The season's here! Yeah! This winter sucked! Now, before I forget, here are my predictions. We'll start with the AL, an asterisk indicates a wildcard.
Boston Red Sox
The defending champs had a savvy offseason, upgrading from one catcher whose name is impossible to spell (Jarrod Saltamacchia) to a slightly better catcher whose name is impossible to spell (A.J. Pierzynski) Along with resigning Mike Napoli at a discount, and we don't even have to count getting Stephen Drew back at a discount for a few more weeks when he sheepishly returns with his tail between his legs after realizing nobody wants to give up a pick for him.
New York Yankees
Yup, these are the Yankees. After a few years of not breaking the bank in the offseason, they stepped up their game and doubled the Astros payroll on three players, not counting the posting fee. I liked the Tanaka and McCann signings, but I'm not a huge fan of throwing 21 million a year at a guy with a history of injuries. (Actually I loved it because the Yankees suck, but you get what I'm saying.)
Tampa Bay Rays
Another season of the Rays formula. Wacky manager+clutch hits from Evan Longoria+scrappy utility players doing things that scrappy utility players do+David Price=wins. One of the biggest surprises of this winter is that Price stayed put. It's a wise move by the Rays, who can still contend. If I were them, I would hold on to him until the end of this year, then trade him in the offseason.
The O's looked well on their way to another uneventful before going out and signing Nelson Cruz and Ubaldo Jimenez. I like the Cruz signing, he brings power and intangibles to the table.
Toronto Blue Jays
A year after going all in Marlins style the Jays are back to where they started: Below average in a division that you need to be really good to compete in.
I'm not completely sure what the Tigers were trying to accomplish with the Doug Fister trade, but if it was, "give up a reliable veteran starter for a reliever, utility infielder and a prospect during a crucial time when you're trying to win," they've got it down.
Kansas City Royals
The Royals had two of the more underrated moves this winter in signing Omar Infante and trading for Norichika Aoki. Aoki has quietly put up two straight solid seasons for Milwaukee, batting .288 and .286 respectively. As for Infante, he just won the "Holy crap, he's been around for that long" award while I was looking up his stats. He's only 32 and has been around since 2002 with the Tigers.
I'm genuinely excited to see Francisco Lindor play for Cleveland whenever that happens. Several years ago, I watched him play on the Team USA under 18 team along with Albert Almora and some other current prospects. While there it was obvious who one of the leaders on that team was. You could see Lindor's charisma from the stands, and he made almost every play at shortstop look easy. As for the entire team, I think losing Jimenez will be too much with the Royals ready to make the leap.
You can find my way too detailed breakdown of the Twins here.
Chicago White Sox
Signing Jose Abreu was a high risk, high reward move. Spending that much money on a Cuban first baseman. Dealing Addison Reed for Matt Davidson was one of the sneaky good moves of the offseason. Relievers are overrated and whenever you can flip one for a promising third baseman, it's a good move.
I really liked dealing for Prince Fielder for the Rangers. In all of what's been going on, with his no show in the playoffs and below average season, Fielder has become a tad underrated. Hitting .279 with 25 homers isn't anything to turn your nose up at, even if it came from someone who was much better than that the year before. At the very least, they're getting some stability in the lineup. He's only thirty years old and has missed a total of thirteen games since 2006. For those of you keeping track at home that's 1283 out of a possible 1296
Billy Beane has done it again. He got a quality reliever in Jim Johnson for less money than it would have cost to resign the unfortunately named Grant Balfour for a utility infielder (Jemile Weeks) who hit .219 in his last two seasons.
Los Angeles Angels*
Last year I predicted Hamilton would be a bust but chose the Angels to win the west anyway, under the logic of, "No team with Mike Trout and Albert Pujols is going to miss the playoff two years in a row. Well, I'm going for it again. No team with Albert Pujols and Mike Trout is going to miss the playoffs three years in a row.
Sorry Mariners fans, but signing Robinson Cano made absolutely no sense for the M's current situation. By signing Cano, they have three very good to great players (along with Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma) unfortunately, this isn't basketball where you can be a contender with three guys. Now they're paying Cano 24 million a year to be a good player on a bad team. But hey, at least we got to laugh at the irony of this.
I don't think it's necessary to write anything more about the Astros other than the fact that they're the Astros. Sorry Houston.
MVP: Mike Trout
Yup, this is the year that Trout finally overcomes Miggy and wins it. All it takes is the Angels being in contention. With everybody talking about how much money they would give him on his next contract. I wouldn't hesitate to offer him ten years three hundred million. He's a once in a generation player, if the Angels are smart they'll do anything they can to keep him in Los Angeles of Anaheim.
Cy Young: Anibal Sanchez
Right now, I think Sanchez is the most underrated player in the league, without much competition. Here's a guy who lead the league in ERA last year and most people probably only think of him as the third best pitcher on his team.
Rookie of the Year: Masahiro Tanaka
Shut up, people who say he won't be as good as Yu Darvish, you have no idea how good somebody's going to be solid. With that said, on a hunch (not because I think I know more than I do) I don't think Tanaka will be as good as Darvish, but will be a solid, reliable pitcher.
Manager of the Year: Ned Yost
The Manager of the year is a funny award. More often than not, it's just given to the manager whose team did a lot better than we expected. So put it on the record here, the Royals will do better than we expect, securing Ned Yost's Manager of the Year!
NL Coming Tomorrow!