Tagged: Mark Shapiro

Best Case Scenario Not Too Great

This is about when I normally would begin posting my outlook for the year ahead and predictions for standings. Normally. What a pleasantly quaint and welcoming word these days when we are left to wonder what the new “normal” is going to be… or when.

Of course, two things are obvious to the baseball fan. One is that the cancellation of half of Spring Training and the postponement of the regular season sucks. Like Mark Shapiro of the Blue Jays front office said, upon hearing of the delay of Opening Day, “I had a moment where selfishly I was pretty sad and I was like, ‘You’ve got to be kidding! There’s great things happening. I want to continue to watch these guys playing.”

Great things indeed. Toronto was sitting at 12-6 with two ties, behind only Philadelphia for the best spring record (Washington, last year’s champions were sitting at a dismal 6-11 for what its worth) and leading the Grapefruit League with 120 runs scored, or 6 per game. Their run differential was +25, behind only the Dodgers and Phillies. Last year’s Gold Glove candidate catcher who couldn’t hit, Danny Jansen, was hitting over .500 (!) and Matt Shoemaker, who was looking like an ace last year til he broke his knee in April, was looking like an ace once again. And on an on.

But Shapiro continued, “I caught myself after about 30 seconds” and that “our immediate concern should be the health and safety of our fans, players and staff.” And that’s the second thing that is obvious to us now.  Something we’re all coming to realize in a time when suddenly lineups at grocery stores full of empty shelves, empty restaurants and no public entertainment events of any sort are becoming routine.

By now, it seems sadly appaent there is no way we can get in a regular 162 game season in this season. Here’s my Best Case Scenario Suggestion, based on the concept that we’ll be able to get this new virus more or less corralled and under control within weeks here, rather than months.

The CDC suggested on the weekend that all events with more than 50 people be canceled for 8 weeks. That would take us to about May 9. Theoretically, MLB could then kick off the 2020 season, if things have cleared up by then.

However, with the restrictions in place, transportation becoming iffy and spring training camps mostly been shuttered, that would mean more than that – about 9 weeks- since players last played. It would be like mid-February all over. Players would need to get in a bit of training, and then need to play a handful of games still to get back up to speed and for the GMs to assess final roster moves.

So let’s say things are fine by May 9. My suggestion of a realistic, but accelerated schedule could look like this.

May 10-11: players return to Spring training camps (Florida and Arizona locations would be best, to facilitate easy transit for training games).

May 12-16 : players work out vigorously

May 17-23: spring training games, 7 per team.

May 23: teams finalize rosters

May 24: travel day

May 25 – Memorial Day. 2020 season begins, with all teams beginning to play.

July 14 – All Star Game in LA, as scheduled, but with only 13th, 14th off (ie games begin again on 15th, not 17th).

October 15 – 128 game schedule finishes, on a Friday night.

October 16-17 – wildcard games played this weekend

October 18-23 – division series

October 25 – November 2 – championship series

November 4 – 12 – World Series. Game 7, if necessary on Thursday night.

The 128 game schedule would consist of 12 interleague games per team, 6 games against each team in their own league but not division and 14 games each against divisional rival. In addition, to accelerate the schedule, each team would host one double-header during the season, (meaning 63 home dates instead of 64) perhaps on two league-wide Fan Appreciation Days. Also, road trips/homestands would be longer… generally 9-12 games at a time, to reduce numbers of travel days off.

Is that ideal? No, far from it. A normal 162 game schedule would be close to ideal. It would be odd to have an All Star game take place when teams have only played around 40 or so games a piece. Players won’t like a number of 10-12 game road trips (though they will be balanced with home stands of the same duration); owners won’t like having even one less home gate in an already abbreviated season. Questions will need to be debated and argued no doubt, over things like players’ service time (we would hope that if the schedule is 128, players on roster would get credit for full-season after 128 games), pay and so on. a shortened playoff timeframe would mean up to World Series, most days more than one game would be going on. And even with this sched, we’re potentially seeing mid-November baseball. By mid-November, overnight lows average below freezing in Minneapolis and snow can be flying in Denver so there’s a good chance that some games in places like those, or Chicago, or Cleveland, will be played in crappy un-baseball-like weather.

Is it ideal? No. But it might be the very best we can hope for now, for 2020.

