Posts Tagged ‘Red Sox’

Baseball season is right around the corner, and with baseball comes fantasy baseball. People often look for those under the radar sleeper picks to break out and have a great season, then subsequently claiming you knew it all along. Well, we’re gonna look at the top 5 breakout players from each league, and  keep them in mind for your fantasy drafts and pools, and we shall keep the bragging rights to ourselves.

Jackie Bradley, Outfield, Boston Red Sox – The defending champs have been rather quiet this off-season, because they have a great team put together. Anchoring the outfield this season will be the 23 year old Bradley, who appeared in just 37 games last season, dealing with injury and switching between the majors and AAA Pawtucket. He’s got some competition for the starting job, but I wouldn’t expect Grady Sizemore to earn the job over Bradley. Despite Bradley’s struggles last season adjusting to the game, he’s got tremendous upside, and should flourish at Fenway this season.

Danny Salazar, Starting Pitcher, Cleveland Indians – Baseball fans got their first real good look at Salazar during the AL Wild Card game against the Rays. We saw both the good, where he breezed through the first 2 innings, topping 100 mph on his fastball occasionally, and the bad, where he couldn’t get out of the 4th inning. This year, he will get a permanent spot in the Tribe’s rotation, where he can continue to progress, and show his potential. He can only impact games he pitches, but expect him to make a lot of hitters look silly.

Nick Castellanos, Third Base, Detroit Tigers – The Tigers started last season with the corners of the infield manned by the one-two punch of Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder. With the trade of Fielder to Texas, Cabrera moved over to first, and Castellanos is getting his first shot at an MLB starting position. He was a late September call-up, playing in just 11 games, but showed promise in that and his time in AAA, hitting .276 with 18 HR and 76 RBI. He’s just 21 years old, and has a great offensive team around him to help him grow as a Major Leaguer.

Kole Calhoun, Outfield, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim – With the Angels moving Peter Bourjos to St. Louis, it freed up a spot in the outfield for Calhoun, who has been up and coming for the Halos for quite some time. The 26 year old played in 55 games last season, hitting .282, and an OPS of .808. He isn’t confirmed 100% starter just yet, but it’s expected that they will give the vast majority of starts in left to Kole, who we can probably expect a very solid year, surrounded by offensive power-houses in the Angels lineup.

Jurickson Profar, Second Base, Texas Rangers – The former number 1 prospect in all of baseball had a tough rookie season, hitting just .234 in the 85 games he played, but this will be his first full season at his natural position, with Ian Kinsler being sent off to Detroit. He has tremendous upside, and showed versatility, playing in 4 different positions over the season. Texas has a very potent offense, and we can fully expect Profar to be a big part of it at the top of the order.

Junior Lake, Outfielder, Chicago Cubs – Among the first players from the Cubs’ stacked farm system, Lake showed promise from center, playing in 64 games, and hitting .284 with 6 home runs. He probably won’t kill teams on his own, but he’s going to be a good threat near the top of the order on the North Side. In combination with the other young guns for the Cubbies like Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo, he will be a very good piece for the Cubs for years to come.

Billy Hamilton, Outfielder, Cincinnati Reds – If you haven’t seen YouTube videos on this guy yet, then get watching them, and then keep this guy on high priority in fantasy drafts. He stole 75 bases in AAA last year, and has stolen over 100 in previous seasons in the Reds’ system. He was handed the starting job with the departure of Shin-Soo Choo, and will have a chance to put his much talked about speed on full display. Provided he can get on base, and that hasn’t been a problem for him, he will be a huge pest on the basepaths for years to come.

Scooter Gennett, Second Base, Milwaukee Brewers – This 23 year old came in midway through the season, and put on a great show, hitting .324 and garnering an OPS of .834 in 69 games. He did so well, he stole the starting job from mainstay Rickie Weeks, and is now part of one of the top up and coming double play combos with fellow youngster Jean Segura. He will be an essential part of the lineup, getting on base consistently and keeping the carousel moving in front of power threats such as Ryan Braun. Expect good things for Scooter this season.

Zack Wheeler, Starting Pitcher, New York Mets – The talk of the town in New York (when not complaining about the Yankees) was Matt Harvey, until he went down with Tommy John surgery. Among the other pitchers on the rise for the Mets is Wheeler, who was acquired from the Giants for Carlos Beltran, and he showed potential in his 17 starts in the majors this past season. Manager Terry Collins says he expects 200 innings out of Wheeler, and if he pitches to his potential, he will be a great #2 to Harvey’s #1 for years to come in Flushing.

