OK, so the 2009 season has just gotten underway, and I’ve been swamped with people who want my perspective on what is going to happen. I’ve made this blog to address this and a lot more. So here is what to look for this season.
1. Boston Red Sox- This prediction is becoming a tradition, teams seem to shuffle below the Sox, but they always finish at the top. This year should be no different. Their starting rotation is one of the best in baseball and Beckett, Dice-K, and Lester are extremely difficult to beat in a seven game series. I expect a big year out of Jason Bay, who is in his contract year, and a bounce back season from J.D. Drew. Look for them to be right there in October.
2. New York Yankees- With all the money they spent, they better be up here. Baseball starts with pitching and their starting rotation is great. Andy Pettitte is a great number five starter. As always, you worry about injuries and expectations taking their toll on the team, but I think this should be the year they get back to the post season.
3. Tampa Bay Rays- A lot of people are calling for a huge drop off from the Rays this year. Barring major injuries, I don’t see that happening. I love their entire pitching staff. Their starting rotation is good enough that they can keep David Price at triple A to start the year. The lineup is full of young guys that are prone to inconsistency, but they are all unbelievably talented. They are a great team, just not great enough to beat out the Yanks and Sox for a playoff berth.
4. Baltimore Orioles- A lot to like here compared to previous years. Matt Weiters and the addition of Adam "Don't Call Me Pac Man" Jones give them two legit superstars in the making. They have a lot of young guys that are a couple years away, but they will continue to struggle until they develop and they replace Jeremy Guthrie as staff ace.
5. Toronto Blue Jays- This team has a very talented bullpen, staff ace, and outfield. The rest of the roster leaves a lot to be desired. The lineup lacks punch outside of Rios and Wells and the rotation sucks outside of Halleday. They are an easy choice for last in the division. Next year, with Marcum and McGowen back, will be a different story.
1. Minnesota Twins- If I loved their rotation anymore, you could call me a gay. This rotation is going to be absolutely dirty, and now. Liriano, Baker, and Slowey rival any one-two-three punch, and Blackburn and Perkins are not far behind. Their bullpen is thin, but with Nathan and Crain they should be okay. Their lineup is not amazing, but with the pitchers only giving up 3 runs a game, they won’t need that much offense. Look for Carlos Gomez to turn into more than a speedster with a good all around season.
2. Detroit Tigers- My favorite team, so it’s hard to view them objectively. My first impulse was to have them winning the division, but then I remembered that our bullpen sucks, the rotation has a ton of question marks and we've put ourselves into a position where Marcus Thames needs to play regularly. On the positive side, that rotation with so many question marks also has a ton of talent, and our lineup can put runs on the board with anyone. I think we'll fall just short of the postseason.
3. Kansas City- Surely you jest, but not so fast. The royals have put together a rotation you can work with, a reliable bullpen, and a lineup filled a lot of young talented players mixed with valuable veterans. Once again, I'm going to tell you to look out for Billy Butler in the MVP talk, he can absolutely stick. This will be the year they rise out of mediocrity into the middle of the pack.
4. Cleveland Indians- The Indians are the sexy pick in the division, but quite frankly, they don’t scare me. Outside of Lee and Carmona, they have no established major league starting pitchers, and even Lee and Carmona have been hot and cold. Their lineup could be deadly, but has been ravished by injuries in the past. If they stay healthy and some pitching steps up they could finish better than this, but I don’t see it.
5. Chicago White Sox- Man, they got old in a hurry. It’s not good when your three top offensive weapons are older than some dinosaurs. The bullpen has issues, the rotation faded down the stretch and they're old as all get out. Not sold on these guys.
1. Seattle Mariners- Well, I bought in to the hype last year, and I'm buying them again this year, with less hype. Granted their bullpen is a mess, and the rotation has holes, but overall, I think they are good enough to win this pathetic division. Felix Hernandez has a Cy Young in his near future, it may be this year, I’m not sure, but he is a keeper. Although Bedard has no friends, he still is a very good pitcher when healthy. I think he will be, and I think Ichiro, Jose Lopez, and Jeff Clement will lead a surprisingly potent offense.
2. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim or whatever- This team is an example of how spending the most money doesn’t always make you a winner. I think the rotation is overrated, and the lineup has no pop. You can’t argue with their bullpen, but if they don’t have a lead to protect.......
3. Texas Rangers- Same Old, Same Old. They never learn. Having a potent offense only gets you so far. Their powerful lineup will keep them in games, but Kevin Millwood and Vicente Padilla at the top of the rotation is terrible. Their bullpen is unsettled as well. If suddenly their staff steps up they could be dangerous, but they haven’t stepped us for the last ten years, no reason to think they will this year.
4. Oakland Athletics- Not that there was much here to begin with, but their hopes have taken two huge hits with injuries to Justin Duchscherer and Joey Devine. The lineup in weak, the rotation is awful and Brad Ziegler is the only pen guy that is experienced, and I have a hunch that people will figure him out this year. Potentially the worst team in the AL.
1. New York Mets- A lot to like here and a lot to dislike. Their lineup is as potent as it gets, Reyes, Beltran, Wright, and Delgado are all MVP candidates. Santana is Santana and Oliver Perez, Mike Pelfrey, and John Maine are good too, but the fifth spot is anyone’s guess. It’s hard to kick on having K-Rod and Putz in the same bullpen too. If all goes right and they avoid major injuries, I think they should be a participant in this year’s World Series.
