The MLB season is just minutes away from kicking off, and I have come with the predictions that you have all been waiting for, my postseason and award picks! After giving a short preview for each team in my division rankings (they are linked in the post), here are my postseason picks!
East -- Washington Nationals (3)
Central -- St. Louis Cardinals (1)
West -- Los Angels Dodgers (2)
Wild Card -- Philadelphia Phillies (4)
Wild Card -- Arizona Diamondbacks (5)
Rookie of the Year: Billy Hamilton, Cincinnati Reds
Cy Young: Jose Fernandez, Miami Marlins
MVP: Bryce Harper, Washington Nationals
Breakout Team: Milwaukee Brewers
National League Champion: Washington Nationals
East -- New York Yankees (2)
Central -- Detroit Tigers (1)
West -- Los Angeles Angels (3)
Wild Card -- Oakland Athletics (4)
Wild Card -- Tampa Bay Rays (5)
Rookie of the Year: Masahiro Tanaka, New York Yankees
Cy Young: Justin Verlander, Detroit Tigers
MVP: Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels
Breakout Team: Kansas City Royals
American League Champion: Detroit Tigers
2014 World Series Prediction
Washington Nationals in seven games. The Nationals have the best roster in all of baseball, and after a tough season last year, they will be playing with a chip on their shoulder. With a rotation that includes Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, Doug Fister, and Jordan Zimmermann, the Nationals may not have the best regular season record, but can cruise through the postseason. Bryce Harper, my MVP pick, is going to hit 40 or more home runs. Jayson Werth will post a really good average, and Ian Desmond will the fantastic shortstop he is. The Nationals are built to win this World Series, and after having a good off season, there is no doubt in my mind that they do not win it.
The case for the Tigers: The Detroit Tigers offense might just be a little bit better then the Nationals', and they could easily defeat the team with their pitching as well. They have way more postseason experience after having played in the last three consecutive, and they are also built to win a championship as well. Their rotation is just as good as the Nationals', and they've got more star power in their lineup to perhaps beat them.
The countdown to Opening Day is getting smaller. The Opening Series is well over, and there is only one day to Opening Day. Every day, from now to the beginning of the season, I will be previewing at least one division, leading up to my postseason picks on Opening Night. After doing all three NL divisions (E C W) and the American League East and Central, we will continue with the American League West.
1. Los Angeles Angels -- 2013 Record: 78-84; Projected Record: 92-70
The Angels have Mike Trout, Albert Pujols, Josh Hamilton, C.J. Wilson, and Jered Weaver. It's about time they start contending. It's about time everyone is healthy. With rotation issues in both Oakland and Texas, it looks like the Angels might be able to sneak back in to the race and win the American League West. They have definitely got the team to do it, it is just a matter of if they can put the wins on the scoreboard.
The Angels solidified the back of their rotation by acquiring both Tyler Skaggs and Hector Santiago. Both pitchers are still young, but they really help fix the issue that has caused them to be out of the postseason for a few seasons now. Giving up Mark Trumbo is not great, but the power in this lineup is so good that they were willing to give up a good hitter in order to get some much-needed rotation depth. The back of the rotation will be the x-factor for the Angels, but both Skaggs and Santiago look very good.
This prediction is a tad bit bold, but it will be the right one. The Angels have the best team in the American League West from a personnel standpoint, they just have yet to show it. And this is the season that they come out strong, with a chip on their shoulder, and win the American League West. Do not get me wrong, the Angels have some tough competition, but they can pull this off in 2014, and likely shock many.
2. Oakland Athletics -- 2013 Record: 96-66; Projected Record: 90-72
The Athletics lost two pitchers, Jarrod Parker and Bartolo Colon (Mets), which will lead to the downfall of their reign in the American League West. Their pitching has always been a strength, but when it turns to a weakness, it immediately becomes very tough for the Athletics to produce consistent wins. In 2013, the A's won 30 of their 50 one run games, something that will hurt with a lack of pitching depth. Their one run games look to be key in 2014, and will be a big factor in their success.
