Posts tagged New York Yankees
The 40/40 Club - A-Rod Won

The debut of The 40/40 Club. Mixed drinks of death, Lumen and crawling to Uber's in Beverly Hills (08:24-15:50). The new trailer for Avengers: Endgame (16:12-24:10). WWF Aggression and the wildest wrestling themes(24:18-26:30). Mr. 3000, Angels in the Outfield and our favorite baseball movies of all-time (26:40-42:40). A preview of the 'Elite Milk' discussion on next week's Ball Don't Lie (32:55-36:50). A-Rod puts a ring on J-Lo and gets the ultimate W over Jeter (36:51-38:50). Beverly Hills Cop, Eddie Murphy making terrible movies and Friday After Next is the greatest Christmas movie ever (42:41-48:00). Our boy Mets fan Mike joins the show to talk about the toughest division in baseball, how he plans to deal with the pain of another Mets season and when Tim Tebow will make the 40-man roster, if Eloy Jimenez will hit a homer before the Battle of Winterfell, if the Red Sox have become the Yankees daddies, the Cubs hitting struggles, and give over/unders for Bryce Harper and Manny Machado (50:09-1:44:04).

This week's Negro League Legend of the Week: Satchel Paige
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Inside the 2018 MLB Playoff Race

It’s August and the games are starting to matter in the Major Leagues. One bad stretch of games in August could leave you on the outside looking in come playoff time. Let’s look at the close divisional and wild card races still going on.

Rex Sox rising, Yankees folding in AL East

For a team that boasts one of the deepest lineups 1-through-9 in the league, the loss of Aaron Judge (wrist injury) has really hurt the Bronx Bombers.  Entering Monday, the Yankees have lost five straight, including a four-game sweep to the rival Red Sox, who now hold a 9 and a half-game lead in the AL East.

Keep in mind that the Red Sox did all of this without the help of ace Chris Sale, who is expected to return from shoulder inflammation this weekend in Baltimore.

 

Second half magic puts Oakland in the thick of the Wild Card hunt

The Oakland Athletics keep winning, I don’t know how… but they just keep winning. The A's took off in June and July to push them right in the middle of the American League Wild Card hunt.

If you look at their roster, your kneejerk reaction is probably “Who are these guys???”. Their rotation consisting of guys who have bounced all around the league (I’m talking about you, Edwin Jackson), their starting lineup can flat out MASH, like Khris Davis (the major league leader in home runs since 2016) and the two Matts (Chapman and Olson). If the A’s find themselves in the Wild Card game, they will be the reason why.

Are the Phillies for real?

There’s a lot of winning going on in Philadelphia this year (shoutout to Meek) and surprisingly the Phillies have kept the trend going. They’ve won five straight and have a game and a half lead over the Atlanta Braves.

Most of their damage has been done at home, with a NL-best 37 wins at Citizens Bank Park. If they want to hold off the Braves and Nationals (there’s still hope for Bryce Harper and Washington), they’ll have to improve on that 25-30 record away from Philly.

The Cubs are finally playing to their potential

The Chicago Cubs hold the best record in the National League, despite missing key members for long periods of time (Kris Bryant, Yu Darvish, Brandon Morrow). They're only a game ahead of the Brewers in the NL Central coming into Monday, but even without those stars they're playing to everyone's expectations.

The Cubs were relatively quiet at the trade deadline, acquiring Cole Hamels and a few relievers to add the pen. The Brewers have been a nice story, but it’s going to be a tough task matching wins late in the season with a team as good as the Cubs. Milwaukee may eventually have to turn its focus on maintaining its lead in the wild card race.

How the (NL) West is won

On paper, the Dodgers are the clear favorite to win the NL West for a sixth straight year, but it’s still wide open out west. They're tied atop the division with the Arizona Diamondbacks, who have been solid behind MVP candidate Paul Goldschmidt. The Colorado Rockies have also managed to hang around behind their star Nolan Arenado. Even the Giants sit five games back in the West.

There can only be one division winner, but the added incentive for these teams is to avoid that one game playoff. This race will certainly come down to the last week of the regular season.

Key series to watch

Philadelphia Phillies (62-48) @ Arizona Diamondbacks (62-50)
August 6th-8th

The margin for error for both teams is extremely slim. Can the Phillies get some wins on the road?

Los Angeles Dodgers (61-51) @ Colorado Rockies (58-52)
August 9th-12th

The Dodgers have a chance to distance themselves from the Rockies in a packed NL West.

Milwaukee Brewers (65-49) @ Atlanta Braves (59-48)
August 10th-12th

A potential preview of the NL wild-card game.

The future is here: the MLB's youth movement, part I
Getty Images

Getty Images

The 2018 MLB season has gotten off to an eventful start to say the least. There have been multiple “no hitters”, a milestone 3,000th hit from a legend, and the occasional bench-clearing brawl. The most exciting part of the young season? The influx of fresh talent entering the majors.

Some of these players have given their teams an added jolt during the early parts of the marathon season. Other prospects haven't made it to The Show just yet, but they've given fans a feeling of optimism for the future from down in the Minors. Those players will be examined further in a future piece, but for now here are some names that are already on big-league rosters that you should get familiar with.

Ronald Acuna Jr. (Braves)

Atlanta’s top prospect made his debut on April 25th in Cincinnati, and he's already amassed 4 home runs one month in. The 20-year-old Venezuelan outfielder is said to have “5-tool” talent, meaning he can hit for power and contact, possesses speed, a strong arm and he plays good defense. With Acuna Jr. joining fellow prized prospect Ozzie Albies, the Braves have become one of the more fun teams to watch in the league so far. 

