I’m very excited for the 2012 Major League Baseball season. I think this year is going to be wide open and I don’t think having the highest payrolls will make teams winners in 2012 in the end. Here is how I see the 2012 season unfolding:
American League East
1. New York Yankees - The Yankees might have a couple of guys (Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez) slowing down due to age and injuries, but they also have Robinson Cano and Curtis Granderson to pick up the pace. The deal for Michael Pineda and the signing of Hiroki Kuroda will make the Yankees the A.L. East Champ in 2012.
2. Tampa Bay Rays - The Rays added a lot of power in bringing in DH Luke Scott and 1B Carlos Pena. They have the best starting rotation in the A.L. East and that is going to help them win a Wild Card in the American League this year.
3. Boston Red Sox - The Red Sox have huge question marks at the back end of the starting rotation, while the Yankees and Rays have no such worries. The Red Sox still have a potent lineup, but they are going to be watching the playoffs on T.V. once again in 2012.
4. Toronto Blue Jays - The Blue Jays can hit with any team in the A.L. East, but they can’t match arms with the Rays, Yankees and Red Sox. Because of that, I see the Jays finishing a couple of games over .500 in 2012.
5. Baltimore Orioles - The Orioles are going to take a lot of beatings this year because of a lack of starting pitching. They will still be fun to watch, because they can hit….but they will definitely be the last place team in the A.L. East in 2012.
American League Central
1. Detroit Tigers - No team in the Central will be within 10 games of the Tigers after July. They are that good. Adding Prince Fielder to the offense and Octavio Dotel to the bullpen make them a very serious contender to win the World Series in 2012.
2. Cleveland Indians - The Indians are a team on the rise as they have a lot of young talent coming together at the same time. They will have a decent starting rotation and an excellent bullpen in 2012.
3. Kansas City Royals - The Royals are going to hit the heck out of the baseball in 2012. But, unless they get better starting pitching….they are still going to lose more games than they win.
4. Chicago White Sox - The White Sox are starting to rebuild, but they still have a solid starting rotation. They could be a surprise team this year if Adam Dunn and Alex Rios get back to the players they were not so long ago. But, I’m not betting on that happening.
5. Minnesota Twins - The Twins have been winning with smoke and mirrors the last few years. Last year was a disaster though and I don’t see them being much better in 2012.
American League West
1. Los Angeles Angels - The Angels added Albert Pujols and Chris Iannetta to the offense over the winter. It’s also looking like Kendry Morales will be ready to return in 2012, which will amp the offense up even more. Adding C.J. Wilson to the starting rotation makes the Angels four deep with outstanding starters.
2. Texas Rangers - The Rangers spent a lot of cash on Japanese import Yu Darvish and they are moving Neftali Feliz into the starting rotation with Joe Nathan taking over his role as the closer. I see the Rangers making the Wild Card playoff game in 2012.
3. Seattle Mariners - The Mariners can’t hit, but they play defense and they can pitch. The Mariners brought in DH/C Jesus Montero to help try to revive the offense. I like the Mariners to nip the A’s for 3rd place in the A.L. West.
4. Oakland Athletics - The A’s totally blew up the pitching staff over the winter and it’s going to hurt the team. They have a lot of talented young pitchers in return in the trades they made, but it’s going to take some time for them to develop. I think the A’s are in for a very, very long year in 2012.
American League Playoffs
Wild Card Game:
Tampa Bay Rays over the Texas Rangers
American League Division Series:
Detroit Tigers over the New York Yankees in six games
Los Angeles Angels over the Tampa Bay Rays in seven games
American League Championship Series:
Los Angeles Angels over the Detroit Tigers in seven games
National League East
1. Philadelphia Phillies - The Phillies just have too much pitching to not win this division. They will miss Ryan Howard (out at least the first month and a half), but they should still score enough runs to win their fair share of games.
