Spring Training kicked off this weekend and we are about a month away from Opening Day. Most of the big name free agents have found a home, but some are still out there playing the field still, just waiting for “Mr. Right” to come along and sweep them off their feet.
Manny Machado heading to San Diego shook up the baseball world a little bit, but let’s be honest, the Padres aren’t all of a sudden the best team in baseball by acquiring a guy that I would pick somewhere around 10th-15th in terms of best players in the league.
With that being said, the Padres are headed in the right direction and are poised to have a lot better season now than they were expected to a week ago. So a middle of the pack rankings a month before the season is something Padres fans haven’t seen in years and should be happy to see now.
As sports fans, we all love rankings (unless our teams are at the bottom, and if that is the case Orioles fans may want to stop reading now). So let’s take a look at an early prediction of where this season might be headed based off of their offseason transactions.
- Boston Red Sox – The defending champs deserve the number one spot. Craig Kimbrel or not this season, the Red Sox will compete for another title. Until they prove otherwise, they are still the best team in baseball.
- New York Yankees – Add DJ LeMahieu and Troy Tulowitzki’s power to an already homerun happy team and maybe the Yankees can hit even more long balls this year than last. Throw in the additions of James Paxton and Adam Ottavino and the Yankees are perhaps the most complete team in baseball.
- Houston Astros – The Astros have been one of the best teams in baseball over the past four seasons. Adding Michael Brantley, Robinson Chirinos and Aledmys Diaz to such a talented roster only make this team more competitive. Don’t be surprised if the Astros find a way to win 100 games this season.
- Los Angeles Dodgers – Subtract Manny Machado, Yasiel Puig, Matt Kemp, Alex Wood and Yasmani Grandal while basically only adding A.J. Pollock, the Dodgers seem to have taken a step back from their World Series form. However, don’t count out a team with the best pitcher in baseball. Assuming Clayton Kershaw can stay healthy this whole season.
- Chicago Cubs – The Cubs lost Daniel Murphy but replaced him with Daniel Descalso. That may result in fewer hits coming from the second base spot, but with a healthy Kris Bryant, the sky is the limit for the Cubs in 2019.
- Philadelphia Phillies – This spot is assuming the Phillies land Bryce Harper (rumors are he just agreed to a deal for $330 million, but we will see if that is fake news or a reality soon enough.) Harper or not, the Phillies team is strong enough to contend for an N.L. East title. A World Series title may be a different story though.
- Atlanta Braves – Adding Josh Donaldson to a talented young roster is a great move for the Braves. If the team’s young talent can produce at the same or even higher rate than last year, and Donaldson can play up to his potential, the Braves may be a dark horse World Series participant.
- Louis Cardinals – Paul Goldschmidt and Andrew Miller were the biggest additions for the Cardinals this offseason. Coming off of an up and down season, if the Cardinals can play solid defense and refrain from big losing streaks, they can certainly compete in one of baseball’s toughest divisions.
- Cleveland Indians – The Indians lost a number of big name players (Andrew Miller, Edwin Encarnacion and Josh Donaldson to name a few), but the team is talented. Playing in baseball’s worst division is a huge boost as well. Expect the Indians to win their division again, but they may be one or two big moves shy of World Series material.
- Milwaukee Brewers – Coming off of a good season the Brewers are set up to have a repeat performance with the addition of Yasmani Grandal. This team will only go as far as their pitching will take them, which may not be far enough.
- Washington Nationals – Putting Patrick Corbin into a rotation that features Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg will make any team a contender. Losing your franchise player though, that could be a little too hard to overcome in one season. Maybe Juan Soto can help fill some of that void?
- Colorado Rockies – Losing DJ LeMahieu and adding Daniel Murphy could be considered a win. The talent is there for the Rockies to win the N.L. West. However, with the Padres now a competing team, the job just got that much harder.
- New York Mets – As a Mets fan, I wish I could put them higher, but I just can’t do it. While the team certainly improved, there were still a lot of missed opportunities this offseason. The Mets may be one solid bat and one more reliever away from contending for a title. Jacob Degrom and Noah Syndergaard can only pitch around 62 games (if we’re lucky). The other 100 are the problem.
- Cincinnati Reds – Reds fans are probably more upset about losing speedster Billy Hamilton than they are about losing Matt Harvey. The additions of Sonny Gray, Matt Kemp, Yasiel Puig and Alex Wood should ease that pain. The Reds could be a suprise playoff team this year.
