Reliever of the Year:  Liam HendriksHendriks finished with a 1.63 ERA and 25 saves.  I see the ERA hovering in the same neighborhood while the save total to increase. 

AL Manager of the Year:  Bob MelvinIf you haven’t noticed a pattern, I am all in on Oakland this year.  The Oakland A’s will make it to the ALCS and win the West.  They will finish the year at 95-67 and manager Kevin Cash of the Rays will finish in 2nd.

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