Tuesday, March 19, 2019

The Smart Centipede 2019 MLB Season Prediction Show Thing Deal

We're back to take a look at how the 2019 MLB Season will shake out. I am so sick of seeing the teams shown in the same order in every article on Yahoo, AL East -> West, NL East -> West. So I'm flipping the script. DEAL WITH IT.

NL West

Los Angeles Dodgers - 
2018 Record (Finish): 92-71 (1st)
2019 Pecota Projections: 94-68 (1st)
Notes: The Dodgers need to be really scared right now. Clayton Kershaw has been having problems and they seem to be coming out of nowhere. Suddenly, he wasn't feeling right, and suddenly, he wasn't pitching, and suddenly, he isn't going to be ready by opening day. Doesn't this whole thing just smack of the collapse of a promising career? I hope I am wrong, I've been digging the Dodgers renaissance as of late, but to quote every single Star Wars movie ever: "I have a bad feeling about this."
2019 SC Prediction: 95-67 (1st)

Colorado Rockies - 
2018 Record (Finish): 91-72 (2nd; NL WC2)
2019 Pecota Projections: 85-77 (2nd)
Notes: The Rockies just signed Arenado to a HUGE extension, which means they're either set for the next ten years, or he's about to collapse. The Rox don't have a ton of depth, but the players they do have starting are all high quality, and the pitchers look poised for big seasons at the same time. Should be interesting, at the very least, to see if they can get back to Rocktober!
2019 SC Prediction: 89-73 (2nd)

San Diego Padres - 
2018 Record (Finish): 66-96 (5th)
2019 Pecota Projections: 79-83 (4th)
Notes: The Padres are in first place since signing Manny Machado to a ten year albatross they'll want to shed in 2023. Sadly, the games in Arizona don't count (unless it's a D-Backs home game played after- shut up, you know what I mean) and the Padres still play at Petco Park, which is fitting because the fans are often left looking as disappointed as a stray on the verge of being euthanized. Manny has a lot on his shoulders this season. If they spend more than they already have on players to help him, they may have a shot at a championship... but San Diego has never struck me as a franchise that was willing to empty the bank for a run at sustained excellence.
2019 SC Prediction: 77-85 (3rd)

San Francisco Giants - 
2018 Record (Finish): 73-89 (4th)
2019 Pecota Projections: 73-89 (5th)
Notes: What the Hell happened to the Giants?! They won World Series three times in the past ten years, does anyone remember that? Now I feel like every time they take the field a landslide is going to just bury the entire city. They are a cautionary tale, folks, but for the life of me I can't figure out the lesson. The only thing going for them is they don't owe Bryce Harper $330 million dollars.
2019 SC Prediction: 75-87 (4th)

Arizona Diamondbacks - 
2018 Record (Finish): 82-80 (3rd)
2019 Pecota Projections: 81-81 (3rd)
Notes: Godley will have to be to keep them from collapsing. The loss of A.J. Pollack and replacement in the form of Adam Jones is a steep drop. The loss of Paul Goldschmidt means David Peralta is the only guy left with any kind of decent pop. Definitely a down-stroke in the cycle for these guys. Upside: At least they still have Zack Greinke. Downside: They still have to pay Zack Greinke.
2019 SC Prediction: 74-88 (5th)

NL Central

Milwaukee Brewers - 
2018 Record (Finish): 96-67 (1st)
2019 Pecota Projections: 88-74 (1st)
Notes: The Brew Crew came out of nowhere to win the Central last season. They still have a lot of powerful pieces in play, and the Central isn't exactly the AL East, so they should still do reasonably well, but not as well as last season, record wise, anyway. They still have Ryan Braun, who is a disgusting cheater who thinks getting off on a technicality is the same thing as being proven innocent (douchebag), so I'm always hoping he'll pull a Bump Bailey running after a fly ball, but Yelich is the true star of that outfield now.
2019 SC Prediction: 90-72 (1st)

Chicago Cubs -
2018 Record (Finish): 95-68 (2nd, WC1)
2019 Pecota Projections: 78-83 (5th)
Notes: As much as I dislike the Cubs, it's hard to argue what they've done over the past five years. Their rebuild is the blueprint that all other franchises need to at least consult if they hope to succeed. They still have a stacked lineup, a stacked rotation, and the second best baseball hot-dogs in the Windy City. If they underachieve justa  tiny bit in every facet of the game, they might lose the Central... and isn't that just the most "Cubs" thing possible?
2019 SC Prediction: 86-76 (2nd)

Cincinnati Reds -
2018 Record (Finish): 67-95 (5th)
2019 Pecota Projections: 81-81 (3rd)
Notes: Yasiel Mania hits Cincinnati! The former outspoken Dodger is now an outspoken Red. They also still have Joey Votto, a cyborg created in the year 2983 and sent back in time to destroy baseballs, so they have a shot at winning some games, but their top starter is Sonny Gray. Three years ago that would have been awesome. Now... not so much. Hopefully he (and Matt Kemp) will return to form and Puig will drop the shenanigans he's known so well for.
2019 SC Prediction: 81-81 (3rd)

Pittsburgh Pirates - 
2018 Record (Finish): 82-79 (4th)
2019 Pecota Projections: 80-82 (4th)
Notes: The Buccos have a shiny new number one this season: Chris Archer! They also have Starling Marte, and... uhhh... wait, I had it here just a minute ago... where the heck did I put it? I just saw it... hmm. No. No, I guess they don't have much else. Sorry, Pittsburgh. I love your football team, and your city is awesome, but the new longest suffering NL fanbase (that has won at least one WS) will have to wait at least one more season.
2019 SC Prediction: 80-82 (4th)

