World Series Preview: Indians v. Cubs

113 Years Ago

The Boston Americans and the Pittsburgh Pirates squared off in the first formal World Series pitting The American League Champion against The National League Champion. Grandstand tickets went for $1 a piece and the series was a best-of-9. It was monumental because the two leagues had never played before. Future Hall of Fame players would play other future Hall of Fame players for the first time ever. Cy Young and Honus Wagner would share the field. The series did not disappoint.

The Pirates took Games 1 behind a complete game by their starter Deacon Phillippe. The opposing pitcher in that game? Cy Young. Boston’s Patsy Dougherty led off Game 2 with an inside-the-park HR (only of lead-off inside-the-park HR in World Series history was Alcides Escobar’s in Game 1 against the Mets last year). Boston won 3-0. The next day, on just one
day of rest, Deacon Phillippe turned in another complete game en route to a 4-2 victory. Two days later the series went to Pittsburgh where, you guessed it, Deacon Phillippe on two days rest threw another complete game. With a looming 3-1 deficit in front of them, Boston leaned heavily on their 1-2 punch of Cy Young and Bill Dinneen. The two were the only players to pitch for the Americans over the final four games. Each twirled two complete games respectively as they stimied the potent Pittsburgh lineup led by star infielder Honus Wagner. Boston had won the inaugural World Series 5-3.

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Honus Wagner, hampered by major injuries, was just 6 for 27 (.222) and committed 6 defensive errors as well. He had led the league in batting average that year but refused to send his portrait to The Hall of Fame for batting champions.”I was too bum last year”, he wrote. “I was a joke in that Boston-Pittsburg Series. What does it profit a man to hammer along and make a few hits when they are not needed only to fall down when it comes to a pinch? I would be ashamed to have my picture up now.” He was my player of the decade for the 1900’s.

The next year the New York Giants owner John T. Brush refused to allow his team to play against “the inferior American League representative.” There was no World Series in 1904 as a result. He later regretted his decision after a movement of angered fans littered his mailbox with letters of varying disgruntled messages. There was so much unrest that it was deemed the World Series was an annual necessity. The winter following the 1904 season contracts were signed by both leagues making the series a mandatory event following every season. The World Series was officially born. America now had its’ first championship event.

Long Suffering Facts:

There were only 46 states the last time Chicago won The World Series.

The Cuyahoga River has caught fire multiple times, and was one of the main reasons for the creation of the EPA. All since the last time Cleveland won the World Series.

Combined, 87 managers have coached the Cubs and Indians since their last World Series Titles.

The Yankees have played in 153 World Series games since 1908.

The Indians changed ownership SIX times from ’62-78. They were not desirable (See: Major League)

Regardless of the outcome, the loser of this series will hold the longest World Series drought.

And either way, Texas will be in 2nd with 55 years of mediocrity.

Things to Know:

The American League is 64-46 in World Series.

Home Field Advantage (Cleveland) = Champion 55% of the time (61-49)

Winner of Game 1 = Champion 64% of the time (70-40) (17-2 since ’97)

This will be the 16th consecutive different champion in a row.

Steve Bartman (former Cub fan) and Jason Kipnis (Indians’ 2B) grew up on the same street. Kipnis’ sister graduated in the same class as Bartman.

Cleveland stole 134 bases this year.

Kyle Schwarber went down in game 3 of the season with a “season-ending injury.” He went 1-6 in the Arizona Fall League and will bat 5th for The Cubs tonight.


My Thoughts

The Indians are the best team in the American League. The Cubs are the best team in baseball. But I don’t think those on Waveland Avenue should start the celebration just yet. It’s all about the matchups.

Offense:

These are two of the most patient teams in the game (sorry pace of play enthusiasts). The Indians are the better baserunning group but the advantage at the dish is dramatically in the Cubs favor. With the addition of Kyle Schwarber, the lineup for the lovable losers becomes even more deep than previously before. They can do a little bit of everything, and don’t sleep on their pitchers with a bat in their hand. Advantage: Cubs.

Defense:

The closest of the 5 breakdown categories. Lindor and Kipnis up the middle are possibly the only other combination in the game that can be put in the same sentence as Baez and Russell. But outside of Lindor and Kipnis, the Indians can’t compete with the Cubs other seven with the leather. The Cubs led the league with 82 defensive runs saved with year. Advantage: Cubs.

Starting Pitching:

Any staff boasting NL-ERA Champion Kyle Hendricks and saavy veteran John Lackey as their Game 3 & 4 starters has something special. The injuries to Carrasco and Salazar (albeit on the WS roster) depletes an elite Cleveland staff. But I’ve been in the camp of starters don’t matter nearly as much in October as they do April-September. Thanks 2010’s Tigers for giving me that observation. Advantage: Cubs.

Bullpen:

Chapman has been human and Maddon has been shaky at best with his management of the pen this postseason. Cleveland, on-the-other-hand, has been unhittable. Think about this, the Indians offense hasn’t scored a run past the 6th inning all postseason and they are 7-1. That’s all you need to know. Advantage: Indians.

