The 2017 baseball season is upon us and every writer is doing a “top things to watch this year” article and I am no different. The 2017 baseball season is upon us and every writer is doing a “top things to watch this year” article and I am no different. Spring training starts February 24 and I can’t wait for the drama to begin. These are just a few things I’ll be keeping my eye on this year.
The Chicago Cubs are at the top of my watch list. I want to see how Joe Maddon follows up the curse breaking 2016 season. The team has lost 2 key players in the off season; Dexter Fowler to the rival St. Louis Cardinals and closer Aroldis Chapman to the New York Yankees. The also lost veteran catch David Ross to retirement, but with so much young talent this will have limited effect on the team. The question is, will they be as good as they were in 2016? For almost the entire season the Cubs led their division and the league in wins. As confident in them as I am, even I don’t feel that they will repeat their momentous season, however I do believe they will with the NL Central.
Speaking of the NL Central, that division is where my 2nd and 3rd things of my watch list are derived.
All off season there was smoke surrounding the possible trade of the face of Pittsburgh Pirates, Andrew McCutchen. Cutch is a 5 time All Star and the 2013 MVP. He is touted as one of the best outfielders in the league and would be a great get for any team, but to the relief of Pirate fans no trade happened. The consensus among most sports writers is that there was way more smoke than fire surrounding these rumors, but I’m not so sure.
The Pirates have known the playoff struggle is real for a while even though they had small runs in October in 2013, 2014, and 2015. The Cardinals were kings of the NL Central; having 12 playoff appearances from 2000 to 2016. Just as the Pirates started to raise their compete level in 2013, in waltz the Cubs in 2015 to make winning that much more difficult. 2016 was a rough year for the Buccos, finishing the season 3 games under .500. In a city of champions, desperate times call for desperate measures. Would be so far fetched that they would trade a franchise player that they have control over until 2018 for 2 or 3 rookie prospects? I don’t think so. They may just be waiting for the right offer.
The NL Central is the must watch division this season. I feel like once again, this division will be a where the NL Wildcard will come from. I feel like they could be the new AL East.
The manager of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Mike Scioscia, has been on my watch list for the past few seasons. Why am I watching him you ask? Because I’m surprised he still has a job. Now you may think that because of my shock in the continued employment of Scioscia, that I want he and the Angels to fail and that’s not true. I like the Angels; I’ve been to a few games at the “Big A” and enjoyed myself. It’s just that they have spent so much money but not really been viable in the playoffs since 2010, yet they still they keep Scioscia. I am not one to blame a coach for all a team’s problems, but when a team’s salary is ranked 11th in the MLB and is still struggling, something has got to change.
Last be but least, I will be watching the Tampa Bay Rays. I am a Rays fan, but that is not the only reason I will watch. There are many storylines that haunt this team; horrible attendance, the stadium saga, moving to Canada; regardless of my fanship how could I pull my eyes away? Additionally, this will be manager Kevin Cash’s 3rd season with the team and if there isn’t signs of improvement this may be his last.
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