Sunday, March 31, 2024



Marco’s Baseball Blog-O-Roonie 2024: Baseball commits seppuku? And...National League Predictions

We’ve been prematurely giddy in our celebration of the Los Angeles Dodgers and their new super no-expense-has-been -spared team of future Hall of Famers. Lest we be hasty, let me assure you that the looming shadow of illegal gambling, even if it’s not on baseball games, is a spectre of death and destruction in this sport, traditionally.

1919 Black Sox throw the World Series… Babe Ruth has to triple the home run record in 1920 just to lure the fans back.

In 1920, Ty Cobb and Tris Speaker, both all time greats, were implicated in an end of the season series of fixed games to cash in on the rampant corruption poisoning the game in that era.

Player manager of the Detroit Tigers, Ty Cobb, arranged the fix with Speaker, the player manager of the Cleveland Indians. The facts didn’t come out until 1926, when both Speaker and Cobb were forced to retire. A payoff of 20,000 was paid to pitcher Dutch Leonard of the Tigers and an embarrassing letter of contrition supposedly written by Cobb was covered up by Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis. Landis didn’t think baseball could take another gambling scandal and since it was old news by 1927 he managed to cover it up.

You already know about Pete Rose and his sorry-ass performance as a gambling addict and admitted liar. Still banned for life.

Well, the absolute worst thing you can possibly imagine would be if baseball’s New Golden Prince, the fabulous Shohei Ohtani, participated in some kind of shady gambling pay off. Especially with Rob Manfred’s (the new Kennesaw Commissioner) new deal with Vegas to promote betting on ball games. I can’t imagine a bigger disaster for baseball, so I’m just hoping that Shohei wasn’t a bettor himself and was just covering for his interpreter to save his ass from the Yakuza or some such madness.

The interpreter’s story has already changed a couple of times, as has Ohtani’s claim that he was robbed and never authorized a check for four million supposedly written on his bank account and used by said interpreter to pay off his vig. The story already reeks of COVER UP. Talk about a lightning bolt of shit aimed at the National Pastime! “Say it ain’t so, Sho’!”

Since events have evidently not yet been shaped into their final proportions of disgrace, there is nothing we can do but soldier on and play pick the posies of Spring training as we get ready to banish hideous reality by thinking about our favorite soporific, BASEBALL…

How about those Dodgers, anyway??!!





And you thought gambling was the problem?

Have you noticed that Yoshinobu Yamamoto, he of the $325 million contract, has not exactly been mowing down opposing hitters? As a matter of fact, he’s been getting bombed.

I think he’s just not used to the American baseball (Japanese baseballs are a little smaller) and his control is suffering. I saw Yammy demo his splitter in a close up and his hands are very small for a power pitcher. Of course, in that first outing of the spring he was missing bats by two feet with that splitter. He’ll come around.

The Angelinos need Yamamoto to produce because their starting staff is full of questionable health. Kershaw, Buehler, Glasnow, Dustin May, Ohtani...none of these guys can seem to make it through a season without an elbow transplant. The Dodgers are strong in the bullpen, though.

The lineup starts off with three awesome players: Betts, Freeman and Ohtani. Ooooo! Aaahh! They’re so good! Then you have several human ceiling fans who hit an occasional home run. Guys like Max Muncy (last year he struck out 153 times in 135 games), James Outman (181 in 151) and Chris Taylor (125 in 117) Maybe new outfielder Teoscar Hernandez will help redeem the bottom of the lineup. Wait a minute… (Teoscar had 211 Ks in 160 games?)

Just take notice that the Dodgers don’t have a special lineup after the top three. Atlanta has a better 1 through 9. So do the Phillies. Over in the other league, the Baltimore Orioles are close to scary with their lineup of young bashers. Defending champ the Texas Rangers have two super-rooks who upgrade the outfield for an already great offense: Evan Carter and Wyatt Langford.

Add these A.L. teams to your pitcher’s nightmares: New York Yankees, Toronto Blue Jays and ...the Houston Astros. The Astros especially...if they can stay off the IL for a season, this may be the best in all of baseball. And Yordan Alvarez is the equal of any of the Dodgers’ big three as a straight offensive force.

Still, you’ve gotta figure with their depth the Dodgers will finish first in the division. They aren’t a sure thing but who else would you bet on….wooops!!!



The Snakes rocked as a wild card last year and gained new respect in the Playoffs. They ran out of pitchers and lost the Series to the Rangers, but had a good run. Well done Snakes!

Arizona has gone with speed and defense and it paid off. Catcher Gabriel Moreno won a Gold Glove and can hit too.

Christian Walker won the double G at first and centerfielder Alek Thomas was a finalist. That’s good D up the middle plus a corner.

Corbin Carrol and Walker are the big 2 they need in the lineup on offense and Corbin, Thomas and Perdomo are all stolen base threats. Shortstop Jordan Lawler is coming from the minors and he’s a 30/30 threat. (But he’s on the shelf for two months with an injury.)

Starting Pitchers Zac Gallen and Merrill Kelly will be joined by Eduardo Rodriguez to make a fierce three on the mound if Rodriguez can ever get healthy.

And the Snakes won the Jordan Montgomery sweepstakes over the snake-bit Red Sox and signed him for a one year contract with incentives. The Red Sox really missed the boat on this guy. He’s a durable leftie with a great Playoff season behind him.

Any negatives for the Arizonans? The bullpen is very thin.



The Pads had the number 3 payroll in baseball and finished second in attendance last year. At least you knew something was happening over there in Petco Park. Thing is, all that firepower at the plate (Bogaerts, Tatis, Machado, Soto) and on the mound (Musgrove, Darvish, Snell, Hader) only got them an 82-80 record in 2023. They couldn’t afford to keep all those stars paid either, and had to trade Soto to the Yankees and watch Snell, Hader and others leave as free agents.

Bright spots? Fernando Tatis made the move from short to right field and played his butt off, winning the Gold Glove and racking up 59 extra base hits in a shortened season (steroid use got him suspended). Ha-Seong Kim won the Gold Glove at second and had 38 steals.

The Pads also made a good trade and got Dylan Cease from the White Sox. Cease had an uncharacteristically high ERA last year but he’s probably one of the top fifteen starters in the game all the same.



The Giants have had serious problems scoring runs and really needed some offensive stars to attract paying customers. Trouble is, their ballpark is where doubles, triples and homers go to die. So you might as well go for singles and steals, right? Enter Korean wonder Jung Hoo Lee who can hit and run, even though he won’t match the 20 bombs he hit for his Korean team last year. A good move and he plays center.

The Giants also signed Matt Chapman to embody the Giant ideal of a good fielding, home run hitting .220 hitter for a season or three. You want more of that? Try Jorge Soler from Miami. He hits homers and then struts. The fans will love it.