The A's have one of the best overall teams, but now that their rotation has fallen off the table, their above average offense will not be able to keep them propelled. This prediction sounds like it is for an 81-81 team, but I still predicted the Athletics to win 90 games. I'm just trying to justify their downfall. They still have a good team, and have always surprised me, something that very few teams have been able to do consistently. Let me tell you, the Athletics always find a way. It's that simple.
The A's just might win the division, but the Angels outlook looks better than theirs. We will have to see how they do with their pitching hurting, which I believe leads to the second place finish in the division, and a tie with the Tampa Bay Rays for the first Wild Card spot. It's a toss-up from there.
3. Texas Rangers -- 2013 Record: 91-72; Projected Record: 88-74
Yu Darvish and Derek Holland are both injured, with Holland missing likely the entire first half of the season. One of the best offensive teams in the American League lost something that has kept them right in the mix, pitching. They were planning on resorting to Tommy Hanson at the back of their rotation, something that, frankly, would not go well. It's obvious that the Rangers are hurting for starting pitching, which will hurt their stance in the American League West.
The Rangers got Prince Fielder from the Tigers, signed Shin-Soo Choo, and called up Jurickson Profar, to go along with Alex Rios, Mitch Moreland, Adrian Beltre, and Elivs Andrus. If you cannot understand, let me tell it to you this way, the Texas Rangers are stacked offensively. Last season, five of the top ten run scoring teams missed the postseason. Seven of the top ten teams in ERA made the postseason. That means that even if you have a great offense, pitching rules in this game, and the Rangers' pitching is somewhat weak during this season.
I could be wrong. Totally wrong. But, facts do not lie, and I have seen offensive teams flail in big games. I have also seen offensive teams thrive and win the World Series. The Rangers "luck" this Spring Training is telling my gut that they cannot do it this season, and they might just have to wait one more season.
4. Seattle Mariners -- 2013 Record: 71-91; Projected Record: 83-79
Let me tell you: one player can make all the difference, or be the part that just does not work out. Robinson Cano will make a difference, but without anyone to surround him, it's hard to see the differences he will make. If a tree falls, and there is no one around, did it make a sound? Cano's difference can help the Mariners' record, but their postseason chances look slim. When their young pitching develops is when the Mariners begin to contend.
Three pitchers, Hisashi Iwakuma, Stephen Pryor, and Taijuan Walker, all seemingly rotation pitchers are on the disabled list to begin this season. It does not get much worse than that. Three possible starters missing extended time. Offensively, the Mariners have nobody besides Robinson Cano. Kendrys Morales could return, but it seems like it's a lost cause, as he is still a free agent. Other than that, only Justin Smoak is the big hitter in their lineup.
The Mariners have a good ball club, but it is a few years before they contend. Do not worry, Robinson Cano will still be there. He signed a 10-year deal with the Mariners this off season, and as I said, when their young pitching develops (which shouldn't take long), they will be back in the postseason and could go deep into it.
5. Houston Astros -- 2013 Record: 51-111; Projected Record: 57-105
Oh, the Astros. My grandfather once told me a saying, "Every team wins 60 games and loses 60 games, it's the other 42 that count." Well, the Astros are the only outlier in my predictions (good saying!). There is not much to like about this team, but there is a lot to like about their farm system, much of which will start making it's way to the Majors this season. They did make some really good off season moves, and will be better, but not by much.
The Astros have the likes of Dexter Fowler and Jose Altuve in their lineup, but not much else seems to be exciting about this season. They do get a full season of Jarred Cosart, one of the best young pitchers in their organization. He allowed only 13 runs in 60 innings pitched last season, and will be back this season in the rotation. Former top prospect Jonathan Singleton may also be in the Majors sometime this season, but he is battling with some off-the-field issues will likely keep him under wraps.
The Astros are looking square in the face of a last place finish in the American League West, and in the Major Leagues overall. But, hey, all they can go is up! Well, joking aside, the Astros are looking at another dismal season. One of the few possible bright spots for these fans are all those rich prospects that will be coming up, those of whom will bring this team out of last into the future.
