Last year, we went 4-for-5 on this challenge, with the one miss a giant whiff. Stuipd Diamondbacks. Two years ago, it was 4-for-6, with the Tigers and Mariners both dramatically regressing rather than progressing and tempering another overall respectable showing.
So let's give it another run. We'll go in ascending order, starting with the team that posted the worst record in 2009:
1. Baltimore (64-98). The Orioles have been building methodically toward relevance since Andy MacPhail took over in the middle of the 2007 season. This year will mark a significant step forward. Even a .500 record might not be viable, given that Baltimore must play 54 games against the Yankees, Red Sox and Rays, yet the O's could pick up a good 10 wins or so.
2. Mets (70-92). Is there any reason to think that the Mets' pitching staff will peform competently enough to get them a playoff spot? It appears an even greater leap of faith than it did two months ago. That written, they just have to be better than last year's fiasco to meet the low standards of this blog post. There's too much talent to fall into the abyss again. At least, I think so.
3. White Sox (79-83). I'm banking on the surge of Gordon Beckham, a good walk year from Paul Konerko and a rebound from Alexis Rios. And that starting rotation pitching as well as we think it can.
4. Milwaukee (80-82). They have real question marks, like the left side of their infield and the back end of their starting rotation. However, first-year pitching coach Rick Peterson is very good at his job, and my bet is that he gets the most out of this staff. And that Prince Fielder and Ryan Braun deliver characteristic seasons.
5. Tampa Bay (84-78). The Rays were set for a fall last year, after so much went right in 2008. And now, the pendulum swings back in their favor. Tampa Bay just has so much talent that a second AL East title in three years wouldn't be a surprise.
--Jose Reyes had a good day, but it really does sound as though the Mets are treating Reyes' situation tenderly and not regarding Opening Day as a deadline. If Reyes makes his 2009 debut on April 13 instead of April 5, that should be just fine.
My colleague David Lennon argues the Mets should start Reyes Monday, if he's ready.
For the New York Post, Mike Puma quotes a teammate of Reyes, anonymously, that the Mets should stop babying Reyes. That's interesting, but if the Mets have learned anything from the Omar Minaya years, it should be to let the players have less impact - rather than more - on the decision-making.
Puma's Post teammate Joel Sherman offers his Mets predictions for the season.
Did I go directly to the Post Web site to find this stuff? Hell no. What is this, 1999? I found it on Twitter.
--The Yankees received good news about Mark Teixeira and Alfredo Aceves.
Here are Sherman's Yankees predictions.
--Rob Bradford of WEEI reported that Josh Beckett's shoulder is now insured. With Beckett seemingly likely to sign an extension with the Red Sox, that vaunted free-agent class of next winter is diminishing.
Bradford also reports that Mike Lowell is likely to remain with the Red Sox.
--Good piece here on the Mariners, who now appear to be in full backlash mode in the yakosphere (trademark Neil Best). They've gone from "Co-favorites to win the AL!!!" back in December, to, "Gosh, they're really not that deep."
--Typical low-risk move by the Marlins, acquiring Nate Robertson from Detroit. Maybe Robertson can enjoy an NL bounce. Meanwhile, the Tigers traded Robertson because they're ready to make Dontrelle Willis their fifth starter. And while I'm skeptical as to Willis' readiness, if you know Willis, you want one of baseball's good guys to do well.
--With the Passover seders done, I'll check back later today.