Tag Archives: Los Angeles Dodgers

Who will be the Best in the West?

The National League West has been dominated the past four years by the Los Angeles Dodgers. Is 2017 the year they relinquish the title, or are they built to make a run at a fifth consecutive divisional championship?

  1. San Francisco Giants 92-70
  2. Los Angeles Dodgers 90-72
  3. Colorado Rockies 83-79
  4. Arizona Diamondbacks 77-85
  5. San Diego Padres 69-93
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2017 is going to shake up the National League West, and the San Francisco Giants are poised to be the ones to do it. In 2016 the Giants got off to a red-hot start going 57-33 before the all-star break. Unfortunately, injuries up and down the roster crippled the Giants chances of riding that momentum into the second half of the year. Their bullpen also did not help their cause, as they were one of the worst bullpens in the entire MLB.

On the bright side, the Giants spent their offseason focusing on the bullpen. They were able to sign veteran, Mark Melancon, to a hefty contract, as the new closer on the team. On top of that, the Giants have a top-notch pitching staff, headed by Madison Bumgarner and Johnny Cueto. Historically, both of these pitchers have stayed healthy and continue to dominate their opponents even as they progress in age. If the Giants can finish out the season the way they started it in 2016, then they should have no problem competing against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

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The Dodgers have superstars up and down their roster, but never seem to take it anywhere further than the first or second round of the playoffs. This year they will have to hope for a wildcard spot. In the offseason, the Dodgers were able to retain both Kenley Jansen and Justin Turner. Jansen is the anchor of the Dodgers bullpen and was a huge reason why the Dodgers were the divisional champions in 2016. Turner adds some meat to the lineup, after having a career year, notching 27 home runs and tallying 90 RBIs.

It’s hard to talk about the Dodgers without mentioning the game’s best pitcher, Clayton Kershaw. Kershaw is coming off a year full of injuries. If he can return at full strength, then the Dodgers have a fighting chance. After Kershaw in the rotation, I don’t see much help. Kershaw is going to have to put this team on his shoulders if they want to compete for a championship.

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Moving away from the Giants and Dodgers, the rest of the division doesn’t impress me much. In third place I have the Rockies. The thin air of Colorado will certainly be helpful to their lineup as they have one of the best 3-4-5 combinations in the league, with Carlos Gonzalez, Nolan Arenado, and Ian Desmond. Unfortunately for fans of the Rockies, pitching wins championships, and the Rockies lack that tremendously. Their lineup can only take them so far and to me, that’s third place in this division.

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The Diamondbacks may have been the most disappointing team in 2016. After going out and signing Zack Greinke and Shelby Miller to mammoth contracts, the Diamondbacks only won 69 games. The Diamondbacks are in a rebuilding stage so don’t expect them to be good for a while.

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The same goes for the San Diego Padres. The Padres will not be good anytime soon so it isn’t even worth talking about them.

The Giants are the team to watch out for this upcoming season, but don’t count out the Dodgers. This division will be one to keep an eye out for if you love a close divisional race.

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Early Award Predictions

Winter is beginning to fade away and spring is just around the corner. The light at the end of the tunnel is finally approaching and I could not be more excited. Spring Training games have commenced, albeit they most likely bore you to tears after the third or fourth inning, so let’s give you guys something to look forward to. How do predictions for the Rookie of the Year, Cy Young, and MVP sound?

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This year there are two distinct favorites for the Rookie of the year award. Dansby Swanson of the Atlanta Braves will run away with this award in the National League. Swanson played just 38 games after being called up at the end of the 2016 season. In his limited time in the Big’s, Swanson showed exactly why he was drafted first overall in 2015. The 23 year old does it all. Swanson is smooth in the field, can hit for average, steal bags, and has shown some pop in his bat. Swanson debuted in the middle of August and still finished with a .302 Avg., 3 home runs, 17 RBIs, and 3 stolen bases in just 38 games. Another year of experience will be extremely valuable for Swanson and should propel him to the next level of stardom.

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From the American league I see Red Sox young stud, Andrew Benintendi taking home the Rookie of the Year award. Most Red Sox fans fell in love with Benintendi last season after his debut on August 2nd. Benintendi hit .295 with 2 home runs and 14 RBIs, in just 34 games. These numbers aren’t jaw-dropping but they show the potential that Benintendi has. At the age of 22, he is poised to take over the everyday role in Left field, with the Green Monster looming over him.

