Opening Day! Baseball Predictions

It’s Opening Day! On March 28, baseball starts up. It feels strange to say that. It’s a Thursday and we have a full slate of MLB.

The Yankees host the Orioles in the South Bronx. The Mets are in DC to take on the Nationals featuring last year’s Cy Young winner Jacob deGrom versus Max Scherzer. The newly minted deGrom with his extension signed two days ago after Noah Syndergaard spoke out.

At the Stadium, it’s Masahiro Tanaka for the Yankees on the mound while the Orioles counter with Andrew Cashner. The Birds will use the ‘opener’ a lot due to being bad. Something fans should be used to after how much success the Rays had last year. Oakland too even though it backfired last October against the Yankees in the cheesy one game wildcard.

Who’s psyched to see their favorite ballplayers and teams?!?! Everyone starts with the same record. Even the lowly Orioles, Tigers, Royals, Marlins and Giants. Who’ll lose 100 games?

Will anyone win 100 like the world champion Red Sox did with a jaw dropping 108? The Yankees hit the century mark too before bowing out in ugly fashion at home to Boston. But the Red Sox crushed everyone including the Astros and Dodgers, who are aiming for three consecutive World Series appearances. The pressure is on to win. They don’t want to become the Buffalo Bills of baseball.

Which player will have the biggest impact on a new team?

A.Bryce Harper, Phillies

B.Manny Machado, Padres

C.Paul Goldschmidt, Cardinals

D.Patrick Corbin, Nationals

E.Other

It’s truly an exciting time for baseball. Mike Trout is locked up with a record $430 million extension with the Angels. Will the game’s best player see October soon in the City of Angels? They do have Shohei Ohtani due back in May to DH following Tommy John surgery. Justin Upton and Andrelton Simmons too. But the rest of the roster remains sketchy. Matt Harvey is an Angel being counted on in their rotation. Justin Bour was brought in for lefty power.

The AL West remains a battle between the top heavy Astros and the Athletics. Houston boasting stars Alex Bregman, Jose Altuve, George Springer, Carlos Correa, Justin Verlander and trendy Cy Young pick Gerrit Cole. Oakland possessing young talent Matt Olson, Matt Chapman, former Ranger Jurickson Profar, Marcus Semien and big slugger Khris Davis. Sean Manaea is back to anchor the staff.

AL WEST

+1.Astros 97-65

*2.Athletics 92-70

3.Angels 79-83

4.Mariners 67-95

5.Rangers 65-97

The AL Central is the worst in the game. Only the pitching strong Indians should top 85 wins led by Cy candidates Trevor Bauer, Corey Kluber and Carlos Carrasco. Francisco Lindor will be sidelined with an ankle injury. But Jose Ramirez is ready for another big year. Does Hanley Ramirez have anything left and how much can power hitter Carlos Santana help the lineup? The outfield lost Michael Brantley to Houston. It’s not good. Only the Twins should challenge Cleveland with over 81 victories. We’ll see how much Marwin Gonzalez, Nelson Cruz, Jonathan Schoop and CJ Cron can help a lineup featuring Eddie Rosario, Jorge Polanco, Max Kepler and breakout candidate Byron Buxton. Miguel Sano is due back next month. Ace Jose Berrios could be a dark horse for the Cy Young. It’ll depend on Jake Odorizzi and former Yankee Michael Pineda.

AL CENTRAL

+1.Indians 91-71

2.Twins 84-78

3.White Sox 73-89

4.Tigers 65-97

5.Royals 59-103

The Yankees will battle the Red Sox in the AL East all summer. Can James Paxton be that reliable big lefty with Luis Severino sidelined until May? JA Happ is ack. Tanaka is the ace for now with CC Sabathia entering his final year. He won’t start the season either. It’s all about MVP candidates Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton, who headline a lineup that still features Gary Sanchez, Miguel Andujar and Gleyber Torres. Didi Gregorius won’t return until probably July. It’s Troy Tulowitzki at short for now. With Aaron Hicks on the DL, Brett Gardner shifts to center field. That weakens the outfield. Both Greg Bird (healthy) and Luke Voit are in the lineup. The bullpen also will start without Dellin Betances, who needs to get up to speed. It still has Zack Britton, Chad Green, free agent addition Adam Ottavino and closer Aroldis Chapman. DJ Lemahieu is a good utility player. It’ll be interesting to see how Domingo German and Luis Cessa perform on the staff.

Boston boasts a great lineup that includes AL MVP Mookie Betts. The outfield is the best in baseball with all three Gold Glove caliber including Jackie Bradley, Jr. Andrew Benintendi will only get better. A scary thought for AL pitchers. JD Martinez made a huge difference last year. Even though Betts won MVP, Martinez was the biggest reason for the Red Sox success. He’s a scary hitter who challenged for the Triple Crown in 2018. Expect a bug year out of Rafael Devers. Xander Boegarts could fare better than last year. Second will be Eduardo Nunez and Brock Holt until Boston feels comfortable bringing back Dustin Pedroia. What does he have left? They will go as far as Chris Sale, David Price, Rick Porcello and Nathan Eovaldi take them. Former closer Craig Kimbrel remains unsigned. He’s priced himself out along with Scott Boras client Dallas Keuchel. So, Auston Barnes will close with Ryan Brasier setting up. Eduardo Rodriguez could be a key.

The only other team to keep an eye on is the Rays. Led by AL Cy Young winner Blake Snell, they have a interesting roster that features potential breakout candidate Austin Meadows with talented infielders Willy Adames and Joey Wendle. Charlie Morton is a nice addition to the rotation. Tyler Glasnow is a big arm to watch they stole from the Pirates. Kevin Kiermaier should bounce back. He plays unbelievable defense in center. Tommy Pham is a decent bat. It’s pitchers like Ryan Yarbrough and Ryne Stanek who will be counted on in unconventional fashion under skipper Kevin Cash. Mike Zunino supplies power behind the plate. Jose De Leon could return mid summer. The Rays will challenge the A’s and possibly the Twins for the wild card.

EAST

+1.Yankees 98-64

*2.Red Sox 95-67

3.Rays 90-72

4.Blue Jays 70-92

5.Orioles 56-106

The NL East is the best division. You have four possibilities who can win it. That includes the Mets, who added Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz from the Mariners in a blockbuster deal made by new GM Brodie Van Wagenen. What do you know? Cano took Scherzer deep in his first at bat as a Met. You know what they say about first impressions. The former All-Star second baseman remains a terrific defensive player who should still put up good numbers even though he’s getting up there. He will hit third in a lineup that features outfield tandem Michael Conforto and Brandon Nimmo. Adding slugging catcher Wilson Ramos was smart. Hopefully, he can stay on the field. Bust Travis d’Arnaud backs up for now with Devin Mesoraco displeased with being designated for Syracuse. He might retire. But he’s de Grom’s preferred catcher. A lot of excitement surrounds rookie first baseman Pete Alonso. He led the team in hitting this Spring. Alonso won the job over Dominic Smith. He’s penciled in batting second versus Scherzer today. Think Aaron Judge impact if he’s ready. Expect Amed Rosario to take the next step at short. Even though their lineup should improve, there are still holes. Juan Lagares in center and the third base situation aren’t great. Jed Lowrie is on the DL. Todd Frazier is a good power bat, but that’s it. They’re really counting on Jeff McNeill to hit at the hot corner. He reminds me of Daniel Murphy.

The top three of de Grom, Syndergaard and Zack Wheeler could be one of the game’s best. As long as Noah’s ark does his talking on the mound and Wheeler carries over his incredible second half in a contract year, that 1-3 is capable of carrying them. But they need more offense. That’s why they went out and got Cano and Lowrie. I still think it hinges on Alonso. Diaz closes with a nice balance that includes Robert Gsellman, Seth Lugo and former closer Jeurys Familia setting up. The back of the rotation is also a question due to Steven Matz, who can be good and bad. Whatever they get from Jason Vargas is a bonus.

