Predicted Order of Finish:
4. Killer Bees
Pitching: Greinke and Josh Johnson give the Zaps two #1 starters. Scherzer and W.Rodriguez fill out an excellent rotation. The pen is already deep with O'Day, Downs, Kuo, League, and Aardsma.
Lineup: In the biggest trade of the offseason, the Zaps sent AL MVP Josh Hamilton to the FFTs for AL MVP runner up Miguel Cabrera. I think AL MVP 4th place finisher Jose Bautista might have been the main reason for this deal. Having Bautista and Hamilton as your two biggest bats would have caused headaches for RHP, but vs LHP would have caused headaches for the Zapper. Cabrera gives them more balance. Surrounding Bautista and Cabrera will be the likes of Crawford, Fielder, McCutchen, and Utley. Ryan Raburn will help somewhere (RF?). Utley and Crawford are the only 1's, but there are no defensive problems anywhere.
Draft: The Zaps are loaded here, too, with two first rounders and 4 picks in the top 50 (2, 16, 32, 48).
Needs: Catcher, maybe RF.
Best case scenario: 110 wins and back to back titles.
Worst case scenario: Hard to imagine this team not doing well. I guess worst case is losing in the playoffs.
Pitching: A rotation of Ubaldo, Danks, Lester, and Sanchez, despite leaning slightly to the left, will cause opponents plenty of problems. But the more impressive part of this staff is the bullpen. Breslow, Feliz, Betancourt, and Soriano are outstanding.
Lineup: For all the moaning and complaining the Snakeman does, you'd think the cupboard here was bare. I guess that's what continually getting thumped in the post season will do to an already fragile psyche. But the truth is, this team is still one of the best in the league. Mauer is still the best catcher in baseball, and David Wright is one of the top guys at 3b. Markakis and Bruce have only one problem: they both play only RF, meaning one will have to take his RF-1 to DH. The Snakes can have an all-1 outfield - and still have another OF-1 sitting on the bench! They have FOUR guys who are RF-1! Seems excessive to me. The legitimate problem, of course, is the infield. Bartlett wasn't great, but at least he didn't suck as bad as Aaron Hill. And NOBODY on this team plays 1b. Really, there is nothing there but a little Smoak.
Draft: Only 1 pick in the top 50 (44). Okay, so maybe the whining has some merit.
Needs: 2b, 1b.
Best case scenario: 90-95 wins and a first round exit - again.
Worst case scenario: The Snakes don't usually take a year off to rebuild, and the pitching staff alone will keep them in the hunt. Worst case... 81-81 and no post season, meaning he stays home and flicks his bean there.
Pitching: Stocked. Felix, Wainwright, Braden, Bumgarner, D.Hudson. Wow. The pen is good, too, with Gregerson, Romo, F.Rodriguez, and the ancient Arthur Rhodes.
Lineup: Well... maybe pitching will be enough to win. Swisher at 1b, Hart in RF, and VMart at C isn't a bad nucleus. The acquisition of Vernon Wells helps vs RHP, but it means sitting down Victorino's cf-1 unless Wells is the DH. Loney hits RHP a little, but he only plays 1b. Zobrist, who plays almost everywhere, will probably spend most of his time at 2b. B.Roberts is not bad, but he's limited on at bats. Reynolds hit a ton of homers at 3b, but was under the Mendoza line. Brendan Ryan is interesting. He got the surprising ss-1, but 223/279/294 will be hard to play. I guess Rajai Davis(?) is the left fielder. Even the ubiquitous Zobrist doesn't play LF.
Draft: Three picks in the top 50 (10, 26, 42).
Needs: Offense. LF, SS, 3b. A catcher who can throw.
Best case scenario: The 10th pick in the 2012 Draft.
Worst case scenario: The 10th pick in the 2012 Draft.
Pitching: Already has a 5-man rotation in place (T.Hudson, Verlander, Hanson, Kennedy, and Cueto). The pen isn't as good as the other teams in the AWD, but it isn't bad (Duensing, Valverde, A.Bailey).
Lineup: Cano is one of the best players in baseball. The rest of the Bee infield (Teixeira, Castro, Rolen) is pretty good too. And the DH spot, which will probably be some combination of Dunn, Morales, and Weeks is fine. Ramon Hernandez can't catch every day, but his card will be adequate. The problem is in the outfield. Here are the options: Podsednik, Juan Rivera, Cameron, Schumaker, Francoeur, Hawpe. Like the picture of the BeeBoy walking up the stairs in his thong, it ain't a pretty sight.
Draft: Three picks in the first 50 (9, 25, 41).
Needs: Outfield, outfield, a backup catcher, and outfield. A new laptop to replace the Pig one he destroyed last summer. And some bullpen, of course.
Best case scenario: 80-85 wins.
Worst case scenario: 70-75 wins.