Note: All projections and opinions in this article are my own and not meant to reflect those of anyone else on this website.
For all we heard this offseason about lack of offense and slow pace of play plaguing baseball, it should come as a relief to most baseball fans that Opening Day 2015 showed great strides in improving both of those areas.
The pitch clock was barely noticed by most teams, but made a huge difference in the pace of the games. According to WFAA Sports' Peter Elwood, the average length of all Opening Day games this year was a full twenty minutes shorter than those of last year.
And the offense? Uh, there were 29 home runs hit on Opening Day.
You heard that right. Twenty-nine.
And many of them deserve a second look.
So without further ado, I present an unofficial timeline of the top home runs of Opening Day 2015.
(Note: Due to problems with the site host, I wasn't able to embed the videos. Sorry for the inconvenience.)
After today's win, the Red Sox made it official that they have signed pitcher Rick Porcello to a four year extension worth $82.5 million. I understand that this is a lot of money for a guy who hasn't thrown a pitch in a Red Sox uniform yet, but I think the Sox learned from Jon Lester not to let a guy go for too long without extending him. This deal will take Porcello to his age 30 season.
Porcello (26 years old), who was acquired this offseason from Detroit in exchange for Yoenis Cespedes, posted an impressive 15-13 record with 3.43 ERA and a career high 204 innings pitched a season ago. Porcello has started at least 27 games in every one of his major league seasons and is just the third pitcher to ever record six 10-win seasons before the age of 26. With Porcello comes consistency, something the Red Sox love in their pitchers. He's a guy that will go out and give you innings every time out, and with the Red Sox offense so dangerous, it'll make Porcello's job a little less stressful.
If Porcello can produce, he will hit the market after his age 30 season and could potentially lock up a big time deal that off-season, just like Jon Lester and Max Scherzer did.
Just about an hour until the 2015 season kicked off, it was confirmed that Craig Kimbrel and Melvin Upton (used to be known as BJ) were dealt to San Diego for Carlos Quentin, Cameron Maybin, Matt Wisler, Jordan Parouback and the 41st overall pick in this years draft. No money was included in this deal, both teams will pick up each players contract as it is right now.
Kimbrel signed a four year, $42 million dollar extension last February, but with the Braves in more of a rebuilding mode, they felt it was needed to dump this big contract because why pay a guy this much money to not close many games? Since debuting in 2010, Kimbrel has been arguably the best closer in baseball with a career 1.43 ERA with 186 saves and a 476/108 K/BB ratio in 289 innings. This move will really help the Padres given they have already revamped there lineup and rotation. Melvin Upton, who will now be back with his brother Justin, will provide some outfield work off the bench, filling in for Kemp, Myers and Justin Upton. However, the Padres now have to pick up Melvin's huge contract. Upton has $46.35 million and three years remaining on a five-year, $75.25 million deal signed with the Braves in November 2012. Upton has been one of baseballs biggest disappointments the past few years. But for the Padres they get a lights out closer and a guy who can provide some spark when your core outfielders need a day off, this was a great deal for the Padres.
But you're probably wondering, how did the Braves get a fair piece in this deal? Matt Wisler was the Padres top pitching prospect and is likely one or two years away from major league ready, Cameron Maybin and Carlos Quentin are good players that were just not going to find time in San Diego with the acquisitions of Kemp, Myers and Upton. Also, Maybin's parents live a short drive away so he is 'thrilled' to be playing close to home again (reported by Rosenthal). But the big thing for Braves is that they freed up a lot of money to go out and rebuild the team for the future.
All in all, this was a fair trade for both sides.
Happy Opening Day!
Note: All projections and opinions in this article are my own and are not meant to reflect those of anyone else on this website.
