What your view of sports and life would be if you had too many concussions
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 back! Now that we are smack-dab in the middle of Opening Weekend, we finally get a look at what these teams are working with for the 2023 campaign. But this isn’t Spring Training anymore; this is the real deal. That begs the question…who the heck knows who is any good?
Frankly, I think 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 2023.
These are teams ready to pop the corks this year…no ifs, ands or buts.
1A) Philadelphia Phillies: General Manager Dave Dombrowski is clearly the guy at the blackjack table who hits on “17.” Coming off a World Series appearance, he decided to add to his deck with All-Star shortstop Trea Turner. Dombrowski also bolstered the bullpen with Craig Kimbrel, Matt Strahm, and Gregory Soto. The loss of Rhys Hoskins is clearly a negative, but this line up with the likes J.T. Realmuto, Kyle Schwarber, Nick Castellanos, and Bryce Harper (who’ll likely miss the first half of the season following Tommy John surgery) will keep opposing pitching staffs awake nights.
1B) Houston Astros: I’ve always said to be the champ, you’ve got to beat the champ. I’m not saying nobody can’ but taking down Dusty Baker’s squad will be a tall order for all who wish to be called a contender. Justin Verlander’s departure won’t have nearly the impact as the arrival of former AL MVP Jose Abreu. The injury Jose Altuve suffered in the World Baseball Calassic will be but a bump in the road for the boys from Space City.
2) Toronto Blue Jays: If the Phillies hit on “17,” then Toronto is doubling-down on pocket aces. To go with every-day aces Bo Bichette and Vladimir Guerrero, Jr., the Blue Jays dealt fan-favorites (although inconsistent performers) Teoscar Hernandez and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. and replaced them with the rock-solid Kevin Kiermaier and ace-waiting-to-happen Dalton Varsho. Meanwhile on the bump, Vegas has nothing on Toronto. The Blue Jays might just feature four aces in Alex Manoah, Kevin Gausman, Hyun-Jin Ryu, and Jose Berrios…and don’t forget about Chris Bassitt.
3) San Diego Padres: Forget baseball for a moment. If “money-throwing” were an Olympic event, the gold medal would have a home in San Diego. The Padres slung cash at almost every big-time free-agent out there until five-time Silver Slugger winner Xander Bogaerts took the gelt. That gives the Friars the best top of the order in the game with (in no particular order) with Bogaerts, Juan Soto, Manny Machado, and post-suspension Fernando Tatis Jr..
4) Atlanta Braves: Remember the 80’s one-hit wonder Timbuk 3? They gave us The Future’s So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades.
While he’s far too young to recall this ear-worm, Braves’ general manager Alex Anthopoulos has built that sort of future in Atlanta. That future is all about his acquiring young talent and locking it on long-term deals. The latest addition is soon-to-be All-Star catcher Sean Murphy. He joins fellow Oakland import Matt Olson to form a solid core including Ronald Acuna Jr., Ozzie Albies, and Max Fried, whose Opening Day injury could be a concern; those damn hamstrings are like a wild card…you never know what you’re going to get.
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…
1) New York Yankees: While all eyes are the mammoth Aaron Judge and his new even-more-mammoth nine-year, $360-million contract, the fact remains the Yankees still have a suspect pitching staff. Replacing the oft-injured Jameson Taillon with the oft-(and currently)-injured Carlos Rodon seems like just moving to the next flavor in the same carton of Neapolitan ice cream.
2) Los Angeles Dodgers: Here’s another team that watched it’s competitors get better, while they did precious little. Just look at what the Phillies, Padres, and Braves did in this off-season, and compare that to the Dodgers adding the “high-mileage” and Noah “the tank’s not quite on E yet” Syndergaard. Frankly, I think team needs to figure out what it wants to be. They keep making noise about getting under the luxury tax, but the rumor is they want to be a player in the Shohei Ohtani sweepstakes. Oh, by the way…they are also on the hook for $22.5 million in salary for the Trevor Bauer fiasco.
3) St. Louis Cardinals: The good news is the Cardinals are still the class of the NL Central. The bad news is that’s like being the prettiest girl at fat camp. They should cruise to the play-offs since nobody else is really in a position to push them; the Cubs aren’t there yet and I’m done buying the Brewers. The problem is the Cardinals…despite the addition of Willson Contreras…still didn’t make the leap to being considered among the “belles of the ball” in the National League.
