北京pk10计划网:Major League Baseball 2014 preview: Can the Red Sox repeat?

时间:2019-09-15 责任编辑:游搞 来源:北京pk10计划 点击:217 次

The season is upon us, with 2,430 games to enjoy (and that doesn’t even include the playoffs). The Guardian explores questions that the upcoming marathon campaign will answer:

NATIONAL LEAGUE

Can the Dodgers dominate?

and a cup full of fancy talent guarantees you nothing in baseball - if you don’t believe that take a look at the Dodgers SoCal(led) “rivals”, the supposedly stacked Los Anaheim of Angels Angeles, who bottomed out yet again in 2013. Injuries, combined with the pressure of expectations, did in those wearing the famed Blue early last season, that is until , and led a revival that was So, Don Mattingly, fresh off , knows full well that none of that entitlement will get the or beyond, and that’s a good thing.

Despite all the resources of the Dodgers, , they are not completely whole. Outfielder long-term health continues to be a question mark, third baseman Juan Uribe was brought back to be “eh”, and losing the steady in free-agency leaves something of a hole at second base. There are questions surrounding the back-end of the starting rotation as well. Dan Haren put up some of the worst stats of his career in Washington last season, the enigmatic Josh Beckett certainly can’t be counted on, and - his effectiveness TBD. Still, these are very much first world problems. The Dodgers front three include reigning NL Cy Young Award winner (now locked up until 2020 ), Zack Greinke, and Hyun-Jin Ryu, and just about anyone would sign up for that.

One of the key questions surrounding the Dodgers' season is whether or not Yasiel Puig can put together a full season of stats resembling his 2013 ledger, .319/.534/.925, numbers he landed on after a September slump brought him back into a place where other human beings live. The player that legendary Dodgers broadcaster Vin Scully calls the is still very raw and certainly has his issues with discipline, both on and off the field. He to camp this Spring, fresh off his arrest for . That’s right about the speed he plays at, which is exactly why we all love watching him on the diamond. Still, you can easily imagine pitchers continuing to figure Puig out, with him starting off the season hitting .119, as easily as you could see him hitting .319. The matters of discipline don't seem to be going away, as based on a few Puig-related incidents down in Sydney where LA won their two opening games vs Arizona. What seems more certain is that Puig will factor in with whether or not the Dodgers challenge for a World Series title come October.

Will the NL Central rule the roost, again?

The Pittsburgh Pirates are moving on to face the St Louis Cardinals in the National League Divisional Series after defeating the Cincinnati Reds 6-2 in the NL Wild Card Game.
The Pittsburgh Pirates succeeded beyond their fans wildest imagination in 2013. Photograph: Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

The last time three National League Central Division teams won and made the playoffs was, well, never. Yes, it may be hard to believe, but in 2013, it was arguably the best division in baseball, a big change from its usual low-rent district status where the Cardinals generally flex their organizational muscle, winning nearly half of the first 19 titles. Can it happen again? It’s tough to imagine all three teams reaching the post-season two years on the trot, but let’s take a closer look at the triumvirate of clubs that gave the Central a boost last season.

There were signs that the Buccos would finish over but 94 wins? No. Their pitching, particularly during first half of the season, was lights out - Jeff Locke, A.J. Burnett, now playing across the state in Philadelphia, and Francisco Liriano, the premier pick up of the season, carrying the club., Pedro Alvarez hit 36 homers, and their bullpen, known as , exceeded all expectations thanks to closer Jason Grilli and eighth inning man Mark Melancon. Is it going to happen again? It’s possible, but starters Wandy Rodriguez and newcomer will have to be better than serviceable, and equally as important, they need to stay healthy. The , because if he can come even close to matching his 2013 output, the Pirates should be in a position to match their last season performance - but that’s a big ask from a hurler whose ERA could potentially be in the fives or the twos. If the pitching doesn’t come through, the offense will have to be more than middle of the road, which it was last season.

