Phillies 4, Orioles 1

Posted in 2018 Phillies on July 6, 2018 by wechslerh66


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Phillies 4, Nationals 3

Posted in 2018 Phillies on July 2, 2018 by wechslerh66


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Phillies fan heckling the Nats bullpen: “Doolittle! Your face looks like your name!”

Now that’s more like it.

Angels 6, Orioles 2

Posted in 2018 Other on July 1, 2018 by wechslerh66


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Orioles fan #1: “Hey Givens, if you get a strikeout, I’ll give you $1000!” (He didn’t.)

Orioles fan #2: “Hey Calhoun, you’re the only player in the Angels’ whole lineup whose batting average starts with a 1. That’s really bad. …. You would fit right in on the O’s!”

Orioles fans need to learn how to heckle.

Blue Jays 6, Phillies 5

Posted in 2018 Phillies on May 27, 2018 by wechslerh66


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Marlins 6, Phillies 3

Posted in 2018 Phillies on April 9, 2018 by wechslerh66


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“GO BIRDS! E!A!G!L!E!S! EAGLES!” (8th inning)

MLB Preview 2018

Posted in 2018 Other, 2018 Phillies on March 25, 2018 by wechslerh66

MLB Preview 2018

Alex Cobb has signed! (but Greg Holland has not)

Writer Friend Rob in Iowa-soon-to-be-Texas and I made our annual baseball predictions this week.

(To clarify, Writer Friend Rob will soon be in Texas.  Iowa will not soon be Texas.  Iowa has fewer guns; Texas has fewer Amish.)

NL East

Remember when the AL East was the AL Least?  I think it involved the Tigers—maybe even the Jack Morris Tigers.  That was fun.  The 2017 NL East was the NL Least.  Maybe the 2017 NL was the NL Least (2017 NL: 4.58 runs/game, 94 OPS+, 4.34 ERA, 101 ERA+; 2017 AL: 4.71 runs/game, 100 OPS+, 4.37 ERA, 101 ERA+) (and don’t write that off to the DH, who collectively was -1.2 Wins Above Average, or 1.2 Wins BELOW Average—the worst of any AL “position”).  (Angels designated “hitters” were 3.7 Wins Below Average, according to Baseball Reference.  That’s a pitcher, minus the curveball—also known as Ubaldo Jimenez.)

The 2018 NL East should be better.  It won’t even necessarily be won by the Nationals.  In fact, Rob and I almost agree on this division.  Almost (we will never again agree on anything as we agreed on the 2018 Phillies…).

My picks:

  1. Washington (90-72): The rotation is the difference. Really, just Scherzer and Strasburg are the difference, and I’m not even counting on 30 starts from Strasburg (he has done this twice, and not since 2014). The Nats are an older team, suddenly—the oldest on the East Coast outside of Canada—but the stars are still stars and the backups (Wilmer Difo, Howie Kendrick, Matt Adams) are pretty good, and Victor Robles will be here eventually.  It ain’t over until Harper’s a Dodger.
  1. Atlanta (84-78): I was tempted to pick the Braves because of Acuña (your 2018 NL Rookie of the Year! Disclaimer: may not be effective immediately), Albies (who went .286/.354/.456 at age 20 last year—really?), and various flamethrowing relievers I cannot name, but the rotation is the difference, in the other extreme here. It will be better eventually—maybe by the All-Star break, once Brandon McCarthy and Scott Kazmir have been replaced by various flamethrowing starters I also cannot name—but it won’t be Scherzer-Strasburg good in 2018. My 2019 NL East pick, maybe, but for now fans of structural racism in a stadium context have only the 2018 Dodgers and the Battle of Chavez Ravine.
  1. Philadelphia (81-81): Nola-Arrieta-Eickhoff-Velasquez-Pivetta is not the worst rotation in the league or the division, although Eickhoff is injured and Velasquez is a future 100MPH closer in waiting; Nola-Arrieta-Pivetta-Lively-Eshelman might be a more realistic ranking. Nola is the ace; if it’s true Mackanin referred to him as a “solid No. 3 starter” last fall, Gabe Kapler deserved to be manager within the hour. I like the Santana signing (OBP!), also the Arrieta signing, for which opt-out protection is…novel (for the moment), and I will miss Freddy Galvis, until Enyel De Los Santos is the next Jose De Jesus (that’s a Steve Jeltz trade reference, folks).  .500 is possible, if not probable.*  The parade route is still warm!  Also, that is not how you hold a cheesesteak.