Manager:

Francona v Maddon. People love Joe Maddon. I mean LOVE him. I’m not one of those guys. I do think he’s good at his job. I also believe he’s one of those guys that is great at keeping things loose over the course of a 162-game season. I don’t like his in-game decision making though, and I think he’s had a few situations already this year where his players have bailed him out. Chapman is a one-inning guy but for some reason he has run him out there multiple times this postseason in the 8th. Terry Francona is just a better manager. Advantage: Indians.

My Prediction? Cubs in 5 / Indians in 7

 

2016 MLB All-Star Breakdown

Tonight marks the MLB All Star Game. The best players from both leagues come together for a (once) highly competitive exhibition game. The introduction of home field advantage in the World Series has brought back some of the flavor the game once had, but it’s not like you’re going to see a Pete Rose vs. Ray Fosse incident in present day either. Seriously, if you don’t know that reference go watch that video. Fosse’s career was for all intents purposes, ended that day.

Even without the 110% mentality anymore it still remains the best All Star game that professional sports has to offer. It’s a sport that inherently relies on the individual ability of one player against another. Team chemistry and player familiarity is important in baseball, but not in the way it is entrenched in other games. The first baseman isn’t cutting to the bag at a specific time to catch the shortstop’s throw. The runner on first won’t/can’t block the shortstop so you can leg out a double. Instead, baseball’s chemistry factor comes into play over the grind that is the MLB season. It’s like how if you enjoy your co-workers, waking up in the morning is slightly less dreadful. So in this single particular game it all comes down to the player’s doing their thing. And in that regard it truly does showcase the best players in the sport doing what they do best.

Quick Fact: Since 1988 there have only been (7) game 7’s in the World Series.

2016 Rosters


Catchers

American League: Salvador Perez KC (Starter), Stephen Vogt OAK, Matt Wieters BAL

National League: Buster Posey SF (Starter), Jonathan Lucroy MIL, Wilson Ramos WSH

Breakdown:
The American League has two rather defensive minded backstops here in Perez and Wieters. Both have home run ability as well, but tend feast on mediocre pitchers. They’ll likely have to make their presence on the game with the gear on tonight because the strength of this National League is its’ staff. Defensive value at the catcher position is huge compared to the positional counterparts across the diamond. However, this is an exhibition game with (traditionally) a low number gambles taking place on the base paths. The National League will be boasting three guys that would all be having top ten offensive seasons at first base, let alone catcher, where they rank 1 through 3 offensively. In a game with top eschelon arms, one swing can change the outcome quickly. Give me the top three statistical offensive catchers in the game here. Advantage: National League

First Basemen

American League: Eric Hosmer KC (Starter), Miguel Cabrera DET

National League: Anthony Rizzo CHC (Starter), Paul Goldschmidt ARI, Brandon Belt SF

Breakdown:
I really do wish I could make a case for my boy Hosmer here but I can’t. The National League has two of the Top 10 players in the game right now. Rizzo won’t stop getting better. And his cemented spot right at the heart of the Cubs’ potent lineup only intensifies his productivity levels. Paul Goldschmidt may be the biggest superstar in the game that many people haven’t heard of. Just a casual 33 HR / 110 RBI / 21 SB (!) / 1.005 OPS in ’15. And after a slow start (and a quick trade trigger on my part in my dynasty league…)* he has been scorching hot and well on his way towards replicating those numbers again this year. Advantage: National League

*I also have Rizzo though

Second Basemen

American League: Jose Altuve HOU (Starter), Robinson Cano SEA

National League: Ben Zobrist CHC (Starter), Daniel Murphy WSH

Breakdown:
Ten years ago you wouldn’t have sold your quarter for a dollar to a guy that said second base would someday be a position of superstars. Who would’ve thought a guy trying to buy a quarter would be a genius. Just a reference point for you here. 103 hits / 17 2B / 16 HR / 52 RBI / 71 R / .837 OPS. You know who posted those numbers in the first half of the season? Ian Kinsler. The guy that got left off the AL roster. Jose Altuve looks well on his way to being the next contest to play “Steal Mike Trout’s AL MVP.” As of a few days ago he was getting on base over 36% of the time in at bats where he faced an 0-2 count. What about 2-0? Just a casual 62% clip. *picks jaw up* The other three on here have also been fantastic, but I can stop this short now. Advantage: American League

Shortstops

American League: Xander Bogaerts BOS (Starter), Fransisco Lindor CLE, Eduardo Nunez MIN

National League: Addison Russell CHC (Starter), Aledmys Diaz STL, Corey Seager LAD

Breakdown:
The problem many of you are probably facing is the pronunciation of some of these names. What we all have for us is how long we’ll have to figure them out. 6 young stars with ridiculous potential, most of which are in year two or three of their MLB service time. They all do a little bit of everything. Luckily, Eduardo Nunez had a monster first half so we weren’t stuck pulling names out of a hat to see who would represent the Twins. (See Royals 2006) The former Yankee will be hard pressed for innings tonight though as he joins two other budding superstars in Bogaerts (Bo-garts) and Lindor. Lindor is an all-around stud that has continued to build on his rookie successes which outperformed much of the expectation based on his minor league production. On the National League side we’ll see Cubs shortstop (acquired from Oakland in ’14) Addison Russell, St. Louis’ Aledmys (ah-led-mis) Diaz, and LA’s Corey Seager. Now while I like those guys over the next couple years, they currently lack the full skill set Bogaerts and Lindor posses. Advantage: American League