So, are the Mets good enough to challenge the Braves, Nationals and Phillies? You be the judge. Atlanta added Josh Donaldson to play the hot corner. He’s a former MVP who if right, can put up huge numbers. I’ll go conservative and project 27 home runs and 80 RBI. Imagine the possibilities with MVP candidate Freddie Freeman, Ozzie Albies and young left field future star Ronald Acuna, Jr. The rest of the lineup isn’t overwhelming, but contains solid players such as Ender Inciarte, Dansby Swanson and Nick Markakis. I still think Johan Camargo should be a key in a utility role. He had a good 2018. I’m uncertain how much Brian McCann has left, but he’ll platoon with Tyler Flowers behind the plate. As much hype as the Mets Big Three get, Atlanta boasts young arms Mike Foltynewicz, Sean Newcomb and Kevin Gausman, who pitched well after Baltimore gave up on him. Kyle Wright is their big rookie to watch. Julio Teheran is hit or miss. Arodys Vizcaino closes and AJ Minter is a big arm who will miss the first week. Keep an eye on Touki Toussaint. Max Fried and Jesse Biddle are middle relievers with strikeout stuff.

The dynamic between the Nationals and Phillies is a interesting one. Bryce Harper went from Washington to Philadelphia. It took a while for the polarizing right field star to decide. It wasn’t much of a choice. He wasn’t going to sign with the White Sox or Giants. So, he decided for security. Now, he is in pressure packed Philly where the crazies boo Santa. Considering the kind of big personality he is, Harper should fit in. Think Reggie with the Yankees. But there’s a huge difference. Harper has an MVP on his resume and two big seasons. But Reggie Jackson was in a class of his own delivering for the Oakland A’s before becoming Mr. October. Bryce has yet to carry a team in the playoffs. We’ll see if he can in a potential lineup that features Rhys Hoskins, Andrew McCutchen, breakout candidate Maikel Franco, Odubel Herrera and new catcher JT Realmuto. They also traded for shortstop Jean Segura. A guy who can hit and run. This lineup has everything. Nick Williams is overlooked. Aaron Altherr can come off the bench.

For the Phillies, it’s all about the pitching. We know Aaron Nola is one of the game’s best pitchers. He could’ve won the Cy if deGrom wasn’t all worldly. After that, Jake Arrieta needs to be more consistent. Three through five are unproven. Nick Pivetta, Vince Velasquez and Zach Effin are all young. They’ll get swings and misses. Adding former Yankee David Robertson was a good move. He can set up or close if Seranthony Dominguez struggles. Pat Neshek and Tommy Hunter are middle relievers. If they can limit the damage, the Phillies could go from 80 wins to 90.

Are the Nats better minus Harper? The talent is still there. Anthony Rendon headlines a balanced lineup that includes Trea Turner, slugging outfielder Juan Soto and Adam Eaton. It’s all about the health of both Turner and Eaton. Turner could be a MVP guy if he stayed on the field. He can hit, run and play defense. Eaton is a good center fielder. He’s had bad luck. They added Yan Gomes to catch and brought in Kurt Suzuki to back up. That’s a very good tandem. Brian Dozier is the second baseman. Does the former Twins 40 hone run man have something left? Ryan Zimmerman remains a good power hitting first baseman when on the field. Matt Adams is back to supply pop from the left side. Keep an eye on rookie Victor Robles. A potential five tool outfielder they expect big things from. Michael Taylor has power and speed. Wilmer Difo plays second too. When you look at a rotation headlined by Million Dollar Max, Stephen DL Strasburg and big free agent addition Corbin, this is a team that could contend. Jeremy Hellickson and Anibal Sanchez aren’t scaring anyone, but will give them innings. Sean Doolittle can close as can Koda Glover. Trevor Rosenthal once was a huge reliever for the Cards. There’s a nice balance here. Maybe they’re better off without the Harper distraction.

NL EAST

+1.Braves 92-70

*2.Nationals 91-71

3.Mets 88-74

4.Phillies 87-75

5.Marlins 54-108

The NL Central was a two horse race last year between the Brewers and Cubs. In the end, an awful September slump did in the Cubs. They didn’t hit or pitch and blew the division to the red hot Brew Crew, who were carried by surprising NL MVP Christian Yelich. It was that former Marlin of the outfield trio that included Stanton and Marcell Ozuna that put together a special season. Can he duplicate it?

The same can be asked for Cubs do everything middle infielder Javy Baez. Yelich has a three-run dinger today. What can Baez do for a Cubs team that needs a big bounce back from former MVP Kris Bryant and catcher Willson Contreras. Kyle Babe Schwarber must improve following a disappointing 2018. He has 35-40 home run potential. But not if he doesn’t make consistent contact. Think the Rangers’ Joey Gallo. The top of the rotation should be better with a full year of Cole Hamels combining with newly extended Kyle Hendricks and veteran southpaw Jon Lester to form a formidable top three. The scary part is that excludes Jose Quintana, who is very capable of going deep. Yu Darvish was okay in Spring Training. How will he do? Brandon Morrow was missed in the second half. He could be ready to close in May. So, who closes? Probably Pedro Strop or Brandon Kintzler. Brad Brach was a good add. He’s more reliable than Carl Edwards, Jr. Don’t forget the Cubbies have Anthony Rizzo at first. He’s usually good for 30 homers and 100 RBI. Ben Zobrist is the second baseman for now. Baez is at short. Albert Almora should continue to improve. Jason Heyward is basically a fourth outfielder despite his contract. Are they really gonna bring back Addison Russell? Considering all the details of his domestic abuse against his former wife, I wouldn’t. I don’t even know why he’s not suspended for the entire year. The Cubs could be very good if the offense hits to form. The pitching should carry them.

The Brewers don’t have that kind of staff. Jhoulys Chacin is the ace. Zach Davies, Jimmy Nelson and Chase Anderson are decent. Corbin Burnes and Brandon Woodruff are power arms with plus stuff. Josh Hader is the best reliever in baseball. He can dominate the end of games. If the writers weren’t so insistent on voting for starters, I would seriously consider picking Hader for the Cy. He’s that good. Milwaukee can rake with the best of them. A balanced lineup that features do everything center fielder Lorenzo Cain with MVP Yelich includes sluggers Jesus Aguilar, Travis Shaw and Mr. Brewer Ryan Braun. Mike Moustakas is also back. Orlando Arcia is hoping to improve at short following a nice October. Yasmani Grandal was signed to boost the catching. Though not for his defense. Corey Knebel and Jeremy Jeffress are still at the back to close even though Hader is way better.

After falling short for a third straight year, the Cardinals beefed up by acquiring arguably the best first baseman in the NL in Goldschmidt. Adding his big bat to a lineup that boasts Ozuna, Matt Carpenter and Paul DeJong. Harrison Bader is someone to watch in the outfield. Yadier Molina is still behind the plate with Matt Wieters as insurance. It’s guys like Jedd Gyorko and Kolten Wong who’ll determine if the order is more than just the big boppers. Andrew Miller got big money to set up or close out of a bullpen that includes Jordan Hicks, John Gant and Dominic Leone. Jose Martinez shifts to the outfield with Goldschmidt on first. Health will be the key for Miller, who might not be the same pitcher. St. Louis is banking on him. Michael Wacha is in a rotation that has ace Miles Mikolas, Jack Flaherty, Dakota Hudson and veteran Adam Wainwright. It’s a interesting mix.

The final two teams are the Reds and Pirates. A doormat for years, Cincinnati traded for former Dodger Yasiel Puig and veteran Matt Kemp. Puig should be highly motivated in a contract year. He doesn’t understand why the Dodgers traded him. They weren’t playing him every day. Puig is a unique talent with a plus arm and the capability of 30 homers. Something he’s never done. In a lineup that includes Scooter Gennett, Eugenio Suarez and Joey Votto, who will bounce back, Puig could finally reach his full potential. Jose Peraza is the speed demon. The Reds traded for Sonny Gray. Hopefully, it’ll be a sunnier disposition for him there than the Bronx where he failed miserably. Luis Castillo is a big arm. Alex Wood is solid and Tanner Roark is a decent add to the rotation. Amir Garrett and Robert Stephenson must fulfill potential. Anthony DeSclafini is okay. Raisel Iglesias closes. On paper, this isn’t a bad roster. It’s no match for the upper echelon.

