Every year I throw out the crazy predictions. Two years ago, I told my sister that if the then Devil Rays ever got an ounce of pitching they would win the East. Then in 2009 prophecy fulfilled.
Last year with all the talent the Tigers had I told everyone I knew in December they still wouldn't make the playoffs.
While it would be rather superfluous for me to sit here and go on and on about how I am pretty good at evaluating a team (no worries the hits do come with misses) I am pleased to present to you my bold and not so bold predictions of the 2009 season.
The old adage is "good pitching always beats good hitting." I am a firm believer in this, which is why the Giants are my choice for the N.L. West flag.
"Tiny" Tim Lincecum leads a deep rotation that includes two former Cy Young awards winners on the rise at the back end.
It won't be easy with Manny and Co. down there in LA, but i believe the Giants with that rotation, just enough offense, a veteran skipper in Bruce Bochy, and a little tenacity will take this division.
Projected Standings: 1.) Giants, 2.) Dodgers, 3.) Arizona, 4.) Colorado, 5.) San Diego
The N.L. Central will be a division to watch as the season goes on.
The Cardinals started off last season well but faded late. The Astros started slow but finished strong. The Brewers started and finished strong, but struggled in between. The Reds and Pirates were....the Reds and Pirates.
But one thing is certain as we look at 2009 and that is the N.L. Central has four legitimate contenders for the division crown. I am still picking the Cubs based simply on the fact that i do think they are best built for the long haul. I think the veteran set of pitching and balanced hitting throughout (two things the Brewers and Cardinals lack) will power them through.
But my dark horse pick for this division is the Reds. They have a very good core of young everyday players, and that staff with Volquez, Cueto, and Harang has the potential to be very dangerous.
Projected Standings: 1.) Cubs, 2.) Cardinals, 3.) Reds, 4.) Astros, 5.) Brewers, 6.) Pirates
My pick for the N.L. East is the Atlanta Braves. Go ahead and wrap your mind around that.
But let me put it this way, Phillies and Mets fans...I hope you enjoyed your war of words because it was fun while it lasted. The braves without a doubt have the best rotation in this division.
No, Derek Lowe is not a typical ace of staff but when you put behind him an up and coming stud (Jurrjens), a strikeout artist and solid vet (Javier Vazquez), and a Japanese import with pinpoint control (Kawakami), you're a lot better than Maine-Pelfrey-Perez or Myers-Moyer-and insert name here.
No disrespect to the Phillies or Mets, but we have a case of two teams who were very opportunistic in what they called a rebuilding phase down in Atlanta.
But I feel McCann, Chipper, and Co. are poised for a return to prominence. Keep an eye out mid-summer for some guy named Tommy Hanson. He's going to be really good folks.
Projected Standings: 1.) Braves. 2.) Phillies, 3.) Mets, 4.) Marlins, 5.) Nationals
The Angels ran away with this division last year but this year there is no Tex, Anderson, or K-Rod. Usually no problem when you have a rotation of Lackey, Escobar, and Santana but all look to be on the mend as the season is beginning.
I am cautious because if they aren't too careful the much improved Athletics could take this flag. Overall though I believe the talent resides in SoCal in the A.L.
Projected Standings: 1.) Angels, 2.) A's, 3.) Rangers, 4.) Mariners
This is always a tough division to call. All teams involved in the A.L. Central put up a good but incomplete case for the division.
The new additions from the Cubs will put this team over the top. I think with a versatile player like DeRosa and a back end lock-up guy like Wood the Indians look strong from top to bottom.
Projected Standings: 1.) Indians, 2.) Twins, 3.) White Sox, 4.) Royals, 5.) Tigers
Boston is geared up for a late season push, New York did their usual smuggling of the market, but the Rays did the smart thing and addressed their needs conservatively. Which is all they had to do.
Adding Pat Burrell and a little bullpen depth will be the key to the Rays chances of repeating in the East.
I do believe Boston poses a formidable threat. but the lack of protection in the lineup and injury questions make me weary to pick them as East faves.
Sorry fans in Baltimore and Toronto, it will be another long summer in your towns.
Projected Standings: 1.) Tampa Bay, 2.) Boston, 3.) New York, 4.) Toronto, 5.) Baltimore
The good times won't all be lost in Philly. I do believe they will make the playoffs as the Wild Card.
They have some tough outs on offense and just enough pitching to compete.
Be careful though, I believe Jamie Moyer's smoke and mirrors act will be the key to their success. They need him to turn in another stellar campaign in order to really be considered repeat threats.
Boston's playoff hopes hinge on the continued progress of their youngsters. I think they will continue to progress and blend well with the veterans they do have.
I am a little nervous of the arms they're hoping bounce back (Smoltz, Penny) and it could get a little dicey if David Ortiz doesn't pick up the slack offensively.
Playoff and World Series predictions coming soon!