How the Toronto Blue Jays Can Fix 2014

Jays RHP R.A. Dickey
Jays RHP R.A. Dickey

After acquiring R.A. Dickey, Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle, Josh Johnson, and Melky Cabrera through trades and free agency prior to the 2013 season, it would have been easy to assume that the Toronto Blue Jays would become contenders in the American League East – immediately. With Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion already on board offensively, the Jays possessed a dynamic offense, and the added pieces to the rotation and the top of the order seemed like enough to help Toronto find their way back to the early-1990’s glory days.

Instead, the Jays went 74-88, 23 games back of the Boston Red Sox, battling Justin Bieber for the title of Biggest Canadian Train-wreck of 2013.

Johnson is now in San Diego and the Jays look to be struggling to develop a solid rotation around Dickey and Buehrle, as Brandon Morrow, who has battled numerous injuries and ailments over the last couple of seasons, Esmil Rogers, J.A. Happ, Drew Hutchison, Kyle Drabek, and Todd Redmond will battle to fill out the remainder of the Jays rotation in 2014. For that reason, the Jays will likely need to win games by outscoring the opposition.

How can the Jays fix their already present issues?

Jays 2B (?) Brett Lawrie
Jays 2B (?) Brett Lawrie

First, the club needs to move Brett Lawrie back to second base. Ryan Goins, Brent Morel, and Maicer Izturis are currently listed on the club’s depth chart for second, and Lawrie would obviously be a huge offensive upgrade. Lawrie played 249 games at second in the minors and did a nice job fielding the position. If he were to stay healthy and live up to his lofty expectations, he would produce at an All-Star level offensively, likely becoming a fantasy darling and very valuable within the sabermetric community due to his ability to run – and his athletic ability should allow him to thrive as an up-the-middle player, once again.

Obviously, third base would then be open if the Jays moved Lawrie back to second. Edwin Encarnacion played the position horrendously in Cincinnati, but Toronto could move Jose Bautista back to third. Bautista has played all of 21.1 innings at third since 2011 and he posted negative value at the position in his career, but with such low expectations from the current options at second base, Bautista’s negative influence at third could still be smaller than what the Jays will likely receive from Goins, Morel, and/or Izturis.

Jays OF Moises Sierra
Jays OF Moises Sierra

To be honest, one of the major reasons that this move makes sense is because of the outfield options that the Blue Jays have. Anthony Gose and Moises Sierra could provide value to the club if either player was given a full-time opportunity, and both warrant a longer look than what they will likely be given due to the current lineup alignment.

Jays OF Anthony Gose
Jays OF Anthony Gose

Gose is just 23 and has two years of experience at the major league level, as he has 342 plate appearances in Toronto. Gose has over 900 plate appearances at Triple-A, though, and while he has a lot of swing and miss in his game, he seems to have a lot of similarities to Michael Bourn with a lesser hit tool. Tremendous speed and defensive skills will be his calling card, but he does have some power, as well. Giving him a bigger role in 2014 will allow the Jays to have a better idea of options on-hand for the 2015 offseason, as center field will be very weak and the club could lose Colby Rasmus on the open-market.

Sierra, 25, has shown some power at the major league level, posting an .827 OPS (126 OPS+) in 35 games in 2013, including 14 walks in 122 plate appearances after walking all of 17 times in 422 minor league plate appearances last season. The power seems legit, though, as Sierra ripped 46 home runs in 1,395 minor league plate appearances since the start of 2011. He profiles nicely as a corner outfielder, and, while he doesn’t have elite speed, he seems to understand how to utilize the skills that he does possess (77 stolen bases in his minor league career). Maybe he was just bored in the minors and it led to his horrific approach?

Of course, maybe the offense wouldn’t have to be manipulated in any way to improve the team’s chances if the Blue Jays signed another starting pitcher or two. Considering that the Jays’ 9th overall and 11th overall picks in the 2014 MLB Draft are both protected, why weren’t they more aggressive in the top-flight pitcher market? They would, essentially, be giving up a second round pick for a player who is tied to compensation, and their win-now approach, evident from their trades last offseason, warrants that type of investment.

Free Agent RHP Ervin Santana
Free Agent RHP Ervin Santana

It wouldn’t be too surprising for the Jays to settle on a one-year deal with Ervin Santana, just to show some kind of effort this offseason. A better option, however, would likely be Cuban right-hander Odrisamer Despaigne, whose unfamiliarity with the league would at least allow for early success – if he were dropped immediately into the rotation. Other options at this point are not good – Joe Saunders, Barry Zito, Clayton Richard, Jeff Niemann, Jason Marquis, Jeff Karstens, Jair Jurrjens, Johan Santana, and Jon Garland are all that remain of major league free agent starters, while Brett Myers “could” be tried in that role once again after failing horrifically due to injuries with the Cleveland Indians in 2013.

Outside of changing the team’s offensive alignment or signing a free agent starter, the Blue Jays appear to be heading towards another last place finish in the AL East. The Yankees and Orioles made some interesting additions, the Rays re-upped with James Loney and have their core intact, and the Red Sox are only the defending champions. After mortgaging the clubs future (Noah Syndergaard, Travis d’Arnaud, Justin Nicolino, Henderson Alvarez, Adeiny Hechavarria, and Jake Marisnick) to make a run in 2013, the quiet offseason should be disappointing to fans. After altering the competitive window, the club is now just out there in the land of mediocrity – not strong enough to truly contend and not bad enough to win the Carlos Rodon sweepstakes in 2014, and whoever the top player in 2015 will be sweepstakes, as well.

Marcus Stroman is nearly ready for the rotation, but the Aaron Sanchez‘s and Roberto Osuna‘s are too far away for the Jays to count on in 2014. After dealing so many of their near-ready prospects last year, the only way to salvage the season is to give Moises Sierra and Anthony Gose a larger role, while increasing the team’s ability to outscore their opposition.


