30. Philadelphia Phillies
Jimmy Rollin’s 15 year tenure with the Phillies is over, but it’s only the beginning. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Rollins, a grown man, called himself Jimmy when playing for the city of Philly, he was a poet and he know it. Sources tell us he’s officially going by Jim now that he’s a Dodger. The Phillies are in fire sale mode, everyone is on the chopping block but no one wants to negotiate with Amaro Jr. Chase Utley’s still on the team and wants to retire a Phillie, but so did Rollins and he’s already gone. I don’t think too many fans would be sad to see Ryan Howard leave, but his burdensome contract should keep him in the cheesesteak capital for 2 more years at least. Cole Hamels is still a stud, but my gut tells me he won’t be on the team next year. Behind Hamels in the rotation is Cliff Lee. The Phillies tried rushing him back from injury last year to increase his trade value, but it had the opposite effect. I want to say he’ll bounce back, but I never imagined Halladay would disappear as quick as he did, so I’ll remain skeptical. The Phillies then have…Aaron Harang and 2 starters I don’t know. Maybe Dominic Brown finally puts together sustained success, maybe Ryan Howard finally bounces back to his old self, maybe Jonathan Papelbon stops being terrible. The best scenario for this team would be a bolstered farm system and the first overall pick.
29. Arizona Diamondbacks
Paul Goldschmidt looks like the best 1B in the NL and arguably all of baseball. He’s also underwent hand surgery late last season. Yasmany Tomas could be the next great Cuban player, but maybe because of Jose Abreu’s success expectations for him are higher than they should be. Mark Trumbo should be fully recovered and he’ll help with his bat, but his glove is a huge liability. Tony La Russa took over the team and cleaned house, which is probably a good thing, but maybe he’s just a crazy old man at this point. Their entire pitching staff isn’t pretty. The Rays arguably lost their worst SP in Hellickson, but he’s arguably the best SP on the Diamondbacks. Losing Miguel Montero isn’t helpful either, his pitch framing and defense will be missed. A.J. Pollock is a pretty underrated leadoff man and maybe Aaron Hill has one of his random breakout years. I have no idea when Patrick Corbin is coming back, but hopefully uber pitching prospect Archie Bradley bounces back from a lost year. I don’t think this team can do worse than last year, they had some unlucky injuries, but even if they’re healthier there isn’t that much here.
28. Minnesota Twins
The Phil Hughes signing is looking fantastic, leaving Yankee Stadium has done wonders for the former pinstripe pitcher, I wish I could say the same for Joba… The Ricky Nolasco signing is looking horrendous though, who would have thought a pitcher from the NL East would struggle in the AL? Ervin Santana had some trouble pitching in the NL East last year, yikes, but he was dominant with the Royals and could be dominant in the AL Central again. I thought the Twins stole Tommy Milone from the A’s and I think the Twinkie’s pitching staff is starting to look decent, maybe Mike Pelfrey won’t have to pitch anymore?! New skipper Paul Molitor takes over for a Twins team that sorely needed a change. If this St. Paul native can bring the same level of success he had as a player, well, I’d be surprised. Just one playoff win against the Yankees would be great. The state of a thousand lakes welcomes back Tori Hunter, Oswaldo Arcia could hit 30 HRs, and Joe Mauer’s move to 1B somehow came with less production.The old Ricky Nolasco motto applies to Joe, he can’t be worse this year right?! Even with breakouts from Hughes and Dozier the Twins fell to the bottom of the standings, another poor year could help their already loaded farm system.