St. Louis Cardinals - 
2018 Record (Finish): 88-74 (3rd)
2019 Pecota Projections: 86-76 (2nd)
Notes: Paul Goldschmidt is the best player to play at 1B for the Cardinals since Albert Pujols. He's a huge get for them. They also have a solid starting roster... so why can't they hit this spring? The new life Goldy will breathe into St. Louis is more like a last gasp. The longest reigning champion of the "World's Most Overrated Catcher" Award is back for his nine-hundredth season with the Cards this year. The team just seems like a mess. They'll stumble and fall out of the gate this season.
2019 SC Prediction: 76-86 (5th)

NL East

Philadelphia Phillies - 
2018 Record (Finish): 80-82 (3rd)
2019 Pecota Projections: 89-73 (T-1st)
Notes: Bryce Harper! J.T. Realmuto! Jean Segura! Andrew McCutchen! David Robertson! Rhys Hoskins (back in the infield)! Is there any doubt which team made the biggest splash in the off-season? They have a wicked one-two punch at the top of the rotation, and the most improved line-up in baseball. The worst fan-base in sports gets another shot at a title they won't deserve!
2019 SC Prediction: 97-65 (1st)

Atlanta Braves - 
2018 Record (Finish): 90-72 (1st)
2019 Pecota Projections: 85-77 (4th)
Notes: IF Julio Teheran can return to form... IF Dansby Swanson starts to live up to his awesome potential... IF Ronald Acuna follows up his amazing rookie season with something even better... IF Josh Donaldson can rediscover his swing... IF Ozzie Albies can take the next step... the Braves have a shot at finishing second in the NL East. They'll probably finish no worse than third anyway, even IF they don't do all those things.
2019 SC Prediction: 88-74 (2nd)

Washington Nationals - 
2018 Record (Finish): 82-80 (2nd)
2019 Pecota Projections: 89-73 (T-1st, WC1)
Notes: I'm sorry, there's no way a team finishes seven games better without Bryce Harper in their lineup than they did with. The sad thing is, they still have an amazing team without him, but it just makes no logical sense that they will succeed so quickly after losing the face of their franchise to a rival team in the same division.
2019 SC Prediction: 86-76 (3rd)

New York Mets -
2018 Record (Finish): 77-85 (4th)
2019 Pecota Projections: 87-75 (3rd)
Notes: They still have one of the best rotations in the NL, if not all of baseball. However, they still have no one who will give them run support. If Robinson Cano is the answer, you really have to wonder how tough the question was. Bonus prediction: The Mets will have the most number of 1-0 losses this season.
2019 SC Prediction: 80-82 (4th)

Miami Marlins - 
2018 Record (Finish): 63-98 (5th)
2019 Pecota Projections: 67-95 (5th)
Notes: The Marlins have, yet again, gutted their team. Of the players currently on their roster from last season, the HR leader is Starlin Castro, who hit 12. He also leads the same subset of players with 8 stolen bases. Bonus predictions: there are 35 players who will hit more HR by themselves than the Marlins entire team in 2019. Trea Turner will also out-steal the Marlins, 59 to 32.
2019 SC Prediction: 68-94 (5th, possibly 6th if the Williamsport Little League Champions are allowed to play in the Majors this season)

AL West - 

Houston Astros - 
2018 Record (Finish): 103-59 (1st)
2019 Pecota Projections: 98-64 (1st)
Notes: This team is one monster 1B away from an All-Star infield (sorry, Yuli, you look like a pineapple and play like a squash). The rotation is loaded with former, current, and future All-Stars. They still play in the AL West. All signs point to another Division title in Houston.
2019 SC Prediction: 98-64 (1st)

Seattle Mariners - 
2018 Record (Finish): 89-73 (3rd)
2019 Pecota Projections: 72-90 (4th)
Notes: It seems to me like there are always two possible records for the Mariners: 87-75, or 78-84. I know, it's verifiably not true, but it just seems like it to me. I wish I knew why. This team has a solid lineup and decent pitching, so I think it will lean closer to a good year than a bad, and Ichiro is back, so let's hope they get back to the playoffs for one last surge with him.
2019 SC Prediction: 84-78 (2nd)

Oakland Athletics - 
2018 Record (Finish): 97-65 (2nd, WC2)
2019 Pecota Projections: 78-84 (3rd)
Notes: I can't figure out Oakland. I don't know if anyone really can. They should not have even sniffed the playoffs last season. They should be terrible this year. Yet they made last year work, so why not again? Nothing makes sense any more.
2019 SC Prediction: somewhere between 75-87 (T-3rd) and 117-45 (1st).

