Category Archives: The Rest: Everything Baseball

From Cuba to Japan, Opening Day to the World Series and the WBC

Sully Baseball Daily Podcast – December 3, 2016

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Justin McGuire, former MLB Editor of the Sporting News and creator of the new podcast Baseball By The Book, is my guest today.

We talked about which teams should have the greatest sense of urgency going into 2017 and some Hall of Fame thoughts.

The clock is ticking on this episode of The Sully Baseball Daily Podcast.

Follow Justin on Twitter by clicking HERE.

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Atlanta Braves Deal for Jaime Garcia Puzzling

The Atlanta Braves completed a swap for St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Jaime Garcia last night, sending a package of 3 fringe Major League prospects to Missouri. The deal is an interesting one, but not the type of franchise-altering swap of which Braves fans have become accustomed. If you’re a casual fan, you probably aren’t entirely sure who this Garcia guy is and that is the most puzzling part of the deal for me. The Braves just clogged up their rotation with another #4 starter.

Off the Bench once ribbed the Red Sox for fielding a rotation full of #2 starters. There is likely not verb strong enough to adequately condemn a rotation full of #4 starters, but here we are. Atlanta just added their third veteran starter of the offseason, planning to pay these old guys $36 million in 2017. For a rebuilding team still treading water and waiting on the full calvary of prospect talent to arrive, this is the type of deal that can disrupt the years-long plan.

But let’s get into this deal for a moment before I talk Braves fans back off the cliff.

Just one year ago, Garcia posted a 2.43 ERA across 130 innings but he’s always been injury prone, a result of a delivery that stresses his arm more than one might like.

To continue reading about the Atlanta Braves Puzzling Deal for Jaime Garcia, please click on over to Off The Bench.

Royals Acquire RHP Jared Ruxer From Angels For RHP Brooks Pounders

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The Kansas City Royals announced today that they have acquired right-handed pitcher Jared Ruxer from the Los Angeles Angels in exchange for right-handed pitcher Brooks Pounders.

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.

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These 6 MLB Hitters Have a lot To Prove in 2017

Now that it’s been about a month since the Chicago Cubs won the World Series and we’re assured there won’t be a work stoppage related to Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiations, baseball’s full focus can officially shift to 2017.

With MLB’s Winter Meetings on the horizon, we’ll soon be engulfed in countless rumors as front office executives attempt to improve for next season.

While that’s all taking place, players — who are obviously the subject of these impending rumors — are likely at home watching it all happen as they mentally and physically prepare for 2017 themselves. Some are feeling confident after a solid showing over the past several months, but others are looking to regain their old form.

Just as we recently pointed out a handful of starting pitchers who are entering next season with a lot to prove, we’ve chosen six hitters also feeling that same kind of pressure. However, unlike those hurlers, not all of the below hitters are coming off disappointing campaigns. 

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Sully Baseball Daily Podcast – December 2, 2016

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I couldn’t find my car. I had no idea where I parked it. So as I wondered around a parking lot late at night, I tried to remember the 1987 Twins and 1988 Dodgers and praised the powers that be for signing a new CBA.

I remembered all the 87 Twins and 88 Dodgers except for George Frazier on this episode of The Sully Baseball Daily Podcast.

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Is it Time for the Joey Gallo Era for the Texas Rangers?

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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?’

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Why The Philadelphia Phillies Should Be Aggressive This Offseason (Their Infield Is Good)

The Philadelphia Phillies are coming off of a year in which they went 71-91. They performed better than most pundits thought they would, but they are still a few pieces away from truly competing. Those pieces are likely in the outfield where the team managed a 0.6 WAR all told. They could use help at all three outfield positions, even as Odubel Herrera does his best 3-hitter impression. I expect the Phillies to make a push for a big time bat (Andrew McCutchen, anyone?) and a complimentary bat to add to a young roster that could suddenly look pretty good. Why am I so optimistic about the Phillies 2017 chances? Well, it starts with a surprisingly strong infield that is ready to be among the game’s best in short order.

Consider:

Second Base

Cesar Hernandez posted a 4.4 fWAR in 2016 that was buoyed by an all-around game that was nearly unmatched in baseball last year. The advanced stats simply loved this guy. According to fangraphs, he earned the Phillies a run on the basepaths, 7.1 at the plate, and 16.1 in the field. Those totals seem pretty good, but are definitely abstract. For context,the only players to match those numbers last year were Corey Seager, my boy Adam Eaton, Francisco Lindor, and Brandon Crawford.