Last season ended badly for Cincinnati, a first round playoff ouster. Then manager in favor of pitching coach Bryan Price, outfielder took off for a big bag of cash in Texas, and rotation stalwart Bronson Arroyo fled to Arizona. Not much came in, but expectations aren’t tempered in Cincy - they’re still seen as winners by the locals, who expect. , both in the starting rotation, which has been special over the last two seasons, and in the bullpen, one which will have to deal with the unfortunate and freakish loss of Aroldis Chapman, who broke facial bones after being hit by a screeching come backer. It was a horrifying moment for those who witnessed it - the Cuban is fortunate to be out for just two months. Despite this recent relief issue, really, how far the Reds can go depends on their bats. Billy Hamilton is the would-be catalyst of that potential offensive success, and while we’re all dazzled by his , how that blinding speed manifests itself on a big league level is what we need to discover. If you listen to Joey Votto, Hamilton becomes a MVP candidate Losing Soo-Choo is a huge blow - his penchant for on-base percentage is a big reason why their offense bounced back in 2013. That piece is gone, and I really don’t know how it will be replaced - and Jay Bruce need help, and it had better come from Hamilton.

Meanwhile, St Louis does what St Louis does - keep their ship steady and slowly remake their roster. They bring in a super reliable Mark Ellis from LA to compete for the second base job with Kolten Wong, have the courage to trade local product and 2011 World Series hero in exchange for defense in center field in the form of Peter Bourjos, put Allen Craig in right field to replace Carlos Beltran, which gives big Matt Adams gets a shot at playing first base full time. They also signed Jhonny Peralta, giving them more (artificial?) muscle at shortstop, spelling . They have depth everywhere, with super-outfield prospect at some point to shake the outfield tree yet again. Their rotation and bullpen is virtually the same, with Jason Motte still out of the picture with injury. Steadies Matt Holliday and Yadier Molina are still around, set to do their thing. This team is run so well I don’t even have a profound enough adjective to describe it - basically, they never make a mistake. When will they make a mistake?

Can the Braves fight off injuries, the Nats and the Phills?

Dan Uggla of the Atlanta Braves
Dan Uggla doesn’t have to jump through hoops for the Atlanta Braves to compete, but playing average baseball would help. Photograph: Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

Atlanta surged to an NL Eastern Division title in 2013, mostly an above-average starting rotation and an offense that ranked in the top third in the Senior Circuit. Then they , but that’s par for the course. Regardless, they overcame the disappointing Washington Nationals, and any lingering affects of their , and deserve a decent amount of credit. Can they do it again? Well, there’s a bit to overcome. First of all, they , and that’s a large void to fill straight away - will have a crack at replacing him. Starting pitcher Kris Medlen, who won 15 games while putting up a 3.11 ERA last year, is , a huge blow, as is the news that , who who emerged in 2012 before also being done in by injury, won’t be back anytime soon. Tim Hudson, a rotation stalwart for years, is now in San Francisco. The team recently opened up the coffers to the tune of to try and plug holes. They should be commended for not giving up on 2014, because they can certainly compete again this year, providing that third baseman Chris Johnson’s breakout 2013 was no fluke, second baseman and outfielder from absolutely dismal seasons, and first baseman Freddie Freeman can continue to lead the way. There’s a lot of upside in Atlanta, who will be leaving Turner Field for the after the 2016 season.

Pursuing the Braves are the the Nationals, who overachieved in 2012, winning an NL East title, before wilting under the “” moniker placed upon them by their now retired manager Davey Johnson in 2013. They busted alright, relying on a 32-16 stretch from early August to dig them out from a miserable season that and the team generally fail to live up to expectations. They did manage to get within four games of a playoff spot down the stretch, but the hole they dug was simply too deep. It certainly didn’t help that , outfielder Denard Span struggled to get on base, second baseman battled injury and didn’t hit when he was on the field and that first baseman Adam LaRoche took a step back offensively, all while the vaunted pitching staff slipped from first in NL earned run average to sixth. Also annoying was the year-long criticism the organization had to endure for their shutting down Stephen Strasburg down the stretch in 2012, which some believe cost the Nats a shot at a World Series title. will benefit from a reset as they attempt to reassert themselves in the NL East. GM Mike Rizzo traded for which is among the best in baseball, but generally speaking, this team is very close to the one which took the field at the start of 2013. Soon we’ll discover if the 2012 team played over their heads or if last year was simply an aberration.

Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg enters his first full season as Philadelphia manager in 2014.
Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg enters his first full season as Philadelphia manager in 2014. Photograph: Tommy Gilligan/USA Today Sports

Meanwhile, Philadelphia, a franchise that won five consecutive NL East titles from 2007 until 2011, are bidding to get back in the game. Generally seen to be an over-the-hill gang, manager Ryan Sandberg’s biggest issue, will be the health of his core players. Second baseman Chase Utley made a successful comeback from injury last season, re-emerging as an all-star calibre player, while first baseman Ryan Howard continued to battle injury. His ability to play a full season and be worth something resembling the $25m he’ll receive this season is an . Outfielder Domonic Brown emerged as a cornerstone last season, and Ben Revere showed promise if not pop in his bat - still, they spent , and $15m on a season of former Pirates pitcher , so we know the Phillies brass think they can win, but it’s going to take an awful lot of breaks, even with the likes of

Will there be a Giant return to greatness?

