Editor's Note: I'm fed up with politics, so y'all get baseball again today.
The Mariners' pitchers and catchers report for Spring Training tomorrow with their first workout the following day and the remaining Major League teams report the following weekend, so it's time for some predictions.
Without further ado, my 2012 predictions:
American League: Yankees (East), Royals (Central), Angels (West), Rangers (Wild Card).
National League: Braves (East), Reds (Central), Rockies (West), Phillies (Wild Card).
If the two additional wild card spots that Commissioner Bud Selig wants instituted occur in 2012, my 2 additional wild card selections are the Rays (AL) and the Diamondbacks (NL).
Signing big free agents doesn't necessarily mean a team earns a playoff spot and you'll find my predictions take that into account. I like the way the Tigers are set up, more so for their Fister signing last season than for the Fielder signing, but there aren't enough wild card spots for them to edge out the strong pitching of the Rays and the great young talent emerging in Kansas City. While the Angels did make huge signings with C.J. Wilson and Albert Pujols, they had great pieces in place already and the signing put them over the top. Watching the AL West this season is going to be a blast!
One last comment on my predictions: The Braves edging out the Phillies. If the Braves do as well as they did last year and have even half as many injuries, I see them beating the Phillies easily. Sure, the Phillies may have the stronger rotation (their pitchers' experience beats out the Braves' talent), but the Braves have the stronger 'pen. The Braves have the strongest 'pen in the big leagues. Period. Without a healthy Ryan Howard to start the season and no signing as of yet of Oswalt or Ibanez, I anticipate the Phillies doing well, but not well enough. With the collapse behind them, the Braves are headed for success.
Opening Day can't come soon enough!