After 2 thrilling Championship Series, it comes down to a fairytale/heartbreak series between a pair of franchises, with the longest active title droughts in all of baseball. The Chicago Cubs on one hand had not tasted a pennant since 1946, while not succeeding since 1908, whereas the Indians of Cleveland have not won a World Series since 1948.
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Both are deserving world Championship teams after such entertaining quality baseball, and fine management as well as astute additions which perfected their staffs.
The Cubs had some worries when the Los Angeles Dodgers managed to gain a 2-1 lead, and Clayton Kershaw was slated to start game 6. But on short rest even Kershaw could not pull this rabbit out of the hat, as the Cubs bats came to life as the series wore on. Kyle Hendricks proved outstanding in the decisive game 6, pitching a stupendous game, allowing only the minimum of batters, a feat which had happened just once in 1500 post season matches.
The young stud, put the final dagger in the Dodgers hearts, though they were valiant all season long. The Cubs bats, particularly Javier Baez, Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant were particularly strong throughout the series, as was Miguel Montero’s grand-slam pinch-hit to finish game 1.
Overall, the Cubs were just too good for the Dodgers and now can taste the World Championship that their franchise has craved for 108 years. For the Dodgers, it was another solid season, resulting in a 2nd place in the league. Though, now many questions are to be answered, in free agency for several Dodgers stars, leading to speculation and roster changes before opening day of 2017.
Superstar 3B Justin Turner is the biggest name, that the Dodgers will want to re-sign, while Rich Hill, Josh Reddick, Chase Utley and lights-out closer Kenley Jansen are all set to hit the open market, which the Dodgers will always monitor. Thus the Dodgers are set to be very active this offseason, with many holes to fill and no real apparently near prospects ready to make the step up to the big leagues.
Cleveland snuffed out any chances the Blue Jays had of advancing to the Fall Classic, with awesome pitching particularly from the relief staff, headlined by Andrew Miller and Cody Allen. Toronto could only muster 1 win, and hence the Indians were well rested heading into the big-dance against the 103-win Cubs. Bryan Shaw managed 2 wins late in games as his stocks continue to rise to the outstanding class, while defence was the key for the Indians, as they made a lead turn into a win, time and time again.
Key players included surprise Catcher Roberto Perez, superstar youngster Francisco Lindor and the vital Mike Napoli who all had excellent series and lead their club to the big show.
For Toronto, it may well be the end of an era, with Edwin Encarnacion and Jose Bautista both set to hit the open-market and unlikely to return to Toronto, and Michael Saunders may well follow. This would be a serious blow and require less-costly additions to replace them, but even then a return to their deep post-season runs of the last 2 seasons seems to be a stretch.
To be sure, Toronto did have an outstanding season again this season, with real progression found in their rotation, particularly from stud youngster Aaron Sanchez and Marco Estrada. Joe Biagini proved a superb rule-5 addition, and Roberto Osuna looks to be an elite closer for many more seasons.
Now a closer look at each teams’ seasons, at least 1 division of teams with others to follow in subsequent articles, starting with the NL East.
WASHINGTON NATIONALS: There won’t be too many complaints after another good season, culminating in a 5 game nail-biting division series with the Dodgers. Youngster, Trea Turner had a break-out year, while many of their young pitching prospects tasted big-league action for the first time reasonably successfully.
In particular, AJ Cole and Reynaldo Lopez will both be looking to secure opening-day roles, although perhaps more seasoning in Triple A is the best route. Major changes ought not be expected, with the only real need being a Closer, as Melancon is set to test the market in free agency, though Ben Revere had a poor season, leaving a CF upgrade a distinct possibility. Expect another division title from the Nationals in 2017, though a full-strength Mets rotation, is clearly going to make it much tougher.
NEW YORK METS: The Mets were resilient after being decimated by injuries to the pitching staff and positional player veterans, still managing a wildcard match against the Giants. Certainly, there was positives, with Noah Syndergaard slating himself as a genuine ace, and youngsters such as TJ Rivera and pitchers Seth Lugo, Robert Gsellman having nice seasons.
There are some areas to be addressed in the offseason, such as 2B with Walker hitting free-agency, and question marks on the infield corners with Duda and Wright suffering injuries. Other than this, maybe a right-handed OF, to replace Cespedes or a catching upgrade is not out of the question. After such a turbulent season, surely the returns of Harvey, DeGrom, Wheeler will see the Mets find their 2015 form, even without Bartolo Colon.
MIAMI MARLINS: The horrifying loss of Jose Fernandez is impossible to replace for a club in dire need of pitching, but it is the wrong offseason to be looking for an ace. Thus, the Marlins who had a fairly good run this season, will be on the lookout for a creative way to find a high-end pitching type, even if it means dealing one of their positional players such as Marcel Ozuna or Adeiny Hechavarria.
However, it be done, Miami needs rotation help, at least 1 serviceable pitcher who can eat innings every 5th day. Other than this, not many areas need to be addressed, apart from every team type needs of a reliever or a bench player, probably more so the former on a major league deal, and the latter on a minor league pact. Don Mattingly will surely have a plan in mind to find a way to bring these Marlins into the discussion next season, with trades sure to be the method.
The Phillies can be well pleased with their rebuilding season, having found some good young players, particularly pitcher Vince Velazquez and the continued improvement of Maikel Franco.
Though, a veteran or 2 will be a requirement this season, as it was last, to make them more than mediocre in 2017, particularly an innings-eater as Hellickson is set to hit the free-agency market and a OF bat would help. Thus with such a huge financial flexibility the Phillies could easily attempt to add a Cespedes or Bautista type, however this remains unlikely, and a Reddick/Pagan type seams much more plausible.
There are plenty of upside innings eaters to look into such as Jorge De La Rosa, Bartolo Colon or RA Dickey, but a classier acquisition may be more advantageous such as Ivan Nova or Andrew Cashner. The Phillies will be contenders again in the not too distant future, and have huge amounts of payroll to ensure this, it just depends on when they feel their core players will excel.
Atlanta finished the season on a high, and rewarded the caretaker manager Brian Snitker, with the permanent role for 2017, but nothing short of a monumental turnaround will see them compete next season. Battery roster positions remain the major concern for the Braves, with only really Teheran guaranteed a position, leaving 4 rotation slots and at least 2 catching positions up for grabs.
In such a poor pitching-market, it remains to be seen if the Braves might have to delve into their long list of prospects and deal for a pitcher or 2, as the bras have promised 2 additions to the rotation staff. The positional side of things looks much more settled, with a strong outfield group of Kemp, Inciarte and Markakis, subbed by the fleet footed Mallex Smith. While, Freeman and youngsters Peterson, Swanson and Garcia all look good things for the next era of Braves ball, in their new park.
The Braves will look to build a strong staff and compete in the next few seasons, but without a blockbusting trade, admittedly they are capable of this, it doesn’t appear to be overly bright for 2017.
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