Posts Tagged ‘Francisco Liriano’

Starting Rotation: American League Central

January 19, 2010

Yesterday, I looked at the starting rotations of each American League East team. Today, I will look at the starting rotations for each American League Central team.

The American League Central is home to some of the best young pitchers in the game. As a matter of fact, five out of the last six AL Cy Young award winners have come from the Central.

Here are the starting rotations of each American League Central team as presently constructed.

Minnesota Twins

1. Scott Baker, RHP

2. Nick Blackburn, RHP

3. Kevin Slowey, RHP

4. Carl Pavano, RHP

5. Francisco Liriano, LHP

Quick Take – This rotation is littered with No.2 and No.3-type starters. However, Liriano can be a No.1 if he can regain his form prior to Tommy John surgery. Despite their lack of a true No.1 starter, this rotation has plenty of depth.

Chicago White Sox

1. Jake Peavy, RHP

2. Mark Buehrle, LHP

3. Gavin Floyd, RHP

4. John Danks, LHP

5. Freddy Garcia, RHP

Quick Take – The White Sox have the best pitching staff that nobody ever talks about. Danks is a very good No.4 starter. I will be interested to see how Peavy adjusts to the AL over the course of an entire season. Garcia will battle Dan Hudson for the No.5 starter spot in spring training.

Detroit Tigers

1. Justin Verlander, RHP

2. Rick Porcello, RHP

3. Max Scherzer, RHP

4. Jeremy Bonderman, RHP

5. Armando Galarraga, RHP

Quick Take – This rotation has more questions than answers going into 2010. Verlander threw more pitches than any other pitcher in baseball last season (3,937). How is that going to affect him in 2010. Will Porcello experience a sophomore slump? Can Bonderman and Galarraga bounce back in 2010?

Kansas City Royals

1. Zack Greinke, RHP

2. Gil Meche, RHP

3. Luke Hochevar, RHP

4. Kyle Davies, RHP

5. Brian Bannister, RHP

Quick Take – This staff is led by the great Greinke, who was last year’s AL Cy Young award winner. Nobody expects him to repeat last year’s performance in 2010, but he shouldn’t be that far off. The Royals need Hochevar to step up. This is a big year for him.

Cleveland Indians

1. Jake Westbrook, RHP

2. Fausto Carmona, RHP

3. Justin Masterson, RHP

4. David Huff, LHP

5. Aaron Laffey, LHP

Quick Take – For the most part, this is a young rotation, but it’s not very good right now. Carmona has been one of baseball biggest mysteries over the last couple of years. Having watched Masterson over the last couple of years with the Red Sox, I feel be is better suited to be in the bullpen.

Tomorrow, I will look at the American League West. The West is home to one of the top young pitchers in the game Felix Hernandez. Not only will teams in the West have to worry about Hernandez in 2010, but will have to contend with him for years to come.

More on that story later.

You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostofmlg

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Francisco Liriano Making Strides In Winter Ball

January 5, 2010

Minnesota Twins’ manager Ron Gardenhire got some very encouraging news about one of his pitchers yesterday.

Francisco Liriano is reportedly throwing pellets in winter ball.

“I just got a report that he’s throwing the living fire out of the ball down in the Dominican (Republic),” the Twins manager said through the St. Paul Pioneer Press. “He threw eight innings the other day, and his fastball was 92 to 94 (mph) and his slider was filthy. That’s a really good thing, because he can be the bonus if we can get him on track.”

Liriano is throwing darts in winter ball

Not only can Liriano be bonus, but he can potentially be the ace the Twins need. If am firm believer that unless you have a lineup that can just bludgeon teams night after night (the Big Red Machine of the 1970’s comes to mind), you need an ace to win a World Series.

The Twins right now have a bunch of No. 3 starters on their pitching staff. Nick Blackburn, Scott Baker, Carl Pavano, and Kevin Slowey are nice pitchers to have on a staff, but none of them would be considered a No. 1 starter.

No. 3 starters get a team through the regular season, but don’t get a team to a World Series. That is why Liriano is so important to the Twins taking the next step in 2010.

