AL Central Preview and Predictions

Chicago White Sox – 2015 Record: 76-86

Notable offseason additions:

SP Mat Latos(From Los Angeles Angels), C Alex Avila(From Detroit), OF Austin Jackson(From Chicago Cubs), 3B Todd Frazier(From Cincinnati), 2B Brett Lawrie(From Oakland), and C Dioner Navarro(From Toronto)

Notable offseason subtractions:

C Tyler Flowers(To Atlanta), 2B Gordon Beckham(To Atlanta), SS Alexei Ramirez(To San Diego), and SP Jeff Samardzija(To San Francisco)

Analysis: Chicago made quite a few acquisitions to try and improve their team this year. First of all, Todd Frazier is an all-star caliber player that will be great in the middle of the White Sox lineup to provide some support for Jose Abreu. However, for the offense to really be successful they will need production out of guys like Melky Cabrera and Adam Eaton who both struggled last season. Also, the White Sox have a pretty good pitching staff led by clear number 1 starter Chris Sale. If they can get some consistency from the back end of their rotation then that would make Chicago really good. David Robertson is a really good closer, but besides him the White Sox bullpen could really struggle. We know that Frazier, Abreu, and Sale will all produce for Chicago in 2016. However, they will need more production besides them if they want to compete in the AL Central.

Prediction: 4th place in the AL Central

Cleveland Indians – 2015 Record: 81-80

Notable offseason additions:

RP Tommy Hunter(From Chicago Cubs), 1B Mike Napoli(From Texas), 3B Juan Uribe(From New York Mets), OF Rajai Davis(From Detroit)

Notable offseason subtractions:

3B Chris Johnson(To Miami) and SP Gavin Floyd(To Toronto)

Analysis: Cleveland doesn’t have a loaded offense and now that all-star outfielder Michael Brantley will miss a big portion of the 2016 season then the team could really be starving to score runs. The Indians will need 2nd basemen Jason Kipnis and other position players to really step up in Brantley’s absence. Meanwhile, I’m not very concerned about Cleveland’s starting rotation especially at the top with Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco, and Danny Salazar. However, the 4th and 5th starters will have to become more consistent if the Indians aren’t scoring many runs. Cleveland’s bullpen is in decent shape especially with closer Cody Allen who had 34 saves in 2015. I’m not convinced that Cleveland’s pitching can make up for the lack of offense, so they will need at least somebody to step up while Brantley is injured or else this team could be in deep trouble.

Prediction: 5th place in the AL Central

Detroit Tigers – 2015 Record: 74-87

Notable offseason additions:

OF Cameron Maybin(From Atlanta), SP Jordan Zimmermann(From Washington), RP Justin Wilson(From New York Yankees), RP Mark Lowe(From Toronto), SP Mike Pelfrey(From Minnesota), OF Justin Upton(From San Diego), and RP Francisco Rodriguez(From Milwaukee)

Notable offseason subtractions:

SP Alfredo Simon(To Cincinnati), OF Rajai Davis(To Cleveland), and C Alex Avila(To Chicago White Sox)

Analysis: I really like what Detroit did this offseason because they improved their team in a variety of ways. The team already had Miguel Cabrera, J.D. Martinez, and Ian Kinsler in their lineup heading into this offseason. However, they made their offense even more dangerous with the addition of power-hitting outfielder Justin Upton. Also, the signing of Jordan Zimmermann provides the team with a top of the rotation starting pitcher that will help improve a pitching staff that wasn’t very good at all last season. ¬†However, the main issue for the Tigers in 2015 was definitely their bullpen. They made big improvements to their bullpen by acquiring Mark Lowe and Justin Wilson to be their 7th and 8th inning guys. Not to mention, Detroit also traded for Francisco Rodriguez who has been one of the most reliable closers. This team has improved in basically every area and it is ready to be a world series contender once again.

