Grapefruit League, Cactus League previews

02/15/2014 6:18 PM

02/16/2014 4:28 PM

Cactus League

Arizona Diamondbacks

Spring site: Scottsdale

Last year: 81-81 (second, NL West)

New faces: RHP Addison Reed (White Sox), OF Mark Trumbo (Angels)

Former faces: OF Adam Eaton (White Sox), LHP Tyler Skaggs (Angels), INF Willie Bloomquist (Mariners), RHP Heath Bell (Rays), C Wil Nieves (Phillies)

Spring outlook: Being scheduled for MLB’s season-opening series against the Dodgers in Australia meant the good fortune of spring training starting earlier. The D-backs will try to get over the .500 mark this season. They have the makings of a decent rotation led by Patrick Corbin, Wade Miley and Trevor Cahill, and the bullpen got a boost with the addition of closer Addison Reed. Offensively, Paul Goldschmidt had an MVP-caliber season last year, and big things are expected out of newly acquired slugger Mark Trumbo.

Chicago Cubs

Spring site: Mesa

Last year: 66-96 (fifth, NL Central)

New faces: RHP Jason Hammel (Orioles), RHP Jose Veras (Tigers), OF Justin Ruggiano (Marlins), LHP Wesley Wright (Rays)

Former faces: C Dioner Navarro (Blue Jays), RHP Kevin Gregg, RHP Scott Baker (Mariners)

Spring outlook: The Cubs have talented young prospects in their organization, so the future is bright. This year, though, is not. The projected Opening Day lineup does not feature a batter who hit .300 last season and only two — Anthony Rizzo and Nate Schierholtz — who drove in more than 50 runs. The pitching staff is shaky, with four of the five starters having losing records last season, including three with an ERA north of 4.00.

Chicago White Sox

Spring site: Glendale

Last year: 63-99 (fifth, AL Central)

New faces: 1B Jose Abreu (Cuba), OF Adam Eaton (Diamondbacks), RHP Ronald Belisario (Dodgers)

Former faces: RHP Addison Reed (Diamondbacks), LHP Hector Santiago (Angels), INF Brent Morel (Blue Jays), RHP Gavin Floyd (Braves)

Spring outlook: They disappointed last season but should be more competitive this season. Chris Sale is among the best pitchers in the AL, and Jose Quintana is a solid No. 2 starter. The bullpen and offense are question marks. Addison Reed was traded, and Nate Jones is penciled in as the closer. Offensively, the White Sox are hoping Jose Abreu’s power translates from Cuba to the U.S. and Adam Eaton becomes a threat from the leadoff spot.

Cincinnati Reds

Spring site: Goodyear

Last year: 90-72 (third, NL Central)

New faces: INF/OF Skip Schumacher (Dodgers), C Brayan Pena (Tigers), INF Ramon Santiago (Tigers)

Former faces: OF Shin-Soo Choo (Rangers), RHP Bronson Arroyo (Diamondbacks), C Ryan Hanigan (Rays)

Spring outlook: Dusty Baker had the Reds in the playoffs three of the last four years, but they were knocked out early each October. Enter Bryan Price, who was promoted from pitching coach to manager. He inherits a contender with a strong staff led by Johnny Cueto, Mat Latos and Homer Bailey. Offensively, the Reds remain a dangerous lineup with Joey Votto in the middle, along with Brandon Phillips and Jay Bruce. The unknown going into spring training is whether the speedy Billy Hamilton can handle the leadoff spot.

Cleveland Indians

Spring site: Goodyear

Last year: 92-70 (second, AL Central)

New faces: OF David Murphy (Rangers), 3B David Adams (Yankees), RHP David Aardsma (Mets), RHP John Axford (Cardinals), LHP Josh Outman (Rockies)

Former faces: OF Drew Stubbs (Rockies), RHP Joe Smith (Angels), RHP Chris Perez (Dodgers), LHP Scott Kazmir (Athletics), RHP Matt Albers (Astros)

Spring outlook: They had a 24-game improvement in the win column from 2012 to last season and earned the top wild-card berth. Much of the team is back, including starters Justin Masterson, Corey Kluber and Danny Salazar. Offensively, Jason Kipnis is coming off a breakout season, and Michael Bourn and Nick Swisher each fared fairly well in their debut seasons with the Tribe. The off-season was spent with mostly minor adjustments such as adding David Murphy to play right field and John Axford to close.