Liriano can be that ace. In 2006, Liriano was 12-3 with a 2.16 ERA and looked like the second coming of Johan Santana. So the potential is there.

But Liriano had Tommy John surgery in 2006 and hasn’t been the same since.

Liriano is one of the few pitchers who has regressed since the surgery. Most pitchers who have the surgery either come back stronger or work themselves back within two years.

For Liriano its been almost three years.

Last year, I had Liriano as the “key” to the Twins’ season. Liriano went 5-13 with a 5.80 ERA, so he wasn’t as important to the Twins as I thought he would be. But I also said that with him, they would be a serious contender for the AL Pennant, which they weren’t.

Even without Liriano, I think Twins will go into the 2010 season as the favorites in the American League Central. But if Liriano is healthy and pitching like we know he can, the Twins could go from first-round fodder to a legit pennant contender.

You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostofmlg

2009 All-Fantasy Bust Team

September 16, 2009

With most teams having roughly 18-20 games left on their schedule, I think its’ safe to say we know by now which players were surprises and which players were busts in 2009.

Tomorrow, we will take a look at the All-Fantasy Breakout Team. As for today, I think we will take a look at who were the fantasy busts in 2009.

These are the players who owners drafted very high in hopes that these players would lead their team to fantasy supremacy in 2009. Instead, these players fell flat on their faces because of various reasons and cost owners hundreds of dollars.

Without any further adieu, here is the 2009 All-Fantasy Bust Team sponsored by the Julio Lugo, Co. “Nobody Knows Sucking Like A Lugo.”

Honorable Mentions – Chris Iannetta, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, JJ Hardy, Rick Ankiel, Kevin Gregg, Garrett Atkins, Lance Berkman, Alfonso Soriano, Manny Ramirez, Jake Peavy

CatcherGeovany Soto, .222/10/40

After winning the 2008 National League Rookie of the Year award with a .285/23/86 hitting line, many owners expected a repeat performance from Soto in 2009. Not so much.

Davis has not lived up to the hype

Davis has not lived up to the hype

First Base – Chris Davis, .216/19/49

This was a close call between Lance Berkman and Chris Davis, but because Davis was so ridiculously over-hyped, Davis wins it. Everyone’s preseason man-crush has fallen flat on his face in 2009.

Things got so bad for Davis that he was sent to the minors in the middle of the season. That my friends, is a bust.

Second Base – Mike Fontenot, .232/9/40

Second base was the hardest position to pick a fantasy bust because so many two-baggers are either having breakout years or their typical years. Fontenot on the other hand, is having neither.

At this point in the season, Fontenot has roughly 100 more AB’s than last year and has the same amount of HR’s (nine), RBI (40), six less runs scored, and his average is 72 points lower than last years.

Not what the Cubs or fantasy owners were expecting this year.

Shortstop – Jose Reyes, .279/2/15

I had a dilemma with this pick. Do I pick the guy who has just sucked all year in JJ Hardy? Or do I pick the guy who has missed the majority of the year with an injury in Jose Reyes?

I will go with Reyes because Reyes, who was taken in the first two rounds in most leagues and crippled a lot of fantasy teams this year. Reyes went on the DL on May 26th and was never heard from again.

Third Base – Alex Gordon, .202/4/12

This was supposed to be the breakout year for Alex Gordon. That’s what I was telling myself when I drafted Gordon in my league. Instead, 2009 has been a disaster for the Royals young third baseman.

Gordon got off to an awful start in April, then had hip surgery, came back, got sent to the minors, and now is back up again. I am not even sure if Gordon is worth keeping in my Keeper League at this point.

Outfield – Milton Bradley, .260/12/39

It seemed like everyone knew this was going to happen except Chicago Cubs’ GM Jim Hendry. Bradley is like the movie GI Joe. Sure, we all knew it was going to suck, but we kind of wanted to see it any way just to see how bad it was going to be.

I mean 39 RBI in 121 games? Pathetic

Outfield – Josh Hamilton, .270/10/49

Hamilton was the feel good story of the 2008 season. His performance in the HR Derby was stuff of legend and he put up a .304/32/130 hitting line.