Anthony Rendon, Second Base, Washington Nationals – This sophomore had a solid first run in the majors, appearing in 98 games, hitting .265 and an OPS of .725. This year, he has the starting spot for himself, and will continue to improve on last year’s campaign this season. With a tremendous young squad around him, he should be counted on to hit near .300 this season, and be an essential part to the Nats’ continued rise in baseball. Get used to hearing his name in conjunction with Bryce Harper as the young guns in DC.

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yank

Now that we’ve seen all of the negatives of the Alex Rodriguez story, lets look at the positive to come out of this ruling. The New York Yankees have reclaimed the $25 million salary that they were supposed to pay Rodriguez and are now free to spend it however they please. With that in mind, here are three ways the Yankees could decide to use that money that would benefit them.

 

It is no secret that Yankees are well below the championship caliber team that fans expect. They (officially) no longer have a starting third baseman, Mark Texeira is returning after missing the entire 2013 season, and Derek Jeter is a shell of his former self.  With all that being said, the number one thing the Yankees need right now is starting pitching. CC Sabathia struggled mightily last year, finishing with a 14-13 record and a career high ERA of 4.78. In addition, Ivan Nova was up and down all of last year and Hiroki Kuroda is 38 and also lost some of his momentum in the second half of last year. To make matters worse, the Yankees don’t even have a set #4 and #5 pitcher right now. Now they can look at this two ways.

The first way to look at this is to go for the big splash (in true George fashion) and sign Japanese right-hander Masahiro Tanaka. In 28 starts last season, the former Rakuten Golden Eagle went an astounding 24-0 with and ERA of 1.27. At only 24 years old, Tanaka has the potential to be the Yankees number one starter going forward. However, Tanaka does not come without risk. As the Yankees know, a lot of Japanese pitchers have struggled with their transition to the MLB. Daisuke Matzusaka, Hideki Irabu, and Kei Igawa are all perfect examples of that. Of course that doesn’t mean that Tanaka will not be the next Yu Darvish, it just means that he could also be the next Hideki Irabu.

If the Yankees decide against the Japanese star, they definitely have other things they can do with that money. One hypothetical scenario would be bringing in a solid starting pitcher with a solid relief pitcher for a total of less money than Tanaka would cost. Two starters that are immediately available are Matt Garza and Ubaldo Jimenez. Both have struggled in the past couple of years and are both likely to command no longer than two-year contracts. Garza in particular, with a career ERA of 3.84, but past AL east experience with his time with the Rays, would cost only around 8-12 million on a year for a short amount of time. With no need for commitment, either of these pitchers can be a good temporary fix to the starting pitcher problem.

As far as the relief pitchers, there is once again a decent crop of short contract players available. Grant Balfour, Fernando Rodney, and Fransisco “K-Rod” Rodriguez could all be had on 1-2 year contracts for about $12 million. These would all be good temporary players for the Yankees to have if they want to make a chase for the playoffs.

Now this third option may scare most Yankee fans. I is a terrifying notion that will be a new concept to those who love the pinstripes. Save the money. The 2015 free agent market is going to be filled with significantly better crops. Asdrubal Cabrera, Chase Headley, Max Scherzer, and James Shield will be highly coveted players who would fit the Yankees perfectly. Not spending money this year will all but guarantee no playoffs this year, but it may be worth it in the long hall.

What should the Yankees do? Go after Tanaka? Get some short-term player? Maybe save the Money? Let us know what you think it s comments.

frtr

Now that we are approaching the playoffs, its about the time where players are having there fantasy seasons evaluated. Instead of going player by player, the team here at The Fifth Quarter decided to make things a little more interesting. We present

                                                        The Fantasy Awards.

Rookie of The Year

1.    Giovani Bernard- The 2nd round pick out of Notre Dame has flourished in the Cincinnati Bengals offense. Despite splitting carries with Benjarvus Green Ellis, He was top 10 in fantasy points for RB’s going into the Bengals bye week. He has been even more valuable in PPR leagues. Even though he cooled off a bit toward the end of the year, Bernard will definitely be a RB2 going into next year.

2.    Eddie Lacy- Even with the injury problems and handcuff back James Starks, Eddie Lacy has put up fantastic numbers this year. Since returning from a concussion, he has put up double-digit fantasy points in all but 2 games. The Alabama bruiser will be a top 10 pick next year without hesitation.

