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MLB Offseason

The Winter Meetings have now come to an end and were just about half way through the MLB Offseason. With that in mind, I feel now’s a good opportunity for me to examine what has occurred the past few weeks and see who has/has not improved their roster this offseason.

Winners:

Boston Red Sox: The previous two seasons has seen the Red Sox lose a 9 Game September lead, change General Managershire a Manager that had  numerous problems with his players, trade 3 of the teams highest paid players, and then fire Bobby Valentine. With all those problems the past 2 seasons, the Red Sox decided to start over and go back to the old Red Sox formula which helped them win 2 World Series Titles in a 4 years span. The start of the offseason saw the Red Sox bring a familiar face back in former Red Sox pitching coach (and 2009-2011 Manager of the Toronto Blue Jays) John Farrell. With Farrell on board, the Red Sox decided to sign a number of quality “Clubhouse Players” and instead of spending 20 million per year on one player they signed 3 quality players for the same price in David Ross, Mike Napoli, and Shane Victorino. A number of people might criticize the Red Sox for some of the contracts they handed out but they needed to change their Locker Room and one of these players in particular (Mike Napoli) will put up great stats next season. Napoli has fantastic career stats at Fenway Park (.306 Average, 7 HR, and 17 RBI in 19 games) and with him not being an everyday catcher anyone (Boston already features David Ross, Ryan Lavarnway, and Jarred Saltalamacchia), I feel Napoli will get back to his 2011 Season.

The Red Sox still have two questions they have to address this offseason:

1.  With three catchers already under contract, when will Boston trade Jarred Saltalamacchia?

2. Will the Red Sox trade Jacoby Ellsbury?

Texas Rangers: The Rangers haven’t made any significant moves during the 2012 offseason, so why are they listed under the winners for the offseason? I decided to list Texas under the winners category because they’ve been mentioned in all the key players (Trade and Free Agency) this offseason. The biggest question surrounding the Rangers this offseason has been with 2010 MVP Josh Hamilton whose a Free Agent for the first time in his career. At 31, Hamilton is still an elite hitter but has had to deal with a number of injuries which have forced him to miss a number of game in his career (Hamilton has only played in 135 games only twice in his MLB career). So why have they done such a good job with handling the Hamilton situation? Because Texas allowed for other teams to set the market for him and see what his value was in Free Agency. As that was going on, the Rangers decided to look at Free Agents Zack Greinke and Michael Bourn along with DBacks Outfielder Justin Upton and Rays Pitcher James Shields. With Greinke signing with the Dodgers (and hurting their biggest rival) and Shields being traded to Kansas City, look for the Rangers to now turn their attention to Upton, Anibal Sanchez, R.A. Dickey, and of course Josh Hamilton.

With the Rangers linked to all these teams, this shows that the team that holds all the cards are the Texas Rangers. The Rangers can resign Hamilton or trade one of their young prospects for a veteran hitter/pitcher. With the money the Rangers will save from the Michael Young trade, look for them to make a significant signing or trade this offseason.

San Francisco Giants: Following San Francisco’s first World Series since the Franchise moved to the Bay Area, the Giants decided to bring back a number of players from their former roster that won the World Series. Unfortunately for the Giants, 2010 Rookie of the Year Buster Posey went down with a season ending injury but had Posey not gone down with the injury in April 2011, the Giants might have found themselves back in the playoffs the next season. With that said, the Giants didn’t make the 2011 Playoffs, brought in a number of new faces via trades and free agency (Angel Pagan, Melky Cabrera Hunter Pence and Marco Scutaro) which helped the Giants return to the top of the baseball world in 2012. Following their Championship Parade, the Giants decided to resign all of their key free agents (Jeremy Affeldt, Pagan, and  Scutaro) and go with almost the exact same roster that helped them win the 2012 World Series. With that said, a number of people have been surprised the Giants decided to go in another direction with Brian Wilson as they decided to Non-Tender his contract making him a Free Agent.

I feel this was the correct decision for two reasons:

1. With the Money they saved from not having Wilson on their roster anymore, there now able to sign their key Free Agents this offseason.

2. Romo has the potential of becoming one of the best closers in baseball.

Clark Street Sports: Where Real Fans Shop

Clark Street Sports: Where Real Fans Shop

Losers:

Los Angeles Angels: The winners of last years offseason might be the losers to this years offseason. The Angels decided to revamp their team by letting Torii Hunter, Dan Haren, and Zack Greinke leave via free agency in addition to trading Ervin Santana away to the Royals.

So what have the Angels done so far to account for all these departures:

1. The Angels traded 2010 All-Star Jordan Walden to the Atlanta Braves for Tommy Hanson who had an up and down career in Atlanta that ended with him going 12-5 with a 4.29 ERA during the 2012 season.

