We can all be honest for a second and say that this MLB offseason has been a dud. It’s been as silent as it can be through January and baseball fans are yearning for something, really anything to happen. Come on, we have two of the biggest free agents to ever hit the market and they’re still sitting here unsigned. Hello? Is there any general manager in baseball who’s aware that Manny Machado and Bryce Harper are looking for new deals? Anyone?
So with that, what else do you have to do besides look at predicted stats for the upcoming season? New predictions for each MLB teams’ win total so I wanted to pick a few of them apart and see where I agree, and which teams I think could use some, you know, adjusting. So why don’t we roll on into this thing?
Philadelphia Phillies: 84.5 Wins
I don’t want to be rude here, but not a chance. This baseball team is on the cusp of being a potential powerhouse in the game. And do you know why I say that? Because they have been all talk this offseason about having cash to spend.
I know I already slightly talked about the fatigued MLB offseason, but the rest of these “lucrative” signings will all hinge on the landing spots of Bryce Harper and Manny Machado.
In my mind, Bryce Harper is already a member of the Philadelphia Phillies. They’ve been one of the core teams who has been rumored to be looking to sign Harper for nearly two years now as this offseason approached. Add him onto this team and I think they become slightly better than 84.5. Honestly, not much better because I’m in the camp that believes Bryce Harper is overrated, but what he doesn’t produce in batting average, he produces in pop. You’re almost guaranteed 30 or more home runs and pair that with their other power bat of Rhys Hoskins and the Phillies are all of a sudden a major power threat.
Also, with the addition of David Robertson to their bullpen and possibly more with Craig Kimbrel still sitting on the market, the Phillies have a chance to be a 90 win team. And as a little gift, they’re also rumored to be in on Dallas Keuchel. Add him into a rotation with Aaron Nola and Jake Arrieta–all dependant on which Arrieta you get–and all of a sudden Philadelphia has a starting rotation that should be feared.
Los Angeles Dodgers: 94.5
Staying away from the talent for the moment, I think to go to two consecutive World Series’ and failing to bring home the trophy both times has a strong chance at damaging the psyches of an organization.
As we here in Boston know, the Dodgers lost the 2018 World Series in difficult fashion to the Boston Red Sox who acted as if they didn’t deserve to be there. It was a World Series that seemed to be lightly contested and by game three, you almost knew that the Red Sox had the series locked.
On the talent end of things, the Dodgers didn’t do too much to really improve their team. Their most notable signing of the offseason to this point has been former Red Sox reliever, and Dodger killer, Joe Kelly but truthfully, how much will that affect your chances at reaching a title?
They also will enter the 2018 season without one of their spark plugs in Yasiel Puig who they lost in a trade to the Cincinnati Reds where they received a pitcher with an ERA over six and a top prospect at second base.
I don’t think the Dodgers did much too improve and sure, while they were one of the best power hitting teams in baseball in 2018, I don’t expect them to be over the 94 win mark.
Houston Astros: 96.5
When I predict under 96.5 wins for the Houston Astros, I don’t predict that it will be anything drastic. My belief is that in major league baseball, you almost need a “big three” like how it used to be in basketball, to succeed. However, when we’re talking about baseball, we’re talking about your starting rotation.
In losing Dallas Keuchel to free agency, while he didn’t have his best year in 2018, I think this does more damage to the team that a lot of people are overlooking.
You have a phenomenal one-two punch at the top between Justin Verlander–an aging Justin Verlander–and Gerrit Cole. Aside from that, numbers three through five in the rotation are just question marks.
You have Collin McHugh who has been a starter in the past–not a great one, but a starter nonetheless–who you used successfully out of your bullpen last season. Then there’s 25-year-old Josh James who is a total wild card with barely any experience at the major league level and then who? The team is already aware that they’ve lost Lance McCullers Jr. to Tommy John surgery for the 2019 season, so who do you throw at number five?
A win total of 96.5 is pretty high, even for the Houston Astros. And for a team who has so many question marks in their rotation, I don’t think they hit that unless they make at least one major move to fix these holes.
