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Like them or not, my projected standings

Not that anybody should take predictions too seriously, but I put some time into these so I may as well share on this day of days ...

AL EAST

1. Yankees - 96 wins

2. Red Sox - 94

3. Rays - 91

4. Orioles - 74

5. Blue Jays - 68

I was tempted to push the Red Sox past the Yankees after last night's game, but didn't mostly on principle. It's a funny thing, somebody asked me last night which I would choose to win the World Series: the Yankees or the field. The Yankees are one of the last contending teams I would choose because ... Well, that's not really right. But they're far from the first, simply because there are two teams in their own division that are good enough that there's a reasonably good chance the Yankees won't even qualify for the playoffs. I mean, they probably will. But you disregard Tampa Bay at your own peril.

AL CENTRAL

1. Twins - 85

2. Indians - 81

3. White Sox - 77

4. Tigers - 76

5. Royals - 72

The Twins would have been big favorites if they hadn't lost Joe Nathan. Now they're just favorites. And yes, the Indians went 67-95 last year. But somebody has to be this year's big surprise, right? Fausto Carmona, Travis Hafner and Grady Sizemore all played exceptionally well in spring training. The Indians have a new manager. I'm just saying, don't be shocked if they do something amazing.

AL WEST

1. Rangers - 85

2. Mariners - 82

3. Angels - 80

4. Athletics - 79

Frankly, this is purely a numbers thing. I look at a lot of team projections in March, throw everything into an Excel file and see what comes out. And the Rangers are the only team that projects to win more than about 84 games. Which isn't the way it will actually happen. Somebody's going to win (at least) 87 or 88 games to win the division. I think the Rangers are going to be that team, and I would have bumped them up a couple of notches except I couldn't figure who to bump down. (My other reservation is that the Angels have so often exceeded their projections that they'll probably make me look foolish yet again.)

NL WEST

1. Rockies - 86

2. Dodgers - 85

3. Diamondbacks - 83

4. Giants - 79

5. Padres - 73

Same thing as in the American League West: You think it has to be the Dodgers, who won 95 games last season and didn't get appreciably worse over the winter. But the Rockies grade out higher this season. Obviously, this is a three-team race if Brandon Webb comes back soon (and strong).

NL CENTRAL

1. Cardinals - 91

2. Reds - 81

3. Cubs - 80

4. Brewers - 80

5. Astros - 72

5. Pirates - 72

If there's a non-competitive division in the majors, it'll be this one. The Reds don't have the right manager for their young talent, the Cubs are old and getting older, the Brewers don't have the pitching, and the Astros and the Pirates are rebuilding (even if the Astros don't know it yet).

NL EAST

1. Phillies - 89

2. Braves - 88

3. Mets - 80

4. Marlins - 79

5. Nationals - 73

When I first started fooling around with the standings a couple of weeks ago, I had the Braves finishing ahead of the Phillies. Since picking the Phillies second (or third) and getting killed by the Phans has become something of an annual tradition in these parts, I was not displeased. But as more numbers came in and I thought about these clubs and how the Phillies added Roy Halladay and the Braves subtracted Javier Vazquez, I wound up putting the Phillies on top for the first time ever.

Which means this is probably the year they don't win.