2023 Major League Baseball Preview and Predictions

Since it’s that time of year when I gleefully fuck up all of my fantasy baseball drafts, it’s also time to crank out my traditional blog post expounding on the upcoming MLB season! In the past, I’ve attempted to bring my knowledge to the masses using revolutionary advanced metrics comparing the league’s teams to beer, celebrities, and video games, but whereas I’m getting lazy and hyper-local in my old age, I’m shifting to the only comparison that matters: are they better than the Red Sox?

Let’s go!

AL East

New York Yankees
Better than the Red Sox?
You bet your ass.
Nevermind Tampa; this is the franchise the Sox should be trying to emulate. John Henry does not need another yacht more than I need an All-Star shortstop. The Yankees are proof that spending and winning does not mean you can’t build a solid farm system along the way too. I’d take top Yankee prospects Anthony Volpe, Oswald Peraza, Spencer Jones, and Jasson Dominguez over any Sox minor leaguer not named Marcelo Mayer in a heartbeat.

Toronto Blue Jays (wild card)
Better than the Red Sox?
Oh my shit yes.
Though I’m not convinced they didn’t get completely fleeced by the Diamondbacks in the deal that brought Daulton Varsho to town in exchange for Gabriel Moreno and Lourdes Gurriel Jr., the Jays are still one of the most complete squads in the league. They don’t have the same top line talent as the Yankees or Astros, but there are no real holes here.

Tampa Bay Rays
Better than the Red Sox?
Maybe not…
Look, I know Tampa’s probably got the best pitching staff in the division, but when I look at that lineup…man, I just can’t talk myself into this as a contending squad. I know they pull above average Major Leaguers out of obscurity like I pull giant hairs out of my nose, but that can’t be sustainable forever, right? I have to run out of nose hairs at some point, right. RIGHT?!?!?!

Boston Red Sox
Better than the Red Sox?
Technically not, because they are the Boston Red Sox and can not be better than themselves.
Jesus tap dancing Christ what in the fucking fuck I should’ve known they had zero intention of seriously trying to resign Xander Bogaerts or replace him with anyone halfway decent when the season ticket office wanted me to renew my seats months earlier than usual what in the god damn hell.

You’re going to detect a theme in this post, and it’s that I could not give less of a shit about the profit margins of billionaires. The owners of our major sports franchises have spent the last several decades transforming their teams from businesses to cultural institutions intrinsic to civic life within their markets, essentially by propagandizing the shit out of all their messaging–and the Boston Red Sox have been extra guilty of this. We weren’t watching the Sox win their first World Series in a century; we were Cowboying Up to Reverse the Curse. It’s not just Fenway Park anymore; it’s America’s Most Beloved Ballpark. The advertising surrounding that stadium is all about Making Memories rather than simply enjoying the product on the field. After very intentionally forging that kind of bond with customers who pay out the ass for everything you’re selling, going all shocked Pikachu face when your most dedicated fans boo you out of Mohegan Sun because you’re not holding up your end of the bargain proves you’re amazingly out of touch and makes all that prior messaging ring so false.

Billionaires should not exist, but if they have to, the least they can do is buy the locals a good fucking shortstop.

Baltimore Orioles
Better than the Red Sox?
As. If.
Call me when they’re spending some money to augment the core of supposed prospects they’re building. Adley Rutschman’s legit and there are more potential reinforcements on the way from the farm, but but it takes a lot more than one good catcher to make a baseball team.

AL Central

Cleveland Guardians
Better than the Red Sox?
Yes, even though they’re similarly frustrating.
This is a good club held back from achieving true greatness by its minuscule budget. A couple more stars on offense, and Cleveland would have a serious World Series contender on their hands, rather than just being the annual AL Central champs by default.

Chicago White Sox
Better than the Red Sox?
Yes, but only because they’ll probably be healthier.
This is what you get when you focus too much on building from within when you aren’t actually very good at it. Do you like this? Do you like hoping a bunch of confused kids just might find a way to put it together every season? Does this look fun to you? Look at it, Chaim, and recognize the future I desperately need you to avoid.