Colorado Rockies

Spring site: Scottsdale

Last year: 74-88 (fifth, NL West)

New faces: OF Drew Stubbs (Indians), OF Brandon Barnes (Astros), LHP Brett Anderson (Athletics), RHP LaTroy Hawkins (Mets), LHP Boone Logan (Yankees), RHP Jordan Lyles (Astros), 1B Justin Morneau (Pirates), LHP Franklin Morales (Red Sox)

Former faces: 1B Todd Helton (retired), OF Dexter Fowler (Astros), INF Jonathan Herrera (Red Sox), LHP Josh Outman (Indians), C Yorvit Torrealba (Angels)

Spring outlook: Injuries to stars Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez certainly hurt the Rockies last season. This year they are banking on healthy seasons from those two and have deepened their outfield options by adding Drew Stubbs and Brandon Barnes. They also signed Justin Morneau to replace longtime face of the franchise Todd Helton, who retired. Pitching-wise, the Rockies have lefty Jorge De La Rosa and righty Jhoulys Chacin at the top of their rotation, and are counting on 41-year-old LaTroy Hawkins to close out games.

Kansas City Royals

Spring site: Surprise

Last year: 86-76 (third, AL Central)

New faces: OF Norichika Aoki (Brewers), 2B Omar Infante (Tigers), LHP Jason Vargas (Angels), 3B Danny Valencia (Orioles)

Former faces: RHP Ervin Santana, LHP Will Smith (Brewers), 2B Chris Getz (Blue Jays), RHP Luis Mendoza (Japan), OF David Lough (Orioles)

Spring outlook: They haven’t been to the playoffs since 1985 and have the dubious distinction of being one of only two teams – along with the Blue Jays – without a playoff berth since 2001. But optimism is high in KC. The Royals had a winning season last year, and the belief is that they could take the next step with one of the top defensive teams in the game. They also have a true No. 1 pitcher in James Shields and an elite closer in Greg Holland. Offensively, Eric Hosmer, Billy Butler and Alex Gordon form a respectable 3-4-5 and Norichika Aoki, acquired from the Brewers this off-season, is expected to bat leadoff.

Los Angeles Angels

of Anaheim

Spring site: Tempe

Last year: 78-84 (third, AL West)

New faces: LHP Tyler Skaggs (Diamondbacks), LHP Hector Santiago (White Sox), RHP Joe Smith (Indians), OF Raul Ibanez (Mariners), 3B David Freese (Cardinals), RHP Fernando Salas (Cardinals), 1B Carlos Pena (Astros), LHP Mark Mulder (retirement)

Former faces: 1B Mark Trumbo (Diamondbacks), OF Peter Bourjos (Cardinals), LHP Jason Vargas (Royals), RHP Jerome Williams (Astros)

Spring outlook: After two years of making mega splurges during the off-season, signing Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton in consecutive winters, the Angels had a relatively quiet off-season. And there is not much hype surrounding the team, although they still have the talent to contend. If Pujols and Hamilton return to form, and Mike Trout continues to play at an MVP-level, they could have one of the more potent lineups. As far as the pitching staff, Jered Weaver and C.J. Wilson lead the rotation and Ernesto Frieri is a reliable closer.

Los Angeles Dodgers

Spring site: Glendale

Last year: 92-70 (first, NL West)

New faces: 2B Alex Guerrero (Cuba), RHP Dan Haren (Nationals), RHP Chris Perez (Indians), RHP Jamey Wright (Rays), OF Mike Baxter (Mets)

Former faces: RHP Ricky Nolasco (Twins), RHP Ronald Belisario (White Sox), INF Mark Ellis (Cardinals), INF/ OF Skip Schumaker (Reds)

Spring outlook: They showed they’re theirwilling to spend their money, signing Clayton Kershaw to a record pitching contract in the off-season and also extending manager Don Mattingly. All signs point to them contending once again, although questions remain about Matt Kemp’s health and how Cuban second baseman Alex Guerrero translates to the big leagues.

Milwaukee Brewers

Spring site: Phoenix

Last year: 74-88 (fourth, NL Central)

New faces: RHP Matt Garza (Rangers), LHP Will Smith (Royals), 1B Mark Reynolds (Yankees), RHP Francisco Rodriguez (Orioles)

Former faces: 1B Corey Hart (Mariners), OF Norichika Aoki (Royals)

Spring outlook: The Brewers had a forgettable season last year with injuries and then a performance-enhancing drug suspension to star outfielder Ryan Braun. This year, they are hoping things turn around. Braun is back and will try to restore a little bit of good faith in him. The rotation got a boost with the signing of Matt Garza, who will join Kyle Lohse and Fort Worth native Yovani Gallardo in it. The bullpen, meanwhile, is less experienced than it has been in the past and could be a cause for concern.

