Things to Know at the Beginning of the 2012 Season…

Los Angeles Angels
*Mark Trumbo is struggling to transition to 3B (though he has started 2/4 games there so far), so don’t count on him getting every day ABs there… and he won’t likely get full-time PT elsewhere with Morales healthy and Abreu still on the roster
*They’re going with a 4-man rotation until they need a 5th starter April 15th, which will likely be Jerome Williams

Houston Astros
*Altuve say vs. a lefty in favor of Brian Bixler earlier… it might have just been a one-day thing, but keep an eye on the situation.  He’s hitting 2nd when he does play, though that may change when Lowrie returns
*Chris Johnson is the starter at 3B
*Lucas Harrell and Kyle Weiland are in the rotation, not that you should care
*Myers is the closer

Oakland Athletics
*Cespedes is launching homers and may be the new clean-up hitter
*Seth Smith and Johnny Gomes are platooning
*Daric Barton is back from the DL and is their starting 1B “for the most part” according to manager Bob Melvin
*Sogard and Donaldson are sharing time at 3B
*Graham Godfrey is in the rotation, not that you should care
*They’re going with a 4-man rotation until they need a 5th starter April 17th, which will likely be Tyson Ross
*Balfour is the closer

Toronto Blue Jays
*Lind’s back will likely bother him all season
*Lawrie is hitting 6th and looks like the real deal
*Thames should be the every day starter in LF, though Davis and Francisco lurk
*Rasmus is hitting 9th
*Drabek and Carreno are in the rotation, though Carreno was sent down after his start until the Jays need a 5th starter again

Atlanta Braves
*Heyward is hitting 7th
*Pastornicky sat against a lefty on Sunday
*The Braves traded for Juan Francisco to be the backup at 3B in case anything happens to Chipper Jones
*Delgado will get his first start on April 11th and will likely be skipped whenever possible as the 5th starter

Milwaukee Brewers
*Corey Hart is healthy to start the season and has 3 HR already
*Marcum is healthy and will debut April 9th

St. Louis Cardinals
*Beltran is hitting 2nd
*Jon Jay looks like he will sit vs. lefties
*Descalso looks like he will get the lion’s share of PT at 2B over Tyler Greene
*Lance Lynn is in the rotation

Chicago Cubs
*DeJesus, LaHair, and Stewart were all out of the lineup when they faced a lefty
*Barney is the #2 hitter
*Byrd is the #7 hitter
*Jeff Samardzija is in the rotation and nearly pitched a CG in his first start
*Chris Volstad is also in the rotation, not that you should care
*Carlos Marmol looks REALLY SHAKY right now, though Kerry Wood looks just as bad and there’s really no one else there to take over

Arizona Diamondbacks
*Kubel’s quad isn’t 100% yet, which could be the reason Parra started for him on Sunday, but it’ll be interesting to see if Kubel starts every day when he’s 100% healthy or if Parra will continue to get starts over him occasionally
*Collmenter was terrible in his first outing… Bauer might be up sooner than you think

Los Angeles Dodgers
*Juan Rivera looks like he’ll play just about every day between LF and 1B
*The Dodgers won’t need a 5th starter until April 14th, at which time Lilly should be ready to go
*Javy Guerra is 2/2 in save opps while Jansen has already imploded once… don’t assume Jansen eventually takes over here

San Francisco Giants
*Brandon Belt (vs righties) will platoon with Brett Pill (vs lefties) at 1B, at least to start the season, with Posey also getting some starts at 1B (likely against lefties) when he needs a day off from catching
*Pagan will likely lose starts in the OF to Blanco and Schierholtz
*Aubrey Huff is starting in LF
*Theriot and Burriss are sharing time at 2B until Freddy Sanchez returns
*Giants will go with 4 starters until they need a 5th starter on April 15th, which is when Vogelsong is expected back

Cleveland Indians
*Shelley Duncan will start most days in LF
*Jack Hannahan will start most days at 3B
*Ubaldo looked healthy in his first start, where he gave up 1 hit and 3 walks in 7 innings with 3 strikeouts
*Though Chris Perez blew a save on Opening Day, Pestano hasn’t looked much better, and Perez got the save Sunday… don’t expect Perez to lose the job this season.  In Cleveland, the bullpen is a tight-knit group that call themselves the “Bullpen Mafia” and any change in the pecking order, such as swapping in Pestano as the closer for Perez, would likely lead to chemistry issues/negative atmosphere… I think the only way Perez loses that job is if he’s traded, which is a possibility

