The season starts tonight when the Atlanta Braves visit NL East rival and defending World Series champions, from the City of Brotherly Love, the Philadelphia Phillies. Looking at last year before the season, some people didn’t think the Phils would win their division, let alone the ultimate MLB prize, a championship ring. People just get it wrong sometimes. However, the exercise of predictions is always a fun one to partake in, particularly for a writer that loves baseball. So, that said, below are my prognostications for the upcoming 2009 season with some brief comments for each division results. After choosing the World Series champs, I’ll predict the individual awards as well. Agree or disagree, leave a comment!
By no means will this be an easy win of the division by the Yankees as I expect it to be a dogfight all the way to the end. The Bronx Bombers, Red Sox, and Rays, all have very good pitching, but in the end, I believe CC Sabathia will take the team on his big shoulders to the postseason the way he took the Milwaukee Brewers in 2008. Unfortunately, last season’s favorite story, the Rays, won’t be able to get back to the World Series, but last year’s type of performance will continue for years to come.
This should be a tight division as it always seems to be at some point in the season with the eventual winner almost always eventually eeking it out. However, the Indians are primed to get back on top of the division, especially if Travis Hafner, Victor Martinez, and Shin-Soo Choo can stay healthy and/or come back to form. Cliff Lee won’t have the incredible year he had last year, but should still be effective and rookie Scott Lewis has a lot of people in Cleveland excited.
The Oakland Athletics will be this season’s Rays as they loaded up their offense with Matt Holliday, Jason Giambi, and Orlando Cabrera. If Eric Chavez can actually stay healthy and produce, and to some degree the same can be said of Mark Ellis, then watch out. The pitching is definitely young, but it’s young and talented with the likes of Trevor Cahill, Brett Anderson, Dana Eveland, Gio Gonzalez (at some point he’ll join the starting rotation), Dallas Braden, and Josh Outman. All-Star Justin Duchscherer is out for about a month, but should be solid when he returns. Sure, it’s crazy to think such a young staff could raise their game higher and be so solid for a whole year, but who saw the Rays do what they did last year?
AL Division Series
New York Yankees over Oakland Athletics
Boston Red Sox over Cleveland Indians
AL Championship Series
New York Yankees over Boston Red Sox
Simply put, if the New York Mets halved their blown saves total last season, they would have had the best record in baseball. This is why the team went out and signed two free-agent closers in Francisco “K-Rod” Rodriguez and JJ Putz to make sure the Mets’ late inning performance is as tight as can be. The additions should be enough to put the Mets over and not choke in September. And having Johan Santana, Jose Reyes, David Wright, and Carlos Beltran helps.
Will this finally be the year the Chicago Cubs win a World Series? With their strong lineup of Alfonso Soriano, Derrek Lee, Aramis Ramirez, Milton Bradley, and Geovany Soto, the offense should be scoring a lot of runs and if Rich Harden can stay healthy for a whole season, it’s over for the rest of the division as Harden is as good as any other pitcher when he’s able to go. Look for the Reds with their youngsters to make some noise.
The Los Angeles Dodgers have a lot of nice pieces in place to make a strong run into the postseason. Their pitching staff has a fantastic young duo of Chad Billingsley and Clayton Kershaw that will dominate for years and Hiroki Kuroda is quietly productive. The offense has a good mix of young and established talent, such as Andre Ethier, Matt Kemp, James Loney, Russell Martin, Casey Blake, and of course, Manny Ramirez. The Dodgers, however, will need to fight against another team with a good mix of young and established players, the Arizona Diamondbacks.
NL Division Series
Los Angeles Dodgers over Philadelphia Phillies
Chicago Cubs over New York Mets
NL Championship Series
Chicago Cubs over Los Angeles Dodgers
New York Yankees over Chicago Cubs
AL MVP: Mark Teixeira, New York Yankees
AL Cy Young: Roy Halladay, Toronto Blue Jays
AL Rookie of the Year: Matt Wieters, Baltimore Orioles
NL MVP: Manny Ramirez, Los Angeles Dodgers
NL Cy Young: Johan Santana, New York Mets
NL Rookie of the Year: Chris Dickerson, Cincinnati Reds
Topics: Alfonso Soriano, Andre Either, Aramis Ramirez, Brett Anderson, Carlos Beltran, Casey Blake, CC Sabathia, Chad Billingsley, Chris Dickerson, Clayton Kershaw, Cliff Lee, Dallas Braden, Dana Eveland, David Wright, Derrek Lee, Eric Chavez, Francisco Rodriguez, Geovany Soto, Gio Gonzalez, Hiroki Kuroda, James Loney, Jason Giambi, Jj Putz, Johan Santana, Jose Reyes, Josh Outman, Justin Duchscherer, Manny Ramirez, Mark Ellis, Mark Teixeira, Matt Holliday, Matt Kemp, Matt Wieters, Milton Bradley, Orlando Cabrera, Roy Halladay, Russell Martin, Scott Lewis, Shin-soo Choo, Travis Hafner, Trevor Cahill, Victor Martinez