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Race for the Ring: Every MLB Team's Chance of Winning It All in the Near Future

Joe IannelloAnalyst IIIFebruary 26, 2011

Race for the Ring: Every MLB Team's Chance of Winning It All in the Near Future

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    Elsa/Getty Images

    Major League Baseball is in the air. All 30 teams have flocked to a warm weather site with the same goal in mind: Win a ring.

    Whether it's veterans of the league imparting as much knowledge as they can on the young guns, or legends from the past returning to the place that they loved, spring training is a beneficial and necessary time for baseball players.

    Baseball is the one major sport in America where spending of loads of money can directly impact the product that you put onto the field. There is no salary cap, just a luxury tax that a team can choose to pay if they so dare.

    Quite simply, some teams are contenders while most are pretenders.

    There are the teams in baseball who spend mind-numbing amounts of money to keep or acquire top-flight talent and there are many other teams (owners) who are just happy that Bud Selig is so fond of revenue sharing.

    Let's get right to it, here are each team's chances of winning a World Series in the next three years.

Arizona Diamondbacks

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    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    2010: 65-97, 27 GB

    The Diamondbacks rotation for this coming season is a little different from the unstoppable duo of Curt Schilling and Randy Johnson.

    They have traded away some of their best talent in Dan Haren and Mark Reynolds for prospects, but a starting rotation of Ian Kennedy, Daniel Hudson, Joe Saunders, Barry Enright and Zach Duke will not be able to compete.

    They do have some solid, young talent in Miguel Montero, Stephen Drew and Justin Upton who all will be good Major Leaguers for the next decade—but there is not enough talent throughout the lineup.

    The future does not look very good anytime soon for Arizona, as they do not have the farm system to trade and acquire a big name player.

    According to mlb.fanhouse.com, they have the 22nd-best farm system in baseball and they have only two players ranked in the top 100 prospects.

    The 2009 draft gave them a handful of impressive bats like A.J. Pollock and Bobby Borchering, but beyond that there is not a great deal of depth, especially in the arms race.

    At least Arizona fans can sleep soundly knowing that they are in the dreadful NL West.

     

    Chances of winning a World Series in the next three years—100 to 1.

Los Angeles Dodgers

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    Harry How/Getty Images

    2010: 80-82, 12 GB

    Was there a team in baseball more disappointing than the Dodgers last year? Manny Ramirez may have had a say in that, but that debate is for another day.

    The Dodgers certainly did not play like a team with the 10th-highest payroll in baseball at over $95 million.

    The lineup is stockpiled with veteran players who many would argue, have seen better days in Rafael Furcal, Casey Blake and Rod Barajas.

    They do have some nice young players in Matt Kemp and James Loney, but without Manny we saw how inefficient this lineup really is.

    Clayton Kershaw, Jon Garland, Ted Lilly, Chad Billingsley and Hiroki Kuroda do have the potential to be a very strong starting rotation.

    Big Jonathan Broxton has dominated in his early career as a closer (except for the playoffs) and the bullpen should be fine.

    If the Dodgers can bring in a bat at the trade deadline, they could make a run at the NL West. This will be tough to do, however, as they have the No. 25-ranked farm system in baseball, with only two players in the Top 100.

    LA fans should be confident, however, that management will go find another bat even with their owner having the problems he's been having.

     

    Chances of winning a World Series in the next three years—25 to 1.

Colorado Rockies

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    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    2010: 83-79, 9 GB

    Can the Rockies return to the playoffs in the near future?

    Ubaldo Jimenez proved to be more than just a guy with amazing stuff last season by going 19-8 with a 2.88 ERA and 214 K's.

    He did this while pitching more than half of his games at Coors Field.

    But are Jorge De La Rosa, Aaron Cook, Jason Hammel and Esmil Rogers a capable enough supporting cast?

    The Rockies do not have the type of rotation to succeed in a seven-game playoff series.

    Even with Troy Tulowitzki (a top-three shortstop in baseball) anchoring the infield with Ian Stewart and an above-average outfield with Dexter Fowler and Carlos Gonzalez, don't look for the Rockies to make any noise unless they can add another big-name arm to go along with Jimenez.

    This may be a possibility at the deadline with the Rockies having the 10th-best farm system in baseball and three players ranked in the Top 100.

     

    Chances of winning a World Series in the next three years—20 to 1.

