Category Archives: MLB Teams: Articles and Analysis

From the Atlanta Braves to the Washington Nationals, Discussions on All 30 MLB Teams

What would a Nationals trade for Mark Melancon look like?

The Pittsburgh Pirates historically move closers at the right time. Is history about to repeat itself?

Today, Ken Rosenthal reported that the Pittsburgh Pirates have been in talks with teams regarding Mark Melancon.

With the Washington Nationals specifically named, how do the Pirates line up as trade partners with the franchise formerly known as the Expos?

Before we can delve into that, we should note that the Nationals were in on Aroldis Chapman. As Jon Heyman reported:

The Nats declined to give up  Lucas Giolito for Chapman, then they declined to give up Joe Ross. After those two attempts by the Yankees, New York is said to have requested a four-player package centered around young pitching. Anyway, the Nats didn’t do it and never got close

Jon Heyman

First, let’s be very clear. In the closer market, there is Chapman, and then there is everyone else. We can use logic to tell us that the Nats will not give up Lucas Giolito – the consensus top pitching prospect in baseball entering 2015 – in any type of 1-for-1 deal. Thus, any deal that includes Giolito and Player X or Prospect Y likely will not work either.

Joe Ross is interesting as he can be seen as somewhat expendable. He’s been a very solid performer, with an ERA in the mid 3.5 or lower range with low-enough walk and home run per nine rates. This year he is averaging about 7.5 K/9. He is controllable through 2022, and is pre-arbitration.

Despite all these accolades, the Nationals are set at the top of their rotation with Stephen Strasburg, Max Scherzer and Giolito. Tanner Roark is in tow and controllable through 2020. Gio Gonzalez has a team option for the next two years, but the club might want to clear space for Erick Fedde, another talented starting pitching prospect.

Putting Together the Package

Taking all of that into consideration, and it would appear that Ross or Roark would be imminently available. Roark might have a slight edge over Ross in esteem due to a slightly longer track record and having slightly better control.

It is easy to envision a 1-for-1 swap of either Ross or Roark for Melancon’s services. We have seen a plethora of “baseball trades” in recent years, afterall.

But, as is often the case, trade deadline deals are rarely that easy. If we expand our criteria to see how the team’s farm systems match up, there is a lot of similarity. The Nationals have an abundance of infielders with multiple position chops as well as the usual assortment of pitching. Much like the Pittsburgh Pirates, their pipeline is surprisingly well-stocked for a team that traditionally has been built through free agency.

I could easily see a swap of B-level prospects being included in a potential deal, or a prospect going to the Pirates as a throw-in.  Regardless, any deal with the Nationals would have to involve either Roark or Ross. Both are young, controllable and capable.

With just over 72 hours left until the deadline, the club might just be able to find a better deal elsewhere, but it’s clear that the Pittsburgh Pirates and Washington Nationals line up well as trade partners.

Nine Innings/Questions With Dodgers Blue Heaven: A New BBBA Featured Series Of Its Members

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Note From Chuck Booth:  We have some talented bloggers at the Baseball Bloggers Alliance, and our Executive Committee member (Peter Schiller) is going to start doing an article series interviewing them.  Today he asks our friend Ernest Reyes about his Dodgers site.

If you are a fan of these teams, I recommend to read their insights – and to also follow their blogs. Peter is a good man.  He gave me my first chance ever to have an authorship page at his site over 7 years ago.

Peter Schiller (Featured BBBA Executive Committee Member/Writer/Owner – baseballreflections.com) 

If you like what you read below, check out more from Ernest Reyes  at his site,  Dodgers Blue Heaven!

This is the first in a series of me asking fellow bloggers from the Baseball Bloggers Alliance (BBBA) 9 innings worth of questions about their team.

The goal is to do this for as many teams as possible (all 30 would be ideal) a few times a season. This one is a pre-All Star edition, then a post-All Star edition, another down the stretch (towards the end of the season) and then either a playoffs edition or off season edition or both!

So, without further ado …

  1. How are the Dodgers’ offseason acquisitions working out so far? Any concerns?

This is a bit of a mixed bag.

To read the rest of this article on BaseballReflections.com, follow this link!

Do The Pittsburgh Pirates Miss Pitching Guru Jim Benedict More Than Expected?

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Jason Rollison (Featured BBBA Writer/Owner – piratesbreakdown.com) 

This past off-season the Miami Marlins hired away former Pittsburgh Pirates’ pitching guru, Jim Benedict and named him their Vice President of Pitching Development, which is a new position specifically created for the for the former minor league pitcher turned advance scout.

Despite being credited hand-in-hand with Ray Searage for their numerous reclamation projects, Benedict’s specific contributions were at times difficult to fully quantify.

With Benedict gone, the 2016 Pittsburgh Pirates have seen their pitching devolve from an area of strength to a current weakness. Is this simply due to the loss of Benedict? Or are there other factors at play? Can we draw any conclusions from Benedict’s new team’s performance?