2. Following that, the Angels signed Joe Blanton (for the backend of their rotation) and Sean Burnett (to add the lefty reliever they needed) each to a 2 year deal.

These three moves showed that the Angels were preparing to move on from Greinke and go in another direction. With Greinke, Haren, and Santana out of their rotation, I feel the Angels took a step back this offseason and still need another quality pitcher if they want to compete with the A’s and Rangers in the American League West. If this is the Angels 2012 pitching staff (both starting and relief), then I feel the Rangers are the clear cut favorites in the AL West.

Seattle Mariners: The Mariners have a solid pitching rotation highlighted by Felix Hernandez and also includes Jason Vargas, Hisashi Iwakuma, Erasmo Ramirez, in addition to top pitching prospects Taijuan Walker and Danny Hultzen. This shows that the Mariners have a number of quality pitchers, however, if they want to be a contender they need to address their lineup. Currently, the best players in the Mariners lineup are Jesus Montero, Dustin Ackley, and Kyle Seager which shows that their’s not much power in their lineup. With that in mind, I feel the Mariners should look to add two names: Josh Hamilton and Billy Butler. If the Mariners are able to add these two bats to their lineup, then the Mariners would become a legitimate contender in the American League West.

New York Mets:Mets fans were dreaming of a Wil Myers for R.A. Dickey trade but instead the Royals decided to trade their top prospect to Tampa for James Shields. With Greinke and Shields off the board, the Mets now need to look to trade with the Angels, Rangers, or Tigers and see what they would give up for 2012 CY-Young Award Winner. The Mets already have a solid rotation filled with a combination of veterans (Johan Santana and Jon Niese) and youngsters (Dillion Gee, Matt Harvey, and Zack Wheeler) and because of that the Mets are fortunate enough to have the space to trade Dickey so they can add power bat to their lineup. A few of the prospects the Mets should look to trade for include Mike Olt, Elvis Andrus, C.J. Cron, or another power hitting/middle of the infield player to their roster. If the Mets are able to do this, then the Mets would show a solid core of talent in both their lineup and rotation.

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Merchandise of all 30 MLB Teams

Make sure to order Merchandise of your favorite MLB teams before the All-Star Game so your ready for the Mid-Summer Classic. At Clark Street Sports, we sell Hats, Jackets, Jerseys, Sweatshirts and T-Shirts of each MLB Team. Our customers have the option of personalizing their own t-shirt and jersey or creating merchandise with no name or number on the back. There’s a great variety of merchandise to choose from so make sure you order your MLB products before All-Star Weekend is here.

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Players to watch this summer

The MLB Season is almost 1/3 of the way complete and there have been a few surprising teams so far (Indians, Orioles, Nationals). As good as those stories have been, I feel there’s a few current minor league players that should be in the majors within the next few weeks. Below is a list of players that should be on your watch list for Fantasy Baseball as these players have the capability of having a similar impact that Bryce Harper and Mike Trout have had on their teams.

Trevor Bauer (Arizona Diamondbacks): Bauer was the 3rd overall pick for the Diamondbacks in the 2011 MLB Draft and it seems that he’s almost ready for the Major’s. His 2011 season got off to a slow start (had a 5.96 combined ERA at A and AA), but in 2012 has bounced back (has a combined 1.60 ERA between AA and AAA) and looks as if he’s almost ready for the majors. With the Diamondbacks already featuring a great deal of depth in their rotation, it seems like Bauer could be a key arm in their bullpen as they make a run at the playoffs.
Predicted call up: Early September
Jacob Turner (Detroit Tigers): Turner had a brief stint with the Tigers last year (started 3 games), and showed that he just wasn’t quite ready for the major at that time. Detroit currently feature’s the best pitcher in baseball (Justin Verlander) to go along with a few pitchers that have the capability of either being great or frustrating to watch. As for Turner, he’s currently ranked as the 12 best prospect in baseball, (according to MLB.com) and has the capability of being a very good number 2 pitcher for a team in the future. With that said, I feel Turner might make the majors this year, just on a different team as I feel the Tigers need a present day number 2 pitcher if they want to make a run at the World Series. Turner currently features a 2.73 ERA between both AA and AAA and has the stuff to become a legitimate Ace in the future.
Predicted call up: Early August
Danny Hultzen (Seattle Mariners): Hultzen was the second overall pick by the Mariners in the 2011 MLB Draft and has the capability of being a top of the rotation starter in the near future. Hultzen didn’t pitch in the minors all of last year but has so far dominated at AA (4-3 with a 1.81 ERA) and seems as if he’ll be the future number 2 starter behind Felix Hernandez. If Seattle decides to bring Hultzen up, I don’t think you’ll see him in a Mariners jersey until the end of the 2012 season.
Predicted call up: September