Oakland Athletics

Spring site: Phoenix

Last year: 96-66 (first, AL West)

New faces: LHP Scott Kazmir (Indians), RHP Jim Johnson (Orioles), RHP Luke Gregerson (Padres), LHP Drew Pomeranz (Rockies), OF Craig Gentry (Rangers), INF Nick Punto (Dodgers)

Former faces: RHP Bartolo Colon (Mets), RHP Grant Balfour (Rays), LHP Brett Anderson (Rockies), LHP Jerry Blevins (Nationals), OF Chris Young (Mets), OF Seth Smith (Padres)

Spring outlook: Despite a limited payroll, the A’s have emerged as the best team in the AL West the past two seasons despite the high-spending efforts by the Angels and Rangers. Oakland is looking for a three-peat behind a strong pitching staff and versatile offense. The rotation features talented young pitchers such as Jarrod Parker, Sonny Gray and A.J. Griffin, and former Orioles closer Jim Johnson was acquired to take over Grant Balfour’s spot. The A’s also acquired speed off the bench in Craig Gentry this winter.

San Diego Padres

Spring site: Peoria

Last year: 76-86 (tied third, NL West)

New faces: OF Seth Smith (Athletics), LHP Alex Torres (Rays), RHP Josh Johnson (Blue Jays), RHP Joaquin Benoit (Tigers)

Former faces: INF Logan Forsythe (Rays), RHP Luke Gregerson (Athletics), OF Mark Kotsay (unsigned)

Spring outlook: The Padres appear positioned to make their first postseason run since 2006. They spent money in free agency, signing starter Josh Johnson and reliever Joaquin Benoit, and also were active on the trade market to land Seth Smith. Former TCU standout Andrew Cashner had a breakout season in the rotation last year, as did Tyson Ross. Offensively, they need their core players such as Chase Headley, Carlos Quentin and Yonder Alonso to stay healthy.

San Francisco Giants

Spring site: Scottsdale

Last year: 76-86 (tied third, NL West)

New faces: OF Michael Morse (Orioles), RHP Tim Hudson (Braves), LHP David Huff (Yankees)

Former faces: LHP Barry Zito (unsigned), RHP Chad Gaudin (Phillies), OF Andres Torres (unsigned), LHP Jose Mijares (Red Sox)

Spring outlook: A year after winning their second World Series in three seasons, the Giants relinquished control of the NL West. They still have much of the same team that won it all two years ago and are hoping to re-establish themselves. The biggest setback was an underperforming rotation, but the talent is still there along with savvy veteran Tim Hudson. Offensively, Buster Posey remains an MVP-caliber player and Hunter Pence is coming off a strong season. However, they’ll need to get more production out of Pablo Sandoval, who hasn’t batted .300 or reached the 20-homer mark the past two seasons.

Seattle Mariners

Spring site: Peoria

Last year: 71-91 (fourth, AL West)

New faces: 2B Robinson Cano (Yankees), DH/1B Corey Hart (Brewers), OF Logan Morrison (Marlins), RHP Fernando Rodney (Rays), INF Willie Bloomquist (Diamondbacks)

Former faces: DH Kendrys Morales, OF Raul Ibanez (Angels), LHP Joe Saunders (unsigned)

Spring outlook: The offensive-starved Mariners made the biggest splash of the off-season by luring top free agent Robinson Cano to the Pacific Northwest with a $240 million contract. They also signed Corey Hart and traded for Logan Morrison to boost their offense. The pitching staff is solid with Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma leading the rotation, and Fernando Rodney is set to take over the closing spot. But it’s still hard to put the Mariners ahead of the Athletics, Rangers and Angels in the division race.

