could put them over the top. Cruz lengthens an exceptional lineup and Jimenez makes it a solid rotation, which may be all they need. Once wunderkind
returns, no one can match their defense.
Superb clubhouse dynamic means they won't relax in the Year After. There are a few questions though: Is talented
ready to play shortstop? Can
be the comeback story of the year? And can
replicate his 2013 magic?
They spent $453 million on four stars to re-make themselves into a power after merely getting by in 2013, and they had a very nice spring. Masahiro Tanaka will be a star, and the lineup is dynamic. But scouts say the infield defense remains a question..
They needed to bolster their rotation but stood pat. The pitching prospects are talented, but most of them aren't ready (
may be an exception). As for the offense, as one scout said, "Teams that are all power don't win."
This could be their year, with exceptional defense, a solid lineup and a nice bullpen. If
can shake off his poor 2013 season at bat and 101-mph thrower
can be a rotation star, they could overtake the Tigers.
The disastrous spring could cost them.
is said to be their best defensive infielder following the loss of wizard shortstop
, and their bullpen could miss
. Tough to pick against a team with
, but there are issues.
They are on the right track bringing in 20-something talents like
("a star in the making," said a scout), Jose Daniel Abreu and
being back to form could help. Nice year possible, but division is toughening.
They won the winter by importing an excellent leadoff man
but suffered a brutal spring, losing young second baseman
and starting catcher
, and showing pitching weakness. Need to stay afloat for
, Colby Lewis and
The losses of
left them with tough starting pitching questions, and they could still use someone to bat behind superstar import
. Also look a little too left-handed, and probably too young, to make it this year. Maybe '15.
"Best team in Florida," said a scout. Also likely the best in the NL East, especially with Atlanta's injury questions. The front three of
plus a solid lineup should make things relatively easy for new manager Matt Williams.
The unfortunate losses of young pitchers
to Tommy John surgery mean they are scrambling to put together a rotation.
should be a star,
helps, but what comes next? With nice nucleus, they should still be pretty good though.
Maybe 2015 is their year. Without
and Jon Niese (at least to start), and with unsettled situations at first base and shortstop, this could be a long one. The outfield is much better, but it looks like a sixth straight losing season in Citi Field.
They didn't do much in the winter, but a full year of emerging ace
and a midyear appearance by future outfield star
, a driven star, won't allow them to slip back.
The loss of star left-hander
is devastating. Lineup is solid, but they'll require healthy seasons for
, and a contribution from feature star Archie Bradley wouldn't hurt, either.
They have a deep stash of position players and potential to improve, but spring injuries to
hurt, bringing up memories of unfortunate past hurts for the small-market team also suffering from the worst in-division payroll disadvantage in baseball.