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In 2016 Max Scherzer and Rick Porcello took the league by storm, receiving the Cy Young Award in their respective leagues. This year I see the honor going to Clayton Kershaw and Corey Kluber. Kershaw is an extremely safe pick, seeing that he is constantly dominant year in and year out. Last season was an enigma for Kershaw. He suffered through a nagging back injury that kept him to just 21 starts. With that being said, Kershaw still finished with a 12-4 record and an outrageous 1.69 ERA. If Kershaw can stay healthy, there is no question in my mind that he can win his 4th Cy Young in 7 years.

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Corey Kluber took the bull by the horns last year, finishing in third place for the Cy Young just behind Justin Verlander and Porcello. Kluber took his amazing statistics into the playoffs where he continued to dominate, leading the Indians to the World Series. Kluber has been a silent killer for the past three years. Staying out of the headlines, Kluber continues to produce amazing numbers as the ace of one of baseball’s best rotations.

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Now the moment you have all been waiting for; the MVP award. It would be a safe choice to pick Mike Trout and Kris Bryant but this year is going to be different. These players will obviously have sensational seasons but in 2017 Nolan Arenado and Jose Altuve will take home the award. Arenado doesn’t get much attention playing in Colorado but has been one of the best players in the MLB for the past two seasons. At 25, Arenado is a 4 time Gold Glove winner and 2 time Silver Slugger. Arenado will be turning 26 this year, baseball players prime. Over his four seasons, his statistics have continued to escalate. This year will be no different. Even though the Rockies are going nowhere fast, Arenado has certainly earned his spot as one of baseball’s best players.

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Jose Altuve has owned the American League for the past three seasons. Standing at just 5’6” and weighing 165 pounds, you would think Altuve would be better suited as a jockey rather than a MVP candidate. Altuve has proven that he is a 5 tool player. Altuve has 600+ hits over the course of the last three seasons and can still hit the long ball, racking up 24 last season. The Astros are poised to have a bounce back season this year, giving Altuve a better chance at winning the MVP award.

Keep an eye out for these players. All of them are stars or stars in the making. This year is going to be a fun one, make sure you strap in for the long ride.

Who Will Play On in the Playoffs?

Alright baseball fans the time has finally come. The 2016 playoffs are here, so buckle your seatbelts and get ready for the gut-wrenching twists and turns you are about to endure.

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Game 163 starts Tuesday with the two American League Wild Card winners, the Baltimore Orioles and the Toronto Blue Jays. The Jays and Orioles have been neck and neck all year, fighting for the American League East title. Both squads ended the regular season with 89-73 records and rely mainly on the long-ball to win games. The orioles compiled 253 home runs, leading all the majors, but the Jays were not far behind, ranking 4th with 221. When I look at these two teams I don’t see many differences. Their rotations lack depth but have been carried strictly by their bats. This is why I am so intrigued by this matchup. Same record and same in game strategies leads me to believe this game will be one for the ages. With all that being said, I believe the Blue Jays have what it takes to make it into the next round. Home field advantage and last years’ experience in the playoffs will carry this team to Arlington where they will meet American League’s best team, the Texas Rangers.

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If the Orioles and the Jays weren’t enough to get your blood pumping, we have the New York Mets and San Francisco Giants meeting up in the National League Wild Card game. The Giants and Mets will be facing off in a pitcher’s duel with Maddison Bumgarner and Noah Syndergaard taking the hill for their respective teams. This game will be polar opposite to the Orioles and Jays game played on Tuesday. The runs will be scarce but the strikeouts certainly won’t be. Both Syndergaard and Bumgarner are two of the best at their crafts. Bumgarner has shown his playoff dominance in the past and I believe he is well equipped to show off what he has again. I’m taking the Giants in this game simply because of Bumgarner’s playoff history. When the lights get bright in October, Bumgarner never backs down. It distinguishes him from everybody else. Instead of shrinking in the moment he shines and plays like a giant.

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The Indians and Red Sox kick off their series on Thursday Night for the first game of the ALDS. This series would have been way more interesting to me a couple months back. Unfortunately for the Indians, they have caught the injury bug at the most inopportune time. The Tribe lost stud pitchers Danny Salazar and Carlos Carrasco to season ending injuries and reining Cy Young Award winning pitcher Corey Kluber has been hampered by a calf strain the past month. The pitching for the Indians has dramatically fallen off due to those injuries. If those players were healthy I would not be surprised to see the Indians move onto the ALCS. Fortunately for the Sox I believe their team is deeper and offensively superior. The Fighting Francona’s are no slouches but I believe the Sox take the series in 5 games.

