M.M.: I hate my answer to this question but the Boston Red Soxs will reign as the champs of the AL East. The Yankees dropped another billion dollars this year but it won't help them in their chase for a championship. The glory days of the Yankees has come to an end and the superstars of the late nineties are all retiring - the last of them being Derek Jeter this year. Jeter is a future Hall of Famer and a corner stone of the Yankees but his "glory days" are over. The Rays and Orioles are both in contention this year but won't be good enough to catch a loaded Red Sox team.
T.O.: I agree with Marris on this one, I think the Red Sox are the best team in the East. The Yankees just have some holes that are tough to fill and they are a very old baseball team which there is something to be said for age and wisdom, but CC has lost zip on his fastball, Jeter just doesn't cover the ground he once did and who is going to fill in for the Sandman in the 9th. The Rays and O's are both young but they didn't improve their club this offseason which means the Red Soxs are still better than them because the Sox didn't get any worse. Toronto could be a factor, but they still are the worst team in the division unless a lot of things go right.
B: Going with the Bo Sox for all of the above reasons. Hopefully, one day Theo will have the Cubs looking like the current Red Sox. Now I'm sad...is it next year yet?
M.M.: The AL central is weak this year. Rumor has it the Royals are on the rise but I don't think they are ready to take the Central yet. The White Sox and Indians, both teams who have tendencies to have hot streaks and make their fan base hopeful are not contenders for the Central. That really just leaves the Detroit Tigers atop the central. Solid pitching, a solid line up and Cabrera. Notice I didn't mention the Twins. The Twins will be better than last year but that isn't saying much.
T.O.: The Tigers are a bit worse at the end of the spring with injuries abound. There is a lot of talent on that roster, but with Prince Fielder and Johnny Peralta gone not to mention 5th starter Doug Fister leaving as well. I don't think the Tigers are untouchable. Cabrera will see far fewer pitches to hit this season without the protection he had in the line up, and Fister is a quality end of the rotation starter that they have to replace, and pitching depth is always something to covet. Their starting shortstop is done for the season, and we also need to note that Scherzer will likely not have the Cy Young caliber year he had last year. The Indians could give the Tigers a scare, but the real team to watch is the Royals. The Royals have been getting better and better the last few years and it wouldn't shock me to see them make the playoffs. I think the Tigers win the division, but it could go down to the wire, and if they lose another key player, I think they could be on the outside looking in.
B. Tigers hands down. Mainly because I hate the White Sox and the last time the Indians were relevant Charlie Sheen was on the mound...yay baseball is back!! I will say that paying Cabrera ~300 million dollars for the next ten years is absurd...cough Albert Pujols...cough cough.
M.M. The Texas Rangers will finally survive the AL West this year. After multiple years of leading and falling this year the Rangers are going to fall and then lead. In the previous years the Rangers have lead the division only to fall before the playoffs because of injuries. This year it appears the Rangers may start the season with some injuries but based on reports it appears they should get some players back in time to get hot for a playoff run. The Angels are dishing out big money so they can battle for third in the division behind a young and talented Athletics team and ahead of a less then impressive Seattle team.
T.O.: In Billy we Trust. The Rangers have failed to close out the west the last 2 years, this Athletics team is scrappy and talented and I think they will beat out the Rangers and their giant payroll. The A's are young and talented, and if were being realistic playing for a new stadium. They have back to back playoff appearances, and I think they are the team to beat here. The Rangers have the payroll and big names, but the injury bug is already biting the Rangers and with the very talent heavy Angels in the division, I don't know if the Rangers can hold up until guys start to get healthy. Especially seeing their line up isn't as stacked as it was even 2 years ago. The Mariners may play a factor here, but I still think they are missing a piece or 2 to be competitive and you can just forget about the Astros.
B. Going to side with T.O. and go for the A's. I mean really who doesn't love those neon yellow uniforms? I will say that I think it will be a very close race between the A's and Rangers with a likely wild card team coming out of this division. Those teams not playing ball in October...the Angels, Mariners, and Astros. Oh how I miss beating the Astros. Things I don't miss: that stupid hill in center field at Minute Maid Park in Houston.
M.M.: The Washington Nationals have been a good young team for years. It is time for them to take it to the next level. The Nationals should make it out as the NL East Champs but it won't be easy to bet the Braves and the Marlins. Luckily they won't have to worry about Mets or Phillies.
