Spring has sprung, the grass has riz, wonder who the best team in baseball is. It is that time of year again as the 2014 Major League Baseball Season begins in earnest Sunday night when the Los Angeles Dodgers take on the San Diego Padres, and every team still has a chance. The Dodgers and Yankees lead MLB in salaries, the Marlins realize that even if you have good pitching the fans want to see a few balls fly out of the brand new park, the Phillies are old and the A’s are the best big league team with a little league ball park. As of Sunday, the Cubs are undefeated.
Here’s the birds-eye lowdown on the 2014 MLB season:
NL East: 1. Washington Nationals, 2. Atlanta Braves, 3. Philadelphia Phillies, 4. Miami Marlins, 5. New York Mets
The rest of MLB wishes they had the rotation of the Nationals. They were the best even before the acquisition of Doug Fister from the Tigers. The Braves are as solid as ever and will be there at the end. The Phillies two best pitchers may or may not hold up. The Marlins will be better than the Mets.
NL Central: 1. Cincinnati Reds, 2. St. Louis Cardinals, 3. Milwaukee Brewers, 4. Pittsburgh Pirates, 5. Chicago Cubs
The Reds won 90 games last year and fired Dusty Baker. I like Joey Votto to rebound after a down year, and rookie Billy Hamilton could make the fans forget Shin-Soo Choo. The Cardinals will miss Beltran and Freese, especially if they make the playoffs. The Brewers are not bad, but not good enough to overtake the Reds and Cards. Remember Clint Hurdle managing the Rockies to big things then fizzling out? He took the Pirates to new heights last year. Jeff Samardzija is the ace of the Cubs pitching staff. Enough said.
NL West: 1. Los Angeles Dodgers, 2. Arizona Diamondbacks, 3. Colorado Rockies, 4. San Francisco Giants, 5. San Diego Padres
The Dodgers look dominant on paper, and paper is the only medium to use before the season. It is a close call between L.A. and Washington for the best rotation in the Bigs. The Diamondbacks added Bronson Arroyo to help their pitching staff and Mark Trumbo to help their offense—and they were pretty good last year. If some new acquisitions for the Rockies pan out, believe it or not, they will be contenders. The Giants’ pitchers are living on their reputations and reputations do not get wins. The Padres seem to already be going through the motions and the season hasn’t even started yet.
AL East: 1. New York Yankees, 2. Boston Red Sox, 3. Tampa Bay Rays, 4. Baltimore Orioles, 5. Toronto Blue Jays
The only question for the Yanks, and it is a big question, is replacing Mariano Rivera. They might build big enough leads, often enough, that it will not matter. The Red Sox pitchers need to perform up to expectations and they will be right there. The only thing wrong with Tampa Bay is that they are in the same division with the Yanks and BoSox. Somebody give Buck Showalter some pitching in Baltimore, please, and tell the Blue Jays that you don’t build a pitching rotation on a knuckle-baller.
AL Central: 1. Detroit Tigers, 2. Kansas City Royals, 3. Cleveland Indians, 4. Chicago White Sox, 5. Minnesota Twins
Detroit gave Miguel Cabrera $292 million. There go his MVP numbers. Still, is there anyone in the AL Central who will challenge the Tigers? If the Royals pitching rotation can overcome the loss of Irvin Santana, the offense is good enough to challenge for a wild-card spot. The Indians have a lot of “ifs” in their pitching rotation, but any team with a player named Carlos Santana has a great chance of winning through “Evil Ways.” “Oye Coma Va” amigos. The White Sox lost 99 games last year and it doesn’t look like they did much in the off-season to remedy that. The Twins addressed their pitching woes in the off-season, but their only new bat in a poor offense from last year is Kurt Suzuki.
AL West: 1. Los Angeles Angels, 2. Oakland Athletics, 3. Texas Rangers, 4. Seattle Mariners, 5. Houston Astros
Add Raul Ibanez and David Freese to the names Trout, Pujols, Hamilton, Weaver and C.J. Wilson and yes, this is finally the Angels year. If the A’s conjure up some more great young pitching arms they can challenge. Over the winter the Rangers picked up Prince Fielder and Shin-Soo Choo, but that did not seem to equal the players they lost. The Mariners have Robbie Cano, but the health of their starting rotation is in question. The Astros continue to build through youth and, well, maybe next year.
The American League will defeat the National League in the All-Star game, and the Angels will get the home-field advantage in the World Series. For that reason, the Angels defeat the Washington Nationals for the MLB title in 2014.
NL MVP: Joey Votto
AL MVP: Mike Trout
NL Cy Young Award: Doug Fister
AL Cy Young Award: Masahiro Tanaka
Commentary by Chuck Podhaisky
Guardian Liberty Voice Sports Writer covering the Colorado Rockies