Saturday, March 31, 2012

My Fearless Forecast

With Major League Baseball set to start in earnest next week (in America), I thought that I would try my hand at predicting where each of the 30 teams will finish. Please keep in mind that this is for entertainment purposes only…

First the American League:

1. New York Yankees
2. Tampa Bay Rays*
3. Toronto Blue Jays
4. Boston Red Sox
5. Baltimore Orioles

Eastern Philosophies – It pains me to pick the Yanks to come out on top, but I have no choice. They should dominate with a lineup that includes Derek Jeter, Curtis Granderson, Robinson Cano, A-Rod and Mark Teixeira, a talented rotation and number 42 closing.

I have the Rays and the Jays finishing second and third based on Boston’s well-publicized internal problems that were exposed last year. Throw in their weak starting pitching and Bobby Valentine and you have a fourth place finish. The Orioles just suck. A lot.

1. Detroit Tigers
2. Chicago White Sox
3. Kansas City Royals
4. Cleveland Indians
5. Minnesota Twins

Central Intelligence – It doesn’t pain me to choose the Tigers to finish first for one reason - the addition of Prince Fielder. This team won 95 games last year without Prince Fielder. I know they won’t have Victor Martinez all year, but did I mention that they have added Prince Fielder?

The White Sox, Royals and Indians are interchangeable. If Adam Dunn, Alex Rios and Gordon Beckham return to form, it’s the Pale Hose. The young players for the Royals need to continue to improve; otherwise it’s the Tribe finishing second. And that’s if Grady Sizemore can stay healthy.

Because Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau cannot stay healthy, the Twins will finish on the bottom looking up. Way up.

1. Texas Rangers
2. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim*
3. Oakland Athletics
4. Seattle Mariners

The Wild, Wild West – It should be a real shootout between the Rangers and the Angels with the boys from Texas edging the Halos by a couple of games. I know L.A. has added Albert Pujols, but Torii Hunter, Vernon Wells and Bobby Abreu are a combined 104 years old. I think the Ranger’s lineup just has too much firepower for the Angels.

The other half of the West, the A’s and the Mariners, have already opened their seasons, splitting a two game series in Japan. Either team will be fortunate to be at .500 when the smoke clears in October.

Now for the National League…

1. Philadelphia Phillies
2. Atlanta Braves*
3. Washington Nationals*
4. Miami Marlins
5. New York Mets

The Far East – Last year the Phils, Braves, Nats and Marlin all finished above .500. This season should be no different. That being said, each team has question marks.

The Phillies have added Jonathan Papelbon, but need Chase Utley and Ryan Howard to prove they can bounce back from injuries. The Braves need Jason Heyward to hit like he did in ’10 and Brandon Beachy has to live up to huge expectations.

The Nats have so much young talent it’s scary. It’s all scary to think what happens if Stephen Strasberg, Gio Gonzalez, Jordan Zimmerman, Michael Morse and Bryce Harper struggle.

The Marlins biggest question is if it’s temperamental Manager Ozzie Guillen can handle the personalities of divas like Hanley Ramirez and Jose Reyes. There are no questions with the Mets – they don’t have what it takes to keep up with the rest of the division.

1. Milwaukee Brewers
2. Cincinnati Reds
3. Pittsburgh Pirates
4. St. Louis Cardinals
5. Chicago Cubs
6. Houston Astros

Central Time Zone: Call me a homer if you like, but I’m picking the Brewers to win this division. Let me tell you why. Although they have lost Prince Fielder, they have improved the left side of their infield with Alex Gonzalez and Aramis Ramirez. Man, I can’t believe I just said something good about Ramirez. Plus, they have the best pitching staff from top to bottom.

The Reds should give the Crew all they can handle, but they have already lost their newly acquired closer, Ryan Madson to Tommy John surgery. Dusty Baker, as is his practice, will surely tax the rest of the staff to the point of exhaustion. The only thing that scares me is it’s a free agent year for Joey Votto. Yikes!

The only reason I picked the Pirates to finish third is the Cardinals have lost too much - Albert Pujols, Tony “Satan” LaRussa and Dave Duncan. Besides, the Pirates can’t finish under .500 again. Can they?

It is way too early for miracle worker Theo Epstein’s mystical powers to magically convert the pitiful Cub team into a contender. Unfortunately, once his plan does take hold, the team from the north side of Chicago could be a force to be reckoned with for a long time.

The Astros are just plain horrible. They are probably the worst team in all of baseball. Good luck putting asses in the seats after the All Star break.

1. San Francisco Giants
2. Arizona Diamondbacks
3. Los Angeles Dodgers
4. Colorado Rockies
5. San Diego Padres

The Left Coast – The Giants have a pitching staff that takes a backseat to no one. Hopefully the return of Buster Posey and the additions of Melky Cabrera and Angel Pagan provide enough offense to make my prediction look good.

I don’t see the Diamondbacks having consecutive seasons where they shock the baseball world. Likewise I don’t see Clayton Kershaw and Matt Kemp repeating their stellar ’11 performances for the Dodgers.

As far as the Rockies and the Padres go – who cares? Okay, the Rockies have Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki, but not much else. Oh ya, they picked up Michael Cuddyer. All the Padres have are those nifty camouflage uniforms they wear on Sundays. And Carlos Quentin. Enough said?

* - Wild Card team

That’s how I see things shaking out. Somebody remind me in October to make my Playoff prognostications. And once again, remember that these predictions are for entertainment purposes only. This means you, Patty 4-Names!

Until next time…from the booth.

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