Category: MLB

Los Angeles Dodgers secure Easter Sunday Win at Colorado Rockies

Los Angeles Dodgers secure Easter Sunday Win at Colorado Rockies

It was not the start to his Colorado Rockies career that Austin Gomber had envisioned, opening the game with a walk, E1, walk, then allowing Mookie Betts to score on a wild pitch that really should have been an out at the plate had Gomber held onto the ball. His first inning wound up with a stat line of three runs on zero hits that ended with a cannon of a throw from Charlie Blackmon to double up Max Muncy at third base on a sac fly from Gavin Lux.

The second inning didn’t start out much better as Gomber gave up a leadoff double followed by a sac bund before walking Betts a second time. Betts proceeded to be thrown out attempting to steal second and Gomber escaped the second without any damage. He got out of the third unscathed despite walking the leadoff hitter, then got the Rockies first hit of the game in the bottom of the third and was replaced on the mound by Chi Chi Gonzalez in the fourth.

That was one of only three hits Julio Urias gave up in his season debut, the last coming in the eight inning on an infield single by Ryan McMahon who eventually came around to score on a double by Garrett Hampson off Jimmy Nelson.

The first run of the game to come off a base hit was a solo home run by Will Smith to lead off the top of that eighth against Robert Stephenson.

In the end, it was a quickly played game, nine minutes shy of three hours that saw eight total hits and the Dodgers coming out on top 4-2 despite on the back of that three run, no hit first inning. Gomber loses his Rockies debut while Julio Urias picks up his first win of the season and Cory Knebel his first save.

Predicting the 2021 MLB Season

Predicting the 2021 MLB Season

World Series ChampionsToronto Blue Jays
AL PennantToronto Blue Jays
NL PennantLos Angeles Dodgers
AL EastNew York Yankees
AL CentralChicago White Sox
AL WestOakland Athletics
AL Wild CardToronto Blue Jays
AL Wild CardMinnesota Twins
NL EastAtlanta Braves
NL CentralMilwaukee Brewers
NL WestLos Angeles Dodgers
NL Wild CardSan Diego Padres
NL Wild CardNew York Mets
AL MVPMatt Chapman 
AL Cy YoungLucas Giolito
AL ROYBobby Dalbec
NL MVPFernando Tatis Jr.
NL Cy YoungJacob deGrom
NL ROYKe’Bryan Hayes
Bizarre Happenings in Spring Training

Bizarre Happenings in Spring Training

Spring Training of 2021 is as unique as there has ever been. Typically the oddities are limited to seeing minor league guys come up wearing a number in the 70s or 80s pinch hitting with the massive MiLB dual flapped helmet while listening to the announcers shuffling through their notes to try and find the player’s name. Instead, the minor league guys are wearing single flapped helmets and there aren’t any call ups for the day thanks to the limited number of players in camp, but the rest of the game has gone odd, here are the ones that stand out:

7 inning Games

The default length of a game this Spring is just 7 innings. With the previously mentioned limited rosters there aren’t the guys to fill out the 8th and 9th inning duties, so most games end after seven, which is just weird to watch MLB games essentially last as long as a local High School game.

6 Inning Games

If 7 inning games are odd, 6 inning games are downright bizarre. In no level of baseball are there games scheduled to go just 6 innings, except Spring Training 2021. A number of games have been scheduled to go just six due to pitching availability.

8.5 Inning Game

The March 4 game between the Los Angeles Angels and Arizona Diamondbacks was scheduled to go 8.5 games regardless of the score. The D-Backs happened to be up 9-2 after the top of the 8th, so the box score looks normal, but had the score been flipped, there still would not have been a bottom of the 9th!

Double Walkoff

On March 2, the Toronto Blue Jays beat the Philadelphia Phillies 4-2 after 6 innings thanks to not one, but two winning free passes. Bases loaded tied 2-2 with Christopher Sanchez in the mound, Riley Adams gets hit by the pitch to give the Blue Jays the 3-2 victory. One problem, the Phillies wanted to see more from Sanchez, so they allow Phillip Clarke to step into the batter’s box where he proceeds to draw a walk to walk it off….again.

