I am going to do team breakdowns for teams whose pitchers and catchers report on February 14. I am doing this one early so people can make comments and check it out before the players report. I am also going to give my predictions for their season and give a player that is the key to their respective team's success.
There are 8 teams whose pitchers and catchers report on February 14th are the Baltimore Orioles, Kansas City Royals, Oakland Athletics, Seattle Mariners, Chicago Cubs, Houston Astros, Philadelphia Phillies, San Francisco Giants.
Now to start with the American League.
The Orioles unloaded 2 of their best players this offseason in Erik Bedard and Miguel Tejada. I believe the Orioles will struggle this year especially when the ace of their staff is Jeremy Guthrie or Daniel Cabrera. Their offense doesn't look to strong this year either. I think that the Orioles will be the Cellar Dwellers in the AL East and could very well end up with the worst record in the MLB. The player who is the key for Orioles if they want to be a suprise team this year is Brian Roberts. That's even if he is with the team at the end of Spring Training. There are rumors that the Orioles might deal Roberts to the Chicago Cubs. Roberts will have to be the table setter for the Orioles offense by getting on base and causing havoc on the basepaths.
Final Thoughts- Like I said before the Orioles are going to struggle this year. I expect them to be the worst team in the MLB.
2008 Record: 66-96 5th in AL East
The Royals didn't make too many moves this offseason. Their biggest moves were the signing of Jose Guillen and the hiring of Trey Hillman as Manager. The Royals didn't have to make too many moves this offseason because they have some of the pieces to the puzzle with Alex Gordon at 3rd Billy Butler at 1st/DH, Brian Bannister SP, to name a few. Brian Bannister and Gil Meche will look to anchor the rotation this year while Joakim Soria will look to close the door in the 9th. The player key to the Royals success this year has to be the face of the franchise Alex Gordon. Gordon will look to build and get better after his rookie season. He will have help in the line-up with newly acquired Jose Guilled who will provide a power bat in the middle of the Royals line-up. Billy Butler will also look to improve and it should be interesting to see if he can handle 1st base. It should be fun to watch the young Royals this year and lucky for me I'll be able to see 140 of their games.
Final Thoughts- I will be interested to see how Trey Hillman will do as the Manager, and also to see the Royals improve game in and gmae out.
2008 Record: 76-86 4th in AL Central possibly 3rd.
The Athletics had their typical offseason getting rid of some of their better players for minor leaguers. But for the A's and Beane Ball these minor leaguers usually become great players for the A's. I believe the A's are in a similar situation as the Orioles the only difference is that the A's have an Ace in Joe Blanton and their young players are better than the Orioles'. Some of the young players that are looking to make a difference for the A's are Kurt Suzuki, Travis Buck, and Daric Barton. I believe the A's offense will struggle to score runs this year, and it will be up to the young players to produce and light a spark for the offense. The player that is the key to success for the A's has to be Joe Blanton, it will be up to him to win games for the A's especially if he doesn't get that much run support. Rich Harden will also have to get and stay healthy and hopefully for the A's pitch like they expect him to.
Final Thoughts- I think it will be a tough year for the A's but it should be fun to watch the young players this year.
2008 Record: 72-90 3rd in AL West
Wow! What a week for the Mariners they instantly got better with the acquisition of Erik Bedard. I really like this team they could possibly have the best Starting Pitching 1-2 punch in baseball with King Felix Hernandez and Erik Bedard. I also really like their offense with Ichiro Suzuki leading off and with Richie Sexson and Raul Ibanez in the middle of the order. Many people are picking the Angels to win the AL West Crown but I believe the Mariners are going to suprise these people and win the AL West. I believe they have one of the best defenses up the middle with Kenji Johjima at Catcher, and Yuniesky Betancourt and Jose Lopez up the middle and with Ichiro in Center. The player I believe is the key to the Mariners success is... well actually I think it will be 2 players, Erik Bedard he has to come through and do what the Mariners expect him to do when they traded for him. The other player is the under appreciated Raul Ibanez, he will most likely be batting 4 th in the line-up and has to be a run producer for the Mariners.