A Jay Of Old And The Not-Old Jays

No matter which team wins the World Series, one thing is sure: it will be an “old” team, by baseball standards. That’s because the average age of the Washington Nationals is oldest of any MLB team – their players average 30.1 years old. The Houston Astros are third among the 30 rosters, averaging 29.8 years of age. In between them was Oakland, their players averaging 29.9. Following them, Atlanta and the New York Yankees, each 29.5 years old.

On the other hand, we have the Blue Jays. Their average age is 26.8 years old, 27th oldest out of the 30 teams, ahead of only Detroit, San Diego and Baltimore. Does anyone else see a trend there?

The five oldest teams in the game all made the post-season. They averaged 103 wins this season. Of the four youngest, none were better than 4th in their division, and they averaged 59.5 wins a piece. It should put an end to the theory that youth is what wins in baseball these days. Likewise it should make it clear what Toronto needs to do for next season … and it’s not bring in plenty more kids to make their major league debut!

Club president Mark Shapiro recently had a Q&A session with Toronto reporters and he advocated a baseball philosophy that I completely agree with. He told At the Letters that he wants a team with a good mix of players. He said he is “a big believer in looking at different segments of the player population. You need young players…talented young players that give you upside, tons of energy. You need players in their prime…you can bank on (them.) Then you need veteran players. Volatile, they get hurt a lot but they’re the guys that want to win, can handle the pressure better and they’re the guys who make the younger players better.”

Well said, Mark. Houston and Washington both prove those statements out this year as did the Blue Jays World Series teams all those years ago. (Anyone remember Dave Winfield, already in his 40s, and his contribution to the ’92 team?) The path for Toronto this off-season is clear. They already have the young talent, a lot of it in fact. Now is the time to bring in a star pushing 30 years old, or three; and perhaps find a savvy “gray beard” to add maturity to the dugout.

Make sure Ross Atkins is on the same page, Mr. Shapiro, of find someone who is that will do the job.

***

Speaking of front office types being replaced, what to make of the Astros? As you likely know they fired their Assistant General Manager Kevin Taubman while the GM, Jeff Luhnow, apologized for his behavior about a week after Taubman drew scorn for statements he made. Apparently after the Astros won the AL Championship over New York, during the clubhouse celebration Taubman repeatedly yelled “Thank God we got Osuna!” and added a few profanities. Roberto Osuna had given up a couple of runs in the final game but locked down the save, his third of the post-season to that point. The comments were apparently in the faces of three female reporters present and seemingly were mocking them and concerns over Osuna’s past.

Roberto Osuna, should you somehow have forgotten, is the star reliever who’s career in Toronto was derailed when he was charged with domestic violence early in the 2018 season. The Blue Jays knew a hot potato when they saw one, and dealt him to Houston (for another reliever, Ken Giles) while he was serving a suspension. Former MLB catcher Gregg Zaun told me (during Osuna’s suspension) that he figured fans would rake Osuna over the coals for a long time before forgiving him and that we’d not see him back on the mound during 2018.

Turns out Gregg was wrong about the season. Osuna was activated as soon as possible by the Astros, and actually pitched 23 games for them before season’s end. Zaun might have been more on the money when it comes to fan reactions and memories though. Although a few Astros players initially complained about the trade and Osuna’s presence, they apparently put differences aside and welcomed him in. He had a stellar 2019 season, being nominated for the “Rolaids Relief Pitcher of the Year” award. (It’s no proud moment that another of the nominees, Aroldis Chapman also had a suspension for a similar charge.)

It raises a number of questions for the game. First off, Osuna was suspended for 75 games although eventually criminal charges against him were dropped. The story suggests his girlfriend wouldn’t testify against him and actually wasn’t going to return to Canada to appear, leaving the “Crown” without much of a case. Baseball on the other hand, apparently did their own investigation talking to police and the victim and decided he was guilty by which they based their penalty, as they’d done before in similar cases including Chapman’s.

I’m a little uncomfortable with that but not entirely. They talked to appropriate people and felt there was an overwhelming suggestion of proof even if a criminal charge couldn’t be won in court. Lawyers will tell you the burden of proof is higher for a criminal case than a civil case so it seems reasonable that baseball should be able to discipline separately from court proceedings, just as they do with players found guilty of drug offences.

