Its really crazy to make these predictions before Game 1 of the exhibition season, but, why not:
1) Yankees: This goes against everything in my belief system. I think the starting pitching is beginning to fade, and the bullpen in front of Rivera is the weakest yet. However, they have the great Satan Mariano Rivera, so its tough to pick against them. 102-60.
2) Red Sox: If they had Colon, I'd pick them to win the division in a walk. However, Lowe has had a history of break through season then awful season before, so I have to be careful with him. Wakefield should struggle early in the season, because the knuckleball generally does not flutter well prior to Memorial Day. Pedro will be Pedro. If Manny doesn't slide head first into home, he could go .360 55 160 very easily. If only I had faith in the bullpen. For some reason, I think Wakefield will be the closer by July 1st, much like the '99 season. 98-64.
3) Blue Jays: Every few years, there is talk about how the Blue Jays young talent is ready to gel and challenge in the East. I still don't believe it. But, they are in between the good teams and the horrid teams in the division. 85-77.
4) Orioles: This is a bad team. Collapsed down the stretch last season, and not much improvement was done in the off-season. 64-98.
5) Devil Rays: All this talk people have had about Pinella coming in and turning things around like he did with Seattle in '93. Only difference is no Griffey, Edgar, or Big Unit. Plus, two best position players were either sold to Japan or traded for Pinella. Pinella + horrid bullpen does equal entertainment value though. 55-107.
1) White Sox: Best lineup in the division, plus the addition of Colon puts there pitching staff over the top. 97-65.
2) Twins: Pitching seems brittle. Don't know if they can count on Everyday Eddy as a consistent closer two straight years. Should be in the race until the last few weeks, but fade due to pitching depth problems. 93-69.
3) Indians: Probably will be back in the mix in 2004. One of those teams that will be eliminated early in the season, then make a strong second half surge to build upon for 2004 and beyond. Playing in the AL with 4 possible 100 loss teams helps as well. 83-79.
4) Tigers: Very bad team. Very little talent. Only positive is they aren't the Royals. 59-103.
5) Royals: Awful team that only lost its top 2 pitchers. Sweeney should be gone before the trading deadline. Might be one of the worst non-expansion teams in a long time. 51-111.
1) Oakland: Pitching depth is the key. This pick is contigent on Tejada having his head together all season instead of looking for a contract extension. 101-61.
2) Seattle: Should rebound from the collapse of the last month of last season. Always good to get an all-star for a manager who's voice the team probably was tired of. 95-67.
3) Anaheim: They had everything break their way last season. Francisco Rodriguez could be whacked as the book on him gets around. Still don't have the greatest faith in their pitching staff. 92-70.
4) Texas: If they played in any other division, they could be contenders just based on the number of games against the dreg teams. Unfortunately they are in the West, and they still have lousy pitching. A-Rod and Palmeiro will put up incredible numbers, but the team will still lose a number of 13-11 games. 78-84.
The wildcard and division races should be close throughout, and the win totals will be high with four dreadful teams in the league.
The only military skill provided by the French is demonstrating the methods of surrendering.
The AL Central will cannibalize itself in intra-divisional games, with no team in the division winning more than 58-60 % of their games vs. divisional opponents. I would not be surprised if either the White Sox or Twins win that division with 88-89 wins at most. Because even though there are 2 bottom-feeding teams in there, they inevitably step up and ruin life for one of these teams.
Speaking of the AL Central, I read this one over the weekend...the highest-paid player in the AL Central this year? You would think it would be somebody on the White Sox, or maybe Torii Hunter...but it`s Detroit Tigers OF Bobby Higginson. He`s making over $11 million this year?!?
Now the Sox have gone from one southpaw in the pen (Embree) to four (Embree, Fossum, Fox, Sauerbeck). At least I think Chad Fox is a lefty. It would be nice to get a left-hander for the rotation, too. Somebody to put between Wakefield and Lowe.