Moving on over

Hey guys, Just a quick update, I haven’t quit writing, I’ve just moved over to thefoulline.com. So go check it out! I’ll probably still post here from time to time, but expect weekly posts over on thefoulline.com website. Thanks for reading!

Trade Madness

My top deadline deals to help MLB teams.

Toronto Blue Jays trade for Cliff Lee:

This deal makes alot of sense. The Phillies are out of it and are easily sellers. The Blue Jays are making a run at the AL East crown led by the majors best offense, but they need a frontline starter in the worst way. A healthy Cliff Lee would instantly turn the Jays into World Series contenders. The Philles will be looking to unload his contract, and the Jays have been looking to make a payroll splash for years now.

 

Cleveland Indians trade for David Price:

Make no mistake, the Rays are sellers. They aren’t going to rally from this hole. I believe Price will be traded on July 31st. The Indians need an ace if they have any chance of catching Detroit, who suddenly looks like they’re ripe for the taking with the struggles they’ve had. Cleveland has the prospects the Rays like to get this done, like Francisco Lindor and Tyler Naquin, and a package can easily be built around either guy. Trading for Price would make Cleveland instant playoff contenders and energize that fan base. Think of this as a much better version of the Ubaldo Jimenez trade a few years ago.

 

Atlanta Braves trade for Martin Prado:

Pretty simple here, the Braves need a 2nd baseman in the worst way. Have you seen Dan Uggla’s batting average? Or watch him play defense? The Diamondbacks are one of the worst teams in baseball. The return of Prado to Atlanta solves alot of problems for everyone involved. Plus his high contact rate and low strikeout totals would do wonders for a lineup that strikes out a TON.

 

Los Angeles Dodgers trade for Chase Utley:

This trade would sure shake things up in baseball no? This is finally the year the Phillies move Utley. The Dodgers have the payroll to take on any contract in the world, so that’s not a problem. This trade would start a chain reaction in LA, pushing Dee Gordon to Shortstop, and moving Hanley Ramirez back to 3rd base, which would easily solve the black hole that the Dodgers 3rd base spot has been. It’s seriously the worst spot on their roster. Utley is the kind of impact bat and proven winner that would get the Dodgers back on track for a shot at the World Series.

Who would you like to see your team go after? Are you buyers or sellers?

Overpaid and Overrated

The time has come to call out Evan Longoria.

It’s time to put aside all the things he’s done for this franchise, and there have been many.

It’s time to put aside all the clutch hits and gold gloves. There have been alot of those too.

It’s time to put aside how much you love the player, and I assure you, nobody loves more than me.

It’s time to look at what Longoria has become, and that’s the most overrated player in the game of baseball.

Strong words? Perhaps. But the time to mince words is over. The Rays are watching as their season falls off the face of the earth, and Longoria’s only resistance is to flail at a pitch in the dirt.

Now I know these are strong words, and you’re probably thinking, “Way to overreact! It’s just a slump”. Well actually, it’s not.

Since early June last year, Longoria has not been the same player. His batting average has plummeted, his power only comes in very small spurts, and the strikeout rate has skyrocketed. And don’t tell me that’s a small sample. It’s not. That’s nearly a full year. Elite players don’t do that for a whole year.

Remember how things used to be? He’s always been streaky, but when the hot streaks came… Oh baby. He would carry this team for weeks at a time. The HR’s and RBI would rain down and the wins would pile up. But when was the last time you felt that way about Longoria? It’s been awhile hasn’t it? Now a days, his hot streaks last a matter of days, not weeks. And there are weeks at a time where Longoria just looks absolutely lost at the plate. That never used to be how things were with him.

Why has this happened? I can’t say. But what I do know, is that if the Rays are going to make any kind of noise this season and pull themselves out of this massive hole, it’s going to have to be Longoria that leads the way. He’s making 100 million dollars now. He’s supposed to be a franchise cornerstone. It’s time to step up. The rest of the team looks to him to be a leader, the guy that drives the engine. Joe Maddon said yesterday that “Evan needs to be a passenger, not the driver”. Actually Joe, you’re wrong. Longoria needs to be that guy who carries this team. The other players are the passengers. When the Rays have been at their best, that’s how it has always been.

I still love Longoria, but my patience is wearing thin. It’s time for him to step up and save this season.

It’s time for Longo to come back.

 

 

Desperate Times

The Rays are all in this season, right?

Sure they denied it, they said the usual PR pleasing stuff that they always spew out. “We like our chances this year”, “We saw an opportunity to make a run”, “We’re playing for now, and the future”.

Don’t believe this nonsense. The Rays are all in this season, and see this as their best chance to win the World Series in the next 5 years.

The Rays are a penny pinching organization. It’s always going to be that way until the fan support gets better. With that being said, they went all out, for them at least, during this offseason. They made trades, they signed guys to extensions, they brought in free agents. They gave a combined 17 million to Heath Bell and Grant Balfour. They gave their new catcher a brand new contract, they refused to trade David Price, even though it was probably within the best interest of the franchise. The payroll is approaching a franchise record 80 million dollars. You don’t do these things when you’re playing for the future.

