Do the Rockies Have Enough to Win the NL West?

Jack Dempsey/Associated Press

The Colorado Rockies are one of the hardest major league teams to figure this season.

With a win last night over the Pirates, Colorado stayed at just two games behind the Diamondbacks for first place in the National League West. But this season, in more ways than one, has not exactly gone to plan for Colorado.

Going into the year, starter Jon Gray was expected to be the ace of a staff that almost always falters pitching in a ballpark that plays less like a major league stadium and more like a simulation. Gray’s first three months of the season went so well that he was optioned to AAA at the end of June with a 5.77 ERA. Since coming back right before the All-Star break, however, Gray has pitched to a 1.52 ERA in four starts and has gone at least seven innings in each of those games. The Rockies have won all of the games he has started since his return.  There is still ample evidence to suggest, despite everything that has transpired, that Gray is Colorado’s best starter. Let’s move over to Colorado’s real adventure, which has been their bullpen.

One wouldn’t think that the bullpen would be the problem area for the Rockies this season given that they spent $106 million on three players as part of a plan to revitalize it. So let’s see how that’s going:

It’s almost like giving big contracts to pitchers doesn’t work in Colorado. I’m not a major league GM, but I did stay at a Holiday Inn last night.

At that point, what do you say when you shell out nine figures to three bullpen arms but your best reliever is in the final season of a three-year, $10.4 million deal? None of the pitchers who were supposed to be good for the Rockies this season have lived up to expectations, but the staff has been buoyed by starter Kyle Freeland and reliever Adam Ottavino. Freeland’s numbers suggest that he’s in for a regression sooner rather than later, but to this point in the season, he has saved a Colorado pitching staff that has the eighth-highest ERA in the league.

But let’s get back to the question at the beginning of the article: are the Rockies good enough, as they currently stand, to win the NL West?

Let’s start by looking at their schedule the rest of the way. The Rockies have 17 remaining games with the Diamondbacks and Dodgers, the two teams they’re chasing in the division. They’re only two games back as it stands, so either way, the outcome of these games may very well decide who wins the NL West. To make matters even better, 11 of these games will be at home.

There is another escape hatch for the Rockies if they can’t take their division. In addition to only being two games back of Arizona, they are also just two games back of the Braves for the second and last National League Wild Card spot. Luckily for Colorado, they have a four-game series in Atlanta from August 16-19, and depending on how things develop over the next nine days, the Rockies could set themselves up to leapfrog Atlanta if they take three out of four.

The rest of their schedule, though, is periodically challenging. After home series this week against Pittsburgh and the Dodgers, Bud Black’s team has a two-game set in Houston and the aforementioned Braves series. An easy week follows with San Diego and St. Louis coming to Coors Field, and the Rockies end August and vault into September with road series against the Angels and Padres. The Rockies also have six September games with the Giants, who should be firmly out of playoff contention by the time they face Colorado. The last week of the season, which could decide the Rockies’ fate, will see them host the Phillies for four games and the Nationals for three. Both of those teams could also be fighting for playoffs spot at that point.

If their performance to this point in the season is any indication, however, Colorado is playing in over its head. They have a run differential of -8, and Pythagorean W-L suggests that they should be 10.5 games back in the NL West right now instead of just two. The last team to make the playoffs with a negative run differential was the 2007 Arizona Diamondbacks, and they met their demise in the NLCS at the hands of, you guessed it, the Colorado Rockies. Both Colorado and Seattle are making playoff runs this season with negative run differentials. Seattle is 11-17 in its last 28 games, and if I were a gambling man, I would guess that Colorado would underperform the rest of the way, in spite of the fact that they have overperformed to this point in the year.

