Friday, April 1, 2016

2016 Major League Baseball preview

This year, we're doing things differently. We'll cover all six divisions in one fell swoop, with a minimum of commentary:

AL East:

1. Toronto: The defending division champs now have Troy Tulowitzki, a mid-season acquisition from Colorado, for a full season. We think. Otherwise, the same crew as last year, plus Drew Storen (Washington) is being brought in to set up new closer Roberto Osuna.

2. Yankees: The Bronx Bombers solved their 2B problem by heisting Starlin Castro from the Cubs, then bagged OF Aaron Hicks from Minnesota to provide depth.

3. Boston: Rick Porcello had a bad 1st year in Beantown, and some pundits think the addition of David Price will help the rotation? Nope. After spending nearly $100 million to get Pablo Sandoval from San Francisco after the 2014 season, the Red Sox have "Kung Fu Panda" on the bench. For that kind of money, you could rent Jack Black and there wouldn't be much difference.

4. Baltimore: Scott Boras did what he does best, fleece management to overpay a client, in this case, conning the Orioles to overpay to retain Chris Davis. For his next trick, Boras should take up magic. Maybe he can do us all a favor and make Donald Trump disappear.

5. Tampa Bay:  End of the trail for a team that once was a contender.

AL Central:

1. Kansas City: The Royals haven't won back-to-back division titles since they were in the AL West back in the day. They added Ian Kennedy to the roatation and----prepare to cringe, Mets fans---Dillon Gee will work out of the bullpen to start the season.

2. Detroit: The Tigers reloaded the rotation, getting Mike Pelfrey (Minnesota), Daniel Norris (Toronto), and Jordan Zimmermann (Washington) to back up Justin Verlander & Anibal Sanchez. Add new closer Francisco Rodriguez (Milwaukee), returning to the AL, and you're talking a Wild Card lock.

3. Cleveland: Mike Napoli finished last season in Texas after leaving Boston. Juan Uribe finished with the Mets and reached the World Series. Cleveland is hoping both can contribute. It ain't enough.

4. Minnesota: Doesn't scare anyone.
5. Chicago: If the White Sox don't get off to a fast start, Robin Ventura's 2nd tour of duty on the South Side will end rather abruptly.

AL West:

1. Houston: Don't laugh. The Astros will be players this year, as they've kept quite a few players who came up the pipeline from Troy (Tri-City Valleycats).

2. Los Angeles: The Angels brought in Andrelton Simmons (Atlanta), sending Erick Aybar to Atlanta. Could be the last chance for Albert Pujols to get back to the World Series.

3. Texas: The Rangers aren't all the way back yet, despite adding Cole Hamels at the deadline last summer. Taking Ian Desmond out of Washington and putting him in the outfield may haunt Texas rather quickly.

4. Seattle: A near total overhaul won't change anything.
5. Oakland: They brought back Jed Lowrie (Houston) for a stay in the cellar?

NL East:

1. Mets: Never mind the current pre-season winless streak, at 14 going into tonight. When the bell rings in KC on Sunday, they'll be ready. The offense just has to remember to play all 9 innings.

2. Washington: So they lured Daniel Murphy away from the Mets. As noted above, they lost Ian Desmond (Texas) and Jordan Zimmermann (Detroit). Ben Revere (Philadelphia) replaces Denard Span in CF, but his bat is made of lead.

3. Miami: Barry Bonds was hired as batting coach for Don Mattingly, who came from the Dodgers. As if Giancarlo Stanton needed any more incentive. Unfortunately, with closer Steve Cishek gone (Seattle), AJ Ramos is your closer, and not a lock.

4. Philadelphia: Cliff Lee retired, so the Phillies got Jeremy Hellickson (Arizona) as their new ace. Vincent Velasquez (Houston) is their #5 starter and a sleeper.

5. Atlanta: Remember the days when (W)TBS was added to Northeastern cable systems so we could listen to Skip Caray and friends try to soft-pedal some bad Braves teams? Here come those days again, except they're not on TBS anymore.

NL Central:

1. St. Louis: All the Cardinals do is play "Next Man Up". John Lackey is in Chicago, but Mike Leake (Cincinnati) will help fill the void. 

2. Chicago: The Cubs not only got Lackey, but outfielder Jason Heyward from St. Louis as well, as if they needed another bat. Well, then again, they did lose Starlin Castro (Yankees), replaced by Ben Zobrist, who split 2015 between Oakland and Kansas City. Zobrist is reunited with his former manager at Tampa Bay, Joe Maddon. Aside from Lackey, Cy Young winner Jake Arietta and Jon Lester, Cubs pitching did it mostly with mirrors and good fortune in 2015. They're not sneaking up on anyone this time.

3. Pittsburgh: The door is closing and quickly for Clint Hurdle's team to reach the next level. They signed Jonathan Niese away from the Mets to bolster the rotation, and a change of scenery will help Niese who hit some sort of glass ceiling in New York. 

4. Cincinnati: Exit Mike Leake (St. Louis), enter........? Todd Frazier fled for Chicago (White Sox), taking some serious power out of the Reds' lineup. Aroldis Chapman went to New York (Yankees), but starts the season suspended for domestic issues.

5. Milwaukee: The Brewers shored up the offense by getting Chris Carter from Houston, Kirk Nieuwenheis from the Mets, and Aaron Hill from Arizona. However, the pitching doesn't scare.

NL West: 

1. San Francisco: It's an even numbered year. Speaking of bolstering the rotation, the Giants did that by getting Johnny Cueto away from Kansas City. Jeff Samardzija spent a year with the White Sox, and finally flees Chicago. Offensively, Denard Span comes from Washington to give the Giants a quality lead-off man.

2. Arizona: The biggest deal in the offseason saw the Diamondbacks heist Zack Greinke away from Los Angeles. Tyler Clippard ended up a 3 month rental in New York, so now he'll set up closer Brad Ziegler. The Mets will regret that decision, I assure you. Jean Segura came over from Milwaukee in the Aaron Hill deal.

3. Los Angeles: Dave Roberts replaces Don Mattingly (Miami) in the dugout. Otherwise, it's a mess with Greinke gone.

4. San Diego: Exit one Upton (Justin), enter another (Melvin). Meh, not much difference, save for the fact that Melvin's on the downside.

5. Colorado: Meh. Whatever.

Wild Cards: 

AL: Detroit, Yankees.
NL: Arizona, Chicago.

Of course, I could be wrong.

No comments: