• Useless division projections: American League West

    The weather is getting warmer. The days are getting longer. Spring training is in full swing, and you can almost smell the freshly cut grass, hot dogs and peanuts of your local ballpark. The Rangers and Astros will kick off the season in just a few short weeks, and it is now time for a round of useless division predictions so we can all start getting our mind out of basketball mode and into its baseball preset.  If you saw the Orioles finishing in second place in the notorious American League East or the Oakland A’s winning the AL west, then these projections aren’t useless. As it stands, we never know what twists and turns will take place over the course of 162, but we’re going to try to look into the future and see where things will stand come October.

    American League West:

    Houston Astros, 5th place

    Sorry, Astros fans. 2013 is going to be just as forgettable as the last couple years of baseball in H-Town. Coming off a miserable 55 win season, the path to relevance gets a bit harder with their transition to the American League West, home of a couple of the best teams in baseball and the DH. The Astros will begin the year with the lowest payroll in the league by far, and their current roster would have trouble competing in AAA, let alone the big leagues. But I am really excited to see the retro uniforms they’ll be rolling out this year. They’re going to be put to shame on the field while dressed to the nines.

    Seattle Mariners, 4th place

    Slowly but surely, they’re putting the pieces back together. Felix Hernandez will do Felix Hernandez things, but the putrid smell of the offense can still be smelled all the way from the East coast. Dustin Ackley and Jesus Montero should begin to take the next steps in their progression into impact players, and the additions of Michael Morse and Kendrys Morales will aid the cause. If the offense can hold up and the rotation can find someone to help out King Felix, the Mariners could be primed to make some noise in 2013.

    Oakland A’s, 3rd place

    I refuse to believe they can catch lighting in a bottle twice. Refuse. The 19-5 record they posted in July surely can’t be replicated again, and surely the amazingly young pitching staff can’t repeat their out of mind performance of 2012. A healthy season from Brett Anderson will help in their defense of the American League West title, as well as a full season from the Cuban outfielder Yoenis Cespedes. I don’t think they can repeat, but I also had them finishing last in the predictions last year. Who knows with Billy Beane’s group.

    Texas Rangers, 2nd place

    Following a rough offseason that saw almost nothing go according to plan, the Rangers have some doubters heading into the 2013 campaign for the rest time in awhile. The starting rotation led by Yu Darvish and Matt Harrison should be formidable, but Derek Holland and Alexi Ogando are going to have to have solid seasons if they want to reclaim the AL West title. Elvis Andrus, Adrian Beltre and the rest of the gang are going to have to make up for the loss of Josh Hamilton, and A.J. Pierzynski is going to have to replicate the solid season of 2012 he had with the White Sox in the heat of the summer. The Rangers have as good a chance as anyone, but they have some work to do.

    Los Angeles Angels, 1st place

    Sweet, sweet Déjà vu. Seems as though it was only a few short months ago I picked the Angels to win the American League West a season ago after a big offseason, only to watch them fall flat on their face coming out of the starting blocks. Josh Hamilton, Peter Bourjos and Mike Trout probably represent the most compete outfield in the big leagues, while Albert Pujols and Mark Trumbo hold down the corners of the infield. The starting rotation could be an Achilles heel after Jered Weaver and C.J. Wilson, but on paper, it looks like it should hold up. I’ve done this before and it didn’t pan out, we’ll see if 2013 is any better for the Angels.

  • Useless division projections: American League East

    The weather is getting warmer. The days are getting longer. Spring training is in full swing, and you can almost smell the freshly cut grass, hot dogs and peanuts of your local ballpark. The Rangers and Astros will kick off the season in just a few short weeks, and it is now time for a round of useless division predictions so we can all start getting our mind out of basketball mode and into its baseball preset.  If you saw the Orioles finishing in second place in the notorious American League East or the Oakland A’s winning the AL west, then these projections aren’t useless. As it stands, we never know what twists and turns will take place over the course of 162, but we’re going to try to look into the future and see where things will stand come October.

    American League East:

    Baltimore Orioles, 5th place

    Falling back into the same trap I did a year ago, picking them to finish last. But I feel more confident this time around. Kind of. Similar to the Oakland A’s, I refuse to believe Buck Showalter and Co. can repeat the magic of a year ago. Wei-Yin Chen will lead the way on the mound for the Orioles, and he’ll have to repeat his stellar campaign from 2012. Matt Weiters, Adam Jones and Chris Davis are also going to have to continue to build on their 2012 seasons, and while one or two of them may, I don’t see all three sustaining that performance. Like I said, I picked them to finish dead last a year ago and they won 93 games, so maybe that is their good luck charm.

