10 things we are looking forward to for the 2012 Baseball Season

Posted: April 3, 2012 by vindanton in Pro Sports

By: Vin D’Anton

Cardinals 3B David Freese

Aaahhh yes, Spring is in the air and hope “springs” eternal as the Major League Baseball 2012 season gets underway this week. Now, technically it began last week with the Seattle Mariners and the Oakland A’s playing in Japan…but the game wasn’t even broadcasted live in Oakland, never mind America. So while those two games count in the standings, they don’t count as Opening Day for America.

So, with the season about to get underway, let’s take a look at the ten things baseball fans should be looking forward to this season.

10. Can the Washington Nationals finally be contenders this year?

The Nats had one of the best and scariest and off-seasons. The scary part was one of their top prospects, catcher Wilson Ramos was kidnapped in his home country of Venezuela. Thankfully, he is safe and back with the team. They picked up small pieces to the puzzle like reliever Brad Lidge, infielder Mark DeRosa, P Edwin Jackson; they signed their best player 3B Ryan Zimmerman to an extension; but the best move was the trade for P Gio Gonzalez. The left-hander had 15 wins in 2010, and 16 in 2011 with Oakland. Now in the NL, I expect him to do even better…which is always the case when a pitcher goes from AL to NL. To me, the big story will be if Davey Johnson is the guy for the job.

9. Can the Pirates sneak into the Playoffs?

The first half of the season last year was magical for the Buc-O’s, but after that awful call at home plate in Atlanta, things went down hill. The NL Central is a question mark to me. With Pujols leaving St. Louis and Prince Fielder leaving the Brewers, those teams should come down a little bit. Now, the Brewers and Cardinals on paper should be fine, but baseball is a strange game. If Kevin Correia can have a breakout season, A.J. Burnett and Erik Bedard are consistent, that pitching will take them far. Their offense is filled with young talent like Andrew McCutchen, Neil Walker and Pedro Alvarez. Can all the pieces come together this year and put the Pirates in the playoffs?

Andrew McCutchen

8. Will the Tigers runaway with the AL Central?

It’s funny…if DH Victor Martinez never gets injured, the Tigers don’t sign Prince Fielder. Now they have him to go with Miguel Cabrera and company. While Justin Verlander is all you need, their rotation still bothers me a little. Max Scherzer should be just as good, but you are not going to sell me on Doug FisterRick Porcello, and a huge question mark at the fifth spot. The White Sox and Royals did nothing to give you hope, the Twins didn’t re-sign some solid players, and the Indians have young talent, but do they have enough overall?

7. Can the Pujols and LaRussa-less Cardinals repeat?

The St. Louis Cardinals are coming of their 11th Championship, but two franchise cornerstones are gone. Tony LaRussa retired, Albert Pujols is an Angel. They have the talent though, with bats like OF Matt Holliday, OF Lance Berkman, and 3B David Freese, and they got some other decent bats. With P Chris Carpenter injured, Adam Wainwright coming off Tommy John surgery, no one really stands out after him on the staff. It will be extremely tough.

6. Is the Yankees pitching staff legit?

It seems that 365/24/7, Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman and the boys in the Bronx are always looking for a pitcher. This off-season, they got Michael Pineda in a highway robbery with Seattle, gave $10 million to Hiroki Kuroda, traded A.J. Burnett, and for some God forsaken reason, gave Andy Pettitte a contract. Pineda is on the DL now and Kuroda is 37 and coming from the NL. Ivan Nova and Phil Hughes have shown promise, but need work. What also is bothersome, they have one lefty in the bullpen. Trouble?

Yankees pitcher Michael Pineda

5. Will the Miami Marlins be worth the hype?

I know, I know…I should cut them slack because it is their first season with the new players, but eh, who cares. Heath Bell, Jose Reyes, and Mark Buehrle are all great players, and the young guys on their roster are potential superstars. Look at their roster…it is insane how much potential they have. Even before they were big time spenders, the Marlins always knew how to draft and develop young players. They’ll be in a tough division so they will have to show up everyday and be healthy…and Reyes and Hanley Ramirez aren’t those types of guys. Ozzie Guillen has some work to do.

4. Will Ryan Braun be the same player?

The Brewers outfielder is coming off an MVP season, but more importantly, a tumultuous off-season. Though Braun‘s suspension was overturned and on record he is “clean” now, people will never look at him the same again. With Fielder not taking the tough pitches anymore, it is his turn to step up. It could be a long season for the MVP.

3. How will Bobby Valentine fair in his first season with Boston?

Bobby V is back! And with a vengeance! He has done nothing but trash the Yankees since taking over, but things are looking up. John Lackey and Josh Beckett won’t be downing PBR’s and KFC in the locker room under the Valentine regime. All jokes aside, the Sox added some talent this off-season with Closer Andrew Bailey and OF Ryan Sweeney, who is as fast as Jacoby Ellsbury. Bobby V will need to tame this group of All-Stars if he wants to retake the AL East.

2. Can the Phillies win the World Series?

For the past three years, it has been all the hype with the Philadelphia Phillies, and zero World Championships. They’ve added superstar after superstar, and have come farther away from a World Series each year. The infield is banged up, there is some new young guys, and there is the head-case that is Jonathan Papelbon. HERE is what the Phillies will do.

1. The New Wild Card

For the third time in its history, Major League Baseball has expanded its playoffs. After the unbELIevable drama we saw last September, Bud Selig and the Players Association agreed to add one more wild card in each league. The first seed will await the winner of the “play-off game” and then play them in the Divisional Series. Also, two basic things were changed as well, one permanent, one temporary for this season. From now on, teams from the same Division can meet in the Divisional Series. The temporary thing is absurd. The lower seeded teams get the first two home games of the round because of traveling…not buying that. While the new Wild Card will help teams like the Blue Jays (sleeper team of 2012!), I can’t wait for uproar when a team with eight less wins beats the top Wild Card team…and has a chance to play in the NOVEMBER classic.


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