Two Contenders, Two Pretenders

Contender- Boston Red Sox (14-9) 5.65 RPG 

Boston didn’t have high expectations this season.  The AL East was considered the deepest division in the American League. The Blue Jays, Yankees and Rays all had high expectations coming into 2021 but it has been the Red Sox that have been the most impressive team standing on top of the league, led by their stout offense. 

The Red Sox are the #1 in slugging percentage (.468), 6th in ISO (.180), 1st in hits per game (9.75), third in runs per game (5.17).  The offense has excelled despite the fact that offseason additions Hunter Renfroe, Marwin Gonzalez and Kike Hernandez have given them basically nothing to this point of the season.  Last year’s standout Bobby Dalbec just hit his first homer last night against the mets.  With all of these guys not performing, how is the offense so good?? Simple answer is the return to form of one of the best hitters in baseball over the last five years, JD Martinez.  Martinez has erased the memory of 2020 and begun to return to dominance with a slash line that seems almost inconceivable, .370/.446/.753.  Martinez also has a new co-host to his barrel party, the often forgotten piece of the Mookie Betts trade, Alex Verdugo.  The long-time Dodger top prospect has finally found his swing and together, he and Martinez are running through the league.  

The Red Sox offense has prevailed in an AL East that has suddenly become very winnable with the struggles of the Yankees and the injuries to the Blue Jays.  The Sox will be around for awhile because they rebuilt their bullpen and found the offense that was never seen in 2020 

Pretender- Seattle Mariners (13-9)

Seattle is a town known for their rainy weather but the future of their baseball team is very bright.  The sunshine has begun to peak through the clouds at the start of the 2021 season.  The Mariners are still waiting for their star prospects to make their way to the bigs.  Jarred Kelenic and Julio Rodriguez are both going to be in the bigs sooner rather than later but for now the Mariners are showing signs of life with their current crop of rising stars.  Ty France has looked like the diamond of the deal made last year with San Diego, Taylor Trammell has gotten some big hits and is showing major power and Marco Gonzalez seems like a steal.  

The Mariners have come out of the gates on fire.  They are pulling out victories that they would not have a year prior.  Their bullpen has been great for Seattle but their lack of depth in the rotation is already starting to show.  Outside of Chris Flexen the rotation has a cumulative ERA of over 4.5.  As a staff they are bottom ten in walks per game, they give up a ton of free bases and it has come back to haunt them.  Seattle has given their fnabse some hope for the future but it would be the best situation for them to move on from veterans like Kyle Seager and Mitch Haniger at the deadline to try and continue to build up the pitching staff.  As the Astors get healthy and the Angels find their consistency on offense, Seattle will be fighting to stay out of the cellar of their own division. 

Contender- Milwaukee Brewers (13-8)

The Brewers stink on offense, like historically. As a team Milwaukee is hitting just .208, good for 27th in baseball and they strike out 28% of their at bats.  This is a team that for half of the season actually had Christian Yelich in their lineup. Despite their abysmal offense the Brewers still find themselves on top of the NL Central.  

The offense is putrid but Manager Craig Counsell finds ways to get just enough from his bats to back up his elite level pitching.  Corbine Burnes leads a staff that has been lights out from the start of the season and shows no signs of slowing down.  Along with Burnes is ace 1A Brandon Woodruff, who has allowed just five runs in 29 innings pitched this year.  On most teams that would make him the “top guy”, in this rotation, he is just another guy.  Milwaukee is more than just a top two, 25-year old Freddy Peralta looks to finally be healthy enough to show off the potential the organization has always seen in him.  Peralta has announced himself to the league and makes for a filthy #3 starte .  

The Brewers will eventually get their star Christian Yelich back.  His time away has allowed other players to get more at-bats and find their way at the plate. Long time prospect Billy McKinney has shown some pop and veteran slugger Travis Shaw has seemed to be reborn in his return to the Brewers after a season away in Toronto.  The Brew Crew will never be a potent offense but they have enough power to put themselves up at any moment and feature some of the nastiest arms out of the bullpen as you will ever see.  The NL Central is currently up for grabs and this team can pitch themselves into the playoffs.  