Then there’s Taubman. Exuberance and perhaps a bit of beverage-fueled silliness is to be expected in the clubhouse after a team clinches a championship, and an exec singing the praises of a star is a given. However, all present seem to suggest the context in this case was absolutely wrong and taunting the women present, perhaps even applauding Osuna’s violence in a backhanded way. I’m not sure if that moment alone should be enough to cost him his career, when the actual offense itself didn’t cost Osuna his. But I won’t shed any tears for him and am pretty sure should the Nationals pull off their long shot World Series win over Osuna’s Astros, “karma” is going to be a word we hear a lot!

For The Jays, Wait Until Next Year…Not ’til 2021

As the long and ultimately disappointing Jays season draws closer to its end, presenting Toronto fans with their second-straight losing year, there should be reason for optimism nonetheless. Positives can be seen on the field these days, as well as to the east in New England and to the south in Buffalo …and Atlanta?

While there’s a litany of things that have gone wrong with the Blue Jays this season – oft-injured veterans (Donaldson, Tulowitzki), failure of the core of the starting rotation (Stroman, Estrada, Sanchez) to pitch like major leaguers, let alone their former star selves, sloppy fielding at times – there are a number of bright spots. Primarily, the youth of the organization. Lourdes Gurriel Jr. is developing into a very good hitting young infielder and while Teoscar Hernandez hasn’t hit like many expected, it’s worth remembering it is his first full season at the big league level (although it’s also fair to point out that with him turning 26 in a few short weeks, he’s no longer in the category of “spring chicken.”). More recently, young pitchers Ryan Borucki , Thomas Pannone and Sean Reid-Foley have had flashes of brilliance on the mound, and while both have been a bit inconsistent, one can hope they will mature and adapt quickly. If even one of them takes a big step ahead next year and another merely repeats his ’18 production, the pitching next year should look more reliable than this year (currently Toronto starters rank 28th of 30 in MLB based on ERA). As it is, the trio are already showing better than their older veteran colleagues in the rotation anyway.

Danny Jansen is looking perfectly at home ascending to his role as “catcher of the future”. He was called up after a solid campaign at AAA in which he hit .275 with 58 RBI and a .390 on base percentage in 88 games. Scouts have pointed to his “impressive strides” in catching abilities this year although noting his throwing arm might never be more than average.

New Hampshire, the Jays’ AA afiliate just won their league championship, in no small part due to Minor League All Star Bo Bichette, ranked as the 9th best prospect in all of baseball. Bichette will turn 21 just before opening day next spring, and according to scouts shows “good range and instincts” in the infield and has “no limit to his offensive ceiling.” This year, he hit .286 with 74 RBI and good speed leading to 43 doubles and 32 stolen bases.

And of course, that pales beside baseball’s top overall prospect, and his teammate for the first half of the season, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. Even with a tiny drop off in production at Buffalo, Guerrero managed to win the “Pipeline Minor League Player of the Year” award as the best hitter in all the minors, with head-turning .381 average and .636 slugging percentages in 95 games. While scouts note that he’s not as great defensively (with “below average speed and range” playing third, but a strong “above average arm” which helps make up for the other) he still is deemed ready to take on big league competition by almost everybody except Jays management. Guerrero, is to remind you, still just 19 years old.

All this suggests that there is no reason for this year’s foirth-place, sub-.500 season to be a real worry nor a precedent for the 2019 season. In short, Toronto could and should compete next year.

Is such a jump realistic over the winter? Yes. Minnesota went from a last place 59 wins in 2016 to a wild-card earning 85 wins in 2017 without any huge roster overhaul. More impressive, this year’s Atlanta Braves have all but locked up their first division championship since 2013, after winning just 72 last year. Right now they’ve already won 11 more than that and they’re on pace to win 91 and have the second best record in the NL. And they’ve done that with no huge superstar additions… unless you count the addition of two of the best youngsters in the game.

The Braves are thriving this year with 21 year old second baseman Ozzie Albies in his first full year. After a mid-season callup in 2017,he’s solidified into one of the best two-way middle infielders around this year, with a .273 average, 22 homers and 39 doubles among his impressive numbers.

Even more eye-catching has been their rookie outfielder, Ronald Acuna Jr. The 20 year old who a year ago was in more or less the same spot as Guerrero Jr. is now, is a leading candidate for rookie of the year, with a constantly-rising .296 average, 26 homers and 14 steals so far in under 100 games. The pair have added some real depth to the lineup that relied too much on the bat of Freddie Freeman alone the past couple of years, and has brought excitement to the stands– and soldified the teams spirit, one might guess judging from their response when a Marlins pitcher chose to start the game by plunking him with a pitch. Throw in good, but not extraordinary, comebacks from veteran Nick Markakis and pitchers Mike Foltynewicz and Julio Teheran, and you have a team looking to play for the World series this fall- not sit at home. That should be the role model for Toronto.

