MLB Power Rankings 2012: Los Angeles Angels Are Cream of the MLB Crop
Until Prince Fielder finally lands, the Los Angeles Angels are the kings of the early 2012 party. With two mega-free agents of their own already landed for the 2012 season, the Angels now sport the best starting rotation and the best individual player in MLB.
But with the Texas Rangers nipping at their heels as they look to sign Japanese phenom pitcher Yu Darvish, the race in the AL West is going to be tight.
30. Houston Astros
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Biggest Storyline Heading into 2012: Coming off a record-breaking season where the Houston Astros lost a franchise-worst 106 games, the team has finally given over to the future, however unprepared they may be.
Key Additions: Jed Lowrie
Key Losses: Mark Melancon, Clint Barmes
2012 Outlook: Brad Mills will look to work some magic with second-year left fielder JD Martinez leading a group of unproven youngsters into 2012. For the veterans that are still on the roster (Carlos Lee, Wandy Rodriguez), look for them to be similarly dispatched at the deadline for prospects, much like how Hunter Pence and Michael Bourn were last year.
29. Oakland A's
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Biggest Storyline Heading into 2012: The Oakland A's face a very uncertain future as they begin their 2012 campaign with a roster full of unfamiliar faces. Will they be playing in San Jose in the future? Will they get a new stadium? Will any player on their current roster hit more than 15 home runs?
Key Additions: Josh Reddick, Colin Cowgill, Jarrod Parker, Brandon Allen
Key Losses: Trevor Cahill, Andrew Bailey, Gio Gonzalez, Ryan Sweeney, Hideki Matsui (unsigned), Craig Breslow, Josh Willingham
2012 Outlook: The immediate future looks bleak as the A's have already jettisoned practically every recognizable player on their roster from 2011. And there may be more on the way out, too—uh, that is, anybody not named Jemile Weeks.
28. San Diego Padres
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Biggest Storyline Heading into 2012: With the Anthony Rizzo project officially over in San Diego, the Yonder Alonso project officially begins. Have the San Diego Padres made enough offensive upgrades, and will their young prospects—Kyle Blanks and Will Venable—finally hit their stride for the team to compete in 2012?
Key Additions: Carlos Quentin, Edison Volquez, Huston Street, Yonder Alonso, Andrew Cashner, Yasmani Grandal
Key Losses: Mat Latos, Heath Bell, Aaron Harang, Chad Qualls (unsigned), Brad Hawpe (unsigned), Anthony Rizzo
2012 Outlook: Nobody appears to be picking the Padres as a sleeper team for 2012. Meanwhile, they are trying to remain competitive in a relatively weak NL West division while also trying to maintain one of the shallower payrolls in MLB.
27. Chicago Cubs
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Biggest Storyline Heading into 2012: With the price tag for the services of Matt Garza rumored to be extremely high, what kinds of pieces will the Chicago Cubs and GM extraordinaire Theo Epstein get in return to start the Cubs' strategic rebuilding process?
Key Additions: David DeJesus, Ian Stewart, Travis Wood, Chris Volstad, Anthony Rizzo
Key Losses: Carlos Pena (unsigned), Aramis Ramirez, Sean Marshall, Carlos Zambrano, Tyler Colvin, Andrew Cashner
2012 Outlook: While a worse 2012 is almost certainly cemented with the heart of the Cubs' lineup from 2011 departing via free agency in the offseason, the Cubs faithful appear to have faith in Theo Epstein's calculated moves for future success.
26. Seattle Mariners
Biggest Storyline Heading into 2012: A rather quiet offseason precedes rumors that the Seattle Mariners may be front-runners to land free-agent supreme slugger Prince Fielder. There is also a lot of hype surrounding three budding stars in the Mariners' infield: Dustin Ackley, Kyle Seager and Justin Smoak.