Final Thoughts: I think this is going to be a fun team to watch and like I said before I think they are going to suprise people and win the division.
2008 Record: 92-70 1st in AL West.
Erik Bedard, Brian Roberts, Alex Gordon, Raul Ibanez and Joe Blanton all look
to lead their teams to success in 2008.
Now to move onto the National League Teams who are reporting on February 14th.
The Cubs didn't make too many moves this offseason which is somewhat expected especially after how much they spent last offseason. I believe this will be a good year for the Cubs. I think they have the best Rotation in the NL Central. The Cubs offense should also be very good this year, with Alfonso Soriano, Derrek Lee, and Aramis Ramirez. The biggest question marks for the Cubs this year is going to be the Japanese import with a funny name Kosuke Fukudome and Geovany Soto at Catcher. The player that is going to be the key to the Cubs success I believe is Ryan Theriot and Carlos Zambrano. Theriot will have to get on base and cause havoc on the base paths he is a very pesky player who reminds me a lot of David Eckstein. Carlos Zambrano will have to get off to a good start this year and could very well win the NL Cy Young this year.
Final Thoughts: I can't wait to watch my Cubs this year, it should be a great race with the Milwaukee Brewers.
2008 Record- 87-75 1st in NL Central
The Astros had a busy offseason with their biggest signing being Miguel Tejada, The Astros are just hoping he will be able to play and his legal issues will be resolved. I believe the Astros will have a year similar to last years they will probably improve from last years record. They have a good blend of Veterans and Young Players, The Vets Lance Berkman, Carlos Lee and Miguel Tejada will need to produce for the team, while young stud Hunter Pence will have to have another good year. The biggest question mark will be how will the Rotation do after Roy Oswalt. I think the key player for the Astros will have to be Miguel Tejada and the rest of the middle of the line-up. They will have to produce runs because unless Roy Oswalt is pitching they will have to outscore the other team.
Final Thoughts- The Astros should be an interesting team to watch they have a very good line-up but their pitching just isn't where it needs to be.
2008 Record: 78- 84 3rd in the NL Central
The Phillies stood pat for the most part in the offseason.(I had to add So Taguchi to key acquisitions because he has to have the coolest name in baseball) The Phillies arguably have the best trio in baseball with reigning MVP Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley and Ryan Howard. This team is going to put up runs. Their pitching staff will be their weakness Cole Hamels will have to have another good year this year, while Brett Myers will have to rebound from last year, and who know what your going to get from the ageless Jamie Moyer. The player key to the Phillies success will be Cole Hamels, he will have to be the Ace of the rotation and have to win 15 or more games for the Phillies this year.
Final Thoughts- This should be a fun team to watch and even a better race to watch between them and the Mets they should have some great meaningful games this year.
2008 Record: 89-73 2nd in NL East
Key Departures- Barry Bonds, Pedro Feliz
Key Acquisitions- Aaron Rowand
The Giants 2 big offseason move were good ones. Getting rid of Barry Bonds and signing Aaron Rowand. The G-men will have a very tough year this year. I don't believe they will score many runs with their best power hitter being Aaron Rowand. The Giants will rely on their big offseason signing of a year ago Barry Zito to rebound and have a big year. They will also expect big things from Tim Lincecum. The player that will be the key to the Giants success will be Tim Lincecum he is basically the new face of the Franchise a Young pitcher. Fans will look to him for the future and hopefully for them he will continue to show them how good the future will be for this kid.
Final Thoughts- It will be a very long year for the Giants I expect them to be last in the division from beginning to end.
2008 Record: 63- 99 5th in NL West
Ryan Theriot, Carlos Zambrano, Roy Oswalt, Hunter Pence, Cole Hamels, Jimmy Rollins
Time Lincecum, and Aaron Rowand will all look to lead their teams to success this season