MLB Season Preview
The snow is starting to melt and winter is slowly turning into spring. This is a beautiful sight for sports fans because that means baseball season is right around the corner. All 30 teams will have a clean slate and anticipation is at its highest. That being said, here is the outlook for every team’s 2015 season.
The Orioles appear headed for a decline this season after losing two star outfielders, Nick Markakis and Nelson Cruz. The offensive production loss coupled with an average starting rotation likely means Baltimore will miss the playoffs.
Toronto Blue Jays
The Blue Jays made some big offseason signings and trades, notably the Russell Martin and Josh Donaldson additions. But with starting pitcher Marcus Stroman out for the season, Toronto will have to add a quality starter or face another season watching the playoffs from home.
New York Yankees
Much of the Yankees’ offseason revolved around the return of Alex Rodriguez but the team made some solid acquisitions and got younger in the process. They will need to stay healthy to compete however they also seem likely to miss the playoffs, their first season without future, first ballot Hall of Famer Derek Jeter.
Tampa Bay Rays
The 2015 Rays are without two of their best players from last season, David Price and Wil Myers. They have some young, emerging stars but the division cellar is a likely landing spot for the 2015 team.
Boston Red Sox
The Red Sox spent big money this offseason, rebuilding nearly their entire roster with players such as Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez. Their offense is now one of the most dangerous in baseball and if they their starting pitchers deliver solid innings, they should win the AL East easily and be a factor in October.
The Tigers offseason included the offensive addition of Yoenis Cespedes and the subtraction of Max Scherzer (lost in free agency) and Rick Porcello (traded for Cespedes ) from their pitching staff. Despite the loss of 40 percent of their starting rotation, their offense, along with starting pitcher David Price, should carry them to another AL Central title.
Kansas City Royals
Last season’s surprise team of the year is in line to suffer a big setback this season. The Royals lost starting pitcher James Shields to free agency and did not address their offensive black hole in right field, setting them up as a prime candidate to miss the 2015 playoffs.
An average team the past few seasons the Indians are projected by many experts as a playoff team this season but our crystal ball says not so fast. Reliance on too many aging veterans to carry the team along with few young, still developing stars has the 2015 Indians likely looking at a finish around .500 for yet another year.
Chicago White Sox
Division bottom dwellers the past few seasons, the White Sox went out and made big additions this offseason including signing in free agency reliever David Robinson and trading for starting pitcher Jeff Samardzija. Chicago appears primed for a run at the second AL wild card spot with an offense led by Jose Abreau and a pitching staff strengthened by the additions of closer Robinson and starter Samardzija.
The Twins were surprisingly active on the free agent market this offseason, bringing back team legend Torii Hunter and adding pitcher Ervin Santana. Top prospects Miguel Sano and Byron Buxton give the team a bright future but the 2015 Twins are far from contending, a likely last place is in the cards.
Los Angeles Angels
The Angels won one of the toughest divisions in baseball last season but the competition in 2015 will be even tougher. It will be difficult for the Angels to repeat as division champs as Josh Hamilton is in hot water and the team didn’t add a top line starting pitcher. The Angels should be able to secure a wild card spot this year though.
Not only were the A’s were the most active team at the trade deadline in 2014 they were one of the more active trading teams in the offseason; gone from the team are Jeff Samardzija (see White Sox), Jon Lester (who came over in a midseason trade with the Red Sox for Yoenis Cespedes who sent him onto Detroit) and Josh Donaldson (shipped off to Toronto in exchange for 4 prospects). The additions of Brandon Moss and Ike Davis will not fill their shoes. 2015 is a retooling year for GM Billy Beane in Oakland.
The Seattle Mariners appear to be the best team in the American League after adding the power bat of Nelson Cruz. Pitcher Taijuan Walker also looks ready to take the league by storm alongside Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma, making the Mariners our top choice to win the AL West as well as the American League pennant.
The Rangers offseason set them up for a 2015 bounce back under new manager Jeff Banister but the injury bug has struck them. The team has lost both Jurickson Profar and Yu Darvish, greatly diminishing the odds they contend in the toughest division in the American League.