It’s reasonable for the Jays not to want to be in on bidding potentially hundreds of millions of dollars on free agents Manny Machado or Bryce Harper this winter. They don’t need to in order to compete and give the fanbase of one of baseball’s biggest and most loyal markets a chance to celebrate next year. Even increasing payroll is likely unnecessary, what with Josh Donaldson off the roster and payroll. That frees up some $23 million a year, which certainly will allow for a few smart , mid-range free agents (particularly a starting pitcher or two to replace departed JA Happ and under-achieving Marco Estrada) to be signed. Add a few trades to perhaps clear out the over-crowded middle infield (I would think both Devon Travis and Yangervis Solarte would draw interest and are entirely expendable given the presence of A. Diaz, the emergence of Gurriel as a real talent, Troy Tulowitizki still under contract and aiming to return next year, newly-acquired Brandon Drury and of course, the expectations of both Bichette and Guerrero at the big league level in ’19). To say that it’s impossible to compete in the division because of New York and Boston , or that it’s going to be another “5 year plan” as JP Ricciardi used to preach in the early part of this century, is disingenuous and insulting to the team and its fans. Yet that seems to be the suggestion of big boss Mark Shapiro and GM Ross Atkins, with the former directly suggesting to the Toronto Star that 2021 is the earliest fans should expect a winning team. If that is the way they truly feel, perhaps they should move along- back to their beloved Cleveland , or over to the Mets who’ve been rumored to want Shapiro at least – and let the Jays be run by people with confidence and imagination. Rather like the Braves organization- run by Atkins’ predecessor, Alex Anthopoulos.

Trade deadline clouds Jays blue sky

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There’s a lot to like at this point for us Jays fans. The team, while in third place, is only a game out of top spot, has the best run differential in the division (and at +85 runs, are second in the league to Cleveland), have a couple more home games than road ones left on the schedule and starting with the unofficial kick-off to Canada’s summer (Victoria Day) have been humming along at a remarkable .654 pace. In addition, Josh Donaldson is starting to look like a repeat MVP winner, Edwin Encarnacion leads the world in RBIs and the starting rotation has been astonishingly solid for the most part. As of the All Star Break, they led the AL by averaging 6.4 innings a start and are a big part of the reason only Houston and Cleveland have allowed fewer runs.

Add in Troy Tulowitzki’s slow return to Colorado-like form at the plate (.162 average with 5 HR in first 31 games this year, .301 with 10 HR in next 35) and the expected return of Jose Bautista, looking to impress in time for the free agent jamboree in winter, from the disabled list within days. Aaron Sanchez has gone from a question mark to a name in any conversation about Cy Young winners this season. With the team ahead of where they were last year at this time, the Jays look to be in great shape to return to the post-season.

But the skies aren’t all jay-blue. A few menacing clouds mar the horizon. For instance, as the Toronto Sun‘s Ken Fidlin points out, the 2014 Jays were in first place in July and ended up playing out the string watching the action from the sidelines come October. And while they are ahead of last year’s pace, they are also in a division with a resilient Baltimore team this year and a Red Sox squad that is a night-and-day turnaround from last year’s mediocre one. While the starting rote has been very solid as an entity, Marcus Stroman has taken a step or two back from the last couple of seasons and there are concerns over just how many more innings both he and All Star Sanchez can tack on with both at or near career highs already. Then there’s that bullpen, which outside of sophomore closer Roberto Osuna, has been more of an open window than a slammed door on leads.

