Tag Archives: Drew Smyly

2014 AL Central Preview

By: Jon

The AL Central has experienced a lot of change in the past few years and this offseason was no different. The division leader from a season ago, the Detroit Tigers, were able to make the American League Championship Series before losing to the eventual Champions in the Boston Red Sox.

 

1) Detroit Tigers

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The Tigers were one of the busiest teams during the offseason. Over the last few seasons, the Tigers have been one of the most successful teams, but have not won the World Series. This season, the Tigers have a great chance of winning the title as they may have the best team on paper.

Like other seasons, the Tigers offense should be incredibly effective and dangerous. The leader of the offense is their star third baseman, Miguel Cabrera. Cabrera is the best all-around hitter in baseball and is rising on the all-time list. If Cabrera can remain healthy for at least 140 games, he will hit over .320 with 40 home runs, 100 runs, and 125 RBI. Although Cabrera was protected by Fielder the past two seasons, the Tigers traded Prince to the Texas Rangers in return for star second baseman Ian Kinsler. Although Kinsler does not have the same power potential, he is a proven run scorer and should get on base at a high level in front of Cabrera. Although Cabrera will not have Prince to protect him, the Tigers must rely on the skill of Victor Martinez and Torii Hunter. The Tigers should be able to continue their excellence on offense and score enough runs to win a lot of games. In terms of defense, the team will have more problems with the loss of Jose Iglesias. Although Jose is young, he showed last season that he is one of the best fielders in the league because he has great range, hands, and a fantastic throwing arm. The Tigers do not have a great defense, which could ultimately lead to their downfall.

Along with the Tigers’ great offense, the Tigers’ pitching staff is one of the best in the league. The staff will be led by two Cy Young Award winners, Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer. Along with the two stars, the Tigers have Anibal Sanchez, Drew Smyly, and Rick Porcello. Although the trio do not have the star power like Max and Justin, they have great potential and skill. The trio must continue their success from last season if they are going to compete for the best record in the AL and claim home field advantage throughout the postseason. During last postseason, the Tigers showed how dominant their starting pitching would become because of their power and ability to strike out opposing batters. The Tigers would have advanced to the WS and possibly won the championship if they had a better bullpen. During the offseason, the Tigers improved their bullpen by signing Joba Chamberlain and star closer Joe Nathan. Along with Bruce Rondon, the new and enhanced bullpen should make the Tigers an improved ball club.

The Tigers won 93 games last season and should be able to win a similar amount of games this season. The Tigers are by far the best team in the AL Central and should win the division by at least 5 games. Without Doug Fister and Fielder, the Tigers will probably lose more games during the regular season without the power bat and quality pitcher.

Predicted Tigers Record: 91-71

2) Kansas City Royals

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The Royals were one of the surprise teams in baseball last season and almost made the playoffs last year. The young Royals’ offense has an incredible amount of talent and should propel the Royals to success this season in the AL Central.

The Royals will be led on offense by Eric Hosmer, Alex Gordon, Salvador Perez, Omar Infante, Billy Butler, and Mike Moustakas. The leader of the Royals’ offense is certainly Eric Hosmer. Hosmer took great strides toward the end of last season and became the best player on the team. The Royals are hoping that Mike Moustakas will take the next step forward like Hosmer and become a dominant part of their offense. If Mike and Salvador Perez can become stars and Hosmer a superstar, the team will have a chance to compete in the AL Central with the Indians and the Tigers. The Royals have a lot of good complementary players, but need a superstar to strike fear into opponents and win more games. On defense, the team should be very good and the outfield should be the rock of the team. The combination of Gordon, Aoki, and Cain should produce a great defensive unit because they are quick, have good instincts, and good arms in the outfield. In the infield, the team has a few good defensive players, which will make the team stable.

