Winter has been acting like quite an ass this year, but take heart! The greatest season of the year has begun: baseball season. Anything can happen during a baseball season, but the best way to assess teams at the beginning of the year is to count the number of “ifs” a team has. If a number of things have to go right for a team to win, then they probably don’t stand much of a chance. As I will be giving my predictions on Gordy’s Sports World this Thursday on ESPN 1380 AM, I thought that I would commit them to print. Wild-card winners are marked with an asterisk. We’ll see how I did come October.
Baltimore—great offense, great defense, good enough pitching
*Tampa Bay—great pitching, great defense, decent offense
Boston—solid pitching, good offense
Toronto—great offense, not enough pitching
New York—despite some solid additions, the Yanks have four ifs on the infield alone.
Division note: Any of the first three teams could win this thing. It would be a big surprise if the Blue Jays or Yankees captured first place.
Detroit—great starters, but spring injuries make them more vulnerable than past seasons
*Kansas City—young club on the rise, they could challenge the Tigers this year
Cleveland—Terry Francona had this team overachieving in ’13; the Tribe will retreat in ’14
Minnesota—rebuilding, but not as fast as the White Sox
Oakland—Parker injury a problem, but a solid all-around team
Texas—if they can overcome injuries, they could still take the West. If not . . .
Los Angeles—bounce-back season from Pujols & Hamilton could push them into playoffs
Seattle—on the rise and not inconceivable that they could finish second
Houston—assembling some good young talent, and they won’t lose 100 games this year
Washington—plenty of pitching with a good offense; should bounce back after last season
Atlanta—Braves usually find a way, but injuries to Medlen & Beachy hurt. A lot.
New York—Mets on the rise.
Miami—like Houston, the Marlins are assembling young talent to go with Stanton & Fernandez.
Philadelphia—Lee & Hamels could keep them in 3rd; old position players put them in last
St. Louis—I’m done picking against these guys.
*Pittsburgh—solid pitching could overtake the Cardinals
Cincinnati—more ifs than the Cards or Pirates
Milwaukee—a little better than the Cubs; not nearly as good as the Reds
Chicago—building, but not enough pitching to pull them out of last place
Los Angeles—great pitching and a solid offense
*San Francisco—enough pitching to hold onto second
Colorado—my surprise pick in the West; they could challenge the Giants for second
San Diego—injuries to Josh Johnson and Carlos Quentin hurt, but could finish third
Arizona—injuries to Corbin & Hernandez this the pitching; D’backs giving off a bad vibe.