Is everyone getting the itch?
With the Mariners reporting for pitchers and catchers this past weekend, spring training is officially underway. I have already begun crunching numbers and messing around with pointless predictions because that is how I cope with the anticipation.
That being said – here is how I currently have the 30 MLB teams ranked. Keep in mind I did not do this solely subjectively – rather I took the rosters for each team, looked at the 25-man roster’s 2011 WAR, adjusted for each player how I think they will do in 2012, made other adjustments (schedule toughness, etc…) and came up with a predicted win total for each team. I’m not quite ready to share the win totals yet, but I will share the rankings…
1. New York Yankees
Pains me to say it. They won 97 games last year without a solid pitching staff and made two shrewd moves in the off-season by acquiring Michael Pineda and Hiroki Kuroda. Now they are suddenly 4-deep in the rotation to go along with their killer line-up.
2. Los Angeles Angels
Believe the hype. Getting C.J. Wilson was almost overlooked a midst the Pujols drama, but now the Angels boast a top-3 of Weaver, Haren and Wilson that rivals (almost) everyone in baseball. Add the leagues best hitter, and baseball’s top prospect in Mike Trout, and this team is stacked.
3. Philadelphia Phillies
Provided Halladay, Lee and Hamels stay healthy, the regular season shouldn’t be a problem. But with so many questions on offense, and a much improved NL East, there might at least be some drama this year before October.
4. Boston Red Sox
Carl Crawford can’t be that bad again, right? And taking Lackey and Wakefield out the rotation should help by default. With a new manager, it’s unlikely the affects of their collapse will linger in 2012, and remember, they still won 91 games with everything that went wrong.
5. Texas Rangers
Lost CJ Wilson, but replaced him in the rotation with Yu Darvish and Neftali Feliz. Their line-up can mash, and they have a very deep bullpen to hold their leads.
6. Tampa Bay Rays
If Matt Moore is as good as advertised, their rotation is probably the best in the majors from 1-5. Getting Carlos Pena back and a full year of Desmond Jennings should boost the offense a bit.
7. Atlanta Braves
A full year of Michael Bourn and an improved Dan Uggla and Jason Heyward will help the offense. But that will likely be off-set by a not-as-good rotation and a CAN’T-be-AS-good bullpen.
8. Detroit Tigers
Prince Fielder is a big name, but his production will really just be slightly better than Victor Martinez, who is lost for the year. Can Alex Avila, Jhonny Peralta and Justin Verlander all repeat their career years again? Not likely.
9. Miami Marlins
If Hanley Ramirez returns to form and Josh Johnson stays healthy, they shoot up this list. I’m looking forward to playing them this year, they will make good villains.
10. Arizona Diamondbacks
Trevor Cahill was a great addition to their already solid rotation. They still lack a big offensive threat to compliment Justin Upton.
11. Cincinnati Reds
Which Mat Latos did they trade for? The one who looked like a star two years ago, or the one who seemed to be held back by attitude problems last year? How much money will Joey Votto get next year, and from who?
12. St. Louis Cardinals
Lost Pujols, Edwin Jackson and LaRussa, but replaced them with Wainwright, Beltran and Matheny. Main reason for the drop is I just don’t think Lance Berkman can be that good again.
13. San Francisco Giants
Buster Posey is back, presumably. But other than that, they did little to help their anemic offense except hope that Melky Cabrera is as good as he showed last year.
14. Washington Nationals
Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez and Edwin Jackson added to the rotation, but will they have enough offense? A not-absolutely-horrible Jayson Werth might help.
15. Milwaukee Brewers
Replaced Prince Fielder with Aramis Ramirez, so that’s a downgrade, but not a HUGE one if Ramirez is healthy. Still have a solid rotation and bullpen, but real question is how Ryan Braun will react to PED test and how they will do without him for 50 games.
16. Colorado Rockies
Upgraded the offense with Michael Cuddyer, Ramon Hernandez and Marco Scutaro. Starting pitching is definitely a concern though.
17. Cleveland Indians
A darkhorse partially because they play in such a bad division. They quietly won 80 games without their best player (Shin Soo-Choo) last year and with only a small bit of Ubaldo Jimenez.
18. Los Angeles Dodgers
No pair of players in baseball were better last year than Clayton Kershaw and Matt Kemp. It’s the rest of the team that is the problem. With Aaron Harang and Chris Capuano, they look poised to win the 2002 World Series.
19. Toronto Blue Jays
A great farm system gives them hope for the future, and Jose Bautista and Ricky Romero give them hope right now.
20. Kansas City Royals
A lot of their heralded farm system is up. The question is whether or not Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Billy Butler and Alex Gordon can carry a team on their backs.
21. San Diego Padres
They are playing for the future, but were very active in the off-season, grabbing Carlos Quentin, Huston Street, Yonder Alonso, Andrew Cashner and Edinson Volquez.
22. Seattle Mariners
It will be very interesting to see how the Michael Pineda for Jesus Montero deal works out. Usually deals like this favor the hitter in the end.
23. Baltimore Orioles
Looked like they were the next Tampa Bay Rays a couple years back. Now it’s looking more like the Devil Rays with many prospects falling short of expectations.
24. Chicago White Sox
Adam Dunn had one of the worst years in baseball history last year. This year, he’ll try to comeback with a lot of his teammates gone.
25. Pittsburgh Pirates
Since 2000, the Pirates have had 3 starting pitchers with a WAR above 4. In that same time period, Roy Halladay has done it 8 times. They hope their last two top picks (Jameson Taillon and Gerrit Cole) will change that, but they aren’t ready yet.
26. Minnesota Twins
Mauer and Morneau can’t stay on the field, if you could guarantee me they could, they would move considerably up this list.
27. New York Mets
HA! METS SUCK!
28. Oakland Athletics
Another strange off-season for Oakland. Traded Trevor Cahill and Gio Gonzalez and then signed Yoenis Cespedes to a 4-year deal. Not sure what the end game is here.
29. Chicago Cubs
Theo Epstein will get this team competitive again, but not with this current squad.
30. Houston Astros
The worst team in baseball by a lot in 2011, they did little to improve in 2012.
So that’s how I see it for now – I’m sure this will change as Spring Training gets going.
How do you see things shaping up?