Boyd Bergquist’s 2019 Baseball Preview
EDITOR’S NOTE: Boyd Bergquist was the sports director at KETS-TV in East Tree Stump, Nebraska for almost 40 years. Known across the Husker state as the voice of the Boy’s High School Basketball Tournament, Bergquist was a four-time winner of the Marv J. Butz “Golden Cob” Award For Excellence In Nebraska Broadcast Journalism. That background, along with his quick if not cliché-riddled wit and love of single-malt scotch makes Bergquist a perfect fit to be our “Question” guy, but today, he’s here to dish up a preview of the upcoming baseball season.
Baseball season is underway; we are in the first weekend of the 2019 campaign. But with all the big-dollar free-agent moves we saw this off-season, who the heck knows who is any good? I do, but I’m not into the usual “power ranking” stuff. Instead, I’ve broken down all 30 major league squads into six easy-to-understand groups based on what these teams can realistically expect in 2019.
Ready to Win Right Now
These are teams which are ready to climb the mountain right now…no ifs, ands or buts.
- Boston Red Sox – This team is still loaded for bear, and you’re the Champ until somebody beats you.
- Houston Astros – Here’s another team loaded to the rafters with talent, and isn’t afraid to make a race-changing move at the deadline. With a healthy Jose Altuve, they are really a “1B” to the Red Sox.
- New York Yankees – Speaking of teams which could make a game-changing move deeper into the summer…isn’t that really what we are all waiting for here?
- Washington Nationals – Forget all the nonsense about losing Bryce Harper. Trea Turner and Juan Soto are superstars waiting to happen, they have talent all around the diamond, and the Nats have the best 1-2-3 combo of starting pitchers in the game in Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, and Patrick Corbin.
- St. Louis Cardinals – Adding professional thunder-bat Paul Goldschmidt to this line-up can only make the Cardinals the favorite to win the NL Central. In his career, Goldschmidt has finished in second place for the NL MVP twice and in third place once. The smart money says it is a “Gold” bet that he finally takes home the hardware. Couple that with the fact the Cards have the best top-to-bottom pitching staff in this division, and the ceiling for the Cardinals is “Cathedral Arch” high.
There’s Just One Thing Missing
Did you ever almost complete a jigsaw puzzle, but the three pieces you have remaining don’t fit the holes you have left? Welcome to the stories of these teams.
- Milwaukee Brewers – They become the best team in the National League the minute they put a #1 pitcher at the top of that rotation. Call the Giants and start the Bumgarner deal talks now.
- Los Angeles Dodgers – It’s official; Clayton Kershaw’s health is now a recurring theme.
- Colorado Rockies – In the last twenty years, the Rocks have fielded eleven batting titles from eight different players. Call it Denver’s thin air, the deep fences which create gaps bigger than those between Michael Strahan’s front teeth, and the fact Daniel Murphy loves to “shop at The Gap” more than sorority sisters and the soccer moms they become makes it like those numbers are going up. The Rockies will hit, but the question is do they have the pitching?
- Atlanta Braves – Early in the off-season, the Braves were the “leader in the clubhouse” in terms of team improvement especially after they inked Josh Donaldson. But then they stood pat when the Mets got Robinson Cano, The Nats added Patrick Corbin to their rotation, and the Phillies gave Bryce Harper the contents of the Philadelphia Mint. With all their young talent, they could win the NL East…they could also finish fourth. The question is can Mike Foltynewicz stack up as front of the rotation guy against the NL East aces like Max Scherzer, Jacob DeGrom, and Jake Arrieta?
- Oakland Athletics – Damn you, Billy Beane. I’m falling for your “Moneyball” bullshit again. I’m going to drink the Kool-Aid on this team, and I’m probably to end end up getting the dirty end of something I don’t like. My belief in “Moneyball” isn’t the question about the A’s. That’s reserved for is Blake Treinen “for real?”
Need Some Things To Go Their Way
Welcome to a collection of clubs who almost have the goods to win on their own; but anything is possible if they get more than one “lucky break.”
- Chicago Cubs – Two seasons removed from a World Series, and the vultures are already circling over manager Joe Maddon. That which ails the North Siders isn’t Madden’s fault, but he has been expertly tailored for the “fall guy” outfit. It’s not Maddon’s fault the Cubs essentially stood pat in the off-season while St. Louis got decidedly better. It’s not Maddon’s fault the Brewers showed the world they are better than the Cubs right now. It’s not Maddon’s fault that top-to-bottom, their pitching staff is the definition of “suspect.” So, why is the heat on Maddon? Because he’s lived through his usefulness. Maddon’s strength is taking young, inexperienced teams and getting them to live up to their potential. He did that in Tampa, He’s done that in Chicago. Now that the Cubs are no longer young and inexperienced, Maddon is milk three days past it’s expiration date.
