- New York Yankees. Is there a safer pick in baseball? They may come out of the gates a little slow I think, but they should sale into the playoffs. The rotation is one of the best ever assembled with CC Sabathia, AJ Burnett, Chin Ming Wang, and Andy Pettite at the top with Joba Chamberlain likely to be the 5th starter. CC will eb a 20 game winner for the first time in his career for sure. Mark my words.
- Tampa Bay Rays*. Yes, they wil beat out the Red Sox for the Wild Card. A full year of experience for stud 3B Evan Longoria, and the thrill fo watching Joe Maddons squad play baseball the way it was meant to be. Good solid pitching with rookie Price. Solid vet. leadership in the rotation brought by Scott Kasmir. This team is build right. Patt Burells bat is a nice addition with a lot of good expierience.
- Boston Red Sox. Too many question marks going into the season. Will David Ortiz produce? They can not afford to have him start slow like last season without Manny Ramirez. The Yankees can pull away if they play it right. A lot of question marks in the order, and with a liability like Jason Varitec in the line-up some one is going to have to step up, and step up big if they want a shot.
- Toronto Blue Jays. Roy Holliday is still there. That is enought to hold off the Baltimore for the 4th spot. They have a deent core, and with a solid group of young guys, and a steady diet of savy vets, will give the 3 division heavyweights some fits throughtout the season.
- Baltimore Orioles. Very poor rotation, and one of the worse in the AL in my humble opinion. Matt Weiters should be fun to watch. They worked out a deal to keep Brian Roberts after almost shipping him off to the Cubs. No much else to talk about this team exept, could be a team that gives off some pieces to contenders towards the Break and Deadline.
- Cleveland Indians. A very unpredictable team, with a suddenly strong bullpen with the key additions of Joe Smith and Kery Wood. The big questionmark remains the rotation. Losing CC Sabathia didn't seem to hurt the Tribe last season, they performed better when it was out of the clubhouse. But Cliff Lee will be solid again, probably not match his performence from 2008, but there is no reason to think he won't perform like the Ace he is asked to be. After that is a steady diet of ?, ?, ?, and.....?. The way Travis Hafner and Victor Matinez bounce back will be big. Nice addition in Mark Del Rosa. Choo emerged nicely, and could be a very solid 3 hitter if PRONK can't step into that role. I think he is better suited for the 6 spot to begin the season.
- Minnasota Twins. A very solid, young team. Adding Joe Crede obviously helps. Liriano will be back for a full season, and looked very good. Joe Mauer and Justin Mornoe all annual studs.
- Kansas City Royals. Ladys and Gentlemen, my boldest prediction. The Royals. I present you with a team that will kill contenders at the end of the season. The White Sox have taken a giant step backwards while their "stars" continue to get older. Rotation is a bit iffy.
- Detriot Tigers. Too much talent to finish last. With Jeremy Bonderman and Justin Verlander at the helm of the rotation, its hard to say what you are going to get as for pitching.They can't be as bad as they were last year can they? Miggy Cabrera should be a stud once again after a full season of adjusting to the American League.
- Chicago White Sox. I don't like anything about this team. What they are trying to do is beside me. They are now the "other" team in Chicago after winning a title relitivaly recently. They have a glaring cap in CF and 3B left by Ken Griffey Jr. and Joe Crede.
- Oakland Athletics. Yeah I did say the Royals were my surprise team, but as far as divsion winners go, the A's maybe the biggest surprise. They took giant strides to get better by trading for MVP Candidate Matt Holliday, and bringning back vet slugger Jason Giambi. Bobby Crosby should be a lot better this year. Justin Duchscherer has a solid year last season. Hopefully he can build off that season. Not really a big threat in the playoffs because of their depth in the rotation.
- Los Angelas Angels- Losing K-Rod and Mark Texiera in a off season is brutal enough. But htey did howver bring in vastly over rated OF Bobby Abreau to play a long side Vlad who is still a star. The Brian Fuentez signing isn't as big as people will think.
- Texas Rangers. Only here because the Mariners are such a dissappointment. Losing Milton could be big for Josh Hamiltons production without protection in the lineup. The offense is still good enough to win a few games for them, but the pitching is pathetic. Rivals that of the Orioles.
- Seattle Mariners. Bringing back Ken Griffey Jr. may sound good, but it isn't. He is not good by any stretch of the mind anymore. Still a beautiful swing, but I think they will send him to a contender at the deadline, both for the teams good, and his own good. Low salary will make him attractive to the likes of the Rays and Indians.