Free Substitutions

Also on March 2, John Means got the start on the mound for the Baltimore Orioles against the New York Yankees. Means gave up a single, fly out, single, groundout, single and was pulled from the game in favor of Jay Flaa who got a fly out to end the inning. Fast forward to the top of the second, replacing Flaa on the mound was, yup, John Means! He after struggling with his feel in the first he took a breather then went back out despite having already been removed from the game and finished the second inning on his own, but only going 1.2 innings.

Box Score Glitches

So, this one is more of a glitch, or somebody asleep on the job, or both, but the Phillies-Yankees game from Sunday March 7 showed a bizarre scenario. DJ LeMahieu lined out for the first out of the second inning before Aaron Judge is called out on strikes for out number two, then it gets weird. I have yet to confirm what actually happened, mainly because I don’t want facts to get in the way of a good story, but apparently Zach Britton, the pitcher, “starts inning at 3rd base” despite there having already been a grand slam earlier in the inning and he was not on base, and he is immediately out at third. No explanation, not play-by-play just out at third. The box score after the game does not list Britton as having participated in the game, and the Yankees opened the next inning with Aaron Hicks, who was batting behind Judge in the lineup.

MLB 2020 Season Projections

Baseball starts tonight and the playoff setup is still TBD. I have decided to put the seed number next to the division winners, then Wild Card spot 1-5 next to the potential Wild Card teams so you can see who makes it with standard 2 Wild Card scenarios, and who makes it based on the proposed 5 Wild Card scenario. With teams being separated by region in terms of schedule, it is worth noting I would consider the East to be the toughest, followed by the West, then the Central the easiest. In a traditional year, I would project the Pittsburgh Pirates to have the worst record in baseball, but the Central will allow them to win too many games to get the first pick in next year’s draft, so I project that to go to the Baltimore Orioles.

 

AL East

1)      Tampa Bay Rays (3 seed in playoffs)

2)      New York Yankees (1st Wild Card)

3)      Boston Red Sox (4th Wild Card)

4)      Toronto Blue Jays

5)      Baltimore Orioles

AL Central

1)      Cleveland Indians (1 seed in playoffs)

2)      Minnesota Twins (2nd Wild Card)

3)      Chicago White Sox (5th Wild Card)

4)      Kansas City Royals

5)      Detroit Tigers

AL West

1)      Houston Astros (2 seed in playoffs)

2)      Los Angeles Angels (3rd Wild Card)

3)      Oakland Athletics

4)      Seattle Mariners

5)      Texas Rangers

NL East

1)      Atlanta Braves (2 seed in playoffs)

2)      Washington Nationals (1st Wild Card)

3)      Philadelphia Phillies (2nd Wild Card)

4)      New York Mets (5th Wild Card)

5)      Miami Marlins

NL Central

1)      Cincinnati Reds (3 seed in playoffs)

2)      Milwaukee Brewers (4th Wild Card)

3)      Chicago Cubs

4)      St. Louis Cardinals

5)      Pittsburgh Pirates

NL West

1)      Los Angeles Dodgers (1 seed in playoffs)

2)      Arizona Diamondbacks (3rd Wild Card)

3)      San Diego Padres

4)      Colorado Rockies

5)      San Francisco Giants

 

World Series: Tampa Bay Rays over Los Angeles Dodgers

Why it’s OK Derek Jeter Didn’t get 100%

Derek Jeter getting into the Hall of Fame with all but one vote has sparked plenty of debate. There are many reasons for him to have gotten 100%, but I think him falling shy of unanimous is actually the correct result.

Let’s start with the arguments for being the second ever unanimous member of Cooperstown. The simple fact Mariano Rivera earned 100% of the votes a season ago has eliminated the argument of those who have come before not receiving 100% as an argument. Babe Ruth should have been 100%, but you can no longer not vote for someone on that argument. There is also no questioning Jeter’s Hall of Fame resume, so he should land on all the ballots on that argument alone.

Now, for the reasons the one voter who did not vote for him got it right. The argument since the results were announced has been Jeter is easily a top four shortstop of all-time. A top four guy at his position, not top four player all-time, so should a guy you can’t really argue was the best at his own position get 100%, I argue no. On that, he wasn’t the best player of his time, never winning an MVP, and you can argue he wasn’t the best at his position at any point of his career. Cal Ripken Jr. was better than Jeter early on, and Alex Rodriguez was already in the big leagues when Jeter debuted, and he was the better player most of, if not their entire careers.