Gleyber Torres (Yankees)

Torres is the prized prospect the Yankees got back in the Aroldis Chapman deal that sent the Cuban flamethrower to the Cubs. Torres lost a good portion of his 2017 season to a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his non-throwing elbow. The 21-year-old Venezuelan second baseman has made up for lost time, drilling six homers and batting .323 on the season. The rich get richer as Torres is just another bat in a loaded New York lineup.

Juan Soto (Nationals)

Juan Soto, a 19-year-old from the Dominican Republic, homered in his first Major League at-bat on Monday. It's a familiar feeling for Nats fans; Soto became the first teenager to homer in the Majors since Bryce Harper did it in 2012.

 Willy Adames (Rays)

Willy Adames had the unenviable position of facing Red Sox ace Chris Sale in his Major League debut. He responded to a strikeout in his first at-bat by going yard off Sale in his next appearance. Adames has been pretty consistent at the plate throughout his minor league career and he is also a solid defender. On and off the field, the 22-year-old Dominican shortstop shows long-term potential as a face of a Tampa Bay franchise that badly needs one.

What 2 Watch: Thursday May 10th

We don't have any basketball until Sunday. What the fuck am I gonna do with my life for the next three days?

While I try and maneuver my way through this thing called 'Life without the NBA', there's some pretty high stakes games on tonight, including a Game 7 in the NHL, a possible sweep in the Bronx, and Tiger and Phil teeing off at TPC. Enjoy your Thursday!


Boston Red Sox v. New York Yankees
7pm EST, MLB Network, MLB.TV, MLB At Bat app

The Evil Empire is back on top. The Yankees have won 17 of 18 and go for the sweep of the Red Sox tonight in the Bronx. It's been late hits from Aaron Judge in game one and Brett Gardner last night that have given the Yanks the edge. Now CC Sabathia goes for win #240 and a series sweep of their rivals.


(John Woods/The Canadian Press)

(John Woods/The Canadian Press)

Winnipeg Jets v. Nashville Predators, Western Conference Semifinal Game 7
8pm EST, NBCSN, NBC Sports App

Thanks to an unusual playoff alignment in the NHL, the two best teams in the Western Conference are playing in the semis. The Jets are trying to make their first Western Conference Final since Winnipeg got their hockey team back a few years ago. The Preds have unfinished business after losing in the Stanley Cup Final last summer, and a Game 7 L at home would crush a lot of spirits in Smashville. Look out for Winnipeg's Dustin Byfuglien, Nashville's PK Subban and Filip Forsberg in this one.


Minnesota Twins v. Los Angeles Angels
10pm EST, FS1, Fox Sports GO, MLB.TV, MLB At Bat app

The Twins take a five-game winning streak into Anaheim to face the Orange County Angels. Jose Berrios (3-3, 3.98 ERA) meets Mike Trout for the very first time as Minnesota looks to break even with the Indians in the AL Central. Garrett Richards (4-1, 3.93 ERA) is red hot coming off of his best outing of the season against Seattle last week.


San Francisco Giants v. Philadelphia Phillies
1pm EST, Facebook

The Phillies go for the four-game sweep in this matinee affair. It would be their fourth of the season, their third at home where they're 14-5. Two teams over .500 and you can watch them while you dodge your family's desperate attempts to get your attention. Fun fun fun!


The Players Championship
1:52pm EST, Golf Channel, ESPN+

TPC at Sawgrass is the biggest non-major of the PGA Tour season, and while golf usually isn't appointment TV for me, it is when Tiger Woods is playing. You factor in he's teeing off with Phil Mickelson? Some mid-afternoon golf just turned into really good background noise for ya boy.


West Ham United v. Manchester United
2:45pm, NBCSN, NBC Sports App

Man U heads to East London in need of a point to secure the second spot in the Premier League table. There awaits former gaffer David Moyes, who got sacked 10 months into his stay at Old Trafford in 2014. Current Man U manager Jose Mourinho has a lot to figure out about his lineup before the summer transfer window opens.

What 2 Watch: Tuesday, May 8th

My condolences to the country of Canada. LeBron James destroyed your hopes and dreams last night just as he always does. You can't run from destiny, unless your name is Wong.

While the "BeSt RaPt0rS tEaM eVeR" getting bounced in the second round is bad for Toronto, it's good for you. You don't have to worry about wasting two hours of your night watching those frauds again until October! Best free up your night for more interesting games.


Utah Jazz v. Houston Rockets - Western Conference semifinal, Game 5
8:00pm EST, TNT, TNTdrama.com or TNT app

That State Farm agent is 48 minutes away from his first conference finals! Good for Cliff. One can only be so mediocre for so long. The Jazz try and overcome the Rockets' homecourt advantage to force Game 6, but is it really an advantage when your arena are as rowdy as a Joel Osteen service?


New Orleans Pelicans v. Golden State Warriors - Western Conference semifinal, Game 5
10:30pm EST, TNT, TNTdrama.com or TNT app

Like Mariano says, this is blu-ray footage for the Warriors. Can't wait for Steph to talk about how the Pels really made them buckle down to win this hard-fought five-game series.


Boston Red Sox v. New York Yankees
7:00pm EST, MLB Network, MLB.TV, MLB At Bat app

The rivalry is fucking back baby! The Sox and Yankees have the two best records in baseball, with the Bronx Bombers one game back of the Sox in first. The Yankees have won 15 or their last 16 games, while Boston is on its best start since 2002. Benches cleared the last series between the two. Don't you fucking love baseball when these two are good? Damn.