San Diego Padres

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    Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

    2010: 90-72, 2 GB

    It seemed like everyone viewed the Padres' early season success as a fluke and that they would come crashing back down to the basement of the NL West.

    That never happened. They won 18 more games than they lost and pushed the eventual World Series Champion San Francisco Giants for a playoff spot until the last week of the season.

    Then again, they did this with Adrian Gonzalez.

    Jorge Cantu will be a nice player and was a solid pickup...but he is not Adrian Gonzalez.

    Losing Gonzalez will make a huge difference in the team's success this season.

    Even with Mat Latos and Clayton Richard pitching, the next few seasons in gorgeous San Diego may not be so sunny.

    They have the worst farm system in MLB with only one player in the Top 100. Management will have to open up their checkbooks if they want to see another season like last year's.

     

    Chances of winning a World Series in the next three years—20 to 1.

San Francisco Giants

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    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    2010: 92-70, World Series Champions

    If you asked a Phillies fan (like me) last season which team they did not want to face in the playoffs, they all would have said, "The San Francisco Giants."

    With a terrific starting rotation and solid bullpen (Brian Wilson better never shave his beard) don't expect the Giants to fade anytime soon.

    Give the Giants a lot of credit; the Barry Zito deal was the kind of disaster that could handicap a franchise for a decade, but they have not let that happen.

    With Lincecum, Cain, Sanchez, Bumgarner and Zito (he pitched well last season, but I still put him last intentionally) stepping to the mound every day, the Giants have a chance to win.

    They showed just how strong they can be in a playoff series. The Giants will continue to be in contention based on their pitching alone.

    The lineup still leaves much to be desired, however, with only two players hitting 20+ home runs.

    At least you have Buster SF fans. The guy is the real deal and has all the qualities that you would want in a ballplayer. He is tough, smart, athletic, consistent and has all the tools to make him one of the top three catchers in baseball for the next decade (if he stays at catcher).

    If Cody Ross and Pat "The Bat" come back down from the mountain they were on during last year's playoffs, look for the Giant's to add another solid bat at the deadline (again).

    They have the ability to do so with the eighth-ranked farm system and three solid players in the Top 100.

     

    Chances of winning a World Series in the next three years—9 to 1

Pittsburgh Pirates

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    Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

    2010: 57-105, 34 GB

    Have the Pirates laid down as a franchise? (Look at the picture above, pun intended.)

    It seems like they have absolutely no plan in place. Year after year, they trade away their top players to contenders, because they fear they will not be able to resign them.

    So, how do they still have the 28th-ranked minor league system in baseball? How can they only have two players in the Top 100?

    This franchise has enraged the top spending teams in baseball as they collect money from revenue sharing, but fail to spend that money on free agents.

    How long until Andrew McCutchen is shipped elsewhere?

    The lineup and rotation are completely brutal and don't expect things to change anytime soon.

    I can't talk about the Pirates anymore; it is making me depressed. Maybe some Pirates fans can cheer me up, if there are any left.

     

    Chances of winning a World Series in the next three years—1,000 to 1 (SO YOU'RE TELLIN' ME THERE'S A CHANCE?!)

Chicago Cubs

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    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    2010: 75-87, 16 GB

    I asked previously in this slideshow if anyone had a more disappointing season last year than the Dodgers. Cubs fans may wish to argue this one.

    The Cubs had the third-highest team salary in all of baseball last season at a whopping $146.8 million.

    I will admit that I thought both the Soriano and Aramis Ramirez signings were solid when they were made, but they have turned out to be crushing to a fan base that so desperately wants/deserves a championship.

    The Cubs roster is filled with players who are overpaid and have underachieved, but there may be hope yet for the Cubs.

    Yes, I used hope and Cubs in the same sentence.

    Adam Wainwright is out for the season in St. Louis. All right! Strike one up for the good guys!

    In all seriousness, Starlin Castro is going to be a great shortstop for a long time. Geovany Soto is a catcher who can hit for power and average, all while playing a terrific backstop.

    The rotation will be improved in 2011 with Ryan Dempster, Carlos Zambrano (hopefully sane this season) Matt Garza, Randy Wells and Carlos Silva.

    Management has shown that they are not afraid to go out and spend money to try and improve their club, they just need to do a better job of selecting who they spend it on.

    Look for the Cubs' highly-paid players to earn their money in the near future and help the team contend for an NL Central title.

    The starting pitching, however, does not match up well in a seven-game series, as they lack top-flight talent.

