Spring Training begins this week in Florida and Arizona as all thirty MLB teams do their best to prepare themselves for another season. That preparation will be critical to their respective successes and failures, but before anyone gets hurt or anyone has a breakout season, this is how SABR Toothed Tigers thinks the league stacks up.
30. Houston Astros
There isn’t a whole lot to say about the Astros other than that they are a very bad team. The new front office has worked well over the last year to restock the farm system and get them on a path to rebuilding but that has come at the expense of the clubs won-loss record for 2013. The Opening Day payroll will be south of $30 million and the Astros could easily lose another 100 games. The future looks much better for the Astros, but the now is just terrible.
29. Miami Marlins
Entering the 2012 season the Marlins had a new stadium and a revamped club. The ownership committed to higher payrolls and more competitive clubs, but after a rocky start to the season, the Marlins began selling off pieces and completed the process with a full on fire sale in the offseason. Almost nothing remains. The Marlins ownership didn’t like the less than stellar attendance and they decided they weren’t going to pay for a team that didn’t sell tickets. The 2013 Marlins are Giancarlo Stanton and players who are either too young to make any money or two broken to get other offers.
28. Colorado Rockies
Last season was a disaster for the Rockies. They lost Tulowitzki for most of the season and their pitching staff was terrible. A healthy Tulo will help the team and the offense should be okay, but the pitching staff isn’t much of anything. They didn’t do anything to improve the club during the offseason and the return of Tulowitzki can only do so much. With other teams in the NL West adding to their arsenals, the Rockies won’t find room to improve.
27. Minnesota Twins
The Twins pursued two offseason strategies this winter. First, they traded all of their centerfielders. Span to the Nationals and Revere to the Phillies. Second, they signed every pitcher they could find that is coming off an injury hoping for the best. On the face of it, those moves won’t do much for the 2013 team, which could easily lose 95 or more games, but these moves have helped stock an already interesting farm system. The Twins are a couple years away from getting back into things, but they have enough pieces that we shouldn’t expect them to be terrible in an unwatchable sort of way.
26. Cleveland Indians
The Tribe added Nick Swisher and others in free agency and picked up Drew Stubbs and Trevor Bauer via trade during the offseason to plug up holes in their team, but their main issue is starting pitching and they didn’t do enough to turn themselves into contenders. The Indians have some exciting young position players, but when you’re counting on Swisher to be your top offensive player you’re probably too short on offense and when Justin Masterson is your ace, you’re definitely short on pitching. Editors Note: This ranking was determined as of Saturday Feb. 9th, prior to the beginning of Spring Training. The signing of Michael Bourn is not reflected here.
25. Chicago Cubs
The Cubs are moving in the right direction with Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer now at the helm and I like their starting pitching for 2013 and beyond. The offense isn’t much to look at and the bullpen isn’t really anything. If you’re hoping for an end to the curse, you should probably shift your hopes until next season.
24. Seattle Mariners
The Mariners have Felix Hernandez and a lot of young starting pitching coming, but 2013 won’t be their year. They tried to improve their lineup with a bunch of broken pieces, but it’s going to be a rough offensive season even with shorter fences at Safeco. This is a team that can prevent runs but not one that can score them.
23. Kansas City Royals
The Royals place on this list might seem low, but there are still a lot of problems with this team despite adding James Shields. They probably added a few wins with pitching upgrades, but the offense didn’t improve much other than counting on bounce back seasons. The Royals will probably have more wins than other teams ahead of them on this list, but that will be a function of playing two teams on this list ranked 26th or lower 19 times each. The Royals probably won’t be embarrassing, but I don’t think they’ll be good either.
22. San Diego Padres
The Padres have some good young players in their system and the fences are coming in at Petco Park, but they didn’t do much to improve their team. In a tough division, it’s hard to see them being much better than they were in 2012 especially with their starting catcher spending 50 games on suspension for PED use.
21. Pittsburgh Pirates
In my 2012 Season in Review series I told you I thought the Pirates would finally break the under .500 curse and turn into a winning team for the first time in two decades, but I’ve been talking myself out of it ever since. I think they might still win over 81 games this year, but I think that will be a function of luck and timing rather than true talent. I think the Pirates are the 21st best MLB team, but they might still finish with a record above average.
Come back tomorrow and Thursday for 2013 Preseason Power Rankings 20-11 and 10-1.ets.