I’m not going to go too in-depth here with my reasoning for these predictions? Why? Two reasons. First of all, last year I picked the Yankees and the Braves to play in the World Series. I also expected the Giants to be a surprise team, and the White Sox to have a similar season as in 2006, when they won 90 games and finished third. None of these things happened. So why go into some deep analysis if its obvious that there is no way of knowing what will happen 7 months from now. The second reason is that about 50 percent of my readers come here not for sports knolwedge, but for my hot-chick-image-searching abilities. For you guys out there, here’s Lindsay Lohan and her ‘Mean Girls’ castmate, Lacey Chabert, two of my favorites.
Back to the baseball. Here are my predictions for the upcoming season:
1. Boston–The defending champs are still the best team in this division. The only way they don’t repeat as AL East champs is if Josh Beckett has an injury-plagued season and the bullpen falters. I expect Manny Ramirez to have a comeback season, of sorts, after hitting .296 with 20 homers and 88 RBI in 2007. I also expect numerous bandwagon-jumping douchebags claiming to be Red Sox fans to invade opposing ballparks to watch ‘their team’, only to ask questions like ‘Who’s that number 34?’ and ‘Why is Dice-K pitching right-handed?’
2. NY Yankees–New York still has too much talent to finish anywhere but the top two in this division, but I think this is the year the Yankees miss the playoffs for the first time since 1993. The substitution of Joe Torre with Joe Girardi is not as solid a move as many would have you believe. Also, the Yankees rotation could very well be awful, as Phil Hughes, Ian Kennedy, and Joba Chamberlain (starting the year in the bullpen) all must contribute for the Yankees to be successful. But it will be good to see Yankee Stadium’s final game be mid-September regular season matchup with the Orioles and not a World Series game. Why? Because fuck the Yankees, thats why.
3. Tampa Bay–Oh, I love me some Rays. A trendy pick to finish ahead of the Yankees in the division, Tampa Bay’s starting rotation, if healhty, could be one of the best in the American League. James Shields and Scott Kazmir are a solid one-two punch, and I expect Matt Garza to have a breakout season. The Rays’ offense revolves around all-world outfielder Carl Crawford and breakout beast BJ Upton. I would agree with the thought that Tampa could finish second if I wasn’t so unsure about that bullpen. If you’ve got Troy Percival as your closer, and you’re not the 1997 Anaheim Angels…….you might have some late-game issues.
4. Toronto–Seriously, is there a scrappier team in the history of baseball than the 2008 Toronto Blue Jays? Maybe the 1993 Phillies, but look at some of the names playing important roles on this Jays team: Aaron Hill, Marco Scutaro, David Eckstein, Gregg Zaun….even Lyle Overbay and Matt Stairs are somewhat grindy, in a softball-beer league kind of way. However, as scrappy as this team might be, it doesn’t make up for the fact that none of their starting pitchers can stay healthy for an entire year and they have already lost their supposed closer for the season. Expect the Blue Jays to take the approach of the late-1990s White Sox teams, and try to win every game 11-10.
5. Baltimore–(In a Tony Montana voice): Bal-tee-more? That sounds like a bird or summthing. No, seriously. The Orioles are going to be fucking awful, as they have been since the late 90s. Steve Trachsel is their number two starter. Number two. For the major league club, not the AAA affiliate. Newly-acquired Adam Jones could provide some excitement and win Rookie of the Year honors, but the O’s will be lucky to win 70 games.
1. Detroit–I really struggled with this pick, as it seems too obvious that the Tigers will take control of this division after the off-season they had. And the baseball gods do not work that way. But after looking at their lineup and rotation, I think its clear that they would have to fall flat on their face to not at least win the wild card, and Jim Leyland is too good of a manager to let that happen. Bullpen troubles could hamper the Tigers, but I expect the team to do enough until Joel Zumaya comes back and immediately starts making people look silly on his 129 mph fastball.
2. Cleveland–As a fan of the White Sox, I’m supposed to really hate the other teams in the AL Central. Well, except the Royals. I don’t really hate them. They are more annoying than anything. But I like this Indians team. I was very tempted to pick them to win the division again, but I will say that they will win the wild card. Look for either Grady Sizemore or Travis Hafner to have an MVP season, and I expect a bounceback campaign from 5th starter Cliff Lee. What do I not expect? I don’t expect to be shunned from the local Starbucks just for looking at tranny porn with my pants around my ankles while drinking my venti-no whip-mocha frappaccino. But thats what happens. Every time.
