• National League West Preseason Power Rankings

    Decisions are starting to be made, pitchers are being stretched out for more than 30 pitches an appearance, and lineups are starting to get closer to resembling major league lineups rather than a mixture of hopeful minor league prospects. As the season draws closer, we’re going to give you a preseason set of power rankings to get you up to speed for Opening Day.

    1. Arizona Diamondbacks: The team that won the division in 2011 finds themselves right back at the top of the list to start 2012. After breakout years on the mound for both Ian Kennedy and Daniel Hudson, the Diamondbacks were not content. They sought after and acquired former A’s pitcher Trevor Cahill to add to the top of the rotation, building what appears to be a very formidable stable of starters. Justin Upton will look to build on his all-star season, and the Diamondbacks are the early favorites out of the west.

    2. San Francisco Giants: After winning it all in 2010, the Giants failed to make the postseason last fall. A season ending injury to Buster Posey derailed the Giants in late May, and they were never able to right the ship. Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, and Madison Bumgarner are the tip of the spear for the Giants and should keep them relevant late in the season. Add a healthy Buster Posey and they may have enough to push the themselves passed the Diamondbacks in the end.

    3. Los Angeles Dodgers: The kings of Chavez Ravine were sold last week for 2 billion dollars, but being wildly expensive does not translate to wins. Matt Kemp, who nearly hit for the Triple Crown last year, along with Cy Young winner Clayton Kershaw will lead the way for the Dodgers, but Magic Johnson and his group are going to need some time to pump new life and money into the franchise before they are back to competing for titles.

    4. Colorado Rockies: The Rockies conceded a few years on the competition level last summer with the haul they made out with in the Ubaldo Jiminez trade. Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzales will still be all stars, and the mile high crew could stick around for a few months before fading into the finish line.

    5. San Diego Padres: You could say the Padres conceded a few competitive years with their recent set of transactions, but you have to be competitive before you concede it for the future. They traded set-up guy Mike Adams to the Rangers before the trade deadline last summer, top of the rotation starter Mat Latos to Cincinnati over the winter, and recouped a compensatory first round pick for letting closer Heath Bell walk in free agency. The Padres have some young talent coming through the pipeline, but this will not be the year to see it all come to fruition.

  • National League Central Preseason Power Rankings

    Decisions are starting to be made, pitchers are being stretched out for more than 30 pitches an appearance, and lineups are starting to get closer to resembling major league lineups rather than a mixture of hopeful minor league prospects. As the season draws closer, we’re going to give you a preseason set of power rankings to get you up to speed for Opening Day.

    1. Cincinnatti Reds: The Cincinnati Reds become the favorites in this division purely based off subtractions from other teams. Albert Pujols is no longer a Cardinal, and Prince Fielder is no longer a Brewer. The Reds did make a big trade in the offseason to acquire front line starter Mat Latos from the Padres, and he will join Johnny Cueto at the top of the rotation. Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips will bring the offense, and the Reds are sitting pretty before the season gets under way.

    2. St. Louis Cardinals: The World Series champions have had a bit of retooling to do since they were spraying champagne in October. Albert Pujols took his talents to Los Angeles, and that leaves a big gap in the lineup for Matt Holliday and Lance Berkman to fill. Hall of Fame head coach Tony LaRussa retired, meaning they will have a new manager on the top step for the first time in 16 season. It’s not all doom and gloom in St. Louis though, they do get Adam Wainright back into their rotation, who missed all of last year with Tommy John surgery. Along with the strength of the rest of the rotation, the Cardinals will once again be competitive.

    3. Milwaukee Brewers: Like their divisional counterpart Cardinals, the Brew Crew has a bit of rebuilding to do as well. Prince Fielder left for big money over the winter, and his left handed bat will be sorely missed. They added former Cubs third basemen Aramis Ramirez to the squad, and they do still have the reigning NL MVP in Ryan Braun. With the rotation headlined by Zach Greinke, the Brewers should make noise again in 2012.

    4. Pittsburgh Pirates: With the Pirates on the cusp of their 20th consecutive losing season, there seems to be at least a small, minute gleam at the end of the tunnel. The Pirates were the surprise of the National League last year when they managed to stay relevant until August before unraveling at the seams. They locked up Andrew McCutchen to a long term deal and add A.J. Burnett to their rotation, but just crossing the .500 mark for this team would be cause for a parade in the steal city.

