Charlie Hustle Receives Small Break From Lifetime Ban

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Commissioner Rob Manfred recently granted permission for Pete Rose to appear at a AAA game this season. The all-time hit king will be appearing at a Rochester Red Wings game on July 21. In typical Pete Rose fashion, he will be signing autographs for $50 and doing meet-and-greets for $125.

In January, Rose was also granted permission by Manfred to appear at his Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame induction this upcoming June where his number will be retired. If you’re a Reds fan, go. This is the only time you’ll see Rose be inducted into a Hall of Fame anytime soon (however, he should be in the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame. Stay tuned for that article).

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Chris Cola-Hell-No: Blue Jay Suspended 80 Games

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Toronto Blue Jays first basemen Chris Colabello was suspended 80 games without pay on Friday after testing positive for *deep breath* dehydrochlormethyltestosterone. The drug might sound familiar as it was the popular choice of East German Olympians from the 60s to the 90s.

Colabello is the 2nd player suspended for dehydrochlormethyltestosterone this season. Phillies’ pitcher Daniel Stumpf received an 80-game ban on April 14th for using the drug.

To no one’s surprise, Colabello released a statement claiming he doesn’t know how the drugs got in his system.

After a breakout 2015 campaign in which he hit .321/.367/.520 with 15 home runs in a part-time role, Colabello has had a very disappointing 2016. Before the suspension, Colablello had just 2 hits in 29 at-bats, good for a .069 average.

Earlier this year, we named Colabello as the key hitter to watch for Toronto this season. If the Jays make the postseason, Colabello will be ineligible. His appeal has already been heard.

Our 2016 NL Award Predictions

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MVPPaul Goldschmidt

I have long thought Paul Goldschmidt is the best player in baseball. The 3-time All-Star has won 2 Silver Sluggers (would have 3 but injuries shortened his 2014 campaign) is a threat to hit 40 home runs while stealing 20+ bags out of the first base slot, is an on-base machine and plays exceptional defense, winning 2 Gold Gloves. Remember Joey Votto‘s MVP season when he actually swung the bat? That’s Paul Goldschmidt. This one is a lock.

Runner-up: Nolan Arenado

Cy Young –  Clayton Kershaw

This really shouldn’t surprise anyone. The 28-year-old left has already won 3 Cy Young Awards (’11, ’13, ’14), led the Majors in ERA and WHIP 4 times and strikeouts 3 times. The former MVP is the best pitcher in baseball and rivals Greg Maddux as the best since the legend Sandy Koufax. Enjoy watching him while you can (and enjoy listening to Vin Scully. The greatest sports announcer of all-time is retiring at season’s end).

Runner-up: Noah Syndergaard

Rookie of the YearCorey Seager

Seager got a taste of the Majors last September as he appeared in 27 games for the Dodgers, driving in 17 runs and boasting an impressive .337/.425/.561 slash line. He offers a lot of pop out of the shortstop position and is leading a new band of top-prospect shortstops to the MLB (including Francisco Lindor, Trevor Story, J.P. Crawford and Orlando Arcia). We give him the edge over Tyler Glasnow because Glasnow is likely to start the season in the minors. If he were up all year we would give Tyler the edge.

Runner-up: Tyler Glasnow

What do you think of our selections? Sound off in the comments.

Our 2016 AL Award Predictions

Evidently this and our NL predictions never got posted. Oops…

Enjoy anyway! *Note: This was written about a week before the season started.

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MVPJose Altuve

Standing at only 5’6″ (supposedly), Altuve is one of the premiere players in baseball. He can do it all. In 4 full Major League seasons, Jose is a 3-time All-Star, two-time Silver Slugger, Gold Glove winner, has led the AL in steals twice, led the Majors in hits in 2014 (225) and the AL in ’15 (200) and, the most impressive stat, has struck out only 308 times in 668 games. Altuve also added power to his game last year, hitting a career best 15 long balls. Given the strong lineup around him, Altuve could hit 20 home runs this year while potentially swiping 60+ bags and lead the Majors in hits yet again. If my prediction holds up, Altuve will tie Phil Rizzuto and Bobby Shantz as the shortest MVP in Major League history.

Runner-up: Mike Trout, again.

Cy YoungChris Sale

The lanky lefty has pitched 4 seasons out of the White Sox rotation and has made the All-Star team all 4 years. The strikeout machine saw his ERA jump over a run last season (3.41 – 2.17 in 2014); however, that should not be of concern because his FIP sat at an AL best 2.73. Expect his ERA to drop back to that number as Sale will lead baseball in strikeouts and garner his first 20 win season. Sale has finished in the top-5 in Cy Young voting the past 3 seasons.