The countdown to Opening Day is getting smaller. The Opening Series is well over, and there is only one day to Opening Day. Every day, from now to the beginning of the season, I will be previewing at least one division, leading up to my postseason picks on Opening Night. After doing all three NL divisions (E C W) and the American League East, we will continue with the American League Central today.
1. Detroit Tigers -- 2013 Record: 93-69; Projected Record: 95-67
The Tigers are one of the best teams in the American League, and are my pick to win the league and head to the World Series. They have it all; offense, defense, and pitching. Their offense, led by Miguel Cabrera, is one to be feared. Their defense, with new acquisition of Ian Kinsler, is much better. And their pitching staff is one of the best, even following the trade away of Doug Fister. They've still got Justin Verlander, who is going to have a rebound season, Max Scherzer, and Anibal Sanchez at the top of their rotation. This looks like a contending team.
The Tigers made two big trades this off season: the trade of Prince Fielder to the Texas Rangers for Ian Kinsler, and the trade of Doug Fister to the Nationals for Steve Lombardozzi, Ian Krol, and a minor league pitcher. Both trades may seem like head scratchers, but this opened up some cap space for the recent extension of Miguel Cabrera. The move of Fielder also benefitted Cabrera in that he can move to first base, a positions where injuries are less likely. It also allowed for the call up of Nick Castellanos, a top third base prospect. And, they got All Star Ian Kinsler in return. A triple win.
The outlook for the Tigers looks really good in 2014. They have a fantastic team, one that can take them very deep into October, something that they have been able to do for three straight seasons.The worst-case scenario for the Tigers is if Verlander cannot find his grove, and the back of the rotation cannot hold up. They still might be able to win a Wild Card even if that occurs. Their offense is just too good for most teams to handle. It looks really positive for the Tigers this season.
2. Kansas City Royals -- 2013 Record: 86-76; Projected Record: 88-74
The Royals will be partying like it is 1985. That is the last time that they have been in the playoffs, beating the St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series in seven games. Following the Pirates playoff appearance in 2013, the Royals playoff drought is the longest active in Major League Baseball. This season, it is finally time to turn that around. They played well down the stretch last season, finishing the year 17-10 in September, and winning 18 of their final 30 games. A horrid (8-20) May likely kept them out of the playoffs. They'll make sure that does not happen again.
The Royals have an underrated pitching staff, with James Shields (131 ERA+ in 2013), Jeremy Guthrie (102 ERA+), and newly added Jason Vargas (94 ERA+) leading the way for the club. Their rotation is backed with Alex Gordon (103 OPS+ in 2013), Billy Butler (116 OPS+), and Eric Hosmer (118 OPS+) who all are hungry for their postseason appearances. These six players are the ones that will take this team from a pretender to a contender in 2014. Overall, the Royals have a good team. They just need some good production from these six players.
There is a lot to like for the Royals in 2014. This is their year, and they will prove that they are one of the best teams in the American League by contending for the second Wild Card spot, after some great production from their pitching staff, one that will be feared down the stretch. The Royals are a slam dunk, so beware a slump in a specific month. That could be their one issue from making the postseason this year.
3. Cleveland Indians -- 2013 Record: 92-70; Projected Record: 85-77
The loss of Ubaldo Jimenez will be too tough to handle for the Cleveland Indians this season. Their rotation, although still decent, just is not stable enough to take this team back to the playoffs for the second consecutive season. They still do have a young team, and while young teams make the playoffs, they can have a hiccup while they still are blending. The Indians might just feel too much pressure to get back to the playoffs, or might believe the loss of Jimenez is just too big of a hole to fill.
The Indians have a ton of young talent, particularly in their lineup, where they boast some of the game's youngest, and underrated, stars in Jason Kipnis, Michael Brantley, and Asdrubal Cabrera. Last season, they blended these guys with proven veterans Nick Swisher, Michael Bourn, and unsung hero Jason Giambi. That is how they built such a good clubhouse, while keeping the team on the field healthy 100% of the time. They did not add to that this off season, but were able to retain Giambi by re-signing the slugger.
