The 2010-2011 season of Major League Baseball started this week and it is a welcome sign for many sport hungry fans. After nearly 2 months of waiting since Drew Brees became “God for life” in Louisiana, sports fans have been on life support.
Thank God “March Madness” came right on cue and took over our lives and ruined some others (Kansas fans). I, for one, have been waiting for baseball season to come since early January after a dreadful season by the football team I follow.
There are always a few interesting story lines entering the season. Here is what we at Fantasy Baseball Sportal believe are the Top Three:
1. Will the New York Yankees justify their ridiculous payroll, again?
2. How will all the big name free agents do with their new teams?
3. Will the class of veteran (34 years old and older, or “grey beards”) all-stars continue to produce at a
high level and just flat out ignore Father Time?
Playoff Predictions (* Notes Wild Card Team)
American League Division Series National League Division Series
Yankees over *White Sox Phillies over Cardinals
Angels over Red Sox Rockies over *Cubs
AL Championship Series NL Championship Series
Yankees over Angels Phillies over Rockies
Phillies over Yankees
American League East
1. New York Yankees
Notable New Faces – Curtis Granderson, Javier Vazquez, Nick Johnson, Randy Winn.
Grey Beards – Mariano Rivera, Jorge Posada, Andy Pettitte, Derek Jeter.
Last year the cash monsters in pinstripes were able to finally validate their payroll by winning their first World Series since 2000. The scary part is that the team coming into this year actually looks better.
If you’re skeptical because they lost both Johnny Damon and Hideki Matsui, who each produced at least 24 home runs and 80 RBI., don’t be. Both players are over 35 and I feel like were both helped by the hitter-friendly home stadium (Damon Only hit 7 HR on on the
road last year).
I don’t think they will have the same success this year with their respective teams. They were essentially replaced by Curtis Granderson and Brett Gardner.
Granderson had a monster power year, but his average, runs, and OBP went down. Expect these numbers to explode like the pressure on the Yankees to repeat. I see Granderson scoring 100+ plus runs and getting back up to his .280-.300 hitting clip he had the previous two years before last.
Despite Gardner’s spring troubles, he is a solid speed and contact guy, who will excel with more AB’s. Vazquez won’t have the same ERA he did with Atlanta, but it won’t matter with the Yank’s offense.
The player with the most pressure on him to succeed is Rivera, who put up some of his best numbers last year. That will be hard to repeat.
2. Boston Red Sox
Notable New Faces – John Lackey, Adrian Beltre, Marco Scutaro, Mike Cameron, Bill Hall
Grey Beards – Tim Wakefield, Paul Byrd, Jason Varitek, Mike Cameron, Mike Lowell
The Red Sox won big on free agency, but also lost big. They brought in an ace in John Lackey who was a highly sough after free agent. While his name is flashy to most, his stats the last two years aren’t too impressive.
Since having a career year in 2007, (19 W, 3.01 ERA) his ERA the next two years have significantly increased (3.83 last year). Also, the last two years Lackey played for the 95+ win Angles, his win
totals were only 11 and 12. As more Beltre I think he will become very fond of the green monster.
3. Tampa Bay Rays
Notable New Faces – Rafael Soriano
Grey Breads – Troy Percival, Jason Isringhausen, Russ Springer
The Rays broke out of this division during an exciting run in 2008. The question this year is can the team’s offense continue to carry the team?
Last year they had three players with double digit numbers in wins, while having a 3.90 plus ERA. James Shields will fair better this year and I believe David Price will come into his own.
The Rays didn’t have a true closer last year, but still managed to get it done for the most
part. With Soriano closing and J.P. Howell and Dan Wheeler as setup men, the Rays have players they can trust in the 7th, 8th, and 9th innings.
4. Blue Jays
Notable New Faces – Brandon Marrow, Kevin Gregg
Grey Breads – John McDonald
Life after Roy Halladay will be hard. Shaun Marcum steps in ace the team’s ace after missing all of last year. He’s nothing to laugh at. (3.39 in 2008) Marrow was a prized arm for the Mariners, but was plagued by inconsistency.