Pretender- San Francisco Giants (14-8)

The Giants currently sit in second place in the NL West and first place in the very early wild card rankings.  The Giants have leaned on their pitching staff in 2021, currently as a team they have the third lowest ERA (2.94) sitting just behind division powerhouses the Dodger and Padres.  San Francisco has accumulated this pitching staff by taking a lot of risks on veterans in free agency.  Their rotation consists of Aaron Sanchez, Alex Wood, Anthony DeScalfani, Johnny Cueto, Kevin Gausman and Logan Webb.  Only Cueto could conceivable consider himself ever to be a team’s #1 starter, the rest were talented guys that have never panned out on the major league level consistently but they have found a home with the Giants. They are a staff that doesn’t give up free passes, they force teams to put the ball in play and it has worked out so far. 

The Giants know how to take advantage of a matchup. You will likely never see Darin Ruf or Austin Slater both in the lineup against a righty and the same goes for Alex Dickerson against a lefty. The Giants play their advantage and do what they can to get the most out of their hitters.  Their offseason addition of Tommy LaStella added another veteran to a lineup that is loaded with quality hitters.  Evan Longoria has had a resurgence to begin the season, leading the team with a .972 OPS, while future hall of famer Buster Posey has also picked up his old form with a .911 OPS.  The Giants rely on matchups and 

The NL West is very top heavy so the Giants could find themselves with a chance to make a run for a wild card spot by beating up the bottom dwellers Arizona and Colorado but they lack the depth in the rotation to make a long run.  What San Fran has done to start the season has impressed but they are yet to have a single matchup against the elite in the national league.  When they get their matchups with the Dodgers and Padres reality will set in and that reality is that they are rebuilding.  They have some solid major league talent but to compete in the loaded NL West they need more firepower  If their veteran rotation continues to impress they will have solid trade chips to improve their top ten ranked farm system.  Joey Bart and Mario Luciano will be on their way to the bigs leagues soon and this team will be ready to make a run, but not this year.

Deep Fantasy Sleepers MLB


Bobby Dalbec, 1B, Boston Red Sox (ADP 285)

Do you like dingers?   We all like dingers, Bobby Dalbec really likes dingers.  He hits them in bunches.  In 2019 Dalbec smashed 27 homers in 130 games in the Red Sox minor league system.  He immediately jumped up the prospect list for Boston becoming their top power prospect in the system.  His power transitioned very well in his first official shot in the show.  In 23 games last season he hit eight homers with an insane .330 ISO.  

The path has been cleared for the 25 year-old rookie.  Mitch Moreland was moved last season and the team has moved on from the thought of Michael Chavis at first base.  Dalbec will be inserted right into the middle of a lineup that features plenty of protections around him.  His bat is made for Fenway Park’s green monster and he will be a value for anyone looking for power in the late rounds.  He brings a high strikeout rate and a lack of on-base consistency but with an ADP of 285 he is an extreme value for someone that needs depth and huge potential upside. 

Jared Walsh, 1B, Los Angeles Angels (ADP 208)

The Angels found themselves a gem last season.  The 27-year-old Walsh hit 9 homers and knocked in 26 runs in just 30 games during the 2020 campaign.  Walsh is a late bloomer, but the power didn’t come from nowhere.  In 2018 Walsh had a .329 ISO and in 2019 he followed that up with a .361 ISO in triple-A.  The Angels have a surplus of power hitting first baseman and DH candidates but they won’t be able to ignore the production that Walsh brings.  

Albert Pujols has already announced that he intends to retire at the end of the season and the Angels need to look toward the future at the position.  Walsh brings power and a solid defensive ability which will be an asset to the Angels.  At-bats will be inconsistent this season to start but he is worth a shot in the later rounds to stash. He can easily find himself with consistent opportunities hitting in front of Mike Trout and behind David Fletcher. 

Dylan Moore, INF/OF, Seattle Mariners (ADP 156)

Dylan Moore was a huge pick up for me last season.  His ability to play mutliple positions makes him a great fit into any fantasy lineup.  He had a terrific 2020, in 38 games Moore stole 12 bases, hit 8 homers with an OPS of .854.  The Mariners are in a transition year, with top prospects Taylor Trammell, Julio Rodriguez and Jarred Kelenic soon to be joining Kyle Lewis in the middle of the order, Seattle will be looking to find out who else will be rounding out their roster for the future.  