To continue reading about why @OTBB_Sean thinks the Phillies offseason plan should be aggressive, please click on over to offthebenchbaseball.com.

Sully Baseball Daily Podcast – December 1, 2016

mlbreportscoverOne Thousand Five Hundred straight days of podcasting.

Today, along with the audio that as always can be found on Soundcloud and iTunes, I did a video podcast to mark the occasion.

I looked at the concept of baseball nostalgia and realized that everything is trying to celebrate the late 1940’s. Why should post WWII monopolize traditional baseball?

Celebrating 1500 shows in the can and many more to follow on this episode of The Sully Baseball Daily Podcast.

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Corey Seager’s 2017 STEAMER Projections

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Los Angeles DodgersCorey 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.

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Pitching Styles and Roles

The Player's Spot

By: Spencer Trayner

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Today I want to talk about the different types and roles of pitchers.  A pitcher’s type is determined based on how they get outs while a pitchers role is determined based on how the manager decides to use the pitcher.  Studying a pitcher’s type is extremely important for pitching coaches because it allows the coach to

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Curious Case of Jake Arrieta’s 2016 Pitching Mechanics

Jake Arrieta of the Chicago Cubs went through some rough patches in 2016. A loss of command to batters in the middle of pitching sequences led to a noticeable uptick in walks.  This issue compounded itself and lead to a potential shift in confidence that correlated with overcompensation. Let’s dive into the numbers over his career to see if 2016 was a return to prior form, leaving 2014 and 2015 as the best we will ever see of Jake Arrieta.

This is a guest post from friend of the blog Ricky Mears, who writes over at Innings Pitched. Their website will be launching in January 2017.  Follow @InningsPitched on Twitter to stay up to date before the launch and sign up for the Newsletter. Tickets to a MLB or MiILB will be given away to a follower once they reach the 200 threshold.

By The Numbers

Jake Arrieta was lauded as having pinpoint control in 2014 and 2015.  His 2.08 walks per nine innings placed him as number 24 out of 84 qualifying starting pitchers over the two year stretch.  In 2014, Arrieta had 8.2% walk rate against lefties and a 5.4% walk rate against righties.  Similarly, in 2015 he had a 6.6% walk rate against lefties versus a 4.6% versus righties.

To continue reading the original post on Jake Arrieta’s 2016 pitching mechanics, please visit Off The Bench Baseball

The Oakland Athletics Should Trade Sonny Gray

Conventional wisdom is wrong.

Gray came into last season with 491 career major league innings, a 2.88 career ERA, a 1.13 WHIP and a strikeout to walk ration of nearly 4 to 1. He’d thrown more than 200 innings in each of the preceding 2 seasons and despite being only 5’10”, the then-26 year old was making a name for himself as one of the best young starters in baseball.

Then 2016 happened. Now, there are a lot of people out there saying 2016 has been a pretty bad year. But no matter your political leanings, taste in music, or whatever else, your year probably wasn’t as bad as Sonny Gray’s.

To Continue reading about why the Oakland A’s should Trade Sonny Gray, Please visit offthebenchbaseball.com

Mets Resign Yoenis Cespedes 

BREAKING:

The New York Mets have inked their prize LF Yoenis Cespedes to a 4 Year Deal worth $110 MIL or $27.5 MIL per year.

The deal comes with a full no Trade Clause.

Cespedes, now 30, will see his pact take him through age 34.

If you factor in last year’s one year deal, the big slugger will still take home $135 MIL on his years of full service with New York.

For the Mets, this is a sure fire sign they will spend the money to contend as this puts them to a projected $150 MIL for 2017, although they will likely trade Jay Bruce away to save his $13 MIL in 2017.

Our own Hunter Stokes said earlier today that New York should not pay more than $27 MIL AAV and more than 4 years to the Cuban star and it turns out they did just about that.

Cespedes clubbed 31 HRS and added 86, with a .864 OPS RBI in 2016 despite missing almost a month of injury time..

Sully Baseball Daily Podcast – November 29, 2016

a-chuck-booth-and-larry-lucchinoChuck Booth, the creator of MLB Reports, and a partner with your pal Sully, joins the podcast.

He has seen 30 games in 30 stadiums in 30 days and has thoughts on his many pilgrimages.

It is a globe trotting episode of The Sully Baseball Daily Podcast.