Texas Rangers

Spring site: Surprise

Last year: 91-72 (second, AL West)

New faces: 1B Prince Fielder (Tigers), OF Shin-Soo Choo (Reds), C J.P. Arencibia (Blue Jays), RHP Tommy Hanson (Angels), OF Michael Choice (Athletics)

Former faces: 2B Ian Kinsler (Tigers), OF Nelson Cruz (unsigned), RHP Joe Nathan (Tigers), RHP Matt Garza (Brewers), C A.J. Pierzynski (Red Sox), OF David Murphy (Indians), OF Craig Gentry (Athletics), INF/OF Jeff Baker (Marlins)

Spring outlook: The Rangers have played more than 162 games in each of the past four seasons, but the last two seasons have ended earlier than expected. So the team has revamped its roster. They traded longtime second baseman Ian Kinsler for slugger Prince Fielder, and also handed outfielder Shin-Soo Choo the second-biggest free agent contract (10 years, $130 million) in franchise history. The pitching staff remains intact for the most part, although losing Derek Holland for at least half the season to a non-baseball injury is a major blow. And it remains to be seen if Neftali Feliz can return to his All-Star form as a closer.

Grapefruit League

Atlanta Braves

Spring site: Lake Buena Vista

Last year: 96-66 (first, NL East)

New faces: RHP Gavin Floyd (White Sox), C/OF Ryan Doumit (Twins)

Former faces: C Brian McCann (Yankees), LHP Paul Maholm (Dodgers), OF Reed Johnson (Marlins), RHP Tim Hudson (Giants), LHP Scott Downs (White Sox)

Spring outlook: The Braves have always been known for pitching and their staff allowed the fewest runs (548) last season. The bullpen is among the best in the game behind closer Craig Kimbrel. Offensively, the Braves are banking on Freddie Freeman to stay at an elite level, handing him the largest contract (eight years, $135 million) in franchise history. But they also need more production from the Upton brothers, especially B.J., who hit .184 last season.

Baltimore Orioles

Spring site: Sarasota

Last year: 85-77 (tied third, AL East)

New faces: OF David Lough (Royals), 2B Jemile Weeks (A’s), RHP Ryan Webb (Marlins)

Former faces: RHP Jim Johnson (A’s), 1B Mike Morse (Giants), OF Nate McLouth (Nationals), RHP Scott Feldman (Astros), RHP Jason Hammel (Cubs), RHP Francisco Rodriguez (Brewers), 2B Brian Roberts (Yankees)

Spring outlook: Chris Davis had a monster season at the plate, leading the AL with 53 home runs, and the Orioles need that to carry over. They also need more production out of Matt Wieters, who posted career lows in batting average and on-base percentage. However, the pitching staff is the greatest concern. They traded closer Jim Johnson to the A’s, backed out of a deal for Grant Balfour and are nowlooking to Tommy Hunter to fill that role. There also isn’t a clear-cut ace in the rotation.

Boston Red Sox

Spring site: Fort Myers

Last year: 97-65 (first, AL East)

New faces: A.J. Pierzynski (Rangers), OF Grady Sizemore (Indians), RHP Edward Mujica (Cardinals), INF Jonathan Herrera (Rockies)

Former faces: OF Jacoby Ellsbury (Yankees), C Jarrod Saltalamacchia (Marlins), SS Stephen Drew (unsigned)

Spring outlook: The defending World Series champions made quite a turnaround last season, going from worst-to-first. They are looking to become the first team to win back-to-back championships in more than a decade. Jacoby Ellsbury and Jarrod Saltalamacchia are gone, but Jackie Bradley appears to be ready for a regular outfield spot and veteran A.J. Pierzynski has been a steady presence behind the plate for the past 13 years.

Detroit Tigers

Spring site: Lakeland

Last year: 93-69 (first, AL Central)

New faces: 2B Ian Kinsler (Rangers), RHP Joe Nathan (Rangers), OF Rajai Davis (Blue Jays), RHP Joba Chamberlain (Yankees), LHP Ian Krol (Nationals)

Former faces: 1B Prince Fielder (Rangers), RHP Doug Fister (Nationals), RHP Joaquin Benoit (Padres)

Spring outlook: They have become the dominant team in the AL Central, but will have a new manager, Brad Ausmus, at the helm. That isn’t the only major change, though, after the blockbuster trade sending Prince Fielder to Texas for Ian Kinsler. The trade allows two-time reigning MVP Miguel Cabrera to move from third to first, and also fills the void at second. But Detroit’s greatest strength might be its rotation behind Justin Verlander, who had off-season surgery but is expected to be ready by the start of the season, Max Scherzer and Anibal Sanchez.

