For those of you who read this blog last year at this time, I wisely predicted the Seattle Mariners would win the American League and own the AL’s best record.
This year I did not learn my lesson. Tomorrow we’ll take a look at Chad Durbin’s season on the brink; Friday we’ll look at Jimmy Rollins. But today, the 2009 all-league predictions. Twitter style (140 characters or less):
American League West
1. Oakland Athletics – 87-75
Call me an idiot, but the A’s young rotations are cyclical. Their offense is just enough with Holliday to win a weak division.
2. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim – 85-77
They played over their heads in 2008. Offense is older. Pitching is weaker, and I don’t trust that bullpen. Lackey’s injuries will catch up.
3. Seattle Mariners – 73-89
A bad team who played even worse than they should’ve. Speed, speed, speed, some improved pitching. This has to be Felix’s year, right?
4. Texas Rangers – 70-92
Same old story: Pretty good offense, horrendous pitching. Despite an improved bullpen with Francisco, can’t bank on Padilla and Millwood.
American League Central
1. Cleveland Indians – 88-74
Injuries flattened them in 2008. This team is better — balanced offense, strong pitching and a standard but solid bullpen. Carmona? Yes.
2. Minnesota Twins – 85-77
The Twins will once again lose on the division, but they’re good. Watch Liriano tear it up fully healthy. Tight team, good mix.
3. Detroit Tigers – 82-80
Very good offense, especially from one to six. But the pitching remains the question, and it’s very uncertain. Porcello might be a stud.
4. Chicago White Sox – 80-82
Love Carlos Quentin, love Alexei Ramirez, but the rest? Not sold on pitching at all. Seems every other year the Soux fall flat. This is it.
5. Kansas City Royals – 73-89
As much as I love these young guys, they aren’t competing yet. Alex Gordon has to break out; once he does, it’ll take them three years.
American League East
1. Boston Red Sox – 93-69
They always find a way to win, but it’s the pitching that separates. Rotation should patch together good year; bullpen will be outstanding.
2. New York Yankees – 91-71
Talent=success, at least here. Pitching is strong, but bullpen has its issues. That lineup can mash, and if healthy, should go to playoffs.
3. Tampa Bay Rays – 85-77
Fall back to Earth. Great young team, but they’ll have hiccups, especially in a tougher division. Watch for big year from Matt Garza.
4. Toronto Blue Jays – 81-81
Any other division they win a couple more games, but this time this team’s pitching can’t cut it. Halladay is Cy Ever. They’ll struggle.
5. Baltimore Orioles – 69-93
Line up and beat on the Orioles. Sorry kids, but you’re in the East. This team should be success once the age rubs off the Sawx and Yanks.
National League West
1. Los Angeles Dodgers – 86-76
Manny will fuel them. Pitching will win the day. They’re a good team, but not a great team, in the worst division in baseball.
2. San Francisco Giants – 83-79
Don’t sleep on the Giants. They’re getting younger and they’ll have their problems, but in this division they’ll have their moments.
3. Arizona Diamondbacks – 83-79
This team can win 90 games, but they can also win much less. Lineup is shaky despite its exuberance. Pitching? Good, not great. Bullpen bad.
4. Colorado Rockies – 73-89
They have hitting problems. They have pitching problems. They lose Holliday and they’re going even more south. Tulo should rebound.
5. San Diego Padres – 65-97
Better than last year, sure, but not much. Still no offense. They’ll probably show fervor late in season, hinting at a 2010 resurgence.
National League Central
1. St. Louis Cardinals – 87-75
Again, am I crazy? Pitching is suspect, but Duncan gets the best of his men. Offense will be fine with Pujols. It comes down to solid pen.
2. Chicago Cubs – 86-76
It’ll be a dead heat in an inspired division race. Cubs look great on paper, but rotation is paper thin. Bullpen, too. Piniella a time bomb.
3. Cincinnati Reds – 84-78
Tough to project this team. Good rotation. Seemingly good offense. But it never adds up. Won’t again. Still, love Cueto-Volquez-Harang.
4. Milwaukee Brewers – 83-79
Good explosive team with too many small holes, including bullpen. This is a team that could really suffer with one or two big injuries.
5. Houston Astros – 73-89
Complete explosion at Minute Maid this season. Too many large holes. Pitching suffers after Oswalt. No depth behind the first 25. Ugh.
6. Pittsburgh Pirates – 64-98
Who’s on this team? Seriously, question marks everywhere. Look no further than rotation. Nate McLouth gets dealt before season ends?
Of course, no National League East today.