Are the Rays for real?
Yes. This team, led by speedster Carl Crawford, Evan Longoria (no, that isn't Tony Parker's wife), and a variety of youngsters, is for real. They have a great young pitching staff with guys like Matt Garza, Andy Sonnanstine, and then veteran Troy Percival in the back end of the bullpen. They sit at 36-25, and don't seem to be slowing down. My prediction is that the Rays will win the AL East and make the playoffs for the first time in franchise history. And they deserve it.
Will the Yankees ever pick it up?
My prediction is, no. They seem much too old, and while their owner is always willing to spend money, I don't think that's getting them anywhere, any longer. High expectations for Ian Kennedy and Phil Hughes haven't exactly equaled success, as Kennedy struggled mightily and Hughes is currently on the DL. The majority of their starting lineup is in the 32-40 year old range, which is much too old for every day players. My thinking is that the Yankees will end up third, behind Tampa and Boston.
Will the Phillies produce a third consecutive MVP winner?
While it seems unrealistic for a team to attain three consecutive different MVP's, it's going to happen. Second baseman Chase Utley has 21 home runs and 52 RBI's, both tops in the NL. He will finish the year with 45 home runs and 110 RBI's, beating out Albert Pujols and Lance Berkman at season's end to win the award.
Will Josh Hamilton win the Triple Crown?
No. No player has won the Triple Crown since Yastrzemski in '67, and there's a reason. While Hamilton's .321 AVG, 17 HR's, and 68 RBI's currently have him in the running, he will eventually drop out of the race. While it would be a great story for Hamilton to accomplish it, names like Rodriguez, Jeter, Pujols, Bonds, etc. have all been in baseball for several years, and none of them won a Triple Crown, so there's no reason to believe that Josh Hamilton can pull it off. But if he does, then kudos to him.
With all of these home run milestones in baseball this year, what is the most significant?
In my opinion, it's Griffey going for 600. I don't understand why the media is so obsessed with Manny going for 500, or Chipper for 400. They're just numbers, and with all of the guys in the 500 club now, I think the 600 club has become the new milestone to reach in baseball.
Is this the year the Cubs finally end the drought?
No. It's been 100 years since the Cubs last World Series, and they're going to have to wait even longer. They may have the best record in baseball right now, but we've all seen this before. The team gets hot, wins some games, and suddenly their fans start thinking it's "their year". I think the Cubs ultimately pull out the Central or the Wild Card, but once again choke in the postseason and don't make it out of the NLDS.
What's wrong with the NL West?
Last year the National League West was the best division in baseball. The Diamondbacks took the Wild Card, and the Rockies were the NL representative in the World Series. Now, the first place D-Backs are just five games over .500, while every other team is under the .500 mark. Many of these teams are young and inexperienced, and the Rockies don't have enough pitching to continue last year's run. In a division reminiscent of the 2007 NL Central, the D-Backs are the heavy favorite because of their great pitching and young, exuberant lineup.
Will Willie Randolph make it to the end of the season?
Willie Randolph will be fired before the end of the year, but that doesn't mean I justify it. The front office is paying out millions to guys like Reyes, Wright, Santana, Delgado, Alou, Wagner, Beltran, etc. and this team is still just barely sitting at .500. I don't think Randolph deserves to be fired, but he's lost this team and the way they seem to be playing, I don't think he's getting it back.
What 2008 rookies will become eventual MLB superstars?
Jay Bruce and Edinson Volquez of the Cincinnati Reds are for real. I think Bruce wins the NL ROY, and he will be a mainstay in the middle of that lineup for a long time. Watch out for other names like Kyle McClellan and Joe Mather of the Cardinals, Evan Longoria of the Rays, and Daric Barton of the A's, among others. This year has many talented rookies making their debuts, and watch for these guys to make an impact very soon.
Who will win the 2008 World Series?
My pick is the Arizona Diamondbacks. I know they're struggling of late, but I think that once Eric Byrnes comes back they will get that excitement back in their lineup, and the likes of Dan Haren and superstar Brandon Webb along with the rest of their pitching staff will carry them to their second championship in franchise history.