Soccer City seems to be slowly disintegrating.  Public support for Soccer City has shrunk considerably since May.  In the meantime, the NASL has placed a professional soccer franchise in San Diego ready to play in 2018.  Does San Diego need two professional soccer teams?  No.  Will San Diego support two professional soccer teams?  No.  No is the exact point made by Kevin Acee’s criticism of San Diego (politicians, business people, voters, citizens, elderly, disabled, students, surfers and pet owners) from his 6/19/17 UT article, yet Mr. Acee found his uncomfortable truth in the word, “No”.  Mr. Acee needs to stop grappling with political reality as well as wishing on a star that MSL will “wait to add more teams” in the hope that Soccer City will win enough votes November, 2018.  No.

Mr. Acee’s comparing the Chargers hemming and hawing for years to the city council’s denial of a special election equates with comparing the Civil War to pushing and shoving.  His claim that “we’re a joke” is nonsense.  The citizens of San Diego know a tilted political favor when they see one.  FS Investors was all too cozy with the mayor’s office as evidenced by a 3,000 page document (Soccer City) that not a soul in the mayor’s office read from the first page to the last page.  Elected officials and staff need to make the time to understand what they agree to place on expensive special election ballots.  Not having time to read a War and Peace sized document does not meet the challenge of effective public stewardship.  Special elections are not doled out as praise for a job not done.

Mr. Acee writes, “But, dang, this city just won’t get out of its own way when it comes to accomplishing anything.”  Perhaps Mr. Acee could lead the charge on behalf of SDSU in building and/or renovating the Q as well as the creation of SDSU West in Mission Valley so that the largest CSU campus in the state can accommodate 50,000 students by 2030?  Perhaps?

Again, when he invokes the Chargers in comparison to Soccer City woes with “The Chargers could have gotten something done here”, Mr. Acee inadvertently points to the problem that is Soccer City:  Much like Dean Spanos, who wanted everything for nothing, so to does Soccer City see an old-fashioned land grab at minimal expense to themselves as a legitimate method of developing the last piece of sizable land in San Diego without the challenge of competing ideas.  Soccer City reeks of overbuilding, uncertain promises and Charger game day traffic seven days a week forever.

Mr. Acee disingenuously wrings his hands with the concern “. . . how long it will be before we get an alternative plan up and running at last.  At least.”  Please.  San Diego State University is engaged in presenting its vision with or without partners.  Also, other San Diego based development groups want to participate in the request for proposal process to compete against FS Investors (who seemingly seek to avoid competition).  Plenty of options from interested parties will be ready for public vetting by summer’s end.

Finally, as this piece began with the word “no”, I end with “yes’ on behalf of San Diego and SDSU West.

 

 

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The simplistic thought process of Kevin Acee’s 6/23/17 UT piece is astounding.  Mr. Acee, long a Soccer City supporter at the expense of SDSU, suggests that Aztec football coach Rocky Long lead the school to the light known as Soccer City (beware of train tracks and tunnels).

Per Mr. Acee’s musings, he insists that Mr. Long must rise in Aztec Warrior gear and smack SDSU administration on its collective helmet to knock sense into all things Aztec.  Key to this dream is Mr. Acee’s reference to Mr. Long once loudly disagreeing with a former athletic director.  A coach, not just football, who speaks his mind?  Who knew?  Believe the vision or else prepare for shouting.

As the article unfolds with alarms, sirens, flashing red lights and general call for panic, Mr. Acee obviously wants SDSU to return to the fleecing of Soccer City whereupon the university would underwrite the annual operating expenses for an MLS squad per agreement with FS Investors.  I think not.

Mr. Acee forgets that FS Investors is under no obligation to pursue an MLS franchise.  Also, MLS has never guaranteed granting a San Diego franchise.  Attaching the future of Aztec football to a potential MLS franchise has all the surety of fog.  Since when does a stadium ranging in capacity from 22,500 to 30,000 satisfy the desire to move up the college football money ladder?  FS Investors development plan physically surrounds the proposed stadium with various forms of development that would make impossible the false promise of stadium expansion.   Moving a multi-story office building slightly to the left to expand the end zone is a non-starter.  SDSU would guarantee itself the proud owner of the smallest MWC football stadium.  The best football team in the MWC gets the smallest stadium.  The most populous city in the MWC gets the smallest stadium.

As Mr. Acee writes of solutions, then he immediately dismisses said solutions.  No viable alternative exists.  All is lost.  The end is, oh, so near.  Only Soccer City saves.  Amen.  Soccer City accepts checks and credit cards.  Tell a loved one.

But, don’t tell Rocky Long.  Rocky will smack you upside your helmet.

 

Momentum has shifted.  What seemed a done (and easy) deal is now doubtful.

While agreeing that SDSU should have publicly objected sooner rather than later to the Soccer City development, kudos to John David Wicker, Sally Roush and Elliot Hirshman for disengaging as partner (of sorts) to Soccer City and FS Investors.  Granted, this decision is risky, but better to create a challenge than continue to endorse an idea ill-suited to SDSU.

Mind boggling is the idea that FS Investors demand the school pay $13 million per acre when FS is proposing to acquire that same land for $100 per acre.  The proposal is pure larceny.  Why and how the city of San Diego agreed to such a sale price is the stuff of textbook idiocy.  However, if the city is willing to sell Q land to FS at $100 an acre, then why not offer the same price to SDSU for the approximate dozen acres the school desires for a much needed campus expansion?

Mr. Wicker is correct to assume that the $13 million per acres is indeed a subsidy to underwrite the losses of a San Diego MLS franchise.  Additionally, MLS granting a franchise to San Diego is not guaranteed.  The more information pertaining to the financial struggles of MLS (annual average franchise loss is $7 million per team), the less appealing an MLS franchise becomes.  This explains the MLS aversion to stadiums seating more than 20,000.  A half full soccer stadium looks better than a two-thirds empty soccer stadium.

