Blog Entry

Spring Training: A time for optimism

Posted on: February 18, 2012 1:33 pm

By Matt Snyder

Come Monday, just two days from now, every single team will have pitchers and catchers in big-league camp. Ten clubs -- Orioles, Twins, Phillies, Pirates, Cardinals, Angels, Cubs, Reds, A's and Giants -- have their pitchers and catchers report Sunday.

Soak it in, fans. The far-too-long wait is over. No more do we have to yearn for the season while chasing Yu Darvish or Yoenis Cespedes or Prince Fielder rumors. Instead, the actual season is closer than the horizon.

When spring training opens for baseball teams, it's the fan version of New Year's Day. Feel free to make baseball fan versions of resolutions, and don't you dare let anyone tell you it's not possible. After all, what would opposing fans have said to a Diamondbacks fan last year at this time if he dared to have the audacity to predict an NL West title?

It's the time for optimism, no matter which team you love. So let's fan the flames. Here's an optimistic -- overly optimistic in some cases -- one-liner on every team that fans of said team can eat up with a spoon. And don't forget to bookmark our spring training landing page while we're at it.

This is the year for the (insert team) because ...

Diamondbacks: Last year was just the beginning. This is a young nucleus just beginning to come into its own. The sky is the limit. 

Braves: Jason Heyward will come into form, giving a gigantic offensive boost and the Kimbrel-Venters duo in the bullpen won't wear down this time around. And the starting pitching depth and talent is insane.

Cubs: There's new management, a new attitude, a new culture and the locker room is finally freed from the Carlos Zambrano albatross.

Orioles: They have pitching depth and catcher Matt Wieters is poised for a huge breakout season to spur the sneaky-talented offense.

White Sox: Adam Dunn, Alex Rios and Jake Peavy will all have huge bounce-back seasons while Matt Thornton finally settles in as closer.

Red Sox: Last September was a fluke, but also a wakeup call. And Daniel Bard proves a solid starting pitcher, as opposed to the man he's replacing (John Lackey).

Reds: No Pujols, no Prince, no Braun (for 50 games)? No problem in the Central for the Reds, who have a pair of aces -- Mat Latos and Johnny Cueto -- with a solid, young offense and good defense.

Tigers: Prince. Cabrera. Verlander. Enough said.

Indians: Ubaldo Jimenez returns to ace form, just as Grady Sizemore plays like he did five years ago. Shin-Soo Choo gets back to his old ways while the youngsters (Jason Kipnis, Lonnie Chisenhall, etc.) come into their own.

Marlins: They had the best offseason of any NL club, so why not the best regular season?

Rockies: Michael Cuddyer and Marco Scutaro moving to Coors Field will be huge, just as the continued growth of Dexter Fowler will be. And Ramon Hernandez working with that young pitching staff -- bolstered by the great Ubaldo trade, which landed Alex White and Drew Pomeranz -- is even better.

Astros: It's the last year in the National League, so they have a going away present -- courtesy of their new owner and GM. And they're keeping the name Astros!

Royals: No need to wait until 2013. The young lineup (Alex Gordon, Johnny Giavotella, Eric Hosmer, Billy Butler, Mike Moustakas, Salvador Perez, Lorenzo Cain, etc.) is ready to take over the AL Central while starter Jonathan Sanchez thrives with his change of scenery.

Twins: Injury-free this season and they're home-free. Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau party like it's 2009.

Angels: Albert Pujols makes the offense as dangerous as any, and who wants to face that playoff rotation (Jered Weaver, Dan Haren, C.J. Wilson, Ervin Santana) in October?

Mets: Ike Davis and Johan Santana return healthy while the likes of Jason Bay and David Wright thrive with the new dimensions of Citi Field.

Dodgers: There are plenty of supporting pieces (Dee Gordon, Andre Ethier, James Loney, Ted Lilly, Aaron Harang, etc.) to superstars Matt Kemp, Clayton Kershaw and a studly 1-2 punch at the back-end of the bullpen in Kenley Jansen and Javy Guerra.

Yankees: Enough talk. Time for No. 28.

Brewers: Ryan Braun's appeal will be upheld and the club won't miss a beat without Prince Fielder chasing the dollars, as Aramis Ramirez and Mat Gamel step up.

Phillies: One fluky playoff series doesn't change the fact that the Phillies were the best team last season. This year they don't fall short.

Athletics: Billy Beane's makeover pays off early, as the likes of Brad Peacock, Tom Milone and Jarrod Parker thrive while Yoenis Cespedes does his Bo Jackson impression all summer, jumpstarting the formerly stagnant offense.

Pirates: The division is much weaker and the Pirates are ready to strike, with A.J. Burnett's change of scenery and Erik Bedard's health. The young offense is as exciting as ever, too, with Jose Tabata and Alex Presley setting up for Andrew McCutchen and Neil Walker.

