The greatest time of the year is upon us. As the weather warms up, so does that spot in our heart for baseball. Spring training is underway!
30 MLB teams now play their preseason games knowing that in under two weeks, it finally counts again.
So if your favorite team's dreams were crushed last season, you once again have reason to hope. Embrace this chance because, come October, you may just have to wait another year.
Every year, right around this time, sportswriters around the globe make predictions about what is to come. While some often look stupid in the process, they may later be embraced as geniuse's for their courageous picks that came true.
So without further ado, I give you a complete guide on everything you'll want to know for the upcoming season.
1. New York Yankees: 102-60
The Yankees are the defending champs and the team to beat. They go into this season with a big target on their backs. Everybody wants to beat them, but will anybody be able to do it? With a rotation consisting of C.C Sabathia, A.J Burnett, Andy Pettitte, Javier Vazquez, and Joba Chamberlain/Phil Hughes, and a nearly unstoppable offense, I'd say no.
2. Boston Red Sox: 92-70
The Sox have the best pitching rotation in baseball. It consists of three true aces: Jon Lester, Josh Beckett, and John Lackey. If they could get into the playoffs with that rotation, I wouldn't want to play them. But the real question lies in their offense. Can "Big Papi" David Ortiz get back on track? If not, who will step up? If the Sox get into the playoffs, with that pitching, they'll be extremely dangerous. But will they make it?
3. Tampa Bay Rays: 86-76
The Rays have a great team, no doubt. However getting to the playoffs out of the AL East is no easy task. The Rays will be competitive again this year, but will just fall off at the end. If Rafael Soriano can succeed as Rays' closer, then maybe they'll win a few more games. But until I see that, this is where they stand.
4. Baltimore Orioles: 79-83
The Orioles are a young team with a whole lot of talent. In a few years they could be one of baseball's elite teams. Brian Matusz, Jake Arietta, and Chris Tillman could make up one of the game's best pitching trios in a few years. Not to mention all-star Adam Jones, who is still young, and Matt Wieters, the outstanding catching prospect. Things are looking up for the Orioles, and they'll only get better from here.
5. Toronto Blue Jays: 70-92
The Blue Jays will not be competitive this year. They weren't last season, and they lost their best player, pitcher Roy Halladay. However, like the Orioles, their future may include a rise in the standings as well. In the Halladay deal with Philadelphia, they picked up promising pitching prospect Kyle Drabek and outfield prospect Michael Taylor. They also acquired 1B/3B Brett Wallace. Watch out for this team in a few years.
1. Minnesota Twins: 92-70
This offseason, the Twins added Jim Thome and Orlando Hudson to an already dangerous lineup. The Twins won't win the World Series, but they'll make the playoffs. One of the key reasons to that is the fact that they haven't had that lights-out pitcher since Johan Santana left town. And until they get one, it's hard to see them going anywhere in the playoffs.
2. Detroit Tigers: 85-77
Detroit may have traded Curtis Granderson and Edwin Jackson this offseason, but they got suitable replacements for both. While Austin Jackson isn't on Granderson's level, at least he'll host a higher OBP, so Miguel Cabrera has somebody to knock in. And as for Edwin Jackson, he very well might be coming off a career year. Also, the Tigers got highly touted young pitcher Max Scherzer from Arizona. Add in the signings of Jose Valverde and Johnny Damon, and Detroit is a team that could surprise some people.
3. Kansas City Royals: 77-85
The Royals are getting better and better every year. They have an ace in Zach Greinke. They have guys like Billy Butler and Alex Gordon, who are starting to look like legit major leaguers. They will surprise people this year and will continue to improve in future years.
4. Chicago White Sox: 75-87
Oh boy, Cub fans would love this prediction. But I'm just not feeling the White Sox this year. Even with Jake Peavy this season, I still feel that they're just not a good team, and people will soon realize that. Juan Pierre, Andruw Jones, and Paul Konerko are past their primes. Alex Rios looks like he'll never really live up to the hype. There are just too many reasons to not believe in the White Sox in 2010.
5. Cleveland Indians: 64-98
The Indians have baseball's worst rotation. They're expected to go with Jake Westbrook as their No. 1 starter. I wouldn't exactly call Westbrook No. 1 starter material. Just looking at that rotation gives you enough reason to believe that they'll be baseball's worst team.
