We’re less than a week away from Opening Night for baseball. Easter Sunday, and ESPN and MLB are gracing us with Red Sox/Yankees that night. As if there was another choice. I suppose it’s time to make some predictions. Some blurbs that we’ll be able to look back on in July, and say, what was he thinking.
MVP: Miguel Cabrera. I think as long as Rodriguez and Teixeira both have good seasons, it’ll be hard for one of them to lock up the award. Joe Mauer probably set the bar too high for himself last season. If the Tigers are in the hunt in the Central, I like Cabrera.
Cy Young: Josh Beckett. Beckett’s in a contract year. He has a good rotation around him. The Red Sox solidified their defense. I think it adds up to some hardware for Beckett. Then a monster pay day.
Playoff Teams: Angels, Tigers, Yankees and Red Sox.
Odd Team Out: Rays. The Rays looked great this Spring, but the division is too good, and I don’t trust their starting rotation quite yet.
Overrated: Mariners. Seattle is the trendy pick after adding Cliff Lee, but now he’s not healthy. And play defense all you want, this team is still going to have too much trouble scoring runs. That’s bad news in the American League.
MVP: Hanley Ramirez. Picking Pujols is too easy, and the persistent concerns about his back give me a little pause. Ramirez is a trendy pick in his own right, but he’ll need other Marlins to step up to win this award. If their season tanks he has no shot. Much like A-Rod and Teixeira, too many Phillies involved. I don’t think one guy emerges this season.
Cy Young: Roy Halladay. I think Halladay is going to flourish in the National League. He’s going to get plenty of decisions, and on a team this good, he’ll pile up wins. I think Tim Lincecum takes a half-step back, opening the door for Roy to win 20 and the Cy Young.
Chapman/Heyward or Strasburg: For this year, I’ll take Chapman. The Nationals are going to be incredibly cautious with Strasburg. It could be June before he comes up. And, when he arrives in the Big Leagues, the Nationals don’t offer a ton of help. It’s going to be tough for Heyward to come in from day one and be the guy. If the Reds give Chapman the ball, I think he can have the biggest impact this year.
Playoff Teams: Colorado, St. Louis, Atlanta and Philadelphia.
Odd Team Out: Los Angeles. It’s tough to choose. The NL still feels a little like a garbage league to me. I think the East is a little better this year, and a team out West gets nosed out. We’ll see.
World Series Match-Up: St. Louis vs. New York.
Raul Ibanez: .264/18/71. I think Ibanez is going to be a little bit of a disappointment this year. I think he bottoms out in the seven hole. Now that I look at it, those numbers might be a tad optimistic.
Jayson Werth: .265/31/95. I think Werth falls short of his career year last season, but still puts up good enough numbers to price himself out of Philadelphia in the off-season.
Howard or Utley: Howard. Utley is a force of nature, but he can’t stop running himself into a wall. I think Howard leads the league in RBI’s (again) and could even give his average a little bump this year.
Cole Hamels: 14-9, 3.95 ERA. I think we’re going to bounce up and down with Hamels again. This year, I’m hoping the lows aren’t quite as low. These numbers should be good enough for the #2 starter.
Pleasant Surprise: Shane Victorino. I think he’ll be an adequate replacement for a slumping Ibanez in the six hole.
Lidge: I think Brad Lidge comes back at some point and will be a serviceable closer. He’ll keep the ERA under 7, but it’s never going to be like 2008 again.
Rest of the Bullpen: I think Durbin comes back with a decent year, and Madson in the eighth inning should be all right. Jose Contreras may have to step up, and if Romero doesn’t get healthy, there will be a huge hole against left-handers.
Regular Season Wins: 93.