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The Texas Rangers’ Outfield Has a Ton of Questions With 2017 on the Horizon

If the general premise of this sounds familiar, it’s because we’ve talked about this before.

On the heels of the Texas Rangers returning to the playoffs in 2015, I noticed they had similar roster uncertainties in advance of 2016. All they did once Opening Day rolled around was win the American League West with ease by posting an AL-best 95-67 record.

While they proved to be masters of winning one-run games, having just a +10 run differential made some wonder if they’d be able to hang in the playoffs. And before there was an answer, they were packing up for the winter after getting swept by the Toronto Blue Jays in the ALDS.

The 2017 season is fast approaching, and the AL West will be interesting to follow. After all, Seattle Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto won’t stop making trades and the Houston Astros are doing whatever they can to make Sports Illustrated look like a bunch of geniuses.

The Rangers still have some roster questions to answer ahead of Spring Training — like, is this Mike Napoli reunion happening or not? — but one area that’s set is the outfield.

Texas will go to battle with 21-year-old Nomar Mazara in left, Carlos Gomez in center and Shin-Soo Choo manning right. This looks good on paper, but it’s far from a sure thing judging from each player’s recent history.

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Ryan Dull’s record streak ended Saturday

On Saturday Oakland A’s reliever Ryan Dull saw his streak of not allowing an inherited runner to score end at a record setting 36 runners. 

Starter Kendall Graveman had pitched eight beautiful innings but found himself in a bit of trouble in the bottom of the ninth Saturday, when he allowed back to back singles to the Houston Astros’ Jake Marisnick and Marwin Gonzalez. He was relieved by Dull, obviously a pitcher used to entering the game to help other pitchers out of their jams.

Jose Altuve then grounded out to Tyler Ladendorf who tossed the ball to second baseman Jed Lowrie getting Gonzalez out but allowing Marisnick to score from third, thus ending Dull’s streak. Dull offered up one more run when Luis Valbuena singled in Altuve but he struck out Carlos Gomez to get his very first big league save, and preserved the very deserved win for Graveman.

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Houston Astros Already Running Out of Time to Turn Their Season Around

We can all pretty much agree on one thing when it comes to the Houston Astros – their complete teardown and rebuild was brutal. However, after watching them morph from a 100-loss team to an 86-win playoff bound one in the matter of a couple years, it was definitely worth it.

Equipped with a young core and reinforcing the pitching staff with hurlers like Doug Fister and Ken Giles, the expectations grew even more for 2016. They were not only expected to return to October, but also get past the ALDS and take that next step toward a championship.

Fast forward to the middle of May, and the Astros are easily baseball’s biggest disappointment throughout the season’s first month and a half. Entering action on Tuesday, they’re in last place with a 16-24 record and are seven games back of first in the AL West.

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Houston, We Have A Problem and His Name Is Carlos Gomez

Last year the Houston Astros traded for Carlos Gomez with the hopes that he would bolster their offense for a playoff push. This trade included top prospects, Brett PhillipsDomingo SantanaJosh Hader, and Adrian Houser for Carlos Gomez and Mike Fiers on July 30th, 2015. Since that date, Carlos Gomez has done nothing but disappoint Astros fans. You can’t blame the Astros’ front office for this move considering Gomez was a star prior to his arrival in Houston.

 

Before joining the Astros, Gomez spent six years with the Milwaukee Brewers. In his last three seasons with the Brewers, he had a .276 BA, 66 home runs (22 per season), 197 RBIs (65 per season), 247 runs (82 per season), and 111 stolen bases (37 per season). Since joining the Astros, he has played 68 games, with a .228 BA, 4 home runs (average of 9 per season), 17 RBIs (average of 40 per season), 25 runs (average of 60 per season), and 12 stolen bases (average of 29 per season). Since the start of 2016, he is striking out 33% of the time and only walking 3.9% of the time, compared to a career strikeout rate of 22.7% and a walk rate of 5.7%. Based on these frightening statistics, it could be time for the Houston Astros to bench Gomez or even send him packing.