San Diego City Attorney Mara Elliott’s 27 pages of response and question is most likely a death knell to Soccer City.  San Diego voters will be extremely reluctant to support a development that Ms.Elliott views as a guarantee of litigation.  “Contradictory provisions”, “No obligation or requirements . . . to build or construct . . .”, “Litigation costs could be significant” and other quotes in Ms. Elliott’s analysis of Soccer City’s 3,000 page initiative creates a great deal of doubt as to exactly what and when FS Investors actually build as Soccer City is developed.

Mayor Faulconer admittedly has not read the entire FS initiative.  Nor did any of his staff.  This reeks of a rigged game.  Since when does “Trust me.” become public policy?   The stink of professional and political incompetence is overwhelming.  Mayor Faulconer needs to receive answers from FS Investors that satisfies not only SDSU’s concerns of fairness and full inclusion, but also pass the substantial legal inspection of Ms. Elliott.  Without full legal obligation, FS Investors may very well build most of the commercial development and 4,800 housing units, but decline the rest of the project.  A perfect opportunity to properly develop the Q site to the benefit of all San Diego citizens may decompose into a half-assed spread of a missed chance.

Mayor Faulconer must publicly address the evaporation of the previous agreement to allow SDSU to play at the Q through the 2020 season.  Now the city offers only 2018.  This is a strong arm tactic to gain compliance from SDSU to participate in Soccer City.  Mayor Faulconer is an Aztec.  He needs to create benefit for SDSU in Mission Valley at the Q site.  He must stop acting as an FS Investor agent.

Transparency and fairness are required.  Soccer City offers neither.

 

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.

 

 

The San Diego Union Tribune has published seven articles on the relationship between FS Investors and SDSU during the month of March (or as of this writing 3/26/17).  Much has been reported and debated in the articles written by Kevin Acee, Mark Zeigler, Roger Showley and Tom Krasovic.  Less, Acee’s 3/24 piece, the reporting has been fair and balanced.

As an Aztec alumnus (oh, alliteration!), I begin and end my decision making with “What works best for SDSU?” as applies to all things Soccer City.  Soccer City and FS Investors is plan B for the university.  I want to discuss plan A.

Plan A is the idea proposed by the university via athletic director, John David Wicker, and Campanile Foundation chair, Jack McGrory, that centers on SDSU buying or leasing approximately 47 acres of the Qualcomm site to build SDSU West and a football stadium.

The seven point plan presented by the university is admittedly thin on particulars, especially financial considerations, but at the very least the general idea of what SDSU wants to do with the acreage is easy to understand.  12 of the 47 acres (that’s 25% of the total land purchase/lease) is devoted to the long treasured Aztec football stadium.  The other 75% of the land is dedicated to SDSU West.  I find fair to assume that SDSU will develop the 35 acres along the model of current College Avenue campus expansion meaning the inclusion of retail space accompanying lab and classroom construction.

Mr. McGrory stated that SDSU’s student population will grow from the current figure of 35,000 to 50,000 within three decades.  That is an eye-popping increase of 43%.  An additional 15,000 students (to say nothing of the bevy of university employees to teach the newcomers) will not fit along the border of Montezuma Avenue, College Avenue and the multitude of two lane streets to the west, east and south of the school.  Physical expansion of the campus is required if residents of San Diego do not wish to see Friday night death fights between local homeowners and students.  Said physical expansion cannot happen within the current confines of the university.  Building in ravines is unwise.  Thus, the solution found in 47 acres of mostly ugly, cracked parking lot.

Mayor Faulconer and the city council will enjoy the benefit of pointing to present and future job creation by approving this land purchase as SDSU continues to educate and graduate thousands of students who will earn above average salaries and pay above average taxes that will fund the city and county of San Diego now and in the future.  This is the purest form of non-polluting job creation imaginable.  Mayor Faulconer is an Aztec alumnus.  Pushing hard for his school is expected.  He is believed to hold desire for higher political office.  About 300,000 of his fellow alums live in the city and county of San Diego.  I believe most vote.  That’s a sizable base for future campaign efforts.

Mr. Wicker and Mr. McGrory state that the university can finance $150 million towards the football stadium.  The quote from the 3/22 article from Mr. Wicker, “We’re comfortable that we can go out and build that stadium and finance it.” indicates confidence that public assistance is not to be considered.  Rightfully so.

To State’s advantage, the city has agreed to a lease extension of the Q through 2018.  Ron Fowler and the Padres have offered Petco Park as insurance for the 2019 and 2020 seasons if necessary.  Mr. Fowler stated “We’re not going to let division one football disappear.”  A firm declaration supported by his kind offer of Petco Park.

The usual headache of infrastructure development is a non-issue given east and west entrance to the Q from Friars Road and from the north via Mission Village Drive as well as the trolley stop to the south of the stadium.  No other piece of property in the city or county comes with ready and functional infrastructure, thus the cost savings is dramatic.

Finally, Mr. McGrory is a former San Diego city manager.  Mr. McGrory’s political acumen will guide the university through the political ritual of approval for SDSU West.  He knows when to turn right or left, avoid a dead-end and hammer home the message of campus expansion.

Regarding plan B featuring SDSU as a partner more so than a public sympathy character, works to a limited degree on behalf of the school.  MLS does not approve of stadiums in excess of 30,000 seats.  Granted, SDSU football crowds are generally in the vicinity of 25,000, but what would be lost is the annual crowd of 45,000 seated for the KGB fireworks show in September.  Perhaps some would protest by pointing to the initial seating capacity of 35,000 of the SDSU football-only stadium, but that’s 5,000 more tickets than will be seen at the MLS facility.  Additionally, with Mr. Wicker securing contracts with PAC-12 schools for non-conference games, crowds of 40,000 (last year’s Cal game at the Q) would be non-existent.  The lost revenue for the school would be substantial.