So if that’s the case, it’s time to get serious. It’s time to get desperate.

Injuries have ravaged this pitching staff, taking Alex Cobb and Matt Moore to the DL and leaving retreads like Cesar Ramos and Erik Bedard to pick up the slack. It’s been a disaster. It’s become a minor miracle if a Rays starter goes past the 5th inning, and the tax on the bullpen is becoming severe. This cannot be allowed to continue.

It’s time to go all in. You have been building all this young talent and depth, it’s time to use it. I want to see Nathan Karns starting for Bedard. I want to see Enny Romero starting for Cesar Ramos, which would push him back to the bullpen where he’s better suited. I want to see Mike Montgomery starting for Jake Odorizzi, who has proven to be woefully ineffective so far. I want to see Josh Lueke and Heath Bell pushed in front of a train immediately. And I want all these things to happen now.

You can’t have it both ways. You can’t go all in trying to win now, while at the same time keeping all your young talent at AAA and allowing this season to slip away. It’s time to throw these kids into the fire. So what if it doesn’t work out? You’ve already established that this season is the best chance to win. What’s the point of saving these kids for 2016?

What if it works? What if they come up guns blazing? The Marlins did it with Jose Fernandez, and have been rewarded with one of the best pitchers in baseball. Sometimes it’s okay to take a chance, to go for it. Isn’t that what the Rays did this offseason?

Now isn’t the time to back off. If you have to bring up these kids, do it. If you have to finally make that big trade deadline splash that they have flirted with so many years, then do it. Don’t let this season that you’ve put so much stock into slip away.

It’s time to get desperate.

The clock is ticking.

The Rays

Look like complete crap. That’s the extent of this post.

2014 MLB Season Preview

As we near the start of opening day, (Well the real opening day anyway), I thought I would give my take on the upcoming MLB Season. After plugging all the numbers and offseason trades and free agents into the Dan The #1 Rays Fan supercomputer, this is what we came up with.

 

American League

 

AL East:

1) Tampa Bay Rays

Tampa Bay went on a big spending spree in the offseason by their standards, and may have the most well rounded team in franchise history. Bringing back James Loney and David DeJesus was important to keep the offense on track to continue the improvements they made last season, Ryan Hanigan is an unquestioned improvement over Jose Molina, and bringing in Grant Balfour and Heath Bell and adding them to an already strong core might give the Rays the best bullpen in the American League. Tampa Bay will run into problems if Loney and Escobar regress from last years improvements, and Longoria needs to be better. Still, The rotation is strong as always, and the expected improvements from Wil Myers, Desmond Jennings and Chris Archer should push the Rays to the top of the division.

 

2) Boston Red Sox

The World Champions had a quiet offseason compared to some of the powers around the game, but why overhaul a championship team? The Sox look to be EVER so slightly weaker then the 2013 version, with losses like Jacoby Ellsbury, Stephen Drew and Jarrod Saltalamacchia hurting the majors best offense a bit. Bringing in Grady Sizemore and AJ Pierzynski to replace Ellsbury and Salty and downgrades, and I think Boston is hurting themselves by not handing the CF job to Jackie Bradley Jr right away and letting him grow on the fly. Still, there’s ALOT to like about this team, and whatever Xander Bogaerts and Will Middlebrooks give this team will be an absolute bonus. With most of the core from last season returning, the Red Sox will be back in the postseason.

 

3) New York Yankees

Ah the Yankees, the talk of the offseason. After finishing last season outside the postseason, the Yankees of course spent half a billion dollars on free agents, and somehow still managed to lose their best player. This team is unquestionably better, but how much? I think Brian McCann is going to destroy that short porch in right field, and Ellsbury will be electric at the top of their lineup. But how old is this team? It seems like every player on this team is over 33 years old, and they have a big logjam in the outfield. Ellsbury, Beltran, Soriano, Ichiro, Gardner and McCann will all need to DH on some days, and their just aren’t enough spots to go around. Sabathia can’t hit 90 MPH this spring, and we haven’t even gotten to replacing the greatest closer of all time in Mariano Rivera. Still, Tanaka looks like the real deal, and Pineda has been on fire this spring. This team is better, but staying healthy and surviving the grind of 162 games will be a big problem for this group of aging veterans. A mid pack finish awaits the Bronx Bombers.

 

4) Baltimore Orioles

It took awhile, but the Orioles finally got moving this offseason. Bringing in Ubaldo Jimenez to give the rotation a boost and stealing a motivated Nelson Cruz on a one year deal are nice pieces to add, even if i’m not a huge fan of Ubaldo. This might end up being the best lineup in the division. Chris Davis, Adam Jones and Cruz should hit 100 HRs between them, and Matt Wieters and Nick Markakis are solid player that could help any team. Trading Jim Johnson left a hole in the back of the pen, but Tommy Hunter has great stuff and should be able to step into the role with effectiveness. They can’t afford a Chris Davis regression, as they might need him to win the MVP to get Baltimore into the playoffs. The rotation still has questions, and why they aren’t giving Kevin Gausman every chance to win a job baffles me. In another division, they would compete for the title, but the AL East is too strong. Another 4th place finish awaits a Baltimore team that in no way deserves a 4th place finish.

