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Batter up! A new season is set to begin

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If you live in central Illinois, and are even half as passionate about the game of baseball as I am, then you can relate to this quote by one of the games greatest players, Rogers Hornsby.   

"People ask me what I do when it's winter and there's no baseball. I'll tell you what I do. I stare out the window and wait for spring."

How is a person supposed to fill the void left in our lives when the page on the calendar turns to November, and the game that we love has ended for the season? Personally, I turn to re-watching games that I recorded during the season and postseason. I immediately start evaluating the needs of my team and creating my own wish list of roster moves for the next season. I read any blog or website devoted to major league baseball.

This year, I've been blessed with a new way to pass the time until Opening Day. My fiancé and I are expecting a baby boy in May and I have been allowed to decorate his nursery in anything Cardinals.

I would be interested to see how my readers get through the doldrums of winter.

Since spring training has officially begun, I don't want to devote too much time to surviving without baseball. Rather, I would like to take a look at what happened in the offseason. My next post will focus solely on the three teams of local interest, the Cardinals, Cubs and White Sox.

The three biggest stories of the offseason were the Dodgers signing virtually anyone and everyone, including Zack Greineke, the blockbuster deal between the Marlins and Blue Jays, and the Angels signing Josh Hamilton.

On paper, the Dodgers look like the team to beat in the National League. They have a lineup that could easily produce six or seven All Stars. Their starting rotation has more pitchers than they know what to do with. They have three guys who are legitimate candidates to be an Opening Day starter (Kershaw, Greineke, Ryu) and five other starters that have been team aces in the past (Beckett, Billingsley, Capuano, Lilly, Harang).

           

Aside from pitching, the Dodgers also have a lineup that includes Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier, Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, Hanley Ramirez, and rising star Dee Gordon. The only place the Dodgers seem to be lacking an All Star is at catcher, but what remains to be seen is if the high priced talent will also come with high priced egos that require constant stroking. Who will be the team leaders and will any of the guys listed above who are used to being leaders take more of a spectator role in terms of leadership? Will the pressure of being the odds-on favorite cause the team to self destruct?

My prediction: The Dodgers will have a remarkable season (thanks in large part to beating up the Padres, Rockies, and Diamondbacks a lot), but they will fall short of winning the World Series, which will cause pundits like myself to question whether or not the core of the team is overpaid and past their prime.

The Toronto Blue Jays made headlines this offseason by being the buyer of talent that Jeff Loria and the Marlins acquired the previous winter. The additions of Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle, Josh Johnson, John Buck, and Emilio Bonifacio, as well as Melky Cabrera to the Blue Jays lineup will prove to be one of the greatest trades ever completed by any team. This team is well balanced with speed and power on offense and a pitching staff able to go deep into any ballgame. They also maintain a good core of less experienced talent whose enthusiasm will ignite this team time and time again this season. I project this team to win 100 and the World Series this year and maybe next year, too.

What will make this team different than the team assembled in Miami for 2012 will be the manager and the general manager. John Gibbons knows how to manage a team and will do a great job leading this team, and general manager Alex Anthopoulos seems to turn everything into gold. If something needs adjusted to make this team a winner he will get it done. On the flip side, I see the Marlins being the first National League team to reach 100 losses. I think the great experiment with baseball in Miami will come to an end soon. Even when they were supposed to be great the Marlins couldn't get people to the ballpark, and now they will be trying to convince fans to come watch what amounts to decent Double A team in their new, hideous ballpark. 

Josh Hamilton, the often criticized center fielder, whose story of personal struggle and redemption has been told a million times by a million writers, signed a five- year, $125M contract to bat in an Angels lineup that already includes the likes of Albert Pujols, Mike Trout, Peter Bourjos, Vernon Wells, and Mark Trumbo. The Angels are now set to be one of the best offensive and defensive teams in all of baseball, and that's a very good thing because they are going to need a lot of superb defense and a ton of runs if they are going to win because their starting pitching is a little shaky after Weaver, Wilson, and Vargas. But if the starters can pitch with a lead through six innings, their bullpen appears to be solid enough to win more times than not.

 

About the Author
Steve spends his time here at The Peorian analyzing data and networking to develop solutions to bridge the gap between…no wait, that’s what he does as a career. He’s here at The Peorian to write about other things. And in order to facilitate these efforts, we have banned him from using any forms of the words “data”, “engineering” and “antidisestablishmentarianism”. The latter should be for obvious reasons. I mean, really, how could anyone be FOR the disestablishment of the Anglican Church in 19th-century Britain?