2005 Major League Baseball Predictions

The season begins in about an hour, with the Yankees meeting the Red Sox on ESPN2.

With that, it is time for me to join all the thousands of other bloggers, websites, pundits, etc. in making my so-called "expert" predictions for the upcoming season.

A few words of explanation before I begin. I started this format a few years back, because I found it both more interesting and challenging to do than traditional predictions. But more than that, if you're here I don't need to insult your intelligence by telling you who the ballclubs' best hitters, pitchers, etc. are. You already know. Instead, you'll find a pithy word or phrase describing the hitting, pitching, defense and intangibles of the thirty contenders for October glory.

I'm also not going to "predict" award winners. How hard is it for me to sit here clacking on my laptop and be master-of-the-obvious by telling you that Albert Pujols is the best player in the NL and Vladimir Guerrero in the AL? And besides, awards often come out of nowhere. A year ago, who'd have thought Johan Santana was to be the best pitcher in the AL? Nobody, that's who.

And for those of you thinking that Jason Dubois might muscle into the Cub lineup and be NL Rookie of the Year, disabuse yourselves. Not because he won't (he might!), but according to the Cubs media guide, he is not eligible, having spent too much roster time last year on the 25-man (mostly while Sammy Sosa was on the DL).

With that, let's get on with it!

NATIONAL LEAGUE EAST

1) ATLANTA BRAVES
Hitting: New, but old
Pitching: Old, but new
Defense: There
Intangibles: They just know how to win

2) FLORIDA MARLINS
Hitting: Power-laden
Pitching: Oft-injured
Defense: Speedy
Intangibles: That darned old man manager of theirs

3) PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES
Hitting: Always just a bit short
Pitching: You're dreaming
Defense: Spotty
Intangibles: Leadership of Jim Thome

4) NEW YORK METS
Hitting: Expensive
Pitching: Even more expensive
Defense: Who needs defense?
Intangibles: Media scrutiny

5) WASHINGTON NATIONALS
Hitting: Better than it was
Pitching: Better than it was
Defense: Solid
Intangibles: Playing in front of actual fans

NATIONAL LEAGUE CENTRAL

1) CHICAGO CUBS
Hitting: Revamped
Pitching: Scary good, or maybe just scary
Defense: Pray, please
Intangibles: Without Sosa, room to breathe

2) ST. LOUIS CARDINALS (Wild Card)
Hitting: Weaker
Pitching: Weaker
Defense: Weaker
Intangibles: Last year, tough act to follow

3) HOUSTON ASTROS
Hitting: Old
Pitching: Older
Defense: Oldest
Intangibles: Biggio & Bagwell, veteran leadership

4) MILWAUKEE BREWERS
Hitting: Better than you think
Pitching: Maturing
Defense: Well, you can't have everything
Intangibles: Could be this year's come-out-of-nowhere team

5) CINCINNATI REDS
Hitting: Powerful
Pitching: Who needs pitching?
Defense: Oft-injured
Intangibles: Can't think of any, actually

6) PITTSBURGH PIRATES
Hitting: Missing
Pitching: Young
Defense: Good
Intangibles: Lovely ballpark

NATIONAL LEAGUE WEST

1) LOS ANGELES DODGERS
Hitting: Under construction
Pitching: Better get Gagne healthy
Defense: Adequate
Intangibles: Defending champions

2) SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS
Hitting: Ancient
Pitching: Prehistoric
Defense: As old as the hills
Intangibles: Felipe Alou

3) SAN DIEGO PADRES
Hitting: Still adjusting to new park
Pitching: Young stars
Defense: Excellent
Intangibles: Get to play the Rockies a lot

4) ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS
Hitting: New
Pitching: Newer
Defense: Untried
Intangibles: Nowhere to go but up

5) COLORADO ROCKIES
Hitting: Who ARE these guys?
Pitching: Meaningless
Defense: Running all over the place
Intangibles: Nobody knows who they are or who to blame; worst team in NL

AMERICAN LEAGUE EAST

1) BOSTON RED SOX
Hitting: Knowledgeable
Pitching: Crafty
Defense: Well, you can't have everything
Intangibles: Sold-out park every day

2) NEW YORK YANKEES (Wild Card)
Hitting: All-Star team
Pitching: Had better produce or else
Defense: There when it's needed
Intangibles: Had better win or else

3) BALTIMORE ORIOLES
Hitting: Lots of home runs! Fun!
Pitching: Who needs pitching?
Defense: Who needs defense?
Intangibles: Just wait till Sammy goes into a slump and blames everyone but himself

4) TORONTO BLUE JAYS
Hitting: Better than it was
Pitching: Couldn't be worse than it was
Defense: Capable
Intangibles: Very smart GM

5) TAMPA BAY DEVIL RAYS
Hitting: Young
Pitching: Young and old
Defense: What difference does it make?
Intangibles: Fans can get excited about prospects received in upcoming midseason salary dumps

AMERICAN LEAGUE CENTRAL

1) MINNESOTA TWINS
Hitting: In sync
Pitching: Superior
Defense: Fast
Intangibles: They know how to win and make more with less than any other team

2) CLEVELAND INDIANS
Hitting: Up-and-coming
Pitching: Held together by a thread
Defense: Good
Intangibles: Believe in their manager and themselves

3) CHICAGO WHITE SOX
Hitting: Inappropriate
Pitching: Foreign
Defense: Lousy
Intangibles: Ozzie-ball!

4) DETROIT TIGERS
Hitting: Expensive
Pitching: Young
Defense: Acceptable
Intangibles: Could be AL's surprise team of the year

5) KANSAS CITY ROYALS
Hitting: Weird
Pitching: Kids
Defense: Adequate
Intangibles: Absolutely zero hope of playoffs, winning season, or even avoiding 100 losses

AMERICAN LEAGUE WEST

1) LOS ANGELES ANGELS OF ANAHEIM, AZUSA AND CUCA---MONGA
Hitting: Excellent
Pitching: Does what it's asked
Defense: Useful
Intangibles: Trying to avoid court decisions against their new name

2) OAKLAND ATHLETICS
Hitting: Powerful
Pitching: Revamped
Defense: Scattered
Intangibles: Their GM always seems one step ahead of everyone else

3) TEXAS RANGERS
Hitting: Superior
Pitching: Inferior
Defense: Um, well, uh...
Intangibles: Have to step over two superior teams with playoff experience

4) SEATTLE MARINERS
Hitting: Improved
Pitching: Not so improved
Defense: Old
Intangibles: Record of winning before last year's debacle

Postseason:

NL: Cubs over Braves, Cardinals over Dodgers, Cubs over Cardinals in NLCS

AL: Red Sox over Angels, Twins over Yankees, Red Sox over Twins in ALCS

World Series: Yes, I'm going to do it. It was the Red Sox' turn last year, now it's ours. 2005: the Cubs' year to win it all in a memorable seven-game series.

Now let's go out and do it. Tomorrow, thoughts on the Cub season before the opener at the BOB.

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