United Cardinal Bloggers Prediction Time- American League

AMERICAN LEAGUE PREDICTIONS

 

PREDICTION TIME- American League Central

It is almost time for baseball season to begin for real. It is an annual rite of passage that predictions are to be made for the upcoming season. Every team starts equal and hope springs eternal. At least it does for a few days, weeks and months for various teams. The United Cardinal Bloggers have done the predictions blog for several years and now is the time to make mine. If you don’t like mine, then go to the UCB website and find one you do.

 

#1- Detroit Tigers (92-70)

The Tigers roared through the Central Division with an average of 92 wins in the past three years. If it wasn’t for the Red Sox, Detroit may have been crowned World Champions. But the Tigers didn’t sit idly by this off-season as they added Ian Kinsler, Rajai Davis and Joe Nathan to the roster while dispensing with a few valuable pieces in Prince Fielder, Jhonny Peralta, Doug Fister and Omar Infante. The team was looking for some payroll flexibility in these moves. Trading Prince Fielder for Ian Kinsler is a deceptively good move, as Kinsler’s defense makes up for some of the difference in power, while allowing Miguel Cabrera to move back to first base. The Fister move is a bit baffling though. The Tigers are very high on lefty starter Robbie Ray, who they acquired from the Nationals for Doug Fister. When the rotation features Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer and Anibal Sanchez the team will win a lot of games in 2014. Does Miguel Cabrera have protection in this lineup? Does he need it?

#2 Kansas City Royals (88-74)

The Royals are finally putting it together to make a run. They have missed the playoffs for 28 straight seasons. One thing that will put them ahead of Detroit will be injuries from the Tigers. KC added Jason Vargas, Norichika Aoki and Omar Infante but lost Ervin Santana.

Mike Moustakas needs to reduce his strikeouts and make more contact for this team to win. Billy Butler can produce at a steady pace and is advancing to his 2015 option year. The rotation will see prospect Yordano Ventura, a flamethrower, getting a shot along with Kyle Zimmer. These two will allow the fans to forget Santana was ever in Kansas City. Bruce Chen will need to have another season like 2013.

#3- Cleveland Indians (81-81)

Last season saw Jason Kipnis emerge as a star for the Indians and Yan Gomes begin to show some power. It also allowed Ubaldo Jimenez to learn to pitch with less velocity and Carlos Santana to begin all over again. Scott Kazmir came on in 2013 and bounced back with a fine season.

The Indians have lost Ubaldo and Kazmir, along with reliever Chris Perez and now add John Axford and Sean Marcum to the pitching staff. Rookie Danny Salazar begins the season in the rotation but that puts them further behind the progress from last year. Asdrubal Cabrera and Justin Masterson are in contract years and are likely to move to a winning organization. Therefore, they are motivated to have a good season. Zach Mc Allister will have to shoulder some responsibility on the mound along with Cory Kluber. This team lacks a leader and a star. They will need to stay healthy to be in the hunt for October.

#4- Chicago White Sox (73-89)

This team has been ugly. Now it is time to bolster the roster with prospects. The White Sox have added Jose Abreu, Matt Davidson and Adam Eaton. The most prized of these being Abreu which will replace the long-time first baseman Paul Konerko. Another bright future appears to be Dayan Viciedo. He has good plate discipline and can be a good average hitter.

Adam Dunn and Konerko are part of the old days and now they turn to youngsters. Erik Johnosn will be given every opportunity to crack the rotation and Marcus Siemens could push Gordon Beckham off of second base. Chris Sale will be the #1 pitcher in the rotation but GM Hahn may push the envelope into a trade for prospects.

#5- Minnesota Twins (66-96)

This team may surprise many with more wins but certainly are not a contender. Built around former catcher and now first sacker Joe Mauer, the team is now baking on re-vamping the rotation with Phil Hughes and Ricky Nolasco. Nolasco became their highest paid free agent in Twins history. Now Mike Pelfrey will battle the rotation but these old tired arms are not going to fool anyone.

Kyle Gibson and Alex Meyer are candidates to fill out the rotation. Along with the best prospect in baseball, Bryan Buxton, the Twins are looking for better days down the road a few years. They can add Miguel Sano and Eddie Rosario to the infield and hot prospect Josmil Pinto at catcher for the days ahead. Twins fans need to be patient. Can the Cubs and Minnesota battle it out in 2017?

 

 

 

PREDICTION TIME- American League East

 

#1- Boston Red Sox (97-65)

The World Champions come into the season with a bit of turnover on the roster. Gone is Jacoby Ellsbury, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Alfredo Aceves and Stephen Drew from the roster but added is Cardinal reliever Edward Mujica and AJ Pierzynski.

Mike Napoli returns with a potent bat to go along with David Ortiz. Xander Bogaerts mans the shortstop position and is the favorite to be Rookie of the Year. Jackie Bradley patrols center in place of Ellsbury in Fenway Park. The rotation still finds Jon Lackey, Clay Buchholz and Jon Lester getting starts but top pitching prospect Henry Owens will be pushing to get in. Jake Peavy returns to get the 4th spot.