There’s also the matter of what the Rockies did, or, more accurately, didn’t do, at the trade deadline. For a team that has multiple needs, particularly with their pitching, making one trade (acquiring Seunghwan Oh from the Blue Jays) probably won’t cut it. Granted, the 36-year-old from South Korea is having an excellent year (2.38 ERA, 2.98 FIP, 9.8 K/9), but he alone may not be enough for the Rockies, especially when you don’t know how he’ll perform at Coors Field (Oh has pitched six scoreless innings for the Rockies since his acquisition). The Diamondbacks got Eduardo Escobar and two solid bullpen arms at the deadline. The Dodgers picked up Brian Dozier and one of the game’s best players in Manny Machado. Comparatively, Colorado got a rock. Pun completely intended.

The Rockies went into this season trying to prove that last year’s Wild Card berth wasn’t a one-off. The jury is still out on that, but Colorado is only two games back on August 7 with 50 games left in the season. That’s a lot of time left for things to go haywire, but it’s also a lot of time for the team to make up a minuscule deficit in their division.

With 17 games left against teams ahead of them in the race, the Rockies will have every chance to compete for a division title. Their underlying numbers suggest that they’re lucky to still be in the race, though.

Story Time: An Awesome Anomaly in Colorado

Photo Credit: Christian Petersen/Getty Images
Photo Credit: Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Very little was expected of the Colorado Rockies to begin the 2016 season.  Incredibly, even less was expected of their new starting shortstop.

It was not unexpected that Trevor Story would begin the season as the team’s shortstop.  Last year’s Opening Day starter was Troy Tulowitzki; he was dealt to the Blue Jays at the trade deadline for fellow shortstop Jose Reyes.  Reyes, though, was arrested in the offseason on a domestic violence charge in Hawaii.

Therefore, it would be Story to fill in for him.  And it looks like he’s done more than just fill in.

The Rockies opened their season on Monday against the Arizona Diamondbacks; the game also happened to be the Diamondback debut of ace Zack Greinke.  In a stunning turn of events, Greinke imploded, giving up seven runs in just four innings in one of the worst starts of his career.

As for Story, he would ground out to third in the first at-bat of his career.  In his second one, however, he would take the $206.5 million dollar man over the right field wall.

A home run in your first career game?  That’s great!  It can’t get much better than that, can it?  Oh, yes it can.

And yes, it did get better for Trevor Story on Monday night. In the fourth inning, he would take Greinke deep again for home run number two on the night and in his young career.

So in the first three Major League at-bats of his life, Trevor Story hit a home run in two of them.  Essentially, he played MLB 16: The Show on the easiest difficulty setting.  And he would come close to repeating his performance one night later.

In the fourth inning of Tuesday night’s game, Story stepped in to face the Diamondbacks’ other newly-acquired mound presence, Shelby Miller.  On the second pitch of the at-bat, he would step out in the form of a 436-foot home run to left center field.  In an extremely pedestrian performance, it would be his only home run of the night (that’s sarcasm).  The team would lose 11-6, but no one really cared. This was and is a story about Trevor.

But for as great as Story’s first two games were, could he make history and become the first player to ever hit four home runs in his first three big league games?  We got our answer on Wednesday; it was in the affirmative.  Story would hit a 434-foot homer to almost the same place he hit Tuesday’s dinger.  In the process, he made MLB history and went to a place no rookie had ever gone before.

And then he took it one step further.  In Friday night’s game, Story would hit another two home runs, making it six home runs in the first four games of his career.  He was on pace for 243 home runs, a pace that some would argue is unsustainable (obviously).  The historic, unprecedented four-game run marked the first time in which a player hit a home run in each of his first four games.  The streak would end on Saturday only to continue when Story hit a home run the next day in a win over the Padres.

So, to recap: seven home runs, six games.  And if you lost track, it’s just fine; this Vine will help you avoid making that mistake (h/t Matt Allaire):

But here’s the problem: can he keep it up?

Clearly, his current pace is utterly unsustainable.  The home run record for a single season is 73; Story is on pace for 189.  There’s no way on the planet that Trevor Story (or anyone else in the sport) even comes close to that figure.  But can he hit 30 longballs?  35?  Those amounts would seem a little more reasonable, but expecting even this may be too much to ask of the rookie.