2009 has been a lost season for Hamilton. He has been hurt the majority of the year and really never found his groove at the plate.

Outfield – Magglio Ordonez, .296/7/40

From 2006-2008, Ordonez averaged 24 HR’s and 115 RBI. In 2009, Ordonez’s power has vanished faster than the storyline’s on Entourage.

Very puzzling how Ordonez has kept his average up, but has lost all his power.

Liriano has been a bust in 2009

Liriano has been a bust in 2009

Starting Pitcher – Francisco Liriano, 5-12 with a 5.71 ERA

Like Alex Gordon previously, this was supposed to be the year for Liriano. He was two years removed from Tommy John surgery, the Minnesota Twins were expected to compete in the AL Central, and at 25, Liriano was going to mature into an ace.

None of the above happened. Liriano is one of the main reasons the Twins are not in first place and is now pitching out of the bullpen

Starting Pitcher – Daisuke Matsuzaka, 1-5 with a 8.23 ERA

Matsuzaka won 18 games in 2008. Going into last night’s action, Matsuzaka has won a grand total of 1 game in 2009.

Fantasy owners can thank Bud Selig’s marketing ploy, otherwise known as the World Baseball Classic for this.

Starting Pitcher – Brandon Webb, 0-0 with a 13.50 ERA

Last year, Webb was 22-7 with a 3.30 ERA and finished second in the Cy Young voting for the second year in a row. All fantasy owners got out of Webb this year, was one lousy start.

Webb was the third overall pick in my league and in most leagues went in the first two rounds. If your first or second pitcher taken doesn’t win a game during the season, it usually spells doom for your team.

Closer – Brad Lidge, 0-7 with a 7.18 ERA and 10 blown saves

Despite having 29 saves this year, Lidge has been a fantasy disaster all season. He doesn’t have a win, he leads the majors in blown saves, and has killed fantasy owners all year long in the ERA category. His WHIP is 1.823 which is not helping the situation either.

Fantasy Week In Review, August 17-23

August 24, 2009

Lot’s of big news in the world of fantasy baseball last week. A couple of potential Keeper League players were called up, there is a new closer in Chicago (about time), and everyone’s preseason man crush will be returning in Texas.

Here are the fantasy studs, the players who have had their fantasy value fall, and the potential pickups for the fantasy week that was August 17 – 23.

Fantasy Studs

Brian Roberts – .379/4/8/.471 with three SB’s. Roberts had a MONSTER week last week. Roberts remains one of the top fantasy second basemen in the game today.

David Ortiz – .400/3/10/.500. Ortiz was hitting the ball so hard last week that he had AJ Burnett talking to himself on the mound.

Hideki Matsui – .261/4/10. Matsui won’t give you average at this point in his career, but he will still hit the long ball and can drive in runs.

Jayson Werth – .440/5/9. Werth is starting to heat up again. When Werth is hot, he brings the Philadelphia Phillies’ lineup to a whole other level.

Adam LaRoche – .419/4/9. One of the most notorious second-half hitters in the game today, LaRoche’s 2009 is no different.

Your 2009 NL Cy Young winner?

Your 2009 NL Cy Young winner?

I still haven’t figured out the Adam LaRoche for Casey Kotchman trade for the Boston Red Sox.

Chris Carpenter – 2-0 with a 1.20 ERA and 14 K’s in 15 IP. Carpenter is making a serious run at the Cy Young award and I think if the season ended today, he just might win it.

Ubaldo Jimenez – 2-0 with a 2.25 ERA and 14 K’s in 16 IP. Jimenez outdueled Tim Lincecum yesterday and is clearly the Colorado Rockies’ ace heading down the stretch.

Jose Valverde – Four saves with a 0.00 ERA and six K’s in four IP. Valverde is making up for the time he missed in the first-half because of a calf injury.

Reasons for Concern

Francisco Liriano – Placed on the 15-day DL because of “left arm fatigue.” I put left arm fatigue in quotes because I just think the Minnesota Twins needed an excuse not to start him.