Los Angeles California Angels of Anaheim - 
2018 Record (Finish): 80-82 (4th)
2019 Pecota Projections: 80-82 (2nd)
Notes: Mike Trout is about to become the highest paid player in baseball history, finalizing a deal worth $430 million dollars over 12 years. The downside? He has to spend that 12 years with the Angels. The Angels have made the playoffs only once with Trout, losing in 2014's LDS to the eventual World Champion Royals. This deal is so insanely expensive that it does not help their prospects of signing other quality free-agents to play around him. So in all likelihood, they'll either need to trade him (which might not be possible if there is a no trade clause) or suck for the next 12 years.
2019 SC Prediction: 75-87 (T-3rd)

Texas Rangers - 
2018 Record (Finish): 67-95 (5th)
2019 Pecota Projections: 70-92 (5th)
Notes: Dear God, Joey Gallo is listed as their starting centerfielder. Joey Gallo. With the departure of Adrian Beltre, so too goes the last of the fun to be had in Arlington. "The game tonight, is a messed up sight (clap clap clap clap) deep in the heart... of Texas!"
2019 SC Prediction: 66-96 (5th)

AL Central

Cleveland Indians - 
2018 Record (Finish): 91-71 (1st)
2019 Pecota Projections: 96-66 (1st)
Notes: The collapse of the Cleveland Indians is coming any day now. I can feel it in my bones. It's inevitable. But when? They are still the class of a weak division, and they'll win just enough to fight off the surging Twins yet again.
2019 SC Prediction: 88-74 (1st)

Minnesota Twins - 
2018 Record (Finish): 78-84 (2nd)
2019 Pecota Projections: 82-80 (2nd)
Notes: The Twins are still a mystery. Every season it looks like they will be terrible, yet they keep succeeding. I don't know how they do it, it may be arcane magic. They've got a clubhouse leader in Cruz, who if he stays healthy (and drug-free) should hit another 40 homeruns this season. There are a bunch of questions, but if they answer all of them yes, they have a real shot at upsetting Cleveland this season.
2019 SC Prediction: 87-75 (2nd)

Chicago White Sox - 
2018 Record (Finish): 62-100 (4th)
2019 Pecota Projections: 70-92 (4th)
Notes: This off-season, the story has been more about what hasn't been accomplished (signing either of the big name free-agents) than what has been done (not signing either of the big-name free agents, saving money that can be better invested in talent to help the core in 2020). The team is following the blue print laid out by the cross-town rival Cubs, who's own rebuild culminated in a title in 2016. The team still has to deal with a patchwork bullpen which isn't so much a "who's who" as it is a "who's that?" The offense is exciting, but not nearly as exciting is what's coming next year. They'll shock a few this season. I absolutely hate that they are discussing keeping Eloy Jimenez down until his free agency gets pushed back a year; that's more of a Cubs thing to do. Be better than that, White Sox.
2019 SC Prediction: 73-89 (3rd place)

Kansas City Royals - 
2018 Record (Finish): 58-104 (5th)
2019 Pecota Projections: 72-90 (3rd)
Notes:If Jorge Soler can figure things out, they might have a shot at slipping past the White Sox. Either way, that's as far as they'll go. Whit Merrifield's gonna be very lonely at the 2019 All-Star game.
2019 SC Prediction: 71-91 (3rd place)

Detroit Tigers - 
2018 Record (Finish): 64-98 (3rd)
2019 Pecota Projections: 66-96 (5th)
Notes: It's sad to see Miguel Cabrera surrounded by this flotsam and jetsam that Detroit passes off as a major league baseball team. At least Josh Harrison should be fun to watch.
2019 SC Prediction: 64-98 (5th)

AL East - 

New York Yankees - 
2018 Record (Finish): 100-62 (2nd, WC1)
2019 Pecota Projections: 96-68 (1st)
Notes: This is getting Steinbrenner levels of ridiculousness now. The Yankees were rumored to be heavily in on everyone this off-season, despite the fact they have six outfielders, three shortstops, eight closers, and six number two starters. They ended up with DJ LeMahieu (didn't he win a batting title two years ago?!) as a super-utility guy and have two of the best right fielders in the game (when they were actively courting a third) and picked up a former All-Star level shortstop as a stop gap until their real All-Star shortstop comes back. This team is stacked. If the starting pitching holds up, they will be the team to beat in the AL East.
2019 SC Prediction: 99-63 (1st)

Boston Red Sox - 
2018 Record (Finish): 108-54 (1st)
2019 Pecota Projections: 90-72 (2nd, WC1)
Notes: The city of Boston has a very short memory when it comes to sports. They forget that, for the longest time in sports (except for the Celtics), they were a punchline of a very bad joke. Now that Boston has won several Championships (and at least one in all four of the major sports) and are the most successful sporting city in the 21st Century, the city swaggers about as if it has always been sports nirvana, rather than a town where championship dreams go to die. As such, they seem to have forgotten that they need a bullpen to win. They need to replace Craig Kimbrel badly, too bad there isn't someone out there who could do that... except there is; Craig Kimbrel. If they don't do something, they'll fall short this season and get passed by their hated rivals, the Yankees.
2019 SC Prediction: 91-71 (2nd)

Toronto Blue Jays - 
2018 Record (Finish): 73-89 (4th)
2019 Pecota Projections: 75-87 (4th)
Notes: A lot of people are sleeping on the Blue Jays, but their team has some pretty decent depth and some kid of a former major leaguer who is already being enshrined in Cooperstown, if you believe the hype. Vladdy Jr. is going to start the year in the minors to work on that pesky "becoming a free agent in 2025" strain the team says he's suffering from. If Marcus Stroman can become the dominant All-Star everyone named Marcus Stroman believes he is, the Jays could be making a surprise push.
2019 SC Prediction: 84-78 (3rd)