 

5) Toronto Blue Jays

The trendy pick of last season are coming off a god awful year, but there is still talent here, especially offensively. Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion can mash with the best of them, and when healthy Jose Reyes is still electric. But that might be where the good vibes end. Reyes is already limping around the grapefruit league, and EE and Bautista are both coming off major injuries. Brett Lawrie has never developed into a superstar, and Brandon Morrow has been a vast disappointment. Probably could finish mid pack in another division, but in the tough AL East the basement awaits the Blue Jays. They need to blow this up and start over, get some of these contracts off the books.

 

AL Central:

1) Detroit Tigers

Doesn’t it seem like this team should have won a World Series by now? There is SO much talent here. I mean the rotation has the CY Young winner, the ERA Champion, and oh yea.. Justin Verlander. Not to mention and offense led by the best hitter in the world in Miguel Cabrera. Trading Prince Fielder for Ian KInsler is a downgrade and hurts the offense, but they did need to address their second base problem and can now move Miggy back to first base, the position much more suited for him. Tigers should reach the top of a weak AL Central once again.

 

2) Kansas City Royals

So. Much. Young. Talent. The Royals boast some of the most talented young players in all of baseball and appear finally ready to break out. Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Salvador Perez, Alciedes Escobar, Alex Gordon and Billy Butler make for a stacked lineup, and James Shields leads an improving rotation that will feature young flamethrower Yordano Ventura. The bullpen is stacked, led by the American League’s version of Craig Kimbrel in Greg Holland. There is so much to like about this team, and this is the year they finally put it all together. The Royals just might return to the postseason for the first time in 29 years.

 

3) Cleveland Indians

The Indians made a surprise run to the postseason last year, and although it was a brief stay, Terry Francona has this team in the right direction. The lineup is very good, with players like Jason Kipnis, Carlos Santana and Michael Brantley leading a solid core. This team could take a step back this season though, as the bullpen has alot of question marks, and the rotation lost Ubaldo Jimenez and Scott Kazmir, both key pieces from last years team. Justin Masterson and Danny Salazar make for a dynamic one-two punch at the top of the rotation though, and there’s alot to like her. They should compete for a playoff spot but the improving Royals will push them down a spot.

 

4) Chicago White Sox

This team may have my favorite pitcher in the American League in Chris Sale, but they have lacked young talent in recent years. Older players like Paul Konerko, Adam Dunn have been sucking up alot of the payroll, but they are trying to fix things with a new regime. Bringing in young players like Jose Abreu, Avisail Garcia and Adam Eaton is going to help, but it won’t be this season. This team has an elite ace and some veterans which should keep them ahead of the Twins, but the outlook in 2014 is still bleak.

 

5) Minnesota Twins

The Twins will be a force in baseball, in two or three years. Some people rate the Twins farm system as the best in the game, with young studs like Byron Buxton and Miguel Sanu. Unfortunately, Sanu’s progress has been delayed by Tommy John surgery, but the good news is he’s not a pitcher and should recover much quicker. As painful as getting rid of a hometown son would be, they have to find a way to rid themselves of Joe Mauer. His huge contract and age just don’t go with this young rebuilding project. A last place finish awaits the Twinkies, but the future is bright, and at least the fans get to watch them lose in the absolutely beautiful Target Field.

 

AL West:

1) Texas Rangers

The Rangers added alot of punch in the offseason trading for Prince Fielder and signing Shin Soo Choo to bat leadoff for them. The rotation has some questions outside of Yu Darvish, and the bullpen lost Joe Nathan… But do you really need pitching when you score 1500 runs? Texas now has the best offense in the American League, and should be able to hold down the fort until Derek Holland returns. Plus they have shown a willingness to swing big deals when they need the pitching, like Cliff Lee in 2010 and Matt Garza last year. It should be a summer filled with fireworks in Arlington.

 

2) Oakland Athletics

Every year this team is picked to finish 3rd… And every year they find a way to steal the West division from the Rangers. Billy Beane truly is a genius out there in Oakland, and he was a little more aggressive this winter, bringing in free agents like Scott Kazmir and making trades to bring in bullpen pieces like Jim Johnson and Luke Gregerson. Replacing Grant Balfour with Jim Johnson is probably a wash, and this team once again will come up short with the other teams in the AL if you compare them on paper. But the A’s have proven over and over again that they laugh and their doubters, and will once again be right in the thick of things.