3.    Julius Thomas- As if the Denver Broncos didn’t have enough weapons, they draft a 6’7 former basketball player to play TE. Thomas is 2nd in points among TE only trailing Jimmy Graham. He has become an elite fantasy option and will stay this way as long as Peyton Manning is at QB.

                                                Injury Replacement of The Year

1.    Fred Jackson- Fantasy owners enraged by CJ Spiller (more on him later) have at least found a silver lining in the whole situation. Fred Jackson took the role of feature back and has cherished every minute. He has rushed for 896 YDs, rushed for 9 TDS and added 387 YDs in the passing game. He finished a top 11 running back this year, but don’t expect similar numbers next year.

2.    Harry Douglas- Ever since fantasy owners suffered the heartbreaking loss of Julio Jones, many wondered if anyone would be able to replace him. In walks Harry Douglas. Douglas has been extremely impressive in his four games as a starting WR for the Atlanta Falcons. Douglas has put up 42 points in those four games. He isn’t a viable starter going forward, but he provided some good value for this year.

3.    Keenan Allen- When 6’5 receiver Malcolm Floyd suffered his season ending injury in week 3, people once again wondered who would be the fill in. Initially it seemed it would be journeyman Eddie Royal. However, after a few weeks, it was clear the 2nd round pick out of Cal was going to be the guy. Since week 4, Allen has put up 1,046 receiving yards and 8 TD. His value is based on the play of QB Phillip Rivers, but he should be a safe pick in next years draft.

Waiver Wire Pick Up of The Year

1.    Julius Thomas– Up for his second nomination, Thomas has been a gods send for fantasy owners. In a particularly week year for TEs, Thomas has proven to be a true gem for whoever was lucky enough to get him. With Peyton throwing to him, Orange Julius had 788 Rec Yards and 12 TDs. Thomas value will be put into question when a new QB steps in, but until then count on him as a top 3 TE fantasy.

2.    Zac Stacy- While he hasn’t proven himself entirely yet, all signs point up for the rookie 5th round pick out of Vanderbilt. Since his first carry in week 5, Stacy has put his foot on the gas and hasn’t let up. He ran for 973 yards with 7 touchdowns and has added an extra 100 yards and a touchdown through the air. Stacy ended the year in RB1 conversation and could be a first round pick come next year.

3.    Nick Foles- After Foles suffered a concussion against Dallas in week 7, a lot of people threw Nick Foles to the waiver wire and continued playing their every week quarterback. That move could have very easily cost many people a championship. The Eagles signal caller was electrifying in his return, scoring over 20 points in six straight weeks.  In the exhilarating Chip Kelly offense, Foles will easily be a top five quarterback next year.

 

Bust Of The Year (Injury Related)

1.     C.J. Spiller- Oh what could have been. Had Spiller sat out a couple of weeks and let his ankle heal, he could have ended being worthy of his first round pick status (e.g. Roddy White). Instead Spiller insisted on playing and killed his value in the process. Despite a bit of resurgence towards the end of the season, Spiller only finished with 927 yards and 2 touchdowns.  Spiller will fall to the third or fourth round next year, but he will have tremendous upside.

2.     Steven Jackson- Coming into the season, many thought that long time Rams running back would have a rejuvenation year in a much better Atlanta Offense. They weren’t totally wrong. Jackson had a nice stretch to end the year with three straight double-digit games. The problem is a little stretch isn’t acceptable for someone you spent a second round pick on. Jackson suffered a thigh injury in week 2 and was held out for six weeks. When he came back he just couldn’t put it together. S-Jax finished the year with 543 yards and 6 touchdowns. Not the production expected from a RB2

3.     David Wilson. The hype was endless. The New York Giants speed back started off as the biggest sleeper of the year and ended up being ranked as high as 14 on pre draft rankings. Out of the gate, he looked like a disaster, scoring negative two points against the Cowboys. He finally showed a little promise four and scored his first touchdown in week five. However, the excitement was shortlived. Wilson left the same game with a neck injury and was later ruled out for the game with a neck injury. Low and behold it was much worse. Wilson was ruled out for the year and his entire career may be over. Wilson has vowed to play again but there is serious doubt behind that. As far as fantasy, he shouldn’t even be in your thought process going forward.

