Well, last year no one got the World Series matchup correct, though a few folks did pick the Cards. So we come again to the beginning of a new season. Time to step up and say things that will sound ludicrous 6 months from now!
AL East: Yankees (1) Red Sox Blue Jays Orioles Devil Rays Yankees win a million games with their offense and choke in the playoffs. Red Sox win a lot of games but not quite enough. Everyone else continues to wish they were in a different division.
AL Central: White Sox (2) Tigers (WC) Twins Indians Royals I like John Danks. He will be the non-Matsuzaka ROY. That along with a healthy Contreras and Podsednik will be enough to push the Sox to a narrow divisional win over the Tigers, who claim the WC with 94 wins. Twins find a way to be good, but not good enough. Cleveland annoys SABR members by continuing to underperform their Pythagorean numbers. KC will begin to see hope by the end of the year as Gordon and Butler emerge.
AL West: A's (3) Angels Rangers Mariners Oakland has lots of pitching, which will be enough. The Angels had a bad offseason as everyone used them for leverage before signing elsewhere it seemed. Rangers and Mariners will be lucky to sniff .500.
NL East: Mets (2) Phillies (WC) Braves Marlins Nats The Philles will finally get over the hump this year. Mets seem like a good offense but the pitching worries me. Braves will be solid but never really challenge. Marlins begin to fall apart. Nats are just not good.
NL Central: Cubs (3) Cardinals Brewers Astros Reds Pirates I'll be honest, these six teams seem interchangeable to me. I chose the Cubs just because it seems like they might have the best team of a bad lot. Plus I like Rich Hill a lot and think he will be a huge surprise to people. But honestly, you could put any team but the Pirates in that spot and I would say that makes some sense.
NL West: Dodgers (1) Padres D-Backs Rockies Giants As I said last year, the NL West happens too late for me. Dodgers seem good. Giants seem very old and ready to fall apart, even with Zito.
LDS: Yankees vs. Tigers Rematch from last year, same result. Tigers in 4. White Sox vs A's Kenny Williams gets revenge for "Moneyball". Sox in 5 Dodgers vs. Phillies Ryan Howard goes nuts, hits 5 HR in 4 games. Freddy Garcia comes up huge. Phillies in 4 Cubs vs. Mets In a 5 game series the Cubs pitching wins out as Zambrano wins 2 and Hill wins 1. Cubs in 4
LCS: White Sox vs. Tigers A nasty series with lots of hard play and nasty feelings. Game 7 ends for the Sox with too much power as Thome, Konerko, and Dye all clobber HR's. Sox in 7 Cubs vs. Phillies Again, pitching carries the day. Zambrano wins in game 1, Garcia wins in game 2, Hill wins in game 3. Rinse and repeat in 4-6. Cubs in 6
World Series: White Sox vs. Cubs No winner as Chicago falls into chaos and anarchy. Riots in the streets, thousands dead. Should the series take place somehow the Sox win in 6.
ROY: AL - Matsuzaka NL - Chris Young Cy Young: AL - Halladay NL - Zambrano MVP: AL - Jermaine Dye NL - Ryan Howard
I'm still angered that through the entire offseason, the big offseason pick-ups for the Angels were Gary Matthews Jr. and Shea Hillenbrand. And hey look! Matthews is in the middle of a steroids scandal! D'oh! Well, I'll still go with the Angels to take the division, since their pitching staff is among the best in the league. I don't expect Weaver to hit the sophomore jinx while Lackey and Santana will be good for 15 victories a piece. The wild card is Bartolo Colon. If he's back to 2005 form (and with this being a contract year for him, I don't see why he shouldn't), the Angels will be very dangerous in '07. And hey, the young bats like Howie Kendrick and Mike Napoli will ease the pain of losing '02 champs Adam Kennedy and Darrin Erstad.
Oakland will come close, but fall short of the wild card. The Rangers are still too far in the hole (thanks, A-Rod!) to do any real damage in the division. And the Mariners (who obviously didn't learn from Jeff Weaver's LAST stint in the AL) will finish last and possibly set up LOTS of Ichiro trade rumors for the deadline.
AL CENTRAL -Tigers -Indians (Wild Card) -Twins -White Sox -Royals
The Tigers are still mainly intact and Sheffield will give them enough of a power boost to keep them atop the single strongest division in the league. The Twins also managed to keep their roster together, but the loss of Francisco Liriano and retirement of Brad Radke WILL hurt and unless they make a trade for a pitcher at the deadline, they won't make any noise. Santana can't carry this staff by himself. The magic with the White Sox will be gone and everyone will lose patience will Ozzie Guillen sooner than later. The big surprise here should be the Indians, who had a major hiccup last year. There's no reason they shouldn't back to what they were in '05 and they're going to shock a lot of people by making the playoffs. The Royals are what they are.
