With pitchers and catchers reporting to Spring Training this week and all of my favorite teams in other sports sucking, I’m in baseball mode. I know a lot of our readers are in the same boat, so I figured now would be a good time to get some baseball talk going. We’ll have some predictions for the 2008 season in the coming weeks. As for now though, I decided to give my “power rankings” for where teams currently stand. Some big trades could still happen before the season starts(Brian Roberts, Joe Blanton, etc.), and the status of players such as Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, and Curt Schilling is still up in the air. Therefore, these rankings could easily change quite a bit in the next few weeks. Maybe this will be a thing we do every week if people like it, and we can do it with the NFL and NBA as well. Additionally, if you don’t like this, please let us know so we aren't wasting our time. It's pretty long(That’s what she said). Hopefully this will generate some discussion, because I know many of you are going to disagree with these rankings...
1. Boston Red Sox- Defending champs. Didn’t make a move, didn’t need to. Schilling being out could hurt them, but they have young phenom Clay Buchholz to step in to replace him.
2. Cleveland Indians- Sabathia and Carmona is a lethal 1-2. Deep down I feel like the Tigers are better, but they still have to prove it. This is an all-around terrific team.
3. Detroit Tigers- Best lineup in the game, pitching is still a question mark.
4. New York Yankees- Will be difficult for A-Rod to top ‘07 season, but still AL MVP favorite. Joba Chamberlain- Starting Rotation Or Bullpen? Trading for Santana would have put them at #1.
5. New York Mets- Added the best pitcher in baseball in Johan Santana. Outside of Johan, a shaky rotation. Pedro is brittle and a shell of his former self. El Duque is in his 40’s.
6. Los Angeles Angels Of Anaheim- Added Torii Hunter to an already very good lineup, although they definitely overpaid for him. They have about 600 outfielders. I’m still expecting them to trade one of those guys, probably Gary Matthews Jr.
7. Seattle Mariners- Maybe best 1-2 in the league with King Felix and newly acquired Erik Bedard. Felix is a once in a decade talent, but he is still only 22(when season starts). If he takes the next step(which he will at some point soon), this team could be a serious WS contender.
8. Arizona Diamondbacks- This is one that people will disagree with me about, and I could go on for awhile defending it, but for now I’ll try to make it quick. They certainly had a good amount of luck on their side (32 wins in 1-run games, +12 record in 1-run games). However, they swept the Cubs who most considered the NL favorites in the first round of the playoffs. They are incredibly young. Some of their best hitters were Chris Young(24 years old), Justin Upton(20), Stephen Drew(25 when season starts), Mark Reynolds(24)… I could go on and on. Those guys are all incredible talents who will only get better. Oh, they also added the 2007 AL starter for the All-Star game in Dan Haren to their starting rotation, giving them arguably the best 1-2 in the league with him and Brandon Webb.
9. Chicago Cubs- Maybe the safest pick in the NL. Adding Kosuke Fukudome to the middle of their lineup was huge, considering their need for a lefty bat, and somebody with a high on-base percentage. Good starting rotation(Zambrano, Hill, Lilly) and bullpen(Wood, Marmol, Howry). I still think they’ll add switch-hitting 2nd baseman Brian Roberts from the Orioles, put him at the leadoff spot, and drop Alfonso Soriano down to 4th or 5th in the lineup.
10. Los Angeles Dodgers- They underachieved last year. Added Andruw Jones to an already solid lineup. Not many balls are going to drop in left and center field with him and Juan Pierre out there. I think Matt Kemp is on the verge of stardom.
11. Colorado Rockies- Like the D’backs, they had quite a bit of luck on their side, in September and October at least. I don’t care how good you are, in baseball those type of streaks don’t come along much. I do think they are better than their first-half team was. The experience of getting to the World Series can’t hurt this young team either. The impact young pitchers Ubaldo Jimenez and Franklin Morales have on the rotation is the key in my opinion.