Third Basemen

American League: Manny Machado BAL (Starter), Josh Donaldson TOR

National League: Kris Bryant CHC (Starter), Nolan Arenado COL

Breakdown:
THIS is what an All Star game should look like. It’s like a title fight. Tag-team edition. Reigning AL MVP leading the league in OBP & 24 year-old 4+ WAR (already) versus the reigning NL Rookie of the Year with 25 home runs & the front runner for NL MVP this year. Don’t be surprised if the All Star MVP comes from the group. Advantage: Both. Winners: The fans

Outfield

American League: Mike Trout LAA (Starter), Mookie Betts BOS (Starter), Jackie Bradley Jr. BOS (Starter), Carlos Beltran NYY, Ian Desmond TEX, Michael Saunders TOR, Mark Trumbo BAL

National League: Bryce Harper WSH (Starter), Marcel Ozuna MIA (Starter), Carlos Gonzalez COL (Starter), Jay Bruce CIN, Adam Duvall CIN, Odubel Herrera PHI, Starling Marte PIT

Breakdown:
It’s gets a little bit tricky here because of the number of players we’re looking at. I think the fans did a solid job on the starters, even though Jackie Bradley Jr.’s hit streak may have factored into his vote-getting over a guy like Ian Desmond. Last year I would’ve listened to Trout and Harper cancelling each other out. This year is just showing why Trout is THE player of this era. His consistency is what elite player’s pinnacle seasons are. It’s unreal what this guy is capable of. Oh, and he’s going for his third straight All Star game MVP tonight as well. Just another thing that nobody in history has done. You know, the norm for Trout. Apart from him I like what Desmond and Trumbo can provide off the bench. Beltran’s resurgence (and constant chase for potential Hall of Fame votes) has been great, along with his storied clutch passed. On the National League side look for Marte to provide a late inning pinch running steal attempt. It’ll be interesting to see if Wieters is in the game to negate that at that point. Duvall and Bruce can leave the yard in any park and make for intriguing late game possibilities. But when it’s all said and done though, Mike Trout. Advantage: American League

Designated Hitters

American League: David Ortiz BOS (Starter), Edwin Encarnacion TOR

National League: Wil Myers SD (Starter)

Breakdown:
Ortiz & Encarnacion vs. Myers? Hmmm. No disrespect to the (finally healthy) great season Wil Myers has had, but it’s no contest considering the unreal 40 year-old campaign Ortiz is having. This wasn’t a last rodeo, vote him in situation. The man has earned it. (34 2B / 22 HR / 72 RBI / 1.106 OPS!) Advantage: American League

Starting Pitchers

American League: Chris Sale CWS (Starter), Cole Hamels TEX, Corey Kluber CLE, Jose Quintana CWS, Aaron Sanchez TOR, Steven Wright BOS

National League: Johnny Cueto SF (Starter), Jake Arrieta CHC, Bartolo Colon NYM, Jose Fernandez MIA, Jon Lester CHC, Drew Pomeranz SD, Max Scherzer WSH, Julio Teheran ATL

Breakdown:
What looked like a run-away-and-hide category for the National League has since been depleted over the past week. Kershaw was placed on the DL, Bumgarner threw a 14 k, complete game 1-hitter on Sunday (thus ineligible to play), Noah Syndegaard is battling some potential serious shoulder issues, Stephen Strasburg also remains injured, and Jake Arrieta just announced he’d prefer not to throw in the game. I’d listen if someone wanted to make the claim that those are the five best pitchers in the game right now, and yet NONE of them will be throwing tonight. Want to know something crazy though? The National League still has more talent. This coming even after Terry Collins tried to Terry Collins’ things up by adding an undeserving Bartolo Colon to the roster. Hopefully he’ll pinch hit. Cueto has a 13-1 record, Jose Fernandez is electric and fully recovered from past injury, Lester has been terific, and there’s still the 20 strikeout man himself in Max Scherzer. Advantage: National League

Relief Pitchers

American League: Dellin Betances NYY; Brad Brach BAL, Zach Britton BAL, Alex Colome TAM, Will Harris HOU, Kelvin Herrera KC, Andrew Miller NYY

National League: Jeurys Familia NYM, Kenley Jansen LAD, Mark Melancon PIT, A.J. Ramos MIA, Fernando Rodney SD/MIA,

Breakdown:
Remember what I just said about the starters? That remains somewhat applicable in the other dugout here. Wade Davis aka. Cyborg was amidst a down year prior to software update… er injury, having posted a 1.23 ERA. *takes tongue out of cheek* Aroldis Chapman missed the first portion of the season and therefore will also miss this year’s mid summer classic. Craig Kimbrel just went down with torn cartilage in his left knee. And yet, the American League still holds a strong advantage here. Zach Brittion, Dellin Betances, Kelvin Herrera, and Andrew Miller are among the elite relief pitchers in the game. Any lead entering the later part of the game is in great hands with the arms Ned’ll have at his disposure. Advantage: American League

MANAGERS

Ned Yost KC

vs.

