It’s a beautiful day; let’s play two

“You may glory in a team triumphant, but you fall in love with a team in defeat. Losing after great striving is the story of a man, who was born to sorrow, whose sweetest songs tell of saddest thought, and who, if he is a hero, does nothing in life as becomingly as leaving it.”
Roger Kahn

29 thoughts on “It’s a beautiful day; let’s play two

  1. Manny Machado to the Padres. They were two years away but with Manny they might be one year away.

    Bryce Harper to the Phillies. A huge deal. The NL East is going to be super competitive. I’m kind of sad because I like the Nats, but Don’s got to be happy.

    Kurt Suzuki to the Nats. Not a difference-maker by himself, but he’s a good veteran presence for the Washington pitchers, something they haven’t had in a while.

    Steven Vogt, my favorite Athletic for the past couple of years, goes to the Giants. Not earth-changing either, but I’m disappointed.

    Jed Lowrie (4.9 WAR last year) goes to the Mets. Another of the really good Athletics. Ugh.

    Josh Donaldson to the Braves. I like this. Donaldson could very well see himself in the post-season again.

    Hunter Pence to the Rangers. He had a -.9 WAR last year so I don’t know what this is worth. But he’s a likeable player so I hope he does well.

    Jose Bautista (38 years old) still unsigned.

    Ichiro Suzuki back with the Mariners at age 45.

    Dallas Keuchel (age 31, 3.6 WAR) still unsigned! What the heck?

    Gio Gonzalez still unsigned.

    Bartolo Colon still unsigned. Has he played his last MLB game?

    Kendall Graveman, another Athletic I always liked, goes to the Cubs. He’ll probably be a long reliever and spot-starter but I think he belongs in the rotation.

    Craig Kimbrel still unsigned!

    Andrew Miller to the Cardinals. This disappoints me.

    I guess Keuchel and Kimbrel are the biggest unsigned names now. I don’t know why Houston wouldn’t try to get him back.

    I would like to point out that among this year’s free agents, 2B Jed Lowrie was behind only SS Machado (6.2) and SP Patrick Corbin (6.3) in WAR. The Athletics are going to find those wins difficult to replace. I hope he has a monster season.

  2. Mitchell,

    How’s RT Realmuto? I heard of him, but don’t really know how good he really is. He was probably the biggest signing for the Phillies before Harper came along.

    I like your list… I probably didn’t know about half of those signings. Yeah and I heard Keuchel wasn’t signed yet. Before I even knew he was a free agent, I was thinking Keuchel, Verlander, and Gerrit Cole was a pretty good top three especially in the playoffs.

    1. I think JT Realmuto was the Marlins’ best player last year. For a catcher, he’s a solid hitter (.275, 20+ hr, 3+ WAR). I’m guessing he’ll probably bat 7th or 8th, but those are good numbers from the bottom third of the order. I can’t speak to his catching, though.

      MLB.com says Keuchel’s asking price was too high for someone who doesn’t throw smoke, and now that his price has likely come down, not many teams have even his lower price now, after all the signings.

      1. I think I’ve heard that he was a good defensive catcher. Not sure if that means he calls great pitches or has good rapport with his pitchers, but I’m pretty sure the Ringer guys said he can frame his pitches well. I’m am not sure about his arm.

        Although nobody cares the Phillies also got Jean Segura (well I’m sure Marc cares).

      2. Jonah Keri announced yesterday that he’s joined the staff at the Athletic (yay), so I read his piece today on the over/under MLB lines for win totals. In his write-up of the Phillies, he links to another piece he wrote at CBS Sports.

        “While none of Realmuto’s line-by-line numbers jumps out at you, his all-around game has made him a hot commodity, as well as the best catcher in baseball.”

        https://www.cbssports.com/mlb/news/heres-what-makes-j-t-realmuto-mlbs-most-valuable-catcher-at-a-time-where-good-ones-are-hard-to-find

        Your team is looking really good. The over/under in January was 83 for Philly, and Keri says the line is a gift from the gods. Anyone going to Vegas soon?

        1. Thanks for the article. That is definitely good news if it holds true.

          Yeah I was definitely excited about this season, even before the Harper signing. The bats should be solid up and down, their starting pitching is good and their bullpen can be great especially if David Robertson still can be a great closer after being a set-up guy as a Yankee.

  3. My guess because I’m too lazy to look, is whatever my predictions were last year can just be copied and pasted right back here again. There will be the haves and the have nots and the disparity between the two is pretty darn big again. The haves include the Red Sox, Astros, Yankees, and maybe not so much last year, but you may have to include the Dodgers with some of their injured guys coming back and the rest of the teams in their division getting a little weaker. My Phillies, Nationals, Braves, and Brewers may get to that upper tier teams as well. Mitchell you think the Indians and Cubs too? Both teams seem to be going in the opposite direction.

    The best two races will be the AL and NL East. Red Sox and Yankees will battle all year in the AL East, and in the NL East it will be the Braves, Phillies and Nationals. I like my Phillies if their starting pitching is more like the first half of the year and not like the second half of the year. It would also help if they picked up another arm somewhere during the year because who knows if Arrieta will hold up and if Pivetta will have the year a lot of guys expect from him. My Phillies led the division at some point after the all-star break last year, and they have only gotten better. However, some say the Nationals and Braves got better as well. It should be a fun year (I hope).

    I really don’t know enough to pick a surprise team (like I never would have thought the Brewers last year), but I like Goldschmidt to the Cards. I think he could be the piece JD Martinez was to the Red Sox last year. I just have no idea what their pitching situation is.

  4. The Cubs and Indians benefit from being in weak divisions, and I have to say I’m as unsure as you are about whether last season’s troubles for both teams were flukes or trends. The Indians were hurt by injuries and the Cubs have too much talent, so I suspect they’ll both be very good but not great, and that’ll be good enough to win their divisions. I also think the Cubs and Indians both have the rare manager who makes a meaningful difference in the wins column.

    And yeah, the AL East and NL East will both be the most competitive. Don’t sleep on the Rays either — they won 90 games last season and had the Cy Young Award winner. Interestingly, in MLB.com’s first power rankings, the Braves were 14, squeezed between the Twins and Mets, and I don’t think it’s because they’re expected to be bad. They’re justin a really tough division.

    Okay here we go.

    AL East
    Red Sox
    Yankees
    Rays
    Blue Jays
    Orioles

    AL Central
    Indians
    Twins
    Tigers
    Royals
    White Sox

    AL West
    Astros
    Athletics
    Mariners
    Angels
    Rangers

    AL Wildcards: Yankees, Twins

    I’m having difficulty admitting it, but I actually kind of like this Red Sox team, now that David Ortiz is retired. If it weren’t for those insufferable Red Sox fans I might even root for them from time to time.

    The Athletics won 97 games last season, and they look like the same team this year (that is, not a great starting lineup but a really nice bullpen). The problem is that they probably overachieved last year, so while they’ll be better this year, their record will be worse. I’m predicting 90 wins and just missing the playoffs. 🙁

    The Astros might win 110 games. Yikes.


    NL East
    Nationals
    Phillies
    Braves
    Mets
    Marlins

    NL Central
    Cubs
    Cardinals
    Brewers
    Pirates
    Reds

    NL West
    Dodgers
    Padres
    Rockies
    Giants
    Diamondbacks

    NL Wildcards: Cardinals, Phillies

    Paul Goldschmitt is 31 so he’s seen his best days, but his joining the Cardinals probably pushes them into favorite status. I don’t know why, but I don’t care for the Cardinals these past several seasons, maybe because I’ve been rooting for the Cubs in that division, so I’ll be rooting for them to be good but not great.

    I feel like I’ve been saying for the past few years that the Padres are THIS close. I’m saying it again.

    I have Marlins finishing last, but I think they’re really an objective .500 team in another division. It’s kind of too bad.

    The Phillies are obviously better with Bryce Harper, but somehow the Nationals are also better without him. I agree with Don: it’s going to be a fun season, especially if the Braves get better too. Also, the Mets season last year was almost surely a fluke. I know I predicted they’d be much, much better than they were, but that team’s too good to be so bad.