Tampa Bay Rays - 
2018 Record (Finish): 90-72 (3rd)
2019 Pecota Projections: 85-77 (3rd, WC2)
Notes: Tampa Bay has been playing over their heads. They don't have a full rotation, their big pickup has been Mike frikkin Zunino, and they are relying on Avisail Garcia to be competent. I really hope he turns things around, but he was dismal with the White Sox, and I don't see him suddenly flipping the switch at the Trop. Actually, since I started writing this entry, they've picked up Tommy Pham, so they might finish "extra 3rd" which is like 3rd, but with Pizza Hut after the game instead of the soul crushing silence of disappointed parents on the ride home.
2019 SC Prediction: 80-82 (4th)

Baltimore Orioles - 
2018 Record (Finish): 47-115 (5th)
2019 Pecota Projections: 58-104 (5th)
Notes: I think it is appropriate that the Orioles had braille jerseys lasts season.
2019 SC Prediction: 50-112 (5th)

Monday, February 04, 2019

21st Century Championships Won by Boston

21st Century Championships Won by Boston:
Super Bowls: 6 (2001, 2003, 2004, 2014, 2016, 2018)
World Series: 4 (2004, 2007, 2013, 2018)
Stanley Cup: 1 (2013)
NBA: 1 (2010)
Winner, Most Insufferable, Smuggest Fans: 8 (2001, 2003, 2004, 2007, 2010, 2014, 2016 (3-way tie w/ Cubs, Cavs), 2018) (exempted, 2013)
Super Bowls Won by Players Suspected of Cheating at some point in their careers: 6 (see above)
Most Miserable Ugliest Human Being In Sports Award: 18 (Bill Belichick, 2000-2018)
Most Athletes Convicted of Murder: 1 (tied)
City With Shortest Memory About How They Sucked, Like, FOREVER Awards: 14 consecutive (dethroned after finishing 3rd in 2016, behind Chicago Cubs and Cleveland Cavaliers)
Winner, Slowest Moving Bandwagon 18 years straight!
Quickest Decline in Win Total: TBD (Already on order for whatever year Brady retires)

Monday, February 27, 2017

Smart Centipede's 2017 MLB Off-Season Wrap Up and Prediction Show

AL EAST

Baltimore Orioles
2016: 89-73 (T-2nd, WC2)
Acquisitions: Logan Verrett, Welington Castillo, Seth Smith, Gabriel Ynoa
Key Transaction: Re-signing Mark Trumbo
Analysis: They took care of their big need; retaining the services of the 2016 AL Home Run leader for the next three years. Welington Castillo shows the Orioles have moved on from Matt Wieters, and there aren't a great many better options out there, so they haven't made enough serious strides to guarantee they return to the post season.
Off-Season Grade: C
Forecast: 3rd in AL East

Boston Red Sox
2016: 93-69 (1st)
Acquisitions: Chris Sale, Tyler Thornburg, Mitch Moreland, Carlos Quentin
Key Transaction: Trading for Chris Sale
Analysis: There is not much the Red Sox can do to replace their biggest departure, as David Ortiz was not so much a player as a force of nature. Some may say they failed to do enough to replace him, but how do you even do that? The real key here is the Red Sox parted with top prospects to land Chris Sale, who is in a very team friendly contract, to compete for the number one spot. Even if he doesn't unseat David Price, he's the best number two in the league, and their number 3? 22 game winner Rick Porcello.
Off-Season Grade: B+
Forecast: 1st in AL East

New York Yankees

2016: 84-78 (4th)
Acquisitions: Albert Abreu, Aroldis Chapman, Jorge Guzman, Matt Holiday, Ruben Tejada, Chris Carter 
Key Transaction: Signing Aroldis Chapman
Analysis: They brought back the best reliever in baseball, after sending him to the Chicago Cubs to get a World Series ring (how far upside down does that statement sound?). They also brought in a 40 HR hitter in Carter... to play where? He's a 1B, but they have the much younger Greg Bird set to take over. They brought in Matt Holliday to DH, and he's not going to be better defensively than the core they have set to start in the OF, Gardener, Ellsbury and Aaron Judge.
Off-Season Grade: B
Forecast: 4th in AL East

Tampa Bay Rays

2016: 68-94 (5th)
Acquisitions: Wilson Ramos, Mallex Smith, Logan Morrison, Colby Rasmus, Nathan Eovaldi
Key Transaction: Signing Wilson Ramos
Analysis: The Rays finished dead last last year, and look to do so again, apparently. Wilson Ramos was a smart move, as his great 2016 and high potential value for 2017 was hurt by a late season injury, and they got him for a cheap 2 year deal. They dealt Drew Smyly, and didn't get much for him, and then brought in Nathan Eovaldi, re-crowding their rotation. The B- is an optimistic grade, assuming Colby Rasmus and Eovaldi both get back to the value they were previously perceived to have.
Off-Season Grade: B-
Forecast: 5th in AL East

Toronto Blue Jays
2016: 
89-73 (T-2nd, WC1)
Acquisitions: Kendrys Morales, Steve Pearce, Jose Bautista, J.P. Howell, Joe Smith 
Key Transaction: Signing Kendrys Morales
Analysis: The Jays replaced Edwin Encarnacion with Kendrys Morales. Steve Pearce will try to fill the oft-injured shoes of Michael Saunders. There's a drop-off in the lineup. The Jays have had injuries hamper their efforts in the past, but in 2017, a healthy Marcus Stroman will burst back onto the scene and carry them into the playoffs.
Off-Season Grade: C
Forecast: 2nd in AL East