4) New York Mets: Forgive me if you’ve seen this paragraph before…
Until further notice, my official position on optimism concerning the New York Mets is this: I’ll believe when I see it. It’s already looking like another promising spring in Port St. Lucie might become another long summer in Queens. Sure, I understand the excitement over new owner Steve Cohen’s spreading money across the free-agent market like a lawn sprinkler, but come on, Mets fans. Haven’t you seen this movie before?~ Every baseball preview in the history of this blog
I could call it “Groundhog Day,” but a New York Mets season is now as predictable as the cycle on your washing machine. For the Steve Cohen Mets it starts in the off-season. Cohen fire-hoses money all over the free-agent market, the hopes of the fans sky-rocket, and things seem to be just fine until the load unbalances and the washing machine known as the Mets shakes itself apart.
This year, it looked as if the spin-cycle destruction would hit before the first pitch of spring training, but the Mets and Cohen avoided the catastrophe known as Carlos Correa.
Now the question is are Cohen’s imports better than what the Mets exported? Will Justin Verlander, Kodai Senga, and Jose Quintana perform better than did better than Jacob deGrom, Chris Bassitt, and Taijuan Walker? It could all come out in the wash, but the fact Mets fans are already getting an anatomy lesson thanks to Verlander’s Teres Major means WFAN’s Gregg Giannotti might be eating Tide Pods by the trade deadline.
5) Cleveland Guardians: Just like their counterparts in the National League, Cleveland looks to be the class of the Central in the Junior Circuit. To be honest, that could be partially by default, because I have no idea what the White Sox are and the Twins seem to take the cake for shooting themselves in the foot. But to be fair, Cleveland boasts a top-to-bottom pitching staff that could make any team a contender, which is especially the case for the offensively-challenged Guardians.
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.”
1) Seattle Mariners: I really like the Mariners. They’ve got a pitching staff second to very few, and the addition of Teoscar Hernandez, Kolrten Wong, and A.J. Pollock gives Seattle the depth a champion needs. On top of that, Scott Servais is the best manager in baseball nobody talks about. The problem to take that title, they need to get past Houston, and like it or not, they simply aren’t there yet.
2) Tampa Bay Rays: The Rays have the arms to win. The rotation of Shane McClanahan, Drew Rasmussen, Jeffrey Springs, newcomer Zach Eflin, and a now-healthy (probably?) Tyler Glasnow should have the Rays not needing to worry about starting pitching. The trick will be getting Randy Arozarena, Wander Franco, Brandon Lowe and the rest of the Rays to stay on the field and produce consistently.
3) Chicago White Sox: Earlier, I said I have no idea what the Mighty Whiteys are. Here’s why. Last year, they looked like a team with American League Championship Series written all over it, They finished as a .500 team and didn’t get even a sniff of October. Now, they enter 2023 with rookie manager Pedro Grifol and having just dished out the biggest deal in franchise history. They gave Andrew Benintendi a 5-year, $75-million deal, while they let former AL MVP Jose Abreu walk. Likewise, while there were plenty of “big-time” free-agent pitchers available, yet the Whiteys are trusting in a rotation of Dylan Cease, Lance Lynn, Lucas Giolito…with the addition of coming-off-injury Mike Clevenger. Somebody out there trusts that; I’m not sure I’m in that group.
4) Milwaukee Brewers: When you were in high school, did you have that one friend who had huge potential, but just couldn’t get their shit together? Be honest, we all know that person who coming out of high school should have ended up as a brain surgeon or NASA engineer, but capped out as assistant shift manager at McBurgerQueen. In a nutshell, that’s the Milwaukee Brewers. For the better part of the last decade, this team shows promise, but never delivers. That hasn’t changed. Their biggest upside is they are in a weak division, so being competitive should be relatively easy.