* By which I could mean it is probable, not just possible, or alternately that it is possible, but it is not probable.  81-81 it will be.

  1. Mets (77-85): Normally when I make picks, I am picking talent, but with the Mets I have to pick health too, to the extent that a healthy Mets team, even with an average offense, could win 95 games. This Mets team will not win 95 games, I think, just because we don’t know that Syndergaard can pitch a full season, and even if he can, it’s unlikely Harvey or Matz can (and we know what happens when Jason Vargas does: ERA by month, 2017: 1.40, 3.12, 1.98, 7.23, 7.18, 4.44, 13.50—but, update, he won’t**). deGrom is an ace, the Frazier signing was decent, Nimmo can add OBP, but, recurring theme: the rotation is the difference.  The four aces made 89 total starts in 2015 (disclaimer: Matz’s rookie year; he also made 19 starts in the minors), 93 in 2016, but only 69 in 2017.   The law of averages says the over/under on the fourth number is 84.  I’ll take the under.

** I love this article for its argument that the Mets were smart to sign an extra starter (Jason Vargas) as rotation depth because that extra starter (Jason Vargas) is now injured, so the Mets need rotation depth.  By the same logic, perhaps if the Mets need offensive depth, they can sign Adrian Gonzalez, who will be 36 in May, had a .287 OBP in 2017, and last slugged .500 in 2011 with the Red S—oh.

  1. Miami (61-101): Teams that win or lose 100+ games are and, with few exceptions (“reverse dynasties” like the recent Houston Astros), always were outliers***—some seasons, no one does either—but the Marlins are a worthy 100-loss team. Miami’s return in the Yelich trade wasn’t bad, but the trade was only necessary once Miami unnecessarily traded both Stanton and Ozuna for less. Sandy Alcantara may start for this team and is not to be confused with Sandy Koufax, Sandy Alomar, or him.  (He was part of Miami’s return for Ozuna, and his MLB page tells me he is now pitching for the New Orleans Baby Cakes, which is awesome.)  A deserving bad team, somehow 77-85 last year but on its way to fifth past a diving Jeter.

***Somehow, the Phillies have not lost 100 games since 1961 (47-107).  The Phillies!  The 1972 Phillies, where Steve Carlton went 27-10 for a team that won 59 games?  59-97.  The 1988 Phillies, whose MVP may have been Kevin Gross (12-14, 3.69, 3.7 WAR)?  65-96.  Remember 2015?  Ryne Sandberg does.  63-99.

Rob’s picks:

  1. Atlanta (86-76): Losing Freddie in ’17 was a blow.  Imagine the Cubs with Rizzo out for months:  .500 maybe.  Another. 260 from Flowers a must.  One more solid season, Nick. One more.  They need a big bat and adding a solid arm would be a boost, but I say they have enough.  Everybody hits near .300.  Freeman might be the best in baseball.  The Acuna future has arrived.  I’ve picked them before.  Here we go again.  How can you not win with a name like Foltynewiczscheid.
  1. Washington  (84-78):  How many times can you go to the well?  Age will bring down Zimmerman, Murphy, and Wieters. The pitching isn’t full of teenagers either.  And then there are the unexplained October failures.  What’s wrong?  Losing to the Cubs in ’17 was ludicrous.  The Nats are always waiting for the axe to fall… and it does.  How do you get beyond?  I wonder if they like each other.  Rendon on the MVP watch.
  1.  Philly (81-81) Arrieta:  3 years is good… but the expense?  So much for Moneyball and God help him with the faithful if it all turns sour.  75 million for 45 wins at best.  Jesus Christ!  At last winning isn’t hopeless. What’s Hoskins gonna do?  Man, talk about a booster-shot in the arm last season.  That would be a good nickname for Hoskins:  Booster Shot.  Is Kapler going to made a difference?  Mackanin deserved at least one more year.  This is a hard pick so I’m bowing out at .500.  Santana gives them a solid guy who’s used to winning. Nola is as good an ace as any. If Franco has a career year (big if) they might contend.
  1.  New York (62-100):  These team always feels like K-Mart to me. They lack cohesiveness if that makes any sense.  How can you project with a pitching staff that’s made of crystal. I’d go with 5 robots.  Would that be legal?  It might all gel. Lots of new faces.  Near everybody is under 30.  On paper, the pitching long hairs appear unbeatable….. but…
  1.  Miami (58-104): The NLEast is a really weak division.  It’s possible the Nats might be the only .500 team.  Jeter and Company did not come in with Magic Johnson money. They were only a pitcher away last year.  2nd in team batting.  First is team fielding.  13th in pitching.  I had them in the playoffs. How many already non-existent fans is this going to cost?  Drop the best seats to $5 and give away the hot dogs.  I’d attend.

