It's long... and who knows if I'll get to the West... but here you go...
National League East
5) Florida Marlins (Win range: 59-64)
Why they’ll stink: Oh… my… Gwad. I’m not sure words describe how bad this team is. I’m just looking at their roster right now… I’ve heard of four position players and four pitchers. I’m not kidding… Reggie Abercrombie? Dan Uggla? Mike Megrew? No clue who those guys are. On top of that, they’ve put together half of the Cubs brutal bullpen by signing Borowski and Sergio Mitre. This team sucks so much. They might be worse than the Royals. I can’t get over the fact that there is a guy named Reggie Abercrombie on this team? He might make my all name list next year.
Silver Lining: That they’ll be in Vegas soon? Why didn’t anyone support this team back in the day?
Best Pitcher: Dontrelle Willis
Best Player: Miguel Cabrera, I’ll say this, they might only have 8 guys that I’ve heard of, but they’ve also got Cabrera and Willis who are studly
Wild Card Chance?: None. Then again the NL is so bad… nah, they can’t do it.
Key to Season: …that they figure out what’s the next step with this organization. It’s clear that they won’t be in Miami much longer… I’m not sure what the next step is so hopefully they get on that this year.
Random Thoughts: This team was gutted [GET IT?] after last year which is sad to see. They had a lot of talent and now they’ve got next to nothing. I’m not sure why baseball failed so badly in south Florida. I know it’s a crappy sports area, but you’d think that they’d have a little more passion and commitment from the fans. Oh well. This team stinks and I have nothing to add. I love Miguel Cabrera, there that’s something.
4) Washington Nationals (Win Range 70-75)
Why they’ll stink: This team will finish 4th only because the Marlins are so bad. I don’t like this team at all. Jim Bowden traded for Soriano even though he’s got an All-Star at second in Jose Vidro when healthy. This of course lead to Soriano telling the Nats that he’s out of there at the end of the season and refused to play left for a few days. That was fun. Nice job Jim. Just awesome. You ran the Reds into the ground and now you’re doing a damn fine job making the Expos/Nats worse. It’s going to be so much fun watching Soriano dog it in left, missing cut off men, misplaying balls, and probably cost them a few games in left. And have I mentioned that they’ll struggle to score 700 runs? And that there is no way they allow only 673 runs this year? This team played way over their heads last year and are about to come crashing down to Earth.
Silver Lining: The stadium deal is finally done so they don’t have to worry about that any more. Maybe they’ll have an owner soon. Maybe.
Best Pitcher: Livan Hernandez just because he can throw like 400 innings if need be
Best Player: Jose Guillen, but he usually goes insane in his second year on a team, so who knows.
Wild Card Chance?: I guess if they get pitching like they did last year from guys that weren’t on the team last year and they find a way to score 100 more runs they could do it… but Zimmerman and Soriano aren’t going to add 100 runs.
Key to Season: It’s going to be interesting to see if they can get anything for Soriano at this point. What a bad trade that was. Have I mentioned that their short stop is either Cristian Guzman who stinks or Royce Clayton who sinks? Vidro needs to stay healthy, same with Nick Johnson… there are too many guys with long injury histories on this team.
Random Thoughts: They have the dumbest name in baseball. I hate their name… what the hell is a Washington National? Why not call the Giants the San Francisco Nationals? And I love when people in DC get upset and say things like “What else are they going to call them?” since the Capitals and Senators are already taken… and I like to point out that’s how boring and brutal DC is… there is nothing, NOTHING, to name your sports team after. I like the Washington Grays personally… Playing a big park like RFK helps this team, but they’ve got next to nothing coming up the pipeline after this Zimmerman kid… Their pitching can’t be as good as it was last year and that’s going to hurt them since they didn’t score any runs last year either… This team is OLD, they’re average age is almost 30 and only this Zimmerman kid is under 27… Ugh, what a bland team with bland uniforms and a blander name. Something needs to be done quickly to make this team more interesting… Oh and Jim Bowden is the worst GM in baseball now that Chuck LaMarr was finally fired. I think the only person who’s proud of this Soriano deal is Isiah Thomas…
3) New York Mets (Win Range: 81-86)
Why they’re overrated: Because they’re the Mets and everyone loves them every year and they’re never as good as everyone thinks they are. It’s like a rite of spring at this point along with everyone wanting to kill Billy Packer, the random Kerry Wood injury, and flowers. They made a lot of moves over the winter to make their offense better, but what about the pitching? Tom Glavine is fifty-three, Pedro has a bum toe plus always breaks down in late July, and then it’s the 35 year old Steve Trachsel and Victor Zambrano… that’s not a playoff rotation. And that bullpen isn’t anything to get excited about either… Juorge Julio is going to drive Mets fans crazy.
