Saturday’s Den: Notes on every major league team

A note or two on every major league team:
National League
Arizona lost the World Series last year; in 2021-22, they finished a combined 92 games out of first place.

Adding lefty starter Eduardo Rodriguez is a good move.

Atlanta has made the playoffs six years in a row, going 24-21 in playoff games.

Braves drew 3,191,505 fans last year, 5th in major leagues.

Cubs were 83-79 LY, 7th time in last nine years they finished over .500.

Craig Counsell is the new manager; he was 707-625 in Milwaukee, 7-12 in playoff games.

Cincinnati starting pitchers had a 5.43 ERA LY; they need to use their surplus of infielders to add a starter or two in a trade.

Reds were minus-38 in defensive runs saved LY, worst in the National League.

Kris Bryant makes $27M a year; in his first two years with Colorado, he played in 122 of a possible 324 games. He’s expected to play 1B this year; Rockies need him to be productive.

Rockies have had five straight losing seasons, since losing 3-0 to Milwaukee in ’18 playoffs.

Added Ohtani, Yamanoto, Glasnow, are prohibitive favorites to win the NL West. 

Last three years, Dodgers won 317 games, but went 7-12 in the playoffs. They’ve been in the postseason 11 years in a row.

Marlins were 84-78 LY, their first winning year in a 162-game season since 2009 (they went 31-29 in the shortened 2020 season).

3B Jake Burger hit .303 with an .860 OPS after being acquired from the White Sox LY.

Their GM and manager both bolted; they just traded their ace pitcher, Corbin Burnes.

Milwaukee has been in playoffs five of last six years, but regression is expected this year.

Last year’s $346M payroll netted a 75-87 record, so this year, the Mets have a new manager and a new general manager.

Last three years, Starling Marte played in 120-118-86 games; they need more out of him.

Bryce Harper is going to play 1B, so Rhys Hoskins bolted to Milwaukee. Rob Thomson is 174-129 as Phillies’ manager, 19-11 in playoff games.

Last year, Bryson Stott hit .433 (52-120) when the put the 1st or 2nd pitch of an at-bat in play.

Pittsburgh hasn’t been in playoffs since 2015; their last winning season was 2018 (82-79),, their attendance last year was 1,630,624 (25th in MLB), their payroll was $68,945,975 (#29). 

Pirates drafted LSU pitcher Paul Skenes #1 in LY’s draft; how fast will be climb the ladder to the major leagues? Bucs added P’s Marco Gonzales/Martin Perez to fill out this year’s rotation.

Last year was Cardinals’ first losing season since 2007; they still drew 3,241,091 fans (#4 in MLB). They added three older starting pitchers this year: Kyle Gibson, Sonny Gray, Lance Lynn- will it be enough to make them a contender again?

C Willson Contreras had a .754 OPS in first half last year, then had a .959 in second half.

San Diego had a payroll of $256,045,688 last year (#3), they drew 3,271,554 fans at home (#2) but they needed a 20-7 finish to wind up with an 82-80 record. Padres were 9-23 in one-run games; no bueno.

Manager Bob Melvin is in San Francisco now, Juan Soto is in the Bronx, the team’s owner died in November. Expectations for this season are much lower.

Two years ago, the Giants went 107-55, 31-17 in one-run games. The last two years, Giants were 160-164, 47-46 in one-run games. Now, Bob Melvin replaces Gabe Kapler as manager, which figures to be an upgrade.

Giants signed Korean OF Jung Hoo Lee for six years, $113M; he is coming off a broken ankle.

Washington won the World Series in 2019; since then, they’ve won 39.7% of their games, and dumped stars Bryce Harper/Juan Soto.

OF Lane Thomas hit 28 homers, stole 20 bases last year; hopefully they won’t trade him. 

American League
Orioles franchise was sold recently, then they traded for pitching ace Corbin Burnes; coming off a 101-61 season, things are looking up in Baltimore.

OF Cedric Mullins was a 30-30 guy two years in a row, but his OPS the last two years was .721/.721, not very good. He is a great centerfielder defensively, though.

Red Sox
Boston finished in last place three of last four years, despite spending $183M/season in payroll the last three years. Ownership told GM Chaim Bloom to take a hike.

Red Sox had MLB’s worst defense LY (minus-51 runs saved); they added P Lucas Giolito, who had a 6.96 ERA in 12 starts after the White Sox traded him last July. Giolito is thought to be much better than that; we’ll see.

White Sox
Chicago was 61-101 last year; they cleaned out the front office and half the coaching staff, but kept manager Pedro Grifol. If they trade P Dylan Cease, will they reap a haul of prospects?

White Sox brought in Brian Bannister to advise pitching coach Ethan Katz; they added C Martin Maldonado, who helped keep the Astros’ pitchers for years in Houston. White Sox will have their third hitting coach in three seasons.

Terry Francona went 921-757 in 11 years managing Cleveland; he will be missed. Replacing him is Steven Vogt, who has never managed at any level- he was playing in the big leagues as recently as two years ago. Not an ideal situation.

