Yes, it's that time again. The time of the year when everybody makes the annual predictions that are usually wrong - except in my case. There's really no point in playing the season. Just look over my predictions and hand over the trophey. I'll start with the American League first. Here we go:
New York- Sure, the rotation is a question mark from Randy Johnson all the way to Jaret Wright. Outside of Rivera, the bullpen is full of guys yet to show they can handle the pressure of New York. But have you seen the lineup. They'll hit with anybody.
Boston- Alot of people are putting Toronto here because of their offseason moves. I still don't think it's enough. Boston still has enough hitting and jsut enough pitching to stay at number 2. And Coco Crisp will make Red Sox Nation forget about Johnny Damon quickly.
Toronto- They'll be in the hunt in September. Halladay will me a Cy Young candidate and Glaus could put up MVP-type numbers, but they're still a couple pieces short and playing in the wrong division.
Baltimore- The pitching could surprise. JC Bradubury at Sabernomics.com calculated The Mazzone Effect to be worth half a run on a pitcher's ERA. I still think the O's are a year away from having those young pitchers develop, but it wouldn't surprise me to see them play .500 ball and still finish 4th.
Tampa Bay- Just the wrong division and not enough money. They've got some great young hitters, but the pitching staff won't give them a chance to win.
Cleveland- Shapiro's done a fantastic job compiling good young players and locking them up long term. After 2 straight strong finishes, this is the year they put it all together in what could be the best division in baseball.
Minnesota (Wild Card)- It would be easy to put Chicago here, but the Twins have a better pitching staff and the offense should be improved. The addition of Luis Castillo gives the Twins their first capable 2nd baseman since Chuck Knoblauch - who happens to be my all-time favorite player. Mauer will prove to be the best catcher in baseball and Morneau has a real shot at 30 hrs.
Chicago- The pitching staff is still one of the best in the league, but you can't expect career years from everybody 2 years in a row. I believe Thome will return to form with 35-40 homers, but it's just not enough to overtake the Twins or Indians. The race between the top 3 in this league will probably be the most exciting in baseball this year - unless your one of those people who only cares about the Yanks and Sox.
Detroit- Their season depends on the health of Guillen and Ordonez. If they play a full year, the offense could be in the top 5. The pitching staff should be improved, but it's still a bit too young. Kenny Rogers might prove to be the worst offseason signing of the year.
Kansas City- The only thing worth mentioning about the Royals is their knack for signing guys with long, strange names. (Grudzielanek, Mientkiewicz, Graffanino, Ambiorix Burgos) It might be worth following Greinke too, though.
Oakland- The pitching staff is the best in baseball. Harden, if healthy, will make a run at Santana and Halladay for the Cy. I also wouldn't be surprised to see Eric Chavez finally put together an MVP-type year. Oakland has the players to finally take that step into the World Series.
Los Angeles- I think this team takes a step back and will no longer be considered a powerhouse in the AL. The offense seems weak to me. They've got to get Vlad some help. Luckily, they've got a great farm system and money to burn. The pitching staff should keep them competitive enough until they add another bat at the midpoint.
Texas- A popular sleeper pick last year didn't live up to expectations. This year they've finally paid attention to pitching. It's a tough park to pitch in, but the additions of Millwood, Eaton, and Padilla should provide a little stability. The offense is actually better without Soriano. I'd have done the Wilkerson deal straight up. The other players thrown in were just bonus. Teixiera is no worse a hitter than A-Rod, Manny, Vlad or Big Papi. Plus, he's got a glove.
Seattle- It's hard to find a truly weak team in this league other than KC and TB. Seattle might be the third worse, but if things fall in their favor they could end up pushing .500. The AL is just too tough this year. Felix Hernadez (F-Her) should be fun to watch.
To wrap it up:
ALDS- Oakland over Minnesota
New York over Cleveland
ALCS- Oakland over New York
AL MVP- Alex Rodriguez (Teixiera, Vlad, Hafner, Chavez, Ortiz)
AL Cy Young- Johan Santana (Halladay, Harden, Buerhle)
AL ROY- Francisco Liriano (Marte, Anderson, Johima, Kotchman) ♦Digg it ♦del.icio.us ♦Technorati ♦StumbleUpon ♦Google ♦Yahoo ♦reddit