Cancel The Funeral; Harvey Had Pee Stones

So it’s official. Matt Harvey passed a blood clot in his urine and now he is fine. God that is so personal. And wow that is such a valid reason to be excused from playing. The Mets had unlimited options for how to handle Matt Harvey’s trip to the doctor yesterday. The most obvious choice being to release a statement saying, “Matt Harvey has an excused absence to deal with a personal matter, and he will miss his start on Tuesday.” That’s it. Leave it at that. Let the people speculate that he’s hungover after his birthday party. But literally the last thing you should say is, “Matt Harvey is going to a non-orthopedic doctor to address a non-baseball related mystery illness that could literally be anything. Pray for him.” For Christ’s sake the Mets had people prepping for a terminal illness press conference. And keep in mind the Mets knew what happened. They knew the personal details. He peed some blood. It’s scary yes. But it’s certainly not a reason to freak out the fans and players to the point where Travis d’Arnaud is telling the fan base to pray for Matt.

The Mets chose to say the latter. And so continues the PR reign of Press Secretary Jay Horwitz. First of all, I don’t even think our PR guru Jay Horwitz made a comment yesterday. He just let the executives and players have a free for all with the media. But it’s still really mind boggling that this old man is in charge of Mets media relations and still bungling story after story. Isn’t Public Relations a young person’s game? I thought the PR field was full of competent attractive young men and women. I don’t know why I think that. I guess because it has the word “Relations” in it. But I suppose if Sherman Klump can have “relations” then even an old troll like Jay Horwitz (aka the Blackberry Whisperer) can have Public Relations.

As far as I am concerned, Jay Horwitz needs to be considered for the role of Donald Trump’s White House Press Secretary. He would be the perfect complement for Trump. Jay would just step to the podium and tell everyone that “there’s been another mystery incident in the Middle East” and Trump would grab the mic and chime in “early indications are it’s a total disaster”.

Harvey is fine. He peed blood, but now he is fine. He’s still supposed to start Opening Day. Our prayers have been answered. The doctors told him he holds his urine in too long and has to pee more often. Is that a pain tolerance thing? The second I get the slightest rumbling in my bladder, I’m off to the bathroom. No hesitation. Harvey’s over there holding it in like it’s some kind of contest. And Jesus Christ he must love his job. I’m pounding coffee and water cooler brews all day long. Pees on pees for me.

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Matt Harvey Diagnosed With “Mystery” Illness

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Vegas had “mystery illness” going off at 1:1 as the potential reason for why Matt Harvey would miss his Opening Day start. Ike “Valley Fever” Davis certainly bet whatever money he has left from his rookie signing bonus on that diagnosis. For our training staff, there is a little bit of “mystery” associated with every injury. That’s what happens when your head trainer takes “MRI pictures” with his iPhone 4 camera. But now that Harvey’s been diagnosed with a mystery illness, the official predictions stand at:

  1. Prostatitis (or some other STD resulting from his sexcapades).
  2. Nicotine withdrawal (due to the recent smokeless tobacco ban).
  3. Hangover (due to his birthday party yesterday).
  4. Valley Fever aka Stage 1 METS Disease.
  5. Something Ray Ramirez accidently did to his body during a routine end of spring physical.

Apparently the injury is a “non-baseball medical issue”. First and foremost, my thoughts and prayers are with Matt. As I said earlier today, light your candles. I hope it’s something minor and stupid. Appendix? Tonsils? Bunion surgery?

When I saw that he was heading to the doctor this morning, and they said it wasn’t an orthopedist, I figured he was seeing his therapist. Just laying on the giant sofa, telling him about “all the jealous haters” that truly don’t understand his lifestyle. But now I obviously hope he’s just getting a wart removed or something. We’ll just have to wait for the team to divulge his confidential medical records. They owe us that at a minimum.

Weekly Roundup: It’s Almost Go Time

It’s Almost Go Time: We got through another week of Spring Training. Most of the team is still intact. I’m knocking on wood all day long. Light your candles. One more week. Sit all the regulars. Anyone who plays must play with body armor (i.e. the Barry Bonds elbow pads).

Game Notes:

The Mets didn’t win a single game this week. In fact, the Mets had three ties this week giving them a franchise record four ties this spring. Every time a spring game ends in a tie, Goose Gossage must put his fist through some drywall.

On Monday, the Mets lost 2-1 to the Marlins. Jacob deGrom had his fastball sitting between 91-94 MPH. But he’s working on his breaking stuff, and his command is in midseason form. The velocity watch will undoubtedly continue into the season, but you really can’t worry about spring radar gun readings.

On Tuesday, the Mets lost 6-3 to the Yankees. Steven Matz still looked uncomfortable on the mound. Yoenis Cespedes had three hits. He’s the best hitter on the team. It is known.

On Wednesday, the Mets lost 3-1 to the Blue Jays. After multiple rough outings, we saw vintage Bartolo Colon. Buddy Carlyle blew and was immediately released. Michael Conforto left with back spasms. It seems Wright’s spinal stenosis has gone airborne.

On Thursday, the Mets split squad lost 4-1 to the Red Sox. Logan Verrett looked great and is penciled in as Triple-A rotation depth. Unfortunately, the AAA lineup didn’t hit at all for Verrett. Commissioner Erik Goeddel had a crummy debut.