For example, look into his past.  Not to say that there’s anything wrong with this, but Story’s highest total of regular season home runs in a season is 20; he did this last year in half a season in AA and AAA each.  He’s a good hitter, having hit .279 in the minors last season, but he has never hit more than 20 bombs in a single season.  Therefore, asking him to hit 30, never mind 40 or 50 like some have speculated, is likely a little too much.

Also, there’s a chance that Story doesn’t pan out at all.  When he began the season on his absurd tear, the first two players who entered the minds of many were Chris Shelton and Kevin Maas.  Maas was the Yankees’ first baseman who, at the beginning of the 1990 season, hit ten home runs in his first 72 at-bats.  He would be out of the big leagues on an everyday basis by 1992.  Similar was the case for Shelton, who hit nine home runs in his first thirteen games as the Detroit Tigers’ designated hitter in 2006.  Shelton would be sent down to AAA at the end of July following a precipitous drop in his production from the start of the season; he would never play a full Major League season in his career.

However, there’s every chance in the world that Trevor Story will turn out to be a good player.  If he continues to hit consistently (even as his power predictably wanes) he will be one of the best shortstops in the game.  His power, though, has been carrying him through the beginning of the season, and he will need to find a more consistent offensive approach if he wants to have a long career in the majors.

With all of this being said, let’s enjoy Trevor Story and his incredible, scorching-hot play while we still can.

It probably won’t last much longer.

Winners and Losers: MLB Trade Deadline Edition


Johnny Cueto (pictured above), David Price, Troy Tulowitzki, and Yoenis Cespedes were all big names to change teams at trade deadline, just to name a few.  This year’s deadline saw an interesting trading climate, as teams that were expected to sell, like the Padres, didn’t, while teams that were not expected to sell did, like the Tigers. Interestingly enough, the main teams that were buyers on July 31 are all in the midst of long playoff droughts; the Blue Jays (since 1993), the Astros (since 2005), and the Mets (since 2006).

And while every year’s trade deadline has interesting deals and intrigue, the most fun part of analyzing the deals is figuring out who the winners and losers were.  So here it is, the MLB trade deadline, complete with winners and losers.

3. Winner: Kansas City Royals

The Royals made two separate deals in the week leading up to the deadline, acquiring pitcher Johnny Cueto from the Reds and second baseman Ben Zobrist from the A’s.  Kansas City and GM Dayton Moore are going all in this year, and no better indication exists of this fact than what they gave up to get Zobrist and Cueto.  Mike Axisa of CBS Sports explains:

In trading for Cueto and Zobrist, the Royals have given up two of their top three prospects (according to Baseball America). Kansas City has hung onto shortstop prospect Raul Mondesi Jr. Left-hander Sean Manaea is ranked by as the No. 56 prospect in the majors. He’s had injury issues with his hip and abdomen (nothing with his arm!) and just reached Class AA after being drafted 34th overall in 2013. Standing 6-foot-5, he can reach the upper 90s with his fastball and showed improved command overall in high A-ball. At 23, reaching the majors sometime in 2016 seems possible. Brooks hasn’t shown much in brief stints with the Royals this season and in 2014, but has averaged 6.9 strikeouts and 1.8 walks over 639 minor-league innings. The A’s could pop him into their rotation now for an extended look.

But these acquisitions are about what the Royals get this year.  In Cueto, they get a dominant starting pitcher (they didn’t have one before) and a major innings eater.  Even with the Royals’ lockdown bullpen, getting to the sixth inning had been a challenge for their starters this season; it won’t be with Cueto.  It’s so important to have good to commanding starting pitching, and having a pitcher of Cueto’s ilk should significantly help the Royals’ chances at their first championship since 1985.  But let’s just hope this doesn’t happen again.

What do the Royals get with Ben Zobrist?  A career .264 hitter who they can play just about anywhere except pitcher and catcher. Zobrist hit second in the lineup yesterday and hit two home runs, helping the Royals to a 7-6 win over the Blue Jays (more on them later).  Another good thing to have come playoff time is the ability to score runs, and when the pitching falls short, being able to still win games.  The Royals did that yesterday, and it will be important to their World Series aspirations to continue scoring runs, runs that will help them continue to win games, a division title, and even a pennant or championship.

