Author Archives: Steven Robles
The elimination game between the United States and the Dominican Republic was filled with thrilling highlights and historic moments. It ended with Team USA defeating the Dominican club by a 6-3 score in the final game of the second round of the World Baseball Classic on Saturday night at Petco Park in San Diego. With the victory Team USA advances to the Championship round for the first time since 2009. They’ll play Team Japan in the semifinals on Tuesday evening.
Team USA had to overcome an early 2-0 deficit, as the Dominican plated twice in the first frame. The Americans tied the score in the third inning thanks to a scoring grounder from Ian Kinsler, and an RBI double from Christian Yelich. The Americans took the lead in the next inning thanks to a monster two-run home run into the second deck Western Metal Supply Co from Marlin’s slugger Giancarlo Stanton. The Americans added two insurance runs in the bottom of the eighth inning on a two-run double from Andrew McCutchen that broke open what was a one-run game.
With everyday that passes, we’re getting closer to the end of Spring Training. That doesn’t just mean that it’s time for the season to start. It also means some big-time decisions need to be made by the San Francisco Giants front office. One of the big decisions is if long tenure pitcher Matt Cain will be breaking camp as a starting pitcher, a reliever or if he even makes the Opening Day Roster at all.
We all know the Pittsburgh Pirates starting outfield, Gregory Polanco, Andrew McCutchen, and Starling Marte, in part because they are so good and in part because they have been the subject of so many contract rumors, trade rumors, and now position shifts in the last few years. McCutchen is also one of Off the Bench’s 5 players to watch this spring.
But there’s a new name to know: Austin Meadows.
Meadows has reportedly made a good impression on the Pirates this spring and is set to see more playing time between now and Opening Day and will start the season in Indianapolis, at the top of the minor leagues. Coming into last season, he was ranked right around the 20th best prospect in all of baseball and last season the 21 year old made it as high as AAA. This year, some have him as the best prospect in the whole Pirates system and the 6th best in the sport.
St. Louis Cardinals 2017 Keys: Aledmys Diaz
By Bill Ivie
The dawn of Spring Training is just around the corner. Coverage for the last few months has focused on changes. Now, the focus becomes projections. What are the keys to success? Who can a team rely on.
You’ve no doubt heard of Diaz by now. The casual fan probably couldn’t say the same thing this time last year. His unexpected arrival in 2016 changed that.
This time last year, Diaz was still just a minor league player, brought in on a free agent contract after defecting from Cuba. The Cardinals signed him in hopes that he was the future as their shortstop. An injury to Jhonny Peralta seemed to open the door. The signing of Miguel Tejada seemed to close it just as fast.
Despite winning the AL West by 9 games and winning 95 games in 2016, the Texas Rangers finished 22 out of the 30 MLB clubs in overall pitching with a 4.37 ERA and 1.37 WHIP. The Ranger’s pitching staff allowed a .260 batting average against to opposing hitters and a .424 slugging percentage. Texas finished in the middle of the pack (16 out of 30) in starting pitching with a 4.38 ERA. The Rangers may have won a lot of games in 2016, but their run differential was only +7. They didn’t beat their competition by much throughout the season and below average pitching could be contributed as a big factor.
The latest news involving your San Francisco Giants is that they’re linked to Korean infielder Jae-Gyun Hwang. It’s being reported that the Giants are showing continued interest. I’m not sure what the need is for him with Eduardo Nunez at 3rd, Brandon Crawford at short and Joe Panik at 2nd.
I have some good news for San Francisco Giants fans… We all know that the Giants have parted ways with 3rd base coach Roberto Kelly. Kelly was often criticized by Giants fans for holding up way too many runners at 3rd base, and that’s because we were spoiled with Tim Flannery at the hot corner for 7-years. I do feel like Kelly wasn’t ever going to cut it, especially taking over after Flannery. No one would ever live up to the Flan-man after him sending us home safely to 3-World Series Championships!
I’m sure you’ve heard by now that the San Francisco Giants aren’t likely to bring back any of their free agent bullpen arms. There still hasn’t been many teams linked to any Giants free agents.
Giants sources have said that reliever Sergio Romo has a few offers on the table from other clubs. The Brawley native is confident that he’ll find a good fit.
This time of year in baseball really means one thing: new faces in new places. It’s looking increasingly unlikely that Kenley Jansen returns to the Los Angeles Dodgers as their closer in 2017. This is coming on the heels of news that the Miami Marlins have offered Jansen $80 million dollars over five years to come to South Beach.
Did anyone notice at the Winter Meetings this past week that Los Angeles was ‘in’ on players but nothing really materialized? There may be good reason for this. The Dodgers were reported to be in serious amounts of debt. As soon as this news broke, it was obvious that they weren’t going to be able to retain their All-Star closer and their starting third baseman, Justin Turner.
After the San Francisco Giants signed one of the elite premier closers in the game Mark Melancon, they had to figure out who would be the odd man out on the 40-man roster. The Giants decided that they would be willing to part ways with pitcher Chris Heston. Let’s not forget that Heston tossed a no-hitter for the Giants a little over a year ago. Which is probably why they were able to trade him last night to the Seattle Mariners for a “Player to be Named Later”.
With the Winter Meetings underway… This is the time where you’ll start to see a lot of names fall off the free agent board. Right now the San Francisco Giants are on the verge of taking off one of the three top closers on the board.
It’s been reported that the Giants have agreed to terms with closer Mark Melancon.
Ruxer, 24, split the 2016 season between Burlington [Iowa] (A) and Inland Empire (A), posting a combined 3.08 ERA in 29 appearances and 19 starts and a 4-8 record. He opened the season with the Bees, going 3-2 with a 1.44 ERA (10 ER in 62.1 IP) in his first 18 outings, before being promoted to the 66ers on July 8, where he was 1-6 with a 5.18 ERA in his final 11 outings (all starts). Last season marked Ruxer’s second year in professional baseball after being selected by the Angels in the 12th round the of the 2014 First-Year Player Draft.
Over at Off the Bench we’ve written a lot about where this offseason’s free agents might end up. Some of the bigger names that generate all sorts of buzz are the likes of Aroldis Chapman (who threw an incredible pitch), Kenley Jansen, and Yoenis Cespedes, whom we think might end up back with the New York Mets, we were right. We even pondered about the final destination of lower profile players like Michael Saunders, but we never got so deep in the weeds as to discuss the fate of free agent first basemen Mitch Moreland.
Moreland has spent the last few seasons manning first base for the Texas Rangers, taking his place as the lowest profile position player on a team full of offensive studs. With Prince Fielder’s tragic forced retirement this summer, Moreland became the answer to the oft-posed question ‘So who’s the Texas Rangers’ first basemen these days anyway?’
Los Angeles Dodgers‘ Corey Seager stormed on the scene in 2016, winning the National League Rookie of the Year Award (unanimously), and finishing third in the league’s Most Valuable Player ballot. Seager sported an OPS of .877 and played a Gold Glove quality shortstop all season. He was the best player – even including Clayton Kershaw – on baseball’s second best team in 2016. This was evidenced by his 7.5 fWAR. When the 2016 season began, the player I couldn’t wait to see the most was Carlos Correa. By the time the season ended, I emphatically decided that the player I couldn’t wait to see the most in 2017 was Seager.