I'm not the only guy down on the Phillies

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The good Mr. Neyer posted his projected standings at ESPN yesterday.  He has the Yankees, Twins, and Rangers winning their divisions and the Red Sox taking the wild card in the AL and the Phillies, Cardinals and Rockies taking the divisions and the Braves taking the wild card in the senior circuit.

Rob’s a lot smarter than I am when it comes to this kind of stuff so I was happy to see that he has the Phillies and Braves at 89 and 88 wins, respectively. OK, maybe picking Philly to win the division means that Rob isn’t “down” on them, but 89 and 88 wins is a tossup, and I thus feel less insecure about my Braves pick in the East. I mean, I think the Braves will win it, but I think it will be a dead heat all year.

He also has the Rockies winning the west like I do, which seems to be the minority position.  He and I flip the Rays and Red Sox, but I called that pretty closely too, as does Rob.

Biggest variance: he’s got the Angels winning 80 games and coming in third in the AL West. I think that’s too low. Sadly, Rob writes a humble and self-aware disclaimer about how the Angles always prove him wrong, thereby taking all the fun out of mocking him in October when they win yet another division title.

Damn you, Rob and your Midwestern humility.

David Price’s season debut could be pushed back to May

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David Price showed “strength improvements” in his elbow on Saturday, but Red Sox’ manager John Farrell still doesn’t think the left-hander will be ready to throw by the start of the season — or for a few weeks afterward. According to ESPN’s Scott Lauber, the 31-year-old might not be ready to debut until May at the earliest.

Price hasn’t thrown off of a mound this spring after experiencing soreness in his left elbow on March 1. Surgery doesn’t appear to be necessary, but the Red Sox are playing it extra safe with their No. 3 starter in hopes that rest and rehabilitation will return him to full health sometime during the 2017 season. For now, Price has been restricted to short games of catch until he’s cleared to resume a more rigorous throwing program. Via MLB.com’s Ian Browne:

[There were] strength improvements to the point of putting the ball back in his hand a little more consistently,” said manager John Farrell. “Today’s the first step for that. A short game of catch. That’s what he’s going through. Not off a mound but just to get the arm moving with a ball in flight, and he will continue in this phase for a period of time. There’s no set distance and volume yet to the throws.

The lefty is coming off of a lackluster 2016 season, during which he delivered a 3.99 ERA, 2.0 BB/9 and 8.9 SO/9 over 230 innings for the Red Sox.

Yadier Molina will not enter contract negotiations during the 2017 season

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Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that Cardinals’ catcher Yadier Molina is still open to extension talks during the last week of spring training. Once Opening Day rolls around, however, Molina has preemptively nixed any contract negotiations until the end of the 2017 season, when he’s scheduled to hit free agency.

Molina wants to stay with the Cardinals, or so he’s telling reporters, but he’s also “not afraid” to test the free agent market this fall should a deal fail to materialize. Via Goold:

I would love to stay, but at the same time I’m not afraid to go to free agency. I’ve still got many years in the tank. Believe me. I feel great. I feel like a 20-year-old kid. I’m not afraid to go to free agency.

The 34-year-old backstop is entering his final year under contract, though Goold points out that he has a $15 million option for 2018 that he can choose to decline in the event that it’s exercised by the team. He’s reportedly searching for a figure closer to those made by other top catchers like Buster Posey and Russell Martin.

The 2017 season will mark Molina’s 14th year in the Cardinals’ organization, building on a career that has spanned seven All-Star campaigns, nine postseason runs and two World Series championships in St. Louis. He batted .307/.360/.427 with eight home runs and a .787 OPS for the club in 2016.