Fantasy Baseball S.O.S.

reyesIf you’re like me, you may as well give up right about now. Sure, we’re only in the third week of the Major League Baseball 2013 season, but injuries are destroying my fake hopes and dreams for my fake teams right now. I play in a dynasty league at Ultimate Fantasy Sports (, still teams available if you want a challenge), where you have a 25-man roster and 7 minor league spots. You can also have up to 10 players on your disabled list, which is nice for stashing players coming off of surgeries. Regardless, this is where I am right now for my two teams that matter the most to me:

Courtesy: Dayton Daily News
Courtesy: Dayton Daily News

Team One

Starting pitchers (start five): Jered Weaver, Johnny Cueto, Roy Halladay, C.J. Wilson, Ryan Dempster, Jeremy Hellickson, Ubaldo Jimenez, and Roberto Hernandez;

Relief pitcher (start one, make it a closer): Aroldis Chapman;

Catchers (start two, one of them is a backup): Carlos Santana and Wilson Ramos

Corner Infielders (start one 1B, one 3B, and one 1B/3B): Ike Davis, Pablo Sandoval, Lyle Overbay, Adam Dunn, Chris Johnson

Middle Infielders (start one 2B, one SS, and one 2B/SS): Brandon Phillips, Ben Zobrist, Yunel Escobar, Gordon Beckham

Outfielders (one LF, one CF, one RF, two backups): Jason Kubel, Dexter Fowler, Jose Bautista, Carl Crawford, Denard Span, Michael Saunders

Utility (start one as a DH and one backup DH), where I have Dunn at DH and Johnson as my backup DH right now.

With this club, Weaver could be out for two months, Cueto just left his start Saturday with tricep soreness, Ramos pulled his hamstring and will miss a couple of weeks, Beckham broke his hamate bone and is out for two months, Kubel is out with a strained left quadricep, and Saunders is out with a sprained right shoulder. Add in Halladay’s ineffectiveness, Bautista and Crawford coming back from serious injuries, and Jimenez and Hernandez being terrible options, and you have a looming disaster.

Moore1Team Two

Starting pitchers (start five): Jordan Zimmerman, Matt Moore, Brett Anderson, Trevor Cahill, Tom Milone, Josh Beckett, Edinson Volquez, Jhoulys Chacin, and Matt Harrison;

Relief pitcher (start one, make it a closer): Jim Johnson;

Catchers (start two, one of them is a backup): J.P. Arencibia and Kurt Suzuki

Corner Infielders (start one 1B, one 3B, and one 1B/3B): Joey Votto, Manny Machado, Brandon Belt, and Lyle Overbay;

Middle Infielders (start one 2B, one SS, and one 2B/SS): Brandon Phillips, Asdrubal Cabrera, Yunel Escobar, and Mark Ellis;

Outfielders (one LF, one CF, one RF, two backups): Andy Dirks, Dexter Fowler, Carlos Beltran, Cody Ross, Carlos Gomez, Franklin Gutierrez, Ryan Ludwick, and Avisail Garcia;

Utility (start one as a DH and one backup DH), where I have David Ortiz on the disabled list and Travis Hafner at backup, with Belt manning the starting DH spot right now.

Harrison is out with a back issue and the Ludwick injury was about as big for my team as it was to the Reds, as my LF options were so weak. I knew Ortiz and his heels would be an issue this season, while I hoped that Garcia would win a spot on the Tigers opening day roster after a solid showing late in 2012 before he had heel issues, as well. This is my first year with this team and I was focused on getting some solid young players. During the spring, Belt looked like a steal, and I feel like Machado could become a superstar. I gambled on Fowler in both leagues and it has paid off to this point, and I traded for Votto in this league because of the homer in me (Go Reds!).

Nah, nah, ne, boo, boo...what are you going to do?

Needless to say, injuries have been absolutely awful for a lot of fantasy baseball teams this season. While you can draft depth, it is nearly impossible to overcome significant injuries in any fantasy sport format. Dynasty leagues make those injuries hurt a bit longer because someone out there is the proud owner of Alex Rodriguez, rather than just waiting to draft him late in a one-year league draft; however, the list of injuries seems to be getting out of control right now. Look at the players on each team’s disabled list (as of Saturday, 4/13):

Arizona Diamondbacks: Jason Kubel, Didi Gregorius, Willie Bloomquist, Adam Eaton, Daniel Hudson;

Atlanta Braves: Freddie Freeman, Cristian Martinez, Jonny Venters, Brandon Beachy, Paul Janish, Brian McCann;

Baltimore Orioles: Brian Roberts, Wilson Betemit, Steve Johnson, Tsuyoshi Wada;

Boston Red Sox: John Lackey, Craig Breslow, Franklin Morales, David Ortiz, Ryan Kalish;

Chicago Cubs: Kyuji Fujikawa, Scott Baker, Darwin Barney, Arodys Vizcaino, Matt Garza, Ian Stewart;

Chicago White Sox: Gordon Beckham, John Danks, Leyson Septimo;

Cincinnati Reds: Sean Marshall, Ryan Ludwick, Nick Massett;

Cleveland Indians: Lou Marson, Scott Kazmir, Frank Herrmann, Blake Wood, Josh Tomlin;

Colorado Rockies: Edwar Cabrera;

Detroit Tigers: Avisail Garcia;

Houston Astros: Travis Blackley, Josh Fields, Alex White, Fernando Martinez;

Kansas City Royals: Danny Duffy, Felipe Paulino;

Los Angeles Angels: Kevin Jepsen, Erick Aybar, Jered Weaver, Ryan Madson, Andrew Taylor;

Los Angeles Dodgers: Zack Greinke, Ted Lilly, Scott Elbert, Hanley Ramirez;

Miami Marlins: Casey Kotchman, Jose Ceda, Logan Morrison, Alfredo Silverio, Henderson Alvarez, Nathan Eovaldi, Joe Mahoney, Jeff Mathis;

Milwaukee Brewers: Chris Narveson, Aramis Ramirez, Mark Rogers, Jeff Bianchi, Taylor Green, Corey Hart, Mat Gamel;

Minnesota Twins: Cole De Vries, Tim Wood;

New York Mets: Frank Francisco, Shaun Marcum, Jenrry Mejia, Johan Santana;

