1. New York Yankees – Defending World Champs have not lost much besides Matsui and Damon. Added Granderson and Javier Vazquez. The Yankees are the front runners again this season. With a rotation of Sabathia, Burnett, Pettite, Vazquez, and Joba they are very tough to beat with the lineup they put out there.
Questions: How will Pettite bounce back after the heavy workload of 2009 at the age of 38?
Who wins the job in Left field? Gardner, Winn, or Thames?
2. Boston Red Sox– Possibly the deepest roster in the MLB. Added John Lackey to an already phenomenal rotation. Mike Cameron solidifies Centerfield defensively and moves Ellsbury to left. Beltre now mans the hot corner, Marco Scutaro is at short and this is hands down the best defensive team in the MLB. With a defense like that behind Lackey, Lester, Beckett, Dice-k, and Bucholz, this is an extremely dangerous team.
Questions: Is Big Papi done?
Can Dice-k return to his 2008 dominance?
3. Philadelphia Phillies– The Phils were clearly the class of the National League before any additions were made. They added Placido Polanco, who is an upgrade over Pedro Feliz and added arguably the best pitcher in the game in Roy Halladay. Losing Cliff Lee will hurt but the Phillies also posses one of the best offenses in the MLB. They should have no problem taking the NL East.
Questions: Will Brad Lidge bounce back from a horrendous 2009?
Can Cole Hamels regain his 2008 form?
Will Ibanez rebound from a sub-par second half last season?
4. Tampa Bay Rays– Very young and talented roster throughout with a deep starting rotation of Shields, Garza, Niemann , Price, and the young Wade Davis. With the addition of Rafael Soriano to the bullpen, it should prevent the burnout the Rays’ bullpen experienced last season. With a deep young lineup containing Evan Longoria, Carl Crawford, Carlos Pena, BJ Upton, and Pat Burrell this team could compete for the division crown. Questions: Can Pat Burrell rebound with his usual .250 30 and 100 season?
Who will win the battle for the catching position between Shoppach and Navarro?
5. Colorado Rockies – Extremely young and talented offensive lineup that could explode this season without Garret Atkins blocking the power hitting Ian Stewart and Chris Ianneta regaining the starting job behind the plate. Ubaldo Jimenez, Aaron Cook, and Jorge De la rosa are a solid top 3 in the rotation and with Jeff Francis returning, this team has a very good chance to go deep into the playoffs.
Question: How will Jeff Francis fare after not pitching for more than a year?
6. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim– Not many holes on this team at all besides Brian Fuentes at the back end of the bullpen. Extremely deep rotation of Weaver, Santana, Saunders, Kazmir, and newcomer Joel Pineiro. They replaced Vlad with Hideki Matusi who should put up similar numbers out of the DH spot. Mike Scioscia is arguably the best manager in the MLB and racks up division titles with less talent than anyone we’ve seen before.
Questions: Can Fuentes provide enough stability for the back end of the bullpen?
How will Brandon Wood handle his shot at a starting job?
7. Texas Rangers – Another young team on the offensive side with an abundance of starting pitching. Added a veteran presence to the middle of their order in Vladimir Guerrero and with the switch of Neftali Feliz to the rotation, this should boost the Rangers to the top of the AL West.
Questions: Can Josh Hamilton bounce back from an injury plagued 2009 season?
Can Chris Davis make enough contact to stay in the big leagues for a full season?
8. St. Louis Cardinals – Any roster with Chris Carpenter, Adam Wainwright, and Albert Pujols is very dangerous, but add in Matt Holiday, young slugger Colby Rasmus, and suddenly revived Brad Penny and this is another serious pennant contender
Questions: Can Ryan Franklin repeat his dominant 2009 season?
How will David Freese handle starting for the departed Mark Derosa?
9. Los Angeles Dodgers– Clayton Kershaw and Chad Billingsley anchor this rotation and still have much room to improve. If Manny can return to form along with Kemp and Ethier in the outfield, the Dodgers will be right there with the Rockies in the NL West.
Questions: Is Manny Ramirez finally showing signs of wearing down?
Can Russell Martin return to his 2008 form?
10. Minnesota Twins– As the Twins look to open Target Field in 2010, they are stacked with left handed sluggers in Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau, Jason Kubel, Jim Thome, and Denard Span. The addition of Orlando Hudson for Nick Punto is certainly an upgrade. Joe Nathan is still one of the finest closers and the game and if Francisco Liriano’s winter ball performance means anything, he is going to be a force to be reckoned with.
Questions: How will Ron Gardenhire fit all these bats into the lineup?
11. Seattle Mariners– The Mariners have made the biggest splash in the free agent and trade markets this offseason by far. With the addition of Cliff Lee to the rotation already headed by Felix Hernandez, they have the best 1-2 punch in the game. Figgins will replace Beltre at the hot corner and the oft troubled Milton Bradley will take over in Left Field.
Questions: Can Milton Bradley stay out of trouble?
12. Florida Marlins– The Fish will give the Phillies a run for their money in the NL East. In addition to Nolasco and Josh Johnson atop their rotation, Florida also has Anibal Sanchez, Chris Volstad, and Andrew Miller. With a young, talented lineup featuring Hanley Ramirez, Dan Uggla, Cameron Maybin, and Jorge Cantu this team could be a dark horse for a Wild Card spot.