He has the arm but his high WHIP gives reason for concern. It was a forgetful year for Gregg with the Cubs. Don’t tell that to Cubs Fans. His numbers will improve as long as he stays out of high stress situations.
The big question with this ball club is whether Aaron Hill and Adam Lind can come anywhere close to their out of nowhere career years last season?
5. Baltimore Orioles
Notable New Faces – Garrett Akins, Kevin Millwood, Miguel Tejada, Mike Gonzalez, Julio Lugo
Grey Breads – Kevin Millwood, Miguel Tejada
It was hard to get excited for Orioles fans last year. Their offense was in the top of half of the league thanks to a solid lineup consisting of some exciting young stars; Adam Jones, Matt Weiters,
Brian Roberts continues to rip the cover off the ball and Nick Markakis is a name everyone should know in the American League.
This year they add Tejada and Garrett Akins. Tejada’s power numbers continue to decrease but his contact rate is still impressive. Akins has the potential to be a great addition if he can stay healthy.
Millwood pitched nearly 200 innings for the Rangers last year and gave up just under a 3.70 ERA. This team was the worst in the majors on the mound as they served as the wounded gazelle for the Yankees, Red Sox, and Rays.
Things should get a little better, but not by much. Keep an eye out for Brad Bergessen, a second year player, who put up good numbers on limited playing time last year.
American League Central
1. Chicago White Sox
Notable New Faces – Mark Teahen, Juan Pierre, Andrew Jones, J.J. Putz
Grey Beards - Paul Konerko, Omar Vizquel
I think this is the surprise team of the AL. Their offense disappeared last season after leading the league in home runs in 2008. This will not be the case this year.
I think they will use U.S. Cellular field for a bunch of out going hits. I like the Juan Pierre signing. He hit
around .300 with 30 stolen bases while taking mainly a reserve role. Gordon Beckham continues to impress after a decent rookie year.
Their big pickup from last year, Jake Peavy, will play his first full year in Chicago after getting traded there last year. It should be interesting to see how he does in the AL, but I believe his arm is “league proof”.
The strong arms keep coming after Peavy. Mark Buehrle is a work horse with amazing control. Gavin Floyd and John Danks both had double digits in wins last year.
2. Minnesota Twins
Notable New Faces – Orlando Hudson, J.J. Hardy, Jim Thome, Jon Rauch
Grey Beards – Jim Thome
The Twins won this division last year and are the favorites to take it again this year. They come into this year with a new outdoor stadium and a successfully signed golden home town boy in Joe Mauer.
I don’t know if he can produce the same power numbers he did last year (28 HR) but he will continue to hit for average.
Orlando Huston is my sleeper pick for free agent signing of the year. He has some mileage on him,
but if he can stay healthy his bat and glove will help this team excel at least into October.
I’m not too impressed with their J.J. Hardy signing. The team expects Hardy of 2007 and 2008. I just don’t see it happening. I think their Jim Thome signing was a good move. As long as you get him to the plate he will produce. Why he was in the national league is beyond me.
A big concern for many is the injury of Joe Nathan sidelining him for the rest of the year. Jon Rauch, a
predominant setup guy, has a cannon of an arm, has spent time closing, and decent numbers(1.72 ERA in 17 games with the Twins last season).
3. Detroit Tigers
Notable New Faces – Jose Valverde, Johnny Damon, Max Scherzer, Phil Coke,
Grey Beards – Jarrod Washburn, Johnny Damon, Magglio Ordonez
Nothing could have been worse for the city of Detroit. While dealing with the Auto Crisis and record levels of unemployment, the Motor City had to watch millionaires squander a 7 game lead in the last month of the season.
They had a chance to make amends in a playoff game with the Twins, but lost in extra innings. Things look a little bit brighter for the Tigers though, as they picked up some solid bullpen pieces.