New York Yankees: Cesar Cabral, Curtis Granderson, Derek Jeter, Mark Teixeira, Michael Pineda, Alex Rodriguez;

Oakland Athletics: Yoenis Cespedes, Scott Sizemore, Hiroyuki Nakajima, Adam Rosales, Fernando Rodriguez;

Philadelphia Phillies: Delmon Young;

Pittsburgh Pirates: Brandon Inge, Jeff Karstens, Francisco Liriano, Charlie Morton, Chase d’Arnaud;

San Diego Padres: Casey Kelly, Cory Luebke, Logan Forsythe, James Darnell, Chase Headley, Joe Wieland;

San Francisco Giants: Tony Abreu, Brett Pill, Eric Surkamp;

Seattle Mariners: Michael Saunders, Josh Kinney;

St. Louis Cardinals: Rafael Furcal, Jason Motte, Chris Carpenter;

Tampa Bay Rays: Juan Carlos Oviedo, Jeff Niemann, Luke Scott;

Texas Rangers: Justin Miller, Matt Harrison, Neftali Feliz, Colby Lewis, Martin Perez, Joakim Soria;

Toronto Blue Jays: Jose Reyes, Dustin McGowan, Drew Hutchison, Brett Lawrie, Michale Schwimer, Kyle Drabek, Luis Perez;

Washington Nationals: Christian Garcia;

weaverThat would be 122 players currently on the disabled list, which is nearly five teams worth of shelved talent. Outside of all of the injured players, you have to add in the struggling players to the frustrations of current fantasy baseball owners. Matt Kemp, Allen Craig, Victor Martinez, Nick Swisher, Pedro Alvarez, Jason Kipnis, Ichiro Suzuki, Giancarlo Stanton, and how about all of those proud Mike Trout owners, not the start you were seeking, out of him or any of the others named, right?

I can’t remember a time where the early season leaders consisted of so few “normal” superstars. Chris Davis and John Buck…enjoy your moment in the sun.

It has truly been a strange start to the 2013 MLB season. Injuries and struggles have a lot to do with thatin the early going, and while it’s easy to wave the white flag, remember that there are only 151 games remaining this year. Suck it up and deal with it…like a Cubs fan does every year.

2013 Predictions and Useless Guesses

I did this last year and it was interesting, as they were mostly useless guesses as opposed to valuable predictions. However, with days until real games begin, I figured that I would join in the fun of putting this out there so that we can all look back and see just how wrong I was when October rolls around. Let the incorrectness begin!

AL East Champion


Toronto Blue Jays

I’m buying the upgrades to the Jays roster. A great improvement to the pitching staff, and just in time to pounce on an AL East division where the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox don’t look like major factors. While the Rays and Orioles look to maintain success without a huge payroll increase, the Jays will utilize their awesome blend of speed, power, and rotation depth to take the crown in the East.

AL Central Champion


Detroit Tigers

Like the Jays, the Tigers will impress with their strong rotation, and while the club plays scetchy, at best, defense, the presence of Prince Fielder and Miguel Cabrera is enough to make them strong contenders in a weak, yet improving, AL Central. The signing of Torii Hunter and the return of Victor Martinez will only improve the offense, while the club will hope that Austin Jackson continues his tremendous improvement and that Andy Dirks can hold down left until Nick Castellanos or Avisail Garcia prove themselves ready. The bullpen issues are something to be concerned about, but someone out of Bruce Rondon, Phil Coke, and Joaquin Benoit will step up.

AL West Champion


Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

How do you improve a lineup that had Albert Pujols and Mike Trout in it a season ago? Well, by signing Josh Hamilton, of course! The Angels could be the best offensive team in baseball, but they’ll need to be, after seemingly taking the “we-will-outscore-your-team-because-we-don’t-have-pitching” way of building a roster. After losing out of Zack Greinke, the club traded for Tommy “my shoulder is gonna rip off of my body at any moment” Hanson, signing Joe Blanton, and trading for Jason Vargas, who could benefit from continuing his career in another pitcher-friendly ballpark. The Halos have enough offense to overcome their pitching shortcomings, though, and could easily manage to score about 6-8 runs per game.

AL Wild Cards

Rangers Rays

Texas Rangers and Tampa Bay Rays

The Rangers may have lost Josh Hamilton, but they still have a dynamic offense, led by Ian Kinsler and Adrian Beltre. While it is highly unlikely that Lance Berkman can truly fill the shoes of Hamilton, he is just a season removed from revitalizing his career in St. Louis. Can he do it again? Well, if he can’t, the club will need more from their rotation, which is solid, but not nearly a lock to be great as others in the AL. Yu Darvish is the anchor, but with Matt Harrison‘s low strikeout rates, one has to wonder if he can maintain the 32 wins and 3.34 ERA that he has put up the last two seasons. Derek Holland needs to bounce back, as well, if Texas is to be taken seriously. If they don’t get the right breaks, this could easily be the Oakland Athletics, once again.

The Rays gambled on cashing in two seasons of James Shields for more young talent, acquiring a great haul from the Royals. While the rotation will miss the strength and innings that Shields brought, David Price, Matt Moore, Jeremy Hellickson, and Alex Cobb will be solid, while Roberto Hernandez and Jeff Niemann fight over the No.5 spot. The Rays have to get some production from Desmond Jennings and Yunel Escobar up the middle, while hoping that Evan Longoria stays healthy until Wil Myers can get called up. They need power in the lineup and on Opening Day, Longoria and Ben Zobrist seem like their only hope. Pitching and defense has worked for the last several years, and it will again in 2013.



Jose Bautista, OF, Toronto Blue Jays

While everyone will focus on the huge trades that brought the club Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle, Josh Johnson, R.A. Dickey, and others, Bautista will be the spark plug to the offense due to his tremendous power and ability to get on base. With his wrist fully recovered and a dynamic lineup around him, opposing clubs will be forced to pitch to the slugger, which will result is a season that should resemble his 2010 and 2011 seasons, with overwhelming power and run producing statistics.