NL Central

I went with what I think is the consensus (outside of Milwaukee, at least), but maybe a sleeper consensus, after the Astros and Yankees and Dodgers?  Rob did not go with the consensus.  We can both agree that the Pirates suck.

My picks:

  1. Cubs (94-68): The Cubs feel like a dark horse team despite winning a division and a playoff round (true, it was the Nationals) last year and the World Series in 2016 and adding Yu Darvish to a rotation that lacked depth. As a bonus, John Lackey (5.30 FIP, NL-leading 36 HR allowed) won’t be back. Maybe not the Boys of Summer or the Big Red Machine or even the 2016 Cubs, but this team is better than the 2017 Cubs.
  1. Milwaukee (85-77): The Brewers were an 86-76 team in 2017 with the run differential of an 85-77 team, so major regression is in order! On paper, actually, the 2018 Brewers are arguably better than last year’s version, even minus a few months of Jimmy Nelson and with the awareness that Eric Thames’s .247/.359/.518 line a.) meant that he went about .210/.320/.440 after May 1 and b.) was only worth 1.4 WAR overall regardless. Lorenzo Cain seemed like a better Giant, but he can help this year.  Yelich can help even more, but he’s Grady Sizemore, not Bryce Harper.  (Yelich is 26.  At 26, Sizemore went .248/.343/.445 in his first non-healthy year of many for the Indians.  Milwaukee hopes Yelich is not Grady Sizemore.)  Note: I originally had the Brewers with a worse record by a few games until I ruled out every other NL team as my second Wild Card, so I guess by default Milwaukee needs to win at least 85 games.
  1. St. Louis (84-78): Ozuna was a nice pickup and will at least offset the loss of Piscotty (traded to Oakland for family reasons, and because we already have them in New Jersey). Also, Miles Mikolas is the Darrell May of 2018. A decent team, but to quote a recent Joe Sheehan Newsletter directly, the combination of a weak bullpen and a manager ill-equipped to handle that weakness will undermine the whole thing….The Cardinals had an opportunity, coming off consecutive missed playoffs and with many playoff teams changing managers, to upgrade in the dugout. Whatever Matheny’s interpersonal skills — and I would argue that the evidence for them is mixed — he gives away so much between 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. that he’s not worth keeping around in his current job. This could well be the roster that finally gets him canned.  My 2017 World Series pick, the Cards are always a Wild Card contender, but there’s too much gooey butter cake here.
  1. Cincinnati (75-87): No team with Joey Votto can be that terrible, other than the fact that they lost 94 games last year and that team had Zack Cozart (5 WAR), who is now an Angel. Plus, Homer Bailey (26 total games from 2015-2017, FIP of 4.91 in 91 innings last year, still resembles Christian Bale) may be the Reds’ opening day starter. The offense should be better (Winker, Schebler, a plus-.300 OBP from Billy Hamilton), and the pitching will be better eventually, but a seven-game improvement still means 75 wins.  For what it’s worth, the Reds are the youngest team in baseball. Also, Rookie Davis is still a rookie (of course he is).
  1. Pittsburgh (70-92): (checks depth chart, sees Ivan Nova listed as number one starter, shrugs)****

****Longer version: The bullpen plus Marte and Polanco mean that the Pirates are the best last-place team in baseball.  Actually, the Rangers are better.

Rob’s picks:

I see 4 contenders nip and tuck. A wild September.

