Predicting the '09 season

April, 6, 2009
No one has asked for them, but here are my predictions anyway:

NL West
1. Dodgers
2. Diamondbacks (WC)
3. Rockies
4. Giants
5. Padres

I had the Diamondbacks in first place until Manny re-upped with the Dodgers, but it's still going to be close and I like Arizona for the wild card. The Padres won't be as bad as everybody thinks, and could almost as easily finish third as fifth.

NL Central
1. Cubs
2. Cardinals
3. Brewers
4. Reds
5. Astros
6. Pirates

I've got the Brewers and Cardinals both winning 83 games, but I'll give the Cardinals the edge because Chris Carpenter and Jason Motte might be twin sensations (though probably not). The Pirates probably are the one team in the majors most likely to lose 100 games.

NL East
1. Mets
2. Braves
3. Phillies
4. Nationals
5. Marlins

The Marlins are drawing some positive reviews because of their unproven-but-obviously-talented starting pitchers, and I have to admit they could surprise me. But the numbers I've seen argue that the Marlins are the worst team in the division, a few games behind the Nationals. As for the Phillies, they'll be pretty good but I believe the gimpiness of Cole Hamels and the oldness of Jamie Moyer will drop the champs to third place (also, Brad Lidge won't be perfect again this year).

AL East
1. Yankees
2. Red Sox (WC)
3. Rays
4. Blue Jays
5. Orioles

It has quickly become a meme: The three best teams in the majors all are in the American League East. This happens to be true. Doesn't mean they'll finish with the three best records, or that they'll be the three best teams three months from now. But at this moment on paper, they're the best. What's more, they're close enough that the order could easily be reversed. But I think the Rays' best won't come until 2010 and '11, and that this year they'll miss the playoffs by a couple of games.

AL Central
1. Indians
2. Tigers
3. Twins
4. Royals
5. White Sox

There won't be any terrible teams in this division -- in fact, I can't find any terrible teams in the American League -- but I'll be shocked if anyone here wins 90 games. The Indians are seriously deficient after their top two starters, and that's without even considering the possibility that Cliff Lee was a fluke last season and Fausto Carmona was a fluke the season before that. I just think the Indians' deficiencies are less damaging than those of the other contenders.

AL West
1. Athletics
2. Angels
3. Mariners
4. Rangers

I know, I know … It's probably a little bit crazy to pick the A's, considering that their current pitching rotation includes five pitchers who have combined for the grandly splendiferous total of 18 major league wins. Actually, that might make me certifiable. But if two or three of them pitch well and Justin Duchscherer comes back strong and the Angels continue to miss three of their starters … Hey, it could happen!



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