Major League Baseball
Baltimore Orioles- The reigning A.L. East champions are a different looking team after losing a few key players to free agency. The teams lost Nelson Cruz the focal point of the offence who had 40 homeruns and had 108 RBI’s last season. Along with losing Cruz they lost Nick Markakis a consistent threat in their line-up for years and they lost one of the best relief pitchers in the league Andrew Miller to their in division rival Yankees. On the positive end they will get back a healthy Matt Wieters and Manny Machado. To have any chance at an A.L. East championship repeat they have to hope for first baseman Chris Davis to have bounce back year and to get great pitching.
Boston Red Sox- The Boston Red Sox went from World Series Champions to last in their division. But, in the offseason they went on a shopping spree and tried to change that. They got two of the biggest free agents in Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval. These two will help a line-up that under preformed last season. They also made a few trades one was getting ride of promising young third baseman Will Middlebrooks sending him to the Padres, Sandoval will take his place, The Red Sox as well took part in one of the biggest trades of the offseason trading slugger Yoenis Cespedes for young star pitcher Rick Porcello. This trade can work out very well for the Sox because their rotation is not too strong, now rebuilt with Porcello, Justin Masterson and Wade Miley, while they made up for Cespedes offence plus some with Ramirez and Sandoval. Look for the Red Sox’s to be contenders if they stay healthy and get anything out of their new look rotation.
New York Yankees- The Yankees will have a new shortstop for the first time in the last 20 seasons. The man who has this daunting task is newly acquired Didi Gregorius who came to them from the Diamondbacks. In the offseason the Yankees were fairly quiet they got bullpen help in All-Star Andrew Miller and got young pitcher Nathan Eovaldi from Miami. Along with losing Jeter they lost their closer who was 3rd in the American League with 39 saves last season. They also lost utility man Martin Prado, Future Hall of Famer Ichiro Suzuki and starting pitchers Brandon McCarthy and Hiroki Kuroda. They do get back Alex Rodriguez from suspension.
Tampa Bay Rays-The Rays had as rough an offseason and any other team. They lost their manager Joe Madden who completely turned around the whole franchise and is one of the best managers in the league. As for players they traded the player with the most upside on their big league roster in Wil Myers, they also traded Jeremy Hellickson a pitcher with potential also possibly the second best player on the roster behind Evan Longoria in Ben Zobrist lastly they traded Matt Joyce a powerful outfielder to the Angels. This is a team that has started the rebuilding process with the corner stone being Evan Longoria. They will most likely come in last in the A.L. East.
Toronto Blue Jays- The Toronto Blue Jays have had a very interesting offseason. They Jays made some great acquisitions getting All-Star third baseman Josh Donaldson from the A’s for underachieving third baseman Brett Lawrie; they also signed the top free agent catcher Russell Martin. Another guys that could help that they got is one time 20 homerun hitter Justin Smoak. The reason that the offseason that they have had is so interesting is because they have lost quite a few players: closer Casey Janssen, power hitter and long time blue Jay Adam Lind, outfielder Colby Rasmus, bomb hitting first and third baseman Juan Francisco and all-star outfielder Melky Cabrera. Ultimately they guys that they added will be more important than they guys that they lost but they lost quite a few players. Look for them to contend for a playoff spot if they stay healthy.
Chicago White Sox- The White Sox might me the most improved team this offseason. They made moves that will help them in every aspect of the game. They got veteran first baseman Adam LaRoche to add some pop to the line-up. Next they got the old Yankee closer David Robertson to help the bullpen. Also through free agency they got all-star outfielder Melky Cabrera to solidify the spotty outfield. But, quite possibly the biggest move that they made was to trade for Jeff Samardzija an all-star pitcher who will help a staff that was not one of the better in baseball. With all of these big offseason moves and only the subtraction of longtime White Sox and possible hall of famer Paul Konerko look for them to contend in their division.
Cleveland Indians- The Tribe are coming off a season where they finished third in the A.L. Central but where they came in the division does not tell the whole story of they season. Considering that they has two of their stars in Nick Swisher and Michael Bourn out for long periods of time having a winning record was a good thing, They also had the A.L Cy Young award winner in Corey Kluber and Michael Brantley was 3rd in MVP voting. This offseason they did not do much the made a good trade for Brandon Moss and did not lose anyone.