Seattle Mariners
*Figgins has been starting in LF and Seager at 3B while Carp is out… Carp is expected to return April 13th, at which time Figgins will likely go back to playing 3B and Seager will return to the bench
*Montero has started every game at DH while Olivo has started every game at Catcher.  I wouldn’t expect Montero to get more than the occasional start at Catcher… he might not even gain Catcher eligibility this year
*Michael Saunders is starting in CF until Gutierrez is healthy
*Blake Beavan, Hector Noesi, and Kevin Millwood all made the rotation with Iwakuma being sent to the bullpen
*Brandon League is the most likely closer to be traded at the trade deadline this year… he’s in the last year of his contract and the Mariners have no reason to keep him

Miami Marlins
*Marlins players and opponents have both commented on how spacious the new park is… Stanton crushed one that he thought for sure was out of the park and it didn’t even hit the wall.  Power numbers in the park might be down this year, which is good news for Marlins pitchers, but not Marlins hitters

New York Mets
*Kirk Nieuwenhuis is likely to get most starts while Torres is out, though Hairston will probably start against lefties
*The Mets are expecting about 100-125 innings out of Johan Santana
*Frank Francisco is 3/3 in saves and looks good so far despite his poor spring

Washington Nationals
*It looks like Adam LaRoche is healthy and will play full-time at 1B
*Bernadina is starting in CF while Ankiel is out, but they’ll share time once he returns
*DeRosa and Nady are sharing time in LF until Morse comes back
*Rizzo has confirmed that the Nats will stick by Strasburg’s innings limit of 160-170 innings in 2012 (though they won’t skip him, they’ll just shut him down for the season early), even if they’re in a playoff race.. they will not push him
*Ross Detwiler is in the rotation
*Brad Lidge and Henry Rodriguez are sharing the closer role while Drew Storen is out.  Rodriguez has electric stuff and the look of a closer, so if Storen has any setbacks with his elbow, he could end up as an elite closer

Baltimore Orioles
*Chris Davis, Nick Johnson, Wilson Betemit, and Nolan Reimold have all played 2/3 games so far
*Nolan Reimold is leading-off when he does play
*Robert Andino is starting at 2B while Brian Roberts is out
*Jake Arrieta looked great in his Opening Day start – he’s reaching 97 MPH with his fastball
*Brian Matusz is in the rotation
*Wei-Yin Chen is in the rotation, but Tsuyoshi Wada is not (at least not while he’s out with an elbow injury).  Chen is making his debut April 10th, after which the Orioles may go with a 4-man rotation and skip him according to Showalter
*Jim Johnson is the closer.  Matt Lindstrom is likely next-in-line ahead of Gregg

San Diego Padres
*Venable will platoon (vs. righties) with Denorfia (vs. lefties) in RF
*Hundley and Baker will split time behind the plate with Hundley getting the majority of starts
*With Quentin out for the first month of the season, Jesus Guzman will start in LF and hit clean-up
*Stauffer and Moseley are currently injured.  Padres manager Bud Black said that rather than juggle his rotation, he will skip the fifth starter’s spot and keep his first four starters on their regular rest.  This means that Edinson Volquez will start on Tuesday against the Diamondbacks followed by Cory Luebke, Anthony Bass (probably) and Clayton Richard. The Padres won’t use a fifth starter until they have to on April 14th

Philadelphia Phillies
*The timetable for Howard is anywhere from early May (very optimistic) to late May/early June (most likely) to after the All-Star Break (worst-case-scenario)
*With Howard out, Nix, Mayberry, Thome, and Wigginton will all share starts at 1B
*Pierre has started 2 games in LF so far, with Mayberry starting one at 1B and sitting in the other
*Victorino is leading-off (except on days when Juan Pierre starts) and Rollins is hitting 3rd
*Chase Utley is still out indefinitely

Pittsburgh Pirates
*Alex Presley is leading-off while Jose Tabata is hitting 2nd
*Neil Walker is hitting clean-up
*Garrett Jones (vs. righties) looks like he’s platooning at 1B with Matt Hague (vs. lefties) while Casey McGehee (vs. lefties) platoons with Pedro Alvarez (vs. righties) at 3B
*Charlie Morton is out with a hip injury, but he should be ready to go by the time the Pirates need a 5th starter on April 15th
*AJ Burnett will return sometime in late April, though we don’t know who will be bumped from the rotation when he returns

Texas Rangers
*Mitch Moreland has started 2/3 games at 1B with Napoli starting there the other game
*The Rangers are trying to play Hamilton in CF and Murphy in LF close to every day… I doubt this will last with Hamilton more likely to get injured playing in CF, but for now this is the arrangement.  Murphy has become a mixed league option now
*The Rangers plan to limit Feliz to 140-160 innings in 2012