FS Investors is a business.  They want profit as they well should.  I do not anticipate the question of “Does this work for SDSU?” to be at the forefront of decisions, alterations and reconsideration as Soccer City moves forward.  This reality creates a disadvantage for the university.  Disadvantage should not be near SDSU West.  FS Investors can easily work with SDSU as both developments move forward.  This is the best form of partnership for SDSU.

 

 

 

The inevitable finally arrives.  Dean Spanos leaves San Diego and takes the Chargers with him.  This was as likely as a slow commute on the 5.

Mr. Spanos is worth approximately $2.5 billion.  That is a lot of millions to get to those billions.  Yet, Mr. Spanos refused to gather his bankers, use his lines of credit and reach into his deep, cavernous wallet to self-finance the stadium of his choice.  Rather, Mr. Spanos insisted that San Diego’s hotels and motels finance his downtown dream stadium via a tax increase to be demanded of visitors flocking to America’s finest city.  Of course, the San Diego voting public said, “Nay”.  After all, Arizona folk need an affordable place to stay during the summer.

Mr. Spanos’ best bet was to remain in Mission Valley, knock down the Q and build a shiny new stadium a few feet away.  Alas, this practical resolution was not his dream.  Now the moving vans and trucks are full of football gear, Spanos’ household goods and the disappointment of Chargers’ fans.  The last item is quite heavy.

56 years and adios.  Love ya, miss ya, bye.

Mr. Spanos chose to pay a $550 million relocation fee, host NFL football in a 30,000 seat soccer stadium for a minimum of two years, pray that Chargers fans motor north for three hours to watch bad football and three hours south to complain about bad football, become a tenant-renter-occupant of the Rams for who knows how many years and in the end fail as a L.A. franchise, thus forced into some forsaken section of Orange County.

Now for the good news.

San Diego State University football is no longer attached to the coattails of the San Diego Chargers.  Aztec football journeys alone and is relieved to do so.

SDSU has long embraced the proposal of reshaping Mission Valley.  166 acres of cracked asphalt can at last be transformed into SDSU West, livable space and sizable green belt.  As for the Q, renovate or build a smaller version.  Either option works.

Regarding the expansion of SDSU as a university, I dismiss the morons who have yet to discover or acknowledge that the university engages in biological research, embraces engineering and interdisciplinary sciences and has risen in national academic stature dating back to the days of Dr. Stephen Weber as president of the university and carried forth by Dr. Elliot Hirshman.  SDSU entering Mission Valley offers substantial opportunity to the city, county and regional economy.

Yet, let me not drift from Aztec football.  Whether we partner with the rumored Major League Soccer franchise (paraphrasing the MLS commissioner Dan Garber, “San Diego is more attractive to us” given the Chargers exit) or enjoy the support (money) of the city and county of San Diego accompanied by the influence of CSU and the state legislature leading to an exclusive SDSU football stadium, one is the other.

As for athletic director John David Wicker’s concern regarding seating capacity of 30,000 in the instance of MLS partnership in a new or renovated stadium, let me remind him that portable seating sections have been in use at the Q for decades, so employ that, um, technology to boost Aztec seating to 35,000.  Revolutionary.

The Chargers bolting (sorry, could not resist) provides a rare opportunity for Aztec football.  The long-held complaint of we-need-a-campus-based-football-stadium is soon to be addressed and solved.  The reality of an Aztec football stadium also opens doors long closed to, at the very least, actual consideration of joining another conference.  No, I’m not stating that any such invitation is in the near future.  But, the business of conference realignment is nowhere near complete.  The photo of division one football in 2016 will not resemble the near future reality of division one football as ESPN, FOX, CBS and NBC broadcasting contracts begin to expire.  SDSU football will be best served with a stadium home to Aztec football.

Here’s to the immediate future.

 

 

 

This is an application of my 2016 player development rating.  To follow are specific individuals within the baseball franchises of San Diego, Anaheim and Los Angeles who are most likely to earn a roster spot at the end of spring training or enjoy a pre-July summons to the big club.

Padres:  A.J. “I Never Lie.  Just Ask Me” Preller may as well extend a middle finger to the free-agency market.  Padres fans are weary of the poor winter signings and subsequent bad play at Petco.  Additionally, Mr. Preller suffers from a lack of honesty when engaging in trading Padres or Padres-to-be, thus I’m guessing his phone does not ring, buzz or scuttle across his desk enough to notice.  What to do?  I know.  Use the sizable pool of talent developed the last three years.

Austin Hedges and Rocky Gale could form a functional trio of defensive catchers once they join Christian Bethancourt (by the way, the mere notion of making him an eighth inning guy or closer, as discussed within the Padres organization, is idiotic).  All three have better than average toss rates and would incline would be base stealers to think twice.  If any of the three hits .240/.330 and tosses baserunners to the tune of 33%, success!

As for the infield positions, Hector Sanchez and Patrick Kivlehan both posted above average AAA numbers in 2016.  Why not share the first base spot until one proves better than the other?  The price, major league minimum salary, is certainly right.  Or would Padres fans rather see the 2017 James Loney resurrection occur in San Diego?  Carlos Asuaje and Nick Noonan could turn two at El Paso.  Turn two in MLB.  Ryan Schimpf played 51 games in AAA during 2016, and he had a fine introduction to San Diego during his two-thirds of the schedule stay.  He and third base seem a good fit.

Jon Jay leaving San Diego for greener pastures is proof enough that signing fourth outfielders to create a core of three is shortsighted at best and reeks of bad decision making at worst (probably the latter is a better explanation).  Alex Dickerson, Nick Torres, Manuel Margot, Hunter Renfroe, Jabari Blash, and Luis Tejada should enjoy extended play during the month of March in an effort to choose five to live in San Diego April forward.

