It's time to break out the sunflower seeds, the garlic fries, and the Copenhagen. Baseball is back. It would be more exciting if I thought my hometown Seattle Mariners had a shot at making the playoffs, but I have to be patient. The M's are in a rebuilding process and aside from Ichiro and King Felix the talent is very young and unproven. Dustin Ackley looks like a star in the making so let's hope he stays healthy and gains more confidence at the plate. If the Mariners finish .500 I'll be ecstatic. A more realistic projection however is 70 wins. Here's how the rest of the American League will shake out.
AL East Champs: New York Yankees.
Regardless of the aging left side of the infield the Yankees are stacked. We all know that when it comes to upgrading their team the Bronx Bombers will spare no expense. The Red Sox are in transition with their new manager Bobby Valentine and there will be some growing pains. They will make the playoffs, but they won't win the division. The Tampa Bay Rays are always a sleeper team, but free agency has begun to take its toll on their roster. Toronto and Baltimore have no chance.
AL Central Champs: Detroit Tigers.
Signing Prince Fielder was a great addition to a team that already had the reigning AL Cy Young and MVP in Justin Verlander. It will take him a little time to learn the pitchers coming from the National League, but once he does the Tigers will be dangerous. Minnesota is a sleeper team and if Joe Mauer can stay healthy the Twins can make thing interesting. Chicago will find it hard to replace Ozzie Guillen and new manager Robin Ventura may be in over his head. Cleveland and Kansas City have no shot.
AL West Champs: Texas Rangers.
The Rangers fell one strike short of winning the World Series and 2nd place just won't cut it for them. Look for the Rangers to get off to a hot start and cruise to the pennant. Angel fans will remind me they just signed the best player in baseball, but like Prince Fielder in Detroit it will take Albert Pujols a bit of time to learn AL pitching. The Angels will make the playoffs, but they won't win the division. Oakland and Seattle have no chance.