Eliot J. Schechter/Getty Images
Cleveland Indians: Finished 69-93, fourth in AL Central. The Indians have been in free fall in recent years, tumbling from one of the top teams in the American League just four short years ago.
Their everyday lineup has good, young talent.
Even if Grady Sizemore is never good again, the Indians have one of the top young catchers in baseball in Carlos Santana, as well as talented hitters Shin Soo Choo, Matt LaPorta and Michael Brantley. The lineup has the potential to be good.
The pitching, on the other hand, does not. Sure Justin Masterson may take a leap and win 17-18 games in 2011, but who else is going to win any?
The Indians would need an unlikely, Padres-esk season from their starting rotation to be anything but fourth or fifth in their division again.
Seattle Mariners: Finished 61-101, worst record in the AL. The Mariners had high hopes heading into last season, with a rotation anchored by Felix Hernandez and Cliff Lee. It is really staggering to think back and imagine how this team was this bad.
A year later, heading into 2011 spring training, Cliff Lee is long gone, and this lineup is not much better.
Ichiro is still here, but how many more years can he carry a group of Mendoza-line batters? There are high expectations for Justin Smoak but another putrid offensive season may be in the works.
The hope for the future rests squarely on the shoulders of ace Felix Hernandez. He is still only 24 years old, as ridiculous as that sounds, after debuting at the tender age of 19, and he is clearly one of the top pitchers in all of baseball.
Cleveland has a few hitters, but no pitching to build around. In baseball, front-end starting pitching is the most important thing a roster can have. Seattle has this.
Although there is not much around Felix Hernandez, having a top of the line ace puts the Mariners ahead of the Indians for the future. A bleak future is in store for this Cleveland franchise unless they can swap some of these hitters for big arms.
The irony is of course, the Indians recently traded away Cliff Lee and CC Sabathia, two pitchers who have each won Cy Young awards and who have each pitched in the World Series.