Here is a quick look at my picks last year .
American League East
New York Yankees (99-63)
As much as I don't want to put them here, they simply have few faults.
I expect Javier Vazquez to struggle since his debut with NY in 2004 didn't go so well, but Yankees fans insist he's a different pitcher now. We'll see.
The loss of the young Coke could hurt their bullpen, which really improved last year. Can Granderson cut it in New York? Will Damon's loose clubhouse feel hurt the usually corporate Yankees? Will winning last year have their guard down?
Tampa Bay Rays (WC ) (95-67)
Sure they traded Scott Kazmir last year (but it looks like just in time). Their staff still includes Neimann, Shields, Garza, Price, and Davis. When Price and Davis are your back end of the rotation you know you're deep.
The bullpen should be improved with the addition of Rafael Soriano, who did very well for Atlanta last year. They never make a lot of moves but the Rays were selective this year with just a few tweaks needed (Pat Burrell's contract can't come off the books soon enough for a shot to resign Crawford).
Boston Red Sox (90-72)
I don't like the addition of John Lackey to this staff. First of all, he fit perfectly in LA and simply followed the money to the East Coast. Next, some rotations I've seen have him pitching out of order (in my opinion) as a No. 2 behind Lester, who's certainly no ace. Lackey, if anything, showed in LA he is a horse and should be the de-facto ace on a team full of good No. 2's.
Shortstop and Marco Scutaro could be a point of weakness too and I don't like the Beltre match either. He's hit or miss and what's worse, he's asked to take over for Bay's lost production. I consider that a downgrade from Bay, who fit the offense like a glove.
Baltimore Orioles (77-85)
This is where the division really starts to dive.
The Orioles won't move up to anything higher than here until some of their kids really start to dominate, such as Brian Matusz who could win ROY.
Everyone knows about Weiters and Markakis but Millwood really needs to mentor the young staff, which has to over-achieve at this point to really have the Orioles rocket up the charts.
Until they learn how to take wins away within the division (translation: quit going 2-16 vs. Boston, as they did last year), they are going to stay here.
Toronto Blue Jays (75-87)
The wins could be a bit high here but they do have plenty of good bats, including the recently resigned Adam Lind, Aaron Hill, Vernon Wells, and Travis Snyder.
Like the Texas Rangers of old, they should be able to hang with some clubs run-wise but how in the world do they replace Halladay's annual 18 wins? They won 75 games last year with him. Do they even have a closer?
American League Central
Minnesota Twins (96-66)
In what has to be considered the most exciting Twins offseason in franchise history, complete with a new, much-deserved ballpark, a new Joe Mauer contract that rivals that of the Yankees and Roid Sucks, the team also resigned Jason Kubel, kept Michael Cuddyer in the fold, extended Nick Blackburn, Denard Span, and found the money to add Orlando Hudson and Jim Thome just for fun.
Still with the loss of All Star closer and Yankee-choker Joe Nathan , their season starts once they get to October, which everyone expects just like the 2009 Vikings, and probably ends in the first round, as always, to New York.
At least this year they have a legit chance to do something if they can figure out how to beat Boston and, especially New York when it counts (3-29 in their last 32 against NY).
Chicago White Sox (90-72)
The Sox's offseason included many questionable offensive signings, included signing Mark Teahen, Omar Vizquel, Juan Pierre, and Andruw Jones and willingly losing Jermaine Dye (who's still a free agent, go figure).
Seriously, how do you find enough ABs for Pierre, Jones, and Teahen who can all play OF or DH? Still with their starting rotation and crafty front office they can never be counted out.
Should give the Twins easily their most heated competition and stick around for most of the season.
Detroit Tigers (80-82)
Like the AL East, this is where the Central starts to dive. The only major move they made, besides resigning ace Justin Verlander to an extension, was upgrading their closer in the form of Jose Valverde. Still the move cost them Fernando Rodney, who left the team along with Edwin Jackson, Granderson, Placido Polando, and Jarrod Washburn.