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Milwaukee Brewers Holiday Shopping List

With the Hot Stove League heating up and baseball’s winter meetings happening soon, Milwaukee Brewers fans are wondering what could possibly be on General Manager David Stearns’ holiday shopping list. To take a look at what Stearns might do during the remainder of the offseason, first let’s recap what roster moves have happened so far and what holes need to be plugged.

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Top Detroit Tigers Prospects For 2017 & How They Fared In 2016

manning-matt-pitchingBaseball America and numerous other baseball prospect sites are moving through the process of naming each team’s top prospects for next season and BA just released Detroit’s last week.  The list is based on potential and Baseball America is considered the go to when it comes to prospects.

Here’s the list and how that player fared in 2016…

  1. Matt Manning, RHP – Manning was the 9thoverall pick in the 2016 draft and I guarantee one of the first things you will read about him is about his athleticism and his father Rich who played in the NBA. What I like is the kid is 6’6” at 18-years old and could grow another inch.  What I am afraid of, is that from all reports, he may remain lanky and unable to add weight to his frame for durability purposes.  After being drafted, Manning went to rookie ball in the Gulf Coast League, where he made 10 starts, was 0-2, with a 3.99 ERA, a 1.159 WHIP, 2.1 BB/9 rate, and 14.1 K/9 rate.  Expect Manning to move up to West Michigan to start the 2017 season.

Continue reading @ Sons of ’84

Colby Jack and the Luckiest Staff of All Time

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“Colby Jack” Coombs was one of the best pitchers in baseball in 1910.

He was the luckiest pitcher in baseball in 1911. Maybe the luckiest of all-time.

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MILB Scouting Report: Ariel Jurado, RHP, Texas Rangers

The words “electric”, “exciting” and “high-upside” will never be used to describe Ariel Jurado or any of his offerings, but neither will the words “risky”, “wild”, or “bullpen-bound”. With plus command, a solid changeup and a pair of fastballs that work off of each other well, the 6’1” Panama native has a high likelihood of eventually making a big league rotation, perhaps as soon as late-2017. Once he’s there, expect few strikeouts, few walks and lots of groundballs.

 

The Full Ariel Jurado Scouting Report On BaseballRanks

Manny Machado’s Lack of Stolen Bases Cost Him a Top-3 AL MVP Finish in 2016

Major League Baseball is full of young superstars, and Baltimore Orioles third baseman Manny Machado deserves to be included in such an elite group. After all, he just earned his second consecutive top-five finish in the American League MVP race.

Finishing fifth behind Mike Trout, Mookie Betts, Jose Altuve and Josh Donaldsonis nothing to be ashamed of, but was there a way he could’ve further distinguished himself to become a finalist?

The answer to that question is yes.

Looking at Machado’s 2015 and 2016 statistics, it appears he experienced nearly identical performances, except for one glaring difference.

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Sully Baseball Daily Podcast – November 28, 2016

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Jeff Gross/Getty Images North America

Are the Dodgers going to be a cost cutting team? Then their front office will have to remember their Tampa Bay Rays days to finally bring a pennant to Chavez Ravine.

Make every penny count on this episode of The Sully Baseball Daily Podcast.

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Connie Mack’s All-Early Baseball History Team

Connie Mack is one of the most enduring figures in the history of baseball. The Hall of Famer spent 15 years playing professionally as a catcher and then went on to manage and own the Philadelphia Athletics for 50 seasons. To say that he knew the game would be quite the understatement. That’s why when he gave his opinions it was best to listen—including the time he talked about his all-time team of players who debuted prior to 1900.

In 1944, Mack was getting towards the end of his illustrious career (he stepped down as manager following the 1950 season) but had been on hand to have observed a major portion of baseball history to that point. Therefore, when he was asked by the AP’s Chip Royal to compile a list of the best players who started their career prior to 1900 to ever play the game, it was fascinating to see his answers. Keep reading for his full roster.

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The Library of Congress is a Digital Wonderland for Baseball Fans

1937-as-game_origThe gaunt, sad, sullen face of John Evers, the Chicago second baseman who had the metabolism of a hummingbird, the temper of a wolverine, and a near-pathological need to win; Ty Cobb upending Jimmy Austin at third-base, the Georgia Peach arriving with the force and intent of a mortar round; Honus Wagner, looking like he was sutured together by a grave-robbing mad scientist: Enormous hands at the end of long, stove-pipe arms; broad shoulders and barrel chest; a short torso supported by severely bowed legs that suggested he spent the off-season in the saddle.

