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2004.There are key issues
05-12-2018, 12:09 PM
Post: #1
2004.There are key issues
Rob Carr/Getty ImagesA handful of the offseason's top MLB free agents remain preoccupied with World Series aspirations. The hot stove , however, never stays off entirely.Before joining a stacked crop of stars on the open market, Manny Machado, Clayton Kershaw, Dallas Keuchel, Charlie Morton, Craig Kimbrel, Yasmani Grandal, Nathan Eovaldi, Brian Dozier and Hyun-Jin Ryu will look to pad their portfolios with an indelible October moment. As they play for glory, 26 teams are already planning for the winter.Those are only some of baseball's biggest names who will put the sport's recent lethargic spending to the test. Affluent organizations have patiently waited for this influx of game-changing talent, and a growing division of power could spark bidding wars among MLB's top contenders.Let's take an early stroll around the rumor mill to examine some free-agent chatter. Phillies in Mix for Manny Machado and Bryce HarperThe Phillies are expected to pursue Bryce Harper and Machado this offseason.Rob Carr/Getty ImagesAlthough their premature playoff hopes cratered with an 8-20 September, the Philadelphia Phillies remain poised to make major noise this postseason.Even when 2018 contention was a longshot, they opened their wallets to sign Jake Arrieta and Carlos Santana. Before accounting for arbitration, those are the only players on the payroll set to make more than $9 million next year.That makes them a strong candidate to pursue the winter's grand prizes, Machado and Bryce Harper. While the former better fits their need for a shortstop or third baseman, FanCred's Jon Heyman said they may ultimately want to poach Harper from the rival Washington Nationals."Phillies people suggest they don鈥檛 think signing both Manny Machado and Bryce Harper is likely, but no one should rule it out," Heyman wrote. "They are expected to be the most aggressive team in bidding this winter. And while they have a strong connection to Machado, don鈥檛 be surprised if it鈥檚 Harper instead. Harper is a chance to stick it to the rival Nats, and his big finish made folks notice."Either one would represent a franchise-altering coup. While most players enter free agency beyond their prime, these superstar sluggers each have plenty of All-Star years ahead at age 26.Machado, who has played all but 11 games in the last four seasons, belted 33-37 homers in each of those campaigns and twice exceeded 6.0 WAR. He offers more consistency and a strong glove, especially if he accepts a permanent move to the hot corner.Harper's batting average has fluctuated wildly (.330, .243, .319, .249) over the years, but only five hitters have registered a higher on-base percentage (.388) since his debut in 2012. As showcased by his MVP campaign in 2015, he may still brandish the highest ceiling of anyone in the game.It'd be sweat to bolster their squad while weakening Washington in the process, but the Phillies should still make Machado their top priority. With minus-146Defensive Runs Saved(DRS), they played MLB's worst defense by a wide margin.The former Baltimore Orioles cornerstone can bolster their infield as a solid shortstop or Gold Glove third baseman. Of course, that doesn't necessarily mean the Phillies are first on his wish list, yet they have the resources to offer a massive, potentially record-setting contract to steer him away from the Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Yankees.With a top suitor less likely to offer another enormous deal, Harper stays in D.C. to form a formidable outfield with Juan Soto and Victor Robles.Prediction: Machado signs a 10-year megadeal with Phillies; Harper stays with Nationals.Yankees Yearn for Patrick CorbinThe Yankees are reportedly interested in New York native Patrick Corbin.Denis Poroy/Getty ImagesBooted from the playoffs by the Boston Red Sox, the Yankees can oversee significantturnover to take the next step this winter. With southpaw starters J.A. Happ and CC Sabathia set to enter free agency, they will need to fortify their rotation behind Luis Severino and Masahiro Tanaka.Per Heyman, the Bronx Bombers "are expected to target" Patrick Corbin. There appears to be mutual interest, as the New York native spoke fondly of the possibility to USA Today's Bob Nightengale in April."It would definitely be great to play there," Corbin said. "I grew up a Yankee fan. My whole family are Yankee fans. My