There are times in sports where a narrative or a theme gets assigned to a player, a team, or a city that seems like it takes over reality and can’t be defeated by things like… Read more »
Fairy Tales seem to end in a similar fashion–conflict resolved, happiness acquired, vague conclusion indicating permanence of victory. Real life is rarely this way. Take for instance the parallel misery of the Boston Red Sox and Chicago Cubs. Decades of failure stacked upon each other, lined with mishaps and blunders that hold more to their franchise legends than the players themselves.
I think of those two words when looking at the 2015 St. Louis Cardinals. Their run since 2000 (11 playoff appearances, four pennants, two World Series titles, and only one losing season) has been remarkable. The roster has completely turned over and yet the Cardinals keep on winning. As a fan, it’s been amazingly satisfying. But alas, nothing lasts forever.
Run Production How do they score runs? Are they notably home-run dependent? Notably light on power? Is their lineup predicated on depth, or on huge production from a few stars? Runs? That’s important in baseball… Read more »
The San Francisco Giants must have discovered the recipe for the secret sauce. They’ve won three of the last five World Series without being the best team in the regular season for some time. They took advantage of the second wild card last season and came through a number of remarkably close games to win it all by the smallest of margins.
Let’s go ahead and skip the obvious stuff. The A’s usually trade all their best players for prospects, and lose in the playoffs. Last year they traded their prospects for new best players, and they lost in the playoffs.
“We’re not going to take that woe-is-me mentality. It just doesn’t serve any purpose.” Jon Daniels, Texas Rangers GM
“I don’t know how much of the Padres chapter [in the Baseball Prospectus 2015 annual] is gonna survive. …The Padres chapter was all about, it was explicitly about, how the Padres just blend in and… Read more »
The Tigers featured the 2nd best offense in baseball in 2014, scoring 757 runs and accumulating an MLB-best 1557 hits.
The Tigers had the 2nd most extra-base hits in the majors in 2014 (506), were 4th in isolated power (.150), and 7th in home runs (155). The offense was led by superstar Miguel Cabrera, who was 10th in MLB in wOBA (.384) and wRC+ (147) and 16th in ISO (.211) despite a pedestrian (for him) 25 HRs.
The Mets started this offseason with a bang, making the first signing of a free agent, Michael Cuddyer from the Colorado Rockies for 2 years and $21 million. As a player who received a qualifying offer, the Mets forfeited their 2015 1st round draft pick (#15 overall). However, after signing Cuddyer, the Mets only added two other players, outfielder John Mayberry Jr. and rule 5 pick LHP Sean Gilmartin. They lost a few players of which most notable were Eric Young Jr., who stole 46 bases in 2013 and 30 in 2014, and Gonzalez Germen (yes, he began the offseason as a Met). Besides these small moves it has been a very quiet offseason. The team added only two pitchers (including Gilmartin), an anomaly in the league as most teams stock up on pitchers (the average team added 15 according to the WSJ).
After a 2012-2013 offseason that involved two franchise-altering trades, the signing of disgraced-but-effective outfielder Melky Cabrera and a reunion with former skipper John Gibbons, the Blue Jays and their fans hoped that the team would be positioned to make a trip to the post-season for the first time in two decades. The 2013 Blue Jays were so well regarded that they entered the season as Vegas favourite to win the World Series.
Instead, a sell-out Rogers Centre crowd (to which I tried and failed to obtain tickets) was treated to watching new staff “ace” R.A. Dickey surrender four runs in six innings as part of a 4-1 loss to Cleveland.
A year ago the Miami Marlins entered the season with the smallest opening day payroll in baseball ($41.8 M). They ended the season with their best player suffering a gruesome injury and with the lowest attendance in the National League. Their 77-85 record landed them fourth in the NL East.
What a difference an off-season makes. There are a lot of reasons for optimism around Miami heading in to 2015 and what follows is a 2015 season preview for the Marlins.
Are you ready, Marlins fans?
Best team in the AL or 81 wins? Who knows!
