Welcome, to my completely preliminary view of how the 2016 season will look. I’ll break it down into three different areas (East/Central/West) for the sake of everyone’s attention span. As we all know, trying to predict anything in baseball is a futile action, but we do it anyway. When the offseason lags and most of the fun signings and trades have already happened (Crush Davis and Upton, where you at?), it is fun to try and guess how different teams among the divisions will fair in comparison to their past performance. Keyword: FUN. Meaning that if you disagree with me (which most probably will) or I missed something huge, let’s talk about it! Healthy baseball discussions FTW. 

Everyone most certainly has a different team that they unnaturally love (join the club) and that will skew their perception on how they envision the standings come October. In theory all these predictions could mean nothing but more than a fun writing exercise and a way to occupy my time till Spring Training, but hopefully whoever chooses to take a look at least learns a little something along way. Pitchers and catchers report in less than 40 days y’all, get excited!

AL EAST

  Boston Red Soxs

  • 2015: 78-84 (last)
  • Offseason moves (current roster): traded for closer Craig Kimbrel , signed LHP David Price, traded LHP Wade Miley & RHP Jonathan Aro to Seattle Mariners in exchange for RHP Carson Smith & LHP Roenis Elias
  • Top performers: Mookie Betts (6.0), Xander Bogaerts (4.6), David Ortiz (3.2), Brock Holt (2.6)
  • With the addition of new GM Dave Dombrowski, the Red Soxs seem to be opening their wallets right back into relevancy. Combine their offseason spending plus their youthful talent (Betts, Bogaerts, Bradley Jr.), Boston could turn into a competitor in the AL East again in 2016. After adding closer Craig Kimbrel and setup man Carson Smith, the Soxs have strengthened the back end of the bullpen that was so terrifyingly bad last year. David Price will do David Price things and should bring confidence to whichever other four men that will compose the Soxs’ starting 5 come spring. If Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval turn back into (at a bare minimum) replacement level players this year… Boston you got yourself a team again! Of course everything has to go right for them to contend, and their offense has to come up with the 4 something plus runs per game they averaged last year, again. I don’t know where they’ll finish, but I’m betting it is somewhere in the top two spots of the East. 

Tampa Bay Rays

  • 2015: 80-82 (4th)
  • Offseason (current roster)
  • Top performers: Kevin Kiermaier (7.3), Logan Forsythe (5.0), Chris Archer (4.2), Jake Odorizzi (3.5)
  • Well, the Rays are looking like they’re going to remain in the bottom half of the AL East this year. The biggest transaction they have partaken this offseason was a multi-player trade with the Mariners, in which they gained 1B/DH Logan Morrison, SS Brad Miller and RHP Danny Farquhar. They still have Kevin Kiermaier and Chris Archer, who are fantastic but two men most certainly cannot do all the work. Their bats seem to be one of the biggest pressing issues, but they 1) don’t have history of developing hitters and 2) they do not have money to throw on an established power bat. Even with the issues the Rays finished nearly .500 last year, and I figure them to finish about the same this year. I empathize the most with the Rays out of the entire AL East because I know the pain, and I’m pullin’ for you guys. An added bonus: watching Brad Miller and Nick Franklin possibly fight for a starting SS position… Hahaha, again.

NY Yankees

  • 2015: 87-75 (2nd)
  • Offseason (current roster): traded RHP Adam Warren and a PTBNL (SS Brendan Ryan) to the Chicago Cubs for SS Starlin Castro, Traded RHP Caleb Cotham and RHP Rookie Davis to Cincinnati Reds; Trenton Thunder Traded 3B Eric Jagielo and 2B Tony Renda to Pensacola Blue Wahoos and Cincinnati Reds Traded Aroldis Chapman to New York Yankees
  • Top performers: Mark Teixeira (3.9), Dellin Betances (3.7), Brett Gardner (3.4), Didi Gregorius (3.3)
  • If you’ve gone on ESPN in the last few weeks, you’ve seen that Aroldis Chapman has been traded to the Yankees for pennies on the dollar and has now completed the apparent holy grail of the back end of the Yankees’ bullpen. However the Yankees have to improve the durability of their starting pitching. While they have plenty of okay enough guys, help is needed to add strength at the front. This will be to help out Masahiro Tanaka (and Michael Pineda on good day). As it stands now the Yankees are going into season with a 6-man rotation with Ivan Nova as the outlier. On the other side of the ball, Cashman has done good job adding talent in the form of Starlin Castro as an infield partner for SS Didi Gregorius. He also added right-handed hitting depth/outfield defense in Aaron Hicks. As much as it pains me to say… They should at least finish at least 3rd (or higher) in the division. Remember: If you can’t root for Dustin Ackley to make the playoffs, who can you really root for?

Baltimore Orioles

  • 2015: 81-81 (3rd)
  • Offseason (current roster): trades C Steve Clevenger to the Seattle Mariners for 1B/DH/RF/whatever his heart desires Mark Trumbo and LHP C.J. Riefenhauser, signed free agent RHP Darren O’Day, signed free agent LF Hyun-soo Kim.
  • Top performers: Manny Machado (7.0), Chris Davis (5.2), Wei-Yin Chen (3.8), Adam Jones (3.2)
  • The Orioles are bit of a mystery to me.  I will always be bitter (so maybe it clouds my judgement I don’t know) that they won the Erik Bedard for 5 prospects, a.k.a ADAM JONES, trade. That was EONS ago, but it’s one of the many trades that will always haunt me.  Jones has become apart of the nucleus  (+Manny Machado) that Baltimore is hoping to build off in 2016. It’s unclear if they will sign Chris Davis (a left handed bat), or a one Yoenis Cespedes (right handed bat) to fill up that missing DH slot. They traded for Mark Trumbo, who should be worth 1.3ish WAR and he hits lots of home runs when he wants to. He’s not Chris Davis but he’ll fill the spot hopefully without too much pain. They’re projected on the lower/losing end of almost every projection I’ve found. Barring signing one of those big contracts they are linked to.. I see the Orioles landing 4th or last in the East.

Toronto Blue Jays

  • 2015: 93-69 (1st)
  • Offseason (current roster): signed free agent LHP J.A. Happ, C Josh Thole, 2B Darwin Barney, re-signed free agent RHP Marco Estrada.
  • Top performers: Josh Donaldson (8.8), Kevin Pillar (5.2), Jose Bautista (5.1), Edwin Encarnacion (4.7)
  • The Blue Jays had an incredible season in 2015. So incredible that they finished with 120+ runs in run differential ahead of the next placed team, an AL MVP (Josh Donaldson) and the bat flip to end all bat flips. While they lost in the ALCS (to the eventual WS Champions), the Blue Jays of the second half were fantastic. Most key components of their 2015 stacked offense will return in 2016. They do have Marcus Stroman returning, but the Jays do have some weakness in their starting rotation. I like R.A Dickey and he’s consistent enough to keep them in a game, but he’s not a #2. Also, depending on which version of J.A. Happ they get, they might be okay. It’s been a quiet offseason up north. There weren’t really any big  problems to fix (besides starting pitching I suppose), but there are also some financial restrictions. Money has to be saved somehow for either Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion next year, right? I see the Jays being a force again next year, but that’s providing that their offense is prepared  to seriously overcompensate for their pitching (if need be).
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