After winning two titles in three seasons, the San Francisco Giants hit the skids in 2013, finishing third in the NL West, 10 games under .500. The chief offenders lay in the pitching staff where their ERA fell from fifth best to third from bottom, in one, mighty thud of a season. , , who started the trend, and Tim Lincecum, whose 4.37 ERA was rewarded with a two-year $35m deal, The Giants bats are the same, still led by catcher Buster Posey, second baseman Marco Scutaro, and of course, Kung Fu Panda, who plays third and is also known as Pablo Sandoval. They also invested heavily in Hunter Pence, who also rather curiously was provided with a large deal, . Can they win again? Well, it’s an even numbered year, which bodes well - they won it all in 2010 and 2012. They are also rather deep in the starting rotation, with young Madison Bumgarner leading the way, providing Cain and Lincecum bounce back, and that newly acquired Tim Hudson recovers from that gruesome ankle injury he suffered last season. Offensively they’re never going to be the 1927 Yankees, and so the song remains the same in San Francisco, if they get the pitching leads the way, they’ll be just enough offense to win.

Is patience running out in (parts of) Chicago and New York?

Either change comes to Wrigley Field or the Cubs will move elsewhere, that according to owner Tom Ricketts.
If the Cubs keep on losing, there’ll be even more seats available at Chicago’s Wrigley Field. Photograph: Jim Young/Reuters

Cubs fans are used to waiting, but even their patience is being tested. It’s been over 100 years since a World Series winning team played on the North Side of Chicago, but that generally hasn’t stopped their fans from visiting Wrigley Field. Playing inside a living, breathing baseball museum helps, but it seems, only so much. in 2013, a year that brought nearly 100 losses. The Cubs drew 2,642,682 fans, which represents their lowest mark in 15 seasons. has promised to bring a sustainable era of winning to Wrigley, but their small-market like formula takes time, especially when no promising free-agents are brought in. Meanwhile, there’s a core of first baseman Anthony Rizzo, shortstop Starlin Castro and outfield Nate Schierholtz, who just have to get better if there’s to be any offensive improvement. The promising Junior Lake, who arrived in the Alfonso Soriano deal last season will have a full year in the outfield. The pitching is all about all-star starter Travis Wood and Jeff Samardzija, who is traded almost every week. It’s not about this year, or next year in Chicago - deep breaths.

Meanwhile, in New York, Mets attendance is also expected to take a hit as the team gets set for another season during which a .500 record would represent the high-water mark. Fans have dropped by more than , and that number doesn’t look like rising now that ownership and GM Sandy Alderson and company have pushed the 2014 deadline to compete for a playoff berth yet another year. There was no formal announcement stating such a course, but it became obvious once franchise cornerstone Matt Harvey underwent Tommy John surgery, meaning he would be out for the season (). Yes, Curtis Granderson was, Chris Young was also signed to play in the outfield and to help fill Harvey’s rotation spot, but Nelson Cruz wasn’t, and neither was Stephen Drew. So the team missed out on a chance to excite their fan base in preparation of the promise that could be around the corner, seemingly convinced that the works best in the Big Apple. Still, it must be said that the darkest era in Mets history could be on the verge of coming to a close, mostly thanks to pitching prospects such as Harvey, Zack Wheeler, Noah Syndergaard and Rafael Montero. Mets fans will be watching, likely from afar, whether any progress is made in 2014 leading up to what simply has to be a marquee re-launch a year from now.

AMERICAN LEAGUE

Can Boston repeat?

