How my soccer clubs are doing?

Previously posted about the expectations of the clubs I follow.

Where are we now?

QPR: "At the low end for QPR is the practical goal of AVOIDING relegation. Given their financial limits due to FFP fines, they aren't going to be bringing in pricey players or even non-pricy players. They will need to make do with their in-house talent of which there are some promising young ones. So if they stay up in the Championship, the season would have to be called a success! If the young players bloom, the high end of the expectations would be to finish in the upper half of the bottom half. There are 24 teams in the Championship so the bottom half is 13-24 and the upper half of that is 13-18. If they get to 18, they should throw a parade around Loftus Road!"

They are currently in 10th place! Can they keep it up?!

LFC: "Man City is still the biggest fish among the big six and remains the favorite to win the Premier League. Thus, a lively race for the title (win or lose) would be wonderful for the long disappointed Liverpool fans. Winning a title of any kind would be nice as well (League Cup, FA Cup, Champions League, or Premier League). The only cup that would be considered a disappointment would be Europa League Cup because that would mean the team crashed out of the group stage in Champions League!"

LFC has crashed out of the League Cup. They are in group stage of Champions League looking solid. Currently, #2 in the Premier league. Can they keep going strong? Hope so!

Falkenberg: "they are one the brink of pulling off automatic promotion back to the top league! They have 11 games to go and eight points ahead of third place Eskilstuna that would qualify for the promotion playoff. Promotion or bust!"

#2 and in automatic promotion place six points ahead of Eskilstuna with two games to go! They should do it! GO FFF!

Elfsborg: "13 games to go and they are in 13th place. 14th place leaves them in relegation playoffs and 15/16th place is automatic relegation. In summer business, they did extend some people (Frick, Kaib, Ronning, Dresevic) but they did sell on (Jebali, Horn) and added (Obasi, Holst). Their defense isn't bad as there are plenty of teams that give up more goals but their offense is anemic with a paltry 15 goals, second worst in the league."

11th place nine points above the relegation playoff spot with two games to go. So they will not be relegated!

LAFC: "They are solidly in the playoffs (3rd place in the west) and are aiming for seeding. Winning the west is not impossible but second is within reach. Aiming very high would be a MLS Cup final appearance. More likely is an appearance in the western conference finals."

They finished third. Will see how far they can go!

LAG: "Their near term goal is to stay afloat. Currently 4th in the west, they need to hang on while the DPs recover. Six teams make the playoffs per conference so finishing 6th is the goal. Hopefully, the DPs come back late in the season and they can get back into form and pull of a surprise and reach the western conference semi-finals."

They nose dived out of the playoff range and made a push at the end and had the #6 spot in their hands with a 2-0 lead over Houston. But they surrendered the lead and eventually lost to finish seventh out of the playoffs.

Dodgers 2018 and 2019 - contracts and plans

Hats off to the Red Sox on winning the 2018 World Series.

In the final analysis, they won on each front: starting pitching, relief pitching, and hitting.

And thanks for the memories to LA Dodgers 2018. It was a rough season of injuries but they managed to pull together enough pieces to make a run all the way to the World Series.

What is 2019 looking like?

Starting pitching: 
Buehler – the new #1
Hill – solid competitor, veteran presence, the number 2 starter
Kershaw – he can opt-out but am thinking Dodgers will extend him a couple of years at reduced cost, but clearly his health issues will need to be looked at carefully and he may need to adjust his pitching style. Perhaps, needs to pick up a fourth pitch? He is now the #3 starter
Ryu – how much effort to make to re-sign him for a couple more years?
Urias – he might be ready to start next year?
Stripling – did he run out of gas but could he return to starting next year or train to be a set-up guy? Maeda – might be time to move him? Long contract might make it hard to move him though.
Wood – might be time to move him?

Relief pitching
Jansen – remains the closer but will be watched more closely regarding work load
Baez – closer in training
Ferguson – will he move to starting? Or train to be a set-up guy?
The rest of the relief corp is a mixed bag. Don't think anyone is a "must keep." Clearly, Dodger relief was outmatched by the Red Sox. This area may require a little more resourcing.

Position players 
Barnes (C) – keep, is Ruiz ready from the minors?
Grandal (C) – time to let go, too much of a lightening rod, is Ruiz ready from the minors?
Freese (1B) – keep, need veteran presence and still productive
Muncy (1B) - keep
Dozier (2B) – keep? he played injured, could he be more productive if recovered?
Turner (3B) keep
Machado (SS) – clearly a rental - he will get big $ somewhere else
Seager (SS) – hope he will be fully recovered
Bellinger (1B, OF) - keep!
Hernandez (OF, 2B, SS) - keep?
Kemp (OF) – his contract is big so maybe deal him to AL so he can DH and occasionally play OF? However, the contract might be too big to move? Is Verdugo ready to move up from the minor leagues?
Pederson (OF) - keep?
Puig (OF) - keep, he came through big on a few occasions, is his contract up for renewal?
Taylor (OF, SS, 2B) – keep?

The 25?
  1. Barnes (C) 
  2. Ruiz or other minor league prospect (C) 
  3. Freese (1B) 
  4. Muncy (1B) 
  5. Dozier (2B)
  6. Turner (3B)
  7. Seager (SS)
  8. Bellinger (OF, 1B)
  9. Hernandez (OF, IF)
  10. Pederson (OF)
  11. Puig (OF)
  12. Taylor (OF, IF)
  13. Verdugo (OF)
  14. Buehler (SP)
  15. Hill (SP)
  16. Kershaw (SP)
  17. Ryu (SP)
  18. Urias (SP)
  19. Stripling (SP)
  20. Jansen (RP)
  21. Baez (RP)
  22. Ferguson (RP)
  23. TBD (RP)
  24. TBD (RP)
  25. TBD (RP)

Additional thoughts - what if the front office decides to "blow up the team" and try to move some of the players out?

Certainly, I don't think any of the relief corp is "safe" beside Jansen, Baez, and Ferguson. Some might be harder to move due to contract issues but I suspect the rest are on the table.

For the starting pitchers, I think Wood and Maeda showed that down the stretch they ran out of gas and might be moved out. If Ryu fetches a high price in the open market, I think the Dodgers won't match it and will let him go. Dodgers might need to get a top level starter to be part of a new 1-2 punch along with Buehler. Hill and Kershaw would be the wily veterans as the #3/4 starters. Urias would be the #5. Everyone else would be on the table to be moved.

Of the platoon players: 
Left handed bat: Bellinger, Pederson, Muncy
Right handed bat: Hernandez, Kemp, Puig, Taylor

Who do you keep?
My feeling of this group Bellinger is probably the only "untouchable" since he is the one with the biggest up-side as a Rookie of the Year in 2017 and finding his way in 2018. He is only going to get better in 2019.

If you want to keep a defensive specialist with versatility, keep one or the other of Taylor and Hernandez. The rest would be on the table to be moved.

Of course putting somebody on the table to be moved doesn't mean they will get moved. You don't "give" players away in bad trades. Don't know if any are up for arbitration or free agency. In the case of free agents, I think Puig is in that category. How much do you want to pay to keep him?

Heading into the October international break

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