Tag Archive | "Nl East"

Bursting Bubbles

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Bursting Bubbles

Posted on 18 February 2013 by Will Emerson

The Blue Jays are not going to win the World Series. Well, I mean, not, not ever. I am sure they will win the World Series again at some point in time, but not in 2013. Yes, you read that correctly. It is not my opinion, it is a fact. No, I did not ride a Delorean into the future and steal Biff Tannen’s Sports Almanac. I am not a soothsayer. Well, you got me, I almost never say sooth. I am not a mind reader and I do not have ESP. I just know that that Toronto Blue Jays will not win the World Series in 2013. This is a boldish statement, I suppose. And I am sure the best way to back this up would be with statistical proof and some sort of makings of sound reasoning, which I don’t have per se. What I do have is the 2012 Miami Marlins.

Toronto_Blue_Jays

In 2012 the Miami Marlins opened up their hearts and, well, checkbooks to Jose Reyes, Heath Bell, Ozzie Guillen and Mark Buehrle among others. They opened a new ballpark and they were the talk of the town. Expectations were high in the Sunshine State. The Marlins and their fans were ready to take the world, or at least the NL East, by storm. So how did that work out for the Marlins? Well they finished absolutely dead last in the NL East. They took absolutely nothing by storm. Now the Toronto Blue Jays are not the Miami Marlins, despite Toronto being the Miami of Canada, but you have to admit there are a few glaring similarities.

The 2012 Marlins went out and got themselves a superstar speedster shortstop. So did the 2013 Blue Jays. The exact same superstar shortstop, to be specific. The 2012 Marlins had a new manager. So do the 2013 Blue Jays. The 2012 Marlins had another speedster, to go along with their superstar speedster shortstop, by the name of Emilio Bonifacio. So do the 2013 Blue Jays. The 2012 Marlins got Mark Buehrle to supplement their rotation and eat some delicious innings. So did the 2013 Blue Jays. The 2012 Marlins had Josh Johnson in their rotation. So do the 2013 Blue Jays. The 2012 Marlins had a fading starting pitcher named Ricky. So do the 2013 Blue Jays. The 2012 Marlins had a couple of “superstar” hitters returning. So do the 2013 Blue Jays. Quite a few similarities there, wouldn’t ya say? Of course with similarities, there are some differences as well.

Unlike the 2012 Marlins, the 2013 Blue Jays did not, or have not, inked a “big time” closer. But, they don’t have a totally proven closer either (although I do like Santos and Jannsen) and after Bell kind of had some early season implosions it did not look like the 2012 Marlins did either. Also, the 2012 Miami Marlins did not sign a Cy Young starting pitcher like 2013 Blue Jays did. Even if R.A. Dickey does not, and he more than likely won’t, duplicate his 2012, he could still be a very reliable starter and I feel that does give the 2013 Blue Jays a slight edge over the 2012 Marlins in the starting rotation area. The 2013 Blue Jays also, unlike the 2012 Marlins, added another All-Star outfielder. But, in Melky Cabrera, does anyone really know what to expect in 2013, post PED suspension? At the very least he could be a Gaby Sanchez, Logan Morrison for the Jays, so there is that. The 2013 Jays also have Edwin Encarnacion, which is maybe one more bat the 2012 Marlins did not have. So yeah, on paper, the 2013 Blue Jays are a slightly better looking team than the Marlins were a year ago, but I still think Blue Jays fans will be in for a disappointing season.

I feel like there is just so much darned hype and foofarah surrounding the busy Blue Jay off-season and the team they have put together for 2013. It is a classic trap. A set up for what will seem like failure. In baseball especially there is just a certain, as the French would say, “I don’t know what” that causes what appears to be a very good team on paper, to just not come together as a cohesive unit and win a bunch of games. Look, I can’t say for sure that it is World Series or bust for the Jays and their fans, but if they don’t make the playoffs, at least, you would have to think that the season would definitely be considered as something of a failure. You know what, I am stating here first, not only will the Blue Jays not win the 2013 World Series, they will not make the playoffs in 2013. Boom. Roasted.

