With 162 games, it's safe to say most predictions for the Major League Baseball season before Opening Day are stupid. Players will get hurt, traded, called up, sent down or suspended. But that's not stopping me from giving my take on the upcoming season.
NL East Winner: Philadelphia Phillies
Pitching wins. Plain and simple. A rotation of Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt, Cole Hamels and Gary Coleman could lead a team to the playoffs. I'm not saying Joe Blanton is comparable to Coleman. I'm saying that it doesn't matter who the No. 5 guy is when you have those four in front of him.
|Roy: "Really, Tim? You only weight 120 pounds. |
I put you at no less than 130."
The lineup is a big question mark. No one knows when Chase Utley will be back. He said the goal is to return before the All-Star Game. Ryan Howard and Jimmy Rollins are both a year older and were injured last year, and Placido Polanco is hurting too. On top of that, the team still doesn't have an answer to right field.
On top of injuries to the lineup, closer Brad Lidge will be out for a while because of a partially torn rotator cuff. Of course, when you have guys like Halladay and Lee going at least seven innings a night, bullpen problems become less of an issue.
NL Central Winner: St. Louis Cardinals?
The question mark is because this division is really up for grabs. Every team has major flaws, whether it be injuries, lineups, pitching depth or the bullpen. I picked the Cardinals because I just don't trust any of the other teams to do what it takes. The winner of this division will probably do so with 84 wins.
NL West Winner: San Francisco Giants
Once again, pitching wins. The Giants have a lot of it. They also have a quality lineup, especially if Brandon Belt contributes like he is supposed to. This is a scary team and they have the firepower to hold off the talented Colorado Rockies.
NL Wildcard: Rockies
OK, so I am completely going against my theory of never picking a team with Ty Wigginton to do anything remotely good. But this team has a lot of promise. Even the league's top pitchers have to be a little worried about having to face Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki back-to-back. These are two MVP candidates that can rake. They are both going to hit 30 home runs this year, and Ubaldo Jimenez and solid bullpen will help them beat out the Atlanta Braves for the final playoff spot.
NL MVP: Tulowitzki
It was between him and Gonzalez. I flipped a coin. Tulo is going to be healthy this year and do amazing things.
NL Cy Young: Halladay
With all the question marks surrounding the Phillies lineup, it makes Halladay's role that much more important. He will answer the task, win more than 20 games with an ERA below 2.50.
NL Rookie of the Year: Not qualified to answer
Honestly, I don't know crap about rookies. I don't go to minor league games and can just go by what other media say in their stories. Apparently this Belt guy and Atlanta's Freddie Freeman are supposed to be really good. We'll see.
NL Champion: Giants
They are going to take down the Phillies in the NLCS again because I don't trust the Phillies to be able to last. The chances of Utley, Howard, Rollins, Polanco and Lidge being healthy in October are slim. Their pitching is great, but the Giants have a rotation that in almost just as good.
Worst team in the NL: Houston Astros
Seriously. They are going to be worse than the Pittsburgh Pirates. People make fun of the Pirates rotation, but who do the Astros have? Their lineup is a joke and Brandon Lyon is their closer. They will suck.
AL East Winner: New York Yankees
I understand that the Boston Red Sox bought a lot of good players this offseason. I get that some of their key guys are healthy. But I don't like their rotation or their bullpen. After Jon Lester, they have a lot of problems. Josh Beckett and John Lackey were terrible last year, no one knows what Dice-K is going to do and Clay Buchholtz doesn't look like he is going to be the future ace the team once thought he was. And I hate Johnathan Papelbon. And I really hate how announcers say the face he makes on the mound actually intimidates grown men.
|Is there a worse picture of Cameron Diaz out there?|
The Yankees are not without their problems. They have two starters and then a bunch of mediocre guys. Their lineup is getting old. But they are still the most dangerous lineup in the league. A healthy A-Rod with no steroid controversy over his head to start the season could hit 40 homers again, Robinson Cano is hitting his prime, and Mark Teixeira is going to hit 30 or more home runs. This is still a strong team.
AL Central Winner: Chicago White Sox
It's between the Sox and the Minnesota Twins. It will probably come down to Game 163 again.
AL West Winner: Texas Rangers
Remember when I said pitching is what makes champions in this league? Please ignore that for a moment. The Oakland Athletics have a great rotation, but they might not have a player hit 20 or more home runs this season. The Rangers, while they might have some problems in the pitching department, have six or seven guys that could hit more than 20 home runs and a few guys that could top 30 in Josh Hamilton and Nelson Cruz. In the end, the Rangers' slugging will trump the Athletics' superior rotation.
AL Wild Card: Red Sox
I hate this team, but they are going to win 95 games this year.
AL MVP: Adrian Gonzalez
The man put up huge numbers in the spacious Petco Park in San Diego. I can't imagine the damage he is going to do Boston. It's not just the park. He is going to have protection behind him and a lot more runners on base in front of him. It's not crazy to say he could hit 45-50 homers and 140 RBIs this year.
|Can we please have a salary cap?!|
AL Cy Young: Felix Hernandez
He might only get 10 wins, but all of his other stats will be great. It was either him or CC Sabathia. The rest of the pitchers in the AL just don't stand out this year. Come back Roy!
AL Rookie of the Year: J.P. Arencibia
I'm not qualified to answer this question either, but the young Blue Jays catcher could hit 20-25 home runs this year. He just might have a batting average of .220 to go along with it.
AL Champions: Yankees
They have major questions now that money and trades can answer come July. I'm still praying for the year the season ends and neither the Yankees or Red Sox are in the playoffs. I will riot like Habs fans after a Game 1 win in the first round of the playoffs.
Worst team in the AL: Seattle Mariners
Remember when the team acquired Cliff Lee and were expected to do great things? That was fun for the whole one month it lasted. They have the worst lineup in the majors and only have one pitcher to try and make up for it.
The Kansas City Royals are an honorable mention as they have a worse rotation than the Pirates and Astros. Their "ace" is Luke Hochevar. The same Luke Hochevar who has a career ERA of 5.60.
World Series Champions: Giants
If that pitching stays healthy, they have the most complete team in the majors. And that's even with Pat "The Stat" Burrell roaming left field like the lost, overgrown child who has not yet realized how to coordinate his limbs he is.
Violent Femmes - Blister in the Sun