With most of the offseason activity behind us and spring training in full action, teams are about settled in the construction of their rosters for the upcoming season. What better time to look at the rest of baseball and give some predictions of the season to come. What division will be the toughest? Who will be the surprising teams of 2014? Is there a team who completely underperforms and becomes midseason sellers? And of course, who do you see in the World Series and winning it all? My guess is the majority will be picking the Astros to play the Marlins in a epic 7 game series on the Moon where a 0-0 tie in the 20th inning is broken up by a homerun hit by neither side, but instead by the ball that Brandon Allen hit as a homerun in New York a few years ago. Naturally Brandon Allen is announced the winner for ending the World Series deadlock, and since he was on the A's at the time, the A's are winners by association. I'll stray away from that obvious prediction and give a breakdown of what teams did this offseason and how I see each division going and the potential World Series matchup.
BOS 97-65 --
TB 92-71 6 GB
BAL 85-77 12 GB
NYY 85-77 12 GB
TOR 74-88 23 GB
In this division we see the defending World Series champion Boston Red Sox. Boston lost Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Jacoby Ellsbury, and (to the moment) Stephen Drew this offseason. To overcome their losses, the Sox added A.J. Pierzynski at catcher, and will have young up and comer Xander Bogaerts fill in at shortstop and Jackie Bradley Jr. at Center field. To get back to the World Series, they will have to get through the new look Yankees and improved Tampa Bay Rays. The Yankees notable additions include ex-Red Sox Jacoby Ellsbury, Japanese star Masahiro Tanaka, Carlos Beltran and Brian McCann. Rays had an abundance of moves that included #%&^$@ Balfour, Heath Bell, Ryan Hanigan, and retaining James Loney and David DeJesus. Also in the division are the Baltimore Orioles who had a mostly quiet offseason until recently when they signed Nelson Cruz at a lower than expect rate and Ubaldo Jimenez. Finishing in last place last year was a disappointing Blue Jays squad that will look to rebound but will have to do so with basically the same squad they had last year with no news worthy additions to the team.
It will probably be a difficult division to win in, but I can see the Rays taking it at the end of the day.
My Prediction: 1) TB 2) BOS 3) NYY 4) BAL 5) TOR
DET 93-69 --
CLE 92-70 1 GB
KC 86-76 7 GB
MIN 66-96 27 GB
CWS 63-99 30 GB
The Detroit Tigers were division winners last year, but held a pretty busy offseason dealing away Prince Fielder for Ian Kinsler and then also trading Doug Fister for Robbie Ray, Ian Krol, and Steve Lombardozzi. A team that still has Miguel Cabrera, Justin Verlander, and Max Scherzer will not be a easy to dethrone. Now with added flexibility and a better defensive squad, the Tigers may still be the favorites to win the division for a 4 straight year but they have to hold off the Kansas City Royals and the Cleveland Indians. The Royals look to build on a team that was in the playoff hunt last year and this offseason added Aoki from the Brewers in a trade for Will Smith (he plays baseball too?!). Royals also added Omar Infante to play second base and Jason Vargas to help out the rotation. Meanwhile, the Indians lost two members of their rotation in Ubaldo Jimenez and our very own Scott Kazmir but will still look to make the playoff push once again. The bottom two teams in the Central finished a good distance from the action, but both teams had some active winters. Twins decided to move Joe Mauer off catcher and onto first base, signed Ricky Nolasco and Phil Hughes. The White Sox signed international player Jose Abreu and traded for Matt Davidson and Adam Eaton.
The Tigers may have lost Fielder and Fister, but they did become a better defensive club and still have a very good overall team. While they maybe pushed more than in years past, I believe them to finish as favorites.
My Prediction: 1) DET 2) KC 3) CLE 4) CWS 5) MIN
OAK 96-66 --
TEX 91-72 5 GB
LAA 78-84 18 GB
SEA 71-91 25 GB
HOU 51-101 45 GB
Pujols. Hamilton. Cano. Fielder. Sogard. All the great names play in the AL West. At least that seems to have been the trend over the past few seasons, with Cano joining the Mariners this season. Beyond Cano's addition by the Mariners, they also added Corey Hart and Fernando Rodney to the squad. Angels started their offseason early and added Joe Smith and later in a trade acquire Fernando Salas and David Freese in a deal that sent Peter Bourjos to the Cardinals. Tyler Skaggs and Hector Santiago were the also added in a trade for Mark Trumbo. The Texas Rangers now have Prince Fielder at first base and will allow for Profar to get full time action with Ian Kinsler gone. The Rangers will be down a starter, with the Derek Holland out for the first half of the season and will have to look at other options like Joe Saunders, Nick Tepesch, or Tommy Hanson. As for the A's, the busy offseason brought in Craig Gentry, Scott Kazmir, Jim Johnson and Luke Gregerson to name a few. They also lost Chris Young, Bartolo Colon, Michael Choice, Grant Balfour and Brett Anderson during the offseason. The Astros finished dead last a year ago, but look to improve with up and coming prospects and their additions of Dexter Fowler, Scott Feldman, and Jesse Crain.
A's and Rangers down to the wire(with the same result). The Angels/Mariners finish a distant 3rd/4th and Astros in last as years past.