5) Chicago Cubs: The Brewers and the Cubs may be separated by only 80 miles, but they might as well be worlds apart in terms of their futures I’m not buying the eternal optimism on the Brew Crew until they win a playoff series, which isn’t happening anytime soon. I can say the same for the Cubs right now, but that’s got every shot to change soon. There’s a solid core to build on for the North Siders, and this team should only be better than the 74 wins they posted in 2022. Despite the bright future, the Achilles’ Heel is still the front office; I never understood letting Willson Contreras walk for jack-squat, and Marcus Stroman simply is not a “front-end of the rotation” guy. Decisions like that can chunk even the brightest futures.
Do I really need to explain this one? They aren’t terrible, but they also aren’t great. These are team you can expect to be somewhere around the .500 mark.
1) Baltimore Orioles: As goes the title of this section, don’t look now, but for the first time in recent memory, the O’s don’t suck. They surprised everybody in 2022 by notching their first winning record eight years. Last year, my goal for the Orioles was to not lose 100 games again. The Orioles’ collective cup brims over with homegrown talent, but now they have to run the gauntlet of the AL East without the element of surprise. Also, now the pressure is on general manager Mike Elias…is this the team that builds for it’s future, or are the O’s simply going to be a “yard sale” for the contenders at the trade deadline?
2) Minnesota Twins: As previously mentioned, The Twins have a penchant for turning promise into defeat in ways only they can. Frankly, it’s probably better off if the Twins miss October altogether; I don’t think anybody in Minnesota can stand yet another seal-clubbing at the hands of the Yankees. It’s almost a Mets-like cycle; 2022 started out with promise, and ended up with another blowing-their-toes-off job. In other words, the real question is how will the Twins shoot themselves in the foot in 2023?
The “glass-half-full” view says it’s possible the Twins could sport a damn respectable rotation, Christian Vazquez might be a “better than expected” upgrade behind the plate, and maybe this is the year Byron Buxton finally stays healthy. However, the “glass-half-empty” crowd thinks it’s just as likely that the bullpen dissolves faster than an Alka-Seltzer in a tub of nitric acid, Joey Gallo strikes out 250 times, and the aforementioned bullet headed for the Twins’ collective cleat will pass through Carlos Correa’s prohibitively-priced ankle.
3) Texas Rangers: Here’s another team coming from the depths of losing seasons. The Rangers dropped 102 and 94 games respectively in 2021 and 2022, and to fix that they lured future Hall-of-Fame manager Bruce Bochy out of retirement. The Rangers also overhauled their starting rotation by adding Jacob deGrom, Andrew Heaney, and Nathan Eovaldi. I hope they have good doctors in Texas, because the injury-prone nature of those three pitchers is bound to give Bruce Bochy chest pains.
4) San Francisco Giants: Giants fans everywhere got jilted this off-season. They were all ready to embrace the arrival of Aaron Judge, but they got “ghosted.” Then the Carlos Correa fiasco was visited upon them. So, they settled for “rebound” players like Mitch Haniger, Michael Conforto, Sean Manaea, Ross Stripling, Luke Jackson, and Taylor Rogers. That’s a nice haul and adds much needed depth, but it has has all the excitement of a styrofoam cup. At some point to complete with the division-rival Padres and Dodgers, the Giants needed to land a “superstar.” Hopefully, there won’t be mass harakiri in San Francisco when the Giants don’t land Shohei Ohtani.
5) Boston Red Sox: I’m not sure about this one, because this team might just suck after all. It will be hard to tell since the Red Sox promise to be a last-place team in the loaded AL East. General manager Chaim Bloom tried his damnedest to bring some optimism to 2023 for the Fenway faithful after the departures of “fan favorites” Xander Bogaerts and J.D Martinez by extending Rafael Devers and adding serviceable stalwarts Justin Turner, Masataka Yoshida, Corey Kluber, Kenley Jansen, Chris Martin, and Joely Rodriguez. Even with that, the line-up is still thin, the rotation is weak, the bullpen lacks depth, and an extended injury absence for Trevor Story doesn’t help.
One way or another, these teams need to make a decision about their future.
1) Miami Marlins: Other teams are already lining up to see how soon the Marlins will be selling. The trade deadline sharks are just waiting to see if/when defending NL Cy Young winner Sandy Alcantara goes on the market, along with veteran pitcher Johnny Cueto, experienced infielder Jean Segura. At some point, general Kim Ng has to decide if the Marlins want to be a major-league franchise or simply a talent farm for the league’s contenders.
