So as the season gets closer and closer, I’ve decided to throw in my two cents this week on each division in baseball in the coming 2009 Major League Baseball season. God bless baseball, and Opening Day…
My 2009 AL East Predictions:
1. New York Yankees (96 wins)
– The Yankees last season finished six games out of the Wild Card spot, with a rotation featuring the likes of Sidney Ponson, Darell Rasner, Dan Giese, etc. The Yankees, this off-season lost Mike Mussina, Jason Giambi, and Bobby Abreu and added C.C. Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, and Mark Teixeria. Not to mention, they also will have a fully healthy Chien Ming-Wang. In addition to that, returning will be Posada and Matsui who are both coming back from injuries and supply the sort of ability to knock in runs that hurt the Yankees all season long in 2008. No reason to think this Yankee team (on paper) isn’t the team to beat in 2009.
2. Boston Red Sox (93 wins)
– Boston comes back looking strong again. Pedroia and Youkilis had career year’s last year, and this season they are out to prove that it was no aberration. Is Ortiz’s best days behind him? And can the Sox get the sort of seasons that Josh Beckett and Matsuzaka are capable of? If the Sox hit on all of that, then they’ll be as good of a team as we’ve seen them have in recent years. Another big question surrounds Mike Lowell, is he going to be able to play a solid third-base and put up a solid season with the stick? As a few Red Sox friends of mine said recently, the decision to bring back Lowell after the 2007 season, might have been the first time in a long time the Sox let the sentimental value of a player cause them to give a player money and years he probably didn’t deserve.
3. Tampa Bay Rays (88 wins)
-How good were the Rays last season? And it hurts me to spurn them on my predictions, even after time and time again last season they proved the people wrong, by not fading away in the standings. But I just don’t think that bullpen can hold up the way they did last season. With that being said, I expect them to make some noise in ’09. Longoria, Upton and Matt Garza, all still have tremendous upside, and Carl Crawford had a very “un-Carl Crawford like”, season last year. They’re a great team in the wrong division, who will compete all the way up until September.
4. Baltimore Orioles (75 wins)
– A serious lack of starting pitching hurts the O’s (Jeremy Guthrie on Opening Day?), but their lineup looks pretty good on paper. Nick Markakis continues to emerge as a great hitter, and the likes of Brