Mets Merized Online » Top Sleeper Wed, 23 Apr 2014 19:43:02 +0000 en-US hourly 1 MMO 2013 National League East Preview Mon, 01 Apr 2013 10:33:04 +0000 giancarlo stanton

NL East At A Glance

Miami Marlins: The team that essentially alienated whatever fan base they thought they had looks like an obvious 5th place team in this division. They do however have the best player in the division in Giancarlo Stanton. No matter what the rumors say, I still think Giancarlo is a Marlin for a very long time. If I’m wrong, I hope I’m apologizing on my way to buy a Giancarlo Mets jersey. They still have some talent in this lineup around Giancarlo but they are also relying on fairly older players like Juan Pierre and Placido Polanco to be every day players and I don’t know if that is realistic. The Marlins will push Adeiny Hechavarria to the big leagues. They acquired him in the major Toronto swap, and he is known for his defense but can his bat hang in the bigs? The pitching really is where this team is going to get killed. Mike Redmond is going to have to be very creative with how he manages this staff. Ricky Nolasco is their most reliable starter and he’s well, Ricky Nolasco. Steve Cishek is a nice reliever, and while I do not think he’s a true closer – he’s still going to win the Marlins a lot of close games. Overall though, it’s hard to imagine this being anything more than 72 wins for the Marlins.

Philadelphia Phillies: I have been a big critic of Ruben Amaro Jr’s, and until I actually his roster do something, I always will be. For all the jokes the Mets outfield get, the Phillies aren’t really that much better (if at all). The Phillies are going all in again with their aging core of Rollins, Utley and Howard. They added Michael Young who is coming off a horrendous 2012 for Texas. Young is expected to be their full time 3B, and he hasn’t done that since 2010, and he wasn’t very good at it. Their lineup has name recognition, there’s no denying that. However, if Howard and Utley are not MVP candidates, then their lineup doesn’t scare me one bit. The rotation conversation of course starts and ends with Hamels, Halladay and Lee. You know, for all the talk about them being the best rotation ever, they sure haven’t done anything to prove it. This team hasn’t won a World Series with Halladay and Lee together, and I don’t think they ever will. The reason I am picking them fourth has less to do with my faith in the Mets and more in a sense that I think Philadelphia will sell if things do not look promising. They gave us a glimpse of it last year, and I think if they can get some young talent back, we could see a key veteran on the move.

New York Mets: Today as I write this, the Mets announced about two hours ago that Johan Santana likely will miss the entire season. I have to be honest here. That doesn’t change a thing. It really doesn’t  When Mets fans thought about Santana in 2013 it always started with “if healthy.” The Mets are full of players who are at a point in their careers where it is now or never. Players like Duda, Parnell and even Ike need to show that they can put together an entire season with quality performance. Many people will suggest that the offense is the key, but I disagree. I think it’s the bullpen. I think the Mets have enough talent to hang with most anybody in the NL if they play to their potential. I think the bullpen is what will make or break that. Is Bobby Parnell ready to take a step toward becoming a big league closer? Can Scott Atchison rebound from his injury and be the guy we hoped Ramon Ramirez would be? Then of course there is all the youth in the bullpen – what will we see from them? The most unpredictable aspect of a major league roster in my opinion is the major difference maker for the 2013 Mets.

Washington Nationals: Obviously I like taking risks with my predictions. The Nationals are clearly the favorite, so what fun is it to pick them? Look, you can’t deny their talent. But, I can question whether or not everything will go their way. There really isn’t anything wrong with their lineup to be honest. I think they have a nice mixture of power, some speed, and players who continue to rise like Ian Desmond and Bryce Harper. The rotation is lead by Stephen Strasburg, but let’s not forget Gio Gonzalez. Gonzalez brings the Nationals a reliable starter, while Strasburg gives them a fragile starter. I still firmly believe Strasburg will not have a long career – and while I agree with the Nationals handling of Strasburg last year, I think it will haunt them. Dan Haren, Jordan Zimmerman and Ross Detwiler are a big reason for this team’s expected success. When the Nats signed Rafael Soriano, I was pretty critical of it. I don’t like how they tossed their young closer Drew Storen aside after a rough playoff outing. I think they will regret that decision because I do not believe Rafael Soriano is a big game closer, and Storen could be one day.