Now, there has often been an argument to spread out votes to players who need a boost or to keep them on the ballot an extra year, but the ballot was rather weak this season so that isn’t a valid argument. Another issue with the vote is the fact it is a secret ballot. Baseball writers vote for the Hall of fame, yet their names and ballots are not made public. Those who are tasked with writing the story of baseball literally vote for the stories, yet they are not made to make their opinions public. This needs to change and that may make it more common to see 100% vote getters, or at least make those who don’t vote for a guy like Jeter explain themselves. The writer who did not vote for Jeter has a quality argument for not voting, but the fans of the game do deserve an explication.

Shaun’s MLB Mock Draft

First Round Team Pick
1 Tigers Casey Mize, RHP, Auburn
2 Giants Joey Bart, C, Georgia Tech
3 Phillies Nick Madrigal, MIF, Oregon State
4 White Sox Matt Liberatore, LHP, Mountain Ridge HS (AZ)
5 Reds Alec Bohm, 1B, Wichita State
6 Mets Brady Singer, RHP, Florida
7 Padres Carter Stewart, RHP, Eau Gallie HS (FL)
8 Braves Jonathan India, 3B, Florida
9 A’s Cole Winn, RHP, Orange HS (CA)
10 Pirates Nolan Gorman, 3B, Sandra Day O’Connor HS (AZ)
11 Orioles Jared Kelenic, Waukesha West HS (WI)
12 Blue Jays Trevor Larnach, OF, Oregon State
13 Marlins Travis Swaggerty, OF, South Alabama
14 Mariners Jackson Kowar, RHP, Florida
15 Rangers Ryan Weathers, LHP, Loretto HS (TN)
16 Rays Ryan Rolison, LHP, Ole Miss
17 Angels Shane McClanahan, LHP, South Florida
18 Royals Ethan Hankins, RHP, Forsyth Central HS (GA)
19 Cardinals Connor Scott, OF, Plant HS (FL)
20 Twins Logan Gilbert, RHP, Stetson
21 Brewers Seth Beer, 1B/OF, Clemson
22 Rockies Grayson Rodriguez, RHP, Central Heights HS (TX)
23 Yankees Brice Turang, SS, Santiago HS (CA)
24 Cubs Kumar Rocker, RHP, North Oconee HS (GA)
25 D-backs Noah Naylor, C, St. Joan of Arc Catholic HS (CAN)
26 Red Sox Tristan Casas, 1B, American Heritage HS (FL)
27 Nationals Mason Denaburg, RHP, Merritt Island HS (FL)
28 Astros Jake McCarthy, OF, Virginia
29 Indians Cole Wilcox, RHP, Heritage HS (GA)
30 Dodgers Jeremy Eierman, SS, Missouri State
Supplemental First Round    
31 Rays Steele Walker, OF, Oklahoma
32 Rays Anthony Siegler, C, Cartersville HS (GA)
33 Royals Nico Hoerner, SS, Stanford
34 Royals Tristan Beck, RHP, Stanford
35 Indians Jameson Hannah, OF, Dallas Baptist
Competitive Balance A    
36 Pirates J.T. Ginn, RHP, Brandon HS (MS)
37 Orioles Adam Kloffenstein, RHP, Magnolia HS (TX)
38 Padres Parker Meadows, OF, Grayson HS (GA)
39 D-backs Nick Schnell, OF, Roncalli HS (IN)
40 Royals Jordyn Adams, OF, Green Hope HS (NC)
41 Indians Kris Bubic, LHP, Stanford
42 Rockies Kyler Murray, OF, Oklahoma
43 Cardinals Jordan Groshans, SS/3B, Magnolia HS (TX)
Second Round    
44 Tigers Xavier Edwards, SS, North Broward Prep (FL)
45 Giants Blaine Knight, RHP, Arkansas
46 White Sox Lenny Torres Jr., Beacon HS (NY)
47 Reds Sean Hjelle, RHP, Kentucky
48 Mets Alek Thomas, OF, Mt. Carmel HS (IL)
49 Braves Jeremiah Jackson, SS, St. Lukes (AL)
50 A’s Greyson Jenista, OF/1B, Wichita State
51 Pirates Cadyn Grenier, SS, Oregon State
52 Blue Jays Will Banfield, C, Brookwood HS (GA)
53 Marlins Mike Siani, OF, William Pen Charter (PA)
54 Mariners Daniel Lynch, LHP, Virginia
55 Rangers Aaron Hernandez, RHP, Texas A&M – Corpus Christi
56 Rays Gunnar Hoglund, RHP, Fivay HS (NC)
57 Angels Konnor Pilkington, LHP, Mississippi State
58 Royals Matt McClain, MIF, Beckam HS (CA)
59 Twins Kyle Isbel, OF, UNLV
60 Brewers Jonathan Ornelas, SS, Kellis HS (AZ)
61 Yankees Griffin Conine, OF, Duke
62 Cubs Grant Little, SS, Texas Tech
63 D-backs Colton Eastman, RHP, Cal State Fullerton
64 Red Sox Owen White, RHP, Jesse C. Carson HS (NC)
65 Nationals Durbin Feltman, RHP, TCU
66 Astros Trey Riley, RHP, Logan (IL) JC
67 Indians Griffin Roberts, RHP, Wake Forest
68 Dodgers Joe Gray Jr., OF, Hattiesburg HS (MS)
Competitive Balance B    
69 Marlins Nick Decker, OF, Seneca HS (NJ)
70 A’s Tyler Frank, MIF, Florida Atlantic
71 Rays Zach Watson, OF, LSU
72 Reds Cole Sands, RHP, Florida State
73 Brewers Ryder Green, OF, Karns HS (TN)
74 Padres Tim Cate, LHP, Uconn
Supplemental Second Round    
75 Cardinals Terrin Vavra, SS, Minnesota
76 Rockies Cal Raleigh, C, Florida State
77 Cubs Osiris Johnson, SS, Encinal HS (GA)
78 Cubs Zack Hess, RHP, LSU