These evocative images – and thousands more – are available… READ THE FULL STORY AT PLATE COVERAGE

Ten Baseball Things We’re Thankful For This Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is upon us, a time of family and friends and turkey and stuffing and fall leaves and one of America’s vastly inferior sports, football. Baseball season, sadly, is on its annual winter hiatus but even still, there are things baseball fans should be thankful for.

Here at OTBB, we’ve compiled our list of the Ten Baseball Things We’re Thankful For This Thanksgiving:

1. Vin Scully

Earlier this week, Scully was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his contributions to the very fabric of the game. He was baseball for a great number of Dodger’s fans and his send off this year was beautiful in every aspect. We’ve written about Scully many times here on Off The Bench, but this from Max before the year was the most poignant:

88 year old Vin Scully has been calling Dodger games since 1950, 67 years. For context, when Scully first started working play by play for the Dodgers in Brooklyn, Dwight Eisenhower had just taken office as President of the United States, Bill Clinton was 4 years old, John Kennedy was two years from becoming a US Senator, and Barack Obama wouldn’t be born for 11 years. But its certainly not his remarkable longevity that makes Scully a legend. It is the fact that he is, objectively and unequivocally, the best sports announcer there has been and the best there will ever be. He is the only man to still work games alone, carrying the entire weight of both TV and radio broadcasts simultaneously while telling stories of the players that only he could possibly know. How, after nearly 70 seasons and thousands and thousands of players he can still remember the details of individual players lives and weave them so effortlessly into a broadcast is amazing.

There is no one like Vin Scully. If baseball is the soundtrack of summer, Scully is the soundtrack of baseball. 2016 will be his final season in the booth before a well deserved retirement. Soak up as much as you can.

2. David Ortiz

Similarly, David Ortiz announced his retirement before the year started.

To continue reading about baseball things to be thankful for, please click on over to offthebenchbaseball.com.

Sully Baseball Daily Podcast – November 24, 2016

stearnes-turkey-plaque_nblHappy Turkey Day! And what better way to pay tribute to Turkeys today than talking about Negro League Star and Hall of Famer Turkey Stearnes.

His granddaughter, Vanessa Ivy Rose (nee Vanessa Thompson) is a friend of the podcast and joined me to talk about her granddad, his legacy and the Cooperstown experience.

Be Thankful for friends on this episode of The Sully Baseball Daily Podcast.

My blog post I wrote that connected us way back when can be found HERE.

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Sully Baseball Daily Podcast – November 23, 2016

It is Episode 1492, so I am talking Columbus (the city, not the dude.)

Is Columbus Ohio a major city?

Why Cleveland and Pittsburgh and not Columbus? Partially because of decisions made with a minor league in the late 19th century.

Sail the Ocean Blue on this episode of The Sully Baseball Daily Podcast.

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Free Agent Michael Saunders Is the Best Value Fit for Giants, Phillies

Michael Saunders isn’t one of the flashier names in this year’s free agent class, but that doesn’t mean that he will not be an important contributor to a competitive team in 2017.

Saunders is coming off of the best year of his career. The 29 year old outfielder cooled off a bit in the second half, but he socked 24 home runs and hit .253 en route to his first All Star game as a member of the Blue Jays.

Saunders, a former Mariners 11th round pick, can handle both corner outfield spots and did a lot to dispel the notion that he struggles mightily against left handed pitching over the last 8 months: in 2016 he put up a .927 OPS and 8 homers against lefties.

That said, he’s a .235 lifetime hitter, who has never had more that 57 RBIs in a season and had never hit more than 19 homers before 2016. He is no longer a stolen base threat (he stole 21 in 2012), and has never produced more than 2.4 WAR in a season. He also missed most of 2014 and nearly all of 2015 with injuries.

So what are you getting if you sign Michael Saunders this winter? Well, you’re getting  a chance – a chance at some serious outfield power numbers (via both homers and doubles), a halfway decent OBP,  and a pretty consistent everyday player for the lower half of your lineup at likely a pretty decent price.

To continue reading about Michael Saunders’ fit with the Phillies and Giants, please click on over to Off The Bench Baseball.

JFtC 2016 MLB Wrap Ups: Houston Astros

JAYS FROM THE COUCH BRINGS YOU 2016 MLB WRAP UPS. THIS TIME WE SIT DOWN WITH ASTROS COUNTY TO CHAT HOUSTON ASTROS.