    Tampa Bay Rays, 4th place

    For the first time in awhile, the Rays will start to fall back to Earth. David Price is still the best pitcher in the American League, and Matt Moore is going to be great too, but Evan Longoria, Ben Zobrist and Desmond Jennings cannot do all the heavy lifting for the offense. The pitching should be strong, which will give them a chance, but the offense will rank up there with one of the worst.

    New York Yankees, 3rd place

    Oh how the mighty have fallen. Karma is good when it finally hits the right people, isn’t it? The Yankees will start the season looking more like a M.A.S.H unit than a baseball team following the injuries of Mark Teixera and Curtis Granderson in Spring Training, not to mention they probably won’t have Alex Rodriguez for most of the year. That’s probably not a negative though. Derek Jeter is working to recover from the broken ankle he received in the ALCS last year, and the best closer to ever live, Mariano Rivera is on the comeback trail from injury as well. C.C. Sabathia at the top of the rotation along with Robinson Cano should give them a fighting chance until everyone returns from injury, but it may be too little too late. The Yankees may eat up one of the two wild card spots when the marathon finishes, but right now, things look bleak for the Bronx Bombers.

    Boston Red Sox, 2nd  place

    How forgettable was 2012? Probably not as forgettable as the choke job of 2011, but it was pretty rough. 69 wins and a major salary dump can do that to a fan base that has been spoiled for the last decade. However, the Red Sox should bounce back to prominence in 2013 if John Lester can return to his ace form and Clay Bucholz can put together an entire season. The tip of the offensive spear doesn’t change from years past, led by Jacoby Ellsbury, David Ortiz and Dustin Pedroia. The addition of Mike Napoli should provide a boost as well. Napoli has had success in the 19 career games he has had at Fenway, posting a .306 batting average along with seven homeruns. If the Red Sox can avoid the injury plague they caught a year ago, they could be in a good position coming down the stretch.

    Toronto Blue Jays, 1st place

    Yeah, I’m taking the bait. The unanimous winners of the winter, the Blue Jays added Jose Reyes, Melky Cabrera, Josh Johnson, R.A. Dickey, and Mark Buerhle. Taking a glance at the Miami Marlins of a year ago, this blue print doesn’t appear to work very well, but the AL East is down for the first time in almost two decades, and the Blue Jays are in shape to make a serious run for the first time since they won back-to-back World Series titles in ’92 and ’93. The rotation looks solid, and the lineup looks potent with Reyes at the top, followed by Cabrera and super sluggers Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion. They could follow the exact same footsteps of the Marlins a year ago, since they did acquire half their roster, but on paper, this team looks sexy, and I’m buying.

  • Useless division projections: American League Central

    The weather is getting warmer. The days are getting longer. Spring training is in full swing, and you can almost smell the freshly cut grass, hot dogs and peanuts of your local ballpark. The Rangers and Astros will kick off the season in just a few short weeks, and it is now time for a round of useless division predictions so we can all start getting our mind out of basketball mode and into its baseball preset.  If you saw the Orioles finishing in second place in the notorious American League East or the Oakland A’s winning the AL west, then these projections aren’t useless. As it stands, we never know what twists and turns will take place over the course of 162, but we’re going to try to look into the future and see where things will stand come October.

    American League Central:

    Minnesota Twins, 5th place

    This rebuild job is still a ways away from nearing completion. Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau are still a couple of the most feared hitters in the game when they are healthy, but the key phrase in that is “when they are healthy”. The starting rotation, led by new addition Vance Worley, is shaky at best, and the bullpen isn’t much better. But, like the Padres, they play in a gorgeous ball park.

    Cleveland Indians, 4th place

    The Indians could be the American League’s 2013 version of the 2012 Orioles or A’s. Terry Francona was hired over the winter to head the ship, and the additions of Nick Swisher, Michael Bourne, Drew Stubbs and Mark Reynolds will make them formidable. The hole with the tribe is the starting pitching, led by Justin Masterson. If some miracle is performed where Ubaldo Jimenez can regain the form he had in Colorado, the Indians could be in a position to make some noise. If a few breaks are caught, they could hang around till August, but the curse of Cleveland looks too big to overcome.

