MLB Spring Training 2012 Schedule: Teams That Need Strong Spring Showing

Steven MarinoContributor IIIMarch 21, 2012

The Major League Baseball spring training is in full swing with teams playing in Arizona and Florida.

The Cactus League and the Grapefruit League have provided fans with a taste of what's to come in the 2012 season.

Many franchise players are wearing new uniforms this season and some young phenoms are making their debut.

Last season ended with one of the best World Series in recent years between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Texas Rangers, with the Cardinals taking home the hardware.

Many teams had disappointing endings to their 2011 season.  With spring training underway and the regular season about two weeks away, many teams need a strong showing during their preseason play.

JUPITER, FL - MARCH 18: Adam Wainwright #50 of the St. Louis Cardinals pitches during a game against the Miami Marlins at Roger Dean Stadium on March 18, 2012 in Jupiter, Florida.  (Photo by Sarah Glenn/Getty Images)
Sarah Glenn/Getty Images

Boston Red Sox

The Boston Red Sox had possibly the most disappointing season in MLB history.  

Entering September of last year, the Red Sox held a one and a half game lead over their division rival New York Yankees, and a nine game lead over the Tampa Bay Rays.

After that, history was written because the Red Sox went an abysmal 7-20 in the month of September, causing the team to lose hold of the AL East lead, as well as losing control of the AL wildcard spot to the Rays, forcing the Red Sox to miss the playoffs.

Soon after, the Red Sox lost their GM Theo Epstein, who left for an attempt to rebuild the Chicago Cubs, as well as their manager Terry Francona.

The Red Sox signed former New York Mets manager Bobby Valentine to lead the Red Sox in the 2012 season.

Playing the AL East is always tough to compete in.  

The Red Sox need to have a strong season in order to redeem themselves from last year's unexpected outcome.

TAMPA, FL - MARCH 17:  Pitcher Hiroki Kuroda #18 of the New York Yankees pitches against the Houston Astros during a Grapefruit League Spring Training Game at George M. Steinbrenner Field on March 17, 2012 in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Imag
J. Meric/Getty Images

St. Louis Cardinals

The World Series champions made the most noise this offseason when their superstar first basemen signed with the Los Angeles Angels.  

The Cardinals lost Albert Pujols and begin to defend their crown trying to prove that they are still a championship caliber team.  The Cardinals are also without hall of fame manager Tony La Russa, who retired soon after his World Series victory.

While Pujols and La Russa were with the Cardinals, they helped bring two World Series trophies to the city of St. Louis.  Now it is the Cardinals turn to prove to the baseball world that they are still a top-notch team without their All-Star first baseman.

It should be interesting to see who steps up and fills the void that Pujols left behind.

New York Yankees

The New York Yankees won the AL East last season, but had an early exit in the playoffs when they lost their opening round against the Detroit Tigers.

During the offseason, the Yankees loaded up on pitchers, trading for Michael Pineda and signing Hiroki Kuroda.  They also traded away A.J. Burnett to the Pittsburgh Pirates.

With depth in the starting rotation, something they didn't really have last season, it should be exciting to see how the Yankees pitching pans out during the season.

However, for a starting lineup that doesn't contain anyone younger than 28 years old, the Yankees didn't make any significant upgrades to the offensive side of their game.

Captain Derek Jeter is 37 years old and Alex Rodriguez, who is coming off successful knee surgery, is 36.  The Yankees didn't get any younger when it comes to their bats and with the pitching rotations that the Red Sox and Rays contain, the Yankees need a potent offense to survive in the AL East.

With management focusing on pitching this offseason, it should be fun to watch how this pans out for the baseball powerhouse.