2) Colorado Rockies: I didn’t understand this team in 2022, and I still don’t. They let Trevor Story walk, then signed Kris Bryant. Heading into 2023, they still haven’t done much to build around the injury-plagued Bryant unless you’re a believer in C.J. Cron or the waning years of Charlie Blackmon.
3) Los Angeles Angels: OFFICIAL NOTICE – The Angels are “on the clock.” I know their approach to this year was to put a team around Shohei Ohtani and Mike Trout. Honestly, they didn’t do a terrible job of doing that. Hunter Renfroe, Brandon Drury, and Gio Urshela are solid additions that add depth on both sides of the ball, everyday players that help offensively and defensively, All-Star leftie Tyler Anderson can only bloster the starting rotation, and Carlos Estevez is a 40-save closer waiting to happen.
But it’s not going to work. The Angels still won’t be as good as the Astros or the Mariners in their own division, and any Wild Card hopes mean slugging it out with (excluding whoever wins the AL East and AL Central) the Yankees, Blue Jays, Rays, Guardians, and possibly even the Twins, White Sox, and Orioles.
We all know the “window” for the Halos is now, thanks to Mike Trout’s new-found penchant for getting hurt along with his advancing age coupled with Shohei Ohtani’s impending free-agency. Boil it all down and it means the Angels must not waste any time when it comes to setting up the “garage sale.” When the calendar hits Memorial Day, and the Halos see themselves 10 games back in the AL West, that’s the moment to lug everything out to the driveway, put up the “Sale” signs and get this thing off the ground.
4) Arizona Diamondbacks: The good news is the Snakes have cobbled together a reasonably respectable roster of nearly “Big League” ready talent. The bad news is they have to play them in the “Bigs” now. Gabriel Moreno, Corbin Carroll, Alek Thomas, and Jake McCarthy could all become stars over time, but the D-backs are so starved for talent they have little choice but to bring them up now.
5) Cincinnati Reds: The
most notable appreciably only move the Reds made this off-season was acquiring 2013 AL Rookie of the Year and former All-Star Wil Myers. Does this mean the Reds might look to build around their core of young talent like Jonathan India, Hunter Greene, Graham Ashcraft, and Nick Lodolo or is Joey Votto going to spend another summer schlepping guys to the airport?.
Everybody has hope on Opening Day, but some lose it far faster than others. But that begs the question: Can you have “heartbreak” if you never had expectations to begin with?
1) Pittsburgh Pirates: Sometimes it not about the actual moves a team made…sometimes it just enough they did something. None of the moves the Pirates are likely to keep them from yet another season the the NL Central cellar. Adding veterans such as Ji-Man Choi, Carlos Santana, Vince Velasquez, and Rich Hill to go with budding stars Bryan Reynpolds, Ke’Bryan Hayes, and Oneill Cruz should be enough to get the long-suffering Pirate fans to show up…at least until the next Pirate “garage sale.”
2) Kansas City Royals: There’s a point when a “rebuild” stalls and a team becomes “perpetually moribund.” The Riyals World Series tile in 2015 might well be from 1915 at this point. Kansas City hasn’t finished better than 4th place for 6 straight seasons, and that doesn’t look to change anytime soon. The Royals enter 2023 with a newly promoted executive VP and general manager; what’s he going to do? Is J.J Piccolo going “revive” the “rebuild,” or do we have yet another “garage sale” coming?
3) Detroit Tigers: Remember at this time last year when there were some who believed the Tigers could be a “dark horse” in the AL Central? There are no such voices this time around. The Tigers narrowly avoided losing 100 games in 2022, and 2023 ill be no different.
4) Washington Nationals: Yeah, they’ve got some young talent…blah, blah, blah…two or three years from now…blah, blah, blah… If your bag is to watch young talent struggle in the absence of anything else, this team is for you.
5) Oakland Athletics: Who is the next guy the A’s will bring up only to watch him flourish somewhere else? Let’s just be honest…these are the Oakland Triple-A’s until further notice.
Got a question for our 70’s TY Sports Anchor? Got your own take? Nothing is “off-limits,” and no take is “too hot.” The only questions or comments Boyd Bergquist can’t handle are the one you don’t send him!
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