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Time To Face The Facts Tigers Fans; This Team Is Not Good

Shane Kay (Featured BBBA Writer Owner – sonsof84tigers.mlblogs.com) 

Well Tigers fans, after 31 games and the Tigers sitting at 14 – 17 and 8 games out of first, it’s time for a reality check…the Tigers just aren’t that good.

This isn’t to say that they are absolutely terrible either, but the inconsistencies will continue to haunt them all season long.  During this 7 game losing streak, it seems when you get good hitting, then starting pitching is poor, or when you scrape enough runs to support good pitching then the pen blows it, and then there are just times when the team doesn’t hit.

There have been some positives with out a doubt so far an include:

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The Oakland A’s Offensive Struggles, And Where They Go From Here

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(Featured BBBA Website – offtthebenchbaseball.com) 

Saturday night, I had the pleasure of catching the Oakland A’s take on the Baltimore Orioles in Baltimore’s Camden Yards. In addition to being a beautiful night, the first we’ve had on the East Coast in more than a week, and one of baseball’s best ballparks – if you haven’t been, go, its awesome- game 2 of Saturday’s day/night double header was a crisp and enjoyable game to watch.

Ubaldo Jimenez tossed 8 solid innings in his first start in forever and Chris Davis launched a mammoth 2 run shot  to help Baltimore notch a 5-2 win and earn a doubleheader split after Oakland took game one. But in watching the A’s, I couldn’t help think there was something missing. Sure, it was game 2 of the day but most of Oakland’s starters were playing and the lineup lacked any sort of fearsomeness or hint that it might be capable of competing in the AL West.

Of course, the A’s aren’t a bad team, but it doesn’t feel like it’s a team capable of being a good team either. Watching them meekly go down against a pitcher with an ERA north of 5 and a fastball topping out at 91 inspired me to go back and look at the numbers.

Right now, Oakland is 14-17, 4.5 games behind Seattle for 1st in the West. They have a -16 run differential, good for 4th worst in the AL and are currently 10th in the AL in runs, 10th in batting average, and dead last in on base percentage.

That last number really jumps out at you.

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The Pittsburgh Pirates Are Not A Shifty Bunch

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Jason Rollison (Featured BBBA Writer/Owner – piratesbreakdown.com) 

Pittsburgh are shifting less in 2016 and their pitching is worse. Are these two related?

The Pittsburgh Pirates have earned a reputation around the league of being a very analytical front office and with good reason. The use of FIP and xFIP to find value starting pitching is well known, but the shift is where the Pirates really earned their stripes as a numbers-centric team.

From 2013-2015, the Pirates shifted a total of 2,446 times, which was good for third in all of baseball behind only the Houston Astros and the Tampa Bay Rays, two teams with sabermetric driven front offices of their own.

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5 Things About the 2016 Boston Red Sox That Aren’t Being Talked About Enough

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Andrew Martin (Featured BBBA Writer/Owner – baseballhistorian.blogspot.com)

 

After finishing the 2015 season in last place, the Boston Red Sox look much better this year, currently on a pace for 93 wins. While some things have gone very well, there are others that have not.

Despite the chatter that seems to perpetually swirl around the team, some things haven’t received the attention they deserve. Here are five of them (keeping in mind the season is only about a sixth of the way over):

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The Pittsburgh Pirates Payroll In 2016 + Roster That Could Have Been

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Jason Rollison (Featured BBBA Writer/Owner – piratesbreakdown.com) 

After a second consecutive exit from the playoffs by way of the wild card game, the Pittsburgh Pirates promised a bigger payroll this season, but could they have done better?

In December, Neal Huntington and Frank Connelly both hinted the Pirates target payroll would be approximately $105 million for opening day.  As it stands, the Pirates opening day payroll was about $100 million.

That wouldn’t be so bad if the team’s pitching staff wasn’t off to a rough start, the first base platoon partner wasn’t gone after two weeks, and the Cubs weren’t the center of the baseball universe at the moment.  The saying goes, “hindsight is 20/20,” but we consider what could have been if the Pirates had spent their money a little differently.

Let’s start with the breakdown of the opening day payroll broken down by position: (Note: Only players included on opening day 25-man roster/DL are included below.)

The rules for this little experiment are simple.  We cannot exceed $105 million, and our payroll has to include 28 players due to Jared Hughes, Elias Diaz, and Jung-Ho Kang starting the season on the major league disabled list. 

If we choose any players the Pirates did not sign, we will assume the Pirates could have signed said player(s) to the same terms.  Knowing what we know now, here’s a look at what the Pirates roster could have been.

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MLB Power Rankings 2016: Week 4 – April

One is the #1 club in the whole MLB right now, and the other was the biggest mover and shaker of the week for week 3 of MLB action.

One is the #1 club in the whole MLB right now, and the other was the biggest mover and shaker of the week for week 3 of MLB action.  Both are leading the Central Divisions in their respective leagues behind awesome starting pitching and timely power.

Hunter Stokes (Chief Writer/Part Owner) 

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Disclaimer:  We based these rankings on best strength to win the World Series.  Therefore some teams that have an easier division to play in, with the least path of resistance to the postseason overall may be ranked a lot higher than a club who is equally talented, yet may play in a juggernaut of a division.