Silver Lining: Billy Wagner at the end of the line should close out a few more games and they should score more runs this year, but I don’t think they’re pitching will be as good so everything will balance out. And who doesn’t love Jose Reyes?
Best Pitcher: Come on, it’s Pedro, who’s gotten to the point where we only call him by his first name. He’s like a Brazilian football player.
Best Player: I know everyone and their mother apparently wants to make babies with David Wright, but I’m not totally sold on this kid. I’ll take Jose Reyes getting on base and doing annoying things on the basepaths.
Wild Card Chance?: Pretty good. The NL East is the best division in the NL so they’ll be around. I just don’t think they have enough to beat out the Phillies and Braves. It’s going to come down to injuries in this division, and who ever stays healthy should be set.
Key to Season: They’re pitching can’t fall apart. They just can’t. As a team they’re old (average age over 30) with young kids Wright and Reyes and a lot of these guys have injury problems as it is. And not underachieving would be a good idea too.
Random Thoughts: This team wastes so much money it’s not even funny. If you’re going to over pay for a guy, make sure he isn’t a three month wonder (read: Carlos Beltran and Kaz Matsui) or over the age of 33 (read: Tom Glavin, even Cliff Floyd, Jose Valentin, Billy Wagner, and Paul Lo Duca…)… Good too see that they have Julio Franco and his 47 year old body at first base… I will say this, they put together more okay outfielders than any other team in the majors, Floyd, Nady, and Beltran are all okay, cool, type ball players; except the Mets pay these guys like 30 million dollars to chill out there… I’d hate being a Mets fan if for no other reason than those ugly black hats. The sooner they switch to blue the better… Why did they spend all this money on back up players like Valentin and Franco?... If Mets fans could kill anyone, would anyone else besides Kaz Matsui receive a vote?... I can’t get excited about this team, trust me they’re way overrated… again.
2.) Philadelphia Phillies (Win Range: 83-88)
Why they’ll “surprise” everyone: Let me get this out of the way first, I want to pick them first, but I’m not going to since the last time the Braves didn’t win this division I was in like second grade. I’m two years out of college. I’m not stupid, you stick with the goods. The Braves are the goods...But moving on, I sort of like this team. They’ll score runs. They’ve got a little pitching, and while their bullpen isn’t that great, I have faith in Pat Gillick who’s done some interesting things with this team. He’s not building for a one year run, he’s looking toward the future a bit.
Silver Lining: They can score runs and they’ll score a lot of runs. Chase Utley is the best American second baseman and Ryan Howard, aka Lil’ Papi, looks like he’s something special. And for as bad as David Bell is, he’s the type of guy that can surprise you at the plate and is a great clubhouse presence. You can’t over look role players like that. Okay I just said that to piss off my Philly friends.
Best Pitcher: Brett Myers
Best Player: This is sort of a tough one, if Bobby Abreu pulls his head out of his ass, he’s probably the one, but don’t forget about Jimmy Rollins… but we’ll take Chase Utley who looks like, dare we say, a lefthanded Ryan Sandberg…hummmm…
Key to Season: Pitching… they need someone, anyone to step up and produce with Myers and Liber. You know what you’re getting with those two… so can someone (Ryan Madson? Gavin Floyd?) step up and post some decent numbers until Randy Wolf gets back to round out everything? They’re going to have to make a deal for another arm in the pen, but that could be said about everyone in the majors.
Wild Card Chance?: We think they’ll win the Wild Card.