Swansea City v. Southampton
2:30pm EST, NBCSN, NBC Sports App

The 17th and 18th teams in the Premier League table battle to avoid relegation. The teams may suck, but the threat of the loser dropping out of the EPL next season makes this an intriguing midday matchup across the pond.

2018 MLB Season Preview

It’s that time again! Baseball is in full swing (no pun intended) and as the days of spring training are winding down, everyone can’t wait for opening day. To pass some time, here’s a preview of the 2018 MLB season and my postseason and award predications.

Before I get into each individual team and their projected rotation, key bullpen pieces, projected lineup and outlook, here’s how I see the standings and postseason shaping out.

*= Wild Card
Teams with homefield advantage in bold

NL East

1. Washington Nationals
2. New York Mets
3. Philadelphia Phillies
4. Atlanta Braves
5. Miami Marlins

AL East

1. New York Yankees
2. Boston Red Sox*
3. Baltimore Orioles
4. Toronto Blue Jays
5. Tampa Bay Rays

NL Central

1. Chicago Cubs
2. St. Louis Cardinals
3. Milwaukee Brewers
4. Pittsburgh Pirates
5. Cincinnati Reds

AL Central

1. Cleveland Indians
2. Minnesota Twins
3. Chicago White Sox
4. Kansas City Royals
5. Detroit Tigers

NL West

1. Los Angeles Dodgers
2. Arizona Diamondbacks
3. Colorado Rockies
4. San Francisco Giants
5. San Diego Padres

AL West

1. Houston Astros
2. Los Angeles Angles*
3. Seattle Mariners
4. Oakland Athletics
5. Texas Rangers

A.L. Wild Card game: Red Sox over Angels
N.L. Wild Card game: Cardinals over Diamondbacks

ALDS: Astros over Indians, Yankees over Red Sox
NLDS: Cubs over Nationals, Dodgers over Cardinals

ALCS: Yankees over Astros
NLCS: Cubs over Dodgers

World Series: Yankees over Cubs


AL East

Scott Engel/AP

Scott Engel/AP

New York Yankees

Projected rotation: Luis Severino, Sonny Gray, Masahiro Tanaka, CC Sabathia, Jordan Montgomery
Key bullpen pieces: Aroldis Chapman, Dellin Betances, David Robertson
Projected lineup:OF Brett Gardner, DH Aaron Judge, OF Giancarlo Stanton, C Gary Sanchez, 1B Greg Bird, SS Didi Gregorius, 2B Neil Walker, OF Aaron Hicks, 3B Brandon Drury

Outlook: It’s pretty much a two-headed race in the A.L. East between the Yankees and the Red Sox with one of the teams winning the division and the other securing a wild card berth likely. The Yankees and the Red Sox are pretty even this season. Both have first-year managers, both acquired a big-time bat in the offseason, both have stacked lineups but I give the Yankees the edge just because of their bullpen. The Yankees have three closers in their bullpen in Chapman, Betances and Robertson, it’s not even fair.

Boston Red Sox

AP

AP

Projected rotation: Chris Sale, David Price, Rick Porcello, Drew Pomeranz, Steven Wright
Key bullpen pieces: Craig Kimbrel, Joe Kelly, Heath Hembree
Projected lineup: OF Mookie Betts, OF Andrew Benintendi, 1B Hanley Ramirez, DH J.D. Martinez, 3B Rafael Devers, SS Xander Bogaerts, OF Jackie Bradley Jr, C Christian Vazquez, 2B Dustin Pedroia/Eduardo Nunez

Outlook:The Red Sox have the offensive firepower to win them 90+ games but my concern with them is their bullpen. Aside from Kimbrel and Kelly, they don’t have much to show for in their bullpen but if the offense shows up, they really won’t need the bullpen as they would already run the score up on teams. Seven out of nine batters in the lineup are capable of hitting 20+ homers a season.

Baltimore Orioles

Projected rotation: Dylan Bundy, Alex Cobb, Kevin Gausman, Andrew Cashner, Chris Tillman
Key bullpen pieces: Zach Britton, Brad Brach, Mychael Givens
Projected lineup: 3B Tim Beckham, 2B Jonathan Schoop, SS Manny Machado, OF Adam Jones, DH Mark Trumbo, 1B Chris Davis, OF Trey Mancini, C Caleb Joseph, OF Colby Rasmus

Outlook: I love the Orioles going out and bolstering their rotation by plucking Alex Cobb off the free agent market as well as Andrew Cashner. The starting pitching has always been a problem for the Orioles ever since they broke through back in 2012 and that limited them from going anywhere in the playoffs. It will be hard for them to retain Machado in this upcoming offseason and it seems like Machado will walk as he made the position change to SS to appear more versatile in the market.

Toronto Blue Jays

Projected rotation: Marcus Stroman, J.A. Happ, Marco Estrada, Jaime Garcia, Aaron Sanchez
Key bullpen pieces: Roberto Osuna, Seung Hwan Oh, Aaron Loup
Projected lineup: OF Curtis Granderson, 2B Devon Travis, 3B Josh Donaldson, 1B Justin Smoak, DH Kendrys Morales, SS Troy Tulowitzki, C Russell Martin, OF Randal Grichuk, OF Kevin Pillar

Outlook: The Toronto Blue Jays (otherwise known as the St. Louis Cardinals of the north) befriended the redbirds this offseason and made not one, but two deals with them as they acquired OF Randal Grichuk in one trade and SS Aledmys Diaz in another. They also signed relief pitcher Seung Hwan Oh in free agency, previously on the Cardinals and also signed starter Jaime Garcia (who was a longtime Cardinal before he was traded to the Braves last offseason). These are nice moves but I don’t see them putting the Blue Jays over the top and into the playoffs.

