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MLB Season Preview: #21 Detroit Tigers

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Overview: Detroit is a franchise that is struggling financially in the economic downturn of the country. This caused them to make many moves during the offseason that are more financially sound, meaning many young players. Last season, the Tigers had a mini-collapse at the end of last season and lost to the Twins in a one game playoff to be booted from the playoffs.

Offseason Moves: In one of the bigger deals of the offseason, the Tigers traded P Edwin Jackson and OF Curtis Granderson away in a three-team deal. In return, Detroit received Ps Phil Coke, Daniel Schlereth, Max Scherzer, and OF Austin Jackson. The Tigers also lost P Fernando Rodney to free agency, and replaced him with closer Jose Valverde. On the offensive side, Detroit’s only free agent acquisition was OF Johnny Damon.

Projected Lineups and Pitching Staff:

1.  CF Austin Jackson (no stats in ’09)

2. 2B Scott Sizemore (no stats in ’09)

3. 1B Miguel Cabrera (.324, 34 HR, 103 RBI)

4. RF Magglio Ordonez (.310, 9 HR, 50 RBI)

5. 3B Brandon Inge (.230, 27 HR, 84 RBI)

6. DH Johnny Damon (.282, 24 HR, 82 RBI)

7. LF Carlos Guillen (.242, 11 HR, 41 RBI)

8. C Gerald Laird (.225, 4 HR, 33 RBI)

9. SS Adam Everett (.238, 3 HR, 44 RBI)

Backup C: Alex Avila (.279, 5 HR, 14 RBI)

Backup IF: Ramon Santiago (.267, 7 HR, 35 RBI)

Backup OF: Ryan Raburn (.291, 16 HR, 45 RBI)

Backup OF: Clete Thomas (.240, 7 HR, 39 RBI)

1. Justin Verlander (19-9, 3.45 ERA)

2. Rick Porcello (14-9, 3.96 ERA)

3. Max Scherzer (9-11, 4.12 ERA)

4. Jeremy Bonderman (0-1, 8.71 ERA)

5. Dontrelle Willis (1-4, 7.49 ERA)

CP: Jose Valverde (4-2, 2.33 ERA, 25 SV)

SU: Joel Zumaya (3-3, 4.94 ERA)

SU: Ryan Perry (0-1, 3.79 ERA)

MR: Phil Coke (4-3, 4.50 ERA)

MR: Brad Thomas (no stats in ’09)

MR: Fu-Te Ni (0-0, 2.61 ERA)

LR: Eddie Bonine (1-1, 4.46 ERA)

Player to watch: CF Austin Jackson has been a top prospect in the Yankees’ organization for many years now. Finally traded as many of the Bombers’ prospects are, Jackson is getting a shot at batting leadoff in a Tigers’ uniform. Jackson is a five-tool player, and many are picking him to be the rookie of the year. With veteran OF Johnny Damon on the team to help tutor Jackson, this could be a big year for the rookie.

Prediction: 86-76, 1st in AL Central

The Tigers have some depth in the pitching staff, headed by ace Justin Verlander. Their offense will be suspect at times, but I expect Detroit to break through this season, and take the AL Central crown.

MLB Season Preview: #22 New York Mets

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Overview: The New York Mets are a franchise in turmoil. After many of their players were ravished by injuries last season, the Mets are looking to rebound. However, the team finds itself decimated of prospects, still struggling with injuries, and filled with veterans that are creeping past their prime.

Offseason Moves: As expected, the Mets made a splash on offense, bringing in OF Jason Bay. However, after spending most of their money on Bay, New York only made the minor moves of bringing in C Rod Barajas, OF Gary Matthews Jr., and Ps Kelvim Escobar and Ryota Igarashi.

