Predicting The Divisions And World Series…

Now comes the hard part. Trying to predict all 6 division winners, the Wild Cards and the World Series champion. Who will be this year’s Tampa Bay Rays? Can the Phillies repeat as champions? Can the Indians hit there way to a division title? Can the Rangers or A’s overtake the Angels? These are some of the questions that I have been asking myself over the last couple of days leading up to this post. So without any further ado, here are my predictions for 2009…

* Indicates Wild Card winner

NL East

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

Division Analysis – Before every Mets fan jumps down my throat letting me know how much better they are than the Phillies, let’s remember a couple of things:

Another division title for Rollins and the Phillies

Another division title for Rollins and the Phillies

A. The core of this Mets team (Reyes, Wright, Beltran & Delgado) are very fragile. Not too many teams can come back from 2 straight end of the season collapses.

B. Mets focused all of their energy in the offseason in fixing their biggest problem in 2008; The bullpen. You know what usually happens the following year? Another part of the team springs a leak.

C. The Phillies have winners on their roster. Gamers like Werth, Victorino, and Rollins who know how to win in the clutch. The Mets have yet to prove they have those type of players.

The Braves will be much improved and I actually think they could finish ahead of the Mets. Their bullpen will be their biggest problem in 2009.

The Marlins pitching staff is no joke with Nolasco and Johnson leading the way. In the end this team just doesn’t have the resources to compete this year.

Like the Braves, the Nationals will be improved. They will score runs that is for sure. They won 59 games last year and an 11 game improvement is not out of the question.

NL Central

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

Division Analysis – I don’t like a thing the Cubs did in the offseason but at the end of the day, they have the most talent and talent usually wins. I also think the Cubs will land Peavy at the trading deadline which will push them to a division title.

The Cardinals could surprise and really push the Cubs. There season really hinges on the health of Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright. If they can get 50 starts from them in 09 the Cards will be in business.

I like the direction the Reds are taking with pitching and defense now a priority. Jay Bruce and Joey Votto are going to be stars but I think the Reds are about 1 year away.

The loss of Sabathia, Sheets and now Hoffman will be too much for the Brewers to overcome. If they had a legit ace things would be different for the Brew Crew.

The Astros and of course the Pirates will be pulling up the rear.

NL West

1. Dodgers 2. Diamondbacks* 3. Giants 4. Rockies 5. Padres

Division Analysis – The Dodgers lineup is the best in the NL and I think they will have enough pitching to win the division. Having Broxton to close games at the end is a difference maker for the Dodgers.

Upton will emerge this year

Upton will emerge this year

The “BabyBacks” will grow up this year. Chris Young, Drew, Upton, Conor Jackson and Mark Reynolds will all take the next steps in their career. I love Haren and Webb at the start of the rotation and Davis, Garland and Scherzer is not a bad back end. If there is a weakness, it’s the bullpen. Can Chad Qualls close? Remains to be seen.

The Giants should have made an all out push for Manny, but they didn’t and they will still have the same problem they did in 08. THEY CAN’T SCORE!!

The Rockies will be hard pressed after losing their ace, Jeff Francis and their best offensive player, Matt Holliday in the offseason. Watch out for Dexter Fowler this year, the kid can flat out play. On a side note…can you believe they owe Todd Helton $35.7MM over the next 2 years??? Ouch

The Padres will be the worst team in baseball in 2009

AL East

1. Red Sox 2. Rays* 3. Yankees 4. Orioles 5. Blue Jays

Division Analysis – The AL East is by far and away the best division in baseball. The top 3 teams all have question marks headed into 2009…

Red Sox – Can Lowell, Ortiz, Beckett and Penny bounce back from injuries? Do they have enough offense?

Rays – Was last year a fluke? Can their bullpen repeat last years performance?

Yankees – How much will they miss ARod in the lineup? Will their latest high priced mercenaries handle the pressure of NY?