Not only do I expect a fairly sizable regression from Dickey and Cabrera, but even without that, the Jays are also in arguably the toughest division in baseball. The Yankees always find ways to win despite whatever soap operatic-like drama or supposed gaping weakness or what have you they may have going on. The Rays have just an all around solid squad with some superb pitching to boot. The Orioles made the playoffs last season somehow and the Red Sox should be much improved over last season (although it would be hard for them to not be). The Blue Jays have a scary roster to be sure and I can’t say how convincing my argument has been, but I am just not ready to hand anything over to them just yet. I mean, R.A. Dickey had a downright spectacular 2012, but he is no Dave Stieb. I just feel like history is getting ready to repeat itself..sort of.

Hey, I’m not saying the Blue Jays are going to finish last in their division like the 2012 Marlins did. I am certainly not saying that Blue Jays fans should not be excited about their chances. I am just saying that someone needs to burst the bubble. Well, okay, I guess no one has to go bursting the bubble, I just wanted to do it, what of it? Jays fans should just temper their expectations a tad, so they will not be as crushed come October when their team is no longer playing, much like those poor, poor souls in Miami, four months ago. But hey, what do I know, right? Well, okay, I do know this is definitely the most times I have typed the numbers 2012 and 2013 in a single post. Good day and godspeed!

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Stephen Strasburg is a Tool

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Stephen Strasburg is a Tool

Posted on 03 August 2012 by Dennis Lawson

The Strasburg Multitool

The Washington Nationals lead the league in ERA (3.30), quality starts (67), WHIP (1.20), and batting average against (.234).  The team stands within just percentage points of having the best record in all of baseball, and rumor has it that the team intends to shut down Stephen Strasburg soon.  Mind you, allowing the fewest runs in all of baseball has allowed the team to procure a 2.5 game lead in the NL East over the Braves, but shutting down a guy with 154 strikeouts in 121.1 innings pitched seems ludicrous.  It could very well be the Lusitania of really bad ideas.  Maybe the team should limit Strasburg’s innings or put him on a pitch count, but they could go way outside the proverbial box and use him like the tool he really is.

When your team stands 16th in runs scored (440), 16th in batting average (.256), 19th in OBP (.317), and 12th in slugging percentage (.416), a little boost on offense could go a long way.  If you also happen to have a hitter who plays only every 5th game but hits .333/.405/.545/.951, you might want to get him more plate appearances.  Seriously consider that 0.8 oWAR in just 39 plate appearances.  Is there any legitimate reason not to find a place for him in the outfield?

No.  Based on WAR for just batters in the Washington lineup, Strasburg ranks 6th behind Ian Desmond, Ryan Zimmerman, Adam LaRoche, Bryce Harper, and Danny Espinosa.  Every one of the guys in that top 5 have 350+ plate appearances, and Espinosa has 421 PAs.  Of course, it would be overly simplistic to suggest that Strasburg’s line would translate to 7+ oWAR over the next 350-400 plate appearances.  On the other hand, a projection of 2.0 oWAR would be reasonable and more than enough to offset any defensive shortcomings he would have as an outfielder.  After all, the guy looks to be a pretty good athlete, and he has a pretty decent throwing arm by outfield standards.

Maybe some detailed medical research has demonstrated that shutting down a pitcher during the season definitely improves his ability to perform in the playoffs.  Maybe a team of monkeys is sitting around a dorm room trying to hammer out Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony on keyboards as well.  The point here remains that if those monkeys are 2 stanzas into composing a masterpiece, you do not interrupt to give them some rest.  You let them keep going as long as they are on the right track.  Same goes with Strasburg.  At age 23 he’s working on a masterpiece of a season, and it seems a shame to interrupt the man.  Preach all you want about side sessions, simulated games, and cross-fit workouts, but nothing duplicates live baseball action.

In Strasburg the Nationals have a great multipurpose tool.  He needs to be used in one form or another.  In order to concern yourself with the playoffs, you actually need to make the playoffs first.  If Washington remains serious about making a playoff run, then shutting down Strasburg completely must be taken off the table as an option.  It is not like they have a bunch of 900+ OPS hitters sitting around who can throw 100 mph, but they might have one very soon.

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Murphy’s Law…No, Daniel Murphy is not going back to Law School

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Murphy’s Law…No, Daniel Murphy is not going back to Law School

Posted on 19 July 2012 by Trish Vignola

New York Mets fans are quite familiar with “Murphy’s Law.” No, this has nothing to do with Daniel Murphy pursing a law degree. I’m talking about the notion that “anything that can go wrong… will go wrong,” especially when it comes to the New York Mets.

