The 2019 MLB season is a mere two weeks away and it can’t get here any faster. After a slow-moving offseason that saw both megastar free agents, Manny Machado and Bryce Harper, sign in late Februrary and early March, respectively. As of this writing there are still major free agents that remained unsigned, players by the name of Dallas Keuchle and Craig Kimbrel. The fact that one of the games best closers and a starter with a Cy Young on his resume and no scary injury history are still free agents in March is ridiculous and troublesome. It makes writing this article more difficult but sometimes you just gotta play the cards that your dealt and here we are.
We saw many major moves occur during this offseason, some predictably, some out of left field. Here’s a list of the biggest moves this offseason and a recap:
Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz traded to the Mets for two top prospects & veterans
Wilson Ramos, Jed Lowrie, and Jeurys Familia all signed with the Mets
The Yankees acquired James Paxton (trade), Adam Ottavino, DJ LaMahieu, and Troy Tulowitzki
The Twins brought in Nelson Cruz, Marwin Gonzalez, and Jonathan Schoop
The Astros roped in Michael Brantley
The Mariners got Edwin Encarnacion, Yusei Kikuchi, two top three prospects of the Mets’, the Yankees’ top prospect, Mallex Smith, and Domingo Santana
The Braves brought back Brian McCann and also signed Josh Donaldson for 1 year
The Nats got Patrick Corbin, Yan Gomes, Anibal Sanchez, and Brian Dozier
The Phillies reeled in Bryce Harper, JT Realmuto, Andrew McCutchen, David Robertson, and Jean Segura
The Brewers got Mike Moustakas back and got Yasmani Grandal
The Cardinals made power moves and got Paul Goldschmidt and Andrew Miller
The Reds acquired Sonny Gray, Yasiel Puig, Matt Kemp, and Alex Wood
The Dodgers added A.J. Pollock, Joe Kelly, Russell Martin (he’s back), and a couple of nice prospects from Cincinnati
The Padres were the winning suitor for Manny Machado, go figure
As you can see it was a busy offseason but a long one as well and now it’s time for baseball to be played. As of now it looks like the AL East will once again be a two team race between Boston and New York. The AL Central is getting better but Cleveland should still run it for now. The AL West is better, sans Seattle, but it looks like it’ll be Houston and Oakland in the top two spots. The NL East looks like it’s going to be a bloodbath as Philadelphia, Washington, New York, and Atlanta really loaded up this offseason and it should be a four team race all season. The NL Central is vastly improved and any team could pull away with the division crown. The NL West is also better, although Los Angeles once again will be heavily favored.
I think it’s safe to say that there is and will be a better showing of competitiveness and teams will be more closely grouped together in the NL. The AL, albeit improving, looks like it’ll be the same four powerhouses from last season (BOS, NYY, HOU, CLE) with the surprise 1-3 teams mixed in there along the lines. Before long Toronto, Tampa, Chicago, Minnesota, and LA will make their jump, perhaps even this year if someone has a surprise year like last years Oakland A’s team. I will also disclose my picks for all the awards like MVP, Cy Young, Rookie Of The Year, Comeback Player, Manager etc. Lets get to the picks.
*Wild card teams in italics behind division winners
1.New York Yankees (103-59)
2.Boston Red Sox (99-63)
3.Tampa Bay Rays (89-73)
4.Toronto Blue Jays (77-85)
5.Baltimore Orioles (60-102)
1.Cleveland Indians (91-71)
2.Minnesota Twins (82-80)
3.Chicago White Sox (75-87)
4.Kansas City Royals (71-91)
5.Detroit Tigers (67-95)
1.Houston Astros (98-64)
2.Oakland A’s (87-75)
3.Los Angeles Angels (80-82)
4.Texas Rangers (77-85)
5.Seattle Mariners (69-93)
1.Washington Nationals (91-71)
2.New York Mets (89-73)
3.Atlanta Braves (88-74)
4.Philadelphia Phillies (85-77)
5. Miami Marlins (61-101)
1.St.Louis Cardinals (92-70)
2.Milwaukee Brewers (89-73)
3.Chicago Cubs (86-76)
4.Pittsburgh Pirates (81-81)
5.Cincinnati Reds (75-87)
1.Los Angeles Dodgers (94-68)
2.Colorado Rockies (88-74)
3.San Diego Padres (79-83)
4.San Francisco Giants (74-88)
5.Arizona Diamondbacks (69-93)
AL MVP: Mike Trout, OF, Los Angeles Angels
The rest of the top three: Aaron Judge, Yankees & Alex Bregman, Astros
NL MVP: Paul Goldschmidt, 1B, St.Louis Cardinals
The rest of the top three: Nolan Arenado, Rockies & Michael Conforto, Mets
AL CY Young: Gerrit Cole, Houston Astros
The rest of the top three: Chris Sale, Red Sox & Shane Bieber, Indians
NL CY Young: Walker Buehler, Los Angeles Dodgers
The rest of the top three: Max Scherzer, Nationals & Jack Flaherty, Cardinals
AL Rookie Of The Year: Eloy Jimenez, OF, Chicago White Sox
The rest of the top three: Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Blue Jays & Justus Sheffield, Mariners
NL Rookie Of The Year: Fernando Tatis Jr., SS, San Diego Padres
The rest of the top three: Victor Robles, Nationals & Chris Paddack, Padres
AL Manager Of The Year: Kevin Cash, Tampa Bay Rays
The rest of the top three: Aaron Boone, Yankees & AJ Hinch, Astros
NL Manager Of The Year: Dave Martinez, Nationals
The rest of the top three: Dave Roberts, Dodgers & Mike Shildt, Cardinals
(1) New York over (4) Boston in 5 games, 3-2
(2) Houston over (3) Cleveland in 4 games, 3-1
(4) New York over (1) Los Angeles in 5 games, 3-2
(2) St.Louis over (3) Washington in 5 games, 3-2
(1) New York Yankees over (2) Houston Astros in 6 games, 4-2
(2) St.Louis Cardinals over (4) New York Mets in 7 games, 4-3
(1) New York Yankees over (2) St.Louis Cardinals in 7 games, 4-3.
The Mets officially acquired second baseman Robinson Cano and closer Edwin Diaz from the Seattle Mariners on Monday, December 3rd. A press conference was held the next day at Citi Field to introduce the newest Mets. During the press conference new Mets general manager Brodie Van Wagenan stated clearly that this move was made with the mindset that more is yet to come and this is only the beginning of a bigger and broader offseason plan. What exactly that means remains to be seen but it sure has fans in a frenzy and excited for what else BVW has in store. Turns out that Brodie wasn’t kidding around as he swooped in around 2:30 am EST on Thursday, December 13th to bring back reliever Jeurys Familia, who spent the past six and a half seasons with the Mets and catapulted himself into third place on the Mets’ all time saves list. It also appears that the Noah Syndergaard trade rumors can be put to bed as BVW said that Noah is a huge part of our team and future success. Some may look at that as Brodie not getting an offer to his liking but the thought of trading Noah was pretty egregious to begin with, unless of course another team came running with a package featuring multiple major league ready prospects, which no one has, yet. Unless a team like San Diego (who is very interested in Syndergaard) comes calling with a package that begins with Fernando Tatis Jr., the Mets will be hanging onto Syndergaard.
