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If you can’t catch Sox fever, at least catch baseball fever

By Tom King - Staff Writer | Mar 28, 2024

Can you feel it in the air? Between the icy wind, the snow, the chill?

Baseball fever. We’re supposed to be catching it.

OK, we got a little warmer this weekend, but it’s still March but from now on there is baseball non-stop until very early November. But don’t worry, your Boston Red Sox won’t be playing then.

At least nobody thinks so.

It’s probably the last year for Alex Cora as manager. There are some good young arms led by Brayan Bello, but no real veteran starter other than Nick Pivetta to look up to. You have to think closer Kenley Janzen isn’t long for the roster, a valuable trade chip.

The Sox do have a couple of young position players to hang their hats on – first baseman Triston Casas and outfielders Jarren Duran and Cedanne Rafaela. Veterans Rafael Devers and Trevor Story are mainstays on the left side of the infield. Not great, but not without hope.

But the division is stacked, so we’ll see. Of course, it’s time to take a look at the whole deal, as we do every year. Last year we had the Guardians and Padres in the World Series. Close, right? Stop laughing. Who cares that neither made the playoffs?

So as we’re sure you’re all staying up tonight to catch the Sox opener at Seattle, here’s your 2024 Major League Season in a nutshell:

AL EAST – The Yankees would have been the pick here, until Gerritt Cole went down with elbow trouble. Forget it. Baltimore will win again, added Corbin Burnes, have pitching, new ownership, all the good stuff. The Yankees will edge Tampa for second, Toronto begins its slide into fourth despite its Vladimir Guerrero, Jr. led offense. sorry, Sox fans, fifth again.

AL CENTRAL – Can the Tigers finally push through? Despite a bad year they did improve in 2023, and they’ve got good young players led by center fielder Riley Greene. Can they pitch? They’re in a pitchers park so why not? The Twins never put two good years together, so we think they’ll drop back, because Carlos Correa is not all that and they suffered some free agent pitching losses. The Guardians won’t have Terry Franconia to steady the ship but could challenge for a playoff spot, while the White Sox are in sell mode already (see Dylan Cease), and the Royals are well, the Royals. That’s three, four and five if you’re keeping track.

AL WEST – The Astros won this title, the Rangers won the bigger won. Texas usually puts two good years together and then disappears a while; this is year two. But they don’t have Jordan Montgomery, and Max Scherzer is toast. Jacob de Grom may as well hang it up, he’s hurt all the time. Sorry, Rangers. The Astros own this division, with Seattle moving up to second (Julio Rodriguez is the real deal). The Ohtani-less Angels finish fourth (you bet) while the Triple A’s take the fifth.

NL EAST – It’s a Brave Old World. Atlanta is back the way it was in the 1990s, with the East title the third certainty behind death and taxes, led by Ronald Acuna, Jr. But the Braves are always about pitching and you know that old friend Chris Sale will be rejuvinated until he falls off his bicycle.

We love the Phillies but their pitching is getting on the older side, and they may slide to third while the up-and-coming Marlins take second for a playoff return, led by Luis Arraez. The Metsies are in rebuild mode and have no pitching with Pete Alonso set to be dealt at the deadline. The Door-Nats are, well, you know.

NL CENTRAL – Toughest division to figure. Can a manager like Craig Counsell make a difference, getting a Cubs team that faded last year to make the playoffs? We say the division, with the Sonny Gray-led Red right behind, and the Cardinals bouncing back to third. The Brewers take a tumble, while the Pirates show life but still can’t climb out of fifth despite young stars shortstop Oneill Cruz and catcher Henry Davis.

NL WEST – Ohtani’s gambling issues won’t stop the Dodgers, who just signed everyone in sight in the off-season. The Padres are without Juan Soto but he wasn’t all that for them last season, and they got so much pitching back they have to be improved. Can the D-Backs really be that good? They did add Jordan Montgomery, have good leadership, but something says third. The Giants added Blake Snell, but anybody else? The Rockies are holding up the rest of the division.


AL – Division champs Baltimore, Detroit, Houston, Wild Cards New York, Seattle, Tampa.

Pennant: Orioles. The Earl Weaver days are back.

NL – Braves, Cubs, Dodgers (Division champs); Marlins, Reds, Padres (Wild Cards).

Pennant: Braves. The champs are back in the series.

WORLD SERIES: Braves over Orioles. Sorry, Dodgers. Again, it’s a Brave Old World.

OK, fans, Clip, Save, and Laugh. And don’t eat too many Easter eggs this weekend.

Tom King may be reached at tking@nashuatelegraph.com, or on X at @Telegraph _TomK.


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