There’s nothing better than the baseball season. The glorious game’s 2010 season is set to start this week as pitchers and catchers report to camp. Finally, the wait for the game that America loves so dearly is set to begin. It means warm sun, barbeques, summer storms, and much more is on its way in a couple months.
It is time for the players to work out their kinks and recover from offseason injuries and rehab to get back in time for Opening Day. It is time for players to change their stances and time for Cole Hamels to develop another pitch. Time for team bonding and hard work. Time for Florida and Arizona. Time for more bad looking batting practice uniforms. Time for autographs and time for bullpen sessions. Time for buckets of baseballs and buckets of sunflower seeds.
Its ’bout time for baseball.
Don’t get me wrong though, I love all the other sports and enjoy them while baseball is not with us but the aura of baseball is unbeatable. The freshly cut grass. The smoke that sits in front of the warehouse at Camden Yards. The Roy Hobbs homerun that lights up the sky. The ivy that lines the Wrigley Field walls. The dirty dugouts. The dim Iowa cornfields that surround an illustrious diamond at night. The 3-2 knee buckling breaking ball to end the inning. And I could go on.
All this is about to be back with the great USofA in a couple days. As usual, there are questions that surround the upcoming season. If you are one of my few readers, then you might remember the team-by-team preview I did on this blog last year. Because of my slow internet this year at school, that won’t be happening again. Heck, I’m only writing now because my class was cancelled and I wanted to stay on campus until my next one. I’ll throw out some questions and do my best to answer them with some bold predictions.
How much of a threat do the Mariners pose to the Angels in 2010?
Well last year the M’s finished over .500 and they got a lot better with huge offseason acquisitions in Chone Figgins and Cliff Lee. The problem out West is that the Rangers got better too and even the Athletics got a bit better. I think that the Mariners are a bigger threat to the Angels than last year now that the Halos have lost John Lackey. But the Angels still have a solid rotation from the top to the bottom where the Mariners have some questions. I think the the Angels’ wins go down this season but they remain division champs with Seattle and Texas close behind.
Will anyone for the Mets hit over twelve homeruns?
As if it couldn’t get any worse after the way 2007 and 2008 ended, it did (and I love it). The Mets opened their new spacious ballpark and then couldn’t hit in it or stay healthy. To answer the question though, yes. Jason Bay, Carlos Beltran, and David Wright will definately have over that number while Jeff Francoer and David Murphy should get into the high teens too. Last year was a freak year for the Mets, and I expect them to be contenders once again in 2010.
Who do the Pirates trade first this year?
Sorry Pittsburgh fans, you know someone’s leaving. No one’s ever safe in Pittsburgh but I’m pretty sure Andrew McCutchen and Garrett Jones are safe. I’ll say Brendan Donnelly gets dealt at the deadline to a team that needs a veteran arm in their bullpen. Octavio Dotel and Joel Harahan are also potential trade pieces as well.
Who will have the best spring training record?
Texas Rangers. No reasoning.
More questions to come.
Season Preview: Washington Nationals
Projected MLB Rank: 29th — NL Rank: 16th — NL East Rank: 5th — Record: (64-98)
Don’t worry Nats fans. One year you will get to see your team finish over .500, that year just isn’t this one. Not since the the Montreal Expos moved to Washington to become the Nationals have the they broke the .500 mark. Their first season in the nation’s capital was their best when they finished at 81-81 but they still occupied the bottom spot in the NL East that year. Tough luck. The Nats are the weakest team in this very tough division. Once again, tough luck.
The lineup is talented as they’ve added some pop with Josh Willingham and Adam Dunn. Most of the positions are set in stone but the only questionable one where there is some competition is second base. Anderson Hernandez is the expected starter followed by Ronnie Belliard and Willie Harris. Hernandez can hit for .300 and will steal you a base every so often. Belliard has more pop and is a nice veteran option if Hernandez doesn’t pan out as planned.
The big question about the projected everyday starters is health. Ryan Zimmerman spent some time on the DL last season with shoulder and throwing hand problems (106 games in 2009). Willingham has been known to get injured year after year (102 games). Those two bats will most likely protect lefty Adam Dunn in the batting order, so it’s essential for them to stay healthy.
The biggest weakness for the Nats is pitching. Their rotation is borderline atrocious and the bullpen isn’t much better. Southpaws John Lannan and Scott Olsen are the par brightspots in the Nats rotation. With righthander Daniel Cabrera, it depends on the day. He is very erratic (career 5.05 ERA) due to the fact that he can get rocked in four innings if he doesn’t have his stuff but he can also take you the distance (2 CG last season). Jordan Zimmerman (the other Zimmerman) is the Nationals top pitching prospect and will look to break the rotation in ’09. The 22 year old has been impressing coaches thus far in spring training.
The bullpen looks shaky as of now. Former starter Jason Bergmann has been moved to the ‘pen and will be considered a mid-reliever after a bad 2008 performance. Steven Shell had a very nice year last season with a 2.16 ERA in 39 appearences. Righty, Saul Rivera, lead the team in relief appearences last year with 76 while harnessing a 3.96 ERA.
The closer appears to be 27 year old Joel Hanrahan. He notched nine saves after he picked up the role last season when Chad Cordero went down with an injury and big righty Jon Rauch was dealt. In the ninth inning, Hanrahan held hitters to a .219 average last season. He has the typical closer arsenal of fastball/slider and he also is working on a changeup.
The Nats always seem to be on the up, but the established veterans that they have aren’t going to stay at the same talent level they’re at now. It seems like it may be hard for this team to compete, not just this year, but for a few years to come.