Al's 2004 Major League Baseball Predictions

It is absolutely pouring rain here in the Phoenix area and has been all day, after two weeks of above-normal, picture-perfect, sunny weather. Luckily for the Cubs and Diamondbacks, tonight's game is in the BOB, a domed stadium, so they'll play with no interruption.

And with this brief interregnum in the schedule, I will take this opportunity to post my annual predictions, in the form I've been using for the past few years, a one-word or one-phrase comment on various factors for each team.

NATIONAL LEAGUE EAST
1) PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES
Offense: Powerful
Defense: It's there
Pitching: It's there
Intangibles: Spiffy new stadium

2) FLORIDA MARLINS
Offense: Lacking
Defense: Good
Pitching: Josh Beckett
Intangibles: Lousy old stadium

3) ATLANTA BRAVES
Offense: Gone away
Defense: Useful
Pitching: Gone away, too
Intangibles: Will Leo Mazzone ever stop that infernal rocking?

4) MONTREAL EXPOS
Offense: Gone to Anaheim
Defense: On artificial turf? Who are you kidding?
Pitching: Gone to New York
Intangibles: Well, at least this year the San Juan trips are over early

5) NEW YORK METS
Offense: Turning Japanese
Defense: Ordonez gone! WOO HOO!
Pitching: Slow and old
Intangibles: Well, they're the Mets. Who needs intangibles?

NATIONAL LEAGUE CENTRAL
1) CHICAGO CUBS
Offense: Improved
Defense: Improved
Pitching: Improved
Intangibles: Improved

2) HOUSTON ASTROS (Wild Card)
Offense: In this park? Are you kidding me?
Defense: Acceptable
Pitching: Supposedly improved, but you're gonna have to show me
Intangibles: Roger Clemens

3) ST. LOUIS CARDINALS
Offense: Potent
Defense: Outstanding
Pitching: Impotent
Intangibles: I bet LaRussa quits after this year

4) PITTSBURGH PIRATES
Offense: Mediocre
Defense: Good
Pitching: Terrible
Intangibles: Could finish 20 games out of third place

5) CINCINNATI REDS
Offense: Griffey hurt again
Defense: Average
Pitching: Who are these guys?
Intangibles: None

6) MILWAUKEE BREWERS
Offense: Horrid
Defense: Putrid
Pitching: Awful
Intangibles: Could be worse than the Tigers

NATIONAL LEAGUE WEST
1) ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS
Offense: Old
Defense: Older
Pitching: Oldest, but getting younger
Intangibles: Had better win now

2) SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS
Offense: Arrogant
Defense: Missing important parts
Pitching: Injured
Intangibles: Great manager

3) LOS ANGELES DODGERS
Offense: Lost
Defense: Useful
Pitching: Excellent
Intangibles: Spiffy new ownership

4) SAN DIEGO PADRES
Offense: Improved
Defense: Improved
Pitching: Improved. No, really!
Intangibles: Spiffy new stadium

5) COLORADO ROCKIES
Offense: You have to ask?
Defense: OK
Pitching: Shawn Estes is the Opening Day starter. Nuff said.
Intangibles: Best 5th-place team in baseball

AMERICAN LEAGUE EAST
1) BOSTON RED SOX
Offense: Injured
Defense: Improved
Pitching: Excellent
Intangibles: Want it really bad this year

2) NEW YORK YANKEES (Wild Card)
Offense: Expensive
Defense: Even more expensive
Pitching: You can't afford it
Intangibles: Fear of death

3) TORONTO BLUE JAYS
Offense: Can they keep Delgado?
Defense: Old
Pitching: Good
Intangibles: Wish they were in a different division

4) BALTIMORE ORIOLES
Offense: Old
Defense: Nonexistent
Pitching: Who needs pitching?
Intangibles: Idiotic ownership

5) TAMPA BAY DEVIL RAYS
Offense: Look! Here's Jose Cruz Jr.!
Defense: Look! Here's Jose Cruz Jr.! ... oops!
Pitching: Who needs pitching?
Intangibles: Lou Piniella

AMERICAN LEAGUE CENTRAL
1) KANSAS CITY ROYALS
Offense: Will hit for food
Defense: Speedy
Pitching: Better!
Intangibles: Tony Pena

2) MINNESOTA TWINS
Offense: Good
Defense: Better
Pitching: Win some, lose some
Intangibles: Someday, this low payroll thing is going to fail

3) CHICAGO WHITE SOX
Offense: Tradeable
Defense: Horrendous
Pitching: Good and bad
Intangibles: That chip that's always on their shoulder, from management on down (and not in a positive way)

4) CLEVELAND INDIANS
Offense: Young
Defense: Average
Pitching: Back to the drawing board
Intangibles: Wishing for the days of all games being sold out

5) DETROIT TIGERS
Offense: Couldn't possibly be worse
Defense: Couldn't possibly be worse
Pitching: Couldn't possibly be worse
Intangibles: It couldn't possibly be worse... could it?

AMERICAN LEAGUE WEST
1) ANAHEIM ANGELS
Offense: Amazing
Defense: Not so amazing
Pitching: Great depth
Intangibles: Remembering 2002 and wanting it again

2) OAKLAND ATHLETICS
Offense: Starting to fade
Defense: Who needs defense?
Pitching: Superb
Intangibles: Worst ballpark in the majors

3) SEATTLE MARINERS
Offense: Old
Defense: Old
Pitching: Old
Intangibles: Could win this division; any of top three could. Best race in baseball

4) TEXAS RANGERS
Offense: Lots of home runs! Fun!
Defense: Who needs defense?
Pitching: Who needs pitching?
Intangibles: Buck Showalter longing for his old job at ESPN

NL PLAYOFFS: Cubs over Diamondbacks, Phillies over Astros; Cubs over Phillies in NLCS

AL PLAYOFFS: Red Sox over Royals, Yankees over Angels; Red Sox over Yankees in ALCS

Yes, I have predicted the apocalypse here, the World Series that should have happened in 2003, Cubs vs. Red Sox, and further...

Cubs win it in 7.

There, I said it.

Now go get 'em.
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