|1||Red Sox||99-63||Preparing their title defense on the assumption that
the Curse of the Minky won’t last 86 years.
|2||Yankees||95-67||Snagged the Big Unit, but spent big dollars on
imperfect pitching solutions at the expense of shoring up glaring weakness in
CF. The best team $200 million can buy?
|3||Cardinals||93-69||Starting pitching is functional, not flashy, but
this team has too many big bats for the rest of the league to get past.
|4||Cubs||90-72||With Sosa now a bittersweet memory, health of Prior,
Wood and Zambrano is everything to this club, and everything is a bit shaky
|5||Phillies||90-72||Should fare better under low-key manager Manuel than
Explodable Head Bowa, and with upgrades like groundball-friendly Lieber over
|6||A’s||88-74||Despite fears for life after the Big Three,
organizational depth and front-office smarts feed plenty of optimism.
|7||Twins||86-76||Santana and Radke could be league’s top 1-2 punch,
and full years of Morneau and (hopefully) Mauer should boost offense.
|8||Dodgers||85-77||Penny, Perez, Lowe, Weaver, Erickson, Alvarez,
Jackson–spot the reliable, healthy starter and win a prize.
|9||Indians||85-77||Up-and-comers could make the Twins sweat if they
stick to blueprint and let young talent mature; Juan Gone in RF and Grady
Sizemore in Buffalo calls their resolve into question.
|10||Padres||84-78||Led by Cy candidate Peavy, these NL West vultures
could swoop in if Dodgers falter and Bonds sits.
|11||Angels||83-79||Controversy over name change overshadows so-so
offseason. McPherson should provide much-needed injection of youth at
3B; similar boldness at 1B with Kotchman over Erstad would be a plus.
|12||Braves||82-80||PECOTA begs to differ, but after 13 division titles
in a row, there’s little sense picking against them until they prove
|13||Marlins||81-81||Full seasons from Beckett and Burnett could make for
an exciting Fish tale.
|14||Mets||81-81||High-profile signings Pedro and Beltran offer
improvement, as will a full season of David Wright.
|15||Giants||81-81||Barryless will be perilous; assume 10 runs (one
win) lost for every 14 games with Feliz and Tucker in LF.
|16||White Sox||80-82||Speed’n’defense makeovers don’t pan out often, nor
does cornering the market on fragile Cuban refugee starters.
|17||Rangers||79-83||Runs will be scored in Arlington, lots and lots of
runs–many of them by the Rangers, but not enough of them.
|18||Astros||79-83||B’s not so killer without Beltran and (for April)
Berkman, but a healthy Pettitte to go with Clemens and Oswalt ought to help.
|19||Orioles||78-84||Slammin’ Sammy Sosa joins bomb-prone offense;
pitching is already thin without Punchin’ Ponson’s antics–bar fights and
big butt to the contrary, Boomer Wells he ain’t.
|20||Mariners||77-85||Big Beltre and Sexson signings will propel this team
upward, not far enough.
|21||Reds||76-86||Dunn, Griffey, Kearns, Pena provide nice outfield
depth, but they need to push the fences deeper to help Milton and company
keep the ball in the park.
|22||Tigers||76-86||Beware the Plexiglass Principle: big leap back to
respectability sure to be offset by returns to earth by Pudge, Guillen, Inge.
|23||Diamondbacks||76-86||78 million for Ortiz and Glaus? We’re still
|24||Brewers||74-88||Talent on the farm offers promise for the post-Selig
era, but they’ll take their lumps for a while yet.
|25||Nationals||74-88||High profile signings of Guzman and Castilla will
surprise lots of people. Especially Jim Bowden, and not in a good way.
|26||Rockies||73-89||Proof that a winning altitude is a necessary
ingredient in building a champion.
|27||Blue Jays||73-89||Koskie signing emblematic of a regime in danger of
losing the plot.
|28||Pirates||72-90||Beautiful ballpark. Rudderless team.|
|29||Royals||69-93||Lima Time may get the headlines, but Greinke Time is
the team’s best hope to avoid Royals Blew epitaph.
|30||Devil Rays||68-94||Hordes of young talent means they’re no longer
hopeless; deploying that young talent correctly will make all the difference.