Saturday, June 10, 2017

Red Sox Draft Preview

After selecting Andrew Benintendi at number seven and Jay Groome at twelve in the past two drafts, coming off a 2016 AL East title, the Red Sox will pick at number twenty four this year.  The 2017 draft commences on Monday night.  While it is much more difficult to project who Boston will pick with a slot that is much nearer the end of the first round, there are a core of names that have been linked to Boston in various mock drafts.  In addition, there also names of players who are considered to be in the 18-28 range that could be there for the Sox to take.  Here are thirteen names to watch for as Boston waits to make its pick at 24.

Maybe around at 24, but unlikely:

Evan White, 1B-OF  Univ. of Kentucky
Jake Burger, 3B         Missouri State
Logan Warmoth, SS  UNC

Any of these three could pique Boston's interest as solid college bats, and there has been speculated interest in all by Boston.  But in the dozens of mock drafts I have seen none of these three make it to 24. White, a college first baseman considering athletic enough to play centerfield, especially seems to be rising in the mocks. Burger is considered one of the better power hitters in the draft, and Warmoth a good hitting shortstop.

The high school kids:

Bubba Thompson, OF Mobile, Alabama
Nick Allen, SS San Diego
Heliot Ramos, Puerto Rico

Any or all of these players are likely to be there at 24, although none is a lock.  Thompson, who in the most recent Sporting News mock was Boston's pick, is an athletic outfielder committed to Alabama to play baseball.  Of the three, Thompson is the one most often projected to be gone by 24.  Nick Allen is considered the best defensive shortstop in the draft.  His drawback, if it is one, is his size. Allen is listed at 5'8" 160. As with most prospects his size, Allen draws Dustin Pedroia comps.  The team that is linked to Allen the most besides Boston is the Cubs, who pick after the Sox.  Ramos has been mocked in the 30-45 range.  But Jim Callis of MLB.com is reporting this weekend, Ramos is rocketing up the charts.  Ramos, is the younger brother of former Portland Sea Dog, Henry Ramos.

College Arms

Griffin Canning, RHP   UCLA
Nate Pearson, RHP       Central Florida Junior College
Tanner Houck, RHP      Missouri
Alex Lange, RHP          LSU
David Peterson, LHP    Oregon

There is contention within the game, that Boston is looking for a college player either pitcher or bat, to more quickly replenish the Dave Dombrowski depleted system.  Especially since Boston went with high schooler, Jay Groome in 2016's first round.  This may be true or complete hogwash, but if it is true, do not be surprised if one of these five is the pick (assuming the three college bats mentioned above are gone). The four right handed pitchers have all been projected to Boston in various mocks, most often Houck and Pearson.  But the mock drafts have ranged from Canning at 10 to Lange at 35, just recently.

Canning has a new possible red flag with reports of some questionable medicals on his pitching arm. This could make him more likely to drop to 24, but would Boston also pass? Pearson is a big hard thrower who had not been considered a first rounder earlier this year.  But as his stock continues to rise, the latest rumor says Pearson has a pre-draft deal with a team between 21-26. Boston?
Houck, entered the college baseball season considered a late top ten pick. But an up and down season, followed by an unimpressive SEC tourney, likely leaves Houck available into 24 territory.  But he is also mocked often to the Orioles or Jays at 21 and 22.  Lange is another SEC star who should be picked in the 20-35 range. Of the four righties, I think Lange would be the pick only if the others were off the board.

Peterson was mocked to Boston by Baseball America this weekend.  This was a surprise, because even though Peterson was expected to be around at 24 when the college baseball season began, a strong campaign pushed Peterson anywhere from a late top ten to Baltimore at 20 in every mock drafts for weeks.  Common landing spots for Peterson in the mocks was 15 to Houston, and Yankees at 16.  Peterson is 6'6" 240, but is not a hard thrower.  One of his comps is Brian Johnson, a lefty strike thrower.  Peterson, who had a twenty K game this year versus Arizona State, was drafted by the Red Sox out of high school before he opted to go to Oregon.  I am sure the Sox would like another shot.

If This Pair is There, Would the Sox Dare?

Keston Hiura, 2B-  UC-Irvine
Seth Romero, LHP None (Univ. of Houston)

If not for each player's issues, both are considered by most (but not all) observers as sure top ten selections.  The reason Boston may choose to deal with the issues would be the value of taking a top ten pick at 24.  This would be similar to grabbing Jay Groome at 12, when his "maturity" issues pushed him down from the top three.

Hiura is widely considered to be the best pure hitter in the entire draft. But Hiura has two issues pushing him down the draft.  The first is lack of a true position leaving teams to wonder where he'd fit defensively.  Most believe left field rather than his college position of second base. But the real issue is his right arm, never a strong arm to begin with.  Hiura has played at DH for the entire college season because of an elbow injury.  It is widely believed Hiura will need Tommy John surgery, perhaps right away. So would Boston draft the best hitter in the draft knowing he may need to sit out until the beginning of 2019 season, or start playing and need TJ surgery down the road?  Now even with the injury, in many mock drafts, Hiura does not get to 24, because his bat is just that good. Houston at 15 and the Mets at 20 are other reported landing spots. But Jim Callis of MLB.com for one has consistently linked Hiura to Boston.

Romero, has his own set of issues, illustrated by his team listing above.  Romero was the star pitcher for the University of Houston, but ran into more than one disciplinary situation with this coach. Late in the campaign, Romero got into a fight with a teammate and was thrown of the team for good. Again a top ten talent, who many scouts feel could help a big league bullpen this year, could be there at 24 for Boston's plucking. The Red Sox would have to do thorough investigations to be sure Romero could be depended to behave himself as a pro. The question asked in the industry is does Romero have "maturity" issues or something more?  Keith Law of ESPN, for one, when asked this question in one of his chats, thought it was more than maturity issues.  Law, in fact, also stated he did not feel Romero stuff was all that good, either.  I think Law would be in the minority as far as the stuff assessment, but the plus pitching ability would be the only reason to take Romero.

Here is my best guess for who the Sox want and can get at 24 in order of preference (again I am going to assume White, Burger, and Warmoth are gone...if not it is one of them):

1. David Peterson
2. Keston Hiura
3. Nick Allen
4. Nate Pearson
5. Griffin Canning
6. Tanner Houck
7. Bubba Thompson
8. Seth Romero
9. Alex Lange
10. Heliot Ramos

If you want to hold me to a one player guess I will go with Keston Hiura.









Saturday, June 3, 2017

RSM Top 30 Red Sox Prospects- June 2017

Another month has passed and another ranking of the Red Sox system is here.  Three members of the organization have spent sufficient time in the big leagues this season to graduate from our consideration.  Two from last month's top 15: Marco Hernandez and Robby Scott, and one player not ranked recently, but whom had spent many months in our rankings over the past few years: Deven Marrero. Besides those three players exiting the list, there also are several players making fairly significant moves up or down the list.