(Until he strikes out the next five times he’s at bat.)

Their Big 2 starters are sinker baller Logan Webb and Alex Cobb...also a ground ball pitcher. They just became number 2 and 3 in the Giants rotation when San Fran procured Blake Snell from the free agent roster. (He signed cheap after trying for the end of the rainbow contract all off-season.) The best thing that happened to the Giant’s pitching is Bob Melvin getting hired as manager off his run with the Padres. Pitchers thrive under Bob Melvin...he’s just one of those guys who communicates.

HOT TIP: Keep an eye on Marco Luciano. He may not last as a shortstop but he has a big power bat.



The Rocks are predestined to finish last in the West. They spent $183 million for Kris Bryant. They have him for 5 more years.

The Rocks are looking forward to a talented outfield threesome in Gold Glove centerfielder Brenton Doyle, home run hitter Hunter Goodman in one corner and King of the Cannon Arm Nolan Jones. If these guys can hit, things may improve in Denver. Jones and Doyle are good base pilferers too.

It’s hard to contemplate the Rockies pitching staff. It must hurt to have the staff post a 5.91 ERA for Starters and 5.41 for Relievers. That’s the worst in baseball.



WILL FINISH: somewhere between first and fifth

What a courageous prediction! Guilty. This is the hardest division to predict. All of the teams have problems, but you can make a case that any one of them could run the table. It depends mostly on who gets injured and who stays healthy. Will the St. Louis Cardinals’ pitching staff of aging arms hold up or will the young guns on the Reds turn the corner? Will the new hotshot manager of the Cubbies (Craig Counsel) make THAT much difference to the Wrigleys? Do you really count on Cody Bellinger keeping his stroke all year? The Pirates new Superman Oneil Cruz has some offensive support but the Pirates’ starters are iffy. At least until number one pick Paul Skenes arrives with his killer slider and 102 mph fastball. Someday the Pirates will amaze us and put it all together. Is this their year?

Even the Brewers, who get rid of their stars as fast as they can after it becomes obvious that they will be demanding more money, have a comfortable spot in the basement waiting for them. But even the Brewers are a possible winner. Two years ago the BrewCrew had Corbin Burnes, Josh Hader and Devin Williams pitching for them. My God what have they done? Only injured Williams is left.

So, since it might be their turn, I pick the Reds. They have a youthful starting rotation that underachieved big time last season. But guys like Andrew Abbott and Hunter Greene are entering their prime with huge upsides. I predict dominance similar to the old Cubs duo of Mark Pryor and Kerry Wood. Filthy heat and big breaking sliders.

Elly de la Cruz is a burner. He’s got speed, power and a hellacious throwing arm. He’s just got to mature and keep using his speed to make every single and base on ball turn into a double. Matt McClain (who could move to short from third with Elly moving over a notch) has power, average and can steal as well. If he takes another step forward, that would give the Reds the dynamic offensive duo they need.

The Reds are a little short on power for today’s game, but they are built to win if this turns into a new heyday of base stealing.



They are spectacular up the middle with Ian Happ in center, Swanson at short and Hoerner at second...all Gold Glove winners.

They are a little light on the power but still have 5 players with over 20 homers and three base stealers, led by Nico Hoerner with 43.

Four good starters with Ace in waiting Justin Steele. Good closer in Adbert Alzolay.

Not a Playoff team but good enough to finish second in the Central.



I have no idea why I’m rating them this high. I think I just got tired of writing “Pirates” in the fifth place spot. See above comments on Oneil Cruz and Paul Skenes for some sort of justification.



Nolan Arenado and Paul Goldschmidt are heroes in their mid-thirties. Nothing can stop entropy. The Cards may have the horses to take up the burden for their lineup but I don’t see Jordan Walker, Nolan Gorman or Lars Nootbar coming close to putting together even one offensive season that the old guys used to do year in and year out. Maybe Walker some day.

THE DEFINITION OF WISHFUL THINKING: the Cards’ rotation of Sonny Gray, Miles Mikolas, Kyle Gibson, Lance Lynn and Steven Matz can give them 500 innings.

Something positive? The Cardinals had 6 Gold Glove Finalists in 2021. (they finished 2nd) They had 5 in 2022. (they finished 1st) In 2023 they had 1. And finished last. Thus proving that defense has little value in modern baseball. Ha!







Yeah, I KNOW. Another FEARLESS PREDICTION. I’m trying to be wise like all the other prognosticators who have confidently placed the Atlanteans Numero Uno. It’s not easy being wise and fearless all at once.

Besides, the Braves are so loaded it’s a joke. They have the best offensive lineup in baseball. 5 guys hit over 30 homers last year and 3 hit over 40. Seven regulars had a plus .800 OPS! I mean, I know they play in a hitter’s park but come on! The Braves also have a top five rotation. (they traded a great prospect to Boston for Chris Sale and if Sale can keep his body wired together for one or two more seasons along side their two Aces Strider and Fried we’re talking the Number One rotation in the game.)

Looks like another 100 win season coming right up.

But the Braves have crumbled when playing their chief rivals in the Playoffs the last two years… and that team of Atlanta-sackers is of course, the…



The Phils have a two-headed monster in starters Zach Wheeler and Aaron Nola. Acknowledged Aces. That duo can carve up lineups. Also, the Phils have gotten in the habit of claiming a Wild Card spot in the Playoffs and staying up to speed with a tight schedule of pressure playoff games. Their hitters keep their timing. Their pitchers don’t have time to get rusty from lack of work.

Meanwhile the division champion Braves are waiting four or five days to start playing their big games and all they’ve been doing is being interviewed by mini-skirted reporters on the MLB Network. The Braves lose their edge.

It also doesn’t hurt that the Phils have a couple of studs in leftie swingers Kyle Schwarber and Bryce Harper. Those guys are big game hunters in the post season. They also have a lineup full of hackers who might look over-matched for 3 games in a row and then break out with a 3-homer game like Nick Castellanos did in 2023. The Phillies strike out in huge bunches. But they also walk and hit bombs. They are baseball’s Natural Outcome Kings.

The Phillies are SO ready to win a World Series. I don’t think they can win day in day out all season, but the Braves better wake up for the Playoffs.



I commented last year on the Marlins using their lofty draft positions of recent years to build a pitching staff of young rifles while failing to renew their offense. Now the pitchers they collected are starting to fade or need too much salary or something and they have over-ripened on the vine while waiting for the lineup to score some runs.

So they trade for Luis Arraez to come win batting crowns. Trouble is, the Marlins gave up a possible future Cy Young winner in Pablo Lopez, now a Twin.

The overall problema in Miami is that clunker of a stadium the fish play in. “Loan Depot Park”. (There’s a colorful baseball name for you!) The Marlins draw the lowest crowds in the league, year after year.

