The Major League Landscape
Baseball is a mysterious game sometimes. You come into season with expectations. Some of them will come to be, while others fall away. This season has been no different. Many thought the Chicago Cubs would be the best team in baseball, but as they found out, even the most talented teams still have to play the games first. The Cubs are a good team, but with injuries and slumps, they haven’t looked like the team of destiny since the start of summer.
Meanwhile, the 2015 National League Champions, the New York Mets, have experienced a rocky season filled with great win streaks and shattering losses. They’ve already lost Matt Harvey and David Wright for the season.
The 2015 Champions, the Kansas City Royals, looked good for a while as well, but injuries to their key offensive players, like Mike Moustakas (out for season), Alex Gordon, Salvador Perez, and Lorenzo Cain, combined with a lackluster starting rotation, has stifled the team, especially on the road (19-37).
The New York Yankees came in thinking they were improved and poised for a postseason berth, but age, injuries, and poor performance have devastated the team. This is the worst Yankees team in terms of record since before their 1996 championship.
Finally, the Miami Marlins have exceeded many people’s expectations. Jose Fernandez is back and looks healthy, the offense is more complete than it has been in years. With the rights moves, the Marlins could be legit contenders.
2016 Trade Deadline Showcases Buyers and Sellers
For teams on the brink of being postseason-bound, the trade deadline is something special. Some teams are looking to build for their futures, while others take aim at a championship this year.
The Royals and Yankees both believe their chances at reaching the playoffs are slim. The Royals maintained their roster and made no significant moves at the deadline. They sit today ten games back of the Cleveland Indians, and would have to defeat the Chicago White Sox and Detroit Tigers to even have a chance at the Wild Card.
Meanwhile, the Yankees for the first time in well over twenty years became sellers at the deadline. They traded away Aroldis Chapman, Andrew Miller, Carlos Beltran, Ivan Nova. The Yankees sit 7.5 games back of the Baltimore Orioles, and would have to jump over the tough Boston Red Sox and the once again refurbished Toronto Blue Jays. Rather than try to force an unlikely outcome like getting into the playoffs only to lose in the first round, the Yankees did something smart and started to build for their future.
They added former Yankee Tyler Clippard for relief help for this season. They acquired Dillon Tate, a first round selection of the Texas Rangers along with two other pitching prospects in Nick Green and Erik Swanson. The Yankees also added highly touted prospects Clint Frazier and Billy McKinney, both of whom may be staples in the Yankees lineup and outfield by 2018, as well as the young, but highly sought after, shortstop, Gleyber Torres. The Yankees also added a promising starter in Vicente Campos, as well as pitcher Justus Sheffield and center fielder Rashad Crawford. The Yankees indeed began building a bright future, and that should give any disheartened Yankee fans some hope.
The New York Mets are not willing to give up yet despite their off-kilter season. That’s why they made two big moves at the deadline. First, they reacquired Jon Niese from the Pittsburgh Pirates. Niese can’t replace the talent of Harvey, but he can work as a fitting placeholder. He’s competent pitcher and nothing more, but sometimes that is exactly what you need to help your rotation and bullpen from being worn down.
The bigger move was the Mets picking up Jay Bruce, the former Cincinnati Red outfielder. Bruce was among the best offensive player on the market at this deadline. He will drastically change the offense and make the Mets far more competitive within their division. They are currently 8.5 games back of the Washington Nationals and don’t play them until September, but they believe they will have a chance to take back the division come September.
The Marlins were on the edge of being a team capable of making a legitimate run. They sit only five games out from the Nationals. The Marlins needed to make a few key moves and they did just that. With the acquisition of Andrew Cashner, the Marlins sent a message that they are in this divisional race. Cashner has been hit-or-miss this season, but he should have much better success with a team with a respectable offense and a winning attitude. It is hard to be pumped up when you are on the Padres, who are still in rebuilding mode. Now, Cashner can play for a chance at a championship this season.
It’s been an exciting first four months of the season, but the best part of the regular season has only just begun. As the real contenders start to emerge from the mist, who will make it to the postseason? With teams like the Royals and Mets in question, who may replace them? It should be thrilling to see what happens next.