2008 Major League Baseball Predictions

When the San Francisco Giants played at Candlestick Park, if you stayed till the end of an extra-inning night game, they'd give you a button with a "SF" logo with icicles on it and the words: "Veni. Vidi. Vixi" -- which, very loosely translated from Latin, means: "I came. I saw. I survived."

Vixi. I survived. WE survived the winter, the worst in recent Chicago and midwest history. We have arrived at the beginning of another baseball season, filled with excitement and hope, and this time, the REAL hope, I think, that our favorite team will make it back to the postseason in consecutive years for the first time in...

I don't have to tell you that. You already know. In connection with that anniversary, Bruce Miles has a nice article in the Daily Herald today on that topic, in which I am quoted at length.

Meanwhile, tonight, the Braves face the Nationals in the inaugural regular season game in Nationals Park, televised on ESPN at 7 pm CT. Sun-Times political reporter Lynn Sweet went to last night's Orioles/Nats exhibition game and says the new park is, well, pretty "sweet".

And, today I will join all the thousands of other bloggers, websites, pundits, etc. in making my so-called "expert" predictions for the upcoming season. If you have been here for the last three years, you'll find this prediction format familiar -- and yes, you'll find most of this text familiar too (copy/paste being a useful tool). For those of you new to BCB, read on.

I started this format about fifteen years ago, when I was passing out my annual predictions to any of my friends who were willing to read them either with or without scoffing, because I found it both more interesting and challenging to do than traditional predictions. Even more so, 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 would it be for me to sit here clacking away on a keyboard and be master-of-the-obvious by telling you that Alex Rodriguez is the best player in the AL and that Johan Santana is the best pitcher in the NL? Could Kosuke Fukudome or Geovany Soto be NL Rookie of the Year? Sure, but it could also be someone who isn't even starting the year in the major leagues, like Ryan Braun a year ago. Further, awards and league leaders often come out of nowhere. One year ago today, who'd have predicted that Jimmy Rollins would have been named NL MVP? Or that Joe Borowski would lead the AL with 45 saves? Nobody, that's who.

And in any case, anyone using the search function here can come back here in October and tell me how wrong I was.

With that, here goes:

NATIONAL LEAGUE EAST

1) PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES
Hitting: Healthy
Pitching: Suddenly solid
Defense: Excellent
Intangibles: Determined to make up for last year

2) NEW YORK METS
Hitting: Excellent
Pitching: Johan and then who?
Defense: Excellent
Intangibles: The pressure's on

3) ATLANTA BRAVES
Hitting: Fair
Pitching: Blast from the past
Defense: Improving
Intangibles: Bobby Cox wishes he had retired

4) WASHINGTON NATIONALS
Hitting: Solid
Pitching: If you can get to Cordero...
Defense: Acceptable
Intangibles: Spiffy new stadium

5) FLORIDA MARLINS
Hitting: Who ARE these guys?
Pitching: Who ARE these guys?
Defense: Outstanding
Intangibles: Lots of great seats available! C'mon down!

NATIONAL LEAGUE CENTRAL

1) CHICAGO CUBS
Hitting: At last, balanced
Pitching: Um, well, we hope it's improved
Defense: Don't run on this OF
Intangibles: The pressure of being favorites

2) MILWAUKEE BREWERS (Wild Card)
Hitting: Lots of home runs! Fun!
Pitching: Pray for everyone's health
Defense: Their Achilles heel
Intangibles: Heightened expectations

3 CINCINNATI REDS
Hitting: No base-clogging allowed
Pitching: Pitching? Who needs pitching?
Defense: Improved
Intangibles: Not-so-spiffy new manager

4) PITTSBURGH PIRATES
Hitting: Um, nope.
Pitching: Maturing
Defense: Acceptable
Intangibles: I still hate those red jerseys

5) HOUSTON ASTROS
Hitting: Lots of home runs! Fun!
Pitching: Lots of home runs! F -- oh, wait.
Defense: Acceptable
Intangibles: Few and far between

6) ST. LOUIS CARDINALS
Hitting: Injured
Pitching: Pitching? Who needs pitching?
Defense: Good
Intangibles: Tony LaRussa wishes he had retired

NATIONAL LEAGUE WEST

1) LOS ANGELES DODGERS
Hitting: New
Pitching: Excellent
Defense: Acceptable
Intangibles: Spiffy new manager

2) SAN DIEGO PADRES
Hitting: Send help!
Pitching: Solid
Defense: Improved
Intangibles: Four ex-Cubs. Asking for trouble.

