As we prepare for preseason in late February, several questions arise for Spring Training and the regular season that follows. Teams arrive with varying levels of success. They also come in finding which positions needs more development and how to approach it. From rebuilding seasons to massive offseason acquisitions, these are some of the lingering questions for 2019.
Spring Training: Can He Help?
Brandon Hyde- Baltimore Orioles
The worst outing of 2018 at 47-115, Baltimore will enter the new year without two key names: Manager Buck Showalter, and outfielder Adam Jones. Their new manager, Brandon Hyde, was previously on the coaching staff for the Florida Marlins and the Chicago Cubs. He was on the Cubs staff when they broke their World Series drought in 2016.
Do not expect a complete turn around in 2019. Hyde will have to prove himself as the right hire in Spring Training. Orioles fans will be looking to him to reverse the team’s fortunes.
Adam Ottavino- New York Yankees
One major weakness that got exposed in the postseason was their bullpen. When they squared off against the Boston Red Sox, the Pinstripes could only do so much keep their stacked archenemy down. Now, New York has moved to address this problem with several acquisitions, including Adam Ottavino. Previously a Colorado Rocky, Ottavino hit a career-low ERA 2.43 last season (with at least five starts). He may be one of many new faces to the roster. But he is one of the biggest in the bullpen.
Charlie Morton- Tampa Bay Rays
Tampa Bay was the comeback kid of 2018. After the All-Star game in Washington D.C, the Rays surged skyward, winning more than anyone in that time span. The Rays also ended as one of the pitching powerhouses in the American League. Charlie Morton, an All-Star and World Series Champion with Houston, is among the latest additions. No doubt the Rays’ pitching the cornerstone for Tampa Bay, and Morton can help extend that dominance. Along with Blake Snell and company, Morton can help land the Rays to new heights and the October conversations.
Spring Training: Can They do it Again?
Their postseason surge was a big break for Nolan Arenado and company. Along side breakthrough outings from pitcher Kyle Freeland and shortstop Trevor Story, the Rockies got past the Wild Card round and into NLDS. Though their season ended at the hands of Milwaukee, Colorado showed that they are a playoff contender. As they enter a new Spring Training session, they will need to find to not only find a successor to Adam Ottavino, but also new formulas to replicate and/or exceed last season’s results.
Los Angeles Dodgers
The Dodgers have appeared in three consecutive NLCS showdowns, winning the last two. But not one of those outings yielding a World Series Ring. Manager Dave Roberts will have a few key players he’ll have to work without, including Manny Machado, Yasiel Puig and Alex Wood. It will be a little harder for Los Angeles to make it four straight appearances in the NLCS. But one thing that cannot happen is that fans starting doubting Roberts’ ability to lead.
Boston Red Sox
Everything that could go right for a team went right for Boston. Not only did they boast baseball’s best regular season outing with 108-54, but they are also the reigning World Series Champs. Manager Alex Cora made sure the path to victory, and checked all the boxes a good manager should do with the game on the line. The fact that he accomplished all that he did in his VERY FIRST year as a skipper makes this all the more impressive. Yes, he had plenty of weapons to work, both on the mound, on the dirt and in the batter’s box. But his experience winning as a player became his greatest asset and led the charge. Not the questions stands: Can Cora and company retain their title in 2019?
What we do know is that Boston will enter Spring Training with a bigger target on their backs than ever. Alex Cora will have to finds more formulas to keep winning and wave off the competition.
Featured image courtesy of foxsports.com
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