The baseball offseason in review

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There are quite a few holidays in the good ol’ U.S.A. Christmas, July 4th, Labor Day, Presidents Day, Easter, Hanukkah, and my personal favorite after Hanukkah: Opening Day. However, there is one more I didn’t list there. The day that pitchers and catchers report.

The month is February, and the days are short, gray and cold. But you know, that somewhere in Southern Florida or Arizona, the boys of summer are getting ready. Maybe they’re just catching up on what happened in those long months or sharing glory from the World Series, or doing basic drills. But they’re back in uniform, in the heat, and everyone is optimistic. That will change for most teams, but this is the most hopeful day. So, as baseball starts up again, we have to look back at the offseason.

The first thing was managerial positions, the most important thing in my opinion. Former players like Matt Williams & Brad Ausmus both got the most appealing jobs, for the Nationals and Tigers. Lloyd McClendon, Bryan Price and Rick Rentaria all joined the Mariners, Reds and Cubs, respectively.

Back in November, which feels like forever ago at this point, the first truly major name switched teams. Tim Hudson left the Atlanta Braves for the Giants on a two year deal.

However, the real stuff didn’t start for another few days. This was one of the most unexpected deals, with Prince Fielder being traded to the Rangers for cash and Ian Kinsler.

This shocked the baseball world in ways more than one. However, I feel like I said something about this a while back…

After this, the bigger deals started. Jhonny Peralta went to the Cardinals, and before you could say that “The Cardinals are the Yankees of the NL!” The Yankees made a splash and a half by signing Jacoby Elisbury and Carlos Beltran, creating a starting outfield with a combined age of 96 and 3 other outfielders including Ichiro Suzuki and Alfonso Soriano. Sheesh.

This is where it gets interesting for Nats fans. For barely anything unless you are a citizen of Natstown, The Nats acquired Doug Fister for prospect Robbie Ray and second baseman/utility man Steve Lombardozzi. Even more interestingly, the deal was reported by a high schooler.

Next, a confusing three-team deal sent Mark Trumbo to the D-Backs. The next day, the Nats traded for Jerry Blevins, a lefty reliever. The day right after that, Nate McClouth made the cross-beltway journey to join the Nats as a utility man. Right after, Mike Napoli resigned with the Red Sox, and beards everywhere rejoiced. However, the biggest deal of the offseason was yet to come. The Seattle Mariners somehow got their hands on Robinson Cano, for ten years and $240 million.

Trying to replace the big bat that Helton provided, Morneau decided that he would spend the next two years in Colorado. The Giants then added Michael Morse. The final big deal before the new year was Sin Soo Choo signing with the Rangers for seven years. Jamey Carroll came back to Natstown, again, except he’ll start (in all likelihood) in Syracuse. Right before MLB approved instant replay, A-Rod was suspended, and it was announced he would miss all of the 2014 season.

Coincidentally, the final “really big deal” happened when the Yankees spent the A-Rod money on Masahiro Tanaka signed with the Yankees.

The final relatively important deals were made on January 26th, when Matt Garza signed with the Brewers.

The only big names that remain are Nelson Cruz, A.J. Burnett, Ervin Santana and Ubaldo Jimenez.

So, if there’s anything I missed, I apologize. It’s pretty hard to put an entire offseason into 700 words.

But everything is in place for an awesome season. What will be a bust? What will work? What was stupid? What was smart? Let me know in the comments. In the meantime, see you on Opening Day!

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Rotations, Rotations – The odd reason the Nats have the best rotation in baseball

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On opening day, there were no questions about the rotation. Now, there are, and they aren't that bad.

On opening day, there were no questions about the rotation for the Nats. Now, there are, and they aren’t that bad.

Ever since the end of the steroid era, pitching has been the key element of most teams. If they haven’t developed their own ace rotation, they’ve signed one. And at this moment, it’s seeming like they’re only getting more important and bigger contracts.

Clayton Kershaw is going to be payed roughly $147,000 dollars per inning he pitches for the next seven years. Justin Verlander is commanding 180 million for the next five or six years. Felix Hernandez has also gotten a huge seven 7 year deal. Rookies like Jose Fernandez, Matt Harvey, Michael Wacha and players before their fifth year or not free agents yet like Stephen Strasburg & Jordan Zimmermann are expected to get about as much. Unfortunately, one pitcher does not win a world series.

The four men behind the ace are just as important, if not more. If you only had one reliable winning pitcher, you would win around 1/5 of your games. Having three good pitchers has always been considered acceptable. However, baseball has probably never seen a time like this in which the rotations are so strong for so many teams.

But who’s rotation is the best heading into this season?

While I love what the Red Sox, Tigers, Dodgers, A’s and Cardinals have, I think that it is the Nats. And not for the reason you may think.

As a Nationals fan last year, I learned something very important. There is a need for more than five pitchers in a rotation. You need that number six and seven as much as you need your ace. Last year, the Nats were supposed to be dominant with everything. However, they surprised everyone, starting the year in a slump and with really only two reliable pitchers. While they finished off better than they started, it was an annoying year. Strasburg was hurt for about a month, and Ross Detwiler barely played half a season. They called up players from Triple-A, but it wasn’t the same. While Taylor Jordan and Tanner Roark held things up for the most part, the Nats realized that not having a sixth starter in the lineup killed them, or at least partially. (Not hitting until September also probably hurt.)

This year, they have too many problems with that. There is an argument over who will have the number one slot, but I think everyone knows it’s Strasburg’s to lose. This is the year he needs to prove he is an ace. Gonzalez, Zimmermann and Fister were all very good last year, but the number five slot is a curious thing. Some people say that Taylor Jordan or Tanner Roark should take it, while normal number five Ross Detwiler can move to the bullpen as a power lefty. I disagree, and say keep the National Det in the rotation, and have Jordan and Roark as backup. But it really comes down to what new manager Matt Williams sees in Spring Training.

The Red Sox & Cardinals probably have the best depth with players like Lester, Buchholz, Wainwright and Wacha, and the Tigers have probably have the better rotation, but the depth nor the rotation is as complete for any one of them is as good as the one in our Nation’s Capitol.

However, offseason predictions aren’t always correct. Who had the Red Sox winning the world series last year? (Hint: Literally nobody)

But even with the unreliability of predictions, I still like the Nats’ chances.

The offseason report – The teams doing the right thing – and the teams that aren’t.

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I am self-admittedly a mess without baseball. So as the winter meetings end, we begin to reach the mid point of the offseason, with only 2 months until pitchers and catchers report, or roughly, at least. That’s kind of a long time. However, it doesn’t mean we can look at some teams this offseason that have stood out, in a good or bad way.

The Good

Oakland Athletics

Top prospect from a great team? Check. Stealing a closer for not that much? Check. Great people and bench players? Check. Oakland has had a well rounded and not-too big offseason, which is exactly what a team in their position needs.

Boston Red Sox

Jacoby who? That’s what Ben Cherington is hoping he got right this offseason. Instead of re-signing the official spark plug and All-Star Jacoby Ellsbury, he went with the in house option – Jackie Bradley Jr. He (Jackie) has shown spots of talent, but not held a consistent spot on a Major League Roster. However, they made a few key additions themselves, signing A.J. Pierzynski and Edward Mujica while letting Jarrod Saltalamacchia go, who was good but never what the Red Sox expected him to be. They also re-signed official beard-man Mike Napoli.

Washington Nationals

What do you do when you don’t have that much to do? Fill in the blanks. While last year, Denard Span and Dan Haren were supposed to fix all the problems, they clubhouse guys like Mark DeRosa walk, and when he left, the Nats clubhouse kind of fell apart. Clubhouse man Nate McLouth will hopefully fix the problem Mark Derosa left, Doug Fister, a just overall great pitcher came for very little and one of the left handed relievers that were missing from last year’s flop season has come on, Jerry Blevins. The only two things they need to do now? Extend Ian Desmond and Jordan Zimmermann, and get Eric O’Flaherty.

San Fransisco Giants

It’s an even numbered year, and you know what that means… the Giants are going to be a contender. Okay, maybe not. But they have gotten another great starter in Tim Hudson, and another great clubhouse man the Nats let walk, Michael Morse, plus re-signing key players like Vogelsong and LIncecum.

The Bad

New York Mets

Unfortunately, a 40 year old veteran does not replace the next big thing in pitching. With Matt Harvey out for next season, Bartolo Colon was brought in to be the front(?!) of the staff. While they stole a great center fielder from their cross-town rivals, this just wasn’t the year to do it. Another two years until the Mets contend for the NL East, minimum.

Seattle Mariners

I know what you’re thinking. Cano. Hart. Yeah, that’s not really enough. Let’s look back at history. 2012 Miami Marlins: Fail. 2012 Los Angeles Angels: Flop. 2013 Toronto Blue Jays: No chance. 2013 Los Angeles Angels: Still a flop. You can’t buy a championship with big name free agents. You just can’t.

Completely Boneheaded GMs

Chicago White Sox

This just did not make sense. After signing Abreu, he trades for Adam Eaton and signs Felipe Paulino – after he unloaded Rios, Peavey and Matt Thornton. So in other words, you are admitting the strategy stunk, and now you’re trying it again. Rebuild. Take a year.

Houston Astros

This is not a team that will contend. They just aren’t good enough. Yet they went out and got Dexter Fowdler and Scott Feldman. I can’t emphasize this enough – until you are a legit contender to finish above .500, you just don’t go for outside talent and use your homegrown talent.

Miami Marlins

Pretty much exactly what I wrote for the Astros, except replace Fowdler and Feldman for Saltalamacchia, Furcal and Garrett Jones.