Archive for April, 2017

With apologies to Nick Lowe.

Another wave of protest rises and falls.  This concern is disconcerting.  Candidly, people such as professor Ozzie Monge have far too much time on their hands.  Perhaps Mr. Monge should body surf.  Create a bit of joy for himself.

How the Aztec Warrior is viewed as “racist” or “culturally insensitive” (re: The San Diego Union Tribune, 4/19/17) confounds me.  The Aztec Warrior is detailed to the most known anthropological facts from his head dress to shield to spear.  He is not a jolly Cleveland Indian.  He is not thrown together haphazardly in an attempt to illicit laughter or disdain or fear.

Returning to Mr. Monge, his claim via the UT 4/19/17 article that the “Aztec name was inappropriate . . . it was chosen on the inaccurate historical assumption that the Aztecs were once in the Southwest United States” is the reason to retain the Aztec Warrior and Aztecs as SDSU’s identify.  The Aztecs were not a Native American tribe.  Therefore, how is an indigenous people whose primary cultural influence was found in modern day Mexico, rather than the U.S. southwest, “racist” or “culturally insensitive”?  Tis not.  If any group of people should be unhappy with San Diego State University, that group is found in Mexico.  Yet, we do not hear of any concern.  Perhaps other social and political issues are of primary importance.  Per the Daily Aztec, 4/20/17, Mr. Monge face plants into the puddle of hyperbole when he compares the Aztec issue to that of Jim Crow laws.  Please, professor.  You are a step away from bemoaning a propellor as unnecessarily churning air or water.  “The debate should have been about principles and values.”  Evidently, you were snoozing.  Your concern was met.

I have yet to hear or read of the Irish demanding that Notre Dame drop their fist ready Irishman as racist or culturally insensitive.  For the record, I’m Irish.  I don’t give the proverbial rat’s ass or two shits about the angry leprechaun ready to brawl.  Frankly, a half-full (I’m that kind of guy) glass of beer should be in the background.  Do Greeks protest San Jose State or Michigan State for their use of a Spartan Warrior as their respective mascot?  Not yet.  Does Germany object to the University of Idaho’s Vandal?  I do not know of Norway, Sweden and/or Denmark calling Portland State University to demand the removal of their beloved Viking.  What is the difference?  Florida State University (Seminoles), Utah University (Utes) and Central Michigan University (Chippewas) receive permission from their respective Native American tribes to use their mascots.  SDSU is not alone in the culturally respectful use of mascots representative of history.

Regarding the ten Associated Students representatives who resigned immediately after the meeting, a wise choice given your individual and collective inability to effectively debate and endure a loss.  Politics is not your future.

Go Aztecs!

 

 

 

 

N.L. East

First – New York Mets.

Great pitching with just enough hitting lands the Mets in front of the Nationals.  Noah Snydergaard, Jacob deGrom, Steven Matz, Robert Gsellman and Matt Harvey should share a win total of at least 75 games.  The bullpen features two guys who can close:  Addison Reed and Jeurys Familia.  Fernando Salas and Jerry Blevins are best of the rest.

Yoenis Cespedes, Curtis Granderson, Neil Walker and Asdrubal Cabrera provide enough offense.  If Jay Bruce can find his old self, Mets’ fans will be pleased.  If not, Brandon Nimmo is looking for at bats as is T.J. Rivera.

Second – Washington.

A fine outfield now that Jayson Werth drives in runs.  Adam Eaton is one of the best centerfielders in the game.  Bryce Harper will start fast, stall, rally his sizable ego and have a good year.  Anthony Rendon, Trea Turner and Daniel Murphy can all hit.  Ryan Zimmerman returning to form would be swell for Nats’ fans.

Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, Tanner Roark, Joe Ross and Gio Gonzalez present difficulty for any lineup.  Blake Treinen should close.  Not Shawn Kelley.  Joe Blanton keeps pitching and eating.  He Bartolo Colon should lead us to the fountain of youth.  Sammy Solis is the best of an anemic bullpen.

Third – Philadelphia.

Maikel Franco, Odubel Herrera and Cesar Hernandez will make a lot of money in the near future.  A talented trio.  Michael Saunders and Howie Kendrick bring experience to a youthful team.