Tampa Bay Rays

Projected rotation: Chris Archer, Blake Snell, Nathan Eovaldi, Matt Andriese
Key bullpen pieces: Alex Colome, Dan Jennings, Daniel Hudson
Projected lineup: OF Denard Span, 3B Matt Duffy, OF Kevin Kiermaier, OF Carlos Gomez, C Wilson Ramos, 1B C.J. Cron, 2B Brad Miller, SS Adeiny Hechavarria, OF Mallex Smith

Outlook: It’s no secret that the Rays are in rebuild mode. After trading away, the greatest player ever to grace a Rays uniform, Evan Longoria, the Rays will once again be at the basement of the A.L. East. Starter Chris Archer and closer Alex Colome will be flying around trade rumors as the trade deadline gets closer and it’s a bit of a surprise that they weren’t traded this offseason after a non-busy offseason. Kevin Cash is going to do something interesting this season as he’s going with a four-man rotation. It will be interesting to see how this plays out.

AL Central

(Ross D. Franklin, Associated Press)

(Ross D. Franklin, Associated Press)

Cleveland Indians

Projected rotation: Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco, Trevor Bauer, Danny Salazar, Mike Clevenger
Key bullpen pieces: Cody Allen, Andrew Miller, Zach McAllister
Projected lineup: SS Francisco Lindor, 2B Jason Kipnis, 3B Jose Ramirez, DH Edwin Encarnacion, 1B Yonder Alonso, OF Michael Brantley, OF Lonnie Chisenhall, C Yan Gomes,OF Tyler Naquin

Outlook: The Indians are once again heavy favorites in a weak A.L. Central. They’ve improved the lineup by adding Yonder Alonso and their rotation is as good as ever. Like the Red Sox, I have some concerns with their bullpen but other than that, their lineup is lethal. Francisco Lindor is an MVP candidate and Corey Kluber is always a threat to win the Cy Young.

Minnesota Twins

Projected rotation: Jose Berrios, Lance Lynn, Ervin Santana, Jake Odorizzi, Kyle Gibson
Key bullpen pieces: Addison Reed, Fernando Rodney, Ryan Pressley
Projected lineup: 2B Brian Dozier, 1B Joe Mauer, 3B Miguel Sano, OF Eddie Rosario, DH Logan Morrison, OF Byron Buxton, OF Max Kepler, SS Eduardo Escobar, C Jason Castro

Outlook: After going from dead last in 2016 to earning a wild card berth in 2017, the Twins showed that they are a wild card of a team and that you don’t know what team you’re going to get. They have a young core and made some nice moves to add to a subpar rotation by getting Lance Lynn and Jake Odorizzi. The bats are still the same but look for Miguel Sano to win a Silver Slugger this year.

Chicago White Sox

Projected rotation: James Shields, Carlos Rodon, Miguel Gonzalez, Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez, Carson Fulmer* (Rodon is projected to be back by June after he had left shoulder surgery in September)
Key bullpen pieces: Joakim Soria, Nate Jones, Hector Santiago
Projected lineup: 2B Yoan Moncada, SS Tim Anderson, 1B Jose Abreu, OF Avisail Garcia, C Wellington Castillo, DH Matt Davidson, OF Ryan Cordell, 3B Yolmer Sanchez, OF Adam Engel

Outlook: I wouldn’t call it a “make or break” year for the White Sox young core of Moncada, Giolito, Lopez and Anderson but they need to show improvements from last season and I think they do that. While the wins might not come this year, the White Sox are totally set for the future and be on the lookout for them to make some noise next season.

Kansas City Royals

Projected rotation: Danny Duffy, Ian Kennedy, Jason Hammel, Jake Junis, Nate Karns
Key bullpen pieces: Kelvin Herrera, Brandon Maurer, Wily Peralta
Projected lineup: OF Jon Jay, 2B Whit Merrifield, 3B Mike Moustakas, C Salvador Perez, 1B Lucas Duda, OF Alex Gordon, DH Jorge Soler, SS Alcides Escobar, OF Paulo Orlando

Outlook: It’s hard to believe that just three seasons ago, the Royals were World Series champs and now, they’re a shell of their former selves. The rotation is not good, the lineup is okay, decent at best and they’re in serious trouble for the future as they have one of the worst farm systems in the MLB. Get used to seeing the Royals pick in the top 10 of MLB drafts in the near future.

Detroit Tigers

Projected rotation: Jordan Zimmerman, Michael Fulmer, Francisco Liriano, Matt Boyd, Daniel Norris
Key bullpen pieces: Shane Greene, Alex Wilson, Warwick Saupold
Projected lineup: OF Leonys Martin, 3B Jeimer Candelario, 1B Miguel Cabrera, OF Nick Castellanos, DH Victor Martinez, C James McCann, OF Mikie Mahtook, SS Jose Iglesias, 2B Dixon Machado

Outlook: Like the Royals, it’s crazy to see how far the Tigers have fallen off. Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez don’t have much left as they are in the twilight of their hall-of-fame careers. The Tigers farm system is pretty good but expect for the next three or so years for them to be at the bottom of the division.