The June rankings are also the last before another draft rolls around, in just over a week.  In addition, the international signing period begins July 2, and the Sox are expected to sign at least two of the top twenty prospects in that pool.

As always, the team listed after the player's name is their team as of May 31. The number in { } is the May ranking.  The slash line for hitters is HR/RBI/BA/OBP/OPS and the slash line for the hurlers is
W-L/ERA/K-BB/WHIP.

Here are the best prospects in the Red Sox system as of June 1st:

1. Rafael Devers, 3B- Portland {1}. Devers began the month of May with a five for five game including two homers and four RBI on May 2nd.  It was the fourth multi home run game as a pro for Devers and his third five hit game.  But later in the month around the 20th-26th, Devers suffered through his first AA slump going 2 for 23 in a six game span. As May closed and June commenced, Devers picked the pace up again. Throughout this mini slump the clamor for Devers to be promoted to Pawtucket or Boston abated.  But, if Rafael shows the ability to adjust and overcome the slow stretch, which he seemingly is doing, a promotion to AAA is probably not to far down the road.  Devers and his line of 8/30/.291/.356/.856 with ten doubles and a triple through May may not stay in Portland by the end of June.

2. Jay Groome, LHP-XST {2}. Last year's first round draftee still has not appeared in an actual game since suffering a lat injury in his first 2017 game at Greenville in early April. But Groome did throw two innings in Florida in an extended spring training intra squad game on May 30.  Everything went well, and Groome reported he felt fine after the outing. Groome is targeted to return to the mound for either Greenville or perhaps a pit stop first in Lowell by mid-June.

3. Sam Travis, 1B-Boston {3}.  After hitting 4/14/.286/.353/.805 with nine doubles for the Paw Sox, Travis was called to Boston and made his MLB debut.  Travis was particularly hot in his last twenty games at AAA hitting three home runs, nine RBI and an average of .338. This included his first five hit game as a pro on May 6.  Travis has continued to show a proclivity to hit in his early big league at bats. Sam smacked seven hits in his first fourteen at bats, including a pair of doubles. A start like that would seemingly earn a rookie regular playing time. But incumbent first sacker Mitch Moreland and DH Hanley Ramirez both have a half dozen home runs, while hitting .276 and .256 respectively.  Boston still has some roster issues to shake out and Sam Travis may be right in the middle of those decisions.

4. Josh Ockimey, 1B- Salem {5}. Ockimey followed up a strong April with nearly an identical May:
4/25/.305/.424/.908 with five doubles.  Josh leads the entire Sox system with 47 RBI, is third in hits with 54, and is tied for fourth in home runs with seven. On May 3rd, Ockimey enjoyed a personal thrill when he clubbed a long three run home run while playing in Wilmington, Delaware.  This game was played in close proximity to his home of Philadelphia.

5. Michael Chavis, 3B- Salem {9}. The 2014 first round pick continued to ravage the Carolina League.  Chavis leads the circuit in batting average (.357), OBP (.435), slugging average (.695) and home runs (12). He leads all of minor league baseball in slugging and OPS.  His twelve home runs also leads the Sox system, four more home runs than the runner ups, Rafael Devers and Bryce Brentz. For the week of May 22-28, Chavis was named the Carolina League Player of the Week for the second time in the young season.  The only glitch in his otherwise red hot season is that he has DH'd a lot and needs for more consistent time in the field at third base. If Chavis can show consistent play in the field, he likely would be in line for a promotion to Portland to replace Devers whenever he moves up.

6. Bobby Dalbec, 3B- Greenville {4} Dalbec was off on to a decent start at Greenville, marred only be a worrisomely high strikeout rate (which reached as high as 37% in early May).  But on May 15, Dalbec was placed on the disabled list with an  wrist inflammation of some type. His line at the time was: 2/12/0264/.358/.716.  But after a couple of weeks on the DL the swelling did not go down. Further testing showed a hamate bone fracture.  Dalbec had late May surgery and is expected to be out until mid to late July.

7. Brian Johnson, LHP- Pawtucket {11}.  Now this is what throwing a complete game shutout at the major league level does for your ranking.  On May 27, Johnson blanked Seattle on five hits in his third big league start. Most impressively Johnson threw 109 pitches, 85 of which were strikes: 78%. But this is not the only reason for Johnson climbing back up the rankings.  His entire season at AAA has been exceptional: 2-0/2.82/37-17/1.34 in seven starts ( Johnson is also 2-0 with an ERA of 2.57 in two starts for Boston). In none of his AAA starts has Johnson allowed over three earned runs. Before Johnson had an arm injury in 2015 (right as he was making his MLB debut) and took a sabbatical in 2016 for anxiety issues, his reputation was a solid starter who pounded the strike zone at a very high rate, despite not having overpowering stuff. In other words, a pitching style exactly like Johnson exhibited versus the Mariners. Johnson was returned to AAA after his shutout, but he is the "sixth starter" for Boston going forward.

8. Travis Lakins, RHP- Portland {10}. Lakins dominated in his second season at Salem. His line versus the Carolina League in 2017 was 5-0/2061/43-13/1.18.  In mid May Lakins was promoted to Portland, after taking a no hitter into the sixth inning in his last Salem start on May 9th.  Lakins made his AA debut on May 18, and it not go well going only 1.2 innings and allowing five runs on five hits. His second start for the Sea Dogs also was a struggle, but start number three was much improved. The early Portland experience can be chalked up to the adjustments needed to be made after a promotion. Class AA especially is considered the biggest step up the ladder. Lakins' results for the Dogs for the rest of 2017 will be interesting to follow.

9. Shaun Anderson, RHP- Salem {7}. Another pitcher promoted during May, Anderson moved up from the Greenville Drive to Salem to replace Travis Lakins.  Before the May 16th promotion Anderson had made seven starts for the Drive: 3-0/2.56/37-11/1.06.  Anderson's step up also had a slow beginning.  His first three Salem starts: 0-1/5.29/5-5/2.14.  Another example of the climb to the big leagues being a process, a step by step process in most cases.

10. Mike Shawaryn, RHP- Greenville {16}.  Another 2016 draftee joining our top ten, along with Groome, Dalbec, and Anderson. Shawaryn should be another Sox right handed starting pitcher to be promoted any day now. Shawaryn has been more and more dominant at Greenville.  On May 6th he established a franchise record with twelve strikeouts.  In that game Shawaryn only walked one hitter, and that is his outstanding stat through May.  Shawaryn had 78 strikeouts with only 13 walks, a ratio of 6 to 1. In addition the 78 K's lead the entire Red Sox minor league system, twenty more than the anyone else ( Jaleen Beeks and Henry Owens have 58 each).

