Results tagged ‘ Nationals ’
As we head into Winter Meetings there have been some trades made that have made some teams better and other teams weaker in my opinion. I will deal with just two trades in particular. Both of them involve the Tigers.
It is only my opinion, but the trading of Prince Fielder and Doug Fister have made the Tigers much weaker today than they were at the end of the season. I know Prince had a bad postseason, but you have to take into account the protection he provided the 2012 and 2013 MVP, Miguel Cabrera. Prince had a down year in the homer category. He still was able to drive in over 100 runs for the second straight year in Detroit, and behind a guy who has driven in over 280 runs during that time. Prince hit over .400 following a walk to Miggy. Ian Kinsler is a good player, but the Rangers definitely got the better of that deal. Prince could hit over 50 home runs a year in Arlington. Also, whoever he hits behind in that Ranger lineup can expect to see their numbers go up dramatically.
The other trade the Tigers made that I feel weakened them was the trade of Fister — probably the best fourth starter in baseball — to the Nationals. The Nats got better and also now have insurance in case Stephen Strasburg is hurt again. They had to give up a utility player, a lefthanded reliever and a youngster. The lefthander will help the Tiger bullpen, but the loss of Fister weakens their rotation.
What this tells me is that the Tigers are freeing up money to sign Max Scherzer, or to go out and sign another big name hitter and a proven closer like Joe Nathan. The closer role and bullpen in general were the reasons the Tigers didn’t advance to World Series this past season.
Dave Dombroski is to smart to make these trades without a replacement plan in place. But as we sit here today, they have not come out on the right side of either trade.
My predictions for 2013 didn’t go as well this year as they have in previous years. But when it was all said and done, we had a great season to look back at and say there were some really big surprises. And some not-so-big surprises.
I will start with who I picked to make the postseason:
AL East: Tampa Bay (Won Wild Card, lost in ALDS to Boston.)
AL Central: Detroit (Won division, lost in ALCS to Boston.)
AL West: Texas (Lost Wild Card Tiebreaker Game.)
AL Wild Card: Boston (Won division and World Series) and Kansas City (Finished 5.5 game back, on the right track and will be back fighting in the Central next year)
NL East: Washington (The biggest disappointment in baseball in my opinion. I had them not only winning the east but making it to World Series. I still believe they will be a postseason team next year.)
NL Central: Cincinnati (Lost Wild Card game to Pittsburgh.)
NL West: Giants (Didn’t play nearly like the team that won the World Series in 2012.)
NL Wild Card: St. Louis (Won division and lost World Series to Boston) and Arizona (Started off strong before fading badly.)
The only positive thing I can say about my predictions is at least five of the teams I picked to make the postseason did so.
Looking back at what teams did this year that shocked me, first and foremost the pirates making the postseason was the biggest surprise by far. What that team and Clint Hurdle did this year was amazing to me. Another surprise was how well the Braves played when they got no production out of two of the guys they were counting on most in Dan Uggla and B.J. Upton. In spite of that, they ran away with the NL East. Great job of managing by Fredi Gonzalez. Also in my opinion the NL MVP is Freddie Freeman.
The game is so much about starting pitching these days that I believe sometimes great bullpens and bad bullpens get overlooked. The Pirates had the season they had in large part because their bullpen was awesome. The same can be said for the champs in Boston. They had two closers go down with injuries, yet managed to find a guy in Koji Uehara who was almost unhittable. The Cards’ young pen got them to the World Series in the postseason. Edwin Mujica did a great job of closing games until September, then Trevor Rosenthal and his 100-MPH fastball took over.
For the teams that had great rotations and subpar bullpens, we only need look as far as Detroit. Joaquin Benoit took over as closer in the second half and did great. But in the ALCS, the guys who were charged with getting the ball to Benoit were not so good, and cost the Tigers a chance to play in the World Series. It would not surprise me at all to see the Tigers go out and sign a free agent closer Joe Nathan, then trade Rick Porcello to land a couple of good, young arms — both left-handed and right — to add to their pen. If they do that, I will be picking them again next year.
