Baseball season is just days away! Before the fun begins, let’s do one more round of offseason chatter about how each team is supposed to do, before they all destroy our expectations yet again.
Boston Red Sox
The champs are looking for another title this year, though this time without their signature beards. What they do have, however, are most of the players that helped them to the World Championship. Notably absent is star center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury, who joined the Yankees during the offseason with a large free agent contract. Still, in a division without a clear standout team, Boston figures to make 2014 look much more like 2013 than 2012.
New York Yankees
In true Yankee fashion, the team spent over $500 million in the offseason, but they got some first-class talent to show for it. The Bombers won out in the highly-publicized battle for Japanese Ace Masahiro Tanaka, and picked up slugger Carlos Beltran for good measure. Along with Ellsbury, the new Yankees join a cast of well-known superstars like CC Sabathia, Ichiro Suzuki, and Derek Jeter, who will be playing in his final season. The team has been criticized for having too many players in their 30s and 40s, so even with the star power, it remains to be seen whether the aging club can rise to the top of the AL East.
San Francisco Giants
Out west, the Giants face a daunting task: how to deal with the deep and powerful rotation and lineup of their hated rivals the Dodgers. Though snatching the division from the favorites could prove a tall order, history has shown that anything can happen when the Dodgers and Giants face off against one another. The key for San Francisco will be the health and production of the core of their lineup: Sandoval, Belt, Pence, and Posey. Comeback years for former Cy Young winners Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain (who had a bizarrely terrible 2013) are a must as well. Bottom line: if the Giants can keep it close by the beginning of September, watch out for an upset.
The Diamondbacks also have to deal with a top heavy division, but they might have an even bigger chip on their shoulder heading into the season. The team suffered a rocky relationship with Los Angeles all last season, which was the talk of the baseball world heading into last week’s opener in Sydney Australia. Arizona has made no secret that it is unafraid to challenge for the division title, and sluggers Paul Goldschmidt and Mark Trumbo could be part of a push to the top. Pitching seems to be the X factor for the D-Backs, who need to overcome an early injury to ace Patrick Corbin to stay competitive. Still, with solid performances all around, there’s no reason to believe the team won’t be competitive this season.