11. Nick Longhi, 1B-Portland {12}.  After a shaky April where Longhi compiled a paltry batting line of 2/4/.182/.194/.482 with just one double, Longhi sprang to life in May. Longhi hit well for the entirety of May: 1/14/.290/.353/.729 with five doubles. As the Maine weather warms up ( it will get warmer with less rain, right???) the question is can Longhi hit more home runs?  This is one thing he needs to add to his resume.

12. Roniel Raudes, RHP- Salem {8}. The teenager from Nicaragua slips down our list four spots. This decline is a combination of his own season: 1-2/4.93/38-15/1.50 in nine starts and being passed by the stronger showings of Johnson, Lakins, and Shawaryn. The strong K to walk ratio shows Raudes still has the makings of a promising pitcher.  Also not to be forgotten is Raudes will not turn 20 until next January, and even if he spent all of this year and part of next at Salem he would reach the Eastern League at a very tender age.  On May 28 Raudes went onto the DL.

13. Ben Taylor, RHP- Pawtucket {14}. Taylor has continued to be one of the relievers who have ridden the Boston-Pawtucket shuttle.  Taylor has gotten into eleven games for Boston, the numbers are not great: 0-1/6.59/14-9/1.90 with one save.  In late May Taylor went onto the DL at Pawtucket.

14. CJ Chatham, SS-XST {15}. Chatham had injured a hamstring late in spring training and rehabbed in Florida until finally making his Greenville debut on May 24.  The good news is CJ went one for three and drove in two runs.  The bad news is Chatham re-injured the same hamstring and went back on the DL after the one game.

15. Bryan Mata, RHP- Greenville {25}. For those lamenting the loss of Anderson Espinoza, please meet Bryan Mata. The Venezuelan righty impressed in his pro debut in 2016 for the Red Sox team in Dominican Summer League. Mata had been in extended spring training awaiting a June assignment to either the Gulf Coast Sox or Lowell. But Mata was so impressive in the Florida camp, that just days after his 18th birthday on May 3, he was sent to the Drive in the South Atlantic League.  Mata's first two starts totaling nine innings lead to this line: 1-0/2.00/10-4/1.22.  The Sox will limit his innings, as they have with other 18 year old pitchers at Greenville.

16. Jaleen Beeks, LHP- Portland {18} This lefty product of the University of Arkansas continues to outperform his expected levels.  Beeks entered the system in 2014 as a 12th round draft pick.  Two years later Beeks reached Hadlock Field.  His 2016 Portland numbers were only 5-4 with an ERA of 4.68 in thirteen starts.  However through May this year's line is:5-1/2.19/58-22/1.16 in nine starts. Beeks also compiled a 25 inning scoreless streak. Beeks could well be in line for a promotion to Pawtucket by late June to early July.

17. Jamie Callahan, RHP- Pawtucket {17}. Another pitcher promoted since our last rankings.  This time a relief pitcher, who had shone at AA. The outstanding number for Callahan for the Sea Dogs was twenty K's and no walks.  Callahan also had four wins and two saves at AA.  Callahan has also had a bit of an adjustment since reaching Rhode Island: 0-0/5.40/8-5/1.05 with a save.

18. Darwinzon Hernandez, LHP- Greenville {24} This lefty continued performing in May as he had in April. His YTD line: 2-1/2.72/51-22/1.18 in nine starts in his South Atlantic League debut. Darwinzon went on the DL on May 24.

19. Stephen Nogosek, RHP- Greenville {27}.  Nogosek, another 2016 draftee, has racked up ten saves with an ERA of 2.30 for the season.  He also has 37 K's in 27.1 innings pitched.  A promotion to Salem is expected to be imminent.

20. Aneury Tavarez, OF- Pawtucket {21}. After a red hot start in Portland, hitting .377 with an OBP of .473, Tavarez was promoted to Pawtucket where after hitting a pair of doubles in his first two games, he has been dogged by injury.  Tavarez was activated from his first DL stint on May 19, but five days later went back on the DL with recurrent right hand tendonitis.

21. Kyle Martin, RHP- Pawtucket {29}.  Martin showed a resurgence with a strong May.   In May appearances, Martin's line was 0-1/0.79/10-2/0.88. A continuance of that effort could place Martin on the Pawtucket-Boston bullpen shuttle.

22. Austin Maddox, RHP-Pawtucket {33} Another relief specialist with a strong May, which included a promotion to AAA. 1-0/1.17/7-5/1.17 for the Paw Sox.

23. Chandler Shepherd, RHP- Pawtucket {23}. Shepherd has maintained his spot in the bullpen prospects pecking order. His ERA for the year is 4.91 with 27 K's to ten walks.  With so many pitchers of similar resumes, this leads to another story line to follow in June.  As mentioned at the top the Sox expect to be active in signing international players beginning July 2.  There is now a cap of money allowed to be spent on this.  But teams can traded some of their money ( or slots) for players.  Boston was banned from signing anyone last year, as a penalty for the overpaying of some players by paying for groups of players through a single agent. So it is expected Boston will go big this year and that may entail needing to trade for other teams slots.  Coincidentally, Boston is expected to have a huge forty man roster crunch next winter.  To solve both issues, Boston could trade one or several of the players needing to be on the 40 man roster next winter. These players include:

Noe Ramirez
Kyle Martin
Luis Ysla
Ben Taylor

These four are all ready on the 40 man but could come off to create room for:

Jalen Beeks
Jamie Callahan
Ty Buttrey
Austin Maddox
Jake Cosart
Chandler Shepherd
Williams Jerez
Teddy Stankiewicz
Trey Ball
Darwinzon Hernandez

Do not be surprised if a few of these pitchers, nearly all who appear on our rankings are dealt.

24. Jake Cosart, RHP- Portland {19}. Cosart continues to struggle with command still with more walks (24) on the year than strikeouts (18).

25. Tate Matheny, OF- Salem {22}. The line off hitter for the Salem Red Sox struggled in May at the plate: 0/8/.200/.294.557, with four doubles and a triple. Matheny did steal eight bags in nine tries.

26. Ty Buttrey, RHP- Portland {40}/ Ty has rocketed back into prospect consideration after his full time conversion to the bullpen in Portland.  1-2/3.28/37-10/1.30 with two saves in fifteen games. Buttrey is striking out around 40% of the batters he has faced as opposed to 14% in 2016.

27. Lorenzo Cedrola, OF- Greenville {30}. This speedster continues to produce at the plate for the Drive as well: 2/20/.299/.335/.762 with nine doubles and three triples. In May Cedrola hit .322.

