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Life has definitely intervened lately, but I must get my baseball predictions on the books before the Red Sox begin their season of discontent tonight in Japan. Here goes (least important division to most):

N.L. West

1. Padres - Pitching, pitching, pitching. Randy Wolf and Mark Prior will combine for a sick season in that park, both pitching for contracts. Khalil Greene and Adrian Gonzalez will provide just enough offense in a weak division.
2. Rockies - No playoff repeat here, but a decent year. Helton finishes his slow decent into obscurity with about 12 home runs.
3. Dodgers - No playoffs for Torre. No playing time for Pierre.
4. Diamondbacks - Their winning percentage last year was probably the biggest statistical anomaly in the history of baseball. They can't repeat that. Haren and Webb are an impressive 1,2 punch and I actually like Eric Byrnes to come close to his amazing season, but they just don't have enough.
5. Giants - Two stud pitchers and a AAA lineup isn't enough, even in this division.

N.L. Central

1. Astros - The 'Stros upgraded their closer, added a legit burner at the leadoff spot, brought in Tejada to bat cleanup and should have a full year of Hunter Pence. If Oswalt stays healthy and they get anything out of the rest of their rotation (which is questionable) they'll finish with the 85 wins it will take to win this underachieving division.
2. Cubs - Speaking of underachievers. The Cubs may have a shot if Derek Lee and Alfonso Soriano can bounce back to their 2006 form, Aramais Ramirez can stay healthy, and Fukudome can actually make contact with a pitch. Unfortunately, none of those things are going to happen. I like the back-end of the Cubs pen, with Marmol and Wood finishing games. Zambrano, when he's sane, is a stud. Beyond that, well Ryan Theriot is going to see 500 at bats. Need I say more?
3. Brewers - If Ben Sheets can stay healthy and dominate, they have a chance. Ergo, they have no chance.
4. Reds - I like the young pitching, but not enough. If they can keep Phillips, Dunn, Bruce, Encarnacion and Votto together with the pitching they'll be a team to contend with in 2010, but not 2008.
5. Cardinals - I forgot about the Cards when I first wrote this post. Which tells you pretty much everything you need to know. Ankiel is the real deal.
6. Pirates - Pickup Ian Snell for your fantasy team. That's pretty much all I have on this sad franchise.

N.L. East

1. Phillies - They need to avoid 3 things this season to take this division. 1: A slow start. 2: An injury to Cole Hamels. 3: A Brad Lidge implosion. Rollins, Victorino, Utley, Howard, Burrell is the best 1-5 in the majors. They're going to score a ton and a half of runs. Not to mention the obligatory September collapse for the Mets which they'll have in their back pocket all season long.
2. Mets - They have the potential to win 100+ games and run away with this division. Of course, a lot of people said the same thing last year. Their offense isn't as great as you may think, they basically have three really good/great hitters in Reyes, Wright and Beltran. The other five are average, at best, and not exactly young. If their SP doesn't dominate, they're going to get out-slugged by some teams. Plus, they won't be able to shake the collapse of 2007. They sneak into the wild card.
3. Braves - Their lineup could be more potent than the Mets, but their rotation is just so old. I like Soriano as closer, if he can stay healthy. Also look for a bounce-back year for McCann. Third place seems like a lock for them.
4. Nationals - Zimmerman, Lastings and a bunch of stiffs.
5. Marlins - Hanley would will win an MVP some year, just not for the Marlins. Andrew Miller is a fantasy sleeper.

A.L. West

1. Mariners - I think this is the year that King Felix puts it together AND stays healthy. He and Bedard make a devastating 1,2 punch at the front of their rotation. Putz is the best closer in the game. They'll score just enough runs to take this division, thanks to a huge performance by Beltre.
2. Angels - Injuries to Lackey and Escobar kill them early in the year. Overpaying for Torii Hunter ranks just behind overpaying for Gary Matthews Jr. in the grand scheme of things. Out of the playoffs despite a breakout year for Casey Kotchman.
3. Rangers - Nothing good to say about this franchise other than they aren't as bad as Oakland.
4. Athletics - See above.

A.L. Central

1. Indians - Sabathia and Westbrook will carry this team to the division title. Ryan Garko is a 30+ HR guy at first and solidifies the lineup along with studs Grady Sizemore, Travis Hafner and Victor Martinez. The only thing that can stop this team is their closer. Expect a huge drop-off for Fausto Carmona, who pitched way over his head last year.
2. Tigers - The offense is scary and so is depending on Dontrelle Willis to be your #2 starter. The rotation is basically Verlander and a bunch of garbage if Bonderman can't bounce back from a horrendous second half in '07. I also think this is the year when Sheffield just can't get it done anymore.
3. Twins - The upstart Twins still have Mauer and Morneau in the middle of the lineup along with new addition Delmon Young and the steady Michael Cuddyer. That, coupled with a strong end of their pen should get them the 80 or so wins needed for a third place finish in this division.
4. White Sox - Swisher, Cabrera and Quentin are all upgrades for this team, unfortunately none of them pitch. The Sox will regret extending Buerhle, but not nearly as much as they'll regret the contracts they gave Scott Linebrink and Octavio Dotel. This team finishes a couple games behind the Twins.
5. Royals - Alex Gordon and Billy Butler can hit. Bannister may prove to be more than a fluke in '07. Beyond that? Hopefully they'll get Hochevar into their rotation. Soria is a good late-round closer for your fantasy team, even if he doesn't get a ton of save opportunities, his peripheral stats will help you.

A.L. East

1a/1b. Yankees/Sox - Both teams are depending on two youngsters in their rotations. Hughes and Kennedy for the Yanks, Lester and Buccholz for the Sox. Both are depending on wily veterans for heavy innings, Wakefield and Mussina. Both have an injury question in the rotation, Beckett for the Sox, Pettitte for the Yanks. Still, both are the class of the league. The Sox get an edge in the pen, the Yanks get an edge for their lineup. I can't call this one, so I'll just say one wins the division, one wins the Wild Card.
3. Blue Jays - Will this be the year the Jays can keep their pitchers healthy and finally cash in on the money they spent three years ago? A.J. Burnett seems to be the key. He's in a walk year, if he can put up 200 quality innings that's a very nice 1,2 punch, Marcum isn't garbage as a #3 either. If B.J. Ryan comes back healthy as well, they've got a great combo for the 8th and 9th with Accardo taking the 8th. Alex Rios, Vernon Wells, Aaron Hill are all legit threats with the bat. They've already run into some bad luck with newly-acquired Scott Rolen, who will miss time with a fingernail mishap. I think they could finish above .500.
4. Rays - The Rays have an outside shot at challenging for third in the division this season. It's only outside because it's unknown how long Kazmir will be on the shelf. Percival probably has enough left in the tank to give them a solid closer for the season, which is something they haven't had, well, ever. The young bats will put up runs. Garza will be a nice addition to the rotation. They just need to get Evan Longoria into the lineup sooner rather than later.
5. Orioles - Let the rebuilding begin! Markakis is a fantasy stud. Adam Jones may surprise some people.

Awards

A.L. Cy Young - Erik Bedard
A.L. M.V.P. - David Ortiz
A.L. Rookie Of The Year - Ian Kennedy (More Greg Maddux than Mike Mussina, F.Y.I.)

N.L. Cy Young - Jake Peavy
N.L. M.V.P. - Chase Utley (another year, another Phillie)
N.L. Rookie Of The Year
- Joey Votto (Changed from Justin Upton who is not ellig. Thanks to commenter Steve for pointing this out.)
by Brian on Mar 24 2008
Tags: Predictions |