mom, my dad, my grandpa, everybody. Really, every generation of my family has been Yankee fans."Nightengale recently followed up with a tweet suggesting little has changed following Corbin's career year:Bob Nightengale BNightengaleThe biggest upset of the free agent period this winter is if the #Yankees DONT land free agent pitcher Patrick Corbin, who grew up in Syracuse, and is from a family with generations of Yankee fansThat's not including his asking price. The lefty boosted his market value substantially by submitting a 3.15 ERA and 246 strikeouts in 200 innings for the Arizona Diamondbacks. His 2.47 fielding independent pitching (FIP) ranked third among all qualified starters behind Jacob deGrom (1.99) and Trevor Bauer (2.47).Teams may hesitate to throw ace money at a 28-year-old with a 3.91career ERA who went underwent Tommy John surgery in 2014, yet the breakout looks legit. Only Max Scherzer generated a higher percentage of swinging strikes, and nobody induced more swings outside the strike zone.The Yankees need to keep pace with the American League powerhouses Early Wynn Jersey , and Corbin wouldslide perfectly into their rotation as an upgrade to Happ and/or Sabathia. He's also younger than fellow free-agent southpaws Kershaw and Keuchel, who will each turn 31 before 2019's Opening Day.The Diamondbacks, on the other hand, look poised to retool after missing the playoffs. A.J. Pollock is also a free agent, and ESPN's Buster Olney said the NL West squad will entertain offers for Paul Goldschmidt. Perhaps the star first baseman joins Corbin in the Big Apple.Prediction: Corbin signs with Yankees for five years, $90 million 'No Indication' Rockies Will Retain DJ LeMahieuThe Rockies have showed no signs of working to re-sign DJ LeMahieu, who will need to generate all of his value on defense away from Coors Field.Justin Edmonds/Getty ImagesThe Colorado Rockies, who scored two runs in three National League Division Series losses, are in an unusual position of needing to bolster their lineup behind a fortified pitching staff. Those renovations may not include DJ LeMahieu.According to Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post, there's "no indication" the Rockies will try to retain the 30-year-old second baseman.Their reticence makes sense after rookie Garrett Hampson notched a .396 on-base percentage in 24 MLB games. Their No. 4-ranked prospect on batted .311/.382/.462 in Double-A and Triple-A, so he could likely replicate or exceed LeMahieu's subpar 86 weighted runs created plus (wRC+).Either one of them would have to fend off top prospect Brendan Rodgers, a shortstop blocked by Trevor Story who could demand a major league spotlight next season.With a career 87.0 contact percentage, LeMehieu leveraged Coors Field to a .329 batting average, yet the 2016 National League batting champion sports a pedestrian .264/.311/.362 slash line away from Colorado's friendly confines. He may find an unforgiving market if the Rockies pass.Ignoring the two-time Gold Glover's defensive contributions, however, would also be a mistake. His 18 DRS trailed Kolten Wong by one run for the top spot among all second basemen.The Boston Red Sox rented Ian Kinsler for his glove, but he offset any defensive value by batting .242/.394/.311. While LeMahieu's offense will suffer away from Coors, the contact skills should prevent him from bottoming out entirely.Besides, the AL East champions already have plenty of offensive firepower in Mookie Betts, J.D. Martinez, Andrew Benintendi and Xander Bogaerts. Replacing Kinsler with LeMahieu would preserve an elite double-play combination.Prediction: LeMahieu signs a three-year, $28 million deal with Red SoxAll advanced stats courtesy of FanGraphs unless otherwise noted. After the Milwaukee Brewers and Los Angeles Dodgers won tiebreaker games to win National League Central and West Divisions, respectively, the Colorado Rockies and the Chicago Cubs got the postseason started in record-setting fashion.The two teams battled for 13 innings鈥攖he longest win-or-go-home game in Major League Baseball postseason history鈥攂efore the Rockies advanced to the Divisional Series with a 2-1 victory.Backup catcher Tony Wolters drove home the winning run when he singled with two out in the top of the 13th off of Kyle Hendricks. The Cubs were unable to rally in the bottom of the inning and they were eliminated on their home field.The Rockies will meet the Milwaukee Brewers in the National League Divisional Series and they will