By: Joe “Cartright” Cardoso
The trucks are pulling up to Arizona and Florida, and they are carrying bats, gloves, and more for the upcoming MLB season. In just 3 days pitchers and catcher’s report to spring training, and the hopes of fans begin again. Baseball is alive and well, and fans are returning in droves to support the game. It isn’t perfect but getting better, and with the season being so long you never know what will happen. Cut the grass, roast some peanuts and get that beer on ice because it’s almost time to “PLAY BALL!”
Last season, the Royals made it back to the World Series and beat a surging New York Mets team that was young and hungry. Before the new season starts I have 24 questions I want answers to. I will be releasing those 6 at a time, and I look forward to seeing how things shake out. So let’s get right into it with the first 6 questions I have going into the 2016 season.
1. Can the New York Mets do it again?
*The biggest off-season mission was to resign Yoenis Cespedes, and that they did in a team-friendly contract. The Amazings also inked the old bull dog and inning eater, Bartolo Colon; the young arms that carry the team all becoming free agents in 2018. How will the loss of Murphy to the hated Nationals affect the team? Two players who will be welcomed back from injury are Ruben Tejada who was taken out injured by the Dodgers last season, and the rich get richer as Zack Wheeler comes back from Tommy John surgery.
2. Is this the year the World Series champs on paper, AKA the Washington Nationals, get it done?
*The first thing is who’s gone? Ian Desmond, Denard Span, Jordan Zimmerman are all now ex-Nats. Here’s a crazy concept the Nationals used IN HOUSE depth to replace and upgrade the roster. Dusty Baker is in and Matt Williams is out. When GM Mike Rizzo was asked what he was looking for in a manger this is what he said, “As we go through the laundry list of things that we look for in our manager and a perfect leader of the ball club on the field, leadership qualities, knowledge of the game, Xs and Os, are all important.” A three time NL manager- of- the-year, I’m excited to see what the baseball lifer brings to the Nats. Do they have a strong enough bullpen to get wins? And how will the club house cancer know as Jonathan Papelbon do this year?
3. Can the Royals win back to back?
*The window for the Royals being elite is open, but, in this writer/fans opinion, not for long. In 2017, 14 of the home-grown young players will be free agents. So with that being said, tick tock Kansas City! Re-signing Alex Gordon was HUGE, and getting him at a “home town discount” ads to the positive vibes out in Royal land. This team should be just fine and keep rolling or will they? And what about 2nd base? Omar Infante are you out there friend? Worst season of his career, and if he can’t cut it the possible replacement is Jimmy Rollins?! YIKES!
4. The Cubs Win The Pennant?
*The shopping list for the off season was simple Center field and a 5th starter. In signing 26 year old Jason Heyward, who’s still not in his prime, they have a stud and a good leader. Jason and Kris Bryant along with the rest of that lineup is $$$. And the fact Heyward came from the Cardinals which is great off field drama and adds to the series they will play. His age makes you worry BUT John Lackey is coming off a very nice season so at 37 he is a legit 5th starter. The pressure on the Cubbies to take the next step after last season is INTENSE.
5. It’s an even year Giants fans so you know what that means, right?
*I say hold the phone they have holes all over the rotation, 5 pitchers gone and some unhealthy and shaky signing’s to depend on. $54 million dollars in salary of the books is a WIN and they rolled the dice on two pitchers Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija. Both if they perform at the level we know they can are great pickups. But Samardzija 4.96 ERA last season $90 million? Dave Righetti have better be on his game. And is this a World Series winning bullpen?
6. Are these the Red Soxs again?
*Out is Ben Cherington and in is Dave Dombrowski. Two bad off-season signings and that was it last year. Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez were bad, very bad. The rotation has been overhauled and most perform. Can they trade Hanley and his $$$? Four names Soxs fans will know and love: David Price, Craig Kimbrel, Xandex Bogaer, and Blake Swihart. Exciting times ahead.
Six more questions coming next week!
Follow me on Twitter @Cright and on my site @NutsAndBoltsSP