Sunday, March 22, 2015

2015 American League West Predictions

***The Division Preview that follows is not betting advice in any way shape or form.  Please do not bet any money based in any part on these predictions.***

Don't forget to check out the National League EastNational League CentralNational League West,  American League East, and American League Central previews and check back next week for the Final Predictions.

Seattle Mariners
Who's New:
Carlos Rivera, IF (Waiver Claim from Red Sox)
Rickie Weekes, 2B (Free Agent frrom Brewers)
John Baker, C (Free Agent from Cubs)
Nelson Cruz, OF (Free Agent from Orioles)
Justin Ruggiano, OF (Trade from Cubs)
Seth Smith, OF (Trade from Padres)
Shawn O'Malley, OF (Free Agent from Angels)
J.A> Happ, SP (Trade from Blue Jays)
Joe Saunders, SP (Free Agent from Orioles)
Kevin Correia, SP (Free Agent from Dodgers)
Justin Germano, RP (Free Agent from Dodgers)
Mark Lowe, RP (Free Agent from Indians)
Rafael Perez, RP (Free Agent from Pirates)
Mike Kickham, RP (Waiver Claim from Cubs)
Who Left:  
Justin Smoak, 1B (Free Agent to Blue Jays)
Kendrys Morales, 1B (Free Agent to Royals)
Humberto Quintero, C (Free Agent to Red Sox)
Xavier Avery, OF (Free Agent to Tigers)
Michael Saunders, OF (Trade to Blue Jays)
Cory Hart, OF/DH (Free Agent to Pirates)
Chris Denorfia, OF (Free Agent to Cubs)
Xavier Nady, OF (Released)
Blake Bevan, SP (Free Agent to Diamondbacks)
Brandon Maurer, SP (Trade to Padres)
Chris Young, SP (Free Agent to Royals)
Logan Kensing, RP (Free Agent to White Sox)
Joe Beimel, RP (Free Agent to Rangers)
Winter Headlines: 
Mariners look to navigate the waves to the front of a watered down West.
What to Expect?:
With the improvements made and the money spent combined with the weakened competition Mariners fans should expect October baseball.  The top of the lineup with Austin Jackson, Kyle Seager, Robinson Cano and Nelson Cruz is definitely impressive.  The pitching staff is the key.  Felix Hernandez is still king but will the rest of the rotation hold up?  Iwakuma and Taijuan Walker had injuries last year.  Still, if they can get healthy, with the addition of J.A. Happ, this could be a very strong rotation and could push Seattle into the post season.
Why Should You Root for These Guys?:
Seattle entered the league in 1977 and have watched a parade of other teams beat them to the World Series.  Since the Mariners came into the league the Phillies, Royals, Twins, Marlins, Padres, Diamondbacks, Angels, Astros, Rockies, Rays and Rangers have either reached or won (or both) their first World Series.  The Mariners have never even reached the World Series.  In fact, the Tampa Bay Rays, who beame the pinnacle of bad play in the late 1990s-early 2000s and have only been in existence for 17 years, have already had more post season success than Seattle.  It's time for something to go right in the Pacific Northwest.
Why Might This Season Not Turn Out the Way Mariners Fans Want?:
There are questions about the health of Iwakuma and Walker and everything rests on their arms.  If the rotation breaks down this team could falter.
Don't Expect Too Much From Him:
Kyle Seager had a break out year in 2014 winning a Gold Glove, All Star appearance and consideration for the MVP.  Although his RBI were up significantly from 2013, the rest of his numbers did not have a significant jump.  He certainly benefitted from having Cano in the lineup and having Austin Jackson and Nelson Cruz in the lineup won't hurt but don't expect a drastic jump in numbers.
Expect Great Things From:
Felix Hernandez is still King Felix.  Despite having Cy Young caliber years every year, four other All Star appearances and a perfect game, 2014 may have been his best year yet.  At 15-6 and a 2.14 ERA his pitching kept Seattle in the Wild Card race and his durability was much needed in a year where the other starters suffered injuries.
Prediction:1st in AL West

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim:

Who's New:  
Drew Butera, C (Trade from Dodgers)
Josh Rutledge, IF (Trade from Rockies)

Daniel Robertson, OF (Trade from Rangers)
Matt Joyce, OF (Trade from Rays)
Nick Torpeano, SP (Trade from Astros)
Cesar Ramos, SP (Trade from Rays)
Andrew Haney, SP (Trade from Marlins)
Adam Wilk, SP (Free Agent from Pirates)
Zach Stewart, SP (Free Agent from Braves)
Atahualpo Severino RO (Free Agent from Braves)
Alex Sanabia, RP (Free Agent fromm Marlins)
Scott Snodgress, RP (Free Agent from White Sox)
Ryan Mattheus, RP (Free Agent from Nationals)
Matt Lindsrom, RP (Free Agent from White Sox)

Who Left:  
Hank Conger, C (Trade to Astros)
John Hester, C (Free Agent to Phillies)
Howie Kendrick, 2B (Trade to Dodgers)
Gordon, Beckham, 2B (Free Agent to White Sox)
Ian Stewart, SS (Free Agent to Nationals)
John Buck, C (Free Agent to Braves)
John McDonald, IF (Retired)
Brennan Boesch, OF (Free agent to Reds)
Tony Campana, OF (Free Agent to White Sox)
Shawn O'Malley, OF (Free Agent to Mariners)
Wade LeBlanc, SP (Free Agent to Japan)
Chris Volstad, SP (Free Agent to Pirates)
Randy Wolf, SP (Unsigned Free Agent)
Michael Kohn, (Free Agent to Braves)
Jairro, Diaz, RP (Trade to Rockies)
Kevin Jepsen, RP (Trade to Rays)
Joe Thatcher, RP (Free Agent to Astros)
Buddy Boshers, RP (Free Agent to Rockies)
Dustin Richardson, RP (Free Agent to Dodgers)
Jason Grilli, RP (Free Agent to Braves)
Michael Roth, RP (Free Agent to Indians)
David Carpenter, RP (Free Agent to Braves)
Sean Burnett , RP (Unsigned Free Agent)
Dane De La Rosa, RP (Free Agent to Orioles)
Jarrett Grube, RP (Unsigned Free Agent)
Winter Headlines: 
Players recovering from injuries leads to a million questions
What to Expect?:
The thing working in the Angels' favor is that this is now a very weak division.  While I certainly expect them to hang around the top, they may need to make some in-season moves to be able to make the playoffs and certainly if they wan to advance.
Why Should You Root for These Guys?:
The Angels are often the "forgotten" California team in the league.  The A's Giants and Dodgers have the winning histories with multiple World Series wins each and even San Diego has the baseball world buzzing with their big spending this winter.  in the west coast mix, the little town of Anaheim gets lost in the noise.
Why Might This Season Not Turn Out the Way Angels Fans Want?:
The A's have weakened themselves greatly and the Astros are probably a few years from a playoff run but the Angels are heading into the season with health questions of several key players. Josh Hamilton is coming off an injury plagued year.  Garrett Richards had a nasty knee injury and Jared Weaver (whether he admitted it or not) was not the same after leaving a start early with a back injury. Pujols has struggled with injuries since arriving in Anaheim and the lineup has lost a leader in Howie Kendrick. A healthy group could be frightful group to the AL West but injury questions are everywhere on this team.
Don't Expect Too Much From Him:
Garrett Richards seemed to have gotten everything working his way last year and would have gotten consideration by many for a Cy Young. His record was at 13-4 with a 2.61 ERA when his season ended with an injury.  He finally was able to get in some mound work on 2/26 but the team limited him to about 50 pitches.  It would be great to see him pick up where he left off but the truth is we will have to wait and see.
Expect Great Things From:
Mike Trout is probably the top player in the game.  You will get some argument for Miguel Cabrera or Andrew McCutcheon (and I could probably be persuaded to vote for McCutcheon as well) but Trout is clearly one of the top in the game.  Expect Trout to be in the MVP discussions again this year.
Is this his last Chance?
Josh Hamilton and C.J. Wilson both signed big contracts with the Angels in a year that looked like the team would walk to a division title.  Neither has performed to their expectations.  Wilson was knocked around in the ALDS last year leading Angels fans to sour even farther on him.  Hamilton has battled injuries and slumps and comes into camp with an injury plagued off season again.  The Angels want to win with these two but if the season goes sour they may be shipped somewhere else.
Prediction: 2nd in AL West