The Pirates won’t blow you away. They still should be a solid ball club. They took a risk trading away both Meadows and Glasnow to Tampa for Chris Archer. A strikeout guy with a proven arm. He’s never delivered the big season he’s capable of. He better in Pittsburgh. Jameson Taillon is full of potential. He won 14 games last year. He’s the ace. Trevor Williams is a decent third starter. I couldn’t tell you much about the other two starters. I know Felipe Vazquez (Rivero) closes. He’s got superb stuff. Keone Kela sets up and Kyle Crick they stole from the Giants for McCutchen. Nick Burdi once was considered a good prospect for Minnesota. He’s 26. Starling Marte is the best position player they have. He can hit for power and speed. Greg Polanco was a huge disappointment last year. Josh Bell could hit 30 dingers if he returns to form. Corey Dickerson is a solid professional hitter who kills righties. Francisco Cervelli is quietly one of the most underrated catchers in baseball. Adam Frazier is a solid utility guy and Lonnie Chisenhall is a decent fourth outfielder. How well will Colin Moran and Jung Ho Kang do? The offense could have issues scoring runs.

NL CENTRAL

+1.Cubs 97-65

*2.Brewers 93-69

3.Cardinals 87-75

4.Pirates 80-82

5.Reds 75-87

The NL West is basically a two horse race. No. The Padres aren’t quite ready to compete with the Dodgers or Rockies. The Diamondbacks are retooling. So, they eliminated themselves by trading Goldschmidt and losing Corbin as expected. Steven Sousa is also done for the year. The Giants are going to be very bad. They don’t have any superstars that can carry them. It’s just a question of when Madison Bumgarner is moved.

So, if three teams will all be under .500, what’s to get excited for? The Dodgers remain the class of the West. They dealt away Puig and Kemp in a cost cutting move with Alex Wood. They still have great talent. Walker Buehler supplants Clayton Kershaw as the staff ace who could challenge for the Cy Young. He is electric, young and will dominate. Kershaw starts on the DL. He’s expected back in two to three weeks. Last year, Max Muncy came out of nowhere to lead the Dodgers in home runs. He takes pitches and can go to the opposite field. That should bode well. Similar to the Yanks’ Voit, who got off to a quick start with a three-run blast to Monument Park in their win.

Cody Bellinger remains one of my favorite players. A versatile player who can play first or outfield due to his athleticism, expect him to improve at the plate. Justin Turner is the veteran leader at the hot corner who is a professional hitter with pop. What about shortstop Corey Seager? He’s back from Tommy John. If he rounds into form, watch out. Chris Taylor can play second and left field. Joc Pederson supplies plenty of power versus righties. Rather than pay Harper, they added solid outfielder AJ Pollock. A good ball player who can get on base, hit for a little power and run, it’s all about staying healthy for the ex-DBack. A very nice addition. Austin Barnes is catching with fan favorite Russell Martin backing up. Enrique Hernandez is a good right bat who will get starts and pinch hit. Keep an eye on top prospect Alex Verdugo. Either they’ll make room or use him as a trade chip in July.

If Julio Urias can return to form, the Dodgers pitching could be scary. Rich Hill is a five inning lefty with pinpoint control. Hyun-Jin Ryu is a good pitcher with nice stuff. They can use Kenta Maeda and Ross Stripling as starters and relievers. Pedro Baez sets up and former Red Sox flamethrower Joe Kelly should be a good fit in the pen. How does closer Kenley Jansen do following the heart procedure? He was shaky last year.

Colorado got back to the postseason in 2018. They even upset the Cubs in the wildcard to advance to a division series they lost to Milwaukee. The Rockies added Daniel Murphy to a lineup that boasts the game’s best third baseman Nolan Arenado, who got the big extension that should make Manny Machado jealous. Kidding. Arenado is all world at the plate and in the field. He’s surrounded by shortstop Trevor Story and Charlie Blackmon. Ian Desmond supplies pop and speed. David Dahl is a emerging slugger. Mark Reynolds made the roster out of camp. This could be it for the first baseman. Chris Iannetta catches and Tony Wolters backs up.

The Rockies pitching was a reason they made October. Ace Kyle Freeland was one of the Senior Circuit’s best pitchers. German Marquez won 14 games and fanned 230 in 196 innings. Tyler Anderson, Jon Gray and Chad Bettis are 3-5. Wade Davis is the closer. The former World Series hero saved 43 games, but had over a 4.00 ERA. They lost key set up man Ottavino to the Yankees. Bryan Shaw was lousy in 2018. Jake McGee will be a key factor.

The Padres should finish third by default. They gave Machado big money. Now, we’ll see if he can be an impact player on a young rising team. It’ll be interesting to see the moody slugger in that big ballpark. Eric Hosmer and Wil Myers have good power. So, the middle of the order should be solid. Manuel Margot and Hunter Renfroe are key players. Austin Hedges does the catching with former Indians top prospect Francisco Mejia having huge power. He had a big Spring. Most exciting is number two MLB prospect Fernando Tatis, Jr. made the team and will be the starting shortstop. He’s only 20 and considered to be a can’t miss prospect. Let’s see how he handles it. Ian Kinsler is a upgrade at second. The pitching isn’t good enough to compete. Best of luck to Adam Warren.

The Diamondbacks still have ace Zack Greinke and Robbie Ray headlining the rotation that includes Zack Godley and ex-Cardinal Luke Weaver, who came over in the Goldschmidt deal. Taijuan Walker isn’t ready yet. They signed Adam Jones to play right field and hit leadoff. A solid player who was disrespected by the lowly Orioles. He’s a guy you root for. David Peralta hit a career high 30 homers last year. Was it due to Goldschmidt? Jake Lamb returns, but they added Eduardo Escobar to play third. Former Met Wilmer Flores is a utility playing second today. Ketel Marte has shifted to center. Ex-Yankee John Ryan Murphy might be the worst starting catcher. Archie Bradley and Yoshihisa Hirano set up veteran Greg Holland.

The Giants are basically Bumgarner, Buster Posey and Evan Longoria. They’re all in decline. Though Bumgarner isn’t 30 until August 1. If he can find whatever he had before the injuries, then the Giants should get a huge return for the proven winner. His Spring was worrisome. Johnny Cueto is out until September. They added Drew Pomeranz. Dereck Rodriguez had a good rookie season. Chris Stratton is okay. Infielders Joe Panik, Brandon Belt and Brandon Crawford are good defensively. All three underachieved last year with bad finishes for Belt and Crawford. Yangervis Solarte is the only newcomer at third with Pablo Sandoval the backup. Mark Melancon makes a ton of money to not save games. I’m a fan of him due to covering the Staten Island Yankees in 2006 when they won a Penn-League Championship. He was on the same team as Cervelli and popular former Giants reliever George Kontos. It’s Bruce Bochy’s last year as manager. He’s going to Cooperstown.

NL WEST

+1.Dodgers 95-67

2.Rockies 89-73

3.Padres 76-86

4.Diamondbacks 75-87

5.Giants 68-94

OCTOBER PREDICTIONS

American League

Wildcard

Red Sox over Athletics

Division Series

Yankees over Red Sox in 5

Astros over Indians in 4

ALCS

Yankees over Astros in 7

National League

Wildcard

Nationals over Brewers

Division Series

Cubs over Nationals in 4

Dodgers over Braves in 5

NLCS

Cubs over Dodgers in 7

WORLD SERIES

Yankees over Cubs in 6

MLB 2019 AWARDS

AL ROY Eloy Jimenez, White Sox

AL Cy Young Trevor Bauer, Indians

AL MVP Aaron Judge, Yankees

NL ROY Victor Robles, Nationals

NL Cy Young Jacob deGrom, Mets

NL MVP Trea Turner, Nationals

Hank Aaron Award Mike Trout, Angels

HR King Giancarlo Stanton (52), Yankees

RBI Leader Nolan Arenado (125), Rockies

Highest Batting Average Jose Altuve (.333), Astros

WS MVP Didi Gregorius, Yankees

Advertisements

Springing Ahead

Aaron Judge is one of three Yankees sluggers who could make it a memorable summer in the Bronx. Baseball is on deck despite the cold temperatures. AP Photo via Getty Images courtesy MLB

It’s the first week of March in the Big Apple and bitter cold out because of course. Why wouldn’t it be? We’ve been lucky most of the Winter without much snow or crazy storms. But there have been some freezing rain, sleet and a little white stuff mixed in.