Hands down the most annoying pitcher in the league, Jose Valverde, can close games, despite his presentational shortcomings. Also, Phil Coke is a another solid late innings guy.
Johnny Damon should help spice up the offense but don’t expect the same numbers as last year.
The big question for this ball club is whether the real Magglio Ordonez will stand up. Last year, his power numbers for someone getting paid nearly 19 million dollars were embarrassing (9 HR, 50
I don’t think you will get the same Magglio of the last few years. Expect a 20 HR, 85 RBI, .315 year out of him.
4. Cleveland Indians
Notable New Faces – Russell Branyan, Mitch Talbot, Chris Perez
Grey Breads – Russell Branyan
One of the worst teams in the AL’s worst division last year and they didn’t make any big moves to try and improve this year. Hopefully Grady Sizemore will show some of his 2008 numbers.
Asdrubal Cabrera and Shin-Soo Choo are some promising young players. 2007 first round draft pick Matt LaPorta will try to show what he’s made of in his first full season.
This is a very young team. Hopefully the success in the future isn’t too far off, but it’s not going to be this year.
5. Kansas City Royals
Notable New Faces – Jason Kendall, Chris Getz, Scott Podsednik, Rick Ankiel,
Grey Beards – Jason Kendall, Scott Podsednik
The Royals have four new players in their starting lineup, but I don’t know if that is a good thing.
Scott Podsednik and Ankiel are both great defensive players but their bats are suspect to slumps. I really don’t understand the Jason Kendall signing. His numbers continue to go down, but he continues to find teams that want to pay him millions of dollars.
The Royals offense has long been there problem and they traded away one of their main resources in Mark Teahen (That’s saying something).
At least there is one player to keep fans in KC happy, be it in only once every 5 games. The 2009 AL Cy Young winner Zack Greinke will continue to make hitters look silly. Greinke looks poised to defend his title, but it will be hard to rack up the wins with the Royals anemic offense.
Another concern was his high-inning work load. Before his 229 innings pitched, his career high was just over 200. Still, the future looks bright for this man.
American League West
1. Los Angeles Angels
Notable New Faces – Hideki Matsui, Joel Pineiro, Fernando Rodney
Grey Beards – Hideki Matsui, Bobby Abreu
The Angels have owned this division the last 6 years, winning it outright 4 times. The question is can anyone stop their success?
Seattle did its best to help in that department by stealing their lead off man in Chone Figgins in free agency. This will be the hardest hole to fill.
A successful lead off hitter is hard to find, and Figgins had it covered for one of seemingly best teams in the AL for the last 5 years with his high OBP (3.95 last year.
Another big name taken in the free agent pool, their ace, John Lackey. He wasn’t spectacular, but he
was an innings eater and a fierce competitor. This hole isn’t as gaping.
Jered Weaver gives you a chance to win nearly every time he takes the mound. He finally lowered his ERA since his amazing run as a rookie in 2006 (11-2 in 19 GS).
Joe Saunders has two 15+ win seasons under his belt the last two seasons. Ervin Santana and Scott Kazmir were at one time aces for their ball clubs. This team has the depth to at least win this division.
2. Texas Rangers
Notable New Faces – Vladimir Guerrero, Rich Harden
Grey Beards – Vladimir Guerrero
The sleeper of the year in 2008, Josh Hamilton, was forced to the bench last year with a string of injuries. Their other big bat, Ian Kinsler, also had a shortened season.
Nelson Cruz was a nice surprise (33 HR) and Elvis Andrus showed us why the name Elvis is still cool by
swiping 33 bags in his rookie season.
The Rangers showed the biggest pitching improvement in the league last year by dropping nearly a
whole run from their ERA from the year before. If Rich Harden can stay healthy, expect him to step up as their go to guy.
This team is fast. They come into this year with 4 players with 19 or more stolen bases from last year. That always helps while trying to tack on extra runs.