With Opening Day right around the corner, there is a lot to look forward to in 2015. Every city will be buzzing with excitement for the upcoming week filled to the brim of baseball. Who needs March Madness when you have America's National Pastime!? Casual baseball-watchers will transform into fans, and fans will transform into raging whirlwinds of stats, videos, score updates, and recent news that was hot off the press until about 5 seconds ago. This is when baseball comes to life. Everybody will be asking questions about their favorite team, such as "How are they doing?", "How are the new additions playing?", "I miss (insert departed player's name here), he was my favorite!", and "Do you think they make the postseason?". Its a new season for every team, and a chance for a fresh start. A chance to erase all the mishaps from last year, and a chance to build off all the success and experience they had a year before. Stadiums will be packed, (most) starters are healthy, and every team has their eyes on the prize: a World Series Ring. With every new season, there are a lot of "what if's" but the only answer is the production by the team that's currently on the field. Opening Day is the start of a new season, with new opportunities and new challenges. There will be underdogs, disappointments, and heart-breaks, so brace yourself. Here we go.
Here are my division predictions for the 2015 season:
1. Boston Red Sox
2. Toronto Blue Jays
3. Baltimore Orioles
4. New York Yankees
5. Tampa Bay Rays
1. Cleveland Indians
2. Detroit Tigers
3. Chicago White Sox
4. Kansas City Royals
5. Minnesota Twins
1. Seattle Mariners
2. Los Angeles Angels
3. Oakland Athletics
4. Texas Rangers
5. Houston Astros
1. Washington Nationals
2. Miami Marlins
3. Atlanta Braves
4. New York Mets
5. Philadelphia Phillies
1. St. Louis Cardinals
2. Pittsburgh Pirates
3. Milwaukee Brewers
4. Chicago Cubs
5. Cincinnati Reds
1. Los Angeles Dodgers
2. San Francisco Giants
3. San Diego Padres
4. Arizona Diamondbacks
5. Colorado Rockies
American League Champion: Seattle Mariners
National League Champion: Washington Nationals
World Series Champion: Washington Nationals
Why? That's a clown question bro, because of two words: Five aces. The Washington Nationals can ride Scherzer, Strasburg, Zimmermann, Gonzalez, and Fister all the way to the postseason. They love to make hitters look silly with ridiculous whiffs, and the lineup, although currently injured, appears deadly. They have depth (see Michael Taylor), a breakout year from Bryce Harper, and a massive contract dangling in front of Desmond as he mashes his way to millions. Under the mentor-ship of National League Manager of the Year Matt Williams, the Nats will out-preform all competition and accelerate all the way to the finish line. Beating the Mariners will be a tough task, but their rotation is untested in October and should squander to the veterans on the Nationals pitching staff and lineup. The Nationals know what it takes, and they are ready to take it all the way and win it all.
Here are my predictions for MLB's major awards:
MVP: Robinson Cano
Cy Young: David Price
Rookie of the Year: Taijuan Walker
MVP: Giancarlo Stanton
Cy Young: Max Scherzer
Rookie of the Year: Kris Bryant
In conclusion, the 2015 season will be one to remember. With story lines including the likes of "Kris Bryant: Promotion?", or "Will 2015 be the Cubs Year?", this year will be full of unmatched success and redemption. After all, how can you follow up a historic off-season with a mediocre season? You can't. So sit back and enjoy the ride.
- Weston Robertson
Do you play fantasy baseball on ESPN? If not, you should get started! Pictured above are short tutorials made by Jake Wesley on how to successfully undergo the trading process on ESPN Fantasy Baseball. Any more questions? Or want fantasy advice? Feel free to comment or send them to ask.fm/mlb_nl_al
Today, the Red Sox traded for catcher Sandy Leon of the Washington Nationals for cash considerations. This move was necessary due to Christian Vazquez’s elbow sprain. It appears Vazquez will need Tommy John surgery, as he will visit Dr. Andrews Wednesday and was already placed on the 60 Day Disabled List. Seemingly, Vazquez will miss the whole season, giving Leon a chance to win the back-up catcher spot, with Ryan Hanigan the likely starter.