The Indians still have a good roster, but a young pitching staff does not always initially translate into wins. The presence of Ubaldo Jimenez in the rotation last season really helped these young guys ease into the club. Now, the training wheels are off, and the one concern is, "Are they still able to do it?" The Indians fate lies in the hands of their young rotation.
4. Chicago White Sox -- 2013 Record: 63-99; Projected Record: 70-92
The White Sox are still a few years from contention, along with many other teams that have stockpiled their farm systems. They signed Cuban first base slugger Jose Abreu to a contract, and he looks to be on the team beginning this season. He is one of the players (Jose Quintana and Chris Sale among others) that White Sox fans will get to look forward to during the next few years. But for now, they've got an inexperienced lineup, a decent pitching staff, and low expectations for their upcoming season.
The White Sox have done a good job stockpiling young talent, acquiring the likes of Matt Davidson and Adam Eaton from the Diamondbacks and Avisail Garcia from the and Tigers to go along with Abreu. But, they also have Alexi Ramirez, Adam Dunn, and Paul Konerko lining up to take the field, three players who are aging and might be close to the finish of their careers. (Konerko is retiring this season.) They still have some work to do, but all rebuilding projects are works in progress, and their's is moving along nicely. Baseball fans will have to see if the talent can translate into big league success.
While still in a rebuilding mode, you can rarely expect success from a ball club, which is why the White Sox are fourth in my American League Central rankings. If you take a look at the teams above them, they are all in the "win-now" phase, some may be closer to the beginning (Royals and Indians), while some are right in the thick of it (Tigers). Those teams are the ones that will have continued success, while the White Sox continue to build for years to come.
5. Minnesota Twins -- 2013 Record: 66-96; Projected Record: 68-94
This prediction probably won't come as a shock to people, but to justify the Twins are not as far along in their rebuilding as the White Sox. Sure they have the number one prospect in all of baseball and some young guys on their team, but the White Sox have all around talent on their team. The Twins still have yet to show me that they have young talent on their current roster. Sure, they have young players such as Oswaldo Arcia, Brian Dozier, and Trevor Plaouffe, but they (except for Dozier) do not have as much talent as some of the White Sox players have. However, I see a slight increase in the Twins' win total because they attacked their starting pitching needs with Ricky Nolasco and Phil Hughes.
The Twins signed Hughes and Nolasco this off season, due to the fact that they finished dead last in the Major Leagues in starting pitcher's ERA. In order to reach 70 wins, that number has to come further down from the 5+ mark it was in 2013. Sure the Twins can do it, but their rotation is not their only problem. Justin Morneau will be gone for the full season, and Joe Mauer will no longer be calling games behind the dish. He has moved to first base. Yes, it will keep Mauer healthier, but it will not be helping the pitching staff, their main issue.
In general, the Twins have very little to look forward to. Probably the most exciting thing that could happen this season is the arrival of Byron Buxton to the Major Leagues sometime this summer. the Twins are known to keep players in the minors a little longer, but Buxton has something special about him, which is why he will be up in the bigs this season.
The countdown to Opening Day is getting smaller. The Opening Series is well over, and there are only two days to Opening Day. Every day, from now to the beginning of the season, I will be previewing at least one division, leading up to my postseason picks on Opening Night. After doing all three NL divisions (E C W), we will continue with the American League, starting with the East division today.
1. New York Yankees -- 2013 Record: 85-77; Projected Record: 93-69
The New York Yankees have a lot to play for this upcoming season. First, Derek Jeter will not be returning to the club next year, as he has announced his retirement from the game of baseball earlier this spring. Second, the Yankees went all out this off season with free agents, perhaps proving to the American League that they are a force to be reckoned with. And third, they just want to win. Last season, they missed the playoffs for the first time since 2008, something that is considered unacceptable. They want to be back, and fast.
