MLB Pre Season Preview and Power Rankings 20-16

20. New York Yankees-

Preview- On paper, the Yankees should be a good team. After last year though, what is on paper means nothing. Yankees won free agency last year, but many of the players they signed disappointed, and their rotation feel apart at the hinges because of injuries.

Even before Masahiro Tanaka was hurt though, they still weren’t playing good. The lineup has talent, but is full of under achievers, and injury risks. Carlos Beltran is a borderline Hall of famer, but he seems to be on his last legs. Brian McCann is also starting to decline, as his BA fell under .240 last year. Jacoby Ellsbury is productive when healthy, but he has missed significant time over several seasons. Mark Teixera hasn’t been good for a couple years now, and while Didi Gregorius is good with the glove, he has still yet to show he can handle a bat.

As for their pitching, Tanaka looks like the real deal, but there are many question marks after that. Can Michael Pineda stay on the field? He has missed most of his two years with the Yankees. Can CC Sabathia still be a solid pitcher even though his fastball velocity has taken a nose dive? So far the answer to that has been no. Ivan Nova has also dealt with injury issues, and while he has shown flashes of greatness, he has been inconsistent. Nathan Eovaldi was a solid addition to the rotation, but despite the talent in the rotation, there is no guarantee it will translate to the games.

For now Yankees seem to be looking at the third straight year out of the playoffs.

Player to Watch: CP Dellin Betances- One area of the Yankees that should be good is their bullpen. Betances is competing with Andrew Miller for the role of closer, but the smart money is one Betances to win it. He showed tons of potential last year, finishing with an ERA of 1.40 over 97.2 innings.

  1. Kansas City Royals-

Preview- The Royals made a miracle run all the way to the World Series last year, before falling to the San Francisco Giants. Expect a major step back this year though. Not only did they lose SP James Shields, who gave them a 3.21 ERA over 227 innings, but they were over achieving last year, and only clicked at the right time.

Take a look at their lineup, it just isn’t that talented. Only two players last year showed adequate offensive production, Lorenzo Cain and Alex Gordon. Both of them had an OPS + of over 100. After that it was just a group of players who weren’t really hitting. Eric Hosmer continues to dispaoint, as he has yet ti live up to the potential he showed his rookie year. Hosmer was good they year before that, but that year is now sandwiched in between two mediocre years. Mike Moustakas can hit for power, but his mechanics are terrible, and he goes on long cold streaks that can kill his team. The only other hitter of significance is Alcides Escobar, a gold glove defensive talent, who can get on base and steal when he has to. Overall though, they have no one hitter to rely on, just a handful of decent hitters, supported by streaky guys, and underachievers.

On the mound, they have a terrific bullpen, and an underwhelming rotation. Yordano Ventura and Danny Duffy both have potential, but neither have shown enough yet to be completely confident in. After that Edison Volquez and Chris Young join the rotation, and they have already proven you can’t rely on them for various reasons. Overall, this is just a decent team, which caught lightning in a bottle because of their great defense and bullpen. Problem is, lightning rarely strikes the same place twice.

Player to Watch- Yordano Ventura- He showed a lot of promise, but still has things to work on. His 1.3 WHIP and 20% strikeout rate leaves a lot to be desired. Could be a star though.

  1. San Francisco Giants-

Preview- I know, how can I rank the two teams in the world series outside the top 15. Like the Royals, this is a team that overachieved last year. The squeaked into the playoffs, clinging onto that second wildcard spot, and then started playing really well. They fully deserve the title last year for their play down the stretch, but it doesn’t make them a good team.

Lets start with their rotation. Madison Bumgarner is a great pitcher, but at 24, he threw 270 pitches last year. He could be in for a slight regression this year. After that, Matt Cain has been terrible of late, and hasn’t had an ERA under 4 since 2012. Tim Hudson had a great first half of the year, but posted an ERA of 4.98 over the second half, and will turn 40 in July. Jake Peavy was good for the Giants last year, but he hasn’t had two straight years pitching over 30 games since 2007, and is turning 34. After that there is Tim Lincecum, whose down fall had been noted by everyone.

Their hitting isn’t much better. They replace Pablo Sandoval with Casey Mcgehee, who has a line of .249/.312/.353, over the past three seasons. They have Brandon belt, who despite being a breakout canidate every year, has yet to do so. A middle infield of Joe Panik and Brandon Crawford, both of whom are decent guys to have, but won’t light up the box score or have any great contribution to the team. Norichika Aoki, and Angel Pagan are both sub par hitters as well. The offensive production on this team will mostly come down to Buster Posey and Hunter Pence. Posey is the best hitting catcher in baseball, and Pence has down well for himself in San Francisco. They wont be enough to make up for the struggles of the rotation though.

