Spring time has come - so they say. Cold miserable rain falling, almost sleet - still more February than April. But it doesn't matter anymore - baseball is here. It is time to make some predictions.
Boston - Only a couple years ago the AL East was the beast of the major leagues - now? I am picking the Red Sox to win because they are my favorites - but also because, no matter how many faults I can find with them, I can find more with the other teams in the division. What Boston has is a reloaded offense - with a good deal of depth, which makes you think they should be able to survive injuries and washouts - someone is bound to come through. They could be extremely good, if they stay healthy and the kids deliver. What don't they have? pitching? they could be okay - they have a staff of #3 starters, who could stay healthy and pitch reasonably well for 200 innings - 3 or 4 of those guys could get you in the post-season. No further though, unless something changes. Based on yesterday's outing, they look like world beaters, though that was just the Phillies - but if you want a list of "ifs" to check off to see how far they go - if Pedroia is back, if Hanley stays healthy and hits, if Betts is the real deal, and if Buckholtz can be effective and healthy - yesterday ticked them off nicely.
Baltimore - they lost Nelson Cruz; they could revert a bit from last year. They do have some guys coming back from bad years - they won't be bad. I don't think they will fall far, but I think they will fall.
Toronto - they have added some players, and are more than respectable - though probably don't have the pitching to get very far. They could slug their way to quite a few wins, though, if everything works out. And I suppose they could have the pitching - Hutchison looked very good yesterday.
NY Yankees - I hope they finish last, but Tampa is getting very low on players - the Yankees are a dismal looking crew - combined age of their starting lineup must be pushing 1000 - but they might not be entirely awful. They have some interesting pitching options. They have Ellsbury. Um - yeah. If there's an over 50 league, they might do all right, but...
Tampa - they still have good arms, and a few decent position players, but it looks pretty grim down there. No more Joe Madden to nurse them along either. Dark days could be coming, and may be there awhile.
Tigers - no one else seems to be able to muster any kind of sustained threat to them. They should have this well in hand.
Cleveland - maybe this is optimistic, but they have a knack of getting the most from their teams, and they have some interesting talent. They were really good 2 years ago, and decent last year - they should contend again this year, I think.
Chicago - they don't look bad - they have some decent pitching; they have some emerging offensive talent - they should be solid, and could be better than that. But I don't quite trust them to contend. I could be wrong.
KC - they had that great run last year, and if they had hit all year, they might have had a genuinely good team. Now - they are not likely to sustain it. The starting pitching looks very soft - without Shields up front, I don't know if they can do enough. They should have a strong pen, though, and they have what could be an exciting lineup - they've been waiting for Hosmer and Moustakas all these years - why not? though even if they hit, the pitching is a problem.
Minnesota - might not be entirely awful, I suppose. Maybe. Probably though.
Seattle - this year's trendy pick, right? but they were decent last year - they have some of the best pitching in the game - they have Cano, Seager and Cruz, and other players who could be useful, prospects who might be ready finally - they are in a very good place.
Anaheim - A pretty good team that no one really thinks about, but one probably cruising for a fall. They are trying to screw Josh Hamilton (not that he's done them any favors) - still: be a shame if they were able to get a break on his contract. The rest - Mike Trout and maybe Kole Calhoun are promising players - the rest might perform, but... Albert Pujols - I mean, those contracts... they are going to suffer for it.
Oakland - they were dismantled again, but they still have some strong pitching, and decent players. But are probably on the outs for a while. They do a good job of reforming on the fly, so probably not for long.
Texas - they were destroyed by injuries last year - and off to a great start this year, with Yu Darvish gone. Still - they could get respectable if they could keep Fielder and Choo and such on the field. We'll see.
Houston - they have been bad, but they have young talent - things might move up. They certainly started the season right, winning a 1-0 squeaker against the defending Cy Young award winner. They are still probably a ways away - but might not be all that far.
Wildcards: Cleveland, Chicago. Champion: Seattle - teams have been reaching milestones they never saw before - time for the Mariners to make the series.
Washington - this might be the easiest pick in the majors - right? along with Detroit. Loaded rotation, good pen, plenty of talent on the field - though a bunch of them are hurt early. Still - they have been most of the class of the game the past couple years; they need to get the next step along, which might be easier said than done - but still... it would be a good year for a couple teams that have come close but never gotten to the Big One - Mariners vs. Montreal/Washington? Not a bad pick.