Liriano is 5-12 with a 5.80 ERA this season and has been one of the main reasons why the Twins are not where they are supposed to be in the AL Central.

Liriano hasn’t been the same since he had Tommy John surgery and has limited fantasy value until he can prove he can pitch effectively on a game to game basis.

Johnny Cueto – Placed on the 15-day DL with right shoulder inflammation. Cueto was terrible in his last eight starts before winding up on the DL.

Cueto was 0-6 with a Tim Stoddard-like ERA of 10.63. This is the second year in a row that Cueto has broken down in the second half.  This is something to consider when drafted Cueto next year.

Kevin Gregg – Who in the Chicago Cubs’ front office thought it was a good idea to make Kevin Gregg their closer? I thought this would be a disaster from the beginning.

After melting down in San Diego last week (Florida Marlin fans are all too familiar with this), the Cubs have removed Gregg from his closer duties.

Gregg has zero fantasy value going forward.

Potential Pickups

Matt LaPorta – LaPorta was called up for a second time by the Cleveland Indians last week and unlike the first time LaPorta got the call, he is actually playing.

LaPorta hit .333 in four games for the Indians last week. LaPorta has a ton of Keeper League potential, so picking him up now might pay off in the future.

Drew Stubbs – If you are looking for stolen bases, Stubbs might be your guy. Another player with Keeper League potential, Stubbs had 46 SB’s in Triple-A before being called up to the Cincinnati Reds.

He projects to be the Reds’ starting centerfielder for the future.

Carlos Marmol – Thanks to Kevin Gregg’s now annual August meltdown, Marmol takes over as the closer for the Cubs.

Marmol is a little too shaky for my liking, but he should be able to pick up a couple of saves down the stretch.

Back but better than ever?

Back but better than ever?

Chris Davis – After hitting .335 with six HR’s for the Oklahoma City Redhawks, Davis is expected to be called back up to the Texas Rangers this week.

The Rangers have tweaked Davis’ batting stance and now think his early season struggles are behind him. Davis is not guaranteed to start, but could potentially take AB’s away from Hank Blalock.

Fantasy Week In Review, June 22-28…

June 29, 2009

The last full week of June means an end to interleague play and a return to normalcy in baseball. Last week was a really interesting week for fantasy baseball. How interesting? Two words – Chad Gaudin.

That’s right, Chad Gaudin was a fantasy stud last week. Here are the other players who were studs last week, along with players who are cause for concern, and a couple of players who might be worth picking up.

Fantasy Studs

Hanley Ramirez – .385/3/15. Even if Josh Beckett helps the Red Sox win 10 more World Series, Theo Epstein would still rather have Hanley Ramirez.

Alex Rodriguez – .368/2/9/.571. Getting lap dances from Kate Hudson in Miami has really rejuvenated the “fatigued” Arod.

Ramirez had a monster fantasy week

Ramirez had a monster fantasy week

Lance Berkman – .389/2/7 with two SB’s. The “Big Puma” has finally decided to join us this year.

Aaron Hill – .346/4/8. If the season ended today, Hill would be in the top five in MVP voting.

David Ortiz – .333/2/5. All of a sudden I don’t hear anyone saying the Red Sox need a DH anymore.

Aaron Cook – 2-0 with a 1.20 ERA and eight K’s in 15 IP. Sooner or later, this guy should get the credit he deserves. He is a very good pitcher.

Chad Gaudin – 2-0 with a 1.20 and 20 K’s in 15 IP. Gaudin threw a one-hitter over eight innings in Texas. I don’t care who you are, that is impressive.

Francisco Liriano – 2-0 with a 3.75 ERA and 12 K’s in 12 IP. It’s good to finally see Liriano get back on track. His seven walks last week were not welcomed, but fantasy owners will take the wins from Liriano.

Reasons for Concern

Adrian Beltre – As I wrote earlier today, Beltre will have surgery to remove bone spurs in his shoulder. Beltre will be out six to eight weeks, thus pretty much ending his fantasy contributions this year.

