Mike Oz

Author's details

Name: Mike Oz
Date registered: June 14, 2016
URL: http://sports.yahoo.com/mlb/blog/big_league_stew

Latest posts

  1. MLB season preview: The Nationals are all-in after a bold offseason — March 24, 2017
  2. MLB season preview: The Nationals are all-in after a bold offseason — March 24, 2017
  3. Opening 25-year-old baseball cards with Cubs pitcher Kyle Hendricks — March 24, 2017
  4. Take the test: Is that a real Minor League Baseball team or one we made up? — March 23, 2017
  5. We asked pros and fans at spring training: Who's your fantasy baseball sleeper? — March 22, 2017

Author's posts listings

MLB season preview: The Nationals are all-in after a bold offseason

With the arrival of baseball season we’re previewing each MLB team, from worst to best. We’ll look at their key offseason moves, projected lineup, best and worst possible outcomes, most pressing fantasy question courtesy of our friends at Roto Arcade plus a few other fun things. Our daily series continues with the Washington Nationals.

The last five years for the Washington Nationals have been long on hype and short on delivery.

On paper at least, the Nats look like they have a good chance to shed the title of underachievers and become champions. Their core is still solid, with Max Scherzer, Bryce Harper, Jayson Werth and Daniel Murphy. Trea Turner looks like a star in the making. And Tanner Roark took a big step forward last season.

[Sign up for Yahoo Fantasy Baseball: Get in the game and join a league today]

This offseason, though, they went bold and traded their top pitching prospect, Lucas Giolito, to the White Sox to get back Adam Eaton. It’s a very win-now move, because the Nats have become a win-now team — especially with Harper’s free-agency window approaching.

The lineup is deep, the rotation is solid but the Nats do have one big question that didn’t get solved in the offseason: Who’s their closer? Shawn Kelly looks like the default option, but not having a solid bullpen could make their world-series mission a bit tougher.

ADDITIONS & SUBTRACTIONS
Addtions: Adam Eaton, Matt Wieters, Adam Lind
Subtractions: Mark Melancon, Wilson Ramos, Lucas Giolito

There’s no doubt about it: The Nationals are going all-in. Every move the team made this winter was aimed at bringing home a World Series trophy. The underrated Adam Eaton was brought in for Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez. While both pitchers could have helped the team in the future, Eaton will make an impact immediately. The same can be said of Matt Wieters. The team didn’t even really need him, but took the plunge after he remained on the market much longer than anyone anticipated. Both players, and Adam Lind, give the team a formidable lineup that should wreak havoc on even the best opposing pitchers in a short playoff series. The loss of Melancon hurts, as the team doesn’t have an obvious replacement, but this is still an exceptionally talented club. (Chris Cwik)

Which Bryce Harper will we see in 2017? The Nats are hoping the 2015 version. (AP)
Which Bryce Harper will we see in 2017? The Nats are hoping the 2015 version. (AP)

KEY PLAYER
There’s just one player on the minds of Nationals fans everywhere, and that’s Bryce Harper. To say that Haper’s 2016 was tough would be an understatement. After winning the MVP and turning in an all-time great season in 2015, that version of Harper appeared to be in hiding. He hit .243/.373/.441 with 24 home runs, which just isn’t Harper-like. There were whispers of an injury throughout the season, which both Harper and the team vigorousy denied. But with a fresh year stretching out in front of him, he can start over. And the Nationals need him. They proved they could succeed while Harper struggled, but wouldn’t it be so much easier if Harper was at his best? (Liz Roscher)

PROJECTED LINEUP & ROTATION
Lineup
1. Trea Turner, SS (.342/.370/.567, 13 HR, 40 RBI, 53 R, 33 SB)
2. Adam Eaton, CF (.284/.362/.428, 14 HR, 59 RBI, 91 R)
3. Daniel Murphy, 2B (.347/.390/.595, 25 HR, 104 RBI, 88 R)
4. Bryce Harper, RF (.243/.373/.441, 24 HR, 86 RBI, 84 R, 21 SB)
5. Anthony Rendon, 3B (.270/.348/.450, 20 HR, 85 RBI, 91 R)
6. Jayson Werth, LF (.244/.335/.417, 21 HR, 69 RBI, 84 R)
7. Matt Wieters, C (.243/.302/.409, 17 HR, 66 RBI)
8. Ryan Zimmerman, 1B (.218/.272/.370, 15 HR, 46 RBI)

Rotation
1. Stephen Strasburg (15-4, 3.60 ERA, 147.2 IP, 183 K)
2. Tanner Roark (16-10, 2.83 ERA, 210 IP, 172 K)
3. Gio Gonzalez (11-11, 4.57 ERA, 177.2 IP, 171 K)
4. Joe Ross (7-5, 3.43 ERA, 105 IP, 93 K)
5. Max Scherzer (20-7, 2.96 ERA, 228.2 IP, 284 K)

Max Scherzer leads the Nats' rotation again, which ain't a bad thing. (AP)
Max Scherzer leads the Nats’ rotation again, which ain’t a bad thing. (AP)

