The World's Worst Preseason Predictions
Spring training is about to wind down...thankfully...unbearable as it ends up being by the end, it was doubly so with the World Baseball Classic extension. The only real goal of spring training is to leave camp healthy and the Cubs failed at that much like they do at winning baseball games. As you can see, I expect little from the Cubs this season, which is rare from me, as I'm always overly optimistic this time of year. Maybe that's a good sign for the year, the biggest surprises come when you expect the least.
Nationals versus Braves feels like a coin flip to me, with which team staying healthier and getting a few breakout performances likely rising to the top. The way the Nationals handled Strasburg last year made me an anti-Nationals fan for life though, so I'm going with the Braves. A year of Utley and Howard and all that pitching talent means the Philies have a good chance at rebounding....although Michael and Delmon Young acquisitions were facepalm worthy.
While I'm certainly no fan of the Dodgers spending spree, their core players remain Kemp and Kershaw, which means the excessive spending is being built around them...kind of a good plan actually. And the Giants still have all their pitchers. I'm a little higher on the Padres than most, a lot of good young talent in my opinion that could bust out at any point, while I think the Kevin Towers can't get out of his own way.
The Reds probably won't have as much good luck with their starting staff this year, but lots of talent there in Cincy. And the same can be said for the Cardinals...albeit a little on the older side. Cards do have the best farm system, but beyond Shelby Miller, I don't know who is going to step in this year. At some point, all this team building is going to pay off for the Pirates and it certainly wouldn't surprise me if this is the year. My memories of the Brewers rebuild felt a lot like the Pirates, a few years where they seemed to get close to respectability before finally breaking through. As for the Brewers, if they end up suspending Braun, the Cubs may manage to stay out of the cellar.
- Blue Jays
- Red Sox
Flip a coin on the whole division in my opinion. As surprising as the Orioles were last year and you'd expect a pullback, they've got a ton of young talent ready to produce. I certainly expect the Red Sox to be better this year, but someone has to go last. As for why pick the Rays? They won 90 last year without their best player for most of the season or limping in the games he played. Although Longoria may end up on the DL again, a full season could do wonders for that lineup along with a full year of Desmond Jennings. That all being said, any team in any spot wouldn't surprise me here...and since they'll all be likely beating up on each other while the AL West gets to play the Astros a ton of times (and the AL Central gets the Twins), it also wouldn't surprise me if only one team makes the playoffs.
The Angels have gotten too far away from building within, that I'll go with the Rangers this year. But it's honestly another coin flip with the A's right on the outskirts. I think the Mariners shold be considerably better as well and all four teams will get to fatten up on the Astros.
- White Sox
This feels like a one team race, but you never really know. I certainly could see the Royals take a step forward this year with their young hitters and not-completely-terrible pitching staff. The White Sox always seem to do better than I expect (Northside bias I believe it's called). The Indians made some nice additions along with a decent young core (Kipnis, Santana, Cabrera). The Twins are starting Vance Worley on Opening Day.
Tier 1 (World Series favorites): Tigers, Braves, Dodgers, Giants, Reds, Nationals, Rangers, Angels
Tier 2 (Playoff hopefuls): Cardinals, Pirates, Phillies, A's, the AL East
Tier 3 (Could surprise): Indians, White Sox, Royals, Mariners, Diamondbacks, Padres, Mets, Brewers
Tier 4 (#1 draft pick contention): Cubs, Astros, Marlins, Rockies, Twins
Manny Rondon faced 13 batters ... and got 10 to K. Not a bad day's work.
With several other Cubs hitters bailing out on curves today I think overall it wasn't being seen well. It for sure looked silly but a good breaking pitch coming at you and then breaking down isn't the easiest thing to see and has made many hitters look silly. Also Soler should have more walks this year but for quite a few called strikes that were actual balls and even the called strike he bailed on was borderline.
it's not like we're talking about a guy who's never had issues with pitch selection and seeing the ball over here. we're talking about a guy who has some rather legendary swing-and-misses at breaking stuff who's been exploited low. going forward it's worth paying attention to seeing if he can be exploited inside, too. he seriously bailed out of the box on a called strike. sure it was a good curve, but he obviously didn't see that well at all.
It would seem like he is figuring it out now and it's really coming together. Really happy for him. Joe was really protecting him from the 3rd time through the order, but as you allude to, he is earning trust to go deeper.
Wondering if has potential to become a #3 pitcher? His current stats certainly support it.
That doesn't count b/c CRUNCH didn't see it on his 60" HDTV 5 times in replay.
I have seen many players "bail out" when the ball looked like it was gonna hit them.
Especially with the advent of the splitter and pitchers that can really get the ball to dance. Marmol, Sutter, Pedro Martinez, Curt Schilling, Derek Lowe, Smoltz, Arrietta...
These guys have made the best bail out only for the ball to come over the plate and be called a strike.
No shame in that. The same way players whiff hard enough to cause them to drill a hole in the ground from spinning.
a 60" TV with slow-motion replay and multiple looks on that replay helps...a lot...
it's one thing to shy away like he did the 2nd time, it's another to bail out of the box on a called strike. that happened in the 1st one he pulled away from. he misjudged that one by a foot or so...
Good Hendricks sure is fun to watch. He was hitting all his corners today and the Phillies couldn't do anything with his changeup.
Bryant and I believe Zobrist both did that too.
Soler BB acumen and plate awareness is excellent. Not unusual for even the best players to react as if they were about to hit them, "even though they weren't that close" from your vantage point sitting on your deck, or wherever.
soler vs inside breaking balls is scary.
he's had 2 inside curve balls today where he reacted as if they were about to hit him even though they weren't that close...one he bailed out of the box on, it was a called strike.
j.urias optioned back to AAA...guess we wont be seeing him in the LAD series.
so is him actually getting 2 hits in a game (2 doubles!)...first time he's even been on base 2 times in a game since 9 games ago on his 3/4, 1bb day.
im ready for him to at least look like a 2-slot hitter since he's gonna be slotted there no matter what he does.
That Heyward move to avoid Bryant's ball hit at him was a thing of beauty too.
9 pitches in and this game already rules.
HR, double...bryant's turn (who came out to a Kris Kross song for some horrible, horrible reason).
...2 run inning...zoobrest hitting streak at 14.
First time I saw Herrera was yesterday. He took like 100 pitches, fouled off a ton off Lester.
Very nice young player and perfect leadoff guy.
Obviously not Phil. But he mentioned this on Wednesday.
"Dominican Summer League (DSL) Opening Day is Saturday June 4th, so probably about 8-10 pitchers and position players presently at EXST in Mesa will be sent to the Cubs Dominican Academy (probably sometime this week) and be assigned to either DSL Cubs #1 or DSL Cubs #2."
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