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9th Inning: The 2011 World Series

Editor’s Note: Doug believes baseball is broken and would like to fix it. He plans to discuss an issue a week for the coming weeks. Read here for the topics he plans to help baseball fix.

I hope you went for extra credit and read all 8 innings of the baseball project. I must admit I was honored when Colin Cowherd’s spies found my blogs. I heard this week his “strong” opinion was there should be three teams in New York. I wouldn’t have given myself credit for his opinion until he also mentioned baseball should radically re-align.

Since I’ve been writing for eight weeks and baseball has implemented none of the changes I’ve suggested, I should probably make my season predictions based on the current format.

I must admit. I’m nervous for my predictions. Last year’s baseball predictions were nearly perfect. However, my football predictions were average. My Suns prediction was just plain wrong and I turned in the only NCAA tourney bracket of my life with ZERO teams in the Final Four correct. I need to get back on track. Hopefully these are the picks that do it.

Obviously the main topic of conversation is the D-backs. Let me declare this now. I think Kirk Gibson and Kevin Towers need to be left in place for years. No more musical chairs in the manager and GM position. These are great baseball people that need to be allowed to do their job and build for the long haul. The Diamondbacks are severely broken and need time to be fixed.

I am extremely optimistic on the future of the D-backs. Unfortunately that future isn’t the present. I can’t come up with any baseball scenario that gets this team to 80 wins. I say this with great pain: Arizona will battle with San Diego for last place in the division. Since SD has Heath Bell, I think the D-backs win the fight for 5th.

Last year I picked the Giants to win the division and was routinely mocked. I stood my ground with great confidence. This year I pick the Giants to repeat. Admittedly, I do not stand my ground with great confidence and can easily be pushed off the mountain for the Rockies. I didn’t think Colorado was ready just yet last year. I completely believe in them this year. However, I will never go against superior starting pitching and San Francisco still has that over Colorado.

I could be wrong on the Dodgers in third. The divorce proceedings of the McCourts might drag the entire time into a season long funk, especially with a new manager. There’s just too much talent on the field, though, for me to not think they’ll just run into some wins despite being distracted some nights. If you want to argue the Padres are finishing third, I’ll listen with no reason to dispute you.

NL WEST

1) SF
2) COL
3) LA
4) SD
5) AZ

NL CENTRAL

I wish I knew how the Pujols contract situation was going to play out to make a prediction for the NL Central. I don’t think St. Louis is a division champion unless he has a historic year. I mean, close to Triple Crown proportions.

I think the Reds are the top dogs of the division because of the balance of their offense and they have just enough pitching to win a weak division. I don’t like the Brewers bullpen and defense enough to give them the division but I think they’ll be a solid competitor for Cincinnati.

The rest of the division is horrible. The Cubs will dream of 82 wins and fall short. Houston and Pittsburgh are terrible. If the Brewers or Cardinals were just a little bit better I would take one of them for the wild card simply on the amount of wins that can be racked up by playing the Astros and Pirates.

1) CIN
2) MIL
3) STL
4) CHC
5) PIT
6) HOU

NL EAST

Phils, Phils, Phils. The Chase Utley factor determines whether or not they win the World Series. Philadelphia is the best team in the East with or without Utley. Philadelphia will hit the magic number of 100 wins. The Mets and Nationals are simply not major league teams. Each team will come close to 100 losses with at least seven a piece at the hands of Philly.

New York and Washington will play a huge role in the Wild Card race. Colorado, Milwaukee and St. Louis all have very legitimate hopes for the playoffs. Atlanta, however, has such a big advantage with the weakness of the bottom of the East, I pick them for the Wild Card. Obviously I’m a little nervous taking Atlanta to make the playoffs in year one without Bobby Cox. It’s more of a slam on the division than it is a compliment to Atlanta.

1) PHI
2) ATL (WC)
3) FLA
4) NY
5) WSH

In the American League, I don’t see how you can write a prediction blog without glossing poetic about the Red Sox. I don’t care how much money the Yankees spend between now and 9/1/11. Boston is loaded. There isn’t a question they’re the best team in the American League, let alone the East.

If I had full confidence that Mauer and Morneau would stay healthy, I’d take MIN as the Wild Card, but I don’t. Yankees finish second and Sabathia has a great year to lead New York to the Wild Card.

Toronto is very underrated. They’re not good enough to challenge for the playoffs in a division as tough as the East but they’ll win 86 games and keep Tampa from really challenging because the fight for 3rd will be too tough to make it up to second. Baltimore will be the best last place team in history coming close to .500 and fighting for everything all season.

AL EAST

1) BOS
2) NYY
3) TB
4) TOR
5) BAL

AL CENTRAL

Don’t like any of the first three teams dramatically better than the other two. Since I don’t trust the health factor of the Twins, I’m taking Chicago. Back of the rotation is a concern for the White Sox but it is for everyone in that division. Indians and Royals are horrible. I wish I could pick them to tie for fourth with only 60 wins.

Notice I didn’t write much on this division because there’s not much to say.

1) CWS
2) MIN
3) DET
4) CLE
5) KC

AL WEST

I love Mike Scioscia. I think he’s the best manager in baseball. I just wanted to say that since they won’t do much this year.

No one did enough in the division to catch the Rangers. Oakland deserves a medal for effort but that’s it. Anaheim isn’t good enough despite having Haren for the entire season. Seattle will be the same abomination they were this year.

1) TEX
2) OAK
3) ANA (yes it’s LAA but I hate what the Angels did to Anaheim)
4) SEA

I realize it’s like taking all number one seeds to go to the final four (look how well that worked out) but the Red Sox and Phillies are so far and away the best teams that only injuries are going to get in the way of a Boston-Philly World Series. American League wins the All-Star game at Chase Field putting Games 6 and 7 in Boston. I think it will be a great series but the Phillies pitching is too much in a 7-game series. As long as the Phillies bullpen doesn’t implode, Philadelphia will be champions of the world.