The sun is a shinin’ and Springtime is here. That means that baseball is soon to begin, and for the first time that I can remember, the Philadelphia Phillies are the defending champions!
This thought makes me happy, and so I will provide a preview of the upcoming Major League Baseball season. Today, I’ll do the American League, soon to be followed by the National League, and finally, I’ll give my analysis on the Phillies’ chances to repeat.
4. Seattle Mariners – This team was expected to contend last year, and yet finished with the worst record in the league. Did they improve? Not really, but in an attempt to placate fans, they brought back Ken Griffey, Jr. probably the greatest player in franchise history. Will Junior make the team noticably better? Probably not.
3. Texas Rangers – It seems like the Rangers always have good hitting but questionable pitching. Led by hitters like Michael Young and 2008 Home Run Derby sensation Josh hamilton, the Rangers’ offense should have a typical big year. However, I can’t imagine them doing too much with that pitching staff, and they’ll be doomed to suffer another losing season.
2. Oakland A’s – For once, the usually frugal A’s spent some money in an attempt to contend. They traded for high priced Rockies outfielder Matt Holliday, and brought back former MVP Jason Giambi. The hope is that these two are enough to supplement the talented young pitching staff. The problem is that Holliday’s numbers are sure to suffer now that he’s out of Colorado, and Giambi stopped being a superstar once steroid testing was put in place. They’ll contend, but they’ll fall short of the postseason.
1. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim – They may have been one of the quietest dominant teams las year, winning the West by a wide margin, yet nobody seemed to notice. Picking up Bobby Abreu should make a good offense even better, and the pitching staff could be the best in the division. They should win the division title, but I see them coming up short again in the postseason.
5. Detroit Tigers – Last season, the team decided to go to the “Florida Marlins Star Giveaway” route and pick up two of the Marlins’ high priced castoffs in Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis. Neither met expectations, and now Willis may not even make the team this year. Maybe their pitching comes through and they can surprise, but I don’t see it happening.
4. Kansas City Royals – After the Tampa Bay Rays’ ascent last year, everyone is looking for “Who’s going to be this year’s Rays?” and many people have decided that it will be the Royals. What many people forget is that most seasons, there isn’t a team that comes out of nowhere to win the division. So don’t expect miracles from this team. On the other hand, after a long stretch of putrid play, the Royals have some decent young talent in Alex Gordon and Zack Greinke, and should improve quite a bit.
3. Minnesota Twins – Always a popular pick because of their ability to lose key players and still contend. But sadly, the Twins are also in a constant cycle of being above average due to the influx of good young players, but never being a true championship contender because these players leave before they can fully mature. It should be a little more of the same this year. They’ll have a winning record, but never really threaten.
2. Cleveland Indians – A disappointing season last year, but there’s too much talent here not to at least be in the mix. They definitely need guys like Travis Hafner, Grady Sizemore, and Fausto Carmona to play up to their potential. If those guys max out, they could definitely win the division.
1. Chicago White Sox – Their pitching rotation is an odd mix of young guys on the upside and veterans on the decline. But I think that all of them are at the point where they should be able to have good years. I like their offense, led by the still potent Jim Thome and
5. Baltimore Orioles – Slowly, the Orioles are getting a decent core of talent together. Adam Jones and Nick Markakis could help give this team the league’s best outfield in another year. Sadly, their rotation is not up to major league standards, and will keep the team buried in the loaded AL East.
4. Toronto Blue Jays – The Blue Jays are in an odd place. They aren’t a big market team, but they’re not small market either. So they seem to not be able to decide on a philosophy. Should they load up on pricy vets, or try to reload with prospects. Because of this, they’re stuck in a rut of medicority. I’ll give their fans some credit though. I attended a game at Rogers Center last year, and the fans really do seem to enjoy being there.
3. Tampa Bay Rays – Sure, they were the feel good story of last year, until they had the misfortune of facing the Phillies in the World Series. But that was last year, and I see them coming back to Earth a little bit. A lot of young talent, and it will be interesting to see how they follow up the Cinderella season.
2. New York Yankees – They gave five year contracts to every single available pitcher in the offseason, and it will be interesting to see if they live up to them. Can CC Sabathia possibly repeat the kind of year he had last year, where he almost singlehandedly carried the Brewers to the postseason? A-Rod’s status could be a huge problem, as their lineup revolves around him, and his hip injury might keep him from being 100% all season. Still, there’s a lot of talent here, and I’m thinking they get the wild card.
1. Boston Red Sox – They probably have the most talented team in baseball. Their rotation is solid from top to bottom, and the lineup can certainly hit. Barring injury, I can’t picture them missing the postseason, and I expect them to ultimately be the American League Champs.