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Moving on to the NLDS, we have the Los Angeles Dodgers taking on the Washington Nationals. Make sure to keep an eye on this matchup. Both the Nationals and the Dodgers have strong pitching staffs. The Nats will be throwing Max Sherzer, Stephen Strasberg, and Gio Gonzalez, while the Dodgers plan on pitching Clayton Kershaw, Rich Hill, and Kenta Maeda. If we go strictly by the pitching matchups, the Nats have the upper hand. This is exactly why the Nationals are going to win this series. Pitching is everything in the playoffs. You win and die by your pitchers. This will be a very quick series, with the Nationals ending the Dodgers hopes to make the NLCS.

The playoffs are a whole new beast. Players shine under the lights while some fold under the pressure. Get your popcorn ready because this is about to get intense.

Win, Lose, or Draw

The trade deadline in the MLB is a baseball fan’s wet dream. August 1st, marks the day that teams in contention make a last-stitch effort to put their rosters over the top. This year, a total of 32 trades were made. Trades that may leave you puzzled and shaking your head and some that made sense for both sides. In many situations we have teams who are the clear-cut winners and losers at the deadline.

Winners:

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  1. Boston Red Sox

Yes, I know this is an unpopular pick because most people are saying that the Sox didn’t do enough at the deadline. But that is exactly why I think they deserve the number 3 spot. First, let’s start with the acquisitions they made. On July 14th the Red Sox traded their stud prospect Anderson Espinoza to the Padres for 2016 All-Star, Drew Pomeranz. This move hit the headlines with many differing opinions. Personally, I liked the move. The Red Sox needed depth in their rotation. Picking up Pomeranz gave the Sox just that. Also, the Red Sox retain arbitration rights until the 2018 season. The move made sense team-wise and economically.

The Sox were not done just yet. They also added relief pitchers Brad Ziegler and Fernando Abad. Both were under-rated pickups by the Red Sox front office. Ziegler is a wily ol’ vet whose career ERA is 2.47 and has shown the ability to come into pressure-filled situations and stifle hitters. Abad is a strong lefty arm who has had a career year, compiling a strong 2.65 ERA and a 1.20 WHIP. The addition of both these arms will undoubtedly improve the team and provide much needed depth to a beat up bullpen.

Sometimes the best move is not making a move at all. In this case, this is why I think the Red Sox deserve the spot at number 3. Rumors were flying that the Red Sox were interested in White Sox ace, Chris Sale. The White Sox were not going to let go of Sale that easily. It was reported that the White Sox were asking for the Red Sox top 3 prospects. This to me would be an outrageous offer. Giving up Andrew Benintendi, Yoan Moncado, and Rafael Devers for a guy who pitches every fifth day would leave the Red Sox farm system in utter dismay. I believe it was the right decision to pass on Sale so the Red Sox future can continue to look bright.

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  1. Los Angeles Dodgers

The Dodgers made a huge splash, acquiring the best starting pitcher moved at the deadline, Rich Hill. They also added Josh Reddick in the same trade. The addition of both these players is extremely beneficial to their roster. Reddick provides outfield help that they so desperately needed. Yasiel Puig has been demoted to AAA because of his horrid start and it seems that Reddick would fill his spot in the outfield. Reddick is an outstanding fielder and has the ability to change a game with one swing of the bat. Reddick plays the game the right way, something that the Dodger’s front office hated about Puig. The addition of Rich Hill will propel the Dodgers into the playoffs. Hill has had an outstanding year thus far, compiling a 9-3 record and a 2.25 ERA. Dodger’s ace, Clayton Kershaw has been out since June 26th with a hurt back, so the addition of Hill comes at the perfect time to fill in for Kershaw as he recovers. The Dodgers did a great job accessing their needs and going out and addressing them at the deadline.

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  1. Texas Rangers

Things heated up in Arlington last night when the Texas Rangers added both Jonathon Lucroy and Carlos Beltran. Lucroy and Beltran are fantastic acquisitions to the Rangers’ middle of the lineup, something they desperately needed. The Rangers’ pitching staff has been a huge question mark this season but has the potential to be one of the best once everyone gets healthy. Adding a couple of power hitters to the lineup will surely boost this team far into the playoffs. Look out for the Rangers come October, their team is ready to make a run at their first World Series championship.

Honorable Mentions: The New York Yankees, Chicago Cubs, and the New York Mets

The Yankees were sellers during this deadline, but were able to acquire 9 prospects and have started to build a farm system that they were lacking. The Chicago Cubs jumped into the pool when they acquired Aroldis Chapman from the Yankees. Easily the best player moved at the deadline, but may not have been a move they needed to make. When leading after the 8th inning the Cubs had only lost 4 times. The Cubs gave up a lot of prospects for Chapman. It certainly gives them stability out of the bullpen but the trade seems to be a little unnecessary. Lastly, the Mets acquired Jay Bruce. The Mets are horrible when they have runners in scoring position. Bruce is the National League leader in RBI’s so the addition of him to the lineup will certainly address their issue. I don’t believe they did nearly enough to get them back to the World Series.

