MLBits: Cubs the "Weakest" Favorite? Rays Rotation Thinning, Steinbrenner Nixed a Rebuild, More

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MLBits: Cubs the “Weakest” Favorite? Rays Rotation Thinning, Steinbrenner Nixed a Rebuild, More

Chicago Cubs

Everyone ready?

We’ve got a big Opening Weekend ahead of us, and it all starts tomorrow morning. I know I can’t wait. I’ve already got the Series Preview written up and scheduled to go later this evening (did that before lunch today in a futile effort to make the season start sooner), so keep an eye out for that. Because tomorrow, we’re off to the races.

In the meantime, some news from around the league …

(Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
  • In any case, the Yankees were ranked first, which makes plenty of sense to me (the Red Sox are a good team and the Rays, for some reason, have been projected well (though that may soon change (more on that in a bit))), but the Dodgers came in just behind the Cubs and were followed by the Nationals. And that’s what confuses me the most. I know teams like the Indians and Astros are super strong, but the NL East has to be the weakest overall division, with a powerhouse (Nationals) on top. If they were to lose the division, I’d be more surprised than if the Angels or Rangers dethroned the Astors and ditto Twins/Royals with the Indians.
  • Other notable questions from that article include odds on whether Manny Machado, Josh Donaldson, both, or neither will be traded by the deadline, who will Bryce Harper play for in 2019 (Cubs come in third, btw, but their Vegas odds are much better), whether Clayton Kershaw will stay in Los Angeles, and much more. Check it out.
  • Who’s up for a one-man rotation?

  • I kid, of course, but if you recall, the Rays were planning on rolling with a four-man – plus a bullpen day – rotation for the first six weeks of the season (at least), but now they’ve lost one of their scheduled starters. So … what’s the plan, fellas?
  • In other Rays’ news …

  • Hudson, you’ll recall, was the “centerpiece” of the package that sent Corey Dickerson to the Pirates earlier this offseason. In addition to Hudson, the Pirates also sent Tristan Gray and $1M to the Rays. So … what’s up with this? Hudson did have a bit of a disappointing spring, but as a healthy, 31-year-old veteran reliever you’d think those numbers wouldn’t mean too much. And if you’re thinking it’s a money thing (because Rays), it’s not that either. The Rays will still be on the hook for the remaining $4.5M on his contract this year (less whatever he earns from another team, which will likely be the MLB minimum), so, yeah, confusing stuff.
  • According to MLB Pipeline, AJ Puk is the #32 prospect in all of baseball, the second best left-handed pitching prospect in the game, and the A’s top prospect overall. As a 22-year-old in Double-A for the first time last season, Puk recorded a 30.9% strikeout rate over 13 starts, and that number was actually *down* from the 38.6 K% he posted in High-A. All of which is to say, the news that he needs Tommy John surgery is a crushing one for the A’s., who’d already lost Jharel Cotton to TJS.
  • See this yet?

  • That’s right, last night a small pool of liquid appeared on the dirt behind the warning track at Dodger Stadium and, according to the OCR, “the smell of raw sewage began to permeate the air. Thirty-two minutes later, that small pool had spilled over into the first row of seats with no sign of letting up, and the game was officially canceled.” Yum.
  • Needless to say, Andrew Toles was not amused:

  • Josh Norris has an excellent piece up at Baseball America, describing how Yankees GM Brian Cashman suggested a full tear down and rebuild to the Yankees ownership, but they denied him his request and told him to find another way to do it. After several EXCELLENT trades, not all of which had to do with the reigning NL MVP, and a beef up of the analytics department, the Yankees figure to be one of the better teams in baseball this season and were pretty darn good last year, too. It just goes to show you, if you have the effort, a good plan, and unlimited money, anything is possible! I kid, Cashman made plenty of awesome moves, including grabbing Gleyber Torres from the Cubs, but still, having the money to paper over mistakes won’t hurt in the coming years.
  • The Giants can’t catch a break:

  • After losing Madison Bumgarner for the start of the season (broken pinky), and Jeff Samardzija (pec) set to start the season on the DL (the first time in his career), the Giants’ big offseason bullpen addition from last year might not be ready for Opening Day either. In 2016, Melancon posted a 1.64 ERA (2.42 FIP) for the Pirates, and was rewarded with a four-year/$62M deal. Last season, however, he was able to pitch just 30.0 innings for the Giants with a 4.50 ERA. He had gone at least 70 innings in each of the four seasons before that and five of the past six, but the injuries are piling up.
  • I don’t love Trevor Bauer’s opinions on everything, but this is pretty funny:

  • I … I don’t know. Charity is good, so thanks?
  • Cut4 has a ranking of their 75 favorite baseball uniforms (home, away, alternates, etc) and the Cubs home jerseys do make an appearance on the list at #16. The top spot goes to the Dodgers home whites and they’re followed closely by the Cardinals home jerseys (which, admittedly, are pretty cool). With that said, I think the Giants (home), Tigers (home), and A’s (alternates) are my three favorite – outside of the Cubs, that is. What about you?
  • A Yankees beer vendor has gotten a little creative with his foam designs, which are usually just baseball related and/or logos of the team:

  • Newsy UPDATE: Ouch for the Royals and Perez:

Author: Michael Cerami

Michael Cerami covers the Chicago Cubs, Bears, and Bulls at Bleacher Nation. You can find him on Twitter @Michael_Cerami