Runner-up: Sonny Gray, wait, didn’t Springsteen write a song about him?

Rookie of the Year – Blake Snell

This 6’4″ lefty posted an astonishing 1.41 ERA and 1.00 WHIP in the minors last year. He dominated hitters at all 3 levels and appears ready to pitch in the Majors. Expect him to come up in late June and help solidify Tampa Bay’s young and potentially great rotation for years to come. I give Snell the edge over A.J. Reed because I don’t see a clear path to the Majors for Reed as Houston seems content with Tyler White and Evan Gattis manning 1B/DH.

Runner-up: A.J. Reed

What do you think of our selections? Sound off in the comments.

Barry Bonds, 2030 Hall of Famer?

040914-MLB-San-Francisco-Giants-Barry-Bonds-JT-PI.vresize.1200.675.high_.55Let’s face it, the Marlins are out of the playoff race after only 4 games this season. The team has a decent amount of talent (more than you would think) but they aren’t anywhere close to making the postseason. Come September, why even bother going to a Marlins game? Two words: Barry Bonds. And I don’t mean go watch him coach during BP. That’s right, Barry Bonds should suit up for the Miami Marlins. Hear me out.

The Marlins don’t have a big fan-base. Dating back to 2001 (as far as our data goes) the Marlins have finished in the bottom-5 in average attendance every season except for 2012 when the team moved into their new eye-sore of a stadium. *FUN FACT* When the Marlins won the World Series in 2003, they finished 28th in the Majors in average attendance with 16,290 fans a night, roughly 44% max capacity (only Tampa Bay and the deceased Montreal Expos had worse attendance).

Despite having Giancarlo Stanton and Jose Fernandez, two of the most exciting players in baseball, people just don’t care about going to Miami games and they definitely won’t care when the team is 12 games back at the beginning of September. Barry Bonds would change that.

*Note – I’m about to call Barry Bonds the all-time Home Run King. Please do not yell at me in the comments section. This is based purely on statistics and nothing else. We’ll save the PED talk for another day.

With the playoffs out of the picture, why not let the all-time home run king suit up again? Despite being 51, Bonds has proven that he can still hit by beating multiple Marlins hitters in a Home Run Derby in Spring Training. It might take him a few swings to catch up to a 98 MPH fastball, but Bonds could probably still hang with most Major League pitching. After all, the guy did have a killer .480 OBP in his final season before he was questionably forced into retirement despite having the desire to still play. *Side note – here is a cool article by Jesse Spector about how every team needed Bonds in 2008.

Since he has proved to the Marlins he can hit, why not show it off to the world? Despite being hated in all US cities outside of San Francisco, Bonds would draw fans from all over. The all-time home run leader coming out of retirement to face Clayton Kershaw in a game that counts? Sign me and every single baseball fan up. With increased attendance and media coverage, the Marlins get exactly what they want, and Bonds will get his.

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Barry wants to be in the Hall of Fame. It means something to him. He wants his face on a plaque in Cooperstown and for it to hang for eternity in the same room as his godfather’s (Willie Mays). While he has the numbers, Barry has been denied the Hall of Fame in all 4 years of his eligibility, never garnering more than 44.3% of the vote. He actually gained 8% this previous year, but that was due to the committee being drastically reduced in size. Despite gaining that 8%, Barry actually lost 7 votes.

With the way the trend is going, Bonds will not see the Hall of Fame. This is due to older voters shunning him for allegedly using PEDs (but come on, he totally did). Many younger voters, however, have showed their support for Bonds in recent years and are campaigning for him to get in.

That’s why Barry would come back. Coming out of retirement and playing in a Major League game would reset his Hall of Fame clock. Instead of having 6 more years with older voters who do not want him in the Hall, Barry’s clock would reset and start again in 2021, meaning his last year of eligibility would be 2031, long after the older voters are retired or, you know…

With a slew of new, young voters that grew up idolizing Bonds, it would almost be a guarantee that we’d see Barry in Cooperstown. So why not come back? It’s a win for Miami and a win for Bonds.

 

What do you think? Do you want to see Bonds come back? Would this crazy idea work? Let us know in the comments section!

Universal DH? Schwarber’s injury brings debate back to the forefront

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One of the more heated debates in recent baseball history is that of a universal designated hitter. American League fans are all for it. National League lovers hate it. So what should really happen?

On Thursday night, Chicago Cubs phenom Kyle Schwarber fully tore his ACL and MCL in a collision with center fielder Dexter Fowler and will now miss the rest of the season. The 23-year-old, playing in just his 43rd career game in left, also spends time at catcher. Let’s be honest here, Schwarber isn’t a guy you want in the field, whether it be in left or behind the plate. He’s a big boy (6-foot, 235 lbs.) and resembles David Ortiz on defense. He made 4 errors in 21 games behind the plate, threw out 3 of 17 would-be base stealers, and was embarrassingly terrible in left during the NLCS sweep by the Mets (example 1example 2example 3).