28. Tyler Hill , OF- Greenville [37}. A newcomer to our top 30.  Hill was drafted in the 19th round of the 2014 draft from his high school in Wilmington, Delaware.  Hill has played since in the Gulf Coast League and Lowell until 2017. Hill hit especially well in May: 1/18/.301/.398/.828.  Hill also for the year has stolen 18 bases in 22 attempts.  No one else in the system has more than a dozen thefts.

29. Josh Tobias, 2B- Portland [38}.  The player Boston received from the Phillies for Clay Buchholz also enters our top 30. Tobias, not considered a top prospect at the time of the trade, has nevertheless hit well in his Red Sox system debut.  After beginning 2017 by hitting .345 in 87 at bats for Salem, Tobias was promoted to Portland on May 1st.  Tobias has hit a solid .276 for the Sea Dogs. At only 24 years old, Tobias still has ample time to carve out a big league career.

30. Trey Ball, LHP- Portland {20}. Finally reaching AA in 2017, the Eastern League was considered a test for the first round draftee from 2013.  After compiling a career 4.45 ERA in his minor league sojourn, Ball needed to show improvement.  He has not to this point.  Ball has had a tendency to have one or two bad innings derail what seems to be a good start. The total of his seasonal numbers are bleak: 1-5/5.77/41-19/1.59 in eight starts.  Ball will turn 23 on June 27, the time for Boston to give up on Ball is not near.  But as mentioned above Ball would need to go on the 40 man roster this winter and without a major turn around for the Sea Dogs, that is unlikely to happen.

We will finish as usual with another dozen names knocking on the door of the top 30:

Teddy Stankiewicz
Tzu-Wei Lin
Gerson Bautista
Trenton Kemp
Luis Ysla
Danny Mars
Kyri Washington
Austin Rei
Austin Glorius
Yoan Aybar
Yankory Pimental
Christopher Acosta

We will back a month from now post-draft for another set of rankings.

















Friday, May 19, 2017

Should the Red Sox trade for Josh Donaldson?

The idea of the Blue Jays trading Josh Donaldson has banged around the internet a lot since the Jays went 8-17 in April and find themselves in the basement of the AL east. While the Jays have been decimated by injuries and almost assuredly will play better baseball once their studs get back in the lineup and rotation, at this point their hole is probably too big.

CBS' Jonah Keri wrote this piece today to present The Case for Trading Donaldson. Here are the highlights:

  • Donaldson is 31 years old, well on the other side of the 22-26 year old peak we typically see in position players in today's MLB
  • Donaldson will be a free agent after the 2018 season. If a team trades for him now, they will control him for the rest of this season and all of next, meaning the Jays will get more in return for him now than they would at this year's winter meetings or at the trade deadline in 2018 
  • Donaldson's defensive ratings have slipped every year from 2014 to 2016 - he was the best defensive 3B in the majors in 2014, and has slipped down to 14th in 2016
  • There happens to be a lot of contenders with holes at 3B - the Cardinals, Red Sox, Yankees, and Astros to name four, depending on how you feel about Alex Bregman and his shaky defense in 2017. There would be great demand for Donaldson right now, driving up his price
So those are the reasons why the Blue Jays should explore trading Josh Donaldson, but why would teams be willing to pay a hefty price for him? Consider the following:
  • Donaldson was the AL MVP in 2015, when he hit 41 homers with 123 RBI. He followed that up with 37 homers and 99 RBI in 2016. In short, he's one of the three best position players in the American League
  • Using the ISO stat, which is a stat which attempts to measure pure hitting power (it's basically slugging percentage with the singles taken out, or the number of doubles, triples, and homers hit per AB), Donaldson was the 8th most powerful hitter in the majors in 2015 and the 10th most powerful in 2016 (for the record, David Ortiz, in his final season, led the majors in ISO by 27 points!!!)
  • The guy can mash it, he's still a perfectly adequate 3B, and by all accounts he's a great clubhouse guy
  • For the Red Sox, here's a quick rundown of the bWAR of all the players they've run out there at 3B this year: Pablo Sandoval (-0.5), Marco Hernandez (0.2), Brock Holt (-0.2), Josh Rutledge (-0.1), and Deven Marrero (0.1). That's a total of -0.5. This all a fancy way of confirming what anybody who has watched the Red Sox 3B play this year: they're running out a parade of stiffs even worse than the typical 4A player. We need a third-sacker.
So what would it take to get the 2015 MVP onto the Red Sox? Well, a lot. The Blue Jays are in an interesting position with a bunch of aging veterans heading towards free agency. They might go for a full rebuild, but they're more likely to want major-league-ready prospects in return. The Red Sox have quite a few players in that mold - Andrew Benintendi, Jackie Bradley Jr, Eduardo Rodriguez, Blake Swihart, and Mookie Betts to name five. Of course, any package for Donaldson will include talks on Rafael Devers, Jason Groome, and Sam Travis. I see two options:
  • 1. A package headed by Devers that unloads just about every remaining prospect in the Red Sox system
  • 2. Two out of the following three: Bradley Jr, Swihart, Rodriguez, plus a couple lower-level prospects
Would Jackie Bradley Jr, Blake Swihart, and two lesser prospects be enough to get him? Swihart, Ed Rod, and two lesser prospects?  Maybe not if the Astros dangle Alex Bregman. If the Red Sox could get Donaldson for option 2 above, I would do it. Probably not for option 1, although it would be tempting if Sandoval comes back and plays terribly in June.

So if not Donaldson, then what other options are out there for an upgrade at 3B? 
  • It's no secret that Todd Frazier and his .198 batting average is going to be available to rent for the remainder of 2017 at a much cheaper cost than Donaldson. While Frazier is struggling in 2017, he put up bWAR's of 5.1, 4.0, and 3.2 from 2014-2016. He would be an upgrade.
  • Mike Moustakas is on a sinking ship in Kansas City and has generally underperformed expectations. After an all-star campaign in 2015 that saw him rack up 4.4 bWAR, he plummeted to 0.8 in 2016 while hitting just .240 with 7 homers. He might not even be an upgrade over Sandoval at this point.
  • Yunel Escobar will be a free agent after 2017, and if the Angels fall out of contention, he could certainly be had. He's 34 years old and has very little pop in his bat (.391 slugging% last year), but he did hit .314 and .304 in 2015 and 2016 respectively and he gets on base.  He is currently on the shelf with a hamstring strain.
  • Travis Shaw. Just kidding.
  • Jose Reyes. Reyes started 2017 in a horrible slump, but has come on lately to raise his batting average up to....197. Well, he's a free agent after 2017, so he would be cheap, and the Mets are sinking so he'd be available. Yeah, me either.
  • David Freese. He's not the player he once was, but he's got postseason chops and he can still swing the stick a little bit. He's put up slugging percentages of .420, .412, and now .443 from 2015-2017. He has an .816 OPS in part-time duty for the Pirates this year. He is 34 and he's signed through 2018, so that's not ideal.
  • And last but not least, my personal favorite on the list: Trevor Plouffe. I wanted the Red Sox to trade for Trevor Plouffe last year when the Twins fell apart and Travis Shaw was sputtering. Plouffe is still only 30 years old and he's a free agent at the end of 2017. The A's aren't winning anything this year, so he should be available for a very reasonable asking price. Plouffe has put up a slugging percentage of .420 or higher for four straight seasons. Plus, he's got a great name. He's not an all-star, but he's the best fit I could find - cheap, above replacement level, and not locked into a commitment beyond 2017. 
So what do you guys think? Trade for Donaldson? What would you give up? Would you rather go after any of the other guys on my list? Have anybody else in mind? Think we should hold pat and pray the Panda is above replacement level?

