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 – Boston Red Sox

Hello everyone, and welcome to the second installment of 30 teams in 30 days. Today’s team was one of the biggest discussion last year and the most interesting story. The Boston Red Sox.
Boston Red Sox
Record: 90-72
Finish: 3rd in the AL East
Playoffs: N/A
Top Pitcher: John Lester 13-6, 3.16 ERA, 146 SO
Top Hitter: Adrian Gonzalez .343 AVG, 18 HR, 94 RBI
Manager: Bobby Valentine
Important Acquisitions: Cody Ross, Mark Melancon, Nick Punto, Kelly Shoppach,
Andrew Bailey, Ryan Sweeney
Important Losses: Liquor, Jonathan Papelbon PHI, Marco Scutaro COL, Josh Reddick OAK

Last season, the Boston Red Sox were on the verge of making the playoffs but then all hell broke loose. In September, the Red Sox had a 96% chance of making the playoffs. The Red Sox would go on to lose 18 of their final 24 games. In their last game of the season,  against the Baltimore Orioles, they blew their lead and lost their shot to make the playoffs, as The Tampa Bay Rays came back to win their last game in extra innings against the Yankees. Now the 2012 Red Sox have a lot to over come. Their pitching rotation (which was their achilles heel last season) hasn’t been drastically changed, they lost Papelbon who was their star closer and they are still stuck with “wild card” type pitcher John Lackey, who they need to produce to help their team. The BoSox also have a lot of interior problems. Their GM Theo Epstein resigned and Manager Terry Francona was relieved of his duties. They also lost their ability to drink in the clubhouse after their new Manager Bobby Valentine, banned all alcohol from the clubhouse. Now this will prove to be pivotal as last season the Red Sox had one of best records in baseball going into September, they did this with alcohol in the clubhouse, so it will be interesting to see how they do without it. Also the BoSox are lacking in a power hitter, their best option as one is an aging David Ortiz. I do believe though, that Carl Crawford will be the silver lining for the BoSox. I think unlike last season he will produce heavily. With the Rays, Yankees and Jays all getting better and the Red Sox getting worse and with the turmoil in the system at the moment I can’t see them doing any better then 3rd in the AL East.

Prediction
Record: 85-77
Finish: 3rd in AL East
Playoffs: N/A
Top Pitcher: Josh Beckett, 17-11, 3.26 ERA, 220 SO
Top Hitter: Carl Crawford, .327 AVG, 24 HR, 97 RBI, 35 SB
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-McFultz

30 Teams in 30 Days – Detroit Tigers

Hello everyone, and welcome to our first installment of 30 Teams in 30 Days. Everyday, a new one of us here, at Critics From The Couch will be doing a full report on a different MLB Team, we’re going to get it started with one of the most exciting teams, The Detroit Tigers.
Detroit Tigers
Record: 95-67
Finish: 1st AL Central
Playoffs: Eliminated in ALCS
Top Pitcher: Justin Verlander 24-5, 2.40 ERA, 250 SO
Top Hitter: Miguel Cabrera .344 AVG, 30 HR, 105 RBI
Manager: Jim Leyland
Important Acquisitions: Prince Fielder, Octavio Dotel, Collin Balester, Eric Patterson
Important Losses: Magglio Ordonez FA, Carlos Guillen SEA, Joel Zumaya MIN, Brad Penny Japan, Wilson Betemit BAL, Ryan Perry WAS, Victor Martinez Injury

Last Year, the Detroit Tigers came out of nowhere to capture the AL Central. They were eliminated in the ALCS by the Texas Rangers, but nonetheless, it was a very impressive year for the Detroit Tigers. They were led by 2011 AL Cy Young and AL MVP winner, Justin Verlander. Verlander really had an amazing season, easily the best of his career. Leading the way on offense was the always dangerous, Miguel Cabrera. Then in the off-season they signed one of the best home-run hitters in the league, Prince Fielder. So, as you can imagine, expectations are high this year . Can they live up to these expectations? To be honest, I’m a little skeptical. Justin Verlander will probably have another great season, but I think it’s unrealistic that he repeats what he did last season, he has a career 3.54 ERA, which is great, but nothing compared to last year. I wasn’t the biggest fan of the Prince Fielder deal either, he is most known around the league for his ability to hit the long ball, yes he can hit for average (career .282), but his biggest asset is the Home Run ball, and Comerica park is certainly not a power friendly ballpark. They’ve lost Victor Martinez to injury, who had an absolutely incredible season last year, they still have yet to re-sign Ordonez, they’ve lost Penny to japan, and have lost Guillen and Betemit to free Agency. I just don’t see this team being as successful as last year. They should still take the division, but they should watch out for the White Sox, who underachieved last campaign, but still have a good team, and could come on strong with a new bench boss.

Prediction
Record: 88- 74
Finish: 1st in AL Central
Playoffs: Eliminated in ALDS
Top Pitcher: Justin Verlander 19-8, 2.96 ERA, 224 SO
Top Hittter: Miguel Cabrera .336 AVG, 34 HR, 111 RBI
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- Vernon Smells