T.O.: The National League is not nearly as difficult to decipher as the American League, but I think this division provides the most intrigue. I keep going back and forth on this pick. I am going to go with the Nats as well, but they have a lot of big talents on that team, but this is a team who flirted with .500 for all of last year and they have essentially the same team. Yes they should be better, but should and will are 2 very different things. The Braves are on the doorstep, but with a couple of big pitching injuries early for the braves, I will give the division to the Nationals. One team to watch that may surprise some people are the Marlins, the actually had a pretty darn good second half last year and some of their young talent is developing. They may not make the playoffs but they could have a hand in who does and doesn't get to play ball in October.
B. Oh if only Chipper Jones hadn't retired or you know they hadn't allowed Brian McCann to get away. However as T.O. pointed out key injuries will definitely hamper the Braves out of the gate and open the door for the Nats and all their president racing glory. Good news for the Braves though, they get to play against the Mets, Phillies, and Marlins. While the Phillies still look old and washed up like the Los Angeles Lakers, new manager Ryne Sandberg has shown to be a fantastic manager in the minors and I expect him to do a fine job in the big league. That being said, I might be biased. Also, don't ask me who is currently managing the Cubs. Rick Renteria...something like that...ugh. One good think about the Braves not making the post season...limited exposure to that awful tomahawk chop chant; that and a field covered in garbage.
M.M.: This is the year for the Pittsburgh Pirates to take the NL Central. They have been knocking on the door for the past three seasons and based on the loaded Indianapolis Indians roster this year the Pirates will close to 100 games this year. The Cardinals and Reds will be pushing the Pirates along all season long and the eventual World Champions will come from the best Divisions in the League. The Pirates continue to develop a very talented pool of players and at the same time spend money on available talent like Wandy Rodriquez. Not only will the Pirates be a fast, athletic, young, quick team that can score lots of runs playing small ball - they will be able to pitch with the best of them. The scary part will be when the playoffs come because the Cardinals are fielding one of the best teams in Major League Baseball and they like to win world series from the wild card position.
T.O.: In the immortal words of Lee Corso, "Not so fast my friend!". The NL Central was one of the most exciting, competitive divisions last year, with 3 teams making the playoffs. This year I don't think it will be the same story. The Cubs are still rebuilding and probably won't be much of a factor (Sorry Benton). The Brewers have some talent, but they lost a lot of talent over the last few years, and I don't know if they have the team to compete. Much like the Marlins in the east though, they could be a major factor in who goes to the playoffs from this division because they have enough talent to cause some problems. The top 3 teams from last year will be the same, and I think their ranking will also be the same. The Reds, who have been a playoff team for the last 3 years took a big step back this offseason. They lost a big cog to their offense in Shin-Su Choo. While they should be able to get more production out of Joey Votto, I don't think they are as good as they were last year as a whole team, and they already have their all-star closer and a couple starters on the shelf. Not a recipe for success. The Buc's and the Cards are the 2 top teams. Marris has told you like he likes the Pirates, and I agree, there is a lot to like, but the Cardinals are better. The Pirates lost inning eater and staff co-ace AJ Burnett which is hard to replace. The Pirates also didn't make any big additions this off season, while they were a good team, the didn't help close the gap between them and the Cards. They also are a sink or swim type offense where all of their production tends to come from the long ball. The Cardinals have a lot of young talent, particularly at pitcher, and they made a couple of moves in adding Boujous and Peralta that made the team better. I think the Pirates will give the Cards a run, but in the end, the Cards win the division, probably with a few games to spare.
B. "We're singing go Cubs go, go Cubs go. Hey Chicago what do you say?" Is it 2015 yet? As much as I hate what I am about to say, but actually dying on the inside some, the Cards will take the NL Central. It won't be easy and I expect Pittsburgh to make it tough, maybe I don't know, insert Pirate pun here (I've got nothing). I have a feeling the Reds are on the down swing and it's only a matter of time before pitchers' arms start falling off. My biggest hope is that the Cubs don't finish last. Please not another year. I'm not sure there's enough Old Style left in Chicago for another last place finish. Expect to see a lot of young faces in the royal blue pinstripes this year. One bright side, Wrigley turns 100 this year, and the Cubs still haven't won a world series in their current stadium. Drink up Cubs fans.
M.M. This division is an easy choice and doesn't need further explanation. There is one good team in LA and it is the Los Angles Dodgers. They have a talented team and a talented coach. Talented enough to win the division but not talented enough to make it any further.