Detroit Tigers- The Tigers were one of the best teams last season despite MVP Miguel Cabrera missing time. But in the offseason they might have dropped the ball. They lost a lot of pitching in Cy Young winner Max Scherzer, Rick Porcello and bullpen man Joba Chamberlin. These losses will hurt a rotation that was one of the best in the majors they still have Justin Verlander, David Price and Anibal Sanchez. They will have a very good line-up adding Yoenis Cespedes and getting back a healthier Cabrera. It will be interesting to see how they do this year.
Kanas City Royals- The team that captured American’s hearts last year and making it all the way to the World Series only to lose to the Giants in seven games. They have had an offseason that will not hurt their chances of getting back there but will not help them either. They have lost the very powerful DH Billy Butler, the gold glover Nori Aoki and their ace from last season James Shields. To replace Butler the Royals have picked up veteran DH Kendrys Morales. To help with the offence the got Alex Rios who will bring more offensively than Aoki did. This team will still have the fantastic bullpen but the starting rotation will be not as good.
Minnesota Twins- A team that was not very good last season. This is a team that will continue to get better as their prospects get a little older and they can attract some free agents to their baseball-crazed city. As for this offseason they made a few good moves getting old Twin Torii Hunter and picking up pitcher Ervin Santana. Look for this team to win a few more games this year but to not come close to the playoffs again.
Houston Astros- The Houston Astros were more than 20 games below 500 last season. But this offseason they retooled and are looking to make some waves in the A.L. west. They picked up slugging outfielder/catcher Evan Gattis he will add a much-needed threat to the middle of the line-up. Also to help in the line-up they got outfielder Colby Rasmus. For defensive help they got catcher Hank Conger and shortstop Jed Lowrie. As for pitching they have helped their bullpen by getting two very good relievers in Luke Gregerson and Pat Neshek. Look for the Astros to be much improved but not yet a playoff team.
Los Angeles Angels- The Angels were one of the best teams in baseball last year only to be swept by the Kanas City Royals in the first round of the playoffs. As for improving in the offseason they did not do too much except for add a little depth in players like cater Drew Butera and outfielder Matt Joyce. But, in a trade with the Dodgers they got a very promising young pitcher in Andrew Heaney. In terms as subtractions they will miss long time second baseman Howie Kendrick. This will be one of the more interesting teams to watch this season due to the relapse of Josh Hamilton and the health of the fantastic young pitcher Garrett Richards.
Oakland Athletics- The A’s looked like they were headed to he World Series last season after going all out at the trade deadline last year getting pitchers Jon Lester, Jason Hammel and Jeff Samardzija. After falling short of their goal in the ALCS they decided to go a completely different way with their team. They traded their all-star third baseman for Brett Lawrie. They added power hitting DH Billy Butler and ex-32 homerun hitter Ike Davis. Also they traded for utility man Ben Zobrist. As for pitching the A’s added good reliever Tyler Clippard. Other than losing the three pitchers that they traded for they lost Adam Dunn and Nick Punto and traded away all-star catcher Derek Norris and Brandon Moss. The A’s will have a very interesting season that might not be as good as last year but with them who knows.
Seattle Mariners- Last offseason for the Mariners was one of the biggest in their history signing Robinson Cano to a huge 10-year $240 million contract. But, even with the addition of Cano they did not make the playoffs. So this offseason they looked to make that happen by adding slugger Nelson Cruz and at times powerful outfielder Seth Smith. These additions will more than cover the loss of the homerun hitting first baseman/outfielder Corey Hart. As for the pitching staff they lost a couple guys in Chris Young and Brandon Maurer, but to lessen the blow they signed J.A. Happ. Another thing that they did well over the offseason is adding depth to he bench by getting Justin Ruggiano, Willie Bloomquist and Rickie Weeks. Look for the Mariners to content for a playoff spot this year especially with the rough offseason that the Angels have had.
Texas Rangers- This might be the team that has had the worst offseason/spring training they have already lost their ace pitcher Yu Darvish and Jurickson Profar for the season. As well as in free agency the lost veteran outfielder Alex Rios. This being a team that is yet to make a big move this offseason and was already 67-95 last year with those players in their line-up. As for positives they will get back a healthy Prince Fielder and made a trade for promising young pitcher Ross Detwiler. Look for this team to have year where they are at the bottom of the league and do not compete for a playoff spot.