    NL Champ: Nationals
    AL Champ: Astros
    World Series Champ: Nationals

    NL MVP: Freddie Freeman
    AL MVP: Jackie Bradley, Jr.
    NL Cy Young: Stephen Strasburg
    AL Cy Young: Corey Kluber

    I originally had Luis Severino in for AL Cy Young but I like the Indians better so I’m going with my heart. And yeah, I know I always pick Strasburg for NL Cy Young. One of these years I’ll be right.

  5. The Red Sox is loaded, and I said it last year and will say it again, their bullpen is underrated, and it showed in the playoffs last year. I agree about the insufferable fans though.

    I agree with your Athletics take, but I think in that division I would take the Angels second definitely over Seattle, whom seem to have lost all their good guys, but the Athletics have a shot of making the playoffs.

    I see you have the Brewers third. Last year was a fluke? It doesn’t seem like it. I’m guessing their bullpen will still be great or did they lose guys?

    I agree with you on the Padres. They are playing in a division in which teams are in rebuild mold. I’ll be surprised if the Padres don’t have a good record this year barring injuries.

    Freeman over Acuna? They are both good, but I would think the consensus is Acuna is the best Brave.

    You must have picked the Nationals for the pennant or even champion the last four or five years no? I don’t think they have ever won a playoff series yet? But I could be wrong…

    On a side note, Kolton Wong blasts two homers today? NL homerun champ? Haha

  6. Oops, I forgot to include my Rookie of the Year picks. Last season I predicted Ronald Acuna Jr and Shohei Ohtani, and they both won! The first time in my LIFE I did that, and it’s only been like 35 years of predicting.

    NL Rookie of the Year: Victor Robles (Nationals)
    AL Rookie of the Year: Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (Blue Jays)

    1. Of course those two guys are rookies (I thought you were going to mention guys I never heard of.) They were playing last year, but I’m guessing not enough games? What about that Japanese guy in the American League. The pitcher? Kikuchi? The name sounds familiar, but I cannot say where I heard it, or maybe because it’s Japanese I think I heard it. He played last year too?

    2. You make a good point about the Mariners, and now that I think about it I would probably reverse my picks, but I’m locked in now!

      I was THIS close to picking Acuna for MVP, but then I thought of Freeman who’s been so good for so long on a team nobody has paid attention to. I thought maybe Acuna would make Freeman more visible. If you look at the numbers, there’s a lot of evidence to pick Freeman over Acuna anyway, so I did.

      No, I don’t think last year was a fluke, and the Brewers are still good. I just see the Cardinals somehow putting it all together and squeaking by this year. I feel similarly about the Rockies in the west — still a good team, but maybe not good enough.

      And no, I don’t think the Nationals have won a playoff series yet! But this is the year!

  7. This guy keeps doing this. What an arm.

    By the way, the Athletics have three shutouts already (including two in a row against the defending champs) and no other team has more than one, and A’s starters haven’t allowed an earned run in four or five games in a row.

  8. Matt Carpenter bunts for a double. As Pat Forde tweeted, “Shift THIS.”

    This is why it’s silly to make a rule against the shift. All professional sports are about adjusting to your opponent. If the defense is stacked on the first-base side of the infield, hit it the other way. You’re professional ballplayers.

    Another thing I love about this is that a good bunt deadens the ball, but that’s exactly what Carpenter doesn’t want here; he wants to push it through past the pitcher into that empty space around third base. So he has to kind of go against his years of practice and poke the ball ahead, rather than deaden the bat on contact. Nicely done.

  9. I picked the Nationals over the Astros in the World Series before the season started. Stick with one team long enough and you eventually get close!

  10. [Moving Reid’s comment from the 2018 baseball topic.]

    Reid said:

    I’ve been paying some attention to the world series, rooting for the Nats, mostly because of Suzuki. I should have posted earlier. I didn’t catch Game 5 and 6, though, but it’s cool that they’ll be a Game 7.

    What’s the rule on the interference going to first?