Sadly, pitching isn’t as loaded as the 2-9 spots.  Andrew Lockett is the best bet to land a starting rotation gig.  Aaron Northcraft needs another year as does Seth Simmons and Kyle Lloyd.  However, if the 2017 Padres resemble the 2016 Padres, Mr. Northcraft, Mr. Simmons and Mr. Lloyd will enjoy an August 1st plane ride to San Diego.

The bullpen is similar.  Perhaps Kyle McGrath makes the team in March.  Phil Maton and Elliot Ashbeck enter AA ball  and A+ ball respectively in 2017.  At least the future possesses bullpen help.

I hope that Padres management recognizes the strategy (I’m kind) of the last few years has been, um, ineffective and highly disappointing to the point of despair.  Rather than throw good money after drowsy, disinterested, unmotivated, sloths of seasons gone by, let’s have fun with the kids.  You can’t do worse than 68-94.  I promise.

Angels:  This will be brief because the Angels have become pedestrian in player development.

Let me state that trading Jeff Bandy was shortsighted (dumb).  However, Jose Briceno and his 58%(!!!!) AA toss rate may be enough to convince Mike Scioscia to consider his arm in Anaheim sooner rather than later.

Ji-Man Choi returns to first base.  Why?  Because the Angels don’t have any other options at first.  No other in-house infield options exist.

Michael Hermosillo is the best 2-9 player in the Angels system.  He begins 2017 in AA ball.  Rushing him to Anaheim would be a poor decision.  2018, he likely arrives.  Prepare to be impressed.

Tyler Carpenter is the only impressive starter of note in system.  He will be Mr. Hermosillo’s teammate in AA in 2017.

Tyler DeLoach is the most likely bullpen candidate to arrive in 2017.  He begins the year in Salt Lake City.  A good couple of months means real meal money awaits him at the Big A.

Dodgers:  Andrew Friedman saw the boat fire that constituted the L.A. development system.  He pushed that boat into the Pacific, then bought a new boat, sails and oars.  Much better.

Granted, the Dodgers aren’t the Padres, but L.A. has a substantial amount of home-grown talent from which to choose and a patient manager, Saint Dave Roberts (2004.  A particular stolen base.  Heaven smiles, the Sox beat the Yankees and win a World Series) to guide said youngsters.  Who, you ask?

Austin Barnes is ready for a full-time catching slot.  Sure his bat is better than his arm, but a hitting catcher is rare and to behold.  Shawn Zarraga is on Mr. Barnes heels, and sports an impressive toss rate of 43% last year in AA.

Matt Beatty and Mike Ahmed both had impressive years in A+ ball, thus they are likely two years out.  This may coincide with the contractual expiration of Adrian Gonzalez.  Willie Calhoun had a good year in AA ball.  He stands a chance to make the squad as an extra infielder or perhaps even start at second.  Rod Segedin can play either corner.  His 2016 Oklahoma City numbers were impressive.

The L.A. outfield, always a problem for the Dodgers, may include Andrew Toles (a substantial talent), Cody Bellinger and/or Andrew Verdugo.

I view Julio Urias as a prospect, not a proven MLB starter.  2017 will determine does he stay in L.A. or does he rent in Oklahoma City.  Brock Stewart had 2016 AAA numbers comparable to Mr. Urias.  Either could land as the #4 and/or #5 starter given the calamities that usually infect Dodger starting pitching.

Grant Dayton enjoyed a call up to L.A. given exceptional AAA bullpen numbers.  He should stick in 2017.  Gus Schlosser was the victim of a 2016 rush job to L.A.  His AAA numbers are best described as “yuk” while his AA numbers were off the chart.  A good April and May in Oklahoma City should result in a proper return to L.A.  Caleb Dirks begins 2017 in AAA, but he could easily enjoy the friendly confines of dilapidated Dodger Stadium by July.

MLB Player Development, 2016

Posted: December 26, 2016 in Uncategorized

My preamble:

I rate MLB player development from A to AAA ball.  Why not A- and Rookie ball?  I do not rate 18 and 19 year olds.  Tis exhausting and beyond speculative.

Age matters.  I will not rate Will Venable no matter what kind of year he had in AAA.

I will not rate a 22 year old in AA ball who strikes out 30% of his at-bats.  I don’t care if he hits 27/80 in 430 abs.  Curing strike outs at the major league level does not happen.

Speaking of maladies, I rarely rate a pitcher (starter or closer) who walks more than 3 batters per 9 innings.  And by more than 3 , I mean 3.1, 3.2.  You get the idea.  That disease becomes raging fever against major league hitters.  Ask Kevin Quackenbush.

I do not track trades during the rating process.  Thus, if you read of a traded minor leaguer listed with the team who raised him and traded him, now you know.

I rate on a scale of 1 (worst) to 4 (best).

Here we go.

A.L

Seattle (3.8).  Go ahead.  Laugh.  Four years ago, Houston caught my attention.  If your club needs a catcher, call Seattle.  From A ball to AAA, eight guys made the grade.  All eight, less Mike Zunino, had 2016 toss rates of at least 33% with two guys, Daniel Torres (A+) and James Alfonso (A), above 40%.  The only 2-9 spot that did not rate at least a 3 was left field (ranked a 2).  All other positions are a 3 or 4.

The M’s pitching, starting and relief, both rated 4.  All starting prospects are AAA and AA with a splash of Show experience in 2016.  Relief prospects, less one, are also found in AAA and AA.

Watch List:  Marcus Littlewood (c, AAA, AA), Kyle Petty (1b, A+), Mike Freeman (2b, MLB, AAA), Adam Law (3b, AA), Guillermo Heredia (cf, MLB, AAA, AA), Braden Bishop (cf, A), Stefen Romero (rf, MLB, AAA), Tyler O’Neill (rf, AA), Edwin Diaz (starter, MLB, AA.  He skipped AAA), Andrew Kittredge (relief, AAA, AA), Steve Johnson (relief, MLB, AAA) and Jake Zokan (relief, A+).

