BASEBALL WILL GIVE US WARMTH
January 27, 2014INDIANA SPORTS PAGE
BASEBALL WILL GIVE US WARMTH
The temperature in the Midwest in the next few days will be less than balmy. In fact, the wind chill in many areas will be a minus 40. For those of you who live in warm areas of the country or the world, we here (Indiana) consider that pretty darn cold. So to try and make things warmer in my mind, I thought about an early baseball preview…..first the American League and then the National League, when I am frozen in around Wednesday.
Let’s start our predictions in the AL East.
- BOSTON: Yes, the Yankees signed Masahiro Tamaka and former Red Sox OF Jacoby Ellsbury but Boston still has plenty of talent to win the division. The Red Sox will have an influx of young talent including Xander Bogaerts and Jackie Bradley that will make them as good as last season of not better.
- BALTIMORE: The Orioles lost a number of key players from last years’ squad and there are question marks about their starting pitching but Chris Davis and Adam Jones will provide enough pop to keep the O’s in contention.
- TAMPA BAY: Pitching will be the key for the Rays in 2014. The offense will be average unless Wil Myers progresses more in 2014. Desmond Jennings has to become the player the Rays thought he would if they plan on challenging for a playoff spot.
- NEW YORK: No Robinson Cano and no A-Rod. What will New Yorkers do? How about preparing for a below average season at Yankee Stadium! Yes, they signed Tanaka, but they still lack starting pitching and the offense will struggle without Cano.
- TORONTO: What happened to the Jays in 2013? So many expectations and such a disappointment. The starting pitching is horrible and they must avoid injuries or we will see the Jays struggle again in 2014.
- DETROIT: This is the safe pick simply because the pitching will be excellent again in 2014. Plus the Tigers didn’t hesitate to get rid of Prince Fielder and Jhonny Peralta to become more athletic. Brad Ausmus will inherit a very good baseball team.
- CLEVELAND: The Indians made huge strides under Manager Terry Francona in 2013. The Indians won 92 games and made the playoffs even though most experts predicted the Indians to be a last place team. Their pitching may not be as strong in 2014 without Kazmir and Jimenez but there are some good young arms ready to step in.
- KANSAS CITY: The Royals are making strides but it has been slow. The pitching is ready to make another statement in 2014 after posting the lowest ERA in the AL in 2013. Don’t be surprised if the Royals do what Cleveland did last season.
- CHICAGO: You have to like what the SOX did in the off season with the hitting by adding Adam Eaton, Jose Abreu and Matt Davison but the pitching is weak. The Sox will be better than Minnesota if that’s any consolation?
- MINNESOTA: What has happened in Minnesota? One reason for their demise is pitching. They gave up 668 runs last season. They will count on Phil Hughes and Ricky Nolasco to keep them afloat until younger talent is ready. In the meantime, Minnesota fans will have to suffer for another summer.
- TEXAS: The Rangers’ offense struggled in 2013 so management decided to spend some money on free agents Shin-Soo Choo (Cincinnati) and Price Fielder (Detroit) to try and get things rolling again in Arlington. The pitching staff will be lead by Yu Darvish and that will make the Rangers a strong contender in the American League.
- SEATTLE. Seattle fans love the Seahawks and may fall in love with the Mariners again now that they spent money on former Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano. The problem with the Mariners is pitching. It is weak behind Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma. It will take a great effort to outplay the Rangers and A’s in the AL West.
- OAKLAND: Starting pitching won 72 games in 2013. Can they repeat that performance in 2014? There’s no reason to believe they can’t. The A’s are perhaps the most underrated franchise in baseball. Everyone counts them out as a fluke and yet they won’t go away. Don’t be surprised if the A’s win the division.
- LOS ANGELES: The Angels spent like drunken sailors over the last few seasons and what do they have to show for it? A lot of payroll. Josh Hamilton has been inconsistent and Albert Pujols is on the downside of his career. Mike Trout is about the only thing to cheer for!
- HOUSTON: The Astros have a long way to go to be a competitive baseball team. In 2013, Houston was 60 games under .500. There is young talent in the organization, but it is going to be a while before it reaches Houston.
Next time, a look at the National League.