I told you we'd talk baseball today- let's see how I see this shaking out. I'm so happy baseball is back...
1) SF Giants - Who am I to go against the World Champions? Not only did they win it all last year, they got better in the off-season. They'll have Cody Ross for a full season (once he's back from injury.) They'll have Brian Wilson's Beard for a full season (once he's back from injury.) They'll have a healthy in-shape Barry Zito (what's that? He just got in a car accident?) I should probably stop right now as this is getting brutal. The point is, the Giants, all of a sudden, are pretty deep and have some of the best pitching in baseball.
2) Colorado Rockies - Don't you hate it when people call them "The Rox?" I do. I think they'll be solid for years to come since they locked up Tulo and CarGo. Their rotation is pretty good, but Ubaldo Jimenez tired down the stretch last year. They'll need him to be healthy all the way through.
3) LA Dodgers - Donnie Baseball leads the Dodgers into the season. I'm assuming the games will be played on the field, but I bumped them down to 3rd in the division (from 2nd) because of the McCourt divorce situation. Top-down problems do actually affect the team. I like their rotation, though. Signing Ted Lilly is an underrated move. I already miss him on the Cubs.
4) Arizona Diamondbacks - Hopefully Daniel Hudson is done tipping his pitches because he needs to dominate for my fantasy team. Other than that, I know that they will strike out less because Mark Reynolds is not on their team any longer. They will also hit less home runs.
5) San Diego Padres - Sorry SD. I actually like the Padres because your city is so nice, but without Adrian Gonzales I can't foresee a very prosperous future. The good thing is that no one picked your team to do well last year either- so ya never know.
1) Philadelphia Phillies - It's hard to ignore their rotation. I will admit that this team is not as good as many experts would lead you to believe. Utley being hurt is a big problem. Remember that streak last year when the Phils couldn't score? Well, it could be worse this year. Luckily, they have both Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee to win a number of 1-0 or 2-1 games.
2) Atlanta Braves - I'm interested to see how Jayson Heyward does in his second year. I'm also interested to see Freddie Freeman at 1B. I'd pick them to win the division if they were not going with the "closer by committee" thing. I'm not into that philosophy and I never will be. It'll be an interesting first season without Bobby Cox.
3) Florida Marlins - They are pesky. Josh Johnson is a savage. I have no idea how they are competitive every year, but they just are. It defies my mental capacity, so I won't over think it.
4) NY Mets - Similar to the Dodgers, their ownership is a mess. Sandy Alderson should bring more stability to the front office, but realistically, this team is doomed to fail. The only bright side is that expectations are so low, that they could surprise some folks. For example, David Wright and Jose Reyes live up to potential, Carlos Beltran is healthy and plays well, Jason Bay does the same, and Jon Niese, Mike Pelfry and Chris Young all pitch well... BAM! 83 wins. I don't think all of those things happen concurrently, but if they did, this team could be dangerous.
5) Washington Nationals - There may come a day where the Nationals are a very good, even great team- but it is not this day. The Werth signing is cool if you like overpaying for overrated, used items.
1) Cincinnati Reds - They won the division last year, so I'm picking them again. Their line up is dangerous and their pitching can be as well. I have Edison Volquez, so I'm hoping he has a healthy full season. Dusty Baker scares me because I've seen him wear out pitching arms before. Assuming Joey Votto is not depressed, they will have a great offense.
2) Chicago Cubs (WC) - Call me a homer- because I am- but I finally saw them play a bit these past two weeks, and I liked what I saw. Solid defense. Solid pitching. Improved offense. A manager with a strong mental outlook on the game. Don't sleep on this team. Part of my pick also has to do with the other teams in this division having health issues already. I'll explain that in a second. For now, just know that if their starting pitching performs, this team will be dangerous. The backside of their bullpen is nails.
3) St. Louis Cardinals - Wainwright doing down is unfortunate for the Red Birds. He is a savage pitcher and they would probably win the division with him. As it stands, Pujols and Holliday will will this team to 80 wins by themselves. If they can fill the gap left by Wainwright, they could be even more dangerous.
4) Milwaukee Brewers - What's that? Everyone else is picking them to win it all? So what? Let me get this straight, their big acquisitions are Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum? Well, Greinke cracked some ribs playing pick up basketball and is a huge headcase. Marcum is already having shoulder discomfort. So there you go- those are the big pick ups. They could be dangerous, but many times when the public jumps on one team as a popular "sleeper," that team severely underachieves.
5) Houston Astros - I'm putting them here because the Pirates are awful and I can't put them lower. In fairness, I like Brett Wallace at 1B and Hunter Pence is a solid hitter. They could surprise, but I don't see it.
6) Pittsburgh Pirates - Kevin Correia is their Opening Day starter. Yes, the Padres dumped him and he landed with the Pirates as their #1 guy. Pedro Alvarez and Andrew McCutchen pose threats on offense, but they do not have enough to overcome the inherent economic disadvantage that the ownership has put in place here.
Giants beat Cincy
Phils beat the Cubs
Giants beat Phils (again) (I can't believe I'm picking the Giants to repeat in the NL- it's highly unlikely.)
MVP - Albert Pujols
Cy Young - Tim Lincecum
Rookie of the Year - Freddie Freeman
Manager of the Year - Mike Quade
My homer-ism won't even allow me to pick the Cubs to get to the Series. I'm starting to come around on this team, though, which is good timing since the season starts today. Can't wait!