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In terms of pitching, the Royals have a few questions that must be answered in order to win enough games. The starting staff will be led by “Big Game” James Shields who pitches like an ace and is a good pitcher to build around. If the Royals do not stay competitive throughout the season, the Royals will look to trade Shields because it is unlikely that they will be able to sign him to a long term deal next offseason. Behind James, the team has Jason Vargas, Yordano Ventura, Danny Duffy, and Jeremy Guthrie. The biggest X-Factor of the pitching staff will be Yordano Ventura. Yordano has excelled during the spring season because he can throw heat. Yordano has averaged around 98 MPH during the innings he has pitched this spring. Along with Ventura, Duffy and Vargas will be important for the Royals. Vargas is a consistent pitcher and should be a quality pitcher for the Royals. Duffy has extreme talent and the Royals hope that he can harness his potential and succeed with the club.

If the Royals’ pitchers can meet their expectations, the team will be competing for the second wild card position and win over 85 games. Like last season, the Royals’ bullpen should be consistent and dominant throughout the regular season. Last season, Greg Holland was one of the most dominating teams because he has the ability to throw hard and strike out opposing hitters at an amazing rate. Along with Holland, they have a lot of quality arms in the bullpen that should keep leads. Although the Royals may not outlast the Tigers for a the division championship, they will be in a tight battle with the Cleveland Indians.

Predicted Royals Record: 87-75

3) Cleveland Indians

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The Indians were the biggest surprise last season because manager Terry Francona was able to lead them to the second wild card position. Although they did not have great talent, they came together as a team and went on a great streak toward the end of the season. However, the Indians lost a few players that were important to their late season run and failed to sign people to replace their starters.

Although the Indians do not have any superstars in their lineup, they recorded the fifth most runs in the league. The key contributors for the Indians are Michael Bourn, Nick Swisher, Carlos Santana, Jason Kipnis, Asdrubal Cabrera, and Michael Brantley. Since the Indians do not have a player that can carry an offense for a month, each player must play at a high consistent level and exceed expectations if they are going to score enough runs to win games. In terms of defense, the Indians have quality defensive players such as Cabrera, Kipnis, Bourn, and Brantley, which will help them stop opposing teams from scoring.

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The Indians’ pitching staff is extremely interesting because they do not have a legitimate ace. The Indians need to replace Ubaldo Jimenez, who had a great stretch toward the end of last season and pitched like an ace. The leader of the pitching staff this season must be Justin Masterson. Masterson pitched well last season, but needs to make the next step and pitch like an ace if the Indians are going to make a run next season. Behind Masterson, the Indian’s have Zach McAllister, Danny Salazar, Cory Kluber, and Shaun Marcum filling out the other four spots in the rotation. The quartet has not achieved much success at the major league level during their careers; however, they must stay healthy and pitch well throughout the season. It is unlikely that they will be able to meet expectations and stay healthy because Marcum was a disaster last year and the other three did not pitch many innings last season. Although the trio had ERAs in the 3s last year, they each pitched under 150 innings and it is unknown if they can achieve the same success over an entire season or the 175 innings each that the Indians are expecting from the three starters.

While the starting rotation may present questions, the relief staff should be the most consistent part of their squad. Although they lost former closer Chris Perez, they replaced him with closer John Axford. Although Axford has not experienced success in the last few seasons, he has experience and should be able to obtain success. The Indians have retained the rest of their bullpen, which includes Cody Allen, Marc Rzepczynski, Vinnie Pestano, and Josh Outman. Each reliever has experienced success in the past and should be able to succeed next season for the Indians. The Indians’ bullpen needs to pitch well because they cannot afford to lose leads. Although they won 92 games last season, it is unlikely they will achieve similar success this season. The Indians are a quality team with many solid players but do not have any stars.

Predicted Indians Record: 81-81

4) Chicago White Sox

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The Chicago White Sox had a horrible season last year as many players had the worst seasons of their careers. The White Sox are in full rebuilding mode and traded a few of their elder, more expensive players last season before the trade deadline. The White Sox have a lot of young talent on their roster and will be starting these young players this season. Although these players have talent, they will go through their struggles and face a few losing streaks during the season.

The White Sox made a big signing this offseason when they signed Jose Abreu, a young Cuban, to a long term deal. The White Sox hope they can build a strong lineup with Abreu, Adam Eaton, Avisail Garcia, Matt Davidson, Tyler Flowers, and Gordon Beckham. The White Sox feel that they have a strong core so they can eventually become a playoff team in a few years. Unless the White Sox are a major surprise, they will probably trade away Paul Konerko, Adam Dunn, or Alexei Ramirez at the trade deadline because it is unlikely that they are part of the White Sox’s future.