Random Thoughts: It’s always dangerous to back a Philly team since the city can turn on them. I hate picking Philly teams for this very reason, I’m not sure anyone ‘torpedoes’ their teams more than Philly fans, even during the ‘Nova/BC game the other day you could year everyone in the Philly region saying, ‘they’re going to blow it’ in every corner of the country. And this actually happened last year to the Phils, but then they got hot and made a push coming up just short (of course this was after everyone had given up on them and losing all those games to the Astros killed them in the end)… We loved the Thome for Rowand deal for everyone, the Phillies also picked up two nice young arms that are at least a year a way, but something to watch for… Is Jimmy Rollins the Ray Durham of short stops?... This team reminds of the Chicago White Sox around 2002/2003. Lot of young arms that haven’t stepped up besides Myers/Buehrle, corner outfielders who are All-Stars/borderline All-Stars but can’t help them win for whatever reason (Abreu/Burrell::Maggs/Carlos Lee), mangers named Manuel… Mike Liberthal blows… How great is name Rheal Cormier? Why can’t we have more French names in sports?... Weird team, they’ve got talent and if they can find ways to win close games, they’ll be much better than everyone realizes. They make the playoffs because the NL blows.
1.) Atlanta Braves (Win Range: 85-90)
Why they'll cruise: Because they’ve finished in first since 1991… that’s right 1991, think about that for a second. I was nine… I’m now two years out of college. That’s amazing. I’m not going to be stupid; I’m sticking with the Braves. Plus they always, always, have someone come out of no where and ‘save’ their season. It’s unbelievable the number of players they’ve had though the years that have become so good… Chipper Jones, Andruw Jones, Marcus Giles, Javy Lopez, Andres Galarraga, Fred McGriff, Ryan Klesko… to go along with all those pitchers who one would think are washed up, turn their careers around, and then let the Yankees sign them for four years and 35 million and they throw maybe 230 innings over those four years. For instance, does anyone doubt that Renteria will hit .310 with 27 home runs and 107 RBIs? Or that Horacio Ramirez will win 14 games? Or that they’ll have some kid in AA come out of no where and be the difference come August and September. Just an amazing franchise that we too often over look because they’ve only won it all once in all those years.
Mitigating Factor: I loved the Renteria deal, he’ll bounce back this year. If Francoeur would ever learn to take a few pitches, he’ll be great. Hudson and Smoltz at the top of the rotation is better than anyone else in the division.
Best Pitcher: Tim Hudson had a ‘down’ year last year. He bounces back this year.
Best Player: If Andruw Jones wore a cape… he’d be Superman!
Key to Season: That they keep doing what they do. They’ve got bullpen questions again, but they’ve had bullpen questions for like 11 out of the 14 years of this little run they’ve had. I don’t see it being a deal breaker.
Random Thoughts: You’d be an idiot not to pick them first. People have been saying ‘this is the year the Braves don’t win the division’ since 2000… we’re still waiting. I see no reason why they can’t keep winning this year. They’re a solid team with some veteran presence along with some nice young players who should continue to grow. I also have nothing that funny and interesting to say about them so I’m stopping. Though, how great are July Brave games on TBS?
National League Central
6) Cincinnati Reds (Win range: 72-77)
Why they’ll stink: Because they are a fire sale waiting to happen. The pitching on this team isn’t that good, and even though they picked up Bronson Arroyo, I can’t see it being much better than last year. Sure Milton can’t be any worse, but who is Dave Williams? Brandon Claussen anyone? They also won’t score as many runs this year because I said so.
Silver Lining: It’s hard to find… Griffey’s swing? Dunn’s home runs when he connects? Felipe Lopez seems like he might be a nice player, but other than that this team is at a crossroads.
Best Pitcher: We’ll take Aaron Harang just because he didn’t stink last year.
Best Player: Can Felipe Lopez throw some leather? I honestly don’t know… We’ll say Griffey even though he’s not who he was. Dunn just strikes out too much.