The other split squad team lost 8-5 to the Astros. Matt Harvey had an off day. The Astros did their best impression of Moe Greene and slapped Harvey around in public like he was Fredo. To add insult to injury, Cespedes allowed an inside the park home run on an absolutely atrocious ground rule gaffe. He just wouldn’t reach down and field an absolutely playable ball under the fence. 

Cespedes will never play a ball beyond or beneath the Wall. He doesn’t bend like you southron kneelers. Alejandro De Aza had another multi-hit game. He just keeps eating the Grapefruit League for breakfast.

On Friday, the Mets tied 5-5 with the Cardinals. Noah Syndergaard is a goddamn machine. Cranking out 100 MPH fastballs in March. Dear god. Wilmer Flores finally dipped his toes in the first basemen pool. He said after the game playing first base was “weird”. I guess he’ll learn on the job during the season. So that should be real fun. Matt Reynolds kept making his case for a spot on the roster with 3 RBIs.

On Saturday, the Mets tied 3-3 with the Braves. deGrom looked sharp again. And Reynolds kept hitting.

On Sunday, the Mets tied 4-4 with the Nationals. Matz looked much better in this outing. He had everything working. Jim Henderson had his first real stinker of the spring. His performance this week will make or break his roster case. Michael Conforto was able to return to game action on Sunday right after Ray Ramirez popped on the old trance music and gave his back a nice oily rub down. David Wright and Conforto both hit home runs for Team Backiotomy.

Sports Illustrated Predicts Mets Win NL East: So SI predicted the Mets will win the NL East. If the Mets do not win the NL East, the SI prediction obviously trumps my own prediction and is the sole cause of our demise. They also released four regional covers featuring different teams. You got to love SI varying their baseball preview cover teams in a transparent attempt to diversify their preseason jinx percentage.

A-Rod’s Faux Retirement Tour: This week Alex Rodriguez told Andrew Marchand of ESPN in an interview that he plans to retire once his contract runs out after the 2017 season. The internet promptly went into a frenzy either praising A-Rod for his “classy” handling of the retirement announcement or criticizing him for essentially announcing that he plans to shatter the consecutive retirement plaques received mark previously set by Derek Jeter with a two year retirement tour.

When A-Rod says “I’ve given this a lot of thought” I imagine him deeply discussing the pros and cons of retirement with his mirror, intermittently pausing to make out with his reflection. Anyway, it turned out that A-Rod lied. Surprise surprise! He promptly reversed course and vowed to “juice up one last time” and “take my crown”.

Despite A-Rod’s change of heart, I still told my boss I’m retiring after 2017, and I expect a breakfast spread at every 8am meeting from now until I ride off into the sunset.

Nationals Selling Park Naming Rights: This week the Nats announced they plan to sell the naming rights of Nationals Park. Oh what I’d give to see President Hillary Clinton throwing out the Nationals 2017 Opening Day ceremonial first pitch at Trump Stadium.

Smokeless Tobacco Ban Passed: New York City officially passed the smokeless tobacco ban at stadiums and arenas. My sources tell me Mets players displayed “lukewarm interest” in the nicotine suppositories distributed by the trainers in response to the tobacco ban. I can’t believe Matt Harvey finally gets his slider back, and they are gonna rip the dip out of his mouth. MLB came out and said they will absolutely impose discipline if the tobacco ban is violated. So Michael Pineda is going to rub pine tar through his hair all season like it’s styling gel, but Harvey will wind up getting dinged by MLB for this. It’s a lock.

In all seriousness, I have no idea how they enforce this ban, but after seeing Tony Gwynn die from mouth cancer, I’m totally in favor of measures that help these guys stay healthy.

Harvey Lifestyle Alert: Speaking of Harvey, he did another interview this week about his New York City bachelor life, and he speculated that the haters are just jealous of his lifestyle. You know what Harvey could do? He could potentially consider not ever doing these types of interviews. Please? He really can’t resist periodically notifying us of his lifestyle like one of those annoying cell emergency alerts. Emergency Alert: Matt Harvey Bachelor Lifestyle Warning. And also chance of flash flooding.

Harvey and deGrom Modeling; Thor Should Do Full Frontal

So yesterday, Forbes featured articles on Jacob deGrom and Matt Harvey. DeGrom talked about the upcoming season and why he won’t cut his hair. Harvey talked about Men’s Fashion. It was basically just another excuse for these two aces to act like models. Harvey’s been working on his modeling career for years now. The guy has been featured in a ridiculous number of magazine spreads. And now deGrom is getting in the mix? We read all about how the Mets young pitchers feed off of competition. And not just competition with other teams but with each other. Well it’s time for Noah Syndergaard to take modeling to the next level. He’s gotta hang dong. A nude photo shoot is the only way to one up the rest of the rotation. Thor is bigger than the other pitchers, and he throws harder. He needs to model bigger and harder. And he’s named after a Norse god who has a hammer. A hammer! And gods are always featured in the nude when they are included in paintings. If he won’t do a nude photo shoot or model for a nude painting, he should at least commission a life-sized nude statue.

And I know what you’re thinking. Harvey already did the nude photo shoot. Harvey was featured in the ESPN The Magazine 2013 Body issue. Umm that’s a tasteful nude photo shoot. That’s like when George Costanza did his semi-nude photo shoot in Kramer’s apartment. It’s more of a “timeless art of seduction” type of shoot.

