Here are my predictions for the 2009 MLB season. This season is sure to be another very good one as we have very interesting battles in most divisions. So here is my division by division breakdown.
1. Tampa Bay Rays- I like this team the most they have a lot of young youthful talent. They have the experience now of a pennant chase and a deep run in the playoffs. This team is battle tested and should be able to handle the long grind of the season. That will include one heck of a battle with the Yankees and Red Sox's. Pat Burrel should be a nice addition for them. Look for the Rays to nip the Red Sox's by a few games for the division.
2. Boston Red Sox's- This team has a potent offense combined with incredible pitching depth. It is hard to pick against the Red Sox's since recent history has indicated they always win. They have a few questions mainly on David Ortiz and Mike Lowell however I really don't think that is going to keep them from missing the playoffs. Look for John Smoltz to give them a huge lift whenever he comes back. The Red Sox's will battle all year for the division. I think they ultimately wind up with second place and a wild card just like last season.
3. New York Yankees- The Yankees went on a massive spending spree this offseason to try to fix their rotation they also added one of the best hitters in the game in Mark Texiera. Look for these moves to make the Yankees even more of a danger in the AL East. That being said I still think they will miss the playoffs. If they do somehow make the playoffs expect them to be bounced in the first round. Just remember you heard it here. I think AJ Burnett got a ridiculous contract that he did not deserve. He will not pitch up to those kind of numbers. CC Sabathia you have to wonder if this guy can keep up what he did in Milwaukee. I don't see as dazzling of a year as last year I also see a possible DL stint if they over work him. The Yankees will be in the hunt all year, but ultimately I see them finishing about four games behind the Rays and three behind the Red Sox's.
4. Toronto Blue Jays- Simply put the Jays certainly don't have the talent to compete with any of the top three in their division. They have a questionable offense that is not anywhere close to as good as the top three. Their rotation is headed by Roy Halladay who will be a beast this year. I see Roy Halladay having a very Cliff Lee like year and he could come home with the Cy Young. The rest of the rotation is questionable however I think Jeese Litsch will probably be their second best pitcher. Look for Toronto to finish a distant fourth in this division.
5. Baltimore Orioles- Too many questions with this team. Their just isn't enough hear to compete with the top three in the division. Maybe they could push the Blue Jays for fourth. They have some nice young talent in the minors headed by Matt Wieters that should make things interesting as the Orioles look to the future.
Overral Analysis of Al East- Should be an excellent division race at the top that should be really fun to watch. The best division in baseball this season is certainly probable. Look for the Yankees big spending ways to not pay off again as the Rays and Red Sox's finish 1-2 again.
1. Minnesota Twins- The final season in the dome should see a division title for the Twins. The Twins are relying on Joe Mauer too be healthy and his health could change the face of the division. If he is healthy I see the Twins winning this division that should be tight. The Twins should have an excellent rotation led by Francisco Liriano who very well might be in the CY Young chase. Look for other young guys like Slowey and Blackburn to improve on nice campaigns last season. Bottom line is you can always count on the Twins exceeding your expectations so maybe they will win the division by more games then I think since I pick them for first.
2. Cleveland Indians- Look for the Indians to have a nice bounce back campaign after a dissapointing 2008. I love the additions of Mark DeRosa and Kerry Wood both of these guys will fit in excellently in that club house. They also both figure to have very strong seasons and help the Indians get back to their winning ways. The biggest key will be how that rotation does. Certainly Cliff Lee figures to have another nice season however 21-3 very unlikely. They need Carmona to make a step up in a big way if they want to win this division. Look for the Indians to come in about three to five games behind the Twins.
3. Chicago White Sox's- The White Sox's have a decent rotation and a pretty good young offense. That being said I see them taking a step back this season. The key to them winning the division probably comes down to a few guys repeating very good seasons. The biggest of these guys is Carlos Quentin. Will this happen I'm thinking not and you can fully expect Ozzie Guillen to get himself into some trouble this season. White Sox's finish five to six back of the Twins.
4. Kansas City Royals- The Royals had a nice offseason in which the acquired Coco Crisp and Mike Jacobs. These moves along with the emgergence of some young talent should help the Royals get out of the cellar for once. Look for Zach Grienke and Gil Meche to have big years leading what should be a very solid rotation. I look for the Royals to get out of the cellar this year and push for 80 wins.
5. Detroit Tigers- Way too many question marks to put them anywhere above these other four teams. If the Tigers can answer some of these questions they could end up near the top of the division. Their rotation is pretty questionable and they need bounce back years from guys like Justin Verlander if they want to have any chance of winning this division. While the offense is very strong look for a disappointing year from Maggilo Ordonez.
