The Weighting Game

The Red Sox just never got it right last year. The defending champions stumbled out of the gate and limped to their second last-place finish in three seasons. So it’s no surprise, at least to me, that they responded with a vengeance in the offseason.

They traded for Wade Miley. They traded for Rick Porcello. They dumped struggling Will Middlebrooks and signed the best bat on the market, Hanley Ramirez, to a long-term deal to restart the offense. But the most risky, and at least in my opinion, the worst decision, was to sign Pablo Sandoval to big money to be a cornerstone at 3rd base.

Sandoval is the very definition of a clutch hitter, if such a thing exists. He’s a three-time World Series champion, owns a World Series MVP trophy, and has a career postseason batting average of .344. This guy comes up big when it matters most. We all know that.

But his focus and commitment have been questioned throughout his career. His regular season numbers are mediocre, he has huge lapses in concentration throughout the long season, and he’s had struggles with his weight his entire career. So it must have been pretty concerning when Pablo showed up to camp looking like he spent the entire winter at Burger King.

This has to be concerning to the Red Sox. I know some might say that Sandoval’s weight is no big deal, and that he’ll step up when it matters, like he always does. But the regular season is a long grind, and you have to get to the postseason before you can make an impact there.

You might say that his weight issues didn’t stop the Giants from winning three championships, but Boston is a very different team from San Francisco. The Giants were built on pitching and defense, and getting timely hits when it mattered. That’s the exact recipe of success for a player like Sandoval. The Red Sox, on the other hand, are going to have to have consistent offense all year round to win the AL East. Their pitching just isn’t strong enough to carry a bunch of mediocre hitters throughout the grind of a season in the more offense-centered American League.

If I were the Red Sox, I would tell Sandoval that I expect him to drop 25 pounds by opening day. That gives him around six weeks, which is plenty of time for a professional athlete to drop weight. They have the best equipment and trainers that money can buy.

Boston made a big commitment to Sandoval. It’s time for him to return the favor and show that he’s committed as well.

MLB Offseason Review

Hey everyone, Dan here.

Ever since the San Francisco Giants recorded the final out against the Kansas City Royals in the World Series last year, this date has just been flashing in my head…. April 5th… April 5th….

Despite the winter seeming to drag on forever, the Super Bowl is now over. And that means we are officially on the fast track to baseball’s opening day. But that’s not to say that the winter didn’t produce some real highlights. This was perhaps the most crazy, active, and wild offseason in baseball in the last 20 years. But who put themselves in the best position? Who gutted their team? It’s time for thefoulline.com’s official offseason review!

The Nationals Don’t Need Any More Pitching

So what do you do if you lead Major League Baseball in ERA and get knocked out of the postseason because you scored 9 runs in 4 games? You make upgrading your offense the goal of your offseason, right? Nah, you go out and give Max Scherzer $210 million. The Nationals go with the “you strengthen your strength” approach and it gives them the strongest MLB rotation since the 1995 Atlanta Braves. If they can get anything close to what Bryce Harper and Ryan Zimmerman are capable of, Washington has to be considered the World Series favorite.

The Padres Want to Be Relevant Again

Finish last in the majors in runs? No problem. Add Matt Kemp? Check. Add Justin Upton? Check. Add Wil Myers? Check. The Padres GM gets a gold star for his offseason, taking big steps to rebuild this team and energize a franchise that hasn’t been interesting in a long time. The real kicker here is that they managed to completely rebuild their offense without giving up a single one of their top three prospects. New Padres GM AJ Preller looks to be a rising superstar in the GM ranks.

Cole Hamels Is Still a Phillie… For Now

I expect this to change. The Phillies have nothing to gain from keeping Hamels. They’re easily the worst team in that division, and it would serve them well to get Hamels’s contract off the books and bring in some young talent to fully start their rebuilding process. Add Ryan Howard and Jonathan Papelbon to the list of Phillies players that need new homes in 2015. I still think the Hamels deal gets done. The Phillies will lower their price as the season approaches. Prediction? Hamels is pitching in Fenway Park in 2015.

Billy Beane Has Either Lost His Marbles, or He’s Five Steps Ahead of Everyone

So is Oakland trying to contend, or trying to rebuild? I’m lost here. They trade their best player, Josh Donaldson, for prospects, then turn around and flip their #1 prospect to Tampa Bay for Ben Zobrist. They sign Billy Butler for $30 million, but then flip away Brandon Moss, Jeff Samardzija, and Derrick Norris. I know Billy Beane has entered into the Bill Belichick territory of “trust him no matter what,” but even I can’t figure out what he’s doing. I think I’m gonna go watch Moneyball again.

The Red Sox Retool; the Rays Restock

The two best teams in the AL East in 2013 both tanked to the bottom of the division in 2014. The Red Sox rebuilt their entire rotation and the left side of their infield. I’m not a huge fan of Pablo Sandoval, but leaving AT&T Park can only be good for him. I think Hanley Ramirez loses a lot of his value moving away from shortstop, but there’s no debate, if he’s healthy, his bat will tear up Fenway Park. I don’t think the Red Sox are done. In a division that’s really up for grabs in 2015, a Cole Hamels trade could make the Red Sox favorites to take back the AL East crown.

The Rays dealt away several fan favorites, lost Joe Maddon and Andrew Freidman, and hired the youngest manager in the Major Leagues. But this was necessary. Tampa Bay went all out trying to win a World Championship in 2014, and it failed miserably. Now it’s time to get younger, rebuild the farm, and take a new approach to contending. This will be a down year for the Rays, but they’re not quite in full rebuilding mode yet.

What did your team do this offseason? Are they contenders or pretenders? Let us know what you think of how your team’s winter went. Spring training is right around the corner, and I think 2015 is going to be the best year at thefoulline.com in a long time.

Pitchers and Catchers report in 12 days!