American League East:
1.) New York Yankees- This version of the defending champs seems much more complete with a lot more depth. A full year out of A-Rod and over 200 innings from Javy Vazquez where they got little to nothing out of Chien-Ming Wang last year should get this club rolling from the start. The question of "clutch" will ultimately come into play in October, as the new guys try to make up for the post-season prowess of Hideki Matsui and Johnny Damon.
2.) Boston Red Sox- It's always about pitching and John Lackey is an absolute bulldog. This club appears to be better defensively in their pickups of Mike Cameron, Adrian Beltre and Marco Scutaro, but they might be banking on too many guys on the wrong side of 30 to have bounce back year's at the dish.
3.) Tampa Bay Rays- I love their lineup 1-6, where patience and pressue is the name of the game. As many good young arms as they have, I have to wonder how their staff is going to hold up for the marathon. Their leading winner from last year was a rookie, Jeff Niemann. So will 2008 have been an abberation or are they just in the wrong division?
4.) Baltimore Orioles- Perhaps it's because they're Baltimore but Miguel Tejada and Kevin Millwood were two of the more underrated acquisitions this off-season. They're building a nice core with Nick Markakis, Adam Jones, Matt Weiters and Nolan Reimold.
5.) Toronto Blue Jays- They've won more games than any club in the Wild Card era not to make the playoffs and that trend will continue this year except they won't be winning many games at all. Aaron Hill and Adam Lind are about the only bright spots. With Roy out of the mix the Jays just hope to get some "floating Halladay's" this season.
1.) Minnesota Twins- Imagine how good this team would be if they actually got anything from trading Johan Santana and Matt Garza? They seem to have the most balanced club in the division and while Joe Nathan is a huge loss, they seem to pluck guys out of nowhere and get the job done. It helps to have Joe Mauer, but it will be interesting to see how Target Field plays without the climate controlled conditions of the homer dome.
2.) Chicago White Sox- If Carlos Quentin and Alex Rios can revert back to what they did a couple season's back, the ChiSox might have something cooking in the Central. If Jake Peavy pitches like an ace all season, Chicago could have it's best rotation since 2005.
3.) Detroit Tigers- Johnny Damon can teach them how to finish. Signing Jose Valverde and having a healthy Joel Zumaya could lead to many an early finish. However beyond Justin Verlander, who often goes from start to finish, who else can start on this team?
4.) Kansas City Royals- Ooooh don't get too giddy now KC. Zach Greinke and Joakim Soria are obviously the names that stand out. Billy Butler can mash and if Jose Guillen and Rick Ankiel can generate anything, well maybe Greinke can get enough run support to win 20.
5.) Cleveland Indians- That guy? He's but he's been dead since 1981! Well then cross him off the list! If you're an Indians fan you're just hoping Grady Sizemore is healthy, because beyond Shin-Soo Choo and Asdrubal Cebrera there's not a lot to write home about.
1.) Los Angeles Angels- Sure they lost Vlad Guerrero and Chone Figgins but Hideki Matsui if healthy to me is an upgrade. The question will be who steps up to replace John Lackey in the rotation? Otherwise they're the most well rounded team in the West.
2.) Seattle Mariners- Everyone's chic pick, but Cliff Lee is hurt and M's fans are hoping this isn't Erik Bedard part two. They're solid defensively but they'll miss Russell Branyan's pop.
3.) Oakland Athletics- Not a big fan of their offense but those young pitchers will make Oakland a spoiler down the stretch.
4.) Texas Rangers- When you're top two signings are Vlad Guerrero and Rich Harden, you'd better have an MRI on standby. What was a nice story last season looks really shaky now.
1.) Philadelphia Phillies- Clearly the class of the NL, boasting a lineup worthy of the AL. If Roy Halladay can pitch in the playoffs there's no reason this club shouldn't win its third pennant in a row, which would make them the first NL team to do so since the 1940-1942 St. Louis Cardinals to do so.
2.) Atlanta Braves- This team very well could have been the NL Wild Card winner last year and they'll go all out for Bobby Cox this year. If Jair Jurrjens and Tommy Hanson keep progressing and Tim Hudson slides in for Javy Vazquez, this team will be in the thick of it in the last week of the season.
3.) Florida Marlins- Josh Johnson and Ricky Nolasco should make for a nice one-two punch. With Hanley Ramirez, Jorge Cantu, Dan Uggla and Cody Ross, only the Phillies had as many returning players knock in 90 or more runs than the Marlins last season.
4.) Washington Nationals- At least their offense sparks some interest with Nyjer Morgan, Ryan Zimmerman, Adam Dunn and Josh Willingham. If any of their pitching gambles pay off they should be better than last year, when just about the only starter I could name was John Lannan.
5.) New York Mets- Already with three guys in their starting lineup on the DL and a pitching staff beyond Johan Santana that looks just dreadful, it wouldn't shock me to see an early house cleaning.
1.) St. Louis Cardinals- I think the Cardinals could be a little too top heavy, but their best is better than everyone else's best. Albert Pujols with Matt Holliday hitting behind him the entire year looks to be a top NL MVP candidate once again. The Cards have the best one-two punch in the NL and maybe in baseball with Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright. Can Ryan Franklin duplicate what he did last season?
2.) Chicago Cubs- Probably the deepest staff in the division, but they need guys like Alfonso Soriano, Aramis Ramirez, Kosuke Fukudome and Geovany Soto to stay healthy and rebound.
3.) Cincinnati Reds- When's the last time you saw the Reds picked this high? It's high time for some of these prospects to have breakout year's.
4.) Milwaukee Brewers- Randy Wolf is a nice pitcher but this is why the Brewers only make the playoffs once every 26 years.
5.) Houston Astros- They don't hit well enough and don't pitch well enough not to hit well enough, make sense?
6.) Pittsburgh Pirates- Andrew McCutchen could be a rising star but beyond that the drought in Pittsburgh continues.
1.) San Francisco Giants- Can they hit well enough to put themselves over the top? As Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain continue to step it up on the hill, with some timely hitting they could have just enough.
2.) Colorado Rockies- Imagine if this team ever got off to a good start? I'm intrigued to see what Carlos Gonzalez can do for the whole year. If Jeff Francis reverts back to 2007 form they could take this division.
3.) Los Angeles Dodgers- Sad to see Joe Torre go out like this, but your ace has to be better than Vicente Padilla. If Manny Ramirez is as focused as possible in a contract year, they'll make a push. But with a shaky ownership situation will they get the pieces they need at the deadline?
4.) Arizona Diamondbacks- If Brandon Webb was healthy I'd call them a sleeper. They're rounding out a solid young lineup as well.
5.) San Diego Padres- The Adrian Gonzalez watch is on, while the Padres hope Kyle Blanks is the second coming of Dave Winfield.
ALDS: Yankees over Twins, Angels over Red Sox.
ALCS: Yankees over Angels.
NLDS: Phillies over Giants, Cardinals over Braves.
NLCS: Phillies over Cardinals.
World Series: Yankees over Phillies.
AL MVP: Alex Rodriguez
NL MVP: Albert Pujols
AL Cy Young: Felix Hernandez
NL Cy Young: Tim Lincecum
AL Rookie of the Year: Wade Davis
NL Rookie of the Year: Alcides Escobar
AL Manager of the Year: Ron Gardenhire
NL Manager of the Year: Bobby Cox