It’s that time of year again. Major League Baseball Opening Day kicked the 2007 season off with a bang. It took Yankee fans only 11 minutes past the first pitch to first boo A-Rod, never mind that he stole a base to set himself in position to score the winning run. Brad Lidge blew his first save. Cleveland’s offense put on a show, and at the expense of Chicago’s pitching staff who continued their spring training malaise. And finally Washington lost a game, which they sure will be getting used to this season.
Now that the season has started it is time for me to share with you my season predictions. I like to buck the trend of predicting the season before it starts. Who wants to be a sheep like that? So instead I’ll predict the season right now as it’s going on. I’ll follow up with in-depth looks at each division in the coming days, and update each over the course of the season.
Just remember, it was I who just last season predicted St. Louis as the World Series Champions. You can take these predictions to the bank.
- New York Yankees 95 - 67
- Boston Red Sox 90 - 72
- Tampa Bay Devil Rays 82 - 80
- Toronto Blue Jays 75 - 87
- Baltimore Orioles 67 - 95
The AL East, same as it’s always been, except this year the Devil Rays will surprise with their young athletic offense, only to be doomed by their pitching, or lack of. The Yankees offense and deep bullpen should be able to cover their rotational holes until either some young arms can join the team from the farm or Roger Clemens suits up.
After staying home a year, the Red Sox will return to the playoffs on the back of a strong rotation, but will limited by their top heavy offense and leaky bullpen. Toronto will regress since most of their players are coming off of career years last season, and it is doubtful they can even repeat that success, much less surpass it. The Orioles will bring up the rear with a very slow and rather unspectacular lineup, a mediocre bullpen and decent rotation.
- Minnesota Twins 89 - 73
- Detroit Tigers 88 - 74
- Cleveland Indians 88 - 74
- Chicago White Sox 80 - 82
- Kansas City Royals 67 - 95
The Twins could easily be a 95 win team if they would have trusted their youth rather than handing roster spots to impotent reclamation projects like Rondell White, Carlos Silva, Ramon Ortiz and Sidney Ponson. They still have one of the better bullpens in the league, a talented core on offense and of course Johan Santana. If they learn from their mistakes and promote their entire Triple-A rotation by late May, they should still carry the division.
Detroit’s young arms will likely regress a bit, especially after the innings they accumulated last season, just look at Chicago’s rotation last year after winning the Series in 2005. Speaking of Chicago, their rotation doesn’t look to be all that much better in what amounts to a minor rebuilding year, while their offensive core are all on the wrong side of 30, not to mention a roster spot is reserved for Darin Erstad. The Indians may just be one of those teams that are worst than the sum of their parts. This may have something to do with Eric Wedge. The Royals at least feature something closely resembling a major league team, though a competitive team is still at least a year away.
- Texas Rangers 90 - 72
- Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim 84 - 78
- Seattle Mariners 80 - 82
- Oakland Athletics 78 - 84
Texas gets to enjoy the fruits of firing Buck Showalter. The past two teams to do so both won the World Series the year afterwards. The Rangers are finally fielding what looks to be a passable rotation, as well as what could become one of the better bullpens in the league, regardless of Gange’s health. Though obviously his arm is an important addition. The team just needs their key offensive core in Teixeira, Blalock and Young to rebound from off years last season.
Unless the Angels’ prospects finally live up to their hype, it is doubtful they will have an offense to complement their rotation or bullpen. A midseason trade for A-Rod, or Andruw Jones could give them the shot in the arm they need, but such an event is doubtful considering their recent inability to pull the trigger on similarly needed trades. Seattle could surprise some as they stay competitive longer than most would imagine. King Felix and a contract year Ichiro will help in that regard, scrubs like Jose Vidro and Horacio Ramirez will not. The Athletics will also take a step back as they find it harder then planned to replace the production of Barry Zito and Frank Thomas.
- New York Mets 88 - 74
- Philadelphia Phillies 87 - 75
- Atlanta Braves 83 - 79
- Florida Marlins 80 - 82
- Washington Nationals 60 - 102
New York’s rotation will be fine, and should approximate if not approve upon last year’s efforts. Their lineup should also more or less dominate, though age at catcher, the corner outfield positions and at second could cause trouble. Though the prime cause of regression will more than likely be their less effective bullpen. The Phillies will be right on the heels of the Mets. Injuries to the rotation may slow the team at first, but they should get into a rhythm once their starters return to health, and potentially even trade one for relief pitching. Philly may field an extremely top heavy offense, but as St. Louis showed last year, you can still win in the NL with a stud or two and little else.
The Braves should tread water, but may have to go into a full blown rebuilding period if both Smoltz and Andruw Jones leave after this season, or even earlier. Florida’s future is bright, but despite last seasons surprise, the future is not now. The rotation will probably regress some, and has already been hit by injuries. The lineup, while promising, is still boys amongst Miguel Cabrera. The Nationals will be lucky to avoid a hundred losses, say another gift from Cincinnati of half their offense…
- Cincinnati Reds 85 - 77
- St. Louis Cardinals 82 - 80
- Chicago Cubs 81 - 81
- Milwaukee Brewers 78 - 84
- Houston Astros 72 - 90
- Pittsburgh Pirates 68 - 94
Speaking of Cincinnati, despite last year’s lopsided trade of Kearns and Lopez, their rotation is finally in proper form that they can think about seriously contending. A breakout year from Adam Dunn with say an average over .260 would do wonders for those chances. St. Louis’ rotation should be fine, but their bullpen and offensive holes will cause them to be lucky to repeat the same record as last year. Too bad a record just north of even will not win the division this season. Chicago is still a year, or rather a Felix Pie debut away from the playoffs. Alfonso Soriano, despite his athletic gifts, will not be an adequate center fielder at this stage of his career, though he should do fine back in one of the corner positions.
