With no further adieu, here are my MLB predictions for 2008. I don’t pick World Series winners in March, mostly because everybody does that. I like to go through the teams and look at what’s expected of them according to the experts. Then I try to find teams which have more or less than the experts think. Last year I gave six teams and was right with four of them. This year I will give eight, four in each league, two better and two worse than everyone thinks. The experts guesses for win totals are in paranthesis. You may have seen a number that is slightly different, maybe by a game or even a half game, but all in all these are pretty universal.
Colorado Rockies (82 ½ wins): Didn’t we learn anything about this team last year? I know that they made a run at the end of last year the likes of which we won’t see again in our lifetime, but in looking at the talent it wasn’t totally a fluke. They have pitchers that actually succeed in Colorado. They have a blend of veteran leadership (Todd Helton) and great young players (Matt Holiday and Troy Tulowitski). Add that to the fact that now they know that they can win, and I don’t see why this is a team that is expected to play only 500 ball.
Atlanta Braves (84 ½ wins): Smoltz, Glavine and Hudson are not a bad 1-2-3. If Hampton gives them anything, they will be in the race for a long time. Offensively, Teixeira, McCann, Francoeur and Chipper Jones will have to carry the load, and while it’s not murderers row, they should be an above average NL offense. The thing that I like about this team is their manager. Bobby Cox looked old and outdated ten-years-ago, but he wins games and his team competes year after year. I don’t care what kind of talent he is given; he gets the most out of it. I know there are many people that say Maddux, Glavine and Smoltz can make anybody look smart, but I still say this guy is one of the best two or three managers of this generation, but you never hear him mentioned with the likes of Joe Torre, Jim Leyland, or Tony Larussa.
New York Mets (93 ½ wins): Santana is great, no doubt about it, but it is going to take him a long time just to replace the fifteen wins that Glavine gave them. Pedro was great, but no one knows if he will be anymore. Historically speaking elbows rebuild much better than shoulders. I think it worked out better for him when he missed the beginning of the season last year and came back for the stretch run. Can he hold up for 200 innings? Also, Alou is hurt and at his age, who knows how many healthy at bats he’ll give. Delgado had a bad ‘07 and now he’s having hip problems. La Duca is gone and El Duque is topping out in the low 80’s. Plus, have they gotten over the hangover of last year’s meltdown? If they don’t explode out of the gate, how much heat will Randolph get? I think the Mets are still a really good team and have as good of a shot as anybody to win the division, but if the Braves are back like I think they are, coupled with the Phillies, who won the division last year, and it’s going to be hard for the Mets to win 94 games.
San Francisco Giants (72 ½ wins): So you’re telling me that this team in not going to lose 90 games? Really? They are in the best division in baseball and they just lost their best player. I’m sure that without Barry the atmosphere is better and the media is less intense, but it’s also going to be harder to score, which means it’s going to be harder to win. Couple that with the fact that their big money ace, Barry Zito, had a bad ’07 when he should have been great (going from strong league to weak league, hitters that were unfamiliar with him), and I think the Giants are looking at a disaster in ’08.
Seattle Mariners (84 ½ wins): They had a good team last year and they just improved their pitching with a Cy Young candidate in Erik Bedard. They also have a very good defensive infield. I still wish they walked more. (Actually I don’t, because being a Yankee fan, I don’t want this team to be good, but as far as my prediction being correct, it would certainly help this squad to take a couple more pitches). Also, they are in the only four team division and two of those teams are bad, bad, bad. The Angels can’t win all the games out west.
Chicago White Sox (80 wins): Last year they stunk. They couldn’t have hit me, and my stuff isn’t what it used to be. But on paper, they should score. When the middle of your line-up is Dye, Thome and Konerko, you should put up some runs. They added Orlando Cabrera at shortstop, Nick Swisher in Centerfield, Joe Crede is back at third. All of these things should help the offense. Even if Crede gets hurt or traded, look at the numbers that Josh Fields put up in his place last year. I don’t know about Contreras in the rotation anymore, and I certainly don’t expect Bobby Jenks to retire 40 guys in a row again, but this team does not have a bunch of glaring weaknesses. If you’re looking for a surprise wild card contender, here it is.
Texas Rangers: (75 wins): Stereotypes are hard to shake, and people still believe the any baseball team with Rangers written on their chest is going to score runs. Not this one. Hank Blalock and Michael Young are the only proven hitters in their line-up, and they won’t remind anyone of Ortiz and Ramirez any time soon. I like Ian Kinsler, and I’m curious to see Ben Broussard get a chance to play everyday, but unless Josh Hamilton turns out to be a superstar there just isn’t enough here. Forget about the fact that their pitching is suspect at best. Millwood has had some great seasons and some mediocre seasons. Vicente Padilla could be good, but it’s not like you’re banking on fifteen wins from him. I think they will have to tear up interleague play, because I don’t see them winning 75 games against American League competition.
And last but not least…the Baltimore Orioles (65 ½ wins): I know this team is rebuilding. I know that there are no expectations for this team and whether they lose 90 or 105 games doesn’t really matter, but when you look at the numbers, this year could get historically ugly. The old adage is everyone wins 50 and losses 50, it’s what you do with the other 62. I think school will be in session again before they win their 50th game. What do I like about this team? Loewen has good stuff, but will he pitch 150 innings? Guthrie was good in ’07 until he got tired. Now with a long major league season under his belt, his arm should hold up longer and he should be solid. Markakis can play. Whether he’s pissed about his contract or not he’ll still put up numbers. Honestly, I think that’s about it. The season is such a grind, and when you have young players who are just learning how to be professionals, it’s hard to come to the park with a positive attitude everyday when you know that their pitcher is better than yours and their line-up is better than yours. Heck it’s hard for the veterans. When this team has a nine game losing streak how many guys are going to say “here we go again.” I also assume that Roberts will not even be on the team by opening day, but if he is, he certainly won’t last the season. Maybe in 2010 or 2011 the O’s will compete again, but in ’08 they might be the worst team in baseball. I don’t see any way they don’t lose 100 games.
Tuck these away until Spetmeber and we’ll see how I did.