AL West

Brent Coomer/Houston Chronicle

Brent Coomer/Houston Chronicle

Houston Astros

Projected rotation: Justin Verlander, Dallas Keuchel, Gerrit Cole, Lance McCullers, Charlie Morton
Key bullpen pieces: Ken Giles, Brad Peacock, Chris Devenski
Projected lineup: OF George Springer, 3B Alex Bregman, 2B Jose Altuve, SS Carlos Correa, OF Josh Reddick, 1B Yuli Gurriel, C Brian McCann, DH Evan Gattis, OF Jake Marisnick

Outlook: The Astros will look to defend their World Series title this season as they bring back virtually the same team as last season’s. There are very few weak links in the rotation or lineup, if any but like most teams, their bullpen can be an issue for them. Altuve, Correa, Springer and Bregman is a dangerous core to mess with and with the addition of Gerrit Cole this offseason, the Astros are without a doubt a favorite to win the World Series once again.

Los Angeles Angels

AP Photo/Jae C. Hong

AP Photo/Jae C. Hong

Projected rotation: Garrett Richards, Shohei Otani, J.C. Ramirez, Matt Shoemaker, Tyler Skaggs
Key bullpen pieces: Cam Bedrosian, Blake Wood, Blake Parker
Projected lineup: 2B Ian Kinsler, OF Mike Trout, OF Justin Upton, DH Albert Pujols, OF Kole Calhoun, SS Andrelton Simmons, 3B Zack Cozart, 1B Luis Valbuena, C Martin Maldonado

Outlook: The Angels weren’t messing around this offseason as they acquired Ian Kinsler from the Tigers, re-signed Justin Upton, signed Zack Cozart and signed versatile Japanesesuperstar Shohei Otani. Finally, Mike Trout has a legit team to play with.

Seattle Mariners

Projected rotation: James Paxton, Felix Hernandez, Mike Leake, Marco Gonzales, Erasmo Ramirez
Key bullpen pieces: Edwin Diaz, Juan Nicasio, Nick Vincent
Projected lineup: OF Dee Gordon, SS Jean Segura, 2B Robinson Cano, DH Nelson Cruz, 3B Kyle Seager, 1B Ryon Healy, OF Mitch Haniger, C Mike Zunino, OF Ben Gamel

Outlook: The Mariners have the bats but they need consistent pitching from both the rotation and the bullpen. Felix Hernandez isn’t what he once was but James Paxton is a stud. I love the move acquiring Juan Nicasio in free agency to add more depth to the bullpen. I’d say Seattle has a top 10 lineup in all of baseball.

Oakland Athletics

Projected rotation: Kendall Graveman, Sean Manaea, A.J. Puk, Trevor Cahill, Daniel Mengden
Key bullpen pieces: Blake Treinen, Yusmeiro Petit, Santiago Castilla
Projected lineup: SS Marcus Semien, DH Matt Joyce, 2B Jed Lowrie, OF Khris Davis, 1B Matt Olson, OF Stephen Piscotty, C Jonathan Lucroy, 3B Matt Chapman, OF Dustin Fowler

Outlook: The Athletics are on the come-up. There is a lot of power in that lineup but the pitching needs work. Losing Jherel Cotton for the season thanks to Tommy John is a tough blow for the Athletics as him and A.J. Puk will be a nice 1-2 punch down the road.

Texas Rangers

Projected rotation: Cole Hamels, Mike Minor, Doug Fister, Matt Moore, Martin Perez, Jesse Chavez
Key bullpen pieces: Alex Claudio, Matt Bush, Tim Lincecum
Projected lineup: OF Delino DeShields, 1B Joey Gallo, OF Nomar Mazara, 3B Adrian Beltre, SS Elvis Andrus, DH Shin-Soo Choo, 2B Rougned Odor, C Robinson Chirinos, OF Drew Robinson

Outlook: The thing that jumps out at me about the Rangers is the first two spots in the lineup. Manager Jeff Bannister said that batting Gallo second is “a real possibility”, which is odd because he is seen as a four-hole hitter. The thing with Gallo is that teams play a shift on him as he is a heavy pull hitter but with him batting second and speedy leadoff man Delino Deshields getting on base and steals second, teams can’t play the shift as Deshields can walk to third base. With him in scoring position and with Gallo at the plate, that can be a very dangerous combination and the Rangers can get runs up early and often. Bannister is also going with a six-man rotation this year so that will be something to look out for as well.

NL East

(Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post)

(Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post)

Washington Nationals

Projected rotation:Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, Tanner Roark, Gio Gonzalez, A.J. Cole
Key bullpen pieces: Sean Doolittle, Brandon Kintzler, Ryan Madson
Projected lineup: OF Adam Eaton, SS Trea Turner, OF Bryce Harper, 2B Daniel Murphy, 3B Anthony Rendon, 1B Ryan Zimmerman, C Matt Wieters, OF Michael Taylor

Outlook: Will this finally be the year that the Nationals get out of the NLDS? The Nationals have been to the playoffs four times in the last eight years and every time they have lost in the NLDS. Maybe new manager Dave Martinez can do it? The Nationals have solid hitters up and down the lineup and the starting pitching is there as well but even with all this talent on the roster, I still think the Nationals are one piece away, whether that’s in the lineup or in the rotation.

New York Mets

Projected rotation: Noah Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom, Matt Harvey, Steven Matz, Zack Wheeler
Key bullpen pieces: A.J. Ramos, Jeurys Familia, Anthony Swarzak
Projected lineup: OF Michael Conforto, OF Yoenis Cespedes, OF Jay Bruce, 3B Todd Frazier, 1B Adrian Gonzalez, 2B Asdrubal Cabrera, C Travis d’Arnaud, SS Amed Rosario

Outlook: The Mets are in a weird spot. They have one of the best rotations in baseball yet, their lineup is pretty underwhelming. Cespedes and Bruce are probably the best hitters on the team but it will be interesting to see if their pitching will keep them afloat.