Key Additions: George Sherrill, John Jaso
Key Losses: David Aardsma, Adam Kennedy, Josh Bard
2012 Outlook: Unless the Mariners find a way to entice Prince to come to Seattle, the Mariners should have a season much like last year's. Ichiro is a year older. However, their young, up-and-coming rotation, which will likely feature newly-signed right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma from Japan, and their aforementioned young infield will be something to watch in 2012.
25. Baltimore Orioles
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Biggest Storyline Heading into 2012: Once again, the success or failure of the 2012 Baltimore Orioles will likely hinge on how their young—though, not so "young" anymore—pitching staff fares against the likes of a perennially scary AL East.
Key Additions: Endy Chavez, Darren O'Day
Key Losses: Vladimir Guerrero (unsigned), Luke Scott, Cesar Izturis
2012 Outlook: With few personnel moves from one season to the next, it's hard to make an argument that 2012 will look much different from 2011 in Baltimore.
24. Minnesota Twins
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Biggest Storyline Heading into 2012: With the loss of their most productive offensive player last year, Michael Cuddyer, the Minnesota Twins will look to their former MVP duo of Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau to rebound in 2012.
Key Additions: Josh Willingham, Jason Marquis, Jamey Carroll, Ryan Doumit
Key Losses: Michael Cuddyer, Joe Nathan, Jason Kubel, Kevin Slowey, Jose Mijares
2012 Outlook: With a bullpen almost completely devoid of any names recognizable to the casual fan and a lineup that—outside of Willingham, Mauer and Morneau—will struggle to generate any runs, the Twins have an underwhelming lineup and forecast for 2012.
23. New York Mets
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Biggest Storyline Heading into 2012: After more than a year-and-a-half of inactivity due to a severe shoulder injury, can Johan Santana (32) resurrect his once Hall of Fame-bound career? And if so, will that make him the hottest commodity at the deadline in July?
Key Additions: Andres Torres, Frank Francisco, Jon Rauch, Ramon Ramirez
Key Losses: Jose Reyes, Angel Pagan, Chris Capuano, Jason Isringhausen
2012 Outlook: The winds of change blew hard in Queens this winter. With the Mets clearly in a state of flux for 2012, there is little doubt they will be dwelling among the bottom half of the NL East next season. But highly sought-after veterans like Johan Santana and David Wright may pull in some elite prospects if the Mets are open to trade before the 2012 deadline this summer.
22. Colorado Rockies
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Biggest Storyline Heading into 2012: With an almost completely revamped starting rotation, will the Colorado Rockies have enough pitching to complement their fine stable of young hitters? Jorge De La Rosa looks to be their No. 1 starter with Jhoulys Chacin set to be their young, incumbent No. 2. Kevin Slowey may slide nicely in as a No. 3 starter, but after that it gets dicey. Highly regarded prospect Drew Pomeranz and Tyler Chatwood will both likely have a spot in the rotation, but how they'll fare in 2012 is entirely unpredictable.
Key Additions: Michael Cuddyer, Casey Blake, Ramon Hernandez, Kevin Slowey, Tyler Chatwood, Tyler Colvin
Key Losses: Ian Stewart, Huston Street, Chris Iannetta, Aaron Cook, Kevin Kouzmanoff, Ryan Spilborghs (unsigned), Mark Ellis, JC Romero, Kevin Millwood (unsigned)
2012 Outlook: It's become a normal occurrence in the last few seasons for the Rockies to garner a lot of preseason hype and then fizzle once the regular season arrives. With their offensive upgrades this offseason, there's a possibility they could be a sleeper team in 2012. However, their biggest question mark remains to be their starting pitching.
21. Chicago White Sox
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Biggest Storyline Heading into 2012: Have the Chicago White Sox moved into complete rebuilding mode, or have they decided to fix it on the fly? While the letting-go of former manager Ozzie Guillen suggests a completely new direction for 2012, GM Kenny Williams extended the services of club ace John Danks, who may have been an otherwise valuable trading asset. And with the head-scratching dispatches of both Carlos Quentin and Sergio Santos for nothing of apparent or immediate value, fans in Chicago are getting mixed messages from the White Sox's front office.
