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We won’t blame you if you haven’t been paying a whole lot of attention to baseball these past few months.On top of it being the offseason, the NFL gave us a very exciting Tebow-filled season and playoffs, while the NBA is now enthralled in complete Lin-demonium.
So while all that has been going on, spring training has quietly creeped up on us.
The past few months included MLB’s best player switching leagues, one of the NL’s laughingstock clubs make a commitment to winning, and the AL East heavy weights staying mostly quiet.
The Yankees bolstered their rotation with Michael Piñeda, while the rival Red Sox only added new manager Bobby Valentine.
The Boston Red Sox 2011 campaign ended in complete debacle, so many thought a house cleaning may be in order. But instead, David Ortiz was brought back, their outfield is still weak, and three nobodies are battling for the starting shortstop position.
Meanwhile, the Yankees solidified their rotation with the additions of Micheal Pineda and Hiroki Kuroda, and subtraction of A.J. Burnett.
The mostly quiet Tampa Bay Rays, with a rotation that runs seven deep, will definitely have a say in the AL East race once again, however.
New look and new attitude Miami Marlins are going for it with Jose Reyes and Ozzie Guillen additions.
With fiery manager Ozzie Guillen in tow and Jose Reyes, Carlos Zambrano, Mark Buehrle, and Heath Bell also along for the ride, the Miami Marlins are for real. They even went after Albert Pujols in free agency before the Angels swooped in at the last minute.
The Marlins roster already held tons of promise with young guys like Josh Johnson, Ricky Nolasco, and Gabby Sanchez leading the way.
Now they'll add a formidable challenge to Philadelphia and Atlanta at the top of their division.
The American League West race just got tougher after the Angels added Albert Pujols and the Rangers signed Yu Darvish.
The Texas Rangers will look to make it three AL Championships in a row in 2012. They're hoping the $100 million it took to land Japanese pitching sensation Yu Darvish will make that task easier.
Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson ending up in Angels uniforms was a bigger deal, though.
In one offseason, the AL West took the spot the AL East used to hold: two heavy spenders duking it out while the rest of the division has little to no chance at winning.
Don't laugh: the Washington Nationals are legit. Or at least, they're on the cusp of being legit.
Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, John Lannan, Edwin Jackson, and Jordan Zimmerman make up one of the deepest starting five in baseball. Throw in lights-out closer Drew Storen and most teams will struggle to put runs on the board against them.
If they can just be average with that lineup, i.e. Bryce Harper, the Nats could even make the playoffs in 2012.
Detroit solidified its spot as the only relevant team in the AL Central after inserting Prince Fielder into middle of the lineup.
Detroit surprised everyone when they signed Prince Fielder to a monster deal worth more than $200 million.
Coming off an AL Central title that was won by a whopping 15 games and with the best pitcher in the game, Justin Verlander, still around, the Tigers will once again run away with the division.
NL West is a complete free-for-all with all five mediocre teams having a legitimate shot at the playoffs.
Arizona won the division last season, but even though they have one of the best young players in the game in Justin Upton and solid pitching, many believe last year was a fluke.
The best hitter and pitcher in the NL West play for the Dodgers: Matt Kemp and Clayton Kershaw. The best pitching staff is in San Francisco, anchored by Matt Cain and Tim Lincecum. Meanwhile, Colorado and San Diego are probably only a few spare parts and lucky breaks from making a playoff run.
It's going to be an interesting summer out west.
We've already highlighted great young arms like Michael Pineda, Clayton Kershaw, Stephen Strasburg, and Josh Johnson, but the next wave of pitching phenoms doesn't end there.
Throw in the Tampa Bay Rays' Matt Moore, the Cardinals' Jaime Garcia, Milwaukee's Yovani Gallardo, and Derek Holland of Texas, and major league mounds will be in good hands for the next decade or longer.
Led by 2010 NL MVP Joey Votto, Brandon Phillips, and Jay Bruce, the Reds will score runs with ease.
Young studs Homer Bailey, Mat Latos, and Mike Leake will hold down the rotation while Cuban flame-thrower Aroldis Chapman learns the ropes as a starter.
Add in the fact that last year's two playoff teams from the NL Central, Milwaukee and St. Louis, lost a couple of big boppers to free agency, and Cincinnati could turn some heads in 2012.
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