Now what exactly should BVW do next? He’s acquired a dangerous middle of the order bat in Cano, a dominant reliever in Diaz, and brought back one of the most dominant bullpen weapons the Mets have ever had in Familia. The team could still use some thump in the lineup, rotation depth, bullpen reinforcements, and a more firm answer at the catching position. There are many avenues to go as the free agent market is flush with bullpen arms and has quite a few impact bats. The trade market may have even more options especially on the starting pitching front. There’s definitely enough options out there for everyone but we’re focused on the Mets here. With Canó and Díaz in the fold here’s what else I’d do to *realistically* help turn this team around.
#1: Sign Marwin Gonzalez – The glue guy of the Astros’ lineups the last few years hits free agency and he has something to offer every team. Gonzalez is super versatile as he can play any infield position and both corner outfield spots. After a breakout 2017 during Houston’s World Series run, Gonzalez had a down 2018 season as he batted (.247/.324/.409/.733) with 16 HR’s, 68 RBI’s, and 61 runs scored. He nursed some injuries throughout the year and I believe he’s more closer to the hitter he was in 2017 (.303/.377/.530/.907) with 23 HR’s, 90 RBI’s, 67 runs, and a 146 OPS+. He’s not terrible defensively anywhere really. Gonzalez will be 30 on opening day 2019, shouldn’t command major dollars or length in his new deal, and is a perfect fit for the Mets. The Mets can always use versatility, especially with the amount of injuries they happen to get each season. Marwin is also a switch hitter and has provided quite a few clutch moments in Houston. I’d pencil Marwin in as a steady regular to see lots of time at left field, third base, and first base. Barring injury, I don’t see him taking many reps from Cano (second base) and Amed Rosario (shortstop). Gonzalez may not be a huge name but he’s a glue guy from a championship team and all teams could use someone like him.
Something around what I would offer him: 3-4 years, $36-54 million ($12-13.5 million a year)
#2: Sign Andrew Miller – Miller is coming off a 2018 season that was riddled with injuries and saw him stumble when he was able to take the field. When healthy and on his game, Miller is a buzzsaw on the mound with impressive strikeout rates, multi inning eater, and a great track record. Once a top starting pitching prospect that was included in the infamous Tigers-Marlins blockbuster of 2007 that saw Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis go to Detroit, Miller never quite panned out as a starter but when Boston turned him into a reliever, he saw lots of success and quickly became one of the most dominant relievers in the game. It’s that bullpen dominance that made the Yankees sign him to a four-year, $36 million deal prior to the 2015 season. Continued dominance in pinstripes led to the Yanks trading Miller during a lost 2016 campaign to the Cleveland Indians. The Indians wound up trading their two top prospects at the time, outfielder Clint Frazier and starting pitcher Justus Sheffield. That may sound like an overpay and may well be, but Miller proved his worth and was one of the main reasons Cleveland made it to the 2016 World Series, albeit in a losing effort. Miller has averaged 14+ K/9 since 2013, minus 2017 where he only dipped down to 13.6 and his injury riddled 2018 where he was still striking batters out at a 11.9 K/9 clip. If the Mets can add Miller to a bullpen that already features Edwin Diaz, Jeurys Familia, Seth Lugo, and Robert Gsellman, they’d have arguably the most dominant bullpen. On top of all this, the Mets really need to add a lefty reliever. Miller is the best lefty on the market and brings a proven track record to the table. Why not go with the formula that Kansas City cooked up when they ousted the Mets in five games in the 2015 World Series?
Something around what I would offer him: 2 years, $16-18 million ($8-9 million a year)
#3: Sign Gio Gonzalez – Gio may not be the same pitcher he was when he first came up with Oakland and in his first few years with the Nats, but he’s still a quality lefty veteran who can stabilize the back-end of a rotation. In a rocky 2018 season that he split with Washington and Milwaukee, Gio pitched to a 4.21 ERA, but a majority of that was when he was still with the Nationals. After being traded to Milwaukee in August and making five starts down the stretch, Gonzalez compiled a 2.13 ERA for his new team. He even made two starts in the NLCS against the Dodgers, although neither start lasted more than 2.0 innings thanks to MLB teams playing the bullpen roulette game when the playoffs hit. Gio wasn’t terrible in either start. Gio has a top three and a top six finish in the NL Cy Young vote in his career and doesn’t surrender many homers. He’s 33, very durable (averages 34 starts a season), won’t cost much money, and won’t garner long-term deals. The Mets can’t run Jason Vargas out their every fifth day, they need someone else more trustworthy to hold down the #5 spot and I believe Gio would be perfect for that role. He won’t have to do as much heavy lifting like he was when he was one of the top guys in the Nats rotation for years. If the Mets can run out a rotation of Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Zack Wheeler, Steven Matz, and Gio Gonzalez, they’ll be in very good shape. An added bonus is the Mets won’t have to worry about Gio owning them anymore like he did as a Nats pitcher.
Something around what I would offer him: 1 Year, $5-6 million
#4: Trade for J.T. Realmuto – This is the deal that actually sounds most likely/plausible to happen because of the Mets’ need for a catcher, the Marlins selling off anything good they have, and the continued rumors everyday of how hard BVW is trying to acquire Realmuto from Miami. The love for JT is real and appropriate as he has quickly become arguably the best all around catcher in the game. Realmuto is only 27 years old and has two cheap controllable years left on his contract. Considering the position he plays, his age, his contract, and the fact that it would be an inter-division trade, it will and is going to cost the Mets a lot to acquire him. Over the last week or so there’s been a lot of reports coming out that the Mets were involved in multiple three team trade scenarios that would see Realmuto come to the Mets and possibly Noah Syndergaard to the supposed third team involved, who would then flip prospects to Miami. I think that’s all smoke and mirrors, considering the Mets would need to get back something nice in addition to Realmuto for having to sacrifice Syndergaard (three years of control remaining) and not many teams even meeting the asking price for “Thor” in regular two team trade scenarios. I do believe that the Mets do have the ammunition left to execute a trade by themselves. The Mets do not have a respectable major league catcher on the roster (sorry Kevin Plawecki, Travis d’Arnaud, and Tomas Nido). Not only do Mets catchers fail to produce at the plate but they are amongst the worst when it comes to throwing out runners and pitch framing on defense. The catchers position has been a black hole for the Mets ever since 2008, which was the first season after Paul Lo Duca left, who gave the Mets one great season and one pretty solid season. Since Lo Duca left, the Mets have gotten terrible production from their catchers. And a catcher is supposed to be one of the key cogs and a strong voice for any team and the Mets haven’t employed anyone like that in 10 years. It’s finally time to get an answer at catcher and make the lives easier for the fantastic pitching staff they’ve built. I am certainly against giving Yasmani Grandal a three to four-year contract worth $13-16 million a season, especially after the disastrous postseason he just had when he literally couldn’t even buy a hit. That’s a hard pass for me for a 30-year-old catcher who’s best days are behind him and who isn’t incredibly better than what the Mets have at catcher at the present moment. Realmuto is the answer.
Something around what I would trade for him: Realmuto to the Mets for 2B/3B Jeff McNeil, SS Andres Gimenez, and LHP Anthony Kay (this is not a concrete offer and substitutes can be made and/or added/subtracted)
What do you say, Mets fans? Would you accept this for the rest of the offseason? Sound off on Twitter or in the comments!