Three of the saddest moments of this year were Charlie Manuel getting fired in Philly, Jim Leyland stepping down as manager of the Tigers, and Mariano Rivera retiring. Why are these sad to me? Because each and every one of those guys are what are sport should be about: pride, integrity, and class. Baseball will miss all of them. Of the three, I think we might see Charlie Manuel again. I’m not sure he has the game out of his system yet. I hope not anyway.
All in all, 2013 was a great year for MLB. Congrats to the Red Sox for bringing celebration to Boston after the senseless and inhumane act of the Marathon bombing.
2013 has turned out to be the year that the Pirates have broken a 20-year stretch of losing seasons. Last night they won their 81st game of the year. It has been a great story to watch unfold and I am happy to see that streak come to an end.
There are players on that team who have endured a lot over their time in Pittsburgh. There are also fans who have had to live through those dismal summers. They have one of the nicest ballparks — if not the nicest ballpark — in the game. Now they have a team that has made it worthwhile to come out and watch. This team is not loaded with superstars. It is, however, loaded with guys who play every out of every game. As a former player, I love to see that. I believe that with the money players make now (and even when I played), that they owe that effort every night to their fan base. This years Pirates do that.
Now comes the question: Will they make the Postseason? I believe they will. But I believe it will be as the first Wild Card team. I still believe that the Reds will win the Central. I think the they have too much talent. They have yet to get on a run, but I believe they will. I could be very wrong, but that is how I see it.
I also see a St. Louis pitching staff that is young and getting tired. When a pitcher is tired, he has to make pitches. Add in the stress of a pennant race and I just feel that the Cards’ staff is running out of gas. I would say — as so many are saying — that both NL Wild Card teams will come out of the Central. But with the weakest division in the NL being the East , I am not sure that the Nationals might not slip in there for the second Wild Card spot. They will play most of their games in their own division in September, as will the Cardinals. That’s to Washington’s advantage, as the Central is a much tougher division.
Back to the Pirates. Congrats to them, but I have a feeling they ain’t satisfied with just a winning season. They have too much fight in them to set their goals that low!
With September nearly upon us , I thought I would look at who is going to be in the 2013 Postseason in the National League.
In the East, I’m gonna go out on a limb and say the Braves have that locked up. They hold a lead that I don’t believe can possibly be overtaken.
In the west, I would say the same thing about the Dodgers . That is something I didn’t think would happen this year for them. Not because they didn’t have the talent, but because of chemistry. They seem to have that in abundance now.
Where the NL gets cloudy is in the Central. St. Louis is leading the division by a game and a half over the Pirates, with the Reds 3.5 back, as we sit here on the 28th of August. They are both Wild Card teams right now, but the NL it could get very interesting is the final month.
With so many games played against each other, the Pirates , Reds and Cards could be their own worst enemies. If they all beat up on each other in a fight for the Central, that could give Washington and maybe the D-Backs a chance to sneak into one of the Wild Card spots, as the NL East and West are much weaker divisions than the Central. It would only take a run by one of those teams to keep both Wild Card teams from coming from the Central.
Pittsburgh has been struggling lately and the Reds have yet to make a strong run. It is great to see that the Pirates will enjoy their first winning season in 21 years, but do they have the experience to withstand a playoff push? Time will tell.
Last month I said that I thought both Wild Card teams will come from the Central. I have since changed that opinion. I believe that either Washington or Arizona will sneak in and take one of the Wild Card spots based solely on the strengths of the divisions.
When it is all said and done, I believe LA will be representing the NL in the World Series.
As we sit here on May 21, 2013, do we know who is the best team in baseball yet?
Answer: No, we don’t.
There are teams we thought would be the class of their divisions that have not come close to living up to what all of us experts predicted.
In the AL East, many believed that the Jays would be the team to beat. I was not one of them. They sit in the cellar of the East. The Yankees are at the top. I picked them last, due to all of their injuries. They have gotten great contributions from guys who were considered castoffs: Vernon Wells, Lyle Overbay and Travis Hafner. I am sticking with my pick of the Rays winning the East.
