by Ron on March 29 at 3:58PM

The New York Mets will not win the wild card in the National League in 2007. Their pitching is too old at one end—Tom Glavine and Orlando Hernandez, and too young at the other end—Mike Pelfrey, John Maine, and Oliver Perez.

The Mets will finish behind the Phillies and Braves in the East.

Speaking of the Phillies and Braves, they will play close to each other for the entire season, even seesawing back in forth in and out of first place. In late September, the Phillies will sweep through a successful road trip, then return and sweep the Braves at home, nipping them at the wire.

The Lou Piniella and Alfonso Soriano led Cubbies will win the NL Wild Card, edging out a surprising Pittsburgh Pirates team in the final week of the season.

The Cubs Kerry Wood will rebound from a sore arm to be effective out of the bullpen and Mark Prior will find his fastball at Triple-A Iowa, and return to help the club. The team’s $300 million off season shopping spree added free agent pitchers Ted Lilly and Jason Marquis to the rotation, which includes righthander Carlos Zambrano.

Cubs pitching coach Larry Rothschild will help closer Ryan Dempster rebound from a shaky 2006, where he was 24 for 33 in save situations, and recorded nine losses and an 4.80 ERA. Dempster, however, recorded a season high12 straight save opportunities from July 5 to August 14.

No longer a team dependent on Wood and Prior, the new look Cubbies will have decent speed at the top of the order in Soriano and Jacque Jones, followed by effective power in Derrek Lee, Aramis Ramirez, and free agents Cliff Floyd and Mark DeRosa.

With Piniella now calling the shots in the dugout, the Cubbies can definitely get Wild in the Friendly Confines.


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dice-k.bmp
 
 All right no more skirting the issue, it's time to show my ignorance of the happenings in the American League.  I pushed it off a day beyond the NL to brush up, but most of what you are about to see is coming from  my gut rather than any real factual information.
 
East
 
1. Red Sox
2. Yankees (Wild Card)
3. Blue Jays
4. Orioles
5. Devil Rays
 
Yep, I think Dice-K is gonna make a difference, even with the adjustment period of pitching in MLB and to the best hitters in the world, I think he still wins 18 games and that's enough to bring home the East.  All the news has been about this kid, but don't forget about Manny and Papi, a line up with boasting those two bats is going to win games no matter who is on the mound.
 
One thing I do know about the AL is that you must never, ever count out George and the Bombers.  The Yankees are the only team in professional sports that considers a season a failure if they don't win the championship, and a footnote - A-Rod has a monster year and picks up the AL MVP.
 
The  Jays are improved, but not improved enough to get to the head of this division.
 
Central
 
1. Tigers
2. Twins
3. White Sox
4. Indians
5. Royals
 
I don't think the Tigers were a fluke last year.  Look at their line-up - Pudge Rodriguez, Placido Polanco, Maglio Ordonez and the addition of Gary Sheffield makes for a pretty potent offense, they aren't the best team in the AL but they are good enough to take the Central.
 
The Twins don't have any super-duper stars on offense, with the exception of Torrii Hunter, but the do have a pretty well rounded squad and will keep the division tight until the bitter end.
 
West
 
1. Angels
2. A's
3. Rangers
4. Mariners
 
The Angel's run away with the West, solid pitching, Garrett Anderson and a big year from Vlad wrap it up very early.
 
The A's biggest move in the offseason was a step down from last year.  '06 DH Frank Thomas, who had a big year was replaced by Mike Piazza, call me crazy but I expect a big fat zero from the one-time Met's backstop.
 
So, if you read my entry from yesterday, you know it's gonna be the Phil's from the NL - who's it gonna be from the land of the DH - the Yankees.  Like I said, never count out George and the bombers, after just squeeking in to the playoffs as the wild-card the bats and arms come to life in the post season.  A-Rod not only wins the regular season MVP, but is a beast in the post season as well, winning back the fans and squashing all thoughts of ever putting him on the market.
 
Yankees beat the Phillies in six, Torre gets his contract renewed and all is well in the world of pinstripes, until '08.
 
 Well if you've gotta lose the World Series to someone, the Yankees would be the obvious choice.  As they say, there's no shame in being beaten by the best, and honestly losing to the Yanks wouldn't piss me off nearly as much as losing to Joe Carter and the Jays in '93. 