Projected Lineups and Pitching Staff:

1. CF Angel Pagan (.306, 6 HR, 32 RBI) —— starting for injured CF Carlos Beltran (.325, 10 HR, 48 RBI)

2. SS Jose Reyes (.279, 2 HR, 15 RBI)

3. 3B David Wright (.307, 10 HR, 72 RBI)

4. LF Jason Bay (.267, 36 HR, 119 RBI)

5. RF Jeff Francouer (.280, 15 HR, 78 RBI)

6. 1B Daniel Murphy (.266, 12 HR, 63 RBI)

7. C Rod Barajas (.226, 19 HR, 71 RBI)

8. 2B Luis Castillo (.302, 1 HR, 40 RBI)

Backup C: Omir Santos (.260, 7 HR, 40 RBI)

Backup IF: Alex Cora (.251, 1 HR, 18 RBI)

Backup OF: Angel Pagan when Carlos Beltran returns from injury —-(stats above)

Backup OF: Gary Matthews Jr. (.250, 4 HR, 50 RBI)

1. Johan Santana (13-9, 3.13 ERA)

2. Mike Pelfrey (10-12, 5.03 ERA)

3. John Maine (7-6, 4.43 ERA)

4. Oliver Perez (3-4, 6.82 ERA)

5. Fernando Nieve (3-3, 2.95 ERA)

CP: Francisco Rodriguez (3-6, 3.71 ERA, 35 SV)

SU: Kelvim Escobar (0-1, 3.60 ERA)

SU: Pedro Feliciano (6-4, 3.03 ERA)

MR: Sean Green (1-4, 4.52 ERA)

MR: Ryota Igarashi (No stats in ’09)

MR: Tobi Stoner (0-0, 4.00 ERA)

LR: Nelson Figueroa (1-0, 0.00 ERA)

LR: Pat Misch (3-4, 4.48 ERA)

Player to watch: 3B David Wright has to have a rebound year offensively if the Mets have any shot this season. Putting up another 10 HR campaign cannot be done, as New York is already a lineup devoid of power due to both injury and talent.

Prediction: 65-97, 5th place in NL East

The Mets are a team that is already decimated in injury. They simply have zero power, and zero pitching. Even the Nationals will be a better club than the Mets this season. New York is one of two teams that will be experiencing a blow up after the season, meaning that the GM will be fired, and many of the players will be let go as the Mets will have to go back to the drawing board.

MLB Season Preview: #23 Chicago White Sox

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Overview: The White Sox were an under-achieving team last season. They had a load of power, and depth in their pitching staff. Yet, injuries were abundant on the south side of Chicago, and the Sox dwindled down the stretch.

Offseason Moves: The White Sox added an abundance of players during the offseason. To address the problems in the bullpen, the Sox brought in Ps Tony Pena and J.J. Putz. To improve on offense, Chicago brought in speedy OF Juan Pierre, OF Andruw Jones, and IF/OF Mark Teahen. IFs Omar Vizquel, Jayson Nix, and Mark Kotsay were brought in primarily for defensive purposes.

Projected Lineups and Pitching Staff:

1. CF Juan Pierre (.308, 0 HR, 31 RBI)

2. SS Alexei Ramirez (.277, 15 HR, 68 RBI)

3. 3B Gordon Beckham (.270, 14 HR, 63 RBI)

4. 1B Paul Konerko (.277, 28 HR, 88 RBI)

5. LF Carlos Quentin (.236, 21 RBI, 56 RBI)

6. DH Mark Teahen (.271, 12 HR, 50 RBI)

7. RF Alex Rios (.247, 17 HR, 71 RBI)

8. C A.J. Pierzynski (.300, 13 HR, 49 RBI)

9. 2B Jayson Nix (.224, 12 HR, 34 RBI)

Backup C: Ramon Castro (.219, 7 HR, 25 RBI)

Backup IF: Omar Vizquel (.266, 1 HR, 14 RBI)

Backup OF: Andruw Jones (.214, 17 HR, 43 RBI)