By the feel of the frozen temperatures, why do I have a feeling we’ll get a repeat of last year on the first day of Spring? Probably due to how unpredictable the weather is around the Northeast.

The dark months have provided very little excitement for sports fans. By how woeful the Knicks are, these are dark times if you love basketball. The Nets at least look playoff bound playing a more exciting brand of ball in Brooklyn. It would be nice to see them make it. Kenny Atkinson is a good coach, who has a unique backcourt featuring D’Angelo Russell, Spencer Dinwiddie and a finally healthy Caris LeVert. Jarrett Allen should be competing with promising Knicks rookie Mitchell Robinson for years.

Even with that said, it’s a long shot that the Nets get past the first round. They’ll likely see one of the Big Three in the Bucks, Raptors or 76ers. Notice I didn’t include the Pacers or Celtics, who are Jekyll and Hyde. Kind of taking on Kyrie Irving’s moody personality. Buyer beware this summer.

July is what it’s all about in these parts along with the depressed state of Hollywood for what passes as Lakers basketball. The LABrons are not going to make the postseason. It’ll be only the second time in LeBron James’s career his team won’t see the playoffs. Talk about a hard fall from the streak of eight consecutive NBA Finals appearances. I won’t get into why the Tragic Johnson Lakers are so bad. It speaks for itself.

Know this. For all the hopes and prayers Knicks fans are doing first with the Zion Williamson NBA Lottery and then the summer of Kevin Durant, they have a one in four chance of landing the other moody superstar, who is aiming for three consecutive championships with the suddenly vulnerable Warriors. The Knicks will have strong competition from the Nets, Lakers and Clippers for KD. The Celtics will be in the conversation for another primadona, Anthony Davis.

Isn’t it funny how upset all these rich superstars are? That’s the depressed state of sports these days. The NFL is quite similar when it comes to self serving soon to be former Steelers Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell. Can you really be sure Manny Machado is happy with his contract in San Diego? Bryce Harper can say how much he loves Philadelphia, but he really wanted the Yankees. It was never happening. Maybe he can still enjoy the next 13 years as a Phillie while trying to recruit Mike Trout after 2020.

The quote by Mets big shot Brodie Van Wagenen of, “Come get us,” is as insane as my favorite sprinter Ben Johnson when his ad campaign was, “Catch Me.” I love Ben Johnson and still believe he got a raw deal just over 30 years ago in Seoul. Van Wagenen hasn’t done anything yet. He’s upgraded the Mets roster by adding former client Robinson Cano, Edwin Diaz, Jed Lowrie, Wilson Ramos, with top prospect Peter Alonso battling it out with Dominic Smith at first.

Even with a strong rotation that features Cy Young winner Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard and Zach Wheeler, their lineup pales in comparison to the Phillies, who added both Harper and J.T. Realmuto to new shortstop Jean Segura, Rhys Hoskins, Aaron Nola, Jake Arrieta and former Yankee David Robertson . The Braves still boast the best talent in the NL East featuring Ronald Acuna, Jr., Freddie Freeman, Ozzie Albies, Josh Donaldson, and Dansby Swanson. I’m curious to see how Mike Foltynewicz follows up last year’s breakout along with Sean Newcomb.

Don’t forget the Nationals, who even without Harper, should boast a nice lineup around Anthony Rendon, Juan Soto, Trea Turner, Adam Eaton, Ryan Zimmerman, Yan Gomes and Brian Dozier. It’ll largely depend on the health of Turner and Eaton. We’ll see if Patrick Corbin can pass the test after signing a huge contract to cash in off his best season. He could be part of a formidable top three rotation featuring dominant ace Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg. Washington also has top prospect Victor Robles looking to break into the outfield.

Aside from the pathetic Derek Jeter Marlins, the NL Beast should be a lot of fun for baseball fans to follow. Three more weeks till Opening Day. Who are we kidding? It’ll probably get snowed out in the East and Colorado.

I had no problem with the Yankees off-season. Brian Cashman prioritized starting pitching and middle infield depth with the additions of James Paxton, D.J. LeMahieu, Troy Tulowitzki, and former Berkeley Carroll local star Adam Ottovino to replace Robertson in the bullpen. I’m curious to see how both LeMahieu and Tulowitzki fit in without Didi Gregorius for the first half. I’m excited to see what both Gleyber Torres and Miguel Andujar can do in their second years. Who will win the first base job? Folk comic book hero Lucas Luke Voit or Greg Bird. If healthy, can the slugger trio of Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez and Giancarlo Stanton combine for 110 home runs?

The shoulder soreness to ace Luis Severino is a concern. Rotator cuff inflammation isn’t a good sign for the young right hander the Yankees invested $40 million over four years for. He won’t start the season and likely shouldn’t debut until May. I half expect him to return and struggle before winding up with surgery that ends his season. We’ve seen it a thousand times.

C.C. Sabathia won’t be ready until mid-April. Entering his final year, the likable veteran southpaw will double as a part-time baseball analyst for ESPN. I’m not sure how that’ll work, but okay. Even with the setbacks to a rotation that still features Masahiro Tanaka, Paxton and J.A.Happ, skipper Aaron Boone and Cashman hinted that they would look in house first rather than signing a free agent such as Gio Gonzalez or Dallas Keuchel. That could mean a combination of a opener like the versatile Chad Green along with Jonathan Loaisiga, Domingo German and Luis Cessa. Of the three, I like Loaisiga the best. I’ve decided to call him Lasagna. It’s easier.

Expect a more consistent year from Michael Conforto. I see him hitting for a higher average with around 35 dingers and close to 100 knocked in. Other breakout candidates include Rafael Devers, Jameson Taillon, Austin Meadows, Maikel Franco and Manuel Margot.

I’d like to see a team sign outfielder Adam Jones. The 33-year old veteran might not be what he once was in Baltimore, but he can definitely help someone. It would be ashame if he retired. Given how weak their outfield looks, might the Indians have interest?

Is this the year Astros shortstop Carlos Correa puts it all together and stays healthy?

If you’re Mike Trout, you gotta be wondering what the heck the Angels are doing. Do they have any plans to improve for the foreseeable future?

Best of the rest left:

SP Keuchel Gonzalez

RP Craig Kimbrel Carter Capps A.J. Ramos

1B Logan Morrison

3B Danny Valencia

2B NA

SS NA

C Martin Maldonado

OF Jones Carlos Gonzalez Austin Jackson Denard Span

DH/UTI Evan Gattis

Remember when the Red Sox released Hanley Ramirez? Well, he is on a minor league deal with the Indians this Spring. Had he ever been able to play defense, he could’ve had a potential path to Cooperstown.

Jose Reyes used to have the same appeal the first go round as a New York Met at Shea Stadium. Once the legs go, it’s over.

Somehow, I’m supposed to get excited for LABron passing Jordan for fourth all-time on the NBA scoring list. He is a big reason why the Lakers are a confused mess. The King plays hard at one end. It happens to the best. It still doesn’t explain the perplexing additions of Rajon Rondo, Lance Stephenson, Michael Beasley, and Magic adding Mike Muscala for their best big, Ivica Zubac to the Clippers. Truly Tragic.

James Harden can get 36 a game in the watered down NBA with a faster pace, quicker reset on the shot clock and small ball. I still want to see if he can do it in the playoffs. He doesn’t have the best track record.

Who wins if they meet? Houston or OKC. That’s a potential blockbuster first round assuming it becomes a 4/5 match up. Last time, Russell Westbrook didn’t have an MVP caliber Paul George.

I’m still going with Giannis Antetokuonmpo for MVP on the league best Milwaukee Bucks.

Huge win by Seton Hall over Marquette last night. They used a game ending 18-0 run to keep their NCAA tournament hopes alive. Senior Myles Powell led the way with 10 of his game high 34 during the run.