AL CENTRAL

Chicago White Sox
2016:
78-84 (4th)
Acquisitions: Yoan Moncada, Lucas Giolito, Michael Kopech, Reynaldo Lopez, Dane Dunning, Luis Alexander Basabe, Geovany Soto, Derek Holland
Key Transaction: Trading Chris Sale/Adam Eaton
Analysis: For a rebuilding team that sent away two players (Sale, Eaton) and netted six great prospects, The White Sox have a lot left to do. While I admire GM Rick Hahn for sticking to his guns in not trading away remaining stars Jose Quintana, Todd Frazier and David Robertson for lesser packages, what we are looking at now is a team that has enough to sit in the middle of the road, but not enough to take the next step. Now they seem to be moving too slow into the rebuild. If they get comparable packages for Quintana, Robertson, and Frazier to what they got for Sale and Eaton, the rebuild will be a huge success and Hahn will be a genius, but until then, they're not good enough right now, and not good enough in the future.
Off-Season Grade: B+
Forecast: 4th in AL Central

Cleveland Indians
2016:
94-67 (1st)
Acquisitions: Edwin Encarnacion, Boone Logan
Key Transaction: Signing Edwin Encarnacion
Analysis: The Tribe came within four outs of losing the 2016 World Series until Rajai Davis hit a dramatic game-tying two-run HR in the bottom of the 8th of game 7. And then they lost it anyway. There's an old saying about things not needing fixing if they aren't broken. They got that far with injuries, and adding Encarnacion bolsters a team that was strong to begin with.
Off-Season Grade: B+
Forecast: 1st in AL Central

Detroit Tigers
2016: 
86-75 (2nd)
Acquisitions: Alex Avila
Key Transaction: Alex Avila, by default
Analysis: They did next to nothing, only bringing back long time Tigers Avila and Omar Infante (the latter to a minor league deal). They seem to be resigned to standing pat. Terrible for a team that has a core of players that may be in their final homestretch and failed to make the playoffs last year.
Off-Season Grade: D
Forecast: 2nd in AL Central

Kansas City Royals
2016: 
81-81 (3rd)
Acquisitions: Jorge Soler, Jason Hammel, Brandon Moss
Key Transaction: Signing Jason Hammel
Analysis: The Royals have a hard season ahead, with the loss of pitcher Yordano Ventura who was killed in a car accident in the off-season. Signing Jason Hammel will fill in the position, but the Royals have lost a bit of their personality that can't be replaced. A controversial figure, Ventura was nonetheless a big part of their fire, and his loss will be felt not only by the Royals, but by all of baseball.
Off-Season Grade: C+
Forecast: 3rd in AL Central

Minnesota Twins
2016: 
59-103 (5th)
Acquisitions: Jason Castro, Matt Belisle
Key Transaction: Signing Jason Castro
Analysis: Jason Castro is, in my opinion, an upgrade over Kurt Suzuki. Other than that, the poor stayed poorer.
Off-Season Grade: D+
Forecast: 5th in AL Central

AL WEST

Houston Astros
2016:
84-78 (3rd)
Acquisitions: Charlie Morton, Brian McCann, Carlos Beltran, Josh Reddick
Key Transaction: Signing Carlos Beltran
Analysis: The Astros have been the most common team mentioned in Jose Quintana trade talks with the White Sox, but the two sides have yet to reach an agreement they can both live with. The problem is that an arm like Quintana could make them the favorite to take the weak AL West, but they won't budge in their hesitance to deal prospects to get him. Also, four years of Josh Reddick .255 with 13 HR and 55 RBI for $6.5 Million a year is a risk.
Off-Season Grade: B-
Forecast: 2nd in AL West

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim California USA
2016: 
74-88 (4th)
Acquisitions: Luis Valbuena, Brooks Pounders, Danny Espinoza, Ben Revere
Key Transaction: Trading for Danny Espinoza
Analysis: Danny Espinoza was vociferously upset when the Nationals decided to go with Trea Truner at shortstop this season, as it meant he was out of a starting job. SO they traded him to Los Angeles, where now he can try to play with a chip on his shoulder and prove they were wrong for with turner instead of him. He will fail to prove that, because Trea Turner is a modern deity.
Off-Season Grade: C+
Forecast: 4th in AL West

Oakland Athletics

2016: 69-93 (5th)
Acquisitions: Paul Blackburn, Santiago Casilla, Rajai Davis, Matt Joyce, Trevor Plouffe
Key Transaction: Signing Rajai Davis
Analysis: Last season I chided the Indians for having their biggest offseason transaction be Rajai Davis, and he helped them get to the 10th inning of Game & of the World Series. So I am going to go the other way now and say he's the savior Oakland has been desperate for (that should knock him back down a peg). Oakland has too many needs, not enough budget. It would take a miracle for them to finish higher than 4th.
Off-Season Grade: B
Forecast: 5th in AL West

Seattle Mariners
2016: 
86-76 (2nd)
Acquisitions: Jarrod Dyson, Jean Segura, Caset Fien, Yovani Gallardo, Mitch Haniger, Chris Heston, Carlos Ruiz, Marc Rzepczynski, Shae Simmons, Drew Smyly, Danny Valencia
Key Transaction: Too many to list
Analysis: The Seattle Mariners were in a club with the White Sox and Padres for the past few years; all three teams made big moves at the winter meetings, then failed to make the playoffs yet again. The White Sox have decided to blow it up this season, and the Padres did so about a minute after their big moves each year. The Mariners have gone the other way, and pushed all in, landing a gaggle of free agents and trade targets that should push them into the top spot in the AL.
Off-Season Grade: A
Forecast: 1st in AL West