    Chicago White Sox, 3rd place

    They lost their motor of the last eight seasons when A.J. Peirzynski took his catching talents to Texas, and they failed to add anything over the winter that would make you think they can win the division. Paul Konerko is another year older, Alex Rios could be an all-star or he could be a glorified AA centerfielder, and Adam Dunn will reach 200 strikeouts yet again. All the hopes and aspirations on the South Side reside with Chris Sale at the top of the rotation, and they should be about a .500 team, but I don’t expect much else.

    Kansas City Royals, 2nd place

    It’s that crazy itch again, the same one that made me choose the Pirates to win the NL Central. Maybe it is something about the central divisions. The Royals are finally primed to get close to 90 wins, and if the Tigers falter, could potentially win the division. Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas are going to have to breakout, and James Shields is going to have to be the ace they traded for when they gave up super prospect Wil Myers. This is the year the Royals put the finishing touches on their rebuilding project and push it into “win now” mode. Of course, they could always go back to their Royal ways and find a way to win 72 games and finish 12 games back.

    Detroit Tigers, 1st place

    The defending American League champs are just as dangerous a year later. Justin Verlander is still awesome, as is Miguel Cabrera. Prince Fielder has a year under his belt in Motown, and they get Victor Martinez back from an injury that kept him out for all of 2012. They signed Torii Hunter in the offseason, coming off one of the best seasons of his career in Los Angeles. This is the best team in the division, and they should win it going away. If Cabrera can keep up his consistent greatness, followed by Fielder, Martinez and Hunter, the Tigers should be poised to defend their American League championship crown. 

  • Useless division projections: North League West

    The weather is getting warmer. The days are getting longer. Spring training is in full swing, and you can almost smell the freshly cut grass, hot dogs and peanuts of your local ballpark. The Rangers and Astros will kick off the season in just a few short weeks, and it is now time for a round of useless division predictions so we can all start getting our mind out of basketball mode and into its baseball preset.  If you saw the Orioles finishing in second place in the notorious American League East or the Oakland A’s winning the AL west, then these projections aren’t useless. As it stands, we never know what twists and turns will take place over the course of 162, but we’re going to try to look into the future and see where things will stand come October.

    National League West:

    San Diego Padres, 5th place

    With a supremely mediocre lineup to accompany its supremely mediocre starting rotation, the San Diego Padres figure to be the NL West bottom dwellers for a few more years. Edinson Volquez will lead the tip of the spear on the mound in 2013, following a sub par 2012 that saw him finish with a 4.14 ERA. Carlos Quentin and Cameron Maybin will lead the offensive charge, which again underlines how mediocre this team is. On the bright side for Ron Burgundy’s bunch, they still play in the most beautiful ballpark in the big leagues.

    Colorado Rockies, 4th place

    While the Rockies have had a decently solid nucleus in place for the last few seasons, the results have yet to translate to the win column. They finished a whopping 30 games behind the Giants in 2012, but could be poised to have a more competitive 2013. Troy Tulowitzki, Carlos Gonzalez and Todd Helton are as formidable in the middle of the lineup and nearly anyone, but it is the starting rotation that leaves more to be desired. Juan Nicasio has been the walking definition of bad luck to start his major league career, breaking his neck in 2011and having a bum knee in 2012. If the rotation can manage to not get knocked around in the altitude, the Rox should improve on their 64 wins of a year ago.

    Arizona Diamondbacks, 3rd place

    After a winter of wheeling and dealing, and ultimately trading their all-star left fielder Justin Upton to Atlanta, the Diamondbacks could have a bit of a hill to climb. The lineup could have its issues through the course of the summer in the dessert, but the starting rotation appears to be a strength heading into 2012. Ian Kennedy and Trevor Cahill are both looking to build on strong campaigns a year ago, and new addition Brandon McCarthy should also give a boost. Highly touted prospect left-hander Tyler Skaggs could be the wild card for the Diamondbacks, and if the rotation can stay healthy, they may be a dark horse candidate akin to the A’s of a season ago. Of course, they could disintegrate and lead to a miserable year, but the D’backs have a few things going for them.

    San Francisco Giants, 2nd place

    Feels wrong picking the defending World Series Champions to finish second place in their own division, but you’ll see why in about 90 more words. The whole gang is back to try to win their third title in four years, a mixture that obviously seems to yield positive results. Buster Posey is the returning NL MVP, and the starting rotation is just as nasty led by Matt Cain. If Tim Lincecum can return to his old form, the Giants may not care about all the money being spent by their division rivals in So. Cal.