Terry Collins NYM

Breakdown:
I don’t always agree with Ned, but I’ll always stand in his corner. He’s won this game before. He’s clowned Collins before. He’s really good with the bullpen. Advantage: American League

Prediction

It’s one game. The season is 162 games long for a reason. This an exhibition. Players are hurt. Player usage is impossible to predetermine. These are disclaimers for my inevitably wrong prediction. If these were the rosters for a best of 7 series, American League 4-2 in 6. If everyone was healthy and available for that series, National 4-3 in 7. But for tonight, a single game with these rosters: American 5 National 3.

Tune in tonight at 7pm (central time) on FOX.

Potentially Huge Trades in 2016

Back by popular demand (mainly Wesley complaining) I’m writing again! This time it’s about hypothetical blockbuster MLB Trades this summer. The grass is turning yellow (ish) and temperatures are too damn hot already, so it seems only fitting that we’re starting to get an idea of who wants to contend and who wants to build for the future.

*Disclaimer* This article isn’t going to be like most “potential trade” articles where a columnist will take a list of good players on bad teams and list off the 12 teams with winning records as possible teams interested.

“Jay Bruce is having a good year. The Reds are struggling and looking to add young talent. Teams of possible interest included (but not limited to): Cubs, Cardinals, Nationals, Mets, Marlins, Rockies, Giants, Dodgers, Tigers, White Sox, Indians, Royals, Orioles, Red Sox, Rangers, Mariners and maybe even the Yankees.”

Followed up immediately with:

“Danny Valencia is also having a good year. The A’s are building for the future. Teams of possible interest included (but not limited to): Cubs, Cardinals, Nationals, Mets, Marlins, Rockies, Giants, Dodgers, Tigers, White Sox, Indians, Royals, Orioles, Red Sox, Rangers, Mariners and maybe even the Yankees.”

No, that’s boring. Like really boring. And that’s not how I like to do things. I like to dream big. I like to take the biggest boat to catch the biggest fish. Woah, did someone say Trout?

*Raises hand* I did.

Trade #1: The Hollywood Blockbuster

Los Angeles Angels : OF Mike Trout, 1B Albert Pujols

For

Los Angeles Dodgers : SP Jose Urias (#4), SP Jose De Leon (#14), OF Alex Verdugo (#72), OF Austin Barnes (#156) *(#) denotes prospects ranking*

Tyler, you’re insane. Why should the Angels trade the best player in the game? Normally I’m against the idea of trading off the unquestionably best positional player in a generation when he’s 24 years old. Not insane. But this isn’t one of those normal situations. Remember when they won all of those free agent bidding wars a couple of years ago to get Albert Pujols and CJ Wilson? Well the aftermath of those contracts is now rearing its’ ugly head. The Angels currently sit 12 games out of first place. Bear in mind that Mike Trout is well on his way to another ho-hum, 35HR/130 RBI/10 WAR season. The Angels missed their window for a championship. They also have a tiny issue. Ok, maybe a giant issue. They have the worst farm system in baseball. Dead. Last. And possibly the worst farm system in the past 15 years. Their best prospect is a middling catcher that wouldn’t crack most other teams top-10’s list. Don’t believe me? <–Click, press Ctrl+F, and now type in “Angels.” Woof.

So it’s not like they are in position to trade off talent for immediate help in the near future. Oh yeah, and it’s also not like they can just wait for that crop of talent to come up either. Did I mention that they don’t have any talent down there? Not having a farm system in baseball spells doom in this game. It’s like looking at the ace of spades alongside a bunch of off-suited number cards. Sure you can show off the ace of spades, but you’ll still lose to a pair of twos.

Not to pun too hard here but if you’re looking for aces, there is only one farm system in the game you can turn to… Unfortunately for them, it’s the cross-town rival Dodgers. Much like going to the mob boss to take out a loan, the Angels have hit rock bottom. And as you can tell, they need help. It just so happens the Dodgers have the best farm system in the game. They also have a complete disregard for making financially-sound decisions. So what’s a few 140 extra million to Albert Pujols for the price of the best positional player (sans steroids) since Ted Williams? Exactly.

As for the prospect haul, which has to be extreme if you are going to move Mike Trout, Jose Urias is already up and pitching with the Major League team. He has the stuff to someday start an All-Star game. His minor league teammate Jose De Leon, without further injury setback, should see his way onto the roster by season’s end. They are the best duo of young arms in any system right now. They would provide both immediate and long-term improvement to a completely beleaguered Angels’ staff. The bats, Verdugo and Barnes, aren’t as can’t miss as the other two but would help to supplement the loss of Trout right away. Barnes has already played at the Major League level and could fill in immediately. While Verdugo has moved up the minor league ranks faster than anyone anticipated and would very well find himself on the roster by season’s end. This has Herschel Walker to the Vikings potential return here.

