30 Teams in 30 Days – Cleveland Indians

Oh, the Indians, they’ve made the playoffs just once since 2001, and with their last World Series title being way back in 1948, fans are getting impatient. However, they didn’t look half bad through the first third of the season in 2011. Let’s recap.
Cleveland Indians
Record: 80-82
Finish: 2nd in AL Central
Playoffs: N/A
Top Pitcher: Justin Masterson 12-10, 3.21 ERA, 158 SO
Top Hitter: Asdrubal Cabrera .272 AVG, 25 HR, 92 RBI
2012 Manager: Manny Acta
Important Off-Season Acquisitions: Felix Pie, Andy Laroche (no, not Adam), Robinson Tejada, Chris Ray, Jeremy Accardo, Fred Lewis, Kevin Slowey, Ryan Spilborghs, Dan Wheeler, Casey Kotchman, Cristian Guzman, Derek Lowe
Important Off-Season Losses: Chad Durbin WAS, Kosuke Fukudome CWS, Jim Thome PHI,

On June 1st, 2011, the Indians were 33-20 and held the best record in the majors. I was convinced the world was about to end. It didn’t, the Indians would soon come back down to Earth, going just 20-32 from then until July 31st . Despite the struggles, the Indians still found themselves just 2.5 games back of the division leading tigers, causing them to trade for star pitcher, Ubaldo Jimenez. He had no affect, Jimenez, like he’d been doing with the Rockies, struggled, notching just a 4-4 record to go along with a 5.10 ERA in the 11 games he started with the Indians.  Throughout it all, the Indians proved that they had a lot of depth at the plate, as they only had 2 players play in more than 114 games, and were still able to prove that they were almost an average ball club, finishing just below .500. Unfortunately, they’re pitching was sub-par, finishing with the 23rd ranked ERA, but they were able to find a solid closer in Chris Perez, who finished the season 36/40 in save opportunities. The Indians added some very good pieces in the off-season to improve their bullpen, including Dan Wheeler. They also added Kevin Slowey to replace Fausto Carmona, because who knows whats going to happen to him. Grady Sizemore will miss all of Spring and the beginning of the 2012 Regular Season after back surgery, is this guy ever healthy? As of right now, I could see the Indians being a potential threat this season, don’t call me crazy yet. They have a lot of depth, but the one thing they’re missing is a star, they’re hoping Jimenez can fill that role, but in my eyes, he’s only pitched like a star in the first half of the 2010 season, apart from that he’s just been okay. However, if he can pitch well, along with the rest of the rotation, the tribe COULD, I REPEAT, COULD be a threat for that second wild card spot. I know it sounds crazy but look at their rotation:
1. Ubaldo Jimenez Best Season, 2010: 19-8, 2.88 ERA, 214 SO
2. Justin Masterson Best Season, 2011: 12-10, 3.21 ERA, 158 SO
3. Josh Tomlin: Best Season, 2011: 12-7, 4.25 ERA, 49 SO
4. Derek Lowe: Best Season, 2002: 21-8, 2.58 ERA, 127 SO (2010: 16-12, 4.00 ERA)
5. (possibly) Kevin Slowey: Best Season, 2010: 13-6, 4.45 ERA, 116 SO

To me, that’s a pretty solid rotation, along with an improved bullpen and a solid lineup, the Indians could threaten for a playoff spot. The team will need to be well coached and managed, as again they don’t really have a star-status player, but if they are, they have the pieces to do well. I’m not exactly sure what the lineup will look like, but with talent like: Cabrera, Santana, Hafner, Choo, Sizemore (after he recovers), Brantley, LaPorta, Duncan, Kipiris, Hannahan and Donald, along with newly acquired pieces: Kotchman, Lewis, Spilborghs, Laroche, Pie and Guzman, I don’t think the Indians will be slacking in the offensive department. They are a very young team, so inconsistency may be a factor, but they’re a team with a ton of talent, I see them competing for a playoff spot, but ultimately missing out. The AL Central could be a very tough division this year, as the Tigers  are looking very good, the White Sox have a good team on paper, the Royals are improving, the Twins had been the division powerhouse consistently before last season, and if the Indians can be competitive, this division would become one of the toughest in baseball.
Prediction
Record: 83-79
Finish: 2nd in AL Central
Playoffs: N/A
Top Pitcher: Josh Tomlin 15-10, 3.31 ERA, 106 SO
Top Hitter: Shin-Soo Choo .306 AVG, 19 HR, 91 RBI
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-Vernon Smells

30 Teams in 30 days – Kansas City Royals

“Up-and-coming” is the best way to describe the incredibly young Kansas City Royals. Though the AL Central is a near lock for the Detroit Tigers, Royals fans and hopefuls have a lot to look forward to this season. Breakout campaigns and continued success will be something to look out  for in 2012. Here is there 2011 season review.
Kansas City Royals
Record: 71-91
Finish: 4th in AL Central
Playoffs: N/A
Top Pitcher: Bruce Chen, 12-8, 3.77 ERA, 97 SO
Top Hitter: Alex Gordon, .303 AVG, 23 HR, 87 RBI
Manager: Ned Yost
Important Acquisitions: Jose Mijares, Jonathan Sanchez, Jonathan Broxton, Yuniesky Betancourt, Kevin Kouzmanoff
Important Losses: Melky Cabrera SF, Yamaico Navarro PIT

The Kansas City Royals had a pretty good season, for their standards. For a team that has been regarded as one of the worst in the league for the past couple seasons, 2011 proved to be a real turning point for the crowns. The highlight of the season, for many, was the emergence of young star first-baseman Eric Hosmer. In his first season he hit 19 HR, with 78 RBI, and a .293 clip. Others like outfielders Alex Gordon, Melky Cabrera, Jeff Francoeur and DH Billy Butler, all had above average seasons to help create a pretty good royals lineup. Bruce Chen led the rotation with a career season, while other pitchers struggled against opposing lineups. 2012 will be a lot like last season, however the royals could see a jump in the standings if a few things go right. Eric Hosmer will look to continue his legend by putting up a career season, proving a sophomore slump isn’t in his sights. Alex Gordon will put up another set of good numbers, with a chance to have an even better season. Jeff Francoeur, as usual, will be stellar in the outfield while putting up good offensive stats. The addition of Jonathan Sanchez will prove to be a smart move, as he will form a good 1-2 punch with Bruce Chen. 2012 might not take the Royals to the playoffs, or even a .500 season, but it will be a great developmental year for the young players, and will see the royals jump ahead a few spots in the standings.

Prediction
Record: 79-83
Finish: 3rd in AL Central
Playoffs: N/A
Top Pitcher: Jonathan Sanchez, 12-7, 3.82 ERA, 157 SO
Top Hitter: Eric Hosmer, 312 AVG, 28 HR, 92 RBI
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- Zookeeper