Repeat not in the Cards

There is a lot of uncertainty going into the start of the 2012 Major League Baseball season.

About the only surety is that the St. Louis Cardinals are far from a repeat winner. The Cardinals lost prized slugger Albert Pujols in free agency after beating the Texas Rangers in the World Series. With manager Tony LaRussa retired, the Cardinals will be lucky to even make the playoffs.

Instead, the new National League powerhouse figures to be a member of the NL East. While Philly has lost sluggers like Ryan Howard and Chase Utley for significant periods, they still have a fearsome rotation steadied by Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee. Division rivals the Miami Marlins look promising with Jose Reyes and Mark Buehrle in the fold.

More than likely, the 2012 champion will come out of the American League. Texas has good pieces like Josh Hamilton but they will be hard-pressed to win the AL West again in the face of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. With Pujols and former Rangers hurler C.J. Wilson in tow, 90-plus wins are a reasonable expectation.

The other juggernaut seems to be the Detroit Tigers. An already robust line-up got stronger with the addition of Prince Fielder and the pitching staff has a Cy Young arm in Justin Verlander. Anything less than 100 wins would have to be considered a disappointment.

Over in the AL East, the New York Yankees are not far off the pace. Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez and even C.C. Sabathia are aging stars but they have enough in the tank for another winning campaign. Whether that results in a division title or not figures to rest in how resilient the Tampa Bay Rays are, as opposed to arch-rivals the Boston Red Sox, who seem to be in disarray in spite of star talent Adrian Gonzalez.

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