In my last edition, I gave you my National League predictions for the 2014 season. Now it is time for the American League.
East: (Is a total crapshoot of a division. I think any team could win outside of Toronto)
Rays : They seem to have the best pitching staff and arguably the best manager, Joe Madden, in the business. So, I will take my chances and pick them as division winners.
Orioles: Key pick ups of Ubaldo Jiminez and Nelson Cruz are nice additions. Biggest question mark is who is the closer? Wild Card winner.
Red Sox: They were carried by great pitching, timely hitting and that Boston Strong attitude. Should contend for another division title. Could fall short and take a wild card spot into the playoffs.
Yankees: Had a great winter of acquisitions: catcher Brian McCann, OFs Jacoby Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran and pitcher Masahiro Tanaka. The whole infield is a question mark of reliability and perfomance. They could easily win division, but a few injuries away from not making playoffs at all for second year in row. Will be interesting to see how Yankees do without Mariano Rivera as the closer and not have the Alex Rodriguez circus around. Sleeper Impact player is pitcher Michael Pineda. He could solidify starting rotation.
Blue Jays: Has a potent batting order but pitching is too suspect to contend. Might be another rough year north of the border.
Tigers: Still the team to beat in division. Even with the addition of closer Joe Nathan, it is hard for me to say this team is better than a year ago. But a division crown is still very likely
Royals: Legitimate contenders for division title. KC has one of the best bullpens in AL and best catcher also in Salvador Perez. Back end of rotation and 3B Mike Moustakous will likely dictate if KC will be pretenders or contenders.
Indians: Will contend for division title. Terry Francona will prove once again he is one of the best managers in all of MLB. The losses of Ubaldo Jimenez and Scott Kazmir could hurt them this year. If Danny Salazar performs well all year, Indians will be there until the end.
White Sox: Through several trades. the southsiders have gotten younger and more athletic. But the pitching beyond Chris Sale is mediocre at best. Cuban import Jose Abreu is Rookie of Year candidate.
Twins: Has made improvements from a year ago. Still a ways to go. Minnesota does own the number one prospect in baseball in Byron Buxton. He could make his debut in the bigs in 2014.
A's: The two time division champ is still my favorites to win division. They have been hit by a rash of injuries to the starting pitcher already in spring, but should have enough to make up for around them. Prospect to look out for is SS Addison Russell.
Rangers: They also have been hit hard by injuries to the pitching staff. Yu Darvish has to be a Cy Young candidate in order to for Rangers to contend for division. Otherwise, they will have to outbash everyone on a daily basis.
Angels: The back end of rotation and bullpen are questionable. Will Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton recover from bad 2013s. More bashing than pitching here also.
Mariners: Can big free agent Robinson Cano bring some winning ways to Seattle? Will the young prospects around him finally become legit big leaguers? They have decent pitching that will keep in games, but will they score enough runs? Best case scenerio is seeing Rangers and Angles pitching falter and Seattle sneak into into 2nd place. Not sure how likely though.
Astros: Much like the Marlins in NL, they look like more of a big league team this year. But still many holes in lineup. OF prospect George Springer is knocking on door to make an impact on team. Their biggest prospect is former No.1 overall pick, SS Carlos Correia. He is a future superstar.