Jeremy Hellickson and Jerad Eickhoff are becoming an effective one-two as starters.  Vince Velasquez and Aaron Nola need to improve.  Why any team would trade for Clay Buchholz is without explanation.  Hector Neris should replace Jeanmar Gomez as the closer.  Joaquin Benoit, Pat Neshek, Edubray Ramos and Juely Rodriguez will get plenty of appearance and build on last year’s success.

Fourth – Miami.

The starting pitching will struggle.  Only Dan Straily brings any success from 2016.  Edinson Volquez, Tom Koehler, Wei-Yin Chen and Adam Conley will make for many a long day in Miami.  A.J. Ramos will marvel at the few save opportunities presented.  Kyle Barraclough, David Phelps, Junichi Tarawa, Dustin McGowan and Nick Wittgren form an above average bullpen ready to work.

Justin Bour is becoming a quality first baseman.  Martin Prado, Christian Yelich, J.T. Realmuto, Derek Dietrich (he needs a place to play) and Giancarlo Stanton will offer plenty of runs, but often come up shy given the woeful starting pitching.

Fifth – Atlanta.

If the Braves had a better bullpen, I’d chose them in front of the Marlins.  But, they do not.  Julio Teheran meets Bartolo Colon (43!) this year.  Hopefully, Jaime Garcia and Mike Foltynewicz will ask Mr. Colon for advice.  R.A. Dickey either wins 18 games or 10 games this year.  You choose.  The aforementioned bullpen, less Jim Johnson, Josh Collementer and Chaz Roe is a glass of spilled beer.

Much like the Marlins, the Braves will score and score often.  Freddie Freeman (he and Paul Goldschmidt are above and beyond as first basemen), Matt Kemp, Nick Markakis, Ender Inciarte, Dansby Swanson (the real deal in development) and Tyler Flowers will often wonder, how many runs do we need to score to win?

N.L. Central

First – Cubs.

As if I needed to type that word.  These guys are loaded.  From top to bottom.  Loaded.  Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, Jason Hayward, Wilson Contreras, Addison Russell and Ben Zobrist are productive plus.  Jon Jay and Tommy La Stella offer the best bench production in the league.  Mr. Jay should replace Albert Almora in center.

The pitching is stupid good.  Jon Lester, Jake Arrieta, John Lackey, Brett Anderson and Kyle Hendricks will dominate entire series against good teams.  Wade Davis closes.  The rest of the ‘pen is as deep as the starters.  Hector Rondon, Pedro Strop, Carl Edwards, Koji Uehara, Brian Duensing and Mike Montgomery will do their best to share innings.

Second – Pittsburgh.

One of the better offenses in baseball.  All five outfielders hit.  Gregory Polanco (why is he and his cannon arm in left field?), Starling Marte, Andrew McCutchen, Adam Frazier and John Jaso all produce.  Jay Bell, Jeff Kang and Francisco Cervelli represent the infield.  David Freese is looking for more at bats.

Jameson Taillon is better than Gerrit Cole.  Ivan Nova completes an impressive first three.  Chad Kuhl and Tyler Glasnow need to improve to keep away the Cardinals.  Tony Watson closes, but getting to him can be a challenge given the average ability of the bullpen.  Expect for Wade LeBlanc.  I never though I would type those words.

Third – St. Louis.

Psst.  Guess what?  Their starting pitching ain’t what it used to be.  Carlos Martinez is the only starter who had a quality 2016.  Adam Wainwright slipped as did Michael Wacha who slipped even more.  Lance Lynn returns from injury.  Mike Leake was unimpressive.  Thankfully, the bullpen is deep.  Seeing Hwan Oh will close.  Kevin Siegrist, Brett Cecil, Jonathan Broxton, Matt Bowman and Miguel Socolovich rarely falter.

Yadier Molina and Eric Fryer offer a lot of punch as a catching duo.  Matt Adams, Aldemys Diaz, Dexter Fowler and Stephen Piscotty don’t quite add up to the Pirates offense, but if they can hand a one run lead to the bullpen, all is well.

Fourth – Milwaukee.

There is little difference between the Brewers and Reds.  Both teams could be as bad as the Padres, Twins and Athletics.  Yep, that bad.