NYY  (3.5).  Loaded at every position less second base and short.  Catching, first base and all outfield spots are especially deep and brimming with talent.  Of course, the eternal NYY challenge is not to trade talent for the Chase Headley of the future (enough said).  By the way, if Gary Sanchez gets lazy, don’t worry.  Kyle Higashioka (AA) and Francisco Diaz (AA, A+) are ready.

Starting pitching and relief is the best in the A.L. and possibly all of MLB.  Much like the Mariners, all starters, less one, are AA and up.  Relievers are all AAA and AA with the occasional cup of coffee in the Bronx during 2016.

Watch List:  Tyler Austin (1b, MLB, AAA), Billy Fleming (1b, A+), Chris Gittens 1b, A), Donovan Solano (he’s 28.  Now is the time.  2b, MLB, AAA), Miguel Andujar (3b, A+), Ben Gamel (cf, MLB, AAA), Chad Green (starter, MLB, AAA), Luis Severino (post an 8-1 record by appearing in 13 AAA games, and you remain a minor league pitching prospect), Dan Camarena (starter, AA), Chance Adams (starter, AA, A+) James Kaprielian (starter, A+), Nick Goody (relief, MLB, AAA.  Lots of ability.  So NY trades him), Giovanny Gallegos (relief, AAA, AA), Jonathan Holder (relief, MLB, AAA, AA) and Travis Hissong (relief, AA, A+, A.  Mr. Hissong is the best of the lot).

Houston (3.5).  The annual reminder that their A+ club is in Lancaster, CA where the wind blows and offensive numbers soar accordingly.  Consider the reverse on behalf of A+ pitching prospects.

All 2-9 positions rated either a 3 or 4.  A deep list at catcher, first, second, center and right.

Starting pitching features Joseph Musgrove and a host of other impressive mound men (an original.  You are welcome).  Relief was thin, rating a mere 2.  This is the only weak spot in the Houston organization.

Watch List:  Garrett Stubbs (c, AA, A+), A.J. Reed (1b, MLB, AAA), Tony Kemp (2b, MLB, AAA), Alex Bergman (ss, MLB, AAA, AA), Teoscar  Hernandez (rf, MLB, AAA, AA), Preston Tucker (rf, MLB, AAA), Myles Straw (rf, A+, A), the above mentioned Mr. Musgrove (starter, MLB, AAA, AA), David Paulino (starter, MLB, AAA – a mere 14 ip – and AA), Trent Thompson (starter, AA, A+) and Brendan McCurry (relief, AA).

Minnesota (2.9).  See my Seattle comment.  Much improved development.  Less first and third, the other positions rated 3 or 4.

Starting pitching is the deepest since I have rated development (I’m sure the Minnesota organization is thrilled).  Relief rated a 3, but only because of three talented relievers with one each at AAA, AA and A+.  Otherwise a 2 would have been the result.

Watch List:  Mitch Garver (c, AAA, AA), Luis Arraez (2b, A), Nelson Molina (3b, A), Nick Gordon (ss, A+), Lamonte Wade (lf, A+, A), Byron Buxton (cf, MLB,  AAA.  2017 is the year, Mr. Buxton.  You must make the club in March and produce), Eddie Rosario (cf, MLB, AAA), Zach Granite (cf, AA), Felix Jorge (starter, A+), Fernando Romero (starter, A+), J.T. Chargois (relief, MLB,  AAA), Trevor Hildenberger (relief, AA) and Nick Anderson (relief, A+, A).

Boston (2.9).  A lack of development with third basemen and relievers prevented the Sox from a 3.0 rating.  A solid group at catcher, second (trading Yoan Moncada did little to drain the depth at second) and right.

Starting pitching is above average while the relief corps was average with a tad too many A+ guys making the grade which indicates a lack of depth at AAA and AA.

Watch List:  Jake Romanski (c, AA), Luis Alejandro Basabe (2b, A), Marco Hernandez (ss, MLB, AAA.  Now that Travis Shaw and Yoan Moncada are Brewers, Mr. Hernandez has an opportunity to stay in Fenway), Mauricio Dubon (ss, AA and A+), Andrew Benintendi (cf, Boston, AAA and A+.  An extended stay in Boston does not make a starting outfielder.  Though, more than likely, yeah), Aneury Tavarez (rf, AA), Eduardo Rodriguez (see the Luis Severino comments.  Mr. Rodriguez made 7 starts and threw 38 innings at Pawtucket.  Time to stick in Fenway), Aaron Wilkerson (starter, AAA and AA) and Justin Haley (starter, AAA and AA, but I believe he was taken in the Rule 5 draft).

Oakland (2.9).  Thank their pitching prospects.  Without those two groups, the A’s would rate a 2.1.  Little to nobody at second and short.  Third is thin.  Catching, first and center have the most talent.

Starting pitching is deep, deep, deep.  The first nine are all AAA with time in the Bigs during 2016.  Relief is layered nicely from AAA to AA to A+.

Watch List:  Bruce Maxwell (c, MLb, AAA), Andy Paz (c, AA), Ryon Healy (1b, MLB, AAA, AA.  He’s good), James Harris (cf, A+), Mike Martin (cf, A), Raul Alcantara (starter, MLB, AAA), Jharel Cotton (starter, MLB, AAA ), Daniel Coulombe (relief, MLB, AAA), Andrew Triggs (relief, MLB, AAA) and Cody Stull (relief, A+).

Toronto (2.7).  Five solid prospects at first and third.  Catching, second and right are above average with the other positions thin.

Starting pitching is average.  Bullpen development is promising.

