It’s been a week or two since I last posted one of these. As a reminder, the order in which the teams are addressed is my guess as to the order in which they will finish.
St Louis Cardinals. The late start should help Mike Mikolas, giving him time to get healthy again. Andrew Miller was struggling in spring training, so the down time might be good for him too. If Mikolas does come back well, that might cost Carlos Martinez his rotation spot. Lane Thomas got activated from the 60 day IL before the shutdown, and Jordan Hicks was placed on it. Their main additions are Brad Miller and Kwang Hyun Kim—newly arrived from the KBO…he was pitching well this spring.
Chicago Cubs. Despite rumors of being on the trading block, Kris Bryant is still a Cub. Their key departures, other than Joe Maddon, were Nick Castellanos and Addison Russell (good riddance to him). Their main newcomers, besides David Ross as the manager, were Steven Souza, Jr and Jharel Cotton, and Jason Kipnis. The Cubs were, however, one of the more interesting clubs in the spring in that they had unsettled roles still—between Ian Happ and Albert Amira, Jr, for starting center fielder; a three way contest for starting second baseman among Nico Hoerner, David Bote, and Kipnis; and 5th starter between Tyler Chatwood and Alec Mills.
Cincinnati Reds. Every year some building team spends money in free agency, and certain pundits then favor them to reach the playoffs. It rarely works out though. This year it’s the Reds. I agree they’re improving, but strongly doubt they’ll be in the postseason, assuming there’s no format changes for this year. They’ve brought in Nick Castellanos, Mike Moustakas, and Wade Miley. Eugenia Suarez is back from shoulder surgery, and may actually have been ready even if the season had started on time. Nick Senzel will likely be back after repair of a torn labrum. Freddy Galvis had muscle strains in training camp, and will have had plenty of time to recover.
Milwaukee Brewers. The main reason I moved the Reds up to third, is I feel the Brewers are worse this year. They’ve said goodbye to Mike Moustakas, Yasmani Grandal, Eric Thames, Drew Pomeranz, and Gio Gonzalez. They’ve brought in Shelby Miller (minor league deal), Jedd Gyorko, Logan Morrison (minor league deal), Eric Sograd, Justin Smoak, and Luis Urias. Urias, however, fractured a hamate, and might or might not be ready when the season eventually gets going.
Pittsburgh Pirates. My reaction to their trading Starling Marte to the Diamondbacks was “look out below!” They’ve cleaned house with a new GM (Ben Cherington), and new manager (Derek Shelton). They were a bad team last year and will be worse those year, in the tear down phase of tearing down and rebuilding. Also gone are Francisco Liriano, Melky Cabrera, Lonnie Cisenhall, and Elias Díaz. New to Steel City will be Guillermo Heredia, Luke Maile, JT Riddle, Brennan Malone, and Llover Peguero. They have several guys coming off the 60 day IL that they can only hope truly are healthy and productive in Chris Archer, Greg Polanco, Jason Martín, Kyle Crick, and Edgar Santana. Also anticipated to be on the roster is rookie Ke’Bryan Hayes. Maybe he’ll give Pirate fans a reason to tune in.