As the season is about to begin, I take a look at the Pre Season Power Rankings.
1. Chicago Cubs
The offense has been very consistent over the past few years, and their pitching just looks great. Granted, Rich Harden needs to stay healthy, Carlos Zambrano needs to maintain his temper, and the same for Milton Bradley.
2. Boston Red Sox
I personally think the Red Sox in the end will be the champions, but to avoid being called a homer, I put the Sox second. In addition, they have way too many question marks, but their depth can make up for them. Look for David Ortiz and Mike Lowell to rebound. Also, their pen may be the best in the business.
3. New York Yankees
It seems like the only entity in America to not be affected by the recession is the New York Yankees, which was evident when they went on their spending spree on Mark Teixeira, CC Sabathia, and A.J. Burnett.
4. Tampa Bay Rays
Their success hinged on their defense and bullpen. Look for the defense to continue to improve as the kids mature, but their bullpen probably will not hold up as most of their guys had career years. Their starting pitching will continue to excel once David Price gets called up.
5. New York Mets
I don’t mean to sound like a broken record, but the most improved part of the 2009 Mets is their improved bullpen with the additions of closers J.J. Putz and Francisco Rodriguez. With the addition of Gary Sheffield, their offense should be enough to overtake the reigning champs.
6. Philadelphia Phillies
Coming into the 2009 season, the Phillies are pretty much the same team when they won it last year except with replacing Pat Burrell with Raul Ibanez. The only problem with that fact is that as they stayed the same, their competition improved.
7. Los Angeles Angels
This is an interesting pick, considering they lost a boatload of talent in Mark Teixeira and Francisco Rodriguez. They signed Brian Fuentes to replace Rodriguez.
They will have some regression and might see some competition from the Athletics. Their season will depend mainly on their rotation that will see Ervin Santana start the season on the disabled list.
8. San Francisco Giants
I’m officially crazy right now to truly believe the Giants could win the NL West and creep into the top 10 in the power rankings. But with Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, and Randy Johnson, look for a lot of low-scoring games.
Every time I think of the San Francisco Giants, I think the anti-Texas Rangers; tons of pitching and no hitting.
9. Los Angeles Dodgers
This is the sexy pick to win the terrible NL West, but I just don’t see the offense carrying them this year. The Dodgers have one good starter in Chad Billingsley, but other than that, I don’t see anything positive coming from that starting five.
Manny and the rest of the hitters are the reason that the Dodgers will compete for the division (but don’t forget how weak the division is).
10. Atlanta Braves
Adding Derek Lowe, Javier Vazquez, and Kenshin Kawakami should shore up their pitching but their offense is not that good. Jair Jurrjens will also do very well in the rotation.
The bullpen should stand strong too but besides Chipper Jones and Brian McCann, the Braves don’t have enough offense to take the division.
11. Arizona Diamondbacks
Another mediocre team in the NL West. The D’Backs have a pretty good pitching staff with Brandon Webb and Dan Haren while adding Jon Garland. The offense is still young and they don’t make contact enough to generate runs.
In addition, they lost Orlando Hudson to free agency who was one of the main hitters in Arizona.
12. Milwaukee Brewers
I don’t really know why the Brewers are ranked this high, considering they lost both CC Sabathia and Ben Sheets.
Their opening day starter is Jeff Suppan, which is nothing to write home to mom about. They do have some good position players in a dynamic duo of Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder. Look for the offense to carry this team.
13. Minnesota Twins
In the AL Central which has been renamed the “Everyone Has A Chance Division,” the Twins are have been hurt with injuries to Joe Mauer and Scott Baker. The offense should rebound well once Mauer returns.
The Twins also have enough pitching depth to manage without Baker for a short period of time. Francisco Liriano looks to build off the last two months.
14. Oakland Athletics
The A’s rebuilt their entire team once again by acquiring Matt Holliday and Orlando Cabrera among others. They will rely a lot on their youth in the rotation, including Brett Anderson and Trevor Cahill, who were both born in 1988.
The bullpen got a death note when Joey Devine visited Dr. James Andrews, which has catapulted Brad Ziegler into the closer role.
15. Cleveland Indians
Back to the “Everyone Has A Chance Division.” They finished last season poorly but look to rebound this year. Their rotation isn’t that great after Cliff Lee and Fausto Carmona; it is highlighted by Carl Pavano.
