MLB 2014 - Baseball Offseason Highlights and Season Preparations
Baseball Is Almost Back!
During the 2014 offseason, Major League Baseball was wrought with a number of transactions and storylines that were fascinating and colorful. In each of these stories, the game took steps to become more global while also changing the way that it is managed, officiated and played.
Blown perfect game call made by arguable one of the most consistently accurate umpires
Instant replay has been a big issue for Major League Baseball for quite a while. While the umpires have been eschewed roundly for their poor officiating, the idea of "getting it right" has been circling baseball for a couple years now. With the new rules, the umpires will be able to review calls and make sure that every play is called correctly the first time. With this new technology, games will not be slowed very much, but the calls will be made correctly from now into the future with the confidence that we can get something from Major League Baseball that we haven't gotten in a while...good officiating.
WARNING: May be disturbing to some viewers.
Padded caps for Pitchers
Padded caps for pitchers have been approved by the league, as well. Going forward, all pitchers will have the option of wearing a padded cap that will better protect them from balls that are flying in their direction. Some pitchers are willing to wear the new hats while others say that the hats are too heavy and not ready for game use yet. In either case, someone is going to be saved a concussion, or worse, by wearing one of these padded caps this upcoming season.
Trades and Signings
Masahiro Tanaka was signed by the Yankees for a $20 million transfer fee and a 7-year $150+ million contract. This acquisition allows for the Yankees to begin to rebuild their rotation and inject some youth into the team. For a team that is so old, this development could be very helpful.
Clayton Kershaw signed a massive contract with the Dodgers that makes him the highest-paid pitcher in the history of the game. While this may not come as a shock to many people, the fact that Kershaw is getting such a huge deal opens the door for David Price and pitchers like him to get more money.
Grady Sizemore signed with the Red Sox after not playing for over two years. While he could have gone to a few teams, a crew that just won the World Series could use another scrappy veteran who can slap the ball around the field a little bit. Plus, Sizemore can extend his career by being a part-time DH and still play on a winning club.
The Braves have made no major off season moves because they have no room to move. While the Braves are a very good team, they are not a position to make any major upgrades because they cannot seem to get rid of Dan Uggla. With Uggla still playing second base, the Braves have a major weakness on their roster that isn't going to get any better. In fact, the Braves could be left in a position where they play just like they did last year and come up short.
The Reds also made no major moves because they have so much young talent. They still have a couple people going to arbitration, but the ownership was not able to get rid of Brandon Phillips. Phillips is a gold glove second baseman who hits the ball extremely-well. Also, he is an infectious spirit that some in the Reds organization don't like. Yes, he may be loud, but the boy can play.
The Pirates are looking to reload and try again this year. While they have not done anything spectacular, they may just be good enough to not need any major moves to make their team better. Time could be the best ingredient for the Pirates.
The Cardinals are in position to make another run next year even after they have to let David Freese go. He was a fantastic bat for them that came through in the clutch many times. However, the Cardinals just did not have it in them to eventually pay the big money he would have required. As with Albert Pujols, the Cardinals are going to get out of that market before it becomes too expensive.
Justin Verander is already so far along in his rehab that he is doing drills at camp. He arrived early to get a jump start on his rehab so that he does not have to wait to start the season. While it is not known if he will be able to start on opening day, it is clear that the fans will not have to wait a majority of the season to see him. As with other elite athletes, Verlander is doing recovery in record time that is simply impressive to watch whether you are a Tigers fan or not.
In the game as a whole, the teams that have the best chance of winning are the perennial favorites. The Braves, Cardinals, Red Sox, Yankees and Dodgers all have good odds in their divisions. The resurgence of teams like the Orioles, Reds, Pirates and Rays could mean more tightness at the tops of those divisions, but with the two wild card slots, anything could happen during a very long season.
Write in the comments below if you think one team will surprise this year, or if it will be a more standard champion.
The way that the game is progressing, it is fair to assume that there will be less scoring and more pitching dominance. Pitchers all over the league see the market that is out there for them if they have just one more good year. In fact, many pitchers are going to make a great deal of money because of the Clayton Kershaw contract. However, that does not mean that some teams cannot score. Expect teams with loaded rosters to put up runs on the third, fourth and fifth starter of most teams pretty quickly. Also, expect those teams to have a chance at breaking open some major leads with the best teams in the league as we get early playoff matchups going.
Major League Baseball is healthier than ever, and we just have to sit back and enjoy it in 2014.