25 MLB Storylines To Follow Heading Into Spring Training
25 MLB Storylines to Follow Going Into Spring Training
Major League Baseball had one of the craziest offseasons in recent memory. You could look at the fact that most of the huge signings happened before the Winter Meetings, the aftermath of the Biogenesis scandal or some of the more polarizing figures in MLB to see how much is going on. It is safe to say that Bud Selig's career as commissioner is going to end with a bang.
This is the best time of the year for all 30 teams. Everyone is in the race right now. Every fan can say that their team could be like the Pittsburgh Pirates and make it all the way to the playoffs. No matter what has happened before, there is reason to be optimistic in January.
There are hundreds of storylines that you could follow in MLB right now. Every team has multiple players and coaches to keep an eye on. It could be a big signing from either this offseason or the prior that is trying to live up to the hype. It could be a prospect that is trying to finally make the big league team. It could be a veteran that is trying to hold on to their career. This season has plenty to talk about, and it will be fun to watch how it plays out.
For your pleasure, here are the 25 best storylines to follow going into Spring Training.
Nick Villano is the New Jersey Devils writer for Rant Sports. He also adds to the site's NBA, NFL and MLB content. You can follow him on Twitter here.
25. Can The Red Sox Repeat?
The Boston Red Sox were in no way supposed to be in contention for the World Series going into last season. They once again beat the odds and won it all. They are bringing back an eerily similar team. Can they be the first team to repeat since the 2000 New York Yankees?
24. Can Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton Bounce Back?
Josh Hamilton's struggles were publicized last season. Albert Pujols has not been the transcendent talent he was when he was in St Louis. Will these two be able to finally carry the Los Angeles Angels to the playoffs? If not, maybe Mike Trout could do it for pennies like he has been.
23. Curtis Granderson Moves Across Town
Curtis Granderson did not even have to change his address when he signed with the New York Mets during the crazy Friday when it seemed like every big name was signed. This isn't the Mets' year, but will Granderson prove to be the big bat they'be long coveted?
22. How Much Longer Will Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels Be Members Of The Phillies?
The Philadelphia Phillies have not been able to compete over the last few years despite having two of the best pitchers in baseball. They are each making an average of $24 million per year. Ruben Amaro Jr. is going to deal one of them if they fall out of the playoff race.
21. Todd Helton Is Replaced By Justin Morneau
1997 was the last year that the Colorado Rockies went into the season without Todd Helton manning first base. Justin Morneau was brought in to replace him. It should be interesting to see how the fans deal with this.
20. Will Miguel Cabrera Make It Three In A Row?
Miguel Cabrera is no doubt the best player in MLB over the past two seasons. Can he make it three in a row, or will someone take his crown?
19. Will Johan Santana Be Signed?
Johan Santana was once the best pitcher in baseball. He is clearly nowhere close to his prime, but is he worth a flyer?
18. Will Stephen Strasburg Live Up To His Potential?
Although Stephen Strasburg found a way to stay healthy last season, he did not look like the ace that everyone thought he would be. Is that guy on his way, or did we over-hype him?
17. Masahiro Tanaka And His New Team
Reports say that the Masahiro Tanaka race is down to two teams, but we have seen surprises happen and teams come out of nowhere before.
16. A New-Look Team In The Bronx
Not having Mariano Rivera would be enough, but the Yankees also lost Robinson Cano, Andy Pettitte, Alex Rodriguez, Curtis Granderson and Phil Hughes. Will Brian McCann, Carlos Beltran and Jacoby Ellsbury be enough?
15. The Return Of Scott Kazmir
Scott Kazmir made one start from 2011-2012. He made 29 in 2013, and wasn't half bad either. It will be fun to see what he does in Oakland.
14. The Media Frenzy Behind Yasiel Puig
For some reason, this guy seems to command the most attention when it comes to the baseball media. I feel like I know what he has for breakfast every morning. Seeing how the media reacts to Yasiel Puig's second season will be interesting.
13. Where Will David Price Pitch?
With the Tanaka saga still in play, the fact that David Price could be on the trade block is getting swept under the rug. Where will he end up? Which teams will be involved in trade discussions? Will a team make a panic trade after they miss out on Tanaka?
12. The Return Of Ryan Braun
With A-Rod being suspended for the entire season, Ryan Braun is the biggest returning name from the Biogenesis scandal. This is going to cause a media frenzy in Spring Training.
11. Prince Fielder and Shin Soo-Choo In Texas
The Texas Rangers made big moves to try and replenish their offense, adding Prince Fielder and Shin-Soo Choo. Will they help the team get back to the World Series?
10. Is A.J. Burnett Going To Retire?
The Pirates are hanging on to the whims of starting pitcher A.J. Burnett as he decides if he wants to retire. This would be surprising if you did not know about the personality of the 37-year-old.
9. Can The Giants' Pitching Staff Become Good Again?
Ryan Vogelsong messed up his season during the World Baseball Classic. Tim Lincecum's career gets more bizarre by the start. Matt Cain found his ERA starting with a four. What can we expect from them and Madison Bumgarner this season?
8. Will The Blue Jays Compete?
The AL East still looks like the best division in baseball. The Toronto Blue Jays still look like a great team on paper. In 2013, the paper lied. Will it do so in 2014?
7. Joe Mauer Finally Gives Up Catching
Joe Mauer has been one of the best catchers in recent memory. His many injuries and big salary forced the Twins to move him to first base. Will the move work out?
I mean, what else could happen?
5. Will Dodgers' Pitching Staff Be Unstoppable?
All I have to say is 1.83, 2.63 and 3.00. Those are the 2013 ERAs of Clayton Kershaw, Zach Greinke and Hyun-Jin Ryu. Add veterans Josh Beckett and Dan Haren, and they have quite a rotation. If they make another signing, they could be impossible to beat.
4. Was Mark Trumbo A Good Move For The Diamondbacks?
Mark Trumbo will no doubt bring some power to the Arizona lineup, but is that the kind of production they needed? The trade will need to be looked at very closely as the year goes on.
3. Will B.J. Upton and Dan Uggla Hit Over .200?
It's a legitimate question, unfortunately.
2. What Will The Indians Do With Their Rotation?
They already lost Scott Kazmir. It looks like they are going to lose Ubaldo Jiminez. Can Terry Francona find a way to bring his team back to the playoffs without replacing them?
1. How Will Robinson Cano Fare With The Mariners?
Robinson Cano went after the most money. You can't blame him for that, but the usually soft-hitting Seattle Mariners could end up hurting his legacy.