  1. Cincinnati (90-72):  A rocket ready for lift off.  Cozart abandoned a battleship.  Gennett on a MVP watch. Two vets, Bailey and Votto, need one more solid year.  I see the Reds a ‘18 happening.  Pitching is a heavy concern.  Triple A Senzel becoming a big league sensation would help.  Guys like Schebler and Suarez need to step up. They will.
  1. Milwaukee (87-75): They spent the dough. Here we go. It’s possible these guys might win a 100 games or more.  That’s theory.  Thames won’t repeat his stats.  Braun is 34. Cain is questionable and maybe not even needed. I still don’t get the KC purchase.  But Yelich and Travis… the sky’s maybe the limit. Davies and Anderson might compete for a Cy.  Lots of pluses with the Brew.
  1. Cubs (86-76):  Their inability to beat good teams last year was kind of frightening. They had a solid 2nd half. They needed it. With the division so competitive and full of of plus .500 teams, a guy like Schwarber becomes key. Madden putting him at leadoff sent him to the minors.  What a disaster.  No changes in the field which is almost unique. They will miss Jay and regardless the replacements, Arrieta leaves a hole.
  1. St Louis (84-78):  They think that are better than they are.  Actually this team is a step down for Ozuma but he’ll help, that’s for sure.  But Wainwright and Molina are a combined 71.  Piscotty is gone.  Carpenter is hurt and Fowler can’t be everywhere.  They expect to be at the top but the red thread is unraveling.  Two pretty good Martinezes though.
  1. Pittsburgh (72-90):  They had their chances.  Bell on a MVP watch. The Marte loss in ’17 was a dagger.  Polanco faded.  Losing McCutch is almost like starting over. If the pitching implodes this might get ugly.  I’ve always liked Harrison and Mercer.   They’ve been supporting actor nominees. Now the leading role calls.  Big shoes.  The Central has no easy outs.  They are the easy out.

NL West

aka The Dodgers

My picks:

  1. Dodgers (93-69): I wrote this preview the last five years. The only difference is that Turner is out with a broken wrist, which probably means more Chase Utley (who is no longer this), and also that Matt Kemp is around, for now. The best of the West, again.
  1. Arizona (88-74): I wrote a year ago:

My other sleeper team this year, whom I do not expect to make the playoffs by any means but only in the sense that I think the consensus is that they are far worse than they actually are, is the Diamondbacks.  Dave Stewart (the man who thought Shelby Miller was worth Dansby Swanson PLUS, or maybe he didn’t, or his gut didn’t) is gone, A.J. Pollock (who was an All-Star worth 7.4 Wins Above Replacement in 2015–to compare, Kris Bryant was worth 7.7 WAR last year) is healthy, the rotation is Greinke (top 10 Cy Young candidate 2013-2015, 1.66 ERA in 2015)-Ray-Taijuan Walker-Corbin-Shelby Miller (who was not worth Dansby Swanson nor is he now, but was an All-Star with a 3.02 ERA the prior year and is realistically a 180-200 inning, 3.80 to 4.00 ERA pitcher in Chase Field, I think). Oh, and Paul Goldschmidt.  There are weaknesses (bullpen–yes, Fernando Rodney is still a closer, catcher–yes, Jeff Mathis is still a starting catcher), and the Dodgers and Giants are better, and Colorado could be better, but 80-82 wins is possible.
Arizona went from 69-93 to 93-69, with a Pythagorean record of 96-66.  39 saves for #LaFlecha!  –who will be replaced by either Brad Boxberger, Archie Bradley, or Yoshihisa Hirano in 2018.  The D’backs are still the next best in the West.

  1. San Francisco (82-80): The good news is, it’s an even year. The bad news is, that year is not 2010.*****

*****Somewhat longer version: San Francisco is in fact the oldest team in baseball (29.8).  Old teams mean more injuries.  Bumgarner and Samardzija are out for a few weeks now, meaning the Giants open the year with a rotation of Cueto-Ty Blach-Chris Stratton-Derek Holland-Tyler Beede.

  1. Colorado (77-85): I have no idea what to do with the Rockies. The rotation is underrated, but the bullpen is expensive and overrated (other than analytically, where Wade Davis in particular appears to be correctly rated as an implosion waiting to happen). CarGo (.220/.299/.338 pre-All Star break, .314/.390/.531 post-All Star break in 2017) is back.  Ian Desmond (outfielder and first baseman, if either) is still here.  A Wild Card contender, or a fire-seller.  Maybe they’ll reacquire Tulo?
  1. San Diego (73-89): Even with the huge contract and the defense question, I like the Hosmer signing for the Padres as a team in a way that I wouldn’t have for the Red Sox or the Yankees or the Phillies as much (unhappy is the team that signs no hero!). The Padres scored the fewest runs in baseball in 2017 and also had the worst run differential; they were lucky to be 71-91, with a Pythagorean record of 59-103. I may be optimistic with 73 wins here; 65 would arguably be improvement.  On the other hand, Freddy Galvis!

