Play Ball!

April 02, 2009 |

The 2009 Major League Baseball season is almost here. I know you’ve probably read a hundred predictions already on how things will play out. Well, add another to your list.
AL East:
1. Yankees: When you spend $423.5M on three players, you send the message that you aren’t messing around. The Yankees were embarrassed by finishing third and out of the playoffs last year. There won’t be a repeat of that, not with CC Sabathia. A.J. Burnett, and Mark Teixeira.
2. Red Sox: This is still a very good team. In fact, I predict they will win the wildcard. They just aren’t the Yankees.
3. Rays: Last year wasn’t a fluke, and they made some nice off-season moves. But repeating last year’s magic will be hard for this young team to do.
4. Blue Jays: They have Roy Halladay, but after that, not nearly enough to be competitive.
5. Orioles: They’re getting better. But they still have a long way to go.
AL Central:
1. Twins: Loads of young pitching. A highly underrated manager in Ron Gardenhire. A superstar in Justin Morneau. Another in Joe Mauer (when he gets back from injury). Add all of it up and you get a division champion.
2. Indians: They will give Minnesota a run for their money, and if Travis Hafner can stay healthy and be productive, things in this division could get really interesting.
3. White Sox: A lot of people are wondering just what GM Kenny Williams was trying to do this winter. I’m one of them.
4. Royals: They’re a team a lot of people like, especially with the emergance of Zack Greinke. They could move up ast Chicago if things break out right. Those things would include a breakout season for Alex Gordon.
5. Tigers: Weren’t these guys in the World Series a few years ago? Oh, how the mighty have fallen.
AL West:
1. Angels: Still the best in a weak division after losing K-Rod and Tex.
2. Athletics: Billy Beane made some interesting moves this off-season, to say the least. It still isn’t enough to overtake L.A.
3. Rangers: They have some pieces, but the pitching is lacking. And that’s being kind.
4. Mariners: New GM and manager.They have some pieces you like (Felix Hernandez for instance). But there just isn’t enough there yet. At least they brought Junior back.
NL East:
1. Mets: Their problem was the bullpen last season. That problem’s been fixed. There won’t be a third straight choke.
2. Phillies: Last year’s World Series Champs won’t win the division. But they will still make October by winning the wildcard.
3. Marlins: Better than a lot of people want to give them credit for. Hanley Ramirez is the best shortstop you’ve never heard of.
4. Braves: So they signed Derek Lowe. Big deal. This Braves team is a far cry from the Braves teams of the past.
5. Nationals: Well, at least they have a beautiful Stadium!
NL Central:
1. Cubs: A potent lineup. Maybe the best rotation in the game. It looks like a third straight division championship for Chicago.
2. Brewers: They lost CC Sabathia and Ben Sheets. There are questions in the rotation and bullpen (with Trevor Hoffman opening the season on the DL). There won’t be a repeat of last year’s playoff run.
3. Cardinals: A lot of people think St. Louis can make some noise. But, this team doesn’t look all that much different than it did a year ago. I’m not buying in just yet.
4. Reds: There’s a lot of talewnt here. They’re a couple of years away, but they are coming.
5. Astros: They had a nice finish last season, but were very quiet in the off-season.
6. Pirates: GM Neal Huntington will get the Pirates turned around. Just not this year. Or next.
NL West:
1. Dodgers: They won the division the day they re-signed Manny.
2. D-Backs: Still competitive after taking a step back in the off-season.
3. Giants: Good in the pitching department. Really bad in the hitting department.
4. Rockies: Lucky the Padres are in the division.
5. Padres: Well at least they play in San Diego. But, when they deal Jake Peavy (and they will), even that won’t matter.
Playoff Predictions:
ALDS: Yankees over Twins; Red Sox over Angels
ALCS: Yankees over Red Sox
NLDS: Dodgers over Mets; Cubs over Phillies
NLCS: Dodgers over Cubs (yes Cubs finas, they will fall short again)
World Series: Yankees over Dodgers