Moore has the flexibility to fit into the Seattle lineup everyday and hit at the top of the order due to his speed.  Last season had a bit of luck involved but his tools are great for anyone looking for literally anything.  

Bobby Bradley, 1B, Cleveland Indians, (ADP 819)

Fantasy pros has Bobby Bradley projecting in the 800’s.  Calling him a sleeper is very much an understatement.  Bradley brings real power to the table, hitting 33 homers last year in triple-A and following it up with a terrific spring training.  The 24-year old Bradley has been a top prospect in the Indians system since being drafted in 2014.  When given at bats all he does is produce.  In his minor league career his WRC+ has never gone below 109 and his ISO has never gone below .175.  

The Indians cleared the path for Bradley this offseason and he has shown what he can do in the spring.  A young Indians team can allow him to continually get at-bats in the middle of the lineup.  You may not even need to draft Bradley but keep your eye on him post draft if you need some power. 

Myles Straw, SS/OF, Houston Astros (ADP #322)

Astros manager Dusty Baker announced that Myles Straw is a likely candidate to take over the lead-off role with the departure of George Springer.  Straw gives you two position flexibility at both SS and OF.  Straw has been a top prospect in the Astros system since 2015, he got his first real chance in the majors in 2019 where he showed some of his potential stealing 8 bases, scoring 27 runs with a .378 OBP in 56 games.  

Spring training has been a revelation for what he can bring to the Astros with a slash line of .346/.370/.500.  If he is named starter his ADP of #322 makes him an extreme bargain for anyone looking to get a player that will score runs and steal bases.  

Cardinals need to replace Wong. Free agent options.

The Cardinals decided to let Kolten Wong walk this offseason.  They didnt want to pick up his club option that would have paid him $12.5 million in 2021.  Contracts of other players such as Dexter Fowler and Matt Carpenter are likely a big reason why the club felt paying a rather steep price for a second baseman with just two seasons of WAR over 3 was not worth it.  While his 2020 shortened season numbers were not impressive he still leaves a void in the Cardinals lineup that has to be filled.  Internal options Tommy Edman and Edmund Sosa will likely get the first shot. There are external options that may be affordable and impactful.  

Enrique Hernandez, 29, 1.1 WAR (2020)

The Cardinals are one of the worst teams in baseball against left-handed pitching over the last two seasons.  St. Louis had just an OPS of .713 in 2020 against southpaws.  Enter in Kiki Hernandez.  A long time lefty smasher, Hernandez has been a vital bench player for the World Champion Los Angeles Dodgers since 2014.  He carries a career OPS of .820 versus lefties and tons of versatility on top of that. 

Hernandez will be a cheaper option to Wong as he is projected to sign for just around $6 million a year.  Adding a player that can play multiple positions and provide some pop to a lineup that lacks consistent power options would be an answer to a few of the St. Louis offensive problems.

Johnathan Villar, 30, -0.3 (2020), 4.0 (2019)

Villar had a disastorous 2020, there is no other way around it.  Cashing in on this would be advantageous to anyone willing to take a shot on the veteran.  Villar brings instant offense to any team with his speed and power.  Villar had the best season of his career in 2019 hitting 24 homers and stealing 40 bases.  He had his second highest career OBP at .339.   

Villar is a high-risk, high reward option that will be cheap.  His ability to switch hit is also a great value for late game moves. 

Tommy LaStella, 32, 3.2 WAR (2020)

Tommy LaStella not being signed yet is a great example of the ridiculous nature of MLB free agency at the moment.  A veteran player that has hit at an all-star level over the last two seasons is still sitting on the market without much of an idea on where he will be next season. 

LaStella has had two straight seasons with a WRC+ over 120.  In 2020 LaStella ranked 25th overall in the league in OBP (.370).  He would fit very nicely into the leadoff spot that was vacated by Wong.  While he doesn’t have the speed that Wong brings to the table his ability to get on base could set up very nicely for Paul Goldschmidt.   An inability to consistently hit lefties has hampered LaStella’s overall numbers but the Cardinals could easilit platoon him with Tommy Edman, allowing for a solid bat to be used later on in the game. 