Prediction: 1st place in the AL Central

Kansas City Royals – 2015 Record: 95-67

Notable offseason additions:

RP Joakim Soria(From Pittsburgh) and SP Ian Kennedy(From San Diego)

Notable offseason subtractions:

2B Ben Zobrist(To Chicago Cubs), RP Ryan Madson(To Oakland), and SP Johnny Cueto(To San Francisco)

Analysis: The Royals are reigning world series champions and even though they did a good job of keeping key players like Alex Gordon with the team they still lost a couple of key players this offseason. Kansas City basically has the same exact lineup as last season, so you can expect to continue to see solid offensive production. The bullpen figures to be the strength of the team in 2016 as Kelvin Herrera, Luke Hochever, and Wade Davis are all returning to their late-inning roles. The bullpen might even be better after the Royals signed proven late-inning guy Joakim Soria. The only thing that I see holding Kansas City back is their starting rotation. Edinson Volquez is a reliable number 1 starter, but besides him it is unclear what Yordano Ventura and Ian Kennedy will give the team as top of the rotation starters. Both players have tons of talent, but they struggle with consistency and the bullpen might not be able to succeed if the Royals starters aren’t keeping games close. This team is still basically the same as it was last year, but ultimately the lack of a quality starting rotation drops them to 2nd place in the AL Central in my opinion.

Prediction: 2nd place in the AL Central

Minnesota Twins – 2015 Record: 83-79

Notable offseason additions:

1B Byung Ho Park(From South Korean team)

Notable offseason subtractions:

SP Mike Pelfrey(To Detroit), OF Aaron Hicks(To New York Yankees)

Analysis: The Twins surprised us all last season with 83 wins, but the issue is that they didn’t make their team much better this offseason. I’m excited to see what young outfielders Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano can do in 2016 and they will be a key component of the Twins offense. Of course, Minnesota will really need Brian Dozier and Joe Mauer to step up like they did last season in order to score runs. I think the Twins offense has a chance to be very good this season. However, the bullpen and the starting rotation really concerns me. Closer Glen Perkins is one of the most reliable closers in the MLB as he had 32 saves, but besides him the bullpen isn’t looking very good at all. Meanwhile, the pitching staff is just as much of a mess. Phil Hughes is the team’s number 1 starter and yet he only had 11 wins and a 4.40 ERA in 2015. The Twins offense will clearly carry the load like it did last season, but if they want to improve last year then somebody in their pitching rotation and bullpen must step up.

Prediction: 3rd place in the AL Central

miguel cabrera

 

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NL East Preview and Predictions

Atlanta Braves – 2015 Record: 67-95

Notable offseason additions:

C Tyler Flowers(From Chicago White Sox), SS Erick Aybar(From Los Angeles Angels), 2B Gordon Beckham(From Chicago White Sox), OF Ender Inciarte(From Arizona), 3B Kelly Johnson(From New York Mets), RP Ian Krol(From Detroit)

Notable offseason subtractions:

SP Shelby Miller(To Arizona), OF Cameron Maybin(To Detroit), and SS Andrelton Simmons(To Los Angeles Angels)

Analysis: It was a tough year for the Braves last season and they got rid of most of their quality players this offseason, so expect another rough year this year. However, they did get good prospects back for Shelby Miller which makes for a promising future for the Braves. Julio Teheran should be a consistent starting pitcher for the Braves in 2016, but the problem is that they have terrible starting pitching besides him. Also, the Braves bullpen struggled last season and I expect the same this year. The only bright spot for Atlanta is 1st basemen Freddie Freeman and the lineup probably won’t be able to score many runs. The Braves are just trying to find out how good their young players will be and don’t expect much out of them this season.

Prediction: 5th place in the NL East

Miami Marlins – 2015 Record: 71-91

Notable offseason additions:

SP Wei-Yin Chen(From Baltimore)

Notable offseason subtractions:

SP Henderson Alvarez(To Oakland)

Analysis: The Marlins barely did anything this offseason, but they still should be an improved team from last season. I really like the signing of Wei-Yin Chen as he is a consistent pitcher that will be a great top of the rotation guy to go along with Jose Fernandez. The Marlins bullpen will be decent with Mike Dunn and A.J. Ramos, but the core of Miami’s team will be the offense with Giancarlo Stanton and Dee Gordon. If those guys can stay healthy then they should be able to produce quite a few runs. The Marlins should have better pitching and it will help them to improve in 2016.