AL Cy Young


Justin Verlander, RHP, Detroit Tigers

To say that Verlander is the best pitcher in baseball would be an understatement. He turned 30 years old in February and since 2008, he has gone 89-48 with a 3.28 ERA over 1,154.2 innings, and while those numbers have been outmatched by only CC Sabathia in the American League (91-39 with a 3.11 ERA), Verlander seems to have a pretty tight grip on the best pitcher in MLB title for the moment. While Yu Darvish and David Price begin to catch up to him, Verlander will hold control it for another season, with another 20-win season and an ERA under 3.00 for the Tigers.

AL Manager of the Year


Terry Francona, Cleveland Indians

While he actually has very little to do with the drastic changes that the Indians have undergone this offseason (that honor belongs to GM Chris Antonetti), Terry Francona will get a lot of credit for the Indians posting their first winning season since their 2007 ALCS  appearance. Manny Acta never seemed capable of keeping successful starts going over the 162-game season, but Francona’s resume proves that he is capable of that, regardless of the 2011 Boston Red Sox collapse. While the Tribe won’t make the playoffs, they will be very competitive and, possibly, be a nuisance to the Tigers in the AL Central for most of the season. For that, Francona will deserve the honor for making a Cleveland sports franchise matter again.

AL Rookie of the Year


Wil Myers, OF, Tampa Bay Rays

He won’t start the season with the major league club, but Myers will be up in June, once the Rays can guarantee that he won’t gain Super Two arbitration eligibility, taking over the left field job from Matt Joyce, while manning right field when Ben Zobrist goes to second or short. Myers exploded in the minors last season, hitting an absurd .314/.387/.600 with 37 home runs between the Royals’ Double-A and Triple-A affiliates. While he could work on his contact rate (he struck out 140 times in 522 at-bats), Myers is a much needed offensive force for the Rays, who need someone besides Evan Longoria and Zobrist to produce consistently. Expect a .260/.320/.460 line with nearly 20 home runs if Myers gets the call in June, which should be good enough to win the AL ROY with Jurickson Profar waiting for a shot in Triple-A for the Rangers and so few players getting an opportunity early in the 2013 season.

NL East Champion


Washington Nationals

Bryce Harper will be better than he was in 2012 and Stephen Strasburg won’t have an innings limit. Really, this is all that you need to know, but with the addition of a leadoff hitter in Denard Span and another fantastic arm in Rafael Soriano to add to Tyler Clippard and Drew Storen, the Nationals are about as good as it gets in MLB for a lock to go to the playoffs. Add in Gio Gonzalez, Jordan Zimmerman, Ryan Zimmerman, and Adam LaRoche, and you have a team capable of winning 95-100 games. Yes…they’re that good.

NL Central Champion


Cincinnati Reds

What do you get when you take an outstanding team without a leadoff hitter and you add a guy with a lifetime .386 on-base percentage in that spot? You get a team with a very bad defensive outfield that plays in a hitters paradise and the 2013 version of the Cincinnati Reds. Shin-Soo Choo could be a liability in center, but his offensive skills fit perfectly into the Reds lineup. Brandon Phillips and Joey Votto will need some help from Choo and Ryan Ludwick, but with a very good starting rotation and great depth in the bullpen with the move of Aroldis Chapman back to closer, the Reds will battle the Nationals for the best record in MLB in 2013.

NL West Champion


Los Angeles Dodgers

Like the Dodgers, I’m buying. The addition of Zack Greinke was huge, but the trade with the Boston Red Sox that brought Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford, and Adrian Gonzalez, along with their massive contracts, to the Dodgers will begin paying dividends this season. While the Hanley Ramirez thumb injury is a slight issue to start the season, Matt Kemp and Clayton Kershaw are the right kind of awesome to overcome any issues like that. The Dodgers have great pitching depth, unless they make a trade in the next few days, to overcome any further arm issues for Chad Billingsley, and their bullpen is lights out, with flame-thrower Kenley Jansen sharing end-game duties with Brandon League…until Don Mattingley sees what everyone else does and puts Jansen there full-time. This team is dangerous if they stay healthy. The pitching is deep, but an injury to Crawford, Kemp, or Andre Ethier will cost them the division to the San Francisco Giants.

NL Wild Cards



Atlanta Braves and St. Louis Cardinals

The Atlanta Braves have an incredible roster. If Chipper Jones had hung around one more season, they may have had a chance at another World Series title for the old man. Unfortunately, Jones finally retired and third could be the clubs only weak spot, as Juan Francisco and Chris Johnson will share the job in 2013. The addition of B.J. Upton and Justin Upton will make the offense even more dangerous, as Jason Heyward continues to become one of the best players in baseball. Freddie Freeman got his eye issues worked out, so he will also improve in 2013, while the club will rely on a deep rotation, that will only get better when Brandon Beachy returns in June or July. By then, the Braves could have a very difficult choice, especially after seeing Julio Teheran thrive this spring, as someone will have to be removed from the rotation if the club is healthy. As far as the bullpen goes, one name is all you need: Craig Kimbrel.

The Cardinals continue to stick around and be contenders, even after losing Albert Pujols a season ago and, potentially, losing Chris Carpenter for the entire 2013 season. Adam Wainwright should re-establish himself as an ace this season, while Allen Craig will show that he is an MVP-caliber player if he would just stay healthy. Speaking of health, could fantasy baseball nerds be any more excited for the first of Carlos Beltran‘s injuries in 2013? If you don’t know why, you need to look up super-prospect Oscar Taveras. The Cards seem to have an endless supply of young arms, as well, as Shelby Miller, Trevor Rosenthal, Michael Wacha, and Carlos Martinez arrive and establish themselves in the majors.



Joey Votto, 1B, Cincinnati Reds

Votto will do one of two things: 1) Post an on-base percentage approaching .500 (.474 in 2012) while never seeing a pitch worth hitting, or 2) Post numbers close to his 2010 MVP season (.324/.424/.600, 37 home runs) while earning his 2nd MVP. The Reds are going to have Votto hitting No.3 again, and with Shin-Soo Choo and Brandon Phillips hitting in front of him, Votto will easily exceed his career-high 113 RBI this season. With his knee healthy and a tremendous lineup and hitter’s paradise as a home ballpark, Joey Votto will win the NL MVP in 2013.