Koji Uehara and David Ross of the Boston Red Sox celebrate winning the 2013 World Series
Koji Uehara and David Ross of the Boston Red Sox celebrate winning the 2013 World Series at Fenway Park. Photograph: Rob Carr/Getty Images

Anytime a team wins a title in sports, one of the next questions is: “Can they do it again?” It seems quite greedy really, especially for these Red Sox who won a World Series Championship a season It was a remarkable run from a noteworthy group for whom absolutely everything worked out one year after everything didn’t. Now Boston are winners of three titles in ten seasons, which is enough to make Cubs fans daydream about what’s possible. Now, the encore. Yes, the Sox lost Ellsbury, a stinger considering where he’ll be hanging his navy hat, and is likely Red Sox history, but there’s certainly no reason to fold the tent, quite the contrary. Providing David Ortiz, who had his contract extended through 2015 recently, can continue to be an , and Jackie Bradley Jr., Daniel Nava, Xander Bogaerts and Will Middlebrooks make legitimate contributions over the long haul, there’s no reason why the Sox can’t be in a similar position this time around. The pitching talent isn’t much cause for concern, maybe you worry a bit about Jake Peavy, but really, the team looks very similar to the 2013 version, and just imagine if Grady Sizemore works out in center field...now that’s greedy.

How about that chasing AL East pack, the Orioles, Rays and Blue Jays? Well, Toronto were in 2013, following an offseason where ownership shelled out for talent in a bid to supplement what was already in-house - to say it didn’t work out is a bit like saying . The Jays flirted with 90 losses when they were supposed to eclipse 90 wins and compete for a division title. Their failure to win with those players acquired in the post 2012 that brought Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle, Josh Johnson and Emilio Bonifacio to Ontario from Miami, makes it seem like the Marlins actually knew what they were doing when they broke up their core after one losing season. Now the Jays are going to take virtually the same team and try, try again. Should Jose Reyes and the rest of the lineup stay intact, and the starters, including the disappointing former Cy Young Award winner , bounce back, - but unfortunately for them, they’re in the wrong division.

Baseball is a better place when the Baltimore Orioles are winning. It’s one of the best baseball towns in America, and the to the circuit seems to extend beyond Camden Yards. That said, their emergence over the previous two years has been an awful lot of fun to watch - less so was their offseason. They did , a potentially solid acquisition who should be able to put up relatively large numbers thanks to the tiny park's friendly confines. Their acquisition of starting pitcher well, that’s a wild one. Jimenez has managed to take his for the Colorado Rockies and turn it into a boat load of cash, showed signs of being that sort of player again in Cleveland last season, just in time for free agency and a new contract, one worth $50m over four years - whoa! It’s worth noting that in addition to the rake of cash handed over, they also gave up a valuable draft pick. The Baltimore Sun wrote and that’s true I suppose. If he comes through it would be a boost, obviously, but his history makes you wince. Moving on, any lineup with Cruz, Manny Machado , Adam Jones, , J.J. Hardy and of course, Chris Davis, can hit the long ball, which they did a lot better in 2013 than they did in getting on base. A bit of patience wouldn’t hurt, but they will likely rely on home runs again in 2014. Really, with the O’s, it comes down to the starters, and they are middle of the road at best. That’s fine if the bullpen holds up and the runs come, which would put the O’s right in the mix once more.

The small-market, low payroll Tampa Bay Rays have made the playoffs on four occasions over the previous six seasons, which is probably one of the greatest achievements in North American professional sports. Last year they made the postseason despite a campaign that did not yield a playoff berth - they also scored just three more runs than the year before. That must mean they caught a few breaks along the way, a fact that their . The odds of their getting that lucky again are low, and so their vaunted pitching staff will have to reset back to default for them to reach the postseason again in 2014. Unhelpful is the lingering distraction of whether or not to His departure does seem inevitable, but when will Rays Executive VP and GM Andrew Friedman pull the trigger? The longer they wait, naturally, the less they will get in return, but for now, he remains a Ray, looks incredible, and is in a starting rotation with Alex Cobb and while bids to return from surgery in a few months time. The bullpen was remade again this offseason, with returning to the Sun Coast for another stint. Their bats are once again projected to be somewhere between the middle towards the back end of the AL, with Evan Longoria set to lead the way as usual while seeks to continue his development. Another solid season from at first base would be welcomed, but once again, this team is all about pitching and defense, which will need to be well above average as the Rays bid to get back to the playoffs.

Then of course, there’s that team in the Bronx...

How will it end for Derek Jeter?

