Bookmaker.com has posted its initial over/under odds for regular season team wins. Here are the American League totals (for entertainment purposes only, of course):
Red Sox 95
White Sox 85.5
Blue Jays 76
Based on those totals the Red Sox are viewed as the clear class of the league after adding Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford to a team that won 89 games last season. However, they also lost Victor Martinez and Adrian Beltre, and the Red Sox have won more than 95 games just twice since 1979.
On the flip side it’s worth noting that the Yankees have won fewer than 92 games just twice since 1996, so even after a disappointing offseason an over/under of 91.5 victories seems pretty pessimistic for a team that won 95 games last year.
At the other end of the spectrum an over/under of 69.5 wins may seem low for even the Royals, but their amazing collection of prospects isn’t likely to help much this season, Zack Greinke is gone, and they’ve topped 69 wins just twice since 2001. If anything the Royals stand out as one of the better “under” bets.
Seattle was the worst team in the league last season with just 61 wins and didn’t do much to upgrade the roster this offseason, but the offense going from historically awful to merely very bad would add a significant number of victories. It’s tough to see the Mariners being actual contenders, but 70-75 wins should be doable.
Without having put a ton of thought into this, I like the Yankees, Orioles, and Mariners the most for “over” and the Red Sox, Angels, and Royals the most for “under.”
Former Mets catcher Johnny Monell signed a contract with the KT Wiz of the Korea Baseball Organization, per a report by Chris Cotillo of SB Nation. The 30-year-old originally struck a deal with the NC Dinos on Thursday, but the deal appeared to fall through at the last minute, according to Cotillo’s unnamed source.
Monell last surfaced for the Mets during their 2015 run, batting a dismal .167/.231/.208 with two extra bases in 52 PA before the club DFA’d him to clear space for Bartolo Colon. While he’s had difficulty sticking at the major league level, he’s found a higher degree of success in the minor league circuit and holds a career .271 average over a decade of minor league play. He played exclusively in Triple-A Las Vegas during the 2016 season, slashing .276/.336/.470 with 19 home runs and a career-high 75 RBI in 461 PA.
The veteran backstop appears to be the second MLB player to join the KT Wiz roster this offseason, as right-hander Donn Roach also signed with the club last month on a one-year, $850,000 deal.
Brewers’ right-hander Phil Bickford received a 50-game suspension after testing positive for a drug of abuse, per the Los Angeles Times’ Bill Shaikin. This is the second time Bickford has been suspended for recreational drug use, as he was previously penalized in 2015 after testing positive for marijuana prior to the amateur draft.
Bickford was selected by the Giants in the first round of the 2015 draft and was later dealt to the Brewers for lefty reliever Will Smith at the 2016 trade deadline. He finished his 2016 campaign in High-A Brevard County, pitching to a 3.67 ERA, 10.0 K/9 rate and 5.0 BB/9 over 27 innings.
Two other suspensions were handed down on Friday, one to Toronto minor league right-hander Pedro Loficial for a positive test for metabolites of Stanozolol and one to Miami minor league outfielder Casey Soltis for a second positive test for drugs of abuse. Loficial will serve a 72-game suspension, while Soltis will serve 50 games. All three suspensions are due to start at the beginning of the 2017 season for each respective minor league team.
Brewers’ GM David Stearns issued a statement after the Commissioner’s Office announced Bickford’s suspension (via Vince Lara-Cinisomo of Baseball America):
We are very disappointed to learn of Phil’s suspension, but we fully support the Minor League Baseball Drug Prevention and Testing Program and its enforcement by the Commissioner’s Office. Phil understands he made a mistake, and we fully anticipate that he will learn from this experience.