Predicting the 2018 MLB Season

Courtesy of Aaron Whelan

AL East

New York Yankees – The Yankees have the potential to put out the most impressive lineup we have seen in years, focused mainly around Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge. That said, Stanton is always an injury risk and Judge is a strikeout risk every trip to the plate. Gary Sanchez is as good an offensive catcher as there is in baseball, and may have the strongest arm too, but his receiving ability it downright poor. Drury is a good addition, but Tyler Wade is not a long-term answer at second and Greg Bird is out nearly two months. Having Gleyber Torres and Miguel Andujar ready to come up and contribute will be huge, but they are 21 and 23 respectively, so they are no sure thing to they will be reliable from the start. The bullpen might be the best in baseball, but the starting rotation is overrated. In the end, the hype train that is the Yankees will still win the division, but I don’t see a deep run in October and I think there will be a real race with the Red Sox for the division title.

AL Central

Cleveland Indians – Francisco Lindor is a legitimate super star quality player at short and they brought in power hitting Edwin Encarnacion to add pop to the lineup. Yonder Alonso is currently tabbed to play first which is a downgrade from Carlos Santana somewhat similar to the upgrade at DH with Encarnacion. They have a strong rotation and really good bullpen, but the loss of Bryan Shaw may hurt. In the end, I just don’t feel the Twins have quite enough to knock off the Indians at the top of the division.

AL West

Houston Astros – The defending World Series champions have only gotten better, if for no other reason than their incredibly young nucleus is a year older. George Springer-Alex Bregman-Jose Altuve-Carlos Correa is as good a top four as any lineup in baseball, and they all play solid to better defense to go with it. They also get a full year of Justin Verlander and have added Gerrit Cole who is currently slated to be their fourth starter, yes, fourth starter. They have a strong bullpen but another arm or two at the deadline wouldn’t hurt. The big thing that stood out this Spring was how long Kyle Tucker stuck around with the big league club. It looks like the 21-year old will start in AA, but he could be up late in the year and be a difference maker in left field.