Beltre is expected back in late August/early September.

Josh Outman – Outman was placed on the 60-Day DLand will visit Dr. James Andrews today. See you in 2011 Mr. Outman.

Mike Lowell – Lowell is getting an injection in his ailing hip today. That just sounds painful. If Lowell doesn’t respond to the injection, there is a chance Lowell could land on the DL.

Lowell is having a good year so far with a .282 average, 10 HR’s, and 41 RBI. Keep an eye on this situation, because losing Lowell for any period of time would be hurtful to your fantasy team.

Matt Lindstrom – Lindstrom is out for six weeks because of an elbow sprain. Lindstrom was shaky at best as the Marlins closer (6.52 ERA and walked 20 in 29 IP), so it’s not like he was pitching like the second coming of Bruce Sutter.

John Maine – Maine was supposed to start Saturday night in Brooklyn, but had to be scratched because of shoulder discomfort. Maine expects to be back after the All-Star break.

“After the All-Star break” in Mets language means Maine won’t be back until September.

Possible Pickups

Leo Nunez/Dan Meyer – Meyer has a 2.03 ERA and is a much better option at this point than Leo Nunez and his 4.01 ERA. However, with Lindstrom on the DL, both of them figure to get an opportunity to save games for the Florida Marlins.

I would wait to see how Fredi Gonzalez plays this. Once he makes his decision as to who is going to get the majority of the saves, pick up that option. Nunez or Meyer should get you some cheap saves, if you need them.

Carlos Carrasco – Carrasco is expected to be called up from Triple-A to face the Braves on Thursday night. Despite not having the greatest year in Triple-A (4.92 ERA), Carrasco has long been one of the Phillies’ top prospects.

It might good a idea to pick Carrasco up now before someone else does. With the Phillies starting staff struggling, if Carrasco pitches well, he might find himself with the Phillies longer than expected.

Fantasy Week In Review 5/25-5/31….

June 1, 2009

The month of May brought us a lot of great performances, and the last week of the month was no exception. As always here are the fantasy studs, the players who might be a concern, players who hit the DL and the potential pickups from the week of 5/25-5/31.

Fantasy Studs

Luke Scott – .444/6/14/.524. Luke used the force and was by far and away, the hottest player in the majors last week.

Mark Teixeira – .357/3/10. Teixeira continues to rake hitting in front of Arod.

Adrian Gonzalez – .333/4/10/.500. I still haven’t figured out why teams pitch to him.

Ryan Howard – .333/4/10. Howard is starting to hit HR’s in bunches. He has scary power.

Nick Blackburn – 2-0 with a 2.08 ERA. Blackburn beat the Red Sox and Rays in the same week. That is a good week.

John Maine – 2-0 with a 0.75 ERA, 9 K’s in 12 IP. Back to back impressive outings against the Nationals and Marlins.

Yovani Gallardo – 1-0 with a 0.68 ERA and 15 K’s in 13.1 IP. Gallardo has established himself as the ace of the Brewers’ staff.

Brad Lidge – 4 saves with 5 K’s and a 0.00 ERA in 3.2 IP. A very nice bounce back week for Lidge, who was a concern two weeks ago.

Reasons for Concern

Fausto Carmona – 0-1 with 11 hits, 8 walks, and a 15.19 ERA in 5.1 IP. It appears Carmona’s 2007 was the fluke, not 2008. I am really surprised the Indians keep sending Carmona out there. He has been terrible. Those 5.1 IP were in two starts by the way. Ouch.

Francisco Liriano – 0-2 with 18 hits and a 10.13 ERA in 8 IP. Liriano hasn’t been the same since his Tommy John surgery a couple of years ago. My guess is the Twins keep sending him out there but it appears Liriano has a short leash in games.

Aaron Harang – 1-1 with a 10.61 ERA with 22 hits in 9.1 IP. Dusty Baker must really not like Harang. Last year Baker had Harang pitch in extra innings on three days rest in a meaningless game in May in San Diego. This year, after a two hour and three minute rain delay, Baker had Harang return to the mound to complete the fifth inning.