Watch List:  Jesus Montero (1b, MLB, AAA), Rowdy Tellez (1b, AA), Ryan McBroom (1b, A+), Jason Leblebijian (3b, AA, A+), Emilio Guerrero (3b, A+ and perhaps the best of the five), Richard Urena (ss, A+), Sean Reid-Foley (starter, A+), Danny Barnes (relief, MLB, AAA, AA), Aaron Loup (relief, MLB, AAA), Matt Dermody (relief, MLB, AAA, AA, A+.  Extraordinary progress in a single season) and Colton Turner (relief, A+).

Detroit (2.5).  Strong at catcher, first and left.  Average at second, short and right.  Nobody at third.  If Jacoby Jones develops in center, the position is above average.  If he has another horrible year in AAA, group center with second, short and right.

Starting pitching rated a 3 while relief development barely hit a 1.  Boo.

Watch List:  John Hicks (c, MLB, AAA), Arvicent Perez (c, A), Dean Green (1b, AAA, AA), Will Maddox (1b, A) and Christian Stewart (lf, A+).

Baltimore (2.2.).  Starting pitching and first are average while third and short are woeful.  Talent is found at catcher and second.  The three outfield spots are above average.

Of the top ten rated starters, three are in A+.  Not good.  A+ is a long way from MLB.  Relief is solid, if unspectacular.

Watch List:  Chance Sisco (c, AA), Yermin Mercedes (c, A+, A), Aderlin Rodriguez (1b, A+), Corban Joseph (2b, MLB, AAA, AA) and Luis Gonzalez (relief, A+).

Tampa Bay (2.1).  Above average at catcher, first, center and left.  Average to below average at third, short and second.

Pitching development in the bullpen is awful.  One of the worst in the A.L., though two guys show promise, but are at least two years from arrival.  Starting pitching is average.

Watch List:  Armando Araiza (c, AA, A+), Brett Sullivan (c, A), Casey Gillaspie (1b, AAA, AA), Mike Mahtook (cf, MLB, AAA), Justin Williams (rf, A+), Brent Honeywell (starter, AA, A+), Kyle Bird (relief, A+, A) and Brian Miller (relief, A+).

Kansas City (2.1).  Pitching development saved the Royals from a sub 2 rating.  No development is found at third, shortstop and right field after the AAA level.  In the entire organization, one left fielder rated.  Catching, second and center are average.  First base is the only position with any depth and talent.

Starting pitching was deep at the AA level in 2016.  Relief candidates are many and talented.

Watch List:  Ryan O’Hearn (1b, AA, A+), Samir Duenez (1b, A+), Hunter Dozier (3b, MLB, AAA, AA), Jorge Bonifacio (rf, AAA), Daniel Stumpf (relief, MLB, AA.  Mr. Stumpf skipped AAA), Andrew Edwards (relief, AA) and Mark Peterson (relief, AA).

Anaheim (2.0).  Mostly average development at the 2-9 spots.  Catching and first are the only two bright spots.  Lots of A ball players made the grade, but A ball is distant.

Starting pitching rated a zero.  Awful.  Relief development is average.  Much like the 2-9 spots, a lot of A ball hopes.

Watch List:  Jeff Bandy (c, MLB, AAA, but recently traded.  Dumb), Ji-Man Choi (1b, MLB, AAA), Michael Hermosillo (cf, A+, A), Tyler Carpenter (starter, A+), Tyler DeLoach (relief, AA), Eduardo Parades (relief, A+), Kevin Grendell (relief, A), Adam Hofacket (relief, A) and Erick Alonzo (relief, A).  Remember, A ball pitchers appearing on a depth chart is not a sign of strength or depth.

Chicago (1.9).  First, left and center hold hope.  The rest, not so much.

Overall pitching development is by far the worse in the A.L.  Both starting and relief are woeful.

Watch List:  Alfredo Gonzalez (c, AA), Nick Delmonico (1b, AA), Leury Garcia (3b, MLB, AAA), Jason Coats (3b, MLB, AAA), Nick Basto (3b, A+), Mason Robbins (rf, A+), Anthony Renaudo (starter, MLB, AAA), Matt Cooper (relief, AA, though he was a starter in A+ ball).

Texas (1.7).  Except for right field (loaded), not much to average.  Short and left are especially thin.

Pitching development is not as barren as the White Sox.  But close.

Watch List:  Juremi Profar (1b, A+), Scott Heineman (lf, A+), Jose Cardona (cf, A+), Eduardo Pinto (rf, AA, A.  He skipped A+ ball), Luke Tendler (rf, A+), Luis Ortiz (starter, A+), Adam Parks (relief, AA) and Nick Gardenwine (relief, A+).

Cleveland (1.6).  Center is the only above average position.  Catching and right rated a 2 while the other positions rated 1.  Yuck.

Both kinds of pitching development rated average.

Watch List:  Francisco Mejia (c, A+, A), Tyler Kriegel (2b, A+, A), Yandy Diaz (3b, AAA, AA), Greg Allen (cf, AA, A+), Nathan Lukes (cf, A), Connor Marabell (rf, A), Adam Plutko (starter, AAA, AA), David Speer (relief, A+) and Cole Sulser (relief, A+).

N.L.

Los Angeles (3.8).  Tremendous improvement.  Andrew Friedman quickly replenished the Dodgers from the bottom up.

Each 2-9 position earned a 4 less first base which received a 3.  Outstanding.  Twelve prospects at the 2-9 spots received the prized asterisk (my designation of players who have the best chance at enjoying a MLB career).  I know all twelve are giddy.

Starting pitching is deep and, no, Zach Lee did not make my list.  Good luck to Mr. Lee in San Diego.  All starting prospects are found in AAA and AA.  Relief is not as deep as starting pitching, but nonetheless above average.

