Spring Training continues to grind on in Arizona and Florida, and now we suddenly begin to find ourselves in the meat of the spring training schedule. Decisions are starting to be made, pitchers are being stretched out for more than 30 pitches an appearance, and lineups are starting to get closer to resembling major league lineups rather than a mixture of hopeful minor league prospects. As the season draws closer, we’re going to give you a preseason set of power rankings to get you up to speed for April 4th.
1. New York Yankees: The Yankees are always, for as long as the sun rises, going to be a contender in the AL East and they had another big offseason. Along with adding young pitching stud Michael Pineda, they also added Hiroki Kuroda and will be receiving a healthy Phil Hughes to christen the new season. We know the lineup is stacked, and the Yanks will most certainly be a force to be dealt with come October.
2. Boston Red Sox: We all remember the disastrous end to their 2011 campaign, and they were pretty quiet in the offseason, but don’t forget the monster offseason they had a year ago. Carl Crawford had a down year, John Lester and Clay Bucholz bounced on and off the DL, and they still were the best team in baseball for a few months last year. Bobby Valentine should give this team a fresh start, and everyone out east should be afraid of this sleeping giant.
3. Tampa Bay Rays: The Rays won the wild card on the last day of the season last year, and that was before the Earth shattering emergence of Matt Moore in the ALDS. With him as a staple in the rotation to go along with David Price and James Shields, the Rays have one of the best stable of starters in the league, and will continue to give the traditional AL East powers fits.
4. Toronto Blue Jays: The Jays are on the cusp of perennial contention, and if they played in a different division, they may have made more noise over the past few years than they have. Jose Bautista is an absolute monster in the middle of the lineup, and they have young talent oozing from within. If J.P Arencibia can continue to emerge as a front line catcher and Ricky Romero can build on a stellar 2011 season, these guys can also threaten for that last and brand new wild card spot.
5. Baltimore Orioles: The Baltimore faithful have to be losing hope. They haven’t made the playoffs since 1997, and help does not appear to be on the horizon. Maybe the cavalry fell asleep before they could make their heroic entrance to save the franchise before they fell into baseball purgatory? Who knows, but this is not a good baseball team and will be an afterthought once more in 2012.