1. Mark Buehrle (13-10, 3.84 ERA)

2. Jake Peavy (9-6, 3.45 ERA)

3. John Danks (13-11, 3.77 ERA)

4. Gavin Floyd (11-11, 4.06 ERA)

5. Freddy Garcia (3-4, 4.34 ERA)

CP: Bobby Jenks (3-4, 3.71 ERA, 29 SV)

SU: Matt Thornton (6-3, 2.74 ERA)

SU: J.J. Putz (1-4, 5.22 ERA)

MR: Scott Linebrink (3-7, 4.66 ERA)

MR: Tony Pena (6-5, 3.99 ERA)

MR: Randy Williams (0-1, 4.58 ERA)

MR: Greg Aquino (1-2, 4.50 ERA)

LR: Dan Hudson (1-1, 3.38 ERA)

Player to watch: The key to the Sox’s success lies in the right arm of P Jake Peavy. Injured for most of last season, Peavy didn’t make much of an impact after being traded from San Diego. However, Peavy is a former ace, and was often in the NL Cy Young Award talks. A switch to the American League should inflate his numbers a bit, although, he still has the tools to be a good pitcher. If Peavy performs like he is capable of doing, the White Sox have a real shot at taking the AL Central.

Prediction: 83-79, 2nd in AL Central

I think that the White Sox are going to be one of this year’s surprise teams, and a team that many will cheer for. They are a group of veterans that no one is really expecting much out of. However, they play in a weak division, and may have just the right mix of players to succeed. I’m thinking with my head picking them to only finish 2nd in the division because too many things need to happen in Chicago’s favor for them to make the playoffs.

MLB Season Preview: #24 San Diego Padres

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Overview: The Padres, as most teams near the bottom end of the season previews, are a team that has no hope anywhere in sight. Last season, San Diego traded their best pitcher away in Jake Peavy, and have been rumored to be trading slugger 1B Adrian Gonzalez since last summer. Prospects are a plenty of San Diego, however, it will take a while to develop these players.

Offseason Moves: The Padres did some minor moving during the offseason. They added pitchers Radahames Liz, Sean Gallagher, and Jon Garland to their staff. On offense, San Diego brought in C Yorvit Torrealba, IF/OF Jerry Hairston, Jr., 1B Oscar Salazar, and OF Aaron Cunningham. None of these moves are going to make a significant change in the Padres’ fortunes this season.

Projected Lineups and Pitching Staff:

1. CF Tony Gwynn Jr. (.270, 2 HR, 21 RBI)

2. 2B David Eckstein (.260, 2 HR, 51 RBI)

3. 1B Adrian Gonzalez (.277, 40 HR, 99 RBI)

4. 3B Chase Headley (.262, 12 HR, 64 RBI)

5. RF Kyle Blanks (.250, 10 HR, 22 RBI)

6. C Yorvit Torrealba (.291, 2 HR, 31 RBI)

7. LF Scott Hairston (.265, 17 HR, 64 RBI)

8. SS Everth Cabrera (.255, 2 HR, 31 RBI)

Backup C: Nick Hundley (.238, 8 HR, 30 RBI)

Backup IF: Jerry Hairston Jr. (.251, 10 HR, 39 RBI)

Backup IF: Oscar Salazar (.302, 5 HR, 25 RBI)

Backup OF: Matt Stairs (.194, 5 HR, 17 RBI)

1. Chris Young (4-6, 5.21 ERA)

2. Jon Garland (11-13, 4.01 ERA)

3. Clayton Richard (9-5, 4.41 ERA)

4. Mat Latos (4-5, 4.62 ERA)

5. Kevin Correia (12-11, 3.91 ERA)

CP: Heath Bell (6-4, 2.71 ERA, 42 SV)

SU: Luke Gregerson (2-4, 3.24 ERA)

SU: Joe Thatcher (1-0, 2.80 ERA)

MR: Edward Mujica (3-5, 3.94 ERA)

MR: Adam Russell (3-1, 3.65 ERA)

MR: Luis Perdomo (1-0, 4.80 ERA)

LR: Tim Stauffer (4-7, 3.58 ERA)

Player to watch: P Chris Young has been good as the No. 2 starter to Jake Peavy in the past. Now, he’s going to have to be the ace, and pitch well if the Padres want any chance of winning. Young was once a highly regarded prospect, however, injuries have slowed him in the past year or so, and it will be interesting to see how he will recover.