NEW YORK, NEW YORK: The 2018 New York Mets season has been an atrocity of epic proportions and there’s no way around that. After an incredible 11-1 start to the season, the Mets are 33-60 since to put them at 44-61 overall. They’re currently sitting 14 games back in the NL East and 14 games back of the second wild card spot. After injury after injury and continued turmoil behind the scenes that starts with ownership, this season was dead before August even hit. The team traded closer Jeurys Familia to Oakland and second baseman Asdrubal Cabrera to Philadelphia. The sell off should’ve been greater if they’d found deals they liked for Devin Mesoraco, José Bautista, and Jerry Blevins for starters. Nonetheless, those guys are pending free agents anyway, along with the two they traded away.
The Mets notably hung onto their prized pitching pieces from the rotation (Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, and Zack Wheeler) and their two main bullpen pieces (Seth Lugo & Robert Gsellman). Supposedly the Mets plan to contend in 2019 so they wanted to hang onto this pitching that finally seems to be clicking together. A rotation headed by deGrom, a healthy Syndergaard, and the new and improved Wheeler is a pretty good starting attack. Their numbers may not show it (especially Gsellman) but I really like Lugo and “Gman” in the pen and think they could become lockdown weapons very soon. Here’s my problem with keeping this pitching: What’s the point of having it if they team continues to not score for them? The offense MUST be addressed but the Mets made many questionable offseason moves last winter that will for sure hamper their ability to maneuver in the upcoming free agent market.
Whether Mets fans like it or not, Todd Frazier will be back at third base next season. Amed Rosario was once the top prospect in baseball so he will get a very long leash at shortstop. The outfield is set with Brandon Nimmo, Michael Conforto, Jay Bruce, Juan Lagares, and by mid season, Cèspedes back in the fold. That’s five guys to rotate in the three outfield spots, plus I’m sure Bruce and/or Ces’ will get some time at first base as well. First base appears to be settled as well as the Mets have Dom Smith just waiting for an everyday opportunity, Wilmer Flores swinging a decent bat as always, and Peter Alonso waiting in the wings at AAA just waiting for his first call up. That leaves catcher and second base as the only positions where the Mets aren’t locked in to someone. I’d assume that Kevin Plawecki will be brought back and that Travis d’Arnaud will return after a reworked deal after missing this season due to Tommy John surgery. I’m sure those guys will be given last chances to mark a claim on the position. That leaves second base to upgrade unless Jeff McNeil shows in this upcoming two month audition that he can stick here and keep hitting like he did at AA/AAA this year. If McNeil succeeds, that’s great, but if he doesn’t, the Mets still have to fill that hole and the free agent options aren’t all that great.
The Mets can get by with a rotation lead by deGrom/Syndergaard/Wheeler and complementary pieces rounding out the rotation, as long as they do sign depth and make smarter signings and not waiting til March to give the likes of Jason Vargas a multi year deal like Sandy Alderson did this year. The offense needs some sort of speed and pop added to it and the bullpen needs a major makeover behind Lugo and Gsellman. Thankfully the Mets will have a lot of options on the bullpen market this winter as that class is deep. The main question is will they spend? The easy answer would be no but the added heat on ownership this season and the inevitable hiring of a new outside the organization GM and a pledge to contend next season has me thinking it’s too hard to believe that no money will be spent to upgrade the team. The team could use more offense in my opinion but with all the attractive superstars on the market that will be commanding seven figure deals, I don’t see the Mets jumping in that pool, especially with the Cèspedes contract blowing up. Their best bet to be able to indulge somewhat will be with bullpen pieces since they need a few. Something tells me the team rolls out an offense that looks eerily similar to the one we saw open this 2018 season.
As much as the Mets could use a Bryce Harper and Manny Machado in the lineup, they’re not shelling out $300+ million contracts to anyone. They probably wouldn’t even shell out the $90-125 million it’d take to reel in Arizona CF A.J Pollock, who would fit this team perfectly. Machado would make the biggest difference but unfortunately when they don’t even attempt to make a run at him, they’ll say they’re comfortable with Rosario and Frazier manning short and third, respectively. As if the Yankees didn’t switch their top prospect (Gleyber Torres) to second base once he was called up to keep veteran Didi Gregorious at shortstop. The Mets could 100% get away with that and I believe Rosario’s tools would translate even better at second, even though I’m a fan of his game at shortstop. They’ll likely sign a veteran who can play multiple positions, like Marwin Gonzalez, who plays every position for Houston outside of pitcher and catcher. He’ll also only be 30, won’t command major money, and is having a down year this year after having a killer 2017 season during the Astros’ World Series run. I also wouldn’t shocked to see the Mets revisit the idea of Eduardo Nunez, granted he opts out of year 2 of his deal with Boston.
With current thinking and current team structure, I’m looking heavy at bullpen arms because a dominant bullpen is what every team wants these days and it seems to be the way towards building a winner as well. According to Spotrac, the Mets have $92.5 million committed to payroll for the 2019 season, but that doesn’t factor in arbitration raises for guys like deGrom, Syndergaard, Wheeler, Conforto, Plawecki, and Matz for starters. Let’s assume after all the arbitration raises and rendering of contracts, the team adds about $30 million, so that puts payroll at $122.5 million before any outside additions are made. The payroll opened the 2018 season at $150 million even though the team was intending to lower payroll from 2017. The slow moving dry market last year allowed the Mets to get a couple of additional players for cheaper than they expected which in turn obviously moved the payroll up. I’m going to go ahead and assume that the 2019 payroll will land somewhere between $140-150 million again, so that’s leaves about $20-30 million in spending money for outside free agents.
I can’t lie, Jeurys Familia gave me lots of anxiety when he came in to close games although he was one of the best closers we’ve had and he had killer 2015 and 2016 seasons in which he amassed a total of 94 saves and a cumulative 2.2 ERA. Unfortunately though, when it came to huge moments and lots of pressure, Familia would tend to fold up and disappear. Nothing more evident than the three blown saves in the 2015 World Series against the Royals and allowing a game winning three run homer to a pinch hitter in the top of the 9th in the 2016 NL Wild Card game against the Giants. All of that being said, I wouldn’t mind Familia returning but not as the closer. I just don’t see Familia returning to the same team he spent his entire career with up until the trade to Oakland two weeks ago and not be the everyday closer again. Plus I’m sure there’s another team out there that will be willing to guarantee Familia the closers job.
The other sticking point is that this regime and since the Madoff scandal, the owners as well, have been reluctant and refuse to hand big money contracts out to closers, which is understandable. So that line of thinking probably doesn’t help Familia’s chances of being brought back to Queens.
I’d make a run at Adam Ottavino from Colorado who sports a 1.40 ERA, 0.89 WHIP, and a 13.5 K/9 ratio. He’ll be 33 by the start of the 2019 season, so he won’t command many years or dollars at all. I also can’t totally see him re-upping with Colorado thanks to how much they spent on their bullpen additions last winter and how they gotta work on a new deal with 2B D.J LeMahieu and perhaps extending 3B Nolan Arenado’s contract longer. I can see Ottavino possibly being had for something similar to what the Mets signed Anthony Swarzak for last winter (2 years, $14 million). Although I could see Ottavino topping that slightly.
Next I’d go after an older lefty who’s recently dealt with injury problems that we could get for cheaper than expected but not that cheap since they’re still household names and many teams will still line up for. The two guys I have in mind are new Yankees reliever Zach Britton and currently DL’d Indians reliever Andrew Miller. Miller will be 34 and is coming off an injury riddled season but should be returning within the next two weeks for the stretch run in Cleveland. When healthy, Miller is an absolute buzzsaw on the mound and one of the best relievers in the game who can close and/or go multiple innings, which is why Cleveland paid such a hefty price in 2016 when they traded for him and gave up outfield prospect Clint Frazier and pitching prospect Justus Sheffield, both of whom are the Yankees’ top prospects and amongst two of the best prospects in all of baseball. Miller is currently dealing with a knee injury and not something related to his arm, fortunately. If he can come back healthy down the stretch run and be dominant again, teams will be lining up regardless of his age and he’ll definitely see at least 3 year offers.
