Maddon loved Fowler's work with the Cubs, but the Angels about nine pitchers short of being a contender. That franchise will expand its payroll for next season, but look for them to invest in impact pitching instead of pricey, below-average outfielders.
When did the Cardinals ever have a 10 percent shot a Cole? This team has never won the bidding for a top-end starting pitcher in free agency. It took at run at David Price and fell well short with an offer it considered aggressive.
I have no idea. At this point I assume the team will move on from Ozuna. I also assume that Fowler will get first shot at right field, but after that it's a toss-up. There is not much in free agency (aside from Ozuna) and none of the many internal candidates are a sure thing. Spring training should be interesting.
I'm old, so I remember some truly mind-boggling failures in the Al Onofrio Era. But his teams could lose to anybody and beat anybody in their heyday. I don't see Barry Odom pulling an Uncle Al and scoring big upsets to (sort of) offset the bad losses this year. The lifeless response to the disastrous Vanderbilt game set off all sorts of alarms.
I believe the Nationals have already made an aggressive pitch to him. But he can name his price this season as the one true impact hitter up for grabs. Will the World Series triumph loosen up the Nationals' spending? That franchise has cut corners in odd places (like manager) in the past.
You get into the bracket and you always have a chance. It's hard to be great over 162 games, but it's not as hard to be great for a few weeks. Guys get hot at the same time, momentum builds, a team gains collective confidence and suddenly you have a Team of Destiny. What made the Blues and Nationals unique was the fact they fell into such a deep hole that they had to play great for months. Rather than run out of gas after that long, hard push, they were able to build on all of that success in the playoffs. Both those teams underwent big transformations during the season and then they just carried on. A better example is the 2006 Cardinals, a team that was playing mediocre ball at the end of the season. Then it suddenly snapped to.
Alex Reyes fell off a cliff due to multiple injuries. He was one of the industry's most coveted prospects. Big, strong guy with a 100 mph fastball. Now? The Cardinals should see anything they get from him next season as a bonus.
No. There is little available in free agency and they don't have much to trade after paying a big price to get Ozuna, then Goldschmidt.
The Cardinals believed that after a busy year -- a great spring and a full, productive year at Springfield and Memphis -- that Carlson would be better off resting and training than heading out for still another month of baseball. I get it, since it would be hard to top his excellent finish at Memphis (.361, 1.098 OPS in 18 games). He went into his offseason on a high note, with plenty of confidence. He just turned 21 and he did not come up through the college ranks, where players play far fewer games and therefore can spend more training.
To Bill DeWitt Jr., dead payroll money is still money. If the Cardinals have to pay a guy big money to go away or fill a lesser role on the team, those dollars are still real. They still count against the budget. So there is an opportunity cost issue. The money invested in Carpenter and Fowler cost this team the opportunity to trade for pricey veterans or shop the high end of the free-agent marketplace, such as it is. Not only will the Cardinals have to keep some guys coming off mediocre or flat-out awful seasons, they will have less ability to go get better players.
I'd love to see a no-step-out rule, a pitch clock with real penalties and also limitations on throws to first base. Will we ever get there? Perhaps, if MLB attendance and rating continue to wane. Cutting down on one-batter relief pitching and 20-man September bullpens were steps in the right direction, but we need more. Some day I will get thrown out of a press box for screaming "JUST PITCH THE $%@&! # BALL!" and throwing something from my perch. There is only so much a human can take.
For the life of me I can't understand why Craig Berube and Mike Van Ryn haven't been able to settle on defensive pairings this season. Carl Gunnarsson was briefly unavailable, but for the most part the coaches have had their pick of D-men to play. As chat regulars know, I'm not a fan of guys playing on their off side by design. When they get caught on their off side in their zone, they often have to move the puck on their backhand -- like on a giveaway by Faulk with his back to the forecheck in the last game. So if Faulk can ever fall into a regular pairing and stick to the right side we will get a better idea of what he can offer at even strength. But remember that Faulk is a lot like Kevin Shattenkirk. He can move the puck and add offense, but he will never be a Norris candidate.
The tanking thing has always been a pet peeve of mine, dating back to the pre-Draft Lottery days of the NBA when there was absolutely no shame. I'd like to see tanking penalties added to the MLB collective bargaining agreement next time around. Let's lessen the incentive to tank so we'll have fewer 100-loss teams out there killing fan bases. If you trade veterans for prospects and you lose 95 or more games in consecutive seasons, you lose your first-round pick. Why reward deliberate incompetence?
Ivan Barbashev and Oskar Sundqvist scored 14 goals last season and they just reaching their prime, so they should be bigger offensive factors this season. Tyler Bozak and Alexander Steen are getting paid for real, so they, too, need to do a lot more. Robert Thomas can do more, as Berube noted. Robby Fabbri needs to do more or he won't last the season here. That's the bad news. The good news is this team has room to improve and two guys in the AHL, Klim Kostin and Jordan Kyrou, who will push for playing time this season. I really believe his team can grow after losing Tarasenko. Why? It will have to grow to stay in the hunt.
Montreal was the best. Great hockey city and even greater nightlife. Quebec City lacked that nightlife, but what a city. The same goes for scenic Vancouver. The worst? Winnipeg. We got caught in a huge blizzard there. We stayed at roadside motel out by the airport. Dan Kelly liked to leave his window cracked open and he ended up with a snow drift in his room. When the highlight of the trip is a fish-and-chips restaurant next to the motel, that's not good. But the old Winnipeg arena was great.
We've seen the Texas Techs of the world grind their way on long runs. A consistently excellent defensive team can do some damage because, as they say, defense doesn't go cold. That is what Cuonzo Martin is trying to establish. On any given night a team that wins with offense can go cold. While he runs a deliberate offense, Villanova proved that a team running that style can succeed if it takes care of the ball.
Given the fact the team has so many young outfielders to sort and so many dollars to pay Fowler, I would be surprised to see the team invest money and/or prospects from its diminished pile to add the impact bat fans crave. I'd love to be wrong and have a far more interesting winter to write about. As I've noted before, maybe the best outcome is the Cardinals giving Ozuna a qualifying offer and Marcell taking the one-year deal to drive up his value. That would buy the team time to assess all those outfielders.
I believe Sterk is in no rush to fire Odom. He is unpleasantly surprised to be in this spot. He really, really hopes Barry salvages the season somehow because the expense of firing and hiring would come at an inopportune time for a program with budgetary concerns. That said, Sterk is also trying to boost ticket sales and donations. It's tough to do that with a football program heading the wrong way in America's toughest conference.
Yes, secondary assists can be dubious. Teams and fantasy hockey experts are acutely aware of them. If a player has an inordinate number of secondary assists, his point total is bloated. That means the player is likely headed for a points regression. And team analytics go way, way, way past points of any kind to determine whether a player is actually driving the play or just going along for the ride.