30 Teams in 30 Days – New York Yankees

The Dark Lord New York Yankees, they’re one of the most hated teams in all of baseball. Most of the reason for this is because, I hate to say it, but they’re good. People will argue that it’s because they have the highest payroll, but if they didn’t win, I doubt anyone would complain. Let’s see how they did in 2011.
New York Yankees
Record: 97-65
Finished: 1st in the AL East
Playoffs: Eliminated in ALDS by the Tigers
Top Pitcher: C.C. Sabbathia 19-8, 3.00 ERA, 230 SO
Top Hitter: Curtis Granderson .262 AVG, 41 HR, 119 RBI
Manager: Joe Girardi
Important Off-season acquisitions: Jayson Nix, Dewayne Wise, Michael Pineda, Hiroki Kuroda, Russel Branyan, Bill Hall, Raul Ibanez, David Aardsma,
Important Off-season Losses: Jesus Montero SEA, Jorge Posada Retired, A.J Burnett PIT, Scott Proctor FA, Luis Ayala BAL, Bartoro Colon OAK, Damaso Marte FA, Sergio Mitre FA, Hector Noesi SEA

After being in a battle all year with the Red Sox for the AL East Title, the Yankees won the battle after a September collapse by the Red Sox. So, for a lot of teams in the MLB, it would be considered a successful season, but when it comes to the Yankees, success is measured by championships, and after being eliminated in the ALDS by the Tigers, that marked the 11th year that the Yankees have gone with just 1 championship (2009). Expectations are high for a reason, the Yankees have had the highest payroll in the league for a long time now. With the amount of money they spend on players, they should pretty much be given the World Series before the season even starts, but year after year they find a way not to win it. Their problem seems to be pretty consistent from year-to-year, starting pitching, it seems like every year people are talking about the Starters of the Yankees in a negative way. For good reason, however as of their 6 starters to start at least 14 games last season, 3 of them had an ERA of 4.00 or more, and 2 of those 3 had an ERA of 5.00 or more, for a team spending 200 MIL+/yr, it needs to be better. However, they’re rotation has promise this year, despite losing Burnett and Colon, they’ve added Michael Pineda and Hiroki Kuroda. Kuroda, who posted a 3.07 ERA last year, got very little offensive support, playing on the Dodgers, however, this year, he should get nothing but offensive support  playing with the always talented offensive unit of the New York Yankees. Meanwhile, Michael Pineda showed great promise in his rookie campaign with the Mariners last year, posting a 3.74 ERA, to go along with a whopping 9.1 Strikeouts per nine innings, after showing off his great changeup in spring training, he’s already got Yankee nation in a buzz. Those two will be added in to the rotation along with consistent Cy Young candidate and one-time winner, C.C Sabathia and Ivan Nova, who’s coming off a stellar rookie campaign, finishing with a 16-4 record. The fifth spot seems to be between Freddy Garcia and Phil Hughes, Garcia pitched pretty well for the Yanks last year, going 12-8 with a 3.62 ERA. While Hughes pitched terribly in an injury-filled season . That being said, Hughes is still young (25), with lots of potential, he also had a pretty good year for the pinstripes in 2010, going 18-8. So the job will ultimately be decided in Spring Training. The Yankees bullpen has lost a couple key pieces, which the signing of Hideki Okajima was supposed to resolve, but after a failed physical due to an undisclosed injury, the Yankees released him, 6 days later they signed David Aardsma, who isn’t a terrible consolation prize, yet their bullpen will still be worse than last year. The lineup, despite being a bit on the older side, will still be deadly, especially with the signing of probable DH, Raul Ibanez, and a few very good veteran acquisitions for their bench in Bill Hall, Russel Branyan, Dewayne Wise and Jayson Nix, with these signins, the Yankees can really cement themselves as the best offensive team in the league. With their big improvement to their Starting Pitching, their small improvement to their offense and a slight decline to their bullpen, I see the Yankees taking the AL East once again, but they’re going to have to do better than 6-12 against the Red Sox this time around.
Prediction
Record: 99-63
Finish: 1st in AL East
Playoffs: Eliminated in ALCS
Top Pitcher: C.C Sabathia 22-7, 2.91 ERA, 236 SO
Top Hitter: Robinson Cano .309 AVG, 31 HR, 129 RBI
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-Kipling Ronald & Vernon Smells

30 Teams in 30 Days – Tampa Bay Rays

The Tampa Bay Rays! Ahh…still such a heart-warming, and possibly the longest fairy tale in history, who, over the past few years, have epitomized what a small market team with little cap space should look like. Taking down teams such as the Yankees and the Red Sox, who have 5 and 4 times higher payrolls respectively, the Rays are truly a little giant. Am I the only one who remembers them as the lowly Devil Rays who probably didn’t even deserve to be a AAA team. Well anyway, the Rays made yet another roar in 2011, let us recap.
Tampa Bay Rays
Record: 91-71
Finished: 2nd AL East
Playoffs: Lost in ALDS to the one and the only Texas Rangers 3-1
Top Pitcher: James Shields,16-12, 2.82 ERA, 225 SO 
Top Hitter: King Evan Longoria, .244 AVG, 31 HR, 99 RBI
Manager: Joe Maddon (I’m sorry to inform you but this isn’t JOHN Madden… I know I was disappointed too)
Important Acquisitions: Jeff Keppinger INF, Luke Scott CF, Fernando Rodney RHP, Jose Molina C (He’s one of the good ones don’t worry I lose track of them too)
Important Losses: Andy Sonnanstine RHP, Johnny Damon CF, Casey Kotchman 1B, Juan Cruz RHP

