Baseball! NL predictions…

It’s almost time for baseball season! I admit, baseball is my favorite sport to follow, mainly because I like napping with a game on the radio. I’m a fourth-generation Red Sox fan, so I’m half-crazy, too.

Here are my predictions:

NL West

The winner: The San Diego Padres will take the division. Mike Cameron makes the difference. In spacious PetCo, he makes Peavy even better. Piazza was a nice acquisition; he’s an improvement over whoever he replaces, either at the plate or at first, now that Klesko looks dinged up.

The also-rans: The Dodgers just don’t have the pitching, although Furcal was a nice pickup at short. Garciaparra will get 200 ABs, if he’s lucky. With an excellent farm team, they’re a couple years away.

The Giants could win this division if Barry plays 120 games. He won’t. The doping scandal will catch up to him before the year’s out. Otherwise the team is too old and fragile to expect much without Barry.

The never rans: Neither the Diamondbacks nor the Rockies are even worth writing about. I will pay little or no attention to these teams.

NL East:

The winner: Everybody’s picking the Braves because they’ve been burnt by prematurely predicting their end. This year is different. The jig is up. The difference? Leo Mazzone is in Baltimore. That’s why I think the New York Mets will take the division this year. Carlos Beltran is due, David Wright will mash the ball, Carlos Delgado will be…well…Carlos Delgado. After Pedro the rotation is mediocre but will be propped up by a very good bullpen.

The bridesmaids: Finally the Braves will collapse and we’ll discover how important Mazzone is to the organization. (Hint: fantasy players should invest in Eric Bedard and Daniel Cabrera.) Plus they’ve got no bullpen, Tim Hudson looks like he’s ready for a major breakdown and after Andru Jones, there’s not much to talk about in the lineup.

The never-weres: The Phillies and Nationals will continue their string of mediocrity. The Phils can’t throw the pill, and the Nats don’t have the bats. Put ‘em together, and they might contend.

Bringing up the rear: Actually the Marlins might be the most entertaining 110-loss team in the history of baseball. Watch Wunderkinder Miguel Cabrera, Jeremy Hermida, and Dontre Willis electrify fans throughout the summer.

NL Central:

The winner: Last time I checked, the St. Louis Cardinals still have Chris Carpenter, Mark Mulder, Jason Marquis, and Jeff Suppan rounding out a solid rotation which will allow Pujols, Rolen, and the rest of the gang to slug their way to another 100-win season.

Runners-ups: Houston and Milwaukee display why this will be the toughest division in all of baseball. Houston will edge the Brewers unless Ben Sheets is healthy all year, which is why I’m picking the ‘Stros.

Looks good on paper, but paper can’t pitch: The Cubs will continue their steady decline thanks to the tender shoulder ligaments of Mssrs. Wood and Prior, although Carlos Zambrano has the stuff to win the Cy Young. The ‘pen sucks and Greg Maddux is older than dirt. Outside of Derrick Lee and Aramis Ramirez, these guys don’t hit enough to carry a one-armed rotation.

Looks terrible on paper, but watch out: The Pirates might just be the feel-good story of the league. They’ve got some good, live arms – Zack Duke, Oliver Perez, and Mike Gonzalez – and maybe the best all-around player – Jason Bay – in the game. With Sean Casey and Jeromy Burnitz added to a team that was already scrappy, these guys might surprise the league and win the affection of fans who like guys with dirt on their uniforms. Or they could stink.

The little red caboose: Despite good hitting, the Reds pitching is abysmal. That Boston’s Bronson Arroyo was considered a good pickup is a sign of the state of the rotation. (And Arroyo is throwing like a guy with arm problems.)

  1. Mark

    Looks like another long year for this Red’s fan. Arroyo was tattooed his first time up. Eric Milton just gave up two dingers today. Baseball teams are like parents – you cannot choose the one you root for. My team is the Reds. I wish I could quit them.

  2. I rushed over, ready to defend my beloved Padres, and found I didn’t need to. The world is not giving us enough credit, as usual. :)

  3. I might be a little biased, having grown up outside of Milwaukee, but I definitely agree with you re: the Brew Crew. They’re going to surprise a few people this year, and next year they could really do some damage.

    They remind me of the Oakland A’s from a few years ago.

  4. I like the Pads. They’re still the NL West champions until proven otherwise!

    John, the thing I like best about the Brewers is pitching coach, Mike Maddux. I think he’s the next Leo Mazzone, except he does wonders for relievers. Plus I have JJ Hardy and Richie Weeks on my fantasy bb team..

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