After working on this for over two hours, I see it stretches on a bit, so let’s dispense with the usual not so humorous intro and go straight to the predictions:
Yankees – At some point, age will catch up to the Evil Empire, but a revamped pitching staff should put them at the top. Still don’t like swapping a top hitting prospect (Montero) for a top pitching prospect (Pineda).
Rays (wild-card) – Their lineup will probably be average, but wow that starting rotation.
Red Sox – I can’t see Ortiz hitting that well again, Youk is breaking down, and Ellsbury had a career year. Oh, and the pitching staff is not any better and is already hurting.
Blue Jays – Shame they are not in a different division, because they have talent. Oh, who am I kidding? They are a Canadian team. Ha ha.
Orioles – Their VP for baseball operations is Dan Duquette, who hasn’t had a major league front office job since 2002. He did establish the Israel Baseball League in 2007, which maybe the Orioles could have won.
Tigers – Their defense, which is sure to contend for worst in baseball, will hold them back at some point. It just won’t be from winning the AL Central.
Royals – Why the heck not? Have you seen the remaining teams in the division? I wish their pitching was better and Soria hadn’t blown out his elbow, but with the amount of young talent on hand, this isn’t as crazy as you think.
Indians – Honestly, I almost think you could put every team but the Tigers in a hat and draw lots for where each team will finish 2-5. Stating the obvious, Carlos Santana is a monster.
Twins – Below average rotation, bullpen, lineup, and defense = 4th place finish.
White Sox – You can put a terrible season on the board, Yes!
Angels – Strange enough, even with the addition of Pujols, their Achilles Heel will probably be their lineup, though here’s guessing a big year is coming from Howie Kendrick.
Rangers (wild-card) – I wonder how Darvish will hold up over the long, hot summer in Arlington. You can probably guess by my prediction.
A’s – Mr. Moneyball struck again, swapping Gio Gonzalez for a boatload of prospects and pawning off Handle with Care Andrew Bailey to the Red Sox. They still won’t be particularly good, but at least the A’s know which future stars other teams will sign away in 2017.
Mariners – They have a number of impressive arms in the minors, Ackley, Montero, and King Felix represent a nice foundation on which to build, but they will still struggle mightily to score and are a ways off from contending.
Phillies – Their top 3 starters are better than anyone in baseball, but injuries, age, and an average lineup will probably conspire to keep them from the World Series again.
Marlins (wild-card) – I think their lineup is better than the Nationals and their pitching staff while probably not equal, is at least good enough to edge them out for the wild-card, presuming they stay healthy.
Nationals – Ultimately, I think their downfall will be an inability to consistently get on base and generate runs. Sigh.
Braves – For a team counting on a lot of players bouncing back from injury (Hanson, Hudson), a poor season (Heyward), or both (Chipper), to make the playoffs, it is hard to see everything breaking right for that to happen.
Mets – Bringing in the fences at Taxpayer Bailed-Out Field only means the Madoff Mets will lose games 7-5 rather than 4-2.
Reds – While Joey Votto is all-world, I’m dubious of the virtue of signing him to a contract that pays him oh, $20 million or so when he is 40. For now, though, he’s 28 and the Reds should just edge out the Brewers for the division crown.
Brewers – Their pitching staff is better than the Reds, but they couldn’t get it done last year with Fielder or with Ryan Braun having a MVP season, so something scratches at me like a good old case of back acne telling me it isn’t going to happen this year.
Cardinals – If I could trust that Carpenter would be healthy just 4 months this season, I might move them up. But I just don’t see it happening.
Cubs – Picking between the Cubs and Pirates was a real conundrum. It really is a coin-flip between the two, as both teams lack offensive punch or much of a rotation. Then I realized the Cubs were the team that didn’t make a charitable contribution to the Evil Empire during the off-season.
Pirates – Sadly, 2012 is going to mark the 20th straight losing season for the Pirates. The lineup outside of McCutchen, Walker, and maybe Tabata lacks, well, competency, and counting on the physically soft Erik Bedard and mentally soft AJ Burnett to lead a rotation can’t end too well.
Astros – I heard NL Central executives have sent flowers and candy to Bud Selig asking him nicely to keep the Astros from moving to the AL West.
Diamondbacks – Just like last year, this is remarkably a very flawed team that will probably capture the division. They still strikeout a whole lot, and the back-end of their rotation leaves you wanting. Thankfully for the Snakes, the other teams in the division are just even more flawed.
Giants (wild-card) – Most of the talk about the Giants Big 3 centers around Lincecum and Cain, and for good reasons. Now watch Bumgarner become the best of the bunch. If only they could score a few more runs.
Dodgers – They probably have the best hitter and pitcher in the division, heck, the NL, in Kemp and Kershaw. But the supporting cast beyond the two stars is just not good enough to climb to the top.
Rockies – They are in the process of rebuilding their pitching staff, which will probably keep them down in the standings this year. But still very savvy of them to unload Ubaldo before everyone (cough, Indians) realized that the shine had rubbed off the star. And Tulo wants to pick a fight with the entry above.
Padres – Aaron Harang had a solid season last year in spacious Petco Park, proving that almost any pitcher can find success there. That’s why I like the trade of Latos to the Reds. But boy, unless they introduce coach-pitch, the Padres are going to struggle to score.
Angels over the Giants in 6. I know. I didn’t pick the Giants to win the NL West but in the playoffs, great pitching matters more than great hitting.
AL MVP – Miguel Cabrera, 3B (ha, ha), Detroit.
AL CY Young – Justin Verlander, SP, Detroit. Papa needs a return to fantasy glory.
AL ROY – Matt Moore, SP, Tampa. He is one bad, bad, man.
NL MVP – Troy Tulowitzki, SS, Colorado. His defense is just gravy.
NL CY Young – Roy Halladay, SP, Philadelphia. Now watch his spring velocity dip be an omen…
NL ROY – Here is my final wish for the season. Let it be Bryce Harper.