Sure, Max Scherzer and Scott Sizemore project to be good along with young Daniel Schlereth, but Sizemore is no Polanco. Damon brings experience but will he quit caring when the team is out of it by August? Questionable move where it looks like a veteran chose money over winning when the Rays and Yankees both wanted him.
Kansas City Royals (72-90)
Last year I picked them to surprise and finish third but they seem to lose 90 like clockwork each year so let's just get that part out of the way.
Now I read they are trying to sign Jarrod Washburn. Why? What good will it do to this perpetual disappointment of a team that has only made the playoffs once since 1985? Why should we care about the slightly more competitive Pittsburgh Pirates of the American League? KC fans, I don't know how you do it.
Cleveland Indians (65-97)
Let's see, the team lost Ben Francisco, Ryan Garko, Cliff Lee, Victor Martinez, Mark DeRosa, and Carl Pavano from last year's roster at the trade deadline.
Who the heck is left? Cleveland fans, good luck marketing that one.
This division should have two 90+ loss teams and if the Tigers revert back to 2008, they could add to it (although I think the Damon signing spared them of this). This has the feel of an extended Spring Training club, and that is never good. Could remind fans of the '80s clubs. (Shudders)
American League West
Seattle Mariners (92-70)
They'll get their loses early with Cliff Lee out in April but still that's only six starts and they should be able to overcome that, even if they go 2-4 in those such games with whoever filling in for him. I'm banking a lot on his recovery.
Next most impressive to me was their stealing of Chone "on base percentage" Figgins from the rival L.A. Angels. Directly hurting the offense of one of your divisional rivals never hurts and Figgins will nicely replace the aged Beltre, who never really fit in the Emerald City.
Anything they get out of Bedard is a bonus in my eyes but will they miss Brandon Morrow who went to Toronto in a smart deal for the Jays?
Los Angeles Angels (88-74)
They lost Lackey, they lost Figgins, they replace Lackey with Joel Piniero (ouch) and lost Vlad Guerrero. Still they smartly kept Bobby Abreu and added a perfect fit in Hideki Matsui. Still, Matsui can't replace all the lost production of Vlad and Figgins.
Someone else is going to have to step up for them and at this point, I don't see who that is, never mind the fact they lost emotional leader Lackey. I wouldn't put them this high, but I just can't put Texas over them at this point, I mean, they are still the Angels with their front office and Scoscia and there are still the never-good-enough Rangers in their division.
Texas Rangers (83-79)
Greatly improved last year because they figured out how to pitch, thanks to newcomer Mike Maddux. Nolan Ryan's mentorship probably helped too.
Adding Vlad will directly hurt the Angels in the games they face each other, but other than that, what has he got left?
They did lose 13-game winner Milwood to Baltimore and it could be the same old, same old for Texas. Was their late swoon in September a sign of things to come?
Oakland Athletics (73-89)
Wow, Oakland sharing the Raiders and A's in one city? I don't know who is worse?
No Holliday this year for a team that ranked 27th in HR last year. They use their little precious resources on Ben Sheets, who won't come near the $10 million they foolishly gave him. That's like a million a month, and for what? Maybe 10 wins if he can stay healthy? If.
To make matters worse, with the Metrodome gone, they officially play in MLB's worst venue, the Oakland Coliseum.
National League East
Philadelphia Phillies (98-64)
A lot of people see a competitive division. I don't.
I still see Philly finishing comfortably on top but the Wild Card could come out of here, and thus, cut into Philly's win total a bit. Florida and Atlanta should be very good and the Mets should win more than they lose.
Adding Polanco was a perfect fit. It will be interesting to see how Halladay fits in the National League, but ERAs usually go down a run when switching to the NL, so what's he going to have, a Roger Clemens-esque 1.82 ERA during his stint in Houston?
Losing Lee will hurt because we know he fit the system unlike Halladay, but they should score enough runs to cover whatever faults Roy may have in transitioning to the NL.