BEST-CASE SCENARIO
This is the year it finally comes together. Coming off a 95-win season in 2016 the Nationals are positioned to equal or even top that number in 2017. They’re once again clear favorites to win the NL East. But it’s what they do in October that will define them. No one is doubting they have the talent to win the World Series, but it will be up to them to finally back it up. (Mark Townsend)

WORST-CASE SCENARIO
With a team that’s built to win right now, it feels like anything short of reaching and winning the World Series would be a disappointment. That feeling is strengthened by the fact that Washington has been in this same position for the last five years, but has continuously fallen short. With a championship window that could slam shut in a couple years, it’s getting to be now or never. (Townsend)

PRESSING FANTASY QUESTION
If you had to pick a closer from the Nationals current options, who would it be?
Yikes. I’ll take Shawn Kelley, I suppose. And keep an eye on flame-throwing 23-year-old Koda Glover. But really, it’s hard to believe this team won’t deal for a battle-tested ninth inning option — possibly David Robertson, or perhaps Alex Colome.

[Elsewhere: Read more pressing fantasy questions about the Nationals]

The Nats chased the brand-name free agent closers back in December, but they missed on all targets. It’s an obvious area of need, and not particularly difficult to address via trade.

BEST FOLLOW
The Nats have a number of good follows, like Adam Eaton, Gio Gonzalez and Max Scherzer. But there’s really one guy that’s essential. And that’s Bryce Harper.

Flipping the switch! Light em up #BH34

A post shared by Bryce Harper (@bharper3407) on Mar 4, 2017 at 4:28am PST

He will show you bat flips and workout videos and teammate pictures. Bryce Harper loves baseball, and he wants you to love it, too. (Roscher)

BEST REASON TO ATTEND A GAME
If it’s your first time visiting D.C., make sure you do some sightseeing. The National Mall is just a five-minute drive from Nationals Park, so you can check out all the usual landmarks with plenty of time to make it to the game.

In recent years, the area surrounding the ballpark has changed dramatically. There are now a ton of restaurants, bars and shops within walking distance. If you want a nice pregame meal, or just want a few drinks before or after the game, you’ll have plenty of options. (Cwik)

Previously in this series: San Diego Padres, Cincinnati Reds, Philadelphia Phillies, Oakland Athletics, Milwaukee Brewers, Los Angeles Angels, Atlanta Braves, Minnesota Twins, Arizona Diamondbacks, Chicago White Sox, Tampa Bay Rays, New York Yankees, Baltimore Orioles, Kansas City Royals, Detroit Tigers, Colorado Rockies, Pittsburgh Pirates, St. Louis Cardinals, Toronto Blue Jays, Texas Rangers, Washington Nationals, Houston Astros,

More MLB coverage from Yahoo Sports:

– – – – – –

Mike Oz is the editor of Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at mikeozstew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

Permanent link to this article: https://sports.yahoo.com/news/mlb-season-preview-the-nationals-are-all-in-after-a-bold-offseason-230309310.html

MLB season preview: The Nationals are all-in after a bold offseason

With the arrival of baseball season we’re previewing each MLB team, from worst to best. We’ll look at their key offseason moves, projected lineup, best and worst possible outcomes, most pressing fantasy question courtesy of our friends at Roto Arcade plus a few other fun things. Our daily series continues with the Washington Nationals.

The last five years for the Washington Nationals have been long on hype and short on delivery.

On paper at least, the Nats look like they have a good chance to shed the title of underachievers and become champions. Their core is still solid, with Max Scherzer, Bryce Harper, Jayson Werth and Daniel Murphy. Trea Turner looks like a star in the making. And Tanner Roark took a big step forward last season.

[Sign up for Yahoo Fantasy Baseball: Get in the game and join a league today]

This offseason, though, they went bold and traded their top pitching prospect, Lucas Giolito, to the White Sox to get back Adam Eaton. It’s a very win-now move, because the Nats have become a win-now team — especially with Harper’s free-agency window approaching.

The lineup is deep, the rotation is solid but the Nats do have one big question that didn’t get solved in the offseason: Who’s their closer? Shawn Kelly looks like the default option, but not having a solid bullpen could make their world-series mission a bit tougher.

ADDITIONS & SUBTRACTIONS
Addtions: Adam Eaton, Matt Wieters, Adam Lind
Subtractions: Mark Melancon, Wilson Ramos, Lucas Giolito

There’s no doubt about it: The Nationals are going all-in. Every move the team made this winter was aimed at bringing home a World Series trophy. The underrated Adam Eaton was brought in for Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez. While both pitchers could have helped the team in the future, Eaton will make an impact immediately. The same can be said of Matt Wieters. The team didn’t even really need him, but took the plunge after he remained on the market much longer than anyone anticipated. Both players, and Adam Lind, give the team a formidable lineup that should wreak havoc on even the best opposing pitchers in a short playoff series. The loss of Melancon hurts, as the team doesn’t have an obvious replacement, but this is still an exceptionally talented club. (Chris Cwik)

