Hi, hello & welcome to THE USB Baseball Report! It’s 2017 and spring training has begun, so I think it’s time to get some baseball talk going on the ol’ blog again. We’ll start it off by taking a look at what each MLB team did during the offseason to improve (Theoretically. I mean, that’s the goal for most of them.) their roster. Today we look at the teams of the National League!
Lost: SP Lucas Harrell, C A.J. Pierzynski, RP Chris Withrow
Gained: RP Blaine Boyer, SP Bartolo Colon, SP R.A. Dickey, SP Jaime Garcia, RP Jacob Lindgren, SP Kris Medlen, 2B Brandon Phillips, SS Sean Rodriguez, C Kurt Suzuki, RP Jordan Walden
The Braves have been in rebuild mode for the past few years. They have a new stadium this year, so I guess they felt compelled to sign players that would draw some fans, along with all the new guys we don’t know about. We can assume the minor league starters aren’t ready since they added a bunch of them during the off-season, including the iconic Bartolo Colon, who is now on the same team with Brandon Phillips fifteen years after they were traded for each other. I’m not sure what Atlanta’s strategy is here, but they added a lot of players I like! Hope it works out for them.
Lost: SP Andrew Cashner, RP Mike Dunn, LF Jeff Francoeur, 1B Chris Johnson, C Jeff Mathis, SP Chris Narveson, RP Fernando Rodney
Gained: C Ramon Cabrera, CF Matt den Dekker, C A.J. Ellis, RP Jeff Locke, SP Dan Straily, RP Junichi Tazawa, SP Edinson Volquez, RP Brad Ziegler
The Marlins gave the Reds three guys for Dan Straily, which is something I never thought I would type even after Straily was the Reds’ best pitcher in 2016. Edinson Volquez has also been added to the party. Miami will be known for two things this season: Being the All-Star Game hosts, and having Ichiro on their team. That’s the list.
New York Mets
Lost: SP Bartolo Colon, OF Alejandro De Aza, 2B Kelly Johnson, 1B James Loney, SP Jonathon Niese
Gained: Nobody of note
The Mets didn’t make any big signings other than of their own free agents, keeping Yoenis Cespedes & Neil Walker, while picking up Jay Bruce’s option for 2017. They’re happy with who they have…if they can stay healthy. I like the Mets a lot, but we saw what happened last season when their entire pitching staff got hurt. Hopefully that’s a worst-case scenario.
Lost: LF Cody Asche, CF Peter Bourjos, C A.J. Ellis, P David Hernandez, 1B Ryan Howard, SP Charlie Morton
Gained: RP Joaquin Benoit, SP Clay Buchholz, SP Sean Burnett, LF Chris Coghlan, C Ryan Hanigan, C Bryan Holaday, OF/IF Howie Kendrick, RF Michael Saunders
It’s a new day for the Phillies, and there’s no bigger evidence than the lack of Ryan Howard on this team. He’s still a free agent, which isn’t surprising to anybody that’s seen him the last couple of years. Buchholz is a good addition to a young Phillies rotation, you need to have a good veteran in the mix and now they have one. I figured that Saunders would stay in Toronto forever because he’s Canadian, but here we are. I think the Phils are still a year or two away from actually contending for something, but are moving in the right direction.
Lost: RP Matt Belisle, SP Sean Burnett, CF Matt den Dekker, 2B Danny Espinosa, SP Lucas Giolito, SP Mat Latos, SP Reynaldo Lopez, RP Mark Melancon, RP Yusmeiro Petit, C Wilson Ramos, CF Ben Revere, RP Marc Rzepczynski
Gained: RP Matt Albers, CF Adam Eaton, 1B Adam Lind, RP Joe Nathan, C Derek Norris, C Matt Wieters, SP Vance Worley
The Nationals feel like they can win big now. So they make questionable deals like trading their top two pitching prospects (and another one that’s reportedly not far off from them) for Adam Eaton. Eaton’s a solid player, but he better help lead the Nats to a title this season or that trade could look really bad in a few years.
Lost: SP Trevor Cahill, RP Aroldis Chapman, LF Chris Coghlan, CF Dexter Fowler, SP Jason Hammel, RP Conor Mullee, C David Ross, RP Joe Smith, 3B Christian Vilanueva, SP Travis Wood
Gained: SP Brett Anderson, SP Eddie Butler, RP Brian Duensing, LF Jon Jay, OF Jorge Soler, RP Manny Parra, RP Koji Uehara
As is tradition with most World Series-winning teams, you see a lot of departures because winning titles is when guys can get paid. The Cubs have a deep enough farm system where none of the guys that left will really affect them that much. They gonna be good, folks.
Lost: C Ramon Cabrera, SP John Lamb, RP Ross Ohlendorf, 2B Brandon Phillips, SP Keyvius Sampson, SP Alfredo Simon, SP Dan Straily
Gained: SP Bronson Arroyo, RP Louis Coleman, SP Scott Feldman, LF Ryan Raburn, RP Drew Storen
Reds brass has been insisting to local media that the rebuild is near an end and they’re very happy with the players they have now. I think that is a ploy to sell tickets, which they need to do especially now that BP’s gone. Say what you will about his production the last couple of years, he was still the Reds’ most popular player with the fanbase and the most fan-friendly of all the Reds. I’m not really thrilled with any of their acquisitions except 40-year old Bronson Arroyo in a comeback attempt, he was the best Reds pitcher of the 2000s and it’s cool he’s going to go out as a Red.