     

    Chances of winning a World Series in the next three years—20 to 1.

Houston Astros

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    Bob Levey/Getty Images

    2010: 76-86, 15 GB

    The Astros traded away their best players last season in Roy Oswalt and Lance Berkman. (El Caballo, I still love you man!)

    Brett Myers had a great bounce-back year in 2010, but is he really a No. 1 pitcher? Psst, I saw him up-close-and-personal in Philly for many years—I'll take Halladay.

    The starting rotation and bullpen leave much to be desired in Houston.

    The outfield, however, may be onto something. Hunter Pence and Michael Bourn can form one of the best, young outfields in the majors for years to come.

    If Bill Hall can show some of his old pop from Milwaukee, the Astros may be able to score some runs this season.

    Don't look for them to stop many from scoring anytime soon though.

     

    Chances of winning a World Series in the next three years—80 to 1.

Milwaukee Brewers

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    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    2010: 77-85, 14 GB

    Brewers fans have a lot to be excited for this upcoming season. They finally have a true No. 1 guy to lead their rotation.

    Look for former Cy Young award winner Zach Greinke to return to form this season after a much-needed change of scenery.

    Teamed up with the likes of Gallardo, Wolf, Narveson and Parra out of the pen, the Brewers have a legitimate shot at the NL Central in the near future—again, another team that will benefit from the Wainwright injury.

    Casey McGehee, Rickie Weeks and Prince Fielder are all solid infielders who can put up huge power numbers at their respective positions.

    Ryan Braun and Corey Hart can launch bombs from the outfield as well.

    If the Brewers middle-relief can stabilize this season, look for them to be the dark horse in the NL.

    My sleeper pick for 2011 if they can keep Prince Fielder.

     

    Chances of winning a World Series in the next three years—15 to 1.

St. Louis Cardinals

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    Joel Auerbach/Getty Images

    2010: 86-76, 5 GB

    St. Louis has gone through more heartache in the past few weeks than most teams do in an entire year.

    Albert Pujols wants to be the highest-paid player in baseball and reportedly turned down a $200 million deal from the team that he has spent his entire career with.

    When is enough money enough? Obviously, $200 million is not enough for Big Albert.

    The loss of Adam Wainwright, one of the top pitchers in all of baseball, is devastating to the Cardinals.

    Maybe St. Louis fans can give me a reason to still be optimistic about this season, but I am having trouble seeing the light.

    With the Brewers and Cubs looking to rebound from down years and the Reds loaded with young talent, I foresee a dim future for the Card's faithful.

    Quick question to St. Louis fans: Would you trade Pujols for hometown hero Ryan Howard because it doesn't look like you will sign him anyway?

    If Wainwright can return to form next season the Cardinals will be a contender for the NL Central crown again.

    How fast things can change in the game of baseball.

     

    Chances of winning a World Series in the next three years—22 to 1.

Cincinnati Reds

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    Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

    2010: 91-72, NL Central Champs

    The Reds had an outstanding 2010 season, which eventually ended when they were knocked out by a more experienced Philadelphia Phillies team.

    As a Phillies fan, I see a lot of similarities between Cincy and the Phils'. The Phillies were knocked out in the first round of the playoffs in 2007. They were a young team with no playoff experience.

    They returned the next season hungry and determined to accomplish more than just making the playoffs. They won the World Series.

    Can the Reds follow in their footsteps?

    They have the team to do so.

    Joey Votto will be a perennial MVP candidate for years to come. He can hit for average and power, has a terrific eye and plays an outstanding first base. The guy is worth every penny. Scott Rolen and Brandon Phillips are All-Star-caliber offensive players while also being Gold Glove-caliber defensive players.

    Edgar Renteria was a great pickup, as he can provide the kind of veteran leadership and playoff experience that helped the Giants win the World Series.

    Jonny Gomes, Drew Stubbs and Jay Bruce all have mid-20's HR potential from the outfield.

    K-Rod and Aroldis Chapman will continue to bring the heat from the bullpen.

    The question remains, however—do the Reds have the starting rotation to match up with the NL elite?

    Edinson Volquez, Bronson Arroyo and Johnny Cueto can certainly keep you in a game. Are they a dominating trio? Probably not, but with the Reds offense and bullpen they may not have to be.

     

    Chances of winning a World Series in the next three years—15 to 1.

Washington Nationals

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    Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

    2010: 69-93, 28 GB

    7 years, $126 million for Jayson Werth? Really? Why did the Nat's offer a guy that has never hit 30 homers or batted in 100 RBIs in a season more than double any other team in baseball?

