Thursday, March 22, 2018

TGP 2018 Predictions: Rookies of the Year

Remember earlier in the week when I said that predicting the Comeback Player of the Year Award was one of the hardest to predict out of all the awards around the game? Well if that is one of the hardest to predict the AL and NL Rookie of the Year Award has to be the hardest one to predict year in and year out. Who is to say what prospects will get the call up, what players will stay healthy, and who will get enough at-bats or opportunities to even prove themselves on a yearly basis? The Yankees had a Rookie of the Year Award winner in Aaron Judge in 2017, could they do it again in 2018?

Honestly, no. I don’t think the Yankees will have a Rookie of the Year once again here in 2018. Why? It isn’t because I don’t like or don’t believe in the lot of Miguel Andujar, Tyler Wade, Gleyber Torres and others, but I do believe that with the acquisitions of both Neil Walker and Brandon Drury that there just won’t be enough every day opportunities to be had for those three like there was for Judge last season. Those three players could be great, but they won’t get to play in the 155 games and take the 542 at-bats this season that Judge did in 2017. With that in mind I am going to stay within the American League East Division and showcase one of the Tampa Bay Rays top prospects that will NOT miss time this season due to Tommy John surgery, Willy Adames. Adames is a shortstop for the Rays and one that is knocking on the door to the Major Leagues after making the All-Star Game in three straight Minor League seasons. Adames is starting to add power to his repertoire with double-digit home run campaigns and 30 or more doubles in two straight seasons, but more importantly there should be plenty of opportunities and time to grow for Adames on a rebuilding Tampa Bay squad.

The National League seems like kind of an easy one in my opinion with the top prospect in all of baseball ready to take over on a team that will presumably have little to play for in 2018. I am talking about the Atlanta Braves and their top prospect, Ronald Acuna. It is important that a Rookie of the Year sometimes play on a team that does not intend or expect to compete that coming season, that means the player will have a longer leash and less expectations dropped on his shoulders in the upcoming season. Acuna is a special talent and while he may not start the season with the Braves after being demoted to a Minor League camp, it doesn’t mean he will stay there long. Not when the Braves can delay his free agency by a season by keeping him in Triple-A for three weeks or a month before unleashing him on the rest of the league. Baseball is a business after all, first and foremost.

TGP 2018 Predictions: Mariano Rivera & Trevor Hoffman Award Winners

Prediction Season is here at The Greedy Pinstripes and with the Division winners and Wild Card winners announced, the postseason done, and the New York Yankees named the World Series Champions for the 2018 season we will switch directly into awards season. Contrary to some beliefs the relief pitchers in Major League Baseball have their own award at the end of the season, the Mariano Rivera Award for the best relief pitcher in the American League and the Trevor Hoffman Award for the best reliever in the National League. Now I am not trying to incite a riot here or really even spark up a debate, although feel free to debate in the comments section or on Twitter by sending @GreedyStripes a tweet, but for that reason (both these awards and the American League and National League Cy Young Awards that we will cover at a later time) I feel like these pitchers should be disqualified from the running for AL and NL MVP awards. I just do, sorry. Without kicking the hornets nest any more let’s take a look at my predictions for the Mariano Rivera and Trevor Hoffman Award winners for the 2018 season.

The New York Yankees and their closer Aroldis Chapman are at a bit of a disadvantage when it comes down to awards like the Mariano Rivera Award for the best reliever in the league. The Yankees have the best problem a manager can have, too many qualities relievers, too many relievers with closing experience, and too many weapons at one manager’s disposal to be able to single-handedly point out and showcase just one of them. For that reason, I cannot pick a Yankee to win the award, but instead I will choose a member of the team that knocked out the Yankees in the 2017 ALCS, the Houston Astros closer Ken Giles. Giles should have the most opportunities of any closer in the American League to nail down a save, and with the Astros offense behind him the right-hander should have a bit of wiggle room if he were to have an off night. These awards generally go to a pitcher on a winning team, for obvious reasons, so why not the closer on the team that I predicted to be tied for the most wins in the American League in 2018? Just makes sense to me.