The Tribe’s offense looks to bust out when Travis Hafner and Victor Martinez will look to play the entire year. The bullpen is one of their strengths once Kerry Wood was signed this past offseason.
16. Chicago White Sox
I am not a big fan of the Chicago White Sox. They will be relying again on a mixture of aging vets and some youth positional players to succeed.
I think they totally overachieved last year and will be around the middle of the pack for 2009. Bartolo Colon and Jose Contreras are very big question marks.
17. Florida Marlins
The Marlins are an interesting team as they are rich in pitching. Their offense is led by no other than Hanley Ramirez and Dan Uggla.
Jorge Cantu added some punch last year after they brought him aboard. Still, they are in a tough division.
18. St. Louis Cardinals
I’m not a fan at all of this team. I really don’t see their pitching comes anywhere close to actually being good.
But again, they have King Albert and that gets your at least in competition for the division. However, their pitching will falter again and they will miss the post season again.
19. Kansas City Royals
A lot of people are on board the Bill Simmons Kansas City Royals 2009 Campaign Train. I, however, am not one of these people (I also don’t get why he mentioned Cleveland as the best team in the American League).
I think they will compete for the title in that division, but I don’t think their starters will hold. They added some good position players, but the rotation is very questionable.
20. Texas Rangers
The Rangers M.O. of the past years has been hitting. Sure they’ve tried to bolster the pitching with signings of Chan Ho Park (can someone please tell me how he won that fifth spot in the rotation in Philly), Kevin Millwood, and Vicente Padilla.
Those never really panned out, so it's back to hitting on all cylinders again with Josh Hamilton, Ian Kinsler, and Chris Davis.
Not to mention their plethora of power hitting catchers in Taylor Teagarden and Jarrod Saltalamacchia (with Max Ramirez still in the minors)
21. Cincinnati Reds
Another team that was affected by the Bowden Virus. Even though it has been years, they are still trying to recover from when Jim Bowden was their general manager. They have compiled a pretty good team but their pitching is still suspect.
They should just focus on the development of their young hitters like Jay Bruce and Joey Votto until they should focus on becoming a contender.
22. Colorado Rockies
I originally pegged them a few weeks ago to finish third in the division (maybe second if Jeff Francis was healthy). But overall, they will miss the bat of Matt Holliday and have a season that will mimic 2008 instead of 2007.
Their pitching is still on the fritz, and the Colorado air won’t help. They should just plan for 2010 and continue Ian Stewart’s development.
23. Detroit Tigers
On paper, this team is good. On the field, it’s another story. They put together a lot of big names last season and massive amounts of analysts listed them as contenders. Now a year later, and it is much of the same.
24. Houston Astros
They have some good hitters in Lance Berkman and Carlos Lee but have you looked at their rotation recently? After Roy Oswalt, they’re shot.
They are hoping that Russ Ortiz and Mike Hampton will come through. Now tell me, does that make the ‘Stros feel good about themselves? Ortiz and Hampton? Seriously?
25. Seattle Mariners
Please see Detroit Tigers.
26. Toronto Blue Jays
It’s tough to compete in a division with the Sox, Rays, and Yankees. Injuries and a lot of young inexperienced players won’t help with that mix. It’s going to be a very long year.
27. Baltimore Orioles
Please see Toronto Blue Jays.
28. Pittsburgh Pirates
The Pirates completely baffle me year in and year out. It’s not like they haven’t had good players in the past decade plus that they haven’t been a good team but they just can’t find the magic on the field.
Pitching again will be up and down in 2009 but their offense should come around. But Pittsburgh people should just bathe in the glory of the Steelers Super Bowl victory.
29. Washington Nationals
As Sir Charles would state, this is just a turrible team. I don’t see the Nats doing anything much. Their off-season addition of Adam Dunn will only clutter the outfield that much more.
Their pitching needs to seriously improve before Washington has any thoughts of moving up in the rankings.
30. San Diego Padres
Besides Jake Peavy and Adrian Gonzalez, there isn’t much to talk about in San Diego. Their offense once again will be the worst in the game while their pitching will excel.
Unfortunately, their pitching will not be as superb as it has been in recent years. Heath Bell will try and fill the void in the closer role.