Wild Card Chance?: In a NL Central where everyone is on about the same level talent wise after the Cardinals, I’ll give them a chance. But they need Arroyo to be a Cy Young candidate, Milton to figure out how not to give up home runs, and Encarnacion Kearns, and Lopez need to all improve. That’s not going to happen.
Key to Season: I’m not sure… this is a weird team. Trying to win now is going to be tough since they don’t have a ton. It’s a mix of older guys and young guys… not many ‘middle of the road’ players on this team. I guess developing some pitching? Getting new uniforms? Who knows.
Random Thoughts: Another bland, blah, whatever National League team! I think this is going to be a trend. This team may surprise people, but I bet they get off to a slow start, trade a few of these older guys, and get ready for a run in 2008. That’s just my guess… Cincinnati is a good baseball town right? Like that’s their thing correct? I forget these things. I’m moving on. I have nothing to say about these guys either expect that I hope that Dunn his a 600 foot home run this year. That would be cool.
5) Chicago Cubs (Win Range 75-80)
Why they’ll stink: Warning! This team might be really, really, bad. This team might be okay. This team will not be good. Why? For the fifth year in a row, they go into the season saying “If Wood and Prior are healthy…” You know what? If I went to Yale I might have a really kick ass job right now. So I don’t want to hear it. Wood is next to useless at this point and they should have dumped him two years ago. Prior is a egotistical jagbag. And have you seen their line up? Thank the Lord for Derrek Lee because he’s all they have.
Silver Lining: Carlos Zambrano… I’m telling you, people with mental problems taking the ball every fifth day is always enjoyable to watch. We’re never going to see another Carlos Zambrano so let’s enjoy him while we can, because honestly, I’m not sure how long he’ll pitch. If I wake up tomorrow and read that Zambrano got in a bar fight with four women from Argentina, I wouldn’t be surprised. I’m not sure what time of shelf life we have here, so let’s just enjoy his pointing to the sky, cup adjustments between every pitching, screaming, and glove slapping. Thanks.
Best Pitcher: Our man Carlos!
Best Player: Derrek Lee who was the best player in baseball last year. Just an amazing year.
Wild Card Chance?: I actually think the Reds have a better chance… but year if Priors and Woods don’t stay on the DL, Zambrano doesn’t kill anyone, Maddux can continue to hold it together, and Rusch stays solid they could make a run… oh and they need Pierre to not be bad, figure out this Todd Walker crap, Lee can’t regress, and Jones needs to be better than he was in Minnesota. Keep dreaming.
Key to Season: Probably Juan Pierre… if he can bounce back to be a decent lead off hitter, they’ll win 81 games.
Random Thoughts: Trust me on this one… the Bud-Lite Bleachers will become the most annoying thing in Chicago by April 18. I can here the Trixies now… “Let’s go to the Bud-Lite Bleachers this afternoon!”… Cub fans think this team will win, I’m not kidding… What if Juan Pierre really does stink now?... I’m I missing something with Jacque Jones?... Did you know that they have a kid named Matt Murton playing left? And Ronny Cedeno playing short? Why do Cub fans even bother? I know Murton is a young player, but I’ll tell you right now he’s no Carlos Lee let alone Austin Kearns… This team struggled to score runs last year and unless Pierre isn’t that bad and the bottom of their order doesn’t completely suck they’ll still struggle to score runs. And they’re pitching isn’t very good but we knew that… Get off the bandwagon right now! I’m telling you this thing is going to crash and burn and if the White Sox win 95 games it’s going to get really ugly on the North Side.
4.) Pittsburgh Pirates (Win Range: 76-81)
Why they’ll be better than anyone realizes: This team is going to start slow, and then around June start putting everything together and by the end of the year become the team no one wants to play. I loved the Sean Casey pick up, Jason Bay should blow up this year, and say what you will about Burnitz and Randa, but they will help this team. And they’re pitching is pretty good with a bunch of young arms coming up. A team on the rise.
Silver Lining: This team has young left handers coming out the wa-zoo and that’s a good problem to have. Be interesting how these guys develop, but I think they’re going to ‘find’ another Zack Duke as the year goes on. They’ll score more runs this year and that should be good for a ten game swing in the standings.