2. Philadelphia Phillies- The defending champions still have a lineup to die for. Top to bottom, they’re loaded. The bullpen is solid as well. I’m not sold on the rotation because they lack a decent starter beyond Hamels and Myers. I think the offense will be able to compensate for a lot of this, but I think their poor rotation will keep them from winning the division.
3. Florida Marlins- As you can tell, I love young, talented rotations and Florida qualifies here. Nolasco also has a Cy Young in his future. Johnson and Volstad have developed into reliable starters and I’m a believer in both Andrew Miller and Anibal Sanchez. Throw those guys with Hanley Ramirez and Dan Uggla, and you could have a huge surprise in the AL East.
4. Atlanta Braves- The Braves are a team that could finish a lot higher than this, depending on health. The lineup is average, but serviceable. I like the rotation, especially Japanese import Kenshin Kawakami. Lowe and Vasquez are nice at the top of the rotation as well. The bullpen will be an issue all year as we discover that Mike Gonzalez is not a closer.
5. Washington Nationals- There’s more to like here than normal. The staff has some nice guys to work with. I like Lannen and Olsen and the bullpen is in decent hands with Joel Hanrahan and Saul Rivera. The offense will be punch less despite signing Adam Dunn. It’s just not going to happen.
1. St. Louis Cardinals- A lot of people have jumped on the Cardinal bandwagon this year, and I’ve got to admit, I’m with them. I like their rotation and think that Wainwright and Carpenter are going to be phenomenal this year. The bullpen is not very glamour, but they got the job done last year and will again this year. With Skip Schumaker at second, it gives them another power bat in the outfield. Put all that with the best player in the Nation League and you have a division winner.
2. Chicago Cubs- There isn’t anything wrong with the Cubs this year. Just like there wasn’t anything wrong with the Cubs last year. Whatever it is, there’s something about the Cubs that keeps them from being winners. The lineup is solid, the rotation could be spectacular, and the bullpen will be solid. Just don’t see it this year.
3. Milwaukee Brewers- Not being able to resign CC Sabathia really hurts them entering this year. It leaves them with Yovani Gallardo and Jeff Suppan at the top of the rotation. The lineup is full of solid hitters. The bullpen is alright but not great. This should be an average team this year unless they trade for some pitching.
4. Houston- Another average team. They don’t everything ok but don’t excel anywhere. I think they should hover around .500 all season. The lineup has Carlos Lee and Lance Berkman, but the rotation has Brian Moehler as the third starter, which could prove to be an issue. Not much upside to this team.
5. Cincinnati Reds- I think this is the boom or bust team in the division. The rotation has the guns to be a brilliant, lights out unit, or they could continue to struggle with control and emotions. The bullpen is solid as well. The lineup has its bright spots but also has some holes. Although they signed Willy Taveras, they still have no true table setter. They should be the most interesting team in the division.
6. Pittsburgh Pirates- There is not much to say here. The lineup is weak, the rotation is subpar and the bullpen is a mess. Probably the worst team in the National League.
1. Arizona Diamondbacks- I firmly believe that this is the year the Diamondbacks put it all together for a deep run. The lineup is nice. There are power, speed, and average guys throughout. The rotation is going to be dangerous again. Webb, Haren, and 100MHP throwing Max Scherzer are a great one-two-three punch, with Doug Davis, Jon Garland, and Yusmiro Petit serving as a solid backend. The bullpen has three closers and plenty of other strikeout arms. They should be the team to beat out west.
2. Los Angeles Dodgers- A lot of experts like the Dodgers to win the division, but I’m just not sold on the rotation enough to go there. I like Billingsley and Kershaw, but I’m not a Kuroda believer and Jason Schmidt will not stay healthy. The lineup is great, especially with Manny back and the bullpen is decent. I like them to keep it close, but ultimately fall to the D-Backs.
3. San Francisco Giants- I think there is a lot of room for improvement here from last year. There is a nice staff here with Lincecum, Cain, Zito, Randy Johnson, and an emerging Jonathan Sanchez. Pablo Sandoval is a blossoming star, and with a little luck, the Giants should be able to place third in this division.
4. Colorado Rockies- The Rockies are clearly a talented team; however they have too many holes to compete this year. The outfield is manned by Spilbourghs and Seth Smith, not Matt Holliday anymore. Also the rotation leaves a lot to be desired. Cook has been good, but around him, there’s very little. The bullpen is great with two closers and a great setup man, Taylor Buchholz. They should be around the .500 mark.
5. San Diego Padres- It’s going to be a long season for Jake Peavy. There will be very little run support and his bullpen is going to be very shaky. Chris Young will be a solid number two, and Adrian Gonzalez will deliver, but there just isn’t enough thunder here to compete.
National League Division Series
New York Mets over St. Louis Cardinals 3-1
Arizona Diamondbacks over Philadelphia Phillies 3-0
National League Championship Series
New York Mets over Arizona Diamondbacks 4-2
American League Division Series
Boston Red Sox over Seattle Mariners 3-0
Minnesota Twins over New York Yankees 3-2
American League Championship Series
Boston Red Sox over Minnesota Twins 4-3
New York Mets over Boston Red Sox 4-2
1. Miguel Cabrera 1B Detroit
2. Mark Teixeira 1B New York
3. Ichiro OF Seattle
1. Francisco Liriano Minnesota
2. Erik Bedard Seattle
3. A.J. Burnett New York
Rookie of the Year
Matt Weiters C Baltimore
1. Albert Pujols 1B St. Louis
2. Carlos Beltran OF New York
3. Matt Kemp OF Los Angeles
1. Brandon Webb Arizona
2. Adam Wainwright St. Louis
3. Johan Santana New York
Rookie of the Year
Cameron Maybin OF Florida