On the pitching staff, the White Sox have Chris Sale, Jose Quintana, John Danks, Felipe Paulino, and Erik Johnson. The White Sox are led by Chris Sale, a legitimate ace and one of the ten best pitchers in the league. Sale is a young pitcher with great skill and has the ability to strike out over 200 batters in a single season. Outside of Sale, the rest of the staff pose many questions. Danks and Quintana are solid pitchers, but they can be inconsistent and occasionally perform very poorly. The back of the rotation Paulino and Johnson are young starters with little experience. Although they will go through their struggles, the White Sox hope Paulino and Johnson will improve with more experience and exposure and eventually become reliable starters in the rotation.

Like the other parts of their team, the bullpen has a few questions. First, the Sox must find a new closer because they traded Addison Reed to the Diamondbacks this offseason. The White Sox hope Matt Lindstrom can become a consistent closer and achieve success again. Before Robin Ventura will give the ball to Lindstrom, the ball will likely go through Ronald Belisario, Nate Jones, Donnie Veal, Scott Downs, and Dylan Axelrod. Many of these pitchers are unknowns for the White Sox. If the relievers are able to exceed expectations, the White Sox may be able to win a few more games than expected. The White Sox may not win many games, but they will be fun and exciting to watch because they have a lot of young talented players that will be relied on to play a lot this season.

Predicted White Sox Record: 70-92

5) Minnesota Twins

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At the start of the offseason, the Twins were one of the most active teams and signed a few starting pitchers. The Twins, like the White Sox, are in full rebuilding mode and do not have much talent on their roster, especially on offense. Besides Joe Mauer, the Twins do not have many players that the average fan has heard of in the past.

Some of these players include Josmil Pinto at catcher (Mauer has moved to first base), Pedro Florimon at third base, Alex Presley in center field, and Oswaldo Arcia in right field. Although these players have talent, especially Oswaldo Arcia, none of the players are expected to be All-Stars in the future. The Twins’ two best prospects Michael Sano and Bryan Buxton, the best prospect in baseball, are not expected to play with the Twins this season, but should be stars for the next 2 decades. Like the White Sox, the Twins will probably be auctioning some of their elder players during the trade deadline such as Josh Willingham, Jason Kubel, and possibly Brian Dozier or Trevor Plouffe.

In terms of the Twins’ pitching, their pitching staff should be dramatically improved because they signed a few starters to long term deals, Ricky Nolasco and Phil Hughes. The Twins have an improved staff, but they do not have an ace or a very deep rotation. Nolasco pitched well last season, but he is not a true number one pitcher. Hughes had trouble in New York, but he should be able to improve because he will not allow as many home runs in the spacious Target Field. Kevin Correia and Mike Pelfrey are quality, experienced pitchers and should pitch a lot of quality innings. At the fifth spot, the Twins have Vance Worley. Worley is a young pitcher with potential and the Twins hope that he will be part of the rotation for another decade. Worley has been injured since being traded from the Phillies, but he will not be asked to pitch an exorbitant amount of innings. The Twins have some nice pieces in the rotation, but will need to pitch well because the offense will not score many runs.

In the bullpen, the Twins have a few good options like Glen Perkins, Brian Duensing, and Anthony Swarzak. Although these pieces may not be on the team the entire season because other teams will trade for them at the deadline, they should pitch well and allow the Twins to hold the leads they are able to gain. The Twins’ fans need to have patience because in a few years the team should be good once their prospect gain experience and mature their bodies and game.

Predicted Twins Record: 69-93

All pics and stats from ESPN

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The Best but Cheapest team that money can buy

By: Jon

Although baseball is a great game, many players will choose to play other sports because the players are not paid the big bucks instantly. However, baseball players are able to make the most money over the longest period of time if the player is good. Unlike other major sports, baseball players are able to reel in huge pay checks until they are in their forties. The best bargain in sports is a young superstar baseball prospect. Since some players are significantly underpaid, it enables fans to create fake teams for as cheap as possible. There is such a great contract disparity in baseball that a World Series championship team could be had for under $13.5 million.

