The Washington Nationals finished the season with a 96-66 record. They won their division and made the playoffs eventually losing in the NLDS 3-1 to the eventual World Series champion San Francisco Giants. They have won their division twice in the last four seasons, and they spent their off season adding firepower and fixing those areas where they were the weakest.
Over the last few seasons the Nationals have traded away a ton of young pitching talent. After landing the big prize of Max Scherzer this off season and dealing for Doug Fister last off season, the Nats did not trade away any young arms this winter. They added to what they already had, and that kind of balance is the hardest thing to achieve in sports -- the needs of today versus the needs of tomorrow.
The Nationals feature one of the best starting rotations in baseball right now. They have also assembled one of the most complete lineups as well. The only real concern there is health. Already Jason Werth, Denard Span, and Anthony Rendon have hit the disabled list, but the Nats are finding ways to fill those holes and when this roster gets healthy it will be tough to beat. more >>
The Canadian Football League has approved major rule changes for the 2015 season. Most of the new rules deal with the point after conversion with an emphasis on making that play less automatic and create a more exciting convert attempt for the fans.
The CFL's President and Chief Operating Office Matt Copeland made the following statements as reported by CFL.ca: "The Board endorsed the view that this is a great time for our league to innovate. We're looking forward to putting in place changes that have the potential to improve an already great game."
The one point kick which was being snapped at the 12 yard line will now be moved back to the 32 yard line. In 2014 99.4 percent of the single point kicks were successful, which makes for boring play. In field goals attempted from the 31-33 yard line, the percentage dropped to 81 percent, which makes a one point convert less of an automatic play. more >>
For the first time in his professional career, Justin Verlander has been placed on the disabled list. Verlander strained his triceps in his final Sprint Training start. The Detroit Tigers were hopeful he would be healthy enough to pitch on April 12, but that was not to be. He will be eligible to return April 13.
To replace his spot on the roster, the Tigers will turn to left hander Kyle Lobstein, who never really had a shot to make the big league roster and was assigned to the Triple A Toledo Mud Hens. Lobstein will make the start on April 12 against the Cleveland Indians. Lobstein spent 2014 in Toledo recording a record of 9-11with a 4.07 ERA and 1.479 WHIP.
"It's disappointing," Verlander told Mlive.com. "Obviously, everything I'm doing was to try to get ready for Sunday. The days just kind of stack up. I needed to be able to pitch on Tuesday to be able to do that. I just wasn't ready." more >>
Rick Porcello just got paid. Following an off-season trade to the Boston Red Sox and a year away from hitting the open market Porcello signed a four-year $82.5 million extension that will likely keep him in Boston and may even make him the ace of their staff.
The deal will pay Porcello $20 million per season for the first two years and then $21 million dollars for the last two. It also contains a limited no trade clause where Porcello can block trades to three clubs.
$20 million a season may be a lot to pay for Porcello, and the Red Sox have gambled big on their off season acquisition. They are betting he takes the next step in his development. In Detroit Porcello was a back-of-the-rotation starter with decent stuff. At 26-years-old he is entering his sixth full season in the major leagues but he has never shown that he has Ace stuff. He does induce a lot of ground ball, and that will serve him well in Fenway Park, but he is still somewhat unproven. more >>
The Detroit Tigers' bullpen got a little thinner yesterday. On the same day that the team placed starter Justin Verlander on the disabled list and recalled Kyle Lobstein from Triple A Toledo to take his place, the team also announced the closer Joe Nathan would make a trip to the 15-day disabled list as well. Blaine Hardy has been brought up to fill a spot in the bullpen. Joakim Soria has been named the interim closer, but the team expects Nathan to get healthy and return to that role.
The bullpen is the weakest part of the Tigers 2015 roster. This move leaves the Tigers without a solid 8th inning guy, which is compounded by the fact that they do not have a designated 7th inning guy. However, while some view that as a negative, it gives Manager Brad Ausmus an opportunity to run his bullpen more like famed Tigers skipper Sparky Anderson. Ausmus has a week or so to use guys in multiple roles and to see exactly what he has in the pen and who can be counted on down the road.
Even though Nathan earned his first save of the year on Opening Day, it seems he has been battling arm soreness for a bit now. more >>
The Arizona Diamondbacks were 64-98 in 2014 after finishing with a 81-81 record the two season prior. They hired Tony La Russa to be their Chief Baseball Officer and have now entered a rebuilding project. Manager Kirk Gibson and his staff were replaced, and now LaRussa and new General Manager Dave Stewart have gone about rebuilding their roster. They feel like they are close to contending, and have been very active this off season.
Chip Hale is the new manager, and he came over from the Oakland Athletics. This is his first MLB managerial job. He faces an interesting challenge in Arizona. The Diamondbacks were a last-place club but his front office expects the team to finish with a winning record and possible even contend for the division sooner rather than later.
The Diamondbacks have a plan and the went about their off season work shedding themselves of contracts that felt were not making the team better on the field. They took those saving and reinvested them in talent. Most notable the team signed Cuban slugger Yasmany Tomas to a six year $68.5 million deal. However, the is an opt out clause in the deal after year four. Many expected the 24-year-old to fetch a $100 million deal so the Diamondbacks might have gotten him for a bargain. more >>