How many times did the ESPN photographers say to Harvey, “Whatever you’re comfortable with Matty.” Being naked in a studio, surrounded by professional photographers and the hosts of Baseball Tonight, while wearing a bathrobe and occasionally covering your nether regions with a baseball glove is not the kind of nude I’m talking about. Thor needs to go all in. Full frontal. The time is right. Plus if he doesn’t do it now, those bastards from Anonymous will just get him in the next Apple iCloud hack. If they broke into the Cloud and got Justin Verlander (with Kate Upton), they can get to Thor (and whoever he’s dating).

Thor is also the member of the rotation who would do something like this. Based on the Always Sunny “Ghostbusters Dynamic”, deGrom would be the “brains” of our rotation and Harvey would be the “looks”. I guess Bartolo would be the “muscle”? The big fat muscle. And Thor is the “wildcard”. Thor is the one throwing 100 MPH fastballs at your head in the World Series and telling you to meet him 60 feet 6 inches. Thor is the one riding into Spring Training on horseback. And Thor is the one who would do a real nude photo shoot. All I know is Harvey is modeling. Now deGrom is modeling. It’s Thor’s turn.

And yes I did Google “Nude Matt Harvey photo shoot.” As an investigative journalist I had to do my due diligence.

My Best Guess: Predicting the 2016 MLB Playoffs and Player Awards

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Major League Baseball has such parity. Sure we can probably narrow down the field of competition to around 15 teams before the season even starts. Roughly half the league is actually competing for a championship. But that’s a hell of a lot better than the annual three team dance in the NFL or the one team in the NBA that has a chance to win (I’ll give you a hint, it rhymes with Olden Plate Warriors). Jayson Stark from ESPN (and Winterfell) writes a brilliant annual column showing how the parity in MLB compares to that of the NFL. It really gives you an idea of how even the MLB playing field is, and how hard it is to predict the outcome of the season. Honestly, if you want the real crystal ball just look at the Vegas lines. Vegas knows better than me or any of the other baseball writers. That being said, if you want some of my magic insight, here are my playoff and player award predictions for 2016:

The Metssiah’s Player Award Predictions:

AL MVP: Manny Machado. Yeah I didn’t pick Mike Trout. I’m crazy!! Machado had a breakout season last year, he’s young, and he’s part of a beastly lineup. Plus my scouts (google images) say Machado’s head looks enormous this spring. Maybe he’s been getting his swoll on this offseason. I’m no phrenology expert, but big head equals big season.

AL Cy Young: Chris Archer

AL Rookie of the Year: Byron Buxton

NL MVP: Bryce Harper. Again. That being said, Yoenis Cespedes is going off at 25 to 1 in Vegas for MVP. I like that sweet action.

NL Cy Young: Max Scherzer. Yeah I’m betting against my boys, but I’ll say Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard finish 2, 3 and 4 respectively so I feel better about the betrayal.

NL Rookie of the Year: Corey Seager. But Steven Matz will probably be in the conversation.

 

The Metssiah’s American League Playoff Predictions:

WC Game: Rangers over Blue Jays

ALDS: Royals over Rangers and Astros over Yankees

ALCS: Astros over Royals

 

The Metssiah’s National League Playoff Predictions

WC Game: Nationals over Pirates

NLDS: Cubs over Nationals and Mets over Giants

NLCS: Mets over Cubs

 

World Series Prediction: Mets over Astros

 

Also, for my previously published divisional predictions see these posts:

American League East

American League Central

American League West

National League East

National League Central

National League West

My Best Guess: Predicting the 2016 National League West

Greinke

(This is one post in a series of posts where I will be predicting the outcome of each MLB division. The final post will include full 2016 MLB postseason predictions.)

2015 was supposed to be a 3 team race in the NL West. The Dodgers, Giants, and Padres were supposed to be in a dogfight until the end for the division crown. The Giants won the 2014 World Series. So you can understand why there were high expectations for the Giants in 2015. The Dodgers had Zack Greinke and Clayton Kershaw at the top of their rotation. Arguably the two best pitchers in the league. And the Padres absolutely dominated the 2014/15 offseason. New GM A.J. Preller traded and signed every star he could get his hands on. The D-backs were still considered young and not on the same level as the top 3 teams from a talent perspective. The Rockies had no pitching. They still have no pitching. Mainly because it is impossible to pitch in Colorado. They never had a shot in 2015 and at the moment it feels like they may never have a shot again.

That being said, the Giants season was ultimately derailed by injuries and the Padres experiment exploded in Preller’s face. A failure of massive proportions. The Dodgers rotation did not disappoint with Greinke and Kershaw arguably both having Cy Young seasons despite ultimately finishing behind Jake Arrieta. But the Dodgers Big Two lost to the Mets. Then Greinke and manager Don Mattingly left, and the Dodgers front office was forced to pick up the pieces. Here’s what I see in 2016:

NL West: 1) San Francisco Giants (x) 2) LA Dodgers 3) Arizona Diamondbacks 4) San Diego Padres 5) Colorado Rockies

San Francisco does the on again, off again championship thing. They won in 2010, 2012, 2014. 2016 is an on year so they have to win right? Wrong. Unless you believe absurd magic patterns are the new way to predict baseball World Championships. That being said they filled all their holes from 2015. They needed outfield depth, particularly a CF, and they got Denard Span. They needed top of the rotation support and they added Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija. Their rotation is super deep now. Madison Bumgarner at the top with veterans Jake Peavy and Matt Cain eating up innings. And young Chris Heston in the mix as well. That depth will make the difference for them in the battle for the NL West. They struggled last season with injuries particularly in the outfield with Hunter Pence and Angel Pagan missing chunks of the season. Denard Span battled major injuries for all of 2015 with the Nationals. So they still have some injury risk in that area. They need Span and Pence in order to be competitive and make a run. Their bullpen was very effective again in 2015 but Sergio Romo, Javier Lopez, and Santiago Casilla are getting older. They have the talent and experience to win the division this year.