Atlanta Braves: There is a lot of pressure on this team to prove that getting to the playoffs is only a piece of the puzzle, and not the only goal. When you look at the Braves infield, it’s not very impressive. Obviously McCann is one of the best catchers in the game, but if Freddie Freeman doesn’t take his game to the next level, McCann may be the only run producer in the entire infield. The outfield is obviously the major strength of this lineup. The Upton brothers will likely have more fun than any two players in the sport, and if Jason Heyward who is still just 23 years old can take a step toward being a top offensive player, this outfield will be one of the best in baseball for sure. Their rotation is still lead by Tim Hudson who never seems to age, but really the ace of this staff is Kris Medlen. The Braves have a lot of faith in Medlen, and if he can take the top spot in this rotation they could be really dangerous. The rest of the rotation has good but not great talent. Paul Maholm has averaged 30 starts a year since 2006. That’s not very easy in reality. Their bullpen is obviously their strength. They have the best relief pitcher in the game not named Mariano (Craig Kimbrel), and they have as good of a lights out 7th-8th inning combo as you can get with Eric O’Flaherty and Jonny Venters, plus Jordan Walden joins the bullpen which just adds to the amazing depth they have.

Projected Standings

XtreemIcon: Nationals, Braves, Mets, Phillies, Marlins
Jessep: Braves, Nationals, Mets, Phillies, Marlins
Joe D: Nationals, Braves, Phillies, Mets, Marlins

Top Sleeper

XtreemIcon: Denard Span, Washington
Jessep: Marlon Byrd, NY Mets
Joe D: Drew Storen, Washington

Top Rookie

XtreemIcon: Zack Wheeler, NY Mets
Jessep: Travis d’Arnaud, NY Mets
Joe D: Zack Wheeler, NY Mets

Top Pitcher

XtreemIcon: Stephen Strasburg, Washington
Jessep: Kris Medlen, Atlanta
Joe D: Stephen Strasburg, Washington

Top Hitter

XtreemIcon: Bryce Harper, Washington
Jessep: Ike Davis, NY Mets
Joe D: Giancarlo Stanton, Miami

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2013 MLB Preview: National League Central Thu, 28 Mar 2013 17:00:17 +0000 joey votto

NL Central At A Glance

Chicago Cubs: If you think it can’t get worse than where the Mets were – take a look at the Cubs. However, they are getting to a point of respectability. Jeff Samardzija went from that guy who played tight end for Notre Dame to a potential ace. He has some serious talent, but is he an ace for a good team or does he just happened to be the best pitcher on a bad team? There’s really no denying that the Cubs are relying on Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo to take them to the top in the future. Are they for real? They are still pretty young, but this year is a huge year for them. Can Castro turn the corner, and can Rizzo burst out onto the scene? The most exciting closer in baseball is Carlos Marmol. Now, remember I said “exciting.” He’s exciting because you never really know what you’re going to get, and if most Cubs fans get what they want – Marmol will be heading out of Chicago before July 31st.

Milwaukee Brewers:: When I saw the Brewers agreed with Kyle Lohse, I thought to myself, “self, will this move matter?” The answer is no. He will provide some quality innings, there’s no doubt about that but I am sensing the calm before the storm for Milwaukee. I do not think Major League Baseball is going to let this Miami-PED scandal die without exhausting every possible Ryan Braun connection. I believe Braun will get suspended during this season, and if that happens – it will solidify their 4th place finish for me. Aramis Ramirez is a player that will suffer from anything that happens to Braun if my prediction comes through. He’s not getting any younger, and I think he’s going to start declining.

Pittsburgh Pirates:: Their offseason changes really aren’t too impactful if you ask me. If Liriano stays healthy, then obviously he can make a huge difference but that is a huge “if.” The chip that was on A.J. Burnett’s shoulder could be gone, and I wonder if that will have a negative effect on his performance? I am a big James McDonald fan. In 29 starts he threw 171 innings, gave up 147 hits and struck out 151. His issue has been the long ball. He gave up 21 HR, and that has held him back. If he lessens the mistakes, and keeps the ball inside PNC – he could become an All-Star. This team really centers around Andrew McCutchen and his rising star quality. Can he take the next step to becoming an elite player in the game or will he just be a nice player on an average team? Can he take Pittsburgh to the next level?

