Friday, July 18, 2008

Second-half MLB predictions


Yes, the season is more than half over. Yes, the Mets have already won 10 straight to tie the Phillies for first place. But I'm sitting by a pool, so I feel I have the right to put together a relaxing, uncontroversial column.

With that said, here are my predictions for the rest of the baseball season. Warning: There are many poolside distractions; these could be very, very off.

A.L. East winner — Boston Red Sox: The Rays aren't going away, especially if they make a move before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. And that's something they can afford. You also can't rule out the Yankees. I can't even remember the last time they missed the playoffs. But I'm sticking with my preseason prediction. The return of David Ortiz will help spark the offense, and the pitching staff remains one of baseball's best. The only question mark is middle relief.

A.L. Center winner — Detroit Tigers:
I know this is absolutely crazy, and I'll be accused of being a homer, but I just have this gut feeling. The return of Magglio Ordonez will only further ignite an offense that has found its groove. Meanwhile, the top three starting pitchers have regained their 2006 form, and setup man Joel Zumaya is pitching as well as he has in two years. I don't think the Twins have enough firepower to keep up with the White Sox and Tigers. As for Chicago, I like the team a lot, but I think the division will come down to the remaining nine games between Chicago and Detroit. And I'm giving the Tigers the edge. Call me an idiot!

A.L. West winner — Los Angeles Angels:
This is an easier pick. While it's amazing how the A's continually do well despite trading away all their big-name players, the Angels might be the league's best team that no one is talking about. Their pitching — from top to bottom — is rock solid. They don't have the most potent lineup, but in their division solid pitching and defense should be enough to easily be pouring champagne co late September.

A.L. Wild Card winner — Tampa Bay Rays: This is a tough call, considering this is the Yankees' last season in the Stadium. But in case you haven't heard, this team is for real and is solid from top to bottom. Expect the Rays to hold off the Yanks and White Sox in a tight race to the finish. And Dick Vitale will be throwing out "Babys" all over South Florida.

N.L. East winner — Philadelphia Phillies: Another tough call here, but I gotta go with the fightin' Phils. Look for a much better second half from reigning MVP Jimmy Rollins, and Chase Utley will bolster his candidacy for the current award. That will be just enough to hold off the Mets, not to mention the precocious Marlins. It will be a start-to-finish win for the Phillies. No collapse needed this time.

N.L. Center winner — Chicago Cubs: Talk all you want about C.C. Sabathia's addition to the Brewers. This is still the Cubs' division to win (or lose). They've got the lead at the break, and I don't seem them giving it up, especially with Alfonso Soriano expected back soon. The Cardinals will hang tough, but they — like the Brewers — won't have enough to overtake the Cubbies. They'll be partying in Wrigleyville.

N.L. West winner — Arizona Diamondbacks: Do I have to pick this division? Geez, what a dump. Not one team over .500? Are you kidding me? I'd expect a little more out of Joe Torre in L.A., and what happened to the Diamondbacks? Sometimes it seems like they completely forget how to hit. OK, I'll stop bickering. I'm going with the D-Backs, because they still have stellar pitching, which will certainly keep them in the race. And they're hitting will come around at some point (I think?), giving them enough to hold the division. But, really, almost anyone could win this thing. Even the pitiful Rockies.

N.L. Wild Card winner — N.Y. Mets: I could throw four teams in a shoebox and pull out one ... and I'd be happy with my pick. That's how close this could be. But since I call myself a "journalist," I'll make a legitimate, thought-out choice. Drumroll .... give me the Mets. Yes, this team has experienced a resurgence. The clubhouse is back together after the Willie Randolph fiasco, guys are having fun again, and we always knew the players were there. For a team that has underachieved so far, simply playing up to its potential — as has been the case during the winning streak — will be enough to win the wild card. Milwaukee, St. Louis and Florida will all make pushes for this spot.

OK, folks, that's it for now. Once I discover that all these picks — or at least 89 percent of them — have gone bad, I'll make new ones come the postseason. Call 'em redemption picks. Now, it's time to take a dip in the pool.

Enjoy the second half.

1 comment:

Sportsattitude said...

After reading your MLB picks, I feel better about picking the Vikings to go 13-3 and I want to be at that pool you made the picks from to see the distractions. Seriously though, since you admitted to your homerism on the Tiggers...I think the Yankees will once more find a way in...and as much as I hate to admit it I think the Phils will be out of the running. They were winning games by outslugging folks but that has stopped...they were not situational hitting from Day One...the pitching is - well, you know. NL...D-Backs, Mets, Cubs and Brewers. AL...Red Sox, Yankees, White Sox and Angels.