Welcome to the Gigantic Sox and Dawgs 2012 MLB preview. Over the next few days you will get a team by team look at its key players, new faces, their potential MVP, Cy Young and Rookie of the Year candidates, their possible starting lineup and rotation as well as a quick summary.
For the second year in a row we will select a MVP candidate and Cy Young candidate for each team no matter what their predicted team outcome is.
This preview was sculpted over a two month period in the off season with some mild tweaking as we went along prior to publication. It comes from a culmination of reading many baseball magazines, periodicals, articles and websites.
I hope you enjoy this look at the upcoming season. I know everyone will not agree with me and that’s fine put it in the comments or hit me up on Twitter. I can assure you I'll most likely have an argument for each and every objection that you could possibly raise.
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National League Central
1. Cincinnati - Manager: Dusty Baker (5th year/19th overall)
The Reds are ready to once again make some noise in the Central Division and do it with two rookies in key spots up the middle in C Devin Mesoraco and SS Zack Cozart (recovering from Tommy John surgery). They also strengthened the starting rotation by making reliever Aroldis Chapman a starter and in getting Mat Latos from San Diego and they inked free agent close Ryan Madson from Philadelphia to help the bullpen. I see this as Cincinnati’s division to lose.
MVP Candidate: 1B Joey Votto
Cy Young Candidate: P Johnny Cueto
ROY Candidate: C Devin Mesoraco and SS Zack Cozart
Key Additions: SP Mat Latos (Trade-SD); RP Sean Marshall (Trade-CHI); RP Andrew Brackman (FA-NYY); RP Ryan Madson (FA-PHI); C Devin Mesoraco (Rookie); SS Zack Cozart (Rookie); OF Ryan Ludwick (FA-PIT); INF Wilson Valdez (Trade-PHI); P Jeff Francis (FA-KC)
*Possible lineup: Stubbs CF; Phillips 2B; Votto 1B; Bruce RF; Rolen 3B; Ludwick LF; Mesoraco C; Janish SS
Possible lineup: Phillips 2B; Cozart SS; Votto 1B; Bruce RF; Rolen 3B; Ludwick LF; Stubbs CF; Mesoraco C
*- Possible line up with Cozart on DL to start the season.
Possible rotation: Cueto; Latos; Chapman; Arroyo; Bailey
2. St. Louis - Manager: Mike Matheny (1st year)
The defending World Series Champions have a new manager, new first baseman and new rightfielder and are missing a Hall of Fame manager and a consensus MVP candidate. In their place are a rookie manager, last years best free agent signing, Lance Berkman, moved from RF to 1B and they inked free agent RF Carlos Beltran to take Albert Pujols place in the lineup. They hope to be able to keep up with the Reds in the division but they maybe more in line for the wild card again as Beltran will not put up Pujols numbers.
MVP Candidate: 1B Lance Berkman
Cy Young Candidate: P Chris Carpenter
ROY Candidate: P Shelby Miller
Possible lineup: Furcal SS; Jay CF; Beltran RF; Berkman 1B; Holliday LF; Freese 3B; Molina C; Descalso 2B
Possible rotation: Carpenter; Wainwright; Garcia; Lohse; Westbrook
3. Milwaukee - Manager: Ron Roenicke (2nd year)
The Brewers made the playoffs as the division champions last season and had one of their own, LF Ryan Braun win the NL MVP Award. Then in the offseason they lost Prince Fielder to Detroit in free agency, luckily Braun was able to beat the 50 games suspension for PED use as he was getting ready to report to camp. They signed free agent 3B Aramis Ramirez away from the Cubs but he won’t come close to matching the numbers put up by Fielder and with that the Brewers will fall short in quest for a playoff spot.
Key Players: LF Ryan Braun; 3B Aramis Ramirez; 1B Matt Gamel; P Zack Greinke; P Yovanny Gallardo
MVP Candidate: LF Ryan Braun
Cy Young Candidate: P Zack Greinke
ROY Candidate: OF Taylor Green
Possible lineup: Morgan CF; Weeks 2B; Braun LF; Ramirez 3B; Hart RF; Gamel 1B; Gonzalez SS; Lucroy C
Possible rotation: Greinke; Gallardo; Marcum; Wolf; Narveson
4. Pittsburgh - Manager: Clint Hurdle (2nd year/10th overall)
Pittsburgh had a baseball resurgence in 2011 as they were above .500 at the All-Star break for the first time since 1992. They were in first place on July 18, it was the latest they had been in first place since 1997. But they ended up fading in August and had their 19th losing season in a row. I see more of the same this year for the Buco’s as they compete and hang in there most of the season before falling away again.
MVP Candidate: CF Andrew McCutchen
Cy Young Candidate: P Jeff Karstens
ROY Candidate: P Gerrit Cole
Possible lineup: Tabata RF; Walker 2B; McCutheon CF; Jones 1B; McGehee 3B; Barmes SS; Barajas C; McLouth LF
Possible rotation: Karstens; Burnett; Morton; McDonald; Bedard
5. Chicago - Manager: Dale Sveum (1st year)
New president, new general manager, new manager, organizational top to bottom overhaul courtesy of Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer is in progress. Trades with Colorado, Cincinnati and Miami have brought infield help and pitching depth and got rid of some problems. While a dip into the free agent market got some more pitching. But there is still along way to go and Epstein and Hoyer know this I just don’t know if Cubs fans do.
MVP Candidate: CF Marlon Byrd
Cy Young Candidate: P Matt Garza
ROY Candidate: 1B Anthony Rizzo and OF Brett Jackson
Key Additions: OF David DeJesus (FA-OAK); 3B Ian Stewart (Trade-COL); RP Manny Corpas (FA-TEX); P Travis Wood (Trade-CIN); SP Chris Volstad (Trade-MIA); SP Paul Maholm (FA-PIT); 1B Anthony Rizzo (Trade-SD/Rookie); RP Andy Sonnanstine (FA-TB); IF/OF Adrian Cardenas (Waivers-OAK); Mgr. Dale Sveum
Possible lineup: Castro SS; Barney 2B; Bryd CF; Soriano LF; Rizzo 1B; DeJesus RF; Stewart 3B; Soto C
Possible rotation: Garza; Dempster; Wells; Volstad; Maholm
6. Houston - Manager: Brad Mills (3rd year)
The Astros have new ownership and they are thinking of changing the team’s nickname. That is not sitting well with fans who have started to lash out. The team is bad enough they need to let the fans keep the name. There’s also a new general manager and like in San Diego you have to wonder if former Red Sox bench coach Brad Mills has possibly hit the end of the road in Houston. This team is going no where, look for another 100 plus loss season.
MVP Candidate: 1B Carlos Lee
Cy Young Candidate: P Wandy Rodriguez
ROY Candidate: RP Juan Abreu
Possible lineup: Schaefer CF; Lowrie SS; Martinez LF; Lee 1B; Bogusevic RF; Johnson 3B; Altuve 2B; Snyder C
Possible rotation: Rodriguez, Norris; Myers; Happ; Hernandez
Tomorrow: the AL Central.
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