Miami - they look pretty good actually - adding some pitching, some good talent, around Stanton - probably not enough to win much, but still decent. f Fernandez were healthy all year, they would be in a very good place.
New York - yeah? possible - their pitching is shaping up, and they have some ball players on the field. They are getting close to being back to respectability.
Atlanta - they still have some decent players, but how long will they be here? what is going on? They unloaded their good young outfielders over the winter, and their mediocre not-so-young anymore outfielders this week, along with their closer (the best int he game) - they seem to be shedding their team before they move to the suburbs. That's ridiculous enough - I used to be a Braves fan, but I don't think that's going to happen anymore.
Philadelphia - ugh. Though after yesterday's fun, maybe it means the price for Cole Hamels will start dropping.
St. Louis - the Cubs are the chic pick, but I'm not sure what's wrong with the Cards. They still have a solid rotation; they have respectable players at every position, and some very good ones at a few - they have depth - they are used to winning. The Cubs are the trendy pick, but the Cards are still a very good team.
Pittsburgh - another team that doesn't look any worse than last year, and could be better - so why are they being dismissed?
Chicago - all right, here they are. Lester is a great pickup; Bryant and Soler are bound to start pushing the team one of these years - but... they still look pretty thin, in a division with two really good teams. Everyone wants to love the Cubs, and the Cubs are going to be good pretty soon, yes, but there are more convincing teams out there.
Cincinnati - I don't know how to pick these two - I think I like Cincy more. Cueto and Hamilton and Chapman? This is a deep division. probably come to health in the end.
Milwaukee - they have all those old timers who never seem to stop getting peopel out - Lohse and company... I don't know. They aren't a bad team. A couple bad breaks and they could be - a couple good breaks and they could challenge for the otp of the division.
Los Angeles - I don't like the Dodgers, but they are loaded.
San Diego - this is a bit brave - but they are one of the teams that seems to be Going For It this year. (The Cubs; the Marlins; the White Sox have all spent as well - but the Pads are really going for it.) It's a radically different team - both Uptons, Myers and Kemp, Shields, Kimbrel - they've added a bunch of talent, and most if it is good talent. Justin Upton and Kemp are both strong players - Kemp brings a horrible price tag, but had a lot of potential for a comeback. Shields is a fine anchor for a staff, and the park should shield him from any decline for a while. Myers is a good gamble a high end prospect who's scuffled a bit, so everyone is writing him off - don't ask me. Get him some batting gloves and he'l be fine.
San Francisco - they continue to play very close to the edge, never diving into the free agent market the way they could, given their resources. But whatever they are doing is working [one of the understatements of the decade], so - it does tend to create the oscillations they have been through. This looks likely to be a down year.
Arizona - I don't know if I have any reason to pick them ahead of Colorado - but I will.
Colorado - I don't know if I have any reason to pick them below the Diamondbacks, but I will. Neither team has much to care about.
Wild cards: Pittsburgh and San Diego; Champion - Washington! Expos and Mariners! Mariners win? King Felix is the guy I think I want on the hill when it all counts.
And - individuals? MVP is still Mike Trout's to lose, for the next 10 years. NL? Giancarlo Stanton is the default pick, I think, though he could have some competition: McCutcheon, Posey, Goldschmitt (if the team were any good, anyway), Rizzo if the Cubs do win, maybe some the Bryce Harper types, big prospects who have been merely solid for a couple years... Upton, Heyward even - lots of choices, probably more of them with a real chance than in the AL, though Stanton has to be the favorite.
Cy Young? Kind of the opposite - the AL is loaded with candidates - King Felix ought to be the favorite; Kluber is the real deal, Price a strong candidate, Sonny Gray, Chris Sale if he comes back quickly. The NL is probably Kershaw's to lose - though Scherzer and Strasbourg and Cueto and Bumgarner and maybe even Matt Harvey are right there too. But Kershaw is the favorite, by quite a margin.
Rookie of the Year: AL - in truth, I have no real idea. Id love to say Rusney Castillo - when Victorino gets hurt, he'll come up and - maybe not. Lot of other guys I don't know as much about - the NL has the monsters this year. NL - once Kris Bryant is protected from arbitration for the year, he'll be up - we'll see if he mashes. Odds are pretty good, I'd say.
And so? off we go - hope the game brings us some summer before long.