MLB: Which Bottom Dwelling Teams Have a Legit Chance to Contend in 2011?

Kirk SnyderCorrespondent IAugust 5, 2009

BALTIMORE - JULY 30:  Nick Markakis #21 of the Baltimore Orioles prepares to bat against the Kansas City Royals during MLB action at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on July 30, 2009 in Baltimore, Maryland. The Orioles defeated the Royals 7-3.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

It's certainly hard to predict what is going to happen in the future, but when you look at what MLB teams have right now and what they have down on the farm, you can get some sort of vision of what could be in store for teams.

The criteria for what I consider a "bottom dwelling" team is that they have to be in either last or second to last place in their division and they have to have a record under .500 at this current point in time.

Here are four teams that caught my eye, who are sitting at the bottom right now but could rise to the top in the not too distant future:Baltimore Orioles

The first team is the Baltimore Orioles, who are currently in last place in the AL East, with a 44-61 record.

The Baltimore Orioles Projected 2011 Starting Lineup

C—Matt Wieters

1B—Brandon Snyder

2B—Brian Roberts

3B—Billy Rowell

SS—Ryan Adams

LF—Nolan Reimold

CF—Adam Jones

RF—Nick Markakis

DH—Aubrey Huff

Projected Starting Rotation

SP—Chris Tillman

SP—Brian Matusz

SP—Jake Arrieta

SP—Koji Uehara

SP—Brad Bergesen

Analysis: The future is starting to arrive now in Baltimore. The Orioles have some serious star power on the rise with budding stars such as Matt Wieters, Chris Tillman, and Brian Matusz (starting tonight).  Other young guns, such as Nolan Reimold, Jake Arrieta, Brandon Snyder, and Billy Rowell will provide a big boost for this club on down the line.

Their lineup will consist of four very bright spots, with Markakis, Wieters, Roberts, and Jones.  And a nice supporting cast with Huff, Reimold, Snyder, Rowell, and Adams. 

Adams has played the majority of his minor league career at second base, but being blocked by Roberts, it seems necessary for him to make the switch to shortstop, because it is probably the shallowest position in the Orioles system.  He has played 16 career games at shortstop in the minors.

Their starting rotation will go from one of the worst (if not the worst) at the start of the 2009 season to one of the premier rotations if Tillman and Matusz can live up to the hype.  These two have very high expectations and could be one of the top starting rotation duos in the league for many years to come. 

Arrieta will be a solid number three starter in the upcoming years. 

Uehara is a finesse pitcher; his impeccable control makes him a very capable number four starter.  He will give his team a chance to win games more often than not.

The fifth rotation spot could go to Brad Bergesen if his success carries over to next season.  If not, David Hernandez or Jeremy Guthrie are guys who could fill the void as the number five starter.Toronto Blue Jays

The next team is the Toronto Blue Jays, who are currently in fourth place in the AL East with a 51-54 record.

The Toronto Blue Jays Projected 2011 Starting Lineup

C—J.P. Arencibia

1B—David Cooper

2B—Aaron Hill

3B—Edwin Encarnacion

SS—Marco Scutaro

LF—Adam Lind

CF—Vernon Wells

RF—Alex Rios

DH—Travis Snider

Projected Starting Rotation

SP—Ricky Romero

SP—Brett Cecil

SP—Scott Richmond

SP—Marc Rzepczynski

SP—Shaun Marcum

Analysis: The Blue Jays will have an offense that can compete with just about any other team in the near future. Their core on offense will consist of Alex Rios, Vernon Wells, Adam Lind, Aaron Hill, and up and coming star, Travis Snider.

J.P. Arencibia is one of the Blue Jays top prospects.  He projects to be a catcher that could hit around a .270 average with about 20 home run potential.

Marco Scutaro and Edwin Encarnacion will compliment their core group on offense quite nicely and the Jays should have very little problems offensively.

The Jays will have a very deep starting rotation in the future.  I am not including Roy Halladay as part of their starting rotation, because I don't think there is anyway Halladay will re-sign with his current team and be back in 2011.  If he is traded before the trade deadline next season, the Jays should grab at least one or two talented prospects that will only make the Jays better than what they are listed at above.

Scott Richmond is a guy who could surprise some and become a very good middle of the rotation starter.  He throws a fastball that sits around 93 mph and also has a 12-6 curveball he likes to throw.

