Key FA Lost: Sawyer Miller – Starting CFer the last few seasons, but his defense declined past the point where I was comfortable playing him their so I declined his option. He signed with the Cubbies.
Key FA Signed: N/A
Trades: We made a couple of trades in a very quiet trade market. Shipped Art Redding to the Reds who disappointed the last couple seasons. We have a young 3B we are bringing up to take his place. We were able to get a really solid hitter back in Braden Kubel who will spot start in the OF and be a great hitter off the bench. The other trade we made was a prospect swap we were brought in promising SP prospect Frank Rando.
Rookies expected to make their debut: Quinton Valdes will be our starting 3B once we get into the season a bit to get an extra season of before arb will kick in. Collin Meyers is slated to come up as another OF and speed off the bench. Pauley Hogan looks to round out the bullpen as a long reliever and spot starter. Possibly Jaoquin nunez as well, but we don’t have room in the bullpen right now. Hogan and Meyers are original draft picks, Nunez was signed as an International FA last season while Valdes came in via trade a few seasons ago.
Outlook: We expect to win the division. However, it is getting tougher as the Yankees and Red Sox continue to improve and challenge us. We hope to avoid a slot start which has gotten us into trouble the last couple seasons. We were lucky enough to battle back each season, but can’t keep digging that hole constantly.
Boston Red Sox
While the Boston Red Sox had the 5th best offense in all of baseball last season, a 26th ranking in team ERA and a poor lackluster defense who committed 111 errors making them the 2nd worst fielding unit in the Majors last season. New GM Bob Cimorelli takes over reign in Beantown and has wasted no time in revamping the pitching staff and retooling the defense to live up to the athletic talent present on the Major League Squad.
The core of the offense stays the same, but with some key defensive of position moves allows Boston to field a lineup that will keep pitcher's up at night. Newly appointed Rightfielder Carlos Rivera will be counted on to bring his speed (33SBs) and consistent ability to get on base (.290 Avg; .375 OBP) to set the table for the explosive squad. Many experts believe that he may actually have his best season yet this year as new GM has taken the SS responsibilities off his mind and move the well-rounded athlete to right field where he can show off his athleticism and strong arm. Travis Brownson will take over everyday duties at SS and with 500 ABs could return to his 20 HR form while providing solid defense. The heart of the order will consist of big bopper newly appointed second baseman Carl Clayton who recently signed a 5 year extension with the club and sweet swinging third baseman Phil Gao. If those two rakers were not enough, the Red Sox expect the return of powerhouse DH within the 1st month of the season after tearing his ACL last season. If he can regain his .300 BA and 35+ HR capability, Boston make actually improve on the offense they displayed last season. The rest of the offense will be filled with LF Scot Dickey CF Stevie Keppel and newly acquired first baseman free agent Gerald Bong. Behind the plate, Catcher's Micah Mitchell and Burt Washington will share duties and should combine for a productive season. The Red Sox will be dangerous throughout their entire lineup 1 through 9.
To address the pitching situation, the Red Sox wasted no time in picking up veteran free agents Ted Blair and Emil Romero who have pitched consistently in their careers posting ERA's in the 3.00's. Closer Artie Blackburn will look to continuing the success he had last year in the bullpen. The farm system may also produce some live arms to bolster the bullpen, one player to watch may Al Campos who is a ground-ball specialist. Another prospect quickly rising through the organization is speedy CF Benjamin Nunnally.
In all the new GM has added the right pieces and lubed the engine of this high potential team on paper. Only time will tell if the moves on defense and addition of veteran starting pitching will lead to success in this tough division.
Coming off 2 down years in a row, Cleveland is looking for a strong bounce back season this year. We have a solid young catching duo that should be getting even better this year and the foundation of the team lies in our two young stars at 3b and LF, Wells and barrios as well as the solid veteran presence of Cy Larson at 1B. 24 year old CF Babe Coggin should improve off of a steady rookie year. We have a rookie double play combination in Anderson and Sizemore who both seem ready for the show. As always, pitching will be the key and I think we have a solid if not stellar staff anchored by an improving Nolan McGowan and the veteran presence of Max Osoria. Making the jump to the majors will be the dynamic Harpo Drabek and how well he adjusts to the majors will have a great deal to do with where the Indians will finish. Hopefully in the hunt, but realistically a year away from serious contention.
New York Yankees
The outlook for this years Bronx Bombers is upbeat.
Many high draft picks are hitting the Major League team and the Yankees turned the corner fighting to the last series of the year fighting to get into the playoffs. The concerns for the Yankees remains the r starting rotation.
After Dicky Jensen the staff is average. Despite the concerns, the Yankees Bleecher Creatures expect to see playoff baseball this season. The Yankees welcome Santiago Durazo and Albert Sosa to their rotation,
both FA signings. They also expect to rely on rookies Anthony Blackburn Joaquin Polanco Brett Welsh Louis Griffiths