As far as their offense goes though, that will obviously be fine barring injury. They’ve seemed like a fragile team who can’t seem to stay healthy in the past though so keep an eye out for that. But most of their same lineup will be returning so their offense should show up in 2019.
New York Yankees: 95.5
With the way this team’s built, they’re going to put up another 100 win season and I don’t doubt that for a second.
From the bullpen to the bats in their lineup, the Yankees are going to be a wagon this season. What they lost in David Robertson–who I think went too quietly to the Phillies–they gained in Adam Ottavino.
Sure, I’ve shared my criticisms of Ottavino on Twitter. I think this past season caused him to become slightly overrated, but regardless, he strengthens that bullpen and makes it the best in baseball.
The Evil Empire’s biggest weakness is the starting rotation, which is really is pretty favorable in and of itself. The fact that they decided to bring back CC Sabathia baffles me though. Sure, at $8 million, having him at the back end of your rotation isn’t too absurd I guess, but I thought he would retire after this past season. Sitting on an ERA of 3.65 in 2018 is actually better than I anticipated. Again though, at age 38, I just didn’t expect him to make a return.
Aside from Sabathia, the addition of James Paxton makes the depth of the rotation its best asset. It’s at the point where opposing lineups can’t look at a day and say, “there’s at least one win” because each pitcher puts up respectable numbers. While I think some are overrating pitchers like James Paxton and JA Happ, I still have enough respect for them to give them their due credit and say that they help make that rotation notable. If anything, it’s certainly better than it was last March.
How could you look at this team’s offensive potential though and believe that there’s any sliver of a doubt that they’ll end up at anything less than 98 wins? When you take a look at their depth chart, it’s almost like you can’t find a position that doesn’t produce power.
At the moment, their weakest position offensively is clearly the shortstop position with newly signed Troy Tulowitzki filling in for the injured Didi Gregorious. And truthfully, once Gregorius returns from his Tommy John surgery, who knows how productive he will be? It’s unclear at the moment how long the shortstop will be out. But the anticipation is that he makes his return anywhere between June and late-August.
Boston Red Sox: 95.5
Last season, the Red Sox put on one of the most dominating performances that I have ever seen from a team from start to finish. Sure, we had our doubts from April through October, but they never took their foot off of the gas. They won a franchise record 108 games in the regular season and cruised through the postseason like it was soft butter.
Between an MVP season from Mookie Betts, an MVP-like season from J.D. Martinez, a dominant first half from Chris Sale, a year of winning over the fanbase by David Price, this team had it all. Well, they had it all except for a bullpen that anybody could trust. But in a sense, they had it all.
President of Baseball Operations, Dave Dombrowski, has done, well, nothing this offseason to really substantially change the looks of the ballclub. Aside from losing a streaky pitcher, who was a hero in the postseason and a New York Yankees assailant in Joe Kelly, and possibly Craig Kimbrel, the team doesn’t have too different of a feel to it. Oh, and I forgot about Drew Pomeranz but I’m sure most other people did too.
The offense is going to have the same, explosive numbers that it had through 2018 with the addition of a veteran in Dustin Pedroia who should finally be back from his knee surgeries. And honestly, it could be even better. With young players like Andrew Benintendi having another year under his belt, I’m half expecting him to have an even better season this year. And not to mention, Xander Bogaerts is a pending free agent come October 2019–approximately–so who says he doesn’t have a “contract” year where he tries to land that new, huge deal that he’s certainly capable of obtaining?
Of course though, being it that the Red Sox have Dave Dombrowski at the helm of personnel decision making, that means the bullpen will remain a major question mark. Losing out on Adam Ottavino and David Robertson, the Red Sox best option to bring in a closer is their old friend and heart medication’s best salesman, Craig Kimbrel. If they bring Kimbrel back on a short deal, I can live with that. That would sure up the back end of the bullpen and not create the necessity of a revolving door in the ninth inning. However, if Kimbrel and his camp won’t budge away from their original contract demands of 6-years, $100 million, I’ll live with that revolving door.
The Red Sox will still be a dominating force in 2019 and the AL East once again will be a ton of fun to follow. Just like the Yankees, I see this team touching about 100 wins.