Texas Rangers
2016:
95-67 (1st)
Acquisitions: Andrew Cashner, Tyrell Jenkins, Carlos Gomez, Tyson Ross, Mike Napoli 
Key Transaction: Re-signing Jonathan Lucroy
Analysis: The Rangers have been winning the AL West for the past two seasons, despite having injuries and not making any vast improvements. What they've reigned in this off season is a decent set of pickups, but with what Seattle and Houston have done, this might be the year they fall short, assuming Carlos Gomez doesn't return to what he was three years ago.
Off-Season Grade: C+
Forecast: 3rd in AL West

NL EAST

Atlanta Braves
2016: 
68-93 (5th)
Acquisitions: Tuffy Gosewich, Sean Rodriguez, Jamie Garcia, Luke Jackson, Mallex Smith, Micah Johnson, Kurt Suzuki, Brandon Phillips
Key Transaction: Trading for Brandon Phillips
Analysis: The Braves had made no illusions about where their team is supposed to be right now, they knew going in they'd have a hard time competing with the Nats and Mets. They've had some terrible luck, signing Sean Rodriguez to platoon with Jace Peterson at second, but a car accident has taken him out for the season. They then went ahead and traded for Brandon Phillips, who finally waived his no trade clause and at the very least will be a name to get butts in the buckets in the new stadium.
Off-Season Grade: B+
Forecast: 5th in the NL East

Miami Marlins
2016: 
79-82 (3rd)
Acquisitions: Edison Volquez, A.J. Ellis, Dustin McGowan, Jeff Locke, Junichi Tazawa, Brad Ziegler, Dan Straily
Key Transaction: Signing Edison Volquez
Analysis: The Miami Marlins are still hurting from the loss of pitching phenom Jose Fernandez, who died in a boating accident last summer. Edison Volquez will succeed him, but they will still have a hard time replacing him. and they still don't have a strong enough infield. If Dee Gordon stays on the field, and Giancarlo Stanton can stay healthy, they have a shot at a wildcard.
Off-Season Grade: B
Forecast: 2nd in NL East

New York Mets
2016: 
87-75 (2nd, WC1)
Acquisitions: Jerry Blevins, Fernando Salas
Key Transaction: Resigning Yoenis Cespedes
Analysis: The Mets can't get enough of Yoenis Cespedes. They can't get enough of anything else they need, either. David Wright can't be relied upon to play a full season anymore, and they are overcrowded in the outfield. Juan Lagares is slated to back up Curtis Granderson in center, where the elder has played only 53 games in the past 3 years. Jay Bruce is holding Michael Conforto back, unless he gets starts at first, which is where Wright should be playing if not for Lucas Duda being entrenched there. Too many conrner players, not enough quality up the middle. The pitching is phenomenal, however, which is why the NL East will be a tight division.
Off-Season Grade: C-
Forecast: 3rd in NL East

Philadelphia Phillies
2016:
71-91 (4th)
Acquisitions: Joaquin Benoit, Michael Saunders, Clay Buchholz
Key Transaction: Signing Michael Saunders
Analysis: The Phillies are still going to be terrible, at least they didn't blow a lot of cash.
Off-Season Grade: C-
Forecast: 5th in the NL East

Washington Nationals
2016: 
95-67 (1st)
Acquisitions: Derek Norris, Adam Eaton, Enny Romero, Adam Lind, Matt Wieters
Key Transaction: Trading Danny Espinoza
Analysis: The Eaton deal was a good trade on the surface; they needed a dynamic centerfielder, and the Pirates aren't willing to trade Andrew McCutchen without breaking the bank of whatever team they're sending him to. The Nats gave up a king's ransom to get a somewhat lesser player in Eaton, at least if you look at the entire body of their career. But the coup was sending away incumbent shortstop Danny Espinoza to make room for the new messiah, Trea Turner. He will lead the Nationals, along with Eaton and a resurgent Bryce Harper, back to the playoffs this year. And with Wieters now signed, they have a surplus at catcher, which means they'll deal one of them for a closer (ahem, David Robertson, ahem).
Off-Season Grade: B
Forecast: 1st in NL East

AL CENTRAL

Chicago Cubs
2016: 
103-58 (1st)
Acquisitions: Jon Jay, Wade Davis, Koji Uehara, Brett Anderson
Key Transaction: Trading for Wade Davis
Analysis: The Cubs are the defending World Series champions. Go ahead and soak that in, a sentence that couldn't be uttered for over a hundred and seven years. They brought us one of the most dramatic championship runs in a long time, and they didn't make many deals because they didn't think they needed to. And maybe they don't. Having lost Aroldis Chapman to the Yankees (whom they got him from in the first place) they got as pretty decent replacement in Wade Davis, and they freed Jorge Soler from his trap by sending him to KC.
Off-Season Grade: B
Forecast: 1st in the NL Central

Cincinnati Reds
2016: 
68-94 (5th)
Acquisitions: Austin Brice, Luis Castillo, Drew Storen, Scott Feldman, Andrew McKirahan
Key Transaction: Trading Brandon Phillips
Analysis: The Reds finally managed to get Brandon Phillips to waive his no-trade clause, allowing the Reds to move fully forward with their long overdue rebuild. They won't trade Joey Votto, because they still need to draw fans, so they're pretty much broken down as far as they're going to go. So, last place in the Central, and potentially the top draft pick, lies in their future.
Off-Season Grade: B
Forecast: 5th in the NL Central

