Dodgers, Yankees, Cardinals, the list goes on. We know what the reason for watching them is. They’re winners. It feels good to win. More importantly, a winning franchise confirms that a front office is taking care of the state’s interest of their team. The rebuild, the reload, whatever strategy has paid off.
What about the others? What about the losers? Some lovable. Some… not. Why should we watch them? Why should we even care? Here are some elevator pitches to intrigue you enough to watch them. Hopefully.
Bad News: Do I need to state the obvious? Fine. Francisco Lindor is gone. The team has no identity at the moment. Outside the field, the Mickey Callaway fiasco and the franchises’ new identity (goodbye to the “Indians” name) are worrisome. To top it off the city of Cleveland seems to not give a hoot.
Good News: Terry Francona. If any manager can do a lot with a little it’s him. Players love to play for this man. There are some good building blocks here: Triston McKenzie, Nolan Jones and some impressive pitching prospects. Most of all, Jose Ramirez. With Lindor gone it’s Ramirez’s team now, and he won’t have to compete for the spotlight. Not like he cares much about that, but it’ll be interesting to see if Ramirez can rally the troops around his play.
Outlook: Cleveland always comes through. There probably isn’t a reason to worry because they seem to find ways to produce winning seasons. Francona is a proven winner and so is Ramirez. Trust the process. Also, the AL Central is weak, so it won’t take a miracle.
Bad News: There are no stars on this roster, and the outlook for winning games seems more than a few season away. Plus, the NL East is one of the most competitive in baseball right now. Miami should get comfortable being in the cellar.
Good News: Strong farm system and Derek Jeter. Miami went full-on Miami Dolphins football and cleaned house for the betterment of the future. In return, they stockpiled key prospects and potential cornerstones for a new look Miami Marlins club.
Outlook: Derek Jeter wants to win bad, but also understands the rebuild process in Major League Baseball. He’s never been a loser, and will not be satisfied with ‘good enough.’ There’s a method to his madness. Again, trust the process. In the meantime, enjoy Sixto Sanchez‘s rise to stardom.
Bad News: Almost five years removed from a winning roster, 2021 might be, yet, another losing season their fans have to endure. Aside from Willi Castro, Casey Mize and Tarik Skubal, the roster is meh. Miguel Cabrera is showing his age and his contract is unmovable.
Good News: The farm looks dope. Aside from Mize and Skubal, Matt Manning is on his way and not far behind him is Riley Greene and 2020 number one pick Spencer Torkelson. AJ Hinch didn’t accept the job to see the losing process through like former manager Ron Gardenhire did. Hinch wants to win. The owners want to win. The city and state are ready to win.
Outlook: The reason to watch the Tigers is because their highly-toted prospects are starting to make their pro debuts. Oddly enough, their rebuild appears strikingly familiar to the one-time exciting Houston Astros’ run.
Bad News: Joey Votto, Sonny Gray, Mike Moustakas and Wade Miley aren’t quite spring chickens anymore, but they are the main pieces headed into the 2021 season. Also, Nick Senzel‘s health is concerning.
Good News: The Reds are getting better and getting better fast. Jonathan India, Eduardo Suarez, Luis Castillo, and if Nick Senzel can stay healthy, are solid foundational pieces.
Outlook: Aside from the Cardinals and Brewers, the Reds are the next in line to start competing for the top of the NL Central. When you take the foundational pieces stated above and add star prospects like Hunter Greene and Nick Lodolo, who are on their way up, you’ve got the fixings for a team built to win long term.
Bad News: Free agent market sucks for them. Nobody wants to come to Baltimore. To win the AL East they have to go through young and talented teams that are winning presently: Tampa Bay Rays, Toronto Blue Jays, and the New York Yankees. Nobody knows where their rebuild or retool or anything for that matter is at.
Good News: Two more years of Chris Davis‘ contract. Have you ever bought a brand new car after years of duct-taping a previous clunker together? The feeling is like a weight lifted from your shoulders, right? That’s how the Orioles will feel when Davis’ money is off the books in two years. For now, it’s an eye sore. The talent on the roster isn’t much better, but there is hope. Catching prospect and number two prospect in all of baseball, Adley Rutschman is on his way soon. This is a piece the club can and will and should build around if they want to make a run at the East again.