AL Wild Card

Boston Red Sox – The Red Sox will come up just shy in the division but will win the Wild Card game. J.D. Martinez brings much needed pop to a lineup that simply couldn’t hit home runs last year. The outfield is as athletic as any in baseball, and Mookie Betts is a real MVP candidate. Blake Swihart looks to be an unusual super utility man that can also catch, which will be an interesting dynamic. They still have Kimbrel at the back of the bullpen and have Carson Smith to start the season this year. The top of the rotation is as good as any in baseball with Chris Sale and David Price to go with a solid number three in Rick Porcello. Opening Day will be a question for Drew Pomeranz and Eduardo Rodgriquez, while Steven Wright opens the year on the DL before serving a 15 game domestic violence suspension. There is not a real need in the lineup for the Red Sox despite Dustin Pedroia opening the year on the DL, and Michael Chavis just may be able to provide the team with a big boost late in the year.

Los Angeles Angels – They have the best player in baseball in Mike Trout, and they brought in the most talked about player this off-season, Shohei Ohtani. Ohtani will be interesting to see how he works out as people may forget he is only 23 and is trying to be the first full time pitcher and position player in decades. He struggled this Spring, and anything he does with the bat is a bonus, but they really need his arm in the rotation. Garrett Richards and Tyler Skaggs at the top of the rotation is not exactly the best 1-2 punch in baseball, so the Angels still need starters and their bullpen isn’t great. In fact, a Rule 5 pick just may end being the closer at some point this season (check out more on Luke Bard on my post at Minor League Ball today). The lineup is much improved around Trout, bringing in Ian Kinsler and Justin Upton along with Zach Cozart. They still feel like they are a few players shy from being real contenders, and their farm system is improved but not enough to make a blockbuster deal, but there really isn’t a good fifth team in the American League.

NL East

Washington Nationals – The East is a much-improved division this year which may be the only reason the Nationals don’t end up with the best record in the NL, but Max Scherzer and Bryce Harper are big enough pieces in themselves to make the Nats a contender. They still have Stephen Strasburg and Gio Gonzalez, and a full season of Sean Doolittle as their closer. Adam Eaton is back after tearing his ACL early in 2017 and the rest of the team is largely intact. The Nationals will simply be a force to be reckoned with this season.

NL Central

Chicago Cubs – No Jake Arrieta, add Yu Darvish, no Wade Davis, ok that may hurt. Ian Happ led baseball this Spring in leadoff home runs earning him the nod at the top of the lineup with Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo being massive bats behind him. Kyle Schwarber is looking to bounce back from a rough 2017, and Albert Almora Jr. will try to earn a starter’s volume of playing time while splitting time in the OF with Schwarber, Jason Heyward, and Ben Zobrist. Unlike years past, the Cubs don’t have the options in the minors to make the big impact like Schwarber, Addison Russell, and Happ did, Mark Zagunis is a decent bat should the outfield not produce, but there isn’t much depth in the pitching pipeline. The gap between them and the Brewers will shrink, but not enough to knock the Cubs off the top.

NL West

Los Angeles Dodgers – Yeah, the division winners is pretty much stock, but that is because the top teams in each division is pretty clear. The Dodgers lose Yu Darvish, but he lost most faith from the Dodger fans in the World Series, and Hyun-Jin Ryu is far from the worst fifth starter in baseball. Clayton Kershaw is still as good as anyone to ever toe the rubber and Kenley Jansen is one of the top closers in baseball. The broken wrist for Justin Turner will hurt to start the year, forcing Logan Forsythe into a starting role, but there is depth on the team with Kyle Farmer being and Austin Barnes both being rare catchers that can also play infield. Alex Verdugo will be an interesting prospect to keep an eye on as he will likely find himself in LA at some point this season, but will the power play enough in the big leagues? Walker Beuhler is as good a power arm as there is in the minors, but does his pitch mix work best as a starter or reliver? The Dodgers have all the pieces to make another deep run.

NL Wild Card

Milwaukee Brewers – Unlike the American League, the National League has plenty of good teams that will battle for the Wild Card. I had the New York Mets here at one point, I gave the Philadelphia Phillies a look, the San Francisco Giants are improved, can you really sleep on the St. Louis Cardinals? In the end I give the Brewers the nod not only as a Wild Card team, but I think they win the Wild Card Game. Christian Yelich and Lorenzo Cain are fantastic additions, and Yelich plays a fantastic Benny “The Jet” Rodriguez.