Prediction: 3rd place in the NL East

New York Mets – 2015 Record: 90-72

Notable offseason additions:

SS Asdrubal Cabrera(From Tampa Bay), 2B Neil Walker(From Pittsburgh), RP Antonio Bastardo(From Pittsburgh), and OF Alejandro De Aza(From San Francisco)

Notable offseason additions:

RP Tyler Clippard(To Arizona), 3B Juan Uribe(To Cleveland), SP Jonathon Niese(To Pittsburgh), and 2B Daniel Murphy(To Washington)

Analysis: Expect the Mets starting rotation to be just as good in 2016 as it was last year as they have 4 tremendous young pitchers led by Matt Harvey. They will need those guys to go deep into games since the bullpen could be a weak area for the Mets especially after the losses of Tyler Clippard and Jenrry Mejia. New York’s offense should be even better with additions of Neil Walker and Asdrubal Cabrera in the middle infield. New York will really need 3rd basemen David Wright to stay healthy which he was unable to do last season. Overall, the Mets will have a decent enough offense and they will possibly have the best starting rotation in the MLB which should carry their team.

Prediction: 1st place in the NL East

Philadelphia Phillies – 2015 Record: 63-99

Notable offseason additions:

RP David Hernandez(From Arizona), SP Jeremy Hellickson(From Arizona), SP Brett Oberholtzer(From Houston),

Notable offseason subtractions:

RP Ken Giles(To Houston)

Analysis: The Phillies are in the middle of a big rebuild, but it feels like they are starting to turn the corner and become a contender. However, it still is likely going to be a rough season for Philadelphia in 2016. Aaron Nola is the number 1 starting pitcher for the Phillies and yet he only has 13 starts in the MLB. Philadelphia’s rotation isn’t looking good at all as the only experience starter is Jeremy Hellickson who had a terrible year in 2015 with Arizona. Meanwhile, the Phillies bullpen might be even worse and David Hernandez is expected to be the team’s closer despite having a 4.28 ERA in 2015. Also, the offense doesn’t particularly look good either as their lineup is filled with young and unproven players. Maikel Franco seems to be the only real threat in the Phillies lineup as he has suddenly emerged as a franchise type player. Ryan Howard is also still around, but he isn’t a consistent threat anymore in the lineup since he strikes out a ton. Overall, this Phillies team is finding out more about their young players for the future and they’re in no position to contend in 2016.

Prediction: 4th place in the NL East

Washington Nationals – 2015 Record: 83-79

Notable offseason additions:

2B Daniel Murphy(From New York Mets), OF Ben Revere(From Toronto), RP Oliver Perez(From Houston), and RP Shawn Kelley(From San Diego)

Notable offseason subtractions:

RP Drew Storen(To Toronto), SS Ian Desmond(To Texas), OF Denard Span(To San Francisco), SS Yunel Escobar(To Los Angeles Angels), SP Doug Fister(To Houston), and SP Jordan Zimmermann(To Detroit)

Analysis: Washington fell short of expectations last season, but they will likely compete for the NL East title again this season. Bryce Harper has become one of the best players in the MLB as he hit .330 with 42 home runs last season. However, I’m not quite sure how much support that he will get in the lineup. Ryan Zimmerman and Jayson Werth are good players, but they haven’t been able to be as productive since they have often been injured. However, the Nationals pitching staff will be what carries the team in 2016 despite losing Jordan Zimmermann and Doug Fister this offseason. Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, and Gio Gonzalez make up probably the top trio of starting pitchers of any MLB starting rotation. The Nationals bullpen will be decent despite losing Drew Storen this offseason as Jonathon Papelbon is still one of the most reliable closers in the MLB. If Washington can get more offensive production from players other than Bryce Harper then this team could be very good.