1. Seattle Mariners: 94-68
The Seattle Mariners made huge strides this offseason. They now have pocket aces in Felix Hernandez and Cliff Lee, whom they acquired from Philadelphia. They also brought in a big-time, top-of-the-lineup guy in Chone Figgins. Plus, they made a great decision in re-signing Erik Bedard. At $1.75 million, they made a good, low-risk high-reward signing, because if Bedard can stay healthy down the stretch, the Mariners might have scored a third ace for the upcoming season.
2. Texas Rangers: 93-69, Wildcard
The Rangers, in my mind, are a team that will surprise a whole lot of people in winning the AL Wildcard. I mean, in a league that may have its three best teams in the AL East, you probably wouldn't expect the Rangers to win it. However, the Rangers always seem to have one of the league's best offenses, and this year will be no different. However, what will be different this year is that the pitching won't be upsetting to watch any more. They brought in Rich Harden to add to a young rotation of guys with great stuff. If Neftali Feliz is added to the rotation this year (one that already includes Rich Harden, Scott Feldman and Derrek Holand), this could be a team more dangerous than people think.
3. Anaheim Angels: 86-76
The balance of power is shifting in the AL West. The Angels, who have dominated the division of late, are taking a step backward, while the rest of the division takes one forward. They lost long-time run creator Chone Figgins and slugger Vlad Guerrero. Although they still have a great team and one of the league's best managers, I still don't think its enough any more to get by in the stacked American League.
4. Oakland Athletics: 73-89
Is Billy Beane slowly building another winning team? With promising young pitchers Trevor Cahill and Brett Anderson, it's starting to look that way. The A's won't contend this year, but look for them as a dangerous team in years to come.
2010 AL Awards:
MVP: Joe Mauer
Cy Young: Felix Hernandez
Rookie of the Year: Neftali Feliz
Comeback Player of the Year: Grady Sizemore
Best Free Agent Signing: Chone Figgins 4 years, $36 million.
Best Trade: Mariners acquire Cliff Lee
2010 AL Playoffs:
ALDS: Yankees Defeat Rangers, 3-1
ALDS: Mariners Defeat Twins, 3-0
ALCS: Mariners Defeat Yankees, 4-3
Mariners win the pennant!
1. Philadelphia Phillies: 96-66
The Phillies are once again the team to beat in the NL, but after adding Roy Halladay to an already stellar rotation will anybody be able to do so? Their biggest question is in the back half of their bullpen with Brad Lidge. If Lidge once again chokes as he did in '09, they're going to need to go into the season with a solid backup plan at closer. There is no way they will be able to win the NL pennant again without Lidge at his best.
2. Atlanta Braves: 89-73
The Atlanta Braves have some of the best young players in baseball. As soon as next year, they could once again be the cream of the crop in the NL East. Tommy Hanson, Jair Jurrjens, Jason Heyward, the list goes on and on. Assuming last season was no fluke for Tommy Hanson, the Braves could have an ace. Also, adding Billy Wagner gives them somebody who can slam the door shut at the end of games. The Braves could be better then people think this year.
3. Florida Marlins: 85-77
The Marlins never have the best teams, but always seem to find a way to be competitive. That is once again the case this season. This young team, anchored by Hanley Ramirez, looks to surprise some people and win the NL East this season. And it could happen, because at this point the Marlins never seem to surprise me when they pull a rabbit out of their hats.
4. Washington Nationals: 72-90
The Nationals once again made some acquisitions this offseason. They added Ivan Rodriguez, Jason Marquis, Adam Kennedy, and Matt Capps to name a few. The Nationals will not be competitive this season but will definitely be better then last year. Also, National fans finally have a reason to be excited because they know that some time this year they will get to see Stephen Strasburg.
5. New York Mets: 72-90
Everything that could have possibly went wrong for the Mets last year did, and they're not getting a much better start to this season. They already lost J.J Putz and Carlos Delgado. Also, Carlos Beltran and Jose Reyes are already on the DL. And will any pitcher after Johan Santana step up? This team has way to many questions for them to go anywhere.
1. Milwaukee Brewers: 90-72
Milwaukee's offense is certainly not in question. Ryan Braun, Prince Fielder, and Corey Hart are just a few of the great hitters this offense includes. So the real question is will their starting pitching be good enough? I say yes. Yovani Gallardo, Randy Wolf, and Doug Davis anchor a rotation that should be much improved in 2010. Plus, with Trevor Hoffman shutting the door at the end of games, the Brewers are definitely a team that can sneak up on people in 2010.