Player to Watch- SP Matt Cain- If Giants have any hope of repeating, Cain needs to regain his form. He used to be a top 20 pitcher, but he like Tim Lincecum has just lost it. It may look too late for Lincecum, but Cain may still get it together.

  1. Oakland Athletics-

Preview- The A’s put a lot into trying to win last year, and fell on their faces. In doing so, they lost many talented players, and have nothing left from those trades to speak for it. They traded SS prospect Addison Russell to bring back starting pitchers Jason Hammel and Jeff Sarmardzija, and neither of them are still on the team. They sent OF Yoenis Cespedes to Boston to bring back SP Jon Lester, and Lester left in free agency.

They also traded away star 3B Josh Donaldson to bring back 3B Brett Lawrie in the off-season. Lawrie was once a highly regarded prospect, but has failed to live up to the hype. OF Brandon Moss was also traded to Cleveland. Their three best power hitters have all been trade within one year.

What have they added in the off season? Well Billy Butler, who has been as unimpressive as it gets among DH’s. They also added Ben Zobrist and Ike Davis. Zobrist is a decent hitter, but is over rated by the general public. This is another classic Billy Beane team, one put together with recycled parts.

There is no reason to worry about the pitching. For as long as Billy Beane has been there they have lost pitchers, only to replace them with other good pitchers from their farm system. Their minor leagues is a factory for starting pitchers. They still have Sonny Gray, who has proven to be a very good pitcher. While many of the other names in the rotation aren’t super impressive, the history of this team tells me they will still all do good.

Player to Watch- 3B- Brett Lawrie- Lawrie was once a very highly regarded prospect, but it just hasn’t panned out yet. He looked like a player who was going to hit 20-20 regularly. The A’s are hoping the change of scenery can get him going.

English: New Hampshire Fisher Cats catcher, Tr...

English: New Hampshire Fisher Cats catcher, Travis d’Arnaud. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

  1. New York Mets

Preview- The Mets have a very bright future. Their rotation is stocked with young talent. Matt Harvey looked like one of the best pitchers in the league two years ago, before having Tommy John surgery. Jacob deGrom is the reigning rookie of the year, and while he was not as higly regarded coming out of the minors as his teammates, looks to be the real deal. They also have a couple pitchers still waiting in the wings, like Noah Syndergaard and Rafeal Montero. Zack Wheeler has also impressed thus far, but recently underwent Tommy Johns and will miss the season.

The issue is going to be hitter. While their lineup still leaves a lot to be desired. It has improved immensely from recent years. Michael Cuddyer, Juan Lageres, Curtis Granderson, Lucas Duda, David Wright, and Travis d’Arnaud make for a unimpressive, but still decent lineup. If they want to really press for a title in the coming years, they will have to find some more hitting prospects.

The question is can they win this year? They can certainly be in the mix this year, especially with that rotation. As far as making the playoffs, they may still be a year off. Harvey may have to readjust to the majors, and is most likely on a pitch count this year. They are still a year away from having their full rotation as well. They are going to be a dangerous team down the road though, especially if they can find a way to flip one of their stockpile of young pitchers into a equally good young bat.

Player to Watch- C Travis d’Arnaud- d’Arnaud was once the prize of the Phillies farm system. Then he was flipped to Toronto to bring back Roy Halladay, and then flipped to the Mets in exchange for R.A. Dickey. He has struggled thus far, but expect a bit of a breakout year for him this season. He could be one of the better hitting catchers.

What MLB Teams Would Look Like If Players Stayed Home (NL East)

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Philadelphia Phillies

phillies depth chart

 

The Phillies would have possibly the best top of the lineup in the league with Trout, Goldy, and Frazier on board. After that though, their team is pretty weak. Whether it is the middle infield with players no one would even recognize, or the outfield full of disappointing players like Blanks and Heisy. Not to mention the fact they would need a minor leaguer to step up to be their number one pitcher. Biddle, who is actually in the Phillies system, has showed potential, but isn’t quite ready to take the mound as an ace. If Biddle works out, the Phillies could be a pretty good team. if he doesn’t work out, well at least they would be able to enjoy the careers of two potential future hall of famers in Goldy and Trout.

