Monday, March 2, 2015

Teams That Are Long Overdue

Chicago Cubs
Established in 1876, the Cubs have made fourteen World Series appearances (discounting the nineteenth century when the Series was not yet official). They are the longest suffering franchise in the majors, having played the last 106 seasons without a world championship. Beginning in 1910, the club assembled a streak of seven consecutive World Series losses. Their last appearance came in 1945, when they bowed to the Tigers in seven games. Despite their penchant for postseason failure, they have one of the largest fan bases in the majors. From 2000-2009, only the Yankees, Dodgers and Giants boasted higher attendance.
Outlook for 2015: The general consensus is that the Cubs should be competitive. They made several major transactions during the offseason and have a slew of top minor league prospects scheduled to join the team this spring.

Seattle Mariners
In existence since 1977, the Mariners have never been to a World Series. Their last playoff appearance was back in 2001, when they tied a single season record for wins with 116. Despite strong performances from Ichiro Suzuki, Edgar Martinez and Bret Boone, the team folded in the ALCS, losing to the Yankees in five games. The past several years have been lean ones for the Mariners. They've finished below .500 in five of the last seven seasons.
Outlook for 2015: Robinson Cano is arguably the best second baseman in the league. Felix Hernandez is among the top starters. Third baseman Kyle Seager is coming off his best season ever and AL home run king Nelson Cruz was acquired from the Orioles in the offseason. Most sources agree that the Mariners will be in Wild Card contention.  

Houston Astros
The Astros began their humble existence as the Colt .45s back in 1962. Since then, they have failed to capture a championship. A World Series berth in 2005 gave fans some hope, but the players who guided that squad to the only pennant in franchise history are long gone. The Astros haven't been to the playoffs since. Three consecutive seasons with 100 or more losses (2011-2013) dramatically illustrated just how far the team has fallen from grace.
Outlook for 2015: The talent is thin and the prospects are grim. Most insiders are predicting a last place finish.

San Diego Padres
The Padres are yet another team without a World Series title. They've been chasing it since 1969. Their last Fall Classic appearance came in 1998, when they got crushed by one of the greatest Yankee teams in history. They've been shut out of the postseason for eight years running.  
Outlook for 2015: Though they haven't finished above .500 since 2010, the Padres are being hailed as a team to watch this year. Several blockbuster deals in the offseason (including the acquisition of Royals' pitching ace James Shields) should dramatically improve the team's fortunes.  

Cleveland Indians
The Indians are a star-crossed franchise. Since their inception in 1901, they've captured just two world championships. The last time they won a World Series, Hall of Famers Bob Feller and Bob Lemon were anchoring their pitching corps. In the sixty-six seasons that followed, the team has been to the playoffs nine times and dropped a total of three World Series (1954/ 1995/ 1997). Lately, they've been on the rise with a Wild Card bid in 2013 and a near-miss last year.
Outlook for 2015: The Indians have the fourth lowest payroll in the league. Though there is some talent present, most notably left fielder Michael Brantley and starting pitcher Corey Kluber, experts agree that it will be extremely difficult for the club to slip past the Tigers and White Sox in the AL Central.   

Pittsburgh Pirates
Founded in 1882, the Pirates have 5 world championships, 9 pennants and 16 playoff appearances to their credit A loss in the 2013 NLDS ended a twenty-year postseason drought. The '70s were the last successful decade for the club as the Bucs captured World Series titles in 1971 and 1979. Some of the greatest players of all time have worn Pirates uniforms, including Honus Wagner, Roberto Clemente and Willie Stargell. But players of that caliber have been absent for quite some time now.
Outlook for 2015: Andrew McCutchen and Starling Marte make a nice outfield tandem. The pitching staff has vast potential. The Pirates should make a run for the Wild Card this year.

Baltimore Orioles
The O's were established in 1901, playing as the Brewers and Browns before adopting their current moniker. Fans have waited a long time for bragging rights. Between 1998 and 2011, the team made zero postseason appearances. The last World Series victory came in 1983. Since their inaugural campaign, the club has averaged just one postseason appearance every sixteen years.
Outlook for 2015: The loss of Nick Markakis and Nelson Cruz will definitely hurt the team's offense. Other players need to step up considerably in order for the O's to repeat their successful 2014 run, which ended with a loss in the ALCS.           

New York Mets
Since joining the National League in 1962, the Mets have logged four playoff appearances and two World Series victories--the last one dating back to 1986. The 2014 campaign marked the eighth consecutive year that the club has been excluded from postseason play. The Mets made a convincing run in 2006 under manager Willie Randolph, but lost to the Cardinals in the NLCS. They haven't been in serious contention since.  
Outlook for 2015: The Mets appear to have some pitching depth. The offense has potential as well with several players needing to bounce back from sub-par seasons. Whether this team will end up in the Wild Card race or not remains to be seen. 

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