The Dodgers lost Zack Greinke and replaced him with a whole bunch of number 3 starters. They still have Clayton Kershaw who may win another Cy Young. Scott Kazmir and Kenta Maeda should be effective although Kazmir has looked bad this spring. Like the Giants, the Dodgers also have a lot of rotation depth with Alex Wood, new Cuban Yaisel Sierra, and Hyun-jin Ryu. But I like the Giants rotation better. The Dodgers also tried to bolster their bullpen and failed. Justin Turnersbane had offseason microfracture knee surgery, so it’ll be interesting to see how healthy he is this season. The Dodgers will be very good and should battle the Giants and Diamondbacks all season. I think they will miss out on the division and wild card.

The Diamondbacks are going for it. They paid 300 million for Greinke. They traded the farm to Atlanta for starter Shelby Miller. They signed Tyler Clippard for the bullpen. And they already had the young big bats in Paul Goldschmidt and A.J. Pollock. But I’m not as high on Shelby Miller as most people. Young Cuban Yasmany Tomas left a lot to be desired offensively in his first MLB season. Josh Collmenter is a nice starter. Archie Bradley is promising but unproven. Clearly the core players on this team are young, and they haven’t been tested in a pennant race during the dog days of summer. If they show they can handle that in 2016 and win the West, then obviously I’ll have a different view next season. But I’m taking the experienced Giants and Dodgers over the D-Backs.

I hate the GM of the Padres A.J. Preller. He gets hired, and immediately goes ahead and trades the entire Padres farm system during the 2014/15 offseason for Craig Kimbrel, Matt Kemp, Derek Norris, Wil Myers, and Justin Upton. They even signed James Shields for the rotation. They went for it in 2015. And…they were mediocre. It was a complete failure. And after the season he trades Kimbrel to re-stock the farm system and let’s Justin Upton walk in free agency. But he doesn’t really do anything to improve the club. He didn’t embrace a rebuild or try to go all in again. He’s doing the dance in the middle. I think he should be fired for his 2015 blunder. Presumably he came in for his GM job interview with a plan/strategy. I doubt the plan was “go for it in 2015 and if that fails then I’ll figure something else out”. He failed, and he should be fired.

And the stupid Rockies are doing the mediocre team thing also. They traded Tulo and Corey Dickerson but they kept Carlos Gonzalez and Charlie Blackmon. I don’t get it at all. These two teams have no chance. Trade all these players and re-stock the farm and try to win down the road. Mediocrity in baseball is completely pointless. They should just move the Rockies to a city with normal air pressure where the balls don’t fly out of the stadium all day, so they have an actual chance to compete. Or move the other 29 teams to Colorado. Whichever is more practical.

 

Other Divisional Predictions:

American League East

American League Central

American League West

National League East

National League Central

Steven Matz Struggling; DiMaggio “Good Looks” Won’t Save Him

DiMaggio Matz

So Opening Day is less than two weeks away, and Steven Matz has been getting rocked all spring. Now I’ve covered this to death, but Spring Training generally doesn’t matter. It really doesn’t. When the Soupmaster General Eric Campbell and Travis Taijeron are leading in every offensive category for your team, it either means your team is the Long Island Ducks or it’s Spring Training. That being said, spring means a little more for some players and a little less for others. Bartolo Colon? Spring is meaningless. He’s a seasoned veteran. He pitched like crap last spring and won 8 games between April and May. Jacob deGrom? It means a little more than nothing, but he’s already put together two full major league seasons. He’s been through the 162 game grind twice. He knows how to efficiently prepare for a full season.

Rookie Steven Matz? It actually means something. Let’s be real, if Matz hadn’t debuted in the fashion he did last season, and he came into 2016 camp battling for a spot in this rotation, his 8.31 ERA would have had him reassigned to the minor leagues over a week ago. I believe that he will get things going. I trust that it’s rust. But I’m guilty of getting overexcited and ramping up my expectations for this dude to the highest level. I’m just imagining Rookie of the Year ceremonies, Cy Young awards, and pretending he’s Clayton Kershaw. He’s got a lot to prove. Heck he’s got everything to prove. All we’ve seen so far is Steven Matz has amazing stuff and has made some real solid pressure filled playoff starts to kick off his career. Now he needs to put it all together over a full season. He needs to show he can stay healthy. He needs to show he can execute pitches consistently at the major league level. I’m sure Steven will get himself together and start off on the right foot. All I’m saying is, he’s a rookie so growing pains are inevitable and should be expected. And if all else fails he can go back to his promising career as a Joe DiMaggio impersonator living on Long Island with his parents. Who knows, maybe he’ll score the lead role in The Sandlot 4: DiMaggio’s Return. Perhaps he’ll spurn children’s films for the adult genre. He could be Joe DiMaggio in a late night Cinemax movie called 69: The Forgotten Streak. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. He’ll focus on baseball first, and then he can work on the DiMaggio related endorsements.