 

3) Seattle Mariners

The Mariners made the splash of the offseason by getting Robinson Cano, but will it be enough? They still don’t look to have enough offense, but the pitching is superb. Felix Hernandez is the king for a reason, and Tajuian Walker is one of the best young arms in the game. But Dustin Ackley and Jesus Montero have been massive disappointments, and the Mariners must learn to develop their young talent better to compete in the very good AL West. They will regret the Fernando Rodney signing.. I guarantee it! A mid pack finish awaits Seattle, but at least you got paid right Robbie?

 

4) Los Angeles of Anaheim

Not gonna lie, I have no interest in spending any time on this team. Every year they are picked to win the pennant, and every year they suck. Pujols and Hamilton are terrible contracts that will bog this franchise down for years to come, and Jered Weaver is getting older and CJ Wilson is overrated. I feel really badly for Mike Trout, he deserves better. This franchise is the New York Knicks of Baseball.

 

5) Houston Astros

Probably another season of finishing with the worst record in baseball, but at least they keep piling up the #1 picks. There’s talent here, and it continues to build. They should stop wasting time and let George Springer develop in the Majors. Hang in there Astros fans, you’ll be okay soon.

 

National League

 

NL East:

1) Washington Nationals

I have no idea what happened last season. This might be the most talented team in the game, and for 5 months last year they were saddled in mediocrity. But something happened down the stretch, and the Nationals started playing like the team we all thought they could be. Unfortunately for them, they dug themselves a hole they couldn’t escape from. But it did prove to me that they can be the team to beat this season. The trade for Doug Fister was a steal! A top 4 in the rotation of Strasburg, Zimmerman, Gonzalez and Fister is downright scary, and the maturation of Bryce Harper and Anthony Rendon, coupled with Ryan Zimmerman, Adam Laroche, Jayson Werth and Ian Desmond will provide enough offense. The Nationals bounce back this year and return to 2012 form.

 

2) Atlanta Braves

Injuries, Injuries, Injuries. The Braves starting rotation has been decimated with injuries, but this team should be okay. They lost Brain McCann, but Evan Gattis appears ready to step in and be the everyday catcher. Freddie Freeman, Andrelton Simmons and Julio Teheran are on the path to being superstars, and Justin Upton can break out any time and have that MVP year. This team can go even further if they can get anything from BJ Upton and Dan Uggla, but as is, they seem to have enough to hold down the fort until Mike Minor and Ervin Santana can arrive and provide the boost the rotation needs.

 

3) Philadelphia Phillies

The Phillies window for winning another championship has now closed. This team is too old, too beat up and not talented enough to challenge the younger and more hungry Braves and Nationals. It doesn’t help that Cole Hamels is beat up already, and that has to be concerning after the Phillies signed him to that big deal. Dominic Brown is a nice young player who is improving, but it’s not enough to boost a team that seriously signed Bobby Abreu in the offseason. Quick! Name the best player on the Phillies under 25! Got nothing? Me either. Mediocrity awaits the Phillies in 2014.

 

4) New York Mets

I seriously debated switching the Mets and Marlins. But there are a select few things to like here. David Wright is a star, Curtis Granderson is a nice little player, and people still seem to think Ike Davis will bounce back. Bartolo Colon is old and fat, but might be the more underrated pitcher in baseball. I know this is a wasted year waiting for Matt Harvey to recover, but every year that one team hangs around the playoff picture until the All Star Break even though they have absolutely no right too… I think that’s the Mets this year.

 

5) Miami Marlins

Ever seen Jose Fernandez pitch? No? Okay first things first… Go do that. I promise you will not regret it. He may win the CY Young this year. One of these seasons, Giancarlo Stanton is going to hit 50 HRs. Even in that huge ballpark in Miami… Yep. Im calling it. The Marlins are on the way up, but how long before they blow the team apart and trade Stanton to Boston and Fernandez to New York?

 

NL Central:

1) St Louis Cardinals

The Cardinals are the NL Central favorite? Shocking! This team is a contender every single year. An elite lineup led by Matt Holliday, Matt Carpenter, Yadier Molina, Allen Craig and the up and coming Matt Adams. Plus a rotation of Adam Wainwright, Lance Lynn and Shelby Miller, and Christian Martinez waiting in the wings. I don’t know how they do it, but St Louis always seems to have the perfect mix of veterans and young superstars. They may be somewhat boring and lack flash, but all they do is win. This year will be no different.

 

2) Cincinnati Reds

This team has always had talent, and alot of it. I honestly believe they were being held back by Dusty Baker, who’s old ways were not suited to the new wave of superstars entering major league baseball. Dusty was always the absolute worst at managing young talent, but he’s gone now, and I think new skipper Bryan Price will bring a new energy and new approach to this clubhouse. The rotation has injury questions, with Latos already knicked up, and Cueto always seemingly a sneeze away from another injury. But with a healthy Latos and Cueto added to Homer Bailey and young flamethrower Tony Cingrani, and it could be the best rotation in the National League. Joey Votto will be better then he was last year, and the Reds will find themselves back in the postseason again.

