The Baltimore Orioles were the biggest surprise team in 2012 to make it to the playoffs after many years of being under .500. The Orioles brought up young minor league talent in SS/3B Manny Machado and SP Dylan Bundy to help them going into the playoffs. Machado played very well, yet Bundy threw minimal innings. Look for Machado to help the ball club in 2013, however, it may take Bundy a couple of months before he gets the call up. Rumor had the O’s trading veteran SS JJ Hardy for pitching talent, yet nothing has surfaced, look for Machado to hold down the ‘hot corner’ going forward. 2B and LF will be the two biggest concerns going forward for the O’s. Can veteran OF Nate McLouth get the job done, and can Nolan Reimold stay healthy is the real questions. Robert Andino found himself on the trading block this off season, and that leaves the door open for the injury-prone Brian Roberts and young 2B Ryan Flaherty to take over the double play duties duo with JJ Hardy. I just do not see Baltimore being the same team as last year, and I am predicting them to finish last in the division with an overall record of 78-84. I see Machado handling the bat well again this year, with pitchers knowing how to pitch to him now, and I see a line of .262/14/69. Machado is going to be a popular pick in the drafts and I am predicting rounds 8-10 in a 10 team league.
Boston Red sox
The Red Sox were the most disappointing team of 2012 with one of the higher team salaries in the league. After a big deadline trade with the Dodgers and clearing a huge sum of money, it was very clear the Sox were calling it quits and preparing for a rebound in 2013. The Sox made a lot of off season moves, in the best being Manager John Farrell in my opinion. Farrell is very familiar with the Sox family and team, and everyone is hoping for a positive year. There will not be very many rookies in Beantown this year; however, I am very excited to see what second year man Will Middlebrooks brings to the table, after an injury sidelined him for most of his 2012 season. Middlebrooks is a pure power hitter, and not many have come out of the Sox minor league systems. I am predicting a huge year from the young slugger .284/29/100. Many people see Middlebrooks in the 6th slot in the batting order, yet I can for-see him moving up to the 5th slot. The wild card this year for the Red Sox will be the starting rotation. Having your ace in LHP Jon Lester having a plus 4 ERA is not exactly the way you want things, look for Farrell to revamp the starting rotation into something good, and the best way I can predict this is to have all 5 starting pitchers with an ERA below 4. John Lackey should be the 5th starter, and looking to have a record of at least 12 wins. I am predicting the Red Sox to gain back control of the AL East and come away with the AL East title this year with an overall record of 90-72.
Second year GM Theo Epstein has a lot to prove in Chicago and the fans are anxiously awaiting success. Epstein was famous in Boston for spending money and giving players huge contracts. That wasn’t seen much in the first year as a GM, however, his signing of SP Edwin Jackson 4yr/$52MM proves he is getting back on track with his spending. After he moves OF Alfonso Soriano, which will clear huge cap space, he will be brining the “boom” to Chicago. I am expecting big things from sophomore 1B Anthony Rizzo, .275/25/75. Rizzo has always been a part of GM Theo Epstein’s career. Theo drafted Rizzo while in Boston, yet traded him away in the Adrian Gonzalez deal, and then after moving to Chicago they were reunited once again. Rizzo should be a top 15 1B pick in your Dynasty team league draft, and for a 10 team league, should fall between the 10-14th rounds. Not much to brag about in the Windy city this year with the Cubbies, it will have to play out on the field with a tough division that they are in, I am not looking for success as I can see a last place finish, with a record of 62-100.