File under clairvoyance: my 2008 MLB predictions

30 Mar

mlb-logo.gifGloriously, the official Opening Day has arrived. Words can’t begin to express my excitement (so I won’t even try), especially considering the recent news that 65 Twins games will be broadcast in HD. Couch, meet ass, whom I believe you already know quite intimately.

To celebrate the start of the 2008 baseball season, I thought I’d throw down some hastily prepared predictions. A warning: I’m no expert and shouldn’t be relied on for many in-depth insights; the bulk of my research involved skimming each team’s projected lineup/rotation, and reading who they gained & lost in the off-season. Maybe three minutes total spent on each squad.

But, admitted laziness aside, they’re still my official predictions, and you’re free to rip them apart in the comments. Or, better yet, offer your own.

AL WEST

1. LA Angels – Still the team to beat in the division. I’d plan on Hunter being a mild disappointment, but Howie Kendrick more than picking up the slack. Pretty solid lineup, and their pitching (even without the services of recently injured Escobar) should be good enough to earn them yet another division title.

2. Seattle Mariners – They’ll have great starting pitching, possibly the best 1-5 in the league, but their hitting is suspect. Beyond Ichiro, it’s a few old guys (Sexson, Ibanez, Beltre and Vidro) and a handful of unprovens. Along with questions about their bullpen and defense, I’d pencil the M’s in for a record just above .500. But, man, that Bedard/Hernandez combo could do some damage in the five-game divisional series, eh?

3. Oakland Athletics – somehow, the A’s continue to field competitive squads despite the forced departures of pretty much every player who commands a decent-sized salary. Gone are Dan Haren, Nick Swisher, Mark Kotsay and Marco Scutaro; in their place is a group of names unrecognizable to most fans. Still, Oakland is a supremely run organization and I’d expect them to be near .500.

4. Texas Rangers – Potent lineup, potentially the worst ERA in the league. Shocker.

AL CENTRAL

1. Cleveland Indians – I actually think the Indians are going to win it all this year. They have the same roster as last year, and when you factor in the extra year of experience (they’re a young team) and manager Eric Wedge (one of the best in the league), what’s not to like?

2. Detroit Tigers – better offense than Cleveland, but worse pitching. Pitching is the key to playoff success, so I see Detroit making a divisional round exit.

3. Minnesota Twins – The Twins need about eight career years and a minor meltdown from Cleveland or Detroit to sneak their way into the playoffs. I’m not saying it’s impossible, but, well, it’s damn close. They’re poised for a nice run in ’09 and beyond, though.

4. Chicago White Sox – Jerry Owens and his .324 OBP will be leading off; the Big Three (Konerko, Thome, Dye) are a combined 185 years old; John Danks is their #3 starter. Too many question marks to expect more than 75 victories from the Sox. Also: I still hate them.

5. Kansas City Royals – Two youngsters, Alex Gordon and Billy Butler, seem to be the only bright spots to yet another down year for KC.

AL EAST

1. Boston Red Sox – Pretty much the exact same team as last season, which is bad news for everyone else in the AL (related: don’t expect the Massholes to get any less annoying). Pitching is still a bit of a question mark, with Schilling’s injury, Wakefield’s inconsistency and Lester’s young age. But with their top-notch bullpen and solid lineup, the Sox are the team to beat.

2. New York Yankees – Looks to be a shootout year for the Yanks, with another potent lineup set to take the field. However, the pitching staff looks in worse shape than year’s past, and unless Hughes, Kennedy and Chamberlain can step up big time, might be another disappointing season for NY. Which would be rather awesome for the rest of us.

3. Toronto Blue Jays – A makeshift lineup and above-average pitching staff spells out another .500 season for the Blue Jays. Their rotation could surprise people, though. Remember the name Dustin McGowan.

4. Tampa Bay Rays – Could have been a frisky team if not for the loss of Scott Kazmir for possibly the first six weeks of the season. Crawford, Pena (the most underrated player in the league – he had a better season than Magglio last year) and Upton will make for a fun team to watch. They’ve got too many holes to be taken seriously, though. I’m keeping my eye on Matt Garza; guy’s got skillz.

5. Baltimore Orioles – A goddamn disgrace.

NL WEST

1. Arizona Diamondbacks – They lost zero important players and added all-star Dan Haren. Should be good for a number of years, considering the young age of most of its impact guys.

2. San Diego Padres – A couple holes in their lineup & rotation, but the Pads should battle for second place with the Rockies.
3. Colorado Rockies – They’ve got some talented youngsters, but after career years from a number of guys last year, I’m banking on a bit of a letdown (see: Minnesota Twins, 2007). They’ll be competitive though, no doubt. How old is pitcher Jeff Francis, anyway? 15?

4. Los Angeles Dodgers – They’ve got a decent starting rotation and three promising young position players in James Loney, Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier (remember those names), but likely not enough depth or big-play potential to contend. They could end up anywhere from 2nd to 4th, depending on their health.

5. San Francisco Giants – May sport the worst record in the NL this season. Starting pitcher Tim Lincecum is the only name you need to know.

NL CENTRAL

1. Chicago Cubs – Lots of pop in the middle of the lineup, but no clear favorites to bat in the one- or two-holes. We’ll see what Piniella comes up with. If starting pitcher Rich Hill finds his control, the Cubbies could take the NL Central, which looks pretty weak again this season.

2. Milwaukee Brewers – So many injuries, so many rotation questions. Also, I’m amazed the Brewers signed Eric Gagne. I can’t forecast a team willing to take that desperate a risk as being anything to count on. Quite possibly the worst front office move in the entire off-season.

3. Houston Astros – Looks to have a decent lineup, but their rotation has many question marks, so…I don’t know. 75 wins?

4. Cincinnati Reds – They’ve got some good players, but my disdain for Dusty Baker’s managerial style (which is no secret) has me thinking they ain’t going anywhere. Look for them to under-achieve yet again.

5. St. Louis Cardinals – Too many injuries to the pitching staff (how bad is it? Kyle Lohse is their number three right now), though I am looking forward to seeing how Ankiel performs. Still one of my favorite sports stories in recent memory.

6. Pittsburgh Pirates – From Yahoo’s Team Report: “their roster is mostly unchanged from a year ago, when they finished 68-94.” That is hilarious — unless you’re a Pirates fan. I recommend the rest of us take a moment to say thanks for not having to cheer for such an inept organization.

NL EAST

1. New York Mets – The Mets are noted by most as the favorites, but if their ailing ways don’t stop, I wouldn’t count on them to be too dangerous OK I’m going to move on now so we don’t have to talk about the Santana trade frowning wiping tear shaking fist at sky.

2. Philadelphia Phillies – Best offense in the league, but they don’t have any answers for their back-of-the-rotation plans, which leads me to believe they’ll have trouble repeating as division champs. I could see them sneaking in as the Wild Card, though.

3. Atlanta Braves – Seems like a perfectly average major league roster to me.

4. Washington Nationals – Don’t be too surprised if these guys finish better than the Braves. No one will care, though, including you. There is simply no reason to care.

5. Florida Marlins – The Fish look to have some decent young players, but I can’t really tell. And their pitching looks very suspect, but again, who really knows. I have no idea what to think about the Marlins, except that all this thinking about them is probably all the thinking I’ll be doing about them until I begin thinking about next season’s predictions.

POSTSEASON

Indians over Red Sox
Mets over Diamondbacks

Indians over Mets

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