Barry Laminack: Breaking down the MLB teams -- who are the real contenders?

The Yankees will be among baseball's elite. Abbie Parr/Getty Images

It's Thursday, March 15 which means March Madness is officially underway and if you read my article from last week you know that I don't give a bleep, so let's talk some baseball!

I’ll do a division-by-division breakdown as we get close to opening day, and with a few key free agents still out on the open market, things could change a little between now and then.

For today's exercise, here are the categories we’ll be using to group teams:

Elite (90+ wins) - The best of the best. Any of these teams could end up in the World Series.

Good (80-89 wins) - These are the teams that should be in the wild card hunt all year.

Undecided (75-85 wins) - Teams that could end up being in the hunt for a wild card, but could also not reach 80 wins. These teams either have health or rotation questions (or both).

Close (65-75 wins) - Teams that are in the midst of a rebuild but could be good in the next couple of years.

Bad (<65 wins) - Teams that are starting a rebuild (or should be starting a rebuild) and are going to suck for the next 4-plus years.


Chicago Cubs

Cleveland Indians

Houston Astros

Los Angeles Dodgers

New York Yankees

Washington Nationals


Arizona Diamondbacks

Boston Red Sox

Colorado Rockies

Los Angeles Angels

Milwaukee Brewers

Minnesota Twins

St. Louis Cardinals


New York Mets

Seattle Mariners

San Francisco Giants

Texas Rangers

Toronto Blue Jays


Atlanta Braves

Chicago White Sox

Philadelphia Phillies


Baltimore Orioles

Cincinnati Reds

Detroit Tigers

Kansas City Royals

Miami Marlins

Oakland Athletics

Pittsburgh Pirates

Tampa Bay Rays

San Diego Padres

Last year I made a pretty bold prediction in saying that the Rockies would make the playoffs (I had one guy tell me I didn’t know sh-- about baseball and should be kicked off the radio because of this prediction), so what’s my bold prediction for this year?

You’ll have to wait a week or two.


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Another tough loss for the Texans. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images.

The Houston Texans started fast but faltered late as the New York Jets hand Houston their ninth loss of the season 21-14. Here are 11 observations from the game.

1. Starting safety Justin Reid was benched for the game. David Culley said after the game it was his decision as head coach and he would keep the matter internal with Reid.

2. This is the third defender benched for disciplinary reasons this season. Reid joins Zach Cunningham and Desmond King as players who missed time for discipline.

3. Justin Reid told Fox 26 he was benched because he had a disagreement with the coaching staff. He also said he was shocked the Texans benched him. You have to wonder if the “culture” the team is building is right when one of the more likable and personable players falls victim to their rules. Reid, who is a free agent this offseason, could leave the Texans.

4. Tyrod Taylor had a couple of nice plays early on for the Texans. His willingness to take some shots downfield was refreshing and led to a touchdown pass to Brandin Cooks.

5. Rookie tight end Brevin Jordan found the end zone. He has played well in recent weeks after finally getting on the field. Jordan is playing over Jordan Akins as Akins was a healthy scratch again this week.

6. Tytus Howard started at left tackle with mixed results. Howard has struggled to find his way at guard but could be a long-term option at tackle if given the chance.

7. The offensive line overall played poorly after some early success. The pass rush of the Jets got going and the run blocking was poor again. Lane Taylor played at left guard some, with Max Scharping also playing some at that spot.

8. The offense was horrendous after the two scoring drives. The Texans amassed 202 net yards with 91 yards coming on those two scoring drives. Houston gained just 49 net yards after their opening three drives.

9. After the game, I asked David Culley if he would be making a change with his play-caller. Culley stood behind offensive coordinator Tim Kelly and said he would remain the team’s play-caller.

10. Second-year defensive lineman Ross Blacklock had two horrible errors that handed the Jets a chance to turn three points into seven points. Blacklock got a personal foul on a field goal attempt giving the Jets a first down. The very next play his offsides penalty erased a sack. Each week Blacklock falls even more behind a bevy of players drafted after him who contribute positively on a regular basis.

11. The loss to another bottom-dweller has the Texans back in the second spot in the 2022 NFL Draft order. It also feels like the deflating nature of this loss erased some of the good feelings after the victory over the Titans. The Indianapolis Colts come to Houston next week to begin December’s portion of the schedule.

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