St. Louis Cardinals:: No matter how many things go wrong for this team, they always seem to be in the mix. Recently, Jason Motte hit the DL with an elbow issue but let’s be serious, they always find a way to bounce back. They have Mitchell Boggs who will step in, but for all we know there is a kid in their system who will get a shot and be lights out. There are two players on this roster I really am excited to watch. Allen Craig and Matt Carpenter. We’ll start with Carpenter. To me, he is what we all want Daniel Murphy to be. He, along with guys like Ben Zobrist are becoming these versatile players that everybody loves to watch. Carpenter will be their second basemen after serving in the utility role last year. Allen Craig to me is amazing because he takes over for Pujols, and if he stays healthy he can be one of the elite power hitters in the game. The outfield is lead by Holliday and Beltran, and I am a tad curious to see how Beltran does this year. His second half was actually pretty terrible last year, was that just a slump or is he breaking down? Adam Wainwright just cashed in a major payday, so now the pressure is on for him to be a Cy Young contender.

Cincinnati Reds:: You’re probably not going to find a more complete team in baseball than the Reds. They aren’t as star driven as some other teams, but I think they are the most talented top to bottom. The biggest concern I have here is the potential for ruining Aroldis Chapman. I get the value of a starting pitcher, but if I had to ask the Reds management one question this is what I’d ask. After 1997, would you have tried to convert Mariano Rivera to a starter if you were the Yankees? That’s how good Chapman can be. And while I do think a closer can be overrated, they aren’t overrated when they are special. As of now, the Reds say he is back to the bullpen, but will they hit the panic button if they have an injury in the rotation? The Reds were very fortunate and very healthy in the rotation last year, are the baseball Gods that kind in consecutive years? They don’t have a Cy Young winner in the mix, but they have 4 extremely solid starters and one in Arroyo whom you never know what you’ll get. Their lineup has everything you need, they have some speed, power, and an ability to exhaust the opposition. I hate the phrase “if healthy,” because I think it applies to everybody – but seriously, if healthy they will be the number 1 seed in the National League.

Projected Standings

XtreemIcon: Reds, Cardinals, Brewers, Pirates, Cubs
Jessep: Reds, Cardinals, Pirates, Brewers, Cubs
Joe D: Cardinals, Reds, Pirates, Brewers, Cubs

Top Sleeper

XtreemIcon: Allen Craig, St. Louis
Jessep: Matt Carpenter , St. Louis
Joe D: Anthony Rizzo, Chicago  

Top Rookie

XtreemIcon: Oscar Taveras, St. Louis
Jessep: Shelby Miller, St. Louis
Joe D: Oscar Taveras, St. Louis

Top Pitcher

XtreemIcon: Adam Wainwright, St. Louis
Jessep: Johnny Cueto, St. Louis
Joe D: Adam Wainwright, St. Louis

Top Hitter

XtreemIcon: Ryan Braun, Milwaukee
Jessep: Joey Votto, Cincinnati
Joe D: Joey Votto, Cincinnati

Next up will be the NL East.

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2013 MLB Preview: American League West Mon, 25 Mar 2013 15:30:32 +0000 Seattle-Mariners-Felix-Hernandez

AL West At A Glance

Los Angeles Angels: What’s there to say about the Angels? They have the best lineup in baseball and one of the game’s top pitchers in Jered Weaver. C.J. Wilson is solid, though there are some concerns after that. Joe Blanton, Jason Vargas and Tommy Hanson are all back end starters and there’s a huge bridge between the top two and bottom three. They should score a ton of runs, though. Their bullpen is very deep. They also probably sport the best defense around the diamond, as well. The division is deeper than the AL Central, otherwise I’d peg them as 100-game winners along with the Tigers.

Oakland Athletics: I went back and forth between the Rangers and Athletics for second place and ultimately settled on Oakland because of their loaded pitching staff. Brett Anderson, Tommy Milone, Jarrod Parker and A.J. Griffin are as talented a young rotation as there is in baseball. There’s a health issue with Anderson, clearly the team’s ace talent-wise, and rookie Dan Straily will be the fifth starter and all he did was lead all of the minor leagues in strikeouts in 2012, despite only starting 25 games prior to his callup. The A’s scored the second most runs in the league after the All Star Break and Yoenis Cespedes will be better after getting acclimated to the bigs. Josh Reddick emerged, but needs to be more consistent at the plate. First baseman Brandon Moss had a second half to remember, hitting .291/.358/.596 with 21 home runs and 18 doubles in only 296 plate appearances.