Cardinals trades that won’t happen but should.

Clint Frazier, New York Yankees

The Yankees are stacked with outfielders.  They could use some pitching depth.  The Cardinals are stacked with you pitchers and could really use some power in the outfield. Frazier is coming off of his best season in the bigs.  Filling in for Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge for a bulk of his shortened season, Frazier was able to finally show off the skills that had once rated him as one of the top offensive prospects in all of baseball. 

Frazier, 26, is still very young and can immediately be an impact bat in the middle of the Cardinals offense. Playing in 39 games in 2020, Frazier hit 8 homers with an ISO of .244.  Frazier’s power is the real deal, he hit 12 homers in just 69 games in 2019. He has shown an ability to continue to develop as he was able to have a career high .387 OBP this season while getting a nomination for the gold glove.  

The Cardinals could have a chance to grab a talented young hitter that is ready to get full time at bats.  The Yankees may not have the interest they once did in Carlos Martinez but a package of Martinez and another young hurler could be enough to grab Frazier.  This would be a win for both clubs.  

There is no reason not to go after Frazier.  The only argument anyone could make is that he is unproven long term.  Well all players are at some point and he has had a lot more success at the major league level than O’Neil, Bader, Thomas or Justin Williams.  

Trevor Story, Colorado Rockies

Why does everyone always talk about the Cardinals getting Nolan Arenado or Francisco Lindor?  What about Trevor Story. Like Lindor, Story is a free agent to be in after the 2021 season.  The Rockies likely will look to move Story for some assets if they think they will not be able to resign him. His abilities have been overshadowed by his fellow left side of the infield partner Arenado but his numbers match up very well.  Story has added speed to the arsenal over the last three seasons.  He actually led the league in steals in 2020 with 15.  

The power is what will attract potential suitors.  His numbers away from Coors have not been great but his six homers in opposing parks last season show that the power will travel.  It’s time for the Cardinals to move on from the Paul DeJong experiment.  While Lindor seems to be the popular choice Story could come at a cheaper price.  

Whit Merrifield, Kansas City Royals

Whit Merrifield is insanely underpaid. He signed a 4-year extension in 2020 worth just $16.25 million.  Kansas City is still a few years away from being truly competitive in the American League.  They have an asset in Merrifield that they can move for some serious pieces to complete their full rebuild.  Merrifield is a perfect fit for the Cardinals at the top of the order.  Putting him in front of Golschmidt will immediately be a step up from Kolten Wong and Tommy Edman.  

Merrifield has been on the market for most of his career in Kansas City.  They are running out of time to move him for top value and could be pressed to do so soon.  The Cardinals could get a guy that led the league in hits in 2019, two straight years of an OPS of .800 while stealing 111 bases since his debut in 2017.  Merrifield is a hit machine that is the answer for a leadoff spot that has lacked consistency. 

Ketel Marte, Arizona Diamondbacks

The Cardinals were able to raid the Arizona selling spree two years ago by adding Paul Goldschmidt.  There is a new star that Arizona may have lost faith in last year, Ketel Marte.  Marte was not the same player in 2020.  Coming off of a career year in 2019 a lot was expected of Marte.  The Diamondbacks dealt with inconsistencies in the lineup and rotation.  Marte and the rest of the team were never able to overcome their slow start.  

Marte fits into a similar mold as the aforementioned Merrifield but his youth and potential make him a potential steal.  Marte has not been given a chance to excel on a winning team where he is protected in the lineup.  Putting him in front of Goldschimdt will force opposing pitchers to throw to challenge him and when he makes contact the results have spoken for themselves.    

Marte is locked in to a serviceable contract that will at its max pay him just $12million in the final year. The contract is affordable and will finish in his age 30 season in 2024.  He is cheap and has a ceiling that is vastly higher than any option the Cardinals currently have.

Ranking top three offensive free agents for the St. Louis Caridnals

The Cardinals offense sucked in 2020.  There were a lot of factors that played into that, including the long layoff from positive Covid tests but, to be honest they were not much better in 2019.  Heading into the 2021 the rotation and bullpen is loaded with options that are above league average.  The biggest need will be on the offensive side of the ball.  The upcoming offseason doesn’ feature the Manny Machado, Bryce Harper or Mike Trout’s that the fanbase would crave over but there are some options that can bring some much needed production to the lineup. 

