MLB Teams Already Being Overhyped Heading into 2015
Just ask the 2014 Texas Rangers.
MLB teams don't win World Series rings in the offseason. Last winter, the American League West club was widely hyped after bringing in Prince Fielder and Shin-Soo Choo. Once the games rolled around, the squad underachieved and couldn't stay healthy. Instead of an October run, Texas ended up face-planting.
Last season's Rangers serve as a cautionary tale for some of this winter's most active clubs. What follows is a look around the league at five teams that are already being overhyped heading into 2015.
Several of the teams that crack the list have made impressive moves in recent months, but will be playing in extremely competitive divisions next season. Others have glaring weaknesses that have yet to be fixed. Plus, there's one squad that has grabbed all sorts of headlines but that still has plenty of work to do before becoming a true playoff contender.
Toronto Blue Jays
There's a lot to like about how the offseason has played out for the Toronto Blue Jays.
The AL East team has brought in a ton of offensive firepower with the trade for third baseman Josh Donaldson and the signing of catcher Russell Martin.
Starter Marcus Stroman told Tim Micallef and Sid Seixeiro on Sportnet 590 The Fan that the Blue Jays have definitely made enough moves to earn a postseason trip.
“Absolutely. We have more than enough talent to accomplish that.”
Stroman certainly impressed during the second half of 2014, but there are lots of concerns about Toronto's pitching staff overall. As spring training approaches, it's still yet to be determined just who will be in locking up the ninth inning.
Meanwhile, the rotation would benefit significantly from the addition of another front-line arm. At this point, the biggest name left on the free-agent market is James Shields. According to Shi Davidi of Sportsnet, Toronto's interest in the right-hander amounts to nothing more than "due diligence."
Without a major upgrade or two to the pitching staff, the Blue Jays are in jeopardy of seeing the club's playoff-less streak extend to a 22nd season.
San Diego Padres
After a flood of offseason trades, the San Diego Padres are on track to top the club's 76-win total from 2014. However, the Padres are going to need a lot to go right if the team is going to end its eight-year exile from October.
First, San Diego will have to hope that its bet on Matt Kemp pays dividends.
Did the Padres trade for the right-hander hitter who posted a .971 OPS in the second half of 2014, or did the team acquire the outfielder who could barely stay on the field in 2012 and 2013?
There's also the landscape of the National League West to consider.
The Los Angeles Dodgers, who have radically revamped the roster this offseason, still have a monster rotation. On paper, the Dodgers are once again favorites to claim the division crown. The San Francisco Giants have been awfully quiet this offseason, but as recent history clearly demonstrates, the team can never be underestimated.
Chicago White Sox
The Chicago White Sox are in a similar spot as the San Diego Padres.
Like San Diego, there's no question that the White Sox are much improved. However, it's also much too soon to punch the team's ticket to the postseason. Chicago will be facing all kinds of competition in the AL Central in 2015.
After a strong second-half run last season, the Cleveland Indians look like a wild-card contender. The Kansas City Royals are rebounding from a World Series appearance, and the squad isn't even the clear favorite to win its own division. The Royals share that distinction with the Detroit Tigers.
Earning a playoff trip is at the top of the White Sox's to-do list and is certainly an obtainable goal. However, doing so will be a major challenge, as the AL Central is shaping up to be one of the fiercest divisions in baseball.
Boston Red Sox
The Boston Red Sox didn't waste any time this offseason.
In the final week of November, the Red Sox snagged two of the premier bats on the free-agent market in Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval.
So far, the additions to the pitching staff have been far less impressive. The team signed Justin Masterson, who is a promising reclamation project, while also acquiring Wade Miley and Rick Porcello, who should both be quality contributors.
What's lacking from that list is a true ace. Back in December, Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports wrote that Boston had talked to the Washington Nationals about the idea of trading for Jordan Zimmermann.
Per Bleacher Report's Jason Catania, the Red Sox have the No. 3 farm system in baseball. Along with the team's outfield surplus, Boston has all the pieces needed to pull off a big trade for a No. 1 starter.
There's been a lot of buzz surrounding the Chicago Cubs this offseason.
That's what happens when a team lands a rock star manager like Joe Maddon and a superstar starter like Jon Lester. While the Cubs are definitely trending in the right direction, it's also time to slow down on the playoff talk in 2015.
The first roadblock facing the Cubs is the strong field in the NL Central. The Milwaukee Brewers are looking to prove that the team can recover from last year's second-half slump. Meanwhile, the St. Louis Cardinals and Pittsburgh Pirates both earned playoff spots in 2014.
According to Bleacher Report's Jason Catania, the Cubs have the No. 1 farm system in baseball, but that won't necessarily help the team in 2015. Prospects like Albert Almora and Addison Russell simply won't be ready to be key contributors next season.
The future is looking extremely bright at Wrigley Field, but patience is still required.
If you want to talk baseball, find me on Twitter @KarlBuscheck.