Spring training, new beginnings… MLBRT 2/22

MLBRT with SS.3

 

It’s spring training and everyone starts off with a clean slate…

That includes those that had good to great years in 2015 and those that had so-so or bad years in 2015. With that in mind, the crew looks at some players and gives opinions on how they think the players might do in the 2016 season…

1)  CC Sabathia struggled to pitch effectively last year what with a balky knee as well as what everyone now knows was that he had an alcohol problem… Can he turn things around in 2016 and pitch effectively for the Yankees or is the best he can look forward to is be the 5th man in the rotation and about a .500 record?

Archie:  CC Sabathia turns 36 this summer. He has not been very effective in three years. Why would anyone feel he is going to be very effective this season? He is just another year older and a few pounds heavier. He will barely remain serviceable as the fifth starter.CC1

But, then, who knows. Crazier things have happened.

Dan: I really don’t think CC Sabathia is a player that will end his career as a 5th man in the rotation and be just an average pitcher. He’s better than that. He’s shown he’s better than that. His contract even shows he’s better than that.

I think that he had a distraction of alcohol abuse that was taken care of when he went to rehab. He’ll turn it around this year and show that he’s still got it and is a good pitcher like what NYY expected when they signed him.

Earl: Hopefully, he got his head straightened out in rehab. I’m cautiously optimistic that CC as the 5th man in the rotation, can rebound and have a decent season as long as he can stay away from the liquor.

Easier said than done, of course, but, at the back end of the rotation he does not have the pressure on him than a front line starter would, and, that should benefit him in this comeback season.

Joe: CC will never be the 20 game winner of his past  but he can still be a good pitcher, who wins about 15 games or more IF he keeps his head out the bottle and stays in decent physical shape… decent physical shape for him. He ain’t ever been the ideal example of how an athlete should be built but he has been a pitcher who was, at one time, a star and a stopper in a team’s rotation. He may never be that again for the Yankees but he can be a pitcher how strongly contributes and that’s really all the Yankees need from him at this point.CC

Anything more… well that’s an unexpected bonus that the Yankees would gladly accept.

Steve: It will all depend on what kind of shape he is in, and, if he has fully recovered from his alcohol illness. I think that he has the potential to be a top three starter for the Yankees, but, if he is not in good shape, and, he is not ready to compete, then, we may have very well seen the last of CC Sabathia in the major leagues.

He will never be back to his top form, but, if he gets in shape and is healthy, he still has some potential to be a good MLB pitcher.

2) After signing a six-year, $206.5 million contract with the D’backs, can Zack Greinke come close to replicating his 2015 season or will he be a disappointment or somewhere in between the two extremes in 2016?

Archie:  Okay, first, let’s be realistic, Grienke’s season last year was spectacular in the numbers. He finished with an ERA of 1.66 (ERA+ of 225) and a win % of .864 and a WHIP of .844. All of which led the league. The 225 ERA+ was the 17th best ever recorded for a season. So, repeating is going to be hard to do.

Now, let’s add the venue aspect. Dodgers Stadium remains one of the best Pitcher Friendly Parks in the Majors. It normally comes in around 24th in hitter friendly, so, that naturally equates to part of Greinke’s success last season. Now, let’s jump to his new venue that he will be pitching home games in. Chase Field is known for its run producing stats. It is always top two or three in being Hitter Friendly. So, Zack moves from one of the best Pitcher Friendly parks to one of the worst.

IF, he comes close to repeating last season; just go ahead and make out the CY award with his name on it and forget the rest of the process.

Dan: I don’t think that Zach Greinke is going to be as dominant as he was in 2015, bu, I do think that he’ll enjoy staying in the NL West and have a great season once again.zack-greinke

He signed a big contract and he’s in a much smaller market than LAD, which should suit him a little better and make him more comfortable. This should be another great season as he’ll be in Cy Young discussions once again.