This off season, the Yankees went all out. They signed Jacoby Ellsbury, Carlos Beltran, Brian McCann, and Masahiro Tanaka. Their 2014 team will look much different from the one in 2013. By signing Ellsbury, Beltran, and McCann, the Yankees will add to an offense where two hitters, Robinson Cano and Brett Gardner posted an OPS+ above 100. Yes, Cano is gone, but all three of their offensive signees did post an OPS+ above 100. The Yankees also added Masahiro Tanaka, a 27 year old Japanese pitcher whom posted a perfect record in the NPB. He has a 2.14 ERA this Spring Training.
The outlook on the Yankees season looks pretty good, with their new additions likely helping them out and getting them back to the postseason. In a division that is historically tough, the Yankees pushed themselves to the top with a great off season, and one last season from Derek Jeter. It seems like a storybook ending for "The Captain's" career.
2. Tampa Bay Rays -- 2013 Record: 92-71; Projected Record: 90-72
The Tampa Bay Rays always seem to be one of the most sneaky teams down the stretch into September. I always feel like I am the one that thinks that the Rays cannot do it another year. They always find a way to do it. So, this year, I am predicting them to finish second in the AL East and take a Wild Card spot. The Rays have a good balance between hitting and pitching, and boast one of the best saber-metric inclined front offices, something that has taken them to contention four of the six years since they changed their name to the Rays (they were originally the Devil Rays).
This off season, the Rays re-signed James Loney, signed Grant Balfour, and traded for Ryan Hanigan. None of these moves are considered blockbusters, but Loney played a huge role for the Rays last season, Balfour was a lights-out closer for Oakland, and Ryan Hanigan has been a very good backup catcher and will get the starting nod in Tampa Bay. The Rays front office knows what they're doing, and these moves will help fix some of the holes the Rays had coming into the season.
The Rays are a great fundamental team, which has been one of the biggest keys to success in the Major Leagues over the past five years. The Rays might be able to capture the American League East, but a tough division will likely say otherwise. A first or second Wild Card spot seems to fit the 2014 Rays description.
3. Boston Red Sox -- 2013 Record: 97-65; Projected Record: 89-75
The Red Sox fall off the table very quickly this season. Going from the World Series champions to a third place finisher just does not seem right, but they had some significant losses this off season, cupped with very few additions. The Red Sox were supposed to be bad last season, and it looks like they will start to settle to their "true position" this season. They will be relying more on younger, inexperienced talent, and will be missing Jacoby Ellsbury (Yankees), Stephen Drew (Free Agent), and Jarrod Saltalamacchia (Marlins) from their lineup in 2014.
The Red Sox filled the Saltalamacchia void this off season by signing catcher A.J. Pierzynski. A lifetime .283 hitter, Pierzynski is a good hitter, but will be entering his age 37 season, something that may be a warning flag, especially for a full-time catcher. The voids of Stephen Drew and Jacoby Ellsbury will be filled by rookies Xander Bogaerts and Jackie Bradley Jr., respectively. They both are fantastic prospects, but their first full season may not be where the Red Sox want them.
This season's outlook looks like it could go in many different directions for the Red Sox. Nothing really seems set in stone, so do not be surprised if the Red Sox win the division again. However, that would surprise me, following the loss of three really good hitters from their lineup. The Red Sox season looks disappointing, as they fall to third in their division.
4. Baltimore Orioles -- 2013 Record: 85-77; Projected Record: 88-74
The Orioles are going all in this season, signing both Ubaldo Jimenez and Nelson Cruz late into the off season. Other than that, they still have a similar team to last season's. They have a great offense with Chris Davis, Adam Jones, Manny Machado, Matt Wieters, and now Nelson Cruz. But their rotation does not look as good. Behind Jimenez (who is not the best pitcher ALL the time), the Orioles have Chris Tillman, Wei-Yin Chen, Bud Norris, and Miguel Gonzalez. That's not good enough to contend in the AL East.