The Colorado Rockies built what the organization hopes to be a “Super Bullpen” during the offseason before the 2018 season and those efforts will yield great results for a team starved of quality pitching. The team has a staff of young starters with tons of upside, but it will be the bullpen’s ability to turn every game into a six-or-seven inning contest that will separate the team from the pack and keep the club in a lot of games that they normally wouldn’t have won. At the helm of this bullpen will be the Rockies closer, former Cubs fireballer Wade Davis. Davis should enjoy the lack of pressure pitching for the Rockies as opposed to pitching with the Cubs in recent seasons which should show not only on the field, but in his stat line as well. The fact that Colorado has also added big arms to help him like Bryan Shaw will only help Davis succeed giving him less innings to “mop up” and less jams to get out of, which could subsequently wear a pitcher down and inflate his stat line just a bit.

On A Clear Day, I Can See Toronto...

The Dog Days of Spring…

One week to go until the games become “real”. The thought of Toronto, Canada on a day in late March gives me a rather chilly feeling but watching the Yankees play brings the necessary warmth. The current weather forecast calls for cloudy skies with an expected high of 47 degrees and a 20% chance of precipitation. Nevertheless, the temp inside the Rogers Centre should be very comfortable for the away team. Let the homers begin!

Photo Credit: USA TODAY Sports (Kim Klement)
It sounds like Manager Aaron Boone intends to have his 25-man roster in place by the weekend. I was surprised to see that first baseman Tyler Austin didn’t make the cut. I assume that places Neil Walker and Austin Romine as the backup first basemen. The speculation is that the Yankees will carry 13 pitchers and 12 position players. We know that Tyler Wade has made the team as the second baseman and Brandon Drury will be the starter at third. So, the bench appears to be Austin Romine, Neil Walker, and Ronald Torreyes as it appears that neither Jacoby Ellsbury nor Clint Frazier will be ready. Under this scenario, the Yankees won’t carry a fifth outfielder with Ellsbury expected to open the season on the disabled list. The outfield rotation would be limited to the four outfielders currently in play (Brett Gardner, Aaron Hicks, Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton) using the DH slot primarily for Stanton and Judge. This is where multi-position versatility is very helpful. Although Drury has only played third base for the Yankees, he was the starting second baseman for the Arizona Diamondbacks last year and he has also seen time in the outfield for the Snakes. Torreyes as the emergency catcher is funny but it makes sense. Walker will be all over the infield except shortstop and catcher. 

Photo Credit:
So it appears the critical decision with be the 13th pitcher.  Luis Cessa simply no longer has my trust or support. I do not want him as the rotation’s “sixth man” and after a good Spring, I feel much better about Domingo German in that role. I thought this would be the breakout year for Ben Heller but he had a few rough outings recently and has found himself with the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders. There is still time for him to shine but it won’t be at the start of the season. I really like Jonathan Holder. He blazed through the Yankees farm system until struggling last year. I am convinced he will be much stronger this year. So, for me, I’d like to see either German or Holder get the last spot on the 25-man roster. German would be a true long man, but if the Yankees need an emergency starter, there’s always the Scranton Shuttle. I’d probably go with Holder to start the season but like last year, the final spot on the roster will be very fluid. 

I was surprised to see the return of Rule 5 draftee Anyelo Gomez from the Atlanta Braves.  We know that the Braves will be bad this year. I thought they’d bite the bullet and keep Gomez on the MLB roster all season to keep the talented young pitcher. But Gomez’s performance spiraled downward as the MLB-caliber competition in exhibition games increased and it led to Atlanta’s decision to offer Gomez back to the Yankees. Similarly, Jose Mesa, Jr has struggled with the Baltimore Orioles and he was designated for assignment this week when the O’s signed free agent pitcher Alex Cobb. If Mesa clears waivers, the O’s will have to offer him back to the Yankees. So, this leaves only Nestor Cortes, Jr (Orioles) and Mike Ford (Mariners) as the only Rule 5 draftees still with the teams that selected them from the Yankees in December. I remain convinced Cortes will make the O’s Opening Day Roster despite the three-run homer that he gave up to Aaron Judge in yesterday’s exhibition game. I still expect Ford to be offered back to the Yankees by the Mariners in a numbers crunch at first base. 

