Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Why Your Team Won't Win the 2009 World Series

For the fourth year in a row, here's my baseball forecast for 2009... with a twist. The start of Spring Training is a time for optimism, when the various setbacks of the previous season and off-season are erased and everything starts anew. I see no fault in looking at the glass as half-full, but sometimes you need a big dollop of reality. With my predictions I've included one or two key reasons why your team won't go all the way this year. Some teams are legitimate contenders, while others are merely trying to paint a pretty picture for '09. Mind you, I have a 1-in-30 shot of being proved wrong.

Here's my divisional picks (asterisks denote wild cards):

1. Rays. There's still a margin of a chance that last year was a fluke.
2. Yankees*. AJ Burnett could easily become the next Carl Pavano.
3. Red Sox. Could be the first 100-win team to ever finish third.
4. Blue Jays. In any other division Toronto still wouldn't compete.
5. Orioles. Matt Wieters is the real deal, but he won't make an impact until midseason.

1. Indians. Cubs' sloppy seconds (Wood and Derosa) joins injury-prone roster.
2. White Sox. They're in a well-disguised youth movement, but the kids aren't ready yet.
3. Royals. .500 is very likely, but there are bigger fish in the sea.
4. Twins. Not enough turnover; too many pitching questions.
5. Tigers. No pushovers, but too many players need rebound years.

1. Angels. The bullpen will miss K-Rod dearly. Good luck beating any AL East teams.
2. Rangers. Everything about this team is very, very average.
3. Mariners. Excellent defense doesn't justify weak bats and suspect rotation.
4. Athletics. 2009 will be a trial-and-error, experimental year. Is there any strategy?

1. Phillies. No NL team has won back-to-back titles since 1976.
2. Mets. Malnourished farm system will come back to haunt them. Best team in baseball until September.
3. Marlins. Expectations are low, and they'll play like it.
4. Braves. Chipper should be a DH somewhere. Youth will be served à la carte.
5. Nationals. Average bats + slapdash pitching = 97 losses.

1. Cubs. Uh... because they're the Cubs?
2. Cardinals. Save for Pujols, '06 Champs have been more or less dismantled.
3. Brewers. Trevor Hoffman has two career saves outside of a Padres' uniform.
4. Reds. Not a single competant LHP to be found. Might contend in 2010, though.
5. Astros. Far and away the oldest team in the league. Roster has a thrown-together feel.
6. Pirates. Uh... because they're the Pirates?

1. Giants. Talented, but too much youth for a long playoff run.
2. Dodgers*. The Manny circus will prove distracting.
3. Diamondbacks. Two ace pitchers (Haren and Webb), the rest are scabs.
4. Rockies. Like St. Louis, their bullpen is in absolute turmoil.
5. Padres. Their infield couldn't catch a beach ball. Hello, rebuilding!

For all my sarcasm, the bottom-feeders of the league have at least one thing to forward to. The Orioles probably have of the best defensive outfields in baseball, as long as the Padres keep Jake Peavy they're sure to avoid 100 losses, and... well, I hear Nationals Park still has that new stadium smell.

In all seriousness, however these are my "real" predictions for the coming season:

NL MVP: Albert Pujols, Cardinals
AL MVP: Evan Longoria, Rays
NL Cy Young: Johan Santana, Mets
AL Cy Young: James Shields, Rays
NL ROY: Andrew McCutchen, Pirates
AL ROY: Matt Wieters, Orioles
NL Manager of the Year: Bruce Bochy, Giants
AL Manager of the Year: Trey Hillman, Royals
First Manager Fired: I'm torn on this one. If the Yankees are somehow below .500 on June 1st, Joe Girardi will probably take the fall. If the White Sox struggle --and I mean really struggle-- Kenny Williams might sack Ozzie Guillen to wake the team up. Realistically, I think Cecil Cooper will get the boot first; it won't be his fault, but the Houston organization is a mess and they need a scapegoat.
World Series 2009: If somebody absolutely has to win the whole shebang, I'll take Tampa Bay over Philadelphia in 6. A lot of people are picking the Cubs to win the NL pennant, but I'm prognosticating a third consecutive first-round choke.

Questions or comments, anyone?


  1. Shields as Cy Young? We'll see...

    I agree 100% about Burnett - I didn't like the signing when it happened, and I still don't like it now. I'm still excited about the new season for the Yankees, though. Hopefully A-Rod uses the next two months to get his act together.

  2. The Diamondbacks had one good year but they haven't been good since then...

  3. Those yahoos at Yahoo are at it again. They posted their 2009 predictions, all Cleveland Indians A.L. Central division titles across the board. The Rangers have MVP-candidate Josh Hamilton on their team, and apparently they've figured out McCarthy's mechanical problems & fixed him. Looks like we'll have to wait one more day to see our teams play. That's pretty gusty picking the Giants to win the West, since they hit an MLB worst 94 HRs as a team.

  4. The Giants are a team that will win mostly on the strength of their pitching (Lincecum, Cain, etc.). There's not much power in Frisco's bats, but they can squeeze out a double when necessary.

    As for the Snakes- you're not giving them enough credit, Joe. Not many expansion teams have accomplished as much in their first eleven years as the D-Backs.