How Well Did You Pay Attention To This MLB Offseason? (Quiz)
Sports |  Source: inhalesports.com

How Well Did You Pay Attention To This MLB Offseason? (Quiz)

What cooked on the hot stove for the past few months.

The MLB is the only major professional sports league not in session from early November through early February. But just because the action stops on the field, it doesn't mean the action is stopped period.

This is the time where the owners, GMs and everyone else in the behind the scenes personnel get ready for the next season, as the teams look to improve upon their rosters and increase their chances of winning next year's World Series.

Many MLB fans like keeping a close eye on the Hot Stove during these winter months, waiting to see who their team lands next, or which team makes the next big move.

So, how well did you pay attention this offseason?


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Sports |  Source: sportingnews.com

Chris Sale Makes the Red Sox Rotation Loaded

They're good. They're real good.

In 2014 and 2015 the Boston Red Sox finished last in their division. Part of the reason for that was their subpar rotation. Now, that's hardly the case.
Yup. They added Chris Sale today. He is the same guy who went 17-10 with a 3.34 ERA in 32 starts this season and struck out 233 batters in 226.2 innings. He's been in Cy Young consideration in each of the past five seasons. So yeah, this Red Sox rotation is officially loaded.
Look at what their top-two was before this deal: Rick Porcello, the 2016 American League Cy Young Award winner (sorry Kate Upton) and 2012 AL Cy Young Award winner, David Price. Sure, they didn't show up in the playoffs, but two Cy Young contenders and then a guy who could win a Cy Young at some point in his life, that's pretty special. Oh yeah, and that's less than half the starters they've got right now.
Yes, big league rotations use five starters, so that means there's two more the Red Sox could use. Take your pick of these four:
--2016 NL All-Star Drew Pomeranz, who posted a 3.32 ERA and struck out 186 men in 170.2 innings last year.
--2016 AL All-Star Steven Wright, a knuckleballer who posted a 3.33 ERA in 24 starts last season and three four complete games.
--Eduardo Rodriguez, a 23-year-old who pitched exceptionally well in the second half last season (3.24 ERA in 14 starts plus 79 strikeouts in 77.2 innings).
--And 2010 All-Star Clay Buchholz. He's dominant sometimes and lousy other times. But his 3.96 lifetime ERA in 10 big league seasons ain't bad.
That's six All-Stars and potentially one of the best young pitchers in baseball. Not sure exactly what they'll do what the two extra arms, but that's a good problem to have -- especially in such a bad free agent market. #TradePieces
The Red Sox already had the best AL pitching staff in the second half last season -- with Wright injured for most of it. Now they have him back plus Chris Sale. Watch out, rest of the league. Watch out...
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Sports |  Source: masslive.com

The Red Sox Need Some Balance

You can only win so many games with just offense.

Hitting, fielding and pitching.

Those are what a baseball team needs to be successful. Undoubtedly, the Boston Red Sox are the best hitting team in baseball. And defensively, they're one of the better teams. It's just their presence on the mound that's hurting them.

At 39-30 through 69 games, they're just a game out of first in the American League East. Their team batting average and OPS are tough to match and they don't make many errors. On the mound, however, it's a little different.

The Red Sox pitching staff is about average. But they have a knuckleballer named Steven Wright in the running for the American League Cy Young Award and two of the game's highest paid pitchers: David Price and Rick Porcello. The back end of their rotation (and part of their bullpen), in contrast, has been dreadful.

In 26 starts pitched by guys not named Wright, Price or Porcello, the Red Sox have surrendered 100 earned runs 126.1 innings (7.12 ERA).

(Math on that (9*(40+21+16+7+9+7)/(56.66+22.34+20.66+12.34+10.33+4)))

College students know the struggle of balance and being a well-rounded person: between school, sleep and their social life. To borrow an idiom, the Red Sox would truly be hitting it out of the park in the classroom. David Ortiz has the highest OPS in baseball, Xander Bogaerts could win MVP, Mookie Betts is on pace for over 30 home runs, Dustin Pedroia is hitting about .300, and Jackie Bradley Jr., one of the best defensive outfielders in baseball, has established himself as one of the best hitters too.

If you think of fielding as social life then the Red Sox are the life of the party. Pedroia, Bogaerts, Betts and Bradley Jr. are sharp defensively. Behind the plate, Christian Vazquez and Sandy Leon are elite - they just don't hit well. And Hanley Ramirez shocked everyone by becoming a great defensive first baseman. All he used to be able to do was hit and while he's not a bad hitter, he's only about average now. His defense is where he at least is kind of earning his $22 million this year.

Now what about sleep? The Red Sox would be sleeping for about four to five hours per night as opposed to the seven to eight needed for a healthy life. There's a saying about pitching winning championships. And when people don't sleep enough, they're bound to break down after awhile. If the Red Sox don't upgrade the back half of their pitching staff, there could be a breakdown.

If there's a breakdown, they won't have to worry about the postseason - even if they're supposed to meet the Chicago Cubs in the World Series.

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Sports |  Source: johnnycigarsports247.files.wordpress.com

A New Hope for Baseball

Why the "Evil Empire" has no other choice but to rebuild.

Excuse my language but... HOLY SHIT.

IT'S HAPPENING!

As a Red Sox fan, I take great pleasure in watching the Yankees struggle which, admittedly, hasn't been too often since I began seriously following baseball in the early 2000s.

Until very recently, I was pretty sure that Benjamin Franklin had it wrong. There were actually three certainties in life:

Death, taxes, and the Yankees contending for a playoff spot.

So when the Yankees shipped closer Aroldis Chapman off to Chicago in exchange for Adam Warren and three prospects, something felt off. The Yankees don't collect minor league assets. That's not their style.

When the Yankees want to get better, they compete, wait until the end of the season, and then overpay some free agent who may or may not be worth the money. But who cares! The Yankees can afford to overspend on anyone they damn well please.

They're the frickin' Yankees for christsake!

So I really thought nothing of it. With Miller and Betances, who really needs Chapman anyway? Let's be honest, it's not like the Yankees are really getting themselves into a ton of save situations this season.

But when I saw that former Cape Cod League legend (seriously, check it out) was getting sent to Cleveland in exchange for four more prospects, it hit me:

What did Miller do to get his ass sent out to a place like Cleveland? Just kidding (kind of).

This is what actually hit me (about as hard as The Decision hit a bandwagoning Cavaliers fan from a wealthy Cleveland suburb):

The Yankees are actually giving up on their season!

Now I know that if Michael Kay was reading this right now, he would stick his hands through my computer screen and strangle me, yelling about how I'm a spoiled baseball fan to have only known the dominant Yankees and not the struggling Bombers squads from the early 1990s, but.....

I doubt he's going to read this, so the Hell with him! (However, if you do somehow read this, I listen to your show everyday, and I didn't mean it when I told you to go to Hell). I never thought I'd see the day, but the Yankee way (overspending and stealing from small market teams) doesn't cut it anymore because, well, let's face it:

Every single team in the MLB has the ability to overspend now. With local TV deals and an insane surge in revenues, even a team like the Diamondbacks can afford to give a guy like Zack Greinke $31 million a year.

Just about 10 years ago, in 2007, when Alex Rodriguez signed his massive, $275 million contract with the worst team in professional sports, there were ten teams with payrolls over $100 million.

That number has nearly doubled to date, with 18 teams reaching that benchmark during the 2016 season, and two teams (the Yankees and the Dodgers) actually eclipsing the $200 million mark.

Revenues are at an astonishing $9 billion a year and rising, and the lowest payroll is the Houston Astros, who are coughing up just under $70 million to their players this year. Even though baseball may be losing some popularity, it certainly isn't losing any money, much to the Yankees chagrin.

There was a time when, if you wanted to sign for a king's ransom, you had to go to a team like the Yankees to get it, but that's no longer the case. Star players and free agents are now free to do whatever they want.

Stay. Go. Hell, they can even go to Miami if they want.


So the Yankees are stuck with a 40-year-old outfielder anchoring their offense, a 36-year-old liability lounging around at first base, and... oh would you look at that! Another 36-year-old liability in the pitching rotation, surrounded by a bunch of much younger, much more in-shape liabilities. And Masahiro Tanaka (but that's beside the point).

The truth is, the Yankees have lost their upper hand. They have no choice but to rebuild like the rest of the plebes in the MLB. So good riddance Andrew Miller! You didn't deserve to be on a team as evil as the Yankees to begin with.

And as for Yankees fans, I'm going to be honest here: Don't worry. Cashman's got this. Seriously.