The biggest thing with trades is to remember that you don’t have to screw over your partner in order to win a trade. The idea is to benefit your team in the best way you can. This trade does that. Now would it be tough for the brand new GM Billy Eppler to come in and be the guy that traded Trout? Sure. And would it sting Angels’ fans for a while to watch Trout in the Dodger Blue? Of course. But it also stings watching him play with the current AAA roster they are fielding. 10-WAR individual seasons (which are elite level MVP seasons) on 70-win teams are a terrible waste. Think Zack Greinke. Now trade Trout. Maximize your return. Win in the long-run. Meanwhile, Dodgers, go win a World Series so we have highlights other than just gimpy Kirk Gibson pumping his fist as he rounds first base back in ’88.

Trade #2: Red Beer

Milwuakee Brewers : C Jonathan Lucroy & OF Ryan Braun

For

Boston Red Sox : OF Andrew Benintendi (#16), SP Anderson Espinoza (#34), 1B Sam Travis (#101)

People that really follow the depths of the game understand the magnitude that this trade would have. It would be determined a blockbuster in any year other than the one Trout gets traded. (I say that like it’s going to happen because it needs to happen) Jonathan Lucroy is arguably the best catcher in the National League (.307/10 HR/31 RBI) and has a very team-generous contract with club control through next year. Ryan Braun burst on the scene back in 2007 winning NL Rookie of the Year. He then won the MVP in 2011. Followed up swiftly by an ever-so-brilliant move of putting blame on everyone else following a positive test for PED’s. That list included the guy that took his sample:

“There were a lot of things we learned about the collector, about the collection process, about the way the entire thing worked that made us very concerned and very suspicious about what could have actually happened.” -Ryan Braun

Braun has since served his suspension and is quite quietly returned back to an elite level (.307/11 HR/36 RBI). He has a fairly hefty contract through 2020 with a mutual option in ’21.

And that’s where Boston comes in. Big market teams like to do big market things. Such as trading off prospects for big name/contract players to make their immediate teams better. I’ve written before about the offense of the Boston Red Sox. They broke Spring Training at a torrid pace. ’27 Yankees-like. But the reason that we still remember the ’27 Yankees, 89 years removed, is that they did it for the whole season. Had Jose Lima continued his ’03 April and May throughout the season he would’ve won the AL Cy Young.

Think about that for a second. You’re welcome Roy Halladay.

So as the offense has cooled down for the ‘sawks,’ holes have began to show in their lineup. Mainly at catcher and left field. Their starting catchers this year are 55 for 262 (.209) with 1 HR. Obviously left field isn’t as bad, but they have been struggling since the calendar turned to June. Still, with the American League wide open at this point, this trade would immediately make them favorites to represent in the World series with a lineup that would actually rival historic levels. A lineup that would certainly compete with the Cubs in the most curse-laden World Series of all time. Can you imagine the media hype?

Sam Travis is 23 and although his power hasn’t fully come around for the position he plays at, he’s a natural born hitter. Acquiring the former 2nd rounder could free up Milwaukee to move current power hitting first baseman, Chris Carter also at the deadline and really stack the franchise for the future.

These other 2 guys are elite prospects. Benintendi is a guy I watched back in college when he played at Arkansas. He’s an athletic outfielder with an extremely smooth way about how he plays the game. The kid can hit. And at 21 he’s nearing the age where it’s time to give him full-time major league at bats. This means that he would potentially fill in for Braun immediately.

Espinoza is the most intriguing part of this deal as far as the prospects go. He’s an 18 year-old with an unbelievable arm and is already outperforming guys 5 years older than him at the same level. Probably still two years out from his big league debut, but he possesses an arsenal to be the ace the Brewers have searched for since the departure of CC Sabathia.

This is a deal that could make Boston great this year and has the potential to make Milwaukee a real contender in the coming seasons within that gauntlet of a division.

Trade #3: The Chicago Fire

Chicago Cubs : IF Javier Baez, Oscar de la Cruz (#162)

For

New York Yankees : RP Aroldis Chapman

The thing about the Yankees trading Chapman is that it wouldn’t necessarily mean they’ve thrown in the towel on the season. They still have Andrew Miller (whose 2.04 ERA somehow won won him AL reliever of the Year over Wade Davis’ 0.94) and could slot easily right back into the closer role with the departure of Chapman. So getting a major league ready guy in return makes a lot of sense here. That’s why Baez, who is currently part of an over crowded infield in Chicago, seems likely to be the guy dealt. Baez has all the ability in the world. With some maturity towards a more disciplined approached at the plate he would be an extremely dangerous offensive player in Yankee Stadium.

Oscar de la Cruz is the lottery ticket of the deal. The Dominican former-shortstop-turned-pitcher has the pure athleticism and arm strength to thrive on the mound. But with only 2 years of Dominican Summer ball and a season at single-a under his belt he’s still incredibly raw.

