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2015 Major League Baseball Predictions

With 40 days until Opening Day, take a look at our season predictions:

(*) = 1st Wild Card Team
(**) = 2nd Wild Card Team

American League East:

Place Brett Malamud’s Pick Alex Horowitz’s Pick
1 Boston Red Sox Boston Red Sox
2 Toronto Blue Jays Baltimore Orioles
3 New York Yankees Toronto Blue Jays
4 Tampa Bay Rays Tampa Bay Rays
5 Baltimore Orioles New York Yankees

 

American League Central:

Place Brett Malamud’s Pick Alex Horowitz’s Pick
1 Cleveland Indians Cleveland Indians
2 Detroit Tigers* Kansas City Royals**
3 Kansas City Royals Chicago White Sox
4 Chicago White Sox Detroit Tigers
5 Minnesota Twins Minnesota Twins

 

American League West:

Place Brett Malamud’s Pick Alex Horowitz’s Pick
1 Seattle Mariners Seattle Mariners
2 Oakland Athletics** Los Angeles Angels*
3 Los Angeles Angels Houston Astros
4 Houston Astros Oakland Athletics
5 Texas Rangers Texas Rangers

 

National League East:

Place Brett Malamud’s Pick Alex Horowitz’s Pick
1 Washington Nationals Washington Nationals
2 New York Mets New York Mets**
3 Miami Marlins Miami Marlins
4 Atlanta Braves Atlanta Braves
5 Philadelphia Phillies Philadelphia Phillies

 

National League Central:

Place Brett Malamud’s Pick Alex Horowitz’s Pick
1 St. Louis Cardinals St. Louis Cardinals
2 Pittsburgh Pirates* Pittsburgh Pirates*
3 Chicago Cubs Chicago Cubs
4 Milwaukee Brewers Cincinnati Reds
5 Cincinnati Reds Milwaukee Brewers

 

National League West:

Place Brett Malamud’s Pick Alex Horowitz’s Pick
1 San Diego Padres San Francisco Giants
2 San Francisco Giants** San Diego Padres
3 Los Angeles Dodgers Los Angeles Dodgers
4 Arizona Diamondbacks Arizona Diamondbacks
5 Colorado Rockies Colorado Rockies
With some added big bats, the Red Sox are ready to head back to October baseball (Via WBZ-TV

With some added big bats, the Red Sox are ready to head back to October baseball (Via WBZ-TV

Playoffs:

Game Brett Malamud’s Pick Alex Horowitz’s Pick
ALCS Red Sox defeat Mariners Red Sox defeat Indians
NLCS Nationals defeat Cardinals Cardinals defeat Nationals
World Series Nationals defeat Red Sox Cardinals defeat Red Sox

 

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MLB Hot Stove Roundup: What’s Happened Since the Fielder-Kinsler Trade?

By Ben Ozur

With the exception of an eventual Robinson Cano signing, this blockbuster trade will most likely end up being the headline of the offseason. But other moves have since been made. Here are the other miscellaneous moves that have been made since the trade (in chronological order):

The Royals sign LHP Jason Vargas. Though many believe this was an overpay (as we will see with other signings later), this was a good move for the Royals. It adds depth to a rotation that already has James Shields and Jeremy Guthrie, and it fills the void of the probably-departing Ervin Santana. He is a solid three-or-four-starter who will give the Royals a veteran who can give innings – something that the Royals find pretty valuable. I think this will set the tone for other KC offseason moves that will allow them to be a real threat for a Wild Card spot this year.

The Mets sign OF Chris Young. See article here.

The Cardinals trade 3B David Freese to the Angels for OF Peter Bourjos. These two guys are both coming off tough years, but these two guys have both showed promise in the past. Also, it fills holes for both teams. The Angels desperately needed a third baseman, after getting the worst third base production in the MLB. However, David Freese was only a league average hitter last year, so it wasn’t a huge improvement. With Peter Bourjos, he brings extra depth to centerfield already occupied by Jon Jay (I assume they will platoon, or maybe Bourjos will get the larger share). They can both afford to part ways with their old players; the Angels have JB Shuck to use in leftfield, and the Cardinals now have room for top prospect Kolten Wong to start at second base (Matt Carpenter will move to third base). This is a close call, but I give the edge to the Cardinals in this trade.

The Yankees sign C Brian McCann. By signing the clear-cut best catcher on the free agent market (and one of the top catchers in the league in general), this was easily the biggest move of the offseason for the Yankees (with no disrespect to the trading of Chris Stewart). He is one of the best offensive catchers in the league, and he has been said to be a good guy to have behind the plate. However, his production, albeit potentially due to injury, has faltered over the past two seasons. Though he is definitely a top catcher in the league, it may be because of the weakness of the position as a whole. He is being paid this much because he is one of the best at what he does, but I don’t think he’s worth that money. Also consider that he will probably be a DH by the end of this deal, which decreases his value even more. Short-term, this deal will probably work out for the Yankees. In two years, I believe it will be a regret.

