Now it's time for me to Breakdown the teams whose pitchers and catchers report on February 15. The teams that report are: the Detroit Tigers, Los Angeles Angels, New York Yankees, Tampa Bay Rays, Texas Rangers, Atlanta Braves, Los Angeles Dodgers, Pittsburgh Pirates, St. Louis Cardinals, and the San Diego Padres.
Now to first look at the American League.
Well the Tigers had a busy off-season and probably one of the loudest, with a huge deal that brought the young slugger Miguel Cabrera, and Dontrelle Willis to Detroit. They also signed Shortstop Edgar Renteria. These signings make the Tigers arguably the best line-up top to bottom in the MLB. They have Pudge Ivan Rodriguez in the 8 hole. They also have a strong Starting Rotation with Justin Verlander Jeremy Bonderman, and Dontrelle Willis. Many baseball fans consider the Tigers the favorite in not only the AL Central but in the American League. I also believe the Tigers are the favorite in the AL Central. I believe the player that is the key to success for the Tigers is Justin Verlander, we all know that the Tigers are going to score run but can the Tigers and their #1 starter keep other team from scoring runs.
Final Thoughts- The Tigers are going to score about a million runs this year. O.K. maybe not quite but it will sure seem like it, they should be a lot of fun to watch.
2008 Record: 96-66 1st in AL Central
The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim had a quiet offseason their big signing was Torii Hunter. Hunter should improve the Angels offense. But once again it will be up to the Angels pitching this season. John Lackey will look to have another good year along with Kelvim Escobar. The Angels will be fighting for the AL West Crown with the Seattle Mariners and will be also fighting for a Wild Card spot. Vladimir Guerrero will look to provide power in the middle of the line-up. I love watching him hit he will hit anything, no matter where it's pitched. This team has a lot of speed and they always find a way to score runs. I believe the player that is key to the Angels success is John Lackey. He is the #1 starter and will have to have another good season for the Angels to be successful.
Final Thoughts- I love watching this team play because they play small ball and like a national league team. It should be fun watching them battle the Mariners all year long.
2008 Record: 88-74 2nd in AL West
The Yankees stood fairly pat this offseason their biggest acquisition was Relief Pitcher LaTroy Hawkins. The Yankees still have one of the best line-ups in baseball from top to bottom, with Alex Rodriguez looking to have another monster season. The Yankees have stayed commited to their current plan of keeping their youth and this is prevalent in their Pitching by keeping Joba Chamberlain, Ian Kennedy, and Phillip Hughes. Once again the biggest question for the Yankees will be their Starting Pitching. Chien-Ming Wang is a legitimate 20 game winner this year. But after that their are many question marks especially with the aging Andy Pettite and Mike Mussina. The player I believe is the key to the Yankees success is the Y5ankees young starting pitching most notably Phil Hughes and Ian Kennedy. If they have good years the Yankees should be able to make the playoffs, but if they don't pitch to their potential it could be a long October for the Yankees sitting at home and watching the playoffs for the first time in a very long time.
Final Thoughts- It should be fun and interesting watching the Yankees young pitchers this year and the race with hated rival the Boston Red Sox, their series' are always memorable.
2008 Record: 91-61 2nd in AL East
The Rays sent some troubled players away from Tampa in Elijah Dukes and Delmon Young. They also picked up a good young pitcher in Matt Garza. The Rays are a year older and a year better. But don't expect all their talent to result into a playoff run. Though I expect them to improve greatly from last years record. They have a decent offense with Carl Crawford, the suprise of last year Carlos Pena, and the year older B.J. Upton. They also have an improved Starting Rotation with Scott Kazmir, James Shields, and Matt Garza. Too bad for the Rays they are in an extremely tough Division where they have to compete with the Yankees and Red Sox. The player key to the Rays success this year will be Evan Longoria he may be the new face of the franchise and is a very highly touted rookie he should be a lot of fun to watch at third base, and we'll se what he can provide to the Rays offense this year. He could very well win the Rookie of the Year Award.
Final Thoughts- The Rays will be improved from last year too bad for them their in a tough division. It should be fun to watch their array of young players.
2008 Record: 74-88 4th in AL East
The Rangers had a fairly quiet offseason trading for Josh Hamilton, and signing Milton Bradley. It will be a very tough year again for the Rangers. At least Nolan Ryan is back, (as team President) the bad news too bad he can't pitch for them. That will once again be the weakness for the Rangers is their starting pitching their #1 starter is Kevin Millwood followed by Vicente Padilla and after that a bunch of unkowns. The Rangers line-up shold be fairly good and the hitter friendly Ballpark in Arlington should help. They have the consistent 200 hits guy in Michael Young at shortstop, and power hitting Hank Blalock at third. It should also be interesting to see how Jarrod Saltalamacchia behind the plate. The player that is the key to the Rangers success I believe will be Josh Hamilton it will be interesting to see what he does after the comeback season he had last year. The Rangers will need him to protect Michael Young and Hank Blalock in the line-up.
Final Thoughts- It could very well be a long year for the Rangers especially if they don't get any help out of their rotation. But it should be fun to watch Ian Kinsler and Jarrod Saltalamacchia.