The Cubs are on pace for 114 wins, why mess with that? First of all, the trades in this post are definitely reason to. Teams will make big moves and get a lot better. If the Red Sox have a lineup that starts 7 all-stars you’ll feel better about Aroldis Chapman (throwing 99-102 mph from the left side) coming into a 4-3 game in the 9th than Hector Rodon. I would also like to take this time to formally trademark the nickname Chicago Fire for him if this trade were to go down. Thank you in advance for being a witness.

Also, when you have everything in place like the Cubs do you have to maximize the opportunity. Everyone looked at the Royals as having through ’18 locked up as far as the Central is concerned. But then injuries happen (Gordon, Moustakas, Vargas, Medlin) players don’t perform at a similar level to their career prior (Morales, Young, Infante) and even stuff like suspensions (Mondesi). Take full advantage of what you have in front of you. Which is exactly why, even though we had the best record in the American League at the time, Dayton went out and got Cueto and Zobrist. They proved pivotal. The crazy part about this trade is that apparently The Northside has actually shown interest in both Chapman AND Miller which would just be overbearing if it happened. Although a part of me kinda just wants to see the superpower they would become. Dare I say, GOAT? (sorry Cubs’ fans)

Trade #4: Extra CarGo

Colorado Rockies : OF Carlos Gonzalez

For

Cleveland Indians : SP Danny Salazar

Of the 5 trades in here, this is the least likely to hit. Could Carlos Gonzalez end up in Cleveland? Definitely. Could Salazar end up in Colorado? Maybe. But these trades never go down straight up like this. A handful of prospects would accompany each of these guys in order for the GM’s feel some form of protection from the trade in the short-run by having long-term guys involved as well.

This trade definitely has some traction to it though. Gonzalez is an elite offensive outfielder that hasn’t just bolstered his numbers hitting at altitude. He’s a legitimate force no matter the elevation or ballpark. (16 road HR’s in 76 games last year) And he is under club control through 2017 and can play an above-average defense at either corner outfield position.

That last part is key for the Indians as they can’t seem to get their quiet superstar left fielder, Michael Brantley, healthy enough to take the field. At this point they have to start acting without him in mind this season. In that case they need a bat in the middle of the order, in a real bad way. They currently have 22 year-old Fransisco Lindor hitting 3 for them when he would serve way better in a lead-off role with Jason Kipnis still hitting 2. Gonzalez has the, as the scouts say, “presence” to force the opposing teams to think about him even when he’s not hitting. This all seems like a no-brainer, so what’s the hold-up?

The issue here is the willingness for the Indians to move a proven, young, flame-throwing, starting pitcher. Now there are reasons to being extremely stingy with a coveted resource like Salazar. The thing is that they have young arms that are major league ready and unable to come up from the minors because of the already crowded major league rotation. This is a lot like The Cubs situation with positional players. Mike Clevinger is a Top 30 prospect but he’s now 25 years old. There’s only so long you can hold your pieces before the value of them is gone. We aren’t talking antiques here, we’re talking young arms with a finite number of pitches in them. This is the prime example of the old, “shit or get off the pot” saying.

Why don’t The Rockies take Clevinger and a couple other prospects then? I honestly think Colorado is tired of the cycle of trading off bats for pitching prospects. It’s frustrating trying to develop arms to throw at that stadium only to see them flame out miserably. They want a proven guy, and by trading Carlos Gonzalez, they deserve a proven guy. They also have their entire young core of positional talent up right now and their pre-arbitration clocks are ticking too. That’s where Salazar comes in. A power 4-seam fastball that wouldn’t be effected at altitude like a finesse guy trying to sink and cut everything would be. He’s the perfect arm to succeed out there. He’s also 26 and could front-end a rotation that is showing signs of improvement with the likes of Jon Gray and Tyler Chatwood.

Like I said, highly unlikely to happen because the Indians like to sit on their arms. These two teams do have history of big deals though. Ubaldo Jimenez was sent to Cleveland just a few years back the year after his 3rd place finish in the NL Cy Young vote.

Trade #5: Kansas City Athletics (Circa 2016)

Kansas City Royals : SP Kyle Zimmer (#123), OF Seuly Matias (NR), SP Garrett Davila

For

Oakland Athletics : SP Rich Hill, OF Josh Reddick

This is one of the only deals I could see myself getting behind for the Royals to pull the trigger on this year. I realize the Central is wide open, but if you’ve read any part of this post prior (instead of just scrolling to Royals’ related content) you know how much value I place on a team’s farm system. And currently, Kansas City’s is still recovering from the major deals done last year. That being said, both of these guys are ‘rent-a-players’ (contract up at season’s end), thus shouldn’t be nearly as expensive as the trades above, and they would fill two glaring holes immediately.

Rich Hill is a guy that pitched in the majors for a decade before washing up. He stuck with the game though and went to Independent ball in order to keep the dream alive. While down there he reinvented himself as a pitcher and has the third-best ERA in baseball since last July. The tall lefty has a 2.25 ERA this year and if he’s able to recover from his current groin (you know, because he’s old) injury then he should be a highly sought after guy down the stretch.

