All posts by Griffin Mathiews

Kansas City has tough decisions ahead

Only a couple of years ago, the Kansas City Royals were probably the best team in baseball, but a lot has changed since then and now the team has many tough decisions to make very soon. The Royals have basically the same core of players that it had in 2015, but those players just haven’t stepped up this year as they find themselves now as one of the worst teams in all of baseball with a 11-20 record so far this year. What’s most concerning for the Royals is the key players that are all set to leave after this season. Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Alcides Escobar, Lorenzo Cain, and Jason Vargas are all free agents after the season. However, there is virtually no way that they will be able to keep all of those players around next season. That means they will either keep a few of those guys and be stuck in mediocrity for many years to come or they can trade most of those players before the trade deadline and start a lengthy rebuild. Neither of those options is good for Kansas City, but it is time for this team to start building their future. The Royals best option right now is probably to just start the lengthy rebuild and trade away many veteran players before they are lost in free agency for nothing. Kansas City has Salvador Perez, Alex Gordon, Jorge Soler, and Danny Duffy under contract for several years. However, those players are more of complementary players and none can carry the team by themselves. Meanwhile, the Royals need to at least get something by trading away players that are set to hit free agency like Mike Moustakas, Lorenzo Cain, Alcides Escobar, and Jason Vargas. The only player that the Royals should try hard to retain is 1st baseman Eric Hosmer who is set to hit free agency as well this offseason. Hosmer is pretty much the only power threat in the Royals lineup and he is still young enough that he could be a big part of their future when the team is ready to contend again. The only issue is that he will probably want to join a contender this offseason rather than staying in Kansas City for a lengthy rebuild. Either way, the Royals need to sell off any veterans that they can this season in order to try and rebuild their farm system with young prospects. However, this team is several years from being relevant again even if they begin the rebuilding process soon.

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3 Takeways from opening day

3. The San Diego Padres are a worse team than we expected

There aren’t very high expectations heading into the season as they are terrible in every aspect of their roster. However, opening day just proved how terrible this team will likely be this season and they could even be worse than I expected. San Diego lost 14-3 to the division rival Los Angeles Dodgers on opening day. Sure, the Dodgers could compete for a world series this year, but there is never an excuse for a team to allow 14 runs on opening day. Jhoulys Chacin is supposedly the team’s best starting pitcher and if he is the best that they have then I don’t really want to see their worst pitcher because he allowed 9 runs in just 3.1 innings of work. The bullpen for the Padres wasn’t much better, so there doesn’t look to be much hope for the Padres pitching staff. San Diego didn’t do well offensively either, but I expected that considering that they were facing Clayton Kershaw. However, the Padres are basically a minor league team playing at the major league level and they had many players playing today with very little MLB experience. San Diego should be a better team as the season goes on, but right now I’m not sure they even deserve to compete at the MLB level because they looked awful on opening today.

2. Blake Treinen surprisingly could be a good closer for the Nationals

The Nationals had a major question mark as to who their closer would be heading into this season after elite closer Mark Melancon left in free agency. Blake Treinen was just recently named the team’s closer and he certainly didn’t disappoint on opening day. Treinen was faced with a save situation and he made it look easy as he had 2 strikeouts to close out the Marlins in a 4-2 victory on Monday. Treinen faced three really tough hitters and he made them look foolish. It is only opening day, so Treinen could still get worse, but at least he eased some of the concern in the closer role for now.

1. Kansas City might be rebuilding soon once again

Just a couple of years ago, the Kansas City Royals were the best team in the MLB and yet they now are showing signs that they aren’t even contenders anymore. Kansas City suffered an embarrassing loss on opening day as the lowly Minnesota Twins demolished the Royals 7-1. Danny Duffy was outstanding for the Royals, but after he left the game the Royals just completely fell apart. Kansas City’s bullpen was terrible as they allowed 6 runs in only 2 innings of work combined and that is a concern as that has been the strength of their team in recent years. Also, the offense only managed 1 run on 3 hits against a Twins pitching staff that isn’t very overpowering. Kansas City has a lot of key players hitting free agency after the season, so they might have to start trading away players and start rebuilding once again this year. The Royals have many areas to improve in order to contend and they can’t lose to teams like Minnesota if they want to have any chance of making the playoffs in 2017.