Minnesota Twins
Better than the Red Sox?
Yes, by a hair.
Oh look, a team that paid up to keep their amazing shortstop. I’m not jealous or anything. Sure, the route to bringing back Carlos Correa was more convoluted than delivering a ring to Mt. Doom, but at least he’s there.

Kansas City Royals
Better than the Red Sox?
Only if we’re judging teams based on their home parks’ water features.
Sure, there are some interesting young players here, but I don’t believe for a second that Kansas City will be a contender again within the next decade. Too many of their top prospects have turned out to be either “just ok” or “future Yankees bench/bullpen pieces” for this to work. Pay attention, Chaim.

Detroit Tigers
Better than the Red Sox?
The part of me that enjoys being an asshole wants to say yes, but holy shit what even is this team?
Detroit has had picks in the top twenty slots of the first round seven years in a row. Turns out developing toolsy young players is a lot harder than getting high draft picks to begin with. Detroit’s proven they just can’t handle that part, and now they’re porked. I’d argue their best option is to reverse course, trade every prospect they can for proven major leaguers, and cross their fingers. Give me the reverse Rays, you cowards!

AL West

Houston Astros
Better than the Red Sox?
Like pizza is better than sawdust.
Fantastic squad, but also, fuck them for making the tank-and-build approach work. We all love crapping on Tampa, but it was really the Astros who gave most of the rest of the league cover to be cheap fucks who don’t even try most years. Buncha jerks.

Seattle Mariners (wild card)
Better than the Red Sox?
Yes, and they should stay that way for a while.
General Manager Jerry DiPoto has not been afraid to make moves that improve his roster around the edges while waiting for his top prospects to bake. Strangely, though, Seattle failed to push the envelope this offseason–and I think that’s going to lead to a lot of

Los Angeles Angels (wild card)
Better than the Red Sox?
Tyler Anderson, Gio Urshela, Hunter Renfroe, and Brandon Drury aren’t quite stars, but they’re acquisitions that fill this team’s biggest need: depth. Surrounding Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani with basic competence should give the Angels enough oomph to finally make the playoffs again

Texas Rangers
Better than the Red Sox?
Solid yes.
Last year, it was Seager and Semien. This year, Eovaldi and deGrom. The Rangers are trying so hard and I am here for it. I still think they might be one more big bat away (particularly in the outfield), but I would not be the least bit surprised if they were in the wildcard race until the last few games of the year.

Oakland Athletics
Better than the Red Sox?
Absolutely not.
Is this even a baseball team anymore? The only market inefficiency the A’s are chasing these days is that suck ass players are significantly cheaper than actual good ones. Everybody involved should be ashamed of themselves.

NL East

Philadelphia Phillies
Better than the Red Sox?
So much better I need to change my pants.
Give me the Dombrowski method any day of the week. Do I care that it likely means a total meltdown once the core ages out? Not one bit! Just go out there and sign more dudes when that happens, you dopes.

Atlanta Braves (wild card)
Better than the Red Sox?
So, so, so, so much better.
They’re kind of like the Red Sox, given that they’ve recently had a few homegrown stars leave while getting nothing in return. The difference, of course, is that the Braves are a player development machine and the Red Sox are frantically Googling “how to recycle thousands of Bobby Dalbec and Jarren Duran bobbleheads.”

New York Mets (wild card)
Better than the Red Sox?
Yes sir.
When the Mets lost ace Jacob deGrom to free agency, they went out and got Justin Verlander–who’s probably an upgrade, because he’s more likely to stay healthy. This was very wise. So, when the Red Sox lost Xander Bogaerts to free agency, they…uh…huh…

Miami Marlins
Better than the Red Sox?
Definitely not.
The bottom of the NL East is about the point where I get tired of writing about half-assed teams. Sure, they’re fun to shit on, but it’s disheartening, you know? Is this seething morass of cheap bullshit masquerading as “responsible team building” really what America’s Pastime has become? Is it too late to curb the worst impulse of the parasitic billionaires sucking all the blood right out of our athletic institutions? And if it’s not, can we at least cap the price of beer and hot dogs so I can pretend like a day at the ballpark is more than a dark metaphor for the kind of rampant capitalism pricing us all out of the American Dream? Gosh.