The Brewers do have a group of outfielders who can hit in Ryan Braun, Keon Broxton and Domingo Santana.  I understand the Brewers want to see the continued development of Eric Thames at first, but placing Travis Shaw at third is a mistake.  Many an out will stand on second benefiting from yet another wild throw across the diamond by Mr. Shaw.  Alas, he can hit.  Jonathan Villar is a quality second baseman.

Junior Guerra and Zach Davies at least offer a chance to win.  Once Jimmy Nelson, Wily Peralta and Matt Garza take the mound, seek cover.  Neftali Feliz, Carlos Torres and Jacob Barnes are the best in a thin bullpen that will see far too much action in 2017.

Fifth – Cincinnati.

Joey Votto and Jose Peraza are the offense.  Will Billy Hamilton ever learn to love the walk?

The starting pitching is bad.  Anthony DeSciafani is the only starter who could win a dozen games.  Starting pitchers in the Reds’ organization at the AAA and AA level should receive an extended opportunity in 2017.  Raisel Iglesias, Michael Lorenzen and Barrett Astin offer the beginning of a bullpen, but suffer from a lack of company.

N.L. West

First – San Francisco.

The reason I choose the Giants over the Dodgers (the other three teams have no chance) is better starting pitching.  Madison Bumgarner is awesome.  Johnny Cueto, Matt Moore and Jeff Samardzija should each win between 14 to 18 games.  Matt Cain is the only weak link.  Mark Melancon arrives as the closer.  Derek Law, Hunter Strickland, George Kontos, Steven Okert and Ty Blach complete a formidable ‘pen.

The offense is average on a good day, but Bruce Bochy usually finds a way to win.  Buster Posey, Brandon Belt, Hunter Pence and Brandon Crawford provide most of the limited punch.

Second – Los Angeles.

A lot more offense than the Giants, but not near the bullpen.  Andrew Toles should get a well earned shot in left.  Joc Pederson is reducing his strikeouts.  Yasiel Puig will peg the guy selling popcorn on the second level on the third base side.  Corey Seager, Logan Forsythe, Adrian Gonzalez and Yasmani Grandal will highlight the offense.  Justin Turner looks cool, but he’s overrated.

Clayton Kershaw is unbelievably good.  Kenta Maeda, Rich Hill and Alex Wood are almost as good as their Giant counterparts.  Kenley Jansen will get the saves while Grant Dayton, Sergio Romo, Josh Ravin and Pedro Baez will get most of the work.

Third – Colorado.

If nothing else, these guys can hit.  Lots of power and runs courtesy of Charlie Blackmon, Nolan Arenado (especially), Trevor Story, D.J. LeMahieu, Mark Reynolds and Tom Murphy.  David Dahl and Ian Desmond will make the most of their at bats as well.

Starting pitching is bad less Jon Gray.  The bullpen will feature Greg Holland closing.  Adam Ottavino and Mike Dunn are the best of a suspect group.

Fourth – Arizona.

Torey Lovullo will make the best of a bad team, thus finish in front of the Padres.

Paul Goldschmidt is stuck in the desert until somebody offers enough talent on 7/31/17.  Jack Lamb is the only other source of consistent offense.

Zack Greinke did not have a Zack Greinke year in 2016.  If he returns to form, he and Taijuan Walker will win half the games in the Diamondback win column at year’s end.  Fernando Rodney will close.  Does anything else need to be said?

Fifth – San Diego.

Call me crazy, but San Diego has a lot of youth and talent.  At least on the offensive side.  Alex Dickerson, Hunter Renfroe, Yangeris Solarte and Wil Myers can sweat a pitcher.  The organization has a ton of talent at the AAA and AA level.  Parade the kids and see who can play.

The pitching is awful less a few guys in the bullpen.  Trevor Cahill is the best of the starters.  Jered Weaver will throw a breaking ball clocked in the 50s.  I guarantee the moment.  Returning to the bullpen, Carter Capps should close.  Brad Hand, Ryan Butcher and Buddy Baumann will rarely rest.  A long year awaits.

 

A.L. East

First – Boston.