- San Diego Padres – Many Machado doesn’t make the Padres a World Series contender….yet. Having the number one farm system in baseball (according to ESPN’s Keith Law), means the Padres are only going to get better. In a couple years this team could surpass the Dodgers as the team to beat in the N.L. West. Progress takes time.
- Tampa Bay Rays – Charlie Morton and Avisail Garcia are nice additions to the team. Outside of C.J. Cron, the Rays haven’t lost much. Expect them to do better than last season’s 73 wins.
- Minnesota Twins – While Nelson Cruz may be their biggest addition, C.J. Cron, Lucas Duda and Jonathan Schoop are nice additions as well. The Twins have the capability to be one of this season’s biggest surprises. The playoffs are a long-shot, but not an impossibility.
- Pittsburgh Pirates – The Pirates are in arguably the best division in baseball, but there is potential for the team to still compete. With a talented rotation featuring Jameson Taillon and Chris Archer, the team has the one-two punch to contend against any team this season. The team’s bats will be the difference between a playoff season, or a disappointing season that ends with more losses than wins.
- Oakland Athletics – Losing Trevor Cahill and Jeurys Familia is a blow to the A’s bullpen, although Joakim Soria is a nice replacement. With Jed Lowrie now a Met and their biggest addition perhaps being Jurickson Profar, The A’s are almost certainly going to decline drastically from their 97-win playoff season last year.
- Chicago White Sox – The White Sox could be this year’s Atlanta Braves. Tons of young talent that will make this team a competitor for years to come. Yoan Moncada is due to have a breakout season. If the Sox can somehow find a way to land Harper, they may be playoff bound.
- Arizona Diamondbacks – The Diamondbacks took a big hit this offseason by losing Patrick Corbin, Paul Goldschmidt and A.J. Pollock. However, with a rotation featuring Zack Greinke, Zack Godley and Robbie Ray, the potential to contend is there. Having a bat like Jake Lamb isn’t a bad thing either.
- Los Angeles Angels – Where there is Mike Trout, there is hope. Add in bats like Justin Bour and arms like Matt Harvey and Trevor Cahill to the mix, maybe there can be something there. More than likely though, Bour and Harvey have already seen their best days. Looks like another season in Trout’s prime wasted on a losing team.
- Texas Rangers – The Rangers success will be determined how well their rotation performs this year. Edinson Volquez, Shelby Miller and Drew Smyly are all capable of stellar games, it’s just a matter of if they can sustain success throughout the entire season.
- San Francisco Giants – The outfield is the major concern for the Giants this season. What is traditionally an experienced outfield in recent years, is now a relatively young and unknown group of guys. With it being Bochy’s last season, maybe the Giants can put together a magical Wild Card season, though unlikely.
- Seattle Mariners – Trading James Paxton to the Yankees suggests the Mariners are “rebuilding”. Trading Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz to the Mets reiterated that point. Rebuilding or not, the Mariners still have some talent on their roster, such as Edwin Encarnacion. Maybe a rebuilding season could end up with 80 wins?
- Toronto Blue Jays – The loss of Aledmys Diaz may be their biggest. The addition of Freddy Galvis is nice, but certainly not enough. Expect another season around 73 wins for the Blue Jays, probably less.
- Detroit Tigers – Josh Harrison was a nice addition to the team. The Tigers still have too many holes in their roster, and a player like Harrison isn’t good enough to change a team significantly. The Tigers may be flirting with 100 losses by the end of the season.
- Miami Marlins – Bringing in two former New York Mets who are past their prime, and then some (Curtis Granderson and Neil Walker), is no way to replace losing arguably your best player in J.T. Realmuto. The Marlins roster is nowhere near as talented as rest of the teams in its division. Expect another long season Marlins fans…..trust the process.
- Kansas City Royals – Bringing in a pitcher who was 1-14 last season, Homer Bailey, is never a good thing. As fast as Billy Hamilton is, he isn’t going to produce much offense outside of stealing bases. Back-to-back seasons with 100 losses is very possible.
- Baltimore Orioles – The Orioles didn’t improve at all this offseason. Could they possibly lose more games this year than the 115 they lost last season? It may be hard to believe, but it is possible. However, maybe they could turn things around a make a playoff run this season…….don’t count on it O’s fans.