The Tampa Bay Rays had an eye-opening season that showed the American League that they are one of the top threats. But now that they have established themselves as winners and candidates to win the American League East, the question is: What team will be next?
There are many teams that have been losing since the late 90's, like the Kansas City Royals and the Pittsburgh Pirates, that have young and exciting players who will excel—much like what happened in Tampa Bay.
Teams like the Washington Nationals haven't won in a long time, but made some low-risk additions that could end up being huge.
At least two teams will make a drastic improvement over the next few years, but who will it be?
The team has suffered losing seasons dating back to the Montreal Expos days. They were once a competitive team with the likes of Vladimir Guerrero and have been building a solid farm system over the years. The additions of Daniel Cabrera and Josh Willingham do not hurt. This season, I would not be surprised to see the Nats have at least a .500 season.
Kansas City Royals
The Royals have yet to win a World Series since 1985, but anything is possible in the AL West—especially with a young and talented rotation that includes Zach Greinke, Gil Meche, and Brian Bannister.
They also have young talent in the field such as David DeJesus, Alex "The Phenom" Gordon, and Miguel Olivio. Lastly, with the recent additions of Coco Crisp and Kyle Farnsworth, the Royals will be a competitive team this year
San Francisco Giants
Anything can happen in the world of San Francisco. With the recent additions of Randy Johnson and Edgar Renteria to compliment Tim Lincecum and Aaron Rowand, respectively, you cannot overlook the Giants.
If Manny Ramirez does sign with them, the Giants will be even more of a threat.
The boys from Atlanta have made some huge improvements this offseason that can't be overlooked—Derek Lowe, who is locked up in a new contract, Japanese star Kenshin Kawakami, and the contract extension of their first baseman, Casey Kotchman.
The Braves are in a tough division that includes New York, Philadelphia, and Florida. I do not see the Braves making the playoffs unless they win at least 90 games, which does not seem likely. Though they have made great acquisitions, I don't think that they can compete.
They do, however, look like they could finish in the top three.
With the recent additions of Jason Giambi and, especially Matt Holliday, along with a potentially stellar young pitching rotation led by Justin Duchscherer, Oakland will, without a doubt, be competing with the more vulnerable division, except the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, who have lost some key players.
The A's will have a race to the finish for the division and they will be a competitor in the Wild Card.
Look at the Detroit Tigers, Houston Astros, Colorado Rockies, and Toronto Blue Jays to have a turnaroud and have a bigger impact on their division.
Let me guarantee we will see a huge turnaround this year. Below are my predictions of the MLB 2009 upcoming season (these are estimates and will not all end up at the number 162):
New York 94-71
Tampa Bay 92-70
Kansas City 80-83
New York 95-70
St. Louis 93-68
San Diego 57-105
I have been THE Dj Rallo