    Los Angeles Dodgers, 1st place

    So, that happened. After a Magic Johnson led group bought the team last spring for over a billion dollars, they immediately began throwing money around like it was as useless as the paper it was printed on. They acquired Hanley Ramirez, Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett and Carl Crawford over the summer, and then backed the brinks truck up to Zach Grienke’s doorstep to lure him to LA. Over 260 million dollars in added payroll later, the Los Angeles Dodgers have taken the torch from the Yankees as the big spenders of the league, and with a whole spring to let the acquired talent gel, they look as dangerous as anyone. Don’t forget former Cy Young winner Clayton Kershaw at the top of the rotation to go along with Greinke either. These guys better hope the ‘making it rain’ approach works or they’ll be a national laughing stock. 

  • Useless division projections: North League East

    The weather is getting warmer. The days are getting longer. Spring training is in full swing, and you can almost smell the freshly cut grass, hot dogs and peanuts of your local ballpark. The Rangers and Astros will kick off the season in just a few short weeks, and it is now time for a round of useless division predictions so we can all start getting our mind out of basketball mode and into its baseball preset.  If you saw the Orioles finishing in second place in the notorious American League East or the Oakland A’s winning the AL west, then these projections aren’t useless. As it stands, we never know what twists and turns will take place over the course of 162, but we’re going to try to look into the future and see where things will stand come October.

    National League East:

    Miami Marlins, 5th place

    Jeffrey Loria has a lot in common with Danny Ocean, he is a thief. He got a new stadium from the tax payers in Miami, and in return, promised higher payrolls and more competitiveness. The Marlins signed Jose Reyes, Mark Beurhle and Heath Bell a winter ago, and appeared to be the darling of the NL East. Then the plan started backfiring, and they traded Hanley Ramirez before the trade deadline. Then, the fire sale really started when they traded Reyes, Beurhle, and ace pitcher Josh Johnson to Toronto weeks after the season, completing his evil scheme, returning to an embarrassingly low payroll in a beautiful new ball park. Because Loria is a disgrace to Major League Baseball, I will not waste any more time writing about his team, and will pick them to finish dead last in the National League East when the season ends.

    New York Mets, 4th place                                               

    They’re heading in the right direction. Out of all the current rebuild jobs going on in the league right now, the Mets should see the fruit first. They dealt Cy Young winner R.A. Dickey to Toronto but got a massive haul of prospects in return. The big league team looks bare, lead by David Wright and only David Wright, but if the prospects pan out, they should be back and running in a few short years. The number one catching prospect in all of baseball, Travis D’Arnaud, who they got in the Dickey deal, should get his first chance at being an everyday catcher at some point in the season, and the hope in the Big Apple is that he is the first arrival of the rest of the cavalry. The rotation will be led by Jonathan Niese and Shawn Marcum, but the Mets don’t have enough to compete in what is arguably the best division in baseball.

    Atlanta Braves, 3rd pace

    The top three spots in this division could fall in any order. The addition of the Upton brothers, B.J. by free agency and Justin by trade, along with Jason Heyward in the outfield will make the Braves a formidable force at the plate. The rotation could have some more star power, but Tim Hudson, Kris Medlen and Mike Minor should provide the Braves a chance to win every five days. In another division, this team may be the one to beat.

    Philadelphia Phillies, 2nd place

    After a dismal 81-81 season in 2012, the Phillies finally look like they might be healthy enough to regain their throne atop the NL East. A healthy Roy Halladay would go a long way in making that happen, as well as a full season of Ryan Howard and Chase Utley. Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels, along with Halladay still represent one of the best rotations in all of baseball, but the name of the game for the Phills is health. If they can stay healthy and get a big year from left fielder Dominic Brown, no one will want to see these guys down the stretch.

    Washington Nationals, 1st place

    And with the blink of an eye, the Nationals went from the first pick overall to division winners and nearly National League champions. The Houston Astros are wondering why there isn’t a Stephen Strasburg or Bryce Harper in the consecutive years they have had the number one overall pick. The Nats are a power house, lead by Strasburg and Gio Gonzalz on the mound while NL rookie of the year Bryce Harper, Jayson Werth, Ryan Zimmerman and Adam Laroche lead the way offensively. They won 98 games in 2012 on their way to their first NL East title as the Nationals, and figure to only be better in 2013 when they don’t have an innings limit on super ace Stephen Strasburg.

Pages