 

 

Atlanta Braves

Braves depth chart

 

The South East is a place where many baseball players grow up, and the Braves benefit by being one of the only south east teams not in Florida, so they get the best players from multiple states. It clearly worked out for them as they would have a scary good team. Wainwright is one of the best pitchers in the league, and is currently in a neck and neck competition for the NL Cy Young. Besides him, they have the best young catcher in the league, one of the best young third basemen, and a strong middle infield with two guys enjoying breakout years. Their outfield is a little old, but still talented. They would be one of the best teams in the league.

 

 

 

New York Mets

Mets depth chart

 

 

 

The Mets have always lived in the Yankees shadow, but in this league they would both be on even playing field. Like the yankees, the Mets would struggle to put up runs. The Yankees lineup probably gets a slight edge, but not by much. The best player in the lineup would probably be Markakis, who has always been an underwhelming player. He isn’t bad, but just doesn’t stand out as a star.Besides him they also have the much maligned Pierzynski, who always seems to leave behind enemies every where he goes. He can still contribute with the bat at least though. The stregth pf this team would definitely be Hector Santiago, who is a very promising young pitcher.They would still probably end up competing with the Phillies for fourth place every year though.

 

 

Miami Marlins

marlins depth chart

 

They may not be as strong as the Rays are, but the Marlins would still be a great team. Florida is one of the best place for baseball, with sunshine year round, meaning they get to play year round. Grienke is the best player on this team, as he is one of the best pitchers in the league. He had been an underachiever for a few years, but has finally established himself in LA, so maybe he just needed the warm weather to be good.  Besides him, the lineup has a lot of potential, but could also be a disaster. Hosmer, Machado, Miller, Morse, and Arencibia, have all looked like All Stars at times, but have also all looked like they don’t belong. In the end, if even a handful of these guys panned out, the marlins would be a team to watch.

 

Washington Nationals

Nats depth chart

 

yet another strong team in the NL East. With Hamilton, Myers, Zimmerman, Phillips, Seager, and Weiters at the top of the lineup, it is easy to see this team putting up runs. The question is, what Verlander will they get? Verlander has been among the best in baseball at times, but he has been terrible the last two years. At just 31 it is hard to believe he is already out of his prime, so he can definitely get his career back on track. If he turns up for the Nats, they could give the Braves a run for their money.

Preseason MLB Rankings 30-21

30. Houston Astros – Right now, the Astros main goal should be to just see what some of their young guys can do. Bring OF George Springer and 1B Jonathan Singleton up at some point, let them get their at bats. Another decent goal would be to not finish with the worst MLB record this year, as they did the last two years

29. Chicago Cubs- Like the Astros, the Cubs are in the middle of a rebuilding process. Expect to see 2B prospect Javier Baez, who so far in Spring Training has showed amazing power, get a chance this year. Cubs best hope is for Baez to come up, and for SS Starlin Castro and 1B Anthony Rizzo to live up to their potential.

28. Philadelphia Phillies- Unlike the previous two teams, the Phillies are not in the middle of a rebuild process. Instead of throwing in the towel, GM Ruben Amaro decided to double down this off season and add multiple again Veterans on short deal in an attempt to squeeze every win out of the aging Phillies Core that they. Phillies do have a couple prospects to look forward to this year though in 3B Maikel Franco and SP Jesse Biddle, but their prospects of winning this year do not look very bright.

27. Minnesota Twins- The Twins have Joe Mauer, and that is about it. They have a couple decent players after that, but none worth mentioning. Their rotation is frightening, but not in a good way. Opposing lineups are probably excited at the prospects of going up against the likes of starting pitchers Phil Hughes, Vance Worley, and Mike Pelfrey in consecutive days. The Twins do have one of the best farm systems though, and should be able to bounce back soon should prospects like Miguel Sano turn out.

26. Colorado Rockies – As always, the combo of OF Carlos Gonzalez and SS troy Tulowitzki will keep them from being embarrassing, but their rotation is still going to hold them back. They added SP Jordan Lyles, because we all know how well fly able pitchers do in Coors Field. Brett Anderson could be a decent add, but he will have to stay healthy to be so, and even if there are now doubts if he can reclaim he form from back in Oakland. They may not be the worst team in the MLB, but I just can’t see them competing, or even improving this year.

