MLB 2012, an Early Look

The World Series just ended 5 months ago, but teams have already started work on the 2012 season.  Pitchers and catchers were set to report to camp for their respective teams last week and with that begins the speculation for which team has what it takes to win it all this year. 

The Marlins will be looking to break in their new digs in Miami and forget the past few seasons where their attendance as well as wins as the Florida Marlins was at record lows.  The Marlins may have changed their name, but geographically they’re not even leaving their original county.  The newly named Miami Marlins added All Star short stop Jose Reyes to their roster, moving Hanley Ramirez down to 3rd base.  Ramirez had previously been the team’s short stop, but manager Ozzie Guillen thought Reyes to be better fit in the middle.

The defending World Series Champion St. Louis Cardinals have undergone serious changes during the off season, losing not only Albert Pujols, but manager Tony Larussa.  Pujols made headlines in January when he chose to sign with the Los Angeles of Anaheim Angels for a historic 10 year $254 million deal and LaRussa chose to retire on top after winning the 3rd title of his managerial career in 2011.  La Russa will be replaced by one of his former players, Cardinals catcher Mike Matheny.  Matheny won 3 Gold Gloves during his time with the Cardinals and at 42 he is currently the youngest manager in the league.  There is some good news for Cardinal fans, the ace of the staff, Anthony Wainright will be returning after missing the entire 2011 season recovering from Tommy Johns’ surgery.

The Milwaukee Brewers had an amazing season last year, making it to the National League Championship Series, but have since faced some adversity.  First of all they lost their All Star 1st baseman Prince Fielder to the Detroit Tigers.  In addition to that, MVP outfielder Ryan Braun failed a urine test, resulting in him receiving a 50 game suspension from the MLB.  

The Washington Nationals have a lot to look forward to in 2012.  They have both Stephen Strasburg and teen sensation Bryce Harper coming into spring training completely healthy along with their gold glove 3rd basemen Ryan Zimmerman who won the Silver Slugger Award last season.  Jordan Zimmerman solidifies a Nationals’ pitching staff that finally has the offensive fire power behind them.  This could be the first year since moving to the nation’s capital that the Nationals may actually be relevant in the post season talks.

There is a new manager taking the reins of the Red Sox - Bobby Valentin.  Valentin comes to the Red Sox after they made media headlines last season for not only an historic drop in the standings, but also for their pitchers drinking beer in the dugout and clubhouse.  One of the weapons Valentin has to work with is outfielder Carl Crawford who signed on with the team back in 2010 for 7 years at 142 million.  The Red Sox boast a very talented roster, one that could not seem to win for previous manager Terry Francona.  Maybe Bobby Valentin is the missing piece to the puzzle for Boston.

The Philadelphia Phillies resemble Boston’s “Big 3” in the sense that they have a number of great players, but they are closely reaching their expiration date.  No one could touch the Phillies back in 2008 and for a few years after that, but Jimmy Rollins isn’t getting any younger and Ryan Howard is still recovering from tearing his Achilles.  The upside is their above average pitching staff comprised of Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, Dontrelle Willis, and Jonathan Papelbon.  All of those pitchers with the exception of Dontrelle Willis have pitched in a World Series in the last 5 years.