The case with Britton is he just returned from Tommy John surgery a month ago and is still shaking off the rust and getting back into the flow of things. He’s been a little shaky since his return but that’s expected and he has had some real nice outings as well. He’s younger than Miller at 31 years old and may command 3-4 years, where if it goes to 4, I’m out. I’d max out at 3 years on either of these guys but no 4 year deals for relievers. If you can add two of these three guys to the bullpen to go along with Lugo and Gsellman, you have the makings of what should be a dominant bullpen. And hopefully one or two of the many young bullpen arms the team has acquired the last 2 years can evolve into something special as well, that’d be a nice added treat.
Do I think these moves catapult the Mets back to the postseason? No, but I believe it gets them slightly closer but ultimately it’s on the offense to pull a 180° and be healthy/fantastic in 2019 or the new GM has to pull off some magic and make some difficult decisions on who truly deserves to stay and contribute and replace them with adequate players. This team could absolutely use a Machado or Harper but the Mets just won’t open their wallets that wide and will watch other big market clubs have no problem paying those two superstars. Meanwhile I think most fans would be okay with that, if the Wilpons would just do what they gotta do and cut bait with Jason Vargas and Jay Bruce and rid those contracts off the books because those were TERRIBLE moves by Sandy Alderson and they need to vanish as soon as possible. Unfortunately I don’t see that happening whatsoever and both guys will play out their contracts in Queens.
Hopefully the new GM is creative and can make something of this roster come Opening Day 2019.
The 2018 NBA Draft Lottery was held on May 15th and as a Knicks fan you could only pray that the NYK garnered some luck and would move up from the #9 position in the lottery. Well, as most things go for the Knicks, luck was not it, as the Knicks remained at #9. Staying put at #9 isn’t the worst either because they just so easily could’ve slipped to later than 9. So while the night was hopefully going to go a lot better, it could’ve been a lot worse for the Knicks.
Now that the stage is set and the Knicks are officially picking ninth, lets take a look at a few prospects who many people believe could be available when the Knicks pick and how they’d fit in with the future. The Knicks’ most pressing need is a small forward, who can not only score, but within time be able to lock down the other teams best offensive player. They have a plethora of young guards on the roster. Frank Ntilikina was the #7 overall pick in the 2017 draft out of France. Emmanuel Mudiay , the former #7 overall pick out of China, was picked up at the trade deadline from Denver in a three team deal also involving Dallas. Trey Burke was called up from the Knicks G-League team in January and provided a real spark off the bench on a rather lackluster team with his scoring and passing numbers. Amongst all three of those young guys, Burke looked the best to me, although his defense lacked, his offensive output surely outweighs Ntilikina’s lack of offense/stingy defense. Ntilikina was drafted as a point guard but towards the end of the season you might think that Ntilikina is better off at the 2 spot with his top notch defense and developing offensive game. Time will surely tell what happens with these guys but I’m not opposed to bringing back all three, or at the least, Burke and Ntilikina.
The Knicks could use another big man to develop and maneuver around in the initial 3-4 month absence that Kristaps Porzingis will face this upcoming season and for KP to have another young bruiser down low with him. Enes Kanter has been a nice scoring threat and locker room presence but he has not panned out as a former #3 overall pick for Utah. Kanter plays nonexistent defense and has a hefty $18.6 million player option for next season, which reports are saying he may turn down in hopes of signing a long term deal. If that’s the case, a long term deal isn’t happening in New York. The Knicks have to begin suiting up to pay Porzingis as he enters year 4 of his rookie deal and they’re already paying Joakim Noah an absurd amount to stay home and watch the games. So there’s no need to sink more big money in an underachieving player, especially another big man. Luckily this draft has a solid handful of big men at the top of the draft.
Knicks GM Scott Perry has come out and said that the Knicks will go BPA (best player available) on draft night, which isn’t a bad decision anyway. Most people will be looking for a 3-AND-D wing player but no one should hold their breath when it comes to the Knicks. The Knicks could somewhat shock us all and take another point guard for all we know. As of know there’s only two big time point guards expected to go high in the draft and they’re Alabama’s Collin Sexton and Oklahoma’s Trae Young. Sexton is more a traditional PG, while Young is very similar in style to (gulp!) Steph Curry, in that he can score from all over, isn’t afraid to throw up 25-40 shots (most of them 3’s just like Curry), and he can pass the ball really well for someone who is a primary scorer/shooter. Am I saying that Young will be the next Curry? No I’m not but this kid has a lot of potential and after seeing the type of player that Steph Curry has become, some teams will be hesitant to pass on Young if the opportunity arises.
Let’s take a look at a few players that may be available when the Knicks pick 9th and that make sense for the roster:
Mikal Bridges, SF, Villanova:
Bridges is a little different compared to most NBA draft prospects as he actually completed three seasons of college ball. He also did so at one of the most prestigious schools in the country and won two titles there. The kid is already a winner and leader. He’s the consensus best 3-and-D guy in this draft. He’s the exact type of player the Knicks need and are looking for. The Knicks have a few young guards (Frank Ntilikina, Trey Burke, and Emmanuel Mudiay) that will get further tested to see if they can hold the reigns down in NY as the lead guard next to Tim Hardaway Jr. The Knicks didn’t and don’t have a concrete small forward waiting in the wings to take over once Carmelo Anthony was traded. Taking Bridges would allow for the defense to get even better as it showed improvements as last season ended. Defense is Bridges’ top calling card right now in my opinion but the offense should come around as well and Bridges should at least be able to knock down spot up 3’s off passes to start his career. Bridges is a starter from day one prospect who should make an impact from day one and get even better as he grows.
Trae Young, PG, Oklahoma:
Trae Young reminds a lot of people, myself included, of Steph Curry. The reason being is that Young can pull up from anywhere on the court and make shots with his great range. He lit the college basketball world on fire in the first half of the season, bombing away 3’s and showing off incredible court vision with incredible passes and finding open teammates. Young led NCAA in scoring with 27 ppg and assists with 8.7 apg. He hit a rough patch as he faced conference opponents a second time and they figured out how to defend him but there is room for improvement. You can never have too many guards, as the Knicks have shown, and the Knicks missed out on Steph Curry by one pick in 2009 when Golden State selected him at #7 as the Knicks sat with the #8 pick that year. It’ll be tough to pass up on someone like Young when you see what Steph Curry has done in the NBA and the similarities in his and Young’s games. Young isn’t nearly as polished as Curry coming out of college but he did make a huge statement anyway with his play this season. The Knicks could very much use a scoring guard like Young as Ntilikina seems to be more of a defensive minded guard who will drive to the basket. Trey Burke can shoot it but he’s more effective as a sixth man off the bench. Mudiay isn’t much of a scorer either but he isn’t a shooter when he does score, so Young would definitely bring a different element to the offense in the backcourt. Defense is where Young would be a liability and he has to bulk up more to deal with the rigors of the NBA game. If Young continues to play/shoot the way he did at Oklahoma, he is sure to light the NBA world on fire.
