Spring Training 2013: Each MLB Teams' Goals Before Opening Day
Spring training kicks off in little over a week, and Arizona and Florida will be buzzing with baseball before we know it. MLB teams are beginning to prep their rosters to showcase young talent and have veterans compete for Opening Day roster spots.
From Seattle to Miami, each organization has a unique set of goals for their teams this spring.
Here are each MLB teams’ goals for spring training.
Arizona Diamondbacks: Determine Starting Rotation
The Arizona Diamondbacks have quietly assembled an arsenal of arms for the 2013 season.
“The rotation will have one new face, right-hander Brandon McCarthy, while such young pitchers as Tyler Skaggs, Patrick Corbin and Randall Delgado will battle to join returnees Ian Kennedy, Wade Miley and Trevor Cahill,” reported MLB.com.
The acquisition of McCarthy this offseason will bolster an already formidable rotation by adding a seasoned veteran to a young staff.
Skaggs, Corbin and Delgado all have legitimate shots at filling the final slot in the rotation.
Southpaws Skaggs and Corbin put together some impressive starts during their stints in Double-A and Triple-A last season, posting winning records and sub-3.00 ERAs.
Delgado, an Atlanta top pitching prospect acquired in the Justin Upton deal last month, put up mediocre stats for the Braves and Triple-A Gwinnett last season. He needs to have a standout spring training to have any chance at solidifying a spot as the Diamondbacks’ fifth starter.
Daniel Hudson—the veteran in the mix—is coming off Tommy John surgery and manager Kirk Gibson expects his return sometime in August.
Atlanta Braves: Showcase Pitching Prospects
The Atlanta Braves are destined for greatness in 2013 with one of the deepest rosters in Major League Baseball.
There’s little question on who will be starting for the Braves this season, so spring training will give Atlanta the opportunity to showcase the abundance of young, talented pitching prospects they have in their system.
Atlanta’s farm system has taken a serious dive over the last 12 months due to various trades and injuries. Specifically, it lacks hitting.
The Braves can strengthen their minor league offense by building the trade stock of prospects like Julio Teheran, J.R. Graham, Lucas Sims and southpaw Sean Gilmartin.
A few strong outings from some of these prospects could allow the Braves to balance their system through some mid-season trades.
Baltimore Orioles: Sign Kyle Lohse
While this is more of an upper management goal, it needs to be the primary focus of this Baltimore Orioles franchise.
The Orioles are coming off an unbelievable season where they went 93-69 and made the playoffs for the first time since 1997.
That magic will not carry over into 2013 unless they go out and sign a respectable pitcher like right-hander Kyle Lohse. Lohse is coming off the best season of his career, posting a 16-3 record with a 2.86 ERA and 143 strikeouts.
Lohse also proved to be one of the most durable starters in baseball, leading the majors with 33 games started.
The Orioles head into Spring Training with a rotation that includes a healthy Jason Hammel, Wei-Yin Chen, Chris Tillman, Miguel Gonzalez and newly acquired Jair Jurrgens. That alone won’t be enough to compete in a division with the Yankees, Rays and the new powerhouse Blue Jays.
Along with Hammel, the Orioles need another proven veteran to add to this very young rotation to balance it out.
Lohse, the top available free agent, would make a nice addition and give the birds a chance to compete with the rest of the division.
Boston Red Sox: Stay Healthy/Determine Starting Shortstop
The Boston Red Sox are coming off one of the most disappointing seasons in recent memory. Much of their troubles had a lot to do with injuries to the starting rotation.
For spring training, the Red Sox need to limit the innings of starters John Lester, John Lackey and Ryan Dempster to preserve their arms for the regular season.
Jacoby Ellsbury, who had a few stints on the DL last season, should also utilize spring ball to rest and give guys like Daniel Nava, Ryan Kalish and top prospect Xander Bogaerts the opportunity to earn the starting left field job.
The battle for the starting job at shortstop for the Sox should also be highly competitive over spring training.
