Wednesday, April 06, 2005

MLB: American League Preview


AL East

1. New York Yankees
2. Boston Red Sox
3. Baltimore Orioles
4. Tampa Bay Devil Rays
5. Toronto Blue Jays
*Having to play the Yanks and Sox a combined 38 times is bad news for everyone else in the East. New York added Randy Johnson and Carl Pavano to their staff to make them the favorites. They still sport the best lineup 1-9, and with the continued emergence of Hideki Matsui, these Bombers may be more deadly than ever. The Sox took a few chances on players like Matt Clement and Wade Miller, players with better upside than actual performance in their careers, and proven veterans like Matt Mantei, David Wells and Edgar Renteria. Should the moves pay off for the Sox, it could be another long year for Yankee fans. Either way it should be a battle through the summer for the divison, but the Yankees just have better pitching, making them the favorites. Again, as for the rest of the division, nobody cares, just look for Baltimore to snag a few more wins than usual. Sammy Sosa?

AL Central
1. Minnesota Twins
2. Chicago White Sox
3. Cleveland Indians
4. Detroit Tigers
5. Kansas City Royals
* Please don't believe the hype that is surround the Cleveland Indians these days. Last time I checked, they have the division's 3rd best rotation, and while they have young talent, its just talent until they prove they can win. Probably another year or two away from any real success. The Twins are the team to beat, returning Cy Young winner Johan Santana and Brad Radke to solidify their starting rotation. Also look for Joe Mauer to stay healthy and rise to elite catcher status before the year is through. Tigers and Royals are still garbage, but theres not much that can be done about that. Chicago is an interesting team to watch. They have the pitching with Freddy Garcia and underated ace Mark Buerhle, and have a speedy lineup now, giving Manager Ozzie Guillen plenty of opportunity to take chances and create runs. They still probably don't have the bullpen to make it to the playoffs, but look for them to make a vast improvement from last season.

AL West
1. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
2. Texas Rangers of Arlington
3. Oakland A's of Network Associates Collesium
4. Seattle Mariners of the Great Northwest
*The West went through a lot of changes in the offseason, with division staples Hudson, Mulder, Eckstein and Edgar leaving, and Beltre, Sexson and Cabrera coming in. Despite their hideous name change, look for Anaheim to remain atop this tightly contested division. Seatlle still doesn't have enough pitching, and pretty much the same can be said for Texas and Oakland as well. Texas probably has the best offense of the bunch, bringing back their power hitting infield of Texeira, Soriano, Young and Blalock. Oakland remains a mystery, as Billy Beane is going to have to weave some more magic to keep this team in any sort of contention after dealing away 2/3 of the Big 3 in the offseason. Long story short, there are good offenses in this division, but only the Angels have the pitching to last the whole year and take the crown.

AL Wild Card
1. Boston Red Sox
2. Texas Rangers
3. Chicago White Sox
* Sox and Yanks remain class of the American League so you can pencil Boston into the Wild Card slot.

Yankees over Twins in 6
Angels over Red Sox in 6

Yankees over Angels in 6

2005 AL Champions: New York Yankees

AL MVP: Alex Rodriguez, New York Yankees
AL Cy Young: Johan Santana, Minnesota Twins
AL Rookie of the Year: Joe Mauer, Minnesota Twins
AL Newcomer: Scott Podsednik, Chicago White Sox
Most Improved Team: Chicago White Sox

Wins: Johan Santana, Minnesota Twins
Saves: Francisco Rodriguez, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
K's: Rich Harden, Oakland A's
Batting Average: Ichiro, Seattle Mariners
HR: David Ortiz, Boston Red Sox
RBI: Vladimir Guerrero, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

MLB: National League Preview


NL East

1. Atlanta Braves
2. Florida Marlins
3. Philadelphia Phillies
4. New York Mets
5. Washington Nationals
* The NL East has become one of the best divisions in baseball this season and look for the race to be tight. Atlanta is gonig for their 14th straight divison crown and have a retooled starting rotation led by Tim Hudson and John Smoltz. The Mets are a better club with Beltran and Pedro, but they still lack depth in their pen and need a reliable closer should Looper falter early. Look for the Phillies to make a hard charge for the Wild Card this year as they bost a potent offense, and perhaps the best bullpen in the majors with tough lefties Rheal Cormier and Billy Wagner. The Marlins added Carlos Delgado to sure up first base and Miguel Cabrera should also help that offense provide enough runs for their young aces. As for the Nationals, well I guess some people are happy to have baseball in Washington again, but the Senators were usually awful, and I expect much the same from the Montreal Expos of the District.

NL Central
1. St. Louis Cardinals
2. Chicago Cubs
3. Cincinnatti Reds
4. Houston Astros
5. Milwaukee Brewers
6. Pittsburgh Pirates
* Look for the Cardinals to dominate this division again with their everyday lineup being the best in the game today. While the Cubs are the easy favorites on paper, nobody believes that Wood and Prior can hold up all season, needless to say they forgot to replace Sammy's bat in the offseason. The Reds should continue to improve and are probably another productive offseason away from seriously contending for the division. The Astros are going to be the underachievers of this bunch. Age is catching up with Biggio, Bagwell and Clemens, and they won't have Berkman for at least another month. This race would be closer if the talent on the Cubs and Astros could trump their age and injuries, but that just doesn't figure to be true.

NL West
1. San Diego Padres
2. Los Angeles Dodgers
3. San FRansisco Giants
4. Arizona Diamondbacks
5. Colorado Rockies
* With Bonds out for who knows how long, the Padres have to be the immediate favorite. Their young core of infielderds and pitchers should be just enough to outlast the weak teams out west. Arizona poses no threat, and LA is still looking for an identity after bringing in JD Drew but shipping out their leader Paul LoDuca. Again, this whole division hinges on Bonds. If he plays in 120+ games, the Giants should take the division. I just don't have enough confidence right now to say he is gonig to make it into that many games.

NL Wild Card
1. Florida Marlins
2. Philadelphia Phillies
3. Chicago Cubs
* Again look for the Marlins to sneak in behind the Braves, but be very formidable come playoff time.

Marlins over the Cardinals in 6
Padres over the Braves in 6

Marlins over the Padres in 5

2005 NL Champions: Florida Marlins

NL MVP: Albert Pujols, St. Louis Cardinals
NL Cy Young: Tim Hudson, Atlanta Braves
NL Rookie of the Year: Gavin Floyd, Philadelphia Phillies
NL Newcomer: Carlos Delgado, Florida Marlins
Most Improved Team: Philadelphia Phillies

Wins: Eric Milton, Cincinnatti Reds
Saves: Jason Isringhausen, St. Louis Cardinals
K's: Jason Schmidt, San Fransisco Giants
Batting Average: Albert Pujols, St. Louis Cardinals
HR: Adam Dunn, Cincinnatti Reds
RBI: Jim Thome, Philadelphia Phillies