Key Additions: None
Key Losses: Carlos Quentin, Mark Buerhle, Juan Pierre (unsigned), Sergio Santos, Ramon Castro (unsigned), Jason Frasor
2012 Outlook: Moving left-handed hurler Chris Sale out of the bullpen rounds out a pretty darn solid starting five for the White Sox, who probably won't contend for the AL Central title in 2012—though, they should keep most of their games interesting.
20. Los Angeles Dodgers
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Biggest Storyline Heading into 2012: Ownership rumors continue to swirl as the L.A. Dodgers head into the new year—though, a deal will be in place by April. While the Dodgers were able to lock up superstar Matt Kemp to a long-term deal early in the offseason, they have done relatively little to note since, signing mid-level starters and role players to fill their roster gaps. Depending on the success of their 2012 season, Andre Ethier may become a valuable trading chip at the deadline.
Key Additions: Aaron Harang, Chris Capuano, Jerry Hairston Jr., Adam Kennedy, Mark Ellis, Matt Treanor, Josh Bard
Key Losses: Hiroki Kuroda (unsigned), Jonathan Broxton, Jamey Carroll, Casey Blake, Hong-Chih Kuo (unsigned), Rod Barajas, Vicente Padilla (unsigned), John Garland (unsigned), Aaron Miles (unsigned)
2012 Outlook: While GM Ned Colletti has done an admirable job of trying to keep the club competitive in 2012, he also had major budget constraints working against him. Although the Dodgers feature arguably the best starting outfield in the majors, their lack of power, starting pitching depth and tested bullpen arms suggest 2012 may be a rough season.
19. Pittsburgh Pirates
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Biggest Storyline Heading into 2012: The Pittsburgh Pirates are hoping this is the season Pedro Alvarez will finally break out to become the player they thought he'd be when they drafted him No. 2 overall in 2008. Luckily, they have a backup plan in the form of Casey McGehee, just in case Alvarez scuffles out the gate like he did last year.
Key Additions: Casey McGehee, Rod Barajas, Clint Barmes, Erik Bedard, Nate McLouth
Key Losses: Derrek Lee (unsigned), Ryan Ludwick (unsigned), Ryan Doumit, Paul Maholm, Ronny Cedeno, Chris Snyder (unsigned)
2012 Outlook: Coming off a year in which the Pirates nearly ended their 18-season losing streak (alas, it was not to be), manager Clint Hurdle and company will look to rebound in 2012 with a mixture of veteran leadership (Andrew McCutchen and Rod Barajas) and young talent to finally get the dreaded 18-year-old monkey off their backs. Consistent starting pitching may be the key.
18. Cleveland Indians
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Biggest Storyline Heading into 2012: Who is going to play first base for the Cleveland Indians in 2012? As of Wednesday night, the Cleveland Indians' depth chart showed catcher Carlos Santana slotted to be their starting first baseman. However, the Indians have also been rumored to have interest in free agent Carlos Pena and Angels first baseman Mark Trumbo.
Key Additions: Derek Lowe, Jose Lopez, Felix Pie, Andy LaRoche
Key Losses: Jim Thome, Kosuke Fukudome (unsigned), Chad Durbin (unsigned)
2012 Outlook: The Indians sprung out of nowhere last season and got off to a great start in April and May before finally fizzling out near the end of the season. There are still a lot of questions about the dependability of Grady Sizemore and the reliability of their starting five. Although many people consider Ubaldo Jimenez to be a legitimate No. 1 starter, his 2010 campaign remains the only ace-like season he has put together in his short six-year career.
17. Kansas City Royals
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Biggest Storyline Heading into 2012: Will the strength of the Kansas City Royals' bullpen be enough to make up for the shortcomings of their starting rotation? Although the Royals made an effort this offseason to add some depth to their starting rotation (and even more depth to their already intimidating bullpen), Jonathan Sanchez is anything but a proven commodity after a subpar 2011 where he battled injuries and some severe issues with his pitch control.