You can start your groaning …now.

On May 29, the Mets were six games over .500 and just 1.5 games out of first place in the NL East. By June 30th, they were still tied with the Los Angeles Dodgers for the second Wild Card slot. When sports commentators across the country started to foresee the wheels falling off on the season in Flushing, I stuck my fingers in my ears and ran around the room screaming, “I’m not listening. I’m not listening.”

What?

Mets fans have suffered through three straight brutal seasons where the team was well under the .500 mark after the All-Star Break. Who can blame a fan base for looking at the glass from a half empty perspective?

I’m not listening!

The Mets went 28-47 after the All-Star Break in 2009. They went 31-43 in the second half of 2010 and 31-40 to wrap up the 2011 season. Christ.

This year, the Mets are off to a dreadful 0-4 start to the second half. After last night’s game against the first-place Washington Nationals, it looks like it could get even worse in the days to come. If Murphy’s Law holds true to form, when the Mets stroll into town to face NL West-leading San Francisco Giants, Tim Lincecum is going to wake up and remember that he’s Tim freaking Lincecum.

Groan.

While the Mets’ illusion that they are a contender might be slipping away (again) just as it did in the summers of recent past, this is not the Mets team of three years ago. Johan Santana is the last remaining piece of the Mets’ starting rotation from 2009. Daniel Murphy and David Wright are the only two position players.

Unlike other hard luck teams (Ahem! The Chicago Cubs), the team can’t (as well as shouldn’t) blame curses or hexes. The 2009 Mets were plagued by numerous injuries. That was the main reason why they suffered in the second half. In 2010, they were playing for a lame duck manager. As for last year, the team simply stunk. Several of the team’s most talented pieces were traded for prospects or monetary savings. The Mets shipped Carlos Beltran to the San Francisco Giants and Francisco Rodriguez to the Milwaukee Brewers. Wrapping up the season with a mark of 31-40 shouldn’t really be considered a shock.

You still though have the right to groan.

2012 is a different beast though. The starting rotation has been superb for the most part, and the team shows heart by fighting back when they are behind. Josh Thole came through in the clutch not once but twice yesterday. Then…the bullpen came in and the chances to place blame became abundant.

Finally! I thought I would have no where to place my misplaced aggression.

How can the New York Mets avoid another second-half collapse? I propose some ideas. (Real ones. Not just smarmy commentary.) First, the Mets need to invest in a closer who doesn’t look terrified to be out there. Bobby Parnell throws 100 miles an hour. He’s got to throw inside at some point. If he can’t, he simply has to go.

Getting rid of him does not include making R.A. Dickey the Mets’ closer. That was a laughably true suggestion from a caller to WFAN 660 in New York today. I understand that the trading deadline is two weeks away, but at that point the season might be irrevocably lost. There is no time to lose.

I’m not saying to the Mets that they should trade away their future. I am saying that they should attempt to get a journeyman at least. Try!

If the Mets look like they are giving up on this season, they are going to find themselves in a bigger hole next Opening Day. It will be a marketing fallout far worse than any Bernie Madoff mayhem ever imagined this year.

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Keeping The Experts Honest

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Keeping The Experts Honest

Posted on 05 April 2012 by Dennis Lawson

Predictions Are Dumb

Baseball’s spring training never lacks for unsolicited and solicited prognostications from nearly every baseball “expert” on the planet.  Some writers spend hours and hours carefully constructing logical arguments to support every possible angle they might cover in a debate.  The rest probably spend about 15 minutes slapping some names together based on ideas they have exchanged with colleagues, friends, family, and their neighbor’s best friend’s urologist.  I’m completely unconcerned with the method utilized to conceive of a person’s playoff predictions, but I find myself extremely interested in keeping track of who actually turns out to be right.  There has yet to be an organized method of aggregating experts’ playoff picks that helps facilitate a November review to pass judgment upon the experts themselves.

Until now.

This post will start with a minimal number of experts listed along with the picks the experts have gone on record as making.  If you, the reader, will kindly apprise me of additional “experts” along with a link to their picks, then the post will be updated to reflect new additions as they are submitted.