Michael Porter Jr., SF, Missouri:
Michael Porter Jr., (MPG), is a wildcard in this draft. His only collegiate season was wiped away after back surgery in November. He returned in time for March Madness but wasn’t his old self and could be seen trying to get back into his old rhythm on the court. MPG was a top recruit out of high school and was a McDonald’s All American. Before this past season began, MPG was a heavy favorite to be the #1 pick in this draft but with the back injury and MPG postponing workouts because of back spasms, teams are weary about spending a high pick on him. Before the back injury, Porter displayed a nice shot and court vision. He’s the type who can play as a point forward with his scoring ability and vision. Teams are going to dive deep into his medical records and have to be comfortable with spending a high pick on him. I believe MPG’s ceiling is going #2 to Sacramento (apparently the Kings love MPG) and his floor is Philadelphia at #10. The Knicks’ biggest need is a small forward so it’ll be interesting to see what they do if Porter Jr., slips to #9.
Mohamed Bamba, C, Texas: Bamba made a huge impact in college basketball in 2017-2018. He stands at 7’1 and has a 7’10 wingspan (NBA record at the combine). His defense was great at Texas as he blocked 3.7 shots per game. He’s a menace on defense and near the rim. His offensive game is developing as he has the potential to be a consistent perimeter shooter and elite finisher around the rim. If you draft Bamba, you’re getting all defense at first but over time you hope he develops his offensive game and he becomes a complete player. Having Bamba at the 5 and Kristaps Porzingis (when he returns from his torn ACL) at the 4 is a scary young front court rim protecting duo. That’ll open up the game for the guards to slash and dash as well. Unfortunately though, I don’t think Bamba drops past the Chicago Bulls at pick #7. Also, have you seen this kid in interviews? He’s a very humble and intelligent person, so I’m confident in him and hopefully he has a positive career wherever he winds up.
Hopeful but don’t expect to slip to #9:
Luka Doncic, SG/SF, Slovenia
It’s only May 9th, we’re almost at the 1/4 mark of the 2018 MLB season, and boy have the New York Mets brought their fans on a roller coaster ride already.
The Mets came into the season with some legitimate hope but not the lofty expectations that was bestowed upon them in 2016 (the year following their World Series appearance) and 2017 (the year after they missed out on the postseason when they ran into a buzzsaw named Madison Bumgarner in the NL Wild Card game). With an injury riddled 2017 to many key players and a slight step back in 2016, the expectations were brought down for 2018, especially with a new coaching regime coming in. Something about this team and expectations that just don’t mix well together. Just look at 2015 when they went to the World Series, nobody saw that coming. The Mets got really lucky with a monster second half from newly acquired Yoenis Cèspedes, great health and fine pitching from their starters, and a magical postseason barrage by Daniel Murphy. That was 3 years ago (shockingly) and this is a totally different Mets team stepping in the dugout every night.
The expectations for the Mets jumped a bit at the end of Spring Training thanks to Cèspedes showing he’s back healthy and hitting bombs again and the fact that the vaunted “Fab 5” starters all came out of spring training healthy for the first time. One minor hiccup was that Zack Wheeler started the year in AAA and Seth Lugo had what is now Wheeler’s rotation spot. A snow out early vs Philly pushed Lugo back and allowed him to make a couple of bullpen appearances where he looked fantastic, so the Mets decided to keep Lugo there and ultimately called up Wheeler to take that #5 spot when it was time for that starter to pitch. So when Wheeler came up and made his 2018 debut, it signaled the very first time EVER that the “Fab 5” of Noah Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom, Matt Harvey, Steven Matz, and Wheeler all took a rotation turn together and came away unscathed at that.
When Wheeler made that start on April 11th in Miami, he pitched brilliantly for 7 innings, allowing just one run on two hits and one walk, striking out seven. The Mets won that game 4-1 and were in the midst of an 8 game winning streak that eventually made it to 10 games and brought the Mets to 11-1 to start the season. It was an unbelievable start that no one saw coming and started making believers out of not just the fans but big time reporters, journalists, and executives alike. Were these the Mets that a lot of people thought that with some luck could absolutely wreck havoc on the NL? Were these what the Mets should’ve been in 2016, fresh off their first sampling of postseason baseball and playing World Series games at Citi Field?
It’s been almost exactly one month since that Wheeler start in Miami that helped catapult the Mets to that incredible 11-1 start. So where does the Mets’ record currently stand?
18-16, a measly 7-15 record since the hot start.
The fantastic bullpen we saw has come back down to Earth. The offense has become and looked completely inept at times after showing so much fight and clawing back from deficits quickly during the great start. The rotation is also in shambles. Let’s start with the #1 ACE of this staff, Jacob deGrom. Jake has without question been the best and most consistent rotation piece this season as he’s pitching to a 3-0 record, 1.87 ERA, 0.99 WHIP, and 54 K’s in 43.1 innings. Unfortunately in deGrom’s last start, he hurt his elbow while batting and was recently put on the 10 day DL and is only expected to miss one start. Then you have Noah Syndergaard, who is another ACE but hasn’t been doing it as dominant or consistently like deGrom, pitching to a 2-1 record, 3.09 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, and 54 K’s in 46.2 innings. Walks have been a problem and Noah always seems to find himself with a high pitch count by the time the 5th inning comes around.
Those have been the only two somewhat success stories with the rotation, which features a lot of bad behind Jake and Noah. For starters, there’s Matt Harvey, who many people, myself included, picked to win comeback player of the year and perhaps regain his form and get back to being the pitcher he was in just 2015 (post TJ surgery) and not necessarily 2013 (one of the most dominant pitching seasons in franchise history & pre TJ surgery). Harvey pitched 5 shutout innings, allowing only 1 hit, 1 walk, and struck out 5 in his season debut, a victory over the Phillies in April 3rd. Many people thought the “Dark Knight” was back. Wrong.
After that start Harvey was a complete dumpster fire when he took the mound and showed no signs of life after that gem vs Philadelphia. Harvey allowed 14 runs on 25 hits in his next 3 starts. Along with his poor performance, he showed a very bad attitude with management and the media which didn’t help his case. Finally the Mets decided to move Harvey to the bullpen, which I was a fan of and thought maybe he could rediscover himself with less stress and innings to pitch. Boy was I wrong as Harvey made four relief appearances, totaling 6 innings, and allowed 8 runs. During his last relief appearance, a 2 inning, 5 run drubbing by Atlanta to cap a sweep for them, the Mets asked Harvey to accept a minor league assignment. Harvey quickly declined that request and was subsequently designated for assignment, which means the Harvey/Mets marriage is officially over and done with. Harvey was officially traded to the Cincinnati Reds about 17 hours ago for catcher Devin Mesoraco. Very bittersweet and as a Mets fan, I’m gonna take the optimistic approach and thank Harvey for basically leaving his arm on the Citi Field mound on that chilly night of November 1st, 2015 trying to win this team a championship. Mr.Harvey, I thank you and salute you. Good luck.
Now the next two guys, Matz and Wheeler, two guys loaded with potential, especially Matz IMO, who just can’t get or keep it together. Wheeler has been mediocre at best since that brilliant start in Miami. Matz has been about the same but recently turned in his best start of the season with a 6 inning, one run allowed on three hits performance against Colorado. Unfortunately the Mets lost 2-0 and didn’t support Matz anyway. Could it be a sign of things turning around? We’ll see.
