**All projected rosters according to Baseball Prospectus**

 

1 - New York Yankees (101-61)

Projected Starting Lineup:

CF - Jacoby Ellsbury

SS - Derek Jeter

RF - Carlos Beltran

1B - Mark Teixeira

C - Brian McCann

DH - Alfonso Soriano

LF - Brett Gardner

3B - Kelly Johnson

2B - Brian Roberts

Projected Bench:

C - Francisco Cervelli

IF - Eduardo Nunez

IF - Brendan Ryan

OF - Ichiro Suzuki

Projected Starting Rotation:

1 - CC Sabathia

2 - Masahiro Tanaka

3 - Hiroki Kuroda

4 - Ivan Nova

5 - David Phelps

Projected Bullpen:

CL - David Robertson

SU - Shawn Kelley

SU - Dellin Betances

MID - Matt Thornton

MID - Preston Claiborne

MID - Cesar Cabral

LR - Adam Warren

One year removed from the playoffs and finishing the lowest in their Division since MLB revamped divisional structure in 1994, the New York Yankees once again made themselves the story of the offseason. The lineup overhaul is obvious with former rival Jacoby Ellsbury manning center field now in pinstripes thanks to a gaudy seven-year $153 million deal. Joining Ellsbury in the Bronx is new catcher Brian McCann (five years, $85 million), right-fielder Carlos Beltran (three years, $45 million) and prized Japanese pitching ace Masahiro Tanaka (seven years, $155 million). All in all, the Yankees spent almost half a billion dollars this past offseason.

2013 was riddled with injuries for the Yankees as 1B Mark Teixeira and SS Derek Jeter combined to only play 32 games. Both are expected to be ready for Opening Day in what will be an especially special season for Jeter. The future Hall of Famer announced in February that this 2014 campaign will be the last one for the shortstop's career.

The pitching was anchored by Hiroki Kuroda last year as on-paper ace CC Sabathia struggled throughout the year posting subpar numbers across the board. With Tanaka in the rotation alongside those two, the Yankees have a very formidable trio of aces.

No more "Enter Sandman" in the final inning at Yankee Stadium as legendary Mariano Rivera has retired. Premier set-up man David Robertson will be handed the closing duties out of the gate with eight career saves -- a number that is sure to rise substantially in 2014.

With all the impressive acquisitions and Yankees' history of molding top-tier talent into a cohesive winning ballclub, New York should reach the 100-win plateau for the first time since 2009.

 

2 - Boston Red Sox (94-68)

Projected Starting Lineup:

RF - Shane Victorino

LF - Daniel Nava

2B - Dustin Pedroia

DH - David Ortiz

1B - Mike Napoli

SS - Xander Bogaerts

C - A.J. Pierzynski

3B - Will Middlebrooks

CF - Jackie Bradley

Projected Bench:

C - David Ross

1B/OF - Mike Carp

IF - Jonathan Herrera

OF - Jonny Gomes

Projected Starting Rotation:

1 - Jon Lester

2 - John Lackey

3 - Clay Buchholz

4 - Jake Peavy

5 - Felix Doubront

Projected Bullpen:

CL - Koji Uehara

SU - Edward Mujica

SU - Junichi Tazawa

MID - Craig Breslow

MID - Andrew Miller

MID - Burke Badenhop

LR - Chris Capuano

The two-year journey of the Boston Red Sox in 2012 and 2013 is a well-documented one. From last in their Division with a putrid 69-93 record and the tribulations of players rebelling against new manager Bobby Valentine's regime, to a nearly 30-win turnaround a year later and World Series title under new manager John Farrell.

The core of last year's championship roster is still there with one notable omission. As previously stated, their sparkplug Ellsbury is Johnny Damon 2.0. Jarrod Saltalamacchia has been replaced with A.J. Pierzynski who continues to put up respectable hitting numbers for a catcher without being a complete liability behind the plate. Shane Victorino will be expected to fill the void of Ellsbury at the top of the lineup; it remains to be seen if he can match his resurgent 2013 campaign in which he posted a spectacular .351 OBP.