One more thing that’s not to like this year is the trade deadline. Fans already know not to expect another blockbuster trade – let alone two- to revitalize the team like we saw last year. First off, new boss Mark Shapiro is loathe to trade prospects for short-term gains. Secondly, and maybe more importantly, there would appear to be no David Price-calibre superstars available this season. At least 18, possibly as many as 21 teams think they are still in the running for the post-season meaning the buyers are going to outnumber the sellers. The teams that have thrown in the towel have largely done so for a good reason- lack of significant talent! The few big names who seem to be up for grabs are stars, but not ones likely to be significant upgrades for Toronto. The likes of Carlos Gonzalez, Jay Bruce, Ryan Howard and Josh Reddick are all players who could add a significant piece of the puzzle to some teams, but would add little to Toronto’s lineup. (Worth noting though that some scribes still report that the Jays are talking to Cinci about Bruce who very nearly landed with us in the off-season, but there seems to be little apparent sense to such a move.) Pitchers , let alone high-quality ones, are much scarcer this July than the previous couple of trade deadlines. Ergo, the trade of a Scott Carroll or Mike Montgomery being treated as a big deal in the last couple of days.

Another starter would be a boon to Toronto, to allow for Sanchez to have a few missed starts or even be bumped to the bullpen to minimize wear and tear, or to give insurance against Marco Estrada’s back acting up more this fall. But that’s easier said than done. Julio Teheran of Atlanta is probably the biggest, and best, name available.

Teheran would be a great addition to the Jays. In his fourth year as a regular with the Braves, he is a textbook example of why a won-lost record isn’t that ideal a way of measuring a pitcher’s worth. Though just 3-8 this year, in 19 starts he’s got a stellar 2.79 ERA, has limited the opposition to a .203 average and has a 112 K’s to just 26 BBs. His lifetime ERA is 3.33. Problem is of course, with that kind of upside other teams will pay attention too and this year almost every team still in contention (even the Dodgers one would expect now that Clayton Kershaw is likely done for the year) wanting to upgrade their starters, it’s unlikely Toronto will win a bidding war. Other teams have more, and better, prospects to offer and a front office more willing to bet big on trades.

More reasonable options might be the likes of lefty Tommy Milone of Minnesota or Andrew Cashner of San Diego. Neither offers anything like the upside of Teheran, but neither is going to cost a busload of prospects either. Milone was not bad last year (9-5 , 3.92) but this year has 10 starts, of which he’s gone beyond 6 innings only once. He’s given up 7 HR in 49 innings which wouldn’t project well to being in Rogers Centre, and sits at 3-2 with a 4.71 ERA. Cashner is expected to be traded to Texas anytime now, according to Fox Sports, but even if he isn’t his 4-7, 5.05 record in pitcher-friendly SD doesn’t sound promising. His 1.48 Whip this year is very similar to last year’s 1.44, when he fiished at 6-16. Hard to see that type of record being an upgrade over Drew Hutchison for the Jays.

The field of available bullpen arms, where the need is greatest for Toronto, is also limited. The Yankees have alledgedly decided to OK a trade of either Aroldis Chapman, who we know really ‘brings the heat’ to a battle or Andrew Miller. Chapman, with his record of domestic abuse, would be a poor addition PR-wise and would also be the typical type of “rent a pitcher” Shapiro hates. Miller might deserve more consideration. The lefty had 36 saves last season but has been demoted this year with New York, but has still been outstanding. He has 70 Ks in about 41 innings and a 1.31 ERA, and would be a huge upgrade over struggling Brett Cecil in middle-relief for the Jays. However, one wonders if the pinstripes would want to trade a star to their divisional rival, especially when their own team is still over .500.

One reasonable suggestion to bolster the team pitching comes from looking west- and backwards. San Diego’s Carlos Villaneuva , whom we remember well from his years with Toronto, has to be available and has been typically decent this year. He’s appeared 37 times, has a good 44:8 strikeout to walk ratio and has pitched 52 innings – a lot for a reliever, but consistent with his role here when he was a “long man” in the ‘pen or occasional starter, Troubling though is his 5.19 ERA, which has skyrocketed lately. He’s allowed earned runs in 5 of his last 6 games, in which time his ERA has jumped by nearly 2. My take on him is that he would be a worthwhile addition, if he passes a physical that ensures his recent slump isn’t injury-related. The Padres could probably let him go for the likes of a Matt Dominguez or Dalton Pompey, both slogging along well in Buffalo , boasting big league experience but lacking an obvious opening in Toronto’s lineup.

So, even if we do manage to add someone like Carlos Villaneuva to boost the pitching , it would seem that if roster improvements are needed, most will have to happen from within. The outlook there isn’t spectacular, but isn’t bad either. Southpaw Scott Diamond has been good in Buffalo this year, leading the team with 112 innings and has posted a 3.62 ERA despite a losing 6-9 record. he’s only walked 19 and has MLB experience, so he could be a good safety net for the rotation. However, he’s not currently on the Jays 40-man roster so calling him up would necessitate dropping someone off. Meanwhile there’s also the versatile, ambidextrous Pat Venditte as well as left-handed Chad Girodo (1.86 ERA in 16 games) to call on down at AAA to add to the bullpen.