I saw a stat the other day before Harvey was DFA’d that said the Mets starters not named Syndergaard/deGrom, have a 6+ ERA. That’s putrid, disgusting, and not gonna cut it whatsoever. What’s even worse is that Jason Vargas, the “prized” starter we bought in free agency is finally healthy and has turned in 3 straight garbage starts to start his Mets tenure. When it rains it pours as they say.
Cèspedes is exhibiting great power but is striking out a ton too. Michael Conforto shattered timetables by coming back very early from shoulder surgery but has looked dreadful at the plate. Jay Bruce and Adrian Gonzalez, two of the better vets, have come as expected, striking out a ton, hitting homers, but also being clutch and coming through when needed for the most part. Todd Frazier has been a welcome addition with his solid defense at the hot corner and grinding at bats and being amongst the league leaders in walks. The catcher position has been a disaster, thanks to Travis d’Arnaud being knocked out until 2019 with Tommy John surgery and Kevin Plawecki fracturing his hand in Miami a month ago. So because of those injuries and before the Harvey/Mesoraco trade, the Mets have been trotting out Tomas Nidó and José Lobaton behind the plate and it’s basically like forfeiting a spot in the lineup when they come up. Brandon Nimmo and Juan Lagares have looked real good in limited action but aren’t seeing any sort of increase in playing time although Conforto is doing nothing, Bruce is doing nothing, and Cèspedes is battling some minor nagging injuries. It’s kind of mind boggling really.
The bullpen has definitely cooled off as expected and is down to being average, not terrible. Jeurys Familia has been rock solid at closer, with 10 saves and a 1.59 ERA. Seth Lugo has been pretty stable, pitching to a 1-0 record, 2.66 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, and 19 K’s. A.J Ramos and Robert Gsellman have been decent and free agent acquisition Anthony Swarzak has been M.I.A with an oblique injury after only appearing in two games. Jerry Blevins has been pretty awful and lefties are pounding him. I can definitely see a reliever acquisition at the deadline if the Mets stay in the race.
It’s pretty much the same song and dance like in years past. Hope the rotation stays healthy, hope the bullpen finally figures it out, and hope the offense keeps hitting homers all season long because that’s pretty much how the lineup is built every year, feast or famine with home runs and strikeouts. It’s just so hard seeing that formula work anymore.
The Nats are said to be the “class” of the NL East, the Phillies and Braves both boast young and exciting teams that are ready to start playing meaningful games down the stretch, and you got a pretty dang good NL Central and NL West crop that are all diverse and strong at all different facets of the game. The 11-1 start was nice but all it threw back was false hope. Yes, i know what you’re gonna say, it’s only May 9th and there’s plenty of baseball left, and yes, you’re right, but this song just sounds all too familiar with the Mets and the NL is just so loaded with talent right now. I hope and pray to be proven wrong on this team as it does certainly have potential but I’m just not all that confident in that actually happening right now. Sorry Mets fans. Throw this back at me come October if the Mets are so lucky to still be playing that month.
Right now it is 10:40 pm EST on January 12th and a lot free agents remain unsigned in MLB in what has to be the slowest moving market in this generation at least. Many major names are still available, including but not limited to, J.D. Martinez, Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Lorenzo Cain, Jonathan LuCroy, Yu Darvish, Jake Arrietta, etc. There really hasn’t been much noise all winter concerning Moustakas, Cain, LuCroy, and Arrietta. According to recent reports, Martinez is at a contract stalemate with Boston, Hosmer has received seven year offers worth $140+ million from San Diego and Kansas City, and the Darvish derby is down to six teams (Rangers, Astros, Yankees, Twins, Cubs, and a mystery sixth team, according to Darvish himself). The reliever market has seen its fair share of deals this winter but no other positions are getting much love. And by the way, the trend has continued, relievers continue to get paid big bucks.
This offseason the Mets have so far signed reliever Anthony Swarzak (2 years, $14 million) and just last night brought back right fielder Jay Bruce (3 years, $39 million). Coming into this offseason, the Mets did say that payroll would be cut from the $155 million point they opened the 2017 season at but never gave an actual number with most reports saying it’d be around $135-140 million. The fact that a team in the biggest market in the world can’t maintain a top 10 payroll and has to slash payroll two seasons removed from a World Series appearance while still fielding a playoff/championship caliber core is an ABSOLUTE JOKE and has angered fans this offseason. This team still has lots of promise left in it and with the right moves can be right back in the World Series. Yes, the Wilpon’s took a big hit in the infamous Bernie Madoff scheme but that is well in the past at this point and with the team performance the last few seasons and two straight playoff appearances, the Wilpon’s have been making more money as of late.
There is no excuses at all as to why the New York Mets have to or should slash payroll this offseason or any offseason really for that matter when they’re located in the New York market and you got the Yankees playing crosstown. Now I’m not saying that the Mets should spend like the Yankees and go over or hover around the luxury tax threshold, but to potentially be cutting payroll by $20 million and not supporting even a top 10 payroll is ridiculous. Let’s say the Mets payroll lands at $140 million to open this upcoming season, judging by last years opening day payrolls, that would lower them from 12th last year to 16th this year in payroll. Is that a serious possibility for, again, a team in the NYC market that is playoff caliber and is two seasons removed from being in the World Series?! It seems ludicrous and it is, but it’s also what I and all other Mets fans have had to unfortunately get used to under this current Mets ownership. Operating in a big market under mid tier market budgets and disrespecting the fans by not even being aggressive on the market is such a slap in the face and practically irresponsible. Although, there is one way the Wilpon’s can somewhat save face and at the same time make GM Sandy Alderson look better as well is to make a surprise splash in the market and see if you can get someone like a Hosmer or Moustakas at an even cheaper yearly rate and/or not as many years. I’m not saying that the Mets will or should, but you can definitely bet that with it being mid-January now that the big names free agents left standing are going to be taking less than what they originally envisioned and it might even be significantly less.
The Mets have had a very quiet offseason up until the re-signing of Jay Bruce last night. The additions of Swarzak and Bruce should definitely help solidify an improving bullpen and bring back an important power bat to the offense who can also fill in at first base sometimes, respectively. Are they solid additions? Absolutely. Is it enough to dethrone the Nats as the class of the NL East? Not even close. The Mets still need another bullpen arm, a middle of the rotation starter, and two complimentary starting bats or one major offensive piece. The Mets recently spoke to the Pirates about Andrew McCutchen but those talks are done and over with, now that Bruce is coming back to Queens. The Mets look like they’re going to go with a defensive setup of Yoenis Cespedes in left field, Michael Conforto in center field, and Bruce in right field, while also playing first base, which in turn would slide Conforto over to right field on those days and allow the Mets to start the more defensively sound Juan Lagares or even youngster Brandon Nimmo in centerfield. Bruce will split time with youngster Dominic Smith at first base, which is where I was a bit puzzled when I found out Bruce was coming back and that he would play some first base. While I do like the idea of the Bruce/Smith platoon at 1B and agree with the Mets’ assessment that Smith may not be ready for the everyday starting job at first base, I thought they’d bring in a righty platoon partner for Smith and not another lefty, like Bruce is. I thought righty Wilmer Flores would see most of the platoon work at 1B but that may not be as much of a case as originally thought. Flores could also ultimately be the starting second baseman come April but I believe the Mets like him in a super utility role, as do I honestly, although I wouldn’t mind even more starts for Flores considering how well he’s grasped right handed pitching the last two seasons. I guess time will tell how things go with Flores and the Bruce/Smith platoon.