Oakland Athletics
Who's New?: 
Billy Butler, DH (Free Agent from Royals)
Ike Davis, 1B (Trade from Pirates)
Brett Lawrie, 3B (Trade from Blue Jays)
Semien Marcus, IF (Trade from White Sox)
Josh Phegley, C (Trade from White Sox)
Chris Bassitt, C (Trade from White Sox)
Luke Montz, C/DH (Free Agent from Red Sox)
Niuman Romero, IF (Free Agent from Orioles)
Ben Zobrist, IF (Trade from Rays)
Andrew Brown, OF (Waiver Claim from Mets)
Jason Pridi, OF (Free Agent from Rockies)
Nick Buss, OF (Free Agent from Diamondbacks)
Rudy Owens, SP (Free Agent from Astros)
Brad Mills, SP (Free Agent from Blue Jays)
Kendall Graveman, SP (Trade from Blue Jays)
Sean Nolin, SP (Trade from Blue Jays)
Jesse Hahn, SP (Trade from Padres)
Kevin Whelan, RP (Free Agent from Tigers)
Ryan Verdugo, RP (Free Agent from Red Sox)
Eury De La Rosa, RP (Trade from Diamondbacks)
Tyler Clippard, RP (Trade from Nationals)
Who Left?: 
Adam Dunn, DH (Retired)
Josh Donaldson, 3B (Trade to Blue Jays)
Brandon Moss, 1B (Trade to Indians)
Alberto Callaspo, 3B (Free Agent to Braves)
Jed Lowrie, SS (Free Agent to Astros)
Kyle Blanks, 1B (Free Agent to Rangers)
Daric Barton, 1B (Free Agent to Blue Jays)
Derek Norris, C (Trade to Padres)
Luke Montz, C (Free Agent to Red Sox)
Geovanny Soto, C( Free Agent to White Sox)
Nick Punto, IF (Free Agent to Diamondbacks)
John Jaso, C (Trade to Rays)
Yunel Escobar, SS (Acquired from Rays with Ben Zobrist, Traded to Nationals for Tyler Clippard)
Nick Buss, OF (Free Agent to Diamondbacks
Johnny Gomes, OF (Free Agent to Braves)
Josh Lindblom, SP (Waiver Claim by Pirates)
Jeff Samardzjia, SP (Trade to White Sox)
Jason Hammel, SP (Free Agent to Cubs)
John Lester, SP (Free Agent to Cubs)
Joe Savery, RP (Free Agent to White Sox)
Luke Gregerson, RP (Free Agent to Astros)
Winter Headlines:
After going all in for the 2014 pennant, A's look all out for 2015
What to Expect?:
This team has lost a lot of the heart of the playoff team that competed the last few years.  Cespedes, Donaldson, Moss and Barton are all gone.  Even the late season acquisitions that the A's fans believed would put them in the Fall Classic walked away in the offseason.  You should never count Billy Beane out, and this is a very weak division, but the A's likely do not have enough to compete.
Why Should You Root for These Guys?:
As always, this is a Cinderella team.  They don't have the budget that the Yankees, Red Sox, Tigers and Angels (or even the Mariners) have and have found ways to win the old fashioned way: smart minor league scouts and smart free agent pick ups.
Why Might This Season Not Turn Out the Way Athletics Fans Want?:
Pitching depth is a serious issue.  Past Sonny Gray the rotation looks like a mess.  Jarrod Parker is expected out until June and their number 2 starter is Scott Kazmir.  With Seattle and Houston improving the A's may find themselves near the bottom of this division.
Don't Expect Too Much From Him:
At one time Scott Kazmir had the stuff of an ace.  When he was traded to Tampa Bay as a prospect from the Mets, fan outrage played a big part in Jim Duquette getting fired.  When he was traded to the Angels in 2009 some felt the Angels punched their ticket to the Series.  His career fell apart after that and 2014 was a big step back towards reaching his potential with a 15-9 record and 3.55 ERA.  Realistically though he was too inconsistent to count on as a true #2 starter.
Expect Great Things From:
After a14-10 season Sonny Gray is now expected to be an ace for this team.  In what will be his second full year in the majors, Gray will be expected to take a major step into the leadership role and be the leader of this staff.  Expect him to be an All Star for this team.
Is This His Last Chance?:
Coco Crisp has been at the center of the A's rebirth the last few seasons.  He has suffered through some extreme pain with neck and back injuries over the last year but somehow was still able to help this team reach the post season.  Now entering his 14th Major League season, injuries may limit his production.
Prediction: 3rd in AL West.  

Texas Rangers:

Who's New:  
Chris Gimenez, 1B (Free Agent from Indians)
Kyle Blanks,1B (Free Agent from Athletics)
Thomas Field, IF (Free Agent from Pirates)
Elliot Johnson, IF (Free Agent from Indians)
Carlos Corporan, C (Trade from Astros)
Antoan Robinson, OF (Free Agent from Yankees)
Nate Schierholtz, OF (Free Agent from Nationals)
Carlos Peguero, OF (Free Agent from Royals)
Ryan Ludwick, OF (Free Agent from Reds)
Ross Detwiler, SP (Trade from Nationals)
Yovani Gallardo, SP (Trade from Brewers)
Anthony Ranaudo, SP (Trade from Red Sox)
David Martinez, RP (Free Agent from Astros)
Anthony Bass, RP (Free Agent from Astros)
Ross Detwiler, RP (Trade from Nationals)
Kyuji Fujikawa, RP (Free Agent from Cubs)
Mitch Atkins, RP (Free Agent from Braves)
Ross Ohlendorf, RP (Free Agent from Nationals)
Joe Beimel, RP (Free Agent from Mariners)
Jamey Wright, RP (Free Agent from Indians)
Juan Carlos Oviedo, RP (Free Agent from Rays)
Who Left:  
J.P. Arencibia, C (Free Agent to Orioles)
Josh Wilson, IF (Free Agent to Tigers)
Mike Carp IF/OF (Free Agent to Nationals)
Carlos Pena, 1B (Unsigned Free Agent)
Kevin Kouzmanoff, 3B (Unsigned Free Agent)
Brad Snider, 1B (Unsigned Free Agent)
Luis Sardinas, IF (Trade to Brewers)
Daniel Robertson, OF (Trade to Angels)
Alex Rios, OF (Free Agent to Royals)
Bryan Peterson, OF (Free Agent to Brewers)
Engel Beltre, OF (Free Agent to White Sox)
Scott Baker, SP (Free Agent to Yankees)
Aaron Poreda, SP( Released)
Miles Mikolas, SP (Released)
Phil Irwin, SP (Released)
Robbie Ray, Jr, (Trade to Red Sox)
Justin Marks, RP (Free Agent to Diamondbacks)
Nate Adcock,RP (Free agent to Reds)
Scott Barnes RP (Free Agent to Blue Jays)
Wilmer Font, RP (Free Agent to Rangers)
Alexi Ogando, RP (Free Agent to Red Sox)
Neal Cotts, RP (Free Agent to Brewers)
Zack Segovia, RP (Free Agent to Padres)
Ryan Feirebrand, RP (Unsigned Free Agent)
Alfredo Figaro, RP (Unsigned Free Agent)
Pedro Figueroa, RP (Unsigned Free Agent)
Matt West, RP (Waiver Claim by Blue Jays)
Corey Knebel, RP (Trade to Brewers)
Ben Rowan, RP (Free Agent to Dodgers)
Winter Headlines:  
Nightmare season of 2014 is over but have the Rangers woken up?
What to Expect?:
Many Rangers fans had big expectations heading into last season.  Adding Fielder and Choo to the lineup were expected to keep this team in contention.  Injuries doomed all hopes from the start of spring training and only got worse as the year went on.  This team will certainly be improved from last year's injury derailed year but this is not a playoff team.
Why Should You Root for These Guys?:
Everything that could have gone wrong last year did go wrong.  Ace pitchers were out for the year.  Big free agent signings were either injured or didn't perform.  Their "can't miss" prospects missed and their manager resigned mid season.  After such a negative year it would be nice to have something positive happen in Texas.
Why Might This Season Not Turn Out the Way Rangers Fans Want?:
The glory days of Young-Kinsler-Cruz seem like a distant memory at this point, though they were only a few years ago.  There is still talent on this team but the attitude and spirit of this organization seems to be drastically different.  They will need someone to spark this team if they want to avoid the basement.
Don't Expect Too Much From Him:
Prince Fielder is a star in this league and when healthy is one of the best in the game.  Last year was  night mare for Fielder.  After having played well over 500 straight games Fielder missed most of the year.  Let's not kid ourselves.  This injury was serious.  He had serious neck and back surgery.  A neck and back that is strained with every big swing the big man takes.  Personally, I am rooting for Fielder to have a monster season because I like the guy.  The realist in me says there is a real possibility that his back and neck may not make that possible.
Expect Great Things From:
Elvis Andrus is quietly the veteran of this team and one of only a handful of players from the World Series teams remaining.  He may not get the recognition he should and he may not get an All Star appearance but anyone who enjoys watching baseball should enjoy watching Elvis.
Is This His Last Chance?:
Colby Lewis was a major part of the Rangers' World Series teams.  Although Cliff Lee and C.J. Wilson got most of the recognition, Lewis was a major part of the success.  Injuries limited his availability in 2012 and 2013 and undoubtedly played a part in the collapse of the team.  Lewis reached double digits in wins for the first time since the World Series year of 2011 but he unfortunately also lost a league high 14.  The Rangers need solid pitching to compete but it is unclear whether Lewis can provide it.
Prediction: 4th in AL West

Houston Astros
Who's New:  
Hank Conger, C (Trade From Angels)
Dan Johnson, 1B (Free Agent from Blue Jays)
Jed Lowrie, SS (Free Agent from Athletics)
Evan Gattis, C (Trade from Braves)
Luis Valbuena, 3B (Trade from Cubs)
Colby Rasmus, OF (Free Agent from Blue Jays)
Will Harris, SP (Waiver Claim from Diamondbacks)
Pat Nesheck, SP (Free Agent from Cardinals)
Luke Gregerson, RP (Free Agent from Athletics)
Roberto Hernandez, RP (Free Agent from Dodogers)
Dan straily, RP (Trade from Cubs)
Who Left:  
Jesus Guzman, IF (Unsigned Free Agent)
Carlos Corporan, C (Trade to Rangers)
Dexter Fowler, OF (Trade to Cubs)
Rudy Owens, SP (Free Agent to Athletics)
Paul Clemens, RP (Free agent to Phillies)
David Martinez, RP (Free Agent to Rangers)
Jose Cisnero, RP (Free Agent to Reds)
Nick Torpeano, RP (Trade to Angels)
Anthony Bass, RP (Free Agent to Rangers)
Jose Veras, RP (Free Agent to Braves)
Matt Albers, RP (Free Agent to White Sox)
Jesse Crain, RP (Free Agent to White Sox)
Kyle Farnsworth, RP (Unsigned Free Agent)
Mike Foltynewicz, RP (Trade to Braves)
What to Expect?:
Expect improvement.  The Astros have a strong young crop of players on their way but this is still not a playoff contender.
Why Should You Root for These Guys?:
Since the end of the Bagwell-Berkman-Biggio days, this franchise has gone through hell.  They are rebuilding from the ground up and it would be nice to see some  youthful grins in the post season,
Why Might This Season Not Turn Out the Way Astros Fans Want?:
It likely won't.  With the weak division they are currently in there is always the chance of a surprise success but they are probably a year or two away.
Don't Expect Too Much From Him:
Evan Gattis surprised a lot of people in 2013 with his success behind the plate in Atlanta.  He improved in a lot of ways in 2014.  In Houston he will be playing Left Field, not catching, and will have to adjust to the AL pitchers.  Expect him to be a solid contributor but don't expect him to lead the team to the post season.
Expect Great Things From:
Jose Altuve won a batting title last year, the first Astros player to do so.  Despite playing on some very poor Houston teams, Altuve is one of the best players in the league.  Unfortunately playing in Houston has kept him under rated in the national spotlight.
Prediction:5th place in AL West

*-Please be aware that these predictions are based on the rosters as set at the end of February.  There are still several key free agents unsigned which could alter these previews.  Also, injuries during spring training could alter my outlook.  Check back next week for the NL East Preview and continue following to see my final predictions at the start of the season.  

Mike Trout won the 2014 MVP. Since 1969 when the league moved to the division format, how many times has the American League MVP come from the American League West ?

Answer to Last Week's Question:
The Tigers first won the AL East title in 1973, although they lost to the A's in the ALCS.  They would not win again until 1984 when they would beat the Royals in the ALCS and the Padres in the World Series.  

Their third division title came in 1987 when they won the division in dramatic fashion on the last weekend of the season.  They then lost to the Twins in the ALCS.

Following 1987 the Tigers fortunes took a bad turn and they fell to the bottom of the league.  They would not win another division title until 2011.  They have won every year since.  The four straight division titles gives them 7 division titles overall.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

2015 American League Central

***The Division Preview that follows is not betting advice in any way shape or form.  Please do not bet any money based in any part on these predictions.***

Don't forget to check out the National League EastNational League CentralNational League West and American League East previews and check back next week for the American League West.

