With the beautiful words "Play ball!'' only a few hours away, I am inspired to do my one and only power rankings of the year. Feel free to save, post or republish for potential ridicule later.
Here goes, 1 through 30 ...
1. Tigers. Jim Leyland's team has a first four in the rotation to match anyone (except maybe the Angels and Phillies) and probably the best one-two lineup punch in the game in Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder, and you know octagenarian owner Mike Ilitch will do whatever's necessary when the time comes.
2. Angels. When Ervin Santana is your No. 4 starter and Mark Trumbo (29 home runs as a rookie) can't crack the lineup, how bad can you be?
3. Rangers. Someone claimed they detected a bit of a World Series hangover in their clubhouse, but even if there was a trace of it in spring training, I can't see it going into the season for this ultra-talented and normally very focused bunch.
4. Rays. One through five, the best rotation in the game. Manager, defense also top shelf.
5. Yankees. A lot of talent, but a little bit of age brings concern.
6. Cardinals. Defending champs ovelooked without Albert, Tony and Dunc. But still plenty good.
7. Diamondbacks. Of all the playoff teams, they had the most productive winter (Trevor Cahill, Jason Kubel, Takashi Saito, etc.)
8. Nationals. If John Lannan can't make the rotation, that's a good sign.
9. Phillies. Still the only team with three legit aces (and their fourth starter ain't bad either). Yet, a fair amount of uncertainty in the field, especially regarding stars Chase Utley and Ryan Howard.
10. Dodgers. As D-Backs GM Kevin Towers said, they have the best pitcher (Clayton Kershaw) and best player (Matt Kemp) in the National League. Not a bad start.
11. Brewers. The Matt Gamel-Aramis Ramirez combo may come close to approximating Prince Fielder's production. Zack Greinke looks primed for a monster year.
12. Marlins. Could go either way, but the upside is tremendous. Very exciting and talented group; will be interesting to see if it comes together.
13. Red Sox. Andrew Bailey injury adds to pitching concerns.
14. Blue Jays. Coming on strong. Would not be shocked to see them finish third, or even second, in almost impossibe A.L. East. GM Alex Anthopoulos continues gathering talent.
15. Reds. Supremely talented, but wonder a bit about the rotation. Ryan Madson injury a blow.
16. Rockies. Did nice job of adding some veteran presence (Michael Cuddyer, Marco Scutaro, Jeremy Guthrie) and really veteran presence (Jamie Moyer). Still a bit too much youth in the rotation to think they're a playoff team.
17. Giants. Return of Buster Posey and expected emergence of Brandon Belt makes them a threat with that great pitching.
18. Braves. Had unusually rough spring following late-season collapse, lowering expectations
19. White Sox. Assuming Adam Dunn has re-emerged from one-year hibernation (and it looks like he has), they should be better than last year.
20. Royals. Love the track they are on, but they suffered bad luck this spring (two catchers going down while squatting in the bullpen); need young starters Luke Hochevar and Danny Duffy to come through.
21. Padres. Plenty of young talent on the way, maybe more than anyone.
22. Twins. They underachieved for the first time last year, but don't be shocked if they get back to their usual overachieving. Stars Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau remain the biggest keys.
23. Mets. While they were annoyed by a spate of injuries this spring, Johan Santana looks like he's ready to be a star again, and Ike Davis and Lucas Duda may step forward.
24. Pirates. Recent efforts may start to pay off soon. Probably a year away from first winning season since 1992, however.
25. Indians. They need Ubaldo Jimenez and Derek Lowe to rebound and Roberto Hernandez (Fausto Carmona) to appear.
26. Mariners. Look for them to be great sometime soon with a special quartet of young pitchers coming -- Danny Hultzen, Taijuan Walker, James Paxton and Erasmo Ramirez. But not this year.
27. Orioles. They're getting better but the division ain't getting any easier.
28. Cubs. The plan may take awhile.
29. A's. They look like they are playing for 2014, but Yoenis Cespedes and Manny Ramirez (48 games from now) should keep things fairly interesting.
30. Astros. Major, major rebuilding job.