In case you weren’t aware, regular season baseball kicked off this morning. Really early this morning, between the Seattle Mariners and the Oakland A’s. In Japan. The Mariners prevailed 3-1 in 11 innings behind Felix Hernandez, Ichiro Suzuki, and Dustin Ackley. Ichiro went 4-5 with four singles in his return to Japan. This was a great start to the season, but there are many more games to be played. Last season was truly magical, and I doubt what happened on the final day of last season can ever repeated. But that doesn’t mean this season can’t be just as great in its own way.
First let’s recap some of baseball’s biggest signings and trades* of the off-season.
Signings and Trades
Prince Fielder 1B – Detroit Tigers 9 years/$214 mil
Albert Pujols 1B – Los Angeles Angels 10 years/ $250 mil
C.J. Wilson SP – Los Angeles Angels 5 years/$77.5 mil
Jose Reyes SS – Miami Marlins 6 years/$106 mil
Mark Buehrle SP – Miami Marlins 4 years/$58 mil
Carlos Beltran RF – St. Louis Cardinals 2 years/$26 mil
Jonathan Papelbon RP – Philadelphia Phillies 4 years/$50 mil
Yu Darvish SP – Texas Rangers 3 years/$60 mil
*Michael Pineda SP, Jose Campos SP – Seattle Mariners for Jesus Montero C/DH, Hector Noesi P – New York Yankees
The two most active clubs this off-season were the Angels and Marlins. They reeled in some huge names (Jose Reyes and Mark Buehrle to Florida, Albert Pujols to Anaheim) in an attempt to make a run at the World Series this year. The Tigers, who lost Victor Martinez for the year, went out and signed Fielder to fill the hole left by Martinez in their lineup. Meanwhile in St. Louis, the Cardinals were trying to figure ways to get another bat to repeat as World Series Champions. This need really set in with the departure of Albert Pujols. The Rangers were trying to add another starter after losing Wilson, and ended up signing Yu Darvish. Ironic how both Wilson and Pujols played against each other in the World Series and have now joined forces in Los Angeles.
Division Predictions (* playoff team)
East – Yankees*, Rays*, Red Sox, Blue Jays, Orioles
Central – Tigers*, Indians, Royals, White Sox, Twins
West – Angels*, Rangers*, Mariners, A’s
East – Phillies*, Marlins*, Braves*, Nationals, Mets
Central – Cardinals*, Reds, Brewers, Pirates, Cubs, Astros
West – Diamondbacks*, Dodgers, Giants, Rockies, Padres
With the new Wild Card system being introduced this season, I found it very hard to pick that fifth team making the playoffs. Heck, I actually had a difficult time figuring out the fourth team in each league. My idea was that the Angels gained a few wins by adding Pujols and Wilson. Also add in Kendrys Morales’ bat as their DH, and you have about 7-10 extra wins. Which, in my opinion is enough to leap over the Texas Rangers. Texas may still have a spectacular lineup, but could lack depth in their starting pitching rotation, even if Yu Darvish pans out. I see both of them making the playoffs though.
That leaves one more Wild Card, and it’s not coming from the American League Central. So I saved my American League East explanation for last to explain why the Red Sox won’t be making the playoffs again. Basically I see the Yankees being the more complete team. They have a solid lineup, along with a great pitching rotation, and one of the best bullpens in baseball. The Rays have one of the top pitching rotations, and while the Red Sox have one of the more elite lineups, I see the Rays’ rotation clicking this season. They’re filled with a lot of young talent, and every single one of them have ace potential, especially David Price.
As for the National League, it’s more black and white. The Marlins adding Jose Reyes to their lineup will create a lot more runs. Him getting on base for Ramirez and Stanton will be the key to their success to winning games. I also think the National League East gets the second Wild Card. If the second Wild Card was added a year ago, the Atlanta Braves would have made it into the playoffs. So this year I have them making it to the postseason.
The teams coming from the National League Central and West need to win their division in order to make the post-season. The Cardinals and Reds will fight for the Central crown, but I have to give the current Champions, the Cardinals, the nod. Even without Pujols, they will be regaining the services of pitcher Adam Wainwright. I’m not worried if I’m a Redbirds fan. The Diamondbacks received Trevor Cahill in a trade with the A’s this off-season. Now Ian Kennedy and Cahill are the one-two punch for Arizona. It’s impossible to predict the West, but I’m going with the Diamondbacks repeating as the winners.
World Series Prediction
The other day on the Sports-Kings podcast with Jason Whitney, I predicted a Yankees vs. Marlins World Series. That was on the spot and I didn’t put much thought and research into it. After going through this post I decided I’m going to change that pick without penalty. It’s still March so I can do that. I make the rules!
Angels over Phillies
I’m a believer in the Angels this year. They have a fantastic starting five and have a core of young talent and veteran power hitters. I really think they can show the world that the spending spree they went on this off-season was worth it.
Now for the fun part.
American League MVP – Miguel Cabrera
National League MVP – Matt Kemp
American League Cy Young – Felix Hernandez
National League Cy Young – Roy Halladay
American League Rookie Of The Year – Jesus Montero
National League Rookie Of The Year – Bryce Harper
Expect a lot more baseball posts around Sports-Kings. I want you all to check out Reading Between The Seams, Sports-Kings resident baseball blog for more baseball information and stories. Enjoy the season!
By Senior Writer Joe