Key Additions: Jonathan Broxton, Jonathan Sanchez, Yuniesky Betancourt, Jose Mijares
Key Losses: Melky Cabrera, Jeff Francis (unsigned)
2012 Outlook: Wait for 2013. And do nothing (NOTHING!) to jeopardize the youth of this team.
16. Milwaukee Brewers
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Biggest Storyline Heading into 2012: How can you replace the giant-sized hole Prince Fielder left when he skipped town? The answer is: you can't. And the Milwaukee Brewers are learning that painfully—first-hand. Instead of "FIELDER" scratched in the middle of the order at first base, they've got Mat Gamel, a 26-year-old with five career home runs.
Key Additions: Aramis Ramirez, Cesar Izturis, Alex Gonzalez
Key Losses: Prince Fielder (unsigned), Casey McGehee, LaTroy Hawkins, Craig Counsell (unsigned), Yuniesky Betancourt, Jerry Hairston Jr, Takashi Saito
2012 Outlook: Although there is much to be said about the job Milwaukee Brewers GM Doug Melvin has done in light of losing one of the most feared power hitters in the league, the fact of the matter is: Fielder is gone, and Ryan Braun will miss the first 50 games of the season. Even with their strong pitching rotation, the Brewers will have a tough row to hoe if they want to make it back to the NLCS in 2012.
15. Cincinnati Reds
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Biggest Storyline Heading into 2012: The trade for Mat Latos was probably the most scrutinized move in MLB during the offseason. Regardless, bringing in Mat Latos and newly acquired Ryan Madson, the Reds' pitching staff is in a much better place than it was in 2011.
Key Additions: Mat Latos, Ryan Madson, Sean Marshall
Key Losses: Edison Volquez, Edgar Renteria (unsigned), Ramon Hernandez, Travis Wood, Francisco Cordero (unsigned), Yonder Alonso, Dontrelle Willis
2012 Outlook: It appears the future is now for the Cincinnati Reds, as they have seemingly mortgaged their future in order to make a push for a World Series in the next few seasons. With their top young talent (Wood, Alonso, Grandal) all shown the door via trade this offseason, the Reds have built a formidable one-two punch at the front end of their rotation. But can the back end of the rotation hold its own?
14. Toronto Blue Jays
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Biggest Storyline Heading into 2012: The Toronto Blue Jays didn't make much noise on the hot stove this winter, but that doesn't mean they have nothing to look forward to in 2012. Sophomore third baseman Brett Lawrie is looking to capitalize on a bright rookie campaign, providing some needed gusto to help the Jays catch the Red Sox...the Yankees...the Rays.
Key Additions: Sergio Santos, Ben Francisco, Darren Oliver, Jason Frasor, Jeff Mathis
Key Losses: Frank Francisco, Jon Rauch, Jose Molina
2012 Outlook: The Blue Jays' biggest problem is they play in the toughest division in baseball. While their team isn't shabby—by any stretch of the imagination—they have more than a little room to make up. And with the absence of any team-changing acquisitions, they may be destined to watch the top dogs in the AL East battle it out again while they sit on the sideline.
13. Washington Nationals
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Biggest Storyline Heading into 2012: With the Washington Nationals seemingly out of the race for Prince Fielder, the eyes in our nation's capital will turn to young rookie prospect Bryce Harper to make some noise in 2012. While there is talk that he could start on the major league squad for Opening Day, it may behoove him in the long run to get some more time at the Triple-A level. Regardless, Nats fans want to see him play—and now!