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Can the Phillies win the East?

Yes, they can.

They are nearly good enough now, but Pat Gillick will make them better as the season begins. This prediction, therefore, is based on faith in the general manager to make a trade or two, either now, or as we get close to the trading deadline of July 31. Or both.

If we still had fast Eddie, I’d put the Fightens third, behind the Braves and Mets.

The bullpen appears shaky, but there are some key components that could come through. Ryan Madson, Geoff Geary, Matt Smith, Antonio Alfonseca, and Tom Gordon make up the core of the Phillies’ bull pen. Gordon, the closer, 40, is prone to injury and may not last the season. Smith is the unproven rookie in a key role as the bull pen’s only lefthander. Then add in soon to be 37 year-old Jon Lieber, who is currently on loan.

Gillick must add one or two arms, including a closer--in case Gordon goes down--to bolster the bull pen.

The starting rotation can carry the Phillies into the playoffs, barring injuries.

The offense is strong, with key additions in Wes Helms at third, and Rod Barajas behind the plate. They have speed at the top of the order. The combination of Ryan Howard and Chase Utley will provide plenty of excitement.

Pat Burrell must get his numbers, at least to equal to last season. If not, he could be an overt weakness in the offense. If his spring training numbers are an indication, the boos my begin to haunt him early. Let’s hope Burrell’s spring numbers were an aberration, and he jumps off to a good start.

The bench appears good enough, too: Jayson Werth, Greg Dobbs, Abraham Nunez, Karim Garcia, with Chris Coste to appear either sooner or later. Gillick may do something to shore up the bench as well, perhaps adding another lefthanded pinch hitter.

Defensively, the Phillies are weak on the left side, with Burrell backing up Helms at third. A ball hit down the line between Helms and the bag could spell trouble for Burrell and the Phillies.

So three ingredients are needed to make the Phillies winners of the NL East: A potent offensive attack, check; a good starting rotation, barring injuries, check; and Pat Gillick making the necessary moves to add to the bull pen and bench, check on hold. Last year the Fightins won 85 games. To win the East in 2007, they’ll need to add six more wins.

As I see it: Phillies, Braves, Mets, Nationals, and Marlins...with one check on hold.


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by Jeff on March 28 at 12:06PM

 

RYAN.bmp

 

It's that time of year, Spring is in the air and spring training is coming to a close.  Opening day is practically upon us so here goes nuthin'.  I’m more of an NL guy, so I'll hit the senior circuit now and get back to y'all after more thought on the AL.

 The East:

1. Phillies
2. Mets (Wild Card)
3. Braves
4. Marlins
5. Nationals

 That's right kids, my misery is over, after 14 years the hollow feeling that comes at the end of every regular season since '93 will be replaced by elation.   I know the Mets have a solid line-up, but look, I've been worrying about the Braves for a decade and half, I'm not going to start worrying about the Mets now.  I think the Phils have made enough positive moves to get over the hump and take the East by the horns.  They had the bats in place last year, now they've got the arms as well, and here's an extra prediction - Ryan Howard repeats as MVP.


Central

1. Cardinals
2. Cubs
3. Astros
4. Reds
5. Brewers
6. Pirates 

The Cubs sure didn't hesitate to shell out the green in the off-season, but I don't think it'll be enough.  The Cards fans will be expecting a lot - Pujols is a freaking monster and Chris Carpenter is still one of the best arms in baseball.  This division will be tight, maybe a few games separating the division winner all the way back to number four, but the Cards squeek in.  This certainly isn't the best division in baseball, but it may be the most evenly matched.

West

1. Dodgers
2. Padres
3. Diamondbacks
4. Giants
5. Rockies

Pitching is the story in the West, so that determines how they'll finish.  The Dodgers have the strength from number one through the pen to edge off the Padres who come in a close second - Lowe, Penny and Schmidt win the race for the West.  The rest of the division is pretty meaningless in my opinion, the West is a race of two unless you're in the market for a spectacle(Bonds) instead of baseball.

Playoffs:

So who goes to the big dance - the Phillies!  They don't bring home the World Series trophy in '07, but you can bet I'll be wearing that NL Champs shirt  all too often until they win the World Series in '08.  That's right I'm making my prediction for next year here too, Phil's in '08.


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