In the Central, I thought the Tigers would run away with it. Cleveland has played really well and they sit atop the division, but I still believe Detroit will win it.
As for the West, I thought the angels would be able to out-hit their marginal pitching. I have been dead wrong on that. They are a mess. The Rangers right now are the class of that division.
In the NL, many people including myself thought that the Nats would run away with their division. That has not happened. The Braves have played better baseball than them to this point. I still feel the Nats are the best team in the East and will win it in the end.
In the Central, the Reds were the pick to win that division by a wide margin, but the Cardinals’ pitching has been off the charts to this point. I’m sticking by that pick as well. I think the Reds are very balanced, top to bottom.
Now we get to the NL West. The sexy pick was the Dodgers due to all the money they spent. I stand by my belief that you can’t buy a team . The Giants have not pitched well and are still near the top. The Dodgers are struggling. The Rockies and D-backs have played better than anyone could have expected. I still believe the Giants will find a way to come out on top of that division, because the season is 162 games long — not 44.
But the one thing I can say without any hesitation at all is that we have no clue who is the best team in baseball to this point. There are teams playing over their heads and teams playing way below what was expected of them. But since I’m not a bandwagon jumper, I’m going to stick with my World Series picks of Detroit and Washington. I believe over the course of 162 games, the best teams ultimately end up where they should be. Pitching wins! And I believe those two teams have the deepest rotations in both leagues.
Atlanta acquired Justin Upton to play along side his brother, B.J., in their outfield. I think this is a great deal for the Braves. I believe that the thing holding Justin back from being as good as he can be is the fact that all the pressure had been heaped on him in Arizona.
There are some players who can handle that pressure and perform up to expectations, but also there are guys who feel that pressure and expectation and it can make them try to do more than they are capable of doing. I truly believe that Justin falls into this category. His talent is off the charts. But you have to believe that your talent is enough and trust in what you can do. I know personally from the point of an observer, that just watching his reaction to a strikeout or a missed play in the outfield that he wasn’t feeling that he had a bad at-bat or took a bad route. He was feeling that he let his whole team down. That is a lot to shoulder as a kid under 25 years old.
Going to the Braves to play next to his older brother is going let this kid’s true ability shine through. First of all, he is not going to be “the guy” in that Braves lineup. He is going to be one of the guys. The Braves had to part with Martin Prado, who I feel is one of the best “baseball players” in the game today — meaning he can put on any glove and have success. But in the the Braves also got Chris Johnson, who I feel will be the everyday third baseman and hit for more power than Prado. Now that Chipper Jones has retired, this team is now Brian McCann‘s. He is the perfect guy to take over the leadership role for the Braves. He is a steady, level-headed guy who plays the toughest position on the field.
What this means for Justin Upton is that he can put on his uniform and go play the game. From everything I have heard, he and his brother have a great relationship. I can speak from experience when it comes to playing with your brother — not at the big league level, but in high school. My older brother signed with the Brewers the year before I signed with the Padres. My only goal was to outperform my older brother, his was to make sure his little brother didn’t show him up! This deal could mean that we will finally see what the Uptons are truly capable of doing. There is nothing stronger than sibling rivalry to bring out the best in someone. I still feel the Nats are the best team in the NL East, but this deal definitely puts pressure on them to play in 2013 as well or better than they did in 2012. I am not counting out the Phillies, but their big three starting pitchers are going to have to all win 15 or more games apiece if they hope to contend.
We are in the middle of one of the best Postseasons we have seen in a long time, with all four Division Series going the full five games.
Of the two Division Series still undecided, the NL is the tougher one to predict. The Nationals and Cardinals are very closely matched. It will come down to the pitchers. If Gio Gonzalez has his emotions under control, I see the Nats moving on to the NLCS. If he goes out overamped like he did in Game 1, I see the Cards moving on.