Why?  Lots of killer B’s, that’s why.  Betts, Bogaerts, Bradley, Benintendi.  Talent plus, especially if Mr. Benintendi has a stellar second year.  The Red Sox have the youngest, most productive outfield in the A.L.  If, a big if, Pablo Sandoval returns to baseball form (not necessarily physical form.  This man loves his food) coupled with Hanley Ramirez finally maturing as a player (DH mostly), the Red Sox could put 6+ runs on the board at least twice a week.  Dustin Pedroia is bound for Red Sox lore.  Mitch Moreland returns to full-time play splitting his time between first and DH-ing for Hanley.  Sandy Leon and Christian Vazquez will share the catching duties.  Blake Swihart and Dan Butler will receive time behind the plate as the season unfolds.  Chris Young and Steve Selsky are the fourth and fifth outfielders while Brock Holt and Marco Hernandez support the infield.

David Price on the d.l. is less than ideal.  Same with Carson Smith and Tyler Thornburg.  An area of immediate concern, no doubt.  However, the acquisition of Chris Sale to accompany Rick Porcello, Steven Wright, Eduardo Rodriguez (he could injure himself stepping into a car) and Drew Pomeranz are an above average starting staff.  Craig Kimbrel , Joe Kelly, Matt Barnes, Robbie Ross and Heath Hembree are the pillars of the bullpen, though more depth will be immediate upon the return of Mr. Smith and Mr. Thornburg.

Second – Baltimore.

Why?  Because of their bullpen.  Zach Britton is the best closer in baseball.  Donnie Hart, Darren O’Day and Brad Brach are slightly less outstanding than Mr. Britton.  As for the starters (Chris Tillman, Kevin Gausman, Dylan Bundy, Wade Miley and Ubaldo Jimenez), they need to get to 5 and 1/3, then hand the ball to a reliever.

Mark Trumbo, Adam Jones, Manny Machado, Chris Davis, Jonathan Schoop and Seth Smith provide plenty of offensive punch.  O’s fans can look forward to the same run scoring circus of 2016.  However, any significant injury will result will not be easily solved from within the Baltimore minor league system given the barren nature of developing everyday players.

Third – Tampa Bay.

Candidly, the last three spots in the A.L. East are a toss up.  I’m listing Tampa in front of Toronto and New York because of their starting pitching.  If Chris Archer, Jake Odorizzi, Matt Andriese and Alex Cobb (whose last full year was 2014) can pitch to ability, the Rays can finish third.  If not, who knows?  The ‘pen is solid.  Alex Colome closes. Xavier Cedeno, Danny Farquhar, Erasmo Ramirez and Chase Whitley are almost as impressive as Baltimore’s bullpen.

When hitting the baseball, if Evan Longoria gets consistent help from Steve Souza, Kevin Kiermaier, Corey Dickerson (who should start in left, not Colby Rasmus) and Logan Morrison, life is hopeful for the citizens of Tampa Bay who watch baseball in a circus tent.  Please build a real baseball stadium.  Please.

Fourth – NYY.

Joe Girardi is the best manager in baseball.  I realize a great deal of time has passed since the Yankees have made the playoffs, but what Mr. Girardi does with the little provided him is impressive.

N.Y. has a fine defensive outfield featuring Billy Gardner, Jacoby Ellsbury and Rob Refsnyder (who will take Aaron Judge’s and or Aaron Hick’s place in right as the year progresses).  Matt Holiday at the age of 37 and feeling each day of those 37 years will be best served as the DH with no appearances in left.  Greg Bird and Didi Gregorius will highlight an uneven infield.  Chase Headley and Starlin Castro do not create much confidence.  Gary Sanchez seems to be the real deal behind the plate.

Starting pitching looks spotty after Masahiro Tanaka.  C.C. Sabathia is entering Jered Weaver territory.  Look forward to a breaking ball in the low 70s.  Michael Pineda is a mystery.  Talent never realized.  Luis Severino struggles in the Bronx, but I find his ability substantial.  Perhaps a trade would help.  Chad Green was my number one rated starting pitcher in the Yankees’ system.  Aroldis Chapman returns as the closer.  Dellin Betances and Tommy Layne are the most talented of the remaining relievers.  Adam Warren is a human rain delay.

Toronto – Fifth.