 

#2- Tampa Bay Rays (91-71)

When the Rays have a spot to fill in they turn to super-utility/regular Ben Zobrist to play the position with confidence. It is a great thing to have a capable player to do that. A big question is can Wil Myers and Chris Archer build on strong rookie seasons? James Loney is looking to breakout season after an adequate 2013 season. Desmond Jennings is out the point in his career that it is time to be special. Yunel Escobar is a on his free agent season as is Zobrist. Jake Odorizzi will get a shot at the rotation to compliment David Price and Heath Bell was added to close out games.

 

#3- Baltimore Orioles (84-78)

The Orioles went out and spent some money with the acquisition of Ubaldo Jimenez. Now if they can get Chris Davis and Chris Tillman to have another good years they should creep up in the win totals. Jim Johnson, Nate McLouth, Scott Feldman, Jason Hammel, Brian Roberts, Danny Valencia are gone from last season but have added Suk-Min Yoon to help along the team and a full season of Bud Norris. JJ Hardy and Nick Markakis are in their option years and will be playing for a new contract.

 

#4- New York Yankees (80-82)

The predictions for this team have been all over the place. They are getting old and continue to but old players. Carlos Beltran may continue to be productive but is fragile and may not get 130 games in this season. On the other hand, they picked up a ton of players this off-season by signing Brian McCann, Masahiro Tanaka, Jacoby Ellsbury, Carlos Beltran, Kelly Johnson and Brian Roberts while losing Robinson Cano, Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettitte, Curtis Granderson, Alex Rodriguez, Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain.

Reliever Mariano Rivera has retired and now they must find one of the available arms to slot into that spot. Ivan Nova may turn out to be their best rotation pitcher this season but they are ultra-excited about Masahiro Tanaka bringing his perfect record from Japan to the team. On the infield they have concerns about the health of Brian Roberts with Eduardo Nunez as his replacement.

 

#5- Toronto Blue Jays (76-86)

 

The Blue Jays played poker a year ago and went all in and had a bust of a season. RA Dickey, Mark Buehrle and a host of others all crumbled. Jose Bautista will need to produce or will likely have a deal coming his way. The only player that hit his expectations for Toronto was Colby Rasmus and the bar was not set very high for him.

 

Prediction Time: American League West

 

It is almost time for baseball season to begin for real. It is an annual rite of passage that predictions are to be made for the upcoming season. Every team starts equal and hope springs eternal. At least it does for a few days, weeks and months for various teams. The United Cardinal Bloggers have done the predictions blog for several years and now is the time to make mine. If you don’t like mine, then go to the UCB website and find one you do.

 

AMERICAN LEAGUE WEST

 

#1- Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (93-69)

Things went awry for the Angels in 2013. Pujols didn’t get to play long before injuries force him out, Josh Hamilton failed at his debut in an Angels uniform and pitching broke down. Some changes were need. New to the roster this season will be Tyler Skaggs, Hector Santiago, David Freese and Raul Ibanez. Departing are Mark Trumbo, Peter Bourjos, Jason Vargas and Tommy Hanson. But one constant the LA Angels could count on was the play of superstar Mike Trout.

 

Some key questions facing them are:

What kind of player is Albert Pujols going forward?

Did David Freese leave his best days in St. Louis?

Similarly, will Josh Hamilton settle in this year and be a 30-HR threat again?

Who gets the bulk of playing time in left field, JB Shuck or Kole Calhoun?

How much does Raul Ibanez have left?

Will Jered Weaver’s steadily decline K-rates finally catch up to him this year?

These questions are legitimate but with Pujols, Hamilton and Trout ready to produce this team can be loaded.

#2- Texas Rangers (90-72)

 

This team plays close but just can’t win the big one. Now they have added some players that they look to get them there. Added was Prince Fielder, Sin-Soo Choo, JP Arencibia and Tommy Hanson and gone are Ian Kinsler, Nelson Cruz, Joe Nathan, AJ Pierzynski, David Murphy, Matt Garza and Lance Berkman.

Since 2010 they have had a large turnover but have kept Elvis Andrus in the lineup. Jurickson Profar is ready to compete but the pitching starts with a questionable Derek Holland and a mediocre Yu Darvish. Two pitchers ready to make some noise will be Colby Lewis and Neftali Feliz. Look for Prince Fielder to have a monster season hitting in Texas.

 

#3- Oakland A’s (86-76)

The roster added Scott Kazmir, Craig Gentry, Luke Gregerson, Jim Johnson and lost Bartolo Colon, Grant Balfour, Seth Smithand Brett Anderson. One thing that happened was the slowdown of Yoenis Cespedes in the latter part of the year. Jed Lowrie will be clamoring to show he is healthy this season and 2014 may be the season to add top prospect Addison Russell to the shortstop position.

 

#4- Seattle Mariners (78-84)

This team is lucky that Houston was added to the division or they would be looking to be last. Yes, Robinson Cano was added and Corey Hart to bolster the stagnant offense and Fernando Rodney was brought in to close games. Mike Zunino will need to supply power in a full year situation. Hishashi Iwakuma has a broken finger and will miss extended time this year.

 

#5- Houston Astros (64-98)

The Astros were bad but are trying to dig themselves out of the hole and may be inching closer to overtaking the Mariners. Dexter Fowler was added to play center field and Scott Feldman was brought in to man some innings. The release of Erik Bedard will give prospects more time in the major leagues. Jose Altuve is the face of the franchise and that is not a household name. Youngsters play for this team.