Brian McCann made headlines last week, signing with the Yankees (Via Bronx Baseball Daily)

Brian McCann made headlines last week, signing with the Yankees (Via Bronx Baseball Daily)

The Cardinals sign SS Jhonny Peralta. Aside from the controversy due to the PED usage, it’s hard to deny the great deal the Cardinals got. Peralta is a well above average offensive shortstop (he has shown that throughout his career, even before his suspension-filled 2013 season) and arguably the best shortstop on the market (close with Stephen Drew). It also fills a gaping hole for the Cardinals, as thy received the worst production from their shortstops in the MLB in 2013 (primarily Pete Kozma). This was clearly a good signing, but of course, there’s the controversy. Though you may not like the rule of how short the suspension is, you have to deal with it. He was told to sit out for 50 games and he did. He served his punishment, and that should be the end of it. Anyway, why should the Cardinals be criticized for the signing? It’s not like they’re condoning his decision to take PEDs. I get that people are still peeved about this, but in terms of this signing, it shouldn’t be seen as a factor of how good it truly was.

The Dodgers sign RHP Dan Haren. A $10M deal for a pitcher who hasn’t had even a league average season for a pitcher since 2011? I get it; he’ll probably be the fourth starter for the Dodgers, and they have all the money in the world to spend. But that doesn’t mean they should just throw it away. They should’ve been more resourceful with that money. There are better pitchers on the market, and they’re probably going to make less (i.e. Bartolo Colon, Paul Maholm, and others on the trade market). Not too good of a signing in my opinion, but still, there’s no such thing as a bad one-year deal.

The Twins sign RHPs Ricky Nolasco and Phil Hughes. This was certainly a forced issue. Ricky Nolasco – okay, solid pitcher, good fit for the Twins in that ballpark, but for over $11M AAV (average annual value)? Phil Hughes – there is no justification in this signing. He has never posted an ERA under 4 in a season as a full-time starter, and he’s making $8M a year? I get it – the Twins are desperate for pitcher, coming off a year where their starting staff collected a cumulative ERA over 5, easily the worth in the MLB. But the last few times they’ve tried to get pitchers (Vance Worley and Mike Pelfrey, namely), they’ve been disasters. I understand it’s a huge park in Minnesota, but then why are all of their pitchers doing so poorly? Finally, signing two guys to big contracts when they aren’t anywhere close to competing is far beyond me. These signings make no sense whatsoever.

The Athletics sign LHP Scott Kazmir. Nice comeback story for Kazmir last year with Cleveland, after pitching the previous season with the Sugarland Skeeters of the Independent League. His ERA hovered around 4 last year, which is respectable, and he posted nice strikeout numbers for a starter. But can he do it again? The A’s surely think so, considering the $22M contract they gave him. This was a risky signing, but a good risk in my opinion.

(UPDATE: The Athletics have also traded INF Jemile Weeks and a player to be named to the Orioles in exchange for AL saves leader Jim Johnson)

The Tigers trade RHP Doug Fister to the Nationals. There were rumors that it would be Max Scherzer being traded by Detroit, but they chose Fister instead. Fister was arguably the best fourth starter in the MLB (pitching behind Scherzer, the Cy Young award winner; Justin Verlander, a former Cy Young award winner and MVP, and Anibal Sanchez, the ERA champion in the AL). Since coming over to the Tigers, Fister has shown much consistency, maintaining a very respectable ERA of about 3.50 in each of his years there. This will prove to be a major upgrade to an already great Nationals rotation, clearly. The Tigers will not reap the benefits of this trade immediately, as the three players they got back in return (Steve Lombardozzi, Ian Krol, and Robbie Ray) are all fairly young. At least for now, it clears a space for Drew Smyly, and they still have minor league pitching depth; so this wasn’t as big of a loss for the Tigers as it is a gain for the Nats.

Other worth-mentioning notes. The Royals extend GM Dayton Moore for two years. Ted Lilly, the 15-year veteran of 7 MLB teams, has retired. The Mets continue to show interest in Bronson Arroyo and Curtis Granderson. And Finally, the Yankees and Robinson Cano remain $80M apart in contract negotiations.

(UPDATE: The Boston Red Sox have signed catcher AJ Pierzynski to a one year, $8.25 million contract)

______________________________________________________________

Ben Ozur is an absolute baseball guru. He is a huge Mets, Jets, Knicks and Islanders fan whose life revolves around fantasy sports.

Top Five MLB Teams That Need To Take Out Their Checkbook For 2014

By: Sam Breiter

Baseball in 2013 was a season to remember to say the least. Whether you are talking about the unbelievable breakout season from Chris Davis, who led major league baseball with 53 homeruns, or if you are discussing the legacy of a man named Mariano, you can clearly see how extraordinary this year in baseball was. Just three days ago, the Boston Red Sox organization gained the title of World Series Champions. For now, they will be noted as the best team in baseball, but April is just around the corner and now every team will have fair game to work on improving their team to become potential champions for 2014. Some teams may look at their 40-man roster today and feel a sense of comfort and confidence for next year, knowing that they may be one small signing or trade away from being contenders. Other teams may look and find that there are many holes that need to be covered, and they have a lot of work cut out for them this winter. Noting, there are some organizations that have more available money for the elite free agents than others. For example, the Houston Astros may need an outfielder, but do not expect them to spend $20 million on a five tool superstar, but rather a player with mediocre talent since they are many years away from being competitive.  What I am about to review is the top five teams who need to make moves this offseason in order to have a fighting chance in 2014. I took into consideration the available funds the team has, what they need, and their desire to improve to stand a chance next year.