Prediction: 70-92, 5th place in NL West

The Padres aren’t as bad as there record will appear. They have a decent pitching staff, and a decent lineup. They are simply decent. However, they play in a tough division in the NL West, and have very little power in their lineup. The bullpen will be suspect at times as well. Yet, I wouldn’t sleep on the Padres. This is one of my sleeper picks to come out of nowhere and compete. Now, thinking with the rational side of my brain, don’t expect much out in San Diego this season. They are on a tight budget, and will be looking to trade superstar 1B Adrian Gonzalez if the season doesn’t turn out as planned.

MLB Season Preview: #25 Toronto Blue Jays

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Overview: The Jays are a mess of a team. They traded away the best pitcher in baseball, P Roy Halladay, gave up on OF Alex Rios, and are stuck with the burden of contracts belonging to OF Vernon Wells and 1B Lyle Overbay. After making several moves during the offseason, it is clear that Toronto is in a rebuilding stage, and going with the youth movement.

Offseason Moves: The Jays brought in a lot of young arms this offseason. Top pitching prospect Kyle Drabek leads the group, that also consists of P Brandon Morrow, P Dana Eveland, and P Merkin Valdez. To bolster the bullpen, Toronto brought in closer Kevin Gregg. However, the biggest acquisitions may have come from within for Toronto, for pitchers Shawn Marcum, Dustin McGowan, and Jeremy Accardo are returning from injuries in 2010. On offense, Toronto made nearly no moves, only bringing in light-hitting SS Alex Gonzalez, and top prospect IF Brett Wallace.

Projected Lineups and Pitching Staff:

1. LF Joey Gathright (.267, O HR, O RBI)

2. 2B Aaron Hill (.286, 36 HR, 108 RBI)

3. DH Adam Lind (.305, 35 HR, 114 RBI)

4. CF Vernon Wells (.260, 15 HR, 66 RBI)

5. RF Travis Snider (.241, 9 HR, 21 RBI)

6. 3B Edwin Encarnacion (.225, 13 HR, 39 RBI)

7. 1B Lyle Overbay (.265, 16 HR, 64 RBI)

8. C John Buck (.247, 8 HR, 36 RBI)

9. SS Alex Gonzalez (.238, 8 HR, 41 RBI)

Backup C: Jose Molina (.217, 1 HR, 11 RBI)

Backup IF: John McDonald (.258, 4 HR, 13 RBI)

Backup IF: Randy Ruiz (.313, 10 HR, 17 RBI)

Backup OF: Jose Bautista (.235, 13 HR, 40 RBI)

1. Ricky Romero (13-9, 4.30 ERA)

2. Shawn Marcum (No stats in ’09)

3. Brandon Morrow (2-4, 4.39 ERA)

4. Marc Rzepcyzynski (2-4, 3.67 ERA)

5. Dustin McGowan (No stats in ’09)

CP: Kevin Gregg (5-6, 4.72 ERA, 23 SV)

SU: Jason Frasor (7-3, 2.60 ERA)

SU: Scott Downs (1-3, 3.09 ERA)

MR: Jesse Carlson (1-6, 4.66 ERA)

MR: Shawn Camp (2-6, 3.50 ERA)

MR: Jeremy Accardo (0-0, 2.55 ERA)

LR: Dana Eveland (2-4, 7.16 ERA)

Player to watch: Top prospect Brett Wallace has been traded twice within the past year. He also has been moved all around the infield, from third base to first base, and also spending time at DH. Toronto has decided that Wallace will be its first baseman of the future, however his road is currently blocked by 1B Lyle Overbay. Don’t expect that for too long, as the Jays will attempt to trade most of their veterans to give the young guys a shot. Of course, Wallace’s massive power and ability to hit for a high average will help move the process along.