Tyler Skaggs (Arizona Diamondbacks): The Diamondbacks have a number of very good young arms (Bauer, Skaggs, and Archie Bradley) to go along with a number of young quality arms already on their roster (Cahill, Kennedy, and Hudson). Since entering professional baseball, Skaggs hasn’t had an ERA above 3.29 and it looks like he’ll be a very good left-handed pitcher in the near future. Unfortunately for Skaggs, because the Diamondbacks feature such good depth in their rotation, I don’t believe he’ll make their roster unless they put him in their bullpen. So why did I put him on this list? Because I believe there’s a good chance Arizona will look to acquire a hitter at the deadline (they need offense) and will look to trade one of their good young arms (maybe Skaggs) to acquire this.

Predicted call up: August
Zack Wheeler (New York Mets): At the trade deadline last year, the New York Mets decided to trade Center Fielder Carlos Beltran to the Giants for their number 1 prospect, Zack Wheeler. Now in his 4th season playing professional baseball (after being the 6th overall pick in the 2009 MLB Draft), it finally looks as if Wheeler’s close to reaching the Majors and becoming a quality starter for the Mets in the future. New York has so far had some success from their rotation so far at the early part’s of this season; however, it seems like the Mets need an additional starting pitching help if they want to stay in the race in the NL East. If the Mets fall out of the race, I believe they’ll look to trade one of their current starters and give Wheeler a chance by the end of the season.
Predicted call up: August

Anthony Rizzo (Chicago Cubs): The Cubs have had a number of problems with their offense this year (have scored the third fewest runs in the National League) and need a major addition to their offense. With their struggles, this could be Anthony Rizzo’s chance to make the Cubs roster as he’s been tearing-up AAA pitching (.352 Average, 15 Home Runs, and 42 RBI).  If the Cubs decide to call-up Rizzo, then they’ll have to make sure  they find a space for Brian LaHair on their roster. With LaHair, Rizzo, Castro, and Dejesus in their lineup, I feel the Cubs will have the capability of featuring a much improved offense along with being a vastly improved second half team.

Predicted call up: July
Mike Montgomery: The Royals have a lot of great young talent on their roster, however, the majority of their young pitching prospects are still in the minor leagues (Mike Montgomery and Jake Odorizzi). With that said, I feel left-handed starter Mike Montgomery has great stuff and the capability of eventually becoming one of the best left-handed pitchers in the majors. Once Mike Montgomery shows that he can succeed at AAA, then we’ll start to see him pitching in the majors at Kauffman Stadium.
Predicted call up: Late July/Early August

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American League West Spring Training Preview

What an offseason for the American League West as it started off by having the Texas Rangers lose the World Series to the St. Louis Cardinals in a full 7 game series and ended having the best player in the league heading west. For a division comprising of only four teams, it was amazing to see how busy this offseason was for the AL West.

Texas Rangers: The Texas Rangers were on two different occasions (and in consecutive innings) one out away from being World Series Champions for the first time in franchise history but instead couldn’t close the Cardinals out. After the season came to an abrupt end, the Rangers had a few key questions they had to answer before the start of free agency. One of the key questions was on Ace pitcher CJ Wilson as after the World Series, Wilson was due to be the top free agent available for in the 2012 offseason. Just like the summer before, the Rangers had to decide if they wanted to resign the Ace of their rotation (Cliff Lee left for Philadelphia the year before), or let him leave via free agency. At the same time, there were also rumors surrounding the Rangers about signing star first baseman Prince Fielder and Japanese Ace Yu Darvish. The offseason started off by the Rangers deciding to allow number one starter CJ Wilson to leave as he decided to sign with the division rival Angels. The Rangers announced that they would replace Wilson in their rotation with star closer Neftali Feliz and as for the soon to be vacant closer position Texas decided to sign former Twins All-Star closer Joe Nathan. After signing Nathan to become the teams closer, the Rangers decided to sign Japanese Ace Yu Darvish to take the place of Wilson in their rotation and not pursue Fielder. Texas also decided to show that their committed to the future of their team by signing shortstop Elvis Andrus to a 3-year extension. In addition, the Rangers have to start looking into Josh Hamilton and Mike Napoli to extensions as the two star hitters are due to become free agents after this season. The Rangers also decided to concentrate on sign their own hitters and not pursue other elite free agents for their 2012 roster which includes some of the best hitters (Hamilton, Napoli, Young, Cruz, Kinsler, Beltre) and pitchers (Feliz, Darvish, Holland) in baseball. Along with having great young talent already on their roster, the Rangers also feature two of the best prospects in shortstop Justin Profar along with pitcher Martin Perez. Texas should once again be at the top of the AL West in 2012 and continue to be an elite team for years to come.