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

RSM Top 30 Red Sox Prospects - May 2017

With first month of the baseball season in the books we now have some numbers to digest for this crop of Red Sox farmhands.  And with the month of April in the rearview mirror, Andrew Benintendi has now accumulated  enough big league at bats to graduate from prospect status and gracefully exits from our rankings.

The rankings include, after the player's name, the team they are playing for as of May 1.  The number in {  } is April's ranking.  The slash line for hitters is HR/RBI/BA/OBP/OPS and the line for the pitchers is W-L/ERA/K-BB/WHIP.

In addition to Benintendi's graduation, four other members of April's Top 30 have slid down below number 30.  Therefore we will see five new Top 30 prospects in May.

1. Rafael Devers, 3B- Portland {2}. The new top prospect for the Red Sox began 2016 in Salem with a very slow first half.  Devers' AA debut has been much stronger. Although after a red hot start which had Devers hitting .372 in the first week or so, including an opening day home run, Devers did tail off to a degree.  But Rafael finished April at 2/7/.274/.297/.748 with five doubles to go along with the pair of home runs.  Near the end of April, the Sea Dogs moved Devers into the cleanup spot, and he marked that occasion by homering in that game as well.  With third base in flux in Boston, the fan base clamors to see Devers as soon as possible. And even though in a recent Boston Herald interview, Devers intimated he would like to see Boston before the end of this season, Devers is likely to spend a large part if not all of it in Maine.

2. Jay Groome, LHP- Greenville {3}. The Sox 2016 first round pick had perhaps the worst start to a season imaginable. The much ballyhooed lefty took the mound on April 10 and lasted only 1.1 innings and was charged with nine earned runs on seven hits and three walks. And that is not the bad news.  The last couple of pitches Groome tossed hardly made it up to the plate.  He left the game to have his apparent injury diagnosed.  Here is where the good news (relatively speaking) portion of Groome's debut comes in.  He had not injured his multi-million dollar left arm.  Groome has a lat injury and was placed on the DL.  The Red Sox will be very cautious with Groome, and may be a while before he sees the mound again. Until then the ERA remains at 60.75.

3.Sam Travis, 1B- Pawtucket {4}. After a strong spring training, Travis started slowly for the Paw Sox: 1/1/.233/.313/.647.  Travis' April woes were exacerbated by a collision with catcher Blake Swihart as they tracked a foul pop up. Each missed the next few games.

4. Bobby Dalbec, 3B- Greenville {5}. Like Travis, Dalbec is off to a slower than expected start in the South Atlantic League: 1/7/.244/.340/.670., with four doubles.  The .340 OBP fueled in part by ten base on balls, highlights Dalbec's early season stats.

5. Josh Ockimey, 1B- Salem {7}. Ockimey breaks into the top five of the RSM rankings for the first time sparked by a red hot April: 3/21/.343/.432/1.003 mixing in five doubles and a triple.  The 21 RBI were seven more than any other Red Sox minor league hitter in April. Ockimey was the Carolina League Player of the Week for April 10-16, and through the 21st his batting average was at. 438. Josh also had a strong beginning in 2016 at Greenville, so his challenge this season will be to produce for an entire season.

6. Marco Hernandez, IF- Boston {6}. Hernandez put himself in John Farrell's favor during spring training, and has continued to get regular playing time throughout April.  Injuries to Dustin Pedroia, Brock Holt, and most recently, Pablo Sandoval have provided the opportunity for Marco to play.  His numbers for April were: 0/2/.286/.314/.640 with a pair of doubles.  There is a divide among Red Sox nation about Hernandez' future. Is he a big league regular or is he only a 4A player?  At age 24, it seems Hernandez will have enough at bats to help answer those questions.  He is also likely to compile enough MLB at bats to graduate from this list sooner rather than later.

7. Shaun Anderson, RHP- Greenville {17}.  The big righty from the University of Florida jumps up ten spots to become the second highest ranked pitching prospect behind Jay Groome.  Anderson had an outstanding April : 2-0/0.98/24-7/0.90 while making five starts which spanned 27.2 innings.  With Anderson's SEC experience and at age 22, a few more strong starts could lead to a promotion to Salem.

8. Roniel Raudes, RHP- Salem  {9}. The righty from Nicaragua has reached high A ball at age 19.  Raudes still has some adjustments to make: 1-1/5.82/14/8/1.47. As a pitcher who relies on command rather than overpowering stuff, Raudes will need to make those adjustments at each level.

9. Michael Chavis, 3B- Salem {11}. Just a few days into the new season an old problem cropped for Chavis. He went onto the DL, but this time he was back after the 7 day stay, and came back with a bang. On April 19, Chavis crushed three home runs in cavernous Salem Memorial Ballpark.  In the 23 year history of the park no player had accomplished this. Chavis hit two more bombs over the next three games, and the five home runs lead to Chavis being the second consecutive Salem Sox player to be the Carolina League Player of the Week, following Josh Ockimey.  Michael finished April with a line of: 5/13/.341/.463/1.236.  Chavis was drafted out of a Georgia high school back in the first round of 2014 with expected power.  If Chavis' power can blossom, he will rise in the Sox system.

10. Travis Lakins, RHP- Salem {12}. Lakins is another college arm who had an outstanding April. Travis began his second season at Salem with: 4-0/3.08/32-8/1.25 in five starts. The Ohio State product is pounding on the door to Double AA, and if May is a duplicate of April, that door will open.

11. Brian Johnson, LHP- Pawtucket {8} The highlight of April for Johnson was gaining his first big league win. On April 18, Johnson made his second big league start and beat the Blue Jays going five innings in a 9-5 Boston win. Between the one game recall to Boston and leaving another start early when he was hit off the side of his head by a line drive to the mound, Johnson only hurled 15.2 innings in AAA going: 0-0/2.87/17-8/1.60.

12. Nick Longhi, 1B- Portland {10}. One of the challenges for Longhi as reaches AA is to show some power expected from a big league first baseman. Despite hitting .282 for his minor league career through last year, Longhi has only seven home runs in 1067 at bats. Longhi has two home run for all of 2016.  Longhi has hit two long balls in April for Portland. This may mean Longhi will develop his power or it just may be a result of the friendlier dimensions of Hadlock Field.  On the down side for April, Longhi hit only .194.

