Here are four teams that should exceed expectations.
And one team that will let down its fans.
The Nats won't win it all in 2010, but they could make some noise (2005 ring a bell?)
Premier lead off man? Check.
Premier clean up hitter? Check.
Best third baseman in baseball? Check.
Add in a veteran catcher, a good supporting outfield cast, a real closer, and a starting pitcher coming off a career year (in Colorado), and you've got something special.
Not to mention they're still shopping Orlando Hudson, and the core of young pitchers will only improve (and Strasburg could be called up).
The Reds have a good thing going.
The most underrated first baseman in baseball.
The best glove at second base.
And a good bullpen.
Throw in Aroldis Chapman, a great closer, and the potential for a Silver Slugger at third base.
Watch out Brewers and Cubs, the battle for second in the Central will be a good one.
The other teams in the West didn't improve.
Imagine having to face this in a series:
1. Dan Haren (1.00 WHIP in 2009)
2. Brandon Webb (2006 Cy Young winner, 2007-8 runner-up)
3. Edwin Jackson (2009 All-Star)
Add in a blossoming third baseman and one of the best right fielders in baseball.
They might not be able to compete with the Yankees...yet. Give 'em some time.
An excellent defense and outfield.
A catcher waiting to break out.
A new, good closer.
The question mark is pitching, but it'll be much improved. They got Kevin Millwoodoming off a great year. Bergesen was the Rookie of the Year before getting injured. And don't forget the young arms in Tillman and Matusz.
"Look for the Sox to win it all this year." — Doug Phipps
Um, or not. This will be a down year for the Red Sox. The Yankees and Rays are just better teams right now.
Do people not realize that Beckett wasn't that great last year? And that Lackey had a 3.83 ERA in the AL West? And that Dice-K was hiding injures? And that 43-year old Tim Wakefield was the most overrated pitcher in baseball last year? Buchholz and Lester are young studs, though.
The absence of Jason Bay means this offense won't be scary. David Ortiz is post-roids and on the decline (Manny effect). Mike Cameron is not an offensive upgrade. Everything will depend on the great bats of Martinez and Youkilis. Beltre is purely a defensive upgrade.