    I understand that they needed to do something to draw a top free agent to the lowly Nationals, but the guy is 31.

    Okay, I've said my piece about Werth, but does anyone expect Washington to compete anytime soon in the stacked NL East? Even if they had Stephen Strasburg available, I don't think there would be many people betting on this team.

    I have to give a shout-out to my boy Ryan Zimmerman, however, as he is one of the top players in the game.

     

    Chances of winning a World Series in the next three years—150 to 1.

New York Mets

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    Andrew Burton/Getty Images

    2010: 79-83, 18 GB

    The Mets have the 24th-ranked farm system in all of baseball. They had the fifth-highest payroll in the MLB in 2010.

    They gave Jason Bay $66 million in guaranteed money.

    Their monumental choke back in 2007 (and 2008) enabled the Phillies to make the playoffs, attract top free agents and build the best starting rotation in baseball.

    In all seriousness though, if Johan Santana can get back to his self-proclaimed "best pitcher in baseball" form, the Mets could be a thorn in some teams' sides this season.

    However, the rest of the Mets' rotation leaves much to be desired. With Mike Pelfrey, Jonathon Niese, R.A. Dickey and Chris Young lined up to be the starters, look for the Mets' struggles to continue.

    The Mets still have a solid infield with perennial All-Star/Gold Glove David Wright, Jose Reyes and an exciting second-year player Ike Davis.

    Hopefully, a healthy Carlos Beltran returns this season and can produce the type of numbers that are expected out of a guy with so much talent.

    I don't see the Mets being contenders for the NL East anytime soon, let alone a World Series.

    Maybe NY fans can change my mind.

     

    Chances of winning a World Series in the next three years50 to 1.

Florida Marlins

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    Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

    2010: 80-82, 17 GB

    The Marlins clearly have a solid scouting department. They are always at the bottom of team payroll (26th in 2010) yet they continue to field some of the top players in all of baseball.

    After another All-Star season of hitting .300 with 21 HR's and 92 RBI's, Hanley Ramirez returns to prove that he is the best middle infielder in baseball.

    Josh Johnson is a legitimate ace for any team.

    Mike Stanton and Gaby Sanchez have already proven that they are solid major league-caliber players.

    The problem with the Marlins is the lack of revenue coming in, but maybe things will change when they get a new stadium.

    Right now, they have a lot of very good young players, but not enough pitching to challenge the big boys in the NL.

     

    Chances of winning a World Series in the next three years40 to 1.

Atlanta Braves

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    Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

    2010: 91-71, 6 GB

    The Atlanta Braves were the front-runners in the NL East during much of the 2010 season. They have quietly made upgrades in positions of need over the offseason. They have a good mix of veteran and young players.

    Do they have what it takes to take back the NL East crown?

    Their rotation is pretty solid as we saw last season with Lowe, Hudson, Hanson and Jurrjens, but they clearly do not have the talent that the Phillies Fab Four does.

    The Braves do have one of the best bullpens in the game with Craig Kimbrel, Jonny Venters, Eric O'Flaherty and Peter Moylan posting sub-three ERA's in 2010.

    They also acquired a guy in Dan Uggla who can hit, providing some much needed power to the middle of their lineup.

    With Uggla, rookie sensation Jason Heyward, All-Star Brian McCann, 20 HR-power Alex Gonzalez and .300-hitting Martin Prado, the Braves offense will look to build on their success from 2010 (fifth in runs in NL).

    The Braves will win a lot of games in the near future, but they will not win the NL East with the starting pitching the Phils have.

     

    Chances of winning a World Series in the next three years15 to 1.

Philadlphia Phillies

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    Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

    2010: 97-65, Best record in MLB

    On Halladay, on Lee, on Oswalt, on Hamels.

    Utley, Howard, Rollins oh my!

    R2C2. The Phab Phour. The Phour Horsemen. The list goes on and on for Phillies Nation as they anxiously await the most anticipated season in Philly sports history.

    Behind an All-Star lineup with potential Hall of Famers in Chase Utley and Ryan Howard, the Four Horsemen boast a resume that includes 10 Top-Five finishes in Cy Young award voting, three actual Cy Young awards, 13 All-Star selections, six 20-win seasons, three postseason MVP awards and a 20-8 postseason record.