Bust Of The Year

1.             Ray (Fried) Rice- The wheels just fell off the bus this year. The number six ranked player (according to Yahoo) was just miserable this entire year. With a lack of a passing game, opposing defenses focused on Rice and absolutely destroyed him and his handcuff back Bernard Pierce. Rice finished the year with 660 yards and 4 touchdowns. If the Ravens don’t improve in the passing game and on the offensive line, Rice should be no more than a flex player come next year.

2.             Hakeem Nicks- Now no one expected Nicks to be an MVP for your team, but he was expected to be a solid WR2 and a possible difference maker. Instead, Nicks fell into complete oblivion. With a dysfunctional offense and contract issues Nicks pretty much fell behind Ruben Randle in terms of targets. He wasn’t playing with his all and frustrations with his coach showed when he was randomly benched in week 12. Nicks put up a total of three games with over 100 yards and scored no touchdowns all year. Being on a new team may help him, but don’t trust Nicks immediately as anything more than a WR3

3.             Trent Richardson- Seems like he was too busy making sextapes to learn the Colts playbook. After being traded after week 2 from the Cleveland Browns to the Indianapolis Colts, growing pains were expected, as he had to learn a whole new offensive system. However, no one expected growing pains like these. In 14 games with the Colts, the 2012 number three overall pick ran for 468 yards, 3 touchdowns and 5 fumbles. This was just simply unacceptable. Richardson ended up being benched at the end of the year for backup Donald Brown. Richardsons season high rushing yards was 64. This is just insane for a player ranked 10th overall. With Donald Brown likely leaving in free agency and having the whole offseason to learn the playbook properly, all hope isn’t lost for the Alabama bruiser. In terms of next years draft though, he shouldn’t be any higher than a 10th round pick.

Most Valuable Player

1.                      Peyton Manning- With questions coming into the season about his health, Manning silenced all critics with one of the greatest seasons ever. Finishing with an overall number one ranking, Peyton threw for 5,477 (a new record) and 55 touchdowns (also a new record). In terms of fantasy, Manning scored 419 points in standard leagues, which is 50 points better than second place finisher Drew Brees. The Broncos captain also had five games of over 30 points, which is the most by any quarterback this year. It is undeniable that Peyton had one of the greatest seasons ever on the field and the computer.

2.                      Jamaal Charles- What a breakout year. The already established star running back catapulted himself into superstardom this year with his incredible season. The Kansas City running back ended the year with 1,287 yards on the ground with 12 touchdowns. Charles wasn’t done as he added 693 receiving yards and 7 touchdowns. The former Texas back stamped his season off with an exclamation point game that destroyed all projections. In a 56-31 thrashing of the Raiders, Charles rushed the ball 8 times for 20 yards and 1 touchdown. That seems like an ok fantasy day, until you look at the rest of the box score. Charles added 8 receptions for 195 yards and 4 touchdowns for a grand total of 51 fantasy points. As long as Andy Reid is the head coach, expect Charles to be a top 3 overall pick every year.

3.                      LeSean McCoy- the same that was said about Jamaal Charles, can be said about Shady McCoy. Putting on absolute clinic, McCoy led the league in rushing with 1,607 yards and added 9 touchdowns. Furthermore, McCoy also benefited from the passing game, adding 539 yards on 53 receptions and 2 touchdowns.  Additionally, when the quarterback wasn’t Matt Barkley, Shady never scored under 10 points in a game. The former Pitt running back proved that he wasn’t going to let his bad 2012 season deter him from greatness. Expect just that going into further seasons.

We will announce the winner of each category in the coming weeks. Disagree with our picks? Feel someone was left out? Let us know in the comments!

The Major League’s offseason is still going on, and Masahiro Tanaka is still singlehandedly plugging up the pitcher’s market. But lots has been done over the last few weeks, and we are going to check out which teams improved, and which teams took a step back.