Game Records were before the results of the ESPN Sunday Night Game was played.

After a crazy week in which we saw our 1st no hitter, and massive long 16 inning game in Washington, we have for you the MLB Power Rankings.

There was no movement from the top 3 clubs.  The NL West saw the Dodgers take a decent lead on the Giants – and that is major critical, as that is the team most likely to give them trouble in their quest for a 4th straight Division crown.

Bryce Harper has pulverized the Phillies, Marlins, Braves and Twins thus far.  His late inning heroics are taking him to the next level.

The biggest mover and shaker this week was the White Sox, who climbed up 7 slots.  The Giants dropping 8 positions was the biggest decline.

Bad weeks were had by the Tigers, Red Sox, Yankees and Astros.  All clubs in the AL who are supposed to contend for a playoff slot.

The Mariners won their 3rd straight road series against the Angels (after beating the Yankees and Tribe 1s), and sit just a half game back in the AL West.

Oakland had started 7 – 0 on the road, before yielding 15 runs over the last 2 losses to the Blue Jays.  They are tied with the Rangers for the lead in the Division, but it is just a matter of time before they are bounced out in my opinion.

Cleveland had a nice week of 4 – 2 to jump up 5 spots in the rankings. and are that much closer to bringing back Michael Brantley.

Gaining only one spot but having an awesome week were the New York Mets.  All the boys are hitting now, and they are 8 – 2 in their last 10 contests. Read the rest of this entry

Steven Wright Is Pitching Himself Into Permanent Status With The Boston Red Sox

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Andrew Martin (Featured BBBA Writer/Owner – baseballhistorian.blogspot.com)

 

The Boston Red Sox have gone through their fair share of pitching woes over the past several seasons. Despite signing a blue chipper in David Price last offseason, the 2016 season has still been one of inconsistency for their staff.

While it seems there is still work to be done, the surprise emergence of knuckleball starter Steven Wright may end up going a long way towards fortifying the team’s starting rotation.

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The Numbers Behind John Jaso’s Early Success

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Jason Rollison (Featured BBBA Baseball Writer/Owner – piratesbreakdown.com) 

To say nothing of his more-than-capable defense at first base, John Jaso has been a revelation at the top spot in the batting order for the Pittsburgh Pirates.

John Jaso has put up some solid slash lines over his career, so it should not come as much of a surprise that he currently carries a .414 on-base percentage as part of an .897 OPS.

How has Jaso been able to acclimate himself so quickly and effectively to the top of the Pirates’ lineup?

A Solid Foundation

For Jaso, his propensity for quality plate appearances starts with the first pitch.

His F-Strike percentage (percentage of plate appearances that start with a strike) clocks in at 53.3 percent. That figure represents the third-best on the club, behind Starling Marte (52.5) and Gregory Polanco (51.6). While the importance of first-pitch strikes has been debated in recent years, good things happen for Jaso on a 1-0 count. More on that later.

In looking a bit deeper at what Jaso is actually seeing on the first pitch, the four-seam fastball is seen the most at 46 percent. It likely may not even matter what type of pitch Jaso sees first, as chances are it won’t be anywhere near the strike zone.

His Zone % (percentage of pitches seen in the strike zone) is 47.8 percent, which is not significant on its own until coupled with his O-Swing % (percentage of pitches outside of the zone that a batter swings at).

Jaso’s O-Swing percentage clocks at 16.5 percent, nearly two-thirds better than the league average of 30 percent. Incredibly, he isn’t even the best on this Pirates team in this regard. That honor belongs to David Freese and his 15.7 percent clip. Regardless, Jaso’s rate is fourth-best in the National League for anyone with 50 or more plate appearances.

The foundation that Jaso lays in his plate appearances almost feels as if he dictates to pitchers how the PA will go. He absolutely refuses to chase anything out of the zone, and such an approach can force an opposing pitcher to offer something he may not necessarily want to offer on the next pitch, which usually comes at a 1-0 count.

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What Is Making The 2016 Dodgers Tick?

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Emily Siskin-Toy (Featured BBBA Writer/Owner – behindenemylines32.blogspot.com) 

They’ve only been at it for about two weeks, but I really like the way the Dodgers are playing ball this season. Led by rookie manager Dave Roberts, the Dodgers look and feel and act like a TEAM.

Pardon me if I am excited by something that should be a given in this sport, but the Dodgers haven’t played as a 25-man unit since the last time they won the World Series in 1988. What’s changed and why? Here are the main reasons so far.

The New Puig

As I mentioned in a Spring Training post, Yasiel Puig came to camp with a whole new outlook, thanks in part to Roberts wiping the slate clean, and also because he needs to prove himself this season.

I also believe his command of English is much better and therefore he feels more a part of the crew. He shed 15 pounds and has that Bo Jackson-like speed back, running the bases like a bull and getting to every outfield ball.

The difference is that he is playing with that fire again, but under control.

He is hitting the cut-off guy, taking extra bases with a bit more care, and waiting for good pitches to hit. The result is just the kind of start the Dodgers needed him to have (.356 avg., .442 OBP, 9 runs scored, 5 RBIs) to spark the team like only he can.