    1. Here’s a pretty good explanation of the rule.

      I agree with Martinez that the rule is misapplied. There was no reason for Turner to run on the outside of the foul line, as the ball wasn’t behind him being fielded by a catcher throwing down the line at first. The first baseman had his glove there because of the angle of the throw. This is not interference since Turner was running in a straight line down the basepath.

      It’s the first baseman’s fault Turner hit his glove (or possibly the fielder’s fault for throwing it there), and therefore not baserunner interference.

      When I was a kid, I watched Reggie Jackson running from first to second on a ground ball to second. The second baseman stepped on the bag and threw the ball to first, but Reggie deliberately stepped in front of the throw and let it hit his thigh. THAT is baserunner interference!

      Edit: I’m certain Buster Olney will talk about this on his podcast tomorrow, so I look forward to smarter guys’ thoughts.

      1. I cannot recall an exact play, but I thought I’ve seen where a catcher threw a ball and hit the base-runner going up the line to first and the guy gets called out, but didn’t seem like the base-runner was doing it on purpose (ie: not like he was looking back or doing a serpentine move).

        On sort of a side note, this call has dwarfed the controversy of dropping the bat at first for Bregman and Soto. On a side, side note, Soto just made legal age at 21 a few days ago. He’s been crazy good in the playoffs. But he probably won’t be the MVP which will go to Scherzer if any National wins it.

        1. Yeah, if the runner doesn’t run on the foul side of the foul line when the catcher is throwing down the line, he’s going to be called for interference whether that’s intentional or not.

          The rule was applied literally, so it’s tough to say it was wrong to call the runner out last night. However, the rule exists for specific reasons, and those reasons weren’t in play last night. The pitcher fielding the ball made an off-line throw. The runner ran the way runners always run; the fielder threw the ball in a way that forced his first baseman to have his glove in an unusual spot. Turner broke the rule, sorta, but the rule shouldn’t really apply here.

          I disagree — I think Soto is going to win the MVP depending on how things play out today. No way does Scherzer get it over Strasburg unless he pitches a complete game shutout or something today.

  11. I think on the radio, I took the announcers to say what you are saying in terms of the rule was “applied literally”, but “shouldn’t really apply here”.

    In terms of the MVP, Soto’s HRs when looking back at the games, doesn’t seem as impactful as at the time he hit them. For example, if the game ended 3-2 yesterday, then Soto’s HR would have been the one that won the game, but in the end it was a blow-out. Strasberg’s starts were blow outs too, and that sort of takes away some from him as well. But Scherzer’s resume may be a win against Cole, who hasn’t lost since May, a Game 7 win to close the series, and a come back from injury. If having to bet on a National, my order would be Scherzer, Stras, Soto. The Astros winner may be tougher. It may be the guy with the most important hit tonight between Springer, Altuve, and Brantley, who all have been having a good series, but none with a “World Series moment”, yet.

  12. I must say that listening to the Tony Kornheiser’s Show, it’s cool to hear of the excitement for the Nationals in DC. They have never won, and so it’s sort of like being in on the ground level in Chicago prior to the Cubs winning it all. That being said, though, as a Phillie fan, it’s tough to pull for them.

    1. That over-the-shoulder basket catch at 1:05 is sweet. I didn’t watch the whole thing (I will later) but unless I see the scoop-toss for a putout, I’m not putting up there with Alomar. Alomar did things I never saw before — Wong is doing things I’ve seen Almomar do. 🙂

      Except the glove-only scoop-toss. If I see that I’ll consider it.

      EDIT: Oh hahaha. There’s one in the very next play.

    2. Was that the “touch pass” that went for a DP? I think that was my favorite play. And I’m not saying this surpasses Alomar–I’m saying Wong looks like Alomar.

      The other thing that stands out is Wong’s ability scoop up ground balls running to his left, with the momentum pulling him hard, and then throwing the ball in really awkward positions to first base. (This clip may not have all the examples of this I have in mind.) I feel like these throws are as impressive as the ones where he makes deep in the hole.

  13. I didn’t realize that Kirby Yates made the all-star team last year. Pretty cool.

    Here he is speaking pidgin:

    “Doodge” must be strictly a new surfing lingo or a Kaua’i thing.

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