As promised, the long-awaited Musical Daddy 2008 Baseball Predictions! As per usual, all picks are made for entertainment purposes only. If you use my picks to gamble - legally or illegally - then you're out of your mind. Anything that makes you angry was only supposed to amuse and to provoke discussion - unless you're a Red Sox fan. In that case, I meant every word I said.
Let's start with the Senior Circuit:
The Mets' acquisition of Johann Santana does not counterbalance the over-rated and injured offense - I don't think that Beltran is going to be much of a factor all year, and I think that the wheels finally come off of the Jose Reyes bandwagon. I don't think Pedro can be counted on for 30 starts, and any team that relies on Orlando Hernandez - who is, like, 63 years old right now - is hurting for pitching. Atlanta just does too many things right, year after year - this is the year to start another dynasty for them. I don't know why, other than a balanced offense and a good starting pitching rotation. Philadelphia falls back to earth from last year's hot end-of-season; Brad Lidge is not the answer at the end of the bullpen. Florida has too many young kids to contend, and Washington is simply irrelevant this year. Although, I'm glad Nick "The Stick" Johnson is back - he's got a cool nickname
Chicago Cubs (wild card)
This is finally the year that Ben Sheets stays healthy and the Brewers stay in the first division all year. With the more-experienced offense and MVP Prince Fielder leading the way, the Brewers slug their way to their first division title since... well, a bloody long time. Chicago is a good team - they'll take the wild card because they play 76 games against the rest of the division - but just not good enough to win the division. Cincinnati finishes third for no other reason than someone has to finish there; Dusty Baker is the wrong manager for a team that's relying so heavily on young, inexperienced players. You'd think general managers would pay attention - look what he did to young players in San Francisco and in Chicago (Wood & Prior immediately come to mind). I hope Homer Bailey - if he even gets starts - has a good insurance plan. Pittsburgh brings back the same crew that won, like, 50 games last year - they'll improve, because the pitchers will be a year better. It won't help them break their 16-year streak of sub-.500 finishes. St. Louis stinks. Houston is even worse. When Miguel Tejada - who hasn't had a great year in years - is the lynchpin of your offense, then you're in a lot of trouble.
I love Arizona's pitching staff this year, and I think that the young players they have are great. I think they continue their division-winning ways - this year, they might even score more runs than they allow. (How's that for a statistical fluke?) Colorado's a great team, also - but they played over their heads last fall for one of the greatest comebacks in the history of professional sports. I think they finish a little bit behind the D'Backs. I enjoy watching them play, though - Matt Holliday is awesome, and Troy Tulowitski seems like a young Derek Jeter (who can play defense). Los Angeles hired a hall-of-fame manager, and they're going to be disappointed with the results. Joe Torre did great things for the Yankees, and he'll always be a favorite; but, when you have a bunch of veterans who are has-beens or never-will-be's, and a bunch of promising young kids, then you can bet that Joe Torre is the wrong man. Joe will play the veterans to a fault over the kids, and that's the downfall of the team. San Diego is unexciting. San Francisco is terrible.
Now, on to the good league:
Everyone makes a big deal about Boston's pitching staff being so much better and more experienced than the Yankees, but both teams are relying on young pitchers with no track record. Which would you take - Jon Lester and Clay Bucholtz or Phil Hughes and Ian Kennedy? Right now, it's a toss up - in three months, it won't be. Yanks kids will perform better. Yes, Boston's ace is better - but he's Nuke LaLoosh (million dollar arm, ten cent brain) and is due for a meltdown. Daisuke isn't THAT much better than Pettitte, and Tim Wakefield vs. Mike Mussina is a tossup right now. The difference? The Yankees offense, which will crack the 1000 run barrier this year and pass Boston. Tampa Bay isn't better than Toronto, but they'll have less injuries and finally crack that 78-win ceiling that they've lived under since the franchise started. The Blue Jays are a good team, but their lack of depth will hurt. Baltimore is, probably, the worst team in the league with few prospects for improvement in the next few years.
Cleveland (Wild Card)
Chicago White Sox
I just don't trust Cormona to do for the Indians what he did last year. I think that Detroit's pitching staff will pitch better, as a group, than Cleveland's; and Detroit's offense is a bit stronger. Cleveland wins the wild card - but not the division. Gotta root for D-Town; them's my peeps. I love the fact that an offensive juggernaut lives in such a pitcher-friendly park. Plus, I love Verlander & Bonderman. Minnesota will be better than people think, but I think that they're a 78 win team. Kansas City is starting to show a pulse, but they're just not interesting enough to pay attention to. The White Sox, on the other hand, will continue a downward spiral into one of the worst teams in the major leagues. They don't get on base enough, they don't score enough runs and their pitchers let in too many runs. That's a nasty equation.
I'm drinking the Seattle Kool-Aid again this year - they broke my heart last season, but they hung in until late. I think the loss of Escobar in Anaheim, and the injury to Lackey - which will linger - will be the deciding factors. Anaheim is just not that good of a team, and Vlad Guerrero is starting to show his age. Seattle's pitching, right now, is better than Anaheim's, and their offense will be just good enough. Can Richie Sexson have a breakout year? Oakland will be better than people think, but not good enough to win more than 82-83 games. Texas - sorry, Sabs - is simply irrelevant. They're not good enough to win anything, and they're not bad enough to be interesting.
World Series: Chicago Cub over New York (gotta root for the Cubbies in year #100 of their championship drought)
AL Cy Young: Felix Hernandez
NL Cy Young: Johan Santana
AL MVP: Alex Rodriguez
NL MVP: Prince Fielder
AL ROY: Ian Kennedy, Yankees
NL ROY: Kosuke Fukudome, Cubs
AL Surprise Potential: Tampa Bay Rays
NL Surprise Potential: San Diego
What do you think?