I understand Baker wanted Harang to get the win (Reds were leading 6-3 at the time), but that is ridiculous. Baker ruined Harang’s season last year and I hope he hasn’t done the same this year.

Josh Hamilton – Hamilton is off to a slow start this year and was 3 for 23 on the Rangers latest homestand. Today he will go for a MRI to find out exactly what is going on with his groin injury.

This injury has been lingering for some time now, so it’s about time Hamilton gets some answers. Hamilton had a great first half and a slow second half in 2009. Perhaps it’s the complete opposite this year.

Injuries

There were a rash of injuries at the beginning of last week. I wrote about those injured players here. Here are some other players who also landed on the DL last week.

Khalil Greene – Placed on the 15 Day DL because of an anxiety disorder. Zack Greinke and Dontrelle Willis suffered from the same disorder, so hopefully Greene can come back from this. There is no time table for Greene’s return.

Carlos Quentin – Placed on the 15 Day DL because of plantar fasciitis. I wrote about this injury here.

Joey Votto – Placed on the 15 Day DL because of stress related issues. Apparently Votto is dealing with stress that is linked to his struggles dealing with an inner ear infection. Now, I don’t want to sound insensitive because I have never had an ear infection but, is an inner ear infection really that stressful? Something is not adding up here.

Grady Sizemore – Placed on the 15 Day DL with inflammation in his left elbow. Sizemore has been a HUGE disappointment so far hitting only .223 on the season. Sizemore will not swing a bat or throw a ball for two weeks. He is ruining a lot of fantasy teams this year.

Potential Pickups

Gerardo Parra – Parra has done nothing but impress since being called up in early May. Parra has hit .319 with three doubles and three triples in 16 games. Parra appears to have an everyday job in Arizona either as a leftfielder or centerfielder so he is worth the pickup, especially in keeper leagues.

Gordon Beckham – It appears the White Sox are growing tired of Josh Fields at third because Beckham is starting to play games at third in the minors. Once Gordon gets comfortable at third he will be in the majors playing that position. Gordon is a top prospect, so picking him now before another owner does might be a smart move.

Andrew Bailey – Even though it’s not official, it looks like Bailey has replaced Brad Ziegler as the A’s closer. Bailey is already 4-0 with two saves and a 2.23 ERA, so he is definitely worth a pickup.

The “Key” Player For Each MLB Team…

March 4, 2009

Yesterday, in Part 1 of my “The key player each MLB team” column, I covered all 16 National League teams. Well, today it is time to cover all 14 teams in the American League.

Teams are listed by division.

AL East

Blue Jays – David Purcey. I believe the Blue Jays offense will be fine due to having Adam Lind, Travis Snyder and Aaron Hill in the lineup for the full season. That means someone needs to step up behind Roy Halladay. With the loss of AJ Burnett to free agency and Shaun Marcum and Dustin McGowen to injuries, former 1st round pick David Purcey needs to step up in order for the Blue Jays to even think of having a chance in the AL East.

Orioles – Jeremy Guthrie. The Orioles need an ace and a leader of their pitching staff and Guthrie has the potential to be that guy. At 30 years old, it’s time for Guthrie to step up, pitch 200 innings and be the ace of the Orioles staff.

Can Percival return as the Rays closer?

Can Percival return as the Rays closer?

Rays – Troy Percival. I think the Rays are playing with fire by going into the season with an uncertain closer situation. According to Rays Index, Troy Percival is ahead of schedule and while I am not sure how good that is for the Rays, a healthy Percival means guys like Wheeler and Balfour can pitch in their appropriate role of set-up men.

Red Sox – Mike Lowell. Just like Chase Utley, Lowell had hip surgery in the offseason. The Red Sox need a healthy Lowell to add depth and stability to the lineup. If Lowell can get back to at least a 20 hr and 80 rbi season, the Red Sox will once again be contenders for a World Series title.