Best Pitcher: Zach Duke looked like a future star last year.
Best Player: Jason Bay, who’s also the best Canadian in baseball! I think he’ll have a ‘big’ year.
Wild Card Chance?: Aiight… not that good, but if Maholm can pitch like he did at the end of last for the full season, Duke continues to impress, and Oliver Perez can find whatever he lost last year they’ll make a run. They probably don’t have enough offense in the end, but a team to watch for as the season goes along.
Key to Season: The development of these young pitchers. They’ve got some really nice arms. If Perez can find his 2004 form and they’re able to find another bat as the season progresses… who knows.
Random Thoughts: I really like what they’re doing in Pittsburgh. They’ve developed what looks to be some solid arms and now the key is to keep them healthy and gain some experience. Then next year find another bat and make a run at the Central with the Brewers… They play the best stadium in baseball… Isn’t it sort of disappointing that their big moves this off-season were Burnitz and Randa?... This team is a year away, but if they could win 81 games that would be huge for them. It seems like we’ve been saying this for a while, but I think finally they’ve got things figured out and are on the verge of something here in the next few years… If they had a few more young position players that were going to get some time this year, I’d say watch for them to make a “2005 Indians” like second half move, but I just don’t see the young guys on the field to make a move like that. They need another bat… oh well, next year. Should be a fun year at the ball park for the people of Pittsburgh… And best of luck and a healthy recovery to Kip Wells.
3) Houston Astros (win range: 79-83)
Why they’ll finish third: I have no clue where this team is going to finish… they could win 90 games or they could win 70, I just can’t get a feel for them, so third place seems like a good place to put them. Obviously if Clemens comes back and pitches for them, they’ll be closer to that 90 win figure, but if he doesn’t, and we don’t think he will because for this ‘roid stuff, and some of these guys get hurt… well that’s a 70 wins team. This team didn’t score runs last year and got into the playoffs because the Phillies can’t beat them. If Pettitte gets hurt, Backe doesn’t step up, and Clemens doesn’t come back it’s going to be a long summer in Houston.
Silver Lining: This team did win the 2005 NL pennant… and maybe they won’t play those buzzing bee noise any more.
Best Pitcher: Roy Oswalt, this guy saved their season first by pitching well the whole year and then by winning Game 6 of the NLCS
Best Player: Lace Berkman because he’s the only bat that would scare us in this line up… yes Morgan Ensberg you’re overrated.
Wild Card Chance?: They are the defending NL Champs, so it’s not like their talentless, but I think the Brew-Crew pass them by. That said… they could.
Key to Season: They need to find ways to score more runs, I think they’ll struggle to score runs again this year. And if Clemens doesn’t come back they’re in big, big trouble. Too many question marks and too many old ball players on this team.
Random Thoughts: Hey! What’s that?!?! Is that Reggie Bush!?!?!?!... I hate this team just because I don’t think they’re that good and they’re no fun to watch, they play in a bullshit ballpark, and Phil Gardner is an asshole (and that’s being kind)… Raise your hand if you think Brad Lidge’s career is over? [Hand in air] Do people realize this guy gave up a 976 foot home run to Albert Pujols in the 9th inning while being one strike away from the World Series? Got bailed out by Roy Oswalt two days later, and then three or four days after than gave up a walk off home run to a guy who hadn’t hit a home run during the regular season to lose Game Two of the World Series? Stick a fork in the Domer... I hope Clemens come back and then gets busted for ‘roids. That would be great… Their line up 5-8 is brutal… This might be the year where the wheels come off for Biggio and they look for excuses to not play him, he’s had a great career and done so much for this team, but the end is nearing and quickly… They have the worst fans in this division and that’s saying something since the Cubs are in this division.
2) Milwaukee Brewers (Win Range: 81-86)
Why they’re the trendy pick: You know they won 81 games last year right? And that they’re pitching is pretty good? They upgraded themselves at third and probably first during the winter, and Rickie Weeks should be better this year too hitting in the two hole. I like this team; they’re fairly balanced and should take advantage of a very average National League.