Prediction: 2nd place in the NL East

david wright

AL East Preview and Predictions

Baltimore Orioles – 2015 Record: 81-81

Notable Offseason additions:

OF Mark Trumbo(From Seattle), SP Yovani Gallardo(From Texas), and 1B Pedro Alvarez(From Pittsburgh)

Notable Offseason subtractions:

OF Gerardo Parra(To Colorado), OF Steve Pearce(To Tampa Bay), SP Wei-Yin Chen(To Miami)

Analysis: It was a quiet offseason for the Orioles as far as making big-time acquisitions. However, they did a good job of retaining their top players as they were able to retain Chris Davis, Matt Wieters, and Darren O’Day. The Orioles have a dynamic lineup, but the key for success will be everyone being able to stay healthy in 2016. Catcher Matt Wieters missed most of last season and they will need him to stay healthy. The main concern that I have for Baltimore is that they don’t have a good starting rotation. Sure, the Orioles signed Yovani Gallardo to be the number 2 guy on the pitching staff. However, they don’t have a consistent pitcher which could end up really hurting them. The Orioles have a good bullpen with Darren O’Day, Brian Matusz, and Zach Britton, but they might find it difficult for the starting rotation to be able to keep games close in order for the bullpen to succeed. Baltimore can outhit anyone, but ultimately their downfall will be their lack of starting pitching.

Prediction: 3rd place in AL East

Boston Red Sox – 2015 Record: 78-84

Notable offseason additions:

RP Craig Kimbrel(From San Diego) and SP David Price(From Toronto)

Notable offseason subtractions:

SP Wade Miley(To Seattle)

Analysis: The Red Sox finished last place in the AL East last season, but it is hard to expect the same result in 2016 after the two big additions that they made to improve their pitching. Boston struggled with their starting rotation in 2015, but by signing David Price to a 7-year contract this offseason then they now having a clear number 1 starter that is consistent. Clay Buchholz and Rick Porcello are still decent pitchers and if they can be more consistent starters then the Red Sox could be a really good team. Also, the Red Sox traded for closer Craig Kimbrel from the Padres. Kimbrel is probably the best closer in the MLB as he strikes out tons of batters and pair him with Koji Uehara and the Red Sox suddenly have a tremendous late-inning duo. The Red Sox have a loaded lineup, but the key to success for Boston offensively will be getting better production out of Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez. This team always had a good offense, but now that they have a good pitching staff then this team should be very good.

Prediction: 2nd place in the AL East

New York Yankees – 2015 Record: 87-75

Notable offseason additions:

2B Starlin Castro(From Chicago Cubs), RP Arolids Chapman(From Cincinnati), OF Aaron Hicks(From Minnesota)

Notable offseason subtractions:

RP Justin Wilson(To Detroit), OF Chris Young(To Boston), SP Adam Warren(To Chicago Cubs)

Analysis: The Yankees made the playoffs last season after having a big year from Alex Rodriguez and Brett Gardner. However, I’m not very optimistic about the Yankees heading into this season. I like the Yankees lineup very much, but they have many aging players that are often injured. Jacoby Ellsbury, Carlos Beltran, and Mark Teizeira are still really good players, but the problem is that they haven’t been able to stay healthy. If those guys are able to play a lot this season then the Yankees could be very successful. It is hard to rely on those guys to carry the offense in 2016. Also, the Yankees starting rotation is just a mess. Masahiro Tanaka is their best pitcher and he can’t even be counted on much to stay healthy. The Yankees will have a hard time stopping offenses if they don’t have the consistent production out of their starting pitching. I really like the addition of Aroldis Chapman this offseason as the team’s new closer and once he returns from his suspension then the Yankees will have problem the best late-inning options with Dellin Betances, Andrew Miller, and Chapman. The Yankees have a lot of issues heading into 2016 and it is hard to see old players carrying the Yankees offense.