13. Robby Scott, LHP- Boston {14}. Until the last ranking or two, Robby Scott wasn't listed because he was not really considered a prospect.  Soon he may not be listed with the prospects because he will a bonafide major leaguer. Boston started the season with three lefties in the bullpen and it was widely assumed Scott was third in the pecking order. But not John Farrell's pecking order, Scott for all of April has been the first option as a lefty specialist from the Boston bullpen. And Scott has continued to produce with 2.08 ERA and a 1.15 WHIP in nine appearances. Quite a story for the former Independent Leaguer.

14. Ben Taylor, RHP- Boston {15}. Along with Scott the other surprise contributor for the Boston bullpen.  The only difference in their seasons is that Taylor has gone back and forth between Boston and Pawtucket. To illustrate how quickly Taylor has made the big leagues, the Sox drafted him the same year as Andrew Benintendi, 2015. Taylor pitched over seven innings in April for the Red Sox and had an ERA of 1.17.

15. CJ Chatham, SS- XST {13}. A hamstring injury suffered in the latter stages of spring training has kept last year's second round pick in extended spring training.  An assignment to Greenville is expected when CJ is healthy.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Red Sox vs Cubs Sunday Night Baseball Live Chat 4-30-17

Come join the Maineiacs as we chat live tonight while the Cubs take on the Red Sox in Fenway Park. Come chat with us - it will help you survive Aaron Boone in the booth.
Live Blog Red Sox vs Cubs Sunday Night Baseball
 

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Matt, Manny, and the Beanball

Here's a few thoughts about the beaning of Manny Machado that I just had to get off my chest while waiting through an off day and a likely rainout tonight at Fenway:

First of all, I've absolutely had it with the deluge of insufferable tweets, columns, think pieces, and TV show rants that come out of the woodwork every time there's a high-profile beaning in the MLB. You know the ones I'm talking about - beaning is a symbol of the old fashioned Neanderthal macho culture of a sport dominated by men, there's no place in the game any more for beaning, and any time a beanball goes anywhere near the cranium we have to immediately compare it to Tony Conigliaro. Some of these blowhards even went as far as to connect beaning in baseball to rape culture in our society at large, as if hitting a man with a thrown baseball is similar to sexual assault. Good grief.

These are the same soft namby-pambies that cry that fighting should be removed from the NHL, suspensions should be handed out for leaving the dugouts to remove brawls from MLB, and every time a quarterback gets breathed on too heavily it should be a fine and 15-yard penalty in the NFL. Enough. Sometimes you deserve to get punched in the face. Sometimes a man has to stand up for his teammate and fight someone. Sometimes you have to learn to take a beating in response to something stupid you did. Whether Machado meant to or not, when you slide and almost blow out the knee and ankle of the opponent's captain, you're going to get a fastball to the ribs for that. End of story. You know who doesn't whine and cry about beanings? The players themselves. They get it. If these blowhards would stop clutching their pearls for a second at the thought of any form of aggression or violence, they just might see that there are life lessons for young men here.

Manny Machado knew he was going to get beaned on Sunday the minute he woke up and got out of bed. When Machado arrived at the ballpark, he knew he was getting pelted with a 95 mph fastball later that day. Did he avoid it? Ask his manger to take him out of the lineup? No, he manned up, got dressed, and took his beaning that he knew was coming. There's life lesson #1 for anyone who cares to teach lessons rather than scream about the impact of violence on our children watching at home.

The real story here that should have been written about on Twitter, in columns, and screamed about on TV is Manny Machado taking his beaning like a man, then getting up, brushing himself off, stepping back into the batter's box, and ripping an RBI double into the gap.  He didn't whine about it, he didn't start a fight in response, he didn't cry about violence in the sport. There's life lesson #2 for anyone who cares - take your consequences, then come back stronger.

Should Matt Barnes have thrown at Machado's head and potentially seriously injured one of the game's brightest stars? No. Do I believe Barnes meant to hit him in the head? Absolutely not. If Barnes could have walked up to the plate and chosen the exact spot to hit Machado, he would have chosen high up on his back above the numbers and under his name. That's where I believe he was aiming. The combination of the adrenaline flowing knowing that he's beaning someone and might have to fistfight right away if they charge the mound and the fact pitchers never practice throwing pitches to that spot caused it to miss high. I don't understand how this is so hard for people to accept, including Dustin Pedroia.

Speaking of that, what the hell was Pedroia doing? Why would the captain of the team yell from the dugout where his entire team can hear him, essentially saying "my teammate f'd up there Manny, I'm so sorry I love you so much, you know I love you, please don't be mad at me, we're good right Manny?" Hey Dustin, how about just saying you would have hit him in his first at bat and moved on? Why throw your teammate under the bus who is beaning someone and taking a 4-game suspension as retribution for a slide on your knee? How about kissing and making up with Manny in a text conversation after the game out of camera shot?

And finally, of course, it wouldn't be an RSM post by me without a shot at replay in baseball. Replay is ruining the sport of baseball and nobody with any power to do anything about it seems to care. A team can't even bean someone who deserves it then move on with life any more. Both teams had to stand around pissed off at each other, then Machado had to watch Kelly warm up, thinking that Kelly would probably plunk him again. It was the most awkward, inane, and unnecessary scene I've seen on a baseball field in some time. Not because beaning culture needs to be removed from the game - because replay needs to be removed from the game.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

RSM Red Sox Top 30 Prospects- April 2017

Another baseball season is in its infancy and as the new campaign commences, it is time to look at the top 30 kids in the Red Sox system.  Spring training performances and assignments have made some changes to our pre season rankings. Each player is listed with their Opening Day assignment, and in { } is their pre season ranking.

1. Andrew Benintendi, LF Boston {1}.  As expected Benintendi was the Opening Day starting left fielder for Boston, batting second in the potent lineup. Benny Baseball celebrated by capping a Sox win with a three run home run.  During April, Benintendi will go over 130 major league at bats and will lose his prospect status. As Andrew leaves this list, he will rocket to the top of the list of AL Rookie of the Year candidates.

2. Rafael Devers, 3B Portland {2}. Devers is poised to move to the number one spot in our May rankings.  He has something else in common with Andrew Benintendi, which was an Opening Day home run.  In his first AA at bat, Devers cracked a 400+ foot home run to right field at Hadlock Field. Unless Rafael destroys AA, he may well spend all of 2017 in Maine since he is only 20.  But do not bet against Devers torching the Eastern League pitching and forcing Boston's hand.