 

 

Orlando Arcia is an underrated shortstop while the additions of Yelich and Cain have made Eric Thames and Domingo Santana one of the best platoons in baseball. I have long been a fan of Jimmy Nelson, and if he returns to full health around the mid-point of the season, that could be a great addition while Chase Anderson has turned into a solid pitcher at the top of their rotation. Corey Knebel was once a guy I had tabbed as a fantasy monster about a year too early, but he has become an incredibly reliable closer for the Brew Crew. Brett Phillips is a solid outfield prospect, but with the depth already at the position at the big league level, don’t be surprised to see him moved for pitching help during the season.

Arizona Diamondbacks – The Zach Grienke velocity concerns are troubling, but the team is very good. The loss of J.D. Martinez will hurt, and there are few higher on Brandon Drury than me, who is now wearing pinstripes. They have shown faith in the man stepping in for Drury, giving Ketel Marte a 5-year extension, and they also brought in Jarrod Dyson and Alex Avila. None of those moves will make up for the power lost when J.D. moved to Boston, but they are solid pieces. Patrick Corbin is rounding back to form for at the top of the rotation, Robbie Ray is solid, and Taijuan Walker is still one of the more intriguing starters for me. Add that to new closer Brad Boxberger and Archie Bradley settling in as a high leverage reliever, and the pitching staff should be able to overcome the regression from Grienke.

World Series

Houston Astros over the Washington Nationals – The Astros repeat as they are one of the more improved teams despite being defending champions. They get past the Yankees in the ALCS as the Yankees just don’t have the starting pitching to keep up. The Nationals get payback on the Dodgers in the NLCS, but still fall short in six games against the Astros.

The Designated Hitter Non-Debate

If you’re looking for objective, unbiased analysis of whether the designated hitter belongs in the National League, look elsewhere. No, seriously. I can picture myself as unborn twinkle in my dad’s eye in the early seventies, hollering at the American League, “Don’t do it!!!”

I may be in the majority, I may be in the minority, who the hell knows? But the notion that the best way of dealing with a professional athlete not being very good at a particular part of his sport is bringing in a ringer to take care of it for him is absurd. Let’s put this in context: The Los Angeles Clippers are having a wonderful playoff run. A bit part of it has been the play of DeAndre Jordan, but there has been some concern. Jordan is a career 42% foul shooter…and I’m rounding up. Are teams going to use the hack-a-Shaq strategy teams used to employ on Shaquille O’Neal when he couldn’t throw a pea in the ocean from the free throw line? Jordan is hardly alone. Dwight Howard makes slightly more than half of his attempts. Rajon Rondo is about 60% for his career, but shot an atrocious 40% in 2014-15. The Rockets have a rookie named Clint Capela who went 4-23 from the charity stripe this season. 4-23. Let that sink in for a moment. That’s 17%. Now, Capela may not be a guy who will ever be considered an offensive force, but the other guys are to varying degrees. They just have that one scoop of poop in their ice cream sundae. They can’t make their foul shots. Essentially, American League baseball absolves these fellas from having to attempt their foul shots. They can have JJ Reddick or James Harden come in and shoot the free throws for them. Ridiculous, right?

Ok, ok, let’s be at least a little bit fair. Advocates for the designated hitter cite several other reasons why pitchers should never hit.

They suck at it: Well, it’s not a lie. Pretty much the entirety of the pitching population hits far below league average. Ok, let’s take a look at this argument. Empirically, you can’t argue with the statistics. But it’s also not as if pitchers are alone in their hitting futility. The funny thing about the word “average” is that it implies roughly half of the sample group is above it, while the remaining half brings up the rear. It’s absolutely true the pitchers represent the extreme back end of the lower population in this argument, but at any given point in time, pretty much every major league line up has a hitter in it who is in the middle of a slump that makes him just as unlikely, if not more than whoever the pitcher is, to have a productive at bat. Take the Dodgers’ Jimmy Rollins. After a half-way decent start to the season, Jimmy hit about a buck over his last 100 at bats. That makes him only slightly more likely than my mother to get a hit. If history is any indicator, Rollins will eventually snap out of his funk to a certain degree, but odds are that if and when he does, another Dodger regular will be descending into one. You can pull up nearly any team’s starting line up from a game this week and find someone in it who is struggling horribly. The Astros’ Chris Carter and the Rockies’ Drew Stubbs are nearly automatic strikeouts at this point. Before his big three-run homer last weekend, the Red Sox Mike Napoli was completely lost at the plate. The Phillies’ Chase Utley is just barely hitting half the Mendoza line. I’m cherry picking names you’ll know or recognize to illustrate my point, but if I wanted to further strengthen my cause, the Mets started Kirk Nieuwenhuis, he of the .111 batting average and .172 OBP against the Phillies this past Sunday. That’s only marginally better than Bartolo Colon.