Note: Everybody keeps expecting leftie hurler Jesus Luzardo to get it together and take over the league. Now is surely the time Jesus! Let’s Rock! I think it would be great to see a Peruvian win the Cy Young!



The Mets are still reeling from the debacle that was their 2023 season. They found new and embarrassing ways to lose.

I can’t explain it….the Mets just started kicking games in June until the whole season was a dud. Maybe it was losing Edwin Diaz the way they did...hurting himself while celebrating a victory in the World Baseball Classic.

Right now the Mets are trying to decide how to deal with the Rhys Hoskins issue. Rhys is the hardnosed Brewer (and ex-Phillie) infielder who has become their nemesis and human cattle prod as he slides hard into bases and mimes crybaby moves in the dugout when the poor Metskies stomp around the infield and complain to their ump-mommies.

Hey Mets! He was stretching the rules by stop whining! Hit him in the ass next time he comes up. No...they’d rather give Rhys three hits in a row and then throw a head high fastball eight feet BEHIND him! Somebody explain baseball unwritten rules to these guys. Hit ‘em in the butt...not in the head! Control yourselves! Watch Joe Kelly of the Dodgers police the opponents...find an Irish reliever to go to work!



...but not for long. The Nats have been quietly rebuilding through the draft. They’ll be moving up soon, (two years?), so the Eastern Division better keep hitting them while they’re down.

Most interesting questions about the National League.

We’ve got an epic competition coming up among super-teams Los Angeles, Atlanta and Philadelphia and great intra-division rivals Dodgers vs. San Diego, Arizona AND traditional enemies the San Francisco Giants. Philly-Atlanta is also looking pugnacious.

Will the God-like Dodgers prove that when it comes to money, Might makes Right? Or will some sneaky Pagans (like Arizona!) tear the cup from their lips ‘ere they have quaffed the Elixer of Victory?

Will the remarkable Atlanta Braves become one of the great teams of all time? And can they get past the Broad Street Bullies of Philadelphia?

I’ll be back next week with the American League story…

Thursday, December 7, 2023

Marco's Baseball Blog-O-Roonie 2023: the Mad Free Agent Scramble


Marco’s Baseball Blog-O-Roonie 2023:

the Mad Free Agent Scramble

You can’t tell the players without a program so here are the teams who are wealthy enough to afford to hire a high priced free agent or two this winter. Every team wants Ohtani but only one can have him. Everybody wants the exact same thing...a starting pitcher and a power hitter. Shohei is the only baseball player who can fill both needs.


METS infinite (owner Cohen is a multi billionaire)

YANKEES not infinite but certainly ENOUGH to procure multiple big players and their contracts

DODGERS very rich and have skillfully trimmed their big contracts to get ready for this season

GIANTS have a wad of money because they haven’t been

able to sign any stars lately

CUBS can make one big splash

BRAVES They are ready to win but they need one Ace pitcher to go with Spencer Strider. The Braves locked up their young stars with sucker contracts: that’s why they have the coin.

JAYS Toronto wants to be considered a big market club...they’re not. One bullet in the chamber.

PADRES They shot their wad last two years of big trades and acquisitions. Now it’s just noise. If they had money they wouldn’t have let Soto go.

BOSTON posturing but are penny pinchers at heart.

And now the Objects of Adoration...the principal free agents and trade bait.

Showtime Ohtani, Yamamoto from Kyoto, Cody Bellinger, J.D. Martinez, Josh Heder, Blake Snell, Corbin Burnes, Tyler Glasnow, Jung Hoo Lee, Shane Beiber

These are the big names….the potential game changers.

The Yankees warmed up the winter meets by completing the deal that everyone knew was coming: Soto from the Padres to the ballpark designed with hitters like him in mind...Yankee Stadium and that short porch in right.

Funny how long it took the pinstripers to figure out that their stadium has ALWAYS been a left hander’s paradise. Now they have Aaron Judge and Juan Soto back to back in their order and if some of the injury prone and aging complimentary players can stay healthy they might have an offense again.

Soto was withering on the vine at Petco. All that offense the Pads brought in...wasted. They had to start undoing because they don’t have enough cash left to pay their superstars. At least they got some promising young pitchers from New York. But how long will it take for them to mature? About the same time as when the brass have to trade their next star?

The lynch pin of the whole free agent market is Ohtani, of course. Once he decides where he is going, everybody else will scoop up the leftovers. I was hoping the Boston Red Sox were Destiny’s Darlings but I should have known better. I doubt they can even compete for Yamamoto, who looks like a scary-good pitcher.

Ohtani will go to the Dodgers because he doesn’t want to leave the coast. He likes it warm. The Dodgers wanted him when he was in high school! They cleared the roster so they could give him the $600 million contract he actually merits. The Dodgers want to win...NOW. Betts and Freeman will help Ohtani have fun. Most of all...Ohtani

will wind up going to the Dodgers because manager Dave Roberts is half Japanese!

I think Yamamoto will take Steve Cohen’s money and sign with the Mets. The Yankees will pick up Tyler Glasnow. Corbin Burnes to the Braves for prospects. Beiber to St. Louis. Blake Snell to the Giants (and another arm surgery with that funky high shoulder whip ) Heder might wind up in Texas.

J.D. Martinez goes back to Arizona. Bellinger back to the Cubs. Boston will climb out of the wreckage and sign Jung Hoo Lee to little acclaim and Lee (25) will be an All Star.

You read it here first.

Thursday, April 20, 2023

Marco's Baseball Blog-O-Roonie 2023: SPEEDBALL COMIN'



After YEARS of watching this sport slow down as each season the average game gets longer and longer until NO CHILD under twelve can stay awake to watch a whole 9 inning contest, the Fathers of Baseball finally institute a pitch clock to try to up the pace of the Grand Old Game.

Say Halleluljah!

I once thought the pitch clock was a cheesy gimmick that would forever besmirch the honor of summer or something. Now, after watching 4-hour regular season games and 5 hour playoff games... I am a convert. Speed this shit up!

A modest but sufficient amount of time has been allocated for the pitcher to focus and pitch. (Remember Bob Gibson!) The batter has a little less room to maneuver, but I have no pity for the batting glove tighteners who are so prolific in baseball. Get in there and hit, you human rain delays! (remember Mike Hargrove !)*

There are going to be some peculiar problems of course. I saw a Mets hitter get a called strike because he was waiting for the runner on first , Pete Alonso, to return to first after sprinting (in a polar bearish way) on a foul ball!

The players don’t really mind the clock and see the need for it and that’s the best part.

Another change is the dreaded shift being retired. All dead pull hitters, and especially lefties, have seen their offensive numbers crumble since the shift became common. Now a team must keep two infielders on each side of the infield and they must have a foot in the dirt. Baseball expects this to restore the hallowed base hit up the middle and let more ground balls get through for hits. I hope it does, but I am more reluctant on this rule change.

