Yankees, Mets, trade rumors, free agents, off-the-wall predictions and other MLB musings.
Thirty-one weekends' worth of predictions - mine, and yours
Under the creative supervision of editor Dave Whitehorn, Newsday released its annual baseball preview section on Friday.
Within the section, in honor of the Mets acqiuiring Francisco Rodriguez (not to mention J.J. Putz), I ranked the major-league closers, 1 through 30. My "theme column" concerned our two new ballparks and the economy.
And now onto the predictions. Here are last year's. The highlights: I correctly forecast that the Red Sox and Dodgers would lose their respective Championship Series. The lowlights: I predicted that the Blue Jays and Mets would prevail in those same Championship Series.
It's go time:
AL East: 1. Red Sox; 2. Yankees; 3. Rays; 4. Blue Jays; 5. Orioles.
Thoughts: As we've discussed extensively already, and as will be an ongoing storyline throughout the season, this should be a three-team dogfight for two playoff spots _ and I also think Toronto will hang around .500. The Rays dip because of starting-pitching hangover, as we discussed yesterday. The Red Sox prevail over the Yankees because of their overall pitching depth and superior defense.
AL Central: 1. White Sox; 2. Twins; 3. Indians; 4. Royals; 5. Tigers.
Thoughts: There's not one team among this quintet that doesn't have serious holes. I would've chosen Minnesota if not for Joe Mauer's health issues. I liked the front of the White Sox's starting rotation, their bullpen and the core of their lineup. I'd feel more confident about the pick if they had a centerfielder.
AL West: 1. Angels; 2. Rangers; 3. Athletics; 4. Mariners.
Thoughts: I've been burned too many times going against the Angels, their current pitching/health problems notwithstanding. While I can envision the Rangers capitalizing on this situation, it's too grainy a vision to execute.
AL Wild Card: Yankees.
ALCS: Boston over Angels. Again. After the Angels defeat the Yankees (no specific culprit - the Yankees will just be outplayed) in the first round.
NL East: 1. Phillies; 2. Mets; 3. Marlins; 4. Braves; 5. Nationals.
Thoughts: I struggled this one, even seriously considering the Marlins for a while. But when a scout in Florida told me, "The Marlins have no bullpen" and "Ryan Howard looks amazing," that helped steer me towards a Phillies repeat. As for the Mets, those of you who worried about their lineup depth, bench depth and starting rotation will be vindicated, despite your hopes of being proven wrong.
NL Central: 1. Cardinals; 2. Cubs; 3. Reds; 4. Brewers; 5. Astros; 6. Pirates.
Thoughts: As discussed here, a healthy Chris Carpenter could be huge for St. Louis, and I see the Cubs taking a couple of steps backward.
NL West: 1. Dodgers; 2. Diamondbacks; 3. Giants; 4. Rockies; 5. Padres.
Thoughts: Mets fans will grow even more bitter as Manny Ramirez and Orlando Hudson both put up big years, to make up for a struggling pitching staff. And the D-Backs will rebound with their core of kids.
NL Wild Card: Diamondbacks.
NLCS: Diamondbacks over Dodgers: Once they get in the postseason, Brandon Webb and Dan Haren will carry their crew into the Fall Classic.
World Series: Boston over Arizona. The Red Sox will win their second title in three years and third in six years, giving New York fans a humiliating Boston-Philadelphia-Boston winners' line for three seasons running.
MVP: Kevin Youkilis, Boston, and Albert Pujols, St. Louis.
Cy Young: Roy Halladay, Toronto, and Josh Johnson, Florida.
Rookie of the Year: Travis Snider, Toronto, and Cameron Maybin, Florida.
Manager of the Year: Ozzie Guillen, White Sox, and Tony La Russa, Cardinals.
I have more such predictions (comeback, bust, home run leader, strikeout leader, breakout player, likely to be traded) in our preview section.
Okay, now for the contest.
1) Submit your picks for all 30 teams, the wild-cards, the Championship Series and the World Series (including a winner) as a comment here.
2) You must leave a real e-mail address for me to see (in the private field. You don't have to make it public). Only one submission per e-mail address.
3) Submissions will be accepted until the first pitch of Sunday night's Braves-Phillies game.
4) While trolls are welcome here, in the interest of preventing silliness, you can't submit picks identical to someone else's _ in other words, all 30 teams in the same exact place, with the same postseason results.
5) Upon the conclusion of the World Series, we'll award: One point for each team you place correctly. Two points for each wild-card team. Three points for each team that advances to the Championship Series. Four points for each World Series participant. And five points for the World Series winner.
5) The contest winner can pick one DVD from Major League Baseball Productions' collection.
Let me know if you have any other questions, and good luck.
Have a great weekend. I'll check in later from Cubs-Yankees.
UPDATE, April 5, 11:50 p.m.: Okay, the predictions center is now closed. We have 24 participants. Good luck to everyone.