On one episode of Baseball Prospectus’s old podcast, Up and In, Kevin Goldstein bet Jason Parks “a hundred bucks” that the Yankees would finish at or above .500 for at least the ensuing 10 seasons…. Read more »
Reaching the playoffs in back-to-back years, the Pirates enter 2015 with hard-earned respectability across the country. General manager Neal Huntington, who took over the club in the fall of 2007, survived several bumps in the rebuilding process to finally see his home-grown talent reach the majors and succeed.
In 2014, the Cincinnati Reds were a tale of two seasons. After a victory over the Pirates on July 13 the Reds were 51-44, and firmly in the playoff race, half of a game out of a wildcard spot, and only 1.5 games out of first place in the NL Central. Well, then the wheels fell off. After that day they were 25-42, finishing with a 76-86 record.
The Brewers, coming off of a monumental collapse to miss the playoffs in 2014, made two major changes over the offseason. First, the team moved Marco Estrada to the Blue Jays for Adam Lind to fill the black hole that has been first base since Corey Hart’s knees failed him in 2013, most recently filled by Mark Reynolds and Lyle Overbay. Second, they traded rotation stalwart Yovani Gallardo to the Rangers for RHP Corey Knebel, SS Luis Sardinas, and pitching prospect Marcos Diplan to bolster their bullpen, infield, and system depth.
Check out the Effectively Wild podcast’s daily team previews, and the full list of our own companion previews. On the South Side of Chicago… The Baddest part of town… 2005 seems like forever ago…. Read more »
The Orioles have been a good, if not great offensive team for three years in a row now. Despite a mediocre ability to get on base, the Orioles finished the 2014 season 9th in batting average, 3rd in slugging, 6th in OPS, and 1st in home runs. The O’s were middle of the pack in getting on base, as many of their full time players are impatient at the plate and embrace a free swinging approach. This approach has worked well for them over the past 4 seasons, averaging 207 home runs, 717 runs, and a .734 OPS per 162 games.
Fans of mediocre teams have, from time immemorial, dreamed of trading all their high-priced talent for prospects, and then “giving the kids” a chance to show what they can do in the majors. But this is better in theory than in practice, just ask the 1998 Marlins (54 wins) or 2003 Tigers (43 wins). After losing 106 games in 2011, the Astros hired GM Jeff Luhnow, who promised to rely heavily on advanced metrics to rebuild the entire franchise, from the farm system out.
Injuries poisoned the Diamondbacks’ 2014, so their last-place finish did not necessarily represent the true talent level of the team. That didn’t stop new Chief Baseball Officer Tony La Russa from starting the postseason early by cleaning house. GM Kevin Towers was fired and replaced by Dave Stewart, who played for LaRussa on the late-80s/early-90s A’s. Manager Kirk Gibson and bench coach Alan Trammell were fired the day after Stewart was hired and Stewart later hired A’s bench coach Chip Hale to manage the team for 2015.
The Braves didn’t wait until after the World Series to start their off-season moves, firing general manager Frank Wren Sept. 22nd and naming John Hart interim GM. Hart later accepted the position of president of baseball operations, working with assistant GM John Coppolella. Hart has led a series of trades that saw several key Braves leave town in exchange for prospects and young major leaguers. He acknowledged there was an eye toward 2017, when the Braves will move to Cobb County and open SunTrust Stadium, without trying to ”strip down” the team.
Before we begin the “unboxing,” if you will, I’d like to mention the two major personnel changes the Royals have made this offseason. Essentially, they have replaced Billy Butler with Kendrys Morales and replaced Nori Aoki with Alex Rios. Let’s make a quick comparison:
We think about the Rockies and get all depressed so you don’t have to
We soldier on. Check out yesterday’s entry, on the Phillies. And give the preview podcast itself a listen. Run Production How do they score runs? Are they notably home-run dependent? Notably light on power? Is… Read more »
On Monday, Effectively Wild launched its annual team preview series, a staple of the podcast that has drawn new listeners in droves each of the last two springs. This year, Banished to the Pen will… Read more »
Spring 2015 marks the third set of the Effectively Wild podcast’s daily team previews, and our first year of written companion pieces. The order of EW’s previews is determined by PECOTA’s win-loss projection for the… Read more »