- Philadelphia Phillies – This is how you “win” the off-season. Sure, Bryce Harper was the “big fish” in the net, but also landing Jean Segura, Andrew McCutcheon, and J.T. Realmuto is certainly making the statement the Phillies are in this for the long-haul. The future is sunny in Philadelphia; the question is how far away is winning in that future?
- Minnesota Twins – Watching the Twins in free-agency is like sitting behind that guy at a stop light who is screwing around with his phone and doesn’t realize the light has turned green. Not only did their main rival for the AL Central not do a goddamn thing in the off-season, everybody else spent their money, and Dallas Keuchel and Craig Kimbrel are still out there. If the Twins expect me to buy they want to win now, they could at least call one or both of those guys.
- Cleveland Indians – Another tale of a team two seasons removed from a World Series which didn’t do a damn thing in the off-season. The strength of this team used to be the bullpen; that’s clearly no longer the case. They are still contenders because short of the Twins, the AL Central sucks.
- Los Angeles Angels – The first season of the “Post-Scioscia” promises to be one of uncertainty. While Mike Trout is locked-up, what’s is going to happen with Shohei Ohtani is only one question manager Brad Ausmus will need to address. After all that, the Angels could take down a wild-card spot, or they could lose 90 games. Your guess is as good as mine.
At Least They Don’t Suck
Do I really need to explain this one?
- Cincinnati Reds – The Reds may not make a lot of people’s radar this season because they will be overshadowed by three teams in the NL Central who are better than they are, but this team could be fun to watch. The pitching staff isn’t great, but it got a lot better. Offensively, putting Jesse Winker and his .405 on-base percentage last season in front Joey Votto, Eugenio Suarez, Yasiel Puig. and Scooter Gennett (once he gets healthy) and this team will score more than George Clooney at a soccer mom convention.
- Tampa Bay Rays – The Rays could easily be an honorary member of the AL Central. Don’t get me wrong, signing Charlie Morton was huge, but this team needs so much more and their payroll is under $55 million! I’m not expecting them to compete with the Red Sox or the Yankees, but they could easily own third place in the AL East.
- San Diego Padres – This team isn’t ready to play .500 ball yet, this could be the seeds of something which could change the balance of power in the NL West in a few years.
- Seattle Mariners – There is as much good about this team as there is bad, which is why .500 is about where they should end up.
- Kansas City Royals – The loss of Salvador Perez definitely hurts, and even if it turns out to be a long summer in Kansas City, Royals fans can enjoy watching the development of potential super-star Adalberto Mondesi.
Why Wait For Next Year?
One way or another, these teams need to make a decision about the future.
- New York Mets – Yeah, I get they got Robinson Cano and they locked up Jacob DeGrom, but they are in the largest media market in the country, they are still at least $50 million under the luxury tax, and everybody else in the NL East except Miami got somewhat better. What the hell are they waiting for?
- San Francisco Giants – The “World Series” era is over. Sell it all right now. Need a front-of-the rotation pitcher who can also slug? Are you an AL contender who needs an MVP-caliber aging catcher who can still be a dangerous DH? Call 1-800-SFGIANTS…if they are smart, they’ll be waiting for your call.
- Toronto Blue Jays – I bet the Blue Jays would absolutely love it if Marcus Stroman and Aaron Sanchez would pitch well enough to appreciate their trade value.
- Chicago White Sox – This franchise is an embarrassment. They have one player worth a shit, and they won’t commit to paying him. They don’t spend money on free-agents, and they don’t have a lot of appreciable young talent. Either try to compete, or just print “Screw you fans!” on the backs of your tickets.
- Detroit Tigers – This team needs to hope Miguel Cabrera bounces back season, so they can float him out there near the deadline and see if there’s any takers. This team needs depth in the farm system, and they need to do whatever they can to get it.
It’s Going To Be A Long Summer
Everybody has hope on Opening Day, but some lose it far faster than others.
- Pittsburgh Pirates – There’s really not much you can do when your owner is Scrooge McDuck personified. This is reality as long Bob Nutting owns this team.
- Arizona Diamondbacks – Fact: David Peralta is the best bat they have. Let that sink in for minute.
- Texas Rangers – If Nomar Mazara doesn’t have the breakout season some are expecting, the beginning of the end could come early in Arlington.
- Miami Marlins – All nine Marlins fans in this world must have bile shooting out of their eyes at the thought this team Opening Day line-up could have included Giancarlo Stanton, Christian Yelich, Marcell Ozuna, catcher J.T. Realmuto.
- Baltimore Orioles – Without another bat in their line-up, Chris Davis might go weeks at a time not seeing a pitch to hit.
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