 

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The 2016 Baltimore Orioles May Break The ALL – Time Single Year Team Homer Record

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Hunter Stokes (BBBA Featured Writer) 

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Last season the Baltimore Orioles cranked out 217 jacks to finish 3rd in the Major Leagues behind the Toronto Blue Jays (232 HRs) and Houston (230 HRs).

Since the end of the year they have added Pedro Alvarez and Mark Trumbo.  These guys have several years of clubbing 25+ HRs each.

The squad also has the reigning AL HR champ of Chris Davis at 47, while Manny Machado bashed out 35 big flies to tie for 13th overall last year (Yoenis Cespedes and David Ortiz also smacked 35 longballs).

J.J. Hardy is capable of hitting 20+ HRs in a year despite his production being hampered by injury the last few seasons.

Matt Wieters compiled 20+ HR campaigns in each of the 2011 – 2013 seasons – before battling to recapture his power streak after Tommy John Surgery.

Nolan Reimold may hit 1st or 9th depending on the pitcher, and he has shown a penchant for hitting a ball beyond the fence as well.

Playing in a home park like Camden Yards helps.  Having road games in Yankee Stadium, Fenway Park and the Rogers Centre for an additional 26 – 27 contests also bodes well. Read the rest of this entry

Bold Predictions For The 2016 MLB Year

a bold predictions

Hunter Stokes (Featured Writer) 

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Every year we do an article called “Bold Predictions”.  I love this concept as most of these ideas are so preposterous that none of them will actually happen.  I liken it to the “Riverboat Gambler Theory” where you can really get rich quick if it were to come to fruition.

There may not be too many secrets in the National League where the clubs seems to be either really good or really bad.  The American League has a lot more parity.

I suppose I could start off by saying that the NL would win the Interleague series versus the AL, but that it is probably not going to happen based on a 12 year losing streak. (more…)

Houston Astros State Of The Union For 2016

The Houston Astros were the worst team in the Major Leagues from 2011 - 2013, where they topped the 100 Loss barrier for each of those seasons, underwent an ownership change, and also moved from the tough NL Central to the AL West. Last year the Astros finally turned the corner with the 2nd Wild Card Spot, won that game in New York and took the KC Royals to the brink of elimination before they lost. They are young, have a core nucleus of team controllable superstars and exceptional depth that they can use for upgrades. It is a great time to be a 'Stros fan.

The Houston Astros were the worst team in the Major Leagues from 2011 – 2013, where they topped the 100 Loss barrier for each of those seasons, underwent an ownership change, and also moved from the tough NL Central to the AL West. Last year the Astros finally turned the corner with the 2nd Wild Card Spot, won that game in New York and took the KC Royals to the brink of elimination before they lost. They are young, have a core nucleus of team controllable superstars and exceptional depth that they can use for upgrades. It is a great time to be a ‘Stros fan.

Hunter Stokes (Chief Writer/Part Owner) 

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The Houston Astros are set to contend for the foreseeable future.  A 6 year stretch in which they revamped their entire Minor League System – and kept payroll down to grab top Draft Picks finally reeled in the teams 1st playoff spot in a decade in 2016.

After taking a 6 – 2 lead in Game 4 of the ALDS series against the Royals with  2 – 1 lead the Bullpen coughed up the margin – with the club also losing the next game to the eventual World Series winner.

It was a tough lesson to learn in the postseason – but it may be the 1st of many appearances in October in the near future.

The #1 task of acquiring a lock down Closer has been addressed in the recent trade for Ken Giles.  Yes it cost them Brett Oberholtzer, former #1 overall Draft Pick Mark Appel, and a few other prospects, but it also sets up the nucleus core for 4 – 5 more years.

The clubs offense featured 11 guys with double digit Homers in the lineup, and 2 others that fell just a dinger shy of the clip. Read the rest of this entry

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