The Jays have had four solid rookies this season that look to be solidified in their rotation for the future.

Other than their four solid rookies from this season, they have three solid starters, who are all injured at the moment that could be auditioning for the fifth rotation spot eventually.  Those three pitchers are Shaun Marcum, Dustin McGowan, and Jesse Litsch.  Of those three, Marcum is the closest to returning, but none the less, it will give the Jays plenty of options to replace a struggling starter if need be in the future.  They will have seven capable starters come 2011, maybe even more if they get one or two pitching prospects, if they deal Halladay.Arizona Diamondbacks

The next team is the Arizona Diamondbacks, who are currently in fourth place in the NL West with a 47-59 record.

The Arizona Diamondbacks Projected 2011 Starting Lineup

C—Miguel Montero

1B—Conor Jackson

2B—Mark Hallberg

3B—Mark Reynolds

SS—Stephen Drew

LF—Gerardo Parra

CF—Chris Young

RF—Justin Upton

Projected Starting Rotation

SP—Dan Haren

SP—Brandon Webb

SP—Max Scherzer

SP—Jarrod Parker

SP—Cesar Valdez

Analysis: Arizona has two coveted young stars rising in the desert, Justin Upton, and Mark Reynolds.  These are two guys that possess tremendous power and the making of one heck of a duo for years to come.   

Miguel Montero is quickly on the rise and is becoming a very well rounded catcher.

Stephen Drew and Chris Young have the talent, but neither has performed close to their capabilities this season.  Hopefully, this is just a funk that their in and it will be a thing of the past. 

Conor Jackson should be healthy next season in 2010 and be a big help to their 2011 stellar squad.

Eric Byrnes will likely become a utility player, who can play any position in the outfield and will give necessary breaks to Parra, Young, and Upton to keep them fresh for an entire season.

Their starting rotation will depend on Brandon Webb getting healthy and making a full recovery for the 2011 season.  If he does indeed get back to full health, the D-Backs will have one the strongest starting rotations in the game.

Dan Haren and Brandon Webb will be holding down the front-end of the rotation, while Max Scherzer will be a very solid number three starter.

Jarrod Parker is the Diamondbacks prized possession down on the farm, who will most likely make his debut at some point next season and be ready to go in the rotation full time by 2011.

The D-Backs could either go with prospect, Cesar Valdez or veteran, Doug Davis as their fifth starter.Oakland Athletics

The last team is the Oakland Athletics, who are in last place in the AL West, with a 45-60 record.

The Oakland Athletics Projected 2011 Starting Lineup

C—Kurt Suzuki

1B—Tommy Everidge

2B—Jemile Weeks

3B—Brett Wallace

SS—Adrian Cardenas

LF—Aaron Cunningham

CF—Scott Hairston

RF—Jack Cust

DH—Chris Carter

Projected Starting Rotation

SP—Brett Anderson

SP—Trevor Cahill

SP—Justin Duchscherer

SP—Dallas Braden

SP—Josh Outman

Analysis: Billy Beane has been gathering young talent for quite some time now and it is eventually going to pay off.

This team will have more than enough power packed into their lineup.  Chris Carter is a player you will most likely be seeing mashing the long ball in the homerun derby for years to come.  He is a player that harbors 40 plus homerun potential.

Brett Wallace, who came over as part of the Matt Holliday trade, is everything you could want offensively in a player, although he is a bit of a defensive liability at third base.  He will be a player that can hit 30 home runs and flirt with a .300 average in the big leagues.

Jack Cust, Tommy Everidge, and Scott Hairston are also other guys who exhibit some decent power.

Jemile Weeks, the brother of Rickie Weeks, is not as highly touted as his brother, but I think they could turn out to be very similar players.  Jemile is hitting a .298 average with eight homeruns, 11 stolen bases, 39 runs driven in, and 40 runs scored in only 275 career minor league at bats.

Rajai Davis, who has blazing speed, could either be their leadoff hitter for the future or become a utility player on down the line.

They should have a solid pitching rotation in the future.  Brett Anderson is starting to come along as expected.  Trevor Cahill is struggling at this point in time, but he could become the ace of the staff before too long.

Duchscherer, Outman, and Braden should round out an all around solid rotation.

The Athletics prospect phenom, Michel Inoa, will probably not be ready to go by the 2011 season.  However, he may be good to go for the 2012 season.  Inoa could make the Oakland Pitching staff a premier rotation in 2012.


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