Baseball strategy and the stats say that a team scores less runs if you shift on them...but that’s because too many hitters are too lazy to learn to hit the other way. They see that the big money goes to power hitters and if they become oppo hitters, their power stats suffer. So they keep pulling into the shift and hitting 20 home runs a year. But their batting averages are down in the .200’s.

I maintained for many years that Pete Rose and Stan Musial and the jolly chums of their era would retire the shift after one or two games of hitting to the open part of the diamond. But the Joey Gallos of the world were still with us and players just kept hitting it to the second baseman who was standing on the right field line 200 feet from home plate and throwing out David Ortiz who thought he hit a double.

So maybe it’s for the best, this shift control. It’s like the infield fly: a peculiar accommodation of a play that needs to be banned for the betterment of baseball. We don’t want to see a bunch of double plays because Eddie Collins (the first man to practice this) was dropping pop ups on purpose so he could force the lead runner.

Outfielders are still allowed to move around where they want, but the shift is not as effective with just them moving and not the infielders. But at least a manager can still move an extra man into the infield to try to get that groundball out at the end of a tight contest.

The third big rule change was the limit to attempted pick off throws. I think this rule may prove troublesome. Somebody forgot a little-known statistical fact: stolen base ATTEMPTS…(I said...ATTEMPTS!) drop by 50% when the pitcher makes at least two throws to first when a runner is there. The new rule mandates a balk be called when a pitcher makes a third unsuccessful attempt to pick off that runner. So after two unsuccessful pick off attempts, the runner can pretty much figure he doesn’t have to worry too much about the pitcher’s move. (Unless the pitcher is Andy Pettite...98 career pick offs recorded). With a balk being the likely outcome of a third pick off attempt, most pitchers will say “to hell with catcher will just have to throw him out if he takes off.” And especially if there’s a man on third and that balk will drive him in for a run… how often do you think a pitcher will try a pick off in that situation? No more polite little “just keeping his lead shortened” kind of pick offs either.

My prediction: several faster players...your Mookie Betts, Trea Turner types… are going to go crazy on the bases this year. You may see those two put up 60 steals/30 homer type seasons. The thing is that there are a whole lot of pitchers in baseball who just haven’t mastered the slide step or honed their pickoff moves to any extent at all...and those pitchers are going to pay. Steals will go up at least a hundred per cent. Baseball wanted more action...well they’ll get it... but they risk making the running game a farce. Long term consequences: pitchers will have to adapt and learn better moves. Catchers with rifle arms will become essential for every team or they will get run out of contention.

Other changes: they’ve enlarged the bases. Whoopee! An extra 3 inches all around! Better! Bigger! That runner was safe by a toe! I have long petitioned going to squishy bases to eliminate those broken ankle races down the line when the runner hits that stiff bag and turns it. This move doesn’t solve that problem. I’m not sure what effect it WILL have.


I’m sure you remember 1969. that was the year AFTER the infamous 1968 YEAR OF THE PITCHER. To save time, look at this history lesson from Michael Clair (written in 2015):

Seven starters had an ERA under 2.00

Remember the big deal we made about two starters finishing with ERAs below two in Cy Young winner Jake Arrieta and likely free-agent-piggy-bank-breaker Zack Greinke? Imagine having seven of them. While that number is only eleventh all-time, all the other seasons ahead of '68 came before 1917. (1909 has the record with a shocking 19 pitchers finishing the year with a sub-2.00 ERA.)

And while luminaries like Gibson and Luis Tiant are on the list, with a second-tier of strong starters like Sam McDowell and Tommy John, there are also pitchers like Denny McLain (career 101 ERA+, all while winning 31 games), Bobby Bolin (career 104 ERA+) and Dave McNally (career 106 ERA+). Those are fine pitchers each, but not necessarily record breakers. 

Carl Yastrzemski won the batting title ... with a .301 average

It wasn't unusual for Yaz to win a batting title. After all, including '68, he won three of them in his career and was coming off the title in 1967 when he hit .326. Not only was Yastrzemski's .301 average the lowest ever for a batting title winner, but he won the AL title by 11 points over Danny Cater. 

While Pete Rose won in the NL with a .335 average, he was one of the few exceptions. The Majors set the record for the lowest-ever batting average (.237) and second-lowest on-base percentage (.299, two points behind 1908).

Entire teams couldn't hit

Seven teams hit .230 or lower. The Yankees, as a team, hit just .214. Mickey Mantle, in his final season, led the team with a 143 OPS+, but hit just .237/.385/.398 as a 36-year-old first baseman.

The White Sox scored a meager 2.86 runs per game, with only one player reaching double-digit home runs: third baseman Pete Ward. And while he knocked out 15 homers, he also hit .216/.354/.366. The Dodgers and Mets weren't much better, averaging just 2.90 runs per game.

It wasn't pretty. 

So what did MLB do? Well, they realized there was a problem, first of all. And they took extreme measures to swing back some of the advantage to the poor hitters. They lowered the mound from 15 inches to 10 inches, restored the strike zone to its pre-1961 look of top of the knee to armpits instead of knee to shoulder, (After Roger Maris hit 61 taters in 1961, commissioner and Babe Ruth worshiper Ford Frick had enlarged the strike zone to keep sluggers from threatening Ruth’s home run records again) and strictly enforced the ban on doctored pitches.

These changes worked. Runs scored jumped from average 6.84 to 8.14 per game. Batting champs started hitting .340 again instead of .301. And although with all these remedies it’s hard to tell which one really had the most effect on the balance between pitching and hitting in baseball, the height of the mound was the most dramatic. A full one third of the mound height was cut, and it was actually more than that because grounds crews had been cheating all over the game. The rules said the mound could be no more than 15 inches above the level of the baselines. The mound at Dodger Stadium in the sixties was probably about 17-18 inches. That’s how the Dodgers kept winning pennants with Drysdale and Koufax pitching shutouts and their bunt and steal philosophy on offense.

I maintain that the balance of power needs another tweak. We should have addressed it when Randy Johnson was pitching to dramatize the shocking effect of a pitcher 6’10” pouring fastballs and sliders from just a 10” mound. And back in 1968 the average height of a major league pitcher was right around 6 feet tall. Now it is almost 6’3”. Tall pitchers with 100 mph fastballs and 94 mph sliders. Forget about it. That’s why we’re getting a World Series team like the Phillies striking out 77 times in a 6-game series! I say, it’s time to lower the mound again. Hack 3” off to equalize the altitude advantage of today’s taller pitchers and give the hitters a chance.