2. Miami Marlins - The Marlins spent big over the winter to bring in Mark Buehrle, Jose Reyes and Heath Bell over the winter, but, the keys to me are how well Logan Morrison and Hanley Ramirez play in 2012. I think the Marlins are going to get into the Wild Card game in 2012.
3. Washington Nationals - The Nationals added Gio Gonzalez and Edwin Jackson to the starting rotation for the 2012 season and those were outstanding moves. But, they aren’t going to win a lot of games in 2012 unless Jayson Werth and Adam LaRoche rebound from off years in 2011.
4. Atlanta Braves - The Braves are going to be without Tim Hudson for the first month of the year and Chipper Jones is already gimpy. Unless Martin Prado and Jason Heyward rebound from off-years in 2011, the Braves are going to slide in the standings in 2012.
5. New York Mets - The Mets were lousy last year and they made no impact moves over the winter. I can’t see any way that they finish ahead of anyone in the N.L. East.
National League Central
1. Cincinnati Reds - The Reds just lost their closer (Ryan Madson) to Tommy John Surgery, but I still like their pitching staff a lot heading into 2012. I look for some of the younger Reds (Drew Stubbs, Zack Cozart, Devin Mesoraco and Jay Bruce) to really step up in 2012 and get them back to the playoffs.
2. Milwaukee Brewers - The Brewers lose Prince Fielder (he signed with the Tigers) over the winter, but, they still have an outstanding pitching staff. They also added Aramis Ramirez and Alex Gonzalez to the infield and they will give them some thump in the batting order. I see the Brewers just missing the Wild Card in 2012.
3. St. Louis Cardinals - The Cardinals get Adam Wainwright back this year but they have already lost Chris Carpenter for a while. The big loss is Albert Pujols though, as he signed with the Angels over the winter. They signed Carlos Beltran to help replace Pujols’ bat. The Cardinals need Beltran and Lance Berkman to stay healthy in 2012, while having David Freese, Allen Craig and Jon Jay to step up if they are going to make a playoff run in 2012.
4. Chicago Cubs - The Cubs will likely have a decent starting rotation in 2012, but they are rebuilding right now. I think they have a decent enough lineup to keep them above the Pirates & Astros in the standings this year.
5. Pittsburgh Pirates - The Pirates have a rock solid starting rotation. The question for them is, are they going to score enough runs in 2012 to not waste the decent pitching they are likely to get in 2012. I see another sub par year in 2012.
6. Houston Astros - The Astros are in a complete rebuilding project and it will likely mean a lot of losing. I can’t see the Astros finishing above anyone in the A.L. Central in 2012.
National League West
1. Arizona Diamondbacks - The Diamondbacks are loaded pitching wise for the 2012 season. They are also armed with an improving offense, so I like them to win the N.L. West in 2012.
2. San Francisco Giants - The Giants are hoping that Brandon Belt, Aubrey Huff and Buster Posey all have big seasons offensively in 2012. The pitching staff is going to get the Giants back to the playoffs as one of the Wild Card teams.
3. Colorado Rockies - The Rockies are likely going to have an improved starting rotation in 2012. Questions abound about the bullpen though as it doesn’t appear too deep. I think the Rockies are going to finish over .500 in 2012, but miss the playoffs.
4. Los Angeles Dodgers - The Dodgers didn’t add enough thump in the batting order over the winter. They are going to waste a lot of excellent starting pitching as they go five deep with quality arms.
5. San Diego Padres - The Padres are getting hit hard with injuries already with Carlos Quentin and Kyle Blanks likely starting the 2012 season on the D.L. I see them having a hard time scoring enough runs to support their solid pitching staff in 2012.
National League Wild Card:
Miami Marlins over the San Francisco Giants
National League Division Series:
Philadelphia Phillies over the Miami Marlins in six games
Arizona Diamondbacks over the Cincinnati Reds in six games
National League Division Series:
Arizona Diamondbacks over the Philadelphia Phillies in seven games
THE WORLD SERIES:
Los Angeles Angels over the Arizona Diamondbacks in 7 games!