By Jeremy Powers
The MLB season is a brutal one. Let’s be honest, whenever you have a schedule that consists of 162 games in 25 weeks, it’s going to be a roller coaster ride. Some teams, who fall out of contention early abandon ship. The Philadelphia Phillies who handed over the National League East reigns to the Washington Nationals, decided to part ways with one of their most prominent outfielders and a staple, which has roamed the center field grass for the past seven seasons, helping them win the World Series in 2008. Certain contenders would not feel as comfortable as they feel now if it weren’t for the charitable Phillies.
The week of the trade deadline has passed and with all the speculation and over analyzing aside, teams now have the chance to get back to what’s important: pursuing the playoffs. With the division races taking shape here are my rankings of which players will help their new teams make it to the playoffs and even the promise land.
6. Ryan Dempster, Rangers – Dempster was talked about a lot. Not more than Tim Tebow and Jets camp, but a lot. Rumored to be dealt by the, “screw it, trade him,” Cubs to teams like the Atlanta Braves, Los Angeles Dodgers, and New York Yankees, the king of impersonation lands with the Texas Rangers. While I like Dempster as a pitcher and commend him for the strides he’s made in his career, I don’t see this as that great of an addition. The Rangers will go back to the World Series for the third straight year only if their offense takes them there. Their pitching will not be as pivotal as Nolan Ryan hopes it will. Dempster is a guy who will keep you in ball games, but is not a number one guy in any rotation. It will be interesting to see what he does with this opportunity.
5. Shane Victorino, Dodgers - A solid guy in center field, but they have Matt Kemp. A good top of the lineup option, but he’s only batting .258. I like what Victorino can bring a team already in the playoffs, but for a guy that is already past 30-years-old, I don’t think he makes that much of a difference in this season’s playoff race. I don’t like the Dodgers to win the NL West and I am even tempted to pick them to finish third in that division behind the Diamondbacks, who are surging at the right time. If the Dodgers make it to playoffs, then I like Victorino to make a difference, but I don’t believe that a change of scenery will revamp his season as of right now. I have a hard time watching the Flyin’ Hawaiian in blue, weird.
4. Hanley Ramirez, Dodgers – Ramirez has superstar talent. This has never been the question. What this guy did at the start of his career with the Miami Marlins was mind-shattering, so I do think that this trade, and a new home, was the best thing for Hanley. Ramirez will add power to the Dodgers lineup and give them a player that I’ve actually heard of in the infield, but will his lack of focus plague him and force him to make errors on defense and have poor at bats? If Don Mattingly and the Dodgers’ coaching staff can keep him motivated, look for Hanley’s numbers to improve dramatically. Also look for him to give the team their best shot at making the playoffs.
3. Jonathan Broxton, Reds – I really didn’t know what to make of this trade at first, but after seeing Broxton for the first time in a Reds uniform last night, I think this was a great move by Walt Jocketty. The Reds have won games this season because of their pitching, the stats say so, but as a fan, I also know how important it has been. Their surprising dominant rotation and the depth they have in the bullpen will carry them to the playoffs, unless they have a monstrous collapse, which doesn’t seem likely. So, lets map it out. In a best of five series the Reds can throw out Johnny Cueto, Mat Latos, and Homer Bailey. Those starters each can be relieved by the likes of (in this order each game), Logan Ondrusek, Sean Marshall, Jonathan Broxton, and Aroldis Chapman. Wow, is that real? Even without an injured Ryan Madson, all the Reds need to do is get a lead. I think Broxton was a smart move and played to the strengths of the NL Central leaders. He allows Dusty Baker to rest some of his best arms through the last two months of the season, mixing in the likes of Jose Arredondo, Sam LeCure, and Alfredo Simon more than usual, and making sure his studs are as fresh as they can be come October.
2. Zach Greinke, Angels – Well this is a no brainer, right? As much as every ESPN analyst loves this move and the Angels for that matter, Greinke is a good get for any club at this point in the season. I like the Angels just like I like the Diamondbacks, in the sense that I think their best baseball is in front of them, making them a dangerous team in the American League. What a great rotation in Anaheim now: Jered Weaver, Zach Greinke, Dan Haren, and C.J. Wilson. There are no opposing teams that will be able to match that in this season’s playoffs. Let’s just hope the hype doesn’t ruin this team’s potential. I liked the Angels in the AL before this trade, and now I think this just stabilizes the Angels rotation, improving their chances to win the division and make a run at the World Series. I always do a double-take when I look at the standings and only see the Angels nine games over .500. I expect them get on a winning streak in August.
1. Hunter Pence, Giants – I’ve always liked the Giants pitching, but I’ve never liked the Giants lineup on paper, until now. The Giants have always worried me when they played my favorite team, because of their unique pitching staff, and their “tough to play in” ball park. Pence improves and bolsters the Giants lineup, helping them get runners on base in front of Melky Cabrera and Buster Posey. I think the Giants will win the NL West and make a push towards another World Series appearance because this team is built for the Fall. Once Pence settles in, expect big numbers from a guy that Philadelphia might have moved a little too early in his career.
Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.