Archive for the ‘Preview’ Category

St Louis Cardinals v New York Mets

2012 Record: 74-88, 4th NL East
2012 Pythagorean Record: 75-87
Impact Player: 3B David Wright
Impact Pitcher: LHP Jonathan Niese
Top Prospect: RHP Zack Wheeler 

Significant Acquisitions: C Travis d’Arnaud, RHP Shaun Marcum, C John Buck, RHP Brandon Lyon, RHP Scott Atchison, RHP LaTroy Hawkins, OF Marlon Byrd, OF Collin Cowgill, LHP Aaron Laffey, C Anthony Recker, IF Omar Quintanilla, RHP Greg Burke, RHP Carlos Torres, C Landon Powell 

Significant Departures: RHP R.A. Dickey, CF Andres Torres, RHP Mike Pelfrey, RHP Chris Young, LF Jason Bay, OF Scott Hairston, C Josh Thole, RHP Ramon Ramirez, RHP Jon Rauch, RHP Manny Acosta, IF Ronny Cedeno, RHP Miguel Batista, C Mike Nickeas, C Kelly Shoppach

The New York Mets are smack in the middle of what appears to be a long rebuilding phase. General Manager Sandy Alderson and his administration have so far been able to stave off the rabid New York media and fanbase and are quietly going about their business in a slow and measured manner. New York is coming off their fourth straight losing season and this past winter—more than the first two under Alderson—they started to completely remake the makeup of the franchise.

First, they signed face-of-the-franchise and “team captain” David Wright to an eight-year, $138-million extension ensuring that he’ll be around for the next good Mets team. Then they dealt reigning NL Cy Young Award winner R.A. Dickey to the Blue Jays for a package including top catching prospect Travis d’Arnaud and right-hander Noah Sydergaard. Combined with an emerging core of prospects that includes righthander Zack Wheeler and shortstop Gavin Cecchini, the Mets system is turning around in a hurry. The Mets will probably be bad for another year or two, but they are quickly setting themselves up to be an NL giant again soon.

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Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim Photo Day

Over the next week, we will take a look at how each team’s lineups looked to start the season in 2012 compared to the projected look for 2013 (all ZiPS projections courtesy of Fangraphs.)

We covered the NL West and NL Central, and NL East. Now we look at the American League West.

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Cincinnati Reds v Miami Marlins

2012 Record: 69-93, 5th NL East
2012 Pythagorean Record: 68-94
Impact Player: RF Giancarlo Stanton
Impact Pitcher: RHP Ricky Nolasco
Top Prospect: RHP Jose Fernandez 

Significant Acquisitions: RHP Henderson Alvarez, 3B Placido Polanco, LF Juan Pierre, SS Adeiny Hechavarria, RHP Jon Rauch, RHP Kevin Slowey, 1B Casey Kotchman, C Jeff Mathis, RHP Chad Qualls, RHP John Maine, IF Wilson Valdez, LHP Scott Maine, UT Matt Downs  

Significant Departures: SS Jose Reyes, RHP Josh Johnson, LHP Mark Buehrle, UT Emilio Bonifacio, 1B Carlos Lee, RHP Heath Bell, C John Buck, OF Scott Cousins, RHP Carlos Zambrano, RHP Chad Gaudin

With a brand new, publicly-funded stadium and a decent core of players like Giancarlo Stanton, Logan Morrison, Josh Johnson, Hanley Ramirez, and Anibal Sanchez, the Miami Marlins ownership—led by the detestable Jeffrey Loria—finally decided to spend some money on the Major League roster and committed $191-million to three free agents last winter. Those free agents—Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle and Heath Bell—were supposed to turn an already decent up-and-coming team into a true contender.

Then everything went wrong. New manager Ozzie Guillen—whom the Marlins spend $10-million on and also sent to prospects to the White Sox to acquire—made some questionable decisions on and off the field and the stars of the team either got hurt or underperformed. Things went south quickly. In June, Miami sent Matt Dominguez and another prospect to Houston for first baseman Carlos Lee, thinking maybe it would turn around, but within a few weeks, they waved the white flag and began dismantling.