Which Bryce Harper will we see in 2017? The Nats are hoping the 2015 version. (AP)
Which Bryce Harper will we see in 2017? The Nats are hoping the 2015 version. (AP)

KEY PLAYER
There’s just one player on the minds of Nationals fans everywhere, and that’s Bryce Harper. To say that Haper’s 2016 was tough would be an understatement. After winning the MVP and turning in an all-time great season in 2015, that version of Harper appeared to be in hiding. He hit .243/.373/.441 with 24 home runs, which just isn’t Harper-like. There were whispers of an injury throughout the season, which both Harper and the team vigorousy denied. But with a fresh year stretching out in front of him, he can start over. And the Nationals need him. They proved they could succeed while Harper struggled, but wouldn’t it be so much easier if Harper was at his best? (Liz Roscher)

PROJECTED LINEUP & ROTATION
Lineup
1. Trea Turner, SS (.342/.370/.567, 13 HR, 40 RBI, 53 R, 33 SB)
2. Adam Eaton, CF (.284/.362/.428, 14 HR, 59 RBI, 91 R)
3. Daniel Murphy, 2B (.347/.390/.595, 25 HR, 104 RBI, 88 R)
4. Bryce Harper, RF (.243/.373/.441, 24 HR, 86 RBI, 84 R, 21 SB)
5. Anthony Rendon, 3B (.270/.348/.450, 20 HR, 85 RBI, 91 R)
6. Jayson Werth, LF (.244/.335/.417, 21 HR, 69 RBI, 84 R)
7. Matt Wieters, C (.243/.302/.409, 17 HR, 66 RBI)
8. Ryan Zimmerman, 1B (.218/.272/.370, 15 HR, 46 RBI)

Rotation
1. Stephen Strasburg (15-4, 3.60 ERA, 147.2 IP, 183 K)
2. Tanner Roark (16-10, 2.83 ERA, 210 IP, 172 K)
3. Gio Gonzalez (11-11, 4.57 ERA, 177.2 IP, 171 K)
4. Joe Ross (7-5, 3.43 ERA, 105 IP, 93 K)
5. Max Scherzer (20-7, 2.96 ERA, 228.2 IP, 284 K)

Max Scherzer leads the Nats' rotation again, which ain't a bad thing. (AP)
Max Scherzer leads the Nats’ rotation again, which ain’t a bad thing. (AP)

BEST-CASE SCENARIO
This is the year it finally comes together. Coming off a 95-win season in 2016 the Nationals are positioned to equal or even top that number in 2017. They’re once again clear favorites to win the NL East. But it’s what they do in October that will define them. No one is doubting they have the talent to win the World Series, but it will be up to them to finally back it up. (Mark Townsend)

WORST-CASE SCENARIO
With a team that’s built to win right now, it feels like anything short of reaching and winning the World Series would be a disappointment. That feeling is strengthened by the fact that Washington has been in this same position for the last five years, but has continuously fallen short. With a championship window that could slam shut in a couple years, it’s getting to be now or never. (Townsend)

PRESSING FANTASY QUESTION
If you had to pick a closer from the Nationals current options, who would it be?
Yikes. I’ll take Shawn Kelley, I suppose. And keep an eye on flame-throwing 23-year-old Koda Glover. But really, it’s hard to believe this team won’t deal for a battle-tested ninth inning option — possibly David Robertson, or perhaps Alex Colome.

[Elsewhere: Read more pressing fantasy questions about the Nationals]

The Nats chased the brand-name free agent closers back in December, but they missed on all targets. It’s an obvious area of need, and not particularly difficult to address via trade.

BEST FOLLOW
The Nats have a number of good follows, like Adam Eaton, Gio Gonzalez and Max Scherzer. But there’s really one guy that’s essential. And that’s Bryce Harper.

Flipping the switch! Light em up #BH34

A post shared by Bryce Harper (@bharper3407) on Mar 4, 2017 at 4:28am PST

He will show you bat flips and workout videos and teammate pictures. Bryce Harper loves baseball, and he wants you to love it, too. (Roscher)

BEST REASON TO ATTEND A GAME
If it’s your first time visiting D.C., make sure you do some sightseeing. The National Mall is just a five-minute drive from Nationals Park, so you can check out all the usual landmarks with plenty of time to make it to the game.

In recent years, the area surrounding the ballpark has changed dramatically. There are now a ton of restaurants, bars and shops within walking distance. If you want a nice pregame meal, or just want a few drinks before or after the game, you’ll have plenty of options. (Cwik)

Previously in this series: San Diego Padres, Cincinnati Reds, Philadelphia Phillies, Oakland Athletics, Milwaukee Brewers, Los Angeles Angels, Atlanta Braves, Minnesota Twins, Arizona Diamondbacks, Chicago White Sox, Tampa Bay Rays, New York Yankees, Baltimore Orioles, Kansas City Royals, Detroit Tigers, Colorado Rockies, Pittsburgh Pirates, St. Louis Cardinals, Toronto Blue Jays, Texas Rangers, Washington Nationals, Houston Astros,

More MLB coverage from Yahoo Sports:

– – – – – –

Mike Oz is the editor of Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at mikeozstew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

Permanent link to this article: https://sports.yahoo.com/news/mlb-season-preview-the-nationals-are-all-in-after-a-bold-offseason-230309310.html

Opening 25-year-old baseball cards with Cubs pitcher Kyle Hendricks

The reason I collected baseball cards as a kid was because of Jose Canseco and those 1986 rookie cards. When my grandma and I would open up packs that first year I fell in love with baseball, it’s what we were looking for.