Houston Astros

Spring site: Kissimmee

Last year: 51-111 (fifth, AL West)

New faces: RHP Scott Feldman (Orioles), OF Dexter Fowler (Rockies), RHP Chad Qualls (Marlins), RHP Matt Albers (Indians), RHP Jerome Williams (Angels), RHP Jesse Crain (White Sox)

Former faces: LHP Erik Bedard, RHP Jordan Lyles (Rockies), OF Brandon Barnes (Rockies)

Spring outlook: The Astros have had three consecutive 100-loss seasons, including a franchise-worst 111 losses last year. But there is a growing sense of optimism in Houston with the top farm system in the game and pieces that have been added to make them more competitive this season. They aren’t expected to contend yet, but they should be one of the more improved clubs.

Miami Marlins

Spring site: Jupiter

Last year: 62-100 (fifth, NL East)

New faces: C Jarrod Saltalamacchia (Red Sox), SS Rafael Furcal (Cardinals), 1B Garrett Jones (Pirates), RHP Carlos Marmol (Dodgers), OF Brian Bogusevic (Cubs), 3B Casey McGehee (Japan), RHP Carter Capps (Mariners), INF/OF Jeff Baker (Rangers)

Former faces: 1B Logan Morrison (Mariners), OF Justin Ruggiano (Cubs), RHP Chad Qualls (Astros), OF Juan Pierre (unsigned), 3B Placido Polanco (unsigned)

Spring outlook: Jose Fernandez won the rookie of the year award and has the making of being a true No. 1 pitcher, and will lead what has a chance of being a solid rotation. However, the offense remains a question mark. They scored the fewest runs in all of baseball (513) last season, and were also last in home runs, batting average and slugging percentage. Most of their off-season additions were made to spark the offense.

Minnesota Twins

Spring site: Fort Myers

Last year: 66-96 (fourth, AL Central)

New faces: RHP Ricky Nolasco (Dodgers), RHP Phil Hughes (Yankees), C Kurt Suzuki (Athletics), DH Jason Kubel (Diamondbacks)

Former faces: 1B Justin Morneau (Rockies), C Ryan Doumit (Braves)

Spring outlook: They needed pitching and they spent big money, at least for a team like the Twins, to do just that. Ricky Nolasco got a four-year, $49 million deal, and Phil Hughes came on board with a three-year, $24 million deal. They also re-signed Mike Pelfrey, and brought in veteran catcher Kurt Suzuki. The offense didn’t get much help and the team is simply banking on more production and healthy seasons from Joe Mauer, now an everyday first baseman, Josh Willingham and Trevor Plouffe.

New York Mets

Spring site: Port St. Lucie

Last year: 74-88 (third, NL East)

New faces: RHP Bartolo Colon (Athletics), OF Curtis Granderson (Yankees), OF Chris Young (Athletics), RHP Kyle Farnsworth (Pirates)

Former faces: RHP LaTroy Hawkins (Rockies)

Spring outlook: There’s no doubt they’ll miss Matt Harvey, who is likely out for the season after undergoing Tommy John elbow surgery. But there is some hope with the additions of starter Bartolo Colon, an 18-game winner last year, and outfielders Curtis Granderson and Chris Young. The intriguing local storyline line is when/if Mansfield Legacy’s Noah Syndergaard will make his big league debut.

New York Yankees

Spring site: Tampa

Last year: 85-77 (tied third, AL East)

New faces: OF Jacoby Ellsbury (Red Sox), C Brian McCann (Braves), OF Carlos Beltran (Cardinals), RHP Masahiro Tanaka (Japan), LHP Matt Thornton (Red Sox), 2B Brian Roberts (Orioles), 3B Kelly Johnson (Rays)

Former faces: 2B Robinson Cano (Mariners), RHP Joba Chamberlain (Tigers), OF Curtis Granderson (Mets), RHP Phil Hughes (Twins), LHP Andy Pettitte (retired), RHP Mariano Rivera (retired), OF Vernon Wells (unsigned), DH Travis Hafner (unsigned)

Spring outlook: Longtime Yankee greats Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettitte retired, and embattled slugger Alex Rodriguez is out for at least 2014 on a performance-enhancing drug suspension. So the team has revamped its roster by spending more than a half-billion dollars this off-season. It’ll be interesting to see if it pays off. The biggest additions were outfielders Jacoby Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran, catcher Brian McCann and Japanese right-hander Masahiro Tanaka. But how the team fares also hinges on bounce-back seasons from CC Sabathia, Mark Teixeira and Derek Jeter.