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Detroit Tigers v Atlanta Braves

2012 Record: 94-68, 2nd NL East
2012 Pythagorean Record: 92-70
Impact Player: RF Jason Heyward
Impact Pitcher: RHP Tim Hudson
Top Prospect: RHP Julio Teheran 

Significant Acquisitions: LF Justin Upton, CF B.J. Upton, 3B Chris Johnson, RHP Jordan Walden, C Gerald Laird, IF Ramiro Pena, OF Jordan Schafer, RHP David Carpenter

Significant Departures: 3B Chipper Jones, LF Martin Prado, CF Michael Bourn, RHP Tommy Hanson, RHP Randall Delgado, C David Ross, RHP Chad Durbin, RHP Jair Jurrjens, CP Eric Hinske, OF Matt Diaz

In 1990, the Atlanta Braves recorded their sixth-straight losing season and had become known as one of the most futile franchises in baseball. Since then, in 21 seasons (1994 omitted because of the strike), Atlanta has posted fewer than 86 wins only thrice and has made the playoffs an astounding 16 times. In 2012, they recorded 94 wins—their highest total since 2004—but due to the awesomeness of the Washington Nationals, were forced to play in—and lose—the first ever National League wildcard play-in game to the St. Louis Cardinals.

With the retirement of third baseman Chipper Jones and the loss of centerfielder Michael Bourn to free agency, the Braves sought to make significant changes to their offense and did so by bringing in the brothers Upton—B.J. from Tampa via a five-year, $75-million contract and Justin via a trade with the Diamondbacks that saw leftfielder Martin Prado and others go the other way. With the current roster, Atlanta is poised to make another run at the playoffs, but how likely is it that they avoid the wildcard game this time around?

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Atlanta Braves v New York Yankees

The National League East is once again shaping up to be a two-horse race between the Braves and Nationals. The addition of the Upton brothers makes Atlanta a slight favorite in my mind, but you can’t underestimate the Nationals, who brought back many of their important pieces to their lineup, while finally adding a true centre fielder to the mix. The Phillies season depends on the health of Ryan Howard and Chase Utley once again, while the Mets and Marlins should be good one day, just not this year.

Over the next week, we will take a look at how each team’s lineups looked to start the season in 2012 compared to the projected look for 2013 (all ZiPS projections courtesy of Fangraphs.)

We covered the NL West and NL Central, now here’s a look at the NL East.

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St. Louis Cardinals v Philadelphia Phillies

2012 Record: 88-74, 2nd NL Central
2012 Pythagorean Record: 93-69
Impact Player: C Yadier Molina
Impact Pitcher: RHP Adam Wainwright
Top Prospect: RF Oscar Taveras 

Significant Acquisitions: CP Ty Wigginton, LHP Randy Choate

Significant Departures: 1B Lance Berkman, RHP Kyle Lohse, 2B/OF Skip Schumaker, RHP Kyle McClellan

The St. Louis Cardinals have been arguably the most successful franchise in baseball over the last ten years or so. Two world titles and numerous playoff appearances have been the result of one of the most thoroughly homegrown rosters in baseball. With the help of former farm director and current Astros General Manager Jeff Luhnow and an otherwise terrific scouting and development staff, GM John Mozeliak and his crew have assembled a team that should be contending year in, year out for the foreseeable future.

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andrew mccutchen donger

2012 Record: 79-83, 4th NL Central
2012 Pythagorean Record: 78-84
Impact Player: CF Andrew McCutchen
Impact Pitcher: RHP A.J. Burnett
Top Prospect: RHP Gerrit Cole

Significant Acquisitions: C Russell Martin, RHP Mark Melancon, UT Brandon Inge, RHP Kyle Waldrop, LHP Jonathan Sanchez, RHP Mike Zagurski, IF Ivan DeJesus Jr.

Significant Departures: RHP Joel Hanrahan, RHP Chris Resop, C Rod Barajas, UT Drew Sutton

For the second straight year, the Pittsburgh Pirates’ first half was much better than expected. On August 8 of last year, they beat the Diamondbacks and moved to 63-47 and sat just two-and-a-half games behind the eventual NL Central champion Reds. But their success, just as it was the year before, was unsustainable. Pittsburgh finished the year going 16-36 to finish with their 20th consecutive losing season, but still had their best record since 1997.

It finally appears, however, that the Pirates are on the right track. Center fielder Andrew McCutchen emerged as one of the game’s best players and there’s a decent core of young position players that seem to be coming into their own such as third baseman Pedro Alvarez and second baseman Neil Walker. With two of the best pitching prospects in baseball set to make their big league debuts sometime this season, things are looking brighter for Pittsburgh than they have in some time.

The organization took some flack last year after reports came out that Navy SEAL training drills were being run in the extended spring training, which led to some players getting hurt — including some top prospects. The ordeal ended in an investigation by owner Bob Nutting and a promise to stop the drills. The team also whiffed on signing first-round draft pick Mark Appel who was expected to go first-overall but slipped to the Pirates at number-eight. Appel decided to re-enter the draft next year when the team couldn’t offer him close to his asking price.

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