Texas Rangers: Jurickson Profar is going to infuse a lot of good karma into the Rangers, and they need it, especially after they lost their last four games of the season (three regular season games and the one-game playoff against Baltimore) and went from winning their division to watching the playoffs on TV. Compounding matters, the team let megastar Josh Hamilton leave via free agency to their bitter rivals in Anaheim and spent free agency locking up a pair of 37-year-olds in Lance Berkman and A.J. Pierzynski. They can’t afford anything less than big years from just about everyone in their lineup. They do have a strong rotation, led by ace Yu Darvish, followed by Matt Harrison, Derek Holland and Alexi Ogando, a 2011 All Star. Colby Lewis should return from surgery in June. Joe Nathan really needs to keep his head on a swivel. The Rangers are shorthanded in the pen, but if Nathan can keep the ninth inning under wraps, he’ll get some much needed help from Joakim Soria and Neftali Feliz, both due back from Tommy John surgery in May and August respectively.

Seattle Mariners: I really like what the Mariners did this offseason. Unlike the Indians who made win-now moves when they are clearly not ready to win now, the Mariners signed older veterans to short term deals and added Michael Morse who’s playing out his final arbitration year and is ready to be locked up. They added Jason Bay and Raul Ibanez as their righty and lefty bats off the bench, both of whom should have significant clubhouse influence, as well. Jesus Montero should be ready to break out and start flashing the potential he showed in the Yankees minor league system, making him one of baseball’s top prospects for several years. Justin Smoak and Dustin Ackley need to join Montero and hold their own coming out party and Franklin Gutierrez needs to stay healthy. And I can’t say enough about Michael Saunders in right field. He showed last season he has “star” written all over him. Oh. They also have Felix Hernandez. Much like the Royals, they are a year or two away, provided they continue to make these savvy acquisitions.

Houston Astros: The Astros are the only reason the Twins aren’t the worst team in the league. Houston lost 213 games the last two seasons in a division in which they played the Pirates and the Cubs 36 times. Now they move to a division with three legitimate playoff caliber teams and the Mariners, a far better team than the Pirates or Cubs. It could get ugly. There are some bright spots on the team. Ace Lucas Harrell is a promising arm, but needs to get the walks down. Second baseman Jose Altuve was an All Star last season but actually deserved it, not because the Astros had to have one by rule. Matt Dominguez at third base is a top prospect, acquired from the Marlins as part their attempt to make fools of baseball fans in Miami. Justin Maxwell has all the tools (and I mean all of them), but he just hasn’t figured out how to use them yet. He’s too old to be a prospect anymore, but he’s young enough to still be able to put it together. If he finally does, he could join Altuve for All Star weekend on his own merit. They do have five players in Baseball America’s Top 100, but only two of them even saw AA action in 2012. On second thought, it will get ugly.

Projected Standings

XtreemIcon: Angels, Athletics, Rangers, Mariners, Astros

Jessep: Angels, Mariners, Athletics, Rangers, Astros

Joe D: Angels, Rangers, Mariners, Athletics, Astros

Top Sleeper

XtreemIcon: Jesus Montero

Jessep: Jason Bay

Joe D: Jarrod Parker

Top Rookie

XtreemIcon: Jurickson Profar

Jessep: Brandon Maurer

Joe D: Jurickson Profar

Top Pitcher

XtreemIcon: Jered Weaver

Jessep: Felix Hernandez

Joe D: Felix Hernandez

Top Hitter

XtreemIcon: Mike Trout

Jessep: Albert Pujols

Joe D: Mike Trout

Up Next: National League West

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2013 MLB Preview: American League Central Thu, 21 Mar 2013 19:19:42 +0000 Justin_Verlander

AL Central At A Glance

Detroit Tigers: The odds on favorite to win the World Series, the Tigers aren’t just a big fish in small pond, they’re like a shark in a puddle. It took them a while in 2012 to remember they’re the Tigers, only overtaking the White Sox in late September and spending 33 days in first place, but one of those was October 4th, and that’s all that counted. Victor Martinez is back to add a “5” to the best 3-4 combination in baseball. Justin Verlander will assuredly finish in the top 3 for the Cy Young. Max Scherzer is established now and Austin Jackson is ready to break out. There’s a little bit of a closer issue, but if the Tigers won with Jose Valverde in 2012, I wouldn’t worry too much.