Some folks think they ought to adjust the distance of the rubber to the plate from it’s hallowed (and accidental) distance of 60’6”. Unchanged since 1894, they want to move the rubber back. I’m against that because the breaking balls now are breaking at about the right moment when they approach the strike zone. Tall pitchers with long arms have altered the geometry of the point of release, but I say try the mound height first.

I would also re-emphasize the top of the knee strike zone. Too many umpires are calling an unhittable bottom of the knee strike.


Another signal event in baseball this season is the return of the World Baseball Classic after a 5 year Covid caused hiatus. Fans like us got to revel in a truly exciting brand of baseball with major stars motivated by patriotism and love of the game. You basically had a bunch of All-Star Dream Teams matching Hall of Fame lineups with each other while second and third line pitchers (with a few notable exceptions) got taken apart in two inning controlled outings. And after the “Pool” series of games, every game was like a seventh game win- or- go- home situation! Watched by over 70 million people! Culminating in a tense and dramatic final game with Shohei Ohtani fanning his pal Mike Trout to lead Japan over a great USA team!

This Classic is a welcome diversion every three years and should be encouraged. Go ahead and limit the pitchers to two innings and keep a strict pitch count. The Classic is the best thing that’s happened to promote baseball since the universal DH! (Yes, I said it and mean it.) And did you notice all those little product decals stuck all over the player uniforms? While I deplore the Nascar imitation, it is obvious that somebody somewhere is going to make big money off of the WBC!


I came up with a prediction tool last year when I postulated the Rule of Twos...which, simply stated, means that teams that advance far in the playoffs almost always have certain characteristics. Namely:

At least 2 MVP caliber offensive players in the lineup (approximately .300 average/30 homer/100 ribby/.900 OPS type guys.

At least 2 starting pitcher Ace-level players with high innings pitched

At least 2 closer type relievers with high strikeout to walk ratios

At least 2 gold glove candidate defensive players of the 4 “up-the-middle” defense positions catcher, shortstop, center field and second base.

As a short cut evaluating tool, I have found this to be a consistent indicator. Especially when you examine how certain teams who lack these criteria compensate in other ways. For instance, the St. Louis Cardinals don’t really have two true Aces but they have Gold Glove candidates (and winners!) at six positions. That’s major compensation for weakness elsewhere.


1/ (numero uno favored to win the division)


I want to start at the Central instead of the East to West thing because the Guardians are trying to do something different and are getting very little credit for it. Last year they came within a couple of hits of beating the glamour-puss Yankees in the Playoffs and advancing to face Houston.

The Guardians don’t hit many homers or strike out as much as most teams.

They have the best strikeout percentage in the AL.

Instead of the power- first paradigm, the Guard Dogs have committed to youth, speed and contact hitting with great pitching depth. How refreshing! They aren’t all the way to being a dominant team but this year they’ll sneak up on people because of the new pick off rule. The Guardians have 5 speedsters in their lineup capable of 40+ steals. (They stole 119 bases in 2022 and were caught 27 times...better than a 4 to 1 ratio. They’ve stolen 21 and got caught twice so far in 2023. On schedule to steal about 270!)

2 Hitters?: They only have one offensive superstar...Jose Ramirez. They signed Josh Bell to try to get that second big bat in the lineup.

2 Aces?: They have an Ace starter in Shane Beiber backed by Tristan MacKenzie.

(Just saw the headline: MacKenzie torn chest muscle...8 weeks!)

2 Closers?: Emmanuel Clase is the best reliever in baseball now that Diaz of the Mets is hurt. Trevor Stephan is also great.

2 Star Defenders?: They have the Gold Glove center fielder in Miles Straw and the GG second sacker in Andres Gimenez. Stephen Kwan also won a Gold Glove playing left. Shane Beiber won one fielding his position on the mound.

One big plus: the Guardians have a wise, astute and approachably inspirational manager in Terry Francona.


I consider the Sox a contender only if everything goes right. Last year everything went wrong. They went from looking like a lock in the Central to the mere walking carcass of pain they became after one serious injury after another crippled the squad and left the White Sox sinking into the “Dank Tarn” of mediocrity. (Metaphor courtesy of Edgar Allen Poe: Fall of the House of Usher). Retired manager Tony LaRussa showed that it’s hard to reclaim the crown, even when you revolutionized the game with your “what the hell, let’s bring in another reliever” philosophy.

2 Hitters?: The Sox still have Tim Anderson, Eloy Jimenez, Luis Roberts and Yoan Moncada. None of the above had a good season. (Well, Tim batted .301 but he was hurt all year.) Jose Abreu...Big Cuban Daddy at first gone to the Astros. They signed Andrew Benintendi to play outfield and he may do well now that the shift is banned.

2 Aces?: Dylan Cease is amazing and may win the Cy Young unless he falls prey to “Chicago White Sox” bi-polar-cursed- by- God syndrome. Kopech is coming off an injury and doesn’t look good...yet. Giolito had a 4.90 ERA last year coming off of Covid. They are really depending on an aging but stalwart Lance Lynn and Mike Clevinger to start.

2 Closers?: right now they have zero Closers. One of the top closers in baseball, Liam Hendriks, is non-functioning on the IL. Not much to back him up. Reynaldo Lopez I guess. Can they resurrect Joe Kelly?

2 Defense up the Middle?: Roberts in center. Benintendi in left. 1 and a half.


Everybody talks about Carlos Correa like he’s a superstar on top of the shortstop stack. Carlos has power and a cannon arm. But in 8 seasons he’s played over 130 games just 3 times. He’s hit over .290 twice. He’s hit over 25 homers once. He’s batted in over 90 runs twice. And he’s played the great majority of his games in a hitter’s ballpark. Carlos is a great baseball talent who still has a lot to prove. He’s on the second level of star shortstops in the majors, not the first.

Correa is on the Twins where he and Byron Buxton (1 year out of 9 over 100 games played) demonstrate that there is one tool that must be added to the traditional 5 baseball tools (hit for average, hit for power, run, field, throw) and that is DURABILITY. I don’t rate Correa in the top five shortstops. He was enormously lucky to get the Big Money after all that free agent bad leg folderol.

Also-rans in the Central: (to be covered in a future newsletter)


A whole team of hitters who could top 150 Ks this season and pitchers with terrible WHIPS. This is a rebuild? Disaster! Javier Baez must wonder why he came here as he flails at another slider in the dirt.

Here’s a sentimental goodbye tour for Miggy Cabrera. He’s only the ghost of himself now as a player, but he’s a loving soul, a great hitter and a baseball hero who will not be forgotten.


Note to Royals...your park is too big for you to be a Tater Team. (Unless you’re Sal Perez). Go back to the running game and defense. See... Cleveland Guardians.