The Yankees hope that bringing in the top free agents will lead them back to the promised land and their 28th World Series Championship (Via New York Times)

The Yankees hope that bringing in the top free agents will lead them back to the promised land and their 28th World Series Championship (Via New York Times)

#5 Kansas City Royals- After being regarded as one of the worst teams in baseball after their great run in the 70’s and 80’s, the Kansas City Royals in 2013 really found themselves as a team. Prior to the 2013 season, the Royals had not been over .500 since 2003, and before that 1993. After spending the last couple of years trading away talent to improve their farm system, the Royals have reached that essential milestone where they have developed a group of young prospects into MLB superstars. Billy Butler, Alex Gordon, and Eric Hosmer, to name off a few, had a key role in allowing the Royals to win their 86 games this year. The Royals were just seven games back of the division-winning Tigers, and missed a wild card spot by five and a half games. So what’s it going to take to get over that hump? What do the Royals need to do to go back to the glory days of when they were one of the most feared teams in baseball? I have one answer to that question and that is pitching. If we look at the pitching rotation for 2014, for the team right now you see the names James Shields, Jeremy Guthrie, Bruce Chen, and two question marks. Ervin Santana, who had an above average year, is now a free agent, and the Royals never really had a true number five guy. Shields and Guthrie provide a great one two punch, yet it is fair to note that Chen has always time after time proven himself to be unreliable with injuries and inconsistent success. With this said, the Royals, in order to get over that hump, need to sign two starting pitchers that will work long innings and keep the rotation intact. The best fit for the Royals would include pitchers who have shown their talent such as Ubaldo Jimenez, Dan Haren, A.J Burnett, Matt Garza, or Hiroki Kuroda. Additionally, they might want to try to get back Santana, and maybe go for some of the lower demand pitchers including Scott Baker, Mike Pelfrey, Ricky Nolasco, or even Jason Vargas.  With this added pitching help, the Royals can easily run away with a wild card spot, or perhaps even be the American League Central Division champs.

#4 Texas Rangers- Ever since 2010, the Texas Rangers have always been looked upon as, if not the best, one of the best teams in all of Major League Baseball. Their dominance in hitting the long ball, getting on base, and sustaining an above average pitching rotation and bullpen has allowed their success to last. In 2010, the Rangers made the World Series and fell flat on their face against the San Francisco Giants. The following year, after one of the most dramatic World Series ever, the Rangers fell just short losing to the St. Louis Cardinals in a seven game series. The following year, they won the wild card and missed their shot of going anywhere in the playoffs, and this year they did not even get a wild card spot. Clearly it may look as if this team is declining, but do you really expect the Oakland Athletics to come up with another 96 win season considering their best player is not even considered a superstar. If the Rangers brought back the same team they had this year, next year it looks pretty likely they would be the favorite to win the division, but down in Texas these fans expect more than a division title. Matt Garza, Nelson Cruz, A.J Pierzynski, and David Murphy, to name a few, are players who will be free agents this year and may just not be a part of the team next year. With this said, pitching (both starting and relief), a left fielder, and a catcher need to be acquired if the Rangers do not want to fall short yet again. In terms of pitching, look for the Rangers to attempt to sign one big name pitcher. I believe Garza will return and they will look to bring Alexi Ogando into their rotation and maybe even sign Roy Holladay if the Phillies part ways with the old ace. In terms of the bullpen, whatever happened to Neftali Feliz? From 2010-2011 Feliz combined for 72 saves, but from injuries the past few years people tend to forget about him. Expect Feliz to be their number one closer in 2014, but do not be surprised if Chris Perez comes in to become either the setup man or closer assuming Feliz does not work to his expectations. Behind the plate, the Rangers have always had power, if we go back a few years to Mike Napoli, or the more current days of Pierzynski. Do not be surprised if either of these players are brought back to the organization, yet I predict Brian McCann will be wearing a Texas Rangers uniform in 2014 because he will get paid the money he deserves, and the Rangers have a better resume of getting deep in the playoffs compared to the Braves. The Rangers have always had big time sluggers in the outfield. The Josh Hamilton/Nelson Cruz combo was one of the best power hitting outfields ever seen on one team. With Hamilton enjoying his money in L.A, and Cruz doubtful to return, do not be surprised to see the Rangers spending huge on a new outfielder. Jacoby Ellsbury, Shin-Soo Choo, Curtis Granderson, Carlos Beltran, and Mike Morse are the best fits for the Rangers if they are willing to spend big on a new outfielder.

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