Back in December, the Red Sox signed 29-year-old Stephen Drew to a one-year, $9.5 million deal expecting him to be the everyday starting shortstop.
Fortunately for the Red Sox, they have a highly coveted shortstop prospect in Jose Iglesias who’s looking to win the starting job.
While the $9.5 million they offered Drew gives him the keys to the ignition at short, a strong spring training performance from Iglesias could propel him past Drew on the depth chart.
Chicago Cubs: Elect a Team Captain
The Chicago Cubs ended 2012 with 101 losses, a number that really doesn’t surprise most baseball fans.
This season, the Cubs roster is talented enough to make a statement in the NL Central. With additions like Edwin Jackson, Scott Baker and Scott Feldman to the rotation, the Cubs could be a quiet but dangerous team in 2013.
What do they need to get it done? Leadership.
The Cubs will begin the season with an infield whose average age is 25, a young, promising catcher and veteran outfield.
It’s time for one of those veterans to step up and be the catalyst to this team’s success.
Options for captain could be center fielder David DeJesus, who’s been a consistent leader in the runs column over his career, or their 22-year-old shortstop, who’s made quite a statement since coming into the league as a 20-year-old in 2010.
Whoever it is, the Cubs need a motivational spark if they have any chance at a .500 record this season.
Chicago White Sox: Develop a Consistent Bullpen
If it wasn’t for a 17-loss September slump, the Chicago White Sox would have had a chance at some October baseball.
Unfortunately for Sox fans, that just wasn’t the case.
Chicago’s struggles down the stretch could be blamed on the bullpen’s inability to preserve leads late in games. In September, the Sox combined for a 4.38 ERA.
Closer Addison Reed posted an 8.00 ERA in September and got hit hard by sub-.500 teams like Kansas City and Minnesota.
On paper, this is a team has enough offensive talent to surprise some people in 2013, but for that to happen, the bullpen needs to support the offense.
Manager Robin Ventura should give prospects like Erick Johnson and Scott Snodgress a reasonable amount of innings this spring to try and earn a spot in the bullpen.
Free agent Jose Valverde could also be an option for management to bolster the pen.
Cincinnati Reds: Develop Aroldis Chapman into a Starter
Cincinnati Reds starting pitchers posted the fifth-best ERA in baseball last season at 3.64 with a rotation of all right-handed pitchers.
Their flame-throwing closer Aroldis Chapman will attempt to transition to the starting rotation this spring, reported ESPN.
This initially perplexing and controversial move could actually pay dividends for the Reds next season and long term. If the transition is successful, Chapman will provide the Reds with a better option than Mike Leake and give them a formidable left-handed arm in the rotation.
Manager Dusty Baker should limit Chapman to three or four innings a start during spring training, than increase his innings once the regular season starts.
Cleveland Indians: Determine Starting Rotation/Hold Open Competition for Third Base
The Cleveland Indians will undoubtedly increase their win total from the 68 they had in 2012.
Cleveland has had a busy offseason, making key acquisitions like Drew Stuffs, Brett Myers, Nick Swisher, Mark Reynolds and Trevor Bauer.
The Achilles heel of this squad can be found at the bottom of the rotation, as well as third base. The 24-year-old Lonnie Chisenhall has yet to prove deserving of the starting third base job, and his defense has been questionable over the last two seasons.
Manager Terry Francona should hold an open competition for third base in spring training between Chisenhall, Mike Aviles and prospect Francisco Lindor. Lindor is a few years away from being a successful major leaguer, but a strong spring training performance could convince Francona to open up a roster spot for the 19-year-old Puerto Rican shortstop.
The competition would guarantee that nothing is guaranteed, thus motivating guys like Chisenhall and Aviles to perform at the highest level.
Another element that needs to be addressed this spring is the four and five slots in the Indians’ rotation. Cleveland will have five guys competing for those two spots: Zac McAllister, Carlos Carrasco, Bauer, Corey Kluber and newly acquired Daisuke Matsuzaka, who the Indians signed to a minor league contract.
