Welcome to the Gigantic Sox and Dawgs 2014 MLB preview. Over the next few days you will get a team by team look at its key players, new faces, their potential MVP, Cy Young and Rookie of the Year candidates, their possible starting lineup and rotation as well as a quick summary.
We will also select a MVP candidate and Cy Young candidate for each team no matter what their predicted team outcome is.
Also added this year is some home stadium information along with dates the teams will play against the Boston Red Sox. The red shaded games are at Fenway; the blue shaded games are road games.
This preview was sculpted over the off season with some mild tweaking as we went along prior to publication. It comes from a culmination of reading many hours of baseball research.
I hope you enjoy this look at the upcoming season.
To continue reading, click on the read more button below if you're on the home page.
National League Central
This division was one of the most difficult to pick because the top three teams are very good. Like 2013 we should see all three battle the entire season and quite possibly take 3 of the 5 NL playoff spots between the division champ and the two wild card teams. Last year St. Louis claimed the division, while Pittsburgh and Cincinnati were the NL wild card teams. Baseball is rejuvenated in the NL Central thanks to those three teams who should be perennial playoff teams for the next few years at least. If you’re a fan of the Brewers things may be starting to look up a bit. Cubs fans I’m afraid you’re going to have to wait a while longer for your team to crack the upper echelon of this division. There’s two new managers in the division after Cincinnati felt Dusty Baker couldn’t get them over the hump, and in Chicago, they replaced a poor fit in Dale Sveum.
Last year I went Cincinnati, St. Louis, Pittsburgh, Milwaukee and Chicago. Look below this year to see how I think it will play out in 2014.
1. St. Louis – Manager: Mike Matheny (3rd year)
The Cardinals are the defending Nation League Champions having lost to the Boston Red Sox in the World Series for the 2nd time in 10 years and no one should expect them to go away. This Cardinals team despite trading away David Freese and losing Carlos Beltran to free agency and Chris Carpenter to retirement, just keeps reinventing themselves year after year. They are extremely deep with pitching, and potent with the bat. They should be good defensively even with a reconfigured infield that see’s the addition of Kolten Wong and PED poster child Jhonny Peralta. The only weakness I see is the bench and unless one or more of those guys is pressed into everyday service they should be just fine in the NL Central. Their pitching makes them the class of the division and along with the Dodgers one of the best teams in the NL.
Home Field: Busch Stadium III; Playing Surface: natural grass; Opened: 2006; Capacity: 43,975
2013 Attendance: 3,369,769 (2nd in NL)
MVP Candidate: C Yadier Molina
Cy Young Candidate: SP Adam Wainwright
ROY Candidate: 2B Kolten Wong; RP Carlos Martinez
Possible lineup: Carpenter 3B; Burjos CF; Holliday LF; Craig RF; Adams 1B; Molina C; Peralta SS; Wong 2B
Possible rotation: Wainwright; Wacha; Miller; Kelley; Garcia
Games against Red Sox in 2014: August 5-7
2. Pittsburgh – Manager: Clint Hurdle (4th year/12th overall)
They stopped the streak at 20. After 20 consecutive non-playoff seasons and 20 seasons without a NL MVP, the Pittsburgh Pirates and CF Andrew McCutchen stopped both streaks dead in their tracks. Baseball has returned to the ‘Burgh in one of baseball’s best parks and they were a lot of fun to watch in 2013. Now Clint Hurdle needs to continue to build on that momentum and take them not only back to the playoffs but further. There’s no reason this team can’t play for the NL Pennant in 2014. My only concern is they seemed to really stand pat in the offseason. I’d have loved to see them get an additonal starating pitcher, a stronger RF or 1B candidate and possibly near the deadline they will.
Home Field: PNC Park; Playing Surface: natural grass Opened: 2001; Capacity: 38,362
2013 Attendance: 2,256,862 (11th in NL)
MVP Candidate: CF Andrew McCutchen
Cy Young Candidate: SP Francisco Liriano
ROY Candidate: P Jameson Taillon
Possible lineup: Marte LF; Mercer SS; McCutchen CF; Alvarez 3B; Martin C; Walker 2B; Tabata RF; Sanchez 1B
Possible rotation: Liriano; Cole; Rodriguez; Morton; Volquez
Games against Red Sox in 2014: September 16-18
3. Cincinnati – Manager: Bryan Price (1st Year)
The Reds should compete once again for the division and wild card berth and will do so every year for the next several years. They have a solid core of young players, good veteran’s and a new manager who comes from a pitching background and a staff that has a style that fits well with the make up of the club. They like the Pirates did very little in the offseason and they really want to improve on their post season experience after they were disappointed with the one and done wild card game loss to Pittsburgh. They have some questions in LF as well as up the middle in CF and C and because of this I have them third in the division.
