Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
The Super Bowl is over (one of the best ever in my opinion) but now it's time to get ready for the fantasy baseball season. Pitchers and catchers report in two weeks. Opening day in April 5th.
Are you ready? Have you even begun to study?
At this point, before a pitch has been thrown, there are two basic areas which I will look at.
Free agent transactions and depth charts. The idea is to look and see what a team's lineup will look like for 2009 and how it differs from 2008.
Injuries. Those who are recovering from off-season surgery and those who get injured in spring training.
Today, let's look at some of the teams have helped themselves offensively. Later in the week we will look at the injury situation.
From a fantasy standpoint, it's a lot easier to knock in 100 runs and score 100 runs on an offensive powerhouse than on a team which scrambles for runs. A clear example of this can be seen in Jason Bay's numbers last season. There is a huge difference between hitting in the weak Pittsburgh Pirates' lineup versus the Boston Red Sox lineup.
| Bay stats-per-game || AB || R || TB || HR || RBI |
| J.Bay in Boston || 3.75 || 0.79 || 1.98 || 0.18 || 0.75 |
| J.Bay in Pittsburgh || 3.60 || 0.66 || 1.87 || 0.20 || 0.60 |
In Bay's short time with the Red Sox (49 games), you can see he got more at- bats-per-game, scored more runs-per-game, had more total bases-per-game and knocked in more runs-per-game.
So lets look at some of the lineups for 2009.
Texas - The Rangers were the top scoring team (901 runs), but lost Milton Bradley (.321, 22 HRs, 77 RBIs). They have yet to replace his bat in the lineup.
Chicago Cubs - The Cubs were already the No.2 scoring team (855 runs) and added Bradley and depth to their bench with Paul Bako, Aaron Miles and Joey Gathright. If Alfonso Soriano can stay healthy, this could be the best hitting team in the majors.
Boston - The Red Sox were No.3 in runs scored, but will play the entire year without future Hall-of-Famer Manny Ramirez. Will the additions of Bay, Rocco Baldelli and catcher Josh Bard make up for the loss? Will David Ortiz return to form? At the moment I don't think they will be as formidable as they were in the past.
Philadelphia - The Phillies added left-handed hitting outfielder Raul Ibanez, but lost right-handed hitter Pat Burrell. The Phillies are now too vulnerable to left hand pitching and I would be concerned if I were them or a fantasy owner of one of their "big guns". The heart of the lineup, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard and Ibanez all hit from the same side of the plate. Unless Jason Werth has a big year, they could be hurt more than expected by the loss of the streaky Burrell.
New York Yankees - The New York Yankees had, by all accounts, an off year with the bat. They were still 10th in runs scored and added the best offensive free agent in Mark Teixeira. They did lose Jason Giambi's 32 HRs and 96 RBIs and Bobby Abreu, but assuming Robinson Cano returns to form and Jorge Posada gets more than 168 at bats, this should be a top-five offense again.
Los Angeles Dodgers - If the Dodgers lose Ramirez to another team, they will be left with a bunch of "support" players, but no superstar. They were 24th (of 30) with Manny in the lineup for half a season, without him they would be at the bottom of the league offensively.
Los Angeles Angels - The Angels lost Teixeira (.308, 33 HRs, 121 RBIs) and have yet to sign veteran Garret Anderson. They were a middle of the road team with Teixeira, but they will sink to near the bottom offensively without him.