Prediction: 4th place in the AL East

Tampa Bay Rays – 2015 Record: 80-82

Notable offseason additions:

OF Steve Pearce(From Baltimore), 1B Logan Morrison(From Seattle), SS Brad Miller(From Seattle), and OF Corey Dickerson(From Colorado)

Notable offseason subtractions:

OF John Jaso(To Pittsburgh), SS Asdrubal Cabrera(To New York Mets), and RP Jake McGee(To Colorado)

Analysis: The Rays have a really good starting rotation 1-5 led by Chris Archer, so it is clear that they can stop basically anybody from scoring runs. However, there is still a concern as to whether the Rays will be able to produce offensively. Evan Longoria, Logan Forsythe, and Corey Dickerson figure to be the key offensive players. However, none of those guys are really that consistent. Losing shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera hurts a lot since he was one of their best players last season and replacing him with Brad Miller isn’t going to end well. The Rays bullpen appears to be a big concern as well especially after they traded Jake McGee to Colorado. Hopefully the Rays starting pitchers can be really good because the other areas of their team will probably really struggle.

Prediction: 5th place in the AL East

Toronto Blue Jays – 2015 Record: 93-69

Notable offseason additions:

SP J.A. Happ(From Pittsburgh) and RP Drew Storen(From Washington)

Notable offseason subtractions:

OF Ben Revere(To Washington), RP Mark Lowe(To Detroit), C Dioner Navarro(To Chicago White Sox), and SP David Price(To Boston)

Analysis: It hurt the Blue Jays to lose number 1 starting pitcher David Price this offseason, but their rotation still figures to be decent. The Blue Jays re-signed Marco Estrada and they acquired J.A. Happ from Pittsburgh as well. It won’t be a very consistent pitching staff which is a concern, but it should be good enough considering how many runs they can score. Drew Storen should provide some more consistency as a closer for Toronto, but besides him the bullpen could be a big problem area especially after they lost Mark Lowe this offseason. Expect the Blue Jays offense to be dynamic once again with all-star caliber players Josh Donaldson, Troy Tulowitzki, Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion, and Russell Martin. As long as those guys can stay healthy then their offense will be very hard to stop. The pitching probably won’t be great, but the Blue Jays offense certainly should make up for that.

Prediction: 1st place in the AL East

josh donaldson

 

Brett Lawrie traded to the White Sox

The White Sox were actively looking for an upgrade at 3rd base this offseason and they have found their new starting 3rd basemen as they acquired Brett Lawrie from the Athletics on Wednesday in exchange for minor league pitchers Zachary Erwin and J.B. Wendelken. Lawrie has been a good offensive player throughout his career and he continued that success last season as he hit .260 with 16 home runs and 60 RBI’s. Lawrie fits well with the White Sox and this is a really good acquisition by Chicago especially since the 3rd base market is so weak this offseason. Meanwhile, Oakland is getting pitcher Zachary Erwin that put up mind-blowing stats last season. Erwin had a 1.34 ERA in rookie level and single-A last season, so it is possible that if he keeps putting up those kinds of numbers in the minor leagues that he could make it to Oakland very fast. It takes a special kind of player to put up those kind of stats at any level. Also, Wendelken might not have the potential that Erwin has. However, Wendelken is certainly really close to making it to the MLB level. He already has pitched in 12 games at Triple-A, so it is possible that Oakland could call him up during the 2016 season. He has a 4.10 ERA in the minor leagues which isn’t great, yet he could make an impact in Oakland’s bullpen at some point. The White Sox are getting a very quality player with the addition of Lawrie and the Athletics are getting a couple of prospects that could be up at the MLB level soon.

White Sox Grade: A – Lawrie provides a lot of stability at 3rd base for the White Sox and even though they are giving up some decent prospects this is still a very good trade for Chicago.