Atlanta Braves-The Braves struggled at the end of last season and finished 17 games behind the Washington Nationals. They are in a “re-building” stage and have a very young team. They added Nick Markakis for veteran leadership. They traded Justin Upton and Jason Heyward. That leaves their line up with much less power. While they still have the dangerous Freddie Freeman and the promising shortstop Andrelton Simmons, the strength of their team is their young, developing pitching staff. Julio Teheran is only 24 but has already shown great talent. Any lead they have late in the game is secure because of their fantastic closer Craig Kimbrel.
Miami Marlins- Coach Mike Redmond starts his third year with a very young team. All eyes are on Giancarlo Stanton. Perhaps the best player in the game, Stanton is coming back from a season ending fastball to the face. The Marlins will count on him to play with no lingering effects and team with the talented young Chris Yelich to provide power. Newly added 2B Dee Gordon will be counted on to use his speed in the lead off spot. The Miami pitching lacks the services of the fantastic Jose Fernandez who is coming off Tommy John surgery and is not ready yet. They sure could use his talents as a starter. They added Matt Latos—but do not have many veteran starters. The bullpen is not very strong but does have the services of Steve Cishek who is a solid closer.
New York Mets- Mets fans are excited this year and it is mostly about pitching. Terry Collins is glad to have pitcher Matt Harvey back from Tommy John surgery to lead a talented young staff of pitchers. Jacob deGrom is a promising young arm too, but the recent loss of Zack Wheeler (season ending surgery) will hurt their starting staff for sure. The bullpen is has talent but not a lot of experience. Jenrry Mejia came on strong late last year to claim the closers spot—but can he be effective all year long? The line up is very interesting as newly acquired Michael Cuddyer and John Mayberry Jr. join David Wright and Lucas Duda to form a powerful middle of the order. If they can drive in runs on a consistent basis, the Mets might make some noise this year.
Philadelphia Phillies- The Phillies have a ton of older players that they are counting on for production this year. Manager Ryne Sandberg lost SS Jimmy Rollins to the Dodgers, but still has the right side of his infield with Chase Utley and Ryan Howard back yet again hoping to provide big power for the Phils. Their health will be a key issue in this line up. Veteran hurlers Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee will again lead the pitching staff. The Phillies Added Aaron Harang to the team and are counting on him to throw many effective innings. Jonathan Papelbon has been closing games for them for years and the Phils will continue to rely on him to preserve any late game lead.
Washington Nationals- The defending division champs clearly have the most talent in their division. While they lost 1B Adam LaRoche and 2B Asdrubal Cabrera, the Nationals added 2BYunel Escobar and will move the talented Ryan Zimmerman to 1B. Bryce Harper will continue to provide power to a line up that has hitters throughout and can flat out hit the ball. Jason Werth, Anthony Rendon, Ian Desmond and Denard Span are all dangerous at the plate. The Nats have depth and massive talent on the hill. The acquisition of Max Scherzer is huge considering they already have a great group of starters. Doug Fister, Stephan Strasburg, Jordan Zimmerman and Gio Gonzalez round out perhaps the best five starters for any team in baseball. The Nationals added closer Casey Janssen from Toronto to solidify their bullpen. The outlook is bright for Washington and anything other than a trip to the World Series would be a disappointment this year.
Chicago Cubs- The Cubs might be the most improved the most of any team this offseason starting by getting one of the best managers in the league in Joe Madden, he could be come the most popular man in Chicago if he takes this team and turns it around. They also made a big splash in free agency getting the best pitcher in Jon Lester. In free agency they also got back one of their old pitchers in Jason Hammel. As for trades they got all-star catcher Miguel Montero and speedy outfielder Dexter Fowler. Even though all of these moves will really help a team that has not been good the last few years, the true test will be how the young kids do if they make the big league roster. For example third baseman Kris Bryant, who is having a monster spring training, if he makes the big league team what’s his impact going to be because kids like him and Javier Baez could take the Cubs to the next level. Look for the cubs to be much improved but a few years away from being true competitors.
Cincinnati Reds- The Reds had been a staple to compete in the N.L. Central but last year they took a big step back coming in fourth. During the offseason they added some depth to the outfield and the line-up as they added Marlon Byrd. Other than the Byrd move they did not do much else except for trade away pitcher Mat Latos. The reds actually have a very good line-up a1-8 and especially with a bounce back year from Joey Votto. Look for then to have a better season but not quite make the playoffs.