Top pitching prospect Bauer is the clear favorite to win a slot in the rotation, and, if he can remain healthy, Matsuzaka also has a legitimate chance at securing a spot.
Colorado Rockies: Adhere to Jim Wright’s Philosophy
With Troy Tulowitzki coming back from injury and Todd Helton brushing off the retirement rumors, the Colorado Rockies have a playoff worthy lineup capable of competing with baseball’s best.
However, we know the Rockies 98 loss season was not a product of the offense, rather the MLB-worst 5.22 team ERA and abysmal fielding.
Having done virtually nothing to address the perennial starting pitching problem in Colorado, the Rockies have a lot of work to do this spring under pitching coach Jim Wright.
Wright was the bullpen coach for the Rockies from 2008-2011. His relievers combined for a sub-4.00 ERA in 2010 and 2011, ranking around the middle of the table in ERA amongst bullpens. Wright is now responsible for fixing this broken Rockies rotation in 2013.
The battle for a spot in the bottom half of the Rockies rotation will likely be a free-for-all between Juan Nicasio, Drew Pomeranz, Tyler Chatwood and Christian Friedrich. If Wright can boost the confidence of just two of these young arms, the Rockies could be a force coming out of the West this season.
Detroit Tigers: Stay Positive, Stay Healthy
The Detroit Tigers return in 2013 with a lineup fully capable of making another World Series run.
Their spring training needs to be centered on staying healthy, forgetting about the 2013 World Series and improving upon last year.
With a lineup that relatively mirrors that of last year’s, the Tigers should have no problem taking out the rest of the AL Central. The chemistry is already there and additions like Torii Hunter and rookie closer Bruce Rondon will only improve the team’s resolve.
Catcher Victor Martinez spent all of 2012 on the DL, and now that catcher Alex Avila has settled into the everyday catchers role, Martinez will fill the void the Tigers had at DH last season.
All this team needs to worry about this spring is staying healthy and developing Rondon into a closer.
Houston Astros: Compete.
The closest the Houston Astros will come to winning this season will be in spring training.
Spring ball gives the Astros a chance to not only showcase most, if not all, of their upper tier prospects, but win against teams that are doing the same.
The Astros have the No. 10 ranked farm system in baseball according to Jim Callis of Baseball America. With guys like Carlos Correa, George Springer and the much anticipated major league arrival of Jonathan Singleton, the ‘stros should put up a good fight in spring training.
Other than winning, the Astros need to stay the course and concentrate on rebuilding their franchise. So far, they’re doing everything right in terms of returning to winning baseball in the next four to five years.
Kansas City Royals: Determine Fifth Starter
There’s little doubt that James Shields, Jeremy Guthrie, Ervin Santana and Wade Davis will take up the first four slots in the Kansas City Royals rotation in 2013.
Starters Bruce Chen and first overall draft pick in 2006, Luke Hochevar, have been staples in the Royals rotation for quite some time now. Young southpaw Will Smith, who started 16 games in 2012, has the opportunity to seize the fifth spot in the rotation with a solid performance in spring training.
Hochevar has failed to post lower than a 4.60 ERA in each of his five full major league seasons, and Bruce Chen went 11-17 with a 5.07 ERA last season. Their other option, Luis Mendoza, is 14-19 with a 5.40 ERA on his career.
Unless Smith pitches terribly out of the gate, it would be in the Royals' best interest to let the 23-year-old Smith take the final spot in the rotation.
Los Angeles Angels: Give Peter Bourjos Significant Playing Time/Get Ryan Madson Healthy
No pitcher is going to want to face this Los Angeles Angels lineup next season or even in spring training.
Taking the rotation, bullpen and lineup into consideration, this is by far the deepest and most well-built rosters in all of baseball.
The Angels’ bullpen, which ranked 22nd in ERA last season, will inevitably improve with the additions of Sean Burnett and Ryan Madson. Madson, who’s been battling elbow soreness, is a pivotal part of this bullpen and the Angels need to him be healthy come April.