T.O.: This division is going to go the Dodgers. I really don't think there is anyone with enough talent to challenge them. The D-backs have some talent, and the Padres like to hang around, but the Rockies are still pretty bad (Sorry benton) and the Giants are a Giant mystery. I really hate how the Dodgers have constructed their team, but when they got their act together they were clearly the best team in the division last year and there is no reason to believe the same won't be true this year. The only thing that could get in the way is the fact that they have that Hollywood attitude. Puig is already giving Mattingly Migraines.
B.: No need to apologize T.O. the boys in purple are bad, very bad. They keep trying to bring in pitchers but they bring in pitchers NOBODY HAS HEARD OF. The owners of the Rox are driving the Rockies faithful mad by their lack of desire to spend money on pitchers. It's already hard enough to get pitchers to come to a hitter-friendly park like Coors. It'll be an interesting year in the NL West but I think the Dodgers take it. You never know though, it's an even numbered year, maybe the Giants will be the 2010/2012 Giants again. If money and fame go to the Dodgers heads (the side effects of playing for a team in LA) it could be anyone's division.
M.M. I am going out on a big limb here. I am going to say that Baltimore and Tampa Bay make to the playoffs. These picks are eliminating the Athletics and Indians from the playoffs but I think Tampa Bay is too talented not to make the playoffs and Baltimore made me a believer last season. The O's are young and talented - I may be a few years early but I think the O's are going to be like the Pirates of last year and surprise some people.
T.O.: I don't think the East has 2 teams that will sneak in as Wild Card teams, I think one will go out west at least. I think the Rangers will be the team from the West. I do think the Rays will get in, because, well, they always find a way in. I think the Wild Card race will be pretty interesting all year though. I think the Royals and Angles both could make a run as could the Indians. And if any of the teams above slip a little in the division, they could also play a factor here. Rangers and Rays are my predictions, but I'm not putting a lot of money on either team, because I view this race as wide open.
B. As much as I want to say Rays and Baltimore, I'm going to throw the Rangers in there. So let's make it O's and Rangers. Sorry Tampa, not this year. I'd be more sorry if there were actually fans to apologize too. Note to Tampa: YOU HAVE A GOOD BASEBALL TEAM, START SHOWING UP ALREADY!!
M.M. The eventual world champs will come from the NL Wild Card selection. The St. Louis Cardinals and Atlanta Braves will emerge as some of the best in the league and the Cardinals will look to paint the nation red, Cardinal red. Taylor is picking them because he is fan, correction, the biggest fan, correction, the definition of a fan but I am just looking at the facts and unless unforeseen injury or an unexplained cold streak the Cardinals will be looking for another World Championship this year.
T.O.: For all the crap I am getting about being a homer (Marris) and picking the Cardinals. At least, the experts agree with me that the Cardinals will win the division. That said, as nervous as I was over my picks in the AL, I think the NL are pretty easy. The Pirates and Braves are the 2 wild card teams assuming something doesn't go very, very wrong. The West just doesn't have teams that I think will be good enough to treaten for one of these spots and I see both the East and Central as 2 horse races. The dark horses here MIGHT be the Reds and D-Backs or maybe the plucky Giants, but I am pretty confident in my picks here.
B. Pirates and Braves. I agree, D-Backs are a dark horse and if the Giants remember how they won two of the last four World Series, then they have huge potential, if not, at least I might see the Rockies win a few games.
M.M. My bold prediction is that Baltimore will make the playoffs. My second bold prediction is that Pittsburgh will win the NL Central - not an easy feat.
T.O.: The Royals make the playoffs. I know that I don't have them in any of my predictions, becuase that is my logic winning out. I am a chemist... sue me. But I have a feeling that this is the Royals year. Especially if the Tigers struggle early, I think that could open a door for them in the division and they benefit from playing the Twins and White Sox both a number of times this year which could help them if they need to win the wild card.
B. Drunk, depressed Cubs fans burn Wrigley to the ground just like my bracket. Let's go UCONN and Wisconsin. In all seriousness though, Pirates make a deep run into the playoffs. They've improved each year and have started playing with a chip on their shoulder. Teams like that are dangerous. Just like the Pacers were until, well, I don't know what's plaguing the Pacers.
M.M. This is a difficult question. I am going to go with the Cardinals over Rangers in seven games.
T.O.: I will take the Cardinals over the Red Sox in 6.
B. Let's see it's not been five years since the Cards last won so, Red Sox repeat (gross!) in 5 over the Dodgers.
Happy Opening Day - we all know it should be a national holiday!
- Those Sports Guys