Photo Credit:
Speaking of the Mariners, I was saddened to learn that former Yankees reliever David Phelps will miss the upcoming season with a torn UCL that requires Tommy John surgery. I thought it was cool that Ichiro Suzuki had followed Phelps to the Yankees, Miami Marlins and then back to Seattle. Now, it appears their reunion on the active regular season roster will be delayed assuming that Ichiro continues to play for the M’s beyond this year. We wish David the very best with his surgery and recovery.  Hope to see him back in the Mariners’ bullpen sometime next year and as good as ever (except when he pitches against the Yankees, of course).

Photo Credit: Seattle Times (Ken Lambert)
If you have a subscription to The Athletic, you should be sure to check out Marc Carig’s piece this morning on Brandon Drury entitled “Brandon Drury brings a serious edge to Yankees clubhouse”. Drury has become one of my favorite players in a short period of time. I love his quiet intensity. Like many believe including Yankees GM Brian Cashman, I feel very strongly that Drury’s best days are ahead. I think he’ll be a force at third base and will make us forget we ever knew Chase Headley or Todd Frazier. I am very pleased to see Carig covering the Yankees again after a few years away on the Mets beat. He’s an excellent writer and very insightful. Solid work, once again, by Carig.

It’s been tough with no televised Yankees games for the last few days. Fortunately, the Yankees will be on ESPN2 this afternoon against Jake Cave and the Minnesota Twins. I haven’t seen the lineups for the game yet but hopefully we’ll see Cave. I haven’t been following the Twins so I assume that Cave is remains in the Major League camp. The scheduled starter for the Twins will be former Yankee Phil Hughes. 

7 Days to Toronto. I’m ready. You’re ready. They’re ready. Let’s Go Yankees!

TGP 2018 Predictions: The World Series

The field is set. 162 games are in the books. Three rounds of the postseason are done and over with. Two teams remain. This is the World Series. This is the Fall Classic. Let’s do this. Prediction Season continues here on The Greedy Pinstripes as we take the next step towards our yearly predictions by predicting the World Series. I have laid out the division winners, the Wild Card winners, and even went as far as to predict every win/loss record for all 30 MLB teams. I then went one step further and predicted the entire postseason for both the American League and the National League, and it has all come down to this. The 2018 World Series between the New York Yankees and the Washington Nationals.  

Can you imagine the ratings on FOX that we are going to see for this potentially epic series? The Yankees head into Washington as the road team for Game One since the Nationals will have home-field advantage throughout the World Series garnering all the attention that the young Baby Bombers should. Aaron Judge can be seen answering questions by reporters out in right field, Giancarlo Stanton can be seen doing the same in the dugout as we prepare for a game without a designated hitter. Luis Severino is out in the bullpen throwing to Gary Sanchez, while Didi Gregorius is signing autographs out by the third base visitor’s dugout. The stage is set. Bryce Harper is in the Nationals dugout being asked more questions about his plans for his impending free agency and whether he wants to play for the Yankees than he is the World Series at hand, but Bryce is answering those questions with political correctness and a swag unmatched by any impending free agent before him. The stage is set.  

These two teams are surprisingly evenly matched up at every turn. The Yankees may have a slight edge in starting pitching, especially if the team goes out and acquires a great starter in July like many expect them to while the likes of Severino, Masahiro Tanaka and Sonny Gray pitch to the backs of their baseball cards, and in the bullpen, although when Brandon Kintzler is your 7th inning guy it goes to show you how deep the Washington bullpen can be, but the offenses can both potentially be spectacular. How will the Yankees fare playing four games in a National League park while having to leave one of Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, Greg Bird, Aaron Hicks or Brett Gardner on the bench? Just fine, that’s how they will fare.  

The Yankees lineup is deep, powerful and intimidating from top to bottom. This team was built from within and is deep as they come offensively. This offense does not center around just one or two men, the entire lineup from top to bottom can beat you on any single pitch in any single game. There is potentially a different hero every night, which brings goosebumps to the skin just thinking about the possibility and the similarities to the Dynasty Yankees from the 90’s and 2000’s. The Nationals are a good team, maybe even a great team, but this New York Yankees squad is just special. Period. Get off the tracks, the New York Yankees are coming. It may take all seven games, although I am leaning towards six games here to be honest, but the Yankees will be hoisting that World Series Championship trophy over their heads one more time, and that one more time is here in 2018.