My Prediction: 1)OAK 2) TEX 3) LAA 4) SEA 5) HOU
ATL 96-66 --
WSH 86-76 10 GB
NYM 74-88 22 GB
PHI 73-89 23 GB
MIA 62-100 34 GB
The Atlanta Braves found themselves on top of the standings last season and while they lost guys like Tim Hudson, Brian McCan and Eric O'Flaherty, the Braves still look to repeat yet again as division winners. The Nationals mean time are looking to do what they did not in 2013, and that is compete. Many saw the Nationals as a World Series candidate but were unable to really challenge the Braves in the division last year. Now will Doug Fister in the rotation, the Nationals will look to take over the division in 2014. The Phillies are aged and on the downtrend, but that has not stopped them. Their offseason began last year where they signed Cuban pitcher Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez to a 3 year $12 million dollar deal. The Phillies also added veteran Outfielder Marlon Byrd and almost retired starting pitcher A.J. Burnett. The two other NL East teams in the Mets and Marlins will have to make up huge ground to compete. The Mets had a few significant moves this offseason when they sign Curtis Granderson and Chris Young to help shape their outfield, and starting pitcher Bartolo Colon to a Matt Harvey-less rotation. Marlins meanwhile will rely on mostly in-house talent with Yelich and Fernandez hoping to lead the Marlins into the future along with Stanton.
I'm buying the bounce back from Washington. Atlanta will be in it and not make it easy.
My Prediction: 1) WSH 2)ATL 3)PHI 4)NYM 5)MIA
STL 97-65 --
PIT 94-68 3 GB
CIN 90-72 7 GB
MIL 74-88 23 GB
CHC 66-96 31 GB
The National League champion Cardinals added to what was an already impressive team. With the additions of Peter Bourjos and Johnny Peralta, the Cardinals have reinforced key holes on their team. The Cardinals also added Mark Ellis to compete for the second base job with Kolten Wong. If that isn't enough, they also have outfielder Oscar Taveras ready to join the Cardinals major league squad after putting up impressive seasons in the minors in years past. While the Cardinals look poised to win the division again, the Pirates and Reds both are coming off solid seasons themselves. The Pirates made the postseason last years after a long drought and while they lost midseason picks Justin Morneau and Marlon Byrd, they still have a young core and one of the better players in the game in Andrew McCutchen. Outfielder Gregory Polanco potential addition to the Pirates at some point this season and they may need his help with a tough division at hand. Like the Pirates, the Reds will trying to dethrone the Cardinals but will have to do so without Shin Soo Choo. In attempts to replace him, the Reds will be relying on speedy Billy Hamilton, who will have big shoes to fill. Rounding out the division, are the Brewers and Cubs. The Brewers look to join what appears to be a three team division by having added Matt Garza and getting Ryan Braun back after his PED suspension last year. The Cubs on the other hand will likely have to settle for another likely last place finish, but the future may not be so bad with a few solid prospects on the way.
I have no problem saying the Cardinals will take this division. They look solid and well rounded with their new additions. Pirates and Reds didn't really do much to improve themselves this offseason, both good enough still to make this a very competitive division.
1) STL 2)PIT 3)CIN 4)MIL 5)CHC
LAD 92-70 --
ARZ 81-81 11 GB
SF 76-86 16 GB
SD 76-86 16 GB
COR 74-86 18 GB
The Dodgers won this division relatively easy after a strong 2nd half. They lost a few players that included Nick Punto, Mark Ellis, and Skip Schumaker. In attempt to replace them they opted for the international route with Alex Guerrero. That decision may not have best, since at the moment there are questions about Guerrero's immediate future and it maybe Dee Gordon who mans second base to open the season. Meanwhile the team that kicks off the season against the Dodgers, the Arizona Diamondbacks are hoping Mark Trumbo pays off and Bronson Arroyo can help eat innings in the rotation. The Giants added Michael Morse and Tim Hudson, while the Rockies picked up Justin Morneau and traded for Brett Anderson.
Dodgers feel like heavy favorites in this division, and I'm going to go with them.
1)LAD 2)ARZ 3)SF 4)SD 5)COR
AL: West-OAK (1) Central-DET (3) EAST-TB (2) WC1-TEX WC2-BOS
NL West-LAD (2) Central-STL (1) EAST-WSH (3) WC1-ATL WC2-PIT
TEX/BOS Winner: TEX
OAK vs TEX Winner: OAK 3-2 series
TB vs DET Winner: DET 3-1 series
OAK vs DET (Again?!) Winner: OAK 4-2 series
ATL vs PIT Winner: ATL
STL vs ATL Winner: STL 3-2 Series
LAD vs WSH Winner: LAD 3-1 Series
STL vs LAD Winner: LAD 4-3 Series
OAK vs LAD Winner OAK 4-2 Series
Playoffs are hard to prediction, especially in March, so I have no problem letting my bias get in my way when it comes to my selection. A's take the World Series. So there you have it. You don't even have to watch this season, you already know how it goes! At the off chance I'm wrong in any of my predictions (no chance I'm wrong!), how do you guys see the 2014 MLB season going?