Key Additions: Gio Gonzalez, Mark DeRosa, Mike Cameron
Key Losses: Ivan Rodriguez (unsigned), Laynce Nix, Jonny Gomes (unsigned), Alex Cora (unsigned), Rick Ankiel (unsigned), Livan Hernandez (unsigned)
2012 Outlook: Had the Nationals been able to lock up Prince Fielder, they could have made a push for the NL Wild Card or NL East crown. Without him, they will most likely finish third or fourth in their division. But in the next few years, with their solid pitching staff and young phenoms, Bryce Harper and Stephen Strasburg, we may see the beginning of a long dynasty.
12. Miami Marlins
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Biggest Storyline Heading into 2012: The Miami Marlins are looking to burst on the scene with a new look, new team, new stadium and a new swagger. While nobody is really sure what to expect from Ozzie Guillen's concoction of star players and headcases (Ozzie being one himself), all I know is they should be entertaining to watch.
Key Additions: Jose Reyes, Heath Bell, Mark Buerhle, Aaron Rowand, Carlos Zambrano, Wade LeBlanc
Key Losses: Javier Vazquez (unsigned), Jose Lopez, John Baker, Chris Volstad
2012 Outlook: It'd be foolish for one to claim they won't compete with the face lift the team has undergone over the offseason, but with so many unanswered questions, like—where will Hanley Ramirez fit? Does Zambrano have anything left?—it's difficult to say their offseason experiment will be a success. If nothing else, at least they've generated some buzz around their past under-the-radar existence.
11. St. Louis Cardinals
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Biggest Storyline Heading into 2012: There is no replacing a living legend like Albert Pujols, but the St. Louis Cardinals' signing of free agent Carlos Beltran was about as good as it was going to get. But perhaps the move that will push them closer to a repeat visit to the World Series will be the highly anticipated return of Adam Wainwright, who is coming off Tommy John surgery in 2011.
Key Additions: Carlos Beltran, JC Romero
Key Losses: Albert Pujols, Edwin Jackson (unsigned), Corey Patterson (unsigned), Octavio Dotel, Arthur Rhodes (unsigned), Gerald Laird, Nick Punto
2012 Outlook: While the Cards maintained many of the key pieces from their World Series run a year ago, they are coming into 2012 with one MVP, one starting pitcher and two solid bullpen arms short of what they had last year. Even had they been able to re-sign those players, it would be difficult to assume aged sluggers Carlos Beltran and Lance Berkman will put up numbers similar to last year's.
10. San Francisco Giants
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Biggest Storyline Heading into 2012: After struggling to score runs in 2011, the San Francisco Giants look forward to the return of young star catcher Buster Posey, who is coming off a season ended by a grisly knee injury. With the additions of Angel Pagan and Melky Cabrera and the anticipated emergence of young stars Brandon Belt and Brett Pill, the Giants are hoping their 2011 offensive woes are a thing of the past.
Key Additions: Angel Pagan, Melky Cabrera
Key Losses: Andres Torres, Jonathan Sanchez, Carlos Beltran, Pat Burrell (unsigned), Mark DeRosa, Cody Ross (unsigned), Orlando Cabrera (unsigned), Guillermo Mota (unsigned), Ramon Ramirez, Jeff Keppinger (unsigned)
2012 Outlook: Playing in a relatively weak division will certainly help the chances of the Giants to capture another World Series crown after missing the playoffs last year. And with their stellar starting and relief pitching, the only missing piece may be the offense, which should show marked improvement over last year.
9. Atlanta Braves
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Biggest Storyline Heading into 2012: The Atlanta Braves have a little bit of logjam in their starting rotation, but that's a good problem to have. If Jair Jurrjens is moved before the start of the season, the Braves can slide prospects Randall Delgado or Julio Teheran into the vacated spot—and probably not even skip a beat.
Key Additions: None
Key Losses: Derek Lowe, Alex Gonzalez, Nate McLouth, George Sherrill, Jack Wilson (unsigned)
2012 Outlook: With young pitching talent coming out their ears, and their same lineup from 2011 (minus shortstop Alex Gonzalez), the Braves have the potential to take the NL East for theirs this year. However, they'll need more production from Jason Heyward after a disappointing sophomore season last year.