My Best Guess: Predicting the 2016 National League Central

Leo bear

(This is one post in a series of posts where I will be predicting the outcome of each MLB division. The final post will include full 2016 MLB postseason predictions.)

In 2015 the Cardinals, Pirates, and Cubs were the three best regular season teams in Major League Baseball, and it wasn’t really that close. The Cardinals are just completely ridiculous. They are like the Yankees in that they are God’s other chosen team. Every season, things seemingly work out for them. They overcome every injury and obstacle. In 2015, they overcame the statistical regression of their veteran catcher Yadier Molina, and they overcame injuries to veteran outfielder Matt Holiday. They also consistently get the most out of the players they acquire. Case in point would be John Lackey posting the best ERA of his career in 2015 as a 36 year old Cardinal. They won one hundred freaking games! They had the 24th ranked offense, but they had the league’s best pitching staff. Before the Mets acquired Yoenis Cespedes, they had an offense at the bottom of the barrel and a pitching staff at the very top too. Just like the Cardinals. Yet the Mets could barely maintain a .500 record without Cespedes. The Cardinals cruised to a hundo wins. Now that’s God’s work. Not to mention the fact that they had the best pitching staff with Adam Wainwright missing the whole damn season. The acquisition of Jason Heyward and his sabermetric mojo seemingly helped add to that win total. But I attribute it to voodoo magic or something. And I guess a little credit goes to the emergence of young outfielders Stephen Piscotty and Randal Grichuk.

The Pirates have had their young core in place for a few years now, and they keep winning a ton of games. But they keep losing MLB’s stupid one game Wild Card playoff. An entire damn season of domination wasted. Poor Pirates. They are just as talented as their division rivals. They just need some damn luck. And maybe this year Jung Ho Kang won’t get crippled by a takeout slide in September. But judging by the new rules he probably will.

The Cubs were a very similar team to the Mets before the 2015 season. They’d both been rebuilding for a nice long stretch, and they finally had their young talent ready to produce at the major league level. The only difference being the Mets had the talented young pitching and the Cubs were brimming with talented position players. In order to really compete, the Mets needed a big impact bat. The Cubs needed the big time arm. The Mets signed useless old man Michael Cuddyer. The Cubs actually filled their need with Jon Lester. The result? The Mets were mediocre until they got the big bat at the trade deadline. The Cubs dominated all season. The Cubs immediate jump from worst to almost first surprised people. But ironically it was the Mets young pitching that defeated them in the NLCS. So the Cubs went into the offseason knowing at a minimum they had to bolster their rotation. And in addition to their rotation, they decided to bolster every other part of their team.

Cincinnati and Milwaukee were in the bottom third of the league in hitting and pitching. They were terrible, and they were terrible from day one. Both teams had been in denial about their demise, but in 2015 they hit rock bottom. This offseason, both organizations officially checked themselves into a baseball rehabilitation program (aka a rebuild) and will take all the necessary steps to get better. Here’s what I see in 2016:

NL Central: 1) Chicago Cubs (x) 2) Pittsburgh Pirates (wc) 3) St. Louis Cardinals 4) Cincinnati Reds 5) Milwaukee Brewers

When Theo Epstein entered this Cubs roster into his robot projection computer, it exploded. No doubt about it. Every projection system has the Cubs winning 140 games, and then the computer starts to smoke and ultimately shorts out. And I understand why. They won 97 games last season. Their young position player studs should all improve. They retained Dexter Fowler. And they added two players that the sabermetric experts adore in Ben Zobrist and Jason Heyward. Oh and they also added John Lackey to their rotation. Oh and Lackey and Heyward came directly from the division rival Cardinals. So yeah I see why the computers shorted out. Their lineup should be elite from top to bottom with Kris Bryant, Kyle Schwarber, and Anthony Rizzo at it’s core. After breaking out in his age 29 season and winning the Cy Young, Jake Arrieta seems poised for another elite season at the top of their rotation and should get paid the big bucks very soon. According to Wikipedia, Jake is known as a “workout freak” who does pilates and incorporates kale juice into his diet. I’ll have to get me some of his kale Popeye smoothies so I can totally “emerge” as I approach 30.

Jon Lester and John Lackey give the Cubs strong veteran starters behind Arrieta. I don’t see Lackey matching the 2015 numbers he had with the Cardinals particularly at Wrigley Field. His ERA was much higher at the hitter friendly Fenway Park when he was with the Red Sox, and I could see the same thing happening in Chicago. They don’t have any studs behind their big 3 in the rotation. But they have so much depth on offense that they can really pull a trade for a starter at any time during the season. I don’t think the Kyle Schwarber experiment in LF is going to pan out. The guy is a big fat DH. I expect a lot of embarrassing belly flops out there for him with balls rolling all the way to the wall all season long. It’s got Lucas Duda outfield experiment written all over it. Addison Russell is going to be a star. The Mets lucked out that he was injured for the NLCS. The Cubs bullpen is full of former starting pitchers which is so trendy right now. Starting pitchers in the pen is so big in this year’s summer bullpen collection by MLB. Trevor Cahill and Adam Warren are two such examples. The computers are not wrong. The Cubs are going to be elite. They are going to battle with the Cardinals and Pirates all season long in the same way they did last year. But they will take the division this time.