Arizona Diamondbacks – Their 3-team deal with the White Sox and Angels landed them Mark Trumbo, who is little more than a power hitter, and a later deal brought in Addison Reed, who is an effective late innings pitcher. The cost was very high, as they traded prospects Adam Eaton and Tyler Skaggs to Chicago and Anaheim respectively. The question is, did it improve the team’s chance to win games? I don’t think it’s a step in the right direction, but it didn’t really hurt the team. Trending: Neutral

Atlanta Braves – They have been relatively quiet over the offseason, but they lost 2 of their key pieces in Tim Hudson to the Giants and Brian McCann to the Yankees. Their only acquisition worth mentioning is Gavin Floyd. They probably resigned themselves to losing both of those pieces, but it didn’t do much damage to them, with catcher Evan Gattis still on the roster. Trending: Neutral

Baltimore Orioles – The O’s roster took a few shake-ups the last couple of months, trading closer Jim Johnson to Oakland for Jemile Weeks, but most of the moves involved players leaving Baltimore. Nate McLouth went to Washington, Scott Feldman to Houston, and Michael Morse to San Francisco. I have to believe that next year will be tough for the O’s, with impending free agents Matt Wieters and Chris Davis to worry about. Trending: Down

Boston Red Sox – It’s tough to improve on a championship run, especially when one of your star players leaves to a rival team (understatement of the year). Jacoby Ellsbury was one of the most shocking moves of the year, going to the Yankees for 7 years. They also changed their catcher from Jarrod Saltalamacchia (Miami) to now another long last name, in A.J. Pierzynski. They didn’t improve, but they didn’t decline either. Trending: Neutral

Chicago Cubs – The Lovable Losers so far made a bunch of minor acquisitions, such as OF Justin Ruggiano and Casper Wells, C George Kottaras, and RP Jose Veras. They are also one of the big players in Tanaka, but that doesn’t mean they have him. Their farm system is loaded with talent, so big name free agents aren’t hugely important. But, I have to believe they will be on the rise soon, with or without Tanaka. Trending: Up

Chicago White Sox – The South-Siders were busy this offseason, picking up guys like 1B Jose Abreu (Cuba), and Mark Eaton. They did lose a couple of young arms, but they took a nice step in the rebuilding saga, trying to bring back competitiveness they had years ago. Trending: Up

Cincinnati Reds – They knew they were going to lose OF Shin-Soo Choo (Texas), and they have a serviceable lead-off replacement in Billy Hamilton AKA Speedy Gonzalez. They also lost starting C Ryan Hanigan (Tampa). They still have a great roster loaded with talent, and I don’t see them losing ground in the NL Central anytime soon. Trending: Neutral

Cleveland Indians – They signed a bunch of smaller contracts, notably OF David Murphy and RP John Axford, but they lost a ton of their effective bullpen, with Joe Smith, Clay Rapada (both Anaheim), and Chris Perez (other L.A. team) all leaving. Also, Scott Kazmir, their low-risk, high reward starter is gone to Oakland. It’s not going to be easy to keep up the level of competition in Rock City. Trending: Down

Colorado Rockies – They made a ton of signings: 1B Justin Morneau, OF’s Drew Stubbs and Brandon Barnes, and pitchers LaTroy Hawkins, Franklin Morales, Boone Logan, and Brett Anderson. Their only key loss was OF Dexter Fowler, in the trade with Houston for Barnes and Jordan Lyles. They vastly improved their pitching, and their offense should be able to help that as well. Trending: Up

Detroit Tigers – The Tigers were extremely busy. They signed OF Rajai Davis and closer Joe Nathan, and traded for Ian Kinsler and Steve Lombardozzi. But the list of key losses is massive (not because of a certain 1B): IF Omar Infante (KC), RP Joaquin Benoit (SD), IF/OF Jhonny Peralta (STL), 1B Prince Fielder (TEX), and SP Doug Fister (WAS). They were trying to clear salary and they did. But it came at a massive cost. Trending: Neutral

Houston Astros – It’s hard for them to decline, with 3 straight 100-loss seasons. They made a bunch of small acquisitions at little cost, like OF Dexter Fowler, 1B Jesus Guzman, P’s Scott Feldman, Chad Qualls, Matt Albers and Peter Moylan. They have improved, but most of their improvement is on the way still. Trending: Up

Kansas City Royals – Building on a great season in Royal standards last year, they’ve made some improvements to their roster for this year. IF Omar Infante for 4 years was the biggest move, which included OF Norichika Aoki and SP Jason Vargas. There is still word that they might deal DH Billy Butler, but it hasn’t happened yet, and seems to not be happening at all. Still, these guys should be the main contestants to the Tigers in the AL Central. Trending: Up

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim – Of course losing 1B Mark Trumbo is big, but they got a great return on all their moves this offseason. They picked up 3B David Freese, and SP Hector Santiago and Tyler Skaggs, plus DH Raul Ibanez, if for no other reason but to hit home runs. They still have too much tied into Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton, so it’s tough for them to really do much else. Trending: Neutral