Prediction: 58 – 104, 5th in AL East

The Jays have 2B Aaron Hill and DH Adam Lind to build around on offense. However, there isn’t much offense after that. Excluding those two players, the Jays batting average of last season was .251, which is nowhere near the average needed to compete with the pitching in the AL East. Yes, the Jays will be the worst team in baseball this season. However, if it weren’t for the division they play in, Cleveland would be the worst team. Toronto has talent coming up. Ps Kyle Drabek and Brett Cecil will be front-line starters in the future. First basemen David Cooper, Brian Dopriak, and Brett Wallace lead the way on offense. It will just take some time to develop the talent, and it’s not easy to do in the American League.

MLB Season Preview: #27 Kansas City Royals

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Overview: Kansas City finished another dismal season going 64-92, with no true light at the end of the tunnel in sight. However, the team had some bright spots, such as Cy Young Award winner P Zach Greinke and over-achieving IF Alberto Callaspo. Besides that, the Royals are in the process of still working young talent into the big leagues.

Offseason Moves: The Royals made very few moves during the offseason, and almost all of them seemed to be minor. Kansas City traded OF Mark Teahen for IFs Chris Getz and Josh Fields. This trade prompted the signings of OFs Rick Ankiel and Scott Podsednik. The Royals also added C Jason Kendall, as a veteran presence on the team.

Projected Lineups and Pitching Staff:

1. LF Scott Podsednik (.304, 7 HR, 48 RBI)

2. CF David DeJesus (.281, 13 HR, 71 RBI)

3. 1B Billy Butler (.301, 21 HR, 93 RBI)

4. RF Rick Ankiel (.231, 11 HR, 38 RBI)

5. DH Jose Guillen (.242, 9 HR, 40 RBI)

6. 2B Alberto Callaspo (.300, 11 HR, 73 RBI)

7. 3B Alex Gordon (.232, 6 HR, 22 RBI)

8. C Jason Kendall (.241, 2 HR, 43 RBI)

9. SS Mike Aviles (.183, 1 HR, 8 RBI)

Backup C: Brayan Pena (.273, 6 HR, 18 RBI)

Backup IF: Josh Fields ( .222, 7 HR, 30 RBI)

Backup IF: Chris Getz (.261, 2 HR, 31 RBI)

Backup OF: Mitch Maier (.243, 3 HR, 31 RBI)

1. Zach Greinke (16-8, 2.16 ERA)

2. Gil Meche (6-10, 5.09 ERA)

3. Brian Bannister (7-12, 4.73 ERA)

4. Luke Hochevar (7-13, 6.55 ERA)

5. Kyle Davies (8-9, 5.27 ERA)

CP: Joakim Soria (3-2, 2.21 ERA, 30 SV)

SU: Kyle Farnsworth (1-5, 4.58 ERA)

SU: Carlos Rosa (0-0, 3.18 ERA)

MR: Juan Cruz (3-4, 5.72 ERA)

MR: Ramon Colon (2-3, 4.83 ERA)

LR: Robinson Tejada (4-2, 3.54 ERA)

LR: Jorge Campillo (1-0, 4.15 ERA)

Player to watch: The Royals’ season depends on the bat of DH Jose Guillen. It is assumed that OF Rick Ankiel will recover from the shoulder injury that plagued him much of last season, and will return to form. However, without Guillen, the Royals’ lineup is a little lacking. If he can provide a .280 batting average with 15 HR, and about 80 RBI, Kansas City may have a chance to compete in the dismal AL Central.