Rob’s picks:

A division near impossible to predict.  San Diego is gong to be a lot better.  The Giants are a huge question mark.  I’m going out on a limb saying it’s a 5 team race.  Take a dart and toss it at the board.

  1. San Fran. A stab in the dark (92-70):  The difference is they will contend.  No one realized how bad they were last year, not even themselves.  They’ve put all the eggs in one ’18 basket.  I like their guts.  Everybody is in their 30’s, but other than Pence not necessarily in their downsize 30’s. Still, they might band together… this is our best shot, boys, there is no tomorrow.  Injuries could send them all south… and that’s a biggie.
  1. Colorado (91-71):  I’m not picking Arenado for MVP. Maybe that will help.  The ’ 17 vote was a joke.   Davis and Shaw will help them win on the road.  No idea why Reynolds left, but if Desmond has one more good year left, they might win a 100.  As all around talented as the Astros.
  1. Los Angeles (86-76):  I’m not a fan. There is something about being so elite.  The club always seems superficial in some way. Lana Del Ray should write the song:  Dodger Detachment.  It would help if Turner gave up the caveman look. Puig is annoying. What planet did Bellinger sprout from? Guy was unbelievable.  They are already playing the ’18 World Series coast to coast with the Yankees… but they could finish last in their own division.
  1. Arizona (85-77):  They need to find a spot for Hazelbaker.  Maybe he might sub at 2nd as well as the outfield.  They won’t miss JD.  Big year for the ever-oncoming Tomas.   Ray contends for a Cy. The Grinkster is 34.  When he retires, what is he going to do with all his money.  With all the outrageous  contracts he has signed, I’m guessing he has made more greenbacks than any player in MLB history.  Someone do the math. Like the Rocks, an offensive showcase.
  1.  San Diego (81-81)  Hosmer is a huge addition.  Best trade/deal any team made all winter.  Who da thunk that the future of the Royals (Hos-Myer) would land in San Diego.  They are young.  Seems like the whole team is 26.  Absolutely stagnant for 5 years.  That’s about to end.


AL East

Same as it ever (by which I mean 1996-2012 or 2013) was.

My picks:

  1. Yankees (94-68): Boston won this division by two games in 2017. The Yankees added Stanton (6.6 WAR), the Red Sox added Martinez (4.7 WAR). Why is everyone picking the Yankees, who lost Joe Girardi, Matt Holliday, and now Greg Bird?  Oh right, Chris Drury and Neil Walker.  Well, count me in.  I guess Sonny Gray as a number 4 starter is also a neat trick.
  1. Boston (93-69): The killer B’s (Betts-Bogaerts-Benintendi-Bradley Jr. who has not been traded yet) plus Devers plus a healthy (maybe) Eduardo Rodriguez and possibly even David Price. The only reason I am not picking Boston to win this division is because of what I expect the Yankees and Red Sox will look like after July 31, and not what the Yankees and Red Sox look like on April 1. But really, pick ‘em.
  1. Toronto (86-76): The Blue Jays are my AL sleeper team in 2018, for a few reasons.****** They’re old (third-oldest team in baseball), they were unexpectedly bad last season because of injuries (see Josh Donaldson), they have a superstar who is old but not ancient (see Josh Donaldson, who is 31), the pitching is still decent (Stroman-Happ-Sanchez-Estrada plus Jaime Garcia), and they added some nice parts (Grichuk, Solarte, Garcia, Granderson). No threat for the top two, but a probable Wild Card contender.

******I guess my NL sleeper team is the Braves if the rotation turns over quicker than I expect it to. 

  1. Baltimore (72-90): The 2017 Orioles hit the fifth most home runs in the majors (232) and allowed the second most (242). The 2018 Orioles are the same team until and unless Manny Machado is traded, at which point only one of these numbers will go down. One of the better bullpens even with Britton out, Alex Cobb is an improvement over Yovani Gallardo and Ubaldo Jimenez, and….uh….I once wrote a poem about Adam Jones.  Baltimore will not finish last if only because of the AL Miami Marlins.
  1. Tampa Bay (68-94): Amazingly, five of Tampa’s top six players in WAR last season are gone (in descending order, Souza, Morrison, Longoria, Dickerson, and Cobb; only Kevin Kiermaier, who led the team with 5.1 WAR, half of it on defense, is back), as is Lucas Duda. The rotation (pending Archer trade) is still decent. The bullpen isn’t bad (Sergio Romo is only 35?).  The offense, though, could use some power—the only current Rays who hit more than 10 homers last year were Carlos Gomez, Kiermaier, and Wilson Ramos.