The Pirates won 98 games in 2015. Andrew McCutchen is going to be an MVP candidate per usual. Gerrit Cole is going to be a Cy Young candidate as well. Francisco Liriano is a great number 2. They replaced A.J. Burnett and J.A. Happ with Jon Niese and Ryan Vogelsong. A little mid-rotation starter musical chairs. Who cares. They straight up let Pedro Alvarez walk to Baltimore, but they seemingly like the platoon they have at 1B now with John Jaso and Sean Rodriguez. Neil Walker is now a Met. But they were pretty deep in the infield already and Josh Harrison is great for 2B. They also just signed David Freese to bolster the infield depth. The ace in the hole here is top pitching prospect Tyler Glasnow is coming. And he’s coming in 2016. The Pirates definitely see him having a major impact for them this season. He could bring that rotation to the next level. It’s part of the reason they were willing to sacrifice some offense in Alvarez and Walker.

The Cardinals lost Jason Heyward and John Lackey to the Cubs. Matt Holiday is getting old. They have two first basemen in Brandon Moss and Matt Adams aka Fat Adams and only one base for them to play. But their rotation and bullpen are still elite even without Lackey. They signed a great replacement in Mike Leake. They have Adam Wainwright back. They signed Jonathan Broxton and Korean reliever Seung-hwan Oh for the bullpen. They had the number 3 bullpen ERA and the number 1 starters ERA in 2015. And they won 100 games. They should be in the same ballpark this season. Plus the Cardinals in general are just so #blessed like the stupid Yankees. But I still think the Cubs and Pirates find their way to the top of the Central in 2016.

Cincinnati and Milwuakee are in full rebuild mode. They are going to be unwatchable and will be trampled by the Cubs, Pirates and Cardinals all season long. Basically the same story as last season except the Reds and Brewers are now officially out of the “tanking” closet. The Brewers traded Khris Davis. They have former Met bum Kirk Nieuwenhuis hitting cleanup for them this Spring with former Met Eric Young Jr. battling for a spot on the bench. Captain Kirk hit 3 dingers in a game last season. Other than that he never did shit. Poor Brewers fans. May God have mercy on your souls.

The Reds have their white flags up and waving for 2016. They traded Todd Frazier and Aroldis Chapman for a plethora of prospects this offseason. The consensus was that they got hosed by the Yankees and White Sox in those trades. Whoops!

 

Other Divisional Predictions:

American League East

American League Central

American League West

National League East

My Best Guess: Predicting the 2016 National League East

cespedes cigar

(This is one post in a series of posts where I will be predicting the outcome of each MLB division. The final post will include full 2016 MLB postseason predictions.)

Before the 2015 season started, the Nationals were heavy favorites in the NL East. The experts saw them winning 100 games and representing the NL in the World Series. A lot of people also predicted the Marlins would have a big season after they made a number of offseason moves. These moves included the acquisition of utility infielder Martin Prado, 2B Dee Gordon, and OF Ichiro Suzuki. The Mets were seen as a pitching rich team with more young pitching on the way midseason. But the experts unanimously agreed that the Mets were short an impact bat. The rebuilding Phillies and Braves were expected to be the cellar dwelling duo that actively reinforced the division’s reputation as the NL Least. Well in the end the Marlins were terrible, and they joined the Phillies and Braves at the forefront of MLB’s list of bad teams. The Nationals had tons of injuries, a horrible manager, and by September the Nationals hit rock bottom when their new closer Jonathan Papelbon choked out NL MVP Bryce Harper in the dugout on national television. As expected, the Mets had elite pitching and an absolutely anemic offense through July. However, once they acquired Yoenis Cespedes at the trade deadline, the offense went from worst to first and launched the Mets to the NL East crown and a World Series appearance. Not much changed this offseason as far as the NL East big picture is concerned. The Braves and Phillies are still rebuilding. The Marlins are still pretending they have a chance to be good. The Mets and Nationals should duke it out for the division crown. Here’s what I see in 2016:

NL East: 1) NY Mets (x) 2) Washington Nationals (wc) 3) Miami Marlins 4) Atlanta Braves 5) Philadelphia Phillies

I see the Mets and Nationals battling for the division all season long. As I wrote in my Mets season preview, I see the Mets winning the World Series for a number of reasons. The main reasons being their unrivaled starting pitching and the fact that they have the postseason experience now. We all saw what the Royals did in the 2015 postseason. They were so composed. So battle tested. I expect the Mets to have that same moxie in 2016. And the Mets get to have a full season of Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz now. Not to mention the eventual return of Zack Wheeler who had arguably the best raw stuff of the entire group of pitchers. Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, and Noah Syndergaard could all realistically win the Cy Young. I think the Mets have a deep lineup too with the potential to score a lot of runs. Michael Conforto is probably going to breakout. Neil Walker is going to have a big contract year. Yoenis Cespedes is going to make everyone around him better. Bullpen could be a weak spot, but as long as Jeurys Familia is closing, it won’t be that big of a problem. A pen arm can always be added down the stretch.