27. Colorado Rockies
It’s actually kind of sad how predictable the Rockies have become. They always start the season hotter than Girl Scout cookie sales outside a Cannibis Clinic, but cool off faster than a Coors Light can out of the refrigerator. Yeah, I know I need to work on my analogies among other things. Their offense is the best in the league…when healthy and at home. Unfortunately they have these things called “road games,” I also don’t think it’s possible for the team to remain healthy all season. Playing a mile above sea level allows hitter to destroy baseballs, but it also destroys their bodies. I almost feel bad for the pitchers, but at least this organization poops out elite OFs quicker than me after eating Chipotle. Carlos Gonzalez goes down, but then guys like Dickerson and Blackmon produce no problem. Nolan Arenado seems like a great player and Justin Morneau seems rejuvenated in Coors, I’m sure not displaying concussion symptoms helps. Ubaldo Jimenez had that one good half pitching in Coors, but other than him I can’t name another good Rockies pitcher. I don’t know what it’ll take for this team to do well besides health, but I don’t know if that’s possible anymore.
26. Tampa Bay Rays
Joe Maddon left the Rays for a team in a better city and with a better fanbase. Baseball managers are some of the least impactful coaches in sports, but the Rays will miss this one. David Price was traded for Drew Smyly, Nick Franklin, and some other dude. Smyly was great in his 8 starts for the Rays, but losing one of the best starters in baseball will hurt. The Rays gave up on Wil Myers awfully fast, the former AL ROY was shipped out to San Diego for Steven Souza and others while the Nationals scooped up the best prospects.Matt Moore is injured. Ben Zobrist is gone. Jeremy Hellickson is gone, Matt Joyce is gone…others, gone! I bet Desmond Jennings and James Loney are only still on the team because the Rays couldn’t trade them for prospects. What remains is Evan Longoria and a surprisingly elite pitching staff led by Alex Cobb. With their stud pitching staff maybe they surprise everybody, but this looks like the weakest team in the AL East. The Rays underwent a massive overhaul and I expect growing pains.
“Now watch me crush my former team’s logo to demonstrate my loyalty.” – Joe Heartbreaker
25. Atlanta Braves
It almost seems too good to be true, but the Braves finally don’t look competitive. Good Upton and Jason Heyward are gone, only Freddie Freeman remains. I mean Heyward was one of the best defensive RFs in the game and came up his rookie year as the player to push them into the playoffs, and he delivered!, but it felt like they were happy to get rid of him now. And the Cardinals seemed happy to get rid of Shelby Miller! There’s something fishy about that trade, both teams feel like winners, but I don’t see it that way. Good thing the Braves got a struggling young pitcher from the Cardinals, but they signed Nick Markakis because they still plan on being competitive. It all makes sense! They also added stalwarts Alberto Callaspo and Jonny Gomes. When did they get on the Braves? These moves feel like stopgaps until they move on to their new stadium. Andrelton Simmons is the best defensive player in the game and he’s not going anywhere for a while, but they still have Bad Upton. Julio Teheran was fantastic last year, but the numbers suggest he was a little lucky. Mike Minor never recovered from his surgery, Alex Wood might get sent to relief again, and Craig Kimbrel looked hittable at times. The pitching isn’t bad, but the Braves haven’t looked this weak in a long time.
24. Houston Astros
The organization was a joke 2 seasons ago, heck one season ago, but now Astro fans can see a faint light. Eddie Gaedel’s legacy lives on in Jose Altuve, who put up young Ichiro like numbers last year. I don’t think he’ll get over 200 hits again, but he’s great player. George Springer looks like a Tale of Two Cities, he’s the best at times and the worst at times, but overall good. The Astros brought in Colby Rasmus, Luis Valbuena, Jake Marisnick, Jed Lowrie, and Evan Gattis because they didn’t think they had enough players striking out. I also don’t think these players suddenly make the Astros competitive either. Houston’s pitching staff is led by a guy named Dallas…you’d think he’d have the courtesy to change his name, what a jerk. Collin McHugh looks good, but when was the last time a Mets pitcher that ended up in Texas pitched well?
Nolan No one comes to mind. Chris Carter managed to lower his K rate to 31.8%…this season he’ll try for only 10 points higher than league average. The Stros still have plenty of talent on the farm despite not signing their 1st overall pick last year, lol, and they’ll only get better.