This off season, the Orioles' two big moves were Ubaldo Jimenez and Nelson Cruz. They signed both within a short time of one another, after remaining relatively silent earlier in the winter. They have had a good off season, but they just are not good enough to be in contention with the rest of the East. They have the Yankees, Rays, and Red Sox above them, and just do not look quite as good as the rest of the teams.
The Orioles could be a playoff team. They could win one of the two Wild Cards, which would not surprise me. However, they face some tough foes in not only the American League East, but the American League in general. In order to win a playoff spot, their pitching has to improve itself from what it is shaping up to be. It just does not look like it will, and I am not sure if it can.
5. Toronto Blue Jays -- 2013 Record: 74-88; Projected Record: 78-84
The Blue Jays are still trying to make the most of a 2012 trade with the Miami Marlins, when they acquired Jose Reyes, Mark Buerhle, and Josh Johnson all in one trade. They also acquired R.A. Dickey, coming off of a Cy Young. In theory, the Blue Jays had a fantastic off season. But after a dismal year, it looks like those moves just did not work out, and they have not done much to add to them. It looks like another bad year for the Toronto Blue Jays in 2014.
This off season, the biggest move the Blue Jays made was the signing of catcher Dioner Navarro. I applaud them for doing that, as he is one of the most underrated catchers in all of the Major Leagues. He is good offensively (as of last season), can call a good game, and can be a force behind home plate. He was a fantastic move for the Jays, who have needed a catcher following a terrible season from J.P. Arencibia (59 OPS+ in 497 plate appearances).
In general, I would be very surprised if the Toronto Blue Jays make any noise in the bottom of the American League East division. As I've repeated numerous times, the division is a tough one, and a team without great depth nor a great pitching staff can't survive in a division as tough as the American League East. It looks like it will be a few years before the Blue Jays become dominant again.
The countdown to Opening Day is getting smaller. The Opening Series has ended, and there are only four days to Opening Day. Every few days, from now to the beginning of the season, I will be previewing one division, leading up to my postseason picks on Opening Night. After doing the NL East and NL Central divisions, we will continue with the National League West division today.
1. Los Angeles Dodgers -- 2013 Record: 92-70; Projected Record: 97-65
There is no doubt in my mind that the Dodgers are one of the best teams in baseball, let alone the National League. Already 2-0 (following the conclusion of the Opening Series), the Dodgers are flying high, and flying toward the National League West crown. They have the complete package: a great offense and pitching staff, not to mention a pretty good defense as well.
The Dodgers' off season was relatively quiet, but they were able to retain Brian Wilson, Juan Uribe, and J.P. Howell by re-signing them to their respective deals. They also signed former Nationals' starter Dan Haren to a deal, to make up for the loss of Ricky Nolasco to the Twins. Other than that, the Dodgers seemed pretty content with their current roster. We should not blame them. Almost all of their lineup posted OPS+'s (on-base plus slugging percentage adjusted to home ballpark) above the MLB average 100. Their pitchers? Four of their five starters posted ERA+'s above 100.
The Dodgers have a great team, and because they had a tough time beginning last season, they will improve their record by five games. They should be a more "even" team throughout the season, as their clubhouse chemistry seemed to have kicked into action nearing the end of last season. They finished first then, so there is no reason why they should not finish first now.
2. Arizona Diamondbacks -- 2013 Record: 81-81; Projected Record: 88-74
The Diamondbacks are one of the best fundamentally sound teams in all of baseball. Last year, the Diamondbacks posted the fourth-highest fielding percentage in the Major Leagues. They could not contend last season due to their lack of offense. Besides Paul Goldschmidt, the D-Backs had only one player (Martin Prado) that played in over 100 games and posted an OPS+ above 100.