Detroit Tigers
Who's New?: 
Xavier Avery, OF (Free Agent from Mariners)
Anthony Gose, OF (Trade from Blue Jays)
Yoenes Cespedes, OF (Trade from Red Sox)
Alfredo Simon, SP (Trade from Reds)
Shane Greene, SP (Trade from Yankees)
Alex Wilson, RP (Trade from Red Sox)
Alberto Cabrera, RP (Free Agent from Cubs)
Tom Gorzelany, RP (Free Agent from Tigers)

Who Left?:  
Eugenio Suarez, SS (Trade to Reds)
Danny Worth, SS (Free Agent to Diamondbacks)
Torii Hunter, OF (Free Agent to Twins)
Ezequiel Carrera, OF (Free Agent to Blue Jays)
Don Kelly, OF (Free Agent to Marlins)
Robbie Ray, SP (Trade to Diamondbacks)
Shane Greene, SP (Trade to Yankees)
Rick Porcello, SP (Trade to Red Sox)
Max Scherzer, SP (Free Agent to Nationals)
Jose Ortega, RP (Free Agent to Rockies)
Justin Miller, RP( Free Agent to Rockies)
Kevin Whelan, RP (Free Agent to A's)
Jim Johnson,RP (Free Agent to Braves)
Pat McCoy, RP (Waiver Claim by Orioles)
Jose Ortega, RP (Free Agent to Rockies)
Casey Crosby, RP (Free Agent to Red Sox)
Duane Below, RP (Free Agent to Mets)
Phil Coke, RP (Free Agent to Cubs)
Evan Reed, RP (Unsigned Free Agent)
Winter Headlines:
Victor Martinez gives Tigers an uncomfortable de ja vu.
Scherzer holds Detroit in limbo while the other pitchers land in other cities.
What to Expect?:
The Tigers are more vulnerable this year than they have been since 2008.  Verlander is still the ace of the staff and the identity of this team but injuries have kept him from matching his 2011 numbers.  David Price will be a nice replacement for Scherzer but not having Scherzer, Fister, Porcello or Smyley to fill in third in the rotation.  Anibal Sanchez is a strong pitcher when heathy but he missed a lot of time in 2014 to injury.  Add to that Cabrera and VMart starting the year with injuries and the division could be up for grabs.
Why Should You Root for These Guys?:
As we saw in the "Almost a Dynasty" article a few months ago, the Tigers have come close to winning it all and suffered some very painful near misses.  For players like Verlander and Cabrera it would be nice to see them hoist a trophy.
Why Might This Season Not Turn Out the Way Tigers Fans Want?:
Injuries, age and lack of depth.  Fortunately for the Tigers the division is not particularly strong so they may have another year at the top.  The bad news for the Tigers is that Chicago and Minnesota are improved and may push the Tigers.
Don't Expect Too Much From Him:
This could be most of the offense.  Cabrera and VMart are hurting.  Julio Iglesias is not an offensive threat and J.D. Martinez will suffer from not having the big bats in front of him.  The lack of offense could be the Tigers undoing.
Expect Great Things From:
My first thought when I heard that Cespedes was traded to Detroit was how sad it was that he would be hitting in such a big park.  Then I realized that he had been playing in the gigantic Coliseum in Oakland for the first few years of his career.  With the injuries to he rest of the big bats expect Cespedes to step up until they come back healthy.
Is This His Last Chance?:
Joakim Soria was at one time the closer and All Star representative for the Royals, routinely saving 30 plus games a year (twice surpassing 40).  His experience in Texas and Detroit last year was not a positive one and he is now slated for middle relief.  He needs to overtake Joe Nathan and regain his closing form or he may not get another opportunity.
Prediction: 1st in AL Central

Chicago White Sox
Who's New: 
Juan Diaz, SS (Free Agent from Marlins)
Adam LaRoche, 1B (Free Agent from Nationals)
George Kottaras, C (Free Agent from Blue Jays)
Emilio Bonifacio, IF (Free Agent from Braves)
Geovany Soto, C (Free Agent from Athletics)
Gordon Beckham, 2B (Free Agent from Angels)
J.B. Schuck, OF (Waiver Claim from Indians)
Tony Campana, OF (Free Agent from Angels)
Melky Cabrera, OF (Free Agent from Blue Jays)
Engel Beltre, OF (Free Agent from Rangers)
Andy La Roche, OF (Free Agent from Blue Jays)
Zach Duke, SP (Free Agent from Brewers)
Jeff Samardzjia, SP (Trade from Athletics)
Brad Penny, SP (Free Agent from Marlins)
Charlie Leesman, SP (Free Agent to Pirates)
Joe Savery, RP (Free Agent from A's)
Logan Kensing, RP (Free Agent from Mariners)
David Robertson, RP (Free Agent from White Sox)
Dan Jennings, RP (Trade from Marlins)
Jesse Crain, RP (Free Agent from Astros)
Matt Albers, RP (Free Agent from Astros)

Who Left: 
Paul Konerko, 1B (Retired)
Marcus Semien, IF (Trade to Athletics)
Josh Phegley, C (Trade to Athletics)
Chris Bassitt, C (Trade to Athletics)
Matt Tuiasasopo, OF (Free Agent to Orioles)
Jordan Danks, OF (Free Agent to Phillies)
Dayan Viciedo, OF (Free Agent to Blue Jays)
Chieng Ming Wang, SP (Free Agent to Braves)
Donnie Veal, SP (Free Agent to Braves)
Andre Rienzo, SP (Trade to Marlins)
Charlie Leesman, SP (Free Agent to Pirates)
Felipe Paulino, SP (Free Agent to Red Sox)
Scott Snodgress, RP (Free agent to Angels)
Daniel McCutcheon, RP (Free Agent to Padres)
Henry Alberto Rodriguez, RP (Free Agent from Diamondbacks)
Ronald Belisario, RP (Free Agent to Rays)
Matt Lindstrom, RP (Free Agent to Angels)
Winter Headlines:  
Big moves in the off season lead to raised expectations
What to Expect?:
The team is clearly improved and the fact that Detroit appears to have fallen back towards the pack has given many people in Chicago hopes of the post season.  In fact, at the beginning of the off season I myself had the feeling that the Sox were going to be a power to be reckoned with.  Yet after looking at their lineup from top to bottom I am not quite ready for them to overtake the top of the division just yet.
Why Should You Root for These Guys?:
This is a young (mostly) and exciting group.  If they continue to improve at the same time the cross town Cubs seem to be doing we may have a 1906 Windy City rematch in  few years.
Why Might This Season Not Turn Out the Way White Sox Fans Want?:
This team is greatly improved and is certainly looking to head in the right direction but there are still a few holes in this lineup such as Catcher, Second Base, Corner Outfielders and pitching depth.  The Sox will need some people to outperform expectations if they hope to make the post season as they are currently constructed.
Don't Expect Too Much From Him:
When the A's picked up Jeff Samardzija at the trade deadline last year some people handed them the AL title. In reality, Samardzija is a very good pitcher who is still learning but he has yet to pitch with a very strong team behind him for a full season.  In 2011 Samardzija went 8-4 for the Cubs.  Since then his season records are 9-13, 8-13 and 7-13.  It will be nice to see what he can do with a strong White Sox team behind him but don't expect a Cy Young.
Expect Great Things From:
The White Sox have a potential 1-2 punch that they hae not had since Frank Thomas and Robin Ventura came to town in the early 1990s.  Adam Eaton and Jose Abreu.  Eaton led the league with 10 triples last season and scored 76 runs.  Getting on base ahead of an improved White Sox top of the order could lead to nearly 100 runs for Eaton.  Jose Abreu had a monster year for a rookie (or for anyone) hitting .317 with 35 2B, 36 HR and 107 RBI.  Any success the Sox have will be directly tied to this pair.
Is This His Last Chance?:
In 2012 Melky Cabrera was on his way to an MVP award until he was suspended for steroids, then lied about it to his teammates, fans and the league.  He was forced into more service than expected because of Blue Jays injuries last season and had a strong year but the tainted 2012 season seems to continue following him around.  If his numbers fall off in a full season his usefulness to other clubs could be questioned.
Prediction: 2nd in AL Central