8. New York Yankees
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Biggest Storyline Heading into 2012: There have been a number of articles bemoaning the fact that the New York Yankees had one of the quietest offseasons in recent memory, and the one big fish the Yanks were eyeing—Hiroyuki Nakajima—got away.
Key Additions: None
Key Losses: Jorge Posada (retired), Damaso Marte (unsigned), Andruw Jones (unsigned), Bartolo Colon (unsigned), Eric Chavez (unsigned)
2012 Outlook: The New York Yankees are a strong, but not elite baseball team. With the success of their pitching staff hinging on whether or not Phil Hughes will rebound from an injury-riddled 2011, Freddy Garcia will pitch with the same effectiveness he did last year and that AJ Burnett will not be...well, AJ Burnett—there are a ton of question marks to go around. Oh yeah, and Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter are both a year older.
7. Arizona Diamondbacks
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Biggest Storyline Heading into 2012: The Arizona Diamondbacks are hoping Trevor Cahill's 2012 season will look more like the first half of his season last year (3.12 ERA, 1.29 WHIP) than his second half (5.80 ERA, 1.64 WHIP). They are also hoping his game translates well from an extreme pitcher's ballpark in Oakland-Alameda (and all that wonderful foul ground) to a ballpark that tends to favor hitters.
Key Additions: Trevor Cahill, Jason Kubel, Takashi Saito, Craig Breslow
Key Losses: Joe Saunders (unsigned), Jason Marquis, Xavier Nady (unsigned), Colin Cowgill, Zach Duke (unsigned)
2012 Outlook: Over the course of just a few years, the look of the Diamondbacks' bullpen has improved dramatically thanks to the additions of Saito, Breslow and Ziegler. Now, if they could just find a fifth starter and if Paul Goldschmidt has the type of season many baseball pundits are expecting him to have, the D-Backs may very well become favorites to represent the NL in the World Series before this year is over. They are, potentially, that stacked.
6. Detroit Tigers
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Biggest Storyline Heading into 2012: Justin Verlander had one of the most incredible seasons a starting pitcher has enjoyed in the last couple decades last season. While assuming he'll exercise the same sort of dominance in 2012 is likely a stretch, there is little doubt he remains the best pitcher in baseball today.
Key Additions: Octavio Dotel, Gerald Laird
Key Losses: Magglio Ordonez (unsigned), Brad Penny (unsigned), Joel Zumaya (unsigned), Wilson Betemit (unsigned), Carlos Guillen (unsigned)
2012 Outlook: With most of their 2011 roster intact and playing in a weak division, the Detroit Tigers are poised to once again make a return to the playoffs in 2012—though, they will likely face some stiffer competition once they get there with both the Texas Rangers and Los Angeles Angels improving so dramatically over the offseason.
5. Boston Red Sox
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Biggest Storyline Heading into 2012: The trade for Andrew Bailey in late December came as a huge relief for Red Sox Nation, as it freed up otherwise probable (and yet unproven) closer Daniel Bard to make a move to the starting rotation. While Bailey has struggled with injury issues over the past two seasons, the bigger question is how Bard will fare in his new role.
Key Additions: Andrew Bailey, Ryan Sweeney, Kelly Shoppach, Nick Punto, Carlos Silva, Mark Melancon
Key Losses: Tim Wakefield (unsigned), Jonathan Papelbon, Jason Varitek (unsigned), JD Drew (unsigned), Jed Lowrie, Erik Bedard, Conor Jackson (unsigned), Josh Reddick, Dan Wheeler (unsigned)
2012 Outlook: The Boston Red Sox's starting lineup remains almost unchanged from 2011 despite a slew of old-time faces being gone in 2012. And that's a good thing, because before their late-season collapse last year, they looked like a team that could compete for a World Series title. This year, with Daniel Bard moving out of the bullpen for a possible slot as fifth starter, the BoSox may be able to rely less and less on troubled starter John Lackey, and Red Sox fans know that's a good thing.