3. Loser: Colorado Rockies

This one is pretty simple.  The Rox dealt star shortstop Troy Tulowitzki on July 27, which seems fair enough, considering that they are a struggling team unwilling to spend money.  The return for Tulo? Three pitching prospects… and Jose Reyes.

Reyes has been injury prone throughout his career, and this is only the first reason the move made zero sense for Colorado.  The other reason?  Reyes is making more money than Tulowitzki for each of the next three seasons.  The acquisition of the pitching prospects, namely Castro, was good, but taking on Reyes’ contract was not.

And when the Rockies got Reyes, why didn’t they try to trade him for more prospects?  You may laugh at this assertion in light of the Tulo deal, but Colorado needs more pitching, in the worst way; exactly one pitcher (Boone Logan) on the MLB roster has an ERA under four this year.  Instead, the Rox kept Jose, and will be tied to his contract until 2017.

2. Winner: Toronto Blue Jays

You may not have expected to see the Blue Jays this early in the countdown, but here they are.  However, they are assuredly a winner at the deadline.  Grantland’s Michael Baumann even argues that they are the winners:

I’ve said for years that if the Blue Jays ever realized they’re a big-market team, it could irrevocably change the landscape of the game. The Jays play in an extremely cosmopolitan metro area of more than 5.6 million people (comparable to Houston, Philadelphia, or Washington) and considering that they have 30 million more Canadians to themselves, that Toronto-specific number understates their true commercial and economic reach. Plus, the Jays are owned by Canadian media giant Rogers Communications (think Jonathan Pryce’s character in Tomorrow Never Dies). They could conquer and subjugate Red Sox Nation if they wanted to.

And for once, it’s finally starting to show, as the Jays went out and got the two best players on the market: David Price and Troy Tulowitzki. Even before adding Tulo, Toronto’s offense was already the best in the game, by far, and now the Jays are only two games out of a wild-card spot despite underperforming their run differential by nine games. And it’s not like they only upgraded the top of the lineup and rotation: Mark Lowe and LaTroy Hawkins strengthen the bullpen, while Ben Revere, in addition to having a lovely smile, is a solid on-base guy to plug in left field, even if he has trouble identifying local food. This team is starting to remind me a lot of the 1993 Blue Jays.

Left-handed starter Daniel Norris, probably the best prospect to change hands at the deadline, is a lot of freight to pay for Price, particularly compared to what the Royals gave up for Johnny Cueto, but that’s offset by the degree to which the Blue Jays absolutely bamboozled Colorado for Tulowitzki. A lot of teams got better this week, but Toronto is the winner at the deadline.

They did get better.  You know what they did: they got the best hitter and the best pitcher on the market.  Other than that, they got Mariners reliever Mark Lowe and Phillies outfielder Ben Revere in separate deals.  This one is also easy; the Blue Jays are winners, going for it all this year and giving themselves a shot at their first postseason action in 22 years.

2. Loser: Cincinnati Reds

The Reds traded away Johnny Cueto and Mike Leake to contending teams this deadline (the Royals and the Giants, respectively) without getting too much back in return.  They acquired two prospects in the Cueto trade, and, namely, got Brandon Finnegan from Kansas City. Finnegan projects to be the best player the Reds got in the deal, as the other two prospects they acquired do not have great chances of panning out (one, a pitcher, had Tommy John surgery in 2011, is 25, and just getting back into form now, and the other is a 22-year old AA pitcher).

Then, they decided to deal pitcher Mike Leake to the Giants for prospects Adam Duvall and Keury Mella.  Duvall is almost 27 and has limited action in the majors.  He’s a power hitting first baseman who has hit 26 home runs for the Giants’ AAA team, the Sacramento River Cats, this season.  However, as a corner infielder, he is now stuck behind Todd Frazier and Joey Votto.  Mella is a hyped pitching prospect who, at just 21, has a good chance to be a solid big-league pitcher.