As usual, the East is competitive. That being said, nobody stands out as being a dominant team. The Yankees at least have been vetted in the heat of the Playoffs, so I give them pride of position in my evaluation BUT...the Yanks were a .500 team in the second half of 2022. They stumbled...not rolled...into the Playoffs and were no match at all for the Astros. The Yanks were...and still are...a One Man Team. And I don’t mean

they’re the Gleyber Torres- Yankees. The Yanks were blessed with a career year from a healthy Aaron Judge and Hiz Honor came through. But the distance between first and fourth place in the East is about one hamstring .

Let’s look at the Twos…

2 Hitters?: Judge and Anthony Rizzo...(The smartest move the Pinstripers made in the off season was re-signing Rizzo to be Aaron Judge’s comfort animal. Probably got Judge to sign with that move.) The only other everyday player besides Judge who had an OPS over .800. Stanton hit 31 dingers while playing in only 110 games. (Pretty much his average) They qualify in this category mainly because Aaron was roughly the equivalent of 2 good offensive stars. They need DJ LeMahieu to come back strong. Is new shortstop Anthony Volpe the new Jeter? I say...yes he has a chance.

2 Aces?: Yes. Gerrit Cole and Nestor Cortes. But they have problems after that. Severino and Rodon and Montas are all hurt. The Yanks have some depth...but they aren’t near as imposing as they looked earlier.

2 Closer-Relievers?: Clay Holmes and I guess any of several more guys. No more Aroldis Chapman but they are quite strong in the pen.

2 Gold Glove candidates up the middle?: Presumed center fielder Judge is more suited to right field but he is a candidate for a Gold Glove. He’s a very good outfielder. Jose Trevino won the GG at catcher.


The Jays are now officially on the clock. They are bristling with talent in the everyday lineup and look thoroughly fearsome. Trouble is, they don’t win anything. Last year they finished second to the Yankees and then folded like a wet handkerchief to the Mariners in their own home park in the Playoffs.

Young Vlad (Son of “The Impaler”) Guerrero didn’t maintain the spectacular hitting he showed in 2021. He was merely very good. Bo Bichette had a sleepy bat for much of the season and George Springer got hurt early in the year but rallied.

They had no left handed hitters to speak of so this season they let go one of their steadily productive hitters, Teoscar Hernandez, to the Mariners and signed Daulton Varsho from the Arizona Diamondbacks. I would not have made that move. Teoscar always hit and had a great clubhouse presence for that team. They also worked Whit Merrifield, Brandon Belt and Kevin Kiermaier into their lineup so they might have solved the leftie hitter problem.

What the Jays really need is another starter to deepen their rotation. They had former Cy Younger Kevin Gausman and Alex Manoah. They picked up Chris Bassitt and he needs to be good. Ross Stripling had a 5 to 1 K/BB ratio. That’s good so of course they traded him to San Francisco.

The Jays have a scary, 7 deep lineup on offense. Like everybody else, the Blue Jays need to keep their pitching healthy to finally break through.


Hitters?: Vlad and Bo... and a lot Mo’!

Aces?: Gausman and Manoah

Closers?: Romano, Cimber and Zach Pop

Defense GG?: Merrifield at utility, Kiermaier in center, Varsho in left or right, Chapman at third, Vlad at first, Berrios at pitcher...that’s six candidates for a GG.


The good-enough-to-win Rays, they should call them.

Their pitching is incredible but their offense is just barely good enough to win 90 odd games and qualify for the Playoffs.

2 Hitters? No. they have Randy Arozarena but he’s not really an MVP candidate, just a real flashy, fun player who hits 20 long balls and bats

.263 with an OPS of .773. A very weak lineup, but spirited. You’d of thought that Wonder Wander Franco would have come alive by now. Speed, power, hitting ability… but not much experience. Well they signed him long term. Maybe he’ll Pop in his third year like Vlad Jr. did up in Canada.

2 Aces? Shane McClanahan and Drew Rasmussen. Strong depth as well.

2 Relievers? Yes. There’s a bunch of them in the bullpen and the Rays use them all willy-nilly whenever they feel like it. This system has worked great for the Rays but it’s hard to keep track. It’s baseball Socialism. Typical of the Rays.

2 GG types up the middle? No, although David Peralta was a finalist in the National League. He plays left. The Rays finally let Kevin Kiermaier, the perennial GG center fielder, move on down the line. He is now playing GG caliber outfield for Toronto.

Also Rans:


Wheel spinners. They went out and spent money on Justin Turner, Adam Duval, Masataka Yoshida etc. but lost Xander Bogaerts, J.D. Martinez, Nathan Eovaldi and Rich Hill. Last year they let Kyle Schwarber walk and seems like he was pretty good for the Phillies. Led the National League in home runs as a matter of fact. If they finish last it’s bye bye Bloom (Chief Baseball Officer Chaim). The Red Sox really don’t have near enough pitching to compete in the East.


They don’t have enough pitching yet but they’re getting closer. Watch out...they’ve got a strong group of rookies and players just a notch down.



They ought to give the MVP to Scouting Director Kris Gross. It’s now obvious that the Astros retooled their offense on the fly and replaced three great offensive players with three new ones all while going to the World Series 4 times since 2017.

Farewell George Springer, Chris Correa and Yuli (batting champ) Gurriel. Most teams would have caved after that. Never mind that the Stros also lost Cy Young pitchers Garret Cole and Justin Verlander.

Hello Kyle Tucker, Jeremy Pena and Jose Abreu. Add the best looking young power hitter since Willie McCovey… Yordan Alvarez. Get to know Framber Valdez and Christian Vazquez...your new Aces. These new players were raised in the Houston system with the exception of Abreu, a free agent from Chicago. A seamless transition. Even with the Jose Altuve thumb injury, the Astros are formidable.

2 hitters?: Oh...I guess! Tucker and Alvarez are both MVP types and that’s not even counting Altuve when he gets back around June. Joe Abreu and Pena and Bregman pick up the scraps. Only San Diego and Toronto can compare to this lineup.

2 Aces?: Probably 3.

2 Closers?: Maybe the best bullpen in baseball. Their whole pitching staff is loaded with pitchers who bring it at the century mark. They strike out more hitters than any other staff.

2 Defensive wizards?: Pena is pretty damn good at short and won the GG. McCormick showed what he can do in center with that catch in the World Series. Gold Glove contending Catcher Maldonado is one of the best handlers of pitchers. There’s a reason he’s always in the lineup even while he’s batting .090 or something. And Kyle Tucker won the GG for his work in right.

Astros grade out as the highest rated team in the majors in my system which is why I have confidence in it. Sign the Stros up for 105 wins at least.


2 Hitters?: One short after rookie Jrod. They need more out of Suarez at third and maybe Teoscar Hernandez or Kelenic can have a good season.

2 Aces?: Nah. They‘ve got one great one...Luis Castillo... who came over from the Reds last year and pitched like a killer for them. If they need to win one Big Game, he’s the boy. But I don’t consider Robbie Ray an Ace anymore. Logan Gilbert is looking better and better but he’s not Ace status yet.