Washington Nationals
Better than the Red Sox?
No, sir, this is a Wendy’s.
This team won the World Series four years ago. I had completely forgotten that. Now, it’s a broken down Stephen Strasburg and a pile of “potential” that might win 65 games if everything goes well. This is definitely better than having Trea Turner and Juan Soto. Holy shit.

NL Central

St. Louis Cardinals
Better than the Red Sox?
Yes, in every way imaginable.
The only team in this division that’s worth a damn just keeps cranking out legit players–but that hasn’t stopped them from paying to bring in the stars necessary to keep them at the top. Love it.

Chicago Cubs
Better than the Red Sox?
Roughly even, I think.
As I’m sure you’ve anticipated, I dig that the Cubs are willing to spend again. New shortstop Dansby Swanson was the main guy I was hoping the Sox would bring in after they lost Bogaerts. Jameson Taillon should be a solid number 2 in their rotation. They’re still a few pieces away, though, and I think they would’ve been better served investing in long term pieces rather than questionable short term rentals like Bellinger, Mancini, and Hosmer.

Milwaukee Brewers
Better than the Red Sox?
If they could hit at all, they would be.
That pitching staff remains amazing, but I don’t see them scoring enough runs for it to matter. I suspect the Brewers’ ongoing decision to punt on offense is entirely based around minimizing the cost of Bernie Brewer home run slides.

Pittsburgh Pirates
Better than the Red Sox?
Get the fuck out of here with this nonsense.

Cincinnati Reds
Better than the Red Sox?
Yes. (Kidding.)
Jesus tap dancing Christ.

NL West

San Diego Padres
Better than the Red Sox?
Do you really have to ask?
Oh, you were expecting someone else here? The Friars are frickin’ stacked. I love, love, love that after a couple years of having the best farm system in baseball they decided “fuck this, we actually want to win” and traded everything not named Fernando Tatis for quality Major Leaguers. Totally pulling for my boy Xander.

Los Angeles Dodgers (wild card)
Better than the Red Sox?
Oh hell yeah.
Still a magnificent stallion of a baseball team, but this time around there are enough question marks to make it likely they won’t be quite as good as they were last year. Gone is all-world shortstop Trea Turner, but hey, here’s Gavin Lux! Uh-oh, he’s hurt, and now we’re running all-glove-no-hit Miguel Rojas at short and all-bat-no-glove Miguel Vargas up the middle. Jason Turner’s gone, which leaves a toughness and leadership void. The outfield’s looking a little questionable around Mookie Betts. Clayton Kershaw, Noah Syndegaard, and Dustin May are all excellent pitchers whose arms could fall off at any moment. That next generation of top prospects is going to have to step up big; some of them will, as the Dodgers have more than a touch of that Cardinals voodoo to ’em, but some of ’em also surely won’t.

Arizona Diamondbacks
Better than the Red Sox?
I kinda think so, yeah.
The Snakes are my personal dark horse this year. There’s juuuuuuuust enough here to make things interesting, both in terms of overlooked veterans and toolsy youngsters that could take the next step. For my money, they totally fleeced Toronto in the Daulton Varsho trade; Lourdes Gurriel and Gabriel Moreno could easily return as much production individually as the team gave up to get them. I don’t think they can catch the Dodgers, but if one of the wild cards in the East stumbles…Arizona looks like they might be the next man up.

San Francisco Giants
Better than the Red Sox?
The Giants have made something out of nothing better than perhaps any other team in the league the last two years, but man, looking at that roster gives me the shakes. No thanks.

Colorado Rockies
Better than the Red Sox?
No way.
The mountains are blue because this team sucks.

World Series: San Diego Padres over New York Yankees

In Conclusion…

If I counted right, my amazing new metric describes the Boston Red Sox as the nineteenth-best team in MLB, which feels about right. If you squint real hard and pretend injuries aren’t a thing, you can kind of see a competitive team here. Though the lineup lacks a legitimate star outside of Rafael Devers, there may be fewer gaping holes there, the bullpen has definitely been improved, and there is some definite depth to the rotation. The Sox look to me like the kind of squad that’s going to be streakier than my eTrade account, so steel yourself for a bit of whiplash in the local discourse as Sully from Revere declares them world champions one week and then craps on them as a total shit show the next.

But they’re not fooling me, even when they inevitably sweep the Yankees at Fenway.