But here’s the issue; they could’ve dealt Aroldis Chapman and/or Jay Bruce, and they didn’t.  While they got five prospects from two different teams, there is a good chance only one or two of them pan out.  They could’ve gotten more by trading more major league talent, but they didn’t.  They lost the deadline.

1. Winner: Houston Astros

The Astros did everything right at this year’s deadline.  They got help where they needed it most, starting pitching, by acquiring Scott Kazmir from the A’s.  They weren’t done there, though, as they picked up outfielder Carlos Gomez and pitcher Mike Fiers from the Brewers for multiple prospects.  While Houston gave up quite a bit in the way of these prospects, they are able to allow themselves to part with them because of the depth they have accumulated on the farm.

Let Joon Lee of SB Nation explain:

The Astros lost and lost and lost for so many years to accumulate seemingly endless depth in the farm system. While a lot of that prospect depth is now finally culminating in major league success for players such as Dallas Keuchel and Carlos Correa, the team’s minor league depth gave the organization the personnel flexibility to acquire big assets to prime themselves for a competitive run at the playoffs. Even after the team’s trades for Gomez, Kazmir and Fiers, the Astros still possess 14 prospects graded 50 or better (on a 20-80 prospect scale) according to The Astros’ prospect depth allowed them to not only position themselves to succeed in the short term, but also to continue to build towards the future.

But Houston is not in the position to buy at the deadline without the team’s moves in the offseason: the signings of Luke Gregerson, Pat Neshek and Colby Rasmus, the trades for Evan Gattis and Hank Conger and the waiver claim of Will Harris. The moves allowed Luhnow to balance future financial flexibility while positioning the team to compete in 2015. While many did not recognize it at the time, the Houston Astros had one of the best offseasons in years.

He’s right: the Astros can give up prospects.  They’ll still have plenty more.

1. Loser: San Diego Padres

Duh; the Pods didn’t do anything.  They could have dealt either Justin or Melvin Upton; they didn’t.  They could’ve traded star closer Craig Kimbrel; they didn’t.  They could have moved starters Tyson Ross and/or James Shields and/or Andrew Cashner; they didn’t.  They could have re-stacked their farm system; they didn’t.

However, the most hilarious train of thought that any GM had at this year’s deadline came from theirs, A.J. Preller.  Ken Rosenthal reports:

Yes, he actually thinks that.  San Diego is 7 games back of the second Wild Card spot in the National League as of today, August 2.  They also happen to be 10.5 games ahead of the Phillies.  They aren’t making the playoffs.

Agree?  Disagree?  Let me know in the comments section.

(c) 2015

How Much Can Troy Tulowitzki Really Help the Blue Jays?

Late last night, the Toronto Blue Jays pulled off the blockbuster of the trade season by acquiring Troy Tulowitzki, as first reported by Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal:

Later, Rosenthal also reported the full terms of the deal, including who the Rockies would be acquiring in the agreement:

Those three prospects were right-handed pitchers Miguel Castro, Jeff Hoffman, and Jesus Tinoco.

Tulowitzki has had a very solid season for the Rockies, hitting .300 and making the National League All-Star team.  The Rockies had been looking to trade him for the last couple of seasons, but they were unable to find the value they wanted.  They also wanted to trade Tulo to a team he wanted to play for; this explains, at least partially, why he was never traded to a team like the Mets.  However, according to Yahoo!’s Jeff Passan, the Rockies notified Tulowitzki (and his teammates) of the trade in a rather dishonorable fashion:

There was always an agreement between Colorado Rockies owner Dick Monfort and his star shortstop, Troy Tulowitzki, spoken out loud so as to be abundantly clear: If the Rockies were to trade Tulowitzki, they were going to ask for his blessing first. Then came the blockbuster deal that sent him to the Toronto Blue Jays late Monday night, and Tulowitzki, according to sources inside the Rockies’ clubhouse, found out not via a phone call but when teary-eyed manager Walt Weiss yanked him from their game in the ninth inning.

