With the hot stove cooling off and Michael Bourn being the only unsigned marquee free agent, the majority of the teams have started to turn their focus to the start of the season.
It was announced yesterday that the Houston Astros and Texas Rangers will open the 2013 season on March 31, and the rest of the league will start their season the following two days.
Even though the 2013 World Series champion won't be crowned until 10 months from now, there is a good idea of where teams will finish based on the talent they currently have on their roster.
The trade deadline in July usually has a big impact on the final standings but at this point in the year that would be too hard to predict. This is how I envision the final standings of the 2013 season based on how teams are currently constructed.
1. New York Yankees- The Yankees did not sign any big-name free agents this winter, but they still have one of the better teams in the league that includes Derek Jeter, Mark Teixeira, Curtis Granderson, and Robinson Cano. If the Yankees can stay healthy, they should be able to hold off the rest of the AL East and claim the division.
2. Toronto Blue Jays- There are concerns about chemistry when teams add as many pieces in a short period of time like the Blue Jays did. However, there is a lot of talent on this team and they are the second-best team in the East. The Jays have one of the stronger rotations in baseball and a home-run machine in Jose Bautista, which should be enough to get them a playoff berth.
3. Baltimore Orioles- The Orioles were one of the feel-good stories last year by getting into the playoffs but will miss out in 2013 with the improved Toronto Blue Jays squad. The O's won't go quietly and should be involved in the playoff race for the majority of the season.
4. Tampa Bay Rays- It is tough to stay competitive when you lose three of your top five players. B.J. Upton left in free agency and the Rays traded away Wade Davis and James Shields to Kansas City. They did get some quality prospects back and will be more competitive in 2014.
5. Boston Red Sox- This team seems to be in disarray and doesn't seem to have any direction. Their biggest signings this off-season were Shane Victorino and Ryan Dempster, who struggled in the American League last year.
1. Detroit Tigers- There is no reason to think the defending American League champions won't be celebrating in 2013. They have the best pitcher in the game in Justin Verlander and arguably the best hitter in Miguel Cabrera. They also went out and added some veteran leadership in Torii Hunter this offseason and should be in the playoffs once again.
2. Kansas City Royals- The Royals seem to be making a real effort at winning in 2013. They added James Shields, Wade Davis and Ervin Santana to their rotation but the question remains if they have enough offense to get into the playoffs. The Royals should benefit from playing in a weak AL Central.
3. Cleveland Indians- The Indians have added some good pieces this off season with Drew Stubbs and Nick Swisher to go with Carlos Santana and Michael Brantley. However, there are questions about their pitching outside of Ubaldo Jimenez and Justin Masterson, and if the rest of the rotation struggles, so will Cleveland.
4. Chicago White Sox- The White Sox will need to rely on their pitching rotation if they want to be competitive, but the loss of A.J. Pierzynski will be big for this team.
5. Minnesota Twins- It doesn't look like the Twins have enough offense or pitching to compete this year and will finish last in the division, like they did in 2012.
1. LA Angels- Josh Hamilton was the big signing for LA, but they also bolstered their pitching with the additions of Tommy Hanson and Jason Vargas. More importantly, they addressed their biggest weakness last year, which was the bullpen, with the signing of Ryan Madson. He should help reduce the 22 blown saves in 2012, which was fourth worst in the majors.
2. Texas Rangers- Even though they did lose Michael Young, Mike Napoli and Josh Hamilton this off-season, this is still one of the top teams in Major League Baseball. If they are able to sign Michael Bourn, this team could leap the Angels for the AL West crown.
3. Oakland Athletics- This team came out of nowhere to grab the AL West title last season and wouldn't surprise me if they did it again this coming season. However, the Rangers and Angels have more talent and it is hard to bet against them at this point.
4. Seattle Mariners- These last two spots are almost guaranteed to go to the Mariners and Astros and neither team will be competing for a division title in 2013. The only reason Seattle got this spot was because of ace Felix Hernandez.
5. Houston Astros- The Astros will be playing their first season in the American League and it doesn't look like it will be pretty. Houston just doesn't have enough talent to compete and are realistically two years away from thinking playoffs.
1. Washington Nationals- This team grew up before fans' eyes in 2012 and momentum should continue into 2013. This team has a good combination of youth and experience and with no restrictions on Stephen Strasburg, this team should run away with the NL East.
2. Philadelphia Phillies- The Phillies have three perennial Cy Young candidates in their starting rotation and will go only as far as Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels can carry them. They were able to get some offensive firepower with the addition of Michael Young and if, and this is a big if, Ryan Howard, Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins stay healthy, they could be a favorite in the National League.
3. Atlanta Braves- Even though the Braves made the playoffs, they can't be happy with how the 2012 season ended. Chipper Jones won't be on the Opening Day roster for the first time in a very long time, but they brought in B.J. Upton to try and fill some of the void. The Braves have enough talent that they should be competing for one of the Wild Card spots in 2013.
4. New York Mets- The Mets were able to extend David Wright this off-season but traded away Cy Young winner R.A. Dickey. This team will need to get Wright some help and until they do that, they will be in the bottom of the NL East.
5. Miami Marlins- The Marlins should not be surprised to find themselves in the cellar of the NL East for the second straight year after their latest fire sale.
1. Cincinnati Reds- The Reds only needed to win one game at home in three tries and they would have advanced to the NLCS. That obviously didn't happen as the Giants won three straight to knock the Reds out of the playoffs. With that said, this is still a very good team with Joey Votto leading the way. They added center fielder Shin-Soo Choo this off-season and should be on their way to another NL Central title.
2. St. Louis Cardinals- It seems every year the Cardinals are involved in the discussion for best team in the NL Central and 2013 should be no different. This is a veteran team that knows how to win and being led by David Freese, Matt Holliday and Chris Carpenter should mean playoffs in 2013.
3. Pittsburgh Pirates- The Pirates are slowly moving from NL Central doormat to contender and will be a tough team to beat in 2013. They have Andrew McCutchen, who is just entering his prime, and a solid pitching rotation led by A.J. Burnett and Wandy Rodriguez.
4. Milwaukee Brewers- The Brewers still have Ryan Braun and solid pitching but not much outside of that. With the Pirates continuing to get better as they gain experience, the Brewers will slip in the standings.
5. Chicago Cubs- Theo Epstein has the Cubs heading in the right direction, but they don't have enough talent to compete in 2013. Cubs fans should see some improvement in their team, but not enough to get out of the cellar of the NL Central.
1. San Francisco Giants- Last season was very good to the Giants as they won the NL West and eventually beat the Tigers to claim a World Series title. They have one of the best rotations in the game and a solid offense led by Pablo Sandoval. It will not be easy to repeat in 2013, as the Dodgers will be pushing them all season.
2. LA Dodgers- The Dodgers made the blockbuster trade last season with Boston that brought them Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford and Josh Beckett. They didn't stop there and signed Zack Greinke this off season. The Dodgers have compiled a very impressive roster of talent and should be one of the best teams in the game.
3. Arizona Diamondbacks- This team has a lot of good talent with catcher Miguel Montero and Justin Upton leading the way, but not enough to compete with the likes of the Giants and Dodgers.
4. Colorado Rockies- Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez are two of the better hitters in the game but the Rockies don't have much outside of these two.
5. San Diego Padres- They have some decent players, but not enough to compete with the Giants and Dodgers this year.