[Sign up for Yahoo Fantasy Baseball: Get in the game and join a league today]

So when Chicago Cubs pitcher Kyle Hendricks guested on this week’s episode of 25-Year-Old Baseball Cards and pulled a Canseco from a pack of 1992 Topps, it took me back. Getting a Canseco card in 2017 isn’t exactly as cool as it was in 1986, but one of the reasons I love doing this video series is for the nostalgia. So yes, I’ll chase Cansecos like I did when I was 6.

Swinging a trade for that Canseco would be a challenge. Hendricks — who finished third in the NL Cy Young voting last season — is a smart dude. He went to Dartmouth and he’s nicknamed “The Professor.” So watch this week’s episode and see whether I could pull off a deal. Along the way, we find a former Cubs coach and manager, a very, very young looking future star and a Cubs pitcher will some fly glasses.

Kyle Hendricks opening old Topps cards from 1992. (Yahoo Sports)
Kyle Hendricks opening old Topps cards from 1992. (Yahoo Sports)

If you’re new to this series, here’s the deal: My grandma kept all these old baseball cards, unopened, from when she and I used to collect. Now that they’re basically worthless, I open them with baseball players and managers and other people around the game. If you dig this, check out some of our past episodes.

PREVIOUSLY IN THIS SERIES:
Eric Davis
Joe Maddon
Todd Coffey
Cliff Floyd
• Clint Hurdle
Dan Plesac
Dusty Baker
Bruce Bochy
Aaron Boone
• Clayton Kershaw
Buck Showalter
Frank Thomas
• Alex Rodriguez
• Scott Boras
• Bobby Bonilla
• Joel McHale
• Adam Eaton
• Rajai Davis
• Brad Ziegler and Tyler Clippard
• Ken Kendrick
• Jeff Passan

More MLB coverage from Yahoo Sports:

– – – – – –

Mike Oz is the editor of Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at mikeozstew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

Permanent link to this article: http://sports.yahoo.com/news/opening-25-year-old-baseball-cards-with-cubs-pitcher-kyle-hendricks-191138146.html

Take the test: Is that a real Minor League Baseball team or one we made up?

It’s not at all an exaggeration to say that there are some strange team names in Minor League Baseball these days. Between last baseball season and the one that’s about to start, the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp, New Orleans Baby Cakes, the Binghamton Rumble Ponies and the Fond Du Lac Dock Spiders all became baseball teams.

[Sign up for Yahoo Fantasy Baseball: Get in the game and join a league today]

Yes, I promise you, those are real teams. But they could have just as easily been fake. And that’s the basis behind a game we played recently at spring training in Arizona: Is that a real minor-league team or a fake one?

Which ones are real? Which ones are fake? (Yahoo Sports)
Which ones are real? Which ones are fake? (Yahoo Sports)

I ventured around spring training parks with the trusty Yahoo Sports video crew rattling off a bunch of team names and asking fans if they’re real or fake. Half the names were real, half I made up on my flight to Arizona — like the Albuquerque Heisenbergs, the Lansing Lasagnas and the Carson City Chinchilla.

As you can imagine, this game became a lot of fun. Watch the entire video above and see how many you can get right. If you’ve read this far, you already know a few answers.

More MLB coverage from Yahoo Sports:

– – – – – –

Mike Oz is the editor of Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at mikeozstew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

Permanent link to this article: https://sports.yahoo.com/news/take-the-test-is-that-a-real-minor-league-baseball-team-or-one-we-made-up-185710998.html

We asked pros and fans at spring training: Who's your fantasy baseball sleeper?

It’s that time of the year when people are poring over rankings and spreadsheets to get ready for their fantasy baseball drafts. You might even have one this weekend. If you need one, might as well click that handy link directly below this sentence.

[Sign up for Yahoo Fantasy Baseball: Get in the game and join a league today]

Anybody who’s played in a fantasy league knows you can’t have a draft without having a list of sleepers — either queued up in your head or jotted down somewhere. So when we hit Major League Baseball spring training in Arizona we wanted to know, from actual baseball players, who’s going to be a great fantasy baseball sleeper in 2017?

One of these guys is not a fantasy sleeper. (Yahoo Sports)
One of these guys is not a fantasy sleeper. (Yahoo Sports)

We asked Kris Bryant and Javy Baez of the Chicago Cubs, Dan Otero of the Indians and, for good measure, we asked some fans, because they also know what’s up. One thing you’ll notice: Their definition of a “sleeper” might not be the same as a fantasy expert. But that’s OK.