Prediction: 70 – 90, 4th in AL Central

Yes, the AL Central is a terrible division. However, the Twins are always competing for the division. The White Sox have too much pitching depth to not be able to at least compete. Detroit is a wild card, for it depends on how well many of their young players perform, however, I think they will do well. Kansas City can beat out the terrible Indians. If the Royals’ rotation received the addition of a #2 starter, the team could be a contender for the AL Central. As of now, their pitching will just get eaten alive.

MLB Season Preview: #28 Baltimore Orioles

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Overview: Although Baltimore finished in the cellar of the AL East again, they have made many strides to improve. Namely, much of their young talent is beginning to arrive, which gives O’s fans renewed hope for the playoffs in a treacherous division.

Offseason Moves: The Orioles made some key acquisitions this offseason, mostly adding veterans to mentor their young players, and provide a good mix of talent. Baltimore improved their bullpen by signing closer Mike Gonzalez to a three-year deal, while also acquiring reliever Cla Meredith. The O’s also added an ace to head their young rotation by trading for P Kevin Millwood. On offense, the Orioles brought in 3B Garrett Atkins for a stabilizing right-handed power bat in the middle of the lineup. Baltimore also brought back SS Miguel Tejada, who had played for the Orioles only two years before. These moves have made the team significantly better than it was last season.

Projected Lineups and Pitching Staff:

1. CF Adam Jones (.277, 19 HR, 70 RBI)

2. 2B Brian Roberts (.283, 16 HR, 79 RBI)

3. 3B Miguel Tejada (.313, 14 HR, 86 RBI)

4. RF Nick Markakis (.293, 18 HR, 101 RBI)

5. 1B Garrett Atkins (.226, 9 HR, 48 RBI)

6. C Matt Wieters (.288, 9 HR, 43 RBI)

7. LF Nolan Reimold (.279, 15 HR, 45 RBI)

8. DH Luke Scott (.258, 25 HR, 77 RBI) —- Will platoon with IF Ty Wigginton

9. SS Cesar Izturis (.256, 2 HR, 30 RBI)

Backup C: Chad Moeller (.258, 2 HR, 10 RBI)

Backup IF: Ty Wigginton (.273, 11 HR, 41 RBI)

Backup OF: Felix Pie (.266, 9 HR, 29 RBI)

1. Kevin Millwood (13-10, 3.67 ERA)

2. Jeremy Guthrie (10-17, 5.04 ERA)

3. Brad Bergensen (7-5, 3.43 ERA)

4. Brian Matusz (5-2, 4.63 ERA)

5. Chris Tillman (2-5, 5.40 ERA)

CP: Mike Gonzalez (5-4, 2.42 ERA, 10 SV)

SU: Jim Johnson (4-6, 4.11 ERA)

SU: Will Ohman (1-0, 5.84 ERA)

MR: Dennis Sarfate (0-1, 5.09 ERA)

MR: Kam Mickolio (0-2, 2.63 ERA)

MR: Cla Meredith (4-2, 3.99 ERA)

LR: Mark Hendrickson (6-5, 4.37 ERA)

LR: Koji Uehara (2-4, 4.05 ERA)

Player to watch: If the young players already on the roster continue to progress, the Orioles could make a real run this season. However, I believe the key to this team will be the production of 1B Garrett Atkins. After a mediocre ’09 campaign, Baltimore gave Atkins a chance to return to form, where he averaged 25 HR and 100 RBI for three consecutive years in Colorado. If Atkins can drive in 100 runs, look for the Orioles to hang around in the divisional race deep into the summer.

Prediction: 75 – 87, 4th in AL East

I truly believe that the Orioles could win the AL Central, or get a wild card spot if they were in the NL or the AL Central. Unfortunately, they’re not. They are in the AL East, which is currently the best division in baseball. The Orioles are making strides, and some of their young pitchers, such as P David Hernandez, are on the way to the majors. A couple of key additions to improve the bullpen, and progression of their top prospect starters, would land Baltimore in first place of the division in the coming years. Frankly, I believe that as soon as next season, the Orioles can win the AL East. However, this will be a season of learning, as the team should compete for much of the year.