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However, the National League does not use a DH, thus forcing the Cubs to accept his atrocious defense in return for his light-tower power. Unfortunately, injuries like this sometimes happen when you put a terrible defensive player on the field. Not only does it hurt the team, but it puts multiple players in danger. There was no reason for Schwarber to be going after that ball. Anyone who has ever played baseball knows that is Fowler’s ball and that Schwarber should be backing him up. Instead, Schwarber went for it and is now paying the price for his poor decision.

Had he been in the American League, he would be slotted in at DH everyday and this disaster would have been avoided. However, the NL and AL ridiculously play by a different set of rules. One gets to use 9 full-time hitters every game, the other uses 8 and a pitcher (obviously not counting interleague play). This brings up my final point.

Why do pitchers hit? When you sign a pitcher, you’re paying him to pitch, not hit. It’s really that simple. We’ve seen multiple pitchers face serious injuries the past few years because they’re forced to step-up to the plate. Add in the fact that almost all pitchers in the DH era are terrible hitters, there’s really no reason why we shouldn’t have a universal DH. The best hitting pitcher in baseball today is Zack Greinke who is a .223 career hitter. The only players who can hit that low and stick in the MLB probably hit 25+ homers or are defensive wizards. Sure we’d miss the blessing that is Bartolo Colon swinging a bat, but the game would vastly improve. Offense would be up and Kyle Schwarber would still be in the Cubs lineup this season.

Sorry National League fans, the universal DH is long overdue, and it could be here sooner than you think.

This reminds me, why was Dontrelle Willis never converted to first base? Imagine having this in the lineup everyday.

Hat Tips and Bat Flips: Our 2016 AL East Projections

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1st) Toronto Blue Jays – 97-65

With one of the most exciting teams in recent memory, Toronto has their eyes set on the World Series.  Ace David Price took the money and ran to division-rival Boston and the Jays failed to find a near-value replacement.  They will now be led by 24-year-old Marcus Stroman.  The former Duke Blue Devil is the lone bright spot in a very bleak rotation.  Returning late last season from a torn ACL, Stroman went 4-0 to the tune of a 1.67 ERA.  While he won’t have a sub-2 ERA, “Stro” will be considered one of the elite pitchers in the game by the time October comes around.  The rest of the rotation features 41-year-old R.A. Dickey, free-agent signee J.A. Happ and Aaron Sanchez who only has 11 career starts.  And yet, none of this matters because Toronto has one of the best offenses in the post-steroid era.  Jose Bautista, Troy Tulowitzki, Russell Martin and reigning MVP Josh Donaldson all made the All-Star team last year while 39 homer guy Edwin Encarnacion was criminally left off.  The bullpen is much improved after acquiring Drew Storen and Jesse Chavez and that should be enough to bridge that gap between the rotation and Roberto Osuna.  Enjoy this team while you can because there aren’t many like it.

Key pitcher to watch: Aaron Sanchez.  As stated earlier, Sanchez only has 11 career starts.  Still, he has put together two solid season out of the pen and is only 23 years old.  He will need to step up if Toronto wants to make a deep postseason run.

Key hitter to watch: Chris Colabello/Devon Travis.  I’m breaking my own rules and picking two guys.  Colabello is the better part of a first base platoon with Justin Smoak and, in reality, should get a lot more AB’s than he does.  He hit .321 with 15 HR in a limited role last season and will look to garner some more playing time.  Toronto will be better if he does.  Devon Travis had one of the best April’s in baseball last season.  However, he hurt his shoulder in May and it bothered him the rest of the season and forced him to the 60-day DL in September, ending his fine rookie year.  Out until late May, Travis hopes to rehab quickly and be a spark-plug in an already fantastic Blue Jays lineup.

2) Boston Red Sox – 83-79

Boston is very confusing.  They somehow found a way to finish last in the division in 2015 behind the Tampa Rays, yet they have a lot of star power.  I’m not really sure they’re good, but fortunately for them, neither is the rest of the division.  Boston did get a bit better this offseason by adding David Price and demoting Pablo Sandoval to bench duties (or should I say doodies).  However, the team still has some glaring holes.  The rotation is very weak after Price and Clay Bucholz, we don’t trust Jackie Bradley, Jr. as an everyday player, Hanley Ramirez doesn’t seem to care about the game anymore and starters Blake Swihart and Travis Shaw have only combined for 149 career Major League games.  Still, Boston does have some incredible talent in its lineup.  Mookie Betts and Xander Bogaerts not only have two of the best names in baseball, but they’re also key to the future of baseball.  Both recently turned 23 and are already the best players on the roster.  David Ortiz made sure to let everyone know he’s retiring at season’s end (so prepare for every team to shower him with gifts and act like they love him. UGH.) and has his eyes set on the World Series.  However, he and the Sox won’t get there.  In fact, they won’t even get to the playoffs.  Big Papi will tip his cap for the last time on October 2 at Fenway against the Jays.