“Expert” Predictions:

MLB Trade Rumors – Tim Dierkes => AL East – Yankees, AL Central – Tigers, AL West – Angels, AL WC1 – Rays, AL WC2 – Rangers, ALCS – Tigers over Rays, NL East – Phillies, NL Central – Brewers, NL West – Giants, NL WC1 – Diamondbacks, NL WC2 – Marlins, NLCS – Phillies over Brewers, WS – Phillies over Tigers, AL MVP – Albert Pujols, NL MVP – Justin Upton, AL ROY – Yu Darvish, NL ROY – Trevor Bauer, AL CY – David Price, NL CY – Zach Greinke

MLB Trade Rumors – Mike Axisa => AL East – Yankees, AL Central – Tigers, AL West – Rangers, AL WC1 – Angels, AL WC2 – Rays, ALCS – Yankees over Rangers, NL East – Phillies, NL Central – Brewers, NL West – Diamondbacks, NL WC1 – Cardinals, NL WC2 – Dodgers, NLCS – Brewers over Cardinals, WS – Yankees over Brewers, AL MVP – Miguel Cabrera, NL MVP – Justin Upton, AL ROY – Jesus Montero, NL ROY – Devin Mesoraco, AL CY – David Price, NL CY – Stephen Strasburg

MLB Trade Rumors – Mark Polishuk => AL East – Yankees, AL Central – Tigers, AL West – Angels, AL WC1 – Rays, AL WC2 – Rangers, ALCS – Yankees over Angels, NL East – Phillies, NL Central – Brewers, NL West – Rockies, NL WC1 – Reds, NL WC2 – Cardinals, NLCS – Reds over Rockies, WS – Yankees over Reds, AL MVP – Jose Bautista, NL MVP – Troy Tulowitzki, AL ROY – Yu Darvish, NL ROY – Zach Cozart, AL CY – Felix Hernandez, NL CY – Clayton Kershaw

MLB Trade Rumors – Ben Nicholson-Smith => AL East – Yankees, AL Central – Tigers, AL West – Rangers, AL WC1 – Angels, AL WC2 – Rays, ALCS – Yankees over Rangers, NL East – Phillies, NL Central – Cardinals, NL West – Diamondbacks, NL WC1 – Marlins, NL WC2 – Reds, NLCS – Phillies over Marlins, WS – Yankees over Phillies, AL MVP – Evan Longoria, NL MVP – Justin Upton, AL ROY – Yu Darvish, NL ROY – Devin Mesoraco, AL CY – Felix Hernandez, NL CY – Roy Halladay

MLB Trade Rumors – Steve Adams => AL East – Rays, AL Central – Tigers, AL West – Angels, AL WC1 – Yankees, AL WC2 – Rangers, ALCS – Angels over Rays, NL East – Phillies, NL Central – Reds, NL West – Diamondbacks, NL WC1 – Nationals, NL WC2 – Marlins, NLCS – Phillies over Reds, WS – Angels over Phillies, AL MVP – Albert Pujols, NL MVP – Joey Votto, AL ROY – Matt Moore, NL ROY – Yonder Alonso, AL CY – Felix Hernandez, NL CY – Cliff Lee

Click here for the official MLBTR picks.

Not enough “expertise” there?  Then head over to ESPN where they are one idiot short of half-a-hundred.  Yes, ESPN had 49 different people provide picks.  I’m fine with some of the actual baseball people making picks, but do we really need to hear from the key dolly grip, the 2nd assistant sound guy, and the intern who brings sandwiches to John Kruk every 15 minutes?

Apparently so.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you, though.  Wear a helmet, and then click here.

Glutton for punishment?  Check out what the folks at YahooSports have to say.

Aside from the fact that predictions are monumental wastes of time, very few people really care enough to go back and check the predictions several months later.  The issue is not simply that people forget but that so many writers create plausible excuses for why they were wrong.  The farcical, almost-comedic attempts to cover their tracks deserve some kind of award.  Forget that.  All of it.

Almost all of the “experts” pick from a small pool of no more than 8 teams in each league to make the playoffs.  Anybody who does go off and make a crazy pick like say….the Astros gets absolutely mocked shamelessly.  Predictions are just meant to be fun.  Do not take them too seriously……unless I happen to be right.  If that happens, then feel free to congratulate me all you like.

