Predictions for the 2009 baseball season

Here are my fearless prognostications for this seemingly unpredictable upcoming 2009 Major League Baseball season.

American League East

1. New York Yankees2. Tampa Bay Rays*3. Boston Red Sox4. Toronto Blue Jays5.Baltimore Orioles* Wild Card

Middle relief and defense still leave much to be desired for the Yankees. The Rays have improved offense to go along with their promising young starting rotation,which will help them win the Wild Card. Red Sox are a popular pick to win it all, but injury concerns in their pitching and hitting are a problem. The Blue Jays have an improving lineup but have lost starting pitching to both injury and free agency, while the Orioles have a weak starting rotation.

American League Central

1. Kansas City Royals2. Minnesota Twins3. Cleveland Indians4. Chicago White Sox5. Detroit Tigers

Improving starting rotation, better defense, and promising young players might help the Royals come out on top. The Twins must be concerned about injuries to key players to begin the season, combined with a weak bullpen and an unsustainable .309 runners in scoring position average which might prevent them from contending for a playoff spot. The bullpen and offense of the Indians seems improved, but the bottom of their starting rotation is not enough to be October-worthy. The White Sox have a new commitment to youth that will take a few years to pay dividends, while the Tigers still have obvious pitching issues.

American League West

1. Los Angeles Angels2. Oakland Athletics3. Texas Rangers4. Seattle Mariners

Although the Angels have major injury concerns, the depth of their farm system and their excellent bullpen should be enough to inch by the Athletics and their extraordinarily talented young pitching and improved offense. The Rangers have a deep and extremely potent lineup with continuous questions in their starting rotation that might never be answered. The Mariners are rebuilding after a disastrous season in which they were expected to contend.

National League East

1. New York Mets2. Florida Marlins*3. Philadelphia Phillies4. Atlanta Braves5. Washington Nationals* Wild Card

With their improved bullpen and tremendously talented position players, the Mets appear to be the class of the deepest division in baseball. The Marlins have amazing arms on their pitching staff that will continue to improve, along with youthful everyday players with the unparalleled ability. The Phillies seem primed for a letdown this season with questionable decisions from the front office. Although the Braves improved their starting rotation, serious issues in both the bullpen and lineup will undoubtedly prevent them from being serious contenders. The Nationals appear to inspire little confidence because of their unbelievably defective roster.

National League Central

1. Chicago Cubs2. Cincinnati Reds3. St. Louis Cardinals4. Houston Astros5. Milwaukee Brewers6. Pittsburgh Pirates

The Cubs are clearly the class of the division and the young. Improving lineup and growing depth of the Reds pitching staff provides optimism for a possible playoff run. The Cardinals could be in the running if everything falls into place and their starting pitching stays healthy. The Astros have a relatively strong lineup and bullpen but a weak starting rotation. The Brewers have a talented young lineup, but too many questions in their pitching staff. The Pirates have some young talent making their way through the minor league system that might reflect sunnier days in the future.

National League West

1. Los Angeles Dodgers2. Arizona Diamondbacks3. San Francisco Giants4. Colorado Rockies5. San Diego Padres

The Dodgers easily have the best lineup in the division and their pitching will be effective enough to carry them to the title. The Diamondbacks probably have the best starting rotation, but their bullpen and lineup provide for many more questions than answers. The Giants have the most balanced pitching staff out of the group, but might have the worst lineup in the league. The Rockies’ lineup appears unable to carry the uncertain starting rotation and flawed bullpen. The Padres have about four or five players that would be coveted by other teams, but the remainder of their roster is fairly awful.

Playoff Predictions

American League Division SeriesNew York Yankees over Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, 3-1Tampa Bay Rays over Kansas City Royals, 3-1

American League Championship SeriesNew York Yankees over Tampa Bay Rays, 4-3

National League Division SeriesFlorida Marlins over Chicago Cubs, 3-2New York Mets over Los Angeles Dodgers, 3-2

National League Championship SeriesFlorida Marlins over New York Mets, 4-3

World SeriesFlorida Marlins over New York Yankees, 4-3

The Marlins will defeat the Yankees in the World Series not only because they win it every six years (1997, 2003), but also because their talented, young roster will be fresher in late October against the worn-down, aging, high priced talent the Bronx Bombers will put on the field.

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