NL Cy Young


Madison Bumgarner, San Francisco Giants

You can take Stephen Strasburg and Clayton Kershaw, while I go off the board (or rocker) to choose Madison Bumgarner for NL Cy Young. After tiring at the end of the 2012 season, Bumgarner knows that he has a lot to prove. Add on the fact that his WHIP fell from 1.21 in 2011 to 1.11 in 2012, and you can see that the 23-year-old left-hander can not only miss bats (191 K’s in each of the last two seasons), but he isn’t allowing many hits or walks. With a pitcher-friendly ballpark and loads of expectations on him due to his fall-off late last season, Bumgarner will show that he shouldn’t be overlooked due to Matt Cain and Tim Lincecum being on the same roster.

NL Manager of the Year


Bud Black, San Diego Padres

There isn’t a whole lot to like about the Padres roster. They don’t have a superstar on the front of a video game, they don’t have a player that shows up to the MLB Fan Cave with an infamous twitter account, but they have an interesting team and a better manager. Bud Black can get a lot out of the club that he has. While the team will continue to struggle to score runs, at times, Chase Headley could provide enough power to get runs in bunches, and Yonder Alonso could thrive with the fences being moved in at Petco. Solid speed and gap power throughout the lineup will make the Padres a surprise team in 2013, and while the rotation is more patchwork than well thought out, the bullpen is tremendous, as it always seems to be. If the Friars can get anything out of Andrew Cashner, Clayton Richard, and Eric Stults, they’ll be a team capable of 82-85 wins, which isn’t playoff worthy, but worth giving Bud Black an award for.

NL Rookie of the Year


Oscar Taveras, OF, St. Louis Cardinals

You don’t get called a left-handed version of Vladimir Guerrero and get overlooked, and Taveras is that special of a talent. Like I mentioned above, once Carlos Beltran gets hurt (as in it IS going to happen), Taveras would, more than likely, get the call. Not only a Beltran injury, but an under performing Jon Jay could even be replaced by the super-prospect, as Taveras played 93 games in center for the Cards Double-A affiliate in 2012. Taveras will get enough at-bats to be valuable and he could do that as a fourth outfielder once June rolls around, but once he is in St. Louis, he won’t be leaving town for several years. A pure hitter in every sense of the label.

World Series Prediction

Washington Nationals defeat Los Angeles Angels, 4-2

Random, Bold Predictions

There is no rhyme or reason here, just as the title says:

  1. Bryce Harper will hit over 30 home runs in 2013, while posting an OPS near .940.
  2. Mike Trout won’t hit 30 home runs again, but he will steal 50 bases.
  3. Jose Reyes will stay healthy, even while playing on turf, and terrorize the AL East while stealing over 50 bases.
  4. Ike Davis will hit over 40 home runs after hitting 32 in 2012 while hitting just .227.
  5. Mat Latos will become the ace of the Cincinnati Reds, posting better overall numbers than Johnny Cueto and winning 20 games in 2013.
  6. Mike Minor proves that his second half from 2012 (6-4, 2.16 ERA, 0.87 WHIP over 87.1 IP) wasn’ a fluke, as he becomes the Braves best starting pitcher in 2013.
  7. Jordan Zimmerman has a more impressive 2013 season than Stephen Strasburg and Gio Gonzalez and he will no longer be overlooked in a fantastic Washington rotation.
  8. Brandon Belt continues hitting like he has all spring, ripping 25 home runs after having a power outage in the earlier stages of his career (16 in 598 at-bats).
  9. Troy Tulowitzki stays healthy and benefits from Carlos Gonzalez and Dexter Fowler having All Star seasons to hit 40 home runs, making all of those fantasy baseball players that took him in the first round feel like the smartest men alive.
  10. Allen Craig becomes an All Star and hits over .300 with 30+ home runs and 100+ RBI.
  11. Carlos Santana hits 30+ home runs and will have the kind of hype that Buster Posey has right now during the 2013-2014 offseason.
  12. Jason Heyward finishes 2nd in NL MVP voting to Joey Votto, posting his first 30 HR/30 SB season for Atlanta.
  13. Domonic Brown keeps the Phillies left field job all season and posts a .270/.380/.450 line with solid production across the board. Philly fans hit Ruben Amaro, Jr. with batteries for not trusting in him sooner.
  14. Zack Greinke can’t handle the Los Angeles pressure and spotlight and misses time due to his anxiety disorder.
  15. Chris Sale pitches 200 innings and proves doubters about his bony frame and drastic innings increase in 2012 wrong.
  16. Drew Stubbs (remember him?) hits 20 home runs and steals 50 bases, revitalizing his career.
  17. Rick Porcello wins 17 games with a 3.20 ERA while striking out 180 batters…all because he began using his four-seam fastball for the first time in his career.

Breakout Stars

These guys are about to go bonkers in 2013. Don’t say I didn’t warn you…(obvious names not listed, i.e. Harper, Brown, Braun, Ike Davis)

Alex Cobb, RHP, Tampa Bay Rays

Matt Moore, LHP, Tampa Bay Rays

Brett Anderson, LHP, Oakland Athletics

Andrelton Simmons, SS, Atlanta Braves

Yoenis Cespedes, OF, Oakland Athletics

Greg Holland, RHP, Kansas City Royals

Salvador Perez, C, Kansas City Royals

Chris Parmelee, OF, Minnesota Twins

Anthony Rizzo, 1B, Chicago Cubs

Dayan Viciedo, OF, Chicago White Sox

Dan Straily, RHP, Oakland Athletics (Bartolo Colon won’t last forever)

Eric Hosmer, Kansas City Royals

Michael Saunders, OF, Seattle Mariners

Prospects to Watch

This has nothing to do with the Top 100 Prospects that I put out in December, but you will find some familiar names and others that will be players to keep an eye on, especially if they’re on your favorite team or if you’re in a keeper fantasy baseball league.