Chicago White Sox: Chicago is the only team that can offer the Tigers any real competition. They also have a dangerous middle of the order in Paul Konerko, Adam Dunn and Alex Rios. They have a deep bullpen. They have a young ace in Chris Sale and dependable starters behind him in Gavin Floyd and the durable Jake Peavy, who came back from a career-threatening injury to log more IP and three fewer starts in 2012 than he did in 2010 and 2011 combined. He also had his best ERA since 2008 and the best WHIP since 2007. If John Danks can get healthy in his return from surgery, they have a very solid rotation. The acquisition of Jeff Keppinger gives them a capable top-of-the-order bat. They will compete for a Wild Card till the end, but not have quite enough to get them there.

Kansas City Royals: There’s a lot to like about the Royals’ young offense. Billy Butler is a legitimate star. Salvador Perez is ready to break out in a big way and become one of the league’s top catchers. Did you know that the only three catchers with a higher OPS than Perez in as many plate appearances by age 22 (his 2012 age) was Brian McCann, Joe Mauer and Johnny Bench? That’s it. Salvador Perez is fourth on that list. Also on an impressive list is Alex Gordon. He’s fifth behind Robinson Cano, Cabrera, Ryan Braun and Albert Pujols for extra-base hits since the start of the 2011 season. Lorenzo Cain is very highly touted, and Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas, though disappointing last season, still have All Star potential. The Royals have a solid bullpen and added Wade Davis and James Shields to their rotation. I wasn’t a fan of the trade, as James Shields has an unimpressive 4.67 career ERA pitching in open-air stadiums. But if I knew that, I’m sure Dayton Moore did, and he still pulled the trigger, so it would seem it doesn’t concern them. The Royals aren’t ready to really compete, but a couple of steps forward for their young players and another piece or two and this could be a different article in 2014.

Cleveland Indians: Lucky for them the Twins are miserable. The Indians made a splash in the offseason, adding Nick Swisher and Michael Bourn, both on the wrong side of 30, to a 94-loss team with a terrible farm system and no help on the way. I guess you can sum up the rotation with two facts: their Opening Day starter is Justin Masterson and their fifth starter could very well be Scott Kazmir. Trevor Bauer will see big things, but not immediately. Ubaldo Jimenez, he of the 5.40 ERA and 1.61 WHIP in 2012, round out the rotation. They also acquired Mark Reynolds and Drew Stubbs to go along with Swisher and Bourn, so those four guys will hit .235 and strike out 700 times. Awesome. On the flip side, Carlos Santana is close to being a star and this should be the year Lonnie Chisenhall gets some recognition. The brightest aspect of the 2013 Indians besides Bauer should be Jason Kipnis approaching Dustin Pedroia-type status at second base. He’s a real player. I don’t think the Indians will “Marlins” themselves and turn everyone over in year one, but I certainly expect a much different lineup on Opening Day 2015.

Minnesota Twins: There was a lot of turnover in the rotation for the Twins, but nothing you’d really want to hang your hat on. Scott Diamond and Liam Hendricks (career 5.71 ERA in 20 starts) are the only pitchers to have made semi-regular starts for the 2012 Twins that figure to do the same for the 2013 version. Added to the fray are Vance Worley, Mike Pelfrey, Rich Harden and Kevin Correia. There are holes in the middle infield. The positives aren’t much, but they’re there. Joe Mauer is still an elite hitter and Justin Morneau finally seems full healthy from a series of concussion-related DL stints, however, he’s in the last year of a hefty contract and is prime trade bait. Trevor Plouffe is emerging at third base and Aaron Hicks tore up the Grapefruit League and will likely force himself into the starting lineup. Hopefully Hicks can maintain a level of interest from the fan base, otherwise Oswaldo Arcia, who just made the High-A to AA jump in 2012 might be forced into the major league outfield a little prematurely.

Projected Standings

XtreemIcon: Tigers, White Sox, Royals, Indians, Twins

Jessep: Tigers, White Sox, Indians, Royals, Twins

Joe D: Tigers, White Sox, Royals, Twins, Indians

Top Sleeper

XtreemIcon: Salvador Perez, Kansas City

Jessep: Dayan Viciedo, Chicago

Joe D: Mike Moustakas, Kansas City

Top Rookie

XtreemIcon: Trevor Bauer, Cleveland

Jessep: Trevor Bauer, Cleveland

Joe D: Bruce Rondon, Detroit

Top Pitcher

XtreemIcon: Justin Verlander, Detroit

Jessep: Justin Verlander, Detroit

Joe D: Justin Verlander, Detroit

Top Hitter

XtreemIcon: Miguel Cabrera, Detroit

Jessep: Prince Fielder, Detroit

Joe D: Miguel Cabrera, Detroit

Up Next: American League West

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