It’s a sub-par product with pitchers hitting: Max Scherzer said, paraphrased, who do you think fans would rather see hit, Big Papi or some pitcher swinging a wet newspaper? I don’t know, Max, but personally, I get real tired of watching Ortiz step out of the batter’s box for nine minutes between pitches and nobody doing anything about the pace of play rules. Additionally, the notion that a baseball game is only optimal if you have supreme hitters facing supreme pitchers all the time is preposterous. The people who would make that argument are the same ones who would say that a boxing match is only entertaining if both guys end up beaten to a pulp by the end of it. That’s fine if you’re looking to feed your primordial bloodlust, but means essentially nothing if you’re a fan of the “sweet science.” These are probably also the people who will tell you that soccer is boring because there aren’t enough goals scored. While it’s true that a soccer game that ends 4-3 can be quite spectator-friendly, true fans of the game will enjoy watching the world’s finest players compete even in a 0-0 tie. If anything, you can argue that having the pitcher bat actually adds intrigue to the game as managers will have to make more decisions – do I pinch hit, do I walk the 8th place guy to force the other manager’s hand, double switches, etc.

It’s a huge injury risk: Oh, for f***’s sake… Adam Wainwright ruptured his Achilles tendon leaving the batter’s box this season. A few year’s back, Chien Mien Wang suffered a significant foot injury running the bases. Brett Anderson last season broke a finger on a particularly inept bunt attempt. But apart from those guys, you have Scherzer with his thumb owie, and not a whole lot else in terms of pitchers suffering notable injuries while hitting. If you’re looking at risk of injury, how about a line drive to the dome? Clayton Kershaw, Carlos Carrasco, and Archie Bradley this season alone could tell you a little bit about those. In seasons past, Alex Cobb, Hiroki Kuroda, Bryce Florie, Juan Nicasio, and a host of others have been brained. Of the less bloody variety, it seems every other day we hear about another pitcher needing the Tommy John ligament replacement surgery. And this is purely conjecture, but having to spring off of a downward slope to field your position after throwing a ball as hard as you can sounds like there’s more injury risk involved than swinging a 32oz piece of wood at a ball.

You’re just holding on to tradition!: No. I’m not. Change for the sake of change is stupid. We have 40 something years of evidence that the designated hitter adds nothing to the game from a fan friendliness or competitive perspective. When MLB introduced interleague play a couple of decades ago, the reasoning was obvious. Generations of fans had never gotten to see games like the Cubs against the White Sox in any game that mattered. Dodgers and Angels. Yankees and Mets. The opportunity to attract new fans as well as win back old ones was ripe. There was ABSOLUTELY a reason to give that a shot. The DH, not so much.

The players want it: Maybe a couple of them do. But the prevailing majority don’t. Even Scherzer, who sort of kind of spoke up for having a DH in the National League quickly said his comments were taken out of context once Madison Bumgarner basically said he was a nincompoop. And when Madison Bumgarner, who is enormous and can pull tractors with his teeth, says you’re a schmuck, well, who am I to argue.

 Sorry, folks. “Why not?” is simply not a good enough reason.

