Pre-Spring Training Picks
I’ve decided to relent and make picks before Spring Training really gets underway. I want to preface this post by saying that no one should look back to these picks after the season and call them my preseason picks. I will publish a new set of picks a few days before the season starts and those will be my ultimate picks, for better or worse. Things happen between mid-February and Opening Day. People get hurt, players get traded and personnel decisions are made. Therefore, I reserve the right to change any or all of these picks. This is a very premature set of picks based on how the teams are set right now. I will change them. But here’s my take as of February 21.
Boston Red Sox: 97-65
–World Series champs who didn’t do anything wrong. Losing Curt Schilling hurts only if someone else goes down. Lester and Buchholz are probably better bets now anyway.
New York Yankees: 94-68
–Putting a lot of chips on The Big 3. This is a team that could easily win 100+ games, but also struggle to win 90. They’re counting on rebound years from Giambi, Damon and Abreu.
Toronto Blue Jays: 83-79
–They’re in a tough place. I think they should have made a move in a year when Boston’s getting old and New York’s banking on unknowns. Rolen helps the defense (and in turn, the pitching) but I have doubts as to how well he’ll hold up on the turf.
Tampa Bay Rays: 82-80
–What? Over .500 for the never-good Rays? I like the young talent they’ve accumulated and I love the young talent that hasn’t quite reached the bigs yet. They’re definitely moving in the right direction.
Baltimore Orioles: 67-95
–They did what they needed to do. It’s not going to be pretty, and it’ll hurt pretty bad this year, but they’ll be glad they did it in a few years.
Cleveland Indians 90-72
–I still stand by the old truth that pitching wins. And I like Cleveland’s pitching 10x more than I do Detroit’s. I really think they need to add a bat before the trade deadline to put them over the top, but the division is down a little.
Detroit Tigers 89-73
–Dontrelle had a 5.17 ERA in a NL pitcher’s park. Maybe he’ll be more motivated in Detroit, but I wouldn’t count on it. The offense is scary, but the rotation is paper-thin and the bullpen is ravaged by injury.
Chicago White Sox 77-85
–Bought when they should have sold. They wasted a lot of money and a lot of young talent to finish third. I didn’t understand the re-signing of Uribe after the trade for Cabrera. Normally I like Kenny Williams, but he confused me this winter.
Kansas City Royals 73-89
–Didn’t like some of their moves (trading for Callapso) but Moore’s doing a good job bringing the Royals back slowly.
Minnesota Twins 71-91
–Overplayed their hand with Johan Santana and then swapped their next best pitcher in Matt Garza. Also lost innings-eater Carlos Silva to Seattle. They’ll depend on some promising young pitching, but unlike the Yankees, they don’t have the offense to bail them out.
Los Angeles Angels 92-70
–Stacked with pitching and outfielders. They should easily win this division
Seattle Mariners 77-85
–Bedard helps them a little this year in the fact he replaces Jeff Weaver. He’ll probably leave after ’09 and they traded a bunch of prospects to get him. Carlos Silva was dumb though.
Texas Rangers 73-89
–Like the direction and the farm system. Still a few years away from contention, but making forward progress
Oakland Athletics 72-90
–Yuck. Got a ton back for Dan Haren, but they certainly aren’t going to win this year or anytime soon. Moneyball is nice, but hasn’t really paid ultimate dividends for Beane and his A’s.
New York Mets 96-66
–Johan Santana is worth about 8 wins or so for any National League team. I expect Santana to completely dominate the National League and the Mets should be the favorite to play in the World Series.
Atlanta Braves 86-76
–There should be some concern about how well the rotation will hold up, but the offense should be a go once they settle on a centerfielder to replace Andruw Jones.
Philadelphia Phillies 84-78
–They got hot at the right time last year, and I don’t think it’ll hold over to this year. Brad Lidge must return to pre-Pujols form to balance the bullpen.
Washington Nationals 76-86
–There’s not much to get excited about with this team. They made some moves bringing in questionable character guys, but they certainly could pay off if they shape up.
Florida Marlins 72-90
–No Willis, no Cabrera, no chance. They’re making strides for a new ballpark, but we may see more 325-attendance games.
Chicago Cubs 89-73
–They’ll feast on pathetic division competition and then be knocked out in the first round of the playoffs, just like last year. Fukudome won’t be anything special and they certainly won’t make Ryan Dempster look smart.
Milwaukee Brewers 85-77
–The pitching is hit or miss most days and they’re moving their players all over the diamond. They’ll be right around where they were las year.
Cincinnati Reds 79-83
–They’ve got some great prospects that will spend this year learning and adjusting. Just not contending.
Houston Astros 74-88
–The stripped their farm system for this? They didn’t address their pitching enough and after Roy Oswalt, there’s nothing.
St. Louis Cardinals 74-88
–Their starting pitching might be thinner than even Houston’s. If Pujols needs Tommy John surgery, this season will be a complete waste of time. I am excited to see Rasmus in person though.
Pittsburgh Pirates 71-91
–Need a long time and a lot of moves. They should move Jason Bay and start rebuilding. Again.
Los Angeles Dodgers 88-74
–They underperform so frequently and consistently, it’s almost painful to pick them. But when their pitching gets hurt in Spring Training, I’ll pick someone new.
Arizona Diamondbacks 86-76
–Haren upgrades the rotation, but they gave up a lot for him. They had a lot of luck on their side last year, and will probably fall off a little in 08.
San Diego Padres 86-76
–If only Chris Young could pitch at Petco every time out. Jim Edmonds is a downgrade from Mike Cameron in every facet of the game. Except steroid suspensions.
Colorado Rockies 81-81
–Another team rolling the dice on young pitching. Another team that probably won’t have the same amount of luck as they did last year. Beatdown in the World Series will probably take a toll on them.
San Francisco Giants 70-92
–They’ve got some great young pitchers, but no hitting. They overpaid to see Aaron Rowand’s offense fall off the map and are stuck with Barry Zito for six more years.