Clearing The Bases
Baltimore Orioles: Starting Pitcher Chris Tillman may be on the disabled list, but he is expected to be activated and take his regular turn in the rotation this weekend…..If 2B Brian Roberts can stay healthy and once again become the player he used to be, this would be a pretty big boon to the O’s offense…..Manager Buck Showalter had 3B Manny Machado batting 2nd in his Opening Day lineup, interesting, but it should give Machado a steady dose of fastballs to swing at.
Boston Red Sox: Sox have to be pretty happy with how their season has started. Starting Pitcher Jon Lester looked good, perhaps he will rebound to the player he used to be under former pitching coach and new manager John Farrell. Rookie LF Jackie Bradley may not have gotten any hits, but he did save at least one run with a terrific play in the outfield and showed immense patience at the plate, something usually unheard of from a rookie.
Chicago White Sox: Starting Pitcher Chris Sale pretty much proved that last year wasn’t a fluke. He looked as good as advertised on OD and could be Cy Young candidate if, and that is the big question, if he can stay healthy. His mechanics and his build would seem to make him an arm injury waiting to happen…..What is it with the Sox at Catcher? Last year A.J. Pierzynski had a career year with the long ball and on OD Tyler Flowers hits the game winning home run.
Cleveland Indians: Some are picking the Indians as a dark horse team to win the AL Central. Not sure how they can accomplish this with that starting rotation, a rotation that may already be without Scott Kazmir who could miss his first start with the team due to an abdominal injury.
Detroit Tigers: How many fantasy owners were worried last night when SP Justin Verlander was pulled after five innings and only threw 91 pitches? Don’t worry, he’s fine, odd though that he doesn’t get a quality start versus Minnesota…..Outfielder Andy Dirks has been a late round draft pick in quite a few leagues. Could quietly have a nice season hitting under the radar for the Tigers…..Fantasy owners, especially those in deep or AL only leagues, shouldn’t be so quick to release RP Bruce Rondon. He will be back before long and may still be the odds on favorite to lead the team in saves by season’s end.
Houston Astros: Break out the Astros, they love playing in the American League. Outfielders Justin Maxwell and Rick Ankiel certainly came out swinging. Maxwell could be a cheap source of power and steals for fantasy owners but that comes with a drag on your average. Ankiel however will have to earn his playing time, something he can do now that Fernando Martinez is on the DL…..Lucas Harrell would be an automatic pickup for fantasy teams if he started for a better team.
Kansas City Royals: You have to like James Shields first start for the Royals, he did exactly what the acquired him to do, go pitch for pitch with another team’s ace. Sure the Royals ended up losing the game but at least the team can feel much more at ease with Shields and not have to worry about the silly notion that he wouldn’t pitch as well outside of a dome…..If everything were to go the Royals way this season, all of their young players perform up to expectations, this is a team that could challenge for a wild card spot.
Los Angeles Angels: How ironic Opening Day was for the Angels. Sure they won, but most thought they would win by offensively bludgeoning their opponents, not to often in a pitcher’s duel. Not to mention we might have expected the offensive hero to be 1B Albert Pujols, OF Mike Trout or Josh Hamilton not C Chris Ianetta…..Ernesto Frieri got the save. I’m not sure why the Angels felt the need to go out and get Ryan Madson to be the closer. Think they would do just fine with Frieri closing games out.
Minnesota Twins: As we get closer to the deadline this season the big talk in the twin cities will most certainly be what the team will do with 1B Justin Morneau. Morneau is a free agent after the year, the Twins aren’t going anywhere this year, so it would make sense to deal Morneau and get something for him rather than lose the player. Plus you can always let him know that you would be interested in signing him in the off-season when he is a free agent, win-win situation.
New York Yankees: Yankee fans are ready to jump off a ledge after their Opening Day loss to Boston. Listen, the Yanks have problems, no doubt about that, and this may be a lost season even if their injured players (Curtis Granderson, Derek Jeter, Mark Teixeira) return and perform up to their past expectations. What Yankee fans should be worried about is their future. They are still $41 million over the luxury tax ($189 million) and if owner Hal Steinbrenner sticks to his guns they won’t get much in the form of reinforcements this winter either…..CC Sabathtia’s velocity (89.7mph) was certainly off in his start on OD, but he’s had that problem in the past in April, granted, not to this degree. It may take him a few starts to build up some arm strength, he only threw 10 innings this spring.
Oakland Athletics: If the A’s can take the next step in their evolution, I really believe they will win the AL West. Their starting pitching is just so much better than Angels or Rangers…..Outfielder Yoenis Cespedes could be an MVP candidate as soon as this season, he won’t win it because playing in Oakland will make that difficult, but this guy can do it all…..Like a couple of other teams, Grant Balfour may be the closer, but Ryan Cook is a better pitcher and could take over that job sometime during the season.
Seattle Mariners: There have been some concerns about the health of SP Felix Hernandez’ elbow and his loss in velocity, no such concerns on Opening Day, the king looked great…..The Mariners should be able to mash with 1B Kendrys Morales, OFs Michael Morse, Raul Ibanez, and C Jesus Montero, but fielding could be an issue all season long…..This won’t be the year the Mariners return to the playoffs, but once their young pitching matures, look out.
Tampa Bay Rays: The Rays are a good team, but their margin for victory is so small. They need their stars (Evan Longoria, Ben Zobrist, Desmond Jennings) not only to play well, but to stay healthy. They will also need Wil Myers to be the player they expect him to be when he is called up in late May or early June. I’m not talking Mike Trout or Bryce Harper like, but a productive player that can help them this season.
Texas Rangers: Have to admit I didn’t think SS Elvis Andrus was worth an eight-year $120+ million contract, especially when they have his replacement in super prospect Jurickson Profar. I was one of those who thought they should have traded Andrus to obtain OF Justin Upton from the Diamondbacks. Now it’s almost a certainty that current 2B Ian Kinsler will need to move to a new position, either the OF or 1B is most likely…..As I’m writing this, SP Yu Darvish is perfect through five innings. I know it’s against the Astros, but he is the real deal this year
Toronto Blue Jays: Funny how with all the moves the Jays made during the off-season, there are still quite a few pundits who don’t believe. They really do have a ton of questions but one that looks to be answered in the affirmative is that 3B Brett Lawrie is progressing and could make his season debut sometime next week…..Most believe the closer’s job is still Casey Janssen’s to lose but I still have to wonder if Sergio Santos gets the job once he proves himself completely healthy. Don’t think they acquired him from the White Sox to be a setup man.
Feel free to follow me on Twitter @georgekurtz.