Milwaukee features one of the better rotations in the league, but one that will not be helped by a terrible bullpen and even worst defense. Houston has all but given up on winning and is instead set to enjoy Biggio’s 3000th hit and then hopefully rebuild the rest of the team as fast as possible while Roy Oswalt, Carlos Lee and Lance Berkman are still in their relative primes. Another losing season awaits Pittsburgh and their isn’t even all that much hope for future success with the continual injuries that happen upon their first round pitchers.
- Arizona Diamondbacks 87 - 75
- Los Angeles Dodgers 86 - 76
- San Francisco Giants 82 - 80
- San Diego Padres 80 - 82
- Colorado Rockies 78 - 84
A young and energetic offense will be the storyline behind Arizona’s resurgence, but a veteran rotation of innings eaters will be another key to winning. Los Angeles is another team like the Twins that have chosen veteran players (though at least somewhat talented) rather than trust their youth. In this case, I trust management and Grady Little to realize the mistake soon enough.
The Giants are a team who spent money this off season to win now, and win now they must because far too much of their roster is reaching AARP age. It is just doubtful the additions were enough. At least the Giants have some youth about ready to join the big league club, in contrast to the Padres who are old and have little depth in the minors. The Rockies on the other hand have a nice collection of youth on their roster now and even more to come. Regrettably not enough of that young talent is on the mound. Humidors may help keep offense in check, but a bit more talent in the rotation would help even more.
New York Yankees over Minnesota Twins
Texas Rangers over Boston Red Sox
For whatever reason the Yankees know how to beat the Twins. It is doubtful that this postseason will be any different. On the other hand, the Red Sox look primed to win a short series with that rotation, but their bullpen will yet again be their downfall as the Rangers win in a mild upset.
Philadelphia Phillies over Arizona Diamondbacks
New York Mets over Cincinnati Reds
Two deep rotations will meet when Philadelphia matches up against Arizona. However, in the short division series, the electricity of Cole Hamels and the one-two punch of Howard and Utley will prove more than the Diamondback youth can handle. The Mets will handle the Reds easily and will sweep this round.
Texas Rangers over New York Yankees
Philadelphia Phillies over New York Mets
Both New York teams will enter the Championship series as prohibitive favorites, only to be upset. A-Rod will fail to drive in a winning run and be booed mercifully for the remainder of the series, despite having hit three home runs and eight RBI in the divisional round. Kyle Farnsworth will blow the save in game six, clinching the series for Texas, after Mariano Rivera is unable to pitch due to pitching one or more innings in the five preceding games. The Mets on the other hand, will watch as their bullpen completely falls apart, game after game.
Texas Rangers over Philadelphia Phillies
Remember that thing about teams that fire Buch Showalter tend to win World Series in the succeeding year? Well mark that down for its third occurrence.
AL: Mark Teixeira
NL: Adam Dunn
Both Dunn and Teixeira will be key reasons that their teams reach the playoffs after sizable droughts. Teixeira had an off year last year, though that was mainly in the first half. He will comeback strongly this year and forty home runs a hundred and forty RBI and an OPS of over 1.000 are within reach. Dunn already has the power and the patience down. He just needs to improve that average from the dismal .234 he posted last season. If he can get back to his career high of .267 and keep his power stroke, he should be able to drive in well over a hundred runs and he has an outside chance at a 1.000 OPS as well.
AL: Johan Santana
NL: Roy Oswalt
Santana will win his third Cy Young despite increased competition this year from the likes of King Felix and even Javier Vazquez and Phil Hughes (he’ll be up by mid-May). Finally out of the shadow of Clemens and Pettitte, Oswalt will shine as bright as ever and won’t be overshadowed by any pitcher on his team or the league.
Rookie of the Year
AL: Alex Gordon
NL: Chris B. Young
I am in no way going out on a limb with these picks as both are already favorites. There is a reason for that. Alex Gordon is already a polished hitter and he’s no slouch with the glove either. A David Wright-type rookie season is completely possible, except he’ll be starting from day one. Chris B. Young is less polished that Gordon and probably has less overall upside, but he has a skill set that should translate very well as a rookie in the big leagues. He plays an outstanding center, and he should be a threat on the base paths and show some power as well. His main issue will be to limit his strikeouts somewhat and his average should follow.
Manager of the Year
AL: Ron Washington
NL: Joe Girardi
Ron Washington will be the prime benefactor of the Showalter affect after he leads the Rangers to the postseason for the first time this century and eventually a World Championship. Yes, I know that Joe Girardi isn’t even currently coaching, but after playing it safe for the ROY I'm going out on the last branch of the longest limb and predicting that the Phillies fire Charlie Manuel by May 15th after the team is on the verge of tanking the season. Girardi is hired and leads the team to the playoffs. It’s gonna happen, trust me.
Comeback Player of the Year
AL: Hideki Matsui
NL: Kerry Wood
Matsui will come back just fine to his normal level of production, think a hundred RBIs, twenty some odd home runs and around a .300 average. He’ll beet out his former teammate Gary Sheffield, who’ll regress more than expected thanks to age. Ryan Dempster will be out of the closer job for the Cubs by June, and Wood will nail it down within the next week. He’ll probably get injured again next season, but this season will be just great.
Oh yeah, Bonds jacks number 756 on August 28th at home against Colorado.