Our fourth installment brings us an intriguing bunch. These teams, I believe, could have solid seasons or, if some things break the wrong way, well, it could be ugly. Ugly like three of these cities too.
1. The Twins are always a punchy group. I mean, they do have America's most accessible superstar according to ESPN The Magazine (Joe Mauer), and the guy can play some baseball as well. Justin Morneau's health is always great, but with he, Cuddyer, Kubel and Denard Span, there is enough offense. The pitching staff, who knows? There is not a single strikeout pitcher in the bunch unless Liriano can find his marbles (spring reports are good so far). These guys are always around the strike zone and pitch to contact, but who was the last World Series team that didn't have that go-to guy, that lockdown ace? Someone from this group basically needs to become something their not. Joe Nathan heads an always good bullpen, and Ron Gardenhire is a very good manager. Just missing that ace. I guess Liriano can make or break this team.
2. Seattle has had the best offseason, so everyone says. Did they get better? Absolutely. Did they play over their heads last year? Absolutely. This team has a better lineup and better staff and still could win the same amount of games last year. Really. King Felix and Cliff Lee are the best 1-2 in the American League unless Josh Beckett has a 2007-type year. But who pitches after that? Ryan Rowland-Smith? Ian Snell? Come on, does anyone really think Erik Bedard will start 25-30 games or come close to 200 innings? Me neither. A speedy lineup, but no power whatsoever. Can Aardsma repeat last year? Nothing in his past suggests we should think so.
3. The Brewers, another scrappy team, are sort of like Seattle. Oh, except that Prince Fielder and Ryan Braun could combine for 11,000 homers, 17,500 RBI's and 8 stolen bases. Add to that Corey Hart, Rickie Weeks, etc., this team can slug. Yovanni Gallardo's name is so much fun to say isn't it? We could be saying it a lot if he has the type of year I think he will. Randy Wolf was a good signing. Trevor Hoffman, the ageless shutdown machine, back for another year. Anything could happen with these guys if they get some quality starts from somebody other than Gallardo/Wolf.
4. The Motown Nine. Who plays here again? Rotation lead by the devastating Justin Verlander. Rick Porcello and Max Scherzer are a good young one-two. Danny Schlereth adds to Joel Zumaya in the pen. Miggy Cabrera, as long as he has a shot or two of the strong stuff before the games, is a lock for 30-100-100. Magglio, go away. What happens to this team? I know Mike Illich wants to win, but this team has some serious questions. Bonderman won't stay healthy, Inge won't either. Scott Sizemore, early ROY favorite.