With the opening pitch of the 2009 season just hours away, why not drop in my two cents on what will happen, who will happen, and who won't. So, one man makes his picks on the 2009 season.
1. Kevin Youkilis, 1b, Boston: Youk went from an on-base machine to a power hitter (29 HRs) who still gets on base close to .400.
He will bat fourth in this powerful lineup and have protection in front and behind. A career year awaits.
2. Miguel Cabrera 1b, Detroit
3. Carl Crawford, OF, Tampa Bay
1. Albert Pujols, 1b, St. Louis
Tough to pick against this guy as long as his healthy. His team around him should be improved enough to contend for a wild card, and that will make him the favorite.
2. Jose Reyes, SS, NY Mets
3. Jimmy Rollins, SS, Philadelphia
AL Cy Young
1. Roy Halladay, Toronto
This is the fairest award in the sense that your team does not have to be the best to win. Halladay is the best.
2. Jon Lester, Boston
3. Matt Garza, Tampa Bay
NL Cy Young
1. Johan Santana, NY Mets
Like Halladay, this guy is simply the best and should have a better bullpen to support him this year.
2. Cole Hamels, Philly
3. Brandon Webb, Arizona
1. Matt Weiters, C, Baltimore
Like Longoria last year, he starts the season in the minors, but expect him up soon and expect a star. Think Joe Mauer with more pop.
2. David Price, SP, Tampa Bay
3. Travis Snider, OF, Toronto
1. Pablo Sandoval, 3b-C, San Francisco
He came up late last year and impressed with his versatility, as well as his big bat. A natural born hitter.
2. Tommy Hanson, SP, Atlanta
3. Jordan Schaeffer, OF, Atlanta
1. Eric Wedge, Cleveland
The Indians win the Central after a bad 2008, and Wedge goes from one of the underrated mangers in the game to one of the best.
2. Terry Francona, Boston
3. Trey Hillman, Kansas City
1. Tony La Russa, St Louis
A lot is keyed to Cris Carpenter coming back and solidifying the pitching staff, as well as Ryan Ludwick proving he was not a fluke. Still, La Russa always gets his teams to play at their best.
2. Bobby Cox, Atlanta
3. Bruce Bochy, San Francisco
AL Comeback Player
1. John Smoltz, SP, Boston
The Red Sox are going very slow with Smoltz and all spring he chomped at the bit. He should make his first start sometime late May or early June and there is no question what he can bring if he stays healthy through October.
2. Travis Hafner, DH, Cleveland
3. Rocco Baldelli, OF, Boston
NL Comeback Player
1. Chris Carpenter, SP, St. Louis
He has always been among the best when healthy and looked to be all spring. As a matter of fact, he looked dominant. He may be more of a key to any team’s success than any other player in the Major leagues.
2. Jeff Francoeur, OF, Atlanta
3. Rickie Weeks, 2B, Milwaukee
AL Breakout Non-Rookie
1. Jacoby Ellsbury, OF, Boston
He had an excellent rookie year, finishing third in the ROY balloting and now stands ready to add more pop to go along with his blazing speed. Also, he won’t have to look over his shoulder at Coco Crisp.
2. Billy Butler, OF-DH, Kansas City
3. Alex Gordon, 3B, Kansas City
NL Breakout Non Rookie
1. Ryan Zimmerman, 3B, Washington
He missed nearly two months last season and had nobody around him in the lineup. This year, healthy, and with a bit more support, he joins the ranks of the elite. Expect 30-100-.310.
2. Stephen Drew, SS, Arizona
3. Chris Iannetta, C, Colorado
1. AJ Burnett, SP, NY
This guy is off one year and on the next, and guess what year this is? This is one category you hate to pick and hate to be right, but…
2. Cliff Lee, SP, Cleveland
3. Matt Holliday, OF, Oakland
1. Manny Ramirez, OF, LA
Now that he has his contract, let's see how Man-Ram behaves. He will still put up numbers, but the expectations are ridiculous.
2. Francisco Rodriguez, RP, NY
3. Carlos Marmol, RP, Chicago
AL Surprise Team: Kansas City Royals
They will not be a playoff team, but will show up as the most improved team in the AL, as Butler, Gordon and Teahen lead the offense and the young pitchers continue to grow. Greinke may emerge as a serious CY candidate.
NL Surprise Team: Cincinnati Reds
Although I’m not a big fan of Dusty Baker, the Reds young talent is very impressive and Alex Gonzalez should be back healthy to solidify the infield defense.
Votto, Bruce, Phillips, Volquez, Cueto are all future stars. Actually, Phillips is already there.
AL Playoff Teams
West LA Angels
Wild Tampa Bay
NL Playoff Teams
Wild NY Mets