A sub par outfield in the persons of Ezequiel Carrera, Kevin Pillar and Jose “Nobody Loves Me” Bautista.  Is Troy Tulowitzki feeling his age?  Justin Smoak at first is a head scratcher.  I’m guessing the Jays are biding time until Rowdy Tellez is ready.  Josh Donaldson will provide the bulk of offensive fire power.  Devon Travis is seeking quality consecutive years.  He is a potential All-Star.

Marco Estrada and J.A. Happ are the top two starters.  Aaron Sanchez has talent, but needs a full year to prove himself.  Francisco Liriano and the overrated Marcus Stroman complete an average starting staff.  Roberto Osuna and Jason Grilli will handle the closing and set-up roles.  Joe Smith, Joe Biagini and Ryan Tepera will get the bulk of relief  innings.

A.L. Central

First – Cleveland.

Perhaps the most offensively productive infield in the A.L.  Jose Ramirez, Francisco Lindor (a bright, bright future), Jason Kipnis and Carlos Santana love to hit and hit well.  A healthy Michael Brantley makes a good team better.  Tyler Naquin and Brandon Guyer (he will sit when Lonnie Chisenhall returns) complete the outfield.  The catching is somewhat suspect.  Yan Gomez and Roberto Perez can’t hit their weight, but owning a pitching staffs’ confidence is worth the lack of production.  Edwin Encarnacion makes for more runs.

Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco (he’s better than Mr. Kluber) and Josh Tomlinson provide role models for Danny Salazar and Trevor Bauer.  A talented bullpen led by Cody Allen makes for confidence.  Andrew Miller, Bryan Shaw, Boone Logan and Dan Otero are top notch.

Second – Kansas City.

A distant second if the starting pitching fails.  A close second if the starting pitching clicks.  Danny Duffy, Ian Kennedy and Jason Hammel either reach last year’s numbers or the wheels fall off.  Jason Vargas missed most of the last two years.  This year, we shall see.  Kelvin Herrera closes and closes well.  Joakim Soria had a sub par 2016.  Matt Strahm and Mike Minor each had an impressive 2016.  Travis Wood probably leaves the bullpen to become the fifth starter.

Alex Gordon is overrated.  Jorge Soler as well.  Lorenzo Cain is the anchor.  Paulo Orlando should assume right field duties once Mr. Soler is identified as unproductive.  Speaking of overrated, I give you the K.C. infield.  Mike Moustakas and Raul Mondesi are inconsistent.  Alcides Escobar needs his offensive numbers to approach his defensive ability.  Eric Hosmer is the real deal.  Brandon Moss as DH doesn’t tickle me.

Third – Detroit.

Miguel Cabrera, J.D. Martinez, Nick Castellanos, Victor Martinez and Ian Kinsler drive the offense.

Justin Verlander leads a “meh” starting staff.  Mike Fulmer, Jordan Zimmermann and Daniel Norris need to pitch in (oh, evil pun!) or else the Tigers will finish fourth.  Frankie Rodriguez, Bruce Rondon, Alex Wilson and Kyle Ryan are looking for help in the bullpen.

Fourth – White Sox.

Jose Abreu toils away in obscurity (in Chicago?  Yep.  The White Sox are that bad).  Omar Narvaez is a quality catcher.  Todd Frazier, a nice guy, strikes out far too often, but the White Sox need his run production.  Signing Tim Anderson to a long-term deal was dumb.  Mr. Anderson has a long journey to establish himself as a shortstop who can field and hit.

Jose Quintana and Miguel Gonzalez lead a suspect starting staff.  David Robertson and Nate Jones are a quality late inning duo.  Michael Ynoa is the best of the rest in the bullpen.

Fifth – Minnesota.

A young outfield may be ready to blossom.  Eddie Rosario, Byron Buxton and Max Kepler should each receive 500 at bats this year.  The proof waits.  Jose Polanco and Brian Dozier form a solid defensive middle and they can hit.  The catching is anemic.  Jason Castro, Chris Gimenez and John Ryan Murphy are a collective shoulder shrug.

Erwin Santana is the only starting pitcher of note.  Brandon Kintzler will close given Glenn Perkins affection for long-term injury.  Ryan O’Rourke (if healthy) and Matt Belisle are the best of a shallow bullpen.