Los Angeles Dodgers – Most of their offseason was spent shopping (or not shopping) Matt Kemp, and resigning their players. They did pick up SP Dan Haren, to further improve a dynamite rotation, and RP Chris Perez to help the bullpen. As far as quiet offseasons go, however, the Dodgers found all the squeaky floorboards. Trending: Neutral

Miami Marlins – Their big fish (hehe pun) was C Jarrod Saltalamacchia for 3 years, and they also picked up 1B Garret Jones, while losing Justin Ruggiano (CHC) and Logan Morrison (SEA) from their outfield. Remember when I said it’s hard not to improve on nothing? The Marlins managed that. Trending: Neutral

Milwaukee Brewers – You’ll see pretty much the same Crew next year, minus Nori Aoki (KC). OF Corey Hart signed with Seattle, making that the only news in the offseason regarding the Brewers. Trending: Neutral

Minnesota Twins – They have vastly improved their rotation, from pretty much Samuel Deduno, to now include Ricky Nolasco and Phil Hughes. Also, they picked up C Kurt Suzuki to work with them. They seem to still be in the market for some more pitching, and it still will improve their staff. Trending: Up

New York Mets – The Mets made 3 signings, OF Curtis Granderson and Chris Young, and SP Bartolo Colon. 2 guys who will average somewhere between .220 and .240, and giving Colon a guaranteed year make me scratch my head, but anything is an improvement for the Amazin’s. Trending: Up

New York Yankees – My firm belief is that building a team can’t be from just free agents. I guess my philosophy isn’t the same as the Bombers. They brought in C Brian McCann, and OF Jacoby Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran, and lost 2B Robinson Cano (SEA), OF Curtis Granderson (NYM), and P’s Phil Hughes (MIN), Boone Logan (COL),  Andy Pettitte and Mariano Rivera (retirement). Spending money isn’t the only way to improve this “team”. They need to clear the table and start over. Which in Yankee-land, is impossible. Trending: Down

Oakland Athletics – GM Billy Beane is always wheeling and dealing. This time, he got closer Jim Johnson, SP Scott Kazmir and Drew Pomeranz, and OF Craig Gentry. They lost a decent amount of players, like OF Seth Smith (SD) and Michael Choice (TEX), 2B Jemile Weeks (BAL), P Brett Anderson (COL), Bartolo Colon (NYM), and Jerry Blevins (WSH). Beane has something up his sleeves, as always, and the A’s will probably contend, like always. Trending: Neutral

Philadelphia Phillies – The Fightin’ Phils didn’t do much this offseason, signing just OF Marlon Byrd and SP Roberto Hernandez (Fausto Carmona) among others. Seems like they are standing pat with what they have, for the most part, even though they are older and falling apart. Supposedly SP Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee are on the trade market. I doubt, however, that either will be moved. Trending: Down

Pittsburgh Pirates – Everyone’s new favorite team made noise in October, but not so much after. They lost a couple of pieces in 1B’s Justin Morneau (COL) and Garret Jones (MIA), along with platoon man Marlon Byrd to Philly. They gave a flyer to Edinson Volquez, and for the most part kept what they had, which isn’t a bad move. They are still dangerous, and will probably be contenders for the NL Central for the next few years. Trending: Up

San Diego Padres – They didn’t lose a ton of names, because they didn’t have many names beforehand. But they brought in a couple in OF Seth Smith and P’s Josh Johnson and Joaquin Benoit. The Friars still have a long way to go before getting back on track, however. Trending: Neutral

San Francisco Giants – Their only to additions/losses were adding OF Michael Morse and SP Tim Hudson, in the hopes of last year being a fluke. Not a bad idea, but you would think that a losing record the year after winning the Series would set off some alarms. Trending: Neutral

Seattle Mariners – The M’s got the top guy on the market, signing 2B Robinson Cano away from the Yankees for 10 years, gobs of dough, and a beard. They also picked up OF’s Logan Morrison and Corey Hart, and are top players for OF Nelson Cruz and SP Masahiro Tanaka. They are making alot of noise, and with a purpose. Look for them to continue. Trending: Up

St. Louis Cardinals – The Redbirds made a trade with the Angels, picking up OF Peter Bourjos for 3B David Freese, and signed 2B Mark Ellis, and OF Jhonny Peralta. They also lost closer Edward Mujica (BOS) and OF Carlos Beltran (NYY). Tough to say they made the right moves, but the Cards usually know what they are doing, so trust them. Trending: Neutral