2. St. Louis Cardinals: 89-73
The Cardinals are the pick of a lot of people this season, but I just don't see it. Sure, Albert Pujols and Matt Holiday are great, but other then that, what do they really have in their lineup? Colby Rasmus and Ryan Ludwick are too inconsistent to be considered forces in any lineup. Also, I'm not sold on Ryan Franklin as their closer yet. Don't get me wrong, the Cardinals will be good this year, but just not good enough.
3. Chicago Cubs: 85-77
This division is really up for grabs, and any of the top three teams can capture it. If the Cubs want to be successful this year, they need Carlos Zambrano to be the ace he was two years ago. They also need Alfonso Soriano to give them half the production they expected when they gave him that huge contract. If both Zambrano and Soriano step up, the Cubs can be better then people think in 2010.
4. Cincinnati Reds: 81-81
The Reds are another team that could definitely surprise people this season. If enough things go right, they have a shot at winning the division. With guys like Joey Votto and Jay Bruce only getting better, and the acquisition of Scott Rolen and Orlando Cabrera, they can be dangerous this year. But Cincinnati will need Johnny Cueto to take the next step towards becoming an elite pitcher and Aaron Harang to improve upon last season. Edison Volquez may be able to energize them down the stretch, assuming he returns in August. Watch out for the Reds this year.
5. Houston Astros: 77-85
I think the Astros are better then people think, but not good enough to reach the playoffs. Michael Bourn, Hunter Pence, Lance Berkman, and Carlos Lee round out an offense that is more dangerous then most think. Also Roy Oswalt and Wandy Rodriguez are both good starters at the top of the rotation. They'll be good, but they just won't be good enough.
6. Pittsburgh Pirates: 66-96
Their pitching rotation consists of Paul Maholm, Ross Ohlendorf, Zach Duke, Charlie Morton, and Kevin Hart. Enough said.
1. Arizona Diamondbacks: 94-68
Call me crazy, but I seriously believe that the Diamondbacks will take the NL West this season. Why, you might ask? Well, first of all, Brandon Webb is back, which means more Webb + Haren, which will be baseball's best pitching duo. Their lineup isn't to shabby either. It features Justin Upton, Conor Jackson, Mark Reynolds, Miguel Montero, and I could keep going. Plus, Chris Young will have another big year, and could be in the ballpark of 30-30. Expect big things from Arizona this year.
2. Los Angeles Dodgers: 92-70, Wildcard
The Dodgers have one of baseball's best lineups with guys like Matt Kemp, Andre Either, Manny Ramirez, James Loney, and Casey Blake. They can drive up any pitcher's ERA. They also have one of the games best closers in Jonathan Broxton. Assuming Clayton Kershaw and Chad Billingsley take another step forward from last season, the Dodgers could go deep into the playoffs.
3. Colorado Rockies: 85-77
Colorado has a very good, young team, and has a serious chance at the division. However it's just not their year in the stacked NL West. But I promise you that one day Troy Tulowitzki, Dexter Fowler, Ublado Jiminez, Ian Stewart, and Brad Hawpe will all have World Series rings.
4. San Francisco Giants: 82-80
Much like the NL Central, the top four teams in the NL West all have a shot at the playoffs. With Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain, how could they not be serious playoff contenders? Also, Barry Zito started to show signs of improvement last season. If Buster Posey and Madison Bumgarner both live up to the hype this season, the Giants could be the National League's most dangerous team. Adding Mark DeRosa should also help.
5. San Diego Padres: 63-99
The Padres are just flat out bad. There's no way around it. Adrian Gonzalez should be gone by the All-Star Break, making their most dangerous hitter... Kyle Blanks. Not exactly the best hitter in baseball.
2010 NL Awards:
MVP: Ryan Braun
Cy Young: Clayton Kershaw
Rookie of the Year: Alcides Escobar
Comeback Player of the Year: Brandon Webb
Best Free Agent Signing: Randy Wolf (Brewers) 3 years, $29.75 million
Best Trade: Phillies acquire Roy Halladay
2010 NL Playoffs:
NLDS: Dodgers Defeat Phillies, 3-2
NLDS: Diamondbacks Defeat Brewers, 3-1
NLCS: Dodgers Defeat Diamondbacks, 4-2
Dodgers win the pennant!
2010 World Series:
Mariners Defeat Dodgers, 4-3
World Series MVP: Co MVP's Cliff Lee and Felix Hernandez
Mariners win the World Series
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