Jonathan Schoop, INF, Baltimore Orioles

Dorssys Paulino, INF, Cleveland Indians

J.R. Graham, RHP, Atlanta Braves

Yordano Ventura, RHP, Kansas City Royals

Chris Archer, RHP, Tampa Bay Rays

Bubba Starling, OF, Kansas City Royals

Yasel Puig, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers

Archie Bradley, RHP, Arizona Diamondbacks

Jonathan Singleton, 1B, Houston Astros

Xander Bogaerts, INF, Boston Red Sox

Austin Hedges, C, San Diego Padres

Joey Gallo, INF, Texas Rangers

How Good Are the Blue Jays?


You can’t buy championships…Well, maybe you can. The New York Yankees have tried to and the Los Angeles Dodgers and Angels seem to think that it is possible. The Blue Jays are taking a new approach. They seem to be trading for AND buying a championship, acquiring an All-Star team this offseason (and their contracts) to become immediate contenders in the American League East.

Toronto is absolutely loaded. Starting pitching…upgraded. Bullpen…upgraded. Offense…upgraded. Manager…well, they brought back a former manager, John Gibbons, so that is questionable.

Still, you have to like what GM Alex Anthopoulos has done, and if you’re a Blue Jays fan you have to love it.


The starting rotation is stacked. If the club rotates right-handed, left-handed, the rotation is: R.A. Dickey, Mark Buehrle, Josh Johnson, Ricky Romero, and Brandon Morrow. Morrow could be the No. 2 starter for most teams, possibly the No. 1 starter for many other. Morrow’s BB/9 IP have fallen from 4.1 in 2010 to 3.0 in 2012, when he posted a 2.96 ERA, also the lowest of his career. If Johnson stays healthy, he is capable of winning 20-games, having won 15 games in 2009, the last time he pitched 200 innings. Romero was 42-29 with a 3.60 ERA in his first three seasons (2009-2011) before imploding to a 9-14 record and 5.77 ERA in 2012. Buehrle has only tossed 200 innings in the last 12 seasons, winning 170 games in that time, and Dickey…a Cy Young in 2012 and a 39-28 record with a 2.95 ERA since 2010, when he seemingly became a totally different pitcher from his 22-28 record and 5.43 ERA that he posted in his previous seven seasons.

The bullpen is solid, as well, providing an end game from the Jays dominant rotation. Casey Janssen was dominant as a closer in 2012, Darren Oliver (if he doesn’t retire) has been one of the best left-handed relievers in baseball over the last seven seasons, Brandon Lyon is a former closer turned set-up man, Sergio Santos is coming back from shoulder surgery, and Esmil Rogers, Aaron Loup, and Brad Lincoln still have potential to become great bullpen arms.

Cabrera, Reyes, and Bautista - the new core. Courtesy:
Cabrera, Reyes, and Bautista – the new core. Courtesy:

The additions of Jose Reyes and Melky Cabrera provide, quite possibly, the best leadoff and No. 2 hitter in baseball, setting things up perfectly for the powerful Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion. Brett Lawrie will continue to establish himself as one of the top third basemen in baseball, starting in 2013, as his power, speed, and athleticism make him an elite talent. Adam Lind and Colby Rasmus have shown glimpses of talent in the past and they are both young enough to rebound and become great contributors, even All-Star talents. The club has a lot of power at catcher with J.P. Arencibia around, who now has a clear future with Travis d’Arnaud going to the Mets in the Dickey deal.

While you can look at all of the deals that sent talent like d’Arnaud, Jake Marisnick, Justin Nicolino, Henderson Alvarez, and Noah Syndergaard away from the club, the Blue Jays still have a lot of young talent in the system. Lawrie, Moises Sierra, Anthony Gose, and David Cooper will contribute at the major league level in 2013, and great prospects like Aaron Sanchez, Daniel Norris (who will surely rebound from a disastrous 2012), Marcus Stroman, Roberto Osuna, Sean Nolin, and D.J. Davis still within the system.

While the Boston Red Sox try to rebuild without making a huge splash in free agency and the New York Yankees aim to get under the luxury tax threshold by 2014, the Toronto Blue Jays have just made their move…or moves…to become a huge threat to the entire divison and the league. Could Toronto be battling Tampa and Baltimore as the Red Sox and Yankees try to determine how they are going to build in the future? The future is now in Toronto and the Blue Jays could approach 100-wins with their upgraded roster in 2013.

Jeff Loria Has to Go!

Marlins Owner, Jeff Loria; Courtesy: Yahoo Sports

After gaining ownership in 2002, the Marlins have done some crazy stuff with their payroll.  Look at their payroll and payroll ranking since Jeff Loria became owner in 2002:

2002: $ 41,979,917 – 25th

2003: $ 45,050,000 – 25th

2004: $ 42,143,042 – 25th

2005: $ 60,408,834 – 19th

2006: $ 14,998,500 – 30th

2007: $ 30,507,000 – 29th

2008: $ 21,811,500 – 30th

2009: $ 36,834,000 – 30th

2010: $ 47,429,719 – 26th

2011: $ 57,695,000 – 24th

2012: $ 118,078,000 – 7th

Keep in mind that in 2006, when the payroll was under $15 million, the Marlins received $31 million in revenue sharing…POCKETING $16 million while Loria was demanding a new stadium to help draw fans, while he wasn’t giving the fans a team worth seeing AND still making money.  Shocking.  The new stadium…publicly funded at nearly 75 percent.  Nice job, Loria.

After using the expected revenue from the new stadium, and possibly, the money that he pocketed over the years in revenue sharing, the Marlins added quite a bit of payroll prior to the 2012 season when they signed Jose Reyes and Mark Buehrle. The club had Hanley Ramirez under contract at shortstop and moved him to third base before moving him to the Los Angeles Dodgers, while adding to Josh Johnson and Anibal Sanchez in the rotation with Buehrle before dealing Sanchez to Detroit on July 23.

After one season of fielding a potential contender, Loria is working on another fire-sale, which could, potentially, leave the Miami Marlins with a payroll of around $30 million in 2013.

The reported deal between the Marlins and the Toronto Blue Jays:

Marlins deal SS Jose Reyes, RHP Josh Johnson, LHP Mark Buehrle, INF Emilio Bonifacio, C John Buck, and $4 million to the Blue Jays.

