2007 Baseball predictions
The New York Mets will square off against the Cardinals in St. Louis Sunday night April 1st and officially begin the Major League Baseball season. The next afternoon, the Indians will be in Chicago to face the White Sox. Here is the order I see them ending up in October.
Boston Red Sox
Toronto Blue Jays
New York Yankees
Tampa Bay Devil Rays
Comments: I wanted to make a bold prediction and place the Yankees in last. I couldn't go that far, but they could still end up there. Of their five projected starting pitchers, one (Wang) is already on the disabled list, one (Pettitte) will turn 36 this season and saw his ERA go up nearly 2 runs last season, one (Mussina) is 38 and pitched better in the first half than the second half last indicating a potential drop off, a fourth starter (Pavano) who hasn't pitched in almost two years. Their closer is 38. Their catcher is 35 which is 3 years older than the age catchers seem to breakdown. The second baseman is the only position player under 31 years old. Beyond the Yankees' pitching issues and age of their position players, the main reason I expect them to slip in the standings is the division competition has improved. The Orioles and Devil Rays lost 92 and 101 games respectively last year. Both teams will win around 10 more games this season. Boston improved their pitching and offense in the off season. Last season both Matt Clement and Kyle Snyder pitched around a dozen games with an ERA over 6.00! Those starts will go to Japanese import Daisuke Matsuzaka who has been nearly unhittable at times this spring. Offensively, they improved markedly at shortstop and right field (barring the inevitable J.D. Drew injury).
Chicago White Sox
Kansas City Royals
Comments: I really wanted to pick Cleveland over Detroit, but couldn't justify doing so. My biggest argument against the Tigers is Kenny Rogers. Rogers was their workhorse last year, leading them in starts and wins. However, Rogers is 42 years old, pitched much better in the first half than the second and is starting the season on the disabled list. However, that argument falls apart when you look at their pitching depth. Rogers could miss the entire season without seriously hurting their rotation. Zach Minor or Wil Ledezma are ready to step into the rotation. As far as the Indians go, as much as I'd like to predict they will win the division I just don't see it for one main reason - too many platoons. Platoons can work, but I can't see a team being successful with platoons at three positions (RF, LF and 1B) which are normally big offensive contributors. Then again, as I was typing this two of those platoon pieces (Trot Nixon and Casey Blake) both homered in today's exhibition game. Instead of competing for the division, the Twins and White Sox will spend the season fighting to avoid taking the Royals place at the bottom of the standings.
Comments: Infield youth and outfield experience will lead the Angels to a run away division championship. Oakland will miss Barry Zito and Texas still does not have enough pitching. Seattle plays in a pitcher friendly park, but doesn't have the pitching to take advantage of it.
Comments: Atlanta failed to win the division for the first time since 1990. A much improved bullpen will enable the Braves to return to the top of the standings. The Phillies will be in contention right to the end and if they are able to trade from their pitching depth for the right pieces a division title is not out of the question. The Mets have been picked by a lot of "experts" to win the East, but not with this pitching. The Mets will lose at least 10 more games this year as their offense can't overcome the regular deficit they will find themselves mired in. The Marlins will continue to improve as their young players gain experience. The Nationals are likely to have the worst record in all of baseball.
St. Louis Cardinals
Comments: The AL Central may be the best division in baseball, but the NL Central is the most competitive. Throw the six names in a hat and pull out the winner and you've got as good a chance of being right as anyone else. This division will have some ugly slug fests. Chicago not only added Alfonso Soriano to their outfield, but also added a big bat at first base as Derrek Lee should be back to full strength from the broken wrist that ruined his season last year. The defending World Series champs, the Cardinals, may end up with the worst won/loss of any defending champ. The Pirates finished strong in 2006 and could surprise some people and fight their way to a winning record.
San Diego Padres
San Francisco Giants
Comments: The Dodgers are one of the most balanced teams in the National League. They added Randy Wolf and Jason Schmidt to their pitching staff to form one of the strongest starting rotations. Two players whose performance could make or break this team are the youngsters at the bottom of the lineup - Andre Either and Wilson Betemit. I picked the Giants for last mainly because of age. They added the 35 year old Ryan Klesko and actually lowered the average age of their starting lineup. Sure well conditioned players can still play at a top level into their 40's, but a team with several older players is tempting fate. The oldest player on the Giants, Barry Bonds, is only 22 home runs behind Hank Aaron's record of 755 career homers. Will the record chase be a distraction? Or is this team so used to the media circus surrounding Bonds that it won't be that out of the ordinary? The Padres won this division last year and have improved their talent slightly over the Winter, but I still don't expect them to repeat for one reason. The Padres replaced long time manager Bruce Bochy with first time manager Bud Black. Black may become a successful manager, however I don't expect immediate success mainly because he has never managed at any level. Managing a baseball team is easy for all of us. Once you actually get the job you find out what you didn't know you didn't know about the job.
Awards: Last season I picked Bonderman and Duke for the Cy Young award and think I was just a year too early so I'll stick with those choices.
MVP: Vladimir Guerrero
Cy Young: Jeremy Bonderman
MGR: Terry Francona
Comeback Player: Gary Sheffield
MVP: Andrew Jones - A great player in his contract year = 50+ homers and big bucks.
Cy Young: Zach Duke (or Ben Sheets)
MGR: Grady Little
Comeback player: Derrek Lee
Play ball! Lets have a great season.
Labels: Sports - Baseball