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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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The Metrodome: A Look Back

By Nick Vespasiano

Since it opened in 1982, the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome has been home to the Minnesota Vikings, Twins, Timberwolves, Gophers football team, and of course Monster Jam (kids seats still just five bucks!). It has hosted an MLB All-Star Game, two World Series, a Super Bowl, and two NCAA Final Fours.

But since I can remember, The Dome has been known for (among other things) its lack of sunlight, awful concourses, sticky floors, troughs in the men’s bathroom, and overall just being the dump that it was. Despite the sentimental value of it being “our dump”, no one is really that sad to see it go.

It's been 31 years, but we finally can say goodbye to the Metrodome (via Vikings)

It’s been 31 years, but we finally can say goodbye to the Metrodome (via Vikings)

Yesterday’s Vikings 14-13 win over the Detroit Lions marks the last event held in the Metrodome, which will be torn down to make room for the Vikings’ new stadium set to open in 2016.

Here’s some of my favorite memories of the Metrodome:

The Vikings 1998 Season

A 15-1 season that ended in a heartbreaking overtime loss to the Atlanta Falcons after kicker Gary Anderson’s only missed field goal of the season. Rookie wide receiver Randy Moss formed an unlikely connection with quarterback Randall Cunningham, catching 69 passes for 1,313 yards and 17 touchdowns. Veteran wideout Cris Carter also helped make this one of the best offenses in NFL history.

Adrian Peterson Runs for 296 Yards

In his rookie season in 2007, we knew we had a special player in Adrian Peterson. It was one of the best seasons ever for a rookie running back. The most notable game that year, and probably of his whole career, was a home game against the San Diego Chargers where he set the NFL record for rushing yards in a game with 296 yards on 30 carries.

Joe Mauer’s AL-MVP Season

All the cheesy “hometown hero” stuff aside, that 2009 season was pretty incredible. I went to several of Twins games that year, where it was not uncommon to see Joe go 4-4, 3-4, or 4-5. Finishing with a .400 batting average was not out of the question for a decent portion of the season. After spending the first month of the season out with injury, he finished batting .365 with 28 home runs and 96 RBIs en route to a division title. I will always remember being at the Dome to see his first game back from injury, where he homered to the opposite field on his first swing.

Favre’s Magical Year

I will never forget the aerial shot of Brett Favre’s black Range Rover arriving at the Viking’s practice facilities in Eden Prairie, Minnesota. It was like the president had just arrived. I knew we were in for a treat that season but it was far better than I could have hoped. They went 12-4, highlighted by Favre’s best statistical season at the ripe old age of 40. He completed 68 percent of his passes for 4,202 yards, 33 touchdowns and seven interceptions. The best moments in the Dome include Favre’s last second touchdown pass to beat San Francisco (its Greg Lewis!), stomping Green Bay, and a playoff route of the Dallas Cowboys.

The Roof Collapse

In my freshman year of college, walking home late from a party, the snow was up to our knees and was only getting worse. It snowed around 17 inches that night and I woke up Sunday morning to find out that blizzard killed the Metrodome. The Vikings and Giants had to play at Ford Field in Detroit instead.

AP’s MVP Season

28 makes his second appearance on this list. He spent last season chasing Eric Dickerson’s single season rushing record of 2,105, coming up just short with 2,097. It was enough to earn him MVP honors after tearing his ACL the season before. Averaging 6.0 yards per carry, game in game out he carried the team to an unlikely 10-6 record and a playoff birth. In the last home game of the season against Green Bay, he totaled 199 yards in a must win game to secure a wild card spot in the playoffs.

These are just a few memories that stand out to me. Destruction of the Metrodome begins in January and while it will always have a place in my heart, I can’t say I’ll miss it.

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Nick Vespasiano is a senior English major at St. Olaf College and aspiring sports writer. He was raised in Minnesota, favorite teams are the Vikings, Wild, and Twins. Favorite athletes are Randy Moss and Jaromír Jágr.

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)

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