Philadelphia Phillies

Projected rotation: Aaron Nola, Jake Arrieta, Vincent Velasquez, Ben Lively, Nick Pivetta* (Pivetta will be filling in for Jerad Eickhoff who will be out until at least May with a lat strain)
Key bullpen pieces: Hector Neris, Pat Neshak, Luis Garcia
Projected lineup: 2B Cesar Hernandez, OF Odubel Herrera, 1B Carlos Santana, OF Rhys Hoskins, 3B Maikel Franco, OF Nick Williams, SS J.P. Crawford, C Jorge Alfaro

Outlook: I’m drinking the Phillies Kool-Aid this season. I love the hiring of their 42-year-old manager that looks like he’s 28, Gabe Kapler. I think his zany nature reminds me a lot of former Philadelphia Eagles head coach Chip Kelly in that he’s all about his culture. Now we all know what happened to Kelly but I see Kapler as a better version of Kelly as he probably can connect with his players more than Kelly did because Kapler is a former major leaguer. Add that with a young core of Hoskins, Crawford, Nola and Williams as well as veteran pitcher Jake Arrieta and I think the Phillies can be a sneaky wild card team.

Atlanta Braves

Projected rotation: Julio Teheran, Mike Foltynewicz, Sean Newcomb, Brandon McCarthy, Scott Kazmir (editors note: Scott Kazmir has since been released by Atlanta)
Key bullpen pieces:
Arodys Vizcaino, Sam Freeman, Peter Moylan
Projected lineup: OF Ender Inciarte, 2B Ozzie Albies, 1B Freddie Freeman, C Tyler Flowers, OF Nick Markakis, OF Preston Tucker, SS Dansby Swanson, 3B Rio Ruiz

Outlook: Stay patient Braves fans. Your time is coming soon, just wait. Top prospect Ronald Acuna should be in the majors this year and the Braves already have a pretty young lineup with Albies and Swanson in the middle infield. Don’t expect the Braves to do much this season in terms of winning as this season will probably be a stepping stone season to get the young guys some time.

Miami Marlins

Projected rotation: Jose Urena, Justin Nicolino, Jacob Turner, Wei-Yin Chen, Dan Straily
Key bullpen pieces: Brad Ziegler, Adam Conley, Kyle Barraclough
Projected lineup: OF Lewis Brinson, OF Derek Dietrich, 2B Starlin Castro, 1B Justin Bour, C J.T. Realmuto, 3B Martin Prado, OF Cameron Maybin, SS Miguel Rojas

Outlook: I feel like the most underrated stat in sports is the playoff drought that the Marlins have been on. The last time they made the postseason was in 2003 when they won the World Series, but that was 15 years ago and it might be another 15 years until the Marlins make the postseason again because what is going on in the 305? Just a few years ago, the Marlins looked like a team on the come up, ready to take over the National League. But after the tragic and untimely death of two-time All-Star and 2013 N.L. Rookie of the Year, Jose Fernandez back in 2016 and after trading away cornerstone players such as 2017 MVP Giancarlo Stanton to the Marlins, Christian Yelich to the Brewers and Marcell Ozuna to the Cardinals, the Marlins are going to be the worst team in baseball not just this year, but potentially years to come.

NL Central

(AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

(AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Chicago Cubs

Projected rotation: Jon Lester, Yu Darvish, Kyle Hendricks, Jose Quintana, Tyler Chatwood
Key bullpen pieces: Brandon Morrow, Carl Edwards Jr, Justin Wilson
Projected lineup: OF Ian Happ, 3B Kris Bryant, 1B Anthony Rizzo, C Willson Contreras, OF Kyle Schwarber, SS Addison Russell, OF Jason Heyward, 2B Javier Baez

Outlook: The Cardinal fan in me is going to hate this but I think the Cubs get over their “World Series hangover” this year and get back to their domination of the National League. Darvish is a much better pitcher than Arrieta, you know what you’re going to get with Lester, Hendricks, Quintana and Chatwood are quality pitchers, the Cubs rotation 1-5 is very good and could spell trouble for N.L. Central hitters. Ian Happ is really coming into his own after bursting onto the scene last season and the duo of “Bryzzo” Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo will be lethal.

St. Louis Cardinals

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Twitter

Projected rotation: Carlos Martinez, Adam Wainwright, Michael Wacha, Luke Weaver, Miles Mikolas
Key bullpen pieces: Luke Gregerson, Dominic Leone, Tyler Lyons
Projected lineup: 1B Matt Carpenter, OF Dexter Fowler, OF Tommy Pham, OF Marcell Ozuna, C Yadier Molina, SS Paul DeJong, 3B Jedd Gyorko, 2B Kolton Wong

Outlook: Non-biased, I think the Cardinals are a top 10 lineup in baseball. There’s a lot of pop in that lineup with six, maybe seven guys capable of hitting 20+ home runs a year. The addition of Ozuna was much, much needed after the Cardinals went without a true four-hole hitter since Albert Pujols left. I think the bullpen makes strides this season after struggling, and that all depends on Mike Matheny’s bullpen management as well but everything this season comes down to the rotation which is wildly inconsistent aside from Martinez. You never know what you’re going to get from Adam Wainwright or Michael Wacha every start, Luke Weaver is still young and I don’t know anything about Miles Mikolas as the Redbirds signed him from Japan. Alex Reyes will also be a factor this year after missing last year recovering from Tommy John. It will be interesting if the Cardinals want to use him as a starter, his natural position, or a guy in the bullpen, like they did in his first year in the majors.

