How times change: Andre Ethier walked to get to Manny

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Manny Ramirez double.jpgI missed this in the recaps, but file this under “wow, that wouldn’t have happened a year or two ago.”

In the seventh inning of the Dodgers-Diamondbacks game, A.J. Hinch decided to
intentionally walk Andre Ethier with two men on in order to load the bases for Manny Ramirez. And it wasn’t like they were setting up the double play. There were two outs. Ramirez, of course, promptly hit a three-run double off the wall, turning a one-run game into a four-run game, and essentially icing it for L.A.  And, as Vin Scully notes in the video, Manny’s shot would have been a grand slam in just about any other park.

I know Andre Ethier leads the N.L. in everything at the moment, but I think we’ve reached a point where we’ve discounted Manny Ramirez a bit too much.  He’s at .393/.507/.589 on the year.

L.A. has a lot of problems, but they’re only 4.5 out.  If 2010 Manny does a reasonable approximation of 2008 Manny, the Dodgers may jump back into this thing yet.

(thanks to Mike Bogen for the heads up on the IBB)

2017 Preview: The American League Central

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For the past few weeks we’ve been previewing the 2017 season. Here, in handy one-stop-shopping form, is our package of previews from the American League Central

Do the Indians have a weakness? Do the Tigers and Royals have one more playoff push in them or do they have to start contemplating rebuilds? The White Sox and Twins are rebuilding, but do either of them have a chance to be remotely competitive?

As we sit here in March, the answers are “not really,” “possibly,” and “not a chance.” There are no games that count this March, however, so they’re just guesses. But educated ones! Here are the links to our guesses and our education for all of the clubs of the AL Central:

Cleveland Indians
Detroit Tigers
Kansas City Royals
Chicago White Sox
Minnesota Twins

2017 Preview: The National League East

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For the past few weeks we’ve been previewing the 2017 season. Here, in handy one-stop-shopping form, is our package of previews from the National League East

The Washington Nationals crave a playoff run that doesn’t end at the division series. The Mets crave a season in which they don’t have a press conference about an injured pitcher. The Marlins are trying to put the nightmare of the end of the 2016 behind them. The Phillies and Braves are hoping to move on from the “lose tons of games” phase of their rebuilds and move on to the “hey, these kids can play!” phase.

There is a ton of star power in the NL East — Harper, Scherzer, Cespedes, Syndergaard, Stanton, Freeman — some great young talent on ever roster and, in Ichiro and Bartolo, the two oldest players in the game. Maybe the division can’t lay claim to the best team in baseball, but there will certainly be some interesting baseball in the division.

Here’s how each team breaks down:

Washington Nationals
New York Mets
Miami Marlins
Philadelphia Phillies
Atlanta Braves