This list is focusing on just the offensive free agents.  Guys like Liam Hendricks, and Trevor Bauer (whom both should be on the Cardinals radar) will be completely excluded from this list  

3. DJ LeMahieu, 32, INF

Who wouldn’t want a two-time batting champion with position versatility?  No one is the answer.  The reason LeMahieu isn’t number one on this list is that he has already verbally stated that he wants to resign with the Yankees. 

LeMahieu has the ability to play every infield spot including SS if in a bind and he can do it at a high level. His batting statistics jump at you but quietly he has amassed a nice collection of gold gloves (3) in his career. After two terrific seasons in New York amassing a WRC+ of 135 and 177 respectively.

The experiment of Paul DeJong at shortstop has been unsuccessful.  DeJong’s power has shown through his career hitting 35,19, and 30 homers over the last three seasons before 2020.  Moving DeJong to the bench, would be the best option for the team.  Resigning Kolten Wong, moving Tommy Edman to shortstop and having LeMahieu at third would be the best option for the team.  

2. Nelson Cruz, 40, DH

The DH in the national league is here to stay. The Cardinals have a chance to add a monster bat and not hurt themselves on the defense.  The ageless wonder Nelson Cruz is the answer to all the problems that you have in the ISO department. Since 2014 Nelson Cruz’s ISO has not gone below .250.  In comparison the highest Cardinals outfielder ISO was Harrison Bader at just .217.  St. Louis needs power and they need it badly.  With a team slugging percentage of .373 they rank 27th in the entire league.  

The protection of Nelson Cruz can open up a lot of possibilities in the Cardinals lineup.  Their lone star Paul Goldschmidt has had literally no protection behind him, with the Cardinals cleanup hitters in the bottom five in every offensive category. Cruz is the perfect fit for the Cardinals because he brings one thing to the table and that is power.  It is exactly what the Cardinals need; he can be gotten at an affordable price for a likely one-year deal. 

1. Marcell Ozuna, 30, OF/DH

Marcell Ozuna’s first go round with the Cardinals wasn’t ideal.  His two seasons with the redbirds Ozuna saw just a grand total of just .777.  Ozuna played his Cardinals tenure with a serious shoulder injury that held back his offensive abilities.  

Ozuna took a shot on himself signing a one-year deal with the Atlanta Braves. Through sixty games Ozuna not only put himself in the conversation for the MVP, but his protection for Freddie Freeman took his ability to the next level. Ozuna led the National League in homers, RBI, and total bases.  A motivated Marcell Ozuna can be a game changer the Cardinals thought they had traded for. 

A second go around in St. Louis doesn’t seem likely but on the list of things that Cardinals need he fits the bill.  A contract of four years and $125 million would be the likely number that would bring him in, at just 30 years old he is still young enough that the Cardinals can have him for the prime years of his career. He can be the staple of the offense along with Paul Goldschmidt and the newly emerging Dylan Carlson.  A core lineup featuring those three can immediately make them a contender.  

Ranking the top trades of the deadline.

Honorable Mention:  Orioles receive Terrin Vavra and Tyler Nevin for Mychal Givens

Padres get Trevor Rosenthal for Edward Olivares (Both winners)

5. Mariners get a great haul for Nola.  Add Ty France,Taylor Trammell, Andres Munoz and Luis Torrens.

The longest running rebuild currently in baseball took a huge step forward during the trade deadline swapping out Austin Nola for four players that may be mainstays in the future of the organization.  

The Seattle Mariners picked up the best prospect in the trade market; Taylor Trammell.  Trammell was the same guy that was moved last season for Trevor Bauer, he now finds himself on his third team in the last two seasons.  It’s not a lack of talent that has kept him on the move it’s the value he brings to the table.  Projecting as a future leadoff hitter he could be given a chance to play in the majors earlier than most predicted but he should pay off in the long run for Seattle. 

Ty France is a major league ready player that was blocked at both corner infield positions for San Diego.  It’s likely that France will take over full time at first base for the Mariners asap. 