Rob’s picks:

  1. Yanks (94-68):  Much more fun to pick them last year when they were kinda likable, but they hate to be liked… so fire the manager for no reason, get rid of the dependable Castro, and spend a fortune on the loathsome Stanton who can disappear at times almost like Alfonso Sorryiano.  They won’t fail and they will laugh in my face after each blow out.

Actually, Bird is going to put them on top.
If they win, Castro (Cubs – Yanks) gets a bridesmaid bouquet.

  1. Baltimore (83-79):  If Hellickson is still available, they should bring him back.  It wouldn’t hurt for Davis to hit .250 and Trumbo is Trumbo but you gotta like the new guys: Schoop, Mancini, Sisco , and Hays.  If he pulls the right levers, Showalter may be Manager of the Year.  This is no time to give up.  Go get an arm.  Welcome Arrieta back: ‘Hey dude…where ya been?’ (Ed.: This was written pre-Arrieta Phillies signing and pre-Rob’s NL picks.  I was ridiculously late with my picks this year; Writer Friend Rob was not.)
    1. Boston (82-80): Dombrowski should have tabbed Big Papi as the manager.  I just see a bunch of guys not as good as they think they are.  Peoria is now a weak kneed 34 and he’s kinda the glue holding a ship together that’s leaking.  They will overwork Sale who is already overworked… in desperation.
    1. Toronto (80-82):  They might be better without Bautista.  I’m guessing he wasn’t a great clubhouse guy. Was he ever anything other than angry?  I’ve got Justin Smoak on my MVP ‘watch list’.  Martin, Morales, and Tulo are all 34 and will probably play older.  Donaldson has broad shoulders but … come on.  They won’t trade him to Minn because they think that they have a winning ball club… but they are
    1.  Tampa  (70-92): Year in year out no team surprises like the Rays but they traded away Elvis and I just don’t see ‘ t’ in ’18.  (Ed.: The Rays traded Elvis Araujo?) You look at the departures and arrivals and you ask yourself, is Billy running this club too?  Kiermaier is on my MVP ‘watch list’.  Colome is capable of saving, but I don’t see a lot of opportunity.  The pipe line of great young arms is has been losing steam for years.

    AL Central

    Despite Cy Kluber, I never want to pick Cleveland to win the Central—more often than not I don’t trust their offense, or, when they do win, their odds of repeating, just because winning a division twice is hard (unless you’re the Dodgers)—but in 2018, when the Tigers are truly not an option, the Twins may regress (without a full season of Polanco and with or without a full season of Sano), the Royals are older and worse, and the White Sox will probably not be that improved that soon, I don’t know who else I WOULD pick.  Plus, you know, Wahoo’s gone.

    I realize I’ve just written most of my AL Central preview, so here are only a few more words.

    My picks:

    1. Cleveland (93-69): Baseball Prospectus’s projected standings have the Indians at 96-66 and the second-place Twins at 82-80 (updated post-Polanco suspension; they were at 83-79 before). Whoa. I guess my version of not picking Cleveland in 2018 is having them only win 93 games with that rotation in this division.
    1. Minnesota (81-81): I will take the under on a Minnesota team that’s surprisingly the 9th oldest in baseball and whose rotation other than Berrios is still a bit too Twins-like (Odorizzi-Lynn-Gibson-Hughes are more Terry Ryan Express and less Nolan) and whose bullpen is too Fernando Rodney. A .500ish team that cannot afford to lose Sano even more than it could not afford to lose Polanco.
    1. White Sox (77-85): The White Sox would be my other AL sleeper team in 2018 because of the potential leaps that Moncada and Giolito could take and the fact that they are surrounded by Nate Jones and Jose Abreu and Avisail Garcia and other not-quite-stars. Records could be demolished! A ten win improvement is more probable, however.
    1. Kansas City (73-89): I will note only that Lucas Duda (.242/.340/.457/.796 OPS) is the new Eric Hosmer (.284/.342/.439/.781 OPS career), and Cheslor Cuthbert (.231/.275/.322, -0.4 WAR at 3B in 2017) is the new Brandon Moss (.207/.279/.428, -1.0 WAR as DH in 2017). Improvement!
    1. Detroit (62-100): Leonys Martin, whose first name means “lions” in Spanish, will be leading off for the Tigers. Que lastima.

