Brandon Veale column: This MLB preview is late and just in time

DULUTH — Spring seems to have come late to Northland.

No, I’m not referring to the endless succession of clipper systems that have dumped late-winter feasts on the area for the last four weeks in a row.

I’m talking about the 2022 Major League Baseball season.

Baseball’s powers that be, who have managed not to kill the proverbial goose that lays the golden egg for 25 straight years since the 1994-95 strike, decided to toughen it up a bit. This labor war of choice mainly meant no off-season trading for three months and a lot of hesitation, as Commissioner Rob Manfred seemed surprised that one of the most powerful labor unions in the sport refused to accept any of a number of Clearly bad deals.

Unsurprisingly, when the cost of losing games and negative public opinion began to affect clubs’ actual results, owners came to the bargaining table. After one more attempt at a bad deal, they began arbitrarily canceling games, only to resurrect them a week later when they struck a deal.

What did we, the fans, get? The designated hitter in every game, which I don’t like, but for different reasons than you think. A couple of extra wild cards, which we’ll remember on Labor Day when the .500 teams are still in the playoff race. This week, Manfred gifted MLB players with headphones as a peace offering. There’s no telling whether or not they’ll muffle his words the next time he goes off script and accidentally destroys the game he’s supposed to be the guardian of.

This year’s originally scheduled Opening Day was March 31, which was incredibly early. Although the Twins were supposed to be on the road, not all of them can open in the interior or south, so we probably saved a lot of snowfall. Owners’ willingness to sacrifice some of these games proves their value. School’s not out yet, so that’s one week less of watching baseball players in ski masks trying not to hurt their hamstrings in front of a crowd of 9,000 in winter jackets.

Also, I got justification to write my MLB preview column a week late. Sure, the Brewers and Twins have played four games, but if you plug that into a 17-game NFL schedule, we’re behind in the second quarter of the first game of the year. There’s still a lot to preview and if MLB doesn’t have to start on time, neither do I.

The Twins may have exceeded expectations worse than any other team in baseball last year. After trading José Berríos to Toronto and losing Kenta Maeda to elbow surgery, Minnesota played a little 3-D chess and somehow ended up with the most coveted player on the free-agent market: shortstop Carlos Correa. MLB will use this to try to convince him that his economic system works great while conveniently ignoring that the Correa deal has more easy outs than a Little League team and there’s still a fifth of the league that isn’t trying very hard. .

Correa still can’t pitch, leaving manager Rocco Baldelli to choose between a bevy of youngsters (Bailey Ober, Joe Ryan), recovery projects (Dylan Bundy, Chris Archer, Chris Paddack) and a proven Major League starter in Sonny. Gray.

Putting aside that last weekend’s series against the Mariners is a small showing against a team that could be pretty good, the Twins seem overdue for a positive regression. The American League Central Division, while no longer disastrously bad, is still pretty green. The Twins wisely chose to attack now before the likes of Riley Greene (Tigers), Spencer Torkelson (Tigers) and Bobby Witt Jr. (Royals) feel comfortable in the big leagues. Even then, the Chicago White Sox appear to be at the front of the line, which could take even a good Minnesota team to a busy Wild Card level that includes the Mariners and any of the American League East teams that not be Baltimore.

Speaking of Baltimore, to which the Milwaukee Brewers lost in an interleague game on Monday, they along with the Cubs, Pirates, Reds, Rockies, Nationals, A’s and Diamondbacks, are well within the hopeless MLB contingent for 2022. I think that this would bode well for the Brewers early on, but they are currently 1-3 and have hit 2-for-22 with runners in scoring position this junior season. Wisconsinites accustomed to panicking every time Aaron Rodgers posts on Instagram can take some comfort. The field for the National League Central Division is the highest in baseball last year. Then again, that’s what they said about the Twins this time last year.

So sit back and enjoy the 2022 baseball season, even if you have to do it indoors for another week or 10.

Brandon’s MLB predictions for 2022

AL East: 1. Rays, 2. Blue Jays (WC), 3. Red Sox (WC), 4. Yankees, 5. Orioles
AL Central: 1. White Sox, 2. Twins, 3. Tigers, 4. Royals, 5. Guardians
AL West: 1. Astros, 2. Mariners (WC), 3. Angels, 4. Rangers, 5. A’s
NL East: 1. Braves, 2. Phillies, 3. Mets, 4. Marlins, 5. Nationals
NL Central: 1. Cardinals, 2. Brewers (WC), 3. Reds, 4. Cubs, 5. Pirates
NL West: 1. Dodgers, 2. Padres (WC), 3. Giants (WC), 4. Diamondbacks, 5. Rockies

Wild Card (best of three): Blue Jays over Mariners, Red Sox over White Sox, Brewers over Cardinals, Padres over Giants
Division Series (best of five): Astros over Blue Jays, Rays over Red Sox, Dodgers over Padres, Braves over Brewers
League Championship Series (best of seven): Rays over Astros, Dodgers over Braves
World Series: Dodgers over Rays (in 5)

Brandon Veale is the sports editor of the News Tribune. He can be reached at [email protected].

Leave a Comment