SG over at RLYW has posted his initial CAIRO projected standings for the 2011 season, with the caveat that it is really, really early to be drawing significant conclusions from the data. Regardless, they should provide a decent guide for where teams stand relative to one another at this point, so click through to view the standings and then come back here for some takeaways:
1) The AL East should be a dogfight again, although the Red Sox (98 wins) are clearly ahead of the Yankees (89) and Rays (87) at this point. However, it is important to note that the Yankees and Rays are not finished products, while the Red Sox look largely complete. Adding Andy Pettitte, a bullpen arm, and a bench bat would likely put the Yankees in the 93 win range and in the conversation for a division title if they got a few breaks. Even without adding anybody, they should be good enough to compete for a wild card spot, which allows Brian Cashman some cushion before he needs to address the starting rotation.
2) The Blue Jays project to win 74 games, and I would not be surprised to see the Orioles pass them in the standings this season. The Jays are just mediocre all over the field, and losses in both the rotation and the bullpen will hurt them mightily.
3) The Twins, Tigers, and White Sox all project between 86 and 84 wins, and I could see that division going down to the wire, with the Twins the slight favorite to come out on top. However, an argument could be made that all 3 AL East teams are superior to any of the Central teams, and I think it likely that the Wild Card once again goes to an AL East team.
4) The Rangers project as being 7 wins better than the improved Athletics and a whopping 12 wins ahead of the still unfinished Angels. Adrian Beltre and Rafael Soriano would help close that gap, and move the Angels to within striking distance in the division. I do not see another logical suitor for either player, and expect both to land in Los Angeles.
5) Other than the Phillies, the NL is a morass of decent-to-mediocre clubs that should make for some fascinating races. The Cards, Brewers, Reds, Rockies, Giants, and Dodgers should all contend for their respective division titles, while the losers in those divisions will likely compete with the Braves for the Wild Card. The NL seems to have achieved some measure of parity, and I would not be at all surprised to see 3 new playoff teams come out of the league.