Questions: Who will pitch the ninth inning?
Can Gaby Sanchez live up to expectations at First base?
13. Atlanta Braves– This is Bobby Cox’ last season for the Braves and they would love nothing more than to let him go out on top. They have a deep rotation with Jurrjens, Lowe, Hanson, Kawakami, and Tim Hudson. Tommy Hanson is one of the best pitching prospects in the game and he should blossom even more so this year than he did last year. With the addition of Saito and Billy Wagner, the bullpen has a whole different look to it. Look for the Braves to be competitive but ultimately finish right behind the Marlins.
Questions: How will Troy Glaus adapt to playing First base at the age of 33?
Can Billy Wagner have a productive season at the age of 37?
14. Chicago White Sox– Ozzie Guillen’s crew will have some new faces this season. Starting in Left Field, the White Sox traded for Juan Pierre and acquired Mark Teahen to play third base. That will move rookie of the year canidate Gordon Beckham over to second base and it also gives the Sox a much more well rounded offensive attack. Peavy, Buerhle, Floyd, Danks, and Freddy Garcia hold down the rotation this year. The White Sox are one of many teams who could pull away with the AL Central.
Questions: Can Alex Rios return to his all-star form?
Can they find a legitimate threat at the DH position?
15. San Francisco Giants – The Giants won 88 games last year with just one legitimate threat in their lineup. Going into this offseason you would think their goal would be to get more athletic on the offensive side. Instead Brian Sabean picked up more past their prime, impatient, rally killers. Aubrey Huff is a butcher at First Base and has never been one to take a pitch. Bengie Molina, who was resigned to block future star Buster Posey, has never seen a first pitch he didn’t like. Aaron Rowand is like a leech in that lineup at this point and Edgar Renteria had his best playing days about 5 years ago. So why do I have this team ranked 15th? Very simple. Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain.
Questions: Will Bengie Molina produce more than 10 walks this season?
Can Madison Bumgarner regain his velocity and live up to expectations?
16. Detroit Tigers– Any team with Justin Verlander, Rick Porcello, and Max Sherzer has a shot in my book, but even more so when you are competing in the Al Central. This division is absolutely wide open and if any of their young studs like Austin Jackson can produce, they have a good shot to sneak into the playoffs.
Questions: Has Miguel Cabrera gotten a handle on his drinking problem?
Can Joel Zumaya stay healthy?
17. Chicago Cubs- Even with a rotation of Zambrano, Lilly, Dempster, Wells, and Gorzelanny this team will struggle to keep pace with the front-running Cardinals. I look for Randy Wells to fall back to earth without a legitimate out pitch and the struggles to continue for Alfonso Soriano and his albatross of a contract. Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez will not be enough to carry this team by themselves.
Questions: Can Kosuke Fukudome be a legitimate middle of the order threat?
Will Geovany Soto return to his Rookie of the Year form?
18. Arizona Diamondbacks– Now that Dan Haren has his co-ace back in Brandon Webb, the Diamondbacks can begin to compete again. Edwin Jackson is a nice addition to the rotation and Justin Upton should continue to improve on his quest to become of the top young hitters in the game. Their offense should be greatly improved with the return of Conor Jackson and the addition of Adam Laroche and Kelly Johnson. They still lack a true closer and that will ultimately impede their progress.
Questions: Can Brandon Webb return to form after more than one year away from pitching?
Will Ian Kennedy finally be a productive pitcher in the big leagues?
19. Toronto Blue Jays– The Blue Jays losing Roy Halladay is like the Bulls of the 90’s losing Michael Jordan, minus the championships. With Doc gone the Blue Jays looks to rebuild with young talent and they are on the right track. Adam Lind and Aaron Hill are coming off phenomenal season at a young age and Travis Snider will follow suit. With a young rotation of Ricky Romero, Sean Marcum, and Brandon Morrow the Jays will win their share of games but will ultimately be a non-factor in the AL East.
Questions: Can Adam Lind continue to build upon his breakout 2009 campaign?
20. Milwaukee Brewers– With Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder hitting 3rd and 4th in a lineup, you don’t need much else around them. Except pitching that is. The Brewers enter the season with Yovani Gallardo, Randy Wolf, Doug Davis, Jeff Suppan, and Manny Parra. That is just not going to get it done in the division they are in. Besides Braun and Fielder there is not much to be excited about on the offensive side either. This will be a long season for the Milwaukee Brewers.
Questions: Will Prince Fielder be traded at the deadline?
Can Trevor Hoffman continue to defy his age?
21. Oakland Athletics- The A’s have put together a very respectable pitching staff but the fact they are this low on my rankings should tell you something about their offensive attack. Rajai Davis, Coco Crisp, and Ryan Sweeney in your outfield is just not good enough. Add in the fact that your infield consists of Kevin Kouzmanoff, Cliff Pennington, Mark Ellis, and Daric Barton and we are talking about one anemic offense. With the addition of Ben Sheets to Dallas Braden, Brett Anderson, Trevor Cahill, and Vin Mazzaro the A’s will be playing some low scoring games this season.
