MLB 2015 Divisional Preview: American League Central

By Raimundo Ortiz (@AroundtheMundo

The 2015 MLB season is near, so it’s time to start projecting how things will shake out. Let’s get right to it, here is the American League Central preview. The teams will be listed in order of how I expect them to finish.

Detroit Tigers (90-72)

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MLB 2015 Divisional Preview: American League West

By Raimundo Ortiz (@AroundtheMundo

The 2015 MLB season is near, so it’s time to start projecting how things will shake out. Let’s get right to it, here is the American League West preview. The teams will be listed in order of how I expect them to finish.

Oakland Athletics (88-74) 

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MLB 2015 Divisional Preview: National League West

By Raimundo Ortiz (@AroundtheMundo

The 2015 MLB season is near, so it’s time to start projecting how things will shake out. Let’s get right to it, here is the National League West preview. The teams will be listed in order of how I expect them to finish.

Los Angeles Dodgers (94-68)

How is he not the most exciting player in baseball?

I don’t think this year’s Dodgers are quite as good as the squad that won 94 games last year, but it’s still a frightening opponent any day of the week. They have the best pitcher in the game in Clayton Kershaw, and a former Cy Young behind him in Zack Greinke. The rest of the rotation is solid as well, and that will be the strength of this club in 2015.

The lineup took a hit when it lost Matt Kemp within the division. He was a big bopper for them in 2014, and losing a player capable of hitting 30 home runs is tough to replace. The man taking his spot will be Joc Pederson, a big time outfield prospect who smacked 33 home runs and stole 30 bases at Triple-A last season. That’s a lot to expect from a rookie, but if he is great out of the gate he can lessen the sting of losing Kemp.

Brandon League rebounded from a gross 2013 to put together a nice campaign last season. He’ll be able to hold down the fort while L.A. waits for Kenley Jansen to heal up. Once back, the Dodgers bullpen shouldn’t have too many issues holding leads.

San Francisco Giants (88-74) 

The defending champs return their most important players from last year’s World Series team–ace left-hander Madison Bumgarner and catcher Buster Posey–but will be missing arguably their most popular player, “Kung-Fu Panda” Pablo Sandoval. Luckily for San Fran, Sandoval may not be as irreplaceable as he seems.

Well at least in the regular season.

The Panda hasn’t hit .300 since 2011, has never topped 16 home runs, and has a tendency to miss time although he did remain healthy last year. Casey McGehee isn’t going to make fans forget their portly third-sacker, but he can lessen the blow.

The Giants’ lineup is lacking in power, but it is competent from top to bottom in a division of teams with glaring strengths and weaknesses. Behind Bumgarner in the rotation is a deep crew of veterans. Matt Cain will be the most important of these veterans; He’s posted a 4.00 or higher ERA in each of the past two seasons, but has a history of being a workhorse with excellent control. If he can regain it, then the Giants will push L.A. for the NL West crown.

San Diego Padres (77-85) 

The Pads remade the roster this offseason, and at the plate they should be miles better than they were last year, when they ranked dead last in runs per game. Adding powerful hitters like Matt Kemp and Justin Upton will make them far more potent, and those are two hitters that shouldn’t fear PETCO Park’s caverns too much.

Adding James Shields was a huge move too, making this rotation competitive with any in baseball.

So why third? Defense. Upton is not a good defensive outfielder, and Kemp was shockingly bad last year in L.A. In fact, he was so bad they had to remove him from center field, which created tension and added motivation to move him and clear room for Pederson. Alexi Amarista is the only projected everyday starter that was a plus defensively last season, and when you play in a ballpark that suppresses offense, being able to prevent runs becomes very important. San Diego won’t be near the top in that sense, and that puts pressure on Wil Myers to really live up to his potential right now. 

Colorado Rockies (66-96)

Great with the bat AND the glove

The reason the Rockies are ranked this low are health and pitching. Offensively, this team could lead MLB offensively if the lineup stayed healthy. SS Troy Tulowitzki never does though, and neither does OF Carlos Gonzalez. Together they may form arguably the NL’s scariest one-two punch, but extended, frequent DL stays ruin things. Surrounding those two pillars are exciting players like 3B Nolan Arenado and OFs Corey Dickerson and Charlie Blackmon. If these guys stay out of the trainer’s room WATCH OUT!