Florida Marlins (87-75)
Too high? Last year they won 87 games with a less experienced roster. They've also been ordered to spend money and so they did on ace Josh Johnson, who they were expected to lose when he hit free agency in a few years. So much for that.
A new stadium is coming and things are looking up. Uggla was kept when he easily could have been dealt. They had last year's ROY in Chris Coghlan, who won it in Todd Hollinsworth fashion (it was a weak class) but he won it nonetheless.
Young exciting teams are the norm here, why would this year be any different? They could flip the roster tomorrow and somehow win 80 when all signs say they shouldn't. Trust me, just go with it.
Atlanta Braves (83-79)
Everyone knows about Tommy Hanson, Tim Hudson, plus their rotation should be deep with Kawakami, Lowe, and Jurrjens.
Still, adding Saito and and old Billy Wagner to the bullpen seem like stretches to me and Atlanta better hope they work out, especially after basically flipping Soriano and Mike Gonzalez for them. Seems like a downgrade observing from here.
But it's not just the bullpen. Grandpa Glaus joins the group along with Melky Cabrera, who won't have the Yankee power to hide behind. He'll get exposed for the average player he is. Still, they should hang around until the trade deadline.
New York Mets (79-83)
Santana may win 20 but you know you're in trouble when your only major pitching signing is Kelvim Escobar, who hasn't pitched in years.
This is an annual position of need, why can't they throw Jason Bay money out at a few real pitchers? Their starting rotation only goes three deep with Pelfrey, Maine, Santana. Hmmm.
Jeff Francoeur in right? OK, New York. Rod Barajas as your starting catcher? You aren't the Jays, you can and should be able to do better than that. This team is basically Wright-Bay-Santana and a mess.
Washington Nationals (66-96)
I really want to have them lose 100 only because I think they'll find a way (I had last year's 103 loss team winning 75). Drafted wonderfully in Drew Storen and Strasburg but this isn't 2012, they still have to make it to the bigs.
Nice moves in Jason Marquis, Brian Brunney, and Matt Capps, but Marquis is out of position, forced to be the ace he's not. He faded with Colorado last year. Washington will expose him with their lack of hitting to keep him in games. This team has a lot of stop gaps and wishing-on-a-prayer players like I-Rod and Adam Kennedy .
National League Central
St. Louis Cardinals (96-66)
Lost Joel Piniero but it won't matter; Dave Duncan will find another diamond in the rough to replace him like he does every year. See Chris Carpenter's revival, Adam Wainwright, Kyle Loshe, etc. This year will be Brad Penny.
Over payed greatly for Holliday, who fits the offense perfectly and have the cloud of a Pujols contract over their heads. Still, easily the best hitting team in the division even without clubhouse leader DeRosa or the hole at third (it's rookie Brendan Ryan's job for now).
Cincinnati Reds ( WC) (88-74)
For my optimism see my article on them making the Wild Card. I think they have the ROY in Aroldis Chapman, who will start the year at AAA. The Reds will need him though, so he'll be back.
Smartly added vet Orlando Cabrera to a decent hitting lineup which was never the issue. Chapman may help them turn the corner on that perception if they can develop him into an ace. Homer Bailey (8-5) is an improving example of that.
Milwaukee Brewers (83-79)
Had they added either Washburn (a WI native) or Jermaine Dye, who they need but with whom they broke off talks, I may have moved them up.
But for now Randy Wolf, Doug Davis, Greg Zaun, and Carlos Gomez will have to carry the load in Cheese Land. It was an okay offseason for Milwaukee, but it could have been flashier. Still, they should contend, maybe through the All-Star Break if people step up.
Chicago Cubs (80-82)
America's favorite losers, who I swear feed off of their ineptitude (not to mention profit off of it), once again will have sorry excuses why this didn't work for the 102nd year.