Blue Jays deal SS Yunel Escobar, RHP Henderson Alvarez, INF Adeiny Hechavarria, C Jeff Mathis, minor league OF Jake Marisnick, and minor league pitchers Justin Nicolino and Anthony Desclafani.

Courtesy: Sports Illustrated

Reyes was due $96 million between 2013 and 2017 and either a $4 million buyout or $22 million in 2018, Josh Johnson was due $13.75 million before reaching free agency after the 2013 season, and Mark Buehrle was due $48 million between 2013 and 2015.

After finishing 69-93 in 2012, the group that the Marlins had put together for the inaugural season in Marlins Park was deemed a disaster. While the Boston Red Sox dealt Carl Crawford, Adrian Gonzalez, and Josh Beckett to the Dodgers to free up payroll to start over, the Marlins seemed to make this deal to go an entirely different route. A total rebuild and focus on youth with a minimal payroll, and this is happening one year after the team signed Reyes and Buehrle while STILL trying to add Albert Pujols along with them, before losing out to the Angels. Could you imagine if this deal was going down with Pujols in it, too?

Jeff Loria has made the Marlins look like a complete joke, once again. However, bigger than that, he played the city of Miami into funding a new stadium for him to continue fielding a losing team while pocketing revenue from teams that actually spend money and create revenue by winning and having a desire to win.

Jeff Loria is bad for baseball. Jeff Loria is possibly worse than any performance-enhancing drug, the lack of replay, or Scott Boras. There are only 30 teams in Major League Baseball and there is certainly a millionaire or billionaire out there who could provide Miami and Marlins’ fans with a better, more respectable product. Bud Selig should step in.

Miami Marlins: Shark Bait

Stick a fork in them, maybe even a kabob. The Miami Marlins have collapsed in June the way that the Atlanta Braves and Boston Red Sox waited until September to collapse in 2011. The Fish are unable to be poked back to life and may as well be flushed down the NL East toilet, as their floundering has allowed the other strong teams in the division to leave them in the sand.

The Marlins are 8.5 games out in the NL East, having sunk to a 5-18 record in June after going 21-8 in May and creating enough buzz to hook even fans from South Florida into paying for baseball games; however, it hasn’t been meant to be. The team is hitting .224/.291/.373 in June and the pitching staff has a 5.88 ERA and has allowed a .282/.349/.453 line to opposing hitters. The combination of those stats leave the Marlins with the third worst run differential in all of baseball, though they haven’t been awful, 34-40, thanks to their incredible May.

With all due respect to Logan Morrison, you can blame him for a lot of the Marlins’ struggles. Hitting just .228/.307/.386, LoMo was a big part of Miami’s future. Maybe ownership knew something when they sent him down last season, as his 2011 line of .247/.330/.468 wasn’t all that impressive either. At 24 (he turns 25 in August), Morrison should be a huge part of the Marlins future, but his struggles are cause for concern, but not as much as…

Jose Reyes. That flopping that you hear isn’t just the Marlins, it’s the flop of an overpaid, overhyped player underperforming. Reyes wasn’t worth the contract and he has lived up to concern by posting a .273/.350/.386 line. While he is getting on base and stealing bases (16 steals), he isn’t doing enough to warrant a huge deal. While he is making “just $10 million” in 2012, he isn’t anywhere near his .877 OPS of his contract year of 2011.

Brad Barr/US Presswire

The starting pitching has posted a quality start in just 65% of their starts and have a 3.98 ERA overall, but they just aren’t scoring enough runs. A team that features Jose Reyes, Hanley Ramirez, Giancarlo Stanton, Morrison, and a solid Omar Infante, should be able to score runs. The incredible amount of speed should be capable of creating runs on its own, but with Ramirez and Stanton in the order, it should only make it that much easier.

Whatever the issue is for the Marlins, they need to get it straightened out. There is a lot of underperforming and a lot of struggling to place blame upon, but the roster is too talented to continue to struggle the way that they have in June. With the NL East being so competitive, there isn’t much time to waste getting back into it before the Miami Marlins have a trade deadline talent cast-off.


Fantasy Baseball Rankings: Shortstops

Overall rankings will consist of the player’s value in a points format, earning points for each H, R, 2B, 3B, HR, RBI, basically a formula of Total Bases + RBI + Runs = Total Value.  Here are the rankings for 2B, projections are italicized:

Shortstop is getting to be extremely shallow in fantasy.  It is filled with injury risks and aging veterans.  Gone are the days of several superstars, which has been gone since ARod moved to third and Nomar was traded to the Cubs.

1. Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies

.302/.372/.544, 36 2B, 2 3B, 30 HR, 105 RBI, 9 SB in 537 AB

.313/.394/.559, 38 2B, 3 3B, 34 HR, 112 RBI, 4 SB in 589 AB

There is one elite player at this position and Tulowitzki is it.  For all of the hype that has gone to Jose Reyes and his mega-Free Agency this offseason, he isn’t the difference maker that Tulo is.  He is a power-hitting SS and he will be the only SS with 100 RBI in 2012.  If you don’t get him, you’re going to settle for the rest.

2. Starlin Castro, Cubs

.307/.341/.432, 36 2B, 9 3B, 10 HR, 66 RBI, 22 SB in 674 AB

.298/.347/.461, 38 2B, 7 3B, 16 HR, 71 RBI, 18 SB in 647 AB

Castro only had 207 hits in his first full season.  He is probably not going to be a long-term hit machine, as he is going to fill into a player with more power, possibly even moving to third base.  He is more of a certainty than others who come after him, like…

3. Jose Reyes, Marlins

.337/.384/.493, 31 2B, 16 3B, 7 HR, 44 RBI, 39 SB in 537 AB

.301/.365/.449, 29 2B, 8 3B, 4 HR, 36 RBI, 21 SB in 467 AB

Reyes is an excellent player and a game-changing talent, but he isn’t on the field enough to be taken seriously.  While he’s been on the field more than someone like Rickie Weeks in his career, you have to wonder how his speed game is going to hold up as he ages, as it hasn’t held up in his youth.  The constant nagging injuries will take away from his value, as will the spacious ballpark that he is going to be playing in from his already non-Tulo power stats.  With that being said, he could prove me wrong and repeat what he did in 2011 for several years and be elite…but why would you count on that?

