The injury to Ryan Madson knocks the Reds down to second. The fact that Ryan Braun will play the full year moves the Brewers to the top spot. He may not be as effective if he lets the hecklers bother him. The Cardinals will find that the loss of Pujols, LaRussa and Duncan will be too great and drop to third.
Milwaukee Brewers (3)
Who’s Hot: Jonathan Lucroy (.469) has had a hot spring. Alex Gonzalez (.400, 2, 6) will play a more important role for the Brewers playing with them a full year.
Zack Greinke (0.73, .196, 20 K’s in 12.1 IP) is staying off the basketball courts this spring and could be heading for a Cy Young type of year for the Brewers.
Who’s Not: Ryan Braun (.095) can’t let the hecklers control his season. One of his two hits is a homerun. Cesar Izturis (.150), Brooks Conrad (.184) and Brock Kjeldgaard (.000) are struggling. Brock struck out nine times in his 15 at bats.
Wily Peralta (8.53) will have to convince management that he is ready with a good year in AAA.
Significant Injuries: Corey Hart may not be able to start the season with a knee injury. Shaun Marcum has had some shoulder issues which may delay the start of his season.
February Transactions: None
Cincinnati Reds (1)
Who’s Hot: Zack Cozart (.452) is not having any problem winning the shortstop position. Chris Valaika (.391) is not making it easy for him. Todd Frazier (.270, 4, 9, 9 runs scored) leads the team in RBIs and runs scored.
Matt Latos (1.93) is pitching like an ace. Aroldis Chapman (1.50, just two walks in 12 IP) is being extended to start, but with the season ending injury to Ryan Madson, may have to turn into the closer. Logan Ondrusek (2.16, 10 K’s in 8.1 IP, one save) could be more valuable for the bullpen with the injury to Madson.
Who’s Not: Joey Votto (.194, 0, 4, 14 K’s) is saving all his hits for the regular season. Juan Francisco (.139, 1, 3, 11 K’s) won’t win a starting spot without showing a better bat. Dioneer Navarro (.143) has only four hits, but two of them have been homeruns.
Homer Bailey (7.98, .364 ave.) and Bronson Arroyo (7.62, .346) could be losing their rotation spots, though Homer is fighting for the fifth spot.
Significant Injuries: The big injury is the loss of Ryan Madson for the year because of Tommy John surgery.
February Transactions: Signed free agent Ryan Ludwick to compete for the left field job. Wirfin Obispo was signed as a free agent out of Japan to provide depth in the pitching staff. Other free agent pitchers signed are Brett Tomko and Jeff Francis.
St. Louis Cardinals (3)
Who’s Hot: Matt Holiday (.469, 3, 9) is having a nice spring. Daniel Descalso (.326, 1, 4, 10 walks) could have won the second base job, especially with a .456 OBA. Yadier Molina (.395, 1, 9), Matt Carpenter (.350, 1, and Lance Berkman (.346) all hope to pick up the slack for the loss of Albert Pujols.
Eduardo Sanchez (0.00, .154, 14 K’s 8 IP) was optioned to the minors, but with those numbers it won’t take long before he reappears in the Cardinals pen. Adam Wainwright (0.00, .114 ave.) has not given up a run in four starts. Jake Westbrook (0.00, .146) has not given up a run in three starts.
Who’s Not: Alex Cora (.208) was released. Skip Schumaker (.190) may lose the second base job. David Freese (.219, 3, 10, 13 K’s) leads the team in strikeouts and RBIs.
Significant Injuries: Chris Carpenter has had nerve problems in his shoulder, which could cause him to miss significant time. World Series hero Allen Craig is still recovering from knee surgery and may not be available for the start of the season. Skip Shumaker has an oblique tear.
February Transactions: Alex Cora was a significant free agent signing, but they released him in March. Scott Linebrink is having a good enough spring to win a spot in the bullpen.