Foolishly dubbing this year as "Year One" of the Tom Ricketts ownership era isn't going to fool the average fan. These are still white-collar, spoiled, crybaby fans who seem to "love" losing. Whatever. It's a Chicago thing I guess.
I could talk about who they added and lost but what good would it do, it's not like they are going to do anything anyway. Carlos Silva? Really? Fukadome's overrated, Soto's fading. Is it football season yet?
Houston Astros (74-88)
Lost emotional leader I-Rod, didn't really add anyone, at least not anyone important. Looks like another team of no-names which fits a new manager. Look at this roster .
What can you say about players you've never heard of? All I can say is, run Michael Bourn, run (if you can get on base with this team of easy outs).
Pittsburgh Pirates (64-98)
Every year we are forced to add them to the standings, but basically they are an AAA team for every other market. Want a young and up-and-coming player Pittsburgh won't be able to afford in two years? Get him here, and it will just cost you two AA players. Joke.
McCutchen's all they have and he'll be gone in three years if they can get four prospects for him. It's a never-ending cycle.
At least once opening day's out of the way, they can prepare for their September call-ups the next day, you know, April 6, when they are officially out of it. Seventeen years of rebuilding is pathetic, especially when you share a city with perpetual winners in the Steelers and Penguins.
How long does it take to get it right? Can't get a draft pick right every once in a while? Beautiful ballpark being wasted. I could go on and on, but why give them the time of day? They don't care because they clearly don't try.
National League West
Colorado Rockies (88-74)
Lost Marquis, but hitting is the name of the game here, where they sometimes go two-deep, like at catcher with Chris Iannetta AND Miguel Olivo, or LF Brad Hawpe AND Ryan Spilborghs.
Remember how they seem to get hot the last few years when on paper it says they shouldn't? I don't have an answer for it, just enjoy it. Kinda Marlins-esque in how they can do it, but who cares. It works.
San Francisco Giants (86-76)
I really wanted to put them first. Adding DeRosa and Aubrey Huff helps a team short on bats. Kind of the anti-Rangers in that they have the pitching but not the hitting. Still, pitching keeps you in games so we'll see.
Los Angeles Dodgers (80-82)
Traded Juan Pierre. Lost Randy Wolf. Didn't add anyone of note. Manny looks depleted. Pitching goes three deep it seems. Kershaw, Billingsley, and Kuroda, maybe?
Arizona Diamondbacks (79-83)
Hitting will keep them in it. Lots of nice kids in Upton, Reynolds, Drew, and Young. Add that to veterans Kelly Johnson and Adam LaRoche (ironically two former Brave teammates) and they could have a nice balance, but it's still on one side of the ball at this point.
Rotation is Dan Haren, Edwin Jackson and not much else. Sure they could jump the Dodgers for third, but who cares when you get to this point?
San Diego Padres (60-102)
Added Yorvit Torrealba and Jon Garland in underrated moves, but that just made it look all the more like scrap-heap bargains that small market clubs are forced to do.
The whole season will revolve around when Adrian Gonzalez gets traded, to whom, and how many prospects this team desperately needs to get back for him. AAA is probably the best way to put it.
Minnesota over Tampa in five.
New York Yankees over Seattle in six.
ALCS : Yankees over Twins in four.
Phillies over Reds in three.
St. Louis Cardinals over Colorado Rockies in four.
NLCS : Phillies over Cardinals in five.
World Series Phillies over Yankees in six.
Manager of the Year : (AL) Don Wakamatsu, Mariners; (NL) Dusty Baker, Reds
AL MVP : (AL) Justin Morneau, Twins; (NL) Albert Pujols, Cardinals
CY Young : (AL) Nick Blackburn, Twins; (NL) Tim Lincecum, Giants
ROY : (AL) Brian Matusz, Orioles; (NL) Aroldis Chapman, Reds
Managers to Get Fired : Bob Geren, Oakland; Bud Black, San Diego; Lou Pineilla, Cubs (resigns); Jerry Manuel, Mets; Trey Hillman, Royals,
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