3. Seattle Marniers
Notable New Faces – Chone Figgins, Cliff Lee, Milton Bradley, Eric Byrnes, Casey Kotchman
Grey Beards – Ken Griffey Jr., Ichiro Suzuki
Let’s call this team the “hands” team, because it is by far the best defensive team in the league. Now ask me if you think this will help them win the playoffs? No. As impressive as their defensive looks on
paper, it will not matter in the long run.
They have two great table setters in Ichiro and Figgins, but their 3-4-5 hitters are Kotchman,
Bradley, and Griffey Jr. There will be a lot of LOB for this team. Kotchman and Bradley didn’t even combine for 100 RBI last year. (88)
There is one thing that does scare teams in the AL West. 1. Felix Hernandez 2. Cliff Lee. That’s quite the 1-2 punch. Ian Snell and Ryan Rowland-Smith have the potential. Expect a lot of low scoring ball games with this team.
4. Oakland A’s
Notable New Faces – Ben Sheets, Kevin Kouzmanoff, Coco Crisp.
Grey Beards – Brett Tomko
Another team looking forward to the future with some young players. The numbers suggest good times ahead. They just missed being in the Top 10 in ERA last year and were in the top half in the league in runs scored.
They signed 4 time all-star Ben Sheets, who will lead a young rotation (if he can stay healthy). It is scary however that both Sheets and Justin Duchscherer didn’t pitch in 2009.
Will Eric Chavez stay healthy, or will the A’s get the Chavez of the last 3 years? How many bases will Rjaji Davis steal?
The last time the A’s signed an expensive free agent he ended up being traded half way through the season. Will they follow protocol?
National League East
1. Philadelphia Phillies
Notable New Faces – Roy Halladay, Placido Polanco
Grey Beards – Raul Ibanez, Geoff Jenkins, Jamie Moyer, Jose Contreras
A favorite to win the World Series and for good reason. The 2009 National League Champions didn’t lose much, swapping Pedro Feliz for Placido Polanco and Cliff Lee for Roy Halladay.
The question for this team is which Jimmy Rollins (currently injured) will they get? The .229 before the
All-Star Break Rollins, or the .272 after the All-Star Break Rollins? He also has this lowest stolen base total since 2006 and his lowest OBP in his career (.296). Those are not numbers you want from you’re
Another ID check: Which Cole Hamels will they be getting? The 14 win, 3.09 ERA pitcher of 2008, or the 10 win 4.32 ERA pitcher of 2009. I think both players will bounce back from off years to help bring the Phillies back to the World Series.
2. Atlanta Braves
Notable New Faces – Troy Glaus, Jason Heyward, Melky Cabbera, Billy Wagner, Takashi Saito
Grey Beards – Derek Lowe, Chipper Jones, Billy Wagner, Takashi Saito
Doesn’t it seem like yesterday when the Braves won this division every year? Well, times have changed. Chipper Jones is 37 and he saw his batting average drop well below .300 after posting three straight .320
But things look promising with Jason Heyward expected to make a huge contribution this year. If you haven’t heard of this kid he is a 6’4″ power hitting 20 year old, who grew about 30 minutes from
Atlanta. He has drawn some pretty exciting comparisons. From a 20 year-old to a pair of old veterans.
The Braves gave up their two-headed closer in Mike Gonzalez and Rafael Soriano for 38 year old Billy
Wagner and 40 year old Takashi Saito. Wagner who finished the season with the Red Sox last year was a mainstay in the Met’s Bullpen for years. They were certainly missing him when he was on the shelf
because of Tommy John surgery.
While this tandem has some wear and tear on it. I think they will be key in a serious run at the Wild
3. Florida Marlins
Notable New Faces – Nate Robertson
Grey Beards – Kiko Calero
The question with this team the last few years is how much a bang can you really get out of a below league average pay roll? Enough to keep you watching.