The story of how Tulowitzki was treated, relayed by people aggrieved with his departure and how the Rockies broke their word to the longtime face of their franchise, is actually a fitting end to a multiyear trade-him-or-don’t saga that wound up with Tulowitzki fetching his passport and heading to Canada along with LaTroy Hawkins for shortstop Jose Reyes and a trio of right-handed pitching prospects: Jeff Hoffman, Miguel Castro and Jesus Tinoco.

Fearful Tulowitzki requesting a trade publicly would make the Rockies look weak, the team asked him to play good soldier, which he obliged, according to club sources. The organization’s dysfunction, from the power struggles between former co-GMs Dan O’Dowd and Bill Geivett to a hands-on owner in Monfort whose public comments about players often rubbed them the wrong way, was all too evident, not just to Tulowitzki but the team’s young core of Nolan Arenado, Charlie Blackmon, D.J. Lemahieu and Corey Dickerson.

The stunned silence of players early Tuesday morning, when word of the trade came down, spoke to the disappointment of losing Tulowitzki. As the Rockies stashed him in Weiss’ office to keep him from addressing a deal that early Tuesday remained unconfirmed by either team, the truth of Tulowitzki’s exit filtered into the clubhouse and left the players even more gobsmacked, according to sources.

So what can Tulowitzki do for the Blue Jays that Jose Reyes couldn’t?  Let’s find out.

Invariably, the first aspect of this trade that arises given the players involved is health.  Interestingly enough, in each player’s full seasons, Reyes has averaged more games played (121) than Tulowitzki (114). Also, Tulo hasn’t played the last three seasons on artificial turf, like Reyes has in Toronto.  Moreover, Tulowitzki has had multiple lower-body related injuries in the past, such as a torn quadriceps tendon in 2008 and a left hip injury in 2014.  The artificial turf north of the border won’t help matters.

However, Tulowitzki adds yet another home run hitting presence to the already stacked Blue Jays lineup.  I’ve put together a projected lineup for the Blue Jays, with the addition of Tulowitzki and the subtraction of Reyes.  Here it is:

  1. Kevin Pillar- 7 HR
  2. Josh Donaldson- 24 HR
  3. Troy Tulowitzki- 12 HR
  4. Jose Bautista- 21 HR
  5. Edwin Encarnacion- 19 HR
  6. Justin Smoak- 9 HR
  7. Russell Martin- 14 HR
  8. Ezequiel Carrera- 3 HR
  9. Devon Travis- 7 HR

So, except for the 8-hole, there is at least a decent home run threat at every spot in the lineup.  And the Blue Jays even have the option of taking Carrera, their starting left fielder, out and putting Chris Colabello into that spot; Colabello has hit nine home runs this season. While Tulowitzki has spent his career in the ultimate home run hitter’s ballpark (Coors Field), Rogers Centre should not be much, if any, of a deterrent; only six less home runs have been hit there than at Coors.

However, they will lose the stolen base threat of Reyes.  Other than Kevin Pillar, Jose was the only threat the Blue Jays had to swipe a bag. The Blue Jays will miss this, but losing him does not mean the team will stop scoring runs; the opposite is the case.  As of July 28, Toronto led all of baseball with 528 runs scored, a whole 72 more than the second place team, the Yankees.  They will most likely expand upon this margin with Tulowitzki, provided he stays healthy and in the lineup.

I still don’t think this was a great move.  Why?  The Blue Jays simply do not need hitting.  They need pitching, as their staff ERA is the eighth highest in baseball.  NBC HardballTalk’s Matthew Pouliot agrees with me:

And if the Blue Jays did go get a bat, it figured to be an outfielder. Preferably one who hits left-handed. 111 of the Jays’ 130 homers this year have come from right-handed hitters, and while they’ve gotten solid production from every spot, the positions on the team with the lowest OPSs to date are left field and center field.

Then there are the Rockies. The Rockies always need pitching. Their most effective starter this year has been 28-year-old Chris Rusin, a Cubs castoff with a 3-4 record and a 4.13 ERA in 65 1/3 innings. Overall, their starters have a 5.12 ERA, which ranks 29th in MLB ahead of only the Phillies. They’re dead last with a 1.52 WHIP and a 1.8 K:BB ratio.