Watch List:  Austin Barnes (c, MLB, AAA), Shawn Zarraga (c, AA), Will Smith (c, A+, A), Matt Beatty (1b, A+), Mike Ahmed (1b, A+), Willie Calhoun (2b, AA), Noah Perio (2b, A+), Rob Segedin (3b, MLB, AAA), Edwin Rios (3b, A+), Cody Bellinger (lf, AA), Andrew Toles (cf, MLB, AAA, AA, A+.  Impressive progress during the course of a single season), Andrew Verdugo (cf, AA), Julio Urias (starter, MLB, AAA), Brock Stewart (starter, MLB, AAA), Grant Dayton (relief, MLB, AAA), Gus Schlosser (relief, MLB, AAA, AA), Caleb Dirks (relief, AA).

Philadelphia (3.5).  Less third base, all 2-9 positions rated a 3 or 4.  A lot of depth at catcher, first and left.  Most spots have candidates at AAA, AA and A+.  Well done.

Pitching development is brimming with talent.  All rated starters are AAA or AA.

Watch List:  Jorge Alvaro (c, MLB, AA.  He skipped AAA), Chace Numata (c, A+), Tommy Joseph (1b, MLB, AAA).  Rhys Hoskins (1b, AA), Josh Tobias (2b, A and traded to Boston), Christian Marrero (lf, AA), Andrew Pullin (lf, AA), Dylan Cozens (rf, AA), Zack Coppola (rf, A+, A), Alec Asher (starter, MLB, AAA), Phil Klein (starter, MLB, AAA), Zach Elfin (starter, MLB, AAA), Ben Lively (starter, AAA, AA), Edubray Ramos (relief, MLB, AAA), Elvis Araujo (relief, MLB, AAA), Alexis Rivero (relief, A+), Jeff Singer (relief, A) and Grant Dyer (relief, A).

San Diego (3.3).  Fear not Padres fans, drafted and developed help is on the way.  Especially since g.m.’s are reluctant to trade with A.J. “The Truth” Preller.

Second base and short were the only average 2-9 positions while the rest rated 4.  Development is especially talented at the catching, first and left positions.

Sadly, starting pitching is woeful.  Relief is much stronger having rated above average.

Watch List:  Austin Hedges (c, MLB, AAA.  Potential plus), Austin Allen (c, A), Hector Sanchez (1b, MLB, AAA.  Another talented player), Patrick Kivlehan (1b, MLB, AAA), Carlos Asuaje (2b, AAA.  See Hedges and Sanchez), Ryan Schimpf (3b, MLB, AAA), Nick Noonan (s, MLB, AAA), Alex Dickerson (lf, MLB, AAA), Nick Torres, (lf, AAA), Manuel Margot (cf, AAA), Michael Gettys (cf, A+, A), Hunter Renfroe (rf, AAA), Franmil Reyes, (rf, A+).  Any combination of Hedges, Sanchez, Asuaje, Schimpf, Noonan, Dickerson, Margot and Renfroe could easily make the team at the end of March.  Andrew Lockett, (starter, AA, A+, A), Kyle McGrath (relief, AA, A+), Phil Maton (relief, A+) and Elliot Ashbeck (relief, A).

St. Louis (3.1).  Less third, well done.  Strongest positions are first, second, left and center.

Starting pitching development is struggling.  A mere 2.  Relief rated above average.

Watch List:  Jose Godoy (c, A), Luke Voit (1b, AA), Breyvil Valera (2b, AAA.  The best 2-9 player in the organization), Casey Turgeon (lf, A+), David Washington (rf, AAA, AA), Luke Weaver (starter, MLB, AAA.  As talented as James Tailson of Pittsburgh) and Kevin Herget (relief, AA, A+).

San Francisco (3.1).  Most of the talent was at A+ ball in 2016.  Yet, unlike a lot of N.L. teams, at least talent was found.

Positions with depth are second, third, short, left and center.  The rest rated no worse than average.

Starting pitching prospects are deep while relief is above average.

Watch List:  Ali Castillo (2b, AAA, AA), Miguel Gomez (3b, A), Ruben Tejada (ss, MLB, AAA), Austin Slayer (lf, AAA, AA), Gorkys Hernandez (cf, MLB, AAA), Steven Duggar (cf, AA, A+), Dylan Davis (rf, A+, A), Ty Blach (starter, MLB, AAA), Joan Gregorio (starter, AA), Dan Slanta (starter, AA), Andrew Suarez (starter, A+), Carlos Alvarado (relief, AA), Tyler Rogers (relief, AA) and Preston Claiborne (relief, MLB, AA.  Skipped AAA).

Cincinnati (3.0).  Second, third, left and right rated 4.  Short and first rated above average.  Catching is defensively talented, but ultra-light on hitting.  Not a soul in center.

Both kinds of pitching rated above average.

Watch List:  Tony Renda (2b, MLB, AAA, AA), Shedric Long (2b, A+, A), Jermaine Curtis (3b, MLB, AAA), Nick Senzel (3b, A), Calten Daal (ss, AA), Scott Schebler (lf, MLB, AAA), Angelo Gumbs (lf, A+), Juan Duran (lf, A+), Jesse Winkler (rf, AAA), Aristides Aquino (rf, A+), Daniel Wright (starter, MLB, AAA, AA) and Nick Routt (relief, AA).

Colorado (2.9).  2-9 spots were either 4’s or barely 2’s.  Catching, third and center provide the most depth.

Starting pitching development was most impressive.  Relief development is horrible.  Whomever coaches these guys throughout the organization should be relieved (no pun intended) of their duties.

Watch List:  Tom Murphy (c, MLB, AAA), Ashley Graeter (c, AA.  Though he played more games at second.  Why a catcher then?  Because he had a toss rate of 65%!), Brian Mundell (1b, A), Wilson Soriano (3b, AA), Omar Carrizales (lf, A+), David Dahl (cf, MLB, AAA, AA.  One of two very talented outfielders in system), Raimel Tapia (cf, MLB, AAA, AA.  As talented as Mr. Dahl), Noel Cuevas (cf, AA), Yonathan Daza (rf, A), German Marquel (starter, MLB, AAA, AA), Harrison Musgrave (starter, AA), Parker French (starter, A+, A) and Matt Carasiti (relief, MLB, AAA – a mere 7 ip -, AA).

