SO... I shall start the American League power rankings. No bull. No Bias. No Mercy.
1. TAMPA BAY RAYS
Don't look now, but the defending A.L. champs haven't lost any big pieces of their almost world championship team. Well, except for Rocco Baldelli, but they have replacements for him. They will start David Price in the majors and he is the early frontrunner for the ROY. They added a power bat in Pat Burrell, and even though he can't field worth a damn, he will sure help their offense.
2. NEW YORK YANKEES
Yes Boston fans, I ranked them ahead of your Red Sox for two main reasons. Their pitching will be better, and so will their hitting. Adding two great starters to their rotation (Burnett and Sabbathia) to go along with Wang and Chamberlain, is huge. It sounds like Pettite is going to sign a 1 year deal with the Yankees too, which gives them the #1 rotation in baseball. And if you don't agree, I'd love to TD with you. Their lineup will be more potent than it was in years past with the addition of Mark Texeria. He brings something to the lineup that Giambi never could. Consistency.
3. BOSTON RED SOX
Gone is Manny Ramirez. Here is Jason Bay. Will he be able to poduce like Manny did? Nope. Does he really need to? Nope. Boston still has Big Papi, Mike Lowell, Kevin Youkilis, and Dustin Pedroia. It will be interesting to see how Ortiz and Lowell respond from their injuries, but the rest of the lineup should make up for their shortcomings. The pitching staff is still solid, even though their main play caller is still wishy washy about coming back to the Sox. They have solidified their bullpen and added depth to their bench. And yes I know that I just put them behind the Yankees.
4. DETROIT TIGERS
This is my first surprise pick in these rankings. They should rank near the top in all offensive categories with a lineup including Miguel Cabrera, Magglio Ordonez, and Carlos Guillen. They've upgraded defensively by adding Adam Everret and Greg Laird. They've upgraded their bullpen by adding Juan Rincon and Brandon Lyon. They've upgraded their pitching staff by adding Edwin Jackson. They have depth on the bench in Marcus Thames, Ryan Raburn, and Ramon Santiago. This year will not be a close race in the Central.
5. LOS ANGELES ANGELS
This offseason was pretty tough on Angels fans across America, including me. They lost two of their all-stars in Mark Texeria and Francisco "K-Rod" Rodriguez. They will be missed. So if they lost two of their biggest players, why are they ranked so high? Two reasons: They were running away with the west when they acquired Texeria and they've got some pretty good replacements. Switch hitting Kendry Morales should fit in nicely at first and Brian Fuentes will make up for the absence of K-Rod. The bullpen is rediculously deep, their starting rotation remains one of the best in baseball, and they've got Mike Napoli. Should be an exciting year.
6. OAKLAND ATHLETICS
This is where the rankings get a little bit harder, because now your getting the the teams that are still getting good, but just aren't there yet. You know your offense is in trouble when you sign an old-washed-up-guy like Jason Giambi to be your DH. They added extra pop with Matt Holliday in the hopes that he can hit away from Coors as well as he hit at Coors. The main thing the A's have going for them is a very young pitching staff that is full of future all-stars. Now the question is, whether they can put it together this year or if it's going to take another year or two.
7. KANSAS CITY ROYALS
No, I'm not on crack, I really do believe that the Royals can compete for at least second this year. They, like the Athletics, have a great young pitching staff and a solid core of young players. With the addition of the powerful Mike Jacobs and the always dangerous CoCo Crisp, this could be a team that could suprise a lot of people. If Teahen and Jose Guillen can stay healthy then they can compete. They've also got a great young closer in Soria.
8. CHICAGO WHITE SOCKS
This team is finally getting younger, but it doesn't help when your ace looks like he's on the downside of his career and your number 4 starter is Bartolo Colon. A staple of their rotation for the last couple years now, Jose Contreras, enters spring training as the number 7 starter. Ouch. Major questions remain for this obviously unpolished White Sox team... Can Konerko and Thome return to the glory days? Can Quentin stay healthy for once? Who will play center? Is Wilson Betemit really the answer at third? Who's going to play second now that you're moving Alexi Ramirez to shortstop? Don't get me wrong, they'll still compete for the wild-card, just not the division crown.
9. TEXAS RANGERS
Ladies and Gentlemen, the king is once again in the building. Michael Young has agreed to move to third to make room for Elvis at shortstop. Not Elvis Presley, but Elvis Andrus, who is probably the most prized prospect the Rangers have. Can he hit at the big league level? We don't know yet, we'll see. As for the rest of the Rangers? They can hit, they can field (most of the time), and they've got a ton of depth at the catching position. They have 3 big league ready prospects, its just a decision on which guy they're going to go with. I expect this decision to be made by the trading deadline, not before, and they're going to want some good, young pitchers in return. They're still a year or two away from seriously competing for anything.
10. MINESOTA TWINS
I almost suprised myself by ranking them so low, and then looked at their roster again. And while they have great young pitchers and a solid bullpen, they can't hit. You can't expect Mauer and Morneau to do everything for them, but that's what it looks like. Delmon Young and Carlos Gomez are looking like busts, and the rest of the team has no power. Morneau is the only one with constant home run power, so unless they make some major changes, they're competing to stay out of the basement.
11. CLEVELAND INDIANS
Can Cliff Lee return to his 2008 form or will he go back to his 2007 form? Can Fausto Carmona, not only stay healthy, but regain his 2007 form? Can Carl Pavano crack the rotation? Can Kerry Wood and the reformed bullpen hold leads? Can Grady Sizemore carry this team? Because he may need too, there's just too many questions surrounding this team and not alot of offense.
12. BALTIMORE ORIOLES/TORONTO BLUE JAYS
Yes they are both ranked the same. Why? Because neither team has a whole lot of pitching, and neither team has a whole lot of offense. The only thing the Orioles have is good prospects and young players that are about a year away from competing. The only thing the Blue Jays have is Roy Halladay. They best thing the Jays can do is trade Halladay while he's still worth something, and get some peices in return.
13. SEATTLE MARINERS
Remember when they had the best record in baseball a few years back? Don't expect that to happen any time soon. Not to fear, because with new management, things are bound to get better.... We hope.
Thats it for now, tune in tomorrow for the National League section!