4. Asdrubal Cabrera, Indians

.273/.332/.460, 32 2B, 3 3B, 25 HR, 92 RBI, 17 SB in 604 AB

.281/.341/.459, 36 2B, 2 3B, 18 HR, 81 RBI, 13 SB in 587 AB

Well…that came out of nowhere.  You have to wonder if this power-hitting, team carrying type of player is here to stay.  He was injured for the previous couple of seasons.  Can he make adjustments, though?  He hit just .244/.310/.419 in the 2nd half of 2011.  He’s still well-above average with a decline, but it won’t be as drastic as some believe.

5. J.J. Hardy, Orioles

.269/.310/.491, 27 2B, 30 HR, 80 RBI in 527 AB

.259/.314/.486, 24 2B, 29 HR, 76 RBi in 564 AB

Remember the scoring.  He isn’t a top five SS in most leagues due to the average and lack of running ability; however, his power is very, very valuable at his position.  Hardy is playing in a bandbox still and he will continue to hit homeruns, post low averages, and strikeout with Mark Reynolds.

6.  Jhonny Peralta, Tigers

.299/.345/.478, 25 2B, 3 3B, 21 HR, 86 RBI in 525 AB

.287/.338/.479, 28 2B, 2 3B, 22 HR, 86 RBI in 563 AB

Peralta isn’t a SS…but the Tigers gave up on defense for the offensive power.  They may have the worst left side of the infield in the history of baseball in 2012, but fantasy baseball doesn’t count range factor and errors.  He’ll have plenty of opportunities to drive in runs and should build on his successful 2011 season.

7.  Jimmy Rollins, Phillies

.268/.338/.399, 22 2B, 2 3B, 16 HR, 63 RBI, 30 SB in 567 AB

.280/.340/.411, 26 2B, 4 3B, 13 HR, 68 RBI, 24 SB in 584 AB

J-Roll still has another good year in him, but he is of the same pedigree as Jose Reyes – speed + injuries = worthlessness.  Buyer beware, but the Phillies are counting on him to build off of 2011 as the age of their offensive core increases quicker than the National debt.

8.  Yunel Escobar, Blue Jays

.290/.369/.413, 24 2B, 3 3B, 11 HR, 48 RBI, 3 SB in 513 AB

.284/.376/.422, 27 2B, 4 3B, 14 HR, 56 RBI, 5 SB in 562 AB

Escobar is a real pain in the ass.  He got traded from Atlanta due to attitude issues and seems to not care at times.  If he bothered putting out maximum effort, he could rank as high as 3rd on this list.  He has quite a lineup around him, so if he puts it all together, don’t be shocked.

9.  Derek Jeter, Yankees

.297/.355/.388, 24 2B, 4 3B, 6 HR, 61 RBI, 16 sB in 546 AB

.307/.364/.408, 29 2B, 4 3B, 11 HR, 65 RBI, 13 SB in 573 AB

The Captain isn’t as bad as people think.  He still posted a decent AVG and OBP last season, though the SLG got ugly quick.  He isn’t getting any younger, but he still has the lineup around him and the ability to play every day.  He should rebound a bit.

10.  Elvis Andrus, Rangers

.279/.347/.361, 27 2B, 3 3B, 5 HR, 60 RBI, 37 SB in 587 AB

.287/.356/.394, 32 2B, 4 3B, 7 HR, 64 RBI, 42 SB in 593 AB

Andrus is still very young and is in a fantastic lineup and ballpark.  He has a solid eye and should improve upon his 75.5% SB rate.  The power is lacking, but he does enough small things to get you points.

11.  Erick Aybar, Angels

.279/.322/.421, 33 2B, 8 3B, 10 HR, 59 RBI, 30 SB in 556 AB

.268/.313/.406, 29 2B, 5 3B, 7 HR, 48 RBI, 24 SB in 498 AB

If Trumbo is going to play third and Mike Scoscia is still in charge, Maicer Izturis is going to steal Aybar’s playing time from time to time.  Slight drop-off due to that decrease.

12.  Alexei Ramirez, White Sox

.269/.328/.399, 31 2B, 2 3B, 15 HR, 70 RBI, 7 SB in 614 AB

.264/.325/.403, 30 2B, 1 3B, 18 HR, 67 RBI, 5 SB in 598 AB

13.  Stephen Drew, Diamondbacks

.252/.317/.396, 21 2B, 5 3B, 5 HR, 45 RBI, 4 SB in 321 AB

.269/.328/.403, 24 2B, 3 3B, 11 HR, 61 RBI, 3 SB in 461 AB

Those Drew boys never stay healthy.  If he comes back healthy, he could post solid numbers, but he may have issues staying in the lineup due to his last name.

14.  Zack Cozart, Reds

.324/.324/.486, 2 HR, 3 RBI in 37 AB

.259/.327/.403, 21 2B, 4 3B, 14 HR, 49 RBI, 6 SB in 498 AB

Sleeper like crazy here.  He isn’t going to post an incredible average, but Cozart has some pop and plays in a great offense and ballpark.  He could do even more than the numbers listed above…or…Dusty Baker’s veteran-loving-ass could play Paul Janish over him…ugh.

15.  Sean Rodriguez, Rays

.223/.323/.357, 20 2B, 3 3B, 8 HR, 36 RBI, 11 SB in 373 AB

.241/.336/.374, 26 2B, 5 3B, 12 HR, 51 RBI, 19 SB in 471 AB

The Rest: Ian Desmond, Nationals; Alex Gonzalez, Brewers; Alcides Escobar, Royals; Jed Lowrie, Astros; Dee Gordon, Dodgers; Jason Bartlett, Padres; Ryan Theriot, Giants; Rafael Furcal, Cardinals; Cliff Pennington, A’s; Mike Aviles, Red Sox;