Baltimore comes back strong. Boston is looking to knock ‘em down a peg.
Baltimore Orioles - If a three-run homer is an Earl Weaver special, then a one-year deal is a Dan Sandwich. The Os refused to pay power-hitting Nellie Cruz the going rate, nor would they pay to re-sign Nick Markakis. But bargain-shopping, text-messaging executive Dan Duquette may have found a short-term answer for right field with Travis Snider, who by all lights is motivated to use his Oriolesque deal as a springboard. Of course, if he does, he’ll move on in 2016 to a team that doesn’t underpay. Anyway, even if Team of Blog gives back some production because of perennial chintz, they likely still have power to spare. Baltimore also features a talented bullpen, a strong defense, an unheralded-but-effective starting rotation and a great motivator for a manager. Has Manny Machado finally put the injury woes and attitude issues behind him? Don’t Schleep on Jon Schoop neither.
Boston Red Sox - The free-spending, free-agent happy BoSox bolted together quite the Frankenteam this year, plugging Hanley Ramirez into a left field situation behind Pablo Sandoval at third base and buying/trading for starting pitching. If you’re a Sawx fan, the best thing about the spring so far has to be the lack of injuries. That bodes well but their season is difficult to predict. They could finish first; they could finish last. It’s great to see MLB finally crack down on fat David Ortiz’s between-pitch wanderings. Is he looking for a bag of BBQ-flavor pork rinds in the on-deck circle? What’s he even doing? Maybe next year baseball can do something about Peedy’s annoying eye-stretches.
New York Yankees - If injuries don’t fell this aging group of mercenaries en masse then they could be pretty good. Free agents Jacoby Ellsbury and Chris Capuano already are sporting the kind of strains that tend to yield unimpressive seasons. C.C. Sabathia and Masahiro Tanaka are both sort of not hurt yet but give them some time. Also C.C. is getting lit up this spring. Alex Rodriguez is not hurt (yet) either but everyone hates him including the skipper so that’s weird. Will Andrew Miller end up in the closer role over fan favorite Dellin Betances? Mark Teixeira and Brian McCann are having productive and healthy springs so they could help keep the Yanks on track – uhhhh – if they don’t get hurt. But they’re going to get hurt so.
Tampa Bay Rays - Their pitching has been depleted by injury and, in the case of Alex Colome, by pneumonia. They also got rid of their Molina. And Molinas tend to help teams get into the playoffs. But time waits not even for the stoutest Molina. Lots of young guys are going to be feeling their way here along with a new manager, Kevin Cash, who replaces the fabled Joe Maddon. Cash will field a dearth of talent at key positions and isn’t likely to be able to replicate the Rays’ recent successes. Would they trade Evan Longoria and his team-friendly contract if the right talent were made available? Blog can envision scenariOs where this could happen.
Toronto Blue Jays - What’s the point of signing Russell Martin if you have a productive, switch-hitting catcher in Dioner Navarro? Same question re: Justin Smoak and Edwin Encarnacion at first base. Navarro is asking to be traded and – oh! – lots of injuries. The Blue Jays are squandering the window of opportunity that Jose Bautista represents.
Predicted order of finish:
Red Sox *
* wild card mix