It’s too bad St. John’s doesn’t have it in them to get the one win needed to get back in the big dance. Unless they can avenge a double digit home loss to Xavier this weekend, or get a first round win in the Big East Tournament, they’re NIT bound despite sweeping Marquette and splitting with Villanova.

Legendary player Chris Mullin isn’t a coach. He’s not tough enough on his players and it shows in their undisciplined play. How many lackluster efforts can they give? Between lazy fouls, poor offense, and awful technicals, they don’t deserve to play in the tournament. If you can’t even compete with Providence, how the heck are you going to deal with a bubble team in the first round? And I don’t even mean the play in either, which they’re headed for.

So, subtract Zion Williamson and Duke is pretty average even with the explosive R.J. Barrett. When he returns, the Blue Devils get their interior presence and dominant force in the paint back. However, they’re a flawed team that can be had in the tournament. They don’t shoot the three well enough and are thin. I wouldn’t count on them reaching a Final Four.

Look out for the SEC Big Three of Kentucky, LSU and Tennessee. Expect at least two to make deep runs.

David Gettleman is too old school for the new landscape of the NFL. It’s extremely disappointing how he handled former Giants defensive back Landon Collins. Best of luck to him.

I think deep down, the Giants issues have to do with ownership. They are afraid to release Eli Manning due to what he’s accomplished. They don’t want a repeat of Phil Simms. The only difference is he retired to the broadcast booth rather than continue playing for the original Browns. Eli isn’t ready to hang it up. I believe they want him to go out a career Giant.

A weepy sleepy Friday

It’s a cold sunny Friday here in Staten Island. Temperatures are in the 30’s on December 7. It’s the 77th Anniversary of Pearl Harbor. A day that’ll live in infamy. On Dec. 7, 1941, Japan bombed Pearl Harbor killing 2,403 Americans and wounding 1,178 at the Naval Base in Hawaii.

We remember those important people today who served our country. The United States entered World War II, helping the Allies defeat Germany and Japan. What if our country never got involved in Europe? Thankfully, we’ll never know the answer to that.

Today, take a moment to pay respect to those soldiers who sacrificed for the cause. A day removed from the funeral service of the 41st President George Herbert Walker Bush, it’s an emotional time for Americans. Don’t forget it.

On this cold winter day (not officially), my birthday is tomorrow. I don’t have much planned. It’s true that the older you get, the less you celebrate birthdays and holidays. I guess that needs to change in the future. Hopefully, it will. I turn 42 on Saturday. Eh.

I don’t have much going on at the moment. I’ve been listening to and watching random videos on YouTube. Normally, it’s a trip in the time machine to the prestigious 80’s. A good era that was more laid back with better music, TV shows and feel good movies. Cue John Hughes. For those of us who experienced that time, we have our favorites. For me, it doesn’t get any better than The Breakfast Club and Planes, Trains, Automobiles. Two unbelievable classic movies dealing with important issues.

What does the holiday season mean to you? Is it really about receiving gifts or giving to those less fortunate? Some don’t have homes or food on the table. Not everyone has good families who support us no matter what. I don’t really celebrate anymore. I’m Jewish and supposed to enjoy Chanukah. I think it’s the sixth day. It’s kinda sad that our family isn’t together anymore. I know how it sounds. I’m a sucker for Christmas. Everyone should have one. I also love the city like any New Yorker. Rockefeller Center and Times Square remain New York treasures.

So, what am I doing? Out of work for now, writing this blog and watching cool videos like this one. It makes me happier :).

I guess I can relate to the dog in the Marshmello video featuring Miranda Cosgrove. The former i-Carly star who is talented enough to use her facial expressions to draw on our emotions with her dog. I too had a dog when I was growing up. He was a cocker Springer spaniel named Trapper. My favorite memory is when he woke me up for school as a kid. I still remember when we had to say goodbye to him. It was every bit as sad as Miranda’s character crying and saying goodbye to her dog in the video of a good song.

We all strive to be happier. I can remember waving to Trapper and then riding in the back seat looking back at the place we left him. That moment sticks with me. Some do. We can go back in time and still feel the emotions of those moments.

That’s what makes life special. Appreciate what you have. You never know when it might be gone. Enjoy your Friday.

More HB: Bumgarner, Giants/Mets, Division Series

cudtlrcvuaaaaf0
Baseball produces the unlikeliest heroes in October. For the Giants, it was third base replacement Conor Gillaspie in a 3-0 win over the Mets to advance to a date with the Cubs in the National League Division Series. AP Photo via Getty Images courtesy NBC Sports.

It is another big October weekend coming up. A week later, here we are with exciting playoff baseball. There are eight teams left vying for the World Title. The excitement of the two wildcard games lived up to the hype. The Blue Jays went extras to prevail over the Orioles. The Giants used some more Even Year Magic to stun the Mets at Citi Field in a game fans in NYC are still talking about.

So let’s get to it!

-It’s not so much a surprise that Madison Bumgarner carried the Giants past the Mets going the distance for a shutout 3-0 victory. The San Francisco ace has ice water in his veins. When it comes to October baseball, there simply isn’t a better pitcher. The 2014 World Series MVP continued to dial up zeroes keeping a better hitting Mets team off the scoreboard. He needed 119 pitches to help San Francisco advance to an NL Division Series date with the 103-win Cubs.

-As usual, the Giants do it with unsung heroes. Once, it was Marco Scutaro. This time, it was fill in third baseman Conor Gillaspie. An original Giants’ first round draft pick who wound up a starter for the White Sox a couple of years ago, he eventually fell down and was on the Angels for a song. He signed with the Giants and got another chance. He wasn’t even supposed to start but deadline pick up Eduardo Nunez was injured. Gillaspie filled in nicely for him down the stretch coming in swinging a hot bat.

-When he came up in the top of the ninth against lock down Met closer Jeurys Familia with two runners on and one out, Gillaspie was the last guy you’d expect a home run from. Sure enough, the left-handed hitting third baseman turned around a high sinker sending it into orbit to silence the 43,000-plus in Flushing. A player who only hit six homers in 101 games all year took Familia yard. He had only given up one long ball.

-Baseball can be unpredictable. Expect the unexpected. In this case on a nice Wednesday night where Bumgarner and Mets’ flame thrower Noah Syndergaard went pitch for pitch, it was a guy who wasn’t supposed to be here. But Gillaspie made it count and then showed plenty of emotion rounding the bases. He later indicated he wasn’t someone who does that but the occasion was special.

-Interestingly, Bumgarner was on deck. Had Gillaspie not come through, he is likely pinch hit for. Who knows what happens. Given the fragile state of the Giants’ bullpen, it probably would’ve tilted in the Mets’ favor. Perhaps it was fate. To hear my pumped up father emphatically scream, “Bleeping house money! Bleeping house money!” it was pretty accurate. Considering the awful second half they had, the Giants weren’t supposed to be here. But they righted themselves the final week by winning six of the final seven including a home sweep of the NL West champion Dodgers to get in.

-The thing about the wildcard is it works. It’s do-or-die. Either you deliver or you’re history. In Baltimore’s case, Buck Showalter failed them by not going to dominant closer Zach Britton. I understand he was saving him for a save situation. But once Ubaldo Jimenez got in trouble, he should’ve went with his best. Instead, he left Jimenez in for one more batter and watched Edwin Encarnacion hit a long three-run walk off bomb that still hasn’t landed.

-The Jays rode that momentum by hammering Cole Hamels for seven runs in a 10-1 blowout win at Texas. Jose Bautista stayed hot driving in four including a three-run shot. Troy Tulowitzki and Josh Donaldson also had big games. They were backed by eight-plus of one-run ball from Marco Estrada, who had a good season.

-For the Rangers, it comes down to Game 2. They don’t want to go down 0-2 with the next two at Rogers Centre. Game 2 features Yu Darvish against Jays’ southpaw J.A. Happ, who had a very good year winning 20 games. Darvish finished strong. Undoubtedly, Texas needs him to be at his best and get the offense going. Happ faces some dangerous righty bats in Adrian Beltre, Rougned Odor, Carlos Beltran and Jonathan Lucroy.