If your draft is this weekend, you’d still be wise to consult a sleeper list and rankings from Yahoo Sports’ fantasy experts. But it’s probably not a bad idea to listen to Kris Bryant either.

Now go sign up for fantasy baseball if you haven’t yet.

More MLB coverage from Yahoo Sports:

– – – – – –

Mike Oz is the editor of Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at mikeozstew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

Permanent link to this article: https://sports.yahoo.com/news/who-asked-pros-and-fans-at-spring-training-whos-your-fantasy-baseball-sleeper-232514752.html

Dallas Green, boisterous baseball lifer who led Phillies to 1980 title, dead at 82

Dallas Green won a World Series with the Phillies in 1980. (Getty Images)
Dallas Green (R) won a World Series with the Phillies in 1980. (Getty Images)

Anybody who knew Dallas Green would tell you, he was a man with opinions. And he was a man who didn’t hold back those opinions. As an MLB manager, that meant sometimes he clashed with players who didn’t like his old-school style. As an executive later, that meant occasionally he’d clash with his peers, for mostly the same reason.

But anybody who knew Dallas Green would also tell you this: they loved him. And he loved baseball. He was a lifer, who brought a championship to the Philadelphia Phillies as a manager, who helped rebuild the Cubs in the mid-’80s and traded for Ryne Sandberg as a general manager. He also played a few years with the Phillies, Mets and Senators before that. He worked in the Phillies front office on more than one occasion. He managed the Mets and Yankees at other points of his career. But he was always around baseball.

Until Wednesday, that is. Green died at age 82. He’d been fighting kidney disease.

Dallas Green, circa 1981. (AP)
Dallas Green, circa 1981. (AP)

Depending on the team for whom you root, Green will either be remembered as the man who made the 1980 Phillies realize their potential and win a World Series or the GM who built the Cubs into division winners in 1984 and whose groundwork enabled them to win it again in 1989.

That Phillies team was probably his most combustible. He was installed as manager for one reason: The front office thought those talented Phillies needed to toughen up and they thought Green was the man to do the toughening. They won the World Series in his first year.

From Bill Lyon at Philly.com:

In the Bill James Guide to Baseball Managers, Dallas Green was voted the most controversial skipper of the 1980s, with this trenchant assessment: “Dallas Green was the last of the hard-ass managers, surviving from the pre-free agency era.”

It is generally agreed that without Green lashing them on, the 1980 Phillies would not have brought the franchise its very first championship. His peel-the-paint-off-the-walls tirades rallied them and unified them, lit that fire in the belly he was always talking about.

And when it was over, Green waded into the champagne-soaked bedlam of the champions’ locker room and sought out each player and bestowed bear hugs and tear-streaked thank-yous. He knew exactly how much this meant, for the city and the fans and his players.

Green never changed, not when it came to baseball and building baseball teams. He clashed with people, sure, but didn’t harbor grudges and admitted when he was wrong. Like this story from CSN Philly’s Jim Salisbury:

He ended up back with the club in 1998 as a front office adviser. He remained outspoken, clashing with Scott Rolen and Charlie Manuel. But one of the things about Dallas was that he spoke his mind, said what he had to say, and the next day it was over. After he and Manuel had clashed over Manuel’s managing style, the two men talked out their differences. Green admitted that he was wrong, that he saw the merits of Manuel’s managerial style, and a wonderful friendship developed between the only two men to lead the Phillies to a World Series championship.

Green had a famous quote that a lot of stories about him will mention now that he’s passed: “I’m a screamer, a yeller and a cusser. I never hold back,” Green said.

That’s true. And baseball was better for it.

In recent years, Green was in the news for the most tragic of reasons: His granddaughter Christina was killed in the 2011 shooting that also injured Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. She was 9.

“They say time heals,” Green told the New York Times in 2013. “Time, I don’t think, will ever heal that part of my life. I still tear up when I see something that reminds me of Christina.”

More MLB coverage from Yahoo Sports:

– – – – – –

Mike Oz is the editor of Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at mikeozstew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

Permanent link to this article: http://sports.yahoo.com/news/dallas-green-boisterous-baseball-lifer-who-led-phillies-to-1980-title-dead-at-82-215441509.html

MLB season preview: The Rangers are within reach of that elusive World Series win

With the arrival of baseball season we’re previewing each MLB team, from worst to best. We’ll look at their key offseason moves, projected lineup, best and worst possible outcomes, most pressing fantasy question courtesy of our friends at Roto Arcade plus a few other fun things. Our daily series continues with the Texas Rangers.

The Texas Rangers enter 2017 with one goal and it’s the same goal they’ve had for years, the same goal that’s been lingering since that disappointing 2010 World Series loss to the Giants.

The Rangers want to win it all. They never have, like ever. And if 2017 is going to be the year, the Rangers aren’t in a bad place. They return a team that has won its division the past two seasons, that has two great pitchers atop its rotation and a lineup that is a potent mix of exciting young players and established veterans.