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This MLB Wrap Up features James from Astros County as he gives us his take on the 2016 season the ‘Stros had. They finished 3rd in the AL West, 11 games back of the Texas Rangers and ended up missing the Wild Card spot by 5 games. Once again, Jose Altuve was a bright spot for Houston as he hit himself right into the mix of AL MVP considerations.

JFtC: If you could sum up the Houston Astros’ season in a paragraph, what would you say?

James: It was frustrating. Oh, a paragraph? Okay. For the first time in ten years Astros fans had some expectations about a legitimate postseason run…

READ FULL POST at Jays From the Couch

JFtC 2016 MLB Wrap Ups: Brewers

JAYS FROM THE COUCH BRINGS YOU 2016 MLB WARP UPS. THIS TIME, WE SIT DOWN WITH CHRIS ZANTOW TO GET INSIGHT INTO THE MILWAUKEE BREWERS

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This MLB Wrap features some great insight into a team we might not have been paying much attention to in 2016. Chris Zantow does a nice job of wrapping up the Milwaukee Brewers 2016 season for us. The Brewers finished well back of the race in the NL Central division at 73-89, 30.5 games back of the Cubs. They were also 14 games back of the Wild Card. That said, we can’t really call the season a disappointment if expectations weren’t that high to begin with.

JFtC:  If you could sum up Milwaukee’s season in a paragraph, what would you say?

Chris: The season was all about development of young players and seeing what General Manager David Stearns and Manager Craig Counsell could do with a full year in their roles…

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The Final Word on 2016: Boston Red Sox

It has only been a couple short weeks since the Cubs clinched game 7 in Cleveland on the 2nd November and ended their 108-year curse. Yet the ruthlessness of Major League Baseball is evident in the fact that Theo Epstein, just named Executive of the Year in the biggest understatement of the 2016 season, is already back to work.

The Cubs, clearly the best team in baseball, are once-again looking forward to next year, so think how the other 29 GMs must be feeling. As soon as Michael Martinez grounded one to Kris Bryant at third and the ball reached the mitt of a jubilant Anthony Rizzo waiting at first, the off-season began. But to move forward you must first reflect.

That’s the purpose of this series of posts, highlighting the highs and lows, strengths and flaws of each franchise in turn during 2016. From this we can begin to evaluate what each club’s offseason might look like, which gaps will be addressed first and who might upset the apple-cart in 2017. This week we’re starting with the AL East:

Boston Red Sox:

2016 recap: As a Red Sox fan myself it is challenging to know what to conclude about 2016. A resurgence was expected after the signing of David Price to headline the rotation, but a division title nevertheless proved a satisfying result for Red Sox nation. But the languid, tepid even, performances against the Indians confirmed a worrying trend of inconsistency during 2016. When the bats were hot this Red Sox squad was unbeatable, frequently putting double figures on teams throughout the year, but when the bats were cold… yikes. This might seem a harsh criticism of a young team on an incredibly strong bounce back year from being basement dwellers in 2015. But the postseason proved that this team is still some way from where it wants to be, even before losing David Ortiz.

Please click on over to offthebenchbaseball.com to continue reading about the Red Sox offseason agenda. 

The Final Word on 2016: Baltimore Orioles

It has only been a couple short weeks since the Cubs clinched game 7 in Cleveland on the 2nd November and ended their 108-year curse. Yet the ruthlessness of Major League Baseball is evident in the fact that Theo Epstein, just named Executive of the Year in the biggest understatement of the 2016 season, is already back to work.

The Cubs, clearly the best team in baseball, are once-again looking forward to next year, so think how the other 29 GMs must be feeling. As soon as Michael Martinez grounded one to Kris Bryant at third and the ball reached the mitt of a jubilant Anthony Rizzo waiting at first, the off-season began. But to move forward you must first reflect.

That’s the purpose of this series of posts, highlighting the highs and lows, strengths and flaws of each franchise in turn during 2016. From this we can begin to evaluate what each club’s offseason might look like, which gaps will be addressed first and who might upset the apple-cart in 2017. This week we’re starting with the AL East:

Baltimore Orioles:

2016 recap: A decision not to use star reliever Zach Britton in the AL wild-card has rightly left some Orioles fans wondering what might have been – and that’s a significant dampener on what was a successful 2016 for the Orioles. Securing third place in a super-competitive AL East and losing the lottery that is the wild-card game must not be considered a failure given the payroll situation in Baltimore, annually competing with the free-spending Red Sox and Yankees.

Please click on over to Off The Bench to check out the Baltimore Orioles’ offseason agenda.

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