Padres: Carlos Quentin and Yonder Alonso bring punch to a once-punchless offense while the pitching staff enjoys the fruits of Petco Park.

Cardinals: Albert who? The Cardinals are bigger than one man. The offense will be just fine with Carlos Beltran, Lance Berkman and Matt Holliday in the middle while the pitching staff gets back Adam Wainwright (ever heard of him?).

Giants: Buster Posey is back, Brandon Belt is ready and the outfield has a new Melky Cabrera/Angel Pagan combo -- all of which boost the offense. And you know the pitching is fine. Two titles in three years?

Rays: Compare last year's roster to this year's. The latter is much better already, so they won't need a miracle comeback in September.

Mariners: They finally have some offense, with young Dustin Ackley and Jesus Montero leading the way.

Blue Jays: The bullpen is fixed -- you know, the one that allowed 25 blown saves last year on an 81-81 team.

Rangers: Third time is the charm. Yuuuuuuuuu!

Nationals: You think anyone wants to face Stephen Strasburg, Jordan Zimmermann and Gio Gonzalez in a three-game series? Plus, Jayson Werth and Ryan Zimmerman are due huge bounce-backs and we're about to see the debut of Bryce Harper.

So run with these and expand upon them, fans of every team. If someone tells you otherwise, who cares? Again, no one other than D-Backs fans -- and maybe not even them -- saw Arizona coming last year. Every season has examples like that. As far as baseball fans are concerned, it's the first day of spring. Anything is possible, so bring the optimism.

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Since: May 17, 2007
Posted on: February 20, 2012 6:40 pm

Spring Training: A time for optimism

Winning the Series is not a measure of a league, as neither is the All-Star game.
But the players change leagues so often now, plus with interleague, I don't see how you can call a league "hapless."
Several top teams are at the top most years and the bad teams are usually at the bottom. The rest of them are good one year, so-so the next.

Since: Dec 7, 2008
Posted on: February 20, 2012 2:01 pm

Spring Training: A time for optimism

Soxfan 71,  Hapless national League???????????  who won the freakin World Series. The Red Sox need to staighten out their pitching staff to keep up with the yankees and rays.

Since: Dec 23, 2010
Posted on: February 20, 2012 6:36 am

Spring Training: A time for optimism

The Cardinals learned thier Lesson by losing Albert the best player in Baseball. Albert said once the season started the negoations would end and that was the kiss of death. This is not the Case. Molina goes out and plays his usual solid game and he will get a great contract during the season no questions about that. For this Team losing albert hurt but it is a Team sport.

The Starting Rotation with Wainwright-Carpenter-Garcia isnt too bad. 45 wins out of those 3 Starters is not out of the question. The Starting line up should look like this in May: Furcal---Craig---Beltran---Berkman-


aker---Pitcher. That is a strong lineup 1 through 7. Every Team in Baseball has to worry about Injuries not just the Cardinals. Motte as closer is strong and the whole Bull Pen is strong with young arms in it. The bench is ok. Dont be surprise to see Cardinals in World Series again. Albert will be missed but as I said this  is a Team Sport as shown last year by World Champion Cardinals

Since: Oct 23, 2006
Posted on: February 19, 2012 10:35 pm

Spring Training: A time for optimism

Strasbourg was throwing 96+ and his nasty Curve was Extra nasty in his few starts last year...  Keep saying the kid is done... He'll strike out 17+ in a game this year just watch... Especially in the Hapless National League...

Since: May 17, 2007
Posted on: February 19, 2012 5:52 pm

Spring Training: A time for optimism

I really doubt Strasburg is done but he will apparetly get limited innings this year.
He's not gonna win the Cy Young this season.
Maybe next year.

Since: Jan 17, 2009
Posted on: February 19, 2012 4:52 pm

Spring Training: A time for optimism

Why does everyone talk about Strasburg as if he'll be even half the player he was before his injury? Strasburg is done.

Since: May 8, 2008
Posted on: February 19, 2012 4:50 pm

Spring Training: A time for optimism

Sorry Matt, but you're obviously not a Met fan!!!

Since: Sep 28, 2006
Posted on: February 19, 2012 3:18 pm

Spring Training: A time for optimism

BREES4MVP, so you must love what the Tampa Bay Rays have done in the competetive AL EAST, making the playoffs 3 of the last 4 seasons, with 1 World Series appearance. Here's hoping that this year is no different. It the seems the Royals have started well the last few years and then tapered off by mid June...would love to see them play meaningful games come August.

Since: Jan 2, 2012
Posted on: February 19, 2012 3:05 pm

Spring Training: A time for optimism

I love when the small market teams achieve.  I would love to see the KC Royals, with all of those young players who have progressed through their minor league system, win. 

Since: Sep 17, 2007
Posted on: February 19, 2012 2:13 pm

Spring Training: A time for optimism

Snyder, you MUST tell me your secret... did you get these optimistic nuggets from a magic 8 ball or a pile of fortune cookies?

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