Kansas City Royals:
Who's New:  
Nessy Santiago, C (Trade from Blue Jays)
Kendrys Morales, 1B (Free Agent from Mariners)
J.C.Boscan, C (Free Agent from Dodgers)
Ryan Roberts, OF (Free Agent from Red Sox)
Alex Rios, OF (Free Agent from Rangers)
Alex Liddi, OF (Free Agent from Dodgers)
Brian Flynn, SP (Trade from Marlins)
Yohan Pino, SP (Free Agent from Twins)
Kris Medlen, SP (Free Agent from Braves)
Edinson Volquez, SP (Free Agent from Pirates)
Franklin Morales, SP(Free Agent from Rockies)
Chris Young, SP (Free Agent from Mariners)
Joe Paterson, RP (Free Agent from Diamondbacks)
Who Left:  
Billy Butler, DH/1B (Free Agent to A's)
Paul Janish, IF (Free Agent to Orioles)
Brett Hayes, C (Free Agent to Indians)
Jayson Nix, IF (Free Agent to Orioles)
Josh Willingham, OF (Retirement)
Nori Aoki, OF (Free Agent to Giants)
Justin Maxwell, OF (Free Agent to Giants)
Raul Ibanez, OF (Unsigned Free Agent)
Carlos Peguero, OF (Unsigned Free Agent)
James Shields, SP (Free Agent to Giants)
Bruce Chen, SP (Free Agent to Indians)
Pedro Ciriaco, RP (Free Agent to Braves)
Blake Wood, RP (Free Agent to Pirates)
Aaron Crow, RP (Trade toMarlins)
Liam Hendricks, RP (Trade to Blue Jays)
Scott Downs, RP (Free Agent to Indians)
Francisley Bueno, RP (Free Agent to Cubs)
Winter Headlines:  
How will they follow up the 2014 success?
What to Expect?:
The Royals surprised quite a few people last year.  Although I had expected them to push Detroit for the Central Division and reach the playoffs, the World Series run was definitely a surprise.  Although their lineup is mostly the same it is not improved.  A healthy Sal Perez should be a nice boost and the confidence of winning last year can't be underestimated but a return to the series is probably a lot to ask.
Why Should You Root for These Guys?:
These guys got so close last year and entertained everyone in the post season.  It is hard to root against this group and it would be nice to see them finish what they started.
Why Might This Season Not Turn Out the Way Royals Fans Want?:
Their ace, James Shields, left and was not replaced.  The pitching staff, despite their strong performance in October, is not at the same level as the competition.  Ventura is probably a future ace but Edinson Volquez and Kris Medlen are not a replacement for Shields.
Don't Expect Too Much From Him:
Jason Vargas out pitched some greatly talented competition in the playoffs but his career numbers don't hold up to last offseason.  He is currently listed as a number two starter in the KC rotation but don't expect his regular season numbers to reflect last year's post season success.
Expect Great Things From:
The Kansas City outfield group is absolutely amazing.  Watching the playoffs last year the defense turned nearly every extra base hit into an easy out.  Expect three gold gloves in the outfield this year.
Prediction: 3rd in AL Central

Minnesota Twins:
Who's New:  
Argenis Diaz, SS (Free Agent from Diamondbacks)
Torii Hunter, OF (Free Agent from Tigers)
Shane Robinson, OF (Free Agent from Cardinals)
Ervin Santana, SP (Free Agent from Braves)
Tim Stauffer, RP (Free Agent from Padres)
Brayan Villareal, RP (Free Agent from Red Sox)
Blaine Boyer, RP (Free Agent from Padres)
Who Left:  
Chris Colabello, 1B (Waiver Claim by Blue Jays)
Jason Kubel, OF (Unsigned Free Agent)
Chris Parmalee, OF (Free Agent to Orioles)
Yohan Pino, SP (Free Agent to Twins)
Matt Guerier, RP (Unsigned Free Agent)
Anthony Schwarzak, RP (Free Agent to Indians)
Jared Burton, RP (Free Agent to Yankees)
Winter Headlines: 
Hunter Comes Home
What to Expect?:
The Twins are greatly improved. Adding Torii Hunter, although nearing the end of his career, immediately improves any team.  Adding Ervin Santana to the rotation is also a big help.  Twins fans should expect improvement but a playoff run is a very very long shot.
Why Should You Root for These Guys?:
Joe Mauer and Torii Hunter are two of the classiest guys in the business and neither have won a World Series.  Winning a World Series is not a realistic hope for this team but it is always nice to dream about Torii Hunter lifting the trophy.
Why Might This Season Not Turn Out the Way Twins Fans Want?:
There is some great talent on this team at a range of stages in their career.  Hunter and Mauer are long time stars.  Kurt Suzuki is an under rated talent behind the plate and Trevor Plouffe is a rising star at third.  Still, there is not enough talent and too many holes to consider this a true contending team.
Don't Expect Too Much From Him:
Ervin Santana is a good pitcher who was a bit of a disappointment in his days in Anaheim.  He showed flashes of greatness but he was never able to give the Angels the counterpart to Jared Weaver that was expected when he came up.  Santana will greatly improve the team but he is not a miracle cure.
Expect Great Things From:
My advice to fans of baseball everywhere, not just those who go to Target Field, is to enjoy watching Torii Hunter and Joe Mauer for as long as you can.  Enjoy every base hit, every smile and every magnificent play they give you
Is This His Last Chance?:
Mike Pelfrey continues to plug away in a career that has now reached nearly a decade.  At 55-70 and 4.56 his career numbers don't match what was expected of him when he arrived on the scene in 2006.  Pelfrey is listed on the Twins depth chart as the sixth starter and will need to fight to stay in the rotation.
Prediction: 4th in AL Central

Cleveland Indians:

Who's New:  
Adam Moore, C (Waiver Claim from Padres)
Brandon Moss, 1B (Trade from Athletics)
Jerry Sands, IF/DH (Free Agent from Rays)
Brett Hayes, C (Free Agent from Royals)
Michael Martinez, IF (Free Agent from Pirates)
Gavin Floyd, SP (Free Agent from Braves)
Anthony Swarzak, SP (Free Agent from Twins)
Bruce Chen, SP (Free Agent from Royals)
Jeff Manship, RP (Free Agent from Philies)
Scott Downs, RP (Free Agent from Royals)
Michael Roth, RP (Free Agent from Angels)
Who Left: 
Chris Gimenez, C (Free Agent to Rangers)
Bryan La Hair, IF (Free Agent to Red Sox)
Elliott Johnson, IF (Free Agent to Rangers)
Jason Giambi, IF (Unsigned Free Agent)
J.B. Schuck, OF (Waiver Claim by White Sox)
Matt Carson, OF (Free Agent to Dodgers)
Chris Dickerson, OF (Free Agent to Blue Jays)
Nyjer Morgan, OF (Unsigned Free Agent)
Kyle Davies, SP (Free Agent to Yankees)
Scott Barnes, RP (Trade to Orioles)
Mark Lowe, RP (Free Agent to Mariners)
J.C. Ramirez, RP (Free Agent to Diamondbacks)
Matt Capps, RP (Free Agent to Braves)
Winter Headlines:  
After 2013 success Francona and crew take steps back.
What to Expect?:
With Kansas City and Detroit at the top and Minnesota and Chicago improved, Cleveland may fall o the bottom of the division.
Why Should You Root for These Guys?:
Cleveland has not won a World Series since 1948.  Since then each of their division competitors have won at least one.
Why Might This Season Not Turn Out the Way Indians Fans Want?:
The Indians have done very little to improve their fortunes while the two teams below them have worked hard this off season.  Despite some big expectations when Francona took over this season may be a big step back.
Don't Expect Too Much From Him:
Gavin Floyd has arrived in camp and has impressed the team with his progress.  With Corey Kluber having a break out year in 2014 it would be easy to predict the 1-2 punch Cleveland expected from Kluber and Masterson but realistically Floyd is probably not enough to give the Indians a boost in the standings.
Expect Great Things From:
Lonnie Chisenhall had a breakout season in 2014 with career highs in average, Home Runs, Doubles, RBI and runs.  Expect Chisenhall to continue his strong performance and possibly represent the Tribe at the All Star Game.
Prediction: 5th in AL Central