    Doc Halladay proved last year that his lack of postseason experience did not mean a thing as he threw a no-hitter in his first-ever playoff start. Cliff Lee's postseason resume includes a 7-2 record, with a 2.13 ERA and 80 strikeouts in 76 IP. Cole Hamels was the World Series MVP. Roy Oswalt went 7-1 with a 1.74 ERA with the Phils last season.

    I think all of baseball can agree that if all of the pitchers can stay healthy, the Phils will not be giving up many runs this season.

    "What about the offense? They had a down year last year so who is to say it won't happen again?"

    Here is why: Jimmy Rollins is entering a contract year, Chase Utley is poised to reclaim his name as the best second basemen in baseball and Ryan Howard is back to win another MVP. Chooch (Carlos Ruiz) has proven to be arguably the most complete catcher in the NL and most clutch hitter on the team.

    With previous, perennial and potential All-Stars up and down the lineup, Phillies Nation has a reason to be excited about something other than the best rotation in baseball history—even though it still sounds so nice.

    The window for the Phillies may be closing a little from what it was in 2008, but don't expect it to close within the next three years.

     

    Chances of winning a World Series in the next three years4 to 2.

Seattle Mariners

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    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    2010: 81-101, 29 GB

    "King Felix" Hernandez is one of the most intimidating pitchers that I have never faced.

    Seriously though, the AL Cy Young winner is an absolute pleasure to watch pitch.

    The problem is, he can only pitch every five days. The Mariners lineup is so weak, that it is hard to get an accurate read on the pitching staff.

    If you look at the collective ERA of Doug Fister (4.1) Jason Vargas (3.78) David Pauley (4.07) and Luke French (4.8) you will see that their numbers are really not terrible.

    With Chone Figgins, Jack Wilson, Justin Smoak and that little guy Ichiro in the lineup, the Mariners should be able to score some runs.

    Let's see if they actually do.

    I don't see them contending with the top teams in the AL anytime soon.

     

    Chances of winning a World Series in the next three years70 to 1.

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

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    Elsa/Getty Images

    2010: 80-82, 10 GB

    The Angels' starting rotation for 2011 is stacked. Jered Weaver, Dan Haren, Ervin Santana, Scott Kazmir and Joel Pineiro are all solid, proven pitchers who will lead the Angels back atop the AL West this season.

    The lineup is filled with players that can fly in Howie Kendrick, Torii Hunter and Vernon Wells. That speed will help them on the base-paths and defensively as well.

    Mike Sciosia is one of the best managers in all of baseball.

    They also have the eighth-ranked farm system in baseball with a solid five players being ranked in the Top 100.

    They have the chips needed to make a deal at the deadline if they needed.

    Look for the Angels to rebound in a big way from a disappointing 2010 campaign.

     

    Chances of winning a World Series in the next three years20 to 1. 

Oakland Athletics

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    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    2010: 81-81, 9 GB

    The A's have the 28th-ranked farm system in MLB.

    The A's have the 28th-highest payroll in MLB.

    How is their rotation so ridiculous then?

    Maybe that is because all of their top prospects are dominating the majors.

    Trevor Cahill went 18-8 with a 2.97 ERA last season. Brett Anderson only was 7-6 but his ERA was 2.8. Rich Harden had an injury plagued season, but when healthy he is dominant. Dallas Braden had a 3.50 ERA.

    Their bullpen behind Andrew Bailey and Grant Balfour is pretty good too.

    If some of their young prospects can help out Josh Willingham and Coco Crisp (love the cereal) and the A's reach the playoffs, they may be the Giants of last season with their pitching.

     

    Chances of winning a World Series in the next three years20 to 1.

Texas Rangers

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    Elsa/Getty Images

    2010: 90-72, Won AL West

    As a baseball fan, it was a pleasure watching the Rangers advance to the World Series. They did a lot of the little things that help to win games and they did them on the biggest of stages.

    However, with teams in their division making improvements and the Rangers losing Cliff Lee, should Rangers fans still have World Series expectations?

    C.J. Wilson, Tommy Hunter and Colby Lewis are all solid starting pitchers and a potentially-healthy Brandon Webb could be huge.

    Neftali Feliz showed last season that he can shut the door in the ninth inning.

    But the real heart of the Rangers is in their lineup.

    Josh Hamilton is an absolute monster. Michael Young is the consummate professional hitter. Adrian Beltre and Elvis Andrus make a terrific left side of the infield.

