There are 30 days to go in the "regular" season for baseball, and it will be crazy, I have no doubts. I wanted to recap the trade deadline insanity, and then give you my predictions for who will be in the playoffs, and who will win it all. Here we go!
My top five most improved teams from the trade deadline are based on teams plugging holes, or filling needs, or incrementally improving themselves. This is completely subjective on my part, you may have five different teams.
1. There is absolutely no doubt that the San Diego Padres had a killer deadline. They added quantity, and quality, and turned over nearly 25% of their roster. An unheard of attempt, and we'll see if they messed up their mojo. They upgraded their starting pitching with Mike Clevenger, catching with Austin Nola and Jason Castro, and bullpen with Trevor Rosenthal. They gained a powerful left handed bat in Mitch Moreland who will slot their line-up better, and these are only half the guys they picked up. A+ for sure.
2. As if the Toronto Blue Jays didn't have enough great young talent, they now have added some veteran people who can help the young-uns harness in all the energy, for good and not wildness. Robbie Ray and Taijuan Walker are two wonderful additions to the rotation and Jonathan Villar will fill in at shortstop until Bo Bichette can come back from his injury. I give them an A.
3. A lot of people are pooh-poohing the Chicago Cubs for their moves, but I believe they actually targeted their needs, and got the guys that can help them. They needed someone in the bullpen to get out lefty hitters and they got Andrew Chafin and Josh Osich. Check and check. They are hitting horribly against lefty pitchers, so they got two of the best hitters in the game against lefties, in Jose Martinez and Cameron Maybin. Check and Check, again. I love the moves and can now focus on a 2016 replay. Team Theo gets a B+.
4. For those of you who don't get to see much West coast baseball, say hello to the second best team in the American League, the Oakland A's. They are already loaded and they went out and filled two gaping holes in their roster, a starting pitcher in Mike Minor, and a versatile position player, who can hit, in Tommy LaStella. I give Billy Beane a solid B+.
5. The Cincinnati Reds give the Cubs and many other teams fits, and now they've added a huge relief pitcher in Archie Bradley, and an outfielder, who can cover a wide landscape, and is a solid lead-off hitter in Brian Goodwin. Look out National League. They get a B.
Other teams did some minor tweaking and we'll see if that was enough. You also had some strong teams do nothing, saying to the rest of baseball, come get us, we're really good right now. So what does all this mean for the playoff race? Let's find out.
In general, I really suck at making predictions regarding sports. That, of course, never stops me from putting my two cents in and going bold. The final wild card slots are far from settled, and all this could change by Sunday, but as of right now, here's my predictions.
Tampa Bay def. Toronto Oakland def. Minnesota
Cleveland def. Houston Chicago def. Yankees
Tampa Bay def. Cleveland Chicago def. Oakland
Chicago def. Tampa Bay
Los Angeles def Colorado Chicago def. Philadelphia
San Diego def. Miami Atlanta def. St. Louis
Los Angeles def. San Diego Chicago def. Atlanta
Los Angeles def. Chicago
Los Angeles def. Chicago 4-2
So close to an all Chicago world series. Maybe next year.
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