-One other point on the Mets’ loss. It was eerily similar to the one suffered 10 years ago to the Cardinals. Only the stakes were much higher as it was Game 7 of the NLCS at Shea Stadium. On Wednesday night, another outfielder made a great catch saving a run. This time, it was Curtis Granderson tracking a Brandon Belt deep drive to center. He kept going and made an amazing running catch into the wall to strand a runner in the top of the sixth.

-Ironically, it was Endy Chavez’ catch over the wall in left that took away a home run from Scott Rolen in the same inning against the Cardinals. Jose Reyes was part of both games. In the post game, he noted how Granderson’s catch reminded him of Chavez’s. In each case, the Amazin’s suffered the same cruel fate with a reliever giving up a big blow in the top of the ninth. In ’06, it was Aaron Heilman serving one up to then unknown St. Louis catcher Yadier Molina. At least he became an All-Star. This time, it was the Mets’ best in Familia giving it up to Gillaspie. That is baseball.

-You do have to wonder what the heck Yoenis Cespedes was thinking in the last half of the ninth. Bumgarner had just missed badly with his first two pitches. You’re down three. Cespedes swung at the next pitch and flied out easily to right. At that point, the Mets need base runners. He should’ve been taking. The overly aggressive Cespedes looked badly against Bumgarner, who twice fanned him on pitches out of the strike zone. He can opt out and become a free agent. Early hints are he will and might not return.

-Bumgarner didn’t have his A-plus stuff. He struggled in the middle innings after only using 21 pitches the first three innings. But the Mets were unable to deliver the big hit. They missed some chances. That’s also what makes Bumgarner so tough. He doesn’t give into the pressure. He battles through. It explains why he’s been so clutch in October. It will be an interesting subplot to see him face Jake Arrieta in Game 3 of the NL Division Series. How will he fare against a potent Cubs lineup featuring Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, Dexter FowlerAddison Russell and Ben Zobrist?

-As for Syndergaard, he put on a wonderful performance befitting of an ace who will win a Cy Young in the future. Boasting a 99 MPH heater, the Texas native who idolized Josh Beckett was splendid for seven innings. The Giants couldn’t touch him. In fact, Syndergaard didn’t allow a hit until the sixth when Denard Span went up the middle for a base hit. Syndergaard fanned 10 and was superb. The Giants did run up his pitch count making it a certainty he was done after whittling out of the seventh with 108 pitches (70 strikes).

Addison Reed came in in the eighth and got in and out of trouble. He loaded the bases before getting Hunter Pence swinging on some high cheese. The set up man was excellent all season.

-Everyone knew Terry Collins would go to Familia in the ninth. There is no save situation in a tie game for the home team. At that point, you go with your best. Familia wasn’t sharp leaving a pitch up that Brandon Crawford hammered to the gap in the opposite field for a lead off double. Angel Pagan failed to lay down a sacrifice bunt with Familia coming back to strike him out on high heat.

-The key at bat came from Joe Panik. Ice cold down the stretch after returning from injury, the St. John’s alum fouled off a tough pitch and worked a walk on a 3-2 count. That set the stage for Gillaspie. He did the rest.

-Of course, Bruce Bochy had no one warming in the Giants’ pen. This was Bumgarner’s game. The same as it was in a road wildcard win over the Pirates. Also a shutout. With how little is in that pen with Sergio Romo taking over the closer duties, it’s no wonder Bochy doesn’t trust it.

-Game 1 is Friday night with Johnny Cueto opposing Jon Lester at Wrigley Field. That should be a surreal scene. The Cubs were 16 games better in the standings than the Giants. They boast a lethal lineup, deep pitching that also includes NL Cy Young candidate and Game 2 starter Kyle Hendricks. Plus a strong pen featuring Hector Rondon and triple digit closer Aroldis Chapman. Everything points to the Cubs. Bumgarner can’t start more than one game. The Giants do boast Cueto, who had a strong year. But Game 2 is either Jeff Samardzija or Matt Moore.

-If there are x-factors in this series, for the Cubs it’s tough number one hitter Fowler and Jason Heyward. For the Giants, we’ll go with Buster Posey, who had an off year. He’s a former MVP.

-The other NLDS features the Dodgers at the Nationals. It will be a scintillating match-up between a pair of aces in Clayton Kershaw against Max Scherzer. If both are on, the over/under on combined strikeouts is 21. These are two of the best. Kershaw who still hasn’t had his October moment but has three Cy Youngs. Scherzer, who has one and did win 20 games with a 2.96 ERA while striking out a major league-leading 284. This is as good as it gets.

-It should be a great series. The Dodgers have an edge in pitching with Rich Hill going in Game 2 against Gio Gonzalez. The lineups are about on par with the Nats featuring Daniel Murphy, Bryce Harper, Anthony Rendon and dazzling rookie Trea Turner. Danny Espinosa supplies pop and Jayson Werth boasts championship pedigree. The Dodgers boast the NL’s top rookie Corey Seager, Justin Turner, Adrian Gonzalez and Yasiel Puig. They also have Joc Pederson and overlooked catcher Yasmani Grandal. Chase Utley has the championship experience and always puts together good at bats.

-Both teams possess excellent closers. The Nats with Mark Melancon, who they stole from the Pirates. The Dodgers with Kenley Jansen. They are two of the game’s best. Give the edge to LA’s bullpen with converted reliever Joe Blanton setting up along with Pedro Baez and situational lefty J.P. Howell. They also boast Kenta Maeda as their Game 3 starter. He should have an edge over the Nats’ Tanner Roark, who had a good season.

-The x-factor could be 20-year old top prospect Julio Urias. He averaged more than a strikeout per inning. Manager Dave Roberts limited his innings mixing in some starts with relief appearances. Is Urias ready for prime time? For the Nats, I’ll go with A.J. Cole or Reynaldo Lopez. Each is young and could be used out of the pen in middle relief. Both are considered a big part of the Nats’ future in the rotation. Blake Treinen sets up.

-There are four games Friday. The first at 1 EST with Toronto at Texas. Boston at Cleveland follows for Game 2 at 4:30 EST. An hour later, it’s the Dodgers at the Nationals in Game 1 of the NLDS at 5:30 EST. The Giants and the Cubs are at 9 EST with first pitch 9:15 on the East Coast. That’s 8:15 Central in the Windy City. If you can’t get pumped for this, then you’re not a baseball fan.

October Baseball: Buck Showalter fails, Giants/Mets, Odell Beckham

ct7vq1cusaehxtl
Noah Syndergaard has a tough challenge when he goes up against Madison Bumgarner in a exciting NL wildcard tonight between the Mets and Giants. The winner gets the Cubs. AP Photo via Getty Images courtesy The Score.

It’s been a while since I voiced my opinion on this blog. Well, it’s finally time to let it all go. So, what have I been doing? Lately, just getting ready for another hockey season our main New York Puck blog covering Rangers, Devils, Islanders and Sabres. That can be checked out if you’re interested in puck talk.

