Thanks for the blog spotlight CBS. PECOTA projections be darned, say I.
I previously covered the five teams I thought had the best chance of winning the whole thing. Vegas odds, I haven't checked out, but I would guess at least four of those teams (NYY, PHI, BOS and STL) would be the best odds. Those are my "contenders". The "pretenders" section isn't as bad as it sounds. It is more like teams that are good, and have a decent shot, but everything would have to break right.
1. The Angels-Even after a terrible offseason, there is enough in-house talent here to stay atop the AL West. Scott Kazmir, your typical erratic lefty, could possibly explode here with a full season under Mike Scioscia. Add to that Jered Weaver, Ervin Santana, Saunders and Joel Piniero, and thats a strong rotation. Juan Rivera and Kendry Morales are now full-time players, and Abreu and Torii Hunter provide steady production and veteran presence. Brandon Wood's time has finally arrived, let's see what he can do with it. Mike Napoli has emerged as one of the better catchers in the AL. Not as much star-power as in years past, but this team is solid and capable.
2. Colorado Rockies-It all starts with Troy Tulowitzki. This guy is a half-step behind Hanley Ramirez in terms of all-around tools, but as a pure power threat at the position, he can't be topped. Barmes, Ian Stewart and the always under-appreciated Todd Helton comprise the rest of a very solid infield. Carlos Gonzalez is poised to break out as the key piece of the Matt Holliday deal. Brad Hawpe always chips in his stuff. Chris Ianetta should win the everyday backstop gig and could have a great year at Coors. Ubaldo, Jorge De La Rosa, Aaron Cook and the returning Jeff Francis make up a good stable of arms. Watch for the call-up of Jhoulys Chacin. Huston Street anchors the 'pen. The guy was gift-wrapped from the A's and has resurrected his career.
3. Dodgers-Probably the best young core in baseball with Billingsley, Broxton, Kershaw, Loney, Martin, Kemp, DeWitt, Ethier. Casey Blake and Manny Ramirez add the old dog touch. The rotation is certainly a question, but they just may be able to slug their way to keeping their NL West crown despite strong pushes by Colorado and maybe Arizona or San Fran,
4. Speaking of the DBacks. The return of Brandon Webb is the make-or-break. If he is the old Webb, this team is a force. If he isn't, forget it. The trade for Edwin Jackson and Ian Kennedy was perhaps a just in case scenario. Dan Haren is a very dependable ace. Justin Upton is a star in the making, as is Mark Reynolds. Stephen Drew, Miguel Montero, Chris B. Young, these guys all could have breakout years. A few questions, but a promising group.
5. There is definite, palpable excitement around the Dallas/Ft. Worth area for baseball fans. New owners and a young, exciting team that could be a big story all season. We know about Michael Young, Ian Kinsler and Josh Hamilton. We know about the latter twos health issues as well. Nelson Cruz, Chris Davis and Jarrod Salty provide power everywhere. Neftali Perez and Elvis Andrus provide talented youth. Stockplied arms Tommy Hunter, Derek Holland, Scott Feldman etc. make a good group. Enough so the the team could afford to trade Kevin Millwood and his salary. Watch for the Rangers to make a real push in the West.
A few others could easily be in this group, but have a few even more pressing issues than the ones plaguing these teams.