Ki-ké, Ki-ké, Ki-ke (Enrique Hernandez)

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Strong Player Starts (And Not) From Around The League: National League Central

Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

Shane Kay (Featured BBBA Baseball Writer/Owner – sonsof84tigers.mlblogs.com) 

Continuing on look at hot starts from around the league, we move on from the AL East to the National League Central where we see a bunch of exciting starts from teams and players as well as some very slow starts from key stars.

Chicago Cubs

Hot

Dexter Fowler, OF – Fowler has done a great job helping the a struggling offense with his team leading .378 average, 10 runs scored, 3 homers (tied with Rizzo), 9 walks (tied with Rizzo), and a 1.211 OPS

Cubs Starting Pitchers – The offense is sputtering, but the pitching is thriving right now. 

All 5 starters have allowed a total of 21 runs 13 starts (combined 2.18 ERA), Jason Hammel and Jake Arrieta have batting averages against of .195 and Jon Lester has hitters baffled with a .183 avg against.  

Oh, and WHIP…a combined 0.969, which is led by Arrieta at 0.77 and Lester at 0.84

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Strong Player Starts (And Not) From Around The League: National League East

Bryce Harper emerged as the premiere player in the National League during the 2015 season. At Age 22, he 3 Slashed .330/.460/.649 with 42 HRs. 38 - 2B. 118 Runs Scored and 124 Walks. His plate discipline is incredible, and he pulled off these numbers despite the rest of the club battling injuries and lackluster play. If they can all up their game, Harper's talent will be elevated even higher. Harper won his 1st MVP Award in 2015.

Bryce Harper emerged as the premiere player in the National League during the 2015 season. At Age 22, he 3 Slashed .330/.460/.649 with 42 HRs. 38 – 2B. 118 Runs Scored and 124 Walks. His plate discipline is incredible, and he pulled off these numbers despite the rest of the club battling injuries and lackluster play. If they can all up their game, Harper’s talent will be elevated even higher. Harper won his 1st MVP Award in 2015.  Heading into action today, he has homered in 4 straight contests, and the Nats have started out 9 – 2. – on the heels of his 1.356 OPS.  Harper leads the NL in Slugging and OPS, and has reeled in 15 RBI.

Shane Kay (Featured BBBA Writer/Owner Of sonsof84tigers,mlblogs.com) 

Now that we’re a couple weeks in to the season, besides the amazing start by rookie Trevor Story, let’s take a look at some other players from the NL East that are hot starts and some that aren’t to this point.

Atlanta Braves

Hot

Nick Markakis, OF – Leading the team in hitting (.333), RBI (12), Runs (7), and OPS (.956)

Not

Freddie Freeman, 1B – Hitting just .167, with 6 hits in 36 at bats, 1 homer, 4 RBI, and 11 K’s

Julio Teheran, SP – The teams “ace” is 0-2 with a 6.35 ERA in 3 starts, giving up 4 homers, walking 8, and with hitters batting .250 again.

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(In this Post, Bryce Harper)

Cubs And White Sox Had Different Winter Strategies, But Could Experience A Similar 2016

image courtesy of chicagonow.com

image courtesy of chicagonow.com

Matt Musico (Featured BBBA Writer/Owner – chinmusicbaseball.com) 

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The journey toward fielding a competitive baseball team can happen in a multitude of ways, but as long as winning is the result, the other details will take care of themselves.

A perfect example of this is what’s going on in Chicago right now with the Cubs and White Sox.

Based on their young roster and improvements made over the winter, the Cubs are a popular pick to win this year’s World Series. Predictions be damned, they still have to go out and prove it.

Even though the season is barely two weeks old, the results have been excellent. Chicago’s National League squad is entering Friday’s game against the Colorado Rockies with an MLB-best 8-1 record.

Meanwhile, the White Sox have seemingly flown under the radar in their own city with an equally impressive 7-2 record. At the moment, they’re tied for first place in the competitive AL Central with the Kansas City Royals.

The schedule is 162 games long for a reason and what happens over the first couple weeks brings no guarantee for the remainder of the year.

Still, it’s interesting to see how these two Chicago teams have taken completely different routes with regard to roster construction and on-field play before seeing similar results through nine games.

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Milwaukee Brewers – What We Learned In Week 1 Of 2016

New Milwaukee GM David Stearns has his hands full trying to compete in the NL Central for the next several seasons.  Really the club should be starting a full scale rebuild that includes trading Ryan Braun. Jonathan Lucroy and potentially Wily Peralta.  With dealing with the Cubs, Cards and Bucs all in the NL Central, expect a 100 loss season coming forth for the club.

New Milwaukee GM David Stearns has his hands full trying to compete in the NL Central for the next several seasons. Really the club should be starting a full scale rebuild that includes trading Ryan Braun. Jonathan Lucroy and potentially Wily Peralta. With dealing with the Cubs, Cards and Bucs all in the NL Central, expect a 100 loss season coming forth for the club.  This squad split their 1st 6 game homestand with after being blistered by the Giants, Milwaukee took 2 out of 3 in Interleague play versus the Houston Astros.