The other thing the Rockies always seem to need to do is to get cheaper. They don’t really like spending money. They’re not very good at it when they do.

None of this would seem to be a likely recipe for a Troy Tulowitzki-for-Jose Reyes trade. To say this one came out of nowhere would be an understatement. No one would have guessed the Blue Jays were in the market for a shortstop. And no one would have imagined that when the Rockies finally traded Tulo, it would be for a player who has a higher annual salary.

While I completely agree with this viewpoint, we must be fair to the other players in the deal.  While the Blue Jays gave up three pitching prospects, they did get Rockies’ reliever LaTroy Hawkins in the deal. Hawkins has had experience closing out games, as he did in stints with the 2013 Mets and last year’s Colorado team.  And he will probably be the closer, as the Blue Jays have had many this season (one of their closers this year was Miguel Castro; he plays for the Rockies now).  Roberto Osuna has been the 9th inning man of late and has performed capably, but Hawkins has been effective over a longer period of time. He should get the nod to finish games.

So what does this all mean?  We won’t know until the Blue Jays are done dealing.  The Tulo move probably means that they will also look to get a starting pitcher, as they have already fortified their bullpen and lineup.  Trading for the best hitting shortstop in the game makes an already-stacked starting lineup that much more difficult to face. It’s a “rich get richer” type of move, and it’s one that will probably lead to other moves as well.

Finally, let’s not forget another, more far-fetched possibility: the Blue Jays trading Tulowitzki.  It’s not completely out of the question, and while it’s unlikely, it isn’t impossible.  The Rockies are thinking of flipping him to get other assets (probably minor leaguers), and the Blue Jays could do the same with Tulo.  But if they don’t, they get one of the best hitters in the game, in his prime, in a home run hitting ball park.

If he can stay healthy, that is.



MLB Season Preview

NL East

Team W L
Washington Nationals 96 66
Miami Marlins 86 76
New York Mets 84 78
Atlanta Braves 78 84
Philadelphia Phillies 64 98


Discussion: The Nats win this division easily due to the ridiculous starting rotation and their above-average line-up.  The Marlins take a leap forward as Jose Fernandez returns from his Tommy John surgery to put forth a solid second-half of the season.  The Mets improve over last year with the solid addition of Michael Cuddyer and improvements to the bullpen as well.  The Braves stay around the same as they finished last year because their key gains match their key losses.  They are very similar to how they were last year.  And the Phillies are just going to be really, really bad and that’s that.  Their rotation, lineup, and bullpen are all terrible.  They will be the worst team in baseball.

NL Central

Team W L
Pittsburgh Pirates 89 73
St. Louis Cardinals 87 75
Chicago Cubs 81 81
Milwaukee Brewers 81 81
Cincinnati Reds 69 93


Discussion: The Pirates bring back many of the same players from last year, but the addition of Francisco Cervelli behind the plate will help its pitching staff take the next step.  Pedro Alvarez rebounds from a poor season in 2014, leading the Bucs to their first division title since 1992.  The Cardinals will be there; they always are.  They haven’t gotten much better, however, and the division around them has.  They will fall slightly.  The Cubs had a very solid offseason, and look for prospects Jorge Soler and Kris Bryant (when he comes up) to have good campaigns.  The Brewers stay where they were last season, and Jonathan Lucroy has an MVP-caliber season.  Finally, the Reds have a poor season, suffering as the division pushes forward around them.

NL West

Team W L
San Diego Padres 88 74
Los Angeles Dodgers 84 78
San Francisco Giants 81 81
Colorado Rockies 72 90
Arizona Diamondbacks 69 93


Discussion:  The Padres take a leap forward this season, as the additions of Matt Kemp, Justin Upton, Wil Myers, James Shields and others catapult the Pods to the division pennant.  The Dodgers take a step back with the losses of Hanley Ramirez and Dan Haren.  The Giants, in an odd-numbered year, take a step back as they lose Pablo Sandoval and, for the beginning of the season, Hunter Pence.  The Rockies and Diamondbacks, two rebuilding teams, round out the division basement, each losing at least 90 games.