That being said, the Nationals aren’t going to be a pushover. And I think both the Mets and Nationals will wind up in the playoffs. The Nationals stumbled due to injuries last season and appalling managing by Matt Williams. Plain and simple. Sure the Mets came up big against them when they had to. Sure Yoenis Cespedes ended the Nationals career of Drew Storen with that September home run off of him that led to a sweep and ultimately locked up the division. But the Nationals ultimately stumbled more than the Mets truly beat them. The Nats still have a stacked rotation and lineup. I doubt Ryan Zimmerman will stay healthy in the same way I doubt David Wright will stay healthy for the Mets. Jayson Werth will probably rebound after his injury plagued 2015 which included a 5 day stint in jail for reckless driving. I think by season’s end, they will have the MVP (Bryce Harper) and the NL Cy Young winner (Max Scherzer). Stupid Daniel Murphy will probably provide a tremendous boost to their offense while simultaneously committing blunder after blunder in the field. Same story as his stint with the Mets. They revamped their bullpen, but I don’t really like any of their new pieces. They added former Met castoff Oliver Perez and Met farmhand Yusmeiro Petit. Woop-de-freakin-doo. They also have a Syndergaard-esque prospect due to come up in Lucas Giolito. He could really change the game down the stretch. I think the Nats will win a wild card after beating up on our weak division.

The Marlins hired Don Mattingly to manage and Barry Bonds to be their hitting coach. Just to be clear, these two guys are coaching. They are not joining the actual 2016 Marlins roster, in their playing prime, as a result of some tear in the space time fabric. The Marlins were 71-91 last season. They were awful. You can blame their former manager Mike Redmond and their GM Dan Jennings all you want. But I think this team stinks. Sure they have potential MVP candidate Giancarlo Stanton. But he gets hurt every season. He’s already battling knee pain again this spring. Dee Gordon won the batting title last season at 2B for the Marlins, and they still only won 71 games. He’s going to regress in 2016. Jose Fernandez is back for a full season at the top of their rotation. That is going to have a huge impact because he is so elite. And they did add Wei-Yin Chen as a number 2 starter. But they lost Carter Capps out of the pen this spring to TJ surgery. He was going to challenge for the closer’s job. Maybe the Marlins improve a bit. Maybe they go .500. But I don’t see them being much better than that.

The Phillies and Braves are in rebuild mode. They are both going to be miserable to watch and the Mets and Nationals are going to destroy them every other week when they play. The Braves made great offseason trades to continue to bolster their already stocked farm system. They robbed the D-Backs in that Shelby Miller deal. Dansby Swanson seems to be an elite future SS, and they also netted top pitching prospect Aaron Blair. The trade of their existing SS Andrelton Simmons netted them pitcher Sean Newcomb. They are stocking up on young pitching. Everyone’s trying to find a way to beat the Mets at their own game.

The Phillies waited way too long to start their rebuild, but they finally did start. They dished Cole Hamels last season. They even traded young closer Ken Giles to the Astros in the offseason. They signed some scrub players to fill out the pitching staff namely Jeremy Hellickson for the rotation and David Hernandez for the bullpen. They are excited to see what Maikel Franco does at 3B in his first full season and what Odubel Herrera does in the OF in his second season. But it’s going to be a brutal year in Philly. I’m sure the fans have their batteries primed and ready to pelt the Philly Phanatic.

 

Other Divisional Predictions:

American League East

American League Central

American League West

Weekly Roundup: Ruben Tejada Gifted To Cardinals For Tax Purposes

Ruben Gifted To Cardinals For Tax Purposes: As April 15th approaches, the Wilpons are scrambling to find deductions and other ways to lower their 2015 tax bill. This week, in an effort to improve their bottom line, Ruben Tejada was waived by the Mets and gifted to the Cardinals for tax purposes. He was cut by the Mets to save 2.5 million dollars. That’s what happened. There’s no debating that. No discussion. It’s amazing, but I’ve listened to so many Wilpon apologists this week. Truly unbelievable. People saying, “They signed Cespedes so you can’t complain” and “Tejada isn’t that good so this move makes sense”. Umm please just shut up. This move was financially motivated. It wasn’t a roster move based on talent. You know how I know? Because Eric Campbell makes this team. Ruben Tejada is a major leaguer and Eric “Soup” Campbell is not. It’s that simple. We are giving a bum a roster spot. We are voluntarily playing with a 24 man roster, and it’s that exact strategy that hurt our chances prior to the trade deadline last season.

And my god the Soup apologists came out of the woodwork this week too. I’ve never seen so many goddamn Soup apologists in my entire life. I’ve seen people say “Well Soup’s not that bad” and “You’ve got to look at his advanced stats” and “He sees a lot of pitches” and “He makes good contact”. And on and on and on. Yeah I agree. Soup sees so many pitches before he strikes out. I mean you really need to look at his quality ground out percentages and his fly out contact rates. You really gotta focus on all the Soupermetrics. Everyone please just can the Soup crap.

And as far as Tejada goes, whatever. I’m over it. It’s been 163 days since Utley’s takeout slide, and I ain’t over that. But it only took me 24 hours to get over Ruben’s release. I will say one last thing. I’ve seen people say “Ruben Tejada won the SS job from Wilmer Flores down the stretch in 2015″. That is a complete and utter fallacy. The reality is Flores sucks at SS, so Terry threw Ruben back out there last summer. Ruben Tejada is funny. First we hated him. Then we got used to him. Enough time passed, got so we depended on him. That’s Metstitutionalized.

Cabrera Magically “Healed”: And in a related story, Tejada was released and overnight Asdrubal’s knee injury magically “healed”. He was supposed to be inactive for two weeks and miss Opening Day while rehabbing. Ruben gets released, and Asdrubal Cabrera is riding a stationary bike the next day. Now he’s taking grounders and preparing to hit again. I’m sure the Mets aren’t rushing him back to appease the fan base or anything like that. Speaking of rushing back, Jose Reyes was seen running on the underwater treadmill rehabbing his hammy in Port St. Lucie. He should be ready for Opening Day 2011.