Chris Zantow (Featured BBBA Writer/Owner – chriszantowauthor.wordpress.com)

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With one week in the books, let’s take a look at what Milwaukee Brewers fans have learned so far.

This isn’t last year’s team. GM David Stearns ran off nine trades that netted 16 players after taking the job last year.  Stearns has repeatedly said he’s looking to stock up on pitchers – not just arms – but pitchers that throw strikes and get ahead in the count.  Stearns also feels the Brewers outfield has a lot of depth and is an area of strength.  So if this isn’t the 2015 team that went 68-94, then what can fans expect?

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Nats Need Stellar Years From Scherzer/Strasburg Similar To Johnson/Schilling Duo In 2001 – To Win The World Series

Max Scherzer was filthy in the 1st half of 2015 - with a 2.11 ERA heading up to the ALL - Star Break, and Stephen Strasburg ended the 2nd half of the year with a 1.90 in his Post ALL - Star games. If these 2 day aces can be in top form for the whole year, and then carry through to the playoffs, it would go a long with their chances to win a World Series. Since Jordan Zimmermann and Doug Fister left, the rotation is not as deep as it once was, yet these guys could make for an unforgettable 1 -2 punch in the postseason, and combined with Bryce Harper, potentially win the Fall Classic this year.

Max Scherzer was filthy in the 1st half of 2015 – with a 2.11 ERA heading up to the ALL – Star Break, and Stephen Strasburg ended the 2nd half of the year with a 1.90 in his Post ALL – Star games. If these 2 day aces can be in top form for the whole year, and then carry through to the playoffs, it would go a long with their chances to win a World Series. Since Jordan Zimmermann and Doug Fister left, the rotation is not as deep as it once was, yet these guys could make for an unforgettable 1 -2 punch in the postseason, and combined with Bryce Harper, potentially win the Fall Classic this year.

Chuck Booth (Owner/Lead  Analyst) 

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With Zack Greinke flying the coop in Los Angeles over the winter, all of a sudden, this dynamic pair of Nationals chuckers should be the best back to back starting tandem in the Majors right now.

It is a walk year for Stephen Strasburg.  He has shown flashes of brilliance, but has yet to put it together for the whole year.  You could say his career has kind of been like Schilling’s prior to his arrival in Arizona.

I think both guys could near 20 wins each. have mid 2 ERA’s – and both compete against the NL’s elite for the NL Cy Young Award.

If they have great seasons, it should equal a playoff berth – and if not the NL East Division.  Strasburg’s best two years were in 2012 and 2014, so maybe he is just a better even year pitcher himself.

Scherzer is 53 – 20 with a near 1.00 WHIP and ERA of 3 since the start of the 2013 season.  No doubt these 2 guys will pull up awesome numbers in playing the Marlins, Phillies and Braves for almost 40% of their total games.  Add in the Brewers, Reds, Padres, Rockies to the fold, and that becomes half of the year.

Should Washington make the playoffs, that is exactly why they doled out $210 over 7 years for Scherzer in the first place.  The former Tigers pitcher was pretty damn good in the 1st RD of the postseason for Detroit, going 3 – 1, with an ERA of 2.79 and WHIP of 1.034 in 29 Innings worth of work in the LDS rounds.  I think he could take the next step beyond that.

Last year Scherzer threw 2 no-hitters and nearly tossed 2 more.  He has shown he can last longer than ever before.  He was a workhorse with his 228.2 IP. It was a career high, just like his 276 Strikeouts in that timeframe and his incredible WHIP of 0.918 were.

It is time to for Strasburg to leave it all on the table.  Much like his 34 Game Starts in 2014, where he logged 215 Innings and a NL Leading 242 Strikeouts, the former #1 overall pick could really make a fortune in Free Agency with a banner year. At Age 27 until late July when he turns 28, he is still in his prime years coming for the next few campaigns. Read the rest of this entry

MLB Power Rankings 2016: Week 1 – April

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Hunter Stokes (Chief Writer/Part Owner) 

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Disclaimer:  We based these rankings on best strength to win the World Series.  Therefore some teams that have an easier division to play in, with the least path of resistance to the postseason overall may be ranked a lot higher than a club who is equally talented, yet may play in a juggernaut of a division.

Team – Rank (W – L Record) (Last week ranking in parenthesis)

(1) Chicago Cubs  (5 – 1)  (1):  The Cubs weathered the loss of their slugging OF Kyle Schwarber this week – by taking 5 of the 1st 6 games played, and all on the road.  After these 6 contests – the squad is outscoring their opponents 42 – 15.

Love the idea of setting the table with Dexter Fowler, Jason Heyward and Ben Zobrist 1-2-3 prior to the boppers coming after in Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant.

Having the 2015 NL ROY may help Rizzo win the NL MVP this season.  He had 10 RBI this week – including a 6 RBI effort.

Jake Arrieta is already 2 – 0, and this team shows no signs of slowing down.