    The list of solid players goes on and on when you consider Ian Kinsler, Nelson Cruz and Julio Borbon.

    The Rangers also have the ninth-rated farm system in baseball, with three players in the top 100.

    The 2010 Rangers got where they did because they played the game the right way.

    And—Cliff Lee owns the Yankees.

     

    Chances of winning a World Series in the next three years20 to 1. 

Kansas City Royals

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    Nick Laham/Getty Images

    2010: 67-95, 27 GB

    Yes, that is a picture of Bruce Chen—and yes he still pitches in the Major Leagues.

    And yes—I laughed also when I found this out.

    The Royals have the 20th-highest payroll in the majors, but who are they spending $72 million on? Bruce Chen?

    Seriously though, the Kansas City Royals have the No. 1-rated farm system in MLB. They have an incredible nine players in the Top 100! The future may be brighter than we thought in Kansas City.

    Looking at the the players they have in their farm system, no team even comes close to comparing to the Royals. Not only do the Royals have easily the most talented farm system in baseball, but they have one of the best crops of talent of any organization in recent memory. With front-of-the-rotation lefties like Mike Montgomery, John Lamb and Danny Duffy and sluggers like Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas and Wil Myers, the Royals are absolutely stacked.

    If they can find a way to keep this talent, the Chiefs may not be the only K.C. team to have a huge turnaround in one season. Don't expect it for at least another three years though.

     

    Chances of winning a World Series in the next three years125 to 1. 

Cleveland Indians

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    Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

    2010: 69-93, 25 GB

    Is it weird that when I think of the Cleveland Indians I still think of Charlie Sheen as "Wild Thing?" Yeah, I didn't think so either.

    The Indians do have the 11th-rated farm system with four players in the Top 100.

    Their starting rotation features a bunch of prospects like Carlos Carrasco, but it still leaves much to be desired.

    Can Grady Sizemore return to form to help Shin-Soo Choo carry the offensive load?

    Don't expect anything exciting except Major League 4 to come from the Indians anytime soon.

     

     

    Chances of winning a World Series in the next three years200 to 1.

Detroit Tigers

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    Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    2010: 81-81, 13 GB

    The Tigers had the sixth-highest payroll in MLB in 2010. It is safe to say that they were a big disappointment based on preseason expectations.

    The starting rotation should be solid with the likes of Verlander, Scherzer and Porcello. A healthy and happy Brad Penny could give the Tigers a boost as well.  

    Speaking of healthy and happy, the Tigers won't be doing much this year if their best player is neither.

    Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez have to carry so much of the offensive load for the Tigers, that if the both of them do not have another huge year then they have no chance in the ultra-competitive AL Central.

     

    Chances of winning a World Series in the next three years35 to 1. 

Chicago White Sox

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    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    2010: 88-74, 6 GB

    Here is my pick to represent the AL in the World Series.

    I love the starting rotation of Buehrle, Jackson, Danks, Floyd and Peavy. If Peavy can return to anywhere near his Padres days, then the White Sox got a steal.

    The line-up is loaded with Paul Konerko and his 30-40 homers, Gordon Beckham ready to shine and Omar Vizquel still doing his thing,

    The offseason acquisitions of Juan Pierre (speed and ability to get on base) and big man Adam Dunn (power, RBI's) will be huge and what will push the White Sox over the top.

    The White Sox have used that seventh-ranked payroll in baseball very wisely and it will pay huge dividends in the near future.

     

     

    Chances of winning a World Series in the next three years12 to 1 

Minnesota Twins

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    J. Meric/Getty Images

    2010: 94-68, Won AL Central

    The Twins always seem to have a solid starting rotation and 2011 doesn't look to be any different.

    Carl Pavano had a great bounce-back year and looks to remain strong in 2011. Francisco Liriano, Kevin Slowey, Brian Duensing and Scott Baker have the potential to be one of the best starting five in the AL.

    The addition of Matt Capps at the trade deadline last season provides for some "relief" in case Joe Nathan can't bounce back from injury.

    Justin Morneau and Joe Mauer are two of the best players in baseball, period.

    If Delwyn Young and Michael Cuddyer can have another solid season like 2010, the Twins have a shot at going all the way.

     

     

    Chances of winning a World Series in the next three years—12 to 1 

Baltimore Orioles

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    Greg Fiume/Getty Images

    2010: 66-96, 30 GB

    The Orioles have one of the best ballparks in baseball. But, they are also in arguably the toughest division in baseball.