Andres Munoz is a power arm that will not see the field until late 2021 due to Tommy John surgery, this guy is a future closer if he can stay healthy.  100mph fastball and a nasty slider.  Go check out this guys stuff. 

4. The Reds bolster the bullpen with Archie Bradley.

The Reds were a sleeper team to take the NL for most people after their huge offseason adding Nick Castellanos and Mike Moustakas to go along with arguably the best top three starters in all of baseball. Their one achilles heel has been the depth and consistency of their bullpen.  

Offseason addition Pedro Strop has not worked out well as he has officially been sent to their secondary site while fan favorite Michael Lorenzen has been a complete disappointment.  Cincinnati has the fourth worst bullpen ERA in all of baseball, they needed help and they went out a got it by picking up Arizona reliever Archie Bradley.  Bradley’s exterior numbers don’t look great.  His ERA sits at 4.22 with a WHIP of 1.50 in his ten games this season.  What is intriguing about Bradley though is his FIP is just 2.01 and his K/9 is 10.1.  In Great American Ballpark you have to have swinga and miss stuff and Bradley brings that to the table. 

3. Starling Marte to the Marlins.

No one would have thought that the Marlins would be buyers at the trade deadline but they surprised us all when they went out and grabbed one of the best available bats in Starling Marte. Marlin’s outfielders have been atrocious in 2020 hitting .215/.308/.326.  The addition of Marte puts a legit star in the middle or top of the lineup.  Marte’s .382 OBP makes him an immediate threat in front of Garrett Cooperm Jesus Aguilar and Brian Anderson. 

2. The Padres add Austin Nola, Dan Altavilla  and Austin Adams.

The Padres did a lot to improve themselves during the deadline.  The highlight of their trade with the Mariners was no doubt Austin Nola, I will get to him.  Austin Adams will join a bullpen that has some of the best arms in baseball.  Adams has struck out 51 batters in 31 innings in 2020, holding a WHIP of 1.09.  Adams will be a middle inning phenom to help get to Trevor Rosenthal, Drew Pomeranz and hopefully the returning Kirby Yates.  

Austin Nola has emerged as one of the best hitting catchers in baseball in 2020.  .306/.373/.531 slash line puts him at elite level for his position.  San Diego has a deep lineup that just got way deeper.  He brings a lot of pop to backup the stars of the lineup.  

1. Padres add an ace.  Mike Clevinger. 

The Padres offense has taken off ahead of schedule in 2020.  Fernando Tatis Jr. has emerged as the future face of baseball and the assets around him have begun to take shape into a serious contender in this shortened season.  

Clevinger joins a rotation that already includes two potential superstars Chris Paddack and Dinelson Lamet.  They now have a threesome that can go up against the powerful roster of the Los Angeles Dodgers.  The Padres will now become a team that no one wants to play in the opening round series that are just three game series. 

Who steps up for Mikolas?

The return of Carlos Martinez to the rotation should have been a celebration in the city featuring the best fans in baseball.  The eccentric “Tsunami” bringing his big personality and elite level stuff back into the rotation should have been a huge step in the right direction for a Cardinals rotation that is widely known for their depth. It did not go as planned, Martinez getting smacked around for six runs over two innings. The Cardinals will need better outings from their former ace and closer going forward with the news of the injury to Miles Mikolas, sidelining him for the remainder of 2020.  Martinez isn’t the only one that is going to have to step up for the Cardinals; there are multiple players that are going to need to take the next step fast.  

Austin Gomber 

Gomber played the role of long reliever and janitor, cleaning up the mess that Martinez made on the mound at Target Field.  Gomber pitched 1.2 innings striking out one and holding down the powerful Twins lineup long enough to attempt a comeback.  

Gomber’s immediate role looks like he will be in the mop up role for all starters that struggle out of the gate.  Rather than utilize him as a primarily left handed stopper he will be looked upon to eat up an average of two innings per appearance. He has two plus pitches he can utilize out of the pen, making him perfect for the current landscape of the MLB.   

The lengthy lefty brings a better pace to the game rather than Daniel Ponce de Leon.  He can come in and immediately throw strikes which has been an issue in the past for Ponce de Leon. 

