Today I will join 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 four 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 seventeen 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 Albert Pujols is the best player in the NL and that CC Sabathia is the best pitcher in the AL? Could David Price be AL Rookie of the Year? Sure, but he'd have to be recalled from the minors first. Similarly, maybe someone like Andrew McCutchen could come up after Opening Day, like Ryan Braun did in 2007, and win the NL ROY award. Further, awards and league leaders often come out of nowhere. Just before the 2008 season, who'd have predicted that Chipper Jones would hit .364 and lead the NL? Or that Cliff Lee would lead the AL with 22 wins? 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. Incidentally, to pat myself on the back a little bit, I got all four NL playoff teams right in 2008. Unfortunately, I then picked the wrong winners of both division series. Seriously. Go look.
And then, come back and read this year's picks (some of which, you already know from my previews of the Cubs' opponents), below the fold:
NATIONAL LEAGUE EAST 1) NEW YORK METS Hitting: Outstanding Pitching: Suddenly solid Defense: Excellent Intangibles: Determined to make up for the last two years 2) PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES (Wild Card) Hitting: A bit worrisome Pitching: Will Hamels stay healthy? Defense: Pat the Bat no longer in the field. Good! Intangibles: No WS champion has repeated since 2000 3) ATLANTA BRAVES Hitting: Young Pitching: Really, Tom. Retire. Really. Defense: Better than you'd think Intangibles: Bobby Cox 4) FLORIDA MARLINS Hitting: Powerful Pitching: Even younger than usual Defense: Good Intangibles: Too many good teams in this division 5) WASHINGTON NATIONALS Hitting: Who ARE these guys? Pitching: Remember this name: Shairon Martis Defense: That's a big ballpark you have there, Adam Dunn Intangibles: Lots of great seats available! C'mon down! NATIONAL LEAGUE CENTRAL 1) CHICAGO CUBS Hitting: Very, very lefthanded Pitching: Get to the 8th inning and you're fine Defense: Some good... some not so good Intangibles: The pressure of trying to win even one playoff game 2) MILWAUKEE BREWERS Hitting: Lots of home runs! Fun! Pitching: Gallardo and... ? Defense: Still their Achilles heel Intangibles: Pressure of trying to top last year 3) ST. LOUIS CARDINALS Hitting: Powerful Pitching: All rests on Chris Carpenter's arm Defense: Good Intangibles: Somehow, manage to contend every year 4) CINCINNATI REDS Hitting: Power-laden Pitching: On a Dusty Baker team? C'mon. Defense: Good enough Intangibles: Dusty Baker 5) HOUSTON ASTROS Hitting: Lots of home runs! Fun! Pitching: Roy Oswalt and ... ? Defense: More than enough Intangibles: Might have the first manager firing in 2009 6) PITTSBURGH PIRATES Hitting: McLouth. McLouth. Did I mention McLouth? Pitching: Pitching? Who needs pitching? Defense: Good Intangibles: Might have the second manager firing in 2009 NATIONAL LEAGUE WEST 1) LOS ANGELES DODGERS Hitting: Unexpected Pitching: Injured Defense: Very good Intangibles: Joe Torre is a winner 2) COLORADO ROCKIES Hitting: Could be real good. Or not. Pitching: It's Coors Field. Does it matter? Defense: Excellent Intangibles: Best hitter might be Jason Marquis 3) ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS Hitting: Maturing Pitching: Starters: sure. Relievers: not so much. Defense: Fair Intangibles: Could be a sleeper team 4) SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS Hitting: Bad Pitching: Excellent Defense: Good enough Intangibles: They should have signed Manny 5) SAN DIEGO PADRES Hitting: Adrian Gonzalez Pitching: Suspect Defense: Poor Intangibles: Worst team in the NL AMERICAN LEAGUE EAST 1) BOSTON RED SOX Hitting: Balanced Pitching: Getting younger Defense: Suddenly solid Intangibles: Now have two competitors, not just one 2) TAMPA BAY RAYS (Wild Card) Hitting: Come at you several different ways Pitching: Young. And old. Defense: Outstanding Intangibles: Are they the 2009 version of the 2008 Rockies? 3) NEW YORK YANKEES Hitting: Cody Ransom. I mean, CODY RANSOM? Pitching: Apres CC, la deluge Defense: Mediocre Intangibles: Now have two competitors, not just one 4) TORONTO BLUE JAYS Hitting: Powerful if healthy Pitching: Closer controversy Defense: Acceptable Intangibles: Low expectations 5) BALTIMORE ORIOLES Hitting: Confused Pitching: Who ARE these guys? Defense: Does it really matter? Intangibles: Felix Pie, starting LF. Nuff said. AMERICAN LEAGUE CENTRAL 1) CLEVELAND INDIANS Hitting: Maturing Pitching: Please stay healthy, Carl. Please. Defense: Excellent Intangibles: 43-28 after July 10, 2008 2) MINNESOTA TWINS Hitting: Will miss Mauer Pitching: Young, but deep Defense: Adequate Intangibles: Best manager in the AL 3) CHICAGO WHITE SOX Hitting: Old and young. Make up your mind, Ozzie! Pitching: 1 through 3 outstanding. 4 & 5 - not so much. Defense: Try not to look Intangibles: I didn't expect much last year and look what happened 4) KANSAS CITY ROYALS Hitting: Can sneak up on you Pitching: Interesting Defense: Acceptable Intangibles: Sleeper team in the AL 5) DETROIT TIGERS Hitting: Lots of home runs! Fun! Pitching: Lots of home runs! F -- oh, wait. Defense: Decent Intangibles: Leyland might quit in disgust. Been there, done that before. AMERICAN LEAGUE WEST 1) LOS ANGELES ANGELS Hitting: A little questionable Pitching: Excellent, as always Defense: Abre-OOPS! (Seriously, pretty good) Intangibles: Who else could win this division? No one 2) TEXAS RANGERS Hitting: Needs to be healthy Pitching: In that ballpark? C'mon. Defense: Better than expected Intangibles: Will have to score 900+ runs again to contend. 3) SEATTLE MARINERS Hitting: Ancient. (Get it? Ancient? Mariners? I crack myself up.) Pitching: The closer is David Aardsma. Nuff said. Defense: Ronny Cedeno. More than nuff said. Intangibles: Four ex-Cubs if you count Garrett Olson, who was a Cub for ten days in January 4) OAKLAND ATHLETICS Hitting: Ancient Pitching: Starting rotation in chaos just before Opening Day Defense: Poor Intangibles: Might be the worst team in the AL
NL: Cubs over Phillies, Mets over Dodgers; Cubs over Mets in NLCS
AL: Indians over Red Sox, Angels over Rays; Indians over Angels in ALCS
World Series: Cubs over Indians. Because, again this year, why would I pick the Cubs to make the postseason and NOT win it all... and, well -- it's time. Game 7 won at Wrigley Field when Milton Bradley hits a walkoff homer off... Kerry Wood.