Jumping ahead now to the AL Standings Projections, starting with the AL East:
Red Sox - 96 - 66
Yankees - 92 - 70*
Rays - 90 - 72
Orioles - 77 - 85
Blue Jays - 71 - 91
- Red Sox have strong offense, solid speed, and a very dangers rotation lead by Josh Beckett, Jon Lester, and John Lackey. (Oh wait, they still got Dice-K, Clay Buchholz, and Tim Wakefield)
- Can Jorge Posada and Nick Johnson stay healthy? How will the outfield fair with no Hideki Matsui or Johnny Damon? Can Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain build on solid 2009 campaigns?
- The Rays do not have much room for error after their bullpen took a hit. They will also need big years from pitchers Wade Davis and David Price.
White Sox - 84 - 78
Twins - 83 - 79
Tigers - 81 - 81
Indians - 78-84
Royals - 73 - 89
- The White Sox do not have payroll flexibility to add someone midseason, but they may not have to. If Carlos Quentin and Alex Rios can return to form, they will take a lot of pressure off Gordon Beckham and Mark Teahen to produce, allowing them to ease into new situations in Chicago. The pitching is also expected to be solid.
- The Twins will be forced to shuffle their bullpen around, which doesn't help considering the team is without a proven ace. The offense should be there, which should keep them alive. The fact that the Twins did not pursue Heath Bell this spring makes me think they will be on the prowl for a starting pitcher at the trade deadline. Ben Sheets, anyone?
- The Tigers will ride a sober Miguel Cabrera as long as possible, but they will need serious help from Scott Sizemore and Austin Jackson if they want to post 83 wins this season, or maybe even take the division. D-Train and Jeremy Bonderman will also need to contribute.
Angels - 88 - 74
Mariners - 85 - 77
Rangers - 80 - 82
Athletics - 78 - 84
- As much as I want to hop on the Mariners bandwagon, the Angels will once again reign supreme in the West. Strong pitching, improved bullpen, and the possibility of a big bat from Brandon Wood, are just a few subplots to keep an eye on this season.
- With King Felix and Cliff Lee leading the way, Erik Bedard will have ample time to reestablish his value as a pitching ace. Trying to keep Milton Bradley healthy and away from the media may become a problem.
- Josh Hamilton needs to stay healthy and Scott Feldman needs to at least match his 2009 numbers, if not build on them. Neftali Feliz and Elvis Andrus should also build on their rookie seasons. Ditto for Chris Davis, who they are counting on big time.