Losers:   

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  1. Miami Marlins

Surprisingly, the Marlins are in contention to take home a Wild Card spot in the National League, but after their disappointing deadline, it seems as if they are not nearly as serious as their record says. The 57-49 Marlins made one addition, acquiring Andrew Cashner who has struggled in his past two seasons. The 6’6’’ righty has gone 10-23 dating back to 2015 and has continued to steadily decline. The fact that the Marlins did not go out and get more is shocking to me. Finally the Marlins are competitive but end up seemingly getting worse.

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  1. Kansas City Royals

What a snooze-fest!! Even though the Royals are mediocre this year, it is surprising that they didn’t make one move. The Royals have been a disappointment and have been riddled with injuries from many of their key players. Once they return from the DL the Royals could have moved up the standings quickly. Making no moves seemed to a big mistake. I wouldn’t have counted the Royals out but now I think it is time to do so.

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  1. Chicago White Sox

The Chicago White Sox showed exactly how to not make a deal at the deadline. Like I stated previously, the White Sox asked for the top 3 prospects in the Red Sox organization. Nobody in their right mind would ever do that. The White Sox showed exactly how you turn off an organization from making a deal. They were too greedy and now are left with an extremely unhappy pitcher that they certainly won’t be able to keep once he hits free agency. Sale’s value will never be higher than it is now. They could have gotten a lot but what they asked for was outrageous.

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Yankees acquire Aroldis Chapman

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When the legend Mariano Rivera hung up the cleats in 2013, there have been a lot of contestants trying to fill his role as the Yankees closer. But earlier this afternoon, the Yankees got their guy. Four time all star, Aroldis Chapman was traded from the Cincinnati Reds where he got 146 saves in the span of 6 seasons. Chapman doesn’t have the devastating cutter Rivera used to throw; in fact, Chapman is kind of like the opposite of Rivera.

The Yankees gave away 4 minor leaguers for the one of the most intimidating pitchers in the game…and that’s just an understatement. Batters try not to show fear as Chapman fires 100+ MPH fastballs on a regular pitch basis. The one thing that batters hate when they face him is that they don’t know where the ball is going…and sometimes neither does Chapman.

Earlier this month, the Los Angeles Dodgers made a deal with the Reds to send Chapman to the Blue Crew. But after Chapman was alleged to being involved in assaulting his girlfriend, the deal was called off. Knowing the Reds are in complete rebuild mode, they weren’t done trying to trade him, which caused the Yankees to give them a call, and the rest is history.

One question mark is if Chapman will be in uniform on Opening Day. His assault charges are in further investigation right now and if it doesn’t play out in Chapman’s favor, Yankee fans may not be seeing him close a game until later in the season.

But let’s say the charges are dropped and he is ready to go for Opening Day. You could arguably say that the Yankees have the best 1-2-3 punch coming out of the bullpen in all of baseball. With having Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller being the 7th and 8th inning guys before Chapman, you could say the chances for a comeback by the opposing team decreases dramatically. But who knows, with the signing of Chapman, Miller could be on the trade block. With the Yankees trying to get younger, an everyday outfielder or power hitter could be a good option for replacing a 38 year old Carlos Beltran and 40 year old Alex Rodriguez.

If Miller isn’t dealt anywhere this winter and the Yankees decide to have a 3-headed monster in the bullpen, all you have to tell your starting rotation is to give their team a quality start and the bullpen will finish the job. Not that hard, right? Maybe not for the Bronx Bombers. The Yankees finished 23rd last season in quality starts in all of baseball with 72. But with the offense finishing second in runs scored and picking up the team’s ERA being above 4, you can say that the lesser amount of quality starts won’t be a problem.

Another issue the Yankees COULD have with this deal is if that Chapman becomes a free agent next season. If Chapman has a break out year and another team offers him some big bucks, don’t be surprised if he decides to sign elsewhere. But knowing the Yankees and their history of big contracts, I don’t see there being another team getting in their way.

With this deal being done today, the Yankees made their case that they will be contending for the A.L. East crown just like everyone else. They and Boston’s bullpen seem to be equally dominant on paper. But no matter how good your team looks on paper, I, as a Red Sox fan, know that anything can happen when the season starts.