Milwaukee Brewers- The Brewers where 82-80 last season and did not do much this offseason to improve this record. They only got veteran slugger first baseman Adam Lind to help in the line-up. They have lost a few players in Mark Reynolds, Zack Duke and Lyle Overbay. Look for the Brewers to have around the same record.
Pittsburg Pirates- The Pirates were 14 games over .500 and were one of the best teams in baseball. This offseason they got a little more power with Corey Hart, added some pitching depth by re-acquiring A.J. Burnett and getting some utility with Sean Rodriguez. But, they did lose all-star catcher Russell Martin, veteran pitcher Edinson Volquez and first baseman Ike Davis. Look for the Pirates to continue to contend and be one of the better N.L. teams.
St. Louis Cardinals- The Cardinals were the first place team in the N.L. Central. In the offseason they made some moves to keep it that way for the up coming season by trading for potential superstar Jason Heyward to put in the outfield. They also got homerun hitting first baseman/third baseman Mark Reynolds to help add a little pop to the line-up. They did however lose very good reliever Pat Neshek and pitchers Shelby Miller and Justin Masterson. The Cardinals will continue to be World Series contenders especial after this offseason
Arizona Diamondbacks- After losing 98 games last year the Diamondbacks changed managers. Chip Hale takes over and has his work cut out for him. Gone from last year is starting catcher Miguel Montero who was strictly a salary dump. The team does not really have a replacement and will count on sluggers Paul Goldschmidt and Mark Trumbo to provide the long ball in order to win games. The key signing of 24-year-old Cuban defector Yasmany Tomas will help the line up too. The Diamondbacks will try to rebuild their club around him as they develop their younger players. The pitching staff is led by ace Patrick Corbin, who is returning from injury. The D-Backs lost Wade Miley to the Red Sox—but signed Jeremy Hellickson and Rubby De La Rosa to replace him. The Diamondbacks have a ton of young arms but someone will have to emerge soon if they are to compete for division honors this year.
Colorado Rockies- The Rockies did very little in the off-season to improve their team. They lost slugger Michael Cuddyer to free agency. They added catcher Nick Hundley because everyday starting catcher Wilin Rosario can hit well but is not great defensively. Once again the Rockies are counting on the health and productivity of star players Carlos Gonzales and superstar shortstop Troy Tulowitzki. When healthy, “Tulo” and “Cargo” can produce massive power numbers in the thin air of Coors Field. The Colorado altitude does not help the Rockies pitching staff. They really have no “ace” and the bullpen is nothing special. In the very competitive NL West the Rockies will have to have everything go right and stay healthy to be anywhere near the division lead.
Los Angeles Dodgers-The Dodgers made massive changes to their team this year. Gone are the talents of SS Hanley Ramirez, 2B Dee Gordon and CF Matt Kemp. The Dodgers upgraded their defense up the middle by acquiring C Yasmani Grandal, SS Jimmy Rollins and 2b Howie Kendrick. They are banking on young Joc Pederson in centerfield to provide an adequate season replacing the slugger Kemp. Their defense will be better and they shed about $70 million off their massive payroll. Returning slugger 1B Adrian Gonzalez and the talented OF Yasiel Puig will lead the offense. The amazing Clayton Kershaw leads the pitching staff. Kershaw is a true “ace” that only faltered in the playoffs. He is money. Joining Kershaw as a stud pitcher is Zack Greinke. Zack would be the number one starter on most clubs. Not many teams have comparable 1-2 starters at the top of their pitching staff. The Dodgers will have to figure out how to replace closer Kenley Jansen who just had foot surgery and might be out until May. The Dodgers have plenty of talent and will fight with the World Champ Giants (and maybe the Padres) until the bitter end.
San Diego Padres- No team did more in the off-season than the Padres. The improvement is drastic and the fans in San Diego are more excited than they have been in years. The club completely overhauled their outfield by acquiring Matt Kemp, Justin Upton and Wil Myers. They got Derek Norris for power behind the plate, as they needed to replace Yasmani Grandal who was traded to the Dodgers. Clint Barmes replaces the wild Everth Cabrera at short and Will Middlebrook may be the answer at 3B. The Padres have a ton of depth in the OF and a lot more offensive power. The pitching staff has some very good young arms at the top of the rotation. Andrew Cashner and Tyson Ross are solid. The veteran Ian Kennedy provides stability and many innings. In a ballpark that is “pitcher friendly” the main question mark for the Padres is a bullpen that could be vulnerable and inconsistent. With all the bold moves the Padres made—this season promises to be interesting and exciting!