Final Analysis of Al Central- Should be another fun division to watch. The Twins look like the class of division if Joe Mauer is healthy. Look for the Indians to improve with their big additions. Look for the White Sox's to remain players. If a lot of things break their way the Royals or Tigers could find themselves near the top as well. A very well rounded division.
1. Anaheim Angles- The Angles have some early issues in their rotation that should keep this division close at least early. That being said once Ervin Santana, John Lackey, and Kelvim Escobar return from injuries they should still be clearly the class of this division. Look for Bobby Abreu to be a nice addition. They will not run away ridiculously like they did last season however look for them to still win this division by a fair magin. That being said the door might be starting to close soon on the Angles chances as age creeps up.
2. Texas Rangers- We all know the Rangers can mash the ball as good as anybody if not better then everybody. That being said the question will all come down to their pitching. No matter what it is likely not going to be good enough to beat the Angles this season. They need Brandon McCarthy and Matt Harrison to have big years in that rotation. Because Kevin Millwood and Vicente Pidilla is a very weak front two. Look for them to come in about ten to twelve games behind the Angles.
3. Oakland Athletics- The A's should have a pretty nice offense with the addition of Matt Holiday, Jason Giambi, and Orlando Caberera. It will all come down to their young pitching making a big step if they are to have any hopes at competiting near the top of this division. If A's can get some pitching look for them to push the Rangers for second place.
4. Seattle Mariners- After an extremely disappointing campaign in 2008 the Mariners look to improve which shouldn't be too hard to do since they fell so far. The addition of Ken Griffey Jr. will be huge for these guys as he will help fix that problematic club house. Look for Girffey to have a very nice return season to Seattle. Also look for Ichiro to have a much better season. The rotation should be half way decent headed by King Felix who should be in store for a great season. Seattle will not be nearly as bad as last season however they got aways to go before they are competiting for second and first.
Final Analysis of Al West- Should be another Angels run away just not quite as many games. That being said if the Rangers, A's, and Mariners improve in the coming years they very well might finally catch the agining Angles.
1. Phildelphia Phillies- I look for the fighting Phils to have enough to win their division yet again. I think the championship winning season will only fill their confidence even more enough to outlast the Mets once again. I think some of the key questions though is will Cole Hamels be healthy all year? They need this guy especially if they want to get it done in the post season again. Look for that offense to be one of the better one's I like the addition of Raul Ibanez. The Phils win yet another close tight race with the Mets.
2. New York Mets- Mets are looking to rebound after yet another collapse at the end of the season. This off season they more then addressed their bullpen issues with the addition of K Rod and JJ Putz. Look for these big moves to be enough to help get the Mets into a wild card.
3. Atlanta Braves- The Atlanta Braves are looking to rebound from back to back disappointing campaigns. I suspect they do as they stay in the race for the NL East until early September. I look for Derek Lowe and Javier Vazquez to be very excellent additions to their rotation.
4. Florida Marlins- The Marlins are a young talented bunch with perhaps an underrated pitching staff. They have a good top two in their rotation with some other younger guys that have potential. One problem for them could be infield defense as we all saw Dan Uggla's lack of skill in the all star game last year. Look for the Marlins to be a pesky pain in the butt team especially in this division.
5. Washington Nationals- The Nats are well the Nats. Even an addition of Adam Dunn won't pull this team out of the cellar. Their are a few bright spots young ace John Lannan figures to have a nice sophmore campaign.
Final Analysis of Nl East- Should be a fun division to keep an eye on. I suspect an all out war between the Phils and Mets for first until the very last week with the loser likely winning the wild card. Look for the Braves and Marlins to keep it interesting for awhile too.
1. Chicago Cubs- The Cubs are coming off a great year however another disappointing playoff sweep leaves them with a bitter taste in thier mouth. The Cubs looked for some left handed hitting this offseason and found it in Milton Bradley. If Bradley stays healthy the Cubs could very well push 100 wins this season. The Cubs actually went out this offseason and tried to improve thier team unlikely most of their NL Central counterparts. Look for the Cubs to win 93 games and also watch for a big trade deadline trade.
2. St. Louis Cardinals- The Cardinals are the only real threat to the Cubs this season. With a player the caliber of Albert Pujols and the offense they have thier they can contend. The question will be the pitching. However you can always expect Tony LaRussa will get more and then some out of his team. Never count out the Cards period!!!! Barring injuries though to the Cubs I can't see them coming any closer then five games.