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Finding Keepers: Washington Nationals

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Finding Keepers: Washington Nationals

Posted on 27 March 2012 by Mark Sherrard

After years of mediocrity, the Washington Nationals are finally starting to generate some buzz. With young starters Stephen Strasburg and Jordan Zimmermann, the Nationals already have two of the better pitchers in the NL. Add to that the acquisition of Gio Gonzalez and many pundits are picking the Nationals to contend for the NL East title.

But, will the hype reduce your chances for finding keepers? Let run through their roster and find out.

3B Ryan Zimmerman had a down year by his standards in 2011, hitting only 12 homeruns while posting a slash line of .289/.355/.443. Injuries limited him to just 101 games in 2011, but, if healthy, he should produce 20-25 homers with a .290-.300 average. His ADP is 42.67. He is ranked: ESPN #34; CBS #42; Yahoo! #54.

C Wilson Ramos had a solid rookie season, but does not appear to get much love from the fantasy community. As a catcher who is expected to hit .260+ and hit 15-20 homers, he should be going higher than his ADP of 213.09. He is ranked: CBS #156; Yahoo! #180; ESPN #212.

SP Stephen Strasburg had a breakout rookie campaign before Tommy John surgery put him on the shelf until late last season. Much is still expected from this young righthander and he may not come much cheaper than this year. Now is the time to buy before his value soars again. His ADP is 66.43. He is ranked: CBS #58; ESPN #74; Yahoo! NR.

SP Gio Gonzalez is switching to the “weaker” league and gets to face the opposing pitcher at least once a game. He is expected to produce similar results as 2011, but could outperform those expectations. His ADP is 107.61. He is ranked: CBS #73; Yahoo! #94; ESPN #129.

OF Michael Morse surprised a lot of people by hitting .303 with 31 homeruns last year. His numbers may tail off a little bit this year, as pitchers adjust to him, but he should still be good for 25 homers and a .285 average. His ADP is 84.05. He is ranked: Yahoo! #80; CBS #83; ESPN #83.

SP Jordan Zimmerman had a 3.18 ERA while winning 8 games in 2011. The Nationals limited him to 161.1 IP as he was coming off of Tommy John surgery in 2009. He should see a bump up in innings to the 180 range in 2012 and should be good for a 3.50 ERA and 10 wins. His ADP is 119.73. He is ranked: ESPN #105; CBS #115; Yahoo! #163.

OF Bryce Harper is a future stud, but he has only played 37 games above A ball. In most leagues that have minor leagues or reserve drafts, he is probably already taken. But for those of you in keepers leagues where he is still available, now is the time to pounce. He may not provide much help this year, but he is definitely worth owning. His ADP is 229.94. He is unranked in CBS, ESPN and Yahoo!.

SP Edwin Jackson has good stuff and shows flashes of brilliance, including a no-hitter in 2010, but has yet to put it all together. He is still only 28 and has time to improve. If you can deal with his madding inconsistency, you may reap some rewards. His ADP is 247.39. He is ranked: Yahoo! #178; ESPN #221; CBS #271.

Best of the rest, but not keepers

RP Drew Storen saved 43 games last year and should save 35-40 again this year. However, he does not come cheap. His ADP is 80.28. He is ranked: CBS #93; ESPN #149; Yahoo! NR.

OF Jayson Werth had a down year after signing a huge 7 year, $126 million contract with the Nationals. He should bounce back some in 2012, just don’t expect him to return to his 2009-2010 levels. A .260 average and around 25 homers seem to be reasonable expectations. His ADP is 97.72. He is ranked: ESPN #80; CBS #137; Yahoo! #182.

2B Danny Espinosa has 20/20 potential, but will likely struggle to hit for a decent average each year. His ADP is 149.85. He is ranked: CBS #182; ESPN #186; Yahoo! #248.

With Storen battling some forearm soreness, RP Tyler Clippard could see some save opportunities at the beginning of the season. His ADP is 243.10. He is ranked: ESPN #249 and is unranked by CBS and Yahoo!.

Finally, SS Ian Desmond has some pop and some speed, but until he learns to control the strike zone better, he will be lucky to hit .260. His ADP is 258.39. He is ranked: ESPN #233; CBS #263 and Yahoo! NR.

Note: All ADP values are from Mock Draft Central as of March 26, 2012 and player projections are based on BaseballHQ.com.

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