3) COLORADO ROCKIES
Hitting: Yes. But it's Colorado.
Pitching: Kip Wells? Seriously?
Defense: Tu-LO!
Intangibles: 21-1? You can't repeat that.

4) ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS
Hitting: Inconsistent
Pitching: In turmoil
Defense: Good enough
Intangibles: 2007: 712 R. 732 OR. Nuff said.

5) SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS
Hitting: Horrendous
Pitching: Pretty good
Defense: Creaky
Intangibles: Worst team in the NL

AMERICAN LEAGUE EAST

1) BOSTON RED SOX
Hitting: Returning
Pitching: Returning
Defense: Better than you might think
Intangibles: The pressure of trying to repeat

2) NEW YORK YANKEES
Hitting: Solid, as usual
Pitching: Young. Well, mostly.
Defense: Whoops!
Intangibles: Sit home this October. Watch Steinbrenner heads explode!

3)TORONTO BLUE JAYS
Hitting: Healthy
Pitching: Healthy
Defense: Improved
Intangibles: Going to petition to be in AL West

4) TAMPA BAY RAYS
Hitting: New
Pitching: Good starters. Bullpen, not so much.
Defense: Acceptable
Intangibles: Free parking! (But only if you bring three friends)

5) BALTIMORE ORIOLES
Hitting: Old
Pitching: Brought Trachsel back. Why?
Defense: Does it really matter?
Intangibles: Slowest... GM... in... the... majors...

AMERICAN LEAGUE CENTRAL

1) DETROIT TIGERS
Hitting: Loaded
Pitching: Loaded
Defense: IF: Good. OF: Not so much.
Intangibles: Something to prove

2) CLEVELAND INDIANS (Wild Card)
Hitting: Balanced
Pitching: Sabathia and pray
Defense: Adequate
Intangibles: Might win as many as the Tigers

3) MINNESOTA TWINS
Hitting: New!
Pitching: Newer!
Defense: Newest!
Intangibles: Excellent manager who knows how to win

4) CHICAGO WHITE SOX
Hitting: Unbalanced
Pitching: Pitching? Who needs pitching?
Defense: Defense? Who needs defense?
Intangibles: Watch Ozzie's head explode! First manager fired! Fun!

5) KANSAS CITY ROYALS
Hitting: Improved
Pitching: Not improved
Defense: Better than you think
Intangibles: Might challenge White Sox for 4th

AMERICAN LEAGUE WEST

1) SEATTLE MARINERS
Hitting: Key to success: Richie Sexson
Pitching: Excellent
Defense: Just fair (except Ichiro, who is outstanding)
Intangibles: Suddenly the favorites. Can they handle it?

2) LOS ANGELES ANGELS
Hitting: A bit long in the tooth, but still solid
Pitching: Injured. This really hurts.
Defense: Excellent
Intangibles: Will struggle without their injured pitchers

3) OAKLAND ATHLETICS
Hitting: Rebuilding
Pitching: Billy Beane always finds 'em
Defense: Mediocre
Intangibles: None that I can think of

4) TEXAS RANGERS
Hitting: Josh Hamilton. And then?
Pitching: Ugh
Defense: Fair
Intangibles: Can't finish lower than fourth

NL: Cubs over Dodgers, Brewers over Phillies; Cubs over Brewers in NLCS

AL: Red Sox over Indians, Tigers over Mariners; Tigers over Red Sox in ALCS

World Series: Cubs over Tigers. Because why would I pick the Cubs to make the postseason and NOT win it all... and, well -- it's time.

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