Yankees – Jorge Posada.This was a toss-up between AJ Burnett and Jorge Posada. In the end Posada is the “key” because if Posada can’t play behind the plate because of his shoulder, it affects the entire roster. If Posada can’t catch then the Yankees will have to carry a 3rd catcher which would weaken there bench and Posada would have to DH, which would take away ab’s from Matsui, Nady and Swisher.

AL Central

Indians – Travis Hafner. A shoulder injury limited Hafner to only 57 games in 2008. Even in those 57 games, Hafner hit only .197/5/24. Very un-Hafner like. The Indians are proceeding with caution with Hafner but they need “Pronk” to return to the 25 hr and 100 rbi guy they are used to.

Royals – Kyle Davies. It seems like Davies has been around forever but he is only 25 years old. He is just entering his prime pitching years and a solid September in 08 (4-1, 2.27) lead many to believe Davies has turned the corner. The Royals need someone from the trio of Davies, Bannister & Hochevar to step up behind Meche and Greinke. If Davies can be that guy, the Royals might be headed to the post-season for the 1st time since 1985.

Tigers – Joel Zumaya. Zumaya burst onto the scene in 2006 and was one of the key reasons the Tigers went to the World Series for the 1st time since 1984. In the last 2 seasons, Zumaya has only appeared in 49 games because of injuries. Still only 24, a healthy Zumaya in 2009 gives the Tigers one of the best 8th inning set-up men in the game and will help them improve on their 27th ranked bullpen in 2008.

Liriano is the key for the Twins in 09

Liriano is the key for the Twins in 09

Twins – Francisco Liriano. I love the Twins this year but they will only go as far as Francisco Liriano takes them. At 25 and over 2 years removed from Tommy John surgery, Liriano has the potential to be a Cy Young candidate in 09. If Liriano can get back to his 06 12-3, 2.16 form, the Twins will be a serious contender for the AL Pennant.

White Sox – Josh Fields. With Joe Crede finally out of his way, it’s time for Josh Fields to prove he is just not another top prospect but a legit major league player. Fields had a solid rookie season in 2007 when he hit 23 hr and had 67 rbi in 100 games but injuries derailed his 2008 season. If Fields can’t get back to his rookie form, the White Sox are looking at a combination of Wilson Betemit and Brent Lillibridge at 3B. Not good.

AL West

Angels – Brian Fuentes. I always viewed Fuentes as a nice lefty set-up guy rather than a Closer for a team trying to win a World Series. For those who argue Fuentes was on the Rockies team that made it to the World Series in 07. Remember, he lost the Closer’s job to Manny Corpas during that season and he wasn’t even the Closer when the season began last year. Fuentes will have a lot of pressure on him to replace the departed Francisco Rodriguez. If he can’t handle the pressure, the Angels will have to scramble to find a Closer.

A’s – Dana Eveland. The A’s went for it on offense this offseason by adding Holliday, Giambi, Cabrera and Garciaparra. Now with reports that Justin Duchscher will have an MRI on his forearm there is even more pressure on someone on the A’s rotation to make an impact. That person needs to be Dana Eveland. One of the key players in the Haren trade, Eveland needs to improve on his 9-9 2008 record in order for the A’s to compete with the Angels for the AL West crown.

Can Bedard stay healthy in 09?

Can Bedard stay healthy in 09?

Mariners – Erik Bedard. The rebuilding Mariners need more than ever for Bedard to stay healthy and pitch like he did in his 15 win season with the Orioles in 2006. Why you ask? Because Bedard is a free agent at the end of the 2009 season and you better believe that if Bedard is pitching well, the Mariners will ask for a king’s ransom for the 29 year old lefty at the July 31st trading deadline. If the Mariners can get some top prospects for Bedard, it will speed up their rebuilding process.

Rangers – Matt Harrison. It seems like it has been the same question in Rangers camp for the last 20 years. Who is going to pitch for this team? So this years “key pitcher de jour” is Matt Harrison. Harrison was the key pitcher in the Mark Teixeira trade a couple of years ago and despite having an era of 5.49 he still managed to go 9-3 in 2008. The Rangers know what they are going to get from Millwood and Padilla, so the development of young pitchers like Harrison is key for the Rangers in 09.