Now how can the Mets inject some life into the fan base in a pinch? Sign Hosmer or Moustakas. Yes, I know, it’s easier said than done. There’s no doubt in my mind though that both of their price tags are dropping and both guys won’t come close to garnering the type of deals they thought they would coming into this winter. Could either one of these guys possibly take a one year deal to reestablish value and become a free agent again next winter in what’s being described as the best free agent market in a very long time? Hosmer is still only 28 years old, in the middle of his prime, and possesses one of the best all around games in baseball. That kind of player is going to strike it rich but with this market, could Hosmer take a one year deal and be a free agent again next year at the age of 29 (still a great age in free agency)? The worth of that kind of one year deal would need to be very high, probably between $20-25 million at least. Could or would the Mets swallow that, even for one year? I doubt it, which leads me to believe that acquiring Hosmer is exactly what it is, a pipe dream. Move the conversation over to Moustakas and it’s a different story.
You can ask anyone, I’ve never been a big fan of Moustakas and thought he’d be a free agent who gets massively overpaid after breaking the Royals’ franchise record for home runs in a single season (38) in his walk year. Now while his powerful run producing bat is a dangerous weapon, he doesn’t do much of anything else all that well. He doesn’t draw walks, doesn’t hit for a high average, and his defense is adequate at best. The fact that he’s probably received the least amount of buzz amongst the major free agents remaining is going to bring his price down, especially when San Francisco decided to trade for Evan Longoria instead and St.Louis is more interested in trading for Josh Donaldson. Here’s the difference between Moose and Hosmer though, while Hosmer is 28 years old, Moose has him by three years at 31. Definitely a tougher situation for Moose when contemplating shorter terms deals, if those are to be received. Again, would or could Moustakas take a one year, let’s say $15-20 million deal? What about maybe something along the lines of three years, $45-55 million? Very doubtful but the longer these guys continue to wait to sign deals, the uglier their contracts will be.
Now like I said, I’m not a big fan of Moustakas and would rather not allocate major dollars to him over the course of a multi year contract but you can’t tell me that if the Mets signed Moustakas out of the blue that it wouldn’t energize this fan base and even put a little bit of a scare into the Nationals. In this “dream” scenario though, I’d much rather sign Hosmer and if it somehow wound up being a multi year deal, I’d flip Dominic Smith as part of a package for a legit cost controlled third baseman or catcher, while letting Bruce handle right field all the time and cementing Conforto as the everyday starting center fielder. Again, like I’ve been saying, this is all a pipe dream but it’s also something that should at the very least be considered by management/ownership. And as fellow Mets fans can attest, all we can do is dream, right?
The 2017 MLB season has come to a close and it was honestly one of the best seasons to watch from a fans standpoint as we saw so many milestones and records broken. We saw a huge influx of young talent yet again break into the league and take it by storm. For starters, we saw Yankees rookie right fielder Aaron Judge hit 52 home runs and break the old MLB home run record for the most homers hit by a rookie in a single season, the old record was 49 by Mark McGwire, who did it for Oakland in 1987. Dodgers rookie first baseman Cody Bellinger didn’t come up to the big leagues until the end of April, yet he broke the old NL record (38) by Frank Robinson (1956) and Wally Berger (1930) for most home runs in a single season by a rookie, finishing with 39. Judge is also a very strong favorite in the AL MVP race as well, as the Yankees are also headed back to the playoffs.
We saw quite a few pitchers, who aren’t considered aces put on ACE performances all season long, like Arizona’s Robbie Ray & Zack Godley, LAD’s Alex Wood, Milwaukee’s Zach Davies, NYY’s Luis Severino, Cleveland’s Carlos Carrasco, and Houston’s Lance McCullers (although he had a hard time staying healthy). A couple of those guys are in CY Young conversations, others are just falling short. We’ve seen usual pitching mastery from the likes of Chris Sale, Corey Kluber, and Clayton Kershaw, to name a few. The NL CY Young race is a lot more competitive and open than the AL race is, which is a two man race in my eyes.
The NL MVP race has quite a crowded field and should be one of the more hard to decide races this year. Off the top of my head, there are at least FIVE (5) strong candidates for the award and it’s hard to choose even one. You have the likes of Arizona 1B Paul Goldschmidt, Miami RF Giancarlo Stanton AND LF Marcell Ozuna, Cincinnati 1B Joey Votto, Washington 1B Ryan Zimmerman AND 3B Anthony Rendon, Colorado 3B Nolan Arenado and CF Charlie Blackmon to name some of them. The AL MVP race appears to be a three headed monster to me, with New York RF Aaron Judge, Houston 2B Josè Altuve, and Cleveland IF Josè Ramirez leading the charge. The one thing that hurts Altuve’s case is that a few of his teammates (George Springer, Carlos Correa, Marwin Gonzalez, & Yuli Gurriel) are also having great seasons. You could say the same for Judge and Ramirez too I guess, but they don’t have the type of teammates who’re having the exact type of seasons that Altuve’s teammates are having. It really will be fascinating to see how it shakes out because if Altuve doesn’t have the teammates that he does have, he’s the run away favorite for AL MVP. Alas, we got ourselves a race…
Let’s get to the picks…
1.Paul Goldschmidt, 1B, Arizona Diamondbacks:
“Goldy” dominated all season and led his team to the first NL wild card spot in a year where a lot of people thought it’d be a down year for the D-Backs. Goldschmidt finished the year with .297 AVG, 36 homers, 120 RBI’s, .404 OBP, .966 OPS, 117 R’s, 18 SB’s, and played in 155 games. He also displayed his usual gold glove caliber defense at a key position where strong defense is preferred. The man has finished as the runner up twice for NL MVP and I believe the third time will be the charm and he finally wins it. I thought heavily about picking Rockies 3B Nolan Arenado for MVP but although Arenado had an incredible season even without the Coors Field effect, I couldn’t help but notice that Goldschmidt didn’t have last years NL batting champion (D.J. LeMahieu) and this years batting champion (Charlie Blackmon) both hitting in front of him. Arenado topped Goldschmidt in RBI’s by a tally of 130-120, that’s only a +10 margin with way better hitters in front of Nolan and his OBP was .31 lower than Goldschmidt’s. That’s why I give Goldschmidt the edge over Arenado for NL MVP.
2.Nolan Arenado, 3B, Colorado Rockies
3.Giancarlo Stanton, RF, Miami Marlins
4.Joey Votto, 1B, Cincinnati Reds
5.Bryce Harper, RF, Washington Nationals
1.José Altuve, 2B, Houston Astros:
Altuve just continues to get better and better every year. Not only did Altuvé prove to be the one constant all season in that daunting Astros offense but he also did many things he hasn’t done before. On top of his usual gold glove defense, Altuve posted career highs in home runs (24, tied with 2016), runs (112), average (.346), OBP (.410), slugging % (.547), OPS (.957), OPS+ (165), WAR (8.4), while playing in 153 games. Altuve also knocked in 81 RBI’s, 39 doubles, 4 triples, 204 hits, and stole 32 bases. Altuve also struck out only 84 times all season, almost 0.5 strikeouts per game. Incredible numbers by the shortest player in baseball at 5’6. Aaron Judge was a heavy favorite as well up until a very weak month of August and second half of July hurt him badly. His strong September vaults him back up into the very top of the race but Altuve has been doing everything all season and hasn’t slowed down. In fact, Altuve’s first half OPS is almost identical to his second half OPS (.968 to .967) so you can see the consistency at the plate with this guy, especially after teammates Carlos Correa and George Springer missed time this season with injuries. Judge became the first player in history to lead his league in the “three true outcomes” category as he led the AL in homers (52), walks (127), and strikeouts (208). As awesome as Judge’s season was, especially for a rookie, I just believe his dip in late July and all of August hurts his chances and plus his defense isn’t nearly as good as Altuve’s, although that’s not a knock on Judge because he proved to be more than average defensively in right field, Altuve is just a wizard at second. Now while the big debate is all around Altuve vs Judge, I believe it should be centered more around Altuve vs José Ramirez of the Indians. Like Altuve, Ramirez was consistent all season and put up extremely good numbers for someone who I don’t think anyone expected to be this good and someone who isn’t all that well known on the Indians compared to some of his teammates. Ramirez finished with a .318/.374/.583/.957 slash line, 29 HR’s, 83 RBI’s, 107 Runs, 56 doubles (led the league), 6 triples, 145 OPS+, 18 stolen bases, 6.8 WAR, and more than adequate defense at both second base and third base. Ramirez also struck out only 69 times, good for only 0.43 K’s per game. The reason why I’m not going with Ramirez is because he batted a lot out of the #3 spot in the lineup with two good hitters in front of him and some big time thumpers behind him and because of the insane numbers and career highs that Altuve posted on a team that saw their fare share of injuries this season around him.