Tampa Bay Rays  – The Rays made a couple of moves, mostly resigning. They did manage to bring in C Ryan Hanigan and RP Heath Bell. Some minor pieces left, but it’ll still be the same Rays you’ll see, being pesky and run-by-Joe-Maddon-y as ever. Trending: Neutral

Texas Rangers – Their 2 big splashes of 1B Prince Fielder (not a fat joke) and OF Shin-Soo Choo were very good for the Rangers, who lost a bunch of pieces like C A.J. Pierzynski to Boston (who they replaced with another initials guy J.P. Arencibia), 2B Ian Kinsler and CP Joe Nathan to Detroit, and OF David Murphy to Cleveland. They still have some pitching questions, but their offense will be dynamic next season. Trending: Up

Toronto Blue Jays – After last season’s trade for the Marlins, the Jays didn’t do much this offseason, besides wave goodbye to Josh Johnson (SD) and Rajai Davis (DET). That being said, them doing nothing won’t help them in the AL East. They are still well behind the other 4 teams. Trending: Down

Washington Nationals – The Nats brought in SP Doug Fister to bolster an already outstanding rotation, and Nate McLouth to platoon in the outfield. They lost just Dan Haren (LAD) and Steve Lombardozzi (DET), which they are completely ok with. They are a team on the rise, and a bump in the road last year won’t prevent them from being dangerous this year around. Trending: Up

There are still tons of moves still to come, as pitchers and catchers report in 2 months. Until then, Happy New Years!

 

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Could the end of an Era be on the horizon? According to a report by Fox Sports reporter Jay Glazer, New York Jets Head Coach Rex Ryan will coach his final game as a Jet next Sunday in Miami. Glazer tweeted on Sunday that Ryan told his players in a team meeting on Saturday night that he will be fired after the season ends.

Ryan requested of his players to fight for him in the last two games of the season and the players have seemed to respond. The New York Jets played one of their strongest games of the season, defeating the Cleveland Browns 24-13. The defense came up huge on multiple occasions and the offense look fairly competent, moving the ball fairly well against a strong Cleveland defense.  With one game remaining for the Jets upper management to change their mind, here are three reasons why New York should hold on to their once beloved coach.

                                                                        He is Respected

            Players like to play for Rex Ryan. This has been a fact ever since 2009. Multiple players, both on and off the Jets, have come out and said if they could have any head coach they want Rex Ryan. This nearly became a problem in 2011. After going 8-8 and missing the playoffs, it seemed as if the Jets locker room was in total disarray. Players not giving it their all, being selfish, and getting in fights seemed to be a common occurrence. It was at this point that Rex stepped up and not only demanded the adoration of the players, but the respect. The players have seemed to respond to this properly. Despite the losing, there has not been another report of dysfunction or lack of discipline in the locker room. Rex also showed this week the give and you shall receive policy. After a Geno Smith was pushed after running out of bounds, Ryan exploded at a referee for not immediately throwing a flag. Ryan then ran over to a scuffle that was breaking out between players and broke it up. One of the keys to being a good head of anything is to be respected and with Rex Ryan there is respect.

He Did The Best He Could

Coming into the season, expectations were at an all time low for the New York Jets. Coming off the worst year in his tenure, dealing with a Quarterback controversy, and having a difficult schedule, Ryan and the Jets seemed doomed to have a terrible year. However, this has not been the case. With the average prediction was 4-12 for the New York Jets final record, New York took that all in stride and put together a pretty impressive year. The Jets are 7-8 going into the last game of the year. That 7-8 record includes wins against the New England Patriots, New Orleans Saints, and the then formidable Atlanta Falcons. In addition to this, the Jets possess a top 10 defense, a top 5 pass rush, and a top 6 rushing attack.

The area in which New York has struggled the most is in the passing game. Despite having the 30th worst passing offense in the NFL, the question must be asserted, how much can you blame Rex? New York has a second round rookie quarterback under center. To make matters worse, that quarterback has no receivers to throw to. Stephen Hill has been a disappointment, Santonio Holmes and Jeremy Kerley have been off the field half of the year with injury issues, and Kellen Winslow was suspended for PEDs. With all that being stated, none of these receivers are stars to begin with. Holmes, who is supposed to be the #1 receiver, has only had one year where he had over 1,000 yards receiving. You cant expect to have a better than 30th ranked passing game when you don’t have better than 30th ranked receivers.

