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)

Check out the NBA version of this here at elitedaily.com

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.

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

Check out the NBA version of this here at elitedaily.com

New York Yankees

yankees depth chart

 

The Yankee fans would have still gotten to enjoy the careers of Jeter and A Rod, but I seriously doubt they would have 27 world series rings if they had to pick all their players from their own area. Whether you think it is a good thing or not, you cannot deny the Yankees have built their team throughout the years off of free agency. Corbin is a good pitcher, and they have a decent enough outfield, but they wouldn’t be the powerhouse they normally are. The Al East would be tough, and the Yanks may not be able to keep up

 

Boston Red Sox

red sox depth chart

 

 

The Red sox would have two of the most promising young players in the league, and not too much after that. Harvey and Springer are team cornerstones, but their infield is weak. Pollock and Davis are productive players, but in the end they may just not have enough firepower. Fortunately, they wont need much fire power with Harvey on the mound. 3 runs will be good enough for a win when he is pitching. having Harvey may be just enough to put them over their rivals the Yankees.

 

Toronto Blue Jays

bluejays depth chart

 

It is easy to tell what type of team this would be, as we have already seen them at a pro level. It is a very similar team to the one that took the field for Canada in the World Baseball Classic in 2013. Canada failed to get out of the group stage tht year, and it wouldn’t be surprising if they also failed to make the playoffs in the MLB. Weak pitching and a lack of power would make it hard for them to find wins. their outfield is their weakest area. They would have a better chance then they did in the WBC, but it would still be tough.

 

Tampa Bay Rays

rays depth chrt

 

*It should be spelled McCutchen, not Mcutchen*

 

The Rays are usually one of the strongest teams each year, and they would be even more so in this league. Sale is one of the most dominate pitchers in the league, and Rizzo and Gordon are both enjoying huge breakout years. After that they have Desmond, and of course reigning MVP Andrew McCutchen. Add is Lucroy, and this team looks more like an All Star team. Dom Brown would be a major weak point, but no lineup is perfect. They would be the favorite to win their division, and they would have a cross country rivalry with the Angels to see who ends up on top.

Baltimore Orioles

O's depth chart

 

One of my most vocal opinions is my disdain for the Upton brothers. It may be because they are both on my favorite teams rival the Braves, but I hated them before that. it is probably because they are so talented, yet consistently fail to met their hype, especially BJ. Still, in a league lacking forign talent, they would be among the best players in the league, Provided BJ doesn’t play like he has with the Braves. David Wright, and Mark Teixera are two other strong components to this team, add in Mat Latos and the O’s are a team that could makes some noise.

 

Tomorrow we finish up in the NL East

Headley Heading to The Bronx in the First Big Offesason Move

In the first big move of the trade deadline, the New York Yankees have acquired 3B Chase Headley from the San Diego Padres. They will send 3B Yangervis Solarte, as well as minor league pitcher Rafeal De Paula, over to San Diego in the deal.

The Yankees make the move hoping Headley will help boost a struggling offense. The Yankees are only 21st in the league in runs, and besides Jacoby Ellsbury, none of their big off season acquisitions have paid off. Brain McCann, Carlos Beltran, and Kelly Johnson have all hit under .250 thus far, and none of them has more than 10 homeruns.

Chase Headley hasn’t had too much success of his own though, as he is hitting only .229, with seven homeruns. The Yankees hope the change of scenery, along with a much more hitter friendly ballpark, will help get Headley back on track.

Headley has been involved in trade talks ever since his breakout 2012 season where he led the league with 115 RBI, as well as 31 homeruns and a .376 on base percentage. He struggled last year though, and has continued to struggle into this year.

Yankees are mostly likely not done making moves, as they have major holes in their starting rotation with CC Sabathia and Ivan Nova being shelved for the year, and Masahiro Tanaka possibly joining them soon.

As for the Padres, they were already the worst offense in the league, being dead last in runs scored, batting average, on base percentage, and slugging percentage. The move continues the apparent fire sale the Padres are having, after they already sent closer Huston Street to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. The Padres don’t have many more pieces to deal, but could maybe get something for SS Everth Cabrera, SP Ian Kennedy, or RP Joaquin Benoit. They have already acquired some good pieces in both of their deals, and could definitely benefit by taking a few more prospects back before the deadline.

It seems as if the Padres have been in rebuilding mode for a long time, as they can never hold on to the players they get. At some point, they are going to need to stop rebuilding and get something working.

Overall, this was a good deal for both teams. Yankees get a guy they have been trying to acquire for a while, as well as an answer to who will replace A Rod, without having to give up too much. For the Padres, they manage to salvage something from Headley, who just wasn’t working out in San Diego.

MLB Preseason Rankings 10-1

10.  Atlanta Braves- The Braves resigned many of their young stars this off season, but despite that, they failed to improve this off season. They are still, for the most part, the same team they were last year. To be fair, that isn’t a bad thing, they were a good team last year. Issue is they were prone to strikeouts, and streakiness. On top of that, SP Kris Medlen is on his way to get Tommy Johns, and Mike Minor and Brandon Beachy are starting the season on the DL as well. Like last year, braves will just have to hope they enter the playoffs on one of their hot streaks.