Home Field: Great American Ball Park; Playing Surface: natural grass; Opened: 2003; Capacity: 42,319
2013 Attendance: 2,492,059 (10th in NL)
MVP Candidate: 1B Joey Votto
Cy Young Candidate: P Johnny Cueto
ROY Candidate: OF Billy Hamilton
Possible lineup: Hamilton CF; Cozart SS; Votto 1B; Phillips 2B; Bruce RF; Ludwick LF; Frazier 3B; Mesoraco C
Possible rotation: Cueto; Latos; Bailey; Leake; Cingrani
Games against Red Sox in 2014: May 6-7; August 12-13
4. Milwaukee – Manager: Ron Roenicke (4th year)
Ryan Braun, the former MVP, liar and admitted PED user returns with a clean slate and for Brewers fans hopefully a clean pee test in 2014. The Brewers need him for a full season badly as he adds the big bat in the order, but without the chemicals we need to see how good the wood will be. Milwaukee did solidify their starting rotation when in late January they went and signed FA Matt Garza who will pitch behind Yovani Gallardo. A couple things really stand out with this team. The rotation is all right handed and there’s barely a left-handed bat (3) to be found on the projected 25-man roster (no switch-hitters). That lack of flexability for Mgr. Ron Roenicke to mix/match in late innings could spell disaster.
Home Field: Miller Park; Playing Surface: natural grass/retractable roof; Opened:2001; Capacity: 41,900
2013 Attendance: 2,531,105 (9th in NL)
Key Players: LF Ryan Braun; SP Yovani Gallardo; SP Matt Garza; SS Jean Segura
MVP Candidate: LF Ryan Braun
Cy Young Candidate: SP Yovani Gallardo
ROY Candidate: P Johnny Hellweg
Possible lineup: Segura SS; Weeks 2B; Braun LF; Ramirez 3B; Gomez CF; Lucroy C; Davis RF
Possible rotation: Gallardo; Garza; Lohse; Estrada; Peralta
Games against Red Sox in 2014: April 4-6
5. Chicago – Manager: Rick Renteria (1st year)
Year Three of the “Theo Epstein Project” (that should be the name of his band) and now the Cub faithful are starting to get restless and introducing “Clark the Cub” didn’t help matters. Then they lost out on Masahiro Tanaka and people are getting grumpy again on the North Side. The Ricketts family has money to spend and they are doing things in and around historic Wrigley Field except pulling that prized free agent that opens the floodgates for others to follow. Epstein along with GM Jed Hoyer are working feverishly to build the farm system but even that was worse than they originally thought. Chicago has a good MLB core of SP Jeff Samardzija, 1B Anthony Rizzo, 2B Darwin Barney and SS Starlin Castro. Here’s hoping former UConn Husky 3B/OF Mike Olt gets to make a difference with Chicago in 2014.
Home Field: Wrigley Field; Playing Surface: natural grass; Opened: 1914; Capacity: 41,019
2013 Attendance: 2,642,682 (7th in NL)
Key Players: SS Starlin Castro; 1B Anthony Rizzo; 2B Darwin Barney; SP Jeff Samardzija
MVP Candidate: SS Starlin Castro
Cy Young Candidate: SP Jeff Samardzija
ROY Candidate: 3B/OF Mike Olt
Key Additions: Mgr. Rick Renteria; IF/OF Ryan Roberts; IF/OF Emilio Bonifacio; OF Justin Ruggiano; C George Kottaras; RP Jose Veras; RP Wesley Wright; C Eli Whiteside; C John Baker; OF Mitch Maier; OF Ryan Kalish; OF Chris Coghlan; SP James McDonald; SP Jason Hammel
Possible lineup: Castro SS; Sweeney CF; Olt 3B; Rizzo 1B; Schierholtz RF; Coghlan LF; Castillo C; Barney 2B
Possible rotation: Samardzija; Jackson; Wood; Hammel; McDonald
Games against Red Sox in 2014: June 30-July 2
Tomorrow: the AL Central.