In the tradition of every writer who ever stepped up to a keyboard, it's time for my personal ranking of all 30 major league baseball teams as we head into the 2010 season.
Lets face it, everyone is chasing the Yankees right now, so where your teams sits in the rankings is irrelevant in comparison to, what is it now, 28 world championships? Until the Pirates or Nationals win 5 titles in a row, every team in Baseball will continue to chase New York and Boston.
1 - New York Yankees - As a Padre fan, it is hard to watch teams like the Yankees reload every time someone pulls a hamstring while wearing pinstripes. New York has added several more great players, including OF Curtis Granderson and P Javier Vasquez. The Yankees are the definition of loaded, with CC Sabathia, Mark Texeria, Derek Jeter and A-Rod all ready to wreak havoc upon the AL East again.
2 - Philadelphia Phillies- The Phillies have been to back to back World Series, winning one of them, and just added Roy Halladay to the mix. Given the weak nature of the NL East, Philadelphia should have no problem making it back into the playoffs. If Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley and Shane Victorino can all have big years, the sky is the limit in Philadelphia.
3 - Boston Red Sox - The Red Sox are forever chasing the Yankees, even when they beat New York, there is always tomorrow. David Ortiz has to have a big rebound season. Dice-K leads a solid pitching staff. The Red Sox will be in the hunt all season. Boston just has to forget about the Yankees, go out and play ball. Let New York worry about it.
4 - Colorado Rockies - Colorado has quietly put together a nice ball club, one with a little bit of everything. If staff ace Aaron Cook can find his groove right out of the gate, look for the Rockies to take an early division lead in the West. Ryan Spilborghs and Troy Tulowitzki anchor a good offense. Ya never know, Colorado finished up as the hottest team in the NL last season.
5 - Tampa Bay Rays - The only reason this talented squad is ranked so low is the fact that they share the division with the Yankees and Red Sox. This makes for a tougher divisional schedule than teams like Colorado will face. Carl Crawford remains one of the fastest outfielders in the game. Evan Longoria is one of the best hitters in baseball, 100 RBI is not out of the question.
6 - Atlanta Braves - Atlanta has a knack for finding young pitching, and the Braves added veteran closer Billy Wagner to seal the deal in the 9th. If Chipper Jones can be Chipper, the Braves have enough to give the Phillies a run come October. Atlanta looks to Tommy Hanson to lead the staff this season.
7 - St Louis Cardinals - Albert Pujols leads an enigmatic Cardinals team, one that has been sabotaged by shoddy bullpen work for a couple season now. St Louis can contend, but unless they can close things out more consistently, the Cards will once again fall short in the playoffs. Pujols and Ryan Ludwick lead a powerful Cardinals offense, St Louis can easily win the Central again.
8 - Texas Rangers - The Rangers are a difficult team to gauge. Arlington boils all summer, which has to be hell on visiting players, but is it really an advantage when Rangers players are subjected to a daily 110 degree sauna? New owner Nolan Ryan has his work cut out for himself. Jarrod Saltamaccia is a great catching prospect, its time to see if he can make the step up permanently.
9 - Minnesota Twins - Joe Mauer and a suspect pitching staff make for a unpredictable Twins team in 2010. Mauer cant do it alone, Twins starter Nick Blackburn needs to lead the staff. Minnesota moves into a new ballpark this season, is anyone going to miss the Metrodome? From what I have read, the reason they moved inside to begin with was the Mosquitoes. Bugwatch...
10 - Chicago White Sox - White Sox fans can look forward to a decent season, perhaps even a division title. The addition of ace Jake Peavy could make the difference in a close race. Peavy can dominate if he is healthy.
11 - Los Angeles Dodgers - The Dodgers are always tough, even in down seasons. Los Angeles has the best 3-4-5 hitters in baseball, and if Manny Ramirez can be Manny, the Bums will keep up with Colorado all summer long. The Joe Torre factor cannot be ignored, as Torre can get the most out of his squad.
12 - Seattle Mariners - Ichiro. Ken Griffey Jr. The Mariners added to this veteran team wisely, bringing in Cliff Lee to anchor the rotation. Lee is the best pitcher to play for Seattle since Randy Johnson toiled in the northwest. Seattle could surprise in the AL West.
13 - Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim - Anaheim/Los Angeles/Burbank, hell is there a town that wants in? Always room for El Segundo... The Angels are in transition, losing Vladimir Guererro, John Lackey and Chone Figgins. That would be tough for any team to recover from. Hurler Scott Kazmir comes over from the Rays to solidify the rotation.