Earl: There will be a ton of pressure on Zack after signing that deal. I will gamble that he will fall somewhere in between. He is definitely capable of replicating his form from last season, but, a complete disappointment would not shock me either. I think he’ll come in somewhere between it all.

The Diamondbacks took some huge gambles this offseason, but, I think Zack can get somewhere in the vicinity of 18 wins this season.

Joe: Greinke will nott produce the same numbers in Arizon that he did in LA. He will give the D’backs a strong arm in the front of their rotation and help them fight for a playoff spot in the tough NL West.

I see see maybe a year where he puts up anywhere from 18 to even 20 wins, and, a 2.25 ERA or thereabouts.

Steve: I honestly think that Greinke is going to take a step back. It is really hard to replicate a season like he had last year, a year in which he still was not the best pitcher in baseball. I don’t see him having an ERA at 1.66 or better, but still, he is going to be one of the top five pitchers in the game next season.

I think he wins between 18 and 20 games, and will help keep the Diamondbacks in contention in the West with the Dodgers and Giants.

3) Giancarlo Stanton always seems to be on the verge of having one of the all-time great statistical seasons but then develops either a nagging injury or two, or, has as season ending injury that prevents it from happening… In 2016 will he finally have a healthy full season and show off his skills and challenge (or surpass) Bryce Harper and Mike Trout as being the best of the best?

Archie: I think the whole “injury free or minimal” season is what its going to take for him to be in the final MVP discussions.

He has the talent and the power. He just needs to spend more time on the field.

Dan: I believe that Stanton will show us that he’s challenging Bryce Harper & Mike Trout as one of the best hitters in baseball. I think that he’ll miss about 10-15 games this season due to injury but be relatively healthy all season and he will be a big contributor with Barry Bonds as their new hitting coach.

Everybody has room for improvement and I know Bonds can make him into an even better hitter.

Earl: He definitely needs to have that kind of season. The Marlins gave him a mega deal that Harper and Trout will likely exceed when their time comes, but, in order to justify him being a $325 million man, he is going to have to hit for some huge numbers.Stanton_111714

If healthy, I think he can, but, he’s got to prove it and soon.

Joe: If, this dude stays healthy I think he can maybe hit 50 or more HRs and drive in over a 100 runs and score over a 100 runs and be a solid contender for an MVP.

IF, he can stay healthy with no nagging injuries like he always seems to have each year.

Steve: For the last two seasons, I have predicted that Giancarlo Stanton would win the National League MVP award. He was runner up in 2014, and, was injured for most of the second half of the season last year. So, I will go on record for the third straight year and say that this will be the year of Stanton winning the MVP.

I think with Bonds helping him as the Marlins hitting coach, the sky is the limit for what this kid can accomplish, and, barring any further injuries, he is easily the favorite to win the award.

4) Many so-called experts are saying that the Mets signing of Yoenis Cespedes gives the Mets some much needed middle of the lineup thump,,, Do you agree or is Cespedes just a good player who won’t match the power numbers that he displayed after he was traded to the Mets and arguably led the team into the postseason?

Archie: This guy is with his 4th team in 4 years. Why can’t he find a resting spot? Is he one of those “clubhouse cancers” everyone talks about? While he does have a pretty good set of playing skills why has he not “caught on”. Maybe the Big Apple will provide him that stable atmosphere he needs to settle in with just one team and be comfortable.

I sort of think that is what has been missing with him to date. IF, he can adjust to the NY type of atmosphere and media then “Hell to the Yes” he can be that go to bat the Mets have been needing.

Dan: I think he’ll give the middle of the Mets’ line-up a thump but nothing too major. He won’t exactly throw the numbers out that he finished the 2nd half with the Mets with, but, he’ll bring something solid to the table all season that’ll be worth NYM time & money.cespedes

I think he’ll have a solid season this year, be a big part of the Mets’ offense as they return to the post-season again.