I also have really been preoccupied hosting shows on my Hard Hits Network. These have become 30-minute live editions for those interested in sports talk and other random topics mixed in. There’s also 15 extra minutes of overtime which can be anything goes. It features Colin Cannaday, John Giagnorio and yours truly, The Flex, Derek Felix. 😉

Here is our latest one covering the ALCS won by the Blue Jays in extras on a walk off three-run home run by Edwin Encarnacion to beat the Orioles and face the Rangers in the ALDS. Plus previewing and predicting scores for Giants/Mets NL wildcard and my hard hitting take on Odell Beckham:

 

Listen our new episode Hard Hits Talkin’ Playoff Baseball and Debate at http://tobtr.com/s/9516483. #BlogTalkRadio

Above, you can hear our 45-minute podcast on the hot topics. Here are my observations in written format.
-Once again, Buck Showalter let the moment get the best of him. It was 21 years ago in Game 5 of a classic ALDS that he decided it was safer to go with Black Jack McDowell to close out the Mariners in extras than closer John Wetteland. Edgar Martinez did the rest with Ken Griffey, Jr. rounding the bases faster than Usain “Lightning” Bolt. So, why on earth would Showalter opt for Ubaldo Jimenez in the bottom of the 11th over Cy Young closer Zach Britton? That’s one he’ll be left thinking about.
-The Jays are too explosive an offense to mess around with. Once Jimenez put a runner on, Britton should’ve been in the game. End of story. You can’t always manage by the book. Especially in a do-or-die win or go home scenario. I could care less if Jimenez tossed a gem last week. He’s a back of the rotation starter. You have to do whatever it takes to get out of that jam.
-Instead, Encarnacion launched one into the left field seats at The Skydome Rogers Centre sending the Blue Jays to a dramatic 5-2 victory. Jimenez didn’t retire a batter. Ser—io–usly. This was another epic fail by one of the good guys who does a great job managing in the regular season. Let’s just say Showalter doesn’t have the best track record in the postseason. End of story.
-The Jays will meet the Rangers again a year later. Jose Bautista is back on track. He finished strong and continued with a Bautista bomb to get the scoring started. Major league home run leader Mark Trumbo responded with a two-run bomb off Toronto starter Marcus Stroman. There were no runs scored following Ezequiel Carrera’s run scoring single that tied it in the home fifth.
-In fact, the Orioles went without a hit the final five innings. Five Jays’ relievers combined to allow only a walk and strike out six batters. Closer Roberto Osuna got all four batters he faced with two K’s before giving way to Francisco Liriano. The former Pirates’ lefty starter fared better going one and two thirds with a K to pick up the win.
-So, you get an enticing series between two evenly matched teams. Texas is home for the best-of-five series. It should be fun. We’ll preview it in another post.
-The NL wildcard is later tonight with a real barn burner featuring a pair of aces between the Giants’ Madison Bumgarner and the Mets’ Noah Syndergaard. It features the third and fourth best ERA’s in the Senior Circuit. Syndergaard with a 2.60 while Bumgarner had a 2.74. Hopefully, it lives up to the billing.
-I am going with the Mets due to their more potent lineup. Especially if Bumgarner can’t go the distance. He’s got an unreal track record dominating the 2014 postseason to lead the Giants to a third World Championship in five years. All btw even years. Here is San Francisco again in in an even year. We shall see if the magic continues for Dad’s Giants dating back to when he followed legends Mays and Marichal and McCovey at The Polo Grounds. My final score is Mets 4, Giants 2 with Asdrubal Cabrera hitting a walk off.
-Why is the Mets lineup better? For starters, you have a great 1-2 punch in Jose Reyes and Cabrera. It’s been a decade since Reyes has seen the playoffs. He was then manning shortstop for that ’06 team that came so close to a World Series, losing in gut wrenching fashion to the Cardiac Cards. A game best remembered for Endy Chavez’ catch followed by Yadier Molina breaking Amazin’ fan hearts. The ending was cruel with Carlos Beltran unable to pull the trigger on a nasty curve by then rookie Adam Wainwright leaving the bases loaded at the old Shea Stadium.
It’s hard to believe those teams never made it again with consecutive collapses and the unjust firing of since blackballed former skipper Willie Randolph. Here is Reyes rejuvenated with the only team he ever should’ve played for getting clutch hits and playing a respectable hot corner with Cabrera at short. Can he deliver in the twilight of his career?
-Aside from those two, you have the ever dangerous Yoenis Cespedes, who either will crush the ball or swing at everything and come up empty. Jay Bruce got hot after slugging a pinch hit home run into the upper deck, finishing with three jacks and looking the part. Curtis Granderson wound up with 30 dingers after struggling mightily. His bat came to life when it was needed. Coincidentally, I dropped him in fantasy baseball.
You also have young unproven bats in T.J. Rivera and Michael Conforto. Rivera was a nice surprise at second for the Mets hitting after they lost Neil Walker at second. Eric Campbell will probably get the call at first with his righty bat going against Bumgarner. That leaves Terry Collins with a strong bench featuring Lucas Duda, James Loney, Conforto and clutch pinch hitter Kelly Johnson.
-Perhaps the Mets’ biggest edge is closer Jeurys Familia, who paced everyone with 51 saves. He and set up man Addison Reed are dependable if it comes down to a tight game. The Giants’ pen is the worst in baseball blowing a zillion leads. Yet they were able to get it done sweeping the Dodgers to make it here. Sergio Romo is now the closer. We’ll see if he continues to throw well. If it comes down to a battle of the pens, you have to like the Amazin’s. But this is baseball. Anything can happen.
-For the Giants, look for ex-Met Angel Pagan and table setter Denard Span to be factors if they come out on top. Each outfielder has been hot with the bat and both have speed. Key Giants’ hitters include former World Series MVP Buster Posey, Hunter Pence, Brandon Crawford and Brandon Belt. The latter two who didn’t hit for much power down the stretch but are capable of timely hits.
-Here’s a thought on Cy Young. Max Scherzer has the wins (20) and strikeouts (284). But his ERA is almost a full run worse than Kyle Hendricks’ NL best 2.13. Scherzer is a horse. Hendricks isn’t as he only completed his third year in the big leagues. Jon Lester also is in the conversation winning 19 games with a 2.44 with the third best WHIP (1.016) behind Hendricks (0.979) and Scherzer (0.968).
It would all be for naught had Clayton Kershaw not missed significant time.He still went 12-4 with a 1.69 in 21 starts with three shutouts leading the league. In 149 frames, he allowed 97 hits with only 11 walks and 172 K’s. Oh btw…his WHIP was a ridiculous 0.725. Kershaw might not win his fourth Cy but it’s all about October for him.
-Not listed is Johnny Cueto who won 18 games and posted a 2.79 with 198 strikeouts in 219-plus. Great signing for once by Brian Sabean. Syndergaard and Bumgarner each had their own superb years both going over 200 K’s and going 3-4 in ERA.
-It still is hard to fathom that Jose Fernandez is gone. Only 24 and he had already proven to be the future of the NL. He won 16 games on the inconsistent Marlins only losing eight times with a 2.86 in 29 starts. Fernandez posted an amazing 253 punch outs over 182 and a third. His average K’s per 9 innings was a jaw dropping 12.5. What might he have accomplished? We can only imagine. That is such a huge hit for that franchise. If only they didn’t push his start back. God bless him and his other two friends and their families. 😦
-I have been steadfast as far as the AL MVP. Mike Trout undoubtedly is the best player in the game. That’s without dispute. But his numbers as great as they are don’t blow away Mookie Betts or Jose Altuve. Betts was my pick at the beginning of the year to chuckles from my buddies. Well, he sure lived up to the hype tying for second in batting average (.318) with Boston teammate Dustin Pedroia while also tying for second in runs scored (122) right behind Trout (123).
Betts led the junior circuit in total bases (359), at bats (672) and ranked fourth in runs batted in (113) despite starting the season at lead off before moving to third. He went over 30 homers as predicted and stole 26 bases while recording 214 hits. Only Trout was better at WAR (Wins Above Replacement) going 10.6 to Betts’ 9.6. Trout has the edge in Offensive WAR (9.9) to Betts’ 6.2. In case you’re wondering, Altuve who won the batting title at .338 was second with a 7.9 (7.7 overall) and led in hits with 216. Betts was second in Defensive WAR at 2.8 and should win a Gold Glove.
-I can easily see voters going: 1.Trout 2.Betts 3.Altuve.
I don’t advocate choosing the best player when he played for such a mediocre to bad team. Unless he blows everyone away like Andre Dawson, I have to give it to Betts, who undoubtedly played on a much better team. Will they penalize him for such a great offense that included OPS leader David Ortiz, Pedroia, Hanley Ramirez and Xander Boegarts? We’ll see.
-NL MVP is easier with Kris Bryant on his way to his first, outdistancing Daniel Murphy and NL Rookie of the Year Corey Seager. His big second half and Murphy’s injury riddled second half ensured that. Seager is a stud. He could be the Dodgers’ toughest out already. I wouldn’t want to face him in a key situation.
-That series against the Nationals should be something to behold. It features Kershaw and Scherzer along with Seager, Justin Turner, Adrian Gonzalez, a rejuvenated Yasiel Puig and on the flip side, Murphy, Bryce Harper, Nats’ electrifying rookie Trea Turner and Anthony Rendon. It should go the distance. I am going Dodgers in 5 due to better pitching. The Nats also have no Stephen Strasburg and Wilson Ramos is done.
-If the Indians had Danny Salazar and Carlos Carrasco, I would take them over the Red Sox. Trevor Bauer is going in Game 1 which doesn’t inspire much confidence. At least Corey Kluber pitches Game 2. The Indians’ best chance is to get the Red Sox’ starters out early and get after their bullpen. That means big series for Jose Ramirez, Francisco Lindor, Carlos Santana, Jason Kipnis and ex-Red Sock Mike Napoli. Tyler Naquin had a quietly very good rookie year and Rajai Davis stole 43 bases.
-Cleveland did this without Michael Brantley. The match-up also pits former Boston hero Terry Francona against the team he guided them to two world titles including the historic comeback from 0-3 down against the Yankees en route to the 2004 World Championship, which ended the long drought since 1918. John Farrell guided them to a third world title this century in 2013. Can the Sox do it again in Big Papi’s last hurrah?
-I also believe this series has the potential to be a classic. I’m thinking five games. Andrew Miller gives the Indians a decided edge late over the shaky Craig Kimbrel. But I just get the feeling this Red Sox lineup will hit its way past the Indians in Ortiz’ final October.
-And finally, on Odell Beckham. As a diehard Giants fan, if he can’t be enthused about playing a kid’s game which he gets paid top dollar for in only Year 3, then take a walk. Go participate in Dancing With The Stars. If he can’t draw motivation from the inspiring and comeback story Victor “Salsa” Cruz, then there’s something wrong. Cruz and rookie Sterling Shepard have been better so far. The last I checked a whiny Beckham is blaming everything from the refs to the NFL for only 22 catches in four games with zero touchdowns. Enough already! Either shape up or get lost.

