On the big league side, the Giants employed three specialized hitting coaches to great effect in 2020. This made an immediate impact on the field–a field that shrunk a little before the season when the front office decided to bring in the outfield walls. Last but not least, a huge tarp was hung behind the right center field fence, blocking a gust that might’ve been killing home runs for years. According to the story by Eno Sarris and Andrew Baggarly of The Athletic, the tarp was meant to shield the eyes of looky-loos getting a free peak, so there’s a non-zero chance it remains. If it does, if the park and the wins and the coaching stays the way it was in 2020, I’m taking a second look at every San Francisco prospect, especially left handed hitters. You had to be Barry Bonds on super balm to get to lefty power in previous iterations of the park. Now you can be Brandon Belt. Or Alex Dickerson. Or maybe Hunter Bishop?

One interesting piece of this is I feel like the front office has been targeting right handed bats for quite some time to try and navigate their park. It’s just anecdotal, and Hunter Bishop deflates the relevance pretty quickly, but it’s a thought I’ve been having nonetheless. I’m thinking of the pre-Zaidi group, but even if you look at Farhan Zaidi’s low-stakes acquisitions: Kevin Pillar, Wilmer Flores, Jaylin Davis, Mauricio Dubon, you find mostly righties. Last year’s top ten here had seven righty bats and just two lefties. I dunno, probably just silliness that’s irrelevant now, but thoughts are thoughts, y’all. 

Please, blog, may I have some more?

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The Padres took a turn as America’s team this summer, partly because Fernando Tatis Jr. hit a grand slam on a 3-0 pitch when his team had a three-run lead, partly because the whole team pitched in to make the name Slam Diego stick, partly because we all love a rags to riches story, and the Padres’ future looks as rich as any club in baseball. 

Plus they really went for it in 2020, trading away several key cogs from last year’s list: 5) Taylor Trammell; 6) Joey Cantilllo; 8) Gabriel Arias; 9) Owen Miller after moving 3) Xavier Edwards and Luis Urias during the off-season. Trades are fun. AJ Preller is fun. The Padres are fun. 

Please, blog, may I have some more?
 

The champions enter 2021 with more answers than questions, just as they’ve entered the past few seasons but now featuring the added benefit of some shiny new rings to verify that they are in fact the best as this game. 

Their minor league system, as you’d expect after such a dominant run at the top level, is a little less amazing than it’s been the past few years thanks to a flurry of graduations and the big Mookie trade. It’s still incredibly deep, but the name-value isn’t the same. 

Please, blog, may I have some more?
 

High times in Denver, these are not, at least not in a baseball or football sense. They do still have the Nuggets, so that’s nice. Baseball fans are in a sticky spot though, wanting their team to succeed because while simultaneously somewhere in the back of their minds suspecting the best path forward involves dismantling the whole thing, bringing in a new front office with a long-term vision, trading the left side of the infield, and finding out what they have in the assets they’ve allowed to stockpile and degrade from a perceived-value perspective. 

Please, blog, may I have some more?
 

The temperature reads 23 degrees as I write this sentence, so Arizona sounds pretty great to me right now. The high for Sunday (today) is 82. 

That’s probably cold comfort for Diamondbacks fans, who find their club somewhat adrift at the tail end of a tough 2020 after a promising 2019 and even more promising off-season that saw them sign Kole Calhoun and acquire Starling Marte via trade. This system is deep in potential everyday players and starting pitchers, so I suspect this current downturn could be brief. 

Please, blog, may I have some more?
 

My system overview would be incomplete if it failed to cite JKJ’s recent article from the pages of Razzball, Randy Arozarena & the Ex-Cardinals’ All-Star Team.

I’m not one for pouring salt into open wounds, but I think any sports fan can totally relate to the catharsis endemic to deconstructing the various rosters your team didn’t build, even as that team is relatively successful on the field. 

The redbirds’ minor league build is fine. It’ll probably land mid pack or better for the people who rank whole systems. That evaluation will be a bit inflated by Dylan Carlson’s last gasp of prospect eligibility and Norman Gorman’s residual shine from his early returns, but there’s also plenty of topside waiting in the lower minors and an outstanding 2020 draft class on the way. 

Please, blog, may I have some more?
 

A few days ago, the Pirates made Chris Archer walk the plank. 

They paid lip service to bringing him back at a reduced rate, but keeping him around seems like inviting an ill wind. Every time a Pittsburgh fan sees him in uniform, a painting in an attic somewhere writhes itself into unimaginably hideous shapes.

It’s time to sail on, is all I’m saying. Or just flip the painting so we never have to look at it again. 

The team did well in the draft this year and has honestly my favorite system of the nine I’ve covered so far. I say “honestly” not because I’m mostly lying in this space but to convey my mild surprise at the realization of that thought. I think there’s a strong case to roster sixteen of these young bucs, so I’ve adapted the list a little this week.

Please, blog, may I have some more?
 

Although the season itself was a step in the wrong direction for Milwaukee, several key things went right in 2020. Jacob the Sheriff of Nottingham showed himself to be a capable catcher with enough stick to provide a capable option at the position. Devon Williams established himself as perhaps the game’s most dominant reliever. And Corbin Burnes stepped up to pair with Brandon Woodruff and form a strong one-two punch atop the rotation. These developments combined with a series of promising amateur acquisitions give the Brewers big boozy dreams for 2021 and beyond. 

Please, blog, may I have some more?
 

When the Reds punched their ticket to the expanded 2020 playoffs, I thought they’d be tough on their opponents given their ace-powered pitching staff. 

Atlanta had other plans, and the Cincinnati bats scored a total of zero runs in two games. Very tough to win without runs. 

Nonetheless, the season can be considered something of a success. The team ended a long playoff drought and found some hope for a brighter tomorrow. Life after Trevor Bauer brings new challenges, but a pitching foundation built on Kyle Boddy and Derek Johnson is promising, especially considering the top few arms in the system. 

Please, blog, may I have some more?
 

Once upon a time, the Cubs represented the gold standard of how to complete a rebuild. Now they’re sort of stuck in neutral—still a silver standard in how to compete year over year but not much of a threat to the Dodgers and Rays of the world. Where they go from here is unclear. They missed their window to sell high on Kris Bryant, an unforgettable misstep after they manipulated his service time badly enough to all but guarantee he’d never resign. They have him and Kimbrel on the books for one more year at an inflated rate, so it seems like they’re stuck on the tracks they’re straddling now, sliding their way into the decade with little idea of how the roster will look just three or four years from now. 

Please, blog, may I have some more?