Well the Rays are certainly an interesting team. Since their World Series Appearance against the Phillies in 2008, most people have counted them out or overlooked them during the preseason, especially after the loss of Carl Crawford. It may be due to the fact that people view them as being flukey, considering how historically bad they were from their inception until the 2007 season. But I’m here to say the Rays are for real. Not like they’re going to be in the playoffs every year, but for the next 6-7 years the Rays will be among the top 5 or 6 top teams in the AL. It surprises me that despite the second lowest payroll in the Majors, the Rays are able to hold onto most of their young talent, such as David Price (who apparently recently injured himself by “toweling off too vigorously”, seriously? and Evan Longoria, while re-signing many of their big bats who include Carlos Pena who recently received a 1 year extension this offseason after experimenting with the Cubbies for a year. Despite lacking offensive depth, the Rays have a solid starter at pretty much every position. BJ (and no I’m not talking about the superstore, I’m talking about the Upton) returns to Center from a strong 2011 campaign, where he knotted 81 RBIs to go along with 0.331 OBP and 36 SB (still a high number, but it broke BJ’s streak of 3 consecutive years with 40+ SB). “The Franchise” Evan Longoria also makes his return. Longoria comes off his 2011 season, which did not quite live up to exceptions despite having 30 big flies for the Rays. Expect Evan to have a big 2012 campaign, we might see 40 HR and 40 2B out of him next year. In addition to Longoria and Upton, Carlos Pena, Ben Zobrist, and Matt Joyce make their returns to the starting cast. Also, look for the Rays addition of Luke Scott, whose speed fills the void left after Carl Crawford’s departure during the 2011 offseason, and catcher Jose Molina. However, the one question looming over the Rays is: are their big bats going to be able to remain healthy? With their losses of Damon and Kotchman in free agency (who is also a major defensive power, posting the best fielding percentage among major league first basemen in 2011), their offense lacks depth, an injury to one of their starters could potentially cripple the Rays 2012 playoff ambitions. In terms of pitching, the Rays are surprisingly strong and conversely quite deep. With three starters posting below 3.00 ERAs in 2011, you should expect the Rays pitching staff to make quite a storm in 2012. In addition with this strong starting staff, the Rays bullpen includes 2011-star setup man Joel Peralta, along with veteran closer Kyle Farmsworth (who had a surprisingly good 2012 season with only a 2.18 ERA and 25 saves). The Rays see themselves as playoff contenders in 2012, however, I will believe they will fall just short of a playoff appearance.There’s also a possibility that if the Rays are able to hold onto their starters, remain relatively injury free, and possibly make a move for a big bat around the deadline, they could still be very much in the mix to squeak in to that newly-added 2nd wildcard spot.
Prediction
Record: 87-75
Finish: 2nd AL East
Playoffs: None
Top Pitcher: David Price, 17-12, 3.11 ERA, 184 SO
Top Hitter: Evan Longoria, .267 AVG, 40 HR, 103 RBI, 45 2B
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-Simple Jack

30 Teams in 30 Days – Baltimore Orioles

I think we can all agree that the 2012 Baltimore Orioles will be, without a doubt, the greatest team in MLB history. With a lineup, rivaling that of the 1927 Yankees, the Baltimore Orioles will storm into their 2012 campaign with fire in their eyes. But before we see how the Orioles stack up in 2012, let’s see how the Birds stacked up in 2011.
Baltimore Orioles
Record: 69-93
Finished: 5th in the AL East
Top Pitcher: Jeremy Guthrie, 9-17, 4.33 ERA, 130 SO
Top Hitter: Mark Reynolds, .221 AVG , 27 HR, 86 RBI
Important Acquisitions: Nick Johnson 1B, Luis Ayala RHP, Jason Hammel RHP, Matt Lindstrom RHP, Ronny Paulino C, Armando Galarraga SP (yeah that dude who almost threw the perfect game), Pat Neshek RHP, Wilson Betemit IF, Darren O’Day RHP
Important Losses: Vladimir Guerrero FA, Jeremy Guthrie COL

Ok we all know the question that’s lurking at the back of everyone’s mind. And it’s not whether the O’s will make it to the World Series but how badly they will beat the NL champion by. The Baltimore Orioles are truly a baseball powerhouse. A star-studded lineup with arguably 11 Hall-of-Famers, a rotation filled with the likes of those only matched by history’s greats such as Sandy Koufax, Tom Seaver, and Nolan Ryan, and a coach who is just flat out a friggin’ bad@$$. I mean really who wouldn’t want to be Buck Showalter? That guy is a flat out beast. I’m not even going to go in depth about the Orioles pitching rotation and lineup… because in all honestly no one knows how deep that thing actually is. I mean, this team is truly of legendary proportions… one that has not been matched in over a century of baseball and almost certainly won’t be matched for another century. If nine Jesus’ returned for their second-comings, they still would not match the status of this unbelievable Orioles team. I’m sorry, I’ve reached my sarcastic limit for one article, I have to stop now. Anyway, the O’s are a terrible disgrace of a baseball team and do not deserve more than two legitimate sentences about them. However, there is light at the end of the tunnel. If the Orioles’ front office gets their act together they may be able to lay the foundation for a successful young team around their current core. 2012, however, will not be the Year of the Birds. There you go.

Prediction
Record: 59-103
Finished: 5th in the AL East
Playoffs: Obviously none
Top Pitcher: Armando Galarraga 8-15, 4.16 ERA, 188 SO
Top Hitter: Nick Markakis .303 AVG, 19 HR, 73 RBI
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-Simple Jack