2016 Baseball Bidding Draft

1.SP Gerrit Cole-Joe D $40

2.SP Adam Wainwright-Havoc 28

3.OF Mike Trout-Jimmy 56

4.SP Johnny Cueto-21 Roland

5.1B Prince Fielder-22 Skelly

6.OF Andrew McCutchen-46 GOAT

7.OF Shoo Choo-Havoc 15

8.C Russell Martin-Derek 8

9.SP Michael Wacha-Andrew 21

10.1B Freddie Freeman-Frank 22

11.1B Miguel Cabrera-Terence 50

12.RP Glen Perkins-GOAT 8

13.SS Troy Tulowitzki-Victoria 28

14.SP Felix Hernandez-Andrew 24

15.3B Edwin Encarnacion-Spera 39

16.SP Julio Tehran-Chin 12

17.2B Starlin Castro-Skelly 12

18.2B Robinson Cano-Chin 34

19.OF Yoenis Cespedes-Hammer 25

20.OF Jacoby Ellsbury-Hammer 16

21.OF Ryan Braun-Chin 27

22.SS/OF Ian Desmond-Frank 17

23.RP Craig Kimbrel-Jimmy 16

24.1B/CI Albert Pujols-Terence 24

25.3B/1B Travis Shaw-Chin 7

26.OF/1B Hanley Ramirez-Jimmy 19

27.3B Adrian Beltre-Andrew 21

28.SP Masahiro Tanaka-Jimmy 16

29.SP Jotdan Zimmerman-Victoria 11

30.3B Evan Longoria-Hammer 18

31.SP Michael Pineda-Terence 16

32.OF Yasiel Puig-Roland 23

33.1B/CI Brandon Belt-Joe D 11

34.2B Ian Kinsler-Roland 13

35.2B Dustin Pedroia-Hammer 7

36.C Salvador Perez-Hammer 5

37.SP Phil Hughes-Terence 4

38.OF Matt Kemp-Frank 15

39.1B Adrian Gonzalez-Andrew 29

40.OF Jason Heyward-Jimmy 18

41.OF Carlos Gomez-GOAT 35

42.OF Adam Jones-Roland 28

43.Carlos Santana-Victoria 6

44.3B Jake Lamb-Derek 5

45.OF Matt Holliday-Skelly 11

46.2B Daniel Murphy-Andrew 10

47.SP Iwa Kuma-Spero 10

48.UT Victor Martinez-Hammer 9

49.SP Jeff Samardjza-Spero 16

50.RP David Robertson-Skelly 16

51.SP James Shields-Skelly 14

52.SS Eduardo Escobar-Hammer 2

53.3B David Wright-Derek 7

54.SS Brad Miller-Frank 4

55.OF Delino Deshields-Joe D 23

56.SS Josh Harrison-Victoria 10

57.3B/CI Trevor Plouffe-Derek 6

58.3B/UT Danny Valencia-Andrew 7

59.C Jonathan Lucroy-Victoria 7

60.CI Luis Valbuena-Jimmy 3

61.OF Jay Bruce-GOAT 9

62.SS Erick Aybar-Terence 3

63.SP Yung-Su Kim-Chin 1

64.OF Melky Cabrera-Terence 2

65.C Yan Gomes-Skelly 2

66.RP Jake McGee-Roland 9

67.OF Wil Myers-GOAT 6

68.RP Tony Watson-Terence 5

69.3B/UT Adonis Garcia-Derek 4

70.SP Ervin Santana-Andrew 3

71.OF Colby Rasmus-Hammer 4

72.SS Jose Reyes-GOAT 6

73.1B/UT-Chris Colabello-Skelly 3

74.SP Ian Kennedy-Derek 9

75.RP Huston Street-Terence 9

76.OF Josh Reddick-Frank 6

77.RP Sean Doolittle-Roland 6

78.RP Jonathan Papelbon-GOAT 12

79.RP Shawn Tolleson-Andrew 12

80.SP Bartolo Colon-Terence 2

81.C Wilson Ramos-Derek 1

82.SS Alexei Ramirez-Derek 2

83.OF Evan Gattis-Roland 3

84.3B Martin Prado-Spero 1

85.OF Desmond Jennings-Jimmy 3

86.SP Andrew Cashner-Derek 4

87.SS Tim Beckham-Terence 1

88.SP Jim Jeffries-Joe 6

89.OF Eddie Rosario-Chin 6

90.SS Elvis Andrus-Roland 7

91.RP Santiago Casilla-Frank 7

93.SP Gio Gonzalez-Jimmy 10

94.1B/OF Adam Lind-Joe D 4

95.OF Jerod Dyson-Skelly 7

96.C Travis D’Arnaud GOAT 9

97.CI Pedro Alvarez Skelly 8

98.SP Tony Cingriani-Chin 2

99.OF Rajai Davis-Derek 4

100.C Matt Wieters-Terence 2

101.MI/UTI Kelly Johnson-Terence 1

102.OF Jayson Werth-Hammer 3

103.2B Marcus Semien-Chin 12

104.RP Brad Ziegler-Andrew 10

105.SP Juan Nicasio-Joe D 5

106.RP Fernando Rodney-Hammer 4

107.Aaron Sanchez-Derek 7

108.2B Corey Spangenburg-Andrew 5

109.RP Arodys Vizcaino-Frank 6

110.SS Jhonny Peralta-Spero 1

111.Kevin Quackenbush-Spero 3

112.SP Jason Hammel-Joe D 7

113.CI Mike Napoli-Terence 3

114.SS/2B Jean Segura-Roland 10

115.2B Brandon Phillips-Hammer 7

116.SP Nathan Eovaldi-Joe D 8

117.Adam Connolly-Frank 3

118.Carson Smith-Derek 3

119.OF Carlos Beltran Jimmy 3

120.RP Yimi Garcia-Derek 1

121.J.R. Realmuto Chin-4

122.1B Ryan Zimmerman Skelly 18

123.SS Alcides Escobar Andrew 9

124.UTI Brock Holt Derek 7

125.Renaldo

126.RP Sergio Romo Terence 4

127.J.J. Hoover 5 Roland

128.SP Clay Buckholz Hammer 6

129.OF Jackie Bradley Jr. 4

130.RP Brad Boxberger 5 Roland

131.

132.

133.

134.

135.

136.

137.

138.

139.

140.