be joined by the Los Angeles Dodgers and Atlanta Braves. The Brewers and Dodgers will have homefield advantage in those best-of-5 series.Postseason ScheduleWild-Card GamesWednesday, October 3, A's at Yankees, 8 p.m. ET, TBSDivision SeriesNLDSThurs., Oct. 4, Game 1, Rockies at Brewers, 5:07 p.m., ET FS1Thurs., Oct. 4, Game 1, Braves at Dodgers, 8:37 p.m. ET, MLBNFri., Oct. 5, Game 2, Rockies at Brewers, 4:15 p.m. ET, FS1Fri., Oct. 5, Game 2, Braves at Dodgers, 9:37 p.m. ET, FS1Sun., Oct. 7 Avisail Garcia Jersey , Game 3, Brewers at Rockies, 4:37 p.m. ET, MLBNSun., Oct. 7, Game 3, Dodgers at Braves, 8:07 p.m. ET, FS1Mon., Oct. 8, Game 4*, Brewers at Rockies, FS1Mon., Oct. 8, Game 4*, Dodgers at Braves, FS1Wed., Oct. 10, Game 5*, Rockies at Brewers FS1Wed., Oct. 10, Game 5*, Braves at Dodgers, FS1*If necessaryALDSFriday, October 5, Yankees/A's at Red Sox, Game 1, TBSFriday, October 5, Indians at Astros, Game 1, TBSSaturday, October 6 Yankees/A's at Red Sox, Game 2, TBSSaturday, October 6, Indians at Astros, Game 2, TBSMonday, October 8, Red Sox at Yankees/A's, Game 3, TBSMonday, October 8, Astros at Indians, Game 3, TBSTuesday, October 9, Red Sox at Yankees/A's , Game 4*, TBSTuesday, October 9, Astros at Indians, Game 4*, TBSThursday, October 11, Yankees/A's at Red Sox, Game 5*, TBSThursday, October 11, Indians at Astros, Game 5*, TBS*If necessaryLeague Championship SeriesNLCSFriday, October 12, Game 1, FOX or FS1Saturday, October 13, Game 2, FOX or FS1Monday, October 15, Game 3, FOX or FS1Tuesday, October 16, Game 4, FOX or FS1Wednesday, October 17, Game 5*, FOX or FS1Friday, October 19, Game 6*, FOX or FS1Saturday, October 20, Game 7*, FOX or FS1*If necessaryALCSSaturday, October 13, Game 1, TBSSunday, October 14, Game 2, TBSTuesday, October 16, Game 3, TBSWednesday, October 17, Game 4, TBSThursday, October 18, Game 5* Bobby Jenks Jersey , TBSSaturday, October 20, Game 6*, TBSSunday, October 21, Game 7*, TBS*If necessaryWORLD SERIESTuesday, October 23, Game 1, FOXWednesday, October 24, Game 2, FOXFriday, October 26, Game 3 , FOXSaturday, October 27, Game 4, FOXSunday, October 28, Game 5*, FOXTuesday, October 30 Game 6*, FOXWednesday, October 31 Game 7*, FOXAll games can be live streamed on MLB.TV.Baseball Reference baseball_refMike Trout, career high in WAR: 10.5 (2012, 2016)Mookie Betts, career high in WAR: 10.6 (2018) HSJ0j7xTyWThe American League postseason gets underway Wednesday night as the New York Yankees host the Oakland A's in the wild-card game.The slugging Yankees, who won 100 games this season but still finished eight games behind the Boston Red Sox, and the powerful A's will play for the right to meet the Red Sox in the American League Division Series.The Cleveland Indians and Houston Astros, who represented the American League in the last two World Series, will meet in the other ALDS.After the four division series are completed, the two American League winners will meet in the ALCS, while the two National League survivors will play for the NL pennant.Both league championship series are best-of-7 formats, as is the World Series.The Boston Red Sox will have homefield advantage throughout the postseason, while the Milwaukee Brewers will have that advantage in the National League playoffs.PredictionsAL Wild-CardNew York Yankees over Oakland A'sALDSBoston Red Sox over New York Yankees, 3-1Cleveland Indians over Houston Astros, 3-2ALCSBoston Red Sox over Cleveland Indians, 4-2NLDSMilwaukee Brewers over Colorado Rockies, 3-2Atlanta Braves over Los Angeles Dodgers, 3-1NLCSMilwaukee Brewers over Atlanta Braves, 4-2World SeriesBoston Red Sox over Milwaukee Brewers, 4-2While they won 108 games during the regular season, the Red Sox fattened up on some of the worst teams in the American League. Many observers don't see the Red Sox winning their fourth World Series since 2004.There are key issues, including ace starter Chris Sale's balky left shoulder and the Red Sox vulnerability in the bullpen.However, the starting lineup has the ability to produce consistently and they have a couple of big-time producers in Mookie Betts and J.D. Martinez.The belief here is that Sale will have enough to get through six innings in each of his postseason starts and manager Alex Cora will manipulate the bullpen so that it will survive until closer Craig Kimbrel can take over.The Red Sox will celebrate at Fenway Park, breaking hearts throughout Wisconsin as the Brewers fall just a bit short.
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