Re: MLB predicts
1. New York Mets - I'm sure in the end I will end up being one of the many to incorrectly predict the end of the Braves stranglehold on the East. I honestly think the Mets are the second best team in the NL (after the Cards of course) top to bottom. Still don't understand why Heilman isn't getting more of a chance to start though.
2. Atlanta Braves - Great young talent at the Catcher and OF positions. I think they need Horacio Ramirez to realize his potential the same way the Reds need Kearns to. Can Edgar Renteria pick up where Furcal left off?
3. Philadelphia Phillies - Hey look, it's the Reds! Nice offense, bandbox of a ballpark, not enough pitching. Howard will absolutely blow up this year in my opinion.
4. Washington Nationals - I doubt last year's fluky hot start will be repeated this year. I still kinda like ancient Livan Hernandez for some reason and Patterson should be a stud pitching in that park but this strikes me as a very ho-hum kinda team.
5. Florida Marlins - I think I might have seen this blueprint before, jettison the big names, let the promising young guys play and get some experience, collect World Series ring in six years. Rinse, repeat.
1. St. Louis Cardinals - Best team in a weak National League. Having a healthy Scott Rolen just can't be underestimated. Chris Carpenter will continue his dominance and I think Mulder has a big year also with an eye on the payday at the end of the rainbow. Bullpen may be a little shaky with Braden Looper backing up a seemingly always gimpy Isringhausen.
2. Milwaukee Brewers - Hey Leo, Mike Maddux is looking for ya. Very solid and underrated staff (even by myself in previous years) that has blossomed under Maddux' instruction. With a healthy Ben Sheets I think they play into the final week looking for the wildcard.
3. Houston Astros - Roger or no Roger, it seems like their window is closing slowly but surely. They have a stud starter (Oswalt), a stud closer (Lidge) and a stud bat (Berkman) so theoretically I guess they could still make a run if a few guys have career years but I don't see it happening.
4. Chicago Cubs - Even without Prior and Wood they have better pitching than the Reds. Offense is kinda iffy other than the two big bats in the middle. With a solid year out of Juan Pierre and Matt Murton I could see them battling for third. Sorry Cubbies, the No Ring streak doesn't end this season. Look at it this way, still a lot of cool little bars in Wrigleyville to visit after yet another defeat.
5. Cincinnati Reds - Plenty of offense, maybe a good trade or two around the All-Star break and a breakout year from Claussen makes this a third or fourth place team. Of course I'm the eternal optimist.
6. Pittsburgh Pirates - The Pirates remind me of how I felt about the Bengals during the mid to late 90's. Every off season they would make a move or two, draft this guy or that guy, and all of us loyal fans would think THIS is the year we finally turn it around. Then inevitably at season's end we would be nursing a hangover and thinking "What the hell just happened?" The Pirates young pitching is definitely something to look forward to if you are a Bucs fan and I'd trade it for ours any day of the week. However this year is still too soon and there will be many bumps in the road as the young staff learns how to pitch a full major league season against major league bats.
1. SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS - 400 At-Bats out of Barroid is the key here. I also feel like Matt Morris resurrects his career a little bit in the friendly confines of his new home park and Jason Schmidt returns to form somewhat. Interesting to see if Matt Cain can shake an iffy spring and pitch like he is capable.
2. SAN DIEGO PADRES - Was tough not to pick them in this division. I love Jake Peavy and the addition of Chris Young and Adrian Gonzalez. A huge year out of Khalil Greene and Brian Giles could catapult them up and over the Giants.
3. LOS ANGELES DODGERS - I wish we could see what the Reds would do if they had Odalis Perez, Brad Penny, Derek Lowe, etc. If the rumors of Gagne losing 5 miles an hour off his fastball are true it could be a long season in LA. Fortunately for their rabid fanbase there are other things to do in LA like go to the beach.
4. ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS - I just really have no opinion of this team at all. 2 things definitively however: A) They have the most God awful uniforms in history B) They will win 2 more games than the Rockies.
5. COLORADO ROCKIES - Another year, another sub par team. Glad I'm not Todd Helton. Actually I wish I was Todd Helton, it would be cool I guess to be a multi millionaire even if it meant lots of losses.
The AL predictions will have to wait, lunch is calling.