A.L. West

First – Seattle.

Yep.  Seattle.  Jarrod Dyson improves the outfield.  Guillermo Heredia will take Mitch Haniger’s spot in right as the year progresses.  Kyle Seager, Jean Segura, Robinson Cano and Danny Valencia are the equivalent of Cleveland’s infield.  Lots and lots of hits and runs.  And that’s without the numbers generated by Nelson Cruz.  Carlos Ruiz eventually becomes the starting catcher.

Felix Hernandez will have a better 2017, i.e., normal year as compared to last year (strictly an anomaly).  Hisashi Iwakuma, James Paxton and Drew Smyly need to post better numbers than last year.  The bullpen receives no media buzz, but Edwin Diaz, Dan Altavilla, Nick Vincent and Steven Cishek are a quality group.  Plus, Seattle’s reliever development is quality.  Andrew Kittredge and Steve Johnson await the call to Seattle.

Second – Houston.

Any Seattle stumble, the Astros finish first.  Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa and George Springer form an impressive middle.  Norichika Akoi is the best unknown left fielder in baseball.  Carlos Beltran continues to produce in the DH spot.  Keep him off the field otherwise.  Brian McCann and Evan Gattis may set a record for most home runs by a catching platoon.

Dallas Keuchel needs company.  Lance McCullers, Charlie Morton, Mike Fiers and Colin McHugh were ineffective last year.  Joseph Musgrove will receive his fist extended chance as a starter.  This young man has a load of potential.  Ken Giles doesn’t thrill me as a closer.  I’m sure that keeps him up at night.  Will Harris, Luke Gregerson and/or Chris Devenski serve as potential replacements.  Mike Feliz, James Hoyt and Jandel Gustave complete a deep bullpen.

Third – Los Angeles of Anaheim of Southern California.

Mike Trout, Mike Trout, Mike Trout.  Please watch Mike Trout.  He is awesome.  And, no, I’m not an Angels’ fan.  Cameron Maybin puts a stop to 2016’s Rent A Left Fielder approach.  Kole Calhoun keeps getting better with each passing year.  People complain about Albert Pujols, but he drove in runs and hit the ball over the fence.  No bitchin’.  Andrelton Simmons may become a complete shortstop.  The second half of last year, he put the ball in play and reduced his strikeouts.  Yunel Escobar had a quality year.  Luis Valbuena and C.J. Cron form a one-two punch at first, but C.J. eventually takes the job.

What determines the Angels’ 2017 is the starting pitching which was decimated in 2016.  If Garrett Richard, Tyler Skaggs, Andrew Heaney and Nick Tropeano are healthy, the Angels make the playoffs.  If not, another long year awaits.  Huston Street either closes or is replaced by Cam Bedrosian.  The rest of the ‘pen is suspect.  Not good.  The Angels may well find themselves on the wrong side of 6-5, 5-4 and 4-3.

Fourth – Texas.

Nomar Mazara meets his second year.  What will happen?  Jurickson Profar and Carlos Gomez provide little offensive punch.  But, wait!  Adrian Beltre (yes, he is a HOFer), Elvis Andrus, Rougned Odor, Mike Napoli and Jonathan Lucroy will rip the cover off the ball.  Speaking of Mr. Lucroy, if Shin Soo Choo offers average DH numbers, look for Mr. Lucroy to assume the DH role and Brett Nicholas to assume the catching duties.

Yu Darvish and Cole Hamels lead an anemic group of starters.  Thankfully, the bullpen is above average.  Lots and lots of innings will be required of Sam Dyson, Jeremy Jeffress, Alex Claudio, Tony Barnette, Tanner Scheppers and Matt Bush.

Fifth – Oakland.

A truly awful offense less Khris Davis.  Truly.  I have nothing.  As do the A’s.

Sean Manaea and Jharel Cotton (tremendous potential) highlight a dim starting staff.  Sonny Gray starting the year on the d.l. is an indicator of the pain A’s fans will endure.  Santiago Casilla will bump Ryan Madson from the closer role.  Sean Doolittle, Ryan Dull and Liam Hendricks will each receive in excess of 70 innings pitched during 2017.