 

3) Pittsburgh Pirates

Last years postseason darlings are back for another run, but can they have the magic they had last year? This team is alot like Oakland, in that they never look very good on paper, but they find themselves hanging around at the end of the day. They have alot of young stars, in Andrew McCutchen, Starling Marte and Gerrit Cole, with Jameson Tallion and other elite prospects on the way. Francisco Liriano has re emerged as an ace, last year was no fluke. But the loss of AJ Burnett was big. He was the veteran leader of that rotation. Theres still alot to like here, but I think last year might have been their celing, and they fall short of the Cardinals and Reds.

 

4) Milwaukee Brewers

Boy you sure do hate that Ryan Braun don’t you? But he’s still a superstar and can lead the Brewers to big things… But I just don’t see it.  This team just isn’t talented enough to compete with the big boys of the National League. Yovani Gallardo and Matt Garza are nice pitchers, but leaders of a rotation? No. 4th place awaits the Brew Crew in 2014.

 

5) Chicago Cubs

I’m not gonna lie… I’ve become a bit obsessed with this team. I find their young talent off the charts… Anthony Rizzo, Starlin Castro, Junior Lake, Javier Baez, and like 7 others that I can’t remember off the top of my head. They’ll probably finish in last place in 2014, but I GUARANTEE they won’t be there for long. Theo Epstein has this team going places. They may be the best team in the NL in 2016.

 

NL West:

1) Los Angeles Dodgers

The best team in baseball? Perhaps… The rotation is great, with Kershaw, Greinke, Ryu, and Haren. The bullpen has an elite closer and set up man in Kenley Jansen and Brian Wilson, and the offense… Whoa. Adrian Gonzalez, Yasiel Puig, Hanley Ramirez, Carl Crawford, Andre Ethier… Can you imagine if they got anything from Matt Kemp? Can you imagine if Kemp returned to MVP form? Already 2-0 on the season, The Dodgers could make a run at 100 wins. This is the best team in baseball.

 

2) San Francisco Giants

Not sure what happened last season… But the Giants still have alot of the players from the two world championship teams. They have one of my favorite pitchers in the game in Madison Bumgarner, and Matt Cain should easily bounce back from the worst campaign of his career. Buster Posey is great, Pablo Sandoval lost a planet during the offseason, and Brandon Belt could break out and take an Eric Hosmer leap of last year. The Giants will compete for a playoff spot, but are easily outclassed by their bitter rivals.

 

3) Arizona Diamondbacks

The good: Getting Mark Trumbo, he should easily hit 35 HRs in that ballpark and could even touch 40. Paul Goldschimdt is a baseball machine, and Archie Bradley has elite potential. The Bad: Losing Patrick Corbin before he even throws a pitch. That sucks. He was one of the bright young arms in baseball last season, and I HATED seeing him go down. They are worse off without him, but they weren’t going to compete for the NL West flag even without him. A mid pack finish for the snakes.

 

4) Colorado Rockies

We know two things. The Rockies will have an elite offense, and will have mediocre pitching. Who is the best pitcher in Rockies history again, Jeff Francis? Mike Hampton? You just can’t pitch out there in Colorado…. But that could change with Jonathon Grey. The Rockies best pitching prospect is a beast! Hard to get burned at Coors Field when you throw 100 MPH and the ball never leaves the catchers glove… Troy Tulowitzki is great, but I hate him and he’s going to get hurt. Ditto Carlos Gonzalez. And im still not sure what they got from Houston for Dexter Fowler… What was the point of that trade again?

 

5) San Diego Padres

Pitching. Pitching. Pitching. Andrew Cashner and Tyson Ross will be the breakout stars of fantasy baseball this season, you can take that to the bank! Unfortunately… I can’t name many offensive players for San Diego. Does Carlos Quentin still play for them? I know Will Venable had a nice season for them last year… And Jedd Gyorko has 30 HR potential. But a last place finish for the Friars is on the cards. They might jump the Rockies if Tulo and Cargo are hurt for a lengthy amount of time.

 

MLB Awards

 

AL MVP: Prince Fielder

Fielder will absolutely mash in Texas and will lead the Rangers to the AL West title. Think 40 HRs and 120 RBI

 

NL MVP: Freddie Freeman

The Braves pitching is in shambles… Freeman will take the next step forward and will lead Atlanta to the postseason. Im all in on this kid

 

AL CY Young: David Price

Didn’t think this a month ago… But Price just has a different looks in his eyes this year and has been lights out all spring long. He wants his CY Young back.

 

NL CY Young: Clayton Kershaw

Still the absolute best… But Madison Bumgarner and Jose Fernandez will challenge.

 

AL Bust: Ian Kinsler

Declining skills, moving to a bigger ballpark… Not a good mix.

 

NL Bust: Yasiel Puig

This guy is a douchebag, and Don Mattingly is already getting annoyed with him. He hurt himself in Austrailia acting like a jackass after a strikeout.

 

AL Breakout: Yordano Ventura

Straight nasty son! Yikes!

 

NL Breakout: Brandon Belt

Took a little longer then people thought, but he’ll do good things this year.