“ESPN’s Jim Bowden lists the Marlins, Red Sox, Tigers, Royals, Dodgers, Astros and Orioles as the best fits for Hill.” -Another one of those generically boring MLB trade-related articles.

Josh Reddick and his elite defensive abilities would fit the mold of this current group of Royals perfectly. He plays right field too, which would help a solidify the revolving door of players that have tried to fill that hole for the past 3 years. Reddick is also hitting .322 and would definitely help lengthen a lineup currently hindered by the struggling, Space Jam-esque- ability-drained, Kendrys Morales.

As far as the prospects go, you aren’t giving up all that much. Zimmer is the big name in the group, but I’m beginning to have my doubts that he’ll ever be healthy enough to make an impact at the major league level. He’s thrown 4.2 innings this year and is currently on the shelf for yet another something or other. I wouldn’t be heart broken to move on from him.

Matias has a lightning quick bat and the accompanying power to go with it. The problem is whether or not that will translate to the professional game. He lacks discipline at the plate and is still trying to develop into an adequate defensive player. I feel like I’m describing another team’s player here. Which is why I think I might be. There is no player that has the same value across the board for every team. The tools in which Matias possesses are more highly sought after by other franchises and I think it makes sense for the Royals to cash in on that.

As for Davila, he’s a 19 year old lefty with a decent fastball. Considering his age there’s a lot of developing that needs to take place. He’s the kind of guy that the A’s love to get into their system and work with. One out of ten work out for them and, knowing the A’s, will then be traded away in 6 years for more of those guys. It’s kind of their “thing.”

Nonetheless, I love the idea of trading with Oakland. Billy Beane seems to have bought into the idea of his own greatness. He now tries too hard to make outlandish deals in order to be the smartest guy in the room, and of late he’s missed on those deals.. badly. It’s to a point where I think the best version of Billy Beane is actually the Brad Pitt version. In Dayton I Trust.


So here’s the part where I’d love to hear feedback here. All of these trades came from my head, (in most part because the major outlets are really lazy when it comes to this stuff) and so I wanted to do it right for anyone out there that actually reads my stuff. But because it comes from my head it makes it harder to see all the fallacies in my hypothetical trades. So that’s where I ask you guys to stem debate. Where am I awry?

Quarter Season Predictions

As we sit here a 1/4 of the way through the 2016 season I wanted to write something of a prediction post based on the portion of the season that (even though it is hyper-analyzed by all) will soon be forgotten by many. I didn’t get my preseason predictions posted prior to the season, which should stand to conveniently save me some face here. (cough Houston) Here goes:

AL Central              AL East             AL West                 AL Wild Cards
Kansas City            Boston               Texas             Baltimore / Chicago

NL Central              NL East             NL West                 NL Wild Cards
Chicago               Washington        Colorado     San Francisco / Pittsburgh

AL MVP – Manny Machado (BAL)
AL Cy Young – Chris Sale (CWS)
AL Rookie of the Year – Nomar Mazara (TEX)

NL MVP – Anthony Rizzo (CHC)
NL Cy Young – Clayton Kershaw (LAD)
NL Rookie of the Year – Trevor Story (COL)

World Series : Texas over Chicago (NL) in 7.

Hear Me Out

AL Central “The Best”
I was going to attempt to keep my personal bias out of this prediction. But nah, screw that. And while I feel like the panic for the Royals is extremely early and unwarranted, I’ll admit there is something off with this team right now. Ultimately I like the team’s pedigree and I trust in the front office more than any of the other teams in the division though. That, couple with the fact that I feel like the early surge from the White Sox is a little bit of “smoke and mirrors” is the reason I believe Kansas City will outright win the division. Sale is great and Quintana is quite good, but Latos is awful. And I mean awful. I continue to be dumbfounded by how this guy isn’t getting lit (ayyy) up each night. He throws a straight 90mph fastball and doesn’t miss bats with any of his off-speed stuff. Watch for a major regression from him as the season continues. I just can’t pick a team throwing Mat Latos 20 more times this season. They’ll be real dangerous in the Wild Card game though.

Al Central “The Rest”
Detroit is currently a train-wreck. Ausmus is on the brink of being fired and nobody outside of the free agent acquisition Jordan Zimmerman is fooling anyone right now. I don’t know that they are in need of a complete overhaul of their roster, but when you have that many 100 million dollar players there is an expectation to win. Cleveland looks pretty Cleveland-like. Brantley just went back to the DL and their supposed Ace, Corey Kluber, hasn’t lived up to the billing so far. Minnesota is not good. But hey, at least they’re young!

AL East “The Best”
Boston has been unreal offensively this year. (Better than the ’27 Yankees) They are hitting .298 collectively this year! They currently sit tied for first place with Baltimore and haven’t received any production from their 217 million dollar man, David Price. He’s going to be (a lot) better than he has been as they go forward and when coupled with that offense it’s a scary notion to think about. Baltimore’s decent. Which should be enough in the AL this year.