The AL is a little easier to predict. Pitching will definitely decide Game 5 of the Yankees-Orioles series. Neither team is swinging the bats well. The Yankees are beat up: Jeter is on one leg, Teixeira has a bad calf and Cano has a bad calf. A-Rod cant catch up with a fastball and Girardi has pinch hit for him twice in the last two games. That is not a good sign for the Yankees, considering they have five years of $30 million a year that they still owe him. But CC will put the Yanks through to the ALCS.
When the League Champions Series start, the AL will be much easier to predict a winner. With the feel-good story of the A’s coming to an end, I don’t think the Yankees are healthy enough to beat Detroit. That could be a quick series. The NL will be much tougher to predict. With the Nats and Cards still unsettled, with Giants awaiting the winner, either way the NLCS will be much more compelling. But I see Washington facing Detroit in the World Series.
Next week I will have more on the World Series. I picked Detroit out of Spring Training to win it all, so I doubt I will change that pick!
Before the season started, I made predictions as to what teams I thought would be Postseason teams. We are in the first week of July, and there are some teams that I thought would win divisions that are either not playing good baseball and are still in the hunt and there is one team that sits dead last in its division — the Phillies being that team.
As I sit here today, the American League East is shaping up to much like I thought it would, with the Yankees leading the division. The big surprise is that the Orioles sit in second place. I still believe that the Yankees will win that division, and I am sticking by my pick of Boston being one of the Wild Card teams. They have endured more days of players being on the DL than any other team in baseball, with over 900 games missed. And they still are only 6.5 games out of first. That means when they do get healthy, the Red Sox will be very deep heading into the second half.
The AL Central has not played out in the first half like I thought it would. I had Detroit running away with the division, but they have not played well as a team yet. I still see them doing much like they did last year and winning the division by a wide margin. Their starting pitching hasn’t been as dominant yet this year. Namely Doug Fister. He came to Detroit last year at the Trade Deadline and went 8-1 for the Tigers. He is 1-6 at this point. That won’t last.
The AL West is right where I thought it would be, with the Rangers leading the division, and the Angels in second place, which will earn them the other Wild Card spot.
In the NL, it has been much harder to figure out what has happened. The Dodgers got off to a great start, but the loss of Matt Kemp due to a hamstring injury has left their offense unable to out-hit average starting pitching. The Giants lead the division, but the team I picked to win the division, Arizona, has started to gain a little ground and they are getting healthier. I still feel that they will win the West.
In the Central, I picked the Cardinals to win the division. They started off on fire this year, but have since come back down to earth. The team that has shocked me and every other so-called expert is the Pirates. They have pitched well and are starting to hit a little bit. This is one division I am changing my pick to win from St. Louis to the Reds. They are at the top of the division in spite of the fact that they have not hit well all year long. They will hit in the second half and win the Central.
The NL East is a division that looks upside-down. In the spring, I picked the Phillies to win the division, even though Ryan Howard and Chase Utley were starting the year on the DL. They are in last place and 11 games out of first. Roy Halladay hasn’t pitched in well over a month. Cliff Lee has not won a game. All of these things will change in the second half. Utley is back, Howard is rehabbing in the minors, and Lee will start winning games. Washington, who I picked to finish second and be a Wild Card team is leading the division and is a very deep team. Atlanta is getting healthy, despite losing Brandon Beachy for the year. They have gotten Jair Jurrjens back, and he has thrown very well in his first two starts. People are going to think I’m nuts, and that is ok. I’ve been nuts before. But I think Washington is going to win this division, and the two Wild Card teams are going to come out of the East, with Philly and Atlanta being the two Wild Card teams.
I think Philly is going to trade Cole Hamels at the deadline to get a big right handed bat to hit behind Howard and also get an arm or two in the deal. There is zero chance of Hamels resigning with the Phillies, in my opinion. He is a Southern Cal boy, and the Dodgers will overpay to get him in their rotation, to go along with Clayton Kershaw. Hamels is at his peak as far as trade value. If the Phillies get a big bat and a bullpen arm or two in the deal, they can win games with Halladay, Lee, and Worley in the top 3 spots in that rotation.
Like I said, people will think I’m nuts. Well, I have papers to prove it! So let’s see how it all shakes out.