2008 Record: 70-92 4th in AL West
John Lackey, Phil Hughes, Ian Kennedy, Evan Longoria,
and Josh Hamilton will all look to lead their teams to
The Braves also had a fairly quiet offseason the big season they have a reunion with Pitcher Tom Glavine. The Braves will have a really good team this year too bad for them they have to compete with the New York Mets and the Philadelphia Phillies. The Braves have a good 1-2 punch in the rotation with John Smoltz and Tim Hudson. Tom Glavine will also help them but who knows how much he has left he'll turn 42 in March. The Braves offense should also be good this year with Chipper Jones and Mark Texeira holding down the 3 and 4 spot in the line-up. The biggest question will be can the young Yunel Escobar set the table for these sluggers. I believe the player that will be the key to the Braves success will be Rafael Soriano will he be able to close games. If he is able to the Braves could squeeze in and get the Wild Card but if he can't the Braves might be on the outside looking in come playoff time.
Final Thoughts- The Braves should be a fun team to watch too bad for me they're no longer on TBS. It should be fun to watch players like Jeff Francoeur and Brian McCann.
2008 Record: 86-76 3rd in NL East
Key Departures- Luis Gonzalez
Key Acquisitions- Andruw Jones, Hiroki Kuroda
The Dodgers had a busy offseason though they didn't make many big moves. Their biggest move was the signing of Andruw Jones and the hiring of Joe Torre as manager. Andruw Jones will look to bounce back from a bad year last year. Hopefully for the Dodgers he will provide some much needed offense for the Dodgers. The Dodger will also look for offensive help from young stud catcher Russell Martin. Juan Pierre and Rafael Furcal will look to set the table for the Dodgers offense. It should also be interesting to see how long until Andy LaRoche is called up and playing regularly for the Dodgers. The Dodgers should have a strong Starting Rotation with Brad Penny penciled in as the #1 starter, and Derek Lowe following him. It will also be interesting to see how Japanese Import Hiroki Kuroda will pitch this year. The player that will be the key to the Dodgers success will be Andruw Jones will he be able to bounce back from a sub par year and provide much needed offense for the Dodgers.
Final Thoughts- It should be fun watching the NL West race with anyone other than the Giants able to win the NL West crown. Also it will be fun to watch Andy LaRoche play.
2008 Record: 85-77 3rd in NL West.
The Pirates had a busy offseason but they mostly signed minor league deals and no key acquisitions. I think it will be another long season for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Young pitchers Tom Gorzelanny and Zack Duke will look to lead the Pirates Rotation. Young players will also look to provide offense in the Bucs line-up they are; catcher Ronny Paulino and CF Nate McLouth. McLouth will look to set the table for Adam LaRoche and Jason Bay. The Pirates will most likely be a non factor in the NL Central race and I expect them to finish last in the NL Central again this year. I believe the player key to the Pirates success is Adam LaRoche he will have to be a run producer in a weak Pirates line-up.
Final Thoughts- On the bright side for Pirates fans they will be able to watch a very good young pitcher in Tom Gorzelanny. It should also be interesting to see if they deal Jason Bay this year.
2008 Record: 65-97 6th in NL Central
The Cardinals had a fairly busy offseason but their biggest moves was trading Scott Rolen for Troy Glaus. They should still have a strong offense with Albert Pujols in the 3 hole, Chris Duncan will also look to provide protection for Albert Pujols. It should be interesting to see if Cesar Izturis can get the job done in the lead off spot. The Cardinals starting pitching is fairly weak with their #1 starter being Adam Wainwright, followed by the second year starter Braden Looper. It should be interesting to how Anthony Reyes bounces back from a bad year in 2007. The key to the Cardinals success is not the obvious choice in Albert Pujols but I believe the key to their success is Adam Wainwright. Can he do an effective job as the #1 starter, he will have to provide wins for a weak pitching staff.
Final Thoughts- I believe it will be a rough year for the Cardinals but if anyone can suprise it is the Cardinals. They always seem to suprise people and go on a run at the end of the year.
2008 Record: 78-84 3rd in NL Central
The Padres had a very busy offseason making many signings. This is one of the hardest divisions to predict what will happen because anything can happen in this division and the teams are all fairly even. Once again the Padres Pitching Staff will have to carry this team. Jake Peavy will look to repeat his Cy Young year in 2007. Chris R. Young and Greg Maddux will also look to provide consistency in the rotation. The Padres also have one of the best closers in history in Trevor Hoffman. The offense doesn't have a sure fire #3 hitter but Adrian Gonzalez will look to take the at bats in the number 3 hole. Jim Edmonds will also look to provide runs for the Padres. It should be interesting to see what this offense can do. That is why I think that Adrian Gonzalez is the key to the Padres success, can he do the job in the number 3 hole and drive in runs?
Final Thoughts- If you like pitching this is the team for you to watch. It should be fun watching them battle it out all year with the Rockies, Dodgers, and Diamondbacks.
2008 Record: 87-75 2nd in NL West
Rafael Soriano, Andruw Jones, Adam LaRoche, Adam
Wainwright, and Adrian Gonzalez all look to provide
success for their teams.