 

AL Rookie: Xander Bogearts

Do the Red Sox finally have their long term answer at SS? I say yes

 

NL Rookie: Archie Bradley

They can’t hold him down forever. He’ll come up and tear it up. Think Tim Lincecum in 2007

 

MLB Postseason

 

AL Wild Card:

Red Sox over Athletics

 

ALDS:

Rangers over Red Sox

Rays over Tigers

 

ALCS: Rays over Rangers in 7

 

NL Wild Card:

Braves over Reds

 

NLDS:

Dodgers over Braves

Nationals over Cardinals

 

NLCS:

Dodgers over Nationals in 6

 

World Series:

Dodgers over Rays in 6

 

Well there you have it… My full predictions for the 2014 MLB Season. If you stuck with me throughout the whole post… Thank you! It means alot to me. Comment and tell me your predictions!

 

 

 

 

9th Pick Conundrum

When I found out I had the 9th overall pick in thefoulline.com fantasy baseball draft next Tuesday, I was initially overjoyed.

Until I realized I would actually have to make the 9th pick.

I have had my draft strategy figured out for months. I know the players im targeting, and I know when im targeting them. Im nearly 100% ready to go. And the back end of the draft was the best place that i’ve found so far to set my strategy into motion.

Except the first pick.

After doing research, I’ve come to realize my choice is essentially a pile of injury prone outfielders (Cargo, Ellsbury), a pair of injury prone shortstops (Hanley, Tulo), or a pitcher.

Anyone who has ever played fantasy baseball with me knows that I hate taking pitchers first. While I could grab an elite arm in Adam Wainwright or Yu Darvish, I hate how much it sets my offense back. Especially in a league where many of the players favor offense. Pile up on the pitchers early, and you’ll find yourself with Alfonso Soriano as your #1 outfielder. No thanks

So accepting that im going with a bat, I just now have to make that fun decision. I hate Troy Tulowitzki, Don’t trust Hanley Ramirez, and know that Jacoby Ellsbury and Carlos Gonzalez are going to get hurt at some point. Ugh!

Don’t get me wrong, I love my draft position. Alot! But mostly for the rest of my draft, which I feel i’ll dominate based on the plan I have in place. But the potential options for the 9th overall pick don’t really excite me.

Either way, i’m going to have to make a decision soon.

Only 10 days left.

 

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The 5th Starter

As the Rays head into their 17th spring training in franchise history with World Series dreams in mind, they find themselves in an unusual position. Jeremy Hellickson’s abysmal 2013 season, combined with him having surgery this offseason has left the Rays needing a 5th starter.

For the Rays, it’s one of the few questions they have coming into camp. It’s strange, because starting pitching is usually the least pressing question this team has. Year after year they seem to have all 5 starters locked and loaded, with the only question being will (insert elite young pitching prospect) live up to his potential this season? But that’s not the case in 2014.

I’ve decided to take a look at the pitchers fighting for the elusive spot, and im going to give predictions of where each one will end up.

 

The Favorite: Jake Odorizzi

Odorizzi came over in the James Shields trade last offseason, and despite a few drinks of water with the big club last year, spent most of the season in the AAA starting rotation. He features a solid mix of stuff, and Alex Cobb has taken him under his wing this spring and is trying to teach him to throw his split/changeup. Odorizzi is the favorite because he has spent most of the last two seasons at AAA, and the Rays have always favored young pitchers who spent more time in the minors then they may need. He can be a little too flyball prone at times, but with a good outfield defense, and a park that tends to lean more toward the pitchers, it’s not as big an issue as it might be in Yankee Stadium. Barring injury or an awful spring, it’s his job to lose.

Prediction: Rays 5th starter

 

The Veteran: Erik Bedard

The Rays signed Bedard earlier this month with an eye toward increasing depth within the organization. Bedard is the biggest name among the bunch, and the Rays may have an eye toward another veteran stopgap, like the Roberto Hernandez experiement last year. Sadly, this isn’t 2007, where Bedard led the AL in strikeout rate, and Hernandez finished 3rd in the CY Young voting. Bedard was downright awful last season, and couldn’t even crack the Astros rotation for a full year, the worst team in baseball. Still, Maddon likes guys who can give “Innings”, even if those innings carry an ERA over 5.00. The Rays will give him a shot, but as they lack a true long man in the bullpen, that’s where his future lies.

Prediction: Rays long reliever

 

The Young Gun: Alex Colome

It feels strange to call Colome a “young gun”, as he is two years older then Odorizzi, and is even older then Matt Moore. But in terms of experience, the title fits. He’s a raw talent, with the best stuff of the bunch, but with the worst control and polish. He also has had a problem staying healthy, with injuries the last 3 seasons delaying his arrival to the big club. Colome has a bright future with the Rays, but first he has to prove he can stay healthy and locked in for a full season. You may seem him later this year, but it’s not his time quite yet.

