Oracle of Delphi

And now, the HardballTalk staff predictions

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Our Springtime Storyline previews are the Official Previews of HardballTalk. But despite our little paragraphs entitled “So, how are they going to do?” their real value is in talking about the issues facing each team, not in providing predictions.

And, it should be noted, they are a collective product. For example, Aaron wrote up the AL Central and he and I may differ on the order in which the teams will finish. I wrote up the NL West and D.J. and Drew may think I’m full of beans.  Such is the nature of collaboration. And as such, I thought it would fun for each of us to provide a quick and dirty rundown of how we think things will end up come October.

For what it’s worth, there is nothing terribly radical here. My pick of the Cubs is unique. Drew’s prediction of the Yankees missing the playoffs is somewhat unconventional. D.J. feels more optimistic about the Athletics’ chances than any of us.

Anyway, as Casey Stengel said: “Never make predictions. Especially about the future.” So, you know, take this all with a grain of salt.

CRAIG CALCATERRA

AL East: Red Sox, Yankees (WC), Rays, Blue Jays, Orioles
AL Central: White Sox, Twins, Tigers, Indians, Royals
AL West: Rangers, Athletics, Angels, Mariners
NL East: Phillies, Braves (WC), Marlins, Mets, Nationals
NL Central: Cubs, Reds, Cardinals, Brewers, Astros, Pirates
NL West: Giants, Rockies, Dodgers, Padres, Diamondbacks

ALDS: Red Sox over White Sox and Yankees over Rangers
NLDS: Phillies over Cubs, Braves over Giants
ALCS: Red Sox over Yankees
NLCS: Phillies over Braves
World Series: Red Sox over Phillies

AARON GLEEMAN

AL East: Red Sox, Yankees (WC), Rays, Blue Jays, Orioles
AL Central: Twins, White Sox, Tigers, Indians, Royals
AL West: Rangers, Athletics, Angels, Mariners
NL East: Phillies, Braves (WC), Mets, Marlins, Nationals
NL Central: Reds, Brewers, Cardinals, Cubs, Pirates, Astros
NL West: Giants, Rockies, Dodgers, Diamondbacks, Padres

ALDS: Red Sox over Twins and Yankees over Rangers
NLDS: Phillies over Giants, Braves over Reds
ALCS: Red Sox over Yankees
NLCS: Phillies over Braves
World Series: Phillies over Red Sox

D.J. SHORT

AL East: Red Sox, Yankees (WC), Rays, Orioles, Blue Jays
AL Central: White Sox, Twins, Tigers, Indians, Royals
AL West: Athletics, Rangers, Angels, Mariners
NL East: Phillies, Braves (WC), Marlins, Mets, Nationals
NL Central: Brewers, Reds, Cubs, Cardinals, Astros, Pirates
NL West: Rockies, Giants, Dodgers, Padres, Diamondbacks

ALDS: Red Sox over Athletics and Yankees over White Sox
NLDS: Rockies over Phillies, Braves over Brewers
ALCS: Red Sox over Yankees
NLCS: Rockies over Braves
World Series: Red Sox over Rockies

DREW SILVA

AL East: Red Sox, Rays (WC), Yankees, Blue Jays, Orioles
AL Central: White Sox, Tigers, Twins, Indians, Royals
AL West: Rangers, Athletics, Angels, Mariners
NL East: Phillies, Braves (WC), Marlins, Mets, Nationals
NL Central: Brewers, Cardinals, Reds, Cubs, Astros, Pirates
NL West: Rockies, Dodgers, Giants, Padres, Diamondbacks

ALDS: Red Sox over Rangers, Rays over White Sox
NLDS: Phillies over Brewers, Braves over Rockies
ALCS: Red Sox over Rays
NLCS: Braves over Phillies
World Series: Red Sox over Braves

BOB HARKINS

AL East: Red Sox, Yankees (WC), Rays, Blue Jays, Orioles
AL Central: White Sox, Twins, Tigers, Indians, Royals
AL West: Rangers, Angels, Athletics, Mariners
NL East: Phillies, Braves, Marlins, Mets, Nationals
NL Central: Brewers, Reds, Cubs, Cardinals, Astros, Pirates
NL West: Rockies, Giants (WC), Dodgers, Padres, Diamondbacks

Shohei Otani may come to the United States after 2017

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Last week it was widely speculated that Shohei Otani, the highly-touted Japanese pitcher/designated hitter who stars for the Nippon Ham Fighters, would not come to the United States to play due to changes in the new Collective Bargaining Agreement. The upshot: the new CBA caps money available to international free agents under age 25 at $5-6 million and Otani, 22, would be worth way more than that, so why take the pay cut?

Now, however, Jeff Passan of Yahoo reports that the Fighters are set to post Shotei Otani following the 2017 season. Passan says that his sources have told him that there are potential ways around the limit on spending for under-25 players like Shohei Otani and he links a Japanese article from Sponichi which says the Fighters would post him after the 2017 season.

It’d be interesting to see what that loophole is. Without knowing the exact terms of the CBA on this score it’s impossible to know, but one possibility is that there are different rules applicable to those with professional experience in other countries as opposed to amateur free agents.

Whatever the case, the notion that we could see Otani in the U.S. at age 23 or 24 is pretty exciting.

Report: Phillies close to signing Joaquin Benoit

ANAHEIM, CA - SEPTEMBER 15:  Joaquin Benoit #53 of the Toronto Blue Jays pitches during the seventh inning of a game against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim  at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on September 15, 2016 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
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Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly reports that the Phillies are close to signing free agent reliever Joaquin Benoit. An announcement is expected before the winter meetings end on Thursday.

Benoit, 39, has quietly been among the better relievers in baseball over the past seven years. This past season with the Mariners and Blue Jays, the right-hander put up an aggregate 2.81 ERA with a 52/24 K/BB ratio in 48 innings. That included a 0.38 ERA in 23 2/3 innings after the Jays acquired him from the Mariners.

Benoit suffered a torn calf muscle during a benches-clearing brawl with the Yankees near the end of the regular season. He’s expected to be healthy for spring training.

The Phillies have now added three relievers this offseason with Benoit, Pat Neshek, and David Rollins.