Thursday, February 8, 2007

20 Predictions, Major Leagues

I'm still undecided on a few of my "pessimistic" minor league predictions, so I'm going to move up my major league predictions. I think that a few will surprise you. I have to say that some of these divisions are tough calls. The majors certainly look to be competitive in 2007.

National League West

1. Final Standings - San Diego, Arizona (Wildcard), Los Angeles, San Francisco, Colorado

* - This is a really hard division to predict. Every team but Colorado has improved over the winter. I'm giving it to San Diego because their pitching staff should eat a lot of innings. Maddux and Wells will have ERAs around 4.00, which makes them valued players if they pitch 200 innings or more. This might just be the hideously weak National League's best division.

2. Jake Peavy will rebound to post an ERA under 3.00 and over 200 strikeouts.
3. Barry Bonds will break Hank Aaron's record with 26 HR for the season. He will play again in 2008.

National League Central

4. Final Standings - Brewers, Cubs, Reds, Astros, Cardinals, Pirates

* - Another competitive division. I am counting on Ben Sheets cashing in on his great peripherals and posting a healthy, ace-like season. The Brewers have the most well rounded team in the division, with competent pitching (Capuano is underrated, plus Suppan), and good depth (good bench, some minor leaguers like Gallardo ready to step in). The Cubs, thanks to their suddenly elite hitting and the possibility of Mark Prior's return, and the Reds - with a 1-2-3 of Arroyo, Harang, and Bailey - could also make a run at it. The reigning World Series champions are going to be desperate for some pitching - and their thin farm system isn't going to help them there. Albert Pujols and Chris Carpenter can't win a division by themselves.

5. Lou Pinella will be ejected seven times.

National League East

6. Final Standings - Phillies, Mets, Marlins, Braves, Nats

* - The Mets are going to feel their lack of pitching hard this season. They still have a fantastic lineup - but they aren't going to get so lucky with the Jose Valentins and Endy Chavezes of the world in 2007. Pedro won't be around to save them, and Tom Glavine wasn't as good last year as Mets fans think. It's going to be a long summer when they realize that John Maine is their best pitcher. Things could change if the Mets decide to trade Lastings Milledge for a good starter sometime in the season, but I doubt it. The Phillies made a good win-now move by trading for Garcia, and Cole Hamels is going to be a good starter. They might be best off if Jon Lieber stays on and eats some innings, but we'll see if that really happens. The Marlins remain a darkhorse, but you could probably expect some regression from their hitters. All three teams should be in play for the Wild Card.

7. The Nationals will be baseball's worst team, losing 105 games.

National League Awards

8. Cy Young - Jake Peavy.
9. MVP - Ryan Howard
10. ROY - Homer Bailey

American League West

11. Final Standings - Angels, Rangers, A's, Mariners

* - Shock of all shocks! Another competitive division. It is clearly the worst of it's kind in the AL. The Angels edge out the Rangers thanks to their version of the Johnny Damon signing, leaving the Rangers without a real centerfielder. Jered Weaver should be one of the better sophmores in the majors, and Howie Kendrick should be pretty good. The A's are a darkhorse if Rich Harden is finally healthy, as that would give them four good or better starters and a reliable bullpen. Still, they fall in the standings thanks to Frank Thomas.

12. Sammy Sosa will make the Rangers as their starting right fielder, but post an OBP under .300. He'll hit a few home runs, but if the Rangers are smart, they'll jettison him by the all star break.

American League Central

13. Final Standings - Cleveland, Detroit, Minnesota, Chicago, Kansas City

* - I'm a big Mark Shapiro fan, and he clearly had the major's best offseason. Nixon, Delluci, Blake, and Shoo will combine for high-OBP and modest power at the outfield corners. With Grady Sizemore, you have the best outfield outside of the AL-East. Their pitching will be better than expected, and their bullpen will pick up any slack. Gary Sheffield will help Detroit, and but I think his 35+ home run days are over. Conversely, he'll enjoy the line-drive friendly confines of his new home ballpark. Either Minnesota or Detroit could win the AL Wildcard, as both will be very good teams. I'm counting on slight regressions from The Twins' catcher position (No way that they get that kind of help from their backup catcher this year) and in the bullpen (Yeah, Reyes is not for real). Chicago is going to regret getting rid of Garcia and McCarthy in the short term, but will love the trades in 2008.

14. Alex Gordon will hit the majors with a storm. He'll hit 30 home runs if he plays a full season. Royals fans will have a reason to come to the ballpark.

American League East

15. Final Standings - New York, Boston, Toronto, Baltimore, Tampa Bay

* - This division isn't much worse than the AL Central. Every team has improved over last season. Tampa Bay should see it's farm system finally reap real rewards, and Baltimore may actually have a pitching staff (although their hitters leave a lot to be desired). Teams may have lower win totals due to beating each other up. In the end, New York wins out due to it's superior hitting lineup (Although Toronto and Boston have excellent ones), combined with some of the most consistent pitching in the division. New York will suffer injuries, but will replace players better than any of the other teams.

16. Daisuke will pitch to a 3.85 ERA.

17. Daniel Cabrera will finally break out and be Baltimore's best starter.

American League Awards

18. Cy Young - Johan Santana (tough one)
19. MVP - Grady Sizemore (though Alex Rodriguez will be in contention)
20. ROY - Alex Gordon

I'll have a Ross Ohlendorf profile up sometime this weekend. I've been working hard trying to verify the incredibly inconsistent reports on everything he throws.