Jump to content

Spring Training reality check


Unknøwn
 Share

Recommended Posts

The notion: Reds have best rotation in NL Central

Reality: They definitely don't. The Cubs, reigning division champs, boast a rotation of Carlos Zambrano, Rich Harden, Ryan Demspter, Ted Lilly, and probably Sean Marshall. That kind of depth and excellence is hard to match. To be sure, the Reds have a formidable front three in Aaron Harang, Edinson Volquez, and Bronson Arroyo, but behind them there's much uncertainty. Perhaps if Johnny Cueto enjoys some skills growth and they find someone to hold down the fifth spot, then the Reds will enjoy a rotation in the top half of the NL. But even that level of modest optimism is premature. Let's keep in mind that last season the Cubs paced the NL in rotation ERA with a 3.75 mark, while the Reds ranked just 14th with a starters' ERA of 4.97. While Cincy figures to be improved, their starting pitching won't compare to Chicago's or perhaps even St. Louis'.

The notion: Braves have best rotation in East

Reality: Indeed they do. They lost John Smoltz to Boston and Tim Hudson to reconstructive elbow surgery, but GM Frank Wren did a nifty job of rebuilding the rotation. Derek Lowe is a safe bet for 200-plus innings, a sub-4.00 ERA, and loads of ground balls. Javier Vazquez is underrated and could thrive in a home park that's less homer-friendly than U.S. Cellular Field. Kenshin Kawakami will be a reliable innings eater in the four hole, and Jair Jurrjens is one of the top young starters in the game. If Tom Glavine has nothing left, then Tommy Hanson -- who's the best pitching prospect in baseball not named David Price -- should be ready to step in. The Braves don't have a starter as good as the Mets' Johan Santana or the Phillies' Cole Hamels, but those two clubs lack the Braves' rotation depth. The days of stellar starting pitching in Atlanta are here again.

The notion: A's are good enough to win the West

Reality: Yes, they are. The Angels won 100 games a year ago, but their modest run differential suggests they should've won "just" 88 games. The upshot is that the A's may be closer to contention than you might think. To the end of contention, the A's have nicely upgraded two offensive trouble spots: left field and first base. By trading for Matt Holliday and signing Jason Giambi, GM Billy Beane added some sorely needed power and on-base skills to the Oakland lineup. As well, Orlando Cabrera should improve upon Bobby Crosby's awful 2008 numbers. Elsewhere, the defense is sound, and the bullpen may be the best in baseball. Ultimately, the A's season may turn on whether the young rotation can mature in a hurry. Consider the Angels the favorites, but the A's will be in the race.

The notion: The Royals have a shot

Reality: For the first time in years, they do. By their standards, the Royals have had an active winter, and that's led some to speculate that they have a puncher's chance in the middling yet balanced AL Central. They've got some impressive young talent on the roster -- Zack Greinke, Joakim Soria, Alex Gordon (a breakout candidate for 2009), Billy Butler, Mike Aviles, Luke Hochevar (on a good day) -- and there's no truly great team blocking the way in the Central. This is not a team that would contend in most divisions --the back of the rotation is suspect, and there are far too many first base/DH types on the roster -- but the Royals have a shot. The Indians and Twins enter the season as the likely favorites, but KC is legitimately in the conversation.

The notion: Matt Wieters is the next big thing

Reality: Yes, he is. Wieters is a skilled defensive catcher who last season, his first professional season, hit .365 across two levels and even slugged .625 at Double-A. As well, he's raking thus far in spring training. Put it all together -- the unassailable numbers, the peerless scouting profile -- and you've got a future star. And there probably won't be much of a learning curve. Over at Baseball Prospectus, the PECOTA projection system says Wieters, in his rookie season, will hit .311 AVG/.395 OBP/.544 SLG with 31 homers, 33 doubles, and 77 walks. As baseball fans will soon find out, Wieters is the real thing, and the hype is fully justified.

The notion: Brewers don't have a prayer

Reality: They can still contend. Without question, the Brewers have been diminished by the losses of CC Sabathia and Ben Sheets. Last season, Sabathia and Sheets combined to give the Brewers 329 innings and an ERA of 2.52. That kind of run prevention is not easily replaced. As a result, the Brewers don't have much of a chance of overtaking the Cubs, who remain the heavy favorite in the NL Central. With that said, the Brewers do have a shot at repeating as the NL Wild Card winners. Ryan Braun, Prince Fielder, J.J. Hardy, and Rickie Weeks will help the Brewers put plenty of runs on the board, and top prospect Mat Gamel is on the way. Yovani Gallardo has ace potential at the front of the rotation, and Braden Looper will solidify the back end. The wild card will likely go to the runner up in the NL East, but the situation in Milwaukee is far from hopeless. They're alive.

The notion: The Giants are contenders

Reality: They are. San Fran had one of the best offseasons of any team, and the NL West is a weak division. That means the Giants have a puncher's chance of taking the flag. The rotation will be among the best in all of baseball, and that alone may be enough. The offense, frankly, will be miserable, but even glaring weaknesses don't rule you out in the West. The Dodgers and Diamondbacks are better poised to win, but the spread between them and the improved Giants isn't terribly substantial. Something like 85 wins will probably get it done, and the Giants, listless offense and all, have that potential.

The notion: Yanks will be fine without A-Rod

Reality: They probably won't. In the AL East, you've got the Yankees, Red Sox and Rays all likely headed for 90-plus wins. That means there's little margin for error in baseball's toughest division. So the impact of losing a player like Alex Rodriguez --even for only one month -- is not to be discounted. He's the best hitter in the American League, and the drop-off from Rodriguez to Cody Ransom, his likely replacement at third, is massive. Also keep in mind that there's no guarantee that Rodriguez will be back by May, and setbacks, particularly with hip injuries, are always possible. The missed time means that it's the Red Sox, not the Yankees, who are now the favorites in the East. The Yankees, meanwhile, will probably be jousting with Tampa for the AL Wild Card. Because Rodriguez is so good and because the Yankees are so poorly equipped to replace him, their season is very much in peril.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The notion: Braves have best rotation in East

Reality: Indeed they do. They lost John Smoltz to Boston and Tim Hudson to reconstructive elbow surgery, but GM Frank Wren did a nifty job of rebuilding the rotation. Derek Lowe is a safe bet for 200-plus innings, a sub-4.00 ERA, and loads of ground balls. Javier Vazquez is underrated and could thrive in a home park that's less homer-friendly than U.S. Cellular Field. Kenshin Kawakami will be a reliable innings eater in the four hole, and Jair Jurrjens is one of the top young starters in the game. If Tom Glavine has nothing left, then Tommy Hanson -- who's the best pitching prospect in baseball not named David Price -- should be ready to step in. The Braves don't have a starter as good as the Mets' Johan Santana or the Phillies' Cole Hamels, but those two clubs lack the Braves' rotation depth. The days of stellar starting pitching in Atlanta are here again

Thatsss Right

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Jurrjens was such a great aspect of last season. I really like that kid and with him and Hanson we should have two elite pitchers on our rotation for the next 5 years atleast. Lock em up Frank.

How long is Lowe's Contract?

JJ was are only starter that had a chance of winning a game for us

last season.

Him + Hanson + Huddy + Lowe = WS CHamps

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Then if Morton and Jo-Jo finally become something you got trade bait along with Vazquez and you can get a power bat

Yep. THey really need to focus on some really good infield players this draft. Get a young 3rd and 2nd basemen to start grooming to be the everyday players in those positions in about 3 years. I am really interested in the Braves Draft this year for the first time ever.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...