To everyone to that can look outside and see snow on the ground, did you know it’s spring? With the “arrival” of “spring” and the blooming of flowers and songbirds singing so on so forth, spring means the arrival of baseball season. With opening day only a couple of weeks away teams are prepping their rosters for the next 162.
A season removed from the Cubs winning it all, they are poised to defend their title. Although the Cubs are not the only team going for it this year. The Red Sox, Dodgers, Nationals, and Cleveland Indians are front-runners to finish atop their conferences. Every team has it’s own story this season and here are a few you might want to follow.
A Red Sox – Cubs World series , odds wise, is a strong possibility.
(Globe Staff Photo/Jim Davis)
Ignoring the fact that two of the Sox pitchers are having injury concerns, they’ve got a good chance win the east. The Cubs are running it back after their first championship since Henry Ford released the Model-T. They will be starting this year with Dexter Fowlerand Aroldis Chapman, short of last years best record. Although, the Cubs have made efforts to fill those gaps and have increased their bullpen depth this offseason.
The Red Sox also added Ace Chris Sale this winter and will be getting a slimmed down Pablo Sandoval back. Sale is one of the best starting pitchers out there with Rick Porcello and David Price. On paper it’s potentially the deadliest 1-3 out there with a line up to back it up. Assuming Price only misses this first month, the Sox should still be able to manage with Sale and Porcello holding it down. With the Cubs rotation getting up there in age, look for some regression from John Lackey and Jon Lester slowing down this Cubs dynasty.
(Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports)
Can D.C convince Bryce Harper to stay?
(Alex Brandon/Associated Press)
The Nationals have been fiddling with being in and out of the playoffs for years. Between injury plagued seasons and first and second round exits in the playoffs, the Nationals have yet to live up to the hype. Now two years removed from winning the NL MVP at only 22, Harper is set to become a free agent after the 2018 season. Multiple reports have linked his name to the New York Yankees. Consequently there are reports that Harper and his agent Scott Boras are seeking a deal north of 40 million a season. As a result this would make Harper the highest paid player in baseball. Even without the price tag, the Nationals will have multiple teams vying for Harper and willing to pay retail.
At this point the Nationals must contend now or risk losing Harper. The Yankees payroll continues to open up as players retire* and young players rise up from the minor leagues. With a young roster, Harper is still going to be just 25 when he can sign a new deal. The Nationals should be weary of the looming pinstripes.
Can the Mets rotation take them back to the World Series?
(Photo by Joshua Sarner/Icon Sportswire)
When they are healthy (which is the key), the Mets have the best rotation in baseball. Unfortunately, we have not been able to see what that rotation looks like as someone is seemingly always getting hurt. Last year, Steven Matz added himself to the list of potential top of the line starting pitchers in the Mets rotation. Consequently they are lacking in the batting ability to match it. If the Mets want a shot at getting back to the Series, they’ll need to improve their lineup. Tim Tebow is coming but Mets need something more than a miracle. If they’re interested, check to see if the Diamondbacks would let go of Paul Goldschmidt for Matz or Matt Harvey.
Will the Dodgers finally do something?
Presently the Dodgers have made the playoffs four straight years. For any team that would be an accomplishment. Although, time is a luxury the Dodgers don’t have. At the start of the 2017 season, they will have led the league Payroll since 2014 according to Sportstrac. In that same span the next highest team paid a combined 201 million less. Having a payroll over 300 million in 2015 and 280 million last year, the Dodgers have paid top dollar for less than spectacular results.
Still, the Dodgers have a team with a shot every year and simply keep missing. Clayton Kershaw has had his struggles in the playoffs well documented. Unfortunately for Dodgers fans, the team has been able to put together one solid team around Kershaw. This season they’ll have an odd collection of talent around Kershaw. Last year Joc Pederson and Corey Seager stole the show out in L.A. The Dodgers will be relying on a make-shift rotation, which they may face significant adversity because of it.
Furthermore, the Dodgers should have a definitive direction. Like the Nationals, the Dodgers have pieces but not quite what you want from a contender.
Other notable Storylines:
Will the Orioles or the Blue Jays make another step this year and take advantage of the Red Sox while David Price is out?
With the Addition of Edwin Encarnación can Cleveland recover from a grueling world series?
How bad are the Angels going to be this year, and what could that mean for Mike Trout?
How many people actually know there is a team in Tampa?
Should Cubs fans be thanking Evan Longoria?