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Sports | 

The Cardinals Are Baseball's Gold Standard

It's good to be king.

I have always loved Opening Day. As a St. Louis Cardinals fan, it's been a privilege to watch an entire history of an organization come together for a one-day celebration of baseball and the city.

Hall of Fame Cardinals like Stan Musial (rest in peace), Ozzie Smith, and Lou Brock, among so many others, grace Busch Stadium with their presence. The Anheuser Busch Clydesdales trot the warning track. Red convertibles escort the entire roster one-by-one to be individually welcomed by a sea of red shirts in the stands. It is a day of excitement and promise. It is a holiday in St. Louis.

However, this past opening day when I watched the Cards visit the Pittsburgh Pirates, I felt an odd sense of trepidation. There was an anxious quality as I watched my reigning Central Division Champion and 100-win Cardinals take the field.

I felt like the odds were stacked against my team, like every person in the country who was not a Cardinals fan was rooting against the proud and mighty Cardinals.

I can understand why many baseball fans are tired of the Cardinals. Since the 2000 season, the team has have been in the playoffs 12 times. Nine of those times they made it to at least the NLCS. Four of those times they won the pennant. Two of those times they won the World Series.

People are tired of the so-called "Best Fans in Baseball", who not only get to watch the birds in the summer, but expect to be there in the fall.

Fans of other teams don't like when they know they have to pass through the Cardinals to even think about an NLCS berth. They want to see "more fun" teams like the Pittsburgh Pirates and Chicago Cubs get their turn at history.

I can't say I blame people for feeling this way. But we could all agree on one thing: Respect is earned, not given. When looking at the Cardinals, feel free to not like them. Hell, even hate them. That's fine; and that's what sports are all about.

You don't have to like my Cardinals, but you better respect them. Yes, the Cubs and Pirates are fresh and fun, but the Cardinals have learned how to earn their keep in the baseball world.

As I watched my Cardinals fall to the Pirates 4-1 on Opening Day, I felt like the rest of the fans of baseball smiled at the 0-1 in the Cardinal's record like it was the indication of the end of an empire.

I also knew in my bones that the Cardinals will make the team who feels ready to challenge the throne from them fight and earn it. Every fan who watches it happen will cheer against the Cardinals, but they will respect them. That is why I am proud to be a fan of the greatest organization in baseball.

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Sports |  Source: csnmidatlantic.com

Buck Showalter Sucked Tuesday Night

Poor choice, Buck.

Win and you're in. Out and you go home.

In the new MLB playoff format, wildcard play-in games require the top two teams from each league, who didn't win their division, to battle in one game for a spot in the ALDS. And yes, it does become attrition warfare.

Yesterday's battle between the Baltimore Orioles and Toronto Blue Jays was the same way. It took a combined 13 pitchers in 11 innings, but Edwin Encarnacion was the hero. The DH launched a walk-off three-run home run in the bottom of the 11th inning, giving the Blue Jays a 5-2 win over the O's.

Wow. What a shot. Now time to blame the losing team's manager.

Orioles skipper Buck Showalter took plenty of criticism from the internet and beat reporters alike for the loss because of his decision making. He opted for Ubaldo Jimenez to pitch the 11th. He gave up three straight hits without recording an out before it was over.

Jimenez in relief puzzled for a few reasons. First off, he went 8-12 with a 5.44 ERA in the regular season. Secondly, he's a starting pitcher -- and a subpar one for that matter. And finally, Showalter had not used Zach Britton yet. He had used five relievers before putting Jimenez out there, none of whom were named Britton. And yet...

Just how good was Britton this year? He had a 0.54 ERA in 69 outings with a league-leading 47 saves. He's nearly a guarantee to throw a scoreless inning. And Showalter didn't use him. And now his team is done this season.

Realistically, it could be argued Showalter made the worst managerial mistake of his career. But to be fair, he probably should have used Britton earlier in the game -- like in the ninth. But when it comes to him or Jimenez, that's not really a hard decision. One of them let up runs at a rate ten times higher than the other this past regular season (5.44 ERA versus a 0.54 ERA).

Now will Showalter be fired for this? No. He might be considered the best Orioles manager since Hall of Famer Earl Weaver.

To be fair, bringing in Britton wouldn't guarantee the offense did anything. And if they did win, it probably would have only extended their season another series. Same goes for the Blue Jays. No one looks at them and thinks of a serious World Series contender.