Milwaukee Brewers

Projected rotation: Chase Anderson, Zach Davies, Jhoulys Chacin, Junior Guerra, Brent Suter/Jimmy Nelson
Key bullpen pieces: Corey Knebel, Jacob Barnes, Jeremy Jeffress
Projected lineup: OF Christian Yelich, OF Lorenzo Cain, 3B Travis Shaw, 1B Ryan Braun, OF Domingo Santana, SS Orlando Arcia, C Manny Pina, 2B Jonathan Villar

Outlook: I’ve said it many time about the Brewers and I’ll say it again, the thing that limited them from making the playoffs last year was starting pitching and it might do them in again this year. They’ve made big moves acquiring Yelich and Cain but they’ve done little to anything to their rotation and they’re hoping for another quality year out of Chase Anderson but that won’t be enough to launch them into the playoffs but they will certainly be a pest for the Cardinals and the Cubs in the division this year.

Pittsburgh Pirates

Projected rotation: Ivan Nova, Chad Khul, Trevor Williams, Jameson Taillon, Joe Musgrove
Key bullpen pieces: Felipe Rivero, George Kontos, Michael Feliz
Projected lineup: 2B Josh Harrison, OF Corey Dickerson, OF Starling Marte, 1B Josh Bell, OF Gregory Polanco, C Francisco Cervelli, 3B Colin Moran, SS Jordy Mercer

Outlook: The Pirates are in rebuild mode after trading away Andrew McCuttchen and Gerrit Cole this past offseason. Don’t expect a ton of wins at PNC Park this year as their rotation lacks dominant pitchers, although it is nice to see Jameson Taillon back after he battled testicular cancer last season. Their lineup is okay as Josh Bell, Josh Harrison and Starling Marte are pretty solid.

Cincinnati Reds

Projected rotation: Homer Bailey, Luis Castillo, Sal Romano, Anthony DeSclafani, Tyler Mahle
Key bullpen pieces: Rasiel Iglesias, David Hernandez, Michael Lorenzen
Projected lineup: OF Billy Hamilton, OF Jesse Winker, 1B Joey Votto, 3B Eugenio Suarez, 2B Scooter Gennett, SS Jose Peraza, OF Scott Schebler, C Tucker Barnhart

Outlook: I’m going to be honest here. I’m a huge baseball fan, I love it, it’s my favorite sport, I love the MLB and I follow it heavily. With that being said, I want to congratulate Homer Bailey and Anthony DeSclafani for doing something good enough for me to remember them because aside from those two, I had no idea who the other three pitchers in the rotation were. Did they pick them up off the street? Who are these guys? After doing some research, Luis Castillo is actually a decent pitcher and I even picked him up for my fantasy team but me not knowing most of the Reds rotation says pretty much everything you need to know about the 2018 Cincinnati Reds.

NL West

(AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

(AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

Los Angeles Dodgers

Projected rotation: Clayton Kershaw, Rich Hill, Alex Wood, Kenta Maeda, Hyun-Jin Ryu
Key bullpen pieces: Kenley Jansen, Ross Stripling, Pedro Baez
Projected lineup: OF Chris Taylor, SS Corey Seager, 3B Justin Turner* 1B Cody Bellinger, OF Yasiel Puig, OF Matt Kemp, C Yasmani Grandal, 2B/3B Logan Forsythe, 2B Chase Utley* (Forsythe will move to 3B while Justin Turner recovers from a fractured wrist, Utley will start at 2B during that time)

Outlook: The Dodgers took a pretty big hit to their lineup (no pun intended) after star 3B Justin Turner fractured his wrist after getting hit by a pitch in Spring Training. The good thing about the Dodgers though is that they have depth and a lot of versatile players who can play a lot of positions should any player go down with injury. Enrique Hernandez burst onto the scene last postseason as more than just a utility guy and of course, Clayton Kershaw will go back to being his dominant himself this year.

Arizona Diamondbacks

Projected rotation: Robbie Ray, Taijuan Walker, Zack Greinke, Zack Godley, Patrick Corbin
Key bullpen pieces: Archie Bradley, Yoshihisa Hirano, Andrew Chafin
Projected lineup: OF David Peralta, OF A.J. Pollock, 1B Paul Goldschmidt, 3B Jake Lamb, OF Steven Souza, C Alex Avila, 2B Ketel Marte, SS Nick Ahmed

Outlook: After making the postseason last season, I think the Diamondbacks go back to the postseason this year again. The bats are there, the bullpen is there, the rotation is pretty consistent. The thing that makes them a wild card team though is the Dodgers as they are just too good of a team and I don’t think the Diamondbacks are quite ready to compete for that divisional crown. If they kept onto J.D. Martinez, yes, I think they would be a legitimate threat to break the Dodgers streak of five straight division titles.

Colorado Rockies

Projected rotation: Jon Gray, Tyler Anderson, Chad Bettis, Kyle Freeland, German Marquez
Key bullpen pieces: Wade Davis, Bryan Shaw, Jake McGee
Projected lineup: OF Charlie Blackmon, 2B D.J. LeMahieu, OF Carlos Gonzalez, 3B Nolan Arenado, SS Trevor Story, 1B Ian Desmond, OF Gerardo Parra, C Chris Iannetta

Outlook: I cannot remember the Rockies ever having a true “Ace” of a pitcher. Even when they went to the World Series in 2007, their best pitcher was Jeff Francis. Jeff friggin Francis. The Rockies are a weird team honestly. Coors Field giveth and Coors Field taketh away. The hitting numbers at Coors Field are inflated thanks to the altitude which makes their offense so much better than it already is but then their pitching numbers are inflated as well as the mix of a mediocre rotation and Coors Field is not a good mix.

