It’s prediction time!
This is a very difficult year to make predictions in baseball. The Yankees are old and defending World Champions. The Rays are the best team in the East, but they’re over budget with Carl Crawford in a contract year. Are the Angels great because of Scioscia, or were they great because of John Lackey? Should I really buy what the Reds are selling? Then there’s the National League West.
The Dodgers are the most complete team due to the Rockies pitching injuries. The problem is reading too much into any spring training injury (Jeff Francis and Huston Street) as if it’s the end. If you believe the Rockies pitching will be strong, then you have to pick the Rockies. The Giants can really pitch and Pablo Sandoval can really hit. I’m not really sure where they’re going to get offense from anywhere else in the line-up. The Padres should win the Pac-10, but ASU will give them a solid run for their money.
Obviously, my opening comments leave out the Arizona Diamondbacks. It’s a simple reason why. I’m a fan and I don’t think they can win the division. When I go to a D-backs game with my family, I’ve got the hat and t-shirt on. I’m trying to get fans to stand up. I’m constantly telling my daughters the positives of what the D-backs are doing. If you’ve listened to the show you know I’m openly rooting for the D-backs. None of that changes one thing: without Brandon Webb they’re the fourth best team in the division.
I was proven wrong last year. I’ve long believed that starting pitching depth determines who wins division championships. The Dodgers didn’t have solid depth last year and won anyway because of a good offense and an incredible defense. Even though I was wrong, I can’t let one year change my opinion of watching years of baseball. Without Webb, the D-Backs do not have the starting pitching depth to compete for a division title in the National League West.
Do not read into this as if I’m saying the D-Backs are bad. I think the NL West will have four teams above .500. I think the D-backs will be well worth the price of admission. I think their offense will keep them in almost every game. I would advise you to stay till the last out of every game. This is a fun exciting team. I just believe pitching is everything. I think the most optimistic projection has Webb pitching in June and you have to give him a few starts to get right. That means the D-backs can’t play their best baseball until after the all-star break. That doesn’t leave enough time for me to believe they can win the West. I’m rooting for my own recantation, though.
|NL East||1. Phillies||Will challenge 70’s Reds as greatest National League dynasty|
|2. Braves||Will play their heart out for Bobby Cox but needs a bounce back form Chipper to be a Wild Card team|
|3. Marlins||Huge gap between 2 and 3|
|4. Mets||I’m a Mets fan just not a believer|
|5. Nationals||Won’t lose 100…that’s the nicest thing I can say|
|1. Cardinals||Quit picking the Reds. When a line-up goes Pujols/Holliday in that division, you pick that team to win|
|2. Reds||I believe strongly enough to put them second|
|3. Brewers||Tough to decide between them and the Cubs, but I’ll take the Brewers offense|
|4. Cubs||Their window closed already|
|5. Astros||Would be last if it wasn’t a six team division|
|6. Pirates||They just cut the guy they got in the Jason Bay trade|
|1. Giants||I think I’m the only one picking the Giants. I’m taking great pitching over bad offense|
|2. Rockies||Read ATL, give me Chipper and Braves are going to the playoffs…give me Street and Francis and it’s the Rocks as the World Champs|
|3. Dodgers||Still don’t believe in the pitching|
|4. Diamondbacks||Give me a Cy Young from Webb and I’ll give you the division champions…No Webb and I present to you a huge battle for 3rd|
|1. Red Sox||I love the pick-up of Lackey. Red Sox win the division|
|2. Yankees||Obviously they’re good and Granderson for Damon makes them better. They’re play-off bound.|
|3. Rays||Best team in the division right now. Problem is I think the Crawford contract year will be a negative for the team. No matter how well they play, they’re going to lose him for nothing if they don’t trade him. If they play well, there will still be distracting trade rumors. If they struggle, it will only make a comeback that much harder with Crawford on the block. Combine that with the ability of the Yanks and BoSox to add a piece at the trade deadline is too much to overcome. I’m wrong if TB gets so hot at the beginning that they’re able to carry through the lean times.|
|4. Blue Jays||If Vernon Wells is completely healthy…if not, here come the O’s|
|5. Orioles||Won’t be good until Angelos sells|
|1. Twins||I think the Nathan loss is huge, I just don’t like anyone else|
|2. White Sox||Better than most people realize because Ozzie will run them like an NL team|
|3. Tigers||The Max trade will pay dividends, just not yet|
|4. Royals||Greinke keeps them out of last place|
|5. Indians||They’re bad|
|1. Angels||They’re not better than Texas but Scioscia is that much better than Washington|
|2. Rangers||Solid team|
|3. Mariners||Needs Lee to be healthy all year and he’s not…they’ll be above .500 in a tough division|
|4. A’s||I ripped them when they signed Sheets, they’ll be more ripping through the year|