Okay, so not every Major League Baseball club has their pitchers and catchers reporting today. A few actually reported yesterday (on a Sunday? Psshh…) and a few report in the couple of days, but that does nothing to temper our excitement about the promise of a new season of baseball as it slowly appears on the horizon. The full schedule of when and where everyone reports can be found here.
To kick off our baseball coverage for the 2017 season, we thought we’d throw together just a few burning questions for yee denizens of our nation’s pastime to ponder. You know, to tide you over while we do our best to bridge this nonsense gap in the year between the Super Bowl and MLB Opening Day. March Madness is iight, but come on now. Unless you’re a Kansas fan or something and college hoops is all you have in your life, that’s just not REALLY gonna do it for you.
Can the Cubs repeat?
Doubling up on your championships in professional sports is extremely difficult. It hasn’t been TOO long since it’s happened in baseball, the Yankees won three straight from 1998 to 2000, but it’s still a tough thing to accomplish. The Cubs are probably the deepest and most talented team in the National League, but they did lose closer Aroldis Chapman, who signed a huge free agent deal with the aforementioned Bronx Bombers, and will replace him with the capable but less impressive Wade Davis, who they acquired from the Royals. They also lost center fielder Dexter Fowler on the free agent market to division rival St. Louis, but they will presumably have the bat of big lefty Kyle Schwarber in the line up all season unlike when he missed most of 2016, so that’s a plus. They badly need Jason Heyward to have a much better 2016 than he did 2017, but he’s a talented player who has proven himself capable before. Can they do it? This writer says they can, but they probably won’t.
Are the Red Sox the best team on paper?
This is a fairly easy “yes” for me. The Red Sox were a great offense last year, but as we saw when October arrived, the starting rotation was a little so-so. Rick Porcello lead the pack during the regular season, but was anyone really surprised when he got shelled in his one and only playoff start? But not to fear, Red Sox Nation, because you went out and got Chris Sale, to go along with Porcello and David Price, and that’s a pretty salty 1-2-3 combo for any opposing team to face in a playoff series. They’ll be without the retired David Ortiz for the first time in what seems like a million years, but that loss should be salved with the first full season of rookie Andrew Benintendi patrolling left field at Fenway. Benintendi, Jackie Bradley Jr and Mookie Betts will comprise a young, but extremely exciting and offensively potent outfield tandem. This squad is pretty young and plenty hungry. I see them lifting the big trophy in early November.
Will the Indians make another run at the World Series?
The Cubs collectively ripped the heart from the chest of the Indians and their fans last season with one of the most compelling and dramatic World Series game sevens in the history of the sport. One of our own was there, in case you had somehow forgotten. How will the Tribe rebound? They still have one of the absolute best starters in the game in Corey Kluber, a great bullpen anchored by Andrew Miller and Cody Allen, and maybe the best manager in the game in Terry Francona. They added free agent slugger Edwin Encarnacion from the Blue Jays, which should give the offense a boost, along with the return of left fielder Michael Brantley who missed much of last season with a shoulder injury. The Indians seem primed for another run, but it won’t be easy with that juggernaut in Boston. Luckily for them the AL Central looks very soft as a whole, so winning their division at the very least should be the goal. An ALCS birth looks incredibly realistic, but dat’ Boston squad doe…
So what will the 2017 MLB season bring? We here at FirstandMonday.com intend to cover it for you to the best of our limited, but well-meaning abilities over the next several months. Stay tuned!
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