    Rob’s picks:

    1. Minnesota (90-72):  Buxton’s my choice for MVP.  The big worry is Rodney in the 9th. If I was the manager, I’d quit or get another closer.  There are no enough Rolaids.  Mauer @ 34 must stay the course which is asking a lot.  This is a wild pick that would look a lot better with both Sano and Donaldson in the lineup.  I’ll shut up about that now.
    1.  Cleveland: (88)  The best team in ’17.  2nd in team batting, 1st in pitching and fielding. That’s kind of breathtaking.  Losing Shaw and Santana is not going to make them better.  Two heartbreaking seasons.  Can they get back a 3rd time? The Yankee loss was colossal.  I still blame the Francona pitching matchupsl.  Everybody on the team is 30.  They are not old.  Mentally maybe, but they find a way.  I hope they do.
    1.  White Sox (84-78):  A winning season!  One of the keys here is Davidson.  He just has to get better.  .220 is totally unacceptable.  I think he will.  They are super young. Abreu is the old man at 30.  Castillo hopefully settles everybody down.  They need to learn how to win. It might take awhile.  Look for a solid second half.
    1.  Kansas City (65-97):  There is something so disheartening about this.  You build for years to give yourself one of two shots.  Most of the time it doesn’t work and you have to start all over again… but even when it does work it somehow sucks cause your staring at the bottom of a beer glass in a very short time.  So here we are.  Let’s go to a Royals game this year.  We can sit anywhere we want.  Maybe Merrifield will win the Triple Crown.  And good luck Cheslor Cuthbert taking over for Hos.  Cheslor… seriously??  Can you hear the Philly hecklers with that one, Hop?  Of course, who am I (Espenskfoirien…) to be tracking names. 

    Love Duffy.

    1.  Detroit (65-97):  Candelario must feel like a guy who showed up after the party was over.  I’ve picked Castellanos for a possible MVP for two years.  Why not.  He’s only a surprising 25.  But thats about it. I love Gardenhire.  Talk about old school,  And in a way he fits with this club of bygone expectations.  Victor is 39.  Miquel is an old 34.  Where do you go from here. I have no clue.

    AL West

    We do not wholly disagree on the West either (how it will be won or where it got us).

    My picks:

    1. Houston (102-60): The Astros won 101 games last year and won the division by 21 games and now have a full year of Justin Verlander plus Gerrit Cole. We know these streets, we’ve been here before.
    1. Angels (81-81): 2017 Angels by WAR: Simmons (7.1), Trout (6.7), Kole Calhoun (2.1), Parker Bridwell (2.0), Maybin (1.8). Pujols, of course, was dead last (-1.8). The Angels will be better, I think—a full season of Upton will help—but even with Ohtani, who was eight when LA-then-Anaheim won the World Series in 2002, the Angels are the second oldest team in baseball, effectively tied with the Giants.  Kinsler should be an improvement over Danny Espinosa, as should Cozart over Yunel Escobar, but who knows, really?
    1. Seattle (81-81): Either the Angels or Seattle is the second-best team in this division, or both are. So shoot me. The Mariners will join the Orioles in the basement eventually, but are making many and often decent moves while Cano, Cruz, and King Felix are still able to walk.  Dee Gordon may actually work out in center, and Ichiro!? won’t kill them for a few hundred at-bats, maybe.  Second place is possible (third may be more realistic) (but it’s possible)!
    1. Athletics (80-82): Oakland would be my third sleeper team in the AL. The A’s were fourth in the AL in home runs in 2017 (234) and added OBP in Piscotty (.346 career) and Jonathan Lucroy (.340). But the rotation minus Cotton and now Puk projects as Graveman-Manaea-Gossett-Mengden-Triggs, out of whom I would only be able to recognize Mengden and only as long as he never shaves; the bullpen is deep if dull. The A’s are the Rays in reverse: a top five offense surrounded by no more than average pitching.  Not the worst rotation in the division, though (see below).
    1. Rangers (77-85): By default, Texas is my worst team in the West, but the Rangers are arguably the best last-place team in baseball (sorry, Pittsburgh). Much like the Reds with Votto, no team with Beltre (.312/.383/.532 at 38) can be totally awful, and Texas has a decent offense overall with Andrus, Mazara, Gallo, and Choo (OBP the past three years: .375, .357, .357). Also much like the Reds, the problem is the rotation, where Cole Hamels (a career-worst 4.62 FIP and 1.98 BB/K ratio in 2017) may be better but none of Doug Fister, Matt Moore, Mike Minor, or Martin Perez (broken elbow, allegedly returning by April 5) may even last a full season.  Like the A’s, the Rangers have a deep bullpen, but it’s not dull: the Freak is back!

