The Yankees pitching will be much better this season. Some of their younger pitching is better and if Andy Pettite can stay healthy. We know they can hit and if their bullpen is healthy they should take what can be a very competitive division. The Blue Jays will be a surprise to some people. Roy Halladay has had a good spring and if AJ Burnett (in a contract year) can remain healthy along with Shawn Marcum they can be dangerous. I wouldn’t worry about BJ Ryan too much because Jeremy Accardo proved last season he can close games. The Jays can hit and if Scott Rolen comes back healthy they could push for the Wild Card. I know I will catch a lot of flack for putting Boston in third place. Josh Beckett historically has been an every other year pitcher. Last year was great but its no 2008 and back injuries can be tough to shake. The league has had a taste of Dice-K and he could be even more mediocre this season and could struggle if asked to be the ace if Beckett is out longer. Tim Wakefield isn’t effective anymore and who really knows if Curt Schilling will pitch. Jon Lester and Clay Bucholz can be good but are too young to shoulder a huge load. Again, they can hit too but how far does mediocre pitching and hitting get you? Ask the Yankees what happened last year. Jonathon Papelbon is good but he doesn’t have much in front to help him. The Rays have some vets finally with that young talent. It may not happen this season but soon they will be up there in the east. The Orioles have one of the worst pitching staffs I’ve seen back to front and could be as bad as the Mets and Tigers once were.
The Indians are a hot pick to win it all this season and last. Returning Cy Young winner C.C. Sabathia (in a contact year) along with ace #2 in Fausto Carmona the Indians will have plenty of pitching to fend off the Tigers. Their bullpen is solid once again and they will need Asdrubal Cabrera to build upon last season and get some kind of production out of left field. The Indians of course will rely up the middle with Victor Martinez, Jhonny Peralta and Grady Sizemore. There is too much talent for this team to not win the division. The Tigers can hit and probably will score the most runs in the MLB this season. However they will give up a lot too. Justin Verlander is solid but Kenny Rogers is up there in age, Bonderman is having trouble with his arm and consistency and Dontrelle Willis had a horrid spring. Joel Zumaya is hurt until the All Star break and Fernando Rodney is injury prone. Todd Jones has been extremely ineffective. The White Sox don’t have much pitching but their line up is tough and their bullpen is revamped quite well. The Twins will be better than many think once Liriano is healthy and the young guys get settled. The Royals are looking up but are in a loaded division as well.
The Mariners added Erik Bedard and Carlos Silva to a team that nearly won the AL West last season. They have the best closer in baseball and if they can get Richie Sexson to stay on the field watch out. The Angels are good but have had an injury ravaged spring. They don’t have a shortstop this season and have a logjam outfield, which could be a good thing. They can win it but they cannot afford the injuries. The Rangers will hit but again with other teams, they have some pitching now but not enough. The A’s will be better than people believe. Rich Harden is healthy and if Joe Blanton stays in place they can be dangerous.
AL MVP: Grady Sizemore, OF Cleveland Indians
Cy Young: Roy Halladay, Toronto Blue Jays
Rookie of the Year: Daric Barton 1B, Oakland Athletics
Come Back Player of the Year: Cliff Lee, SP Cleveland Indians
Manager of the Year: John Gibbons, Toronto Blue Jays
ALDS: Mariners vs. Yankees: Mariners 3-2
ALCS: Indians vs. Mariners: Indians 4-2
NL East Atlanta Braves: 91-71New York Mets: 89-73Philadelphia Phillies: 85-77Washington Nationals: 77-85Florida Marlins: 71-91
The Braves pitching is solid once again and with Chipper Jones healthy they will be the surprise of the NL. Their getting Rafael Soriano back and they resigned Tom Glavine. If Jones is healthy they could be even better. I know the Mets have Santana now but their age concerns me. Moises Alou, Carlos Delgado, Pedro Martinez are all up there in age. Luis Castillo is no spring chicken as is Billy Wagner. Their set up men don’t impress me. John Maine will need to be as solid in the regular season as in the spring. They have a lot of age which I think will hurt them. The Phillies can hit and they can pitch away from home. At home that park is a pitchers worst nightmare. I’m not sure their hitting can overcome their back end of the rotation. The Nationals could be a bit of a surprise. They don’t have much pitching, but I think they will hit more than most think. Their AAA rotation is good and will be in the majors at some point. The Marlins no longer have a third basemen or their star pitcher. They keep trading people away and Hanley Ramirez is next. If they didn’t keep trading people they would be the best in the division.
NL Central Milwaukee Brewers: 89-73Chicago Cubs: 85-77Cincinatti Reds: 82-80St Louis Cardinals: 77-85Pittsburgh Pirates: 60-102
The Brewers need Ben Sheets healthy and he could be. Eric Gagne could be their answer at closer and when Mike Cameron gets back their offense is in amazing shape. They could be the surprise of the NL. The Cubs are going to be good but I just don’t think their pitching behind Kerry Wood being the closer is going to be good enough. They can hit but again pitching is key and they just don’t have enough. The Reds can surprise some people, with a solid closer now in Francisco Cordero and getting some young pitching and hitting they could make some noise. The Cardinals could challenge if Chris Carpenter gets healthy. However if Pujols’ injuries they are in deep trouble. The Pirates didn’t make any major moves and they will be in transition for a while with a new staff.
NL West Arizona Diamondbacks 95-67Los Angeles Dodgers: 91-71San Diego Padres: 87-75Colorado Rockies: 85-77San Francisco Giants: 71-91
The Diamondbacks were the best team in the NL last season and added AL All Star Game in 2007 starter Dan Haren. They subtracted just Jose Valverde which is a tough spot to fill but the D’backs have been good at finding good young players. They have more than enough pitching to win this tough division. If not for Arizona adding Haren the Dodgers would win this division. A healthy Jason Schmidt and now Joe Torre the Dodgers will be a tough opponent all season long. The Padres pitching is world series caliber as well but their hitting isn’t up to par and will hold them back in a tough division. The Rockies could win the AL West but they had too much go right last season. Not everything goes right this season but they are too talented to not make it a race. The Giants have good young pitching in Matt Cain, Tim Lincecum, and Noah Lowry. If Barry Zito rebounds they could be better but their hitting is too suspect.
NL Wild Card: Los Angeles Dodgers
MVP: Prince Fielder 1B, Milwaukee Brewers
Cy Young: Brandon Webb, Arizona Diamondbacks
Rookie of the Year: Johnny Cueto, SP, Cincinatti Reds
Comeback Player of the Year: Randy Johnson SP, Arizona Diamondbacks
Manager of the Year: Bobby Cox, Atlanta Braves
Braves vs. Dodgers: Dodgers 3-2
Diamondbacks vs. Brewers: Diamondbacks 3-1
Diamondbacks vs. Dodgers: Diamondbacks 4-3
Indians vs. Diamondbacks: Indians 4-3