2.Jose Ramirez, 2B/3B, Cleveland Indians
3.Aaron Judge, RF, New York Yankees
4.Mike Trout, CF, Los Angeles Angels
5.Chris Sale, SP, Boston Red Sox
NL Cy Young:
1.Max Scherzer, SP, Washington Nationals:
Scherzer gets the edge over Clayton Kershaw of the Dodgers and teammate Stephen Strasburg thanks to better consistency/health, and of course because of the great numbers he put up. Scherzer finished the 2017 season 16-6, 2.51 ERA (career best), 268 K’s (led the NL), 2 complete games (led the NL), 175 ERA+ (career high), 0.90 WHIP (career best), and 12 K’s/9 (career best). Scherzer is the reigning NL Cy Young winner and a two time winner at that, also doing so in the American League in 2013 as a member of the Detroit Tigers. Kershaw led the leagues in wins (18) and ERA (2.31), but was short of Scherzer by 25 innings pitched and 66 strikeouts. Missing a month+ of the season cost Kershaw a possible runaway win. It also doesn’t help that the Dodgers were just so unbelievably good this season that even without Kershaw, the Dodgers would’ve been fine and still won the NL West. I believe the gap would be tighter in the Nationals’ case because if Scherzer missed an extended period of time, the margin for error was a bit closer for Washington than it was Los Angeles even though both teams won their divisions in runaway fashion. And here’s another stat that definitely favors Scherzer, he allowed only a .168 BAA to batters during the third and fourth time through the order, whereas Kershaw had a .237 BAA, even higher than Strasburg’s .194. Very big difference there and that’s where I draw the line for Kershaw’s chances. Strasburg missed time this season too sporadically even though he put up almost similar numbers to his teammate, but Scherzer was just that much better. Scherzer wins his third Cy Young award and gets even closer to punching that Hall of Fame ticket.
2.Clayton Kershaw, SP, Los Angeles Dodgers
3.Stephen Strasburg, SP, Washington Nationals
4.Robbie Ray, SP, Arizona Diamondbacks
5.Kenley Jansen, RP, Los Angeles Dodgers
AL Cy Young:
1.Corey Kluber, SP, Cleveland Indians: Kluber had an incredible season and pitched even better down the stretch during Cleveland’s huge winning streak and as they chased down Houston for the best record in the AL. Kluber finished the season with a 18-4 record, 2.25 ERA (led league), 265 K’s, 0.86 WHIP (led league), 5 complete games (led league), 3 shutouts (led league), 202 ERA+ (led league), 11.7 K/9, 7.36 K/BB (led league), 8.1 WAR. He also led with 18 wins as well. The flavor of the season and heavy favorite for this award was Boston’s Chris Sale until Kluber shot himself to the top of the conversation with his great pitching down the stretch and Sale’s slight decline as the year ended. Sale became the first pitcher since Pedro Martinez in 1999 to strike out over 300 batters in a season, so that was remarkable. Unfortunately I feel like Sale’s drop off in August and September (five games he allowed 4+ earned runs in 10 starts & four times he couldn’t make it past the 5th inning). His ERA “ballooned” to 2.90 to end the season, a .65 higher mark than Kluber. He also had a .1 higher WHIP and only 1 complete game and 0 shutouts compared to Kluber’s four more complete games and three more shutouts. Kluber also had better and even more respectable home/road splits than Sale also. As tremendous as Sale was this season, I think Kluber was just more durable and consistent with his great numbers.
2.Chris Sale, SP, Boston Red Sox
3.Luis Severino, SP, New York Yankees
4.Justin Verlander, SP, Houston Astros/Detroit Tigers
5.Craig Kimbrel, RP, Boston Red Sox
NL Rookie Of The Year:
1.Cody Bellinger, 1B/OF, Los Angeles Dodgers:
Bellinger took the league by storm after his promotion in late April, setting the new NL record for homers by a rookie in a season. This years R.O.Y awards (both NL AND AL) are runaways and really don’t even need much explaining for the picks because in reality the two winners will be unanimous. Let’s just see how the other rookies are positioned behind these no doubt winners…
2.Paul DeJong, SS, St.Louis Cardinals
3.Ian Happ, OF, Chicago Cubs
AL Rookie Of The Year:
1.Aaron Judge, OF, New York Yankees:
Judge is also the unanimous choice here. The guy hit 52 homers (most ever by a rookie, AL or NL) and led his league in walks, AS A ROOKIE. That’s enough in its own right. Let’s see how the others fared behind him…
2.Andrew Benintendi, OF, Boston Red Sox
3.Yuli Gurriel, 3B/1B, Houston Astros
NL Manager Of The Year:
1.Craig Counsell, Milwaukee Brewers:
Counsell took a Brewers team that had zero expectations to do anything this season and possibly be one of the worse teams in the league to nearly the second NL wild card spot. The Brewers came into the last game of the season needing a victory in St.Louis and a Colorado loss at home to the Dodgers to nab the last wild card spot but both opposite outcomes happened and Milwaukee was eliminated. The Brewers took a makeshift team that saw one frontline starter emerge in Chase Anderson and an offense that was way better than expected led by guys like Eric Sogard, Eric Thames, and Travis Shaw, to name a few. The fact that Milwaukee nearly made the wild card game in what was supposed to be a rebuilding season is a testament to the leadership of the team, led my by manager Craig Counsell.
2.Torey LuVollo, Arizona Diamondbacks
3.Bud Black, Colorado Rockies
AL Manager Of The Year:
1.Paul Molitor, Minnesota Twins:
Molitor took the Twins from 103 losses in 2016 to the AL Wild Card game against the Yankees this year. The Twins became the first team in history to go from 100+ losses one season and to the playoffs in the next. The Twins were led by veteran pitcher Ervin Santana and young guns Byron Buxton, Miguel Sano, and Eddie Rosario. The Twins even sold off pieces at the trade deadline and wound up doing even better and claiming the second wild card spot. The turnaround during a rebuilding season was remarkable and Molitor has got to be a unanimous choice for this award. Job well done with this Twins team.
2.Joe Girardi, New York Yankees
3.A.J. Hinch, Houston Astros
Comeback Player Of The Year: Zack Greinke, SP, Arizona Diamondbacks