Now that spring has sprung and baseball has begun, let's take a look at the 5 best teams in baseball. Regardless of division, regardless of races, these 5 should be the finest purveyors of baseball this year, in order of on-paper goodness.
Just the deepest team all around. The rotation is packed with talent—potentially 3 no. 1 starters in Dempster, Zambrano and Harden—plus a bullpen led by Carlos Marmol and his 117 K in 87 IP and aided by Kevin Gregg and potentially, Jeff Samardzija make for a formidable pitching department. Their lineup is nothing to sneeze at either and can get on base—a .354 OBP last year that should get better this year with Milton Bradley and a more MLB-ready Fukodome. All this makes them, at least on paper, the team to beat this year.
New York Yankees
Like the Cubs, they are loaded. A rebuilt rotation that features Sabathia, Wang, Burnett and Joba, the best reliever ever for the 9th inning, not to mention a deep bullpen, should lower last year's disappointing team ERA. And the lineup, freed of a lot of dead weight (read: Giambi) and adding Teixeira, and mighty mite, Brett Gardner to A-Rod, Jeter, and a rededicated Cano should improve on last year's 89 wins by at least 9 or 10 games.
Last year's World Series runners-up only got better. They added Pat Burrell for a lineup that could use some punch, and should have David Price for a full season. Also Scott Kazmir says he should be healthy and could use his full repertoire—something he said he was unable to do last year. They also added bullpen depth in Joe Nelson, Brian Shouse and Lance Cormier. All this makes the Rays a more complete and dangerous team this year—and potentially higher on this list.
Boston Red Sox
There's no way a team this talented should be 4th on this list. With Josh Beckett, Kevin Youkilis Dice-K Matsuzaka and Jonathan Papelbon as the big-time players, the Red Sox can add uber-talented youngsters MVP Dustin Pedroia, Jon Lester, Justin Masterson and Jacoby Ellsbury, all of who seem capable of playing at a high level for many years. The only weakness for the Sox could be health, where a number of players, including David Ortiz, J.D. Drew, Brad Penny, Rocco Baldelli and Mike Lowell need to be monitored all season.
New York Mets
The 2008 New York Mets will most likely be remembered for choking to the Phillies for the second season in a row. Which is a shame. They had some nice numbers on that squad; Wright's 124 RBI and .924 OPS, Reyes' 204 hits and 19 triples, Santana's 2.53 ERA and 206 strikeouts. But they couldn't seem to put it all together. 2009 might change that. Adding K-Rod and J.J. Putz to help a soft bullpen should pay dividends right away. Also, young Daniel Murphy, who had a nice callup last year, solidifies the LF position. The Mets have the starting pitching—with Santana, Oliver Perez and Mike Pelfrey—to compete in a short series, and now have the bullpen as well. They also have the bats; Wright, Reyes, Beltran and Delgado can hit with anyone. Again, as in the past two years, the Mets are one of the top teams in the NL—this could be the year they put it all together.
There it is: the 5 best teams in baseball 2009. At least on ink and paper. Write back with your opinion on your five best paper teams.