Welcome to the first installment of the Prospect Junkies 2-A-Days. Please join us every day where we preview 2 different teams, writing about key additions and losses, breaking down their lineup and pitching, and giving you our outlook for the upcoming season. I encourage you to leave comments or ask questions as we go along. I will provide my picks division by division, and I also encourage you check out our podcast near the beginning of opening day. And last, thank goodness baseball season is here!!!
Brad Koesters – Prospect Junkies MLB Corrospondant.
Key Additions: Tsuyoshi Wada, Wei-Yin Chen, Matt Lindstrom, Jason Hammel
Key Losses: Luke Scott, Jeremy Guthrie
Lineup: I like this lineup, and like how they have put it together. By holding onto Adam Jones, you keep him in the middle of the lineup. If Matt Wieters can put it together and become another middle of the order bat, those 2 along with Nick Markakis makes for a pretty solid 3. To me, those 3 will be fine, it is the rest of the order that has questions marks. Can Brian Roberts stay healthy and return to form? Can Mark Reynolds put the ball in play enough to warrant his strikeouts, or at least can he hit enough home runs? Is JJ Hardy the answer at SS? Ultimately though, as much as I think this is a lineup that can win games, comparing it to the rest of the division will make you understand they have a long ways to go.
Pitching: It is really hard to judge what kind of rotation this is going to be, since I fully believe they will start both Wada and Chen in the rotation. When you go overseas to get free agents, there is no way to predict how good they will be. Do I think these guys can pitch, absolutely, but I worry about them adjusting to the big leagues. Although they dealt Guthrie, I like that they added an arm like Hammel in the deal. If Zack Britton can continue to improve, I think this rotation can be alright. But keep in mind, playing in the AL East makes it difficult to put up big numbers. Lindstrom is slated to be the closer, and I think he will do a decent job. Not a shut down closer, but he has experience in the role so I expect him to at least be average. The rest of the bullpen concerns me, and considering the question mark in the rotation, I expect them to get overworked and worn down. Ultimately, I see this bullpen being beat around pretty good.
Outlook: Fact is, until they are ready to spend money on either the draft or players, they will not be a factor in the AL East. They have a beautiful park, but they just haven’t decided on a plan. I realize you want to be competitive, but giving JJ Hardy a contract last year instead of dealing him for a younger piece means you are not completely in the build with young players mode, and you can tell by their key additions they are not spending money. I would love to say this is a team on the rise, but I don’t see it. I expect them to finish pretty much exactly as they have the last 5 years.