(2)  KC Royals  (4 – 1) (2):  This club just knows how to win with the dominant Bullpen and clutch hitting.  They have only yielded 11 runs thus far, and this team has not even hit huge strides on offense yet.

The AL Central is better in 2016 there is no question, however KC will be ready to take them on.  There may not be a more filthy Late Inning Reliever right now than Wade DavisEdinson Volquez has picked up right where he left off in 2015 as well. Read the rest of this entry

For The Pittsburgh Pirates – There Is No Next Year

Following a quiet offseason, the Pittsburgh Pirates enter 2016 hoping a large group of top prospects are prepared to make significant contributions to the big league club down the stretch.

Following a quiet offseason, the Pittsburgh Pirates enter 2016 hoping a large group of top prospects are prepared to make significant contributions to the big league club down the stretch.

Jason Rollison  (Featured BBBA Writer/Owner – pbcbreakdown.com) 

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In 2006, the Pittsburgh Pirates started their “We Will” campaign.  Of course, that year is well remembered as the year the Pirates decided to commit to the rebuilding effort.

The next year, Neal Huntington would be brought in as the new general manager, and the completion of the rebuild process was brought to fruition in just six years after a rotating door of front office staff and players failed to reverse the losing streak that nearly forced the team to move.

The “We Will” campaign was meant to embody the work ethic and integrity expected of every member of the Pittsburgh Pirates organization.

Instead, it became the target of ridicule from many fans.  The banners hanging from the façade of PNC Park did not help matter as disgruntled fans poured out following loss after loss.

Even in success, Pirates fans couldn’t dodge the pangs of defeat.

Following the success of the team in 2013 making a laughingstock of Johnny Cueto in the wild card game and taking the Cardinals to the brink of elimination before melting down in game five of the NLDS, the fans and players expected more, but who could have possibly anticipated the wonders that were Madison Bumgarner and Jake Arrieta?

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The Atlanta Braves 2016 Over/Under Game

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Wayne Cavadi (Featured BBBA Writer/Owner – wayniacnation.com) 

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Yesterday was Opening Day. The Atlanta Braves teased their fans in the last home opener at The Ted as the Washington Nationals came back in extra innings to win the game.

Earlier in the day on the way to work, I tuned in to The Front Row on 680 the Fan. Steak Shapiro, Sandra Golden and Brian Finneran were playing what they called the Atlanta Braves Over/Under Game. Steak would read a stat and poll Finneran, Sandra and some of their listeners for their thoughts.

Well, now you get to hear mine.

Braves wins: o/u 70

Finneran said under, while Sandra said over. While I can agree that this rendition of the Braves looks better and more exciting on paper than last season, they did little to make me believe that they can improve on last seasons 67-win campaign.

Let’s be honest, does anyone think the Braves actually care if…

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Tribe Spring Recap And 2016 Predictions, Thoughts + Player Evaluations

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(Featured BBBA Website – 216clevelandgirl.blogpsot.com) 

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Hey there, Tribe fans! Happy day of Indians Opening Day! baseball is just about back and that means it’s time for 216clevelandgirl to recap the Tribe’s spring and give my thoughts about the roster and the team’s chances in 2016. So here we go!

While spring training is an important part of a baseball players’ preparation, as tedious as it may be, the outcomes of the games don’t always mean a whole lot.

This year, in 34 games, including the two exhibition contests in Texas on April 1 and 2, the Tribe’s spring record was 18-12-4, 3rd best in the Cactus League. while that looks pretty good, it could have been even better.

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MLB Power Rankings: April 2016

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Hunter Stokes (Chief Writer/Part Owner) 

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Disclaimer:  We based these rankings on best strength to win the World Series.  Therefore some teams that have an easier division to play in, with the least path of resistance to the postseason overall may be ranked a lot higher than a club who is equally talented, yet may play in a juggernaut of a division.

Yesterday won’t change much for the rankings.  Although it kicked off interleague with the Royals beating the Mets 4 – 3, and starts the Junior Circuit looking to win the AL vs NL competition for a 13th straight year.

Pittsburgh also beat the Cardinals.  I have them both ending the year win 91 victories, but these squad’s really intrigue me.

There are a multitude of reasons why I have picked the Cubs as the #1 team.  I explain them in the writeup.

Each Monday, we will post a new set of power rankings and go over the week that was. Read the rest of this entry

These 2 MLB Teams Could Surprise Everyone In 2016

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Matt Musico (Featured BBBA Writer/Owner – chinmusicbaseball.com) 

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Major League Baseball has technically been back for nearly two months now, but the fun is finally about to start.

As teams wrap up their respective Grapefruit and Cactus League schedules, we’re literally on the precipice of Opening Day. With the final week of Spring Training games taking place, many baseball analysts made their yearly predictions on who they think will make the playoffs and eventually capture World Series glory.

We all know these predictions really mean nothing, but it’s an entertaining way to spark debate as everyone waits anxiously for games to start counting again. After listening and reading countless predictions, there seems to be something missing.