    5. Chicago Cubs: The Steve Bartman incident of 2003, along with the last century of torture from the baseball gods, continues to burn holes in the souls of Cubs fans everywhere. The good news on the north side is that they took a step in the right direction this winter, trading for Red Sox GM Theo Epstein, who knows a thing or two about killing legendary curses. The bad news is, it takes time to build a team from the ground up, and the Cubs are in year 1 of a multi-year process. Patience Cubs fans, nothing lasts forever.

    6. Houston Astros: They finished with the worst record in all of baseball last season, and appear to be spiraling into another failure of a season in 2012. They do have a new owner, Jim Crane, who promises to pump money and provide resources to turn the team around, but it’s not in the foreseeable future. The Astros have a farm system ranked in the bottom half of the entire league and average to below-average baseball appears to be on the horizon for awhile. The good news? They’re doing baseball a favor and bringing back the awesome Colt .45 jerseys that they wore for their first three years of existence.

  • National League East Preseason Power Rankings

    Decisions are starting to be made, pitchers are being stretched out for more than 30 pitches an appearance, and lineups are starting to get closer to resembling major league lineups rather than a mixture of hopeful minor league prospects. As the season draws closer, we’re going to give you a preseason set of power rankings to get you up to speed for Opening Day.

    1: Philadelphia Phillies: The Phillies are at the head of the class in what could be baseball’s tightest division, but it is not by a wide margin. Chase Utley is banged up again, and Ryan Howard is still working his way back from blowing out his Achilles in last year’s NLDS. They lost closer Ryan Madson in the offseason, but the Phillies still have plenty of ammunition to go to war with. They boast what could be the best top 3 of any rotation in Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels. They still have Jimmy Rollins and Hunter Pence, and if they can survive the injuries until the cavalry arrives, the Phils should find themselves in great shape.

    2: Atlanta Braves: We all heard it last September: that loud, wheezing, coughing noise coming from Atlanta as they choked away a 10 game lead in the wild card to the Cardinals in the season’s final month. But if you’re a Braves fan, and you have somehow managed to move past that debacle, there was a silver lining to that ominous cloud. The Braves lost both Tommy Hanson and Jair Jurrjens down the home stretch, and surely one of those two could have won A SINGLE game last September, changing history forever. Jason Heyward had a sophomore slump, but appears to be back to his old ways this spring. If the Braves can avoid that nasty injury bug that bit them late last year and Jason Heyward can rediscover his stroke, they should also be able to avoid that monstrous bone that they choked on so violently in 2011.

    3. Miami Marlins: This has to be the most intriguing team to watch out of all 30 heading into the season. Formerly the Florida Marlins, they were known for being frugal with their players, even if they have won 2 World Series in the last 15 years. Add a new stadium, then water, and all of a sudden you had a team attacking the free agent market like Mike Tyson on Evander’s ear. They added all star shortstop Jose Reyes, starting pitcher Mark Beurhle, and closer Heath Bell. The Marlins have never had a payroll over 60 million in their franchise’s history. This season, it’s set to be about 109 million. If Josh Johnson can come back to full health and all of the new faces, along with new manager Ozzie Guillen, can jibe together, this team could be the one to pay attention to.

    4. Washington Nationals: Sorry to the National’s faithful, but if the Nats played in the central, or even the west, they could be set to make much more noise than ever before in 2012. As it stands, they still play in the east, and will more than likely still continue to struggle. The good news, however, is the Nationals are building, and it looks sexy on paper. Stephen Strasburg returned from Tommy John late last summer and appeared to still be oozing potential. Earthquake creating hitting prospect Bryce Harper could force his way to the big club at some point in the year, and Ryan Zimmerman and Michael Morse will hold down the corners for what appears to be a budding franchise. The Nationals are probably realistically a year or two away from really wreaking havoc in the East, but if the kids come on a year or two early, look out.

    5. The New York Mets: The Bernie Madoff scandal is waving goodbye in it’s rearview as it leaves the Mets in rubble. Poor David Wright, he appears to be wasting the prime of his career on the Titanic, although he could, and probably should be traded at the deadline. The Mets are looking the Astros dead in the face for the worst record in baseball, and it is going to be an ugly duel.