Milwaukee Brewers
2016: 
73-89 (4th)
Acquisitions: Neftali Feliz, Tommy Milone, Jett Bandy
Key Transaction: Signing Neftali Feliz
Analysis: Speaking of teams that are in desperate need of a rebuild, the Brewers have Lyin' Ryan Braun and not much else. They signed Neftali Feliz, because they'll have about 10 save situations this season, which is about how many saves he's averaged per year over his career. This is going to be sad, and between the Brew Crew and the Red Machine, forecast calls for inflated win totals for the Cubbies, Cards and Bucs.
Off-Season Grade: C-
Forecast: 4th in the NL Central

Pittsburgh Pirates

2016: 78-83 (3rd)
Acquisitions: Phil Gosselin, Pat Light, Daniel Hudson
Key Transaction: Moving Andrew McCutchen to right field.
Analysis: They get this good a grade solely because moving McCutchen to right allows Starling Marte to take over in center where he belongs. They have some big names coming up (Josh Bell, Tyler Glasnow) but may have lost Jung-ho Kang after his third arrest for D.U.I., and they'll need a big bounce back campaign from Gerrit Cole to have any hope of the playoffs.
Off-Season Grade: C-
Forecast: 3rd in the NL Central

St. Louis Cardinals
2016: 
86-76 (2nd)
Acquisitions: Chris Ellis, John Gant, Dexter Fowler, Brett Cecil 
Key Transaction: Signing Dexter Fowler
Analysis: The Cards had the best shot of taking the Cubs out of the NL Central top spot, but their hopes took a big hit with the loss of Alex Reyes to Tommy John surgery. Dexter Fowler will make everyone forget Randall Grichuk, even though he's still in the starting lineup, just moving to left. They need big bounce backs from EVERYONE in their rotation... or they may only finish 3rd in this top heavy division.
Off-Season Grade: C+
Forecast: 2nd in the NL Central

NL WEST

Arizona Diamondbacks
2016: 
69-93 (4th)
Acquisitions: Daniel Descalso, Chris Iannetta,  Juan Graterol, Fernando Rodney, Taijuan Walker, Ketel Marte
Key Transaction: Trading for Taijuan Walker
Analysis: Assuming Shelby Miller was a fluke and will never be the same player he used to be, the acquisition of Taijuan Walker is a necessary step to rebuilding their rotation to compete with the Dodgers and Giants in the NL West. However, Shelby Miller hasn't yet proven he doesn't have what it takes to bounce back. The rotation could be a dominant force, with Zack Grienke, Shelby Miller, Archie Bradley and Patrick Corbin making Walker the best number five starter around. This should be the year the Diamondbacks do what everyone thought they were going to do last season; compete for a playoff spot in the stacked NL West.
Off-Season Grade: B
Forecast: 3rd in the NL West

Colorado Rockies
2016: 
75-87 (3rd)
Acquisitions: James Farris, Greg Holland, Alexi Amarista, Ian Desmond, Mike Dunn
Key Transaction: Signing Ian Desmond
Analysis: The Rockies have the best 3B in the majors (Nolan Arenado), one of the speediest 2B's around (D.J. LeMahieu), and a SS  that could have won the rookie of the year award were it not for an injury (Trevor Story), so who better to round out that infield at first than a career shortstop who spend last year in the outfield? Look, Desmond was last year's comeback player of the year, in my opinion, and is a great player, but there are other first basemen that would have been better fits. Unless they trade one of their outfielders and move Desmond out there, they're not making the best moves.
Off-Season Grade: C+
Forecast: 4th in the NL West

Los Angeles Dodgers
2016: 
91-71 (1st)
Acquisitions: Franklin Gutierrez, Sergio Romo, Logan Forsythe, Brett Eibner
Key Transaction: Signing Sergio Romo
Analysis: The Dodgers also resigned Chase Utley, which shows they are content to do just what they have done the past few years; win the NL West and then get bounced in the playoffs. Their other re-signings, Kenley Jansen and Justin Turner, are solid, and the Dodgers aren't looking any worse than they did last season, but there have been no real improvements.
Off-Season Grade: C+
Forecast: 1st in the NL West

San Diego Padres
2016: 
68-94 (5th)
Acquisitions: Jered Weaver, Trevor Cahill, Pedro Avila
Key Transaction: Signing Jered Weaver
Analysis: The previous two seasons, the San Diego Padres made big waves during the Winter Meetings, and for the past two seasons, the Padres have been terrible. This off-season, apparently, they've decided to play it cool and stay quiet. Not that that will change the in-season results, because the Padres still look like a 70 win team at best.
Off-Season Grade: C-
Forecast: 5th in the NL West

San Francisco Giants

2016: Record (2nd, WC2)
Acquisitions: Nick Hundley, Mark Melancon
Key Transaction: Signing Mark Melancon
Analysis: The Giants haven't made many transactions, but they did pick up a top flight closer. Will that be enough to keep the Arizona Diamondbacks at bay? This is going to be an interesting race in a tight division.
Off-Season Grade: C
Forecast: 2nd in the NL West

Playoff Teams:
AL MVP: Mike Trout
NL MVP: Mike Rizzo
AL Cy Young: Chris Sale
NL Cy Young: Clayton Kershaw
AL ROY: Andrew Benintendi
NL ROY: Dansby Swanson
Comeback Player of the Year: Shelby Miller

Sunday, February 05, 2017

2016-2017 NFL Picks: Super Bowl

Regular Season: 164-88-2
Wildcard Weekend: 3-1
Divisionla Weekend: 4-0
Conference Championships: 1-1

Super Bowl
New England @ Atlanta: Atlanta

OK, I'm sure there will be skeptics, but I simply forgot to post that the Falcons were going to win. Here's what I offer as proof:


This is a screen cap of my official Yahoo pick, with the choice locked in before the start of the game. I couldn't have possibly known that the Patriots would look so terrible, though.

