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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Feeling blue is the new black

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I was so happy when the Dodgers were losing. Not because they were losing, but because once again, a team proved that buying does not mean winning. I left town for summer, confident that the Dodgers season would be a bust. Then some kid named Yasiel Puig came up.

I knew he would be a factor, but didn’t think he would ignite a miraculous flame. The Dodgers were then in last place, and looking like another sub-par team, for another year. Then, something clicked. After the all-star break, the team’s OBP, Batting Average and slugging all rose more than 20 points, minimum. But another thing clicked – they were a team, and they had an atmosphere. So it leaves me in quite the conundrum. Should I root for the dodgers, or should I keep them in the folder in my head that the Yankees are in?

One one hand, much of their talent was acquired through possibly one of the most unfair trades in MLB history. Not one player the Dodgers sent for blockbuster names including Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez is in the Red Sox lineup today – (although they’re doing just fine without them as it seems). They were basically bought for their remaining years, giving up what a General Manager would define as pretty much nothing. 2 out of 5 members of their pitching staff were signed to huge contracts over the winter, (Hello, Zach Greinke, Hello, Ryu-Hyun-Jin)  but the ones who weren’t signed to megadeals have also performed very well. (Hello, Clayton Kershaw). Note: Clayton Kershaw is expected to sign a large contract extension w/ Dodgers or contract with another team this winter, as he is a free agent as of 2014. 

On the other hand, while those players are there, their superstar, Matt Kemp, has been missing the entire season with injuries, plus without much other known talent, they were leaving 4 other spots for farm talent or rag-tag players. It’s a crime to root against those types of players. Yasiel Puig is farm, as well as Clayton Kershaw.

So it leaves me with this – are they the Yankees with their spending, or can we look at them like the Cardinals? The conclusion I’ve come to is to believe they aren’t like the Yankees, but they aren’t the Cardinals either. Even Yasiel Puig signed for 7 years and 42 million. They’ve spent a lot, there’s no doubt. But they’ve performed enough with other talent, that maybe they aren’t a crime to root against after all.

Still a class A-Fraud

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A report has been conducted accusing A-Rod, Nelson Cruz, Melky Cabrera and Gio Gonzalez of having connections to PEDs.

Two of those four players have already served suspensions – the only person I believe of denial is Gio Gonzalez because he is young and in his prime and very capable without PEDs.

But the biggest name on there is Alex Rodriguez. As Jeff Passan said, the truth is – A-Rod is a liar.

Alex Rodriguez has become the face of the post-steroid era in a bad way. He has served suspensions and has been continuing to use steroids in this era.

In all honesty, if I was a Yankee fan, I would be absolutely sick of A-Rod by now. He has disgraced himself, his teams and the MLB.

The same way people now associate Lance Armstrong with doping and being a cheat, A Rod is the same for baseball. His career should be over.

I truly can’t believe he would be doing this. I would’ve thought he would have learned his lesson. But he helped bring a trophy to new york – and that trophy now has a little star next to it.

As well as all of A-Rod’s career.

 

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.

5 things to expect from MLB this year

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Well, it’s official – this show is on the road. After the long, dark, cold and gray winter, athletes return to Arizona or Florida to get their game on, for the real deal – the 2012 MLB season.

There is a lot to expect from this year – players leaving, players coming, and just brand spanking new players too. But here are five things you shouldn’t be caught off guard on this year.

1. The Cardinals Returning to the playoffs:

Look, I know they lost their heart and soul, and a starter, but this is a team that is more than two players. They have hitting and reasonable pitching, which is definitely enough to get them to a Wild-Card spot.

2. The NL East being up for grabs:

4 out of 5 teams in this division look ready to rumble. (the odd team out being the Mets). The Marlins have revamped hitting and pitching, the Phillies have always been good, the Nationals being led Strasburg and Harper, and the Braves getting a couple more chances with the newbies and veterans.

3. The AL East looking different – for better and worse:

The AL East has been a dominant power the past couple years – 3 out of the past 4 seasons they have gotten the AL pennant, and won it 2 times out of those years. But, teams like the Yankees are looking for a fresh start with young pitching and trading away veterans. Teams like the Rays are trying to find a way to not just ride luck this year, and finding talent that can play all year, and the Red Sox looking to forget last year – and look to find a prominent lineup to not collapse and goof off.

4. The Tigers winning the AL (possibly):

Take a look at the lineup. Now take a look at the pitching. Wow. That’s scary for batters and pitchers. They have found a second homer hitter, which just might get them those runs they need, since it’s still the same team, just better.

5. The Angels and Marlins not being necessarily good:

O.K, I know I said the Marlins were a contender. And they are! But, let’s just get some stuff straight first. As you could tell from the Red Sox epic collapse – (and every all-star game), putting good players together does NOT make a good team. I think they will both be fine, but I’m not necessarily a believer that either of these teams can make it past the AL or NLDS – after all, after C.J Wilson and Mark Buehrle, do either of these teams have pitching?

Well, every season takes it’s own twists and turns, so we’ll just have to see.