3. Jay Groome, LHP Greenville{3}. Like Boston has done with other highly regarded teenagers in recent years, the Red Sox assigned Groome to Greenville. At age 18, last year's first round pick, is skipping Lowell and going to a full season club.  Groome is expected to have each start capped at five innings to protect the young arm.  But a number of baseball people around the game feel with his explosive fastball and plus-plus curveball, Groome could flash through the minor leagues and be big league ready sooner than his age would indicate.

4. Sam Travis, 1B Pawtucket {4}. For the second year in a row, Travis excelled for the big club in the exhibition games. His goal for 2017 is to stay healthy and pile up some AAA at bats that were lost after a knee injury ended 2016 in late May. Travis' defensive work around the bag could also use some AAA reps.  By mid season Travis could force his way into the picture in Boston.

5. Bobby Dalbec, 3B Greenville {6}. This power hitting third sacker, along with Jay Groome, could make the 2016 draft one to remember.  Dalbec continued to show his power during the spring games.  Dalbec seemed to perform well enough to be pushed up to High A Salem.  But as mentioned in our pre season rankings, 2014 draftee Michael Chavis also was ticketed for Salem, so to get playing time for both, Dalbec goes to Greenville. But if Dalbec repeats his Lowell numbers from '16, he will make room for himself in Salem.

6. Marco Hernandez, INF Pawtucket {8}.  Marco had one of the best springs of anyone in the entire Red Sox camp.  At only age 24, Hernandez has not only made himself a definite top prospect, but has established himself as someone whose future includes a full time big league job.  In fact Hernandez ended up in Boston and in the lineup during the season's first week when Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts went on a brief bereavement leave. Ironically the current position considered the biggest question mark for Boston is third base.  Hernandez is the third of our top six prospects who could be a big league third baseman in the future.  In fact, Hernandez, depending on circumstances, could play a lot of third for Boston this year.

7. Josh Ockimey, 1B Salem {7}. Ockimey climbs another rung on the Red Sox ladder up to High A Salem. At age 21, this power hitter needs to put up consistent numbers throughout 2017.  Ockimey pounded the South Atlantic League in early 2016, but tailed off badly in the latter half. If Ockimey can put up an entire season of power hitting, he is one of the guys whose ascension could deepen the somewhat depleted top of the Sox system.

8. Brian Johnson, LHP Pawtucket {5}. Boston began spring training with six big league starting pitchers: Chris Sale, Rick Porcello, David Price, Eduardo Rodriguez, Steven Wright, and Drew Pomeranz.  Three younger lefties were considered the depth in spots seven to nine: Henry Owens, Roenis Elias, and Johnson. Things changed while in Florida, Price is hurt and Pomeranz was set back due to some arm issues (although he is scheduled to pitch in April).  Elias was also hurt and Owens pitched so abysmally his future in Boston is a big question.  Veteran big leaguer, Kyle Kendrick came to camp on a AAA contract and pitched very well.  Kendrick is now likely the " number 6" starter. That leaves Brian Johnson.  Brian also pitched not as well as hoped in Florida, but better than Owens.  Johnson very much needs to begin his AAA season with a string of impressive outings to solidify his chance to pitch for Boston when needed this year. The Red Sox need this and Johnson needs this type of beginning in order to salvage what seemed like a certain long big league career just two years ago.

9. Roniel Raudes, RHP Salem {10}. Roniel has reached High A Salem at age 19.  Raudes has compiled impressive numbers in his career despite not having high octane stuff. Raudes has outstanding command and his game is predicated on that ability.

10. Nick Longhi, 1B Portland {11}. The second Sea Dog on this list, Longhi along with his corner infield mate, Devers, will be two of the must see guys at Hadlock this year.  To show the balance of the upper end of this list, not only are there two Sea Dogs, but counting Marco Hernandez' time in Boston this week, there are two each from Boston, Pawtucket, Salem, and Greenville also.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Cousin Jason's 2017 Predictions

AL East
Boston- These Sox should wear out opponents offensively, let’s hope the pitching staff gets healthy and does the same
Tampa Bay- Why not the Rays? They pitch as well as any of the other AL East teams, maybe they finally can hit to match
Toronto- The Jays have plenty of pieces, can John Gibbons correctly put the puzzle together
New York- We’re a couple of years away from the next great chapter in the Sox/Yankees rivalry
Baltimore- The O’s seemingly overachieve every year, but this pitching staff will need to use more smoke and mirrors than the Great and Powerful Oz to repeat that feat in 2017

AL Central
Cleveland- Can the Lake Erie Warriors replicate 2016? Playing in the Central will help their chances, current slew of injuries will not
**Detroit- The Bengals got the band back together for one last tour, are they Hot-N-Ready to memorialize Mr. I with a pennant? Motown would go crazy, crazy if so
Minnesota- The Twins have a young nucleus that will surprise many by being consistently competitive
Chicago- The rebuild has already netted lots of future stars, a strong 2nd half from Moncada, Lopez, Giolito, and Kopech leap the South Siders out of the cellar
Kansas City- It may be more of a reload than a rebuild but the Royals sell off their potential free agents and it’s like 2007 in KC

AL West
Seattle- The M’s sniffed the playoffs last year, a better offensive unit gets them over the hump
*Houston- The ‘Stros could be MLB’s best team in 2018...which means they are a year away
Texas- The Rangers have too many question marks on their pitching staff to hang with their counterparts in a tough division
Anaheim- Halo fans will again enjoy watching Mike Trout be one of the best players in all of baseball, sadly his teammates are only mediocre at best
Oakland- The A’s could easily finish 3rd in this division if their usual off-season free agent shopping spree at Marden’s pays off and their young pitchers continue to mature, not sure that happens enough in 2017

Post Season
Wildcard Game: Verlander and the Upton’s (a pair of bombs each) lead the Tigers over the Astros
ALDS: Red Sox over Tigers in 6, Mariners over Indians in 7
ALCS: Red Sox over Mariners in 7 as home team wins each game

AL Awards
MVP Mike Trout
Cy Young Justin Verlander
Manager Scott Servais
ROY Mitch Haniger, picking Benintendi is too easy (probably correct though) so I’ll go out on a limb
HR Champion Edwin Encarnacion 44
Comeback Jacoby Ellsbury

NL East
Washington- The Nats appear to be the best team in the an improving division
**Miami- Improved pitching staff allows Marlins to jump up one spot from 2016
Philadelphia- The Phils get help from their farm system throughout the year to stay ahead of Mets and Braves
New York- The Mets have talent but the health of their pitching staff is littered with red flags
Atlanta- The Braves will be competitive but still need more seasoning

NL Central
Chicago- The Cubbies are still a juggernaut and the rest of the Central division seems to be regressing
*St. Louis- The Cards play over their heads all year, it’s still not enough to catch the Cubs
Pittsburgh- The Buccos play inconsistently but it’s good enough to finish 3rd
Milwaukee- The Brew Crew is better than the Reds but only slightly
Cincinnati- The Reds make some improvements but not enough to stay out of the basement

