American League East Expect the Yankees to capture the crown in the toughest division in baseball. Despite the absence of A-Rod for the first few months of the season, I still think the Yankees will take what should a great race. With the acquisitions of CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett to the Yankees starting rotation, the Yankees have the best rotation in the division. They also signed one of the best power hitters in the game, Mark Teixeira. Expect Boston to contend for the Wild Card along with Tampa Bay, who wants to prove last year’s World Series run was no fluke. American League Central I seriously hope I am not jinxing the Tribe by picking them to win this division. After all, it is an odd year, and the Tribe has been stellar recently in odd years (Just missing the playoffs in 2005 and, as we all know, choking in the ALCS in 2007). I confidently expect this team to take the Central. With the superb acquisition of an elite closer, Kerry Wood, their bullpen should be shored up. The Tribe also hopes Carl Pavano can revive his career here. The trade for Mark DeRosa looks like a good one as well. Travis “Pronk” Hafner should bounce back, along with Victor Martinez to form the highest scoring offense in the league. The only potential weakness I see here is the rotation after Cliff Lee and Fausto Carmona. Minnesota and Chicago look to make this a close race, along with Kansas City, who believes they can contend this year as well. American League West The Angels should cruise again with this division. Despite losing Teixeira, they still have a potent offense including Vlad Guerrero, Torri Hunter, Gary Matthews Jr. and newly acquired Bobby Abreu. They have a great rotation, anchored by John Lackey, Ervin Santana and Jered Weaver. Meanwhile, the A’s have the look of a very young team and have no proven starter in their rotation. I like the moves they made this offseason, obtaining Matt Holiday and bringing Jason Giambi back. The Mariners are brimming with optimism again, attempting to bring fans through the turnstiles with the premise that it is 1995 all over again and Ken Griffey, Jr. will return to his pre-2000 form. Good luck. National League East Count on the Mets to choke again for the third year in a row. Despite adding J.J. Putz, Francisco Rodriguez and Freddy Garcia, this team still will not win, even with Johan Santana. Turning to the brighter side of things, the Phillies look primed for another World Series run, armed with the reigning World Series MVP, Cole Hamels. They are loaded from top to bottom with Ryan Howard, Chase Utley and the unheralded Raul Ibanez who just signed a three-year deal with the defending champions. I would not count out the Florida Marlins, either. They might have the best young rotation in the game, featuring Josh Johnson, Anibal Sanchez and Ricky Nolasco. They also have the best shortstop in baseball in Hanley Ramirez. They won 84 games a year ago. I wouldn’t necessarily count out Atlanta, either. Their rotation is headlined by Tim Hudson, Derek Lowe, Javier Vazquez and the returning Tom Glavine. National League Central I’ll start off immediately by saying that the Cubs will not win the World Series this year. First, they choked by not pulling off the Jake Peavy trade. Second, they foolishly allowed Kerry Wood to leave. Milton Bradley will be the perfect face for this team—exploding and fighting with Sweet Lou every chance he gets. Rich Harden is quite possibly the best pitcher in baseball when he is healthy—which is almost never the case. Cubs fans will be blinded and delirious with ending the curse for the 101st year in a row. Count on the Cardinals to surprise everybody and pull away with this division. With a healthy Chris Carpenter to lead the rotation, they should be set, improving on their 86-win total last season. If they re-sign Mark Mulder, they will have an excellent rotation, along with Adam Wainwright and Kyle Lohse. Don’t forget—Albert Pujols plays for this team. He should be the No. 1 pick in your fantasy draft. National League West This figures to be the worst division in baseball yet again, an accolade that really should surprise no one after seeing these teams “compete” for the past few years. Nonetheless, there could actually be one good team in this division. The Giants added Randy Johnson to complement the reigning Cy Young winner and the best pitcher in baseball in Tim Lincecum. Perhaps if Billy Beane called again, Barry Zito could regain his Cy Young form and warrant his outrageous nine-figure contract. The best story of the offseason was the Manny Ramirez ordeal. I cannot remember a more captivating and humor-inducing free agency extravaganza.
The Carroll News – 2009 MLB Preview
March 26th, 2009