By Brian Dostaler
The 2017 Major League Baseball season is upon us and for the first time since the spring of 1909, the Chicago Cubs are the defending World Series Champions. The North Siders, still in baseball heaven following their first World Series Championship in 108 years, are getting ready to win there fourth fall classic. Chicago is poised to make another deep run into October with the likes of last year’s National League MVP Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, Javier Baez, Jon Lester and Jake Arrieta.
For the first time since 2002, the Boston Red Sox will open their season without David Ortiz in there line up. Ortiz, who helped lead the Red Sox to three World Series titles, retired following the 2016 season. The biggest question for Red Sox nation coming into their season opener on April 3rd against the Pittsburgh Pirates, who will replace number 34? Well, its impossible to replace him but with the bats of Hanley Ramirez (.286 batting average, 30 home runs and 111 runs batted in 2016), Dustin Pedoria (.318, 15 and 74) and last year’s runner up in American League MVP Mookie Betts (.318, 31 and 113) all figure to be huge problems for Boston’s opposing pitchers. Boston also acquired left-handed ace pitcher Chris Sale from the Chicago White Sox to bolster their pitching staff that includes last year’s American League Cy Young Award winner, Rick Porcello.
Finally, the two teams in New York, the Yankees and Mets both believe they have what it takes to earn a playoff spot. The Yankees, who did not make the postseason for the third time in four years last year, have a solid young core looking to bring the men in pinstripes back to October baseball. Catcher Gary Sanchez became one of the best stories in the second half of last year’s regular season hit .299, smacked 20 home runs and drove in 42 runs in just 53 games. 24-year old First basemen Greg Bird is hitting .444 with seven home runs in Spring Training. Joe Girardi has already penciled Bird in as his starting first basemen on Opening Day. New York also brings back Ardolis Chapman after the Yankees traded him to the Cubs before the July 31st trade deadline on a 5-year $86 million deal.
The New York Mets did not make any big splashes in the offseason. However, they did re-sign Yoenis Cespedes to a 4-year $110 million deal, which is not only big for the Mets offense, but the fan base as well as Cespedes as become a fan favorite for home fans at Citi Field. The Mets, who fell to the St. Louis Cardinals in the Wild Card game, felt like they didn’t need to add anyone major in the offseason because they believe they just need to be healthy. Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom and Steven Matz al spent time on the Disabled List. Harvey spent the most time as he only made 17 starts.