This team has a lot of exciting players. The Marlin’s rotation isn’t something to take lightly. Josh Johnson (15 Wins, 3.23 and nearly 200 K) looks to go 2 straight full seasons in a row. Throw in Ricky Nolasco (4.31 ERA, 1.21 WHIP after the All-Star Break), Anibal Sanchez, and Chris Volstad, this team is full of great stat
The hard part will be making sure these players get the win. Leo Nunez, in his second year closing, notched 26 saves last year, but he was tied for 4th worst in the league with 7 blown saves.
The offense also has their group of stars. Hanley Ramirez, the NL’s version of Joe Mauer, had a career hitting year all while hitting 24 home runs. Ramirez, along with Dan Uggla, and Jorge Cantu, and NL ROY Chris Coghlan, makes for a potentially dangerous team.
4. New York Mets
Notable New Faces – Jason Bay, Rod Barajas
Grey Beards – Gary Matthews Jr., Henry Blanco
Opposite take of the Marlins and their payroll. Who could get the least amount of wins with the second highest payroll?
Wow, The Mets sure did tank it last year. I mean that did have most of their starters on the DL, and had some new ball park growing pains, but they shouldn’t have been that bad. Of course, the biggest question is whether or not the injured players can bounce back and whether David Wright will regain his power stroke.
Jason Bay should help, but his numbers will deflate a little after leaving Fenway. Let’s hope their
offense makes a better appearance this year with Bay’s big bat, because aside from Johan Santana, their rotation is laughable. Their third pitcher has a 1.92 WHIP.
It could be another long season for the Metropolitans.
Notable New Faces – Ivan Rodriguez, Adam Kennedy, Jason Marquis, Matt Capps, Chien-Ming Wang
Grey Beards – Ivan Rodriguez
For being the Nationals, I like this team. After acquiring Nyjer Morgan from the Pirates, the Nat’s scored five runs a game.
Aside from rookie Ian Desmond, this team has a good group of dependable veterans. Their best player for the past few years has been Ryan Zimmerman, (33 HR 106) but don’t tell that to Adam Dunn, who made the Nationals front office staff look smart for signing him for 2 years 20 million dollars.
Their “big” free agent signing this year, Jason Marquis, may actually improve after having a decent year for the Rockies.
The bets are out on when 2009′s top draft pick, Stephen Strasburg, will hit the Majors. Some predict it as early as May, while others say a little bit later. Seeing as their rotation is pretty weak, I see him coming in as soon as a major injury hits, or when an extra inning game takes out
the entire bullpen. I predict he will have a similar start as David Price in 2008, but obviously with more playing time. I think he will have a few decent starts, but then he will deal with some growing pains as batters get use to him.
National League Central
1. St.Louis Cardinals
Notable New Faces – Felipe Lopez, Brad Penny
Grey Beards – Ryan Franklin
Albert Pujols is on a mission. He continues to put up mind boggling numbers, but there is only one number he wants to add to: is World Series rings. It has been four years since Pujols and the Cardinals went to the World Series and took home the hardware.
Things looked good last season after they broke a two year playoff drought, but they were
swept in the first round for the first time in team history. They looked poised to get further this year, with Pujols showing no signs of slowing down and Matt Holiday protecting him in the line up for the full year.
I don’t think their offense will be a problem, especially since I believe Ryan Ludwick will stay healthy. The main reason this team will go deep in the playoffs is their lethal 1-2 punch in Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright, who both finished in the top 3 of the NL Cy Young voting.
2. Chicago Cubs
Notable New Faces – Xavier Nady, Chad Tracy, Marlon Byrd
Grey Beards – None
The Cubs were in the same boat as the Mets last year, be it not as bad, but it stayed just above the water. They had the third highest payroll and looked to make the playoffs after a 97 win season in 2008.
After Aramis Ramirez went down with a shoulder injury in early May, this team could not score. They scored nearly 5.3 runs a game when he returned in the second half, nearly a run and half better without him.