AL East

Team W L
Baltimore Orioles 85 77
New York Yankees 82 80
Toronto Blue Jays 81 81
Boston Red Sox 80 82
Tampa Bay Rays 69 93


Discussion: This division only features one sure-fire basement team (the Rays).  The Red Sox improve off of last year, but weaknesses at pitcher and catcher will serve to hold them back.  The Blue Jays, besides the addition of Russell Martin, are not as strong as last year with the losses of Juan Francisco and Melky Cabrera.  The Yankees; who knows?  They could be anywhere from 60 to 90 wins, but on paper, they are an around .500 team.  And the Orioles, this year’s weakest division winner, will have just enough to win the division, along with the comeback of Manny Machado.

AL Central

Team W L
Cleveland Indians 89 73
Detroit Tigers 87 75
Kansas City Royals 83 79
Chicago White Sox 81 81
Minnesota Twins 69 93


Discussion: The Twins carry the bottom of this division, as they are still awaiting the development of Miguel Sano and Byron Buxton, who are starting the season at class AA.  The White Sox improve off of last year’s showing with additions of Melky Cabrera, David Robertson and Jeff Samardzija help improve the team, but they are still weak at second base, right field and in the bullpen.  The Royals lose pieces from last year’s team, namely DH Billy Butler and ace James Shields; they take a small step back.  Finally, the Indians take a leap of faith to the top of the division, needing all-around solid seasons from Michael Brantley and Michael Bourn to do so.  The Tigers finish second, and have to be concerned over the plight of Justin Verlander.

AL West

Team W L
Seattle Mariners 95 67
Oakland A’s 86 76
Los Angeles Angels 84 78
Houston Astros 83 79
Texas Rangers 67 95


Discussion: The Mariners lead this division, as the addition of Nelson Cruz helps alleviate the pressure of Robinson Cano to produce.  Also, Felix Hernandez wins his second Cy Young leading one of baseball’s best pitching staffs.  The A’s are a mystery, but they will most likely be good enough for second in this division.  The Angels are also a mystery, but I have them behind the A’s because it remains to be seen if Josh Hamilton can figure himself out and if Albert Pujols can have another good season.  The Astros will be a surprise; they take a leap forward this year with the additions of Jed Lowrie and Evan Gattis.  Finally, the Rangers will easily finish last in the division after the season-ending injury to Yu Darvish.






Wild Card Game: Cardinals over Marlins





Wild Card Game: Tigers over A’s


(2)Pirates vs (3)Padres: Pirates in 5

(1)Nationals vs (4)Cardinals: Nationals in 4

(1)Nationals) vs (2)Pirates: Pirates in 7

Explanation: The Nationals easily dispose of the Cardinals in the first round, and the Pirates and Padres play a tightly contested series that goes the distance.  In a  7-game series, the pitching of the Pirates catches up to that of the Nats.  Also, their outfield (Marte, Polanco, and McCutchen) will be this year’s version of the Royals’ outfield last year.  The Pirates win the NL.


(1)Mariners vs (4)Tigers: Mariners in 4

(2)Indians vs (3)Orioles: Orioles in 5

(1)Mariners vs (3)Orioles: Mariners in 6

Explanation: The Mariners’ pitching coupled with enough offense gets them past the experienced Tigers.  The experience of the Orioles, along with the return of Manny Machado, leads them past the Indians.  Then, the Mariners defeat the Orioles in a solid championship series.  They take the pennant.

World Series: (2)Pirates vs (1)Mariners: This series will be tight.  However, the Mariners’ pitching, especially in a three or four-man rotation, allows few runs.  Also, Nelson Cruz and Robinson Cano have sold series, and the talent on each side in too much for the Bucs.  Mariners win in 6.

Most importantly, this season will be fun.  Your guess is as good as mine as to who wins.