AL East “The Rest”
Both Toronto and New York made the playoffs last year but look like they want no part of Octoberfest this fall. Tulowitzki has come “down to earth” since leaving Colorado and is striking out at a staggering 27% clip. Their young arms are talented but none have truly stepped forward to fill the void left by the aforementioned David Price. Oh and Jose Bautista just lost a fight to a 5’11” middle infielder. Speaking of punching women, Aroldis Chapman appears to be the only bright spot in New York. But if I had to guess, I’d say he’s be traded by the end of July. Tampa Bay? They mash lefties. That’s seriously all I know about them.

AL West “The Best”
The Texas Rangers are a dangerous club. That’s with a Prince Fielder that has yet really hit this year. They have successfully managed to blend a core of talented veterans while infusing a nice stockpile of athletic young players. Yu Darvish will return at the end of the month to provide much needed help to Cole Hamels at the top of the rotation. With a fully healthy Darvish the Rangers look to have a 1-2 dare I say, punch, that can compete with any duo in MLB. And remember that they had a 2-0 series lead on Toronto in the ALDS last year. All of that being said, are they better than the Cubs? Right now, no. In October? Maybe.

AL West “The Rest”
Houston is showing why the game isn’t played on a computer. And while I use sabermetrics to help determine my opinions, I will never use them as the foundation of my understanding. This is where Houston fails as an organization. That’s being exposed in the early going of this season. Seattle is a nice story early in the season but Felix Hernandez is down 3-4 mph on his fastball and while he has re-invented himself as a pitcher, he is no longer the elite starter he once was. I also feel like the travel schedule takes more of a toll on them over the course of a season than any other team because of their relative location to the rest of the league. Oakland is garbage. LA is garbage, but less garbage because they have Trout.

NL Central “The Best”
Chicago has been everything they were expected to be coming into the season, and maybe even then some? Both Arrieta and Zobrist haven’t slowed a bit from their torrid second half’s last year. Rizzo is loving life batting between Bryant and Zobrist, meanwhile Fowler just keeps getting on base. Before you know it, MLB The Show is going to have to implement an “Ask Maddon” button. But no World Series? Titles aren’t won in May. Meanwhile, I really like the Pirates. I currently start all three of their outfielders on my fantasy roster. But I won’t make a whole lot of Pittsburgh fans happy with a prediction of their 4th straight Wild Card game (0-3 in the previous). But hey, what could really go wrong in a one game playoff against The Giants in an even year?

NL Central “The Rest”
This is actually one of my favorite Cardinals’ teams to watch in the most recent history. Their expecting W-L says they should actually be 8 games above .500 instead of just their current 2 games up. The pieces of Carpenter, Piscotty, and Molina play the traditional (gag) Cardinals’ Way but I just don’t feel they have the arms to contend in a division as top heavy as the NL Central. It’s a shame they don’t play out west. Cincinnati is bad but will at least be active at the trade deadline with pieces like Bruce and Phillips. Milwaukee doesn’t suck as much as I thought they would.

NL East “The Best”
The East has been a surprisingly good (and deep) division to begin the season with 4 teams currently above .500. I don’t buy it though. Washington is the class of the division. Not that I particularly love their team, but I will side with Strasburgh/Harper/Baker over any other pitcher/hitter/manager combination in the division. Their bullpen has been really good and Tanner Roark has given them a surplus of of depth in the rotation. And while I don’t believe in rotation depth in the playoffs, I do believe in it over the long-haul of the regular season.

NL East “The Rest”
But The Mets have a deeper rotation.. Not this year. Something is wrong with Matt Harvey. I’m not going to speculate what it is, but I’d lean towards some sort of lingering arm issue. Also, DeGrom hasn’t been striking guys out at nearly the same clip from the passed two seasons. And I just don’t trust Terry Collins to navigate any sort of speed bumps correctly. He’s great, well as long as everything else around him is great, otherwise he’s terrible. Philadelphia has been a great story this year, but one-run wins without any sustainable offense sounds a whole lot like the recipe of the 2013 Royals. A 76-win season would be a successful season for the young Philly team to build off going into 2017. Miami has Bonds and Stanton so that’s cool. And the Braves are tied for 5th in Home Runs (11)… If they were an individual player. They’ve also won 2 of their 19 home games. That makes them one of 8 teams that have won at 2 games at least Turner Field this year.

NL West “The Best”
The Rockies? Sure. There’s always a surprise (or 5) team in the playoffs each year. This year will serve no differently. The West division is real strange this year. So why not them? They mash the baseball. They field the ball. And they can actually kind of pitch the ball. Jake McGee has been nails in save opportunities, which is a premium when over/under’s are in the double digits each game.

NL West “The Rest”
Something isn’t right with the Dodgers. With Greinke now in Arizona it’s just Kershaw. They don’t have anything else in that rotation. Kenta Maeda looked like the guy to fill that spot but he hasn’t been good since the first two weeks of the season. It’s not really like Greinke has done much either though. He still hasn’t mastered pitching at home which looms ominously for a team that had high playoffs aspirations prior to AJ Pollock’s season ending injury just a few days before Opening Day. The Padres aren’t good, but at least Dodgers are still helping to pay their best player, Matt Kemp.

*Mic Drop*