2 Closers?: the M’s are very plus in the pen with Andres Munoz coming back from the IL to help Paul Sewald, Penn Murphy and Erik Swanson.

I wish I thought the Mariners could hang with the Astros but I really don’t think they have the team unless they get another Castillo. It was great to see them wake up last year and Jrod is a good one. But I think the new rules are going to favor speed over the same old power game. “Let’s field a lineup of walruses and let them hit homers and strike out 200 times and bat .200.” That game was killing baseball. Julio is the spitting image of the new player that’s going to bring baseball back from the doldrums.


The team everybody wants to get into the playoffs. But it’s not happening unless a hurricane flattens Minute Maid Park in Houston and the Astros have to move to Lufkin.

The Angels have two of the top ten players in baseball. (You know who they are...the other eight are Mookie Betts, Trea Turner, Ronald Acuna, Aaron Judge, Rafael Devers, Pete Alonso, Jose Ramirez and Baby the pitchers for another list. Ohtani makes it without even counting his pitching! Juan Soto should make it but his bat has been cursed by a gypsy queen or something.) But look at the Angel’s twos:

2 Hitters?: Yes...obviously. Light in the order aside from these two.

2 Aces?: Nope. Just one Japanese Dandy.

2 Closers?: NO!

2 GG types up the middle?: Let’s be generous and say that Mike Trout is still a GG contender. Fletcher was a GG finalist at second but now he’s at shortstop. Luis Ringifo was a GG finalist as a utility infielder. Aside from that the Angels are very average.


They are alive and spending big money. At least the Houstonians will have to pay attention when they play this team. But they lost 94 games last year and I only include them as a really unlikely third Wild Card possibility because they signed DeGrom and Eovaldi.

2 Hitters?: No. Nathaniel Lowe is the only Ranger over .800 OPS. Seager hit 33 dings but .771 is not an MVP type OPS.

2 Aces?: DeGrom and Eovaldi if healthy can deserve that status.

2 Closers: Will Smith and Dane Dunning with leftie Brock Burke backing them up. Yes!

2 Defenders: Semien rates a finalist GG.

Non-contender yet again: OAKLAND A’S:

This team will suffer until they finally find a way to get a new ballpark and/or city to play in. Why can’t MLB get this done?



Yet again the Bravos prevail! It’s getting boring in the East in that no matter how hot the pennant race Atlanta always winds up winning the division. Philly went to the Series and the Mets have got everybody excited. No matter. I believe Atlanta will win this division.

2 Hitters?: You betcha. Olson was a 2022 MVP possible. Austin Riley was too. Acuna may steal 60 bases. Michael Harris Jr. is productive. Newcomers Sean Murphy (catcher) and Orlando Arcia (shortstop) should help but we’ll see. The offense is deep and they have some speed to go with macho level power.

2 Aces?: 3 lefties are on the IL including Ace Max Fried (15 day) If Fried comes back soon they’ll have him and Spencer Strider as co-Aces.

2 Closers: more like 4 closer candidates.

2 Vacuums up the middle?: GG winner Dansby Swanson went free agent to the Cubs. Their catchers Travis d’Arnaud and Sean Murphy are both GG candidates. Olson at first, Albies at second and Max Fried at pitcher are all GG nominees. So that’s two GG possibles up the middle and extras.


Mets fans were almost giddy at the prospect of the Mets’ off season additions. Then Correa’s leg got X-rayed and voided that deal. Then Verlander got injured in Spring training. Then Diaz, their Closer, over celebrated at the WBC and tore his Achilles. Then Scherzer lost his control and emptied his resin bag...into his glove!. Carrasco and Quintana have arm troubles...

Suddenly, the Mets are 7-6 and Alonso is carrying the team.

2 Hitters?: Alonso and either Lindor or Marte. Generally a real good offense.

2 Aces?: Not looking good. If Scherzer turns it around Senga might deliver. The staff is shaky right now.

2 Closers? Dave Robertson has been good so far as the emergency fill-in for Diaz but nobody is composing bullpen- walk- out trumpet solos for him.

2 Defensive Daddies?: Lindor at short and Nido at catcher. I think Brandon Nimmo is a Gold Glove candidate in center. The Mets have the horses.


They disappointed all season long but suddenly turned it on in the Playoffs and acquitted themselves admirably in the World Series.

2 Hitters?: Well, one on the shelf...Harper. Their big two right now are Schwarber and Trea Turner. This season so far the Phillies hit but can’t score. Marsh is hitting .387 and Bryson Stott (second base) is hitting .420.

And the team is 4-8!

2 Aces?: If they pitch like this, no way Jose! If Nola and Wheeler don’t pitch like they did last year the Phils are doomed. No depth.

2 Closers?: ...and a vulnerable bullpen. Jose Alvarado has been spectacular. 18 K’s...0 walks. Right now they are using Craig Kimbrel as their set up. Craig has been awesome and I love him but... it’s late in the day Craig.

2 Def GG’s?: Marsh in center. J.T. Realmutto at catcher. Turner at short. Below average at a couple of places.

Nolo contendere:


They own the current Ace of Aces… Sandy Alcantara. They have a couple more highly touted pitchers, especially Jesus Luzardo. The everyday lineup is very weak except for A.L. batting champ Luis Arraez who came over from Minnesota and is hitting .500.


They won it all in 2019 when they had Strasburg, Scherzer, Corbin, Rendon, Turner and Soto. Now they’ve got nothing but a sweet memory. And hopefully, some good prospects in the minor leagues…

N.L. CENTRAL: (weakest Division in MLB)


The Central has been withering on the vine as of late. The Cubs are just now addressing their demise as a contender. The Brewers have been self-destructing in fear of star-level contracts and sending their best players elsewhere. Who do they think they are? Oakland? And please don’t speak of the shattered remains of the Reds and the Pirates. If San Diego can risk it all twice in ten years and at least TRY to win something for their fans, can’t the Pirates keep even one or two of their best players? Evidently not.

That leaves the Cardinals to win the Central again...and they’re not strong enough to dominate this weak division. So far in 2023 they are 6-8.

2 Hitters?: Goldy and Nolan Arenado. Nolan Gorman has had a sizzling start at DH. Jordan Walker could be the X-Factor with all kinds of talent but still a rookie. One way the Cards can get more offense would be to emphasize the running game. Along with defense, that’s one place the Cards can dominate.

2 Aces?: Jordan Montgomery and Flaherty with a big maybe for Adam Wainwright and Miles Mikolas. I don’t know but they seem vulnerable in this area.

2 Closers?: Ryan Helsley, Zach Thompson and Drew VerHagen. Maybe some day the 100mph + kid Jordan Hicks. (So far he’s a human base on ball vending machine.)