Game Notes:

On Monday, the Mets lost 9-2 to the Tigers. Wilmer Flores and Kevin Plawecki put on a multi-hit show. The bench squad coming through. Plawecki better get the goddamn backup catcher job. Seth Lugo was sharp again. He’s been sharp all spring, and he’s going to be one of the first pitchers on deck in AAA. Hansel Robles gave up a ding dong.

On Tuesday, the Mets won 8-6 over the Marlins. Noah Syndergaard dominated and is so ready to go. Antonio Bastardo got shelled. Outfielder Travis Taijeron won’t stop mashing, but he’s definitely not a prospect. Just another spring legend.

On Thursday, the Mets won 6-5 over the Marlins. Beat em again. Jacob deGrom finally looked good in a spring start. His back was seemingly back. Steven Matz pitched in relief in this game and got rocked. He’s also looked rusty. Yoenis Cespedes got hit by a pitch on the hand during the game but is supposedly fine. His hip has also been balky, but he’s playing through it. Hopefully it’s just spring soreness and not early onset METS syndrome.

On Friday, the Mets lost 12-7 to the Nationals. Big Sexy was Real Ugly. But Bartolo Colon is a vet, and he spends the spring experimenting and working out his “kinks”. If I remember correctly, he had an awful spring in 2015, and then he went on to win 8 games in April and May. So spring really is meaningless. Jim Henderson pitched great again. His velocity has been in the low to mid 90s. I think he’s going to make the pen now that we cleared a 40 man roster spot with the release of Tejada. David Wright finally debuted. Juan Lagares hit a solo ding and Michael Conforto hit a Grand Dong.

Saturday’s game was a rainout.

On Sunday, the Mets lost 9-4 to the Red Sox. Thor was sharp but apparently his hair was getting in his way, and he says he needs a haircut. Bastardo and Jerry Blevins were awful again.

Bullpen Struggling and Bench Short: It’s spring training so nothing really matters. That being said, Anthony Bastard, Jerry Blevins, and Hansel Robles have been god awful. The pen is a concern. As I said in my Mets season preview, it’s the biggest risk for derailing our season. That and our lack of depth in the infield are real problems. The Mets have raved about our infield depth. How they stockpiled infielders. We are so flush with infielders this year. So much so that we threw Ruben to the curb like a sack of trash on pickup day. If we are so deep, why are Soup and rookie Matt Reynolds making this team? If we are so deep, why is Wilmer Flores running around the infield like Robin Williams in that restaurant at the end of Mrs. Doubtfire? Pretending to be a SS and then changing in the bathroom and running over to 3B. Scurrying back and forth between the bases. Hellooooooo!!!!!

Wilmer Flores is our backup first basemen too. Well other than as a runner, he hasn’t stepped foot on the base in a major league game or a spring game. Ray Ramirez is not a doctor he just plays one on TV. Wilmer Flores is supposed to be a first basemen but he’s never played one on TV. Wilmer is supposedly going to see some game action there this week, and Keith Hernandez is expected to help him with the move. Flores just has to help Keith move first.

Wright Walks: Like Lazarus in the Bible, David Wright finally rose up and walked this week. My sources said he went 1 for 5 in a wiffle ball game near Tradition Field. Unfortunately, he struggled to hit the wind aided breaking ball. But in all seriousness, as I said above he played this week. He debuted on Friday and played Sunday too. Hopefully he’s ready for Opening Day. We pray.

Lagares/Cespedes Freaky Friday: On Friday against the Nationals, Terry played Gold Glove CF Juan Lagares in LF and Gold Glove LF Yoenis Cespedes in CF. Terry Collins is seemingly trying to create some sort of Freaky Friday gold glove body switch scenario. Terry did this again on Sunday. Terry said he may do this during the regular season to ensure Cespedes gets into a routine in CF. Stop it Terry. I get versatility is good but playing guys out of position for the sake of “routine” is so dumb. Start them where they belong and stop this crap.

Alderson Says Mets Have Money: After the Tejada release, the media folks asked Alderson if the move was about money. They asked him if the team would have the flexibility to add payroll during the season. As he counted out a bunch of singles on the press conference table in front of him Alderson said, “Nah bro actually I’m doing pretty good with money right now.”

HarveyDay Opening Day: The Mets tabbed Matt Harvey the 2016 Opening Day starter. I love this move. After his World Series performance and injury comeback in 2015, he totally deserves it. Plus deGrom has looked slightly behind the other studs this spring. He definitely has not been on the level of Matt Harvey or Thor as far as velocity is concerned. But I honestly think he’s just a smart pitcher. He’s been working on off-speed and breaking pitches. He’s conserving his energy on the fastball. Definitely not fully exerting himself. I’m confident he’ll be ready to bring it when the season starts. Maybe he’s a little fatigued from all the innings last year. Maybe he’s fine. But I do think getting him out of the spotlight the first few days of the regular season could be good either way.

Spring Is So Meaningless: This week, Marlins hitting coach Barry Bonds beat the Marlins actual players in a batting practice home run derby. And Bartolo Colon allegedly hit two batting practice home runs on different days both of which struck trees. Bartolo is officially El Leñador which is Spanish for the The Lumberjack. He’s just slashing and burning the Port St. Lucie forests with his fire dingers. Hopefully once he burns the whole place down, we can head north and finally play some real ball.