Lost: RP Blaine Boyer, RP Chris Capuano, 1B Chris Carter, RP Tyler Thornburg
Gained: RP Neftali Feliz, CF Thomas Milone, 3B Travis Shaw, LF Eric Thames
Thames spent his last three seasons in South Korea putting up big numbers after doing little in his previous MLB stints with Toronto & Seattle. The Brewers think if nothing else he’ll strike out less than Chris Carter did. They’re probably right. They have a good farm system and they might need to use it this year because somebody needs to be second place in this division.
Lost: RP Neftali Feliz, C Eric Fryer, RF Matt Joyce, RP Jeff Locke, SS Sean Rodriguez, RP Ryan Vogelsong
Gained: 2B Phil Gosselin, RP Daniel Hudson
The Bucs also retained the services of Ivan Nova, and decided to move former MVP Andrew McCutchen to right field. Longtime center fielders do not like to be moved, as it’s one of the first signs they’re getting old. I think the Pirates are trying to rebuild before they absolutely have to. I think everybody in the NL Central might be conceding this season to the Cubs, quite honestly.
St. Louis Cardinals
Lost: SP Jaime Garcia, LF Matt Holliday, RP Seth Maness, RF Brandon Moss, RP Jordan Walden, RP Jerome Williams
Gained: RP Brett Cecil, CF Dexter Fowler, C Eric Fryer
For the first time in forever, the Cardinals are not expected to be good. I talked about this with Trent Howell on our Fantasy Baseball Mock Draft Podcast, and I think we arrived at the conclusion that once St. Louis lost access to Houston’s notes, they forgot how to draft. They did sign Dexter Fowler, who I said last year was an underrated component to the Cubs lineup and is receiving rave reviews in training camp for helping loosen up the traditionally uptight Cardinal locker room. The Best Fans in Baseball have already turned against him though. Not because he used to play for their arch-rival, but because he had the unmitigated gall to answer a question about the attempted Muslim ban because his wife was born in Iran. The responses in the pic above were among the cleaner I saw.
I mean, I understand the sentiment behind wanting baseball players to not talk about things other than baseball. My skin used to crawl whenever I heard some uninformed celebrity try to talk about political matters, whether I agreed with what they were saying or not. I thought it was out of place. But the game changed when an unqualified celebrity ran for President and gained the support of the types of people that now complain without the slightest hint of self-awareness about Fowler having the nerve to answer a question and confirm that the unconstitutional policy that the administration attempted to foist on the public would make life difficult for his family. What those people voted for in November opens the floodgates for anybody else with any modicum of fame to comment on political matters. Anybody with any amount of celebrity is just as qualified as that guy is. If their opinions hurt your precious feelings, too bad.
On the bright side, we hopefully won’t have to waste much time worrying about this team this season. Good luck, Dexter. You’re gonna need it.
Lost: C Welington Castilo, SP Daniel Hudson, 2B Rickie Weeks
Gained: OF Gregor Blanco, 3B Daniel Descalso, RP James J. Hoover, C Chris Ianetta, C Jeff Mathis. RP Fernando Rodney, SP Keyvius Sampson
The D-Backs were a big old bust last year, so I’m not expecting much from them this year. I do like the addition of Rodney, who I’m pretty sure started the whole “shooting the arrow” thing that the NFL throws penalty flags for now.
Lost: SP Jorge De La Rosa, C Nick Hundley, RP Boone Logan, 1B Ben Paulsen, LF Ryan Raburn
Gained: 2B Alexi Amarista, SS Ian Desmond, OF Chris Denorfia, RP Mike Dunn
Desmond had a big season for Texas last season and is a pretty athletic guy, so the Rockies brought him in to play…first base? It’s an interesting move. Experts have fallen in love with Colorado as a sleeper team this season. They showed some potential last season, but I’m going to need some more before I buy in. I hope they do well, as I’ve said before, baseball is more fun when big-time games are played in Denver’s thin air.
Los Angeles Dodgers
Lost: SP Brett Anderson. RP Joe Blanton, RP Jesse Chavez, RP Louis Coleman, RP Casey Fien, RP J.P. Howell, LF Josh Reddick, C Carlos Ruiz
Gained: 2B Logan Forsythe, OF Franklin Gutierrez, SP Brandon Morrow, RP Sergio Romo
Most important for the Dodgers than who they lost or gained this offseason is who they managed to hold on to. SP Rich Hill, RP Kenley Jansen & 3B Justin Turner all signed multi-year contracts & 2B Chase Utley will be back one more season to break more peoples’ legs. Getting those guys back was key for the Dodgers and I expect them to contend for the pennant again this season.
San Diego Padres
Lost: 2B Alexi Amarista, SP Edwin Jackson, LF Jon Jay, SP Brandon Morrow, 3B Adam Rosales, SP Tyaon Ross, RP Carlos Villanueva
Gained: SS Erick Aybar, SP Trevor Cahill, RP Jhoulys Chacin, 3B Christian Villanueva, SP Jered Weaver
Weaver is a good addition to the Padre rotation, but there’s no reason to expect this team to do anything this season. At least they won’t be leaving San Diego for a town that doesn’t care about them and already has another team anytime soon.
San Francisco Giants
Lost: OF Gregor Blanco, RP Santiago Casilla, RP Javier Lopez, RP Joe Nathan, LF Angel Pagan, SP Jake Peavy, RP Sergio Romo
Gained: P David Hernandez, 3B Aaron Hill, C Nick Hundley, RP Mark Melancon, SS Jimmy Rollins
It’s an odd-numbered year, which doesn’t bode well for the Giants. There are reasons for hope, however. Melancon is an upgrade from their closer situation last season, most of the roster that was good enough to make the playoffs returns, and there’s always a chance for a team that has Bruce Bochy in the dugout calling the shots. I would have liked the Hill & Rollins additions more five years ago.
Next time we’ll take a look at the teams in the Junior Circuit, the American League!