3. Chicago–Oh, my White Sox. I would love to believe the compairisons between this spring training and the spring training of 2005: how there are questions about the rotation, how no one knows who is going to step up out of the bullpen, etc. Also, I would like to believe that its not a big deal that 5 days before opening day, the Sox still don’t have a clear-cut second baseman, centerfielder, or left fielder, and are demoting one of the team’s home run leaders last year to AAA because we can’t get enough value for one of the best defensive third basemen in baseball. But these things are a big deal. I’ll be watching and analyzing all year long, but at this point, I don’t see how the Sox win more than 80-85 games, especially in this division.
4. Minnesota–As a White Sox fan, the Twins have always bugged me more than any other AL team. They always pull out big games in the most heart-wrenching way possible. It was always guys like Jason Bartlett that killed the team, not Morneau or Hunter. But this year seems different. With Torii gone, with Johan gone, with Francisco Liriano still a huge question mark, and with LIVAN HERNANDEZ the opening day starter…..I can’t fear this Twins club. I’m sure I’ll live to choke on these words in August when the Twins complete a three-game sweep of the Sox as Adam Everett hits a three-run triple in the bottom of the ninth to cap a 6-run comeback. But at this point, I’m willing to bet that this team will in fact suck.
5. Kansas City–People love Alex Gordon, and he started to come on late last year. This year, people seem to love Billy Butler, who will DH for the Royals. But outside of those two, this lineup really sucks. That won’t stop them from lighting up the Sox every time they play, but that doesn’t mean they won’t be bad. Also, the KC rotation is young and has potential. But its more likely that Zack Grienke and Kyle Davies will both need at least one more year before they can produce, especially pitching in the American League. However, look for Kenny Williams to acquire whichever Royal is pitching the worst out of the bullpen in July, to continue the in the tradition of Mike MacDougal and Andy Sisco.
1. LA-Anaheim–And here’s my World Series champion pick. I absolutely love the Angels this year. I think Ervin Santana will turn things around this year, and once John Lackey comes back in May, the LAA rotation will be stacked. The Angels lineup, which struggled to score runs in the past, will be bolstered by a healthy Chone Figgins and the energy of Torii Hunter. And best of all, we will be treated to the Rally Monkey again in October, easily the best invention by a PR team in the history of the world. Come on, people…..its a monkey in a little outfit that makes people cheer!!!! How can you not love that?
2. Seattle–While some M’s fans hate the Bedard for Adam Jones deal, I love it. Seattle immediately gets arguably the best starter in the league, and still has a solid offensive outfield. (Sure, they gave up some range defensively, and Jones might turn out to be a beast, but….). I like Yuniesky Betancourt at shortstop, and Ichiro is and will always be one of my favorite players in baseball. Scoring runs and middle relief might keep the Mariners from the postseason, however.
3. Texas–The Rangers could lead the American League in runs scored. Unfortunately, their pitching staff is ‘anchored’ by number three starter Jason Jennings and number four starter Kason Gabbard. Ouch. It will be interesting to see if Milton Bradley goes crazy this year; 81 games in the Texas heat, combined with living in Texas around all those crazy crackers might make old Milton throw his bat off an ump’s head. Who knows? Lets watch.
4. Oakland–I know Billy Beane is a genius and all, but this is a bad, bad team. If Bobby Crosby gets hurt, I can honestly say that as a pretty good baseball fan and avid follower of the American League, I know about half of their roster. Lenny DiNardo is in this team’s rotation; I think thats a character on ‘The Simpsons’. Also, Jose Hernandez and the ghost of Bobby Bonds have been seen spending a lot of time with Jack Cust, trying to entice him to strike out 250 times, shattering their marks for most K’s in a year. The A’s will be lucky to win 75 games.
Playoffs: Anaheim over Cleveland, Detroit over Boston, Anaheim over Detroit.
AL MVP: Grady Sizemore, Cleveland
AL CY Young: Justin Verlander, Detroit
AL Rookie of the Year: Adam Jones, Baltimore
AL Manager of the Year: Joe Maddon, Tampa Bay
AL Comeback of the Year: Cliff Lee, Cleveland
Back tomorrow with the National League.