Key pitcher to watch: Steven Wright.  I’ve been getting into astronomy so I installed a skylight. The people who live above me are furious.

Key hitter to watch: Brock Holt.  I have always been a fan of Holt.  He makes solid contact and can play practically anywhere on the diamond.  I expect him to hit his way out of the timeshare with Rusney Castillo and assume full-time left field duties for the Sox.

3) New York Yankees – 81-81

I have absolutely no idea how the Yankees made the playoffs last year.  The team is old and not extremely talented but, hey, baseball is weird.  Their best hitter is Alex Rodriguez who, two short years ago, was about to be launched into the sun.  Now he’s the most beloved man in New York not named Porzingis.  He has a real chance to pass Babe Ruth for 3rd on the all-time home run list and, come July, that will be the only reason to pay attention to the Yanks.  The end of the bullpen is terrifying (Aroldis Chapman, Andrew Miller, Dellin Betances) but they won’t be given the opportunity to shine because the lineup won’t give them many leads.

Key pitcher to watch: Luis Severino.  I wanted to pick Nathan Eovaldi but my friend who is a Yankees fan equates Severino to a Greek god, so here we go.  Severino might actually be the best pitcher for the Yanks.  Forget the name power and money behind Masahiro Tanaka, Severino is the real deal.  He put together a 2.89 ERA in his rookie season, albeit 11 starts, and will look to repeat his performance.  As one of the top prospects in the game, I don’t see any reason why he can’t.  This kid is a star in the making and will be fronting New York’s rotation for many years to come.

Key hitter to watch: Starlin Castro.  After leading the Majors in hits in 2011, I was ready to proclaim Starlin Castro as the greatest shortstop of all-time (once his career ended, of course).  He has seen his hit total drop every season since and just doesn’t care about playing defense.  Maybe the change of scenery will do him some good and he can fulfill the prophecy and become the next Derek Jeter.

4) Baltimore Orioles – 78-84

After a few exciting seasons, Baltimore has reverted to the team we’ve known for a long time.  They have some talent, Manny Machado is one of the best players in the world and is only 23, and players like Adam Jones and Chris Davis have been household names during their stays in Baltimore.  However, they’re not enough to get them back to the playoffs.  The rotation is bad and the lineup is very meh.  No one except for Machado and Jones hit the ball consistently so expect the O’s to strikeout a lot and have one of the worst averages in the league.  Come July, Baltimore might want to consider trading players like Jones and Davis for prospects in hopes to develop them while they still have Machado under contract.  If not, it will be another decade, at least, before we see the Orioles playing in October.

Key pitcher to watch: Kevin Gausman.  The Orioles rushed Gausman to the Majors two years too early and it stunted his development.  Mix in repeated right shoulder problems and we’re left with a big question mark.  Gaus is three years into his big league career and people still don’t know what to think of him.  He’s starting the season on the DL, so we’ll just have to wait a bit longer.

Key hitter to watch: Hyun Soo Kim.  Watch him for a completely different reason than all of my others picks.  Kim won’t be good.  He had a historically bad Spring Training and has already fallen out of favor with Baltimore after zero career Major/Minor League games.  The Korean hitter put together some great seasons in the KBO, but is already considered a bust.  He refused to be sent to AAA and, as written in his contract, must now be included on the Major League roster.  There is a real chance he is sent back to Korea before he even takes a Major League at bat.  This is unprecedented and it will be fun to watch it unfold.

5) Tampa Bay Rays – 72-90

If they change their name back to the Devil Rays and bring back those sweet, sweet jerseys, I will put them at number 4.  They don’t deserve any further analysis.

Key pitcher to watch: Matt Moore.  The Rays actually have a pretty good rotation.  Damaged, but good.  Moore was one of the most exciting players in baseball before Tommy John Surgery forced him to miss most of 2014 and have an awful 2015.  Looking to regain his pre-surgery form, Moore will be a very interesting player to watch.

Key hitter to watch: Logan Forsythe.  Forsythe is the most tradeable player in the lineup.  He offers some solid power at second and will be asked about a few times around the trade deadline.  That’s literally the only reason I picked him.  There’s not a reason to closely watch other Rays’ hitters.  If Fred McGriff and Quinton McCracken ever decide to come out of retirement, I choose them.