Thursday, February 7, 2013

Spring Training Brings a Re-Arranged MLB Back to Baseball

It is no surprise that some serious movement has occurred throughout the MLB this off-season. Baseball is a sport always geared around trades and what missing puzzle pieces can bring a World Series to a specific team. The owners and general managers sure were busy this offseason, and as spring training is set to begin in under a week, baseball fans will get a new look at how their teams will operate in the upcoming 2013 baseball season. Here are some of the more important questions facing several teams that may be partially answered in spring training.
 
Are the Dodgers ready to contend? With the Los Angeles Dodgers securing a high paying television deal recently that will provide them a revenue of around $250 million per year, they have continued their spending spree. Pitcher Zack Greinke joins a lineup that already boasts Clayton Kershaw, Josh Beckett, and new Korean pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu. Solid hitters Carl Crawford, Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier, and Hanley Ramirez look great on paper too. The question is will this team actually click and produce a World Series or will they simply put up some big numbers and fail to make the playoffs like they did last year?
 
Will the New York Yankees be able to hit? With the departure of Nick Swisher and the serious injury to Alex Rodriguez, the Yankees signed several veteran hitters to try and reproduce some lost offensive production. However, these players come with loads of questions that will need to be answered. Kevin Youkilis, Matt Diaz, and Travis Hafner all bring along a storied past of big hits and runs, but have struggled recently to dips of form and injuries. None of these guys hit over .240 last year, and they are all in their mid 30’s. Will any of these guys spark a career comeback with the Yankees, or will they disappoint?
 
Are the Cincinnati Reds ready to take the next step? Last season’s playoffs ended in misery for the Reds as they let a 2 game lead slip to the eventual World Series Champions San Francisco Giants in the NLDS. They have brought back every major piece of the team including outfielder Ryan Ludwick whom they re-signed. They also brought in Shin-Soo Choo, a solid hitter with decent power. Lining up with Joey Votto and Jay Bruce the Reds will have a solid offense. Their pitching staff was also spectacular last year with Johnny Cueto, Bronson Arroyo, and Mat Latos. Was last year’s division championship just a fluke or are the Reds set to take the next step and win a pennant?
 
Will the Washington Nationals lead the Major Leagues in wins again? The Nationals came out of nowhere last year to lead the entire MLB in win with 98. Although they fell in a disastrous manner to the St. Louis Cardinals in the playoffs, the Nationals should be improved. They re-signed Adam LaRoche, traded for Denard Span, and signed free agent premier closer Rafael Soriano. With a slate of starting pitchers including Stephen Strasburg, Dan Haren, Gio Gonzalez, and Jordan Zimmerman, the Nationals could be the best team in baseball again, but will definitely want to see an improved playoffs should they get there.
 
So with spring training taking shape and the regular season beckoning in the not too distant future, let’s see if some of these questions get resolved over the next few weeks as these teams take shape in the spring.
 
Baseball is almost back!
 
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