I went for a short run this morning around the Phonebooth. It was swarming with cleaning crews and there were two mowers in the outfield and life is good. My predictions for this year1:
I think 95 wins will be enough to win this division. Due to the unbalanced schedule, the three good teams are going to beat each other up a lot.
1. Tampa Bay (Tampa? whatever)-Last year they were all around good. Add in David Price (yes, he'll be back in the Show soon, and another year, and I think they're as good as last year. Really, I'm picking them beacuse the Sox and Yankees have too many weaknesses to be dominant.
2. Sox-I think the pitching will be pretty good. Assuming Matsuzaka isn't burned out from the World Baseball Classic, a rotation of Beckett, Lester, Matsuzaka, Wakefield, and then some of Clay Buchholz, Smoltz (not impossible), or Brad Penny (why not?) looks pretty good. That looks like two #1 starters, a solid #2, a #4 and plenty of potential.
I worry about the offense. Papi had a down year last year. True, he doesn't have Manny in the lineup, but he's also 33 and a big dude. I like Mike Lowell, and he's supposedly healthy this year, but his offense is also slipping. Varitek is great with the staff, but can't hit anything anymore. Jason Bay is good, but he's no Manny.
The Sox scored a lot of runs last year. I think that number goes down a bit in 2009.
3. Yankees-Sort of like the Sox, but they look a little weaker across the board. Good, but not great pitching, and too many holes on offense, from a team that was average last year.
Their pitching is improved. Offense? Teixeira, unfortunately, is terrific. But Jeter seems to be (quickly!) trending down, Matsui's coming off an injury, Jorge Posada hits like Varitek (horrible to say about anyone, but it's true).
And who's going to play center field? Melky Cabrera? He hit .249 last year.
For that matter, is Xavier Nady really the rightfielder?
4. Toronto-I still believe that if you have to pick one pitcher for the upcoming season, you still have to go with Roy Halliday. I would not be surprised if he again leads the league in complete games and innings. But he can't pitch everyday, nor can he play other positions.
5. Baltimore-The Orioles are going to lose a lot of games. Again.
I dunno. I figure the Twins are always good, and maybe the Tribe too.
Probably the Angels, again. I mean, Texas and the Mariners are both bad, so the only question is if the A's can make a run at them.
You gotta love Jamie Moyer. This will be his 23rd year in the bigs. His ERA last year was 3.71. The list of active pitchers with more wins the Moyer is (1) Randy Johnson and (2) Tom Glavine. Because of him, I'm rooting for the Phillies.
Sigh. I don't know. The Cardinals aren't going to win many games if everyone's hurt. Chris Carpenter may be healthy, but he's started four games since the 2006 season. Adam Wainwright had a pretty good year last year, as did Kyle Lohse. Todd Wellemeyer wasn't bad either. To me, they're three solid #3 starters. As with years past, I think Carpenter's health is the key o the staff.
Obviously, Pujols is the #1 pick if you're choosing someone in the field, but other than him? I don't know.
1. Dodgers-It's all about Manny, obviously. When he plays hard, he's just dominant.
Then there are the Giants. It's deja vu. Last year their offense was awful. It's still going to be awful.
With the Franchise, the Old Creaky Unit, Matt Cain, Noah Lowry, and Zito, they may have the best rotation in baseball. (Quick, how good was Randy Johnson last year? His ERA was 3.91) I don't think you want to be going into the season hoping to win every game 1-0, espcially when your closer's ERA was 4.62 last year.
1-For teams and divisions I pay attention to