San Francisco Giants- The defending World Champion Giants do not get the respect they deserve. Despite winning the title two out of the last three years, people are always talking about their lack of “superstars” and doubting their talent. They did not have many changes in the off-season—but they did not really need to “fix” anything. Their talent is deep and coaching superb. While they lost the popular Pablo “Kung Fu Panda” Sandoval at 3B, they added 3b Casey McGeHee to take his place. Their offense will miss the talented Michael Morse—but they still have catcher Buster Posey to lead a productive line up. Pitching is a huge part of the Giants success and they have a TON of it. Madison Bumgarner had the best World Series of all time and, at 24, is on his way to a Hall of Fame career. He is truly special and leads a deep staff of starters. Jake Peavy, Ryan Vogelsong, Matt Cain and Tim Hudson are all veteran hurlers who can get it done. The dynamic Sergio Romo holds the lead well when brought in to close games. The Giants are poised to once again be tough to beat this season.
By: GSBN Evan Miller
MLB Strike Zone Timeline changes
1996 - The Strike Zone is expanded on the lower end, moving from the top of the knees to the bottom of the knees.
1988 - "The Strike Zone is that area over home plate the upper limit of which is a horizontal line at the midpoint between the top of the shoulders and the top of the uniform pants, and the lower level is a line at the top of the knees. The Strike Zone shall be determined from the batter's stance as the batter is prepared to swing at a pitched ball."
1969 - "The Strike Zone is that space over home plate which is between the batter's armpits and the top of his knees when he assumes a natural stance. The umpire shall determine the Strike Zone according to the batter's usual stance when he swings at a pitch."
1963 - "The Strike Zone is that space over home plate which is between the top of the batter's shoulders and his knees when he assumes his natural stance. The umpire shall determine the Strike Zone according to the batter's usual stance when he swings at a pitch."
1957 - "A strike is a legal pitch when so called by the umpire which (a) is struck at by the batter and is missed; (b) enters the Strike Zone in flight and is not struck at; (c) is fouled by the batter when he has less than two strikes at it; (d) is bunted foul; (e) touches the batter as he strikes at it; (f) touches the batter in flight in the Strike Zone; or (g) becomes a foul tip. Note: (f) was added to the former rule and definition."
1950 - "The Strike Zone is that space over home plate which is between the batter's armpits and the top of his knees when he assumes his natural stance."
1910 - "With the bases unoccupied, any ball delivered by the pitcher while either foot is not in contact with the pitcher's plate shall be called a ball by the umpire."
1907 - "A fairly delivered ball is a ball pitched or thrown to the bat by the pitcher while standing in his position and facing the batsman that passes over any portion of the home base, before touching the ground, not lower than the batsman's knee, nor higher than his shoulder. For every such fairly delivered ball, the umpire shall call one strike."
"An unfairly delivered ball is a ball delivered to the bat by the pitcher while standing in his position and facing the batsman that does not pass over any portion of the home base between the batsman's shoulder and knees, or that touches the ground before passing home base, unless struck at by the batsman. For every unfairly delivered ball the umpire shall call one ball."
1901 - "A foul hit ball not caught on the fly is a strike unless two strikes have already been called." (NOTE: Adopted by National League in 1901; American League in 1903).
1899 - "A foul tip by the batter, caught by the catcher while standing within the lines of his position is a strike."
1894 - "A strike is called when the batter makes a foul hit, other than a foul tip, while attempting a bunt hit that falls or rolls upon foul ground between home base and first or third bases."
1887 - "The batter can no longer call for a 'high' or 'low' pitch."
"A (strike) is defined as a pitch that 'passes over home plate not lower than the batsman's knee, nor higher than his shoulders.'"
1876 - "The batsman, on taking his position, must call for a 'high,' 'low,' or 'fair' pitch, and the umpire shall notify the pitcher to deliver the ball as required; such a call cannot be changed after the first pitch is delivered."High - pitches over the plate between the batter's waist and shoulders
Low - pitches over the plate between the batter's waist and at least one foot from the ground.
Fair - pitches over the plate between the batter's shoulders and at least one foot from the ground.
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