Here is my take. The Red Sox have the best pitching staff top to bottom in baseball with Smoltz and Buchholtz (who is being mentored by Smoltz) on the way. Daniel Bard, who just happens to throw 100 mph will be a factor at the end of the season as well. And as for the Sox offense, since they are about $40MM under budget heading into 2009, if they need offense they will go out and get Magglio Ordonez or Matt Holliday.

Are the Rays the modern day Atlanta Braves? I think so. How come nobody talks about the fact they won 97 games last year with Crawford only playing 109 games, Longoria playing in only 122 games, Pena playing only 139 and their DH was a combination of Eric Hinske and Cliff Floyd? They had just as many injuries as anyone else and they still won the division. Their offense is going to be so much better this year with the addition of Burrell. As good as their offense will be, their defense is off the charts. If their bullpen can give them the same performance as last year, they will be tough to beat.

The Yankees latest mercenary

The Yankees latest mercenary

Now to the Yankees. Every offseason the Yankees go out and get the best player on the market. Mussina, ARod, Giambi, Randy Johnson, Sheffield, Pavano, & Damon were all brought in via trade or free agency as high priced mercenaries in order to help the Yankees get back to their glory days. This year’s crop of mercenaries include Sabathia, Burnett and Teixeira. This philosophy of bringing in the “superstar” every year hasn’t worked since 2001 and it won’t work this year. The Yankee teams of 95-2001 were gritty, gutty, gamers who knew how to win. The Yankee teams from 02-08 have been a bunch of stars who signed with them just for a payday. Until this philosophy actually works, I can’t put them any higher than 3rd.

One last note about these 3 teams. Another huge factor in this division and something that hasn’t been touched on is the managers. We all know Sox and Rays players love with a capital L playing for Francona and Madden. The jury is still out with Girardi if he can earn the respect of his players, which he had trouble with last year.

Oh yeah, there are 2 more teams in this division. I like the direction the Orioles are headed. They are locking up and developing young talent. In 2 years they will be a major player in this division.

The Blue Jays are in trouble but I do like the fact they are going to let Lind and Snider play everyday this year. $12MM on BJ Ryan is killing this team.

AL Central

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

Division Analysis – This is the most difficult division to predict as you can make a legitimate case for all 5 teams.

The Twins have the deepest rotation in the division and I think they will be able to hold on without Mauer for the 1st month of the season. This team is built on pitching and some serious defense and that will help them win the division title this year that they missed by 1 game last year.

I like the Indians and the moves they made in the offseason. With the returning Hafner and Martinez, they will score some runs. I think their starting rotation will let them down in the end. And no, Cliff Lee will not go 22-3 again.

The White Sox are really tricky. Every time I think they are done, they prove me wrong and have a great year. But the core of the White Sox are getting old and I just don’t see it from them this year.

The Royals are the “trendy” pick this year. I think the Royals will be very competitive, however just when you think the Royals are ready to compete for a division title they add Sidney Ponson to the rotation.

The Tigers rotation and bullpen is a mess. They are asking a lot from Rick Porcello and Ryan Perry.

AL West

1. Angels 2. Rangers 3. A’s 4. Mariners

Division Analysis – Is this the year that the Rangers or the A’s unseat the Angels? No, at least not this year. Even though the Angels have starting rotation problems, they have something nobody in this division has… A Solid, dependable bullpen. Their bullpen and a nice bounce back year from Vladimir Guerrero give the Angels another division title.

Vlad will bounce back in 09

Vlad will bounce back in 09

The Rangers lineup is going to be scary good this year. If they can get any surprises from there pitching like Brandon McCarthy or even Kris Benson they could steal the division.

I like what the A’s have done on offense but their starting rotation is just too young to make a serious run at the Angels.

The Mariners should be in full rebuilding mode at the July 31st deadline. Beltre (Cardinals, Red Sox, Twins), Bedard (Phillies, Mets, Dodgers) and Washburn (Yankees, Dodgers) should all be moved at the deadline.

Playoffs

NL – Phillies, Cubs, Dodgers, Diamondbacks

AL – Red Sox, Rays, Twins, Angels

World Series

Red Sox vs Diamondbacks

World Series Champion

Boston Red Sox

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