Enjoy the game!

(EDIT: HOLY GOD. What a comeback.)

Friday, January 20, 2017

2016-2017 NFL Picks: Conference Championship Weekend

Regular Season: 164-88-2
Wildcard Weekend: 3-1
Divisional Weekend: 4-0

Sunday, 1/22
Green Bay @ Atlanta: Atlanta
Pittsburgh @ New England: Pittsburgh

Green Bay has been a dramatic dynamo this season. Aaron Rodgers has carried this team, but the road ends in Georgia. Jordy Nelson is not 100%, nor is Rodgers himself. There's too much going against them, and the Falcons are the highest scoring offense this year, even scoring above their 33 PPG average last week against the Seahawks, one of the better defenses in the NFL, which the Packers are not.

Now, for the explanation of the second game. I know I said I was biased, and the fact that I was wrong a little less than a third of the time in picking Steelers games this season means my judgement may be questionable, but New England struggled to out play the freaking Texans in the first half last week. The Steelers, meanwhile, couldn't generate any TD's on offense against the Chiefs. But Brady has a lot on his shoulders and no Gronk to help him out, while Ben has his killer B's (Brown and Bell) for a dual pronged attack that should get back on track this week. It's time for Big Ben to prove he's one of the elite quarterbacks in the NFL, and winning the AFC Championship at Foxboro would be just the thing.

Friday, January 13, 2017

2016-2017 NFL Picks: Divisional Weekend

Regular Season: 164-88-2
Wildcard Weekend: 3-1

Saturday, 1/14

Seattle @ Atlanta: Atlanta
Houston @ New England: New England

Seattle lost three of their last six games to end the regular season, and struggled to beat the 2-14 San Francisco 49ers in Week 17. They have consistently struggled against weaker teams, yet they beat the Patriots IN New England in Week 10. The inconsistency seems to indicate a loss, but they did pretty well against the Lions last week, a notorious playoff loser. The Falcons are another team that have failed to have any consistency in the playoffs, but they have 540 total points this season, the top total in the NFL. The second place team? New England, with 441. This seems to SCREAM Atlanta, and knowing my terrible history with Atlanta this season, the Seahawks will likely squeak by them, 11-8 or something ridiculous like that. Meanwhile, the 300 stood better odds against the Persians than the Texans have against the Patriots.

Sunday, 1/15

Pittsburgh @ Kansas City: Pittsburgh
Green Bay @ Dallas: Green Bay

The Chiefs finished strong this season, winning 10 of their last 12, and snatched the AFC West out from under the Raiders in Week 17 with a win against the Chargers, earning the 2nd overall seed and a bye in the Wildcard Round. But those two losses came against the Buccaneers in Week 11 and the Titans in Week 15, two teams that don't exactly scream "dominant." And one of their other losses was a blowout loss against the Steelers, who won 7 in a row to storm into the playoffs on the strength of Ben Roethlisberger, Le'veon Bell and Antonio Brown. The Steelers are too well rounded, and have too much momentum. Meanwhile, the Packers will be without top receiver Jordy Nelson, but will that challenge be enough to derail the machine that is Aaron Rodgers? Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott are the rookie phenoms that have catapulted Dallas into the limelight (and a top seed), but the Playoffs tend to be a different story. This is the toughest game I have ever had to predict, but I think the Kids don't have as easy a time as they have seemingly had this regular season, and Green Bay wins this one.

Friday, January 06, 2017

2016-2017 NFL Picks: Wildcard Weekend

Regular Season: 164-88-2

Saturday, 1/7
Oakland @ Houston: Houston
Detroit @ Seattle: Detroit

Because of the four division format, there are bound to be occasions where a Wildcard team has a much better record than a division winner, and this is the case with Oakland (12-4, Wildcard) and Houston (9-7, AFC South Winner). There are also times when the Wildcard team is a heavy underdog to the Host. But rare is the occasion when both of these scenarios are true. The Oakland Raiders are now without their quarterback, Derek Carr, who broke his leg in Week 16. In a must-win game in Week 17, the Raiders had their second string QB knocked out of the game, and they looked helpless against a Denver team that fell short of expectations this season. Houston is, itself, a weak team, but things don't look good for the Raiders. Meanwhile, I think this is the season that Stafford proves he's a better QB than he gets credit for, and finally pulls out a big road win, the first for Detroit since 1957.

Sunday, 1/8
Miami @ Pittsburgh: Pittsburgh
New York (NFC) @ Green Bay: Green Bay

Pittsburgh picked the right time to go on a roll, having won 7 in a row to close out the season. After a great 4-1 start, there was a rough 4 game patch where they lost every game they played, which started with a loss in Miami. But they are in Pittsburgh now, where the Steelers have beaten everyone but the two top seeds, New England and Dallas. Green Bay finished strong as well, although the Giants are one of those tricky teams that seem to excel just when you count them out. But they aren't a dominant team, and Green Bay at home with icy temperatures... The Pack is back.