Athletics Grade: B- – I don’t like that the Athletics traded away Lawrie because he’s young and he was very productive last season. However, they did pick up a couple of pitchers that could be called up within the next year or 2, so Oakland still received a decent return for Lawrie.

brett lawrie

David Hernandez signs with Philadelphia

As Philadelphia continues its rebuild process, they made a move to try and improve their bullpen by signing David Hernandez to a 1-year deal on Wednesday. Hernandez is recently coming off of Tommy John surgery, so he didn’t have a very good year for the Diamondbacks in 2015 as he had a 4.28 ERA. Overall, he has a 4.15 career ERA so this signing doesn’t look very good for the Phillies especially if he is going to be the 8th inning guy or even the closer for Philadelphia next season. Philadelphia doesn’t appear like they are even willing to compete for the playoffs in 2016, so this is a cheap signing that just is a bridge until they can completely rebuild their bullpen in a few years with some young talent. I’m not quite sure what the Phillies are expecting out of Hernandez in 2016 because he has proven to be consistently bad throughout his career so far. Either way, I’m not a fan of this signing for the Phillies.

Grade: D – I realize that the Phillies are in a complete rebuild mode, but having Hernandez possibly as their closer in 2016 is just insane. This guy has a career 4.15 ERA and I have no reason to believe that he’ll suddenly make a major improvement next season with the Phillies.

david hernandez.jpg

Neil Walker traded to the Mets

In a kind of shocking trade on Wednesday, the Pirates traded starting 2nd basemen Neil Walker to the Mets for starting pitcher Jonathon Niese. The Mets weren’t really interested in re-signing Daniel Murphy this offseason, so it was obvious that they needed a new 2nd basemen to replace him. Walker has tremendous offensive potential as he hit .269 with 16 home runs and 71 RBI’s last season with Pittsburgh. He might even be an upgrade over Murphy at 2nd base and considering that the Mets only gave up Niese then this is a great trade for them. Meanwhile, Niese will be heading to Pittsburgh in the trade where he will be the number 5 starting pitcher in the Pirates rotation. Niese is a decent pitcher as he had a 4.10 ERA in 2015, but he is clearly not as valuable as Walker was to the Pirates at 2nd base. I would have liked to see Pittsburgh get better value in this deal and I’m not sure who Pittsburgh plans to replace Walker with at 2nd base. Josh Harrison is the likely replacement, but the Pirates still might choose to address the position sometime soon.

Grade: A – Neil Walker is a very good 2nd basemen and he will provide stability at the position for the Mets. New York didn’t need Niese anymore and considering that is all they had to give up in this trade is a win for the Mets.

Grade: D+ – I just don’t see why the Pirates would get rid of a solid 2nd basemen like Neil Walker especially since they only got a number 5 starter for their rotation in return.

neil walker.jpg

Tigers acquire Justin Wilson

The New York Yankees have traded relief pitcher Justin Wilson to the Detroit Tigers for minor league pitchers Luis Cessa and Chad Green. Detroit has made major improvements to their bullpen this offseason and Justin Wilson figures to be a 7th inning or 8th inning guy for Detroit in 2016. He has been consistent throughout his career as he has a 3.03 career ERA and he will provide a lot of stability to a struggling Tigers bullpen. Meanwhile, I question why the Yankees would get rid of Wilson because he was a key part of their bullpen last season and they aren’t really the same without him as a setup man. Also, New York didn’t get much in return as Luis Cessa had a 4.52 ERA in Double-A and Triple-A last season. Cessa is close to a major league debut, but the Yankees should be concerned if he is putting up those types of stats in the minor leagues. The other right-handed pitcher that New York acquired in this deal was Chad Green and he wasn’t much better. Green posted a 3.93 ERA in Double-A last season and he is looking at 2017 before he could possibly make it up to the MLB. Green and Cessa are young, although they will need to majorly improve their statistics in the minor leagues before they can even think about moving up to the MLB. This trade doesn’t make too much sense for the Yankees especially since they are giving up such a reliable relief pitcher.

Tigers Grade: B+ – The Tigers continue to add to their bullpen and Justin Wilson is the type of setup man that they needed. He is reliable and they didn’t have to give up much for him except for a couple of minor league pitchers that are struggling.

Yankees Grade: D+ – I’m not quite sure why the Yankees would make their bullpen worse by trading a consistent pitcher like Justin Wilson. Also, to make things worse they are getting a couple of pitchers that aren’t putting up good numbers in the minor leagues.

justin wilson