9. Texas Rangers- There is no doubt, about how scary the Rangers lineup can be. They added OF Shin-Soo Choo and 1B Prince Fielder to an already potent lineup. Jurickson Profar finally has a chance to prove himself in an everyday role, and they still have Adrian Beltre, Alex Rios, and Elvis Andrus. My concern though is for their rotation. SP Yu Darvish proved himself as an ace last year, and Martin Perez pitched better last year than his stat line suggested. The back half is where there are question marks though, with Derek Holland and Matt Harrison dealing with serious injuries, and the rest of the group having never truly proved themselves.

8. Tampa Bay Rays – No matter what, the Rays are always around at the end of the year. Their rotation is possibly the best from top to bottom in the league, and their lineup, while not great, can hold their own. With Wil Myers having his first full year, and with luck a full season out of 3B Evan Longoria as well, the Rays could make some noise this year. There are some holes in this lineup, but it is still better than it has been in years. It may finally be good enough to get the Rays a ring.

7. Oakland A’s – Billy Beane is a lot smarter than we all are. Every off season he underwhelms us, but then by the end of the season and decide all those underwhelming moves worked out. Oakland didn’t add too much this offseason. They brought in a handful of relievers, but their bullpen was already one of the best in the off season. They trade Brett Anderson, but he hasn’t given them much value lately anyway. The A’s are always going to be there because they understand how to build a team. They still don’t have the star power to win a world series though. Unless OF Yoenis Cespedes steps up this season and becomes a star like many, including myself, think he can be, the A’s will continue to be the first team out of the playoffs like every year. They are a very good team, but not a World Series team, at least not yet.

6. New York Yankees – The Yankees walked away from this off season as the paper champions. OF Jacoby Ellsbury, OF Carlos Beltran, C Brian McCann, and SP Masahiro Tanaka all earned their pinstripes this offseason. The Yankees may regret these moves in a few years when they find themselves paying over the hill player’s lots of money, but for now, they should be right back in the World Series competition. They also will finally get to send Michael Pineda out onto the mound. Yankees should be a very good team this year barring any major injuries.

5. Washington Nationals – The Nationals are a very talented, very young team. Bryce harper is primed to finally break out and show the power that made him the most hyped prospect in a long time. They also have an extremely talented rotation. SP Stephen Strasburg, SP Gio Gonzalez, SP Jordan Zimmerman, and SP Doug Fister make for a lethal 1-2-3-4 punch. They faltered last year, but they have a year of experience, and should reclaim their place atop of the NL East.

4.Detroit Tigers – The lineup will miss the bat of 1B Prince Fielder, but this is still a talented team. The Fielder move opens up space for prospect Nick Castellanos, and Ian Kinsler looks to show the Rangers they made a mistake in trading him. In addition, any lineup with Miguel Cabrera is going to have success. Their rotation is also strong, as Max Scherzer, Justin Verlander, and Anibal Sanchez make a very strong top of the rotation. The Tiger have made a name for themselves in falling apart in the playoffs, but if they can get on a hot streak, they have a great chance at bringing home a ring.

3. LA Dodgers – The Dodgers on paper could be the best team in baseball. Their lineup on paper is strong from top to bottom, with the exception of Dee Gordon at second base, who should be replaced by Cuban prospect Alex Guerrero soon enough, and C A.J. Ellis. OF Matt Kemp’s health is a serious concern, as is OF Yasiel Puig’s attitude. Their rotation is even stronger, and unlike the lineup has proven they can get it done consistently. Clayton Kershaw is the best pitcher in baseball, and Zack Greinke and Hyun-Jin Ryu are damn good pitchers as well. Dodgers have a lot to prove, but they can be the most dangerous team in baseball if they get it together.

2. Boston Red Sox – It’s hard to rank the reigning champ anywhere but the number one spot, but the loss of Jacoby Ellsbury hurts. They are still a very good team though. Maybe not as talented as other teams, but sometimes chemistry is more important. No team had more chemistry last year than the Red Sox did, they rode that teamwork all the way to earning a World Series ring. The emergence of SS Xander Bogaerts should be a joy to watch, and the Red Sox should once again find themselves in the mix in an attempt to repeat.

1. St. Louis Cardinals – No non-Cardinal fan loves the Cardinals more than I do. I may not root for them, my allegiance lies in Philadelphia, but I have a deep admiration for the way the Cardinals run their team. They somehow always manage to keep their farm system stocked while also keeping a talented Major League team together. They never sell out the present for the future, nor the future for the present. Every move they make seems to be well thought out, and usually works out for them in the end. They are still one of the best teams from top down in the league, and have a few emerging young players like 2B Kolten Wong, SP Michael Wacha, and OF Oscar Tavares. They know how to build a team, and are my favorite to win this year as of now.

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