Sandy Leon is a 26 year old switch-hitting catcher. He has played just 34 major league games over three seasons for the Nationals. In that small sample, he hit just .189 with an on-base percentage of .280. In the minor leagues, across eight seasons, he has hit .236 with a .324 on-base percentage.
Obviously, the Red Sox did not acquire Leon for his offense. His defense is outstanding. He has thrown out 6 of 15 would-be base stealers in the major leagues. His thrown out percentage over a much larger sample in the minors is not that much worse as it stands at an incredible 45%.
Competition for Sandy Leon will be thin. He likely has an inside track to the back-up catcher spot because he was just added to the 40-man roster and is out of minor league options. The other possibilities are Humberto Quintero and Blake Swihart. Quintero is not on the 40-man roster and the Red Sox view Blake Swihart as still developing, so it is probable he will see more time in the minors.
Last season was one to forget if you were a Red Sox fan, but every season has its bright spots and one of them was Mookie Betts. The converted outfielder was called up in early August and never looked back, he hit .291 with 5 homers and 18 RBI's. However, many people questioned him throughout the offseason, stating that he came up in pressure free environment since the Sox were out of contention, but Betts continued to prove his critics wrong all spring.
So far this spring Betts has hit .438 (17 for 47) with five doubles and two triples, showing no speculation as to why he shouldn't play on an every day basis in the outfield. What makes Betts so dominant is his speed, he has the ability to turn singles into doubles, and doubles into triples. He has incredible power into both gaps making it almost certain that he should be Boston's leadoff hitter this season. With guys like Pedroia, Ortiz, Sandoval, Hanley and Napoli behind him, he has the chance to score 100 runs this season if he can get on base consistently.
However, questions are starting to emerge as to what the Red Sox outfield should be. Given Hanley and Betts start in left and center, who should start in right, Victorino or Castillo (who would likely play center, while Betts would play right field). Victorino played just sixteen games last season due to back surgery and Rusneyt Castillo is showing signs to be a very good player in this league for a long time.Victorino has just ruled out switch hitting this year due to soreness in his back, so it's already known that Victorino is still banged up. However, Rusney Castillo played in his first Spring game yesterday (1 for 1, three run homer) after battling an oblique injury early into camp, but it's been reported that Castillo is pretty much at 100%.
In my opinion, the Red Sox outfield should consist of Ramirez in left, Castillo in center and Betts in right. Castillo showed at the end of last season that he can play at this level, plus I don't want a guy who we signed to a huge deal spending most of his time in Triple A or on the bench. Yes, Victorino is a great clubhouse guy and will give you his all no matter what, but I think it's time for the Red Sox to eat his $13 million and let him go. He's way too injury prone and is preventing a future star to play every day. However, I can see why the Red Sox are hesitant with Castillo, he is young, we signed him to a huge deal and are unsure whether or not he can handle Major League Baseball on an every day basis right away in his young career.
I was lucky enough to be able to spend this past weekend in the Phoenix area and catch a few Cactus League games. It was a great experience that every baseball fan should try if they haven’t already. Here’s some of the things I saw while in Arizona.
Corey Seager deserves the hype
The Dodgers-Reds game I went to on Friday was a little disappointing, since a lot of the starters for both teams were given a day off. The bright side of that, though, was that I finally got to see a lot of the hyped Dodger prospects in person for the first time, namely a certain #1 shortstop prospect. I totally get the Cory Seager hype now – the dude looked natural at shortstop despite all the talk about how he’s uncommonly tall for the position. Heck, he and Darrell Sweeny looked better up the middle than Justin Turner and Darwin Barney, who both seemed pretty rusty. They turned a slick double play right after they were inserted into the game, and it was Seager’s sac fly (that scored Sweeny) in the ninth that tied the game and salvaged what was looking like a loss for the boys in blue. Seager looked pro-ready both on the field and at the plate, and I can’t wait to see him suit up at Dodger Stadium. I have a feeling that will happen sooner rather than later.
