Every March, the United Cardinal Bloggers take the time to make predictions about the season to come. Then we promptly forget about them because people hate to be told they were wrong. It reminds me very much of Captain Renault in Casablanca: “It’s a little game we play. They put it on the bill, I tear up the bill. It is very convenient.”
So let’s take a look at my general thoughts about the American League. We tend to lump the entire AL into one post because after all, as Cardinal fans we really don’t care that much for those DH-using folks. We’ll see them hopefully at the end of the season, that’s when we’ll care. Tomorrow we do the NL East, followed by the Central and West on Wednesday and Thursday, then cap off the week with postseason and award predictions.
That’s enough chit-chat (or stalling, as the case may be). Let’s put our blindfolds on and take a stab at this.
1) Boston–If you are going to go against the defending champs, you need a pretty solid reason and I’m not seeing that in Boston’s case. They, like the Cardinals, have some young guys moving into key spots and keeping them from missing a beat. You have to figure Xander Bogaerts will be in the Rookie of the Year conversation and they still have plenty of strong pitching. I’m not saying a repeat title in in order, but they should have enough to take the division.
2) Tampa Bay–I actually think this division is going to be pretty tight and most anyone could finish from second to fifth, perhaps even moving that much in the last week of the season. Still, I find it hard to argue with the success Tampa Bay has had. They’ll ride David Price for one more year and see if they can continue to work their magic. There’s little reason to believe they won’t.
3) Baltimore–I like what the Orioles did in getting Ubaldo Jimenez. He may never be that stud he was for the Rockies, but he could make a significant impact in the tight AL East. They’ve got a solid all-around offense and while they may not have enough pitching to make a serious run at the division, I wouldn’t rule out that possibility entirely.
4) Toronto–While they didn’t pan out last year as expected, the fact is there is still a lot of talent on this team. The rotation could use another arm–the Jays were supposedly in on Ervin Santana before he went to Atlanta–but the offense is pretty solid if Jose Reyes stays healthy and a rotation with R.A. Dickey and Mark Buehrle can’t be all bad, right?
5) New York–I have problems believing that Derek Jeter would go out in the basement, but this is an older team that still has issues. We’ll have to see how well Masahiro Tanaka adjusts to American life, but CC Sabathia has to bounce back for them to have much of a chance. A lot of offensive firepower brought in during the offseason, but I still think it’s not enough to get them past everyone else.
1) Detroit–Having an opening at short isn’t ideal, but it’s so hard to bet against a team with Miguel Cabrera, Justin Verlander, and Max Scherzer. The Central well may be stronger that it’s been in past years, but I don’t know that anyone has made the moves necessary to knock the Tigers off their perch.
2) Kansas City–They keep saying that next year is coming and perhaps this is the year that it finally arrives. A resurgence from Mike Moustakas could make this a lineup that stacks up with any in the division and the pitching staff should be capable enough to make sure those runs stand up.
3) Cleveland–I’m not sure they have the pitching to hang with the top of the division talent the other teams have. You have to like Jason Kipnis and Michael Brantley, but overall I think they wind up a bit short and can’t repeat their October appearance.
4) Chicago–Right now the Chicago bullpen has both Mitchell Boggs and Maikel Cleto as part of its makeup. I think that tells you a lot right there. Chris Sale and John Danks might be a solid one-two punch at the top of the rotation, but I’m not sure there’s much behind them. There’s a strong chance Paul Konerko‘s retirement tour won’t have a happy ending.
5) Minnesota—Joe Mauer moves out from behind the plate, but that might be the only novelty Twins fans get to see this year as it looks like they are destined for another last place finish. If nothing else, though, they might get a chance this summer to see some of the prized prospects such as Byron Buxton if the team falls out of the race quickly.
1) Oakland–They just keep figuring out ways to take the title, so it comes to the point where it’s silly to pick against them. They stockpiled relievers in the offseason, meaning their starting rotation might not have to work as hard. (Which is good, as the rotation isn’t their strong suit.) Josh Donaldson and Brandon Moss are going to have to show that last year wasn’t a fluke.
2) Texas–The addition of Prince Fielder may paper over a few other issues, such as some pitching woes. Their rotation has a chance to be solid if not spectacular (save for Yu Darvish, of course) and that lineup really should be able to pound some folks into submission.
3) Los Angeles—Albert Pujols says he’s healthy. Josh Hamilton is poised for a bounce back season. At some point, those big money contracts have to give you some value, don’t they? If nothing else, Mike Trout will produce way more than he’s being paid and if the rest of the offense stirs like it could, there might be a little excitement in the Big A.
4) Seattle–Even with Robinson Cano, this team doesn’t look ready to make the big move. They’ve not been helped by some pitching injuries this spring that will mean the rotation is, for a while, Felix Hernandez and the Pips. There are some guys that could help Cano in the lineup, but very few you’d guarantee are up for the task.
5) Houston–It’s a successful season in Houston if they avoid losing 100 games. While they should be better, that might be a bar they just aren’t ready to cross yet.
Tomorrow, the NL East!