Monday, March 31, 2014

2014 MLB Preview

We're nearing the end of March, which means...

It's baseball time ladies and gentlemen!

The season already kicked off this past weekend in Australia when the Los Angeles Dodgers swept the Arizona Diamondbacks in a two game series that absolutely no one watched. But, the season truly began last night in a matchup between the Dodgers and the barn burning....San Diego Padres? Yes, the Dads were in a nationally televised game that is meant to kick off the season. I don't know how the MLB decided to let that happen. Also, what made the Dodgers the Kings of the league? Why'd they get the privilege of being the team to start off the season in two different countries? The league is full of many options that would have been a lot more interesting to see in place of the Dodgers, both in Australia and in the featured Opening Night game.

Why not the Houston Astros? They could have really set the tone for the year, making sure that we all have very low expectations for this baseball season. From there, literally anything remotely competent will be considered a miracle. So that only rules out all things related to the Astros, including their uniforms, logos, stadium, players, former players, or, really, anything tangentially related to the brand of the Houston Astros. It also rules out all trades made by Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers, Rickie Weeks, Jonathon Niese's bones, tendons, and ligaments, the elbow of any Atlanta Braves pitcher, UCLs in general, the contracts that Giants GM Brian Sabean dished out this winter, contract values as a whole, and the very existence of Dee Gordon. Otherwise, thanks to the 'Stros setting the bar at negative 15 on Opening Night, even a pop fly will be riveting TV. It will also make their opponents look like Murderer's Row...on steroids. Though, showing the Astros off to Australia might not give them the best opinion of the sport.

Los Angeles Angels, anyone? Trout. That would have been an excuse to show Mike Trout on national TV. And that's always a good thing. More Trout. Yes, the rest of the team is bad, but all around the country, we'd be able to see Trout. Also, Bud Selig would have all sorts of cash flowing in after introducing Trout to Australia firsthand. Think of all the young, future baseball players down under that would have been able to look back on the time that they saw Michael Nelson Trout in action as the moment when they fell in love with the sport. Now they'll just talk about Paul Goldschmidt and Yasiel Puig. Certainly not a bad duo, but not at the level of Trout.

What about the St. Louis Cardinals? Who wouldn't want to see the best team in baseball in action? A team that is beautifully constructed, beautifully run, and beautiful to watch. Easily the most complete team in the game. How could the MLB deny us, and Australia, of seeing them in action, for the entire country to see?

Most importantly, did the league forget about the Boston Red Sox? They would have been the perfect team to throw into those two slots. But not because they're the reigning World Champions. It's because of one player on their team. One man that's going to take the league by storm, and remind us why we all love sports.
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The one on the left. Stop looking at Xander Bogaerts and his smile, this is all about Grady Sizemore. His presence alone warrants the entire team taking a trip to Australia. The Aussies would have loved watching him live. And what American wouldn't love to spend their Sunday night watching the MLB return of the Great Grady. Not only is his story of redemption amazing, he was a great player when he was healthy many years ago. He's still only 31 years old, which means that he's still technically in his prime. You may have forgotten how good he was back in Cleveland, but he's back. What better way to kick off America's pasttime in 2014 with the personification of 'Murican perseverance?

Just a warning, is not at all the last time the name Grady Sizemore will appear in this article. He'll be all over it. He was Mike Trout before Mike Trout for me; the first player that I ever fell in love with. Surprisingly, it wasn't Jose Reyes, Carlos Beltran, or David Wright, but rather, a Cleveland Indian that caught my attention. Soon he was joined by then-Marlin Carlos Delgado, so of course when Delgado jumped ship to the Mets, Sizemore was no longer clearly my favorite baseball player. But he'll always be an important part of my love of baseball.

And now he hath returned. Is he going to challenge Mike Trout in my heart? Probably not, but we'll see.

As for the rest of the league, here are my projected standings, along with my thoughts on every team, in some cases, much longer than others:

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The Big Name Acquisitions

With the NFL's free agency period now two weeks old, we've seen a lot of important moves that will have a major bearing on the upcoming season and beyond. In a later post, I'll get to the signings that garnered less attention from the general public, but for now, here's my take on the moves that I loved (or hated) involving the household names. I'll also be grading each deal on Albert Haynesworth(less)/Jason Bay/Jerome James/Wade Redden Scale for disaster potential.

DeMarcus Ware, DE/OLB Denver Broncos (3 Years/$30 Million)- I don't really understand what the Cowboys were thinking in getting rid of Ware, who despite injury issues was still a pretty productive player last year. He has more than enough left in the tank, and in Denver he will give a major boost to this defense. He'll fill the Elvis Dumervil role from 2012, which the Broncos really missed last year. Paired with Von Miller, Ware gives this team almost unquestionably the best pass rushing linebackers in the NFL, which will really make up for their now deficient secondary.
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AHJBJJWR Scale: 1 out of 5.

Aqib Talib, CB Denver Broncos (6 Years/$57 Million)- Another way to fix the pass defense is by directly augmenting the secondary. This Talib singing was almost necessary since it's now clear that Champ Bailey is not returning to the Mile High City, Chris Harris will be coming off of a knee injury, and the Broncos had no plans to retain Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. Talib has played extremely well over the last couple of seasons, being a shutdown corner when healthy. But that's the key. He has had notable injuries in the past, and struggled to stay on the field last year. The contract is a bit...large to say the least, especially when compared to the money they other corners (specifically Tampa's Alterraun Verner, which I'll get to in a later article) receiver, but it fills a need for the Broncos and can pay off huge dividends in the end.

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AHJBJJWR Scale: 3.5 out of 5. The injury concerns are an issue. And yet, I still don't totally disagree with this deal.