2 GG Candidates?: And how. Arenado, Goldschmidt, Brendan Donovan and Tommy Edman second/utility plus Tyler O’Neill in center. *Will Wilson Contreras be able to inspire the kind of confidence in the pitching staff that Yadier Molina could?


Why did they give up on their best hitter of 2022, Hunter Renfroe? Because they’re the Brewers and that’s how they roll. Pitching is their strength.

2 Hitters?: Yelich and Rowdy Tellez for now. Adames helps a little but none of these guys match what the Cardinals have in Arenado and Goldschmidt.

2 Aces?: If Brandon Woodruff was healthy they’d have 2 with Corbin Burnes the Cy Young winner. As it is they have Freddie Peralta who’s pretty good.

2 Closers?: If only they hadn’t traded Josh Hader they’d have a killer bullpen...and if only fastballs were ducks we’d all hit triples that quack.

Bryse Wilson and Devin Williams.

2 Defensive GG Candidates?: None up the middle. Yelich and Corbin Burnes are finalists.


2 Hitters?: The Cubs don’t have MVP type offensive players. Cody Bellinger used to be that kind of player 4 seasons ago. Seiya Suzuki is that kind of player based on his Japanese career, but most players coming from the Japanese leagues not named Ichiro Suzuki (no relation I don’t think) need a couple of seasons to get used to MLB. If you’re a Cubs fan root for Suzuki.

2 Aces?: Justin Steele and Marcus Stroman

2 Closers?: Michael Fullmer and Michael Rucker

2 GG types?: Ian Happ in left. Dansby Swanson at short.

Tucker Barnhart won one at catcher.

Also featuring:


You only hear three things out of the Pirates:

How bad is Oneil Cruz’s injury? (Answer: Bad...ankle injuries tend to linger.)

When do they trade Bryan Reynolds? (Answer: Boston can’t afford Showtime Ohtani so they’ll probably get Reynolds.)

Nice of them to get Andrew McCutcheon back for a little love.



Future Aces Nick Lodolo and Hunter Green.



What? Them again! I don’t know...the Dodgers seem like they definitely took a hit in this off season. They said goodbye to Justin Turner, Tre Turner, Cody Bellinger and Gavin Lux’s ACL/LCL. They won’t get Walker Buehler back for awhile.

While you may think the Dodgers are relaxing and taking a season off while they reset the clock on their salary cap, I see a leopard laying in wait at the waterhole, ready to rend and tear the wart hogs of MLB.

They went out and got Miguel Rojas to play GG caliber shortstop.

Betts, Trace Thompson and Taylor bat rightie as outfielders.

Peralta, Heyward and Outman bat leftie as outfielders.

They can keep Chris Taylor as an infield/outfield swingman.

Betts can play second if they need him. So can Taylor and Miguel Vargas.

Muncy can stay on third most of the time and he’s a gold glover over there.

J.D. Martinez will DH and not play much outfield. He’s happier that way.

The Dodgers are smart...and they wind up with a veteran team that has fought hard in the Playoffs and hung together. Twos?

2 Hitters?: Freeman, Betts, Will Smith and Muncy have all led in one category or another offensively. The ‘Heads have 7 guys currently carrying an OPS of at least .843 and 4 are over .950.

*CURIOUS NOTE: the Dodgers only have 3 steals this season. 4 Caught Stealings. Mookie has a strained hammy and he’s out for awhile.

I think they saw that grisly video of Gavin Lux tearing his knee when he stumbled going into third and decided not to risk any more leg injuries by going to the stolen base for offense. That’s an option when you have as much home run power as L.A. does.

2 Aces?: Lefties Kershaw and Urias. Rightie Dustin May looks fully healed and he’s a weapon. They need two other starters until Buehler returns.

2 Closers?: Iffy. Phillips is the closer right now. Somebody is going to move from the bullpen to the rotation. I don’t think Syndergaard can hang onto a spot in the rotation so he might trade places with one of the very capable bullpen arms.

2 GG candidates?: Up the middle you’ve got Rojas as a past finalist at short. Betts and Heyward are GG worthy. Muncy at third. Freeman at first. So the corners are strong.


Yeah, I know...the Padres are the chic pick this year. All those sexy superstars making guaranteed money. Plus Juan Soto. But I think the Padres are overrated, overheated and overpaid. They pretty much have to win to justify these contracts they’ve been dishing out. I got excited like everybody else when their management went Hell’s Bells and High Water for the ring. If only more teams would do that! I think they would see their finances improve dramatically and even everything out. But I’m not sure I like the chemistry in S.D.

The Pads climbed Everest in the League Champ Series when they beat the Dodgers. This after losing...what was it, 17 games to the Dodgeheads in the season? Okay, so go team no problem, right? But look at the mix:







Nelson Cruz: OLD MAN RIVER.





2 Hitters?: If Soto and Machado can break out of their slumps. Right now it’s Bogaerts carrying the team.

2 Aces?: Seth Lugo, Yu Darvish and Snell. Musgrove will be back soon.

2 Closers?: Hader is nasty. He’s got Steve Wilson to help him.

2 GG people?: Ha-Seong Kim playing second now. Bogaerts is a finalist at short. Machado at third. Trent Grisham in center. Soto in right. Cronenworth a finalist at second but is playing first.

Also running in the West:


2 Hitters?: Christian Walker and Ketel Marte have looked pretty dangerous at various times but can they both get hot at one time?

2 Aces?: Zac Gallen for sure. Merrill Kelly for maybe. Madison Bumgarner...nevermore. (Another Edgar Poe reference?)

2 Closers?: Nope. Andrew Chafin occasionally looks good enough.

2 GG types ?: They had a GG finalist at all three outfield positions when they had Varsho (right and utility… signed by Toronto)), Alek Thomas (left) and David Peralta (traded to Tampa Bay mid-season) but let Varsho and Peralta leave. Christian Walker is a candidate at first.


One of the top five richest clubs but they can’t catch a break. Is it the taxes in California or the cost of housing or what? They struck out on Judge, Correa and Rodon. In 2022, Joc Pederson was the only Giant regular over .800 in OPS. Logan Webb is a Cy Young candidate.

They have a lot of leftie hitters and they should be helped by the shift rule, but they started really slow again this year.


The Rockies hitters are never as good as they look at Coors Field and the pitchers are never as bad. But the whole Rockies team looks really bad this year. They lost 94 games last year. This year they will set a new record probably. It’s a shame.


A.L. DIVISION WINNERS: New York, Cleveland, Houston

A.L. WILD CARDS: Toronto, Tampa Bay, Seattle


N.L. DIVISION WINNERS: Atlanta, St. Louis, Los Angeles

N.L. WILD CARDS: Philadelphia, San Diego, New York