Season 37 Recap
Arizona took the world by storm with its defense, pitching, and infield-hits formula (although to be fair, Minnesota has played much the same brand for years) and advanced all the way to the WS before falling to the Mets. Seattle avenged its Season 36 near-miss with a Wild Card. Anaheim went through a second re-tooling in 3 years, and Oakland edged closer to total rebuild mode.
Season 38 Preview
The D'backs seek to defend the crown by one, boosting the offense (they've moved Luis Mendoza back to RF and installed Carlos Gonzalez as the DH), and two, replacing Midre Espinosa's innings with Julio Pettit, Doug Stoops and Alex Leach. I like the moves, although it wouldn't surprise me to see them drop off by a few wins. Seattle pumped up its farm system with the Otto Little trade; they'll compete, but can they catch AZ without an ace? Anaheim has fully committed to its youth movement with 6 rookies on the ML roster. With a total payroll of only $40MM, watch for the Halos to be big players in the IFA market. Oakland got a couple of prospects for Al Rosado and appears poised to trade other vets like Tony Chirinos, Stevie Foltynewicz, and others. Their recent drafts have been very productive, netting Kiko Malone in Season 35, Pepe Lopez and Chris Goldberg in Season 36, and Stefen Brock in Season 37 (plus 7 first-round supplementals in those drafts). Things can turn pretty fast when you build up that many minor-league assets.
Arizona again, as all 3 of their competitors have committed to rebuilding or at least stepping back a bit. Seattle should be the most competitive again. I wouldn't be surprised if they stayed close to AZ all year, or even if they grabbed a Wild Card, but it will take some heroic performances from unlikely players.