Pittsburgh Pirates (4)
Who’s Hot: Starling Marte (.520, 3, 4) has gotten himself noticed. Josh Harrison (.500, 8 runs scored) may not have the size of most third baseman, but he is hitting himself onto the 25 man roster. Matt Hague (.417, 4, 9) may be putting his name back on the prospect ladder. Andrew McCutchen (.382, 2, 10) could be in for a monster year. Nate McLouth (.382) could be working his way back into the starting lineup, but his 1 for 4 success rate in stolen bases is not good. Yamaico Navarro (.366) could make the team in a utility role.
Shairon Martis (0.00) has pitched well, but a .286 average against shows he has been hittable. Daniel Moskos (0.00, .154) could soon give the Pirates some useful years in the pen. Jeff Karstens (2.08, .188) could be the glue to the rotation until the prospects are ready.
Who’s Not: Nick Evans (.077) will need to prove himself in AAA. Pedro Alvarez (.133, 13 K’s) has still not shown he can hit major league pitching. Perhaps he should have played winter ball. Gorky Hernandez (.150) will not make the team with this kind of spring.
Jo-Jo Reyes (12.86, .421 ave.) and Brad Lincoln (10.50, .345 ave.) will have trouble making the starting rotation. Daniel McCutchen (9.45, .344) and Ryota Igarashi (8.64, .324) may not make the pen.
Significant Injuries: A.J. Burnett is recovering from a broken bone underneath his eye. Gustavo Nunez, a rule V pick has an ankle injury that will keep him on the DL for an extended period.
February Transactions: They acquired A.J. Burnett from the Yankees to enhance their starting rotation, getting a few million to pay his salary while giving up only a couple of lower level prospects.
Chicago Cubs (5)
Who’s Hot: Joe Mather (.432, 3, 12) has made himself noticed for a possible reserve outfielder spot. Alfonso Soriano (.351, 6, 14) is showing that 2012 could be a return to power for him. Anthony Rizzo (.364, 2, 5) is still going to AAA despite his hot spring.
Rafael Dolis (0.00, 0.91, two saves) throws three digit gas and could find himself in a closer role by mid-season. Randy Wells (0.00, .174) could earn another spot in the starting rotation. Paul Maholm (0.90, .216) and Chris Volstad (0.90, .189) have earned spots in the rotation.
Who’s Not: Junior Lake (.143, 2, 4) had a rough spring after his hot AFL showing. David Dejesus (.182) had a rough spring. Bryan LaHair (.280) has not hit a homerun and has struck out 15 times, but he will still be the starting first baseman.
The Cubs paid a lot for Travis Wood (17.28, .429) so his rough spring has them worried. Kerry Wood (10.80, .500) will still make the bullpen despite his rough spring. Carlos Marmol (9.95, .308) will lose his closer role if these results continue into the regular season.
Significant Injuries: None
February Transactions: None
Houston Astros (6)
Who’s Hot: Jordan Schafer (.391) has won the centerfield job with his spring efforts. Angel Sanchez (.375) would like to win the utility role. Travis Buck (.345) is bucking for the extra outfielder role. Chris Johnson (.325, 4, 7) needs to show the same power once the regular season starts.
Kyle Weiland (2.25) is pitching well enough to make the rotation. Fernando Rodriguez (2.57, 10 K’s in 7 IP) should find himself in a bullpen role.
Who’s Not: Marwin Gonzalez (.138) needs to make the roster if the Astros want to keep him. Brian Bogusevic (.171) should not have trouble winning the right field job while Justin Ruggiano (.167) will have a tough time making the roster as an extra outfielder. Fernando Martinez (.174) did not show enough not to be sent down.
Wandy Rodriguez (8.10, .349, 7 walks in 10 IP) is struggling with his command, but he should still be the opening day starter. Myworld has yet to see Rhiner Cruz (7.94) get anyone out in two appearances, but his results show he is getting someone out. Zach Duke (11.30, .379) won’t be in the starting rotation with those numbers.
Significant Injuries: Jordan Schafer sprained his wrist diving for a ball in centerfield.
February Transactions: They signed free agent Justin Ruggiano, but he needs to show more in spring.