New York Yankees: There’s no way the Greatest Of All Time’s farewell tour is on a losing team. Also, Andy Pettitte is coming back, so there.
Boston Red Sox: As much as we love absolute insanity at YCPB, the idea that the Red Sox could collapse as historically as they did in 2011 is about as improbable as you can get. As long as that offense stays healthy, they have a chance.
Tampa Bay Rays: They got good in 2008, but they’ve never replicated that season’s success, nor has it improved their attendance much. We’re still waiting for them to take the next step–to that end, maybe Matt Moore’ll help—he did pitch in a playoff game before ever pitching in a major-league spring training game, which says something about gumption.
Toronto Blue Jays: Everyone will be looking at Jose Bautista again, but really the one to look at is Brett Lawrie. You almost feel bad for the Jays—in the AL Central they might actually have a chance.
Baltimore Orioles: All you need to know about this team is that no one wanted to be their GM this winter & te team ran into major trouble in South Korea. That’s, uh, not a good thing.
Detroit Tigers: No, Justin Verlander probably won’t be quite *as* good as he was in 2011, but then again he’s Justin Verlander. Also, there’s no one else in the division, so even if the Cabrera/Fielder defense is as atrocious as some fear, they’d probably still win the division by default.
Kansas City Royals: a) It’s a weak division. b) The prospects they’ve been hoarding have gotta start producing sometime…right?
Chicago White Sox: They have an awful farm system and will be in trouble in future years, but they’re not as bad as the Twins. At least, not in 2012.
Cleveland Indians: One of their pitchers isn’t who we thought he was (looking at you, Fausto Carmona/Roberto Hernandez).
Minnesota Twins: It looks like the Mauer/Morneau glory days are past, and when the rest of your offense looks like the Twins’ does and your starting rotation looks like the Twins’ does, there isn’t a whole lot of hope here. Yeah, playing baseball the right way helps–but it works a lot better when you got pretty good baseball players, too.
LA Angels: At some point in the distant future they’ll regret signing Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson to massive contracts. It won’t be 2012.
Texas Rangers: To be a strike away from winning the world series twice has gotta hurt. Yu Darvish is an entertaining addition, but pitchers hailing from Japan have proven to be much hype and little substance in the past (save, perhaps, Hideo Nomo and Hiroki Kuroda), so judgment ought to be reserved, a little. And, of course, the annual reminder that there is no guarantee Josh Hamilton or Nelson Cruz can stay healthy.
Seattle Mariners: Felix Hernandez is good. Like, really good. Jesus Montero’s supposed to be really good, too, and maybe Justin Smoak will show us why the Mariners thought fit to trade for him when they got rid of Cliff Lee. It won’t be nearly enough to compete with the Angels or Rangers, but it’s still better than Oakland.
Oakland Athletics: Unfortunately the financial success of the Moneyball movie probably won’t translate to on-field success. Also, I think we’re still waiting for verification on Yoenis Cespedes-name pronunciation.
Phillies: Not because they’ll be world beaters, but because the rest of the NL East still isn’t there (though the gap is closing). The offense will be feast or famine again, but when you have Hamels/Halladay/Lee as your front free, complaints seem specious.
Nats: They’ve got Strasburg back, Harper lurking and a host of others, such as Gio Gonzalez and Ryan Zimmerman. They’ll be a lot of fun to watch this season, and they’ll make life hell for the rest of the division.
Braves: Julio Teheran and Justin Heyward have all the talent in the world, but whether they can stay healthy is another story, and if you’re looking for Johnny Venters and Craig Kimbrel to repeat what they did last season, just remember there has only ever been one Mariano. On the other hand, talent is talent and the Braves have it by the barrel. Chipper Jones’ swan song could very well end with the Braves having their best season since the string of division wins for which Jones’ team was once famed.
Marlins: The new park is shiny, the home run monstrosity straight out of Vegas, but unless Josh Johnson can stay healthy, there might be a case of hype-but-little-substance. Ozzie’ll be fun, at any rate.
Mets: Mets gonna Met.
Brewers: The Cardinals could surprise again, but the Brewers, even without Fielder, probably still have more talent. At the very least, at one point in the offseason they acknowledged that a Fielder re-signing was out of their reach; meaning of the two teams that lost their offensive stars, they were probably better prepared to deal with the aftermath.
Cardinals: Picking them third after the Reds would be the safer bet, but defending champs get a bump.
Reds: Joey Votto is awesome. And who knows, maybe Jay Bruce will turn into the superstar everyone’s been predicting he’d be…
Pirates: Andrew McCutchen is a stud, but what’s more is that his extension shows that the Pirates’ front office might actually mean business. For a team that hasn’t won since the first Clinton administration, that has to be a welcome change.
Cubs: As long as their drought is, consider this: the last time the Cubs won the World Series, Wrigley Field hadn’t even been built yet.
Astros: Houston, we have a problem. (/lame /cliche /i know)
Diamondbacks: Kirk Gibson lit a spark under them last season; the could be on fire this one. Justin Upton, Miguel Montero, Ian Kennedy, Jarrod Parker—there are a lot of players to like, and then some.
Giants: They’ve got Posey back, which is good, but there’s a reason the Giants’ offense gets laughed at, and Brian Wilson’s beard is so very 2010. Still, so long as there’s Lincecum and Cain (and pray for not-Zito), there’s a chance.
Rockies: Went back and forth between the Rockies and the Dodgers, and I guess I just like Tulowitzki a little bit more than Kemp, but it’s really a coin flip.
Dodgers: Dear Mr. Kemp and Mr. Kershaw, I am so very sorry for what the McCourts have put you and your franchise through, but at long last, the dawn is on the horizon. Or so we hope.
Padres: Well, at least there probably won’t be a lot of rain outs.