NL West
San Francisco- Giants break their trend of making the post season every other year
Arizona- Mike Hazen and Torey Lovullo quickly bring the Rattlers up to respectability
Los Angeles- The Dodgers can’t buy their way to the top of the west this time
Colorado- The Rockies could be much better than expected but it’s a tough division
San Diego- The Padres make strides to catch their competitors but are not quite there yet

Post Season
Wildcard Game: Cardinals over Marlins
NLDS: Cubs over Cardinals in 5, Giants over Nationals in 6
NLCS: Cubs over Giants in 7

NL Awards
MVP Matt Carpenter
Cy Young Jameson Taillon
Manager Torey Lovullo
ROY Manuel Margot
HR Champion Paul Goldschmidt 41
Comeback AJ Pollock

World Series
In the epic World Series, almost one hundred years in the making, the Cubs and Red Sox play a 7 game series for the ages with the Cubbies repeating, solidifying Theo Epstein’s shrine in Cooperstown

Barry's 2017 MLB Predictions

I don't have a good track record with these predictions, so I'm going with a slightly more scaled back approach this year.  Last year's sleeper team ended up losing it's first 25 games or so (Sorry Minnesota), so let's see who's getting jinxed this year...

AL East:
1. Toronto
2. Boston*
3. Tampa
4. Orioles
5. Yankees
The Red Sox will have too many injuries to overcome, and their bullpen will be their downfall.  The pitching injuries are too much for the pitching to overcome the decrease in offensive production without Big Papi.  The Blue Jays are right there with the Red Sox talent wise and they seem to be a little more healthy and a little more experienced in the every day lineup.

AL Central:
1. Cleveland
2. Kansas City
3. Minnesota
4. Detroit
5. Chicago
This division may be the weakest in baseball, it is certainly the weakest division in the American League.  The Indians appear to be the class of the division, but I don't see any wild card teams coming out of this group.

AL West:
1. Houston
2. Seattle*
3. Texas
4. Oakland
5. LA Angels
This may be the toughest division in baseball.  The Astros didn't live up to expectations a year ago, but this year is a different story.  Seattle and Texas finish within five games of the division lead and contend for wild card spots all season with the Mariners pulling it out.

NL East:
1. Washington
2. New York*
3. Marlins
4. Philadelphia
5. Atlanta
This division has belonged to the Nationals in recent years and that will continue, but if the Mets starting pitching can stay healthy this year than they will contend all summer long.

NL Central:
1. Chicago
2. St. Louis
3. Pittsburgh
4. Cincinnati
5. Milwaukee
The Cubs may have the most young talent in baseball, but a world series hangover may be in store for them.  Look for them to get a real challenge from the Cardinals and the Pirates look to bounce back from a disappointing year last season with a veteran lineup and some good young pitching.

NL West:
1. LA Dodgers
2. San Francisco*
3. Arizona
4. Colorado
5. San Diego
The top three teams in this division will compete for playoff spots all summer long.  The Diamondbacks look to be improved under old Red Sox bench coach Torey Lovullo.

Playoffs:
AL Wildcard game: Boston over Seattle

ALDS: Houston over Toronto
             Boston over Cleveland
ALCS: Houston over Boston

NL Wild Card Game: New York Mets over San Francisco

NLDS: Mets over Cubs
Nationals over Dodgers

NLCS Mets over Nationals

World Series:  Astros over Mets in 7 games

AL Awards:
AL MVP: Carlos Correa
AL Cy Young: Chris Sale
AL Manager of the Year: John Gibbons
AL Rookie of the Year: Andrew Benintendi

NL Awards:
NL MVP: Bryce Harper
NL Cy Young: Noah Syndegard
NL Manager of the Year: Terry Collins
NL Rookie of the Year: Jameson Tallion

Brandon's MLB Predictions 2017

Here's a shot at predicting the MLB standings, playoffs, and awards for the 2017 season:

AL East
1. Boston
2. Toronto*
3. Tampa Bay
4. Baltimore
5. NY Yankees
The Rays surprisingly lead the AL east for most of the first half before fading in the second half and missing the playoffs entirely. The O's finally live down to projections for once. The Yankees are younger and more exciting, but have the worst pitching in the AL besides whatever is going on in Minnesota. The Blue Jays have too many bats and talented young arms to miss the playoffs.

AL Central
1. Cleveland
2. Kansas City
3. Detroit
4. Minnesota
5. Chicago
By far the worst division in the American League. Detroit joins the Twins and White Hose in the basement. The Royals have a resurgent run to wild card contention, but come up short. The Indians got better from 2016 and run away to win the division by 15 games.

AL West
1. Houston
2. LA Angels*
3. Seattle
4. Texas
5. Oakland
The Mariners are much more competitive in 2016, but come up short of the postseason again. The Rangers finally underperform their projection. The A's are a year or two away with another crop of young pitchers. The Astros fulfill their considerable potential and add either Jose Quintana, Chris Archer, or both to their rotation. The Angels finally have enough pieces in place around Trout to get back to the playoffs and make some noise.

AL Playoffs
Angels over Blue Jays in Wildcard game
Red Sox over Astros in 6
Angels over Indians in 7

Red Sox over Angels in 6

AL Awards
AL MVP: Mookie Betts
AL ROY: Andrew Benintendi
AL Cy Young: Corey Kluber
AL Manager: AJ Hinch
Comeback: Garrett Richards

NL East
1. Washington
2. NY Mets*
3. Atlanta
4. Miami
5. Philadelphia
The Mets pitching is so strong it doesn't matter who's hitting for them. The Braves comeback begins. The Nationals get it done despite Dusty.

NL Central
1. Chicago
2. St. Louis*
3. Pittsburgh
4. Milwaukee
5. Cincinnati
The Cubbies roll through the NL central again. The Cardinals haven't been to the postseason in a year or two, so they're due for a deep run. The Reds and Beers are awful.

NL West
1. Los Angeles
2. Arizona
3. Colorado
4. San Francisco
5. San Diego
The Giants have to finish down in 4th or 5th one of these years, right? Arizona has a ton of talent on that roster. The Rockies are all bash, again. Dodgers are the class of the division.

NL Playoffs
Mets over Cardinals in wildcard game
Cubs over Mets in 4
Nationals over Dodgers in 6
Nationals over Cubs in 7

World Series
Nationals over Red Sox in 7. It's now or never for the Nationals.

NL Awards
NL MVP: Bryce Harper
NL Cy Young: Clayton Kershaw
NL ROY: Dansby Swanson
NL Manager: Joe Maddon (after obligatory year-long media ball-washing)
Comeback Player: Matt Harvey