Questions: What will the A’s get for Ben Sheets at the trade deadline?
Can Andrew Bailey prove 2009 wasn’t a fluke?
22. Cincinnati Reds– If everything goes just right this team could cause some issues in the NL Central. Unfortunately, their manager, Dusty Baker may be the worst manager in the MLB. This is the same manager who penciled Willy Taveras at the top of his lineup everyday for 6 months. Harang, Bailey, Arroyo, and Cueto should do enough to keep them competitive but their overall youth will catch up to them. Look for a breakout year from Jay Bruce and Drew Stubs in Centerfield.
Questions: Will Dusty Baker make it through the entire season?
Will Micah Owings hit more homeruns than Orlando Cabrera?
23. San Diego Padres– It is a minor miracle this team won more than 50 games last season and that is a testament to Bud Black, their manager. Their only real offensive weapon, Adrian Gonzalez was intentionally walked at an astonishing rate and no one else could do any damage in that lineup. With a rotation of Chris Young, Kevin Correia, Jon Garland, Clayton Richard, and Mat Latos they have enough to be competive but ultimately do not have nearly enough offense. Look for a breakout season from Mat Latos, who had a phenomenal finish to 2009.
Questions: Can Heath Bell continue to produce like he did in 2009?
Can Everth Cabrera translate his physical talents onto the field?
24. New York Mets– This team is a mess, plain and simple. They have no starting pitching behind Santana whatsoever, Daniel Murphy could not start on a High School team at this point, and Omir Santos is lucky to be a back up in the minor leagues. The only issue is they are both starting for the Mets. The addition of Jason Bay will help but it is like buying a gutted home and spending all your money on new carpeting. It looks nice, but your house is still a wreck. Full season from Reyes and Beltran will also be helpful but ultimately their lack of pitching depth and glaring weaknesses at specific positions will be too much to overcome.
Questions: Can David Wright regain his power stroke?
Can the Mets find a real Firstbasemen?
25. Washington Nationals– This team is going to cause some issues for playoff contenders late in the season. With several more additions to this lineup, their offense is almost frightening. Ryan Zimmerman is coming off a phenomenal defensive and offensive season at the hot corner, Adam Dunn had the best season of his career, add in Elijah Dukes, Ivan Rodriguez, Cristian Guzman, and Nyjer Morgan and you have a legit lineup. Jason Marquis comes via free agency to anchor the staff along with John Lannan, Jordan Zimmerman, and Scott Olsen. Watch out for this team down the stretch.
Questions: Can the Nats muster enough pitching to compete?
Where is Stephen Strasburg?
26. Kansas City Royals– The only thing keeping this team off of the bottom of this list is Zack Greinke. As I told you Dusty Baker is the worst manager in the MLB, the Royals have the dubious honor of having the MLB’s worst General Manager. Dayton Moore signed the likes of Rick Ankiel, Scott Podsednik, Jason Kendall, and Yuniesky Betancourt to a team with severe offensive struggles. I have a feeling they are going to continue to struggle. The lone bright spots on this team are Greinke, Billy Butler, and Joakim Soria.
Questions: Why not trade Soria considering you don’t use a closer when you lose that often?
Can Greinke manage to win 20 games with this anemic offense behind him?
27. Houston Astros– It seems like Ed Wade is a big fan of former Phillies. With the additions of Brett Myers and Pedro Feliz in addition to Michael Bourn, Jason Michaels, and Geoff Geary we have a nice Phillies reunion. Bourn, Lee, and Berkman are not enough to carry this team by themselves and Roy Oswalt and Wandy Rodriguez do more than their share in the rotation. After those 5 players, this roster falls of a serious cliff. Another long year for Astros Fans as another manager bites the dust.
Questions: Can J.R. Towles be a legitimate MLB catcher?
Will Brett Myers attack Ed Wade like he did in Philadelphia?
28. Baltimore Orioles– There are a lot of bright spots for the future for this organization. Unfortunately, they are several years away from being real contenders, especially in the AL East. Matt Wieters will be an MVP candidate in time. Nick Markakis is already a star, and Adam Jones is coming into his own. Add in the two young flame throwers Tillman and Matusz and there is a recipe for success, but not this season.
Questions: Can the young pitching staff continue to develop?
Can Matt Wieters live up to the massive expectations?
29. Cleveland Indians– There is not much to say here. This roster is not a site for sore eyes. Grady Sizemore is the last man standing from the full blown fire sale by the front office. This is nothing but a rebuilding year for Cleveland as they only have 2 players projected to start with more than 2 years of MLB experience.
30. Pittsburgh Pirates– Ross Ohlendorf, Paul Maholm, Zack Duke, Charlie Morton, and Kevin Hart. You think John Russell will be fired after this season? If you’re not convinced yet, their infield consists of Andy Laroche, Ronny Cedeno, Akinori Iwamura, and Jeff Clement. It seems like this team has been rebuilding for 10 years. Whatever they’re doing isn’t working. This is one awful ballclub.
Questions: Will anybody show up to watch this team play?