Baseball is back! Hooray! So without further ado, let's jump right into some season projections (Teams listed in order of projected divisional finish).
Boston Red Sox - What, you expected someone else? With their offseason additions, the Sox are the best team in baseball, and they should be announcing that Adrian Gonzalez extension any day now.
Tampa Bay Rays - It was a rough offseason in Tampa, losing Crawford, Pena, and pretty much everything in the bullpen that wasn't tied down, including the players. But they did an excellent job with the Garza trade, and have a group of promising young players ready to step up, led by Jeremy Hellickson. Matt Joyce should make for an solid platoon outfielder in right, and James Shields can't really be Jose Lima in disguise, can he?
NY Yankees - Maybe they'd be in second if I was less biased, but tough for them (And the Rays are still really good). Heck of a lineup, but there's not much depth there, and the rotation is beyond paper-thin. Great bullpen, though. Let's hope they don't all get hurt.
Toronto Blue Jays - If you are a right-handed hitter and can make contact with a baseball, have you considered hitting twenty home runs for the Blue Jays? You really should. It pays well.
On a more serous note, the Jays would probably win the NL Central this year, have lots of young pitching, and cannot be praised enough for dumping Vernon Wells' contract on the Angels.
Baltimore Orioles - It's a solid lineup, but they still need some quality pitching. That's where Matusz, Tillman and Britton come in. Also, this year is the year of Wieters. Really.
Chicago White Sox - Want.
Minnesota Twins - I worry that at some point both Justin Morneau and the cloner the Twins keep using on Brad Radke are going to break.
Detroit Tigers - Verlander and Cabrera are amazing. How many other Tigers can you name?
Cleveland Indians - Carlos Santana will get a full season to show what he can do (Hint: A lot), Shin-Soo Choo will be traded to accelerate the rebuilding effort, and Grady Sizemore will spontaneously combust.
Kansas City Royals - The Royals combine the best farm system in baseball with a front office that struggles to do anything right on the major league level. Hence Melky Cabrera and Jeff Francouer, who are, technically, horrible at baseball.
Oakland Athletics - They're counting on a lot of young arms, but I think they've got the depth to withstand some injuries and still turn in their typically stellar run prevention, which should be enough to make up for the offense. Anytime Chris Carter is ready, Billy Beane will find a spot for him. Any day now.
Texas Rangers - Pretty much the inverse of the A's. That is one heck of a lineup, but they don't have a single starter without an enormous question mark. I'll say that this is the year for Derek Holland, though. Also, Michael Young seems to still think he's good. That's cute.
Los Angeles Blah Blah Whatever - They took on Vernon Wells' contract while simultaneously getting rid of that problem they had involving a catcher who could hit. This is a really bad lineup. Prediction: A correlation of -1 between the number of games Jeff Mathis starts and the number of games the Angels win (MATH JOKE).
Seattle Mariners - Which is more likely: The Mariners finishing .500 or Milton Bradley killing a teammate?
Atlanta Braves - Maybe it's because I root for the Red Sox, but I find myself picking teams with good depth this year. So, yeah, the Braves have it. Mike Minor is ready to start in the majors now, and they've got a bunch of power arms rapidly moving through the system behind him. Also, that Hayword guy is kind of good, I hear.
Philadelphia Phillies - The league's best pitching staff is paired with a lineup that, with Chase Utley out, features one above-average hitter for his position, and no, it's not Ryan Howard. This is the year where he hits that cliff he's been moving towards for the last four years.
Florida Marlins - Will turn a profit.
New York Mets - The rebuilding effort begins by the trade deadline, when Jose Reyes gets sold off. It's not going to be pretty. But they're still better than the...
Washington Nationals - I read multiple articles this offseason about how the Nationals are going to surprise people. They're starting Livan Hernandez on opening day. I don't care how much money they spent on Jayson Werth, they aren't really trying.
Cincinnati Reds - They've got a very good offense, even though Dusty is completely destroying every starting pitcher on the roster one by one. I'll call two of them have Tommy John surgery this year, and the Reds win the division at .500.
Milwaukee Brewers - Absolutely no depth, no farm system, two re-signed, injury prone players, the worst-hitting centerfielder in baseball, the worst hitting and fielding shortstop in baseball, and their new ace is out because he got hurt playing pickup basketball. Sounds like second in the Central.
St. Louis Cardinals - Would've been first before Wainwright got hurt. Drop them down another spot when Carpenter goes down.
Chicago Cubs - Tyler Colvin and Starlin Castro actually provided some excellent cost-controlled production last year. Quick Jim Hendry! Overpay them and break their kneecaps!
Pittsburgh Pirates - The Pirates finally have some exciting young talent in McCutcheon, Tabata, Alvarez and Walker. Unfortunately, all the pitching prospects are still a ways away. There's a light at the end of the tunnel, but it's not quite time yet.
Houston Astros - Godawful.
San Francisco Giants - No, Aubrey Huff and Pat Burrell are not going to do that again, and Miguel Tejada might challenge Betancourt for the title of 'Worst-fielding shortstop in baseball'. Aaron Rowand is a sunk cost. But Brandon Belt is a rookie of the year contender, Kung-Fu Panda should bounce back, and no one outside of Philadelphia is messing with those pitchers.
Colorado Rockies - There's no real offense outside of Gonzalez, Tulowitzki and Seth Smith, but those forst two guys are rather good. Also, I have a bit of a crush on Jhoulys Chacin, even if I can't pronounce his name.
Los Angeles Dodgers - Chad Billingsley is rapidly turning into the new AJ Burnett, but Clayton Kershaw is a beast. And at least they got rid of Carlos Santana for Casey Blake! Who needs a competent catcher? What I mean is that Ned Colletti is a terrible GM.
San Diego Padres - The pitchers should be fine, and I'm excited to see what Cameron Maybin can do, but the offense wasn't good with Adrian Gonzalez. And he's gone now.
Arizona Diamondbacks - It's nice to see that even with a new general manager, the Diamondbacks are still finding ways to block Brandon Allen from getting playing time. Unfortunately for them, the interim regime traded Dan Haren, who is an excellent pitcher, for Joe Saunders, who should probably be a middle reliever. On the Pirates.
Well, that was fun. And just remember, making predictions is a fool's errand, but these ones are clearly infallible. I'll probably post some other thoughts and/or awards projections tomorrow. Until then, enjoy the baseball.