25. Miami Marlins- The Marlins might have one of the more promising young rotations in baseball. Jose Fernandez showed in his rookie year that he could be a legitimate ace. Behind him, are a hand full of other young pitchers with a lot of upside, including former Tigers prospect Jacob Turner. The issue is still their lineup though. While improved, it still should end up as one of the worst in the league. Giancarlo Stanton is still one of the most powerful hitters in the league, and OF Christian Yellich has a lot of potential, but besides that, there isn’t much. Garret Jones and Casey McGhee are ok, but they aren’t going to make a huge difference. Marlins still have a long way to go.

24. San Diego Padres – The Padres are the first team on this list I can see as a Dark Horse candidate. I don’t think it is likely, but they do have some nice pieces. 2B Jed Gyorko, SS Everth Cabrera, and 1B Yonder Alonso all have the potential to be great MLB players. They still just don’t have that star piece though, and there is serious evidence behind the idea teams with bigger ballparks aren’t as competitive. They could be good and compete for a spot, but I don’t think it is going to happen yet.

23. NY Mets- The Mets may have a very bright future. If the Marlins may have one of the best young rotations, the Mets do have the best. Even with SP Matt Harvey on the shelf for a year after getting Tommy Johns surgery, the Mets still have Zack Wheeler, SP Jon Niese, SP Dillon Gee, and eventually prospect Noah Syndergaard. Add in veteran SP Bartolo Colon, and this rotation is is a scary one. Their lineup still needs a lot of work, but even that should improve this year. They aren’t ready to be competitive yet, but the Mets fans have a lot to look forward to.

22. Chicago White Sox – The White Sox had an impressive off season, acquiring Cuban prospect Jose Abreu, whose power seems to be legit, and former Diamondback Prospects Adam Eaton and Matt Davison. White Sox had already acquired OF Avisail Garcia by trading SP Jake Peavy last year. Whitesox have a legit chance to shoot up the power rankings by the end of the year, they just need to prove they can compete first.

21. Toronto Blue Jays- Blue Jays were considered serious contenders by many at this point last year. The year ended up being a disaster, and they now look like the losers of the pair of blockbuster trades they made last year. The R.A. Dickey trade looks like a complete bust, and the huge trade they made for most of the Marlins team doesn’t look much better. This is still a talented team, but their rotation is suspect. The potential for success is still there, but there isn’t nearly as much hype as there was last year.

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Major League Offseason Report Card( Mets)

Curtis Granderson running during a game betwee...

Curtis Granderson running during a game between the New York Yankees and Baltimore Orioles on August 28, 2011 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Moves so far

  • OF Curtis Granderson to 4 year $60 Million deal
  • SP Bartolo Colon to 2 year $20 Million deal
  • OF Chris Young to 1 year $7.25 Million deal

Rumor Mill

  • Trade Rumors for SP Jonathan Neise and 2B Daniel Murphy, but nothing catching on
  • Ike Davis being actively shopped
  • Mets reportedly looking to sign 1 more starter to a minor League deal
  • Reportedly interested in SS Stephen Drew

Compliments for the Mets are rare, but they had a damn good offseason. They put themselves in position to at least have a half decent team on the field next season. Going into the offseason, they needed two things, a power hitter, and a short-term pitcher to fill in for the injured Matt Harvey. They get their power hitter in Granderson, and their pitcher in Colon, both ex-Yankees.

Since the Yankees gave him a shot a few years ago, Colon has become surprisingly one of the best pitchers in the MLB. He has a 3.3 ERA the last 3 years, and has seen his career revive after almost ruining it after being caught using steroids. Since then he has been one of the most tested people in baseball, and hasn’t failed a single one in route to a shocking revival. He isn’t flashy, and won’t strike many people out, but he is perfect for the Mets as they await their group of young pitchers to emerge.

Granderson re-invented himself as a power hitter at Yankees stadium. His avg plummeted, but his home runs skyrocketed. That tends to happen when you play in a little league ballpark, but he seems excited for the next step in his career. Critics claim he is injury prone, but his injuries were freak accidents. I mean being hit is the same spot of the hand twice, that’s not being injury prone, that’s called being unlucky. With that behind him, he is ready to give the Mets something they have lacked, power. May be a slight overpay, but at least the Mets haven’t gotten back on the saddle and are trying to be competitive again. With the loss of Harvey to tommy johns, they most likely won’t be a playoff team this year, but they may be able to at least entertain their fans for once.

I give them a B, offseason isn’t going to spin heads, but it’s a productive one that added value to a team that needed it.

If Mets make any new moves this will be updated.

Next team is The Nationals