Earl: The Mets needed to sign Cespedes. He wants to be in New York, and, he definitely brings some star power to a market craving it.

With that said, he’s just a good player that can definitely hit but he will be playing at least 81 games in a park that is hard to put up power numbers in. Despite the fences at Citi Field being reconfigured several times, it’s a tough ground for power guys. So, it will be pretty easy for me to see fan favorite Yoenis Cespedes, drawing a few boos by August if he doesn’t come out slugging.

Joe: Let me put it this way… the Mets needed some added offense to go with their fantastic pitching. Ya gotta score at least a run or two or you’ll never win any games no matter how great your pitching is. Cespedes helps the Mets offense tremendously.

But if people… aka Mets fans… think he is going to supply the same typo of offense that Trout or Harper or Stanton (from the previous question) provide, then, they will be greatly disappointed. He’s a good hitter not a great one. But, he will help the Mets win their division and be a contender to repeat as NL champs.

Steve: I definitely agree that the Mets getting Cespedes gives them some offensive threats in the middle of the lineup. While it does not make them a real scary lineup from top to bottom, the real threat is going to be that pitching staff. If the pitching stays up to par, then the Mets should repeat as champions of the East, and set up a rematch in the NLCS with the Cubs. Yes I am already punching their ticket to the NLCS.

5) Troy Tulowitzki wasn’t terrible with the bat after being traded to Toronto but he wasn’t exactly the Tulo he had been when he was with Colorado either… will 2016 see Tulo have a resurgence… in fact… will Tulo ever return to a time (2009-2011) when he was a threat to hit .300, with 30 HRs, and, drive in and score 100 runs?

Archie: My initial gut reaction is “No, he will never match his Colorado numbers.”

Reason: Well, he was playing in Colorado, the best hitters park in the League. Early spring in Toronto is a much different climate to deal with.

Dan: I don’t think that Tulowitzki will show off the power numbers quite like he had in Colorado, but, I do think he’ll be able to show off some power and have a lot of extra base-hits due to the division he’s in.

I think he’ll be a great player and Toronto will love having him on the team. Jose Bautista & Tulowitzki is a hard combo to ignore game in and game out.

Earl: Back to back questions about players on my favorite teams. I’m honored.

Will Tulo match what he did in Colorado? No, he won’t. Still a good player, but, Colorado is a hitter’s ground. It’s easy to put up big numbers playing there. Rogers Centre in Toronto, is not that. Good park, but definitely nowhere near as power conducing as Colorado is.MLB: St. Louis Cardinals at Colorado Rockies

With that said, I think the Jays are going to be fine with Tulowitzki and his numbers not matching his peak. As long as he has good at bats, and set up what is a fine middle of the order.

Joe: Tulowitzki’s best days are already behind him and he no longer has the benefit of being in the thin air that his former ballpark provided… aka a hitter’s ballpark.

With that said he is hardly washed up as a player and will provide the Jays’ with some good defense along with a bat that can provide some opportunities for the big boppers on the team to drive him in. I look for Tulo to maybe hit around .300, smack about 20 HRs and score well over 100 runs.

Steve: Well first off, anytime that you move from the high altitude of Colorado, your offensive numbers are going to decline. But, Troy Tulowitzki should return to an All Star caliber season after spending half the year in Toronto, and, adapting to the American League.

I am not sure about the  30 Home Runs, but, I could see him hitting .300 with 20 plus homers and approaching 90 RBI’s.

Extra Innings…

This day in baseball… 1972…

carltonDue to a salary impasse, the Cardinals trade 20-game winner Steve Carlton (20-9) to the last place Phillies for Rick Wise (17-14).

Carlton learns of the trade when Eddie Ferenz, the team’s traveling secretary, knocks on the all-star hurler’s condo door in Clearwater Beach early in the morning to inform the stunned pitcher of the spring training transaction.

Carlton goes on to post a 27-10 record for Philadelphia and wins the National League Cy Young Award.

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