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The HardballTalk Season Preview

Mar 30, 2011, 5:38 AM EDT

Wilson Opening Day

It’s Opening Day Eve, everyone. And the quicker we get to bed tonight, the quicker Baseball Claus comes and brings us our precious games.

Until then, however, here are links to all 30 of HardballTalk’s Springtime Storylines entries, cataloging the Big Questions, the Not so Big Questions the continuing nagging issues and dramas of each and every team and, of course, a prediction as to each team’s chances. The predictions are guaranteed to be right or your money back.

By the time you’re done with these, you’ll be able to talk turkey about the 2011 season with anyone. Added bonus: when these previews and predictions start looking silly come Mother’s Day, you’ll need only go to this link as a quick-reference for our collective ignorance and folly.  We believe, however, that we did a pretty darn good job with these.

Enjoy!

AL EAST
Red Sox: Are they the best team in baseball?
Yankees: Do they have enough pitching?
Rays: Did they lose too many guys?
Blue Jays: Are they doomed by baseball’s toughest division?
Orioles: How soon can Buck Showalter turn them into contenders?

AL CENTRAL
White Sox: Can they slug their way to division crown?
Twins: Can they win a third AL Central title?
Tigers: Can they win their first division title since 1987?
Indians: Will they ever finish rebuilding?
Royals: Will they avoid a third straight 95-loss season?

AL WEST
Rangers: Can they survive the departure of Cliff Lee?
Athletics: Did they add enough offense?
Angels: Did anyone have a worse offseason than these guys?
Mariners: Has the offense improved enough to be merely awful?

NL EAST
Phillies: How far can the Big Four carry them?
Braves: Will they miss a beat without Bobby Cox?
Marlins: Is this the year they finally break the mold?
Mets: Will they look the same in September?
Nationals: Is it just another season in limbo?

NL CENTRAL
Reds: Can they do it again?
Brewers: Did they improve enough this offseason?
Cardinals: Can they survive the loss of their ace?
Cubs: Do they have what it takes to change history?
Astros: Are they headed for a long stretch of rough results?
Pirates: Is there a light at the end of the tunnel?

NL WEST
Giants: Can they repeat?
Rockies: Do they have enough offense?
Dodgers: Are we gonna talk ourself into liking their chances?
Padres: Is there life after Adrian Gonzalez?
Diamondbacks: Is character and passion enough?

  1. Professor Longnose - Mar 30, 2011 at 8:40 AM

    Hey, what the heck is a Quintana Roo?

  2. Jonny 5 - Mar 30, 2011 at 8:50 AM

    Heyman is calling for your Braves to win the NL east Craig. I guess he does take stock in the S.I. jinx. Hell he may have forced the issue to put the Phills rotation on the cover. That #$^@% ! In other news Francisco makes me feel good hitting another Bomb, he’s got 5 and he’s batting .377. Castillo went 2 for 4 last night, he’s been doing well lately, (Huh, he must like red better). For some reason I don’t feel as down on the Phillies chances as Heyman…. In other news, Rich Dubee had a heart warming moment watching his son pitch one scoreless inning against his Phillies, that should have made for some good Father/ son bonding time after the game.

    Great job breaking down these teams guys.

  3. Chris Fiorentino - Mar 30, 2011 at 9:00 AM

    Anyone who thinks that the Braves will win the NL Least is one of two things…

    1) Wearing their Braves underoos while doing the Tomahawk chop eating their Fruit Brute cereal pining for the days of Maddux, Glavine, and Smoltz

    or

    2) A Philly hater.

    • ThatGuy - Mar 30, 2011 at 9:18 AM

      Or they are making a pick and may have concerns about their pitching staying healthy(top 3 pitchers on the wrong side of 30), Utley missing half a season, Rollins continueing his 3 year decline, Howard bouncing back from his worst season ever, replacing Werth’s production, etc. I personally think they will probably still win the NL East, but there are legitimate concerns about the team, and if you don’t see them your Phillies underoos must be way to tight.

      • sportsdrenched - Mar 30, 2011 at 9:45 AM

        That’s why I think the Braves could wint he AL East, they’re younger and healthier.

      • Chris Fiorentino - Mar 30, 2011 at 10:01 AM

        Thatguy…there are concerns come playoff time, in a 7 game series. But over the course of 162 games, there is no way in hell anyone in that division is keeping up with that staff as well as that “terrible” offense that was second in the NL in runs scored last year.

        Sportsdrenched…I agree that the Braves have a better chance of winning the AL East than they do the NL Least

      • Chris Fiorentino - Mar 30, 2011 at 10:03 AM

        Plus, the Phillies starting staff is younger and MUCH healthier than the Braves staff. Geeze, you would think the Braves have five young studs when they only have one. Hudson and Lowe are decrepit compared to Lee, Halladay, and Oswalt.

        Give me a break with the Braves.

      • ThatGuy - Mar 30, 2011 at 12:16 PM

        Easy Chris, if you notice I still think they will win the NL East. But it is a long baseball season, like you said. And crazy things happen every year. And when did I exactly say the phillies offense was terrible. Just stated some facts that could be a cause for a concern. Fact:Werth was their best hitter last year, he is gone. Fact: Utley is a stud and will be gone a chunk of the year, Fact:Howard had his worst season last year, Fact: Rollins is on a three year decline.

      • seeingwhatsticks - Mar 30, 2011 at 2:00 PM

        The 2008-2009 Giants and 2010 A’s struggled to win despite elite pitching staffs, so it’s not as easy as saying the Phillies are a lock to win because they project to pitch well. They will still have to score some runs and there are pretty legitimate concerns about their ability to do that on a regular basis. I also think the bullpen is going to be a real liability as the season progresses because the starting rotation is not going to throw 162 complete games. The Phillies will probably win the NL East but it’s far from a lock.

    • trevorb06 - Mar 30, 2011 at 10:40 AM

      nozzle

  4. sportsdrenched - Mar 30, 2011 at 9:46 AM

    I’m going to the 11pm Opening Day Eve Service.

    Before that we’re going to hang the bunting on the railing with care…

    • BC - Mar 30, 2011 at 10:54 AM

      …with hopes that Saint Doubleday soon will be there.

      • Jonny 5 - Mar 30, 2011 at 11:22 AM

        With I in my Halladay Jersey and Ma in her Schmidty we all really hope the season doesn’t turn out shitty.

  5. macjacmccoy - Mar 30, 2011 at 7:37 PM

    “We believe, however, that we did a pretty darn good job with these.”

    I agree. Except when you guys went the “conservative route”

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