    Rob’s picks:

    1. Houston (92-70):  Bregman might be a MVP candidate. They look unbeatable. Reddick is only 30.  Most are in their productive years. Late inning Smith is probably a better pickup that Cole.  Unknowns Gurriel and Gonzalez had a 1000 at bats in ‘ 17 and hit a combined .300.  That’s almost scary.  But they all said that about the Cubs last year.  Baseball just has its ways and means.  Everybody is set up to fall but with this bunch it’s hard to figure out how.
    1. Oakland (85-77):  Piscotty will be a big addition.  Chapman and Olson = two gifts of contention.  Semien is a productive 27.  I’ll be rootin’ for Billy this year with this pick.  I say the young studs go bombs away.   Playing in October might be a stretch. Pitching is a big ? (how can you keep a name like A.J. Puk down on the farm?)… but this is going to be fun.  Find a ‘staff’ spot for Hatteberg.  He’s immortal.  Get him back on the team.

    3.Angels (81-81):  This is scary.  You look at the lineup and see the potential for maybe 5 or 6 guys hitting around .210 or worse. Kinsler, Upton, Pujols, Valbuena, and Maldonado all might not hit their weight.  If they all reach .250 plus… they will contend.  There is pressure on these guys. The spot light is glowing with Simmons, Trout, and Ohtani.  We need nominations for best supporting actor(s). I think most everyone wants them to do well… but I can’t put them any better than the middle.

    1. Seattle (75-87): I’m tired of picking these guys for October. Cano, Cruz, and Hernandez are a combined 103 years old. A huge drop off is inevitable.  Gordon is kind of a wild card with his past. They have top notch guys with Segura and Seager, but it seems they go into these funks where they can’t buy a victory for weeks.  See how April goes. If I recall, they got off to a terrible start in ’17 and played catch up all season.
    1. Texas (63-99):  If I’m moving to the Big Star, I’m not doing these guys any favors. All is not lost.  They got Gallo. He can’t be all or nothing this year.  They need Aaron, not Kingman. I hope he really gets better.  Maybe .260, less K’s and 60 big ones.  He might.  But where else do you hang the hat?  Hamels is past his best. Beltre is close to 40.

    Not too long ago they came within a strike.   Now…… but a shadow.

    My playoff picks:

    Wild Card game: Arizona over Milwaukee
    NLDS: Chicago over Washington (again)
    Los Angeles over Arizona (again)
    NLCS: Chicago over Los Angeles (again c. 2016)

    Wild Card game: Boston over Toronto (Ubaldo Jimenez will not pitch if this one goes extra)
    ALDS: Houston over Boston
    Cleveland over New York
    ALCS: Houston over Cleveland

    World Series:
    Houston over Chicago
    Troy O’Leary and an 88-year old Willie Mays are refused entrance to Game Five outside the gates of Wrigley Field as the result of a ticketing error with the Cubs leading the Series 3-2.  Houston goes on to beat the Cub in seven, thus creating the curse of Mr. O’Leary’s G.O.A.T.

    Rob’s playoff picks:

    NL       Braves    Reds    Giants    Rockies    Brewers    
    AL    Yankees  Indians  Twins  Astros  Athletics

    Final 4                                
    Giants   Brewers                                                      
    Twins  Astros

    Anyone’s guess.  This is impossible.  
    I’ll say Minnesota over San Francisco in six                                                               



(Sometimes I Feel Like) Ted Nolan

Posted in 2017 Other, Uncategorized on November 12, 2017 by wechslerh66

We danced the dark fantastic
You were derisive and obscure
Heads turned when half-heard bloody murder
merged with words of thoughts unpure
and you headed for the door
You told me I had a lot to learn
and it would be better if I never returned

I never knew what happened

Remember the conquering lover
who ran with the women who ran with the wolves
Remember the celebrated winner
with a trophy that no one remembers he won
Sometimes I feel like Ted Nolan
You have to go away to be the Comeback Kid
Nobody owes me anything
for something I never did