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim: As the offseason was about to begin, the Angeles were seen as a team that might make a minor move to upgrade the offense, but not one that would transform and shock the baseball world. The Angels already featured a reliable rotation with All-Stars Jered Weaver, Dan Haren, and Ervin Santana and then decided to upgrade their rotation with the signing of CJ Wilson. The Angels also decided to sign some guy named Albert Pujols to a 10 year contact to make the Angels one of the best offense’s in the league. The Angeles offense features Pujols, Torii Hunter, Peter Bourjos, Howie Kendrick, Erick Aybar, and Mark Trumbo along with wild cards Kendrys Morales and Mike Trout. If Morales proves he’s healthy and can become a productive hitter in baseball, the Angels will receive calls about his availability on the trade market. With this, the Angels could either choose to upgrade their minor league system or receive a reliever to bolster the only weak part of their roster. As for Trout, he’s rated as the number two prospect in baseball (Bryce Harper is 1) and the Angels will find it difficult to leave him off their roster. Los Angeles will once again be at the top of the division and the competition between these two teams should be great to watch this summer.

Oakland A’s:The A’s had a down year last year and this offseason decided to continue to rebuild their roster and minor leagues. Last year, the A’s featured a solid rotation which consisted of young Trevor Cahill, Gio Gonzalez, former White Sox Brandon McCarthy, and Guillermo Moscoso. The A’s rotation was the lone bright-spot last year as 3 of the 4 starters (mentioned above) had an ERA under 4.00 and Trevor Cahill’s ERA was 4.16. The problem for the A’s last year was their offense as Oakland had a .244 team batting average (24th ranked in baseball) and only scored 645 runs as a team (20th in baseball). This off-season, the A’s decided to transform their roster and traded a few of their elite pitching for younger minor league talent. The A’s started their offseason by trading Ace Trevor Cahill to Arizona for Collin Cowgrill and top prospect Jarrod Parker and additionally a few weeks later decided to trade 2011 All-Star Gio Gonzalez to Washington for 4 top prospects to help improve their minor league system. Lastly, the A’s decided to trade Former Rookie of the Year closer Andrew Bailey along with former White Sox Ryan Sweeney to Boston for outfielder Josh Reddick and a few other minor leaguers. Oakland was able to trade Cahill and Gonzalez because of the pitching depth they anticipate to have in 2012 with the return of injured pitchers Brett Anderson and Dallas Braden. Furthermore, with the money Oakland was able to save this offseason from the three trades they made, the A’s were able to sign outfielders Seth Smith, Manny Ramirez, and Yoenis Cespedes. The A’s organization has now decided to rebuild their team by bolstering their young core and trade some of their players currently in their prime. With the young players currently on their roster (Cespedes, Jemile Weeks, Chris Carter, Michael Taylor, Josh Reddick, along one of the most underrated catchers in baseball in Kurt Suzuki), along with the hitters who are due to arrive in the near future (Michael Choice, Grant Green, and Derek Norris) the A’s have a nice solid core of hitters and pitchers (Anderson, Braden, McCarthy, Moscoso, Parker, Brad Peacock, Sonny Gray and A.J. Cole) for the future.

Seattle Mariners: The Mariners featured one of the best pitching staff’s in majors last year headlined by 2010 Cy-Young Award Winner Felix Hernandez and 2011 All-Star Michael Pineda. The 2011 Seattle Mariners featured a  respectable 3.90 team ERA (15th in baseball) however at the same time, had the worst team batting average in baseball (.233), scored the least amount of runs (556) last year, and were apart of a 17 game losing streak in the middle of the season (July 6 until July 26). With that said, the Mariners decided to bolster their young offensive core by trading All-Star pitcher Michael Pineda to the Yankees for top catching prospect Jesus Montero. Because Seattle is apart of one of the toughest divisions in baseball, it seems the 2012 Mariners will have a down year which will lead to Seattle starting over and building for the future. The young core Seattle currently features (some in the minor leagues and some in the majors) is as good as anyone in baseball and their core of young talent includes: Montero, Dustin Ackley, Mike Carp, and Nick Franklin along with pitchers Felix Hernandez, Danny Hultzen, Taijuan Walker, and James Paxton. Lastly, at the trade deadline, the Mariners should look to trade future Hall-Of-Fame outfielder Ichiro Suzuki (whose a Free-Agent after this season) to a contender and acquire a few prospects to help improve their farm system. The Mariners should have a great rotation by the start of the 2013 season, but the organization needs to address their offense if they want to compete in the AL West.

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Posted by on March 7, 2012 in MLB, Sports

 

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