Tonight is the official opening of the 2014 Major League Baseball season in the United States (the season technically started in Australia a week ago with a two game series between the Los Angeles Dodgers and Arizona Diamondbacks). There are several exciting headlines to look for during the 2014 season, but I am obligated to begin with my defending World Series Champion Boston Red Sox.
The Red Sox did not make any big time deals this offseason, but did do an effective job at bolstering their team for another title run. After losing Jacoby Ellsbury to the New York Yankees, the Sox went out and took a risk by signing former Indians star center fielder Grady Sizemore. Initially expected to back up the up-and-coming Jackie Bradley, Jr. in center, Sizemore, plagued by injuries the last several years, had an impressive spring training and is on track to be the starting center fielder for the team. Xander Boegarts is expected to start at shortstop in place of Stephen Drew, giving the Sox a very solid infield with Middlebrooks, Pedroia, and Napoli. With David Ortiz signed to a two-year extension, Boston is ready and loaded to defend their title.
The two best players in all of baseball both signed nine digit contracts in the past month. Mike Trout was extended for 6 years and $144 million, while Cabrera received an 8 year extension of $292 million, including the two years left on his contract. I think the Trout investment was smart, it will just be a matter of the Angels putting enough around him to give him a chance at the postseason now. I strongly believe Cabrera is the best player in the game right now, but even then I think this is a terrible contract for Detroit. He is going to be 31 years old in a couple of weeks, and is already showing signs of wear and tear with his injury problems last year. He is simply not going to be worth anywhere near $30 million a year halfway through this contract. I would have thought the Tigers learned from the A-Rod mistake. I’m not even sure Cabrera is worth $30 million this season, more support for why baseball needs a salary cap in my opinion. Nevertheless, Detroit will be a legitimate threat once again in the American League.
The New York Yankees returned to their old selves this offseason and shelled out half a billion dollars in an attempt to avoid missing the postseason in back to back years for the first time in my lifetime. They added veterans Jacoby Ellsbury, Brian McCann, and Carlos Beltran, and revamped their pitching by signing star Japanese pitcher Masahiro Tanaka. I personally excited for what should be one of the more competitive editions of the Red Sox vs. Yankees rivalry that we have seen in recent years. I would hesitate to say that the Yankees have a shot at the World Series now, but I expect them to return to the postseason as the Rays won’t have enough fire power for another wild card run.
After the Dodgers broke the Yankees streak in leading the league in payroll this offseason, they look to go one step further than the NLCS team did last year. Led by Cy Young winner Clayton Kershaw and second year star Yasiel Puig, the Dodgers will be a legitimate title contender this year. The NL West will be over by the All Star Break, and I would not be surprised to see a rematch with St. Louis in this year’s NLCS.
My Preseason Predictions
AL EAST: BOSTON RED SOX
AL CENTRAL: DETROIT TIGERS
AL WEST: TEXAS RANGERS
AL WILD CARD 1: NEW YORK YANKEES
AL WILD CARD 2: OAKLAND ATHLETICS
NL EAST: WASHINGTON NATIONALS
NL CENTRAL: ST. LOUIS CARDINALS
NL WEST: LOS ANGELES DODGERS
NL WILD CARD 1: ATLANTA BRAVES
NL WILD CARD 2: CINCINNATI REDS
AL MVP: MIKE TROUT
AL CY YOUNG: YU DARVISH
NL MVP: MATT CARPENTER
NL CY YOUNG: CLAYTON KERSHAW
WORLD SERIES CHAMPION: LOS ANGELES DODGERS
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