The Padres pitching staff is for real
The Rangers couldn’t buy a hit on Saturday, and ended up getting shut out by six Padre pitchers led by Andrew Cashner. Cashner looked great in four innings of two-hit ball, his longest start in a very impressive spring so far. He didn’t get a single strikeout, which was a little worrisome, but he still showed great command over his pitches. The rest of the staff looked just as dominant, if not more so. Jason Lane got two strikeouts, and the relievers that followed him didn’t allow a hit. Heck, even Dale Thayer looked good in his 1-2-3 inning that notched his first spring training save. The pitching was especially important since many of the Padres’ winter acquisitions – Wil Myers, Justin Upton, Will Middlebrooks, and Derek Norris – did nothing to help the offense (the Padres’ only scoring was done by their minor leaguers the eighth inning). If Saturday was any indication, this staff will be the backbone of San Diego’s 2015 playoff push.
Prince Fielder is back and that’s a very good thing
Admit it – you missed Prince Fielder. After so many years of SportsCenter highlights showing him mash homer after homer before returning to the dugout to goof off with his teammtes, Fielder was off the field for most of last season after a neck injury sidelined him in May. And, let’s face it, in the rapid sports news cycle, we forgot about him. Good news: He’s back. Seeing him back in action for the Rangers on Saturday reminded my just how much I missed seeing this guy during the season. As he was warming up during the first inning, some Padres near where I was sitting started yelling at him, calling him “Cecil” after his former big-league father. He responded by getting Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre to fake throwing a ball right at the main heckler. Later, he tried to catch Justin Upton off guard by stretching a single into a double. Upton, who had slowly fielded the ball in shallow left, threw the big guy out easily. Still, it was fun to see Prince motoring down the basepaths.
Semi-Rusty Mike Trout is still scary
A lot of the big league stars I saw over the weekend looked like they were still shaking off their winter rust. The only one who didn’t? Mike. Freaking. Trout. The dude looked relaxed as ever, but he played like it was midseason. Trout went 2-2 with a walk in three plate appearances, scoring two of the Angels’ three runs. After singling in the fourth inning, he stole second after White Sox catcher Giovanni Soto overthrew Alexi Ramirez on a pitchout. He then promptly stole third and scored on David Freese’s groundout. Pretty dang impressive, even for a guy who just unanimously won the American League MVP. I expect even greater things for Trout in this upcoming season.
The White Sox are looking like contenders
They really do. I feel like this team was overlooked during the offseason, mainly because of the flashy moves that the Cubs made. So let’s look at what the South Siders have done: They got Jeff Samardjiza to form a 1-2 punch with Chris Sale. They got Adam LaRoche to replace a retiring Paul Konerko. They got Melky Cabrera to anchor the outfield. And they stole David Robertson from the Yankees to anchor the back end of the bullpen. Throw in an already promising roster with Sale, Jose Abreu, Gordon Beckham, and Alexi Ramirez among others, and it’s not too far-fetched to envision the White Sox on top of the AL Central. Think about it – the Tigers are starting to fade, the Royals made a splash last October but nobody knows if they can stay consistent, the Indians still have plenty of holes on their roster, and the Twins are in a transition year. Based on what I saw on Sunday, I think the White Sox lineup has a real shot at carrying them back to October. They teed off on the Angels’ Hector Santiago and Houston Street, scoring four runs in two innings against them. They also looked very disciplined at the plate. These guys should be scaring the heck out of everyone else in the AL Central.
Some lessons I learned…
According to several MLB sources, the Miami Marlins have locked up 23 year old outfielder Christian Yelich. The deal is reportedly 7 years for 49.5 million dollars. Yelich, who was the Marlins first round pick in 2010, finished 2014 with .284 batting average, 9 homers and 54 RBI's while scoring 94 runs, mostly hitting at the top of the Marlins order. Yelich also won a Gold Glove award last year in his first full season in the big leagues.