Opening day is finally here, and I can’t think of a season in recent memory with more story lines heading into the season. The Pujols saga, the Red Sox off season moves, Derek Jeter falling apart, the Mets losing as much money over the past couple of years as me, you name it, this season is going to have it.
The only thing is that the Phillies are loaded. It kind of puts a damper on the season heading in, because barring injury, I just can’t imagine them not winning it all this year. But hell, the beauty of baseball has always been it’s unpredictability, so here’s some pre-season picks that are a lock to be right…
NL West: San Fransisco Giants
Have to start with the division where the champs play. The giants will take the division with that strong pitching, and a monster year from Buster Posey, who by next year could be the best catcher in the league. The Rockies will make their usual late season run, but the pitching of the Giants makes it impossible not to pick them. Especially because Tim Lincecum had a down year last year with a 16-10 record, the best pitcher in baseball is going to EXPLODE this year.
NL Central: Chicago Cubs
This might be the boldest pick because the Cubs have been pure choke artists ever since they started dishing out money to big name players. However, I think the Reds will take a step back this season, and the Cardinals are only a wild card team this season. Matt Garza is going to be amazing in the NL, and if you look through their position players, they just seem poised to give it one more run with this group.
NL East: Philadelphia Phillies
They almost won the world series with Pedro martinez as their 2-man a few years ago, and were the overwhelming favorite going into the playoffs last year. Their offense is amazing, and when Cole Hammels is the fourth starter to match up against Madison Bumgarner in the NLCS gives them the best rotation I’ve seen since Kerry Wood, Mark Prior, Carlos Zambrano, Greg Maddux, and Matt Clement.
Wild Card: Atlanta Braves
Their pitching rotation is still very very good, it’s just a shame for them that Cliff Lee signed with Philly this year. Depending on who they draw first round of the playoffs, they could make some noise. They are a team poised to give San Fran a lot of trouble in a 5-game series, but in a 7 game series they don’t have the fire power to match up with Philly or San Fran.
AL West: Anaheim Angels
Getting Kendry Moralas back will be huge for the Angels, who could have very well been the MVP two years ago (.306, 34, 108). Putting him in the middle of the lineup with Bobby Abreau, Vernon Wells, and Torii Hunter, with Kendrick and Izturis at the top, their offense is going to be dangerous. Throw that in with great defense, a good bullpen, and a rotation that has Jered Weaver, Dan Haren, and Ervin Santana, that’s more than enough to win the West.
Al Central: Minnesota Twins
Despite our top ten, The Twins are once again a one and done team in the playoffs. Their deep rotation and flawless defense make them a sensational regular season team though. I would say that the White Sox pose the biggest threat, and I’d love to pick them if Jake Peavy was remotely healthy, but it looks like he never will be.
AL East: Boston Red Sox
It doesn’t bother me to pick the Sox because they have the best offense in the league and will get much better once they take Papelbon out of the closer role in favor of Bobby Jenks or Daniel Bard. I do think that they aren’t as good as most people believe though. Lester and Lackey are a fantastic 1-2 punch, but is Clay Bucholtz really going to post a sub-3 ERA in the American league for a second year in a row? No. And until Josh Beckett comes back this team isn’t some dominating force that everyone is going to be afraid of.
Wild Card: New York Yankees
They could wind up missing the playoffs unless Burnett comes back strong to be honest. And there is zero percent chance they win the AL East with Ivan Nova and Freddy garcia at the bottom of their rotation. Their bullpen is such a strength though. Match up the best closer in baseball with Soriano, Feliciano, and Robertson, it’s a 6 inning game on most nights. Not to mention their offense is no wash. A-Rod looks like the best player in the world this spring, and Derek Jeter is not going to hit under .300 again, let’s be serious.
NL MVP: Troy Tulowitzki
When he has stayed on the field he has possibly been the most important player to his team over the past 3 years aside from Pujols. How’s the saying go, as Tulo goes, the Rockies go. Give him 130 games, my guess is he’ll be somewhere in the .310 35 115 range.
NL Cy Young: Tim Lincecum
In his first three full years as a starter he’s won it twice, it’s his award to lose every year as far as I’m concerned. Coming off the championship I predict him to lead the league in strikeouts, again, and win 20 now that the Giants can hit a little bit. Side note, he actually would have won 20 last year if his bullpen didn’t blow about 5 or 6 games for him last year.
Al MVP: Robinson Cano
With the Yankees pitching rotation in shambles, he is going to get a lot of credit for posting a second straight monster season. The best second basemen in the league will probably go for something along the lines of .320 30 120. Maybe this will be the year he finally wins a batting title too, the way everyone and their mother has predicted.
AL Cy Young: Jon Lester
Lester was 19-9 last year without ever having a consistent offensive lineup. I would be stunned if he doesn’t win 20 this year, and the key selling point with Lester is that he doesn’t lose, if that makes sense, only 23 loses in three seasons.
Phillies over Cubs
Giants over Braves
Red Sox over Angels
Yankees over Twins
(Haven’t seen this before)
Phillies over Giants
Red Sox over Yankees
Phillies over Red Sox (I got a little bold with that one huh?)