[Sign up for Yahoo Fantasy Baseball: Get in the game and join a league today]

There are all the makings of a World Series team here, but there’s also a big hump that they haven’t been able to get over. The Rangers have lost in the American League Division Series the last two years, both times to the Toronto Blue Jays. Last year, they were swept out of the postseason despite winning the most games in baseball.

To help ease the sting of that, Rangers made some low-cost, high-reward additions this offseason. If Andrew Cashner or Tyson Ross can finally realize their potential, or if Jurickson Profar has a big breakout season, the Rangers could be in a really good place. It’s important to remember, though, the Houston Astros are good too, so winning a third straight AL West title won’t come easy.

ADDITIONS & SUBTRACTIONS
Additions: Andrew Cashner, Mike Napoli, Tyson Ross
Subtractions: Carlos Beltran, Ian Desmond, Mitch Moreland

After winning 95 games in 2016, the Rangers mostly stood pat in the offseason. Andrew Cashner comes over from Miami looking for a bounce back season, while Mike Napoli looks to begin his third stint with the team. Napoli experienced a resurgence with the Indians last year, and is hoping to carry that over in Texas despite his age.

The losses here are more significant. Ian Desmond capitalized on his one-year, buy-low deal and took off to Colorado. Carlos Beltran also departed after being a hired playoff mercenary. While both losses will hurt, the Rangers are still well-positioned in the division. Some combination of Shin-Soo Choo, Joey Gallo, Jurickson Profar and Napoli should replace those players. The lineup will look different, but should still be pretty strong. (Chris Cwik)

The Rangers are hoping Yu Darvish is back to his ace self after Tommy John surgery. (Getty Images)
The Rangers are hoping Yu Darvish is back to his ace self after Tommy John surgery. (Getty Images)

KEY PLAYER
Yu Darvish is a very good pitcher. But he only has the chance to be a very good pitcher when he’s healthy. And that’s the problem. Darvish started the season on the DL after missing the entirety of 2015 recovering from Tommy John surgery, and would spend even more time out of commission with a back injury. He needs to turn in a healthy 2017, because the Rangers rotation can’t handle a lot of injuries. But also because when Darvish is healthy, he’s so, so good. Despite his injuries limiting him to just 100 innings last, he lowered his walk rate and increased his strikeout rate. That is the Darvish the Rangers need. They just need it over a full season. (Liz Roscher)

PROJECTED LINEUP & ROTATION
Lineup
1. Carlos Gomez, CF (.231/.298/.384, 13 HR, 53 RBI, 18 SB)
2. Shin-Soo Choo, DH (.242/.357/.399, 7 HR, 17 RBI)
3. Adrian Beltre, 3B (.300/.358/.521, 32 HR, 104 RBI, 89 R)
4. Mike Napoli, 1B (.239/.335/.465, 34 RBI, 101 RBI, 92 R)
5. Rougned Odor, 2B (.271/.296/.502, 33 HR, 88 RBI, 89 R, 14 SB)
6. Jonathan Lucroy, C (.292/.355/.500, 24 HR, 81 RBI)
7. Nomar Mazara, RF (.266/.320/.419, 20 HR, 64 RBI)
8. Elvis Andrus, SS (.302/.362/.439, 8 HR, 69 RBI, 75 R)
9. Jurickson Profar, LF (.239/.321/.338, 5 HR, 20 RBI)

Rotation
1. Cole Hamels (15-5, 3.32 ERA, 200.2 IP, 200 K)
2. Yu Darvish (7-5. 3.41 ERA, 100.1 IP, 132 K)
3. Martin Perez (10-11, 4.39 ERA, 198.2 IP, 103 K)
4. A.J. Griffin (7-4, 5.07 ERA, 119 IP, 107 K)
5. Dillon Gee (8-9, 4.68 ERA, 125 IP, 89 K)

Adrian Beltre is Mr. Dependable for the Rangers. (Getty Images)
Adrian Beltre is Mr. Dependable for the Rangers. (Getty Images)

BEST-CASE SCENARIO
A third-straight AL West title is a very reasonable expectation. The Rangers have strengths in every area. The lineup is loaded from top to bottom. The starting rotation has two aces. The bullpen is well stocked, and there’s plenty of experience here too. Honestly, it would not be surprising to see this team representing the American League in the World Series. (Mark Townsend)

WORST-CASE SCENARIO
No team knows the impact of injuries more than the Rangers. They’ve had a couple recent seasons derailed by the loss of key players, and that’s the main hurdle standing in the way this season too. They could survive a couple losses, maybe, but if the injuries pile up then all bets are off. (Townsend)

PRESSING FANTASY QUESTION
Who is Carlos Gomez entering his age-31 season?
Not every baseball player will produce a linear career shape, but in the case of Gomez, we’re talking about a butterfly’s route, an erratic graph. In Gomez’s early 20s, he couldn’t hit a lick. In his mid-to-later 20s, he matured into an All-Star, and a dynamic offensive player. A 2015 slump was taken in stride by most of the fantasy community, but then Gomez completely bottomed out in 2016, with the Astros designating him for assignment in August.