In 2012, David Ortiz put up good numbers, but was hammered by injuries limiting him to only 90 games. 2013 saw a complete season for the best designated hitter in the American League and his best season since 2007. He will continue to anchor a lineup also led by 2B Dustin Pedroia and 1B Mike Napoli. The true question of Boston's hitting this season is how their prospects will perform as they have now been entrusted with starting roles out of the gate.  Top prospect SS Xander Bogaerts made Stephen Drew expendable after a very good showing in the playoffs by batting .296 in October with a .412 OBP. Jackie Bradley struggled to make contact with just over 100 plate appearances in 2013, but showed an above-average eye at the plate. A few more balls in play and he could emerge as Boston's center fielder of the future.

The pitching remains solid from top to bottom with Jon Lester once again leading a rotation of John Lackey, Clay Buchholz and Jake Peavy. Buchholz, when healthy, is a legitimate Cy Young contender.

They may not be able to compete with the Yankees over the stretch of a 162-game season, but Boston will still be playing in October to defend their World Series championship.

 

3 - Tampa Bay Rays (84-78)

Projected Startling Lineup:

LF - David DeJesus

2B - Ben Zobrist

3B - Evan Longoria

RF - Wil Myers

DH - Matt Joyce

1B - James Loney

CF - Desmond Jennings

SS - Yunel Escobar

C - Ryan Hanigan

Projected Bench:

C - Jose Molina

IF/OF - Logan Forsythe

IF/OF - Sean Rodriguez

OF - Brandon Guyer

Projected Starting Rotation:

1 - David Price

2 - Alex Cobb

3 - Matt Moore

4 - Chris Archer

5 - Jake Odorizzi

Projected Bullpen:

CL - Grant Balfour

SU - Joel Peralta

SU - Jake McGee

MID - Heath Bell

MID - Juan Carlos Oviedo

MID - Brad Boxberger

LR - Cesar Ramos

It is the same old story for the Rays. Every year people assume their roster devoid of multiple superstars will catch up to them and they will fall down the cellar of the Division, and every year they are in a playoff hunt down to the final few weeks of the season. Their 2014 season's potential success is contingent on ace David Price remaining with the team through the year, obviously, as he continues to come up in trade rumors.

Price leads a very good -- and young -- rotation.  At 28 years old, Price is the elder statesman of a rotation housing 26-year-old Alex Cobb, 24-year-old Matt Moore, 25-year-old Chris Archer and 23-year-old Jake Odorizzi. Not to mention 26-year-old Jeremy Hellickson who figures to be on the disabled list when the season begins. The bullpen is the opposite as it is led by new veteran closer Grant Balfour and top-notch veteran set-up man Joel Peralta. Juan Carlos Oviedo (former closer for the Marlins under the name of Leo Nunez) is returning from injury and Heath Bell will help the bullpen depth and raise its average age number.

He hardly counts as a sleeper after a Rookie of the Year campaign in 2013, but if you fantasy nerds want someone under the radar who can put up top-pick numbers, look no further than Wil Myers. Myers had a number of growing pains to end the season, but his ceiling extends well above that of Tropicana Field's. He and Evan Longoria should create a terrifying duo in the middle of Tampa's lineup for many years to come. Since becoming a full-time player in 2009, super-utility man Ben Zobrist has not had an OBP lower than .346. Look for that trend to continue in 2014.

Go ahead and do what the rest of us are prone to and assume Tampa will fall below .500. Then join everyone in talking about how scrappy and impressive this team of try-hard winners is come September.

 

4 - Baltimore Orioles (81-81)

Projected Starting Lineup:

RF - Nick Markakis

3B - Ryan Flaherty

1B - Chris Davis

CF - Adam Jones

DH - Nelson Cruz

C - Matt Wieters

SS - J.J. Hardy

LF - David Lough

2B - Jemile Weeks

Projected Bench:

C/1B - Steve Clevenger

1B/OF - Steve Pearce

IF - Alexi Casilla

OF - Nolan Reimold

Projected Starting Rotation:

1 - Ubaldo Jimenez

2 - Chris Tillman

3 - Wei-Yin Chen

4 - Bud Norris

5 - Miguel Gonzalez

Projected Bullpen:

CL - Tommy Hunter

SU - Darren O'Day

SU - Ryan Webb

MID - Brian Matusz

MID - Brad Brach

MID - Zach Britton

LR - Suk-min Yoon

A quick fantasy baseball anecdote for you all. Chris Davis was literally just given away in a fantasy baseball league auction draft I was in last year. The owner filled out their team and told us to give whatever was left at the end of the draft to complete the roster. We gave them Chris Davis.