In 2015, we witnessed a handful of teams that came out of nowhere to qualify for the postseason. The process of rebuilding ended a year earlier than expected for teams like the Houston Astros, New York Mets and Chicago Cubs, while nobody picked the Texas Rangers to win the American League West. If you did and don’t claim to be a Rangers fan, you’re probably lying.

Keeping with this theme, here are two teams currently flying under the radar who have the potential to surprise everyone by the time September rolls around.

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Loss Of Pollock Wont End The D’Backs Chances In 2016

Arizona Diamondbacks' A.J. Pollock, left, slaps hands with Paul Goldschmidt (44) after Pollock scored a run against the San Francisco Giants during the first inning of a baseball game Wednesday, April 8, 2015, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

Arizona Diamondbacks’ A.J. Pollock, left, slaps hands with Paul Goldschmidt (44) after Pollock scored a run against the San Francisco Giants during the first inning of a baseball game Wednesday, April 8, 2015, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

Jen Rainwater (Featured BBBA Writer/Owner – bbstmlb.com)  

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Now, the fact that I have a second favorite team may surprise many of you. Sometimes when I really think about it – it’s surprising to me as well. That team would be the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Over the years, I’ve had known players traded there, been friends with some and am still friends with others. I’ve watched the team prosper but mostly flounder and this was looking like a year where they could beat the San Francisco Giants and even the Los Angeles Dodgers appear to be beatable in 2016.

The DBacks beat out two of their division rivals to get the great  Zack Greinke. They’ve got one of the classiest, not to mention best players in the league in first baseman Paul Goldschmidt. And until yesterday they had an up and coming star center fielder, an All-Star last year, in A.J. Pollock.

Now Pollock is out for an unknown amount of time with a broken elbow that will require surgery. That’s a big loss to the Diamondbacks, but it shouldn’t kill their postseason chances ….

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San Diego Padres Show How Much Things Can Change In The Span Of A Year

A.J. Preller has been really active trying to replenish his prospect pool after making a big splash in his rookie offseason.  The Padres finished a dismal 74 - 88.  At least he recognizing the error of his ways - and trying to eradicate his mistakes.  He dealt his two best Relievers already, stockpiling 6 prospects in return.

A.J. Preller has been really active trying to replenish his prospect pool  this year after making a big splash in his rookie offseason last year. The Padres finished a dismal 74 – 88. At least he recognizing the error of his ways – and trying to eradicate his mistakes that he made from putting up a squad that was saddled with injury riddled players.

Matt Musico (Featured BBBA Writer/Owner – chinmusicbaseball.com) 

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The first full year of A.J. Preller’s tenure as San Diego Padres general manager has basically been a roller coaster of emotions. With Opening Day just days away, it’s interesting to see how the narrative about the club has changed so drastically from the year before.

Upon getting hired in August 2014, San Diego’s biggest need was pretty clear: breathing life into an anemic offense that ranked last in runs scored (535). In the boldest way imaginable, Preller completely transformed the lineup by acquiring players like Matt KempJustin UptonDerek Norris and Wil Myers.

However, as we’ve seen in recent years, the winners of the offseason very rarely end up being winners of the World Series come October. That trend continued with the Padres, who missed the playoffs with a disappointing 74-88 record.

The goal of improving the offense was achieved (650 runs scored, 23rd-best in MLB), but not necessarily by leaps and bounds. The pitching and defense also suffered in the process.

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Dodgers Closing In On 2016 Roster

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Who will make the 2016 Dodgers Opening Day Roster

Emily Siskin-Toy (Featured Baseball Writer – Owner Of The Website – behindenemylines32.blogspot.com) 

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As the Dodgers are getting ready to break camp on Wednesday and head home to begin the annual Freeway Series with the Angels, it is a perfect time to speculate on the final 25-man roster.

Team officials are surely losing sleep over all of the injuries the team has endured throughout spring training and are crossing fingers the blood-letting is over. The 14-car pile-up that is the Dodgers current injury list (yes, that many) could make for some interesting roster decisions.

 

Starting Pitching Staff (5 spots)

One through four is an easy call with ace Clayton Kershaw (great spring, raring to go as usual) leading the way, followed by Scott Kazmir (luckily his abdominal issue turned out only to be a dehydration cramp the other day), then a very solid looking Kenta Maeda, an ever-improving Alex Wood, followed by, drum roll, please…the insert-a-new-name-every-five-days-guy.

I am only half-kidding. Due to injuries to #5 frontrunners, Mike Bolsinger (left oblique), and Brandon Beachy (left arm soreness), and no clearcut winner for the job between Carlos Frias and Zach Lee, it looks like we will get a combination of the two depending upon match-ups.

Then when Bolsinger and Beachy are ready, they, too, will probably join the #5 parade. This sounds a lot like last year’s “drive to find number five,” which was pretty much a disaster…

 

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Will The San Francisco Giants’ Aggressive Winter Lead To Big Results?

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Matt Musico (Featured BBBA Writer/Owner – chinmusicbaseball.com) 

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Throughout any given winter, it’s sometimes difficult to figure out what certain MLB front offices are trying to accomplish. The San Francisco Giants were definitely not one of them this past offseason.