3. Milwaukee Brewers- The Brewers had a pretty awful winter losing CC Sabathia and Ben Sheets. They replaced those two with Braden Looper hardly much of replacement. The Brewers are likely to take a big step back this year. Their is no doubt they will have one of the better offenses in the NL. However their pitching is riddled with big time questions. Can Yovani Gallardo remain healthy and pitch like the ace many think he is? Can Manny Parra be more consistent? Also their bullpen is questionable. The Brewers pitching will ultimately hurt them big time as they fight just to stay in third.
4. Cincinatti Reds- Watch out for the Reds they are loaded with young talent they are very reminiscint of the young Brewers of a few years ago. That young talent should make them very competitive this season. The question is can Aaron Harang rebound from a disastrous 2008. Also what else will they get out of their rotation. Will Edinson Volquez be as good? However their pitching probably had less questions then their offense which is looking to go a very small ball route. I can't see that for a Dusty Baker led squad. Speaking of that Dusty Baker very well should derail them quite a bit.
5. Houston Astros- The Astros made their typical late season run last year only to fall short of the wild card. That being said if they get off to to a fast start you may want to watch out. Simply put the Astros have way too many questions in that rotation to compete for the division title though.
6. Pittsburgh Pirates- The Pirates are well the Pirates. They have virtually no shot of even getting out of the cellar of this division.
Final Analysis of Nl Central- This division is the Cubs to lose. Barring major health issues the Cubs should win this division on cruise control. They have the best staff in the division and the best offense. St. Louis, Milwaukee, Cincinatti, and Houston all could legitmely finish second depending on things. However they are fighting for second through fifth and it is unlikely the second place team will land a wild card.
1. Los Angles Dodgers- The Dodgers where able to get Manny back after a long stupid battle that being said it was a move that had to happen if they where going to make the playoffs. The Dodgers have a very potent offense that should be one of the best in the National League. The question will be the pitching, but I think Billingsley and Kuroda will head a very solid staff this season that will be enough to get it done. You know one things for sure they have one of the best managers in the game in Joe Torre and he will prove to be a huge difference maker in this battle they will likely be in with the Diamondbacks.
2. Arizona Diamondbacks- The D Backs have a young talented team with a fantastic rotation especially at the top it is hard to beat the duo of Webb and Harren. The D Backs greatly underachieved after thier amazing April last season in which they where pretty much downhill the rest of the season after that. Can the D Backs rebound and recover from this? I think the D Backs will have a nice season and hang with the Dodgers all year ultimately though I think they fall short.
3. San Francisco Giants- This is an up and coming team that if they could find any kind of offense they could very well be the best team in the division. They have a fantastic rotation led by NL Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum who figures to be in that race again. The question is what can they get out of that offense. Probably not much as they will find themselves on the wrong end of many one run games likely. The Giants will battle their way to third in the division and will be a team to keep an eye on in the future.
4. Colorado Rockies- The Rockies are a team with a potent enough offense unforuntately for them their pitching has a lot of questions outside of Aaron Cook(who got blasted today). The Rockies if their pitching steps up will probably end up third cause they have enough offense to do it. Jason Marquis will have an ERA close to 5.
5. San Diego Padres- After a pretty terrible offseason in which they should of traded Jake Peavy they will have another crummy year. Look for Peavy to struggle as he just wants out of San Diego. He will be traded by the trade deadline to a contender likely the Cubs in which he will finish of the year strongly and possibly make a late Cy Young push much like CC last year.
Final Analysis of Nl West- This division is between the Dodgers and D Backs. Look for both teams to be around 85 win teams tops. Don't sleep on the Giants to make it interesting however I just don't think they have enough offense to compete into late September. As the Rockies don't have enough pitching probably to compete.
AL MVP- Kevin Youkilis
NL MVP- Aramis Ramirez
AL CY Young- Roy Halladay
NL CY Young- Tim Lincecum
AL Rookie- David Price
NL Rookie- Cameron Maybin
AL Manager- Ron Gardenhire
NL Manager- Jerry Manuel
AL Divisional Playoffs
Minnesota Twins defeat Boston Red Sox's in 5
Tampa Bay Rays defeat Anaheim Angles in 5
Tampa Bay Rays defeat Minnesota Twins in 6
NL Divisional Playoffs
Cubs defeat New York Mets in 5
Phillies defeat Dodgers in 4
Cubs defeat Phillies in 7
Cubs defeat Rays in 6
That's right the Cubbies will win it all. They are more then overdue to do it. This season they won't have the whole 100 year thing hanging over them. Well it will be 101. Anyways that being said this season third time will be a charm. The Cardinals won the NL Central 3 straight years before us in their third trip to the playoffs they finally broke through with a world series. This time the Cubs will be the one's to do it.