Outlook: There’s some players to like here. John Means was an interesting find for them a couple years ago. He’s their ace come Opening Day. Austin Hays and Ryan Mountcastle are names to remember. With Rutschman, they should become the heart of Baltimore.
Bad News: What in the hell are they doing? Any star they have rostered they get rid of. Any talented player worth anything they peddle for scraps, and they’re in a constant state of rebuilding. Out of every team on this list, the Pirates are the toughest sell. Notable bad mentions are: Mitch Keller isn’t developing into the pitcher everybody thought he would, and Ke’Bryan Hayes is getting cold feet about signing a long term deal with the club.
Good News: Ke’Bryan Hayes is a star in the making. The hype is real. Not much else is good here, though. Cole Tucker is dating Vanessa Hudgens, so that’s something I guess. When he’s called up from the farm, maybe she’ll be at his games.
Outlook: If you’re watching the Pirates, you’re watching for two things. One, Ke’Bryan Hayes becoming the next Pirate great, along the lines of Willie Stargell and Roberto Clemente. Two, the gorgeous stadium, PNC Park. It’s definitely a top-five best park in the league.
KANSAS CITY ROYALS
Bad News: Seems forever ago the Royals were world champions. That team is gone. Salvador Perez is the only player notable left. The rebuild has been…tough.
Good News: Andrew Benintendi‘s second chance. Once a prospect darling on every writer’s minor league list, Benintendi had a rough go of it in Boston. Good leadership. He was compared to Ted Williams and Carl Yastrzemski. Hell, how did he not choke sooner? It might seem small, but if you played sports, you’ll know this next bit of good news is big. The Royals have key leadership on the roster with Perez, Carlos Santana and Whit Merrifield, that’ll help stud youngsters Bobby Witt Jr., Brady Singer, Nick Pratto, and Asa Lacy develop into everyday big leaguers.
Outlook: Smart free agent signings and nailing draft picks are the keys to the Royals’ Success. So far things look decent. But if Benintendi and former signing Jorge Soler can hit their ceilings, then the transition to the new look Royals won’t be as clunky as it appears currently.
Bad News: No need to really dwell on it, but I can’t leave out how bad that Nolan Arenado trade was. Their return was embarrassing. If there are any Rockies fans out there after that trade, I can’t imagine what you’re going through. Hopefully the wind has returned to your lungs.
Good News: Trevor Story and Charlie Blackmon.
Outlook: What exactly is this team with Story and Blackmon? Sounds like a buddy cop drama, doesn’t it? ‘After a stud cop goes rogue (Arenado), two unlikely characters join together to take him down (Cardinals).‘ Doesn’t sound bad. I might actually watch this!
BOSTON RED SOX
Bad News: Bad contracts. Bad transactions. No star power. Dustin Pedroia‘s absence will be felt in the clubhouse. This might be the darkest time for the club in the last 20 years– even darker than the forgotten Bobby Valentine years.
Good News: Alex Cora is back at the helm of the ship, and he’s no scrub. He understands the Sox better than anyone. Alex Verdugo is a character. He also can ball out pretty well. He was the biggest name they traded for in the Mookie Betts deal, so fans are still feeling out this latest piece.
Outlook: It’s Boston. They’ve tasted the sweet nectar of victory from the baseball gods, and won’t settle for anything less. They’re a big market team with high aspirations every year. These dark days won’t last long.
Bad News: Talent is suspect. Lineup is always a work in progress.
Good News: Ketel Marte is a start. He sort of came out of nowhere and has since provided a spark, in an otherwise, bland team. Madison Bumgarner should get D-backs fans excited, too. His 2020 was… let’s just not talk about it here. But if you take his recent interviews in, the dude is hungry. At 31 he’s not old, not young either, but at a point where the second act of his career could mirror something like that of former D-backs Hall of Famer Randy Johnson‘s.
Outlook: Though not many, there are pieces to work from. Mix that in with one of the best farm systems in baseball, then you have a franchise that’s gearing up to take on the Dodgers and the Padres in the NL West.