14 - Florida Marlins - Florida is better at developing ypung players than almost any other team in baseball. The trick has been keeping them. Josh Johnson leads a solid pitching staff, and INF Dan Uggla remains an elite option at second base.
15 - Detroit Tigers - Why so low? Losing Granderson to the Yankees will take time to recover from. Adding fireballer Max Scherzer will help Justin Verlander carry the load. Detroit may be better than they look on paper, time will tell.
16 - Cincinnati Reds - Joey Votto leads a good Reds team that has suffered from poor starting pitching the last few years. Cincinnati can contend if Votto can spur on his teammates to hit over their heads. The Reds must find some pitching, or it will be a long season in Ohio.
17 - Arizona Diamondbacks - Arizona went from being an elite franchise, to just another 4th place squad during the last few years. The Dbacks added Edwin Jackson, a decent pitcher, but not with the upside of the departed Max Scherzer. Justin Upton is probably the best hope the DBacks have of scoring any runs. Color them 4th...
18 - Chicago Cubs - Cub Fans, THIS IS YOUR YEAR!!!! Sorry, I could not resist. Lou Pinella is aging rapidly as Cubs manager. It seems no one can break the slide. Chicago has all the talent in the world, but playing everyday at Wrigley eventually takes them down. Its a historical fact . Lou should be tossing bases by the end of May...
19 - Baltimore Orioles - Actually, the Orioles are not that bad. Matt Weiters, Adam Jones, former USD hurler Brian Matusz and several others give the Orioles some hope in 2010. It's that Yankees Red Sox thing that's keeping this Baltimore team down.
20 - San Francisco Giants - Manager Bruce Bochy will once again work his magic, and get a under manned Giants team to give fits to the rest of the division long into August. The Giants can contend in the West, if Pablo Sandoval can keep slugging.
21 - New York Mets - The poster children for dysfunction, New York continually finds a way to take a talented team, and completely self implode itself down the stretch. The Mets once again have talent, OF Jeff Francour could have a breakout power season, but there is no chance this team overtakes the Phillies.
22 - Oakland Athletics - Who is left up in Oakland? They have been dealing talent for so long I barely remember who is on the team. Signing Ben Sheets for 1 season at 10 million could work out if Sheets can stay off the disabled list.
23 - Milwaukee Brewers - Prince Fielder rebounded nicely last season from a down 2008. Milwaukee needs better pitching, an age old problem. Dave Bush is a .500 pitcher, and he leads a Brewers staff that got raked last year.
24 - Cleveland Indians - Where is Pedro Cerrano when ya need him? The Tribe has it tough, locked into a never ending quest to keep up with the Yankees. Cleveland is rebuilding from rebuilding, always a difficult proposition for the fans. Trading away Cliff Lee and Victor martinez last season reduced this team to Padre like status, as in "Who the heck are these guys?" To quote Major League, "They're still $HI%%Y..."
25 - Toronto Blue Jays - Toronto has tried to spend with the big boys, and all they have to show for it is 3rd or 4th place. The Blue Jays added Edwin Encarnacion at 3rd base, but in dealing ace pitcher Roy Halliday , Toronto starts off 2010 with an unproven staff.
26 - Pittsburgh Pirates - Pittsburgh sports the longest streak of consecutive season without making the playoffs, and they have squandered draft pick after draft pick. Steve Pearce is your best bet for a little fantasy production, and avoid this pitching staff like it has fungus growing on it.
27 - Kansas City Royals - The days of George Brett seem so long ago. Kansas City is a perfect example of a small market team crushed by the Yankees checkbook.
28 - Washington Nationals - Signing SDSU Ace Steven Strasberg elevated an otherwise unexciting Nationals team. Although, this line up looks considerable better that the Padres current one- Willingham, Dukes, Zimmerman, and Adam Dunn represent a formidable middle of the order
29 - San Diego Padres - Even the Bad News Bears had to start somewhere. San Diego enters 2010 with nothing to lose, they are supposed to finish last, and that seems to be an early motivating factor. The Padres can contend if every young player on the roster improves himself over last season.
30 - Houston Astros - Remember the heady days of Biggio, Bagwell? Well, those days are long gone. Houston has careened to the bottom of the rankings, even with slugger Carlos Lee. The Astros are in a major rebuilding phase, and it looks to be a long season in Houston.
There, that was pretty painless, I will update the list from time to time, feel free to argue. After all, that's what lists are for!!