Notice there are no grey breads on this team. That’s kind of scary, especially with two rookies in the bullpen. Another scary factor in the bullpen: Carlos Marmol, the ultimate Jeckle and Hyde pitcher (11.31 K/9, 7.9 BB/9). He also rarely has a 1,2,3 9th, throwing nearly 20 pitches per inning pitched last year.
It should also be interesting to see how Geovany Soto will handle himself now that he dropped 40
pounds in the off-season.
3. Milwaukee Brewers
Notable New Faces – Carlos Gomez, Greg Zaun, Randy Wolf, Doug Davis, Jim Edmonds
Grey Beards – Trevor Hoffman, Jim Edmonds
It is the year of the prospects, so the Brewers hope Alcides Escobar will make them forget about J.J. Hardy. They hope his speed will help their 28th league ranking in stolen bases last year. Escobar had 42 stolen bases in Triple A last year.
Jim Edmonds is an interesting pick up. After hitting nearly 20 home runs in limited playing time with the
Cubs in 2008 has a chance to be huge factor for the Brew Crew. He should provide a solid bat when facing right handed pitchers, along with some fun catches in the field.
A quiet but big pick up for the Brewers was Randy Wolf. An innings eater with a 1.10 WHIP with the
Dodgers last season, will wreak havoc on the right handed hitters in the NL Central.
4. Cincinnati Reds
Notable New Faces – Orlando Cabrera
Grey Beards – Scott Rolen
Safe to say not many people look forward to baseball season in Ohio. Well, that’s probably not true, but it hard to say, looking at this team, its front office wants to or cares if their team improves at all this season.
They acquired Orlando Caberea in a move to cut money, and their only other addition is Aaron Miles. I didn’t even notch him in the notable new faces, because he may be a baseball player, but he is not notable by any standards.
This team has a lot of young players that have been put into the spotlight perhaps a little too early. Jay
Bruce and Homer Baily, both in the league for their third years, need to start showing why the team has invested so much time and money in them.
Another young guy who will most likely be called on some time this year is Aroldis Chapman. The 22 year old worth $30.3 million has a lot of hype coming into the season. It should be interesting to see
how Dusty Baker will deal with a young, promising arm (This as Kerry Wood and Mark Prior cringe).
5. Houston Astros
Notable New Faces – Pedro Feliz, Brett Myers, Brandon Lyon, Matt Lindstrom
Grey Beards – Geoff Blum
Has anyone heard from the Rocket lately? The only Astro to have a respectable year was Wandy Rodriguez. His 14 wins were hard to come by with the Astros scoring the 4th fewest amount of runs in the league.
To save a little money they gave up one of the league’s top closers in Jose Valverde, and proven setup man in Latroy Hawkins. They hope Brandon Lyon and Matt Lindstrom and close it down in the final
Brett Myers, possibly looking to stay out of trouble, finds himself completely out of the playoff picture after spending his entire career (8 years) in Philadelphia. He could reinvent himself here, and just going by ball parks and pressure, he may have a solid chance to so.
But the fact Houston needs to rely on this guy to be their number 3 starter says something.
6. Pittsburgh Pirates
Notable New Faces – Aninori Iwamura, Octavio Dotel, Brendan Donnelly
Grey Beards – Octavio Dotel, Brendan Donnelly
Goodbye Nate McLouth, Eric Hinske, Nyjer Morgan, Jack Wilson, Ian Snell, Freddy Sanchez, Matt Capps. The Pirates had a fire sale last year, completing five trades in June and July.
Two players stand out on this team. Andrew McCutchen and Garrett Jones. Both showed promising
futures in short seasons. McCutchen batted .286 with 23 stolen bases and nine triples. Jones showed his power with 21 home runs in 82 games.
The rotation is always in question for the Bucs, their starters giving up the third worst ERA in baseball last season. There bullpen wasn’t any better and they look to close the door with two pitchers predominantly used as setup men. Dotel and Brendan Donnelly are both are in the twilight of their careers.
