21.Minnesota Twins – Well this team came out of nowhere last year and I think we can thank skipper Paul Molitor for that, but with the improvements that the Tigers and White Sox made I think this team got pushed back to the bottom of a tough division. Phil Hughes actually matched his record setting low walks issued with 16, but his K rate fell off in a Hughe way… hopefully he can rekindle some of his 2014 efficiency again. Joe Mauer hasn’t been good since he lost his bromantic partner Justin Morneau, but clearly it’s all his fault the Twins suck now because of his big contract and it has nothing to do with his concussion like symptoms. In the year of the rookie Twin fans have to be a little disappointed and cautiously optimistic about Byron Buxton, who couldn’t figure out major league pitching at all and struck out in almost a 3rd of his at bats. I know Mike Trout struggled initially, but Buxton struggled with a 31% K rate and his stats look much worse than Trouts ever did. Maybe I’m setting the bar too high, but I expect great things from Buxton. Speaking of rookie studs, Miguel Sano smashed 18 HRs during his rookie year yet still somehow managed a K rate worse than Buxton’s at a whopping 35%. Those HRs though, real sexy, and he had some of the best hard contact in the majors. The Twins still have a ton of talent waiting to be called up, but for now they’re in an awkward phase of having veteran players fading out of their prime and young guys not quite ready to pick up that mantle. And they’ve lost ace Mike Pelfry, they have no chance this year.
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.
And so begins the era of Archie Bradely…with Patrick Corbin out for most likely the entirety of this year, there’s now a very real possibility that Archie makes the starting rotation out of camp. Which makes the #1 pitching prospect’s stock skyrocket. If he doesn’t, he’s at the very least arriving earlier than expected. I don’t want to say that he’ll do better than Jose Fernandez because asking for what Fernandez did last year is like asking for Halley’s Comet to speed it up. But that doesn’t mean I still don’t expect great things from Archie. He’ll probably have around a 160 innings limit this year if he gets called up early, which I’m banking on. When he gets called up I expect him to hold down his spot in the rotation…it’s not like the Diamondbacks have too many options with Corbin gone…and Skaggs gone…and Bauer gone…they even traded away Max Scherzer, good thing they got Ian Kennedy in return, but now he’s gone too. So since Brandon McCarthy hasn’t pitched a full season ever and Randel Delgado is still pretty raw…well I like Bradley’s chances. And he should have a long leash when he gets called up
21. Arizona Diamondbacks
I mean it’s not like they can get a third .500 season in a row right?! This teams pitching is raw…but I’m sure another rookie pitcher will be amazing for this team again, see Kennedy, Miley, Corbin. So Archie Bradley, come on up. The Diamondbacks struck gold (diamonds?) when they signed Goldschmidt to a 5 year $32 million extension. They make a brilliant move like this, but then make a bunch of perplexing ones. They gave up on Ian Kennedy and traded him for journeyman RP Dale Thatcher and change. They got so little for Kennedy that DALE THAYER is the biggest name they got back from the Padres. Kennedy came 4th in the Cy Young voting 2 years ago, so did his elbow secretly implode? I know he wasn’t having the best year, but they literally just gave up on him. Did he sleep with GM Kevin Tower’s wife? Not to be outdone, earlier in the year Kevin Towers opted to trade players Justin Upton and Trevor Bauer at their seemingly lowest value. Upton is 26 and although I’m not sold on Upton, surely he could convince others that he’ll be a star?! I think the Braves got a bargain on Upton. And Bauer was the top SP prospect for this team and in the entire MLB just a year ago. Did they sleep with Kevin’s wife too? They must have done this before Ian Kennedy, why didn’t you learn Ian! Maybe I’m missing something here, maybe it’s maybelline…it’s not maybelline.