Mike over at Green Pinstripes was the first to pop the 2007 baseball predictions cherry for The Vault, and since we’re running short on time before opening day (and the Sixers are off again), I’m going to follow suit.
By division, least important to most:
This is a division of lopsided teams, the Mets have all the offense, no starting pitching, somewhat reliable bullpen. The Phils have the offense, the starting pitching and no bullpen. The Braves have the bullpen and a little pop. The Nats, well, the Nats don’t have much of anything to be honest with you. Florida’s young players take a step back without Girardi.
I’m taking the Phils because they have the decided advantage in starting pitching over the Mets, and Billy Wagner isn’t the sure thing out of the pen he once was. I like the Phils to go deep in the playoffs on the strength of their starters and the ability to score in so many different ways. The “X” factor for the Phils is none other than Shane Victorino. Bobby Abreu’s replacement in right field brings added speed to the lineup and solid defense. He’s also my fantasy sleeper of the year, he could swipe 40 bases and score 100 runs sandwiched between Rollins and Utley in this lineup.
Yes, I realize the Cards are the defending champs, and no I usually don’t think you can “buy” a division, but the Cubs have done enough to take this weak division. Their pitching isn’t great (Lilly and Marquis weren’t worth the money), but they have an ace in Zambrano. Their bullpen isn’t great (Dempster?). But adding Soriano was huge and Soriano, Derek Lee and Aramis Ramirez make this the best lineup in the division. They’ll get enough out of their staff to take the division. They may be the only team in the division above .500 when all is said and done.
The Astros and Cards should battle for second place all year long. Carlos Lee was a huge addition for the ‘Stros and Morgan Ensberg should bounce back. Oswalt is a legit ace. I don’t have much to say about the Cards. Pujols, Carpenter and 23 other guys.
This division is a classic case of age over beauty. The popular pick is a young (besides the Unit) D-Backs team, but I just don’t think they’re ready. Barry Bonds is motivated and
juiced cranked geared up for the season. I don’t think he wants to play another year, he’s focused on the record, and Zito will perform well in San Fran against weak lineups. The Giants do enough to win the wild card, but it’s the Padres behind a deep rotation, the Giles brothers and Adrian Gonzalez’s under-rated production who come away with this division.
Peavy, Maddux, Young, David Wells, Clay Hensley and Tim Stauffer of Moneyball fame (CORRECTION: Stauffer wasn’t in Moneyball, he was in The Last Best League, I highly recommend this book) waiting in the wings make for a formidable rotation, especially in that ball park. Hoffman, unbelievably, is still going strong at the back end of the bullpen, and Linebrink is a solid 7th-8th inning guy.
Playoffs: Phils over Giants, Padres over Cubs in the division series. In the NLCS the Padres’ pitching prevails, Philadelphia will have to wait until February for its first championship in over two decades.
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