Time will tell to see how long it takes before there is another “everything must go” sale for the Pirates.
National League West
1. Colorado Rockies
Notable New Faces – Melvin Mora
Grey Beards – Jason Giambi, Todd Helton, Melvin Mora
It’s 2010 and Todd Helton is still playing first base for the Rockies. Is that a good thing? While he finished strong last year and showed the league there was still some fight left in his tank, can he
continue to play at the power hunger position of first base? He will get you .300, but he hasn’t reached 20 home runs since 2005. Does a team play someone 16 million dollars a year for that kind of production?
While I’ve really enjoyed Helton throughout the years, I think his numbers will take a huge hit, especially because fellow grey beard, Jason Giambi, will be stealing some games from him. The Rockies do have some fresh legs, though. Carlos Gonzalez and Dexter Fowler have the potential to combine for 60 stolen bases. This will be nice for Helton, Troy Tulowitzki, and Brad Hawpe.
2. Los Angeles Dodgers
Notable New Faces – Jamie Carroll
Grey Beards – Manny Ramirez, Casey Blake
Even though they made it to the NLCS, the Dodgers still seemed to come up short. They lead in ERA after taking second the year before. But it will be a bit harder this year to top the league this year when they
lost arguably their best pitcher in Randy Wolf.
For their team to have any chance to make it to the playoffs this year, both Clayton Kershaw
and Chad Billingsley will have to have big years. Nearly their entire starting lineup at the plate comes back this year.
Losing Orlando Hudson will hurt, and so will losing Juan Pierre who was a giant run scorer off the bench. The Dodgers also hope Russell Martin will return to his normal self after slugging .329, a career worst.
3. San Francisco Giants
Notable New Faces – Aubrey Huff, Mark Derosa
Grey Beards – Bengie Molina
The Giants got a little help this year on the offensive side of the ball after finished 5th worst in runs scored last year. Mark Derosa and Aubrey Huff bring in a pair of 75+ RBI from last year, and I see
Derosa putting up similar numbers, but I’m not so sure about Huff. He batted under .200 after he was traded to Tigers last season.
Another player I’m not too hot about is Bengie Molina. He has been consistent the last couple years putting up nearly 20 home runs three out of the last four seasons. At 35 years old, I feel he has a lot of wear and tear playing behind the plate for so long.
4. San Diego Padres
Notable New Faces – Yorvit Torrealba
Grey Beards – David Eckstein
The Padres are on fire. No, not in the good way. It’s a everybody making over $2 million a year must go sale. After pulling the trigger on trading Jake Peavy last year, everyone thought they would do the
same thing with Adrian Gonzalez.
They didn’t, but the talk of the town is that the padres are still trying to slash their budget, and their
best player is Adrian Gonzalez. Can you imagine what this guy could do in a normal lineup, if he wasn’t pitched around?
Health Bell is also keeping an opening line of communication with his agent, because his
stuff last year was tough to hit. Someone to watch out for in fantasy leagues is young right handed pitcher Mat Latos. In limited play he showed a lot of potential.
5. Arizona Diamondbacks
Notable New Faces – Edwin Jackson, Bob Howry
Grey Beards – Bob Howry
Don’t ask Mark Reynolds about his high strike out rate, because it really shouldn’t matter, when he’s putting up the numbers he is (44 home runs and 102 RBI, along with 24 stolen bases). What more can you ask from the guy?
Justin put up solid numbers for his first full year in the league. Expect those numbers to explode this year. The big question for this team his year is when ace Brandon Webb will be able to take the bump. He is recovering from shoulder surgery and the team is optimistic, but there is no time table for his return. That is scary if you’re a Diamondbacks fans fan.
Also, look for the D-Backs to trade away outfielder Chris Young once they are out of playoff contention.
Some team hungry for the long ball will take him despite his awful batting average.