The bullpen cost the Angels a playoff berth last season after they struggled in September, lacking a consistent closer for most of the season.
Madson is the consistent closer the Angels need, and manager Mike Scioscia needs to ease Madson back into the role by limiting his outings in spring ball.
After not signing Hunter, the Angels will be looking to either Vernon Wells or Peter Bourjos assume the role of the everyday left fielder. Both outfielders struggled last season, hitting under .230.
Scioscia should give both Wells and Bourjos significant playing time in spring training and have them battle it out for the starting role.
In the end, expect the 25-year-old Bourjos to outplay the veteran Wells and earn the starting job.
Los Angeles Dodgers: Determine Starting Rotation and Closer
Few teams have made as much noise in the last year than the Los Angeles Dodgers in terms of moves.
With the addition of Korean left-hander Ryu Hyun-jin, the Dodgers have eight pitchers with resumes good enough to deserve a slot in the rotation.
The pitchers with the most to prove this spring will be Josh Beckett, who posted a 7-14 record with a 4.65 ERA in 2012, and Ted Lilly, who pitched well but failed to stay healthy over the course of the season. Beckett’s numbers were by far the poorest amongst Dodgers’ starters, putting him well behind the eight ball. The 37-year-old Lilly is the oldest pitcher in the rotation and most prone to injury, making his chances of earning a spot in the rotation slim.
Aside from Lilly and Beckett, the Dodgers will also have Chad Billingsley, Chris Capuano and Aaron Harang competing for the four and five slots in the rotation.
Frankly, the Dodgers have the luxury of having too many good pitchers to fill five slots. Management should look into dealing Capuano or Harang before Opening Day.
The other pitching predicament for manager Don Mattingly is the bullpen. After signing Brandon League to an astronomical three year/$22.5 million deal, he’s the sure favorite for the closing job. That being said, guys like Kenley Jansen, Javy Guerra and Ronald Belisario have a chance at winning the job with superior Spring Training performances.
Mattingly should give these guys a decent amount of innings in spring training and select the best man based on the numbers, not the contract.
Miami Marlins: Build and Rapport
Miami Marlins fans are likely still fuming about the mass salary dump that occurred in the offseason.
This is an entirely new, young and promising Marlins team heading into spring training, but it’s going to be a few years until they return to winning baseball.
For spring training, the Marlins need to focus on building chemistry, something this team lacked a great deal in 2012. First-year manager Mike Redmond has been gifted with a surplus of young talent to develop this spring, beginning with shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria.
Redmond’s primary goal this spring should be to have these young guys playing as one, regardless if they’re winning or losing. A strong rapport is important for moving this franchise forward.
Milwaukee Brewers: Stay Focused, Ignore Braun PED Allegations
The Milwaukee Brewers had the third-ranked offense in Major League Baseball last season, but also had a bullpen that ranked dead last in ERA.
This offseason, the Brewers have concentrated all of their moves on strengthening the pen, acquiring Tampa Bay’s Burke Badenhop and Washington’s Mike Gonzelez and Tom Gorzelanny. With those moves, the Brewers added three veterans who posted sub-4.00 ERAs in 2012.
A decent rotation and a rejuvenated bullpen means the Brewers’ season will likely come down to the offense. Guys like Ryan Braun, Aramis Ramirez and Corey Hart need to produce if the Brewers are to have any chance of competing for a playoff spot out of the NL Central.
For that to happen, Braun and the rest of the lineup need to ignore the Biogenesis PED allegations brought on by the Miami New Times and concentrate on baseball.
Braun, who batted .319 with a career high 41 home runs last season, will be the catalyst behind this offense. If he struggles, the rest of the offense struggles, taking the pitching down with it.
The Brewers should focus on improving last year’s numbers and ignoring any outside distractions this spring.
Minnesota Twins: Determine Lineup/Keep Justin Morneau Healthy
If the Los Angeles Angels have the deepest roster in Major League Baseball, the Twins are certainly in the running for the shallowest.