    The Orioles have gotten better this offseason by adding slugger Mark Reynolds and they have some nice players in Brian Roberts, J.J. Hardy and Derek Lee, but don't expect the Orioles to contend anytime soon.

    The Orioles are at the middle of the pack (17th in MLB) in team payroll, but they do not have the type of money (who does?) to spend with the likes of the Yankees and the Red Sox.

    Tampa Bay has set the precedent for how to compete with the monsters of the AL East, by growing prospects and watching them blossom into stars.

    This year the philosophy is sit back and let the other teams throw around a fortune, while you teach the fundamentals and reap the rewards later.

    The problem with the Orioles is that their farm system leaves much to be desired. They have the 25th-ranked system in baseball with only two players ranked in the Top 100.

    Here's the bad news: The Orioles are not particularly deep right now in terms of minor-league talent.

    The good news: What they do have, however, are two legitimate blue-chip prospects. Zach Britton and Manny Machado both have that type of talent and Britton is not far from the major leagues.

    A World Series in the near future however? Don't bet on it.

     

    Chances of winning a World Series in the next three years80 to 1.

Toronto Blue Jays

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    Nick Laham/Getty Images

    2010: 85-77, 11 GB

    The Blue Jays traded away the top pitcher in baseball and their best player. He proceeded to win the NL Cy Young award.

    The Jays are in one of the toughest divisions in baseball, but that didn't stop them from winning 85 games and being eight games over .500.

    85 wins in the AL East nowadays, however, will rarely be good enough.

    Trading away their talent has brought back some terrific young prospects.

    The Blue Jays have the fifth-ranked farm system in baseball, with five players ranked in the Top 100.

    They have big-league-ready talent like Kyle Drabek (son of Doug Drabek) who was brought over in the Halladay trade and J.P. Arencibia as well as guys on the horizon like Adeiny Hechavarria and Zach Stewart.

    Give the 'Jays credit for looking at Tampa Bay's approach to taking on the bigger market teams in their division and building up their farm system in a hurry.

    If some of these young pitching prospects turn out to be as good as they are projected, the Jays may be an even bigger thorn in the sides of the Yankees and Red Sox for the next decade.

     

    Chances of winning a World Series in the next three years70 to 1.

Boston Red Sox

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    J. Meric/Getty Images

    2010: 89-73, 7 GB

    There are not many divisions in baseball where winning 89 games will find you seven games behind the division leader.

    But that was the situation for the Sox in 2010.

    Theo Epstein set out this offseason with his checkbook a-blazin' and the Red Sox dramatically improved their club.

    They acquired the top two players (not a pitcher) available during the offseason in Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez.

    Sox Nation must be ecstatic at the prospect of Gonzalez and Crawford joining a lineup that already had the top average and second highest runs scored in the division.

    How much more can Gonzalez improve on a .298, 31 HR, 101 RBI from 2010 now that he has potent bats all around him? He will be a legitimate MVP candidate for the next five years.

    Crawford will be running wild in Boston and if he stays healthy, look for him to improve his terrific numbers of .307, 19 HR, 90 RBI, 110 R, 47 SB in 2010. Wait, why didn't the Yankees go after this guy?

    A lineup that could look like the following is ridiculous: 2008 MVP Dustin Pedroia followed by Carl Crawford, Kevin Youkilis and recently-acquired Adrian Gonzalez hitting cleanup—Big Papi fifth, and Jed Lowrie, JD Drew, Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Jacoby Ellsbury to round it out. 2011 can't come fast enough for Red Sox Nation.

    Oh yeah, their pitching isin't too shabby either. With Lester, Lackey, Beckett, Matsuzaka and Buchholz, the Red Sox could compare their starting five to anyone in baseball. If Lackey can return to his "Angelic" form and Papelbon can close like we are accustomed to, look for the Sox to take back the AL East.

     

    Chances of winning a World Series in the next three years5 to 1.

New York Yankees

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    Al Bello/Getty Images

    2010: 95-67, 1 GB

    Bartolo Colon, Andruw Jones and Freddy Garcia? That is how the Bronx Bombers counter the rival Red Sox acquisitions of Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford?

    No, we are not in bizarro world. The Yankees put all of their chips into getting Cliff Lee and it seemed like the entire baseball world expected him to sign with the Yankees.

    After all, the Yankees "always" get their man.

    But Lee surprised everyone by taking less guaranteed money and less guaranteed years to infuriate Yankees fans and make Phillies fans rejoice.