Tampa Bay Rays
*Sean Rodriguez will get most of the starts at SS, with Brignac and Johnson getting occasional starts
*Zobrist is starting in RF with Joyce starting in LF and Keppinger starting at 2B, at least until Upton returns from his injury at which point Zobrist will likely start at 2B vs. righties with Joyce starting in RF, then Zobrost will start in RF against lefties with Keppinger at 2B… so Zobrist will play every day between 2B and RF, but Joyce (vs. righties) and Keppinger (vs. lefties) will platoon to take advantage of their splits
*Carlos Pena is hitting 2nd in the order
*The Rays have said that Matt Moore will not have an innings limit cap
*With Farnsworth out for the first month or so, Fernando Rodney looks like the temporary closer as of right now… not that I expect that to last given how bad he is

Cincinnati Reds
*Cozart is hitting 2nd
*Rolen will receive regular days off this season in an attempt to keep him healthy
*Mesoraco and Hanigan will share time.. it will probably be Mesoraco 3/5 of the time and Hanigan 2/5 of the time
*Ludwick has started 2/3 games in LF with Heisey getting just 1 start so far
*Homer Bailey has made the rotation after all
*Sean Marshall has been named the closer… even though he’s left-handed, I expect him to hold onto the job all season
*Aroldis Chapman is just a set-up man for now

Boston Red Sox
*Ryan Sweeney will start in RF with Cody Ross in LF until Crawford returns… at which point Sweeney and Ross will split time in RF
*Salty will get most of the time at Catcher, with Shoppach giving him days off here and there
*Aceves and Melancon have both looked HORRIBLE so far… Aceves hasn’t even recorded an out yet while allowing 3 runs in 2 outings while Melancon has given up 4 runs over an inning between 2 outings
*Felix Doubront and Daniel Bard have both made the rotation, however with Aceves and Melancon massively struggling, Bard may be needed to step in as the closer with Padilla, Cook, or Miller headed to the rotation

Colorado Rockies
*Scutaro is leading-off with Fowler hitting 2nd
*Chris Nelson and Jordan Pacheco are sharing time at 3B until Nolan Arenado is ready to come up later this season
*Helton will play less this season in an attempt to keep him healthy through the 2012 season
*Jamie Moyer has made the rotation
*Drew Pomeranz will have an innings cap of 170 IP… he was sent to the minors until the Rockies need a 5th starter on April 15th (so the Rox currently have a 4-man rotation)
*Juan Nicasio is healthy after breaking his neck last season… and he looked very good in his first start
*Betancourt has never had success as a closer before, and I doubt he’ll start in his mid 30s… keep an eye on Rex Brothers

Kansas City Royals
*Lorenzo Cain has hit 2nd in 2/3 games so far with Alcides Escobar hitting 2nd in the other
*Betancourt has started 2/3 games at 2B with Getz starting the other game
*Quintero will start 3/5 games at Catcher with Pena starting the other 2
*Danny Duffy and Luis Mendoza are in the rotation, at least until Felipe Paulino comes back from injury, at which time it’ll likely depend on who’s pitching better
*Broxton is the closer in KC, at least until he gets traded at midseason and Holland takes over

Detroit Tigers
*Raburn will start every day between 2B (vs. righties) and LF/DH (vs. lefties).  Inge will start at 2B against lefties when he comes off the DL
*Dirks has started 2/3 games so far, but that might change once Inge comes off the DL
*Drew Smyly has made the rotation… he was sent down to the minors until the Tigers need their 5th starter on April 12th
*With Doug Fister on the DL now, the Tigers will bring Duane Below or Andy Oliver back up to start

Minnesota Twins
*Morneau feels more comfortable just playing DH right now, leaving Parmelee to start most days at 1B… though Mauer and Doumit will also see time at 1B.  Doumit will also see starts at RF and Catcher as well.  Doumit, Revere, and Plouffe will all share time in RF
*Liam Hendriks and Nick Blackburn have made the rotation
*The Twins will go with a 4-man rotation until they need a 5th starter, at which time Marquis might be ready
*Scott Baker is on the DL with an elbow injury.  He’ll be out until at least May, but he could end up being out a lot later than that… I wouldn’t count on him this season

Chicago White Sox
*The White Sox have not settled on a #2 hitter yet – they’ve used Morel, Beckham, and Lillibridge there so far
*de Aza looks like an every day player
*Pierzynski and Flowers will split time behind the dish with Pierzynski getting the lion’s share of ABs
*Hector Santiago is the closer

New York Yankees
*Cano is hitting 3rd while Teixeira is hitting 5th this season
*Ibanez will get most of the starts at DH, with Jones (perhaps vs. lefties), AROD, and even Jeter also getting starts at DH to help them stay healthy.  Jones will also get starts in LF for Gardner against lefties.  When AROD starts at DH, Nunez or Chavez will start at 3B, and if Jeter is DH, then Nunez will start at SS
*Phil Hughes and Freddy Garcia have both made the rotation for now, though when Andy Pettitte and Michael Pineda are ready to return in May or so, they will likely be bounced from the rotation
*Pineda’s shoulder injury may have been the reason for his velocity issues this spring… either way, his season is clearly in doubt right now

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