Ryan Helsley

At one time he was considered a potential starter, coming into the season he was considered a possible closer.  Now he will be put into a premier setup role. Helsley will be looked at to pitch multiple innings in order to get to closer, Kwang Hyun Kim.  

If Kim is forced into the rotation Helsley is ready to slip straight into the closer role.  His ability to get out batters from both sides of the plate make him an instant successor based on the needs of the organization.  Helsley has the ability and poise to take the spot and run with it.  

Kodi Whitley

Whitley unexpectedly excelled in 2019 at both double-A and triple-A.  Whitley has the ability to miss bats averaging 10K/9 through both levels.  With Ryan Helsely and Giovanny Gallegos being forced into more multi-inning roles throughout the shortened season more opportunity could come Whitely’s way down the stretch in big moments.  

Whitley was utilized in relief against the Twins middle of the order that featured Josh Donaldson, Jorge Polanco and Nelson Cruz.  Whitley showed his mid-90s fastball and an exceptional change up that was able to keep the powerful bats off balance.  The Cardinals will be giving the 25-year old hurler a chance to become a more important factor earlier than planned but he has the stuff to be great.

The Cardinals bullpen has been stellar to start the season.  They have cleaned up the messes made by Carlos Martinez and Dakota Hudson.  In the format they will have to continue to be leaned on throughout the season.  Hudson and Martinez will improve but it will take more than a single person to overcome the loss of an innings eater like Mikolas.  The organization will need to continue to trust their young arms and they will be rewarded. 

Now if the offense could just get going….

The future of the Frontier League – An interview with Manager Phil Warren.


The Frontier League was forced to suspend the 2020 season on June 24th.  The longest running independent baseball league in the United States was looking at a banner year.  The recent expansion with the Can-Am League in the offseason was not only going to add five new teams to the league but was also going to expand the league into another country.  The expansion was going to lead to a new level of exposure for the league that is known more as a midwestern league.  The Gateway Grizzlies were going to celebrate their 20th season as a part of the Frontier League.  Their manager Phil Warren was going to enter his 14th season with the organization.  He was excited to get a chance to see arguably the most talented collection of coaches and players come together during the tenure of the season.  He won’t get that chance.  I got a chance to talk with him about that and what he thinks about the future of baseball. 

With the addition of an unlikely ally the upcoming season was going to have a new look and a new voice helping to guide the Grizzlies. Cross town rivals the River City Rascals closed operations after winning the Frontier League Championship in 2019.  Long time Rascal’s skipper Steve Brook signed on to work alongside Warren bringing along a load of talent from the championship squad. 

“We anticipated several “hard” releases that would have to be made before opening day, which means we had done a great job this off-season.” -Grizzlies Manager, Phil Warren

Warren will be looking at the first season since he was in 8th grade that baseball wasn’t his main priority.  While he is excited for the chance to fish as much as he would like and go on vacation with his family the question of “what if” is going to be on his mind and the minds of the fanbase.  

“We now have turned our attention to building on the assembled 2020 roster to ensure that 2021 has the same outlook.  The work never stops if you want to ensure a successful future.” 

While the coaching staff will work to replenish the roster, there will be plenty of options available in the open market.  With professional teams continuing to cut costs at different minor league levels the access of talent will be available.  Warren spoke about the continued issues between Major League Baseball and the Player’s Association.

“In terms of the future between the players and the owners, this isn’t anything new. Money will always be the driving force.  I think we are simply getting a taste of what’s to come by 2022,  they are able to hide the real issues under the smoke screen of COVID-19.  Ultimately the fans are the ones that will suffer.”

Unlike the MLB season the Frontier League season was not able to make the finances work heading into 2020.  The loss of nearly three months of income along with the limitations of event hosting forced the hand of the ownership groups across the league. Most teams have found ways to supplement their facilities with high school, littel league and other events that can bring in some income but the loss of the season could lead to a lot of different issues down the line for every organization. 

The Frontier League will plan to be back in 2021. The question will be what players and staff will return for most of these organizations.  With a large portion of the staff being forced to be furloughed alot of these talented employees and players could find themselves working in either a different organization or changing their careers completely.  The future is uncertain for the entire league but the Gateway Grizzlies and Phil Warren still see a future in the smallest town in the United States with a professional baseball team in Sauget, Illinois. 

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