Ah, but perhaps Gomez got his career back on track with the Rangers. Gomez posted a .284/.362/.543 line with his new club, with eight homers and five steals over 33 games. Pro-rate that pace to a full season and we’re looking at a star again. Gomez is never going to be a plate-discipline king, but his contact rate spiked nicely in his new city.

[Elsewhere: Read more pressing fantasy questions about the Rangers]

Gomez reportedly had multi-year offers on the table in the offseason, but he decided to take a prove-it one-year deal with Texas. Gomez and agent Scott Boras are gambling for a return to stardom, then a cash windfall 10 months from now. Gomez’s game was especially fun at Globe Life Park — or whatever they’re calling the Ballpark at Arlington today — where he posted an .877 OPS and seven homers and five steals over 28 games. Mash it all up and Go-Go offers an intriguing upside around his current ADP of 153. (Scott Pianowski)

BEST FOLLOW
Ever since the World Baseball Classic started, former Ranger Michael Young has been serving up opinions hot and fresh. Here he is talking about Dominican Republic manager Tony Pena getting tossed from a game.

He also has opinions on football, movies, little league, his former teammates, and everything under the sun. (Roscher)

BEST REASON TO ATTEND A GAME
If you’re making the trip to Arlington, you might as well try and glimpse AT&T Stadium. The Cowboys’ monstrous venue contains the largest video board in any stadium. They offer tours and are just four minutes away from Globe Life Park.

If you want a truly exhilarating day, you can always head to Six Flags over Texas prior to a night game. Ride some roller coasters and eat some funnel cake before experiencing the ups and downs of a major-league baseball while … eating some more funnel cake.

Finally, if you’re a big fan of bowling, you can always go to the International Bowling Museum & Hall of Fame. You can work on your heckling abilities by watching video of bowling great Pete Weber. (Cwik)

Previously in this series: San Diego Padres, Cincinnati Reds, Philadelphia Phillies, Oakland Athletics, Milwaukee Brewers, Los Angeles Angels, Atlanta Braves, Minnesota Twins, Arizona Diamondbacks, Chicago White Sox, Tampa Bay Rays, New York Yankees, Baltimore Orioles, Kansas City Royals, Detroit Tigers, Colorado Rockies, Pittsburgh Pirates, St. Louis Cardinals, Toronto Blue Jays

More MLB coverage from Yahoo Sports:

– – – – – –

Mike Oz is the editor of Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at mikeozstew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

Permanent link to this article: http://sports.yahoo.com/news/mlb-season-preview-the-rangers-are-within-reach-of-that-elusive-world-series-win-225023290.html

Jerry Krause: Basketball is his legacy, but his heart belonged to baseball

Jerry Krause at a pre-draft camp in 1995 as Bulls GM. (AP)
Jerry Krause at a pre-draft camp in 1995 as Bulls GM. (AP)

Jerry Krause will be remembered, rightfully, for basketball — for turning turn the Chicago Bulls into a dynasty, for all for those rings.

Krause died Tuesday. He was 77 years old. He spent more than 50 of those years working in pro sports. Basketball is his legacy, there’s no doubt about it. But his heart, Krause would have told you, belonged to baseball.

Before he got the offer from owner Jerry Reinsdorf to become general manager of the Bulls in 1985, Krause worked for the Chicago White Sox as a scout for six years. Prior to that, he’d worked for the Seattle Mariners and Oakland Athletics, who won three titles in 1972-1974 when Krause was in the organization. Don’t say Krause was anything but a winner.

[Elsewhere: Jerry Krause, architect of six Chicago Bulls championships, dies at 77]

At one point is his career, Krause spent 12 years scouting both baseball and basketball players in the same year. In the years that followed, he’d go on sale that while he enjoyed being a general manager and winning titles, he loves scouting more.

So Krause returned to baseball scouting after raising all those championship banners with the Bulls. He was scouting for the Mets and Yankees after his NBA run, then returned to the White Sox, where he was named their scout of the year for 2010.

At the time he told the Chicago Tribune:

“This game is where my heart is. Always will be.”

Krause then jumped over to the Arizona Diamondbacks, where was named a special assistant to the general manager. He spent four seasons there, with an emphasis on scouting. He told the Chicago Tribune in 2016 that osteomyelitis, a bone infection, would keep him away from scouting that year and it was the first time since 1961 he wasn’t employed by a baseball or basketball team.

“Would I still be scouting if I was healthy? Yep. Would it be stupid to still be scouting at my age? Probably,” Krause said. “But scouting is still fun. I just can’t do it anymore.”

Once a scout, always a scout.

More MLB coverage from Yahoo Sports:

– – – – – –

Mike Oz is the editor of Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at mikeozstew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

Permanent link to this article: https://sports.yahoo.com/news/jerry-krause-basketball-is-his-legacy-but-his-heart-belonged-to-baseball-201405829.html

Jerry Krause: Basketball is his legacy, but his heart belonged to baseball

Jerry Krause at a pre-draft camp in 1995 as Bulls GM. (AP)
Jerry Krause at a pre-draft camp in 1995 as Bulls GM. (AP)

Jerry Krause will be remembered, rightfully, for basketball — for turning turn the Chicago Bulls into a dynasty, for all for those rings.