*-Please be aware that these predictions are based on the rosters as set in the middle of March.  There are still several key free agents unsigned which could alter these previews.  Also, injuries during spring training could alter my outlook.  Don't miss the A.L. East preview of last week.  Check back next week for the AL West Preview and continue following to see my final predictions at the start of the season.

The Orioles won the American League East in 2012 for the first time since 1997.  The Orioles actually won five of the first six AL East titles (1969, 1970, 1971, 1973 and 1974) only being knocked off by the Tigers in 1972.

They won the AL East two more times (1979 and 1983) before winning again in 1997 and 2014.

This brings the team's totals to 9.

Answer to Last Week's Trivia Question:
The Tigers have won four consecutive Division Titles in the Central.  Since the league went to a divisional format in 1969, how many division titles (AL East and AL Central combined) have the Tigers won?

Saturday, March 7, 2015

2015 American League East Preview

***The Division Preview that follows is not betting advice in any way shape or form.  Please do not bet any money based in any part on these predictions.***

Don't forget to check out the National League EastNational League Central and National League West previews and check back next week for the American League Central.

Toronto Blue Jays

Who's New?: 
Russell Martin, C (free agent from Pirates)
Justin Smoak, 1B (Waiver claim from Mariners)
Chris Colabello, 1B (Waiver Claim from Twins)
Daric Barton, 1B (Free Agent from Athletics)
Josh Donaldson, 3B (Trade from Athletics)
Ramon Santiago, IF (Free Agent from Reds)
Andy Dirks, OF (Free agent from Tigers)
Ezequiel Carrera, OF (Free Agent from Tigers)
Ryan Kalish, OF (Free Agent from Cubs)
Caleb Gindl, OF (Free Agent from Brewers)
Michael Saunders, OF (Trade from Mariners)
Chris Dickerson, OF (Free Agent from Indians).
Dayan Viciedo, OF (Free Agent from White Sox)
Marco Estradada, SP (Trade from Brewers)
Jeff Francis, SP (Free agent from Yankees)
Liam Hendricks, SP (Trade from Royals)
Johan Santana, SP (Free Agent from Blue Jays)
Wilton Lopez, RP (Free Agent from Rockies)
Preston Guilmet, RP (Waiver Claim from Pirates)
Scott Barnes, RP (From Rangers
Luis Perez, RP (Free Agent from Braves)
Matt West, RP (Waiver Claim from Rangers)
Greg Burke, RP (Free Agent from Rockies)
Who Left: 
Juan Francisco, 3B (Free Agent to Red Sox)
Adam Lind, 1B (Trade to Brewers)
Nessy Santiago, C (Trade to Royals)
Brett Lawrie, 3B (Trade to Athletics)
Dan Johnson, 1B (Free Agent to Astros)
George Kottaras, C (Free Agent to White Sox)
Brett Wallace, IF (Free Agent to Padres)
Andy LaRoche, IF (Free Agent to White Sox)
George Kottaras, C (Free Agent to White Sox)
Anthony Gose, OF (Trade to Tiger)
Cole Gilespie, OF (Free Agent to Marlins)
Dustin Mastroiani, OF (Free agent to Phillies)
Melky Cabrera, OF (Free Agent to White Sox)
John Mayberry, Jr, OF (Free Agent to Mets)
Colby Rasmus, OF (Free Agent to Astros)
Adron Chambers, OF (Free Agent to Cubs)
Brad Mills, SP (Free agent to A's)
Kendall Graveman, SP (Trade to Athletics)
Brandon Morrow, SP (Free Agent to Padres)
Sean Nolin, SP (Trade to Athletics)
J.A. Happ, SP (Trade to Mariners)
Radhames Liz, SP (Free Agent to Pirates)
Cassey Jansen, RP (Free Agent to Nationals)
Dustin McGowan, RP (Free Agent to Dodgers)
Sergio Santos, RP (Free Agent to Dodgers)
Raul Valdes, RP (Unsigned Free Agent)
What to Expect?:
I feel as though I have been saying this for the last four years but the Jays could be on the verge of something special.  In 2013 they looked like they were going all in when they picked up R.A. Dickey, Mark Buehrle and Jose Reyes.  It didn't work out because it may have been to much change at once.  To their credit they stuck with it and started to see results last year. A sustained winning streak had them in the playoff race late into the season.  They have added Josh Donaldson, Russell Martin, Justin Smoak and Michael Saunders to the talent pool and this could be the tipping point. The lineup has a nice combination of speed (Izturis, Reyes and rookie Dalton Pompey) and power (Bautista, Encarnacion, Martin and Donaldson).
Why Should You Root for These Guys?:
Toronto has been putting everything they can into rebuilding this team.  They have shown that they are dedicated to this process and it would be nice to see them get the results they had been working towards
Why Might This Season Not Turn Out the Way Blue Jays Fans Want?:
For the same reason that it didn't work out the last two years.  Buehrle, Bautista and Reyes are injury prone and Justin Smoak is a big question mark.  Smoak could benefit from a change of scenery and reduced expectations or he could prove that his time in Seattle was the real Justin Smoak.
Don't Expect Too Much From Him:
R.A. Dickey had a Cy Young season with the Mets in 2012 but his two seasons in Toronto have been less than spectacular.  Expect him to eat innings, 200+, and to win about 15 but don't expect another Cy Young.
Expect Great Things From:
Russell Martin was the Dodgers' Catcher of the future until a serious hip injury led them to take a chance with A.J. Ellis as their new Catcher of the future.  Since then (with the exception of a few off years here and there with the Yankees) Martin has proven that he is a great Catcher.  Expect him to give the pitching staff the attitude it needs to win.
Is This His Last Chance?:
Justin Smoak was sent from the Rangers to the Mariners as part of the Cliff Lee deal  in 2010 and was immediately pointed to as the future of the franchise.  He failed to live up to those expectations.  A change of scenery and a reduced sense of expectations may be exactly what Smoak needs to succeed.
Prediction: 1st Place