This off season, the Diamondbacks went out and got themselves a hitter. They acquired Mark Trumbo from the Los Angeles Angels in a three team trade, in exchange for Tyler Skaggs and Adam Eaton, who went to the White Sox. Trumbo has rare right handed power, like Goldschmidt, and will surely add to the offense. Even after acquiring Trumbo, the Diamondbacks were not done. They also signed workhorse starter Bronson Arroyo to bolster their pitching staff. He will be a quality innings eater, and will keep the D-Backs in a position to win more games.
The one major loss the Diamondbacks took was the injury to Patrick Corbin, will need Tommy John surgery after finding UCL damage in his elbow. They could bring up prospect Archie Bradley sometime this season, who will fill that void nicely. Regardless, the Diamondbacks are going to be right in the National League playoff mix and just might win the National League Wild Card in 2014.
3. San Francisco Giants -- 2013 Record: 76-86; Projected Record: 81-81
The San Francisco Giants are in a decent position this season. Pablo Sandoval lost a ton of weight this off season, but they still are missing one big power hitter heading in 2014. They have a great pitching staff, and added to it with the signing of Tim Hudson. It just does not look like their offense will be able to support it. Besides Buster Posey, they do not have that big star power in their lineup.
As I said, the Giants acquired Tim Hudson this offseason, after some great seasons in Atlanta. Hudson has never posted an ERA over 3 since 2006. In that stretch (2007-Present), Hudson pitched over 200 innings three times, and pitched over 140 two other times. He is reliable, and if he remains healthy, he'll add to the great San Francisco Giants staff led by Tim Lincecum, Madison Bumgarner, and Matt Cain.
Overall, the Giants have a good team, but they might just be missing that one piece in their lineup from contention. In 2010 and 2012, when the Giants won the World Series, they did not have that much star power, but they did have one player who stepped up each season, who was able to get them to the World Series. They need another x-factor this season to try and bring the team back to where they were just two years ago.
4. San Diego Padres -- 2013 Record: 76-86; Projected Record: 78-84
The Padres' pitching staff has yet to prove to me top to bottom that they are good enough to be a contender in the National League. I did write a post that the Padres could make the playoffs. Note the key word there: could. The Padres play in a tough division with the team with the highest payroll in all of baseball. They still could be a few years away from contention.
In the article, I touted the Padres signing of Josh Johnson to a one-year deal for 2014. But now, he is injured, and will miss at least one month into the season. Behind Johnson, the Padres' pitching staff consists of Andrew Cashner, Ian Kennedy, Tyson Ross, and Eric Stults. This rotation does not sound like it can compete with the Giants' nor the Dodgers. Offensively, the Padres are pretty decent, with Jedd Gyorko, Chase Headley, and Will Venable leading the way in 2014.
The Padres rise to contention has to come from their pitching staff. Looking at their competition, it just looks like the Padres might have to wait a couple of years before their pitching staff builds up talent. They have a good offense, but playing in Petco Park, pitching rules, and good pitching will thrive. They just don't have it to win a playoff spot.
5. Colorado Rockies -- 2013 Record: 74-88; Projected Record: 74-88
The Rockies have a fantastic farm system, and will be great within a few years. For now, they've got a good team, but like the Padres, they are unfortunate to be playing in a division with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Also like the Padres, the Rockies pitching staff seems to be their liability, but unlike the Friars, they have built their team around park strengths. The Rockies offense (playing in Coors Field) is pretty good, while their pitching probably just isn't enough.
This off season, the Rockies dealt Dexter Fowler to Houston, but signed the likes of Justin Morneau and Boone Logan, and traded the Athletics for Brett Anderson. With Morneau, the Rockies will have five of their nine starters post a 100 OPS+ in 2013. However, just two of their pitchers were able to throw over 120 innings and post a 100 ERA+. The Rockies make-or-break part of their season is their pitching staff. They have a good offense, but it's hard to know if their pitching staff be able to hold up outside Coors Field.
The Rockies season does not look that grim, but their pitching staff remains their biggest question mark. If all goes well for the Rockies, they could finish around 80 wins, but 75 wins seems like the right number for the team in 2014. We will have to see if the Rockies can surprise us with a good year, or stay right on par with their projections.