While the rotation seems to be set with a few offseason moves, the lineup is a mess. Outside of Josh Willingham, Justin Morneau and Joe Mauer, the rest of the lineup is a crapshoot.
Minnesota native and University of Minnesota alum, Glen Perkins, will assume the closer role after Matt Capps’ exit this offseason, but the rest of the bullpen is still a question.
The bullpen is weak, yes, but pitching is the least of the Twins' problems at this point. With guys like Jamey Carroll, Chris Parmelee and Darin Mastroianni being forced into starting roles, Mauer, Morneau and Willingham aren’t going to get the offensive support they need to win games, which is why keeping the injury prone Morneau healthy through spring training.
That means limiting his innings and maximizing his conditioning. Morneau is coming off his first 500 at-bat season since 2009.
New York Mets: Successfully Ease Bobby Parnell into Closers’ Role
The New York Mets had the second-worst bullpen ERA in baseball and recorded just 36 saves in 2012.
Closer Frank Francisco struggled out of the gate and missed some significant time due to injury. Francisco ended the season with a 5.53 ERA and 23 saves.
It’s time for the Mets to overhaul the closers position and promote Bobby Parnell. Parnell gave the Mets some quality innings last season, posting a 2.49 ERA and 61 strikeouts in 68.2 innings.
Parnell was manager Terry Collins’ go-to man to preserve leads late in games. Collins needs to recognize Parnell’s success and promote him to the closer.
Francisco continues to battle elbow problems this offseason and, if he’s not ready for Spring Training, Parnell will be Collins’ ninth inning man.
Like Chapman of the Reds, Parnell’s fastball is his most dominate pitch, averaging about 96 mph in 2012.
Collins and pitching coach Dan Warthen should work with Parnell this spring to develop a changeup to add to his fastball and knee-buckling slider.
New York Yankees: Give Prospects a Chance to Make the Rotation
Traditionally, the New York Yankees’ philosophy is to take the savvy veteran over the unproven rookie. This year is different.
No longer are the Yankees the dynamo and clear favorite of the AL East.
Last season, Phil Hughes remained the inconsistent pitcher he’s been over the last few seasons, posting a 7.88 ERA in April, leveling off midway through the season, and then ending with a 4.93 ERA in September.
After an excellent rookie season by Ivan Nova, he experienced the infamous sophomore slump in 2012, ending the season with a 12-8 record with a 5.02 ERA.
Rookie David Phelps had his moments, but failed to pitch well in September.
Manager Joe Girardi has a few prospects to showcase this spring, including Mark Montgomery, Ryan Pope and Tom Kahnle.
Manny Banuelos is personally my favorite prospect in this Yankees system, but offseason Tommy John Surgery will cause him to miss all of 2013.
Twenty-two-year-old Brett Marshall has the best chance to win a spot in the rotation with an impressive spring training performance. Marshall has showed consistency in the minors over his career, posting a 13-7 record with a 3.52 ERA in 2012 for Double-A Trenton.
If Hughes, Nova and Phelps carry their September struggles into spring training, Girardi will have to lobby the front office to make a move, or promote from within.
Oakland Athletics: Preserve the Chemistry
The Oakland Athletics had an incredible run in 2012, winning the AL West and taking the AL Champion Tigers to Game 5 in the ALDS.
On paper, this is a .500 team, but last season proved that chemistry may just be the most overlooked aspect of major league teams.
What the Athletics need to worry about this spring is maintaining the momentum, as well as the excitement this team seemed to have so much of in 2012.
With additions like Chris Young, Hiroyuki Nakajima and Jed Lowrie, they’re poised to be a threat in the AL West this season.
Philadelphia Phillies: Stay Healthy
The Philadelphia Phillies are the sixth-oldest team in baseball. The average age of this roster is 28 years old.
That being said, spring training will be all about staying healthy for players like Chase Utley and Ryan Howard, who struggled with injury in 2012.
The veteran filled infield of Utley, Howard, Jimmy Rollins and Michael Young could be an extremely threatening one if they can all play at least 150 games.