Krause died Tuesday. He was 77 years old. He spent more than 50 of those years working in pro sports. Basketball is his legacy, there’s no doubt about it. But his heart, Krause would have told you, belonged to baseball.

Before he got the offer from owner Jerry Reinsdorf to become general manager of the Bulls in 1985, Krause worked for the Chicago White Sox as a scout for six years. Prior to that, he’d worked for the Seattle Mariners and Oakland Athletics, who won three titles in 1972-1974 when Krause was in the organization. Don’t say Krause was anything but a winner.

[Elsewhere: Jerry Krause, architect of six Chicago Bulls championships, dies at 77]

At one point is his career, Krause spent 12 years scouting both baseball and basketball players in the same year. In the years that followed, he’d go on sale that while he enjoyed being a general manager and winning titles, he loves scouting more.

So Krause returned to baseball scouting after raising all those championship banners with the Bulls. He was scouting for the Mets and Yankees after his NBA run, then returned to the White Sox, where he was named their scout of the year for 2010.

At the time he told the Chicago Tribune:

“This game is where my heart is. Always will be.”

Krause then jumped over to the Arizona Diamondbacks, where was named a special assistant to the general manager. He spent four seasons there, with an emphasis on scouting. He told the Chicago Tribune in 2016 that osteomyelitis, a bone infection, would keep him away from scouting that year and it was the first time since 1961 he wasn’t employed by a baseball or basketball team.

“Would I still be scouting if I was healthy? Yep. Would it be stupid to still be scouting at my age? Probably,” Krause said. “But scouting is still fun. I just can’t do it anymore.”

Once a scout, always a scout.

More MLB coverage from Yahoo Sports:

– – – – – –

Mike Oz is the editor of Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at mikeozstew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

Permanent link to this article: http://sports.yahoo.com/news/jerry-krause-basketball-is-his-legacy-but-his-heart-belonged-to-baseball-201405829.html

Puerto Rico advances to World Baseball Classic finals with walk-off win

Puerto Rico is heading back to the WBC finals. (AP)
Puerto Rico is heading back to the WBC finals. (AP)

It was thrilling, it was dramatic and it took extra innings, but now Puerto Rico is back in the finals of the World Baseball Classic, one win away from being a beached-blond team of young MLB stars that ran the table.

Puerto Rico beat the Netherlands 4-3 on Monday night, in a semifinal game that went to international tiebreaker rules. That means, in the 11th inning, the teams started with runners at first and second each inning. It’s unusual to MLB audiences, but it sure shakes things up and tweaks strategies.

It worked perfectly in Puerto’s Rico favor. In the top of the 11th, an inning-ending double play kept Netherlands off the scoreboard, then the Puerto Rico came up just needing a base hit to win the game. After a sacrifice bunt and an intentional walk, all Puerto Rico actually needed was a sac fly. It came off the bat of Twins outfielder Eddie Rosario and Carlos Correa raced home as the winning run.

[Sign up for Yahoo Fantasy Baseball: Get in the game and join a league today]

Now Puerto Rico moves onto the WBC finals, which will be held Wednesday at Dodger Stadium. Team USA and Japan play Tuesday for the other spot in the finals. Japan hasn’t lost a game in the tournament and is a two-time WBC champion. The U.S. is 4-2 after surviving two tough rounds of round robin play.

Puerto Rico made it to the finals in the 2013 WBC, but lost 3-0 to the Dominican Republic in the finals. This time around, fueled by young stars Correa, Javier Baez, Francisco Lindor plus vets Yadier Molina and Carlos Beltran, the Puerto Ricans haven’t lost a game.

Monday night’s semifinal was a game that started with a bang and was accented throughout the night by great highlights. The Netherlands struck first, as Wladimir Balentien hit a huge two-run homer in the first inning. He flipped his bat, pounded his chest and celebrated like he’d just won the game. That was a testament to how hype the Dutch was for the game.

In the bottom half of the inning, Correa answered with a two-run homer of his own, tying the game and making the Puerto Rico players run off the bench like it was the ninth inning for them too.

Puerto Rico went ahead on a T.J. Rivera homer in the second — and the offense dried up for a bit. That was until the fifth inning, when Shawn Zarraga brought home Balentien with a double off the wall to tie the game. Netherlands tried to plate the go-ahead run, but the Puerto Rican team pulled off an incredibly precise relay to nail Jonathan Schoop at the plate.

That’s a good example of what Puerto Rico can do at its best. Soon enough we’ll find out if its best is good enough to knock off either Japan or Team USA.

More MLB coverage from Yahoo Sports:

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Mike Oz is the editor of Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at mikeozstew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

Permanent link to this article: http://sports.yahoo.com/news/puerto-rico-advances-to-world-baseball-classic-finals-with-walk-off-win-053428571.html

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