3B Jose Ramirez is still productive, but his OPS has gone down three years in a row, and he’ll be 32 in September. Guardians had the #26 payroll last year, went 76-86. Not much optimism here.

Detroit hasn’t been in the playoffs since 2014, their last winning season was 2016, but they ended last year on an 18-10 run; with Michigan winning the college football title and the Lions making the NFC Championship Game, there is positive energy in Detroit.

Tigers added Kenta Maeda/Jack Flaherty to bolster the rotation; Tarik Skubal had a 2.80 ERA in 15 starts LY, so Detroit’s starting pitching should be solid.

Houston has been in the playoffs seven years in a row,, winning two World Series; now they have a new manager (bench coach Joe Espada) but their roster is basically the same. Yainer Diaz  is the new catcher, which helps the offense, hurts their defense.

Justin Verlander will be 41 soon, but his rebuilt right elbow is only 3 years old; Dusty Baker will be missed- he won consistently as a big league manager.

Kansas City won the 2015 World Series, haven’t had a winning season since; last two years, they went 121-203- their attendance last year was 1,307,052 (28th), their payroll $96,083,853 (#24), but the Royals have added some veteran free agents this winter, trying to improve.

Michael Wacha/Seth Lugo should improve their rotation, which got pounded last year. Brady Singer’s ERA went from 3.23 in 2022 to 5.52 last year. Royals used 13 outfielders last year, who combined for the 2nd-worst on-base %age of any outfield.

Ohtani moved 40 miles north, but the Angels never made the playoffs with him anyway; Halos haven’t made the playoffs since 2014- their payroll LY was $230,534,276 (#8). Anthony Rendon makes $38M a year for three more years; he’s played in 148 of the Angels’ last 486 games.

Ron Washington is the new manager; he’ll improve the infield defense. Chase Silseth was 3-0, 3.21 in seven second half starts LY. Angels’ rotation might still be pretty good. 

Minnesota won AL Central with an 87-75 mark LY; they’ve made playoffs in four of last seven seasons, and won a playoff series LY for first time since 2002. Twins have cut their payroll due to their uncertain local TV situation, which could cost them a lot of $$$.

Twins traded 2B Polanco to Seattle for four prospects; Edouard Julien should replace him. Minnesota AL in both walks/strikeouts LY; they’re still the favorite in a weak division.

New York
Bronx Bombers have paid out over $3B in salary since their last World Series title in 2009; that’s billion, with a B. How does the general manager keep his job? New York went 82-80 LY, with a payroll of $278,651,150 (#2). How does the manager keep his job?

They added free agent-to-be Juan Soto this winter; will they pay to keep him long-term? Soto has a career on-base %age of .421. Can they fix Giancarlo Stanton? He hit .202 the last two years.

Just try to win, please? This is their last year in Oakland, then they’re going into exile for three years (Salt Lake City? Sacramento?) before the new stadium opens in Las Vegas in 2028.

Last two years, A’s went 110-214; they figure to be little better this year, adding Alex Wood and Ross Stripling to bolster the rotation. They’ve got a few decent younger position players, l but this figures to be the third dismal season in a row.

Last three years, Seattle won 90-90-88 games, but missed playoffs LY, after ending a 21-year playoff drought in 2022. This winter, Mariners dumped 3B Suarez, RF Hernandez, LF Kelenic, trying to reduce strikeouts. Adding Jorge Polanco/Mitch Garver should fill those gaps.

Mariners’ attendance was 2,690,418 LY, but their payroll was only $134,466,903 (#18); with the Astros/Rangers dominating the division, going to be tough for Seattle to get back to the playoffs.

Tampa Bay has made the playoffs five years in a row, but they got swept in the Wild Card round the last two years. Their payroll last year was $78,354,272; by way of comparison, the Angels paid Trout/Ohtani/Rendon a combined $106M last year.

Over the last three years, Rays have the 4th-most wins in baseball; the players that win games in October are the players the Rays can’t afford to pay, but getting to the playoffs with the #27 payroll is still damn impressive.

Texas won the World Series LY, in their first playoff appearance since 2016; Bruce Bochy is a great manager, a future Hall of Famer. Their 2B/SS make a combined $58M a year, but they earned that $$$ last year. Seager had a hernia surgery this week, is doubtful for Opening Day.

P’s Scherzer/deGrom earn a combined $83M a year; they’re both out until midseason. It is up to Eovaldi/Gray/Dunning to keep the rotation pasted together until the stars get back.

Blue Jays
Toronto made playoffs three of last four years, but went 0-6 in those playoff games; they’re still putting together their 2024 roster, but Justin Turner just signed, they added Yaniel Rodriguez before that, to help fortify their lineup.

Manager John Schneider may be running out of time; Toronto had the #9 payroll last year- you have the #9 payroll, you’re expected to win some playoff games. 

Author: Armadillo Sports

I've been involved in sports my whole life, now just write about them. I like to travel, mostly to Las Vegas- they have gambling there.