The 2009 MLB season is almost upon us and I have some updated predictions.
My predictions will include division-winners, as well sa MPV, Cy Young, and Rookie of the Year Award-winners.
These are bold predictions, but if last year was any indication, with the Rays going to the World Series, these seasons are virtually unpredictable and anything can happen.
AL MVP: Miguel Cabrera
Cabrera is always a threat for the triple crown, and last year was considered a "down" year for him. All he did was bat .292 with 37 homeruns, 127 RBI, and scored 85 runs.
At 26, Cabrera has nowhere to go but up, and the Tigers' lineup should be improved.
I think he will come close to the triple crown in the AL, but probably won't lead the league in batting average with guys like Ichiro Suzuki and Joe Mauer around.
AL Cy Young: Francisco Liriano
His comeback from Tommy John surgery is just about complete and he dominated when he returned to the majors last year. His potential is through the roof and there's no reason he can't come back to his dominant form of 2007.
AL Rookie of the Year: Matt Wieters
This kid is the real deal and will help keep the Orioles out of the AL East cellar for once.
AL East: 1.Yankees 2. Rays 3. Red Sox 4. Orioles 5. Blue Jays
New York Yankees: Alex Rodriguez returns earlier than expected, but he does not perform like the usual A-Rod. His numbers come down and he cringe in pain every time he takes a swing.
Instead, it's Mark Teixeira and the pitching of C.C. Sabathia that help the Yanks win the division. Phil Hughes is there to help fill the void when A.J. Burnett takes his familiar place on the DL
Brett Gardner proves to be a scrappy, Joe Girardi-type player and helps the Yanks in the field and on the base paths with his speed.
Tampa Bay Rays: The Rays prove last year was no fluke and stay in the race until they get David Price back in the rotation. Price helps give the Rays a dominant pitching staff and they hold off the Red Sox for the AL Wild Card.
Evan Longoria has an up-and-down season, but carries the offense down the stretch. Carlos Pena looks more like the 2007 version and has a big season. Carl Crawford also has a comeback season.
The bullpen stays in tact and Dan Wheeler takes over for Troy Percival when he makes his annual DL stint.
Boston Red Sox: The Sox have a good season, but not good enough for the playoffs. "Big Papi" has a much better year in 2009, but it isn't enough.
Jason Bay also has a big year in a contract year and the lineup stays dangerous. Jed Lowrie keeps the shortstop job all season, but the Sox end up trading or releasing Julio Lugo.
Brad Penny proves to be a bad signing, struggling and going on the DL, but Clay Buchholz fills the void and keeps the rotation from falling apart.
John Smoltz has a nice comeback season, but he won't stay healthy the whole year.
Baltimore Orioles: The lineup is a stong point and they make big improvements. Adam Jones, Nick Markakis, and Matt Wieters have breakout seasons.
Unfortunately, the emergence of catcher phenom Wieters can't make up for a mediocre rotation and the Orioles can't put a dent in third place.
Chris Ray takes over the closer's job from George Sherrill and they trade Sherrill at the deadline.
Toronto Blue Jays: The Jays can't make up for the loss of Burnett. Vernon Wells has an injury-plagued season and the Jays end up trading Roy Halladay at the deadline.
The only positives are the emergences of Travis Snider and David Purcey and a breakout season by Alex Rios.
B.J. Ryan also has an injury-plagued season and Scott Downs takes over as the closer.
AL Central: 1.Twins 2. Indians 3. White Sox 4. Royals 5. Tigers
Minnesota Twins: Pitcher Francisco Liriano comes back to form to lead a much-improved rotation. Kevin Slowey and Scott Baker have breakout seasons.
Joe Mauer comes back from his back injury with a bang and starts right where he left off in 2008.
Justin Morneau has another MVP-type season, and players like Denard Span, Delmon Young, and Carlos Gomez provide some more stability int he rotation and in the field.
Indians: Cliff Lee doesn't win 20 games, but still has a good season. Fausto Carmona and Victor Martinez have bounce-back seasons, with Martinez ibeing named the team MVP.
Grady Sizemore only builds on his stellar career, and almost has a 40-40 season.
Shin-Soo Choo has a breakout season and Kelly Shoppach catches almost every day, with Martinez playing more first base.
Kerry Wood has another good season in the bullpen and avoids an injury-plagued season.
White Sox: Alexei Ramirez and John Danks build on their breakout 2008 seasons and have even better years in 2009. The bullpen helps an improved rotation and the rotation proves to be very deep.
Jim Thome, Paul Konerko, and Jermaine Dye help keep the lineup as dangerous as ever, but it's not enough to win the division.
Royals: Everybody's sleeper team has a much-improved year, but can't finish better than fourth place.
Young stars Billy Butler, Alex Gordon, Mike Aviles, and Zack Greinke all have great years, and proven veterans Coco Crisp, Jose Guillen, and Gil Meche have solid seasons as well.
Mark Teahen has a comeback season at second base and provides the Royals with help as a super-utility player.
Tigers: Despite Cabrera's huge season, they can't stay out of the basement. Their bullpen is still an Achille's heel and their rotation still struggles.
AL West: 1.Angels 2. A's 3. Rangers 4.Mariners
Angels: Despite injuries to pitchers John Lackey and Ervin Santana, the Angels still stay atop the division with big seasons from Bobby Abreu, Howie Kendrick, and veterans Vladimir Guerrero and Torii Hunter.
Jered Weaver has a breakout season on the mound, much like Santana had last year.
Brian Fuentes makes Angels fans forget about the loss of K-Rod.
A's: The rotation improves with the emergence of young rookies Brett Anderson and Trevor Cahill. Brad Ziegler keeps the closer's job all year and provides them with a reliable closerfor once.
Jason Giambi has a comeback season hitting behind Matt Holliday, who also has a huge season in a contract year.
Rangers: The hitting gives them a real dangerous lineup, but their pitching is their downfall.
Chris Davis and Ian Kinsler build on their strong 2008 seasons. Josh Hamilton proves last year was no fluke and helps them stay in contention with one of the best lineups in the league.
Mariners: They have a decent future, with Brandon Morrow and Jeff Clement, but their youth makes them too inconsistent and they can't contend.
Erik Bedard has a nice bounce-back season and Felix Hernandez establishes himself as one of the league's best pitchers.
That's a wrap for my AL predictions, next will be NL predictions.