The Indians' 2014 schedule includes three-game sets at home against the Padres and Rockies, and on the road against the Giants and Dodgers. They also play the Diamondbacks for two road games in June and two home games in August, and have their annual two-here-two-there 4-game series against the Reds in August. Here's a look at how each of those teams did last year and what they've been up to during the offseason.
2013 in Review
The Reds finished seven games back in the NL Central, but qualified as the second Wild Card team before losing to the Pirates in the Wild Card Game. In the NL West, the Dodgers were 9.5 games back on June 22 before going 42-12 in July and August and coasting to an 11-game division crown. They eventually fells to St. Louis in the NLCS. The Diamondbacks finished in second behind Los Angeles, but were only a .500 team. After winning the World Series in 2012, the Giants limped to a 76-win season last year, tying with the Padres for third place. The Rockies finished in last place, though they had a respectable 74 wins.
Here is the projected 2014 lineup and rotation for each team, along with notable offseason moves:
Signed Free Agents: RP Manny Parra (resigned); C Brayan Pena; IF Skip Schumaker; IF Ramon Santiago (minor); OF Roger Bernadina (minor); OF Jason Bourgeois (minor); SP Jeff Francis (minor); OF Thomas Neal (minor)
2014 Outlook: The Reds were the playoff team with the fewest wins in 2013, so their margin for error is slim. Arroyo is not an ace, but the loss of his innings could prove cumbersome. Losing Choo will really hurt on the offense, as Hamilton, tremendous runner that he is, might have trouble getting on base. They probably slip closer to .500 and miss out on the playoff chase.
Lost Free Agents: RP Ronald Belisario; 2B Mark Ellis; RP Carlos Marmol; SP Ricky Nolasco; IF Nick Punto; IF Skip Schumaker; SP Edison Volquez
Signed Free Agents: SP Dan Haren; RP JP Howell (resigned); SP Paul Maholm; RP Chris Perez; IF Juan Uribe (resigned); RP Brian Wilson (resigned); RP Jamey Wright
2014 Outlook:The lineup looks fine, but it will be the rotation that keeps the Bums in contention for a repeat. The best pitcher on the planet has some good to great arms behind him. The weak spots of the lineup (Uribe and Guerrero) can be hidden pretty well.
Lost Free Agents: C Wil Nieves; RP Tony Sipp; SS Josh Wilson
Trades: RP Heath Bell and cash to Rays and SP David Holmberg to Reds for RP Justin Choate and CF Todd Glaesmann (PTBNL) from Rays; CF Adam Eaton to White Sox and SP Tyler Skaggs to Angels for SP Hector Santiago and OF Brandon Jacobs (PTBNL) from White Sox and LF Mark Trumbo from Angels; 3B Matt Davidson to White Sox for CL Addison Reed
2014 Outlook: This was one of the busiest offseasons in MLB, with three big trades. They didn't really lose any top free agents or sign any, so the trades that brought in Skaggs, Santiago, Trumbo and Reed will define this offseason. I think they got the better of the deals in totality, though that doesn't mean they're a playoff team.
Lost Free Agents: SP Jason Marquis; SP Clayton Richard; SP Sean O'Sullivan; SS Ronny Cedeno; OF Ben Francisco; OF Mark Kotsay
Signed Free Agents: SP Josh Johnson; RP Joaquin Benoit; IF Alberto Gonzalez (minor)
Trades: RP Colt Hynes to Indians for cash; RP Brad Brach to Orioles for SP Devin Jones; RP Luke Gregerson to A's for OF Seth Smith; OF Jaff Decker and RP Miles Mikolas to Pirates for OF Alex Dickerson; RP Anthony Bass and 1B Jesus Guzman to Astros for 3B Ryan Jackson; 2B Logan Forsythe, RP Brad Boxberger, SP Matt Andriese, RP Matt Lollis and SS Maxx Tissenbaum to Rays for SP Jesse Hahn and RP Alex Torres
2014 Outlook: The Padres ended up with even more new players via trade than Arizona, but most of them are fringe players and/or prospects. The pickup of Johnson helps, but Ross and Stults are mostly unproven. The lineup has potential, but is a notch below the Dodgers and Diamondbacks. This isn't the year San Diego returns to the playoffs.
Lost Free Agents: SP Barry Zito; SP Chad Gaudin to Phillies; OF Jeff Francoeur; RP Jose Mijares; SP Guillermo Moscoso
Signed Free Agents: SP Tim Lincecum (resigned); SP Tim Hudson; SP Ryan Vogelsong (resigned); OF Michael Morse; RP Javier Lopex (resigned); RP Juan Gutierrez (minor); RP Kameron Loe (minor)
Trades: C Johnny Monelli to Orioles for cash; Cash to Yankees for SP David Huff
2014 Outlook: The defending champs from 2012 struggled all of last season, largely due to injuries. If they stay healthy in 2014, they should rebound to above .500. Morse should benefit from not having to bat in the heart of the order. I am perplexed by the Huff pickup though.
Lost Free Agents: 1B Todd Helton (retired); SP Roy Oswalt (retired); RP Rafael Betancourt; RP Mitchell Boggs; RP Edgmer Escalona; SP Jeff Francis to Reds; SP Jon Garland; RP Lohgan Kensing; SP Jeff Manship; RP Hisanori Takahashi; C Yorvit Torrealba; RP Chris Volstad
Signed Free Agents: 1B Justin Morneau; CL LaTroy Hawkins; RP Boone Logan; OF Jason Pridie (minor); SS Paul Janish (minor); RP Nick Masset (minor)
Trades: CF Dexter Fowler to Astros for SP Jordan Lyles and OF Brandon Barnes; SP Drew Pomeranz and SP Chris Jensen to A's for SP Brett Anderson; RP Josh Outman to Indians for OF Drew Stubbs; SS Jonathan Herrera to Red Sox for RP Franklin Morales and RP Chris Martin
2014 Outlook: For a last place team, the Rockies had more movement than usual. Most of what they lost was flotsam though, while the pickups of Morneau, Hawkins, Lyles and Anderson should stabilize the team somewhat. They have a lot to ground to make up, but I could see close to a .500 finish.