Davis is sure to regress from his astronomical power and on-base numbers he posted in 2013, but another 35-40 home-run season should be expected. Adam Jones is continuing the prime of his career while Manny Machado is recovering from leg surgery, but should return some time in May. J.J. Hardy is still one of the better shortstops in baseball while Matt Wieters is playing for a new contract and will attempt to prove why he was heralded as the messiah of catching just a few seasons ago coming up from the minors. And hey, after serving his PED suspension, Nelson Cruz is in Baltimore now and should approach the 30-home-run mark.

So, that sounds like a pretty stacked lineup, right? Why am I so down on Baltimore that I think they will finish fourth at .500? The pitching could prove to be their downfall in a heavy-hitting American League. The Ubaldo Jimenez signing was crucial for their hopes of competing and I applaud them for it. Chris Tillman should be a very good number-two starter while a healthy Wei-Yin Chen should be a stabilizing force. Bud Norris was atrocious for the Orioles with an ERA ballooning and opponents' batting average above .290. One fantasy GM move I have suggested Baltimore should do is try Norris at closer or set-up man and allow a rotation spot for top pitching prospect Kevin Gausman. As it stands, their great set-up man last year Tommy Hunter will close with a Darren O'Day setting him up surrounded by a slew of average-to-mediocre bullpen arms.

The lineup is good and the rotation is passable, but look for the Orioles' bullpen to cost them more than a few key wins throughout the season.

 

5 - Toronto Blue Jays (73-89)

Projected Starting Lineup:

SS - Jose Reyes

RF - Jose Bautista

1B - Edwin Encarnacion

DH - Adam Lind

CF - Colby Rasmus

LF - Melky Cabrera

3B - Brett Lawrie

C - Dioner Navarro

2B - Ryan Goins

Projected Bench:

C - Jose Thole

IF - Maicer Izturis

OF - Anthony Gose

OF - Moises Sierra

Projected Starting Rotation:

1 - R.A. Dickey

2 - Mark Buehrle

3 - Brandon Morrow

4 - J.A. Happ

5 - Kyle Drabek

Projected Bullpen:

CL - Casey Janssen

SU - Sergio Santos

SU - Steve Delabar

MID - Aaron Loup

MID - Jeremy Jeffress

MID - Brett Cecil

LR - Dustin McGowan

All right, let us quickly revisit 2013's offseason and season expectations. Remember when the Blue Jays were the sexy Division-winning pick and potential World Series contenders? We should all just ignore that because if you find my write-up from this time last year, you will see just that. The Blue Jays' high spending over a year ago proved to be futile and could keep the franchise in the cellar for many years to come.

While he was not completely awful for Toronto, 2012's National League Cy Young R.A. Dickey proved to be the poster boy for Toronto's struggles in 2013. Dickey cost the Blue Jays both their top hitting and pitching prospects in catcher Travis d'Arnaud and Noah Syndergaard -- both of whom expected to make an impact for the Mets this year. Now the only formidable prospect left is pitcher Aaron Sanchez who is not expected to be with the team until the summer of 2015.

So, what now for Canada's only MLB team? A few years of a moderately talented roster that simply cannot compete in the stacked A.L. East. Dickey and Mark Buehrle remain as the rotation's top starters when they would likely be in the bottom half of a rotation of any competing team. The other three spots are filled out by guys who have "Injury-prone" written before their names each time they wind up in print.

Casey Janssen emerged as one of those good closers on a bad team in 2013 and will likely continue doing the exact same job in 2014. In fact, the bullpen of him, Sergio Santos and Steve Delabar would be more than solid for most clubs, but should be involved with more clean-up duties than winning situations over this summer.

Jose Reyes will attempt to stay healthy this year, and if he does, then Toronto has an outside chance at sniffing .500. There are few players better than Reyes at sparking a lineup and with him on base, sluggers Edwin Encarnacion and Jose Bautista could have nice seasons. And darn it, I am finally ready to see Brett Lawrie reach his true potential.

Toronto was hampered by injuries and players not living up to expectations in a bitterly disappointing 2013 season. At least a year later their fans will expect it when it happens again.

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