Silver Lining: They play in Miller Park! Also known as the craziest ballpark in the majors and they’ve got a lot of young talent.
Best Pitcher: Ben Sheets, though he’s starting to become the ‘Sconie Mark Prior, stay healthy and win more than 12 games one of these years, man.
Best Player: Carlos Lee, which when you think about it isn’t a good thing.
Wild Card Chance?: They’ve got a good chance to be honest, but I like the Phillies more in the end. But they should be there the last weeks of the season.
Key to Season: Their pitching is able to do what they did last year, they score a few more runs, and Ben Sheets isn’t on the DL too long. Also Rickie Weeks hitting higher than .239 would help.
Random Thoughts: I’ve got a buddy who’s a catcher in their system, Bernie Dennis, which is pretty cool… I love Miller Park because it’s so bizarre… After pulling Scott Podsednik out of no where, they pulled Brady Clark out of no where, are they going to be to centerfielders what the Braves are to starting pitchers?... I love the first names on this team: Brady, Rickie, Carlos, Geoff, Corey, Prince, Damian, and J.J. those are eight great first names, it’s the little things I tell you… Where did this quality pitching come from? And if you saw Doug Davis on the street, would you know what he looked like? The guy had a 3.84 ERA with 11 wins and he’s a lefty… I’m extremely excited about the Prince Fielder era… For some reason they remind me of a European soccer team, I’m clearly insane right now… Is it wrong that J.J. Hardy makes me think of “Good Times”?... How great is Wisconsin? I love Wisconsin… I’m happy there is a team named Brewers in baseball, it’s just so appropriate: beer and baseball.
1) St. Louis Cardinals (Win Range: 92-97)
Why they'll cruise: Because they have Albert Pujols, Chris Carpenter, and Mark Mulder… and just watch, they’ll turn Sidney Ponson into a 15 game winner. Plus they won 100 games last year and while they’re not as good, they’re still better than everyone else. They’ll make a move in the middle of the year to get that bat they need to but the distance between them and everyone else and then drive home safely.
Mitigating Factor: They have the greatest regular season manager of all time in Tony La Russa! That alone puts them in the playoffs only to watch TLR over manage and blow it come October. Does La Russa ever pull a double switch with his wife and neighbor? Plus I think Rolen stays healthy this year and saves their asses.
Best Pitcher: Chris Carpenter
Best Player: Albert Pujols… come on
Key to Season: I’ll make a list for them:
1) Stay healthy, ie Rolen and Edmonds and Carpenter/Mulder
2) Find a left fielder before So Taguchi is murdered by some enraged dude from Peoria
3) Release Junior Spivey
4) Make a trade with Jim Bodwen… actually wouldn’t this be a perfect fit for Soriano?
Random Thoughts: I took April 5th in the “Day Jim Edmonds slows up only to speed up at the end and make a ‘great’ diving catch that makes SportsCenter”… I hate Jimmy Edmonds for this reason alone… I’ll admit it, one of the best parts about the White Sox World Series DVD is getting to see Albert Pujols home run not once, but TWICE. And yes that’s the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen. If I’m ever in a bad mood I should just watch that… The real question is how does La Russa blow this postseason? And how does he keep getting free passes in the media for blowing these series year after year after year? Seriously, take a look at his playoff record, he’s made it to October 11 times and has won one World Series, only Bobby Cox would be proud of something like that… and among the mangers that he’s lost too? Bob Brenly and Dusty Baker; and I don’t think I’m breaking news here when I tell you Brenly and Baker are horrible managers. I mean did you hear Brenly in the booth for the Cubs last year? I think I could manage a baseball team after listening to Brenly off and on for the year. And let us not forget that a bad Mets team beat the Cards in 2000 managed by none other than Bobby Valentine (I’ll be kind and not mention that Cito Gaston once out managed TLR because those Jays teams were really really good). He was out managed by Phil Gardner in 2004 and 2005, only the Cards were too good to lose to the Astros in 2004… but then he just absolutely blew it to Terry Francona who couldn’t pull of a double switch if his life depended on it… don’t get me started with this La Russa crap… he blows. I should go before I swallow my tongue.