The Nationals and Braves are sure favorites for the one and two spots in the division, but the Phillies have a legitimate chance to compete for the final wild-card spot if they can stay healthy.
Manager Charlie Manuel should limit the starts of his infield, as well as the rotation, and give the younger guys most of the reps.
Pittsburgh Pirates: Jose Tabata
Jose Tabata was once a top prospect in the Yankees’ organization and eventually a steal for the Pittsburgh Pirates…or so they thought.
Tabata has a history of tearing up the minors, so why hasn’t that translated to the majors?
The 24-year-old outfielder batted just .243 with 3 home runs and 16 RBI in 2012, and was demoted to Triple-A midway through the season.
It wasn’t just numbers that made Tabata’s 2012 campaign a disappointment, it was his attitude.
“One thing you can bring every day is your attitude and your effort. I demand that, and I think we’ve had some disconnects with that,” manager Clint Hurdle told the Tribune-Review (h/t CBS Pittsburgh).
Tabata, who still has four years remaining on his contract, needs to improve his attitude this spring. If he can, he’ll make a nice addition to an outfield consisting of All-Star center fielder Andrew McCutchen and rising young star Starling Marte.
San Diego Padres: Determine Rotation
"There is a chance we can solve [the rotation] with our own guys," San Diego general manager Josh Byrnes said. "The thing about the offseason [is] … we haven't pursued guys just to add bodies. But if we feel there's an upgrade, someone with upside or a long-term guy, then OK (h/t Corey Brock of MLB.com)
Byrnes' quote is another way of saying, “we could have gotten a pitcher in free agency, but didn’t. So now we have to scrap together a rotation with what we have.”
Clayton Richard’s and Edinson Volquez’s jobs are secure after reasonable 2012 performances for Padres standards, but that still leaves three slots to fill.
This will likely be an open competition in spring training to fill those remaining spots in the rotation. Eric Stults, who started 15 games for the Padres last season, is the favorite to secure one of those spots after going 8-3 with a 2.91 ERA with 55 strikeouts.
Tyson Ross is another option at starter for manager Bud Black, but has a lot to prove in spring training after a horrible 2012 campaign.
Other possible starters could be Casey Kelly, Anthony Bass or veteran Jason Marquis.
San Francisco Giants: Work on Fielding
After taking home their second World Series in three years, there’s little the San Francisco Giants need to improve upon.
However, one glaring statistic I couldn’t help but notice was the 115 errors Giants fielders committed last season.
Brandon Crawford, while making some unbelievable plays last season, committed a team-high 18 errors in 2012. Pablo Sandoval was right behind him with 13.
Manager Bruce Bochy should dedicate a large portion of spring training to concentrate specifically on fielding.
Other than that, this team is built to compete this season.
Seattle Mariners: Hold Open Competition for Starting Shortstop/Jason Bay
The Seattle Mariners were 27th in baseball last season in runs. It was the first time since 2009 the Mariners didn’t sit in the basement of the league in offense.
This offseason, the Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik went out and signed local boy Jason Bay to a one-year deal and traded for Orioles middle infielder Robert Andino to potentially add a little more pop to this lineup.
Zduriencik also went out and traded for Kendrys Morales, instantly adding at least 20 home runs and 70 RBI to the offense.
Manager Eric Wedge and hitting coach Dave Hansen need to concentrate on returning Bay to his old self this spring. Bay, 34, struggled with the Mets for the last three seasons, succumbing to injuries and the pressure of playing in New York.
Now, Bay is in the most comfortable environment possible to get his timing back and return to the feared hitter he once was.
On top of working with Bay, another element that needs to be addressed this spring is the shortstop position.
Brendan Ryan batted just .194 with 3 homers and 31 RBI last season. While the numbers may seem dismal, but the veteran shortstop made up for it with the glove, posting the third-highest fielding percentage amongst MLB starting shortstops.
After acquiring Andino, it’s unclear who’s in line for the starting job, so Wedge should have these guys compete for the job, defensively and offensively, in spring training.
