Matt Welch is goading me to post my predictions, so here we go:
1. Phillies: A super-talented team with a good balance of pitching and hitting.
2. Mets*: Pitching staff is incredibly weak, especially in the bullpen and they’re so old they’re going to have a lot of injuries. Wild Card pick.
3. Marlins: Very talented young team that could surprise some people.
4. Braves: Not the Braves of yore.
5. Nationals: Sad.
1. Brewers: Craftily-built team like the Tigers of last year.
2. Astros: If Clemens comes back without too much drama and injuries don’t strike.
3. Cardinals: Lost the entire pitching staff except for Carpenter and downgraded infield.
4. Cubs: All hype, no substance, plus they have the A’s old hitting coach.
5. Reds: Not enough depth.
6. Pirates: Hapless as usual.
1. Dodgers: Great rotation, lots of talent.
2. Giants: An excellent rotation, but a weak pen and too many geezers.
3. Padres: Not as good as last year, even.
4. Diamondbacks: Randy Johnson is past it, and they have no power.
5. Rockies: Why won’t they finish last?
Pennant Winner: Phillies
1. Red Sox: Dice K anchors a bitching rotation, and the rest are good enough for Fenway.
2. Yankees: Still no pitching and a weak bullpen.
3. Devil Rays: Not as bad as they look.
4. Blue Jays: I’d like to see them do better, but I wouldn’t bet on it.
5. Orioles: Ho-hum.
1. Indians: All around best team in the division.
2. Tigers*: Last year was a fluke, and they played to form in the World Series.
3. Twins: Liriano on the DL for at least half the season, and not enough behind Santana.
4. White Sox: Crazy ass manager, weak pitching staff.
5. Royals: Sad.
1. A’s: The perennial favorite, barring injuries to key players, will repeat, and Travis Buck will win Rookie of the Year.
2. Mariners: A much improved team, but pitching is still weak after King Felix.
3. Rangers: New manager Ron Washington feeling his way around the bigs, too many smallball delusions.
4. Angels: Loss of Bud Black will kill the pitching staff’s health, aging position players will melt down, and the most over-rated manager in baseball now what Dusty Baker’s on TV will botch the lineup day after day. By season’s end, Gary Matthews will be on the lam from the cops, Guerrero will get a hip replacement, Shields’ arm will come flying off in chase of Heather Mills’ leg, and Anderson will need a new liver.
Pennant Winner: A’s.
WS: A’s in 6.