12. San Diego Padres- You can’t count out a team with Jake Peavy and Chris Young in the rotation, especially in a pitcher’s park. Their lineup is still suspect to say the least. I’m picking them to finish 4th in the NL West. A lot of people will pick them to win it. That’s how good this division is.
13. Philadelphia Phillies- Disappointing 1st round exit in the playoffs after a terrific season in the NL East. Added Brad Lidge to the bullpen, which could either be a terrific or terrible thing. If anybody challenges Bonds’ homer record anytime soon, it’s going to be Ryan Howard in that park.
14. Toronto Blue Jays- It all comes down to the health of Roy Halladay and A.J. Burnett. Regardless, they won’t finish better than 3rd in the AL East.
15. Milwaukee Brewers- They overachieved in the first half last year, plain and simple. Can Ben Sheets stay healthy? Probably not. Will Prince Fielder and Ryan Braun top last year’s numbers? I don’t think so.
16. Atlanta Braves- I should be careful what I say before Rad reads this and comes into my room to beat the living shit out of me with his crutches. In fact… forget it.
17. Cincinnati Reds- If they got Bedard, I might move them into the top 10. But… they didn’t. Dusty Baker comes into manage, and destroy every pitcher’s arm. Look for him to try and get Aaron Harang to throw 30 complete games. Expect Adam Dunn to hit 5 more homers, strike out 30 more times, and take 50 less walks with Dusty’s “teaching”.
18. Chicago White Sox- They are trying really hard to move up to 3rd place in the AL Central. They’ll pay for it in a couple years.
19. Houston Astros-How did they not know what the rest of us did about Tejada? I’m still shocked by the timing of that trade. They significantly overpaid for Kaz Matsui to play 2nd base. Darin Erstad blows. They’ll have some good speed with the addition of Michael Bourn though.
20. Oakland Athletics- I don’t even think they should be this high, it’s just that I think that every year, and just about every year they overachieve(except for last year). I think they’ve gotten worse for the short-term at least with the Haren trade. I’m sure Billy Beane will fix this up in no time though.
21. Texas Rangers- Same as it’s been for the last decade: They need legitimate starting pitchers.
22. Minnesota Twins- I really don’t even know what to think of them. They should have gotten more in the Santana trade. Losing him and Matt Garza will really hurt their rotation, and losing Torii Hunter is a big loss. Delmon Young will more than make up for his absence in the lineup though, as long as he doesn’t try to murder anybody with his bat again.
23. St. Louis Cardinals- Albert Pujols… and not much else. I do like their trade of Scott Rolen for Troy Glaus though. They’ll need Rick Ankiel to prove that last year wasn’t a fluke, and that he’s not still a headcase.
24. Tampa Bay Devil Rays- They might better than this actually, it’s just that their record will look so shitty in the AL East. At least they won’t be in the cellar anymore thanks to the Orioles. Scott Kazmir, Matt Garza, James Shields, and Jeff Niemann is a great group of young starting pitchers.
25. Washington Nationals- What the fuck is Jim Bowden doing? They’ll lead the league in domestic violence with Elijah Dukes aboard, so at least they have that.
26. Kansas City Royals- This seems remarkably optimistic, but I really think they are better than 4 other teams(maybe even more actually). They have to get better at some point though, right? Right? Yeah probably not happening. Blaine, if you buy me a beer, I'll move them ahead of the Nats... Deal?
27. Pittsburgh Pirates- Time for them to be contracted. What a waste of a beautiful ballpark.
28. San Francisco Giants- Terrible lineup. If not for a solid and young rotation featuring Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, and Noah Lowry, they would be the worst team in baseball. They might finish 20 games behind the 4th place team in the NL West.
29. Florida Marlins- Kevin Gregg is their highest paid player this year, at 2.5 million bucks. That’s all that needs to be said.
30. Baltimore Orioles- What a fucking joke