The outlook is good- but August and September aren’t likely to be a Blue Jays cakewalk like last year. Mark Shapiro and his lackey Ross Atkins have a lot on the line and how they handle the next ten days or so will go a long ways towards how the public will perceive them in years to come.

The year in review

 

2015 is now mere hours away from completion and while the year has had its ups and downs, for us Blue Jays fans it has to be considered a success. A long, patiently waited for success. All we can hope for is that Rogers and Mark Shapiro will make a resolution to make 2016 even better and jump through that window of contention while it’s still open.

Granted it was disappointing that Toronto ended up bowing out in the championship series, but all-in-all, the first 90+ win year and first playoff entry since magical 1993; the league MVP and highest attendance in decades more than compensates. The 2015 season showed us several important things. Jose Bautista can compete and deliver in the big games just as well as meaningless ones. Alex Anthopoulos did have, or at least had developed, a good sense of talent. Marco Estrada and Chris Colabello are ample proof of that, not that AA’s prowess benefits the team anymore, sadly. It also showed that John Gibbons can certainly punch his weight as managers go. Perhaps no Connie Mack or Billy Martin, Gibbons kept the good ship Jay upright through difficult early months and then showed he had the know-how to take a good team and run with it. He is another illustration of a shrewd Anthopoulos move which looked a bit dubious at the time.

the year also showed that Toronto , and Canada in fact, love baseball. The 3 million fans in the stands, the high TV ratings coast-to-coast, the fact the team was more searched for domestically on Google than Trudeau, Jenner or ISIS all speak to the excitement the Jays generated when the fans were finally given a team to be excited about. This bodes well for the future if only the owners pay attention and try to build on that excitement rather than did up the skeletons of JP Ricciardi’s playbooks and “five-year plans.” What’s more, the season showed that baseball loves Toronto as well. No longer can we Canucks think about complaining that baseball and its people don’t pay attention to the blue-and-white because of their location. Having a player voted MVP- ahead of Golden Boy Mike Trout- and recipient of the Hank Aaron Award , not to mention the fact that the league-sponsored ESPN special on the best plays of the season (which ranked 3 Toronto plays among the ten best of the year in all of baseball) put that myth to rest. In the eyes of MLB, Toronto is every bit as valid a city, and organization, as New York, Chicago or St. Louis.

So now we look ahead to February and Dunedin, and that opening Sunday in Tampa a few weeks later. It goes without saying that now with David Price gone and a weaker bullpen, the Jays hopes don’t look quite so bright. The Red Sox and Yankees have gotten better- as much as I dislike Chapman from everything we hear about him, he will certainly give NY a bullpen to rival Kansas City’s- while Toronto has at best trod water. All is not lost however; remember Toronto was the best in the division; Boston particularly have a lot of catching up to do to compete. Merely standing pat is disappointing to fans but may still yield a team that can win. If Marcus Stroman develops into the pitcher they think he can be, or JA Happ continues to pitch like he did in late summer in Pittsburgh, with the bats of Bautista, Donaldson, Encarnacion and crew this team could still better their 93 wins and take their playoff experience and grow from it – as the Royals did in 2015.

As a reminder and encouragement to those who feel all is lost before the season begins, I offer a little look at early 2015 and how things were expected to play out. I picked Boston to win our division and Toronto to finish right at .500. I also thought the White Sox and Mariners could win their divisions. I might be loopy therefore, but so too are the more experienced pundits. Athlon Sports springtime annual picked Boston, Detroit and LA Angels as division champs and predicted a Washington World series as did so many others. USA Today got ten out of 30 clubs in the right position at year’s end, although they did manage to pick our team to win the AL East. Furthermore, of their panel of 7 expert writers , not one predicted KC or the Mets to win their division let alone meet in the World Series. Likewise, none of the 7 predicted Josh D for MVP or got either of the Cy Young winners. It all goes to show, predicting and speculating is fun, but there’s a reason they actually take to the diamond for 162 games.

2016 should be a good one! Enjoy the ride, and while I’m at it, let me wish you a happy new year away from the ballpark as well as when at it!