San Francisco Giants

Projected rotation: Madison Bumgarner, Johnny Cueto, Ty Blach, Derek Holland, Jeff Samardzija
Key bullpen pieces: Mark Melancon, Hunter Strickland, Tony Watson
Projected lineup: 2B Joe Panik, 1B Brandon Belt, OF Andrew McCutchen, C Buster Posey, 3B Evan Longoria, SS Brandon Crawford, OF Hunter Pence, OF Austin Jackson

Outlook: I’m not buying the Giants hype this year, I don’t care that it’s an even year. Their core is getting older, there isn’t that much young talent on this team, sure they might be contending for a Wild Card spot come September but I think they’re going to fizzle out once they have to face teams such as the Rockies twice, the Mets, the Brewers on the road, the Cardinals on the road and the Dodgers.

San Diego Padres

Projected rotation: Clayton Richard, Dinelson Lamet, Luis Perdomo, Bryan Mitchell, Robbie Erlin
Key bullpen pieces: Brad Hand, Craig Stammen, Kirby Yates
Projected lineup: OF Manuel Margot, 3B Chase Headley, OF Wil Myers, 1B Eric Hosmer, OF Jose Pirela, C Austin Hedges, SS Freddy Galvis, 2B Carlos Asuaje

Outlook: Just like the Braves, be patient Padres fans. Your time will come and it will come soon. They have the top farm system in all of baseball, they just secured slugger Eric Hosmer for seven years, they have nice, young pieces such as Manny Margot, Austin Hedges, Hunter Renfroe and Corey Spangenberg, the Padres will be a very good team within the next 3-5 years, this season though, will be a rebuilding year and the main focus will be to develop the younger guys, both in the MLB and in the minors.

Hot stove predictions: trades

MLB free agency has been god-awfully slow, but there's been no shortage of trades this season.

The Marlins were so happy to get a pack of Frooties back from the Yankees for Giancarlo Stanton, they traded Marcell Ozuna to St. Louis for a slice of Imo's Pizza (which is huff as fuck if we're keeping it a buck).

The Giants FINALLY dealt for Evan Longoria, and we also saw the salary dumps of all salary dumps when the Dodgers re-acquired Braves outfielder Matt Kemp for Adrian Gonzalez, Brandon McCarthy and Scott Kasmir. It was an NBA-style of getting rid of salaries to get under the luxury tax. A genius move by the LA brass.

Aside from that, it's been mostly talk from teams looking to trade star players. The Orioles ruined any chance of re-signing Manny Machado before next offseason by linking his name with damn near every team in MLB. The Pirates are close to trading Gerrit Cole somewhere, and they still have Andrew McCutchen to deal with.

Here's some predictions on where top trade names will end up (or not). When you're done, catch my free agency predictions here.

Manny Machado

Mike Stobe/Getty Images

Mike Stobe/Getty Images

Machado is rare; a mixture of power and slick fielding who has clubbed 30 homers each of the last three seasons and has a WAR of 6.0 or better in the three seasons he received MVP consideration. What's rare about him is that kind of player doesn't hit free agency at 26 that often.

It would behoove the Orioles to re-sign him, but they've fumbled their chances at that. Their best bet is to trade him before the summer trade deadline and recoup some assets for what could turn out to be a one-year rental. It's better than letting him walk for a compensatory draft pick.

Rumor has it the Yankees are in on the Machado sweepstakes, but the Orioles would be sick to trade him to a division rival. The White Sox were the aggressive name at the Winter Meetings, but they've done a helluva job stocking the farm in the last year and it doesn't make sense to undo that work for one year of Machado. The Cardinals are the most likely destination, and they could give him a chance to return to shortstop like he wants.

Prediction: St. Louis will bid hard for Machado, but the Orioles don't like any bids. Machado stays in Baltimore to start the season, is traded to a contender for a lesser haul at the deadline.

Gerrit Cole

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Pirates' run to three consecutive playoff berths ended with no series win and back-to-back embarrassments at home in the wild card game. Now it's time for Pittsburgh to rebuild, and first to go? Star pitcher Gerrit Cole.

MLB Network's Jon Morosi reports the Pirates have agreed to a deal with the Houston Astros for Cole, who now becomes the young ace behind Justin Verlander and Dallas Keuchel for the defending World Series champs. The Astros are bringing over a game-changer to the American League.

Andrew McCutchen

MLB.com

MLB.com

The Pirates will then turn their attention to former MVP Andrew McCutchen, who actually had a decent year-30 season after struggling in 2016. His WAR boosted from -0.7 to 2.5, hit 28 home runs 88 RBI's and an .849 OPS. Even in his 30s, McCutchen brings veteran leadership and a solid bat to any outfield.

The Giants are players in the McCutchen sweepstakes with their abysmal outfield, as are the Mets, with a logjam but not many great players outside of Yoenis Cespedes.

Prediction: Giants trade for McCutchen after signing Lorenzo Cain, move McCutchen to right & Pence to left.

Other predictions:

Pirates trade Josh Harrison to Mets
Chris Archer
stays with Rays
Marlins trade Christian Yelich to Brewers
Jose Abreu stays with White Sox