    Are the Yankees now destined to be cellar-dwellars with the Orioles now right? Absolutely not. They still have an offense that scored 859 runs last year, good for best in the AL.

    Their lineup is still as loaded as ever with a projected lineup of Jeter, Swisher, Teixiera, Rodriguez, Cano, Martin, Granderson, Gardner and Posada, in no particular order.

    They have pop from 1-9 and the ability to win games by outscoring their opponents.

    But do they have the starting pitching?

    They have their No. 1 guy in Sabathia, but can A.J. Burnett rebound from a miserable 2010 where he lost 15 games and had a 5+ ERA?

    Phil Hughes did win 18 games, but his ERA was over 4.0.

    Freddy Garcia? Really?

    Look for the Yankees to be in it until the end for the AL East crown with their loaded lineup and dominating bullpen.

    If the Yankees have the lead in the late innings, they are going to win a lot of the time.

    Mariano Rivera, Rafael Soriano, David Robertson, Joba Chamberlain, Boone Logan, and newly-acquired Pedro Feliciano give the Yanks one of the deepest and best pens in the MLB.

    Even though it seems like the Yankees always make a significant trade deadline acquisition, they still have the fifth-ranked farm system in baseball, with five players ranked in the Top 100.

    They have the talent (and checkbook) to make a splash at the deadline or in the coming offseason.

    The Steinbrenner attitude of going "all-in" every season is something that has to be admired about the Yankee franchise, whether you love them or hate them.

    The battle for the AL East crown over the next three years is going to be a treat for baseball fans.

     

    Chances of winning a World Series in the next three years6 to 1.

Tampa Bay Rays

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    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    2010: 96-66, AL East Champs

    The Yankees had a major league leading 2010 payroll of $206.3 million. The Red Sox payroll was second at $162.7 million.

    The Rays had a better record of both of these teams with the 21st-highest payroll at $71.9 million.

    Is anyone as amazed at that statistic as me?

    How is it possible that the Rays still have the third-best farm system in the minors, with five players in the Top 100? I thought all of their prospects were already up, beating up on the league's best.

    The recent haul they received in exchange for Matt Garza definitely gave the system a boost, but the Rays were going to be a top-10 system regardless. Chris Archer gives them yet another high-upside arm in a system that already features Matt Moore and Alex Colome.

    The farm still holds at least three position players who have all-star potential.

    Now, to the MAJOR league club.

    The Rays starting staff had the best ERA in the AL East, and second best in the entire AL at 3.78. These numbers may not be as good in 2011 with the loss of Garza, but the offense may be even more potent in 2011.

    The offseason free agent signings of Manny Ramirez and Johnny Damon could turn out to be steals. If either veteran can post the type of numbers that they have their entire careers, the Rays will continue to be a threat for the AL East crown regardless of what their payroll is.

    It's a shame that the Rays are struggling to fill their seats with all-world players Evan Longoria and David Price leading the team.

    In their young careers, both players have shown that they are one of the top players at their respective positions.

    Longoria posted a .292 average, 22 HR and 104 RBI 2010 campaign. If Manny decides to play hard and not just collect a paycheck, look for Longoria's already great numbers to improve.

    Even in the offensively-stacked AL East, Price finished his first full season with a 19-6 season with a 2.72 ERA.

    If James Shields can rebound from a sub-par 2010, he will team with Wade Davis, Jeff Niemann, Jeremy Hellickson and Andy Sonnanstine to form an above average starting rotation.

    If Manny and Damon can produce, the Rays will be a legit contender for the AL East crown again.

     

    Chances of winning a World Series in the next three years10 to 1.

The Verdict

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    Pool/Getty Images

    Mr. Selig must be pretty happy with the number of teams with legitimate shots at winning it all in the near future.

    The Tampa Bay Rays have set the precedent for the smaller market teams: Load up on prospects and let them flourish.

    Many teams have followed in their footsteps in the hopes of being able to compete against the teams whose payroll is five times larger than theirs.

    This season should be terrific with teams like the Phillies, Red Sox and White Sox getting significantly better.

    We know the Yankees will continue to do everything they can to win another championship.

    So many things go into a World Series—you need to stay healthy and even get a little lucky to win it all.

    With the 2011 season just around the corner, all teams are preparing to chase the ultimate goal—to win a World Series.

    Best of luck to every MLB fan, and may the best team win!

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