MLB 2015 AL Central Preview

After earning a Wild Card spot last year and going on a wild run into the World Series, the Kansas City Royals have lost James Shields, Billy Butler, and Nori Aoki, but don’t seem to have taken much of a step back at all. Their pitching staff will be lead by young phenom Yordano Ventura and they still have the best bullpen in baseball. Alex Rios looks good this spring, and could be a real offensive weapon if his thumb is healthy (I have my doubts), while Kendrys Morales looks to bounce back. The Cleveland Indians only big off-season addition was Brandon Moss, but their relatively young team will likely only get better. Last year Corey Kluber was a surprise Cy Young candidate, and they may have another this year in Carlos Carrasco. The Chicago White Sox made moves bringing in Jeff Samardzija and signed Melky Cabrera. Avisail Garcia has looked good in the spring, as have rookies Micah Johnson and Carlos Rodon. Rodon will start in Triple-A, but will be in the rotation this season and has the potential to be dominant while Johnson will likely be the opening day second baseman and number nine hitter. Both will improve the club that already had an underrated pitching staff and has a very good mix of power and speed. The long time favorites, the Detroit Tigers, are only getting older. Victor Martinez and Miguel Cabrera are coming off surgery this off-season and Justin Verlander will start the year on the DL. They brought in Yoenis Cespedes, Anthony Gose, and Shaen Greene, but the bullpen that was their downfall last year is virtually unchanged. The Minnesota Twins have brought back fan favorite Torii Hunter, but are a clear bottom of the barrel in the division. Ervin Santana will miss 80 games due to a PED suspension, and the team really lacks a true star. This may be the year uber prospects Byron Buxton, Miguel Sano, and multiple highly touted pitching prospects make their big league debuts, so at least Twins fans have that to look forward to.

Projected Winner: This may be the toughest division to pick a winner, but the Indians are the favorite for me. They might have the best rotation in the division outside of Chicago, and they could also end up as the best offensive team in the division.

Is there a Wild Card, perhaps? I think it is almost a certainty one of the Wild Card spots comes from the Central, but which team is tough. Based on pure talent, the Tigers should be the team, but I think they finish fourth in the division. That leaves the White Sox and Royals. I would not be shocked if both teams earn a Wild Card bid, and the rest of the league should be scared if it is the White Sox as their potential playoff rotation could be the best in baseball. In the end, I think the Royals get the only Wild Card bid from the Central, but it will be close.

MLB 2015 NL East Preview

There isn’t much intrigue to speak of here. The Nationals will probably have the division all but locked up by the all-star break. As a whole, the NL East comes down to groups of teams trending rapidly in opposite directions. The Nationals added the top free agent pitcher available, The Marlins locked up Giancarlo Stanton for 68 years and 984 billion dollars, and picked up some productive pieces in Dee Gordon, Mike Morse, and Dan Haren. The Mets didn’t add a ton apart from Michael Cuddyer, but the healthy returns of Matt Harvey, David Wright, and Bobby Parnell, figure to help. And then there’s the other guys…

The Phillies are looking to…they’re in a…they should probably… Ok, let’s just call it what it is. If Ruben Amaro had a shred of sense, he’d have gotten what he could for aging slugger Ryan Howard, still productive veteran Chase Utley, and now injured hurler Cliff Lee last year, or at the latest, this off-season. I don’t know that trading your best pitcher is ever the answer, but if it was, Cole Hamels would also fetch the best return of prospects.

Then there’s the Braves. I’m not sure they needed to blow everything up, but at least they committed. Out with Justin Upton, Evan Gattis, Jason Heyward, and in with… Shelby Miller and a bunch of guys they hope to see in a couple years. While the future may be brighter for one of these teams, this season figures to be a long one for fans of both.

Projected Winner: The Nationals. I get angry at weird things sometimes. I don’t know why. I just do. Last year, the Nats had a pitcher win 15 games and sport a sub-3.00 ERA. Moreover, his fielding independent pitching (FIP) supported those numbers being reflective of excellent pitching, rather than luck. And he isn’t good enough to crack their rotation. What. The. Fudgesickles? My point is this. If Tanner Roark isn’t good enough to crack your starting rotation, you either have an embarrassment of riches in starting pitching, or you have no clue who he is. So the Nationals will win this division. Because they have a guy who could secretly trade places with Zack Greinke and very few people would notice… and he’s not good enough to make their rotation. Ridiculous. 

Is there a Wild Card, perhaps?: If you asked me this question and no form of bet hedging was an option, I’d say yes. I think the Marlins have done enough to improve the roster to be in the conversation, and if Jose Fernandez successfully returns from TJ surgery in June, I think they have enough to make a run. I also think Christian Yelich is an all-star this year. You heard it here first. Unless you heard it somewhere else first, in which case you heard it here second. The Mets might also be a part of the conversation, but ultimately I think they’ll fade.