30 MLB teams, 30 MLB Spring Training Questions
(2010: 95-67, 2nd, AL East)
Who fills out the rotation? The Yankees have much bigger problems than keeping Derek Jeter happy. The retirement of Andy Pettitte leaves a huge hole to fill behind CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett and Phil Hughes, who faded with a 4.90 ERA in the second half last season. Our guess is Brian Cashman hopes the offense keeps the Bombers in contention, then he makes a deal at the trade deadline.
(96-66, 1st, AL East)
Can aging stars keeps the Rays relevant? Tampa lost a boat load of players to free agency, including Carl Crawford. Enter Manny Ramirez, whose attitude could sink the ship.
3. Red Sox
(89-72, 3rd, AL East)
Will Josh Beckett regain top form? The Red Sox broke the bank for bats, but they still need their ace to roll into October. Beckett posted a 5.78 ERA last season.
4. Blue Jays
(85-77, 4th, AL East)
Can they break free from the middle of the pack? Vernon Wells’ monstrous contract is finally off the books. Now the Jays could use some support for slugger Jose Bautista.
(66-96, 5th, AL East)
Will they continue their surge? Buck Showalter led the O’s to a 34-23 finish, then they added vets like Derek Lee and J.J. Hardy this winter to help the second-worst HR-hitting team in the AL.
(94-68, 1st, AL Central)
Will the bullpen spell doom? They lost three key middle relievers and there’s no guarantee all-world closer Joe Nathan will make a successful return after missing all of last season.
7. White Sox
(88-74, 2nd, AL Central)
Is there a power surge in Chicago? The White Sox slumped in the first and last months so they added a big bat in Adam Dunn and re-signed Paul Konerko.
(81-81, 3rd, AL Central)
Did the Tigers finally throw money on the right players? The rotation is solid, but it’s likely Detroit burned money on guys like Vic Martinez and Jhonny Peralta.
(69-93, 4th, AL Central)
How can they stay competitive? Cleveland spent a whopping $1.3 million on free agency. It desperately needs a healthy Carlos Santana, who had 22 RBIs in 46 games.
(67-95, 5th, AL Central)
Will the kids be all right? KC’s farm system is loaded thanks to deals like the one involving Zack Greinke. Alcides Escobar and Lorenzo Cain have pop at the dish.
(90-72, 1st, AL West)
How do the AL champs replace Cliff Lee? Michael Young is ticked, but he’ll get over it. The player to watch is SP Brandon Webb, who has throw only four innings in the last two years.
(81-81, 2nd, AL West)
Can the offense pitch in??The A’s allowed the fewest runs in the AL and their rotation has only improved. The bats still won’t cut it, as Hideki Matsui is hardly a solution.
(80-82, 3rd, AL West)
Will they pull another shocker? Last season, no one expected them to falter. This year, no one expects a rebuilding unit to actually compete — unless Scott Kazmir can find his slider.
(61-101, 4th, AL West)
Is Justin?Smoak the savior? Baseball’s worst offense lost out on key FAs, but so did its division foes. Smoak struggled as a rook but has a huge bat.
(91-71, 2nd, NL East)
How do you replace a legend? For the first time in 20 seasons, Atlanta heads to Florida with no Bobby Cox. All eyes turn to Fredi Gonzalez, who went 276-279 as the Marlins’ skipper.
(80-82, 3rd, NL East)
Are the Fish better without Dan Uggla? The All-Star second baseman, traded to Atlanta, was good for 30 homers, but his stone hands were a liability. Omar Infante may be better fit.
(79-83, 4th, NL East)
Can they win without Johan Santana? Ace is out until July as he recovers from shoulder surgery. Mike Pelfrey (15-9, 3.66 ERA) gets Opening Day start. Keep an eye on Dillon Gee.
(69-93, 5th, NL East)
How good is Bryce Harper? The biggest splash was signing —overpaying? — Jayson Werth, but 18-year-old phenom has everyone buzzing. Harper hit .343 in the Arizona Fall League.
(91-71, 1st, NL Central)
Can they take the next step? They had the NL’s most explosive lineup, but got swept by the Phillies. The only change is at shortstop, where Paul Janish replaces Orlando Cabrera.
(86-76, 2nd, N Central)
Can they sign Albert Pujols? Cards must find a way to ink three-time NL MVP to an extension by tomorrow — he’s looking for $30 million a year — or risk “Albertageddon.”
(77-85, 3rd, NL Central)
Will potential equal victories? Milwaukee rebuilt its entire starting rotation this winter by acquiring Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum. Duo combined for 346 strikeouts last season.
(76-86, 4th, NL Central)
Was last year a mirage? Houston was a national punch line prior to the All-Star break, then went 40-33 after. With a whopping 63 players in camp, this could be a breakout team.
(75-87, 5th, NL Central)
Who starts Opening Day? Carlos Zambrano’s streak of six straight openers may be over, according to new skipper Mike Quade. Ryan Dempster and Matt Garza are in the mix.
(57-105, 6th, NL Central)
Can it get any worse? Pirates lost a franchise-worst 105 games and haven’t had a winning season since 1992. Unless Barry Bonds (’92 version) returns, expect more futility.
(92-70, 1st, NL West)
Does Miguel Tejada have anything left? He’s 36 and his numbers have been in decline — hasn’t hit more than 18 homers since ’06. He replaces playoff hero Edgar Renteria.
(90-72, 2nd, NL West)
Where’s the leadership? Chris Young, David Eckstein and Adrian Gonzalez (31 homers, 101 RBIs) are gone. Yet the Padres feel they are ‘more balanced’ this season. Good luck.
(83-79, 3rd, NL West)
Was Carlos Gonzalez just a one-hit wonder? Came out of nowhere, finishing third in NL MVP voting in ’10 after batting .336 with 34 homers. But pitchers will adjust in 2011, can he?
28. L.A. Dodgers
(80-82, 4th, NL West)
Who’s the closer? It’s still Jonathan Broxton’s job, but the erratic closer blew seven saves last year and lost his job by mid-August. If he struggles, look for Hong-Chih Kuo.
(65-97, 5th, NL West)
Who are the Diamondbacks? That was the exact question recently posed by manager Kirk Gibson. With question marks all over the field, we may not really find out until June.
(97-65, 1st, NL East)
How many wins will the starting rotation combine for? With some calling the Phillies’ Big Four — Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt, Cole Hamels —the best in baseball history, the expectations are very high in the City of Brotherly Love. Bodog.com has set the over/under at 61, and that¹s not even accounting for fifth starter, Joe Blanton. Overall, anything less than 100 victories and a World Series for this Phillies team would be a major disappointment.