Philadelphia Phillies

Spring site: Clearwater

Last year: 73-89 (fourth, NL East)

New faces: OF Marlon Byrd (Pirates), RHP Roberto Hernandez (Rays), RHP Alfredo Gonzalez (Cuba), C Wil Nieves (Diamondbacks), RHP Brad Lincoln (Blue Jays), RHP A.J. Burnett (Pirates)

Former faces: RHP Roy Halladay (retired)

Spring outlook: The Phillies haven’t been to the postseason since 2011, and didn’t undergo too much of a makeover this off-season. They are counting on internal veteran players such as Cole Hamels, Cliff Lee, Ryan Howard and Jimmy Rollins to rebound and carry the team back to the postseason. The big question mark is what kind of impact Cuban right-hander Alfredo Gonzalez will have on the club.

Pittsburgh Pirates

Spring site: Bradenton

Last year: 94-68 (second, NL Central)

New faces: RHP Edinson Volquez (Dodgers), C Chris Stewart (Yankees), OF Jaff Decker (Padres)

Former faces: RHP A.J. Burnett, OF Garrett Jones (Marlins), C Michael McKenry (Rockies), OF Marlon Byrd (Phillies), 1B Justin Morneau (Rockies)

Spring outlook: They made the postseason for the first time since 1992 last season, and getting back looks like a challenge. The Pirates go into spring with questions about who will replace A.J. Burnett in the rotation, who will play first base and who will play right field. But they return a solid nucleus headlined by outfielder and reigning MVP winner Andrew McCutchen, closer Jason Grilli and starters Francisco Liriano and Gerrit Cole.

St. Louis Cardinals

Spring site: Jupiter

Last year: 97-65 (first, NL Central)

New faces: 2B Mark Ellis (Dodgers), SS Jhonny Peralta (Tigers), OF Peter Bourjos (Angels)

Former faces: 3B David Freese (Angels), OF Carlos Beltran (Yankees), RHP Chris Carpenter (retired), RHP Edward Mujica (Red Sox), RHP Jake Westbrook (unsigned)

Spring outlook: The Cardinals won the NL pennant last season and expectations remain high. The pitching staff appears to be in good hands with Adam Wainwright at the top of the rotation followed by Shelby Miller, Michael Wacha and Jaime Garcia. Offensively, Carlos Beltran will be missed but TCU product Matt Carpenter had a breakout season and Yadier Molina remains one of the top catchers in the game. To fill the void at shortstop, the Cards were willing to look past Peralta’s ties in the Biogenesis of America scandal.

Tampa Bay Rays

Spring site: Port Charlotte

Last year: 92-71 (second, AL East)

New faces: RHP Grant Balfour (Athletics), RHP Heath Bell (Diamondbacks), INF/OF Logan Forsythe (Padres), C Ryan Hanigan (Reds)

Former faces: LHP Alex Torres (Padres), INF/OF Kelly Johnson (Yankees), RHP Fernando Rodney (Mariners)

Spring outlook: Most of the pieces from last year’s playoff team are back. The pitching staff remains strong with David Price, Matt Moore, Alex Cobb and Chris Archer in the rotation, and newly signed Grant Balfour at the back of the bullpen. Offensively, the Rays will continue to rely on Evan Longoria and Ben Zobrist in the middle of it, as well as reigning rookie of the year Wil Myers.

Toronto Blue Jays

Spring site: Dunedin

Last year: 74-88 (fifth, AL East)

New faces: C Dioner Navarro (Cubs), INF Brent Morel (White Sox)

Former faces: C J.P. Arencibia (Rangers), RHP Josh Johnson (Padres)

Spring outlook: Last spring, they were a popular pick to reach the World Series. But that fell apart because of injuries and lack of performance. Not too many changes were made this off-season, and the hope is that a change of fortune for several of their players will turn the tide. Just don’t expect anyone to be fooled into picking them as World Series contenders yet. , as the Blue Jays are still searching for their first postseason berth since 1993.

Washington Nationals

Spring site: Viera

Last year: 86-76 (second, NL East)

New faces: RHP Doug Fister (Tigers), OF Nate McLouth (Orioles), LHP Jerry Blevins (Athletics), INF Jamey Carroll (Royals)

Former faces: LHP Fernando Abad (Athletics), RHP Dan Haren (Dodgers), LHP Eric Krol (Tigers), INF Steve Lombardozzi (Tigers)

Spring outlook: Matt Williams is the new manager and expectations are high for the Nats. They have one of the best rotations in baseball with Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, Jordan Zimmerman and Doug Fister, and a solid bullpen. Offensively, Bryce Harper is a dynamic player, Jayson Werth had a 25-homer, 82-RBI season and Ryan Zimmerman is one of the top third basemen in the game.

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