AL EAST -Red Sox -Yankees -Blue Jays -Orioles -Devil Rays
The Sox are far from perfect. They're stuck with an inconsistent J.D. Drew (with a HUGE contract) and a Manny Ramirez distraction is inevitable. But Dice-K looks to be for real and Schilling will want to go out on a high note before he hits free agency. The Sox could very well have the best rotation in the league right now, even with Papelbon going back to the closer role (which he should never have left, in my opinion). They could easily collapse in August, like last year, but I'll give them the benefit of the doubt and say they take the division. The Yankees' pitching staff looks to be in shambles and even if they were all healthy, they look dubious at best. Igawa could be a huge sleeper and give the Yanks double-digit wins. They need more Wang. The Blue Jays are a good team handicapped by a bad manager. It'll be another third place finish for them. The Orioles and Devil Rays remain irrelevent.
NL WEST -Dodgers -Padres (wild card) -D-backs -Giants
This is the hardest one to call. The Dodgers and Padres both improved big-time in the offseason, but I think the acquisition of Jason Schmidt combined with the loss of J.D. Drew makes the Dodgers enough of a solid team to take the division. But the Pads have a fantastic roster themselves and could easily prove me wrong. Randy Johnson won't give the D-backs enough to win the west, but he'll give them enough to take third. The Giants will be too distracted with Barry Bonds' troubles and chase for Aaron's record to actually win any games. It doesn't help that their long-time ace went to their biggest rival and they tried to make up for it by overpaying (and I mean overpaying) for an inconsistent Barry Zito.
NL CENTRAL -Cardinals -Cubs -Brewers -Astros -Reds -Pirates
Wow, what happened here? The NL Central used to be really good. The Cardinals take a really weak division and Sweet Lou gives Cubs fans some hope with a second-place finish.
NL EAST -Phillies -Mets -Marlins -Braves -Nationals
The Phils are due for a division win. The Mets will be hit too hard by injuries, with Pedro's leading the way. The Marlins will make a third-place finish, but likely end up trading away Dontrelle Willis at the deadline. The Braves will keep wondering what went wrong and the first rumors of Bobby Cox's departure will surface. The Nationals are a young team, but they're not there yet. Maybe next year.
The Wisdom of Homsar: AaAaAa! I'm a trendy tote bag!
To get to the playoffs, I'll take NYY (13 years in a row), Bos (WC), Oak, and ChW(toughest division in baseball and toughest to make a pick). I can't trust Minnesota with a back-end rotation of Ponson and Ortiz. Detroit is too cocky, though Sheffield gives them leadership. Cleveland has no bullpen and a bad rotation.
For the NL I'll take the Mets(AL lineup), Mil (trendy pick, but the NL central sucks), LAD, SD (WC).
NL East NY Mets Atlanta (WC) Philadelphia Florida Washington
Nobody circles the wagons like the Buffalo Bills, but this is baseball so I'll take Schuerholz to get right back to the top.. only to drop back into Wild Card territory when Minaya makes the key deal in July.
NL Central St. Louis Milwaukee Chi Cubs Houston Cincinatti Pittsburgh
Hell for us Cub fans as the Yankee buy, buy, buy model doesn't get them over the hump in rebuilding year 99. Never bet against the Cardinals, much like the Braves the difference is in the organization.
NL West LA Dodgers Arizona San Diego Colorado San Francisco
San Diego falls back after a taste of success, but still plays well. Bonus prediction: Barry gets hurt, does not pass Hank Aaron (at least this year).
AL East NY Yankees Boston (WC) Toronto Tampa Bay Baltimore
Never bet against Roger Clemens and the Yankees.
AL Central Detroit Chi White Sox Cleveland Minnesota Kansas City
I would ordinarily think that the Tigers would have a letdown, but the addition of Sheffield combined with the subtraction of White Sox 2007 starters in favor of White Sox 2009 starters leaves me no other logical pick.
AL West LA Angels Oakland Texas Seattle
Moneyball is great for keeping you above water even in down years, but it sucks for trying to win it all. Texas pitching will fade in the summer heat as usual. Bonus prediction: Ichiro will be dealt in July.
Dodgers over Braves 3-2 Cardinals over Mets 3-1 Dodgers over Cardinals 4-1
Yankees over Tigers 3-0 Angels over Red Sox 3-2 Yankees over Angels 4-2
Over the weekend, Baseball Tonight's Jeff Brantly had an interesting idea as to what direction to take with Zambrano. Due to the fairly stacked nature of the Cubs starting rotation (Wood, Prior, Maddux, Dempster, Rusch)