THE CHEAP TEAM

Catchers

Carlos Santana (27) and Jonathan Lucroy (27)

Cost: $1.3 million

Carlos Santana
Carlos Santana

Santana and Lucroy are two of the best bargain catchers in MLB. Both players are ranked in the top ten in WAR, HR, RBI, AVG, OBP, SLG, and OPS. Although both players are set for major pay raises, they are currently making less than $1.5 million combined for this season. Both players bat in the middle of the order and would be the starting catcher for more than 2/3 of the teams in MLB.

First Baseman

Paul Goldschmidt (25) and Freddie Freeman (23)

Cost: $1.06 million

Paul Goldschmidt
Paul Goldschmidt

Goldschmidt and Freeman were both All-Stars this season. Although they make under $750,000, they are some of the best first baseman in baseball. While Goldschmidt is an MVP candidate, Freddie Freeman is leading the NL East leading Atlanta Braves to a playoff position and a NL East division title. Goldschmidt and Freeman are ranked in the top six in R, RBI, AVG, OBP, SLG, OPS, and WAR. Although Paul Goldschmidt already signed a new contract that will start next season, Freddie Freeman should sign a long term contract like Paul Goldschmidt.

Second Base

Jason Kipnis (26)

Cost: $509,400

Jason Kipnis
Jason Kipnis

Jason Kipnis played in his first All-Star game this season. Jason Kipnis has experienced a break out season after a solid rookie season last year. Jason Kipnis is thought to be one of the best second baseman in the league because he is ranked in the top five in R, HR, RBI, SB, OBP, SLG, OPS, and WAR. Jason Kipnis is extremely under valued compared to the other second basemen in MLB. Jason Kipnis is part of the new brand of second basemen because he drives in runs and can hit the ball out of the ballpark

Shortstop

Jean Segura (23)

Cost: 492,000

Jean Segura
Jean Segura

The 23 year old shortstop has broken out for the Milwaukee Brewers after being acquired last season in the Zach Greinke deal. Like many of the players on the cheap team, Segura played in his first All-Star game this year for the NL. Jean Segura is ranked top four in almost every statistical category among shortstops. Sgura is ranked top four in R, 3B, HR, SB, AVG, OBP, SLG, OPS, and WAR. Segura has the rare ability to run and hit for power, which is especially rare for a shortstop. Segura is already a star and should improve over the next few seasons.

Third Base

Manny Machado (21)

Cost: $495,000

Manny Machado
Manny Machado

Manny Machado has burst onto the scene as one of the best defensive and offensive baseball player in the league. Although Manny Machado was on pace to break the record for most doubles in a season, he has slowed down, but has still been one of the best players in the league. Although third base is the deepest position in MLB, he has been one of the best because he has so much talent. Machado is top ten in every statistical category among third baseman and third in WAR. Machado has led the Orioles to a possible playoff position.

Outfield

Mike Trout (21), Starling Marte (24), Domonic Brown (25), Wil Myers (22), and Giancarlo Stanton (23)

Cost: $2.537 million

Mike Trout
Mike Trout

The outfield is probably the best part of the cheap team’s offensive attack. Mike Trout is the most underpaid player in MLB. He is the best all around player in the majors, but is only making $510,000. Compared to his peers, Trout should be paid 50 times his actual salary, based upon his play. The group also includes sluggers Domonic Brown and Giancarlo Stanton. When healthy, Brown and Stanton are two of the best power hitters in the game. Stanton probably has the most power of any player in the league, although he is only 23 and is paid less than $600,000. Starling Marte and Wil Myers are two of the brightest young players in the league. Over the last month, Myers has been on fire, 4 home runs and a .352 average. Although Marte could not sustain his early season success, he has been great for the MLB leading Pittsburgh Pirates. Marte has been a great defensive player and one of the fastest players in the league.

