Getting to know the 2015 Philadelphia Phillies

The Phillies 2015 baseball season is all about who they trade and what they get in return.

This team isn’t going anywhere soon for at least the next few years, and they need to move their veteran players and salaries for blue chip prospects. If you’re a Phillies fan, you’re actually in a pretty good position because you can rebuild and when you assemble a good team eventually with your draft picks, you have the resourses to keep those players and begin a new legacy.

There’s the old saying General Managers have when trading players: Do it a year too soon and never a year too late.

Translation: Trade the good players when they are assets and you know are in decline. Not when they move past their peak and you can’t trade them for anything worthwhile. That was the Phillies problem in 2013-2014. They needed to move their aging playing and start rebuiling. But emotions towards their 2008 World Series championship and feelings for Jimmy Rollins etc… gave them the notiion that these players had one more good year in them.

So now they need to trade Cole Hanels, Cliff Lee, Chase Utley, Jonathan Papelbon, and Ryan Howard (even though with his salary, no one will take him). And whomever they get back for these trades is how you chock up whether 2015 is a success or failure for the Phillies.

Getting to know the 2015 Miami Marlins

In the last 20 years, there have been four Major League baseball franchises that have won multiple World Series championships: New York Yankess (5), San Franciscio Giants (3), Boston Red Sox (2), and…. the Florida (now Miami) Marlins (2).

When you think about this franchise, your first thought is them dumping players and salaries, and being perhaps a bit of a “shady” organization. In 2013, Miami made a blockbuster deal with the Toronto Blue Jays that looked like a steal for the Jays. But in hindsight, maybe Miami was onto something. Here is that trade summary:

Toronto Traded:

shortstop Yunel Escobar,
infielder Adeiny Hechavarria,
right-handed pitcher Henderson Alvarez,
veteran backup catcher Jeff Mathis,
outfielder Jake Marisnick,
left-handed pitcher Justin Nicolino
and right-handed pitcher Anthony DeSclafani.

for (Miami traded):

shortstop Jose Reyes,
right-hander Josh Johnson,
left-hander Mark Buehrle,
catcher John Buck,
infielder/outfielder Emilio Bonifacio
and cash considerations.

What Miami did was dump over $200 million in guaranteed salary for Adeiny Hechavvaria (their current starting SS), Henderson Alvarez (now a key component in their rotation), some other castoffs and some cash. In turn, they took that money and used it on signing their key young prospects, especially Giancarlo Stanton, who they just signed for 13 years and $325 million.

The Miami fans were pissed, but it’s now turning out to be a Miami steal, and not the other way around. The way Miami had it figured in 2013/14 was they weren’t going to make the playoffs anyway with these players and their payrolls, so they might as well move them for some prospects and use that money to sign Stanton.

The Marlins build prospects, win a championship, and them dump their players for money. And then they start rebuilding again. They perhaps are not as dumb an organization as I originally judged and thought.

And what did Toronto get for that trade?: Josh Johnson was the key and he bombed as he got hurt from his opening start and didn’t do a thing (perhaps Miami knew that). John Buck was moved to pick up R.A. Dickie’s knuckleball catcher. Bonifacio lasted half a season as he couldn’t play on Toronto’s artificial surface. Buerhle is Buerhle and fine, but any team would rather have Alvarez instead. And Jose Reyes? He’s okay, but for all the money he’s making, Toronto could have 3 similair in production players on their payroll for the price of one Reyes.

So Miami is now ripe for the picking in getting that Wildcard spot. And what happens when the Marlins get a Wildcard spot? They win the World Series. 2 for 2 in playoff appearances.

This team should scare the rest of the National League. Young players and a terrific starting rotation.

Getting to know the 2015 New York Mets

I have a soft spot for the Mets. In 1986, when I was 10 years old, my dad woke me up from my deep sleep on the couch to witness the Boston Red Sox finally winning the World Series. The game was basically in the bag as the Sox were up by 2 runs with 2 out and no one on base in the final inning. But the Mets had other plans and won a miraculous game that made me a baseball fan for life. Then after I read the book “The Bad Guys Won” about the 1986 Mets and their “unique” players, I realized how good it was to be a child and see things in such black and white terms. I wished I never read that book, eventhough it was a very good read.

Then in 1998, as I finished up my last year in schooling in New York City, I attended more than a few Mets games in their September pennant drive. I might have been bad luck because they blew their division lead and lost every game I watched them play in person. To make matters worse, the old Shea Stadium was a dump. Sorry Mets fans, but it was. But Shea is now gone and replaced by an underrated new stadium.

Presently, the Mets haven’t had a winning season in 5 years, and that’s shocking considering that they garner so much revenue being in the most populated market in North America, plus having reaped on all that new stadium money every team gets for the first few years. It’s that new stadium smell that drives new fans to the ballpark! You can only chock up their losing ways to mismanagement.

That will change in 2015 as the Mets have a solid pitching rotation to go with their average lineup. They just need some more power in their lineup to push them ahead, which they’ll get in a mid-season trade for one of their many pitching prospects.

They won’t win the division, but they will be battling in that Wild Card game. And that’s good for baseball. As the Yankees swing downward, the Mets go up. Baseball is always better when they have a winning New York team.

Getting to know the 2015 Washington Nationals

The countdown to the 2015 baseball season begins. I will do my research on every team in the league.

Today: Washington Nationals

Prediction: Will go to the World Series.

I have a soft spot for this organization because they used to be the Montreal Expos. I still have a sadness for that Expos team because they are the unluckiest team in the history of organized sports. Just read Jonah Keri’s best selling novel on the history of this team called “Up, Up, and Away.” Eventually this team and city got so unlucky, they lost their franchise as the team relocated to Washington.

In 2012 the Nationals were the best team in the league. They lost a heartbreaker first round series to the St. Louis Cardinals. In 2014 the Nationals were easily the best team in the league. Again, they lost the in the first round to the eventual champion San Francisco Giants. They made have moved to a different city (and country) and changed their nickname, but the bad luck continues for this franchise.

Which is a better way to judge something? Over the course of a year, or over the course of one week when the stakes are at its highest?

That is the question of this team. They were the best for 162 games, but not in the playoff when it mattered. On paper, this team should easily win the NL East. They have a starting rotation that teams only dream of, and that alone will take them to the playoffs. But what happens to them in October?

They need to break the string of bad luck. Do it for the city of Montreal! Do it for Canada! Of course the irony of that is that they are in the United States capital. It would be good for baseball to have this team in the World Series.