Andino, who’s an average fielder and batted .211 with seven home runs and 28 RBI, has a good chance of winning the job with a decent spring.
St. Louis Cardinals: Determine Second Baseman
Alongside the Braves and Nationals, the St. Louis Cardinals may be the most complete team top-to-bottom in the National League.
The only question for the Cardinals heading into spring training is second base. For the last few years, second base in St. Louis has been a carousel. This season, it’s time for a change, and the answer will be found in spring training.
Daniel Descalso spent most of his 2012 campaign at second base, but managed just a .227 average and 26 RBI. Matt Carpenter had a few starts at second base and hit .294 on the year.
While second base isn’t Carpenter’s primary position, continued production into spring training could, and should, land him the job.
The Cardinals also went out and signed middle infielder Ronny Cedeno, but simply for a utility role.
If the Cardinals can field a productive team like last years, they should have no problem making the playoffs in 2013.
Tampa Bay Rays: Integrate Chris Archer into the Rotation
Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Chris Archer sits as the 46th-ranked prospect in baseball, according to MLB.com.
With David Price probably on his way out of Tampa Bay by the trade deadline due to financial reasons, Archer needs to be the next young talent to step up in the rotation.
Archer will have to compete with Jeff Niemann and newly acquired Roberto Hernandez for the fifth spot in the rotation. Archer went 1-3 with a 4.60 ERA in 29.1 innings pitched in 2012.
The 24-year-old is major league ready, and should work with pitching coach Jim Hickey this spring to develop a fourth pitch on top of his mid-90's fastball, slider and changeup.
In the end, Archer likely will be integrated into the rotation.
Texas Rangers: Showcase Jurickson Profar/Keep Joe Nathan Healthy
Elvis Andrus and Ian Kinsler aren’t going anywhere after productive seasons for the Texas Rangers in 2012, however, neither is top prospect Jurickson Profar.
Profar had an excellent offensive and defensive season for Double-A Frisco, batting .281 with 14 home runs and 62 RBI. The 19-year-old Profar is certainly the future of this Rangers franchise.
Manager Ron Washington will give Profar a decent amount of reps at shortstop during Spring Training and showcase what he can do with the bat against major league arms.
Expect Profar to perform, but the chances of him making the Opening Day roster are slim. He’s still at least a year away from being an everyday shortstop.
Washington also needs to limit the innings of Joe Nathan, as well as Joakim Soria, who spent all of 2012 on the DL, to solidify a closer for this season.
With Alexi Ogando moving to the rotation, Nathan and Soria will be important pieces to this Rangers bullpen and the team as a whole moving forward.
Toronto Blue Jays: Build Team Chemistry
With names like Jose Reyes, Melky Cabrera, Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion, the 2013 Toronto Blue Jays roster has the capacity of scoring 900 runs this season.
But, as we saw from the 2012 Miami Marlins, nothing in baseball is ever set in stone.
The Blue Jays need to build a rapport this spring if they’re going to live up to hype and high expectations.
Left fielder Melky Cabrera, who was also in the list of names in the Biogenesis papers, also needs to stay focused in spring training and work towards another successful season with the bat.
If this team can come together and play as one, there’s no reason they should be golfing in October.
Washington Nationals: Improve Offense
The Washington Nationals are a young, impressive franchise bound for greatness in 2013.
They ranked 10th in baseball in runs, second in ERA and eighth in fielding in the 2012 regular season. To improve upon their 2012 postseason performance, guys like Bryce Harper, Ian Desmond and Ryan Zimmerman need to be catalysts and leaders behind this offense.
This spring, hitting coach Rick Eckstein should work with some of the younger guys like Harper, Tyler Moore and Steve Lombardozzi to build the foundation behind this offense.
If Harper can improve his plate discipline, the sky is the limit for the 20-year-old NL Rookie of the Year.
The NL East will be an all-out battle this season. The Nationals need to get better offensively to compete with the Braves’ lineup.
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