Starting Pitching

Matt Harvey (24), Jose Fernandez (20), Patrick Corbin (24), Mike Minor (25), and Shelby Miller (22)

Cost: $2.47775 million

Matt Harvey
Matt Harvey

The starting pitching for this team is easily the best part of this fantasy team. All five starters have an ERA under 3 while having salaries that combine to be less than $2.5 million. Among the five starters, Matt Harvey is the best pitcher. Matt Harvey has been great this season and has been the second best pitcher, behind Clayton Kershaw. Besides for having the most strikeouts among NL starters, Harvey has the second lowest WHIP and ERA in MLB while garnering the third highest WAR among starters. However, Harvey is not the only great young pitcher on this team. Jose Fernandez has pitched great for the Marlins during his rookie season. Fernandez and Shelby Miller have more strikeouts than innings while maintaining an ERA under 3 and a WHIP just above 1. Like Fernandez and Miller, Minor has an ERA under 3 and a WHIP just above 1, but does not have the strikeout totals like Fernandez. Another great pitcher on the team is Patrick Corbin. Although Corbin is not a strikeout pitcher like Minor, he is extremely effective, compiling an ERA below 2.3, WHIP under 1, and 12 wins. This team would lose very few games because of their pitching.

Relief Pitching

Craig Kimbrel (25), Mark Melancon (28), Rex Brothers (25), Tanner Scheppers (26), Aaron Loup (25), Luis Avilan (24), Greg Holland (27), and Drew Smyly (24)

Craig Kimbrel
Craig Kimbrel

Cost: $4.18355 million

Relief pitching is one of the most important parts of a team and this bullpen will be great. Besides for having some of the best relievers in the league, every relief pitcher will have an ERA under 2. Along with having great ERAs, most of these pitchers have great strikeout numbers. Craig Kimbrel has been the best closer over the last two years. Craig has the most saves among NL relief pitchers. Kimbrel has 22 more strikeouts than innings pitch, an ERA under 1.35, and a WHIP under 0.95. Mark Melancon has been one of the best relievers in the league, although he had to switch his relief positions. Mark has the lowest ERA, 0.88, among relievers, who has pitched over 38 games. Along with a  great ERA, Mark does not allow batters to reach base, 0.86 WHIP. Rex Brothers and Luis Avilan are great relievers and each have an ERA under 1.25. Also, they are both left handed pitchers, which is important for any bullpen. Similar to Avilan and Brothers, Scheppers, Loup and Smyly have ERAs under 1.9 and WHIPs under 1.2. Similar to Craig Kimbrel, Greg Holland is a great reliever and has the ability to strikeout any hitter. Holland’s stats are great, 1.76 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, and 24 more strikeouts than innings pitched. Batters will have a lot of problems scoring against this great pitching staff.

Total Cost: $13.0547 million

The total cost of this great team is less than half the cost of Alex Rodriguez and about the same as a player like Edwin Jackson/Dan Haren/ Josh Johnson. The pitcher with the lowest ERA is Edwin Jackson with an ERA of 4.65.

MOST EXPENSIVE TEAM

Catcher

Joe Mauer

$23 million

Joe mauer
Joe mauer

First Base

Mark Teixeira

$23.125 million

Mark Teixeira
Mark Teixeira

Second Base

Robinson Cano

$15 million

Robinson Cano
Robinson Cano

Third Base

Alex Rodriguez

$29 million

Alex Rodriguez
Alex Rodriguez

Shortstop

Derek Jeter

$17 million

Derek jeter
Derek jeter

Outfield

Vernon Wells, Carl Crawford, and Alfonso Soriano

$24 million, $21 million, $19 million

Vernon Wells
Vernon Wells

Starting Pitchers

Cliff Lee, Johan Santana, CC Sabathia, Tim Lincecum, and Zach Greinke

$25 million, $24.644 million, $24.285 million, $22.25 million, $21 million

Cliff Lee
Cliff Lee

Closer

Jonathan Papelbon

$13 million

Jonathan Papelbon
Jonathan Papelbon

Total Cost: $301.304 million

This astronomical number is only for 15. Thus, the average for eah player is 20 million, which is more than the whole team that I highlighted above. It is crazy how fast players can earn money in the MLB if they are talented. This “magnificent” has had a great year so far.

Pics and Stats from ESPN.com