Boston Red Sox
Who's New:  
Pablo Sandoval, 3B (Free Agent from Giants)
Hanley Ramirez, SS (Free Agent from Dodgers)
Juan Francisco, 3B (Waiver Claim from Blue Jays)
Ryan Hannigan, C (Trade from Padres)
Luke Montz, UT (Free Agent from Athletics)
Jeff Bianchi, IF (Free Agent From Brewers)
Humberto Quintero, C (Free Agent from Mariners)
Bryan LaHair, 1B (Free Agent from Indians)
Quintin Berry, OF (Free Agent from Orioles)
Justin Masterson (SP, Free Agent from Cardinals),
Rick Porcello, SP (Trade from Tigers)
Wade Miley, SP (Trade from Diamondbacks)
Casey Crosby, SP (Free Agent from Tigers)
Dana Eveland, SP (Free Agent from Mets)
Felipe Paulino, SP (Free Agent from White Sox)
Robbie Ross, JR (Trade from Rangers)
Anthony Varvaro, RP (Trade from Braves)
Zeke Spurill, RP (Trade from Padres)
Mitchell Boggs, RP (Free Agent from Giants)
Craig Breslow, RP (Free Agent from Mets)
Alexi Ogundo, RP (Free Agent frm Rangers)
Jess Todd, RP (Free Agent from Diamondbacks)
Who Left:  
Ryan Roberts, 3B (free agent to Royals)
Carlos Rivera, IF (Free agent to Mariners)
Ivan DeJesus, IF (Free Agent to Reds)
Ryan Lavarnway, C (Waiver Claim by  Dodgers)
Johnathan Herrera, IF (Free Agent to Cubs)
David Ross, C (Free Agent to CUbs)
Wil Middlebrooks, 3B (Trade to Padres)
Juan Francisco, IF (Free Agent to Rays)
Dan Butler, C (Trade to Nationals)
Corey Brown, OF (Free Agent to Rays)
Yoenis Cespedes, OF (Trade to Tigers)
Allen Webster, SP (Traded to Diamondbacks)
Anthony Ranaudo, SP (Trade to Rangers)
Ryan Verdugo, RP (Free Agent to A's)
John Ely, RP (Free Agent to Brewers)
Alex Wilson, RP (Trade to Tigers)
Ruby De La Rosa, RP (Trade to Diamondbacks)
Brayan Villareal, RP (Free agent to Twins)
Burke Badenhop, RP (Free Agent to Reds)
Winter Headlines:
Sox make big moves to get back on top of weakening AL East.
What to Expect?:
This division is suddenly very weak.  What was once the terror of the Major Leagues is now full of average or below average teams.  With that in mind, the Red Sox have improved themselves  greatly and will likely be most experts picks to win the division.
Why Might This Season Not Turn Out the Way Red Sox Fans Want?:
Although the team has done quite a bit to improve themselves there are still quite a few questions. Age is starting to catch up with Victorino and Ortiz.  Rusney Castillo is a big question mark in center field and having Hanley Ramirez play the Green Monster in Left Field could be an adventure.
Don't Expect Too Much From Him:
Rich Porcello had a great rookie season in 2009. Since then he seems to have alternating spectacular and poor or average seasons. The Tigers relied on Porcello quite a bit last season but he is really more of a fourth or fifth starter.  The Sox depth chart currently show Porcello projected as the second starter behind Bucholtz.  Don't expect Porcello to replace John Lester's numbers.
Expect Great Things From:
Dustin Pedroia had a slow year in 2014 but is coming back healthy for 2015.  Although David Ortiz is generally considered the leader of the team, it is Pedroia who truly get them moving.
Is This His Last Chance?:
David Ortiz will turn 40 about a month after the 2015 season ends.  With a highly paid Hanley Ramirez playing out of position in Right Field and a highly paid but less than Gold Glove fielding Pablo Sandoval playing third, the team may be forced to move Sandoval to DH, limiting Big Papi's At Bats.
Prediction: 2nd place. Wild Card

Baltimore Orioles
Who's New:
Paul Janish, IF (Free Agent from Royals)
J.P. Arincibia, C (Free Agent from Rangers)
Everth Cabrera, SS (Free Agent from Padres)
Matt Tuiasasopo, IF/OF (Free Agent from White Sox)
Chris Parmalee, OF (Free Agent from Twins)
Nolan Reimold, OF (Free Agent rom Diamondbacks)
Jayson Nix, OF (Free Agent from Royals)
Pat McCoy, RP (Waiver Claim from Tigers)
Scott Barnes, RP (Trade from Indians)
Pat McCoy, RP (Waiver claim from Tigers)
Wesley Wright, RP (Free Agent from Cubs)
Chaz Roe, RP (Free Agent from Pirates)
Dane De La Rosa, RP (Free Agent from Angels)
Cesar Cabral, RP (Free Agent from Yankees)
Pedro Beato, RP (Free Agent from Braves)
Who Left: 
Cord Phelps, IF (Free Agent to Phillies)
Numan Romero, IF (Free Agent to Athletics)
Nick Hundley, C (Free Agent to Rockies)
Kelly Johnson, IF (Free Agent to Braves)
David Adams, IF (Free Agent to Marlins)
Niuman Romero, IF (Free Agent to Athletics)
Alexi Casillia, SS (Free Agent to Rays)
Steve Lombardozzi, 2B (Trade to Pirates)
Nick Markakis, OF (Free Agent to Braves)
Nelson Cruz, OF (Free Agent to Mariners)
Quintin Berry, OF (Free Agent to Red Sox)
Johan Santana, SP (Free Agent to Bue Jays
Joe Saunders, SP (Free Agent to Mariners)
Anthony Vasquez, SP (Free Agent to Phillies)
Josh Stinson, RP (Free Agent to Pirates)
Andrew Miller, RP (Free Agent to Yankees)
Julio DePaula, RP (Free Agent to Diamondbacks)
Robert Coello, RP (Free Agent to Giants)
Evan Meek, RP (Free Agent to Nationals)
Ramon Ramirez, RP (Unsigned Free Agent)
Winter Headlines:  
Machado, Wieters and Davis want to make up for missing the ALCS.
What to Expect?: 
The Orioles nearly reached the World Series last season with no real ace and without their starting First Baseman, Third Baseman and Catcher.  With a weak division the Orioles are looking to continue their success under Buck Showalter.
Why Should You Root for These Guys?:
Baltimore is a great baseball city and the fans there have been starved for success for decades.  It  would be great for the loyal O's fans to get enjoy what has not been seen in Baltimore in over 30 years.
Why Might This Season Not Turn Out the Way Orioles Fans Want?:
Pitching.  Plain and simple. Showalter is somehow able to get the most out of his players but there is not a true ace on this staff.  There are a few arms, including Dylan Bundy, in the minors that the team could need if they are going to improve on last year.
Don't Expect Too Much From Him:
Matt Wieters is a tremendously talented Catcher and Buck Showalter trusts him implicitly behind the plate.  What he cold have done to help this team last post season is something we can never know.  Expect Wieters to contribute to any success thisteam has but give him time to regain his form.
Expect Great Things From:
The Orioles hit close to rock bottom in 2007.  The one bright spot of the year was Erik Bedard. At   13-5 he was the future of the O's franchise.  When Bedard was shipped to Seattle in the offseason Orioles fans shook their head in confusion.  What they got in return were George Sherill (an Orioles All Star Representative), Chris Tillman (their current "ace") and Adam Jones.  Jones is now the leader and future of this franchise.  Some day he may be enshrined with the likes of Palmer, Murray, Ripken and the Robinsons.
Is This His Last Chance?:
Ubaldo Jimenez was a big 2014 free agent signing for the O's but the results were less than impressive.  After a very near Cy Young year with the Rockies in 2010, Jimenez's performance has steadily declined.  If he fails to perform again this year he could be out of chances.
Prediction: 3rd Place.  Wild Card

