30 Teams in 30 Days – Cincinnati Reds

After a great year in 2010, which landed the Reds their first NL Central title since 1995, the Reds disappointed a lot of people last year. Despite having 2010 NL MVP, Joey Votto (who just so happened to attend my high school back in his youth), they couldn’t even reach the .500 plateau. Let’s recap.
Cincinnati Reds
Record: 79-83
Finish: 3rd in NL Central
Playoffs: N/A
Top Pitcher: Johnny Cueto 9-5, 2.31 ERA, 104 SO
Top Hitter: .309 AVG, 29 HR, 103 RBI
Manager: Dusty Baker
Important Offseason Acquisitions: Mat Latos, Sean Marshall, Ron Mahay, Dioner Navarro, Ryan Madson, Wilson Valdez, Willie Harris, Ryan Ludwick, Jeff Francis
Important Offseason Losses: Francisco Cordero TOR, Ramon Hernandez COL, Edgar Renteria FA, Dontrelle Willis, Edinison Volquez, Yonder Alonso SD,  Travis Wood CHC

There were high hopes for the Reds in 2011 after a great 2010, but with the amazing years the Brewers and the Cardinals put up, the Reds didn’t have a chance. Joey Votto (CANADIAN)! got some heat last year, which I didn’t quite understand, I know he had a drop-off from 2010, but he still hit over .300, he had 29 Jacks and over 100 RBI’s. The real problem lied in their pitching, they finished exactly 20th in the league in ERA, WHIP and SO. It was mostly their Starters, besides Cueto and Leake, their Starting Pitching was horrendous, I mean, just look at the stats, of their 5 pitchers with 13 starts or more (not including Leake and Cueto), their Starting Pitching finished with an ERA of 5.00 on the dot. That is unacceptable. They had a decent Bullpen and a decent offensive attack, but their Starting Pitching lost them a lot of ball games. The Reds certainly went after improving that in the offseason, with the addition of young stud, Mat Latos. The 24 year old right-hander has shown great promise, posting an ERA of 3.37 in his first 72 big league starts. They also added veteran lefty, Jeff Francis (also CANADIAN!), who once had great potential, being selected 9th overall in the 2002 Draft, but was never able to live up to expectations, posting a career 4.78 ERA as a starter, the Reds may try to use him in a relief role this year, seeing as he’s already made 3 relief appearances for them in the Spring. So, I believe their Starting 5 should be greatly improved this year, with the hope of continued success from Cueto, Leake and Latos, and then if they can get improved years from Bailey and Arroyo (who had two successful campaigns before struggling last year), they could even be considered a somewhat dangerous starting rotation at times. Their bullpen should be improved a bit with the additions of Marshall and Mahay, but with them parting ways with Cordero, they brought on Madson to take over the closer role, unfortunately it was just announced that he will miss the whole year due to Tommy John surgery, so they’re going to have trouble finding saves from time to time, having established closer. Their offense has lost a little fire power in Alonso, Hernandez and Renteria, but it should still be a very dangerous offensive group. Ultimately I think the Reds will fall short of the Cardinals and the Brewers once again (despite their losses of Prince and Pujols). I just don’t see this team being able to compete with them. However, they are still young (28.0 yr old average) and I believe that they’ll be a threat in this division for years to come.

Prediction
Record: 82-80
Finish: 3rd in NL Central
Playoffs: N/A
Top Pitcher: Mat Latos 14-9, 3.06 ERA, 197 SO
Top Hitter: Joey Votto .311 AVG, 31 HR, 108 RBI
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-Vernon Smells

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 – 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