Derek Jeter is all smiles having finally returned to the New York Yankees lineup after missing over 90 games of the season rehabbing a twice broken ankle.
Derek Jeter will be the last of the Yankees “Core Four” players to retire. Photograph: Ray Stubblebine/Reuters

, and New York seem set to try and send him out a winner. The Steinbrenner’s and other Bombers brass were bidding to keep the season payroll under the , a move that would have lessened Major League Baseball’s luxury tax blow. However, with the Pinstripes missing out on the playoffs and television ratings and attendance in decline, there was quite a bit of pressure on the organization to go on one of their and so they did. They signed All-Star , opened the coffers for outfielders and , and last, but certainly not least, went out and bought pitcher to help shore up their starting rotation. That’s $458m laid out right there, and that doesn’t even include the $2m they’ll pay for Brian Roberts’ services this season. So, out with the luxury tax break, in with the expectations, even higher with Jeter on his way out. They’ll be a season of celebrations to mark the departure of the shortstop who has put up some of the best right handed numbers in some time, but how will it end? In Fenway Park at the end of September? Or somewhere else in October? That’s tough to say because despite their lavish spending there are still question marks, including the ability of svelte C.C. Sabathia to pitch like C.C. Sabathia, the health of Mark Teixeira, the issue of production at third base , plus, with Mariano Rivera retired, we wonder how So, in a tight AL East, and a American League that’s super competitive generally, nothing is for certain. Any teams that reach the postseason out of this division will have certainly earned it.

Can the Tigers get over the hump?

Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder, Detroit Tigers vs Oakland A's
Miguel Cabrera celebrates his two-run home run with Prince Fielder against the Oakland Athletics during Game Five of the 2013 ALDS. Photograph: Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

When you have the , along with on the planet on your team, really, you’d like to take advantage of that fortune and win a World Series title. With Miguel Cabrera and Justin Verlander on the roster, so far, that’s a goal that’s gone unreached - three AL Central Division titles in three years have lacked that big finish, and so GM David Dombrowski went to work on shaking things up a bit this offseason in his bid to change the end result. Prince Fielder, who did his best detached athlete impersonation by uttering after being eliminated by the Red Sox in the AL Championship Series, , along with $30m in exchange for Rangers’ Ian Kinsler, who had his own issues and a hefty contract down in Texas. If you believe that Fielder is in decline, and that’s certainly a distinct possibility, then it’s a wise move to shed that contract, even if Kinsler doesn’t provide the lineup protection of the former Tigers first baseman. Cabrera, fresh off a second consecutive MVP season, will move from first base to third as a weakened Tigers lineup relies a little more on Verlander, seeking to bend back after a “down” year, and the rotation to keep opposition run totals down. Drew Smyly will move into the five following a somewhat odd shedding of Doug Fister for a Rookie manager takes over for , while the team also gets a new closer - Joe Nathan, also brought over from Texas. Are the Tigers better? Well, that’s tough to say - I think there’s a hope that a change in chemistry on the ballclub may propel Detroit, but talent wise, they’re probably a little worse off than last season, and losing starting shortstop and thanks to stress fractures in both legs will not help. For now, the jury’s out.

Cleveland Indians' Nick Swisher
Will the Cleveland Indians find a way to become less boring in 2014? Photograph: Adam Hunger/Reuters

Who will give the Tigers a run for their money in the AL Central? Well, that would be the Kansas City Royals and the Cleveland Indians. The Tribe put a bit of a scare into Detroit last season, with Terry Francona’s competent yet extremely boring group outperforming expectations handily. The Indians were a streaky group that snuck into the playoffs only to be . A rebuilt offense led by stalwarts Jason Kipnis and Carlos Santana had just enough to make up for a middle of the road pitching staff anchored by Justin Masterson. Surprises included the re-emergence of Ubaldo Jimenez as a viable starter and Scott Kazmir’s inning eating contributions after being out of the game for some time - both are gone, as is the closer, Chris Perez, . John Axford, who enjoyed a mini-resurrection in St Louis will finish games for Cleveland in 2014. In short, the Tribe made the most of an average roster last season, with full credit going to Francona. I can’t believe he’ll be able to pull that trick again.

Meanwhile, Kansas City have something of a chance to improve on what was a giant leap forward in 2013. Ervin Santana is in Atlanta, meaning the rotation is thinner and with reliever , that’s not a great start. Still, how can you not be optimistic in Kansas City considering they are coming off a season in which , their most in a decade? KC have staff ace before he leaves for the big bucks, and a rake of young talent on the verge of propelling the franchise into legitimate contenders...they hope. That youthful lineup of Eric Hosmer, Billy Butler and Salvador Perez should benefit from new additions and Omar Infante. What they really need to take this thing to the next level is a power bat to emerge - if that can happen then Detroit could have company in the race for the central flag.

What impact will Robinson Cano have in Seattle?

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