Here are my guesses:
Washington would have trouble winning a AAA championship. Last year, Florida’s rookies performed far beyond expectations. Are they that good or did they, on the whole, luck out? I don’t see Dan Uggla or Miguel Olivo repeating their performances, they still don’t have a center fielder, and the pitching is below average on average. I wouldn’t be surprised by an Atlanta pennant, but I think they have to rely on a few too many lucky breaks with the starting pitching and in LF, 2B, and 1B – and 3B if you count Chipper Jones’s health as lucky. The Phillies have the starting pitching, but still haven’t addressed the hole at third, and have an outfield with two journeymen. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Braves finish higher, but I do think the Phillies ar ethe better team – but not quite good enough. It’s the Mets again, folks – a bit weak in starting pitching, but this team can rake.
I picked the Cubs last year, and God help me, I’m doing it again this year, with no Dusty Baker in the way. I’d prefer a stronger middle infield, but the starting pitching blows great to middling, which is enough to set the pace in this division. Milwaukee is a team on the rise, and will rule this division in a year or three, but until they replace Graffanino, they won’t win the division. Sheets may be the best pitcher in the league and Capuano is good (Milwaukee plays in a bandbox, remember), but bottom of the Cubs’ rotation is better than the Brewers’ bottom three. The Cardinals continue to age, but rejuvenated their starting pitching with good talent. On the other hand, Chris Duncan is not going to do that ever again. I can’t see them winning over the rebuilt Cubs. Cincinnati? I can’t pick any team relying on Eric Milton, Adam Dunn, and a pack of singles hitters. David Ross is for real, though. Houston continues to try to prove it can win with a rotation of Oswalt, a decent #2, and three batting practice machines. If only Clemens would join earlier. Houston might surprise, but they’ll need Jason Jennings to pull a rabbit out of his hat. Coors wasn’t responsible for his inability to strike people out.
This is becoming my favourite division in baseball. The Rockies are the Rockies. Helton is now Sean Casey, masked by the park. Coors is no place for a side-armer, so expect Kim to do nothing. The team still has no pitching. I love to watch the Giants lose, maybe because I get the Bay Area feed of DirecTV and the homerism sickens me. I’ll be doing a lot of loving this summer. Last year’s acquisition of Matt Morris is followed up with Zito this year. Way to go! Last place for the Giants. The Dodger starters are a strength. I like the team, but Luis Gonzalez was not the answer to any question that needed asking. Nor was Juan Pierre. Matt Kemp and Brady Clark should start. I predict the Dodger season goes down the tube with injuries. The D-backs and the Padres will battle for the crown. Both teams have a ton of ability at the plate. The Padres in particular are solid 2 to 9 in the field and plate. What blows me away are the Padres pitchers. Peavy, Young, and Hensley are all potential all-stars. Then there’s Maddux and Wells, who still contribute. Wow. Padres take the division and go to the World Series.
The AL will have to come later. Gotta go eat.