 

Season Outlook: Los Angeles Dodgers

Projected 2017 Starting Lineup:

  1. Logan Forsythe – 2nd baseman
  2. Corey Seager – Shortstop
  3. Justin Turner – 3rd baseman
  4. Adrian Gonzalez – 1st baseman
  5. Yasmani Grandal – Catcher
  6. Joc Pederson – Center Fielder
  7. Yasiel Puig – Right Fielder
  8. Andrew Toles – Left Fielder

Projected 2017 Starting Rotation:

  1. Clayton Kershaw
  2. Rich Hill
  3. Kenta Maeda
  4. Scott Kazmir
  5. Julio Urias

Season Outlook:

The Dodgers didn’t make too many additions this offseason, but acquiring 2nd baseman Logan Forsythe is the one move that could make the Dodgers even better. Corey Seager, Justin Turner, and Adrian Gonzalez are the most dangerous and consistent threats in the Dodgers lineup. However, if their lineup is to ever become dangerous then they will need more consistency from players like Yasiel Puig, Joc Pederson, and Yasmani Grandal. The offense for Los Angeles is already really good and if those 3 players show up consistently then their lineup could be unstoppable. Meanwhile, the Dodgers still have star pitcher Clayton Kershaw who is remarkably elite every year. Rich Hill also had an amazing season in 2016 as he had a 2.12 ERA and if he can pitch like that again in 2017 then the Dodgers rotation should be really good. Kenta Maeda and Scott Kazmir are also really good options for the Dodgers in their rotation as the 3rd and 4th options. Julio Urias has by far the biggest upside in the Dodgers rotation as he is only 20 years old and he has already had success in limited action for Los Angeles last year. He figures to get a full-time role in the Dodgers rotation in 2017 and if he performs well then he could make the Dodgers rotation sensational. Re-signing elite closer Kenley Jansen will maintain the stability in the Dodgers bullpen and Sergio Romo/Pedro Baez should be really good late inning options as well. Overall, there aren’t many weaknesses on this Dodgers roster and they are definitely world series contenders heading into 2017.

Prediction: 1st place in the NL West

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Season Outlook: Los Angeles Angels

Projected 2017 Starting Lineup:

  1. Yunel Escobar – 3rd baseman
  2. Kole Calhoun – Right Fielder
  3. Mike Trout – Center Fielder
  4. Albert Pujols – Designated Hitter
  5. Luis Valbuena – 1st baseman
  6. Cameron Maybin – Left Fielder
  7. Danny Espinosa – 2nd baseman
  8. Andrelton Simmons – Shortstop
  9. Martin Maldonado – Catcher

Projected 2017 Starting Rotation:

  1. Garrett Richards
  2. Matt Shoemaker
  3. Tyler Skaggs
  4. Ricky Nolasco
  5. Jesse Chavez

Season Outlook:

Despite having the best player in baseball with center fielder Mike Trout, the Angels are still probably not going to be a contender in 2017. We all know that Trout will carry the offense for the most part, but it will be Albert Pujols and Kole Calhoun that are key to their offensive success. Pujols is still one of the best players in baseball when healthy and he proved that last season when he hit 31 home runs. He is getting old, but if he can stay healthy then expect him to continue his outstanding career. Calhoun also will probably be a key contributor for the Angels offense as he hit 18 home runs for them in 2017. Los Angeles did improve their lineup with the additions of Danny Espinosa at 2nd base and Cameron Maybin in left field. The Angels offense should be good with Trout and Pujols leading the way, yet they’ll need more from the other position players in order to succeed. Meanwhile, the Angels pitching staff is filled with major uncertainty heading into 2017. Garrett Richards is the team’s best starting pitcher, but there is a question as to whether he will stay healthy or if he’ll be the same pitcher in 2017 after his elbow injury last season. Matt Shoemaker and Tyler Skaggs both have good potential, but they will need to be more consistent for the Angels pitching staff to be good next season. Ricky Nolasco and Jesse Chavez aren’t really good options even at the back of their rotation. The Angels need Richards to stay healthy for the pitching rotation to be successful. However, there will be more pressure on Shoemaker and Skaggs to be much more consistent as well. The Angels have a good setup man in the bullpen with Cam Bedrosian, but other than him they don’t have much else in the bullpen. Huston Street will be the team’s closer despite having a 6.45 ERA in limited action last season. Overall, I think the Angels lineup will be pretty good next season, but it is the pitching rotation that will need to step up in 2017.

Prediction: 4th place in the AL West

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Season Outlook: Kansas City Royals

Projected 2017 Starting Lineup:

  1. Alcides Escobar – Shortstop
  2. Mike Moustakas – 3rd baseman
  3. Lorenzo Cain – Center Fielder
  4. Eric Hosmer – 1st baseman
  5. Salvador Perez – Catcher
  6. Alex Gordon – Left Fielder
  7. Jorge Soler – Right Fielder
  8. Brandon Moss – Designated Hitter
  9. Raul Mondesi – 2nd baseman

Projected 2017 Starting Rotation:

  1. Danny Duffy
  2. Ian Kennedy
  3. Jason Vargas
  4. Jason Hammel
  5. Travis Wood

Season Outlook:

The Royals have basically the same lineup that they had when they won the world series in 2015. Kansas City has all of the talent offensively especially with Eric Hosmer and Salvador Perez. The Royals also have very good offensive players like Lorenzo Cain, Alex Gordon, Mike Moustakas, and Alcides Escobar. Really there isn’t much of a weakness offensively for the Royals except for at 2nd base with the unproven Raul Mondesi. The question for the Royals will be whether they can score runs consistently.  The Royals have a very talented lineup, but we’ll see how consistent they can be. Meanwhile, the starting rotation is what is holding the Royals back and it could be even worse after the tragic death of young pitcher Yordano Ventura this offseason. Danny Duffy is clearly the best pitcher for Kansas City as he went 12-3 with a 3.51 ERA last season. However, the rest of the rotation is certainly experienced, yet they don’t provide the consistency that the Royals need. Vargas, Kennedy, Hammel, and Wood all have to be more consistent if the Royals want to be a playoff team. The Royals bullpen isn’t as strong  as it was the past few seasons after they traded star closer Wade Davis this offseason. However, new closer Kelvin Herrera and 8th inning guy Joakim Soria both provide a lot of stability to the bullpen still. Kansas City could contend for a playoff spot in 2017, but they will need more from their pitching in order to do so.

Prediction: 3rd place in the AL Central

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Season Outlook: Houston Astros

Projected 2017 Starting Lineup:

  1. George Springer – Center Fielder
  2. Jose Altuve – 2nd baseman
  3. Carlos Correa – Shortstop
  4. Carlos Beltran – Designated Hitter
  5. Brian McCann – Catcher
  6. Alex Bregman – 3rd baseman
  7. Josh Reddick – Right Fielder
  8. Yulieski Gurriel – 1st baseman
  9. Nori Aoki – Left Fielder

Projected 2017 Starting Rotation:

  1. Dallas Keuchel
  2. Lance McCullers
  3. Collin McHugh
  4. Mike Fiers
  5. Charlie Morton

Season Outlook:

The Houston Astros already had a really good lineup with Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa, George Springer, and Alex Bregman. However, the Astros were busy adding to their lineup even more particularly by signing Carlos Beltran, Brian McCann, and Josh Reddick. Those are 3 veteran players that should combine with the extremely talented players that Houston already had. There is no doubt that Altuve and Correa will be the heart of the Astros lineup, but there really is no weakness in their lineup right now. The Astros lineup clearly is good enough now to not only make the playoffs, but possibly be a world series contender. Meanwhile, the Astros starting rotation is good, although it still has room for improvement. Dallas Keuchel is the clear ace of the pitching staff and Lance McCullers is a very good starting pitcher as well. However, after those 2 pitchers then there is a pretty big dropoff with Collin McHugh, Mike Fiers, and Charlie Morton being the rest of the rotation. Houston could add another quality starting pitcher very soon and that is the piece is probably needed to make this team a world series contender. If the pitching staff can become really good to go along with their already dangerous lineup then there is no doubt that this is a top 3 team in the AL.

Prediction: 1st place in the AL West

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Season Outlook: Detroit Tigers

Projected 2017 Starting Lineup:

  1. Ian Kinsler – 2nd baseman
  2. J.D. Martinez – Right Fielder
  3. Miguel Cabrera – 1st baseman
  4. Victor Martinez – Designated Hitter
  5. Justin Upton – Left Fielder
  6. Nick Castellanos – 3rd baseman
  7. James McCann – Catcher
  8. Tyler Collins – Center Fielder
  9. Jose Iglesias – Shortstop

Projected 2017 Starting Rotation:

  1. Justin Verlander
  2. Michael Fulmer
  3. Jordan Zimmermann
  4. Anibal Sanchez
  5. Daniel Norris

Season Outlook:

It appears that Cleveland will win the AL Central in 2017, but the Tigers are a team that certainly could contend for a wild card spot. The first five players in the Tigers lineup looks really good with Ian Kinsler, J.D. Martinez, Miguel Cabrera, Victor Martinez, and Justin Upton. As long as those guys stay healthy then they should produce the bulk of the offensive production for Detroit. Cabrera is a legitimate MVP candidate every year, but last year he struggled to stay healthy. Cabrera and Victor Martinez are key to the team’s success since they are the most consistent hitters that the team has, but they are both getting old which could affect them in 2017. Meanwhile, the Tigers starting rotation looks very deep and talented on paper especially with Justin Verlander, Michael Fulmer, and Jordan Zimmermann. Anibal Sanchez and Daniel Norris are very good options at the back end of the rotation as well, although they just struggle with consistency. The Tigers bullpen appears to be a weakness heading into 2017, although Francisco Rodriguez is a good closer. This team does have some weaknesses, but their lineup and pitching rotation both have the potential to be very good in 2017. If the Tigers key players can stay healthy then I see no reason that they can’t compete for a playoff spot in 2017.

Prediction: 2nd place in the AL Central

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