After all, it’s an even year. They have a reputation to uphold. Following an 84-78 record in 2015, San Francisco was one of the winter’s biggest spenders, which doesn’t happen very often.

With so many major acquisitions made by the Giants, Diamondbacks and Los Angeles Dodgers, the NL West was undoubtedly one of baseball’s busiest divisions this past winter. On paper, the Giants are a favorite to return to the postseason and keep the even-year trend alive. However, these moves are the epitome of high risk, high reward.

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Dodgers Dropping Like Flies In Spring Training

Elsa/Getty Images

Elsa/Getty Images

(Featured Baseball Website – behindenemylines32.blogspot.com) 

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Dodgers are feeling the pain.

If you’re a Dodger fan and you’re squeamish, you might want to avert your eyes. As Opening Day approaches, the injuries are coming in at a freakish clip, which is not something a club wants to see this close to breaking camp.

All the depth the front office has been stockpiling might very well get tested earlier than expected.

Candidates for the fifth spot in the rotation are on a downward spiral. 

Training camp barely began when the Dodger pitching staff started taking a hit. First to go down was Brett Anderson with back surgery.

So Alex Wood moved up to occupy Anderson’s fourth slot, and then promptly felt tightness in his left forearm. He missed one start and then returned, but it’s hard to tell if he’s really healthy since he revealed he was secretly playing with a sore ankle pretty much from the day he arrived last season in the trade with the Braves. Fishy.

Then the Hyun-Jin Ryu setbacks started up, and it’s deja- vu, you know, that feeling when the team keeps on pushing back his return timetable until it finally announces he needs surgery…again. Let’s hope not.

The team says it will be at least June before Ryu sees a major league mound, so the fifth slot, just like last season, is a black hole.

In the early-going, it was fun watching guys compete for the #5, now it’s just scary. 

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I Am Not Buying Into The Tampa Bay Rays This Year

This squad also doesn't have any ALL - Star caliber position players, and will have a tough time keeping up with the offenses of the Jays, Orioles, Red Sox and even the Yankees. I would gladly take all other 4 teams shut down late inning relief over Tampa Bay's as well.

This squad also doesn’t have any ALL – Star caliber position players, and will have a tough time keeping up with the offenses of the Jays, Orioles, Red Sox and even the Yankees. I would gladly take all other 4 teams shut down late inning relief over Tampa Bay’s as well.  Last season the club took advantage of a strong Bullpen that led the AL in Saves with 60, and have since traded stalwart Jake McGee, and have lost Brad Boxberger to start they year for 2 months.  Some of the departed veterans were also not adequately replaced.  All of the four other club all improved or maintained, whereas Tampa will need some luck to just maintain.

Hunter Stokes (MLB Reports Part _Owner – Chief Writer) 

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Forgive me if I don’t follow a lot of other people’s opinion on the Tampa Bay Rays. I outlined in a recent article on over/under win totals for the year that the Rays are 1 of 2 best bets to be under their 82.5 wins for the year.

Okay so last year I did also call for their demise – and they rallied late in the year for a 80 – 82 record, however I don’t even think this club is as good as the roster that competed the 2015 season – meanwhile all the other clubs have maintained or added good players to their depth charts.

Out for the Rays are Jake McGee, John Jaso, Nate Karns, Asdrubal Cabrera, Grady Sizemore, J.P. Arencibia and Brad Boxberger is out 8 weeks after core muscle surgery.

In are: Corey Dickerson Logan Morrison, Brad Miller, Steve Pearce, Danny Farquhar, Ryan Webb and Hank Conger.

Not exactly loading the fanbase with can’t miss talent the Rays are significantly weaker in 2016 than 2015 in my view.

Their Bullpen is worse…The loss of the Starter Karns may actually hurt the club. Read the rest of this entry

2016 MLB Preview: One Burning Question For Every American League Team

Just because there is parity in the American League it doesn't mean that the Junior Circuit will not club the National League in Interleague this upcoming season. In fact, I am calling for them to be 50 games over .500 versus the Senior Circuit in the AL vs NL schedule. Most of that will be versus the weaker NL clubs, however the better NL clubs will not entirely dominate the whole AL either.

Just because there is parity in the American League it doesn’t mean that the Junior Circuit will not club the National League in Interleague this upcoming season. In fact, I am calling for them to be 50 games over .500 versus the Senior Circuit in the AL vs NL schedule. Most of that will be versus the weaker NL clubs, however the better NL clubs will not entirely dominate the whole AL either.

Matt Musico (Featured BBBA Writer/Owner – chinmusicbaseball.com) 

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While there is a bunch of people who say Spring Training is way too long each year, don’t blink – Opening Day will be here before you know it.

I outlined one burning question for every National League team last week. Naturally, it only felt right to do the same thing for the American League this week.

Can the Kansas City Royals defend their World Series title? Can the Boston Red Sox stop finishing in last place? What about the other 13 AL squads preparing for the regular season?

Each club will have to answer multiple questions once the grueling 162-game schedule kicks off next month, but here’s just one for each.

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