Prediction: AAA Starting Rotation

 

The Newcomer: Nathan Karns

Karns intrigues me, alot. He came over from the Nationals a few weeks ago, and it was unusual that the Rays gave up a valuable catcher in Jose Lobaton, and two other prospects for him. That tells me that the Rays brass like him, alot! He was one of the Nationals top 10 prospects, and if not for their own stacked starting rotation, he probably would have been a big league starter by now. I don’t know much about Karns, but if the Rays gave up that much for him, im very interested in seeing him in action. He probably won’t leapfrog the incumbents that were already in the Rays system, and his battle is probably with Bedard for the long reliever role. But I think the Rays will want to keep him as a starter. I’ll be keeping a very watchful eye on this pitcher.

Prediction: AAA Starting Rotation

 

Who do you want to win the job?

 

Mo Money Mo Problems?

The Tampa Bay Rays have had quite an unusual offseason, by their standards.

It seems something has come over the boys in the front office, because they seem to be spending money right and left like they well… have it.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining. For years I’ve wondered what the people in the Rays front office could do with a little more money. But is now really the right time to go on this spending spree?

The American League looks less winnable then ever before. You have the defending World Champion Red Sox looking as strong as ever. You have an improved Yankees offense, a bounce back team in Toronto, and the always pesky Baltimore Orioles. You have the dangerous Detroit Tigers, the improving Kansas City Royals and Cleveland Indians, and not to mention the Rangers and the Athletics out West, with the Mariners looking to take steps forward as well. Is this really the right time to “go for it”?

The Rays are not a team that can compete for the World Series every year. They have to pick and choose the years they decide to go for it. Such as 2010, when they spent a little money and finished with the best record in the American League. They sensed the AL was winnable, and apparently feel they have the team to do so again.

Just take a look at some of the things the Rays have done this offseason, and some of the money they have shelled out.

They re signed James Loney to a 3 year/21 million dollar deal.

They traded for Ryan Hanigan and gave him a 3 year/ 12 million dollar deal. This despite giving Jose Molina 2 million dollars to stick around.

In the same trade, they got Heath Bell, and took on the 5.5 million left in his contract for this season. That’s alot for a guy who pitches one inning a game.

They re signed David DeJesus to a 2 year/10.5 million dollar deal.

Not to mention arbitration raises for players like Jeremy Hellickson and Matt Joyce.

And today, the final piece (Maybe?) was completed in the Rays spending spree, with David Price coming to terms on a 1 year/14 million dollar deal to avoid arbitration.

That is ALOT of money for one year for the Rays, even for a player like Price! With all this spending, I was SURE the Rays were going to trade him to shed his salary for this season. There is still a chance they could trade him, but having reached this point in the offseason, I think the chances are next to nil.

Now you may be asking, what’s the point of this post? Isn’t more spending good? Doesn’t that mean that the Rays are committed to winning? This is a great thing!

Well yes… And no.

The Rays payroll is expected to reach an excess of 75 million dollars in 2014. While that may seem like a paltry amount to some teams, for the Rays, that’s an awful lot of money.

While it’s good for the fans that the Rays are going for it, those same fans are part of the problem. The #1 source of payroll revenue for a team like the Rays is attendance numbers. They can’t rely on big merchandise sales and a big TV contract like teams like the Yankees and the Dodgers. Gate revenue is nearly everything.

Unfortunately, the Rays are always around the bottom of the league in attendance numbers. The fans just won’t come out to games. And while the reasoning for that is a debate for another day, the fact remains that the fans are the ones who make more spending possible. Simply put, the more you go, the more the cash flow.

With such low attendance numbers, it is impossible to sustain this type of spending. So while 2014 might be a great year for the Rays, enjoy it while you can.

Because eventually the bill will come due. And that means cuts and salary dumps of valuable players which will hurt future seasons.

Mo Money, Mo Problems.

 

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2014 MLB Free Agent Predictions

The world series is over, and November is upon us. Which means it’s time for perhaps of the most exciting time of the calendar year for Major League Baseball… It’s free agent season! And while my Rays have never been a big player in free agency, it’s still exciting to see all the different superstars move around. Now I proudly present, my free agency predictions post!

In no paticular order:

 

1) Robinson Cano- New York Yankees

Cano is unquestionably the best player on the market this year, but he isn’t going anywhere. The Yankees will not let their franchise man get away, and Cano loves the bright lights of New York and mixing it up with bigtime players like Jay-Z. Cano becomes the highest paid 2nd baseman in MLB history.

 

2) Jacoby Ellsbury- Seattle Mariners

The Mariners have been trying to add a big bat on the free agent market for ages now, making big runs at Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton over the past few seasons. This is the one they finally get done. Ellsbury is beloved in Boston, and is one of the best overall players in the game when healthy. But having been born in Oregon, and playing college baseball at Oregon State, the allure of returning home to the Pacific Northwest and becoming the highest paid outfielder in MLB history are too much for Ellsbury to pass up.

