Bookmaker.com has posted its initial over/under odds for regular season team wins. Here are the National League totals (for entertainment purposes only, of course):
Just about everyone would agree that the Phillies are clearly the class of the National League and probably enter the season as World Series favorites, but 97 wins is an exceptionally high baseline for even a great on-paper team. For example, the last NL team to win more than 97 games was the Cardinals in 2005 and a total of just six NL teams have topped 97 wins since 2000. Philadelphia is definitely capable of joining that group, but I’m not sure it makes sense to bet on it.
Colorado also stands out as a strong “under” bet at 87 wins considering they won 83 games last season and didn’t really make any significant offseason additions. Plus, it’s not as if Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki can be much better than they were in 2010. I’m also not sure I see why the Cubs have an over/under as high as 82 wins after going 75-87 last season. They should be better after adding Carlos Pena and Matt Garza, but it’s tough imagine them being much above .500.
Adrian Gonzalez is really good and San Diego came out of nowhere last season, but setting their over/under at 76 wins seems pretty low coming off a 90-win campaign. I’d be surprised if they aren’t at least around .500. Arizona also seems like a solid “over” bet at 72.5 wins, as their historically awful bullpen–much like Seattle’s historically inept lineup in the AL–almost can’t help but be much better, particularly if J.J. Putz stays healthy.
With the caveat that I haven’t exactly spent a lot of time breaking down projections and crunching numbers to come up with these opinions, I like the Padres, Diamondbacks, and Mets the most for “over” and the Phillies, Rockies, and Cubs the most for “under.”
Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reports that the Tigers are in discussions with free agent starter Jordan Zimmermann. His sources have told him that the talks have become “serious”.
Zimmermann, 29, has a career 3.32 ERA across parts of seven seasons in the majors. He finished fifth in National League Cy Young Award balloting in 2014, finishing with a 2.66 ERA and a 182/29 K/BB ratio over 199 2/3 innings.
Among starters who have amassed at least 1,000 innings since 2009, only Cliff Lee, Dan Haren, Madison Bumgarner, and Zack Greinke have compiled a better strikeout-to-walk ratio than Zimmermann’s 4.09. While he doesn’t have the star power of other free agents such as Greinke or David Price, the Tigers would certainly improve their rotation by bringing him on board.
Having already added Jesse Chavez and J.A. Happ to the mix and re-signing Marco Estrada early in the offseason, Blue Jays interim GM Tony LaCava said the team will continue to pursue pitching upgrades, as Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith reports. Nicholson-Smith added that LaCava declined to comment on free agent ace David Price. It is believed that the Jays will not pursue Price and other big-name free agent starting pitchers given their November activity.
The Jays re-signed Estrada to a two-year, $26 million deal on November 13, acquired Chavez from the Athletics in exchange for reliever Liam Hendriks on November 20 and signed Happ to a three-year, $36 million deal on Friday.
Nicholson-Smith notes in a column on Sportsnet that the Jays need to address the bullpen in particular. That is especially true after swapping Hendriks, who had a career-best 2.92 ERA out of the Jays’ bullpen in 2015, for a back-end starting pitcher.
Jon Heyman of CBS Sports spoke to an anonymous baseball executive, who said that Nationals closer Jonathan Papelbon is “untradeable”. The Nationals are hoping to trade both Papelbon and the man he displaced, Drew Storen.
Papelbon has a poor reputation in baseball, particularly after a dugout altercation with superstar outfielder Bryce Harper. Focusing strictly on what he does on the field, Papelbon still gets the job done. The 35-year-old finished the last season with a combined 2.13 ERA, 24 saves, and a 56/12 K/BB ratio over 63 1/3 innings between the Phillies and Nationals.
The Nationals owe Papelbon $11 million for the 2016 season.
Baseball America’s J.J. Cooper reports that corner infielder Mike Hessman has retired from professional baseball after 20 seasons. Hessman hit 433 home runs in the minor leagues, an all-time record. He broke Buzz Arlett’s record this past August and with style as #433 was a grand slam.
Hessman, 37, was selected in the 16th round of the 1996 draft by the Braves and remained with the organization through the 2004 season. He then went to the Tigers from 2005-09, the Mets in 2010, then drifted into the Astros and Reds’ farm systems before returning to the Tigers for the last two years.
Hessman took 250 plate appearances at the major league level, batting .188/.272/.422 with 14 home runs and 33 RBI.