4. Tampa Bay Rays
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Biggest Storyline Heading into 2012: Matt Moore may be the most hyped pitching prospect since, well, Stephen Strasburg—which doesn't really suggest much since it's only been two years since Strasburg made his major league debut. Still, Moore's debut with the Tampa Bay Rays is highly anticipated for good reason. If Moore can duplicate any of his outstanding stats that he put up in the minors, he's sure to get Rookie of the Year honors. That's where I'd put my money, anyway.
Key Additions: Luke Scott, Fernando Rodney, Jose Molina
Key Losses: Johnny Damon (unsigned), Casey Kotchman (unsigned), Kelly Shoppach, John Jaso
2012 Outlook: Over the past five years, the Rays have had the best front office in baseball—and the best coach. With Wednesday's signing of Luke Scott, it proves once again why the Rays can win without a huge payroll. They make smart, low-budget deals, and 2012 may finally bring their first World Series win. They have an incredibly deep pitching staff and roster.
3. Philadelphia Phillies
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Biggest Storyline Heading into 2012: It's 2012, and the Philadelphia Phillies are once again stacked with talent. But with their biggest bat, Ryan Howard, coming off a winter in which he underwent surgery, there is some concern in Philly. He is expected to need six more weeks until he can engage in baseball activities, which should be plenty of time for him to get ready before the season begins.
Key Additions: Jonathan Papelbon, Jim Thome, Ty Wigginton, Scott Podsednik, Laynce Nix, Dontrelle Willis
Key Losses: Roy Oswalt (unsigned), Raul Ibanez (unsigned), Ryan Madson, Brad Lidge (unsigned), Ben Francisco, Russ Gload (unsigned)
2012 Outlook: It's 2012, and the Philadelphia Phillies are once again stacked with talent. Although they lost Roy Oswalt, their starting rotation is still extremely deep, as they hope Vance Worley can offer a repeat performance of his outstanding rookie season. And with a healthy Chase Utley and a (hopefully) healthy Ryan Howard, the offense should be firing on all cylinders again.
2. Texas Rangers
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Biggest Storyline Heading into 2012: Yes, the Texas Rangers lost their staff ace in CJ Wilson to the divisional rival Los Angeles Angels this offseason, but all could be offset if the Rangers can find the right price to sign Yu Darvish. Darvish is the most recently mega-hyped product to come out of Japan, but he looks to be the real deal.
Key Additions: Joe Nathan, negotiating rights to Yu Darvish
Key Losses: CJ Wilson, Brandon Webb (unsigned), Endy Chavez, Darren Oliver
2012 Outlook: With or without Yu Darvish, the Rangers will be a force to be reckoned with in 2012. They have a well-balanced starting rotation, a stingy bullpen and probably the most well-rounded lineup from top to bottom in baseball.
1. Los Angeles Angels
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Biggest Storyline Heading into 2012: The additions of Albert Pujols and CJ Wilson certainly garner all the front page publicity, but perhaps a more intriguing story going into the season is how Kendrys Morales will perform after returning from a freak ankle injury that sidelined him for more than a year-and-a-half. At the time, Morales was developing into one of the best young power hitters in the game, but after a-year-and-half, what can the Angels expect from him?
Key Additions: Albert Pujols, CJ Wilson, LaTroy Hawkins, Chris Iannetta, Ryan Langerhans, Brad Mills
Key Losses: Joel Pineiro (unsigned), Russell Branyan (unsigned), Fernando Rodney, Tyler Chatwood, Jeff Mathis
2012 Outlook: The Angels improved two of their three weakest defensive positions over the offseason by signing Albert Pujols and Chris Iannetta to replace Mark Trumbo and Jeff Mathis. And they improved their already spectacular starting pitching by adding CJ Wilson from divisional rival Texas Rangers. Now, with arguably the best rotation in baseball and the best individual player, how can the Halos not be eyeballing their second-ever World Series championship?