New York Yankees
Who's New: 
Didi Gregorious, SS (Trade from Diamondbacks)
Garrett Jones, 1B (Trade from Marlins)
Cole Figueroa, 2B (Free Agent from Rays)
Nick Noonan, IF (Free Agent from Giants)
Chris Young, OF (Free Agent from Mets)
Nathan Eovaldi, SP (Trade from Marlins)
Scott Baker, SP (Free Agent from Rangers)
Kyle Davies, SP (Free Agent from Indians)
Justin Wilson, RP (Trade from Pirates)
Andrew Miller, RP (Free Agent from Orioles)
David Carpenter, RP (Trade from Braves)
Johnny Barbato, RP (Trade from Padres)
Chasen Shreve, RP (Trade from Braves)
Jared Burton, RP (Free Agent from Twins)
Chris Martin, RP (Trade from Rockies)
Who Left:
Francisco Cervelli, C. (Trade to Pirates)
Derek Jeter, SS (Retired)
Brian Roberts, 2B (Retired)
Martin Prado, 3B (Trade to Marlins)
Zelous Wheeler, 3B (Unsigned Free Agent)
Zolio Almonte, OF (Free agent to Braves)
Alfonso Soriano, OF (retired)
Antoan Richardson, OF (Free Agent to Rangers)
Scott Sizemore, OF(Free Agent to Marlins)
Ichiro Suzuki, OF (Free Agent to Marlins)
Eury Perez, OF (Waiver Claim by Braves)
Shane Green, SP (Trade to Tigers)
David Phelps, SP (Trade to Marlins)
Brandon McCarthy, SP (Free Agent to Dodgers)
David Huff, SP (Free Agent to Dodgers)
Hiroki Kuroda, SP (Unsigned Free Agent)
,Jeff Francis, RP (Free Agent to Blue Jays)
David Robertson, RP (Free Agent to White Sox)
Shawn Kelly, RP (Traded to Padres)
Josh Outman, RP (Free Agent to Braves)
Cesar Cabral, RP (Free Agent to Orioles)
David Robertson, RP (Free Agent to White Sox)
Chris LeRoux, RP (Free Agent to Brewers)
David Herndon, RP (Free Agent to Brewers)
Rich Hill, RP (Free Agent to Nationals)
Alfredo Aceves, RP (Unsigned Free Agent)
Matt Daley, RP (Unsigned Free Agent)
Jim Miller, RP (Unsigned Free Agent)
Heath Bell, RP (Free Agent to Natonals)
Preston Claiborne, RP (Waiver Claim by Marlins)
Winter Headlines:  
Jeter is gone, A-Rod is back.
Yankees to retire three more numbers of Pettite, Williams and Posada.  At what point will they go to triple digits?
What to Expect?:
This is not a very strong division which will play to the Yankees' advantage.  They do have some talent but they also have no proven leader and a lot of aging, injury prone players struggling to stay on the field.  This season could be the tipping point between another playoff run or the start of a 1980s era drought.
Why Should You Root for These Guys?: 
There are several players on this team that have played for years and, although coming close,  have never won a World Series.  For players like Brian McCann, Carlos Beltran, Garret Jones and  Chris Capuano it would be a nice touch to already successful careers.
Why Might This Season Not Turn Out the Way Yankees Fans Want?:
In the Yankees' universe the only successful season is a World Series.  This team, with age, injuries, and lack of leadership will fall far short of that goal.  They could surprise some and win a Wild Card spot but it would take a lot of things falling their way to advance in the playoffs.
Don't Expect Too Much From Him:
Alex Rodriguez has been away from the game for more than a year and was very concerned with a degenerative hip issue in his last season.  Alex is chasing 700 Home Runs for his career but would likely need at least three more years to do so.
Is this his last chance?:
Mark Teixiera is signed through the end of 2016 but his production numbers have been on  a consistent decline over the last few years.  With his career winding down Tex may not have mayny more opportunities to win it all.
Prediction: 4th Place

Tampa Bay Rays
Who's New: 
Bobby Wilson, C (Free Agent from Diamondbacks)
Renee Rivera, C (Trade from Padres)
Eugenio Velez, UT (Free Agent from Brewers)
Asdrubal Cabrera, SS (Free Agent from Nationals)
Alexi Casillia, SS (Free Agent from Orioles)
Juan Francisco, IF (Free Agent from Red Sox)
Jake Elmore, IF (Free Agent from Reds)
John Jaso, C (Trade from Athletics)
Corey Brown, OF (Free Agent from Red Sox)
Steven Souza, OF (Trade from Nationals)
Michael Kohn, RP (free agent from Angels)
Ernesto Frieri, RP (Free agent from Pirates)
Kevin Jepsen, RP (Trade from Angels)
Jose Dominguez, RP (Trade from Dodgers)
Jhan Marinez, RP (Free Agent from Dodgers)
Ronald Bellisario, RP (Free Agent from White Sox)
Who Left:
Cole Figueroa, 2B (Free Agent to Yankees)
Jerry Sands, IF/DH (Free Agent to Indians)
Ali Solis, C (Free Agent to Dodgers)
Jose Molina, C (Unsigned Free Agent)
Ben Zobrist, IF (Trade to Athletics)
Yunel Escobar, Ss (Trade to Athletics)
Wil Myers, OF (Trade to Padres)
Matt Joyce, OF (Trade to Angels)
Jeremy Hellickson, SP (Trade to Diamondbacks)
Erik Bedard, SP (Free Agent to Dodgers)
Cesar Ramos, RP (Trade to Angels)
Joel Peralta, RP (Trade to Dodgers)
Michael Kohn, RP (Free Agent to Braves)
Josh Lueke, RP (Unsigned Free Agents)
Juan Carlos Oviedo, RP (Free Agent to Rangers)
Winter Headlines:  
Loss of Maddon could be biggest loss in Rays short history.
What to Expect?:
Rays fans should expect a return to the pre-2008 days.  With the exception of Longoria and Desmond Jennings, the Rays have little proven talent on the team.  They are in a clear rebuilding mode and may have a long climb back to the top.  Working to their benefit is the mediocrity of the other teams in this division.
Why Should You Root for These Guys?:
With a small budget and heading into a rebuild the Rays are clear Cinderella Story material.
Why Might This Season Not Turn Out the Way Rays Fans Want?:
This team is heading into a rebuilding.  It is likely that the Rays will be on the down trend for the next few years.
Don't Expect Too Much From Him:
Drew Smyly was the big piece in the David Price deal and the Tigers thought very highly of him.  He will be a very good starter but the lack of support behind him will likely limit his success.
Expect Great Things From:
Evan Longoria is a special player.  Regardless of the won-loss record expect Longoria to represent the team with class and probably in the All Star Game as well.
Is This His Last Chance?:
James Loney came up to the Dodgers with high expectations but his lack of power production led to an exit from Los Angeles.  He has had a few moderately successful  seasons in Tampa Bay but with the Rays in rebuilding mode Loney may not have many opportunities to prove he is part of their future.
Prediction: 5th Place

*-Please be aware that these predictions are based on the rosters as set in the beginning of March.  There are still several key free agents unsigned which could alter these previews.  Also, injuries during spring training could alter my outlook.  Check back next week for the AL Central Preview and continue following to see my final predictions at the start of the season.

The Orioles won the AL East in 2014 for the first time since 1997.  Including these two division titles, dating back to the start of division play in 1969, how many times has Baltimore won the East?

Answer to Last Week's Question:
The National League Central has had a player lead the league in RBI 7 times:
Jeff Bagwell (1994)
Sammy Sosa (1998)
Mark McGwire (1999)
Sammy Sosa (2001)
Lance Berkman (2002)
Prince Fielder (2009)
Albert Pujols (2010)