 

3) Shin Soo Choo- New York Mets

It’s been awhile since the Mets have been relevant. They need a Center Fielder, and Choo would be a nice splash. The Mets make a run at Ellsbury and fail, and sign Choo as their fallback plan. Solid, underrated player.

 

4) Brian McCann- Texas Rangers

The easiest call of the offseason. Texas has had a crush on McCann for seemingly FOREVER, Making several attempts to trade for him. The Rangers need a catcher and want to add offensive punch. They’ll do whatever it takes to land him. ZERO chance McCann signs elsewhere. Book it

 

5) Joe Nathan- Detroit Tigers

The Tigers need a closer. Did you watch the ALCS? Oh you did? Then did you see David Ortiz crush a Joaquin Benoit fastball and the Tigers playoff hopes? Oh you saw that? Enough said. Tigers get their elite closer.

 

6) Matt Garza- Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

Angels pitching sucks outside of Jered Weaver. They need a starter in the worst way and never seem to run out of money. They’ll get this done by overpaying Matt Garza in the same way they did CJ Wilson in 2012.

 

7) Mike Napoli- Boston Red Sox

The World Champions will lose Jacoby Ellsbury from the majors best offense, but will not lose Mike Napoli. He was great in the clubhouse and on the field, and will be returning to Boston on a similar contract to the one he signed last year before it got voided by a hip issue. Perfect fit for Fenway.

 

8) Curtis Granderson- Chicago Cubs

Born just 20 miles outside of Chicago, Granderson will return home on a team friendly 3 year deal as the Cubs look to add a veteran run producer to their young core. Fits nicely into their outfield which lacks talent.

 

9) Carlos Beltran- Texas Rangers

The Rangers have struggled to close the deal in the postseason, and bringing in one of the greatest postseason hitters of all time would certainly help right? Texas needs an outfielder to replace the departing Nelson Cruz. Texas makes alot of sense here. He’ll join Brian McCann.

 

10) Ubaldo Jimenez- Los Angeles Dodgers

Ubaldo rebounded last season to have his best season since 2010, and he’s still only 30 years old. It wouldn’t be an MLB offseason without Magic Johnson throwing around buckets of cash, and bringing back Ubaldo to the NL West which he knows well and filling a hole in the back of the LA rotation makes alot of sense here.

 

11) Hiroki Kuroda and AJ Burnett- Retirement

I predict both of these guys retire. Kuroda may return to Japan to pitch back home.

 

12) Ervin Santana- Houston Astros

One of those pitchers I could never resist having on my fantasy team for some reason, Santana actually had a really strong year in 2013 for the Royals. I think the Astros need a James Shields to the Royals type of move, and step up and offer Ervin a nice big contract to lead their young rotation. Having never been in a position to cash in big, Ervin chases the money and goes to a rebuilding team.

 

13) Stephen Drew- St Louis Cardinals

Pete Kozma sucks. The red birds need a shortstop in the worst way and have experience with signing crappy overrated Drews.

 

14) Nelson Cruz- Arizona Diamondbacks

The Diamondbacks need a big power bat in the outfield to replace Justin Upton. Although good luck with this one in the National League, because he’s absolutely awful defensively. (See 2011 World Series, Game 6)

 

15) Josh Johnson- Cleveland Indians

One of the more tricky players on the market. When he’s healthy and in form, he’s dominate and can win a CY Young award. But has he ever been healthy and dominant? The Indians lost the Wild Card game to the Rays because they didn’t have an elite starter and the Rays did. Johnson could potentially fill that void. Needs to be a nice incentive laden deal. Lots of risk/reward here.

 

16) Scott Kazmir- Baltimore Orioles

Another team that needs a starting pitcher in the worst way. He’s still under 30, has his electric fastball back and has experience in the postseason and in the AL East. Nice pickup for the Orioles here who miss out after losing Matt Garza to the Angels.

 

17) Omar Infante- Atlanta Braves

Starting Eliot Johnson in a playoff game? Really? The Braves need a 2nd baseman in the WORST possible way. Infante is really underrated. This will be a really good pickup for Atlanta. Uggla gets pushed out.

 

18) Grant Balfour- New York Yankees

What? The Yankees need a closer? That’s unheard of! The great Mariano Rivera is finally gone and Balfour gets his first big payday. But beware, Balfour is insane, and could turn on the Yankees fans if he blows a save and they boo him.

 

19) Roy Halladay- Retirement

I REALLY hope im right about this. You were the best pitcher I ever had the pleasure of watching with my own eyes. Please stop embarrasing yourself. It’s painful to watch. I don’t want the last memory of you to be walking off the mound after giving up 10 ERs to the Padres.

 

20) Bartolo Colon- Oakland A’s

I have no idea how this man is still pitching, let alone pitching at an elite level. There was actually a time when he was in the CY Young race last year! Ridiculous. Billy Beane brings him back on a nice one year deal to lead his rotation again.

 

Well that’s the top 20 MLB Free Agents in my opinion, is there anyone I missed? What do you think of my predictions? Who would you like to see your team pickup? So many questions! Comment and let me know!

 

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