Then you look at Colorado’s pitching though, and Jorge De La Rosa is the No. 1, and Latroy Hawkins is still closing. It’s hard enough to pitch at Coors Field as is, but when the club enters the season with subpar talent from the outset, they’re handcuffing themselves.

Arizona Diamondbacks (64-98)

There’s some cool stuff going on here, but for the most part this team has the look of a non-factor. Paul Goldschmidt is a kraken in this lineup, but he’s surrounded by unproven talent like A.J. Pollock and Yasmany Tomas, or flawed hitters like Mark Trumbo (peep his OBP for the past two seasons).

The starting rotation looks bleak, even if Jeremy Hellickson develops into something resembling a No. 1. Addison Reed has great stuff, but he was too hittable at times last season; Brad Ziegler is there to take over the job if Reed stumbles, but he’s no great shakes himself. Overall, the D-Backs have nothing to hang their hats on, and that’s why they will struggle.

 

 

MLB 2015 Divisional Preview: National League Central

By Raimundo Ortiz (@AroundtheMundo

The 2015 MLB season is near, so it’s time to start projecting how things will shake out. Let’s get right to it, here is the National League Central preview. The teams will be listed in order of how I expect them to finish.

St. Louis Cardinals (90-72)

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MLB 2015 Divisional Preview: National League East

By Raimundo Ortiz (@AroundtheMundo

The 2015 MLB season is near, so it’s time to start projecting how things will shake out. Let’s get right to it, here is the National League East preview. The teams will be listed in order of how I expect them to finish.

Washington Nationals (96-66) 

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MLB 2015 Preview: Spotlight On Jason Heyward, St. Louis’ Best Player?

By Raimundo Ortiz (@AroundtheMundo)

MLB spring training can be tedious after the initial excitement of players reporting to camp, so in addition to the annual divisional previews, I’ll take some time out to highlight players that will be especially crucial to their team’s success. These players won’t necessarily be obscure, but they’re also not the Mike Trout‘s and Giancarlo Stanton‘s of the world.

Today’s spotlight will be on St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Jason Heyward.

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MLB 2015 Preview: Spotlight On Juan Lagares, Secretly The Most Important Met

By Raimundo Ortiz (@AroundtheMundo)

MLB spring training can be tedious after the initial excitement of players reporting to camp, so in addition to the annual divisional previews, I’ll take some time out to highlight players that will be especially crucial to their team’s success. These players won’t necessarily be obscure, but they’re also not the Mike Trout‘s and Giancarlo Stanton‘s of the world.

Today’s spotlight will be on New York Mets center fielder Juan LagaresContinue reading

Top 5 Teams With The Most Cap Space & One Free Agent They Should Splurge On

By Raimundo Ortiz (@AroundtheMundo)

The NFL offseason is in full swing, complete with free agency rumors, and big names unhappy they’re about to get hit with the franchise tag. For the moment, the two biggest names set to be franchised are WRs Dez Bryant and Demaryius Thomas. Because I’m not in the business of wasting your time, I’ll exclude these two fellas from the pool of big-name splurges.

With that out of the way, here are the five teams with the most cap space, and one player they should go spend a huge chunk of it on. All the cap figures are estimates courtesy of OvertheCap.com  Continue reading

NBA Trade Deadline 2015: Three Teams That Could Use A Trade & The Perfect Target

By Raimundo Ortiz (@AroundtheMundo)

The NBA trade deadline is almost here, and as usual, several teams are on the cusp of either playoff contention, or title contention. All they need is a little push. That can come via trade, and often all it takes is to give a struggling team some hope.

That can be in the form of draft picks, promising young players, or even shot veterans with expiring contracts. Here are three teams that could use a deal, and whom they should be targeting.

Oklahoma City Thunder 

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San Diego Padres 2015 Offseason: Are The Pads Really Going to Contend?

By Raimundo Ortiz (@AroundtheMundo)

The San Diego Padres have had MLB’s busiest offseason. Other teams made huge moves, but nobody remade their roster like San Diego’s first-year GM A.J. Preller.

Last year this was a middling club. They were just okay, not spectacularly bad, and definitely not good. The biggest move of the offseason was probably their signing of James Shields this week to a four-year, $75 million deal. It’s hard to argue against that signing, but we’ll address it further down. What really needed work was the offense.

Last season it was the worst in the National League. They scored 3.3 runs per game, hit the second-fewest home runs, and finished dead last in slugging percentage and OPS. It was a dreadful team at the plate. That’s why Preller made three huge moves to address the problem.

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