Tampa Bay Rays @ Cleveland Indians
Oakland Athletics @ New York Yankees
- New York Mets. Labeled the choke artist, but not after this season. They will make the Phillies eat their words. They are too strong in too many areas to be over looked. The bullpen is as strong as any with the addition of K-Rod and J.J. Putz, two very successfull closers. The offense is very good like usual with stars Jose Reyes and David Wright. Two of the best at their positions. A force to be recing with come September and October.
- Philadelphia Phillies*. Who would have thought they would comeback again to over take the Mets. Crazy. With sluggers Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, and Ryan Howard, how can you not count this team as a contender? Cole Hamels once again holding the fort as the Ace, this team will be tough again. My prediction for the Wild Card.
- Florida Marlins. Not as big as putting the Royals 3rd in the AL Central, but big considering they leap the Braves. Hanley Ramirez is fun to watch. This team always seems to do the right things when trading plays. Camron Maybin should be a nice bat in the lineup as he continues to develop.
- Atlanta Braves. Didn't do too much to improve in the offseason, but last I checked they still have Chipper Jones who is coming off a stellar season. Losing John Smoltz is a bigger blow to the fans then it is to the club, but nonetheless, still a blow. Brian McCann is one of the best backstops in the game.
- Washington Nationals. When will this team compete? They did in the off season for Mark Texiera, but to no avail. Adam Dunn wasa nice addition at the end of the off season, but he does not hit for very good average. Should be another disappointing season in the nations capital.
- Chicago Cubs. Big Z and now Rich Harden for the entire season will make the starting rotation pretty solid. The hitting is the best in the division already, adding Milton Brandley makes them even more dangerous. Alfanso Soriano needs to stay healthy for this team to advance deep into the playoffs and lift the "curse".
- St. Louis Cardinals. Albert Pujos has got to be the odds on favorite for the NL MVP. He is a stud in every sense of the word. But unfortunatly for them, not too much else going on in the lineup. Rick Ankiel is average, a little above at best. The rotation is no where near where it needs to be in order to not only compete with the Cubs, but compete in the playoffs.
- Houston Astros. I don't know why, but they will be 3rd. Lance Berkman is still one of the games best, along with Roy Oswalt. So with those two, its hard to drop them below 3 in a weak division.
- Cincinatti Reds. Nice young players in Jay Bruce and Edison Volquez. But no where near ready to compete by any stretch of the mind. On the right track though. Getting rid of Griffey was a nice first step. The rotation can be briliant or a complete bust with question marks Aaron Harang, Micah Owings, and Johnny Cueto. All 3 can pitch, but the question is can they do it consistently.
- Milwakee Brewers. Why everyone has them winning 85 games, and finishing as high as 2 in the division is ludacris. They lost CC Sabathia and Ben Sheets, their top 2, check that, their only two real pitchers in the rotation. JJ Hardy has dissappointed after a stellar season a few years back. Prince Fielder could also be dealt by the deadline leacing oly Ryan Braun.
- Pittsburg Pirates. Title Town-USA my butt. At least they have the Steelers right? This team is a disaster from top to bottom. Could soon be known as the Farm Team for the Yankees. Nate McLouth was atleast signed to an extension and Ryan Demoit continues to impress me.
NL West: Saving the worst for last.
- Arizona Diamondbacks. No one in the division has the pitching, any pitching for that matter, to match up with the two studs at the top of this rotation. Brandon Webb has been briliant year in and year out. Dan Haren is a Ace on any team in the division.The lineup may be a problem but Justin Upton is getting better and better.
- Los Angelas Dodgers. Manny or no Manny, this teams rotation is trash. Losing Brad Penny doesn't sting as much, but it would have been better to have at least added someone. Casey Blake is a solid versative hitter. Clayton Crenshaw will be a player to watch for this team. Either way they NEED Manny more then Manny needs them, no matter what anyone says.
- San Francisco Giants. Tim Lincecum came out of no where to dazzle. Barry Zito still needs to improve for this team to get any chance at a push for the post season. Who knows? If they jump in and swoop up ManRam, they could be a contender in the weak division.
- Colorado Rockies. Losing Matt Holliday (via trade to Oakland) is big. Add that with losing Brian Fuentez, this team took giant leaps backwards. Garett Atkins probably won't be in a Rockies uniform come the end of the season.
- San Diego Padres. With all the rumors swarming around Jake Peavy to the Cubs, he is still in a Padres uniform. But how long will that last? Virtually nothing after him in the rotation. But Adrien Gonzolez is still a top 1B in the league.
Diamondbacks @ Mets
Phillies @ Cubs
Stay Tuned for playoff predictions and how I break it all down.