Who Else Is There?

            Despite all of the positives, New York still hasn’t made the playoffs in three years. This is typically long enough of a time span for a team to decide to pull the plug on their head coach. However, who are they going to hire? Former Bears head coach Lovie Smith, Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer, and Browns defensive coordinator Ray Horton are the three hottest names on the market right now. All of these guys are defensive minded coaches. The defense has been very good to this point, so what need is there to replace one established defensive mind with a less established one?

Another name brought up has been Seattle Seahawks offensive coordinator Darrel Bevell. Bevell did wonders with Russel Wilson over the past two years and has created one of the most dynamic offenses in the NFL. This could be an intriguing higher, but is it worth it? Yes, the offense would receive an improvement, but without proper upgrades, that improvement has a ceiling. Furthermore, the defense would take a tremendous hit with Rex no longer in the fold. With the weak free agent market this year, the cost would outweigh the benefit of replacing Rex.

As WFAN host Joe Beningo pointed out, the New York Jets seem to be stuck in a rut. They hire a coach; he exceeds expectations in his first year and then disappoints and gets fired. First Herm Edwards, then Eric Mangini, and now it seems Rex Ryan will be joining that club. The Jets need to resist temptation and keep Rex. He took a team that no one gave a chance to and may have them end up at .500. In reality, Rex may be getting a pink slip, but he might actually deserve an extension.

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The Yankees made a big free agency splash this week, and it wasn’t to bring back star 2B Robinson Cano. The Yankees reportedly signed CF Jacoby Ellsbury to a 7 year, $153 million deal. While on the surface it seems like the Yankees win this move, by gaining a star CF while stealing the Red Sox’s most valuable free agent, Looking closely tells us another story.

While Ellsbury has been good in his time in Boston, he hasn’t been the superstar the Yankees are expecting him to be, or better yet, paying him to be. Ellsbury is coming off a year in which he hit .298, had an OBP or .355 and slugged .426 while hitting 9 home runs and driving in 53 RBI, and stealing 52 bases. All while playing very solid defense in a park that’s difficult for many players to field in, in Fenway Park. Seems like a player you’d want, right?

Well, yeah, but not in the capacity the Yankees want. In the past 4 seasons, Jacoby Ellsbury has missed 264 games. Nearly 2 out of 4 seasons, lost. Ellsbury has reached the point where he has been red flagged as injury prone in the baseball community. Ellsbury just turned 30 in September. Meaning Ellsbury’s body has become injury prone in his 20, the time when he’s supposed to hit peak performance. Now he’s 30 coming off another season in which he was hurt. Granted, he only missed 28 games, a relatively healthy year for him.

But the Yankees are giving 7 YEARS? To a guy who’s now turning 30? At the back-end of the prime of his career? If Ellsbury’s body has suffered this much damage in his 20s, how much more can his body withstand? Not 7 years, or at least 7 fully healthy productive years that the Yankees are paying for. Plus, they gave him $153 million dollars. Presumably, instead of the neighborhood of $200 million for Cano over 10 years.

The Yankees reportedly would only offer Cano 7 years at $180 million. While I wouldn’t give Cano 10 years at $200 million+ he wanted, I’d rather pay the extra 3 years and $80 million or so to take Cano from Seattle. Cano’s 31 and 10 year deals to guys on the downside of their career never work,  but getting 7 really good years out of Cano, who never misses a game, plays at a premium position, providing stellar defense and hitting, and wins the head to head matchup at 2B every single game you play, is worth way more than the $27M difference in pay the Yankees would give Ellsbury over Cano.

All the while, the Yankees had Brett Gardner slated to play CF. He is coming off a year in which he hit .273, had an OBP of .344 and slugged .416, while hitting 8 home runs and driving in 52 RBI while stealing 24 bases. Sound familiar? Well those numbers are pretty comparable to Ellsbury, and they come from a guy who’s played over 145 games 3 out of the past 4 seasons. Now, the Yankees have a crowded middling outfield with immovable expensive pieces such as Vernon Wells and Ichiro, who now don’t even have pronounced roles on the team.

I know it’s all early speculation, and we can’t predict Ellsbury getting hurt again and not living up to his deal, but after taking a hard look at the deal, I can’t be happy as a Yankees fan at the end of the day.

GRADE: C