Posted at 8:45 PM on March 30, 2008
by Chris Dall
I can't say I disagree too much with David's assessment of the coming Twins season, although I guess I'm a little higher on Carlos Gomez than he is. No, he's not been a sabremetric star to this point, but it's hard not to be tantalized by a guy who has the potential to steal 60+ bases and maybe hit 20-25 homers. But I wouldn't be surprised if he at least gets benched for awhile. His highs are going to be really high, and his lows really low.
But as I sit here watching the Nationals take on the Braves in their spanking new ballpark in DC, listening to Joe Morgan prattle on (I've counted only one Big Red Machine reference so far, but we're only in the 6th inning), I thought I'd do a quick run through the divisions, with some predictions.
Only once in the last ten years has an AL East team besides the Red Sox and the Yankees finished in the top two spots in the division, and it's unlikely this year will be any different. Unless Josh Beckett's back continues to be a problem and Manny Ramirez loses it overnight, the Sox and their growing-more-insufferable-by-the-minute fans appear to be too strong. New York won't be far behind, but a questionable pitching staff could mean no playoffs for the Yankees this year. Somebody call me when Toronto actually backs up their talk about challenging for the division. Bold prediction. The
Devil Rays win 80 games.
Let's just say the Twins are going to spend a lot of time looking up in the standings this year. On paper you have to go with the Tigers, who are going to be scary offensively, and if Dontrelle Willis can return to form, will have a formidable rotation. But the Indians will be right there, especially if Fausto Carmona shows last year wasn't a fluke. At best I see the Twins coming in third. Bold prediction: Ozzie Guillen will be gone by June, and not for punching AJ Pierzynski in the face
I thought the Angels were the team to beat going into last year's playoffs, and I was wrong. But I don't think I'll be wrong picking them to win this division. Torii Hunter will provide a huge boost for the Angels, mostly by giving Vladimir Guerrero some much-needed protection. The injuries to pitchers John Lackey and Kelvim Escobar will put pressure on Jared Weaver (and I don't trust any pitcher named Weaver), but I don't see the Mariners having enough offense to overtake LA. Bold prediction: Milton Bradley challenges all of Texas to a fight.
As much as it hurts me to say this, I still think the Phillies are the team to beat in this division. Johan Santana gives New York the best rotation in the division (maybe even in baseball), but the Mets are old at some key positions, and that age could catch up to them. And you can't forget about the Braves, who could sneak up and win this division if the Phils and the Mets slip up. And then they'll lose in the first round of the playoffs. Bold prediction: Willie Randolph starts throwing chairs after the Mets first two-game losing streak.
Worst. Division. In. Baseball. I don't even know what to say about this division. If the Cubs are counting on Jon Lieber as a key part of the rotation and Kerry Wood as the closer, then that tells me all I need to know. The Cardinals don't seem to have enough pitching, nor do the Astros. For David's sake, I'm going with the Brewers. Bold prediction: Lou Pinella kicks dirt on an umpire.
The Dodgers spent about half last season in first place before falling apart, but maybe the wise counsel of "St. Joe" Torre will make the difference this year. Their pitching staff is solid, and adding Andruw Jones to a lineup of good young hitters like Russell Martin should give them a potent offense. The Rockies were a great story last year, but the difficulties of pitching in Denver make me question if they can have any long-term success. The Diamondback have great pitching, but they can't score any runs. Ditto San Diego. Bold prediction: The Giants won't miss Barry Bonds, now matter how bad they are.
World Series: Detroit over Philadelphia in 6.