NYM (2.8).  2-9 represented fairly well less first and second.  Solid development at catching, third, short, left and center.

Pitching development absolutely failed in 2016.  Both starting and relief rated 1.  Boo.

Watch List:  Kevin Plawecki (c, MLB, AAA), Tomas Nido (c, A+), Patrick Mazeika (c, A), Dominic Smith (1b, AA), T.J. Rivera (3b, MLB, AAA), Phillip Evans (ss, AA), Ahmed Rosario (ss, AA, A+), Ty Kelly (lf, MLB, AAA), Michael Conforto (lf, MLB, AAA), Brandon Mimmo (cf, MLB, AAA), Patrick Bondi (cf, A+), Wuilmer Becera (rf, A+), Ricky Knapp (starter, AA, A+), Andrew Barbosa (starter, A+), Nabil Crismatt (starter, A), Tim Peterson (relief, AA, A+) and Kevin McGowan (relief, A+).

Pittsburgh (2.8).  Similar to the Mets.  First, left and center are loaded with talent.  Catching, second and third less so.  Short is average.  Right is poorly developed.

Both starting and relief received a 2.

Watch List:  Josh Bell (1b, MLB, AAA), Kevin Newman (ss, AA, A+), Adam Frazier (lf, MLB, AAA), Barrett Barnes (lf, AA), Harold Ramirez (cf, AA), Austin Meadows (cf, AA), Tito Polo (cf, A+, A), Jordan George (rf, A), James Tailson (starter, MLB, AAA.  As Joseph Musgrove is to the A.L., Mr. Tailson is arguably the N.L. minor league starter to watch above all others), Brandon Waddell (starter, A+), Mitch Keller (starter, A), A.J. Schugel (relief, MLB, AAA), Edgar Santana (relief, AA, A+), Tate Scioneaux (relief, A+, A) and Sean Keselica (relief, A).

Do note the three rated center fielders (Ramirez, Meadows and Polo).  Perhaps the Pirates dangling of Mr. McCutchen is understood.

Arizona (2.7).  The good news:  not a single 2-9 spot rated 1.  Bad news is catching, third and right are almost bare.

Pitching, starting and relief, both rated average.

Watch List:  Kyle Jensen (1b, MLB, AAA.  One of the two best position players in the organization), Ildemaro Vargas (2b, AAA), Mitch Freeman (2b, MLB, AAA), Dawel Lugo (3b, A+), Domingo Leyba (ss, AA, A+), Rudy Flores (lf, AA, A+), Mitch Haniger (cf, MLB, AAA, AA.  As talented as Mr. Jensen), Victor Reyes (rf, A+), Jimmie Sherry (relief, AA.  One of the best relief prospects in the N.L), Gabriel Moya (relief, A+) and Kirby Bellow (relief, A).

Washington (2.6).  Uneven development.  Two spots rated 4 (first and second).  Two rated 3 (center and right).  Two rated 2 (third and short).  Two rated 1 (catching and left).

Starting pitching rated 4 while relief was average.

Watch List:  Jose Marmolejos-Diaz (1b, AA, A+), Matt Page (1b, A), Grant DeBruin (1b, A), Chris Bostick (2b, AA), Max Schrock (2b, A+, A), Ian Sagdal (2b, A), Victor Robles (cf, A+, A), Luis Giolito (starter, MLB, AAA), Greg Ross (starter, AA), Bryan Harper (relief, AA) and Tommy Peterson (relief, A).

Milwaukee (2.2).  Nobody at third or short.  Two guys each at left and right.  The cupboard is almost bare.

Both starting and relief rated average.

Watch List:  Manny Pina (c, MLB, AAA), Josmil Pinto (c, MLB, AAA), Max McDowell (c, A), Mitch Ghelfi (1b, A), Jake Elmore (2b, MLB, AAA), Blake Allemand (2b, A), Lewis Brinson (cf, AAA, AA.  The best position player in the organization), Brandon Woodruff (starter, AA, A+) and Jon Perrin (starter, A+, A).

Chicago (2.0):  Strangely out of balance.  Thin as gruel at first, third, short and center.  Loaded at catching, second and right.

Starting pitching is average.  Relief development is as bad as Colorado.

Watch List:  The forever in waiting Tim Federowicz (c, MLB, AAA), Wilson Contreras (c, MLB, AAA), David Frietas (c, AAA, AA), Victor Caratini (c, AA), Dan Vogelbach (1b, AAA), Chesny Young (2b, AA), David Bote (2b, A+), Carlos Sepulveda (2b, A), Jeimer Candelario (3b, MLB, AAA), Eloy Jiminez (lf, A), Mark Zaqunis (rf, AAA, AA), Daniel Spingola (rf, A), Preston Morrison (starter, A+) and James Farris (relief, AA, A+).

Atlanta (1.8).  Not a single 2-9 position rated 4.  Only two rated above average (second and third).  Boo.

Pitching, starting and relief, rated 1.  Double boo.

Watch List:  Ozzie Albies (2b, AA), Dustin Peterson (lf, AA), Jared James (lf, A), Ronald Acuna (cf, A), Max Poyse (starter, AA, A+), Trevor Belicek (relief, A) and Devan Watts (relief, A).

Miami (1.8).  Two positions of notable development:  catching and center.  Then close the book.

Starting pitching is average.  Relief is below average.

Watch List:  Cam Maron (c, AA), Xavier Scruggs (1b, MLB, AAA), Moises Sierra (rf, MLB, AAA) and Jose Quijada (relief, A).