The 2015 Astros are one of the youngest teams in baseball. With reliance on young prospects such as George Springer and Mark Appel, Houston is staring at the bottom of the division.
The Atlanta Braves made several questionable moves this offseason, shipping out Jason Heyward, Evan Gattis and Justin Upton, only replacing their offensive loss with Nick Markakis, formerly of the Orioles. This will severely hurt the Braves in the pitching heavy NL East, likely resulting in a year of no playoffs.
The Nationals are the best team in baseball, with the addition of Max Scherzer to their already dominate rotation. If the offense holds up, led by Bryce Harper and Ian Desmond, Washington will win the NL East and is our pick to win their first championship and the 2015 World Series.
The Marlins were one of the more active team this offseason, adding pitcher Mat Latos and infielder Dee Gordon while extending the contract of Giancarlo Stanton. These moves shape the Marlins as a competitive team in the long run but in 2015, we see a .500 ball club.
New York Mets
Their return from the abyss will continue in 2015 for the Mets. Matt Harvey returns from Tommy John surgery and future staff ace Noah Syndergaard is expected to join the rotation early in the season, most likely a May call up. The loss of innings eater Zach Wheeler to Tommy John surgery will hurt their playoff chances. Look for the Mets to finish just above .500, but not competitive enough to be mentioned in the playoff races come September.
The Phillies finally started to rebuild this offseason by trading away some veterans, most notably Jimmy Rollins to the Dodgers. With a roster still filled with aging veterans and unproven youngsters, the Phillies are almost a lock to finish as one of the worst teams in baseball this season.
St. Louis Cardinals
The Cardinals offseason started off with terrible news with the death of star prospect Oscar Taveres. The addition of Jason Heyward helped offset the baseball loss of Taveres. St. Louis is positioned the same as they were in last year but because of increased competition in the division they will likely snag a wild card spot instead of a division title.
The Pirates had a strong offseason, bringing back pitcher A.J. Burnett and adding Korean superstar Jung-Ho Kang. The loss of catcher Russell Martin hurts but with an improved rotation and the likely emergence of Gregory Polanco, the Pirates should win the NL Central and make go far in the playoffs.
The Brewers stood pat in free agency but they have a solid rotation led by Matt Garza. Don’t expect them to catch fire like they did last season but look for them to finish a little below .500.
What are the Reds doing? Rebuilding? Retooling? They appear to be in a rebuild mode after trading Mat Latos and shopping stars Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips. They are relying on young players to step up in 2015. Expect Cincinnati to take a step back this season, finishing last in the tough NL Central.
No one made a bigger splash in free agency than the Cubs, adding top free agent Jon Lester. With Lester heading a strong rotation for the Cubs along with a lineup full of young phenoms ready to break out, Chicago should contend but just miss out on the second wild card.
Los Angeles Dodgers
The Dodgers have one of the best rotations in baseball with the addition of Brandon McCarthy from the Yankees. The trades of Matt Kemp and Dee Gordon hurt the offense. Their rotation is strong enough to carry them to a NL West title but don’t expect the Dodgers to advance far in post-season play with a limited offense.
San Francisco Giants
We expect last year’s defending World Series champs to have difficulties offsetting the loss of Pablo Sandoval. They will rely on Hunter Pence to pace their offense and 2014 WS MVP Madison Bumgarner will lead the rotation but with the Dodgers and a much improved Padres team, it isn’t hard to foresee San Francisco missing the 2015 playoffs entirely.
The Diamondbacks cleaned out their front office and turned their focus to development of young talent. They added Cuban phenom Yasmany Tomas but did not address a subpar starting rotation, making them likely to finish a few games below .500 in the bottom half of the NL West.
The Rockies are a team without a starting rotation. They have stars in SS Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos ‘CarGo’ Gonzalez but without a rotation to limit the runs at Coors Field, Colorado will find themselves back at the bottom of the division for another season.
San Diego Padres
The Padres are the most improved team in baseball after adding Matt Kemp, Justin Upton, Wil Myers and James Shields. Upton and Myers will likely pace a strong offense while Shields anchors an already strong rotation, giving the Padres our inside track to the second wild card spot in the National League.