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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9 things to expect next year from the MLB

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It’s a new year, and I decided I wanted to think about something that’s been in the back of our mind, the MLB – or for me, a bit further up, due to my Nats’ heartbreaking loss in the NLDS . So without any further ado, 9 things to expect next year.

1. ROY =  MVP: Bryce Harper and Mike Trout were both pretty stellar, but they can only get better, and will thrive after experience given from the first season, and will be ready to dazzle you at the plate and in the field – expect them to be frontrunners or a big threat in the MVP conversation.

2. The Yankees will not make the playoffs, and the O’s will be a wild card: The Yankees are getting older, and a lot of them past their prime. They are still going to be pretty good, but will not be a big threat, or as big as they were. The O’s have kept the big core of last year’s team that came very close to an ALCS.

3. The Blue Jays win the AL East: I’m sort of shocking myself here – I usually never say that teams who put together tons of talent from different teams win, except for the Yankees. But if Dickey, Johnson and Buehrle can have bounce back or equivalent seasons from last, the Blue Jays should be able to do it.

4. Stephen Strasburg will win the NL Cy Young award: He’s gone through his rookie phenom stage, his rehab, return and shutdown.His confidence has been boosted by quite a bit, and is ready to shine – now that he has the experience, the confidence and the team behind him, he’s a shoo-in for Cy Young.

5. Justin Verlander will win the AL Cy Young award: I’m sure he’s pretty annoyed – swept in the world series, so this is going to be another big year for him – he’ll be determined and ready, plus with an upgraded offense, and some world series experience – it’s all a formula for his second Cy Young.

6. The Dodgers and Angels will NOT make the playoffs this year: Why, you say? Because usually, the best formula is chemistry between players – and I have the feeling these teams will just be a mix of random chemicals, leading up to a great big ol’ explosion.

7. A-Rod will be benched by midseason: His poor postseason effort, his injury prone-ness, and his general decline in play will mean the Yankees will have a different 3rd baseman by July.

8. The division champs will be the: Nats, Reds, Giants, Blue Jays, Tigers and Rangers.

9. The Washington Nationals will be world series champions. The Nats have kept the core, with only one player from last year’s starting lineup not being there, Mike Morse or Adam LaRoche. Plus, with a true leadoff hitter, Strasburg for the entire season, Harper with experience as well as the rest of the team, the Rotation mostly staying the same, plus adding playoff experience and bench players who could start on almost any team will be a recipe for a World Series trophy.

The Updater: New big teams in baseball

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Who would’ve thought the standings would look like this? I saw the NL east coming, but with the other two, you got me there.

Right now, the Nationals are in the lead of the NL East and have won exactly 60% of their games so far – 27, to be exact. That, I saw coming, and if you really want to know, please just read past posts. But the Dodgers having a best-in-baseball record of 30 and 15? That I didn’t see coming, but I feel pretty stupid not for doing that.

At the end of last year, 2/3 of the team was batting higher than .277 – which is good. The combined era of the team’s pitching rotation was 3.38, which is great. And considering they retained most of these players, is extremely good. So, there goes the D-Backs’ hold of the NL West, or really, the Giants and Diamondbacks’.

With the Rangers, they’ve been dukes in baseball for a while. But with the way Josh Hamilton is playing, they’ve become kings and are officially the team to beat.

So, now you’re probably asking yourself, “Why is he telling me all this?”

Here’s why – because it used to be different. Oh, once upon a time, teams like the Phillies, Red Sox and Yankees ruled baseball, and nobody could stop them, no matter how hard they try.

But now there are new kings in baseball, and I think they could be here – to stay.

 

Double post: HALLELUJAH!!! The BCS Goes Final Four! and The Caps are winning for a reason

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Part I

HALLELUJAH!!!!!!!!!!

In this first ever NCAA Football post, we celebrate. Celebrate because the evil empire, being the BCS, has fell to the knights of righteousness, and not-money-hungry people. Today, the BCS has decided that it will now go to a four team playoff. In case you couldn’t guess where I was

And no more Utah’s, Boise States, USCs and TCUs, all of which finished with 12 win records. This is the best four teams in the country. With room for upsets and with room for cinderella, the once all-powerful BCS is dead.

“The king is dead, long live the king!!”

The semifinals will be on January 1st, no matter what. But this is the best part for me, what I’m about to say.

If you’ve ever noticed, the big bowls are always in Miami or Tampa or New Orleans or in a dome. In the NFL, NBA, NHL and MLB, the games are played at the higher seed’s home or the higher seed gets home advantage. Now, in the semifinals, on new years day, they will be played at home – because in all honesty – do you think somebody from California will go to Florida or somebody from Indiana to California just to watch the game? Instead, games are at the one and two seed’s home stadium. And for Florida? Now they could get an extra home game.

I used to think College Football was pointless, since only two teams had a real chance. No more, that will die exactly 611 days from now, 611 days until we see College Football become a true playoff system, and a league worth following.

Part II

The Capitals have beat the Bruins, and are facing the Rangers, for all you hockey fans who have been living under a rock. The Capitals have been the one, two, or three seeds the past four years, and have lost half the time in the first round. But they improved their record to .600 in the Stanley Cup Playoffs first round. But this time, the Caps may go further than the second round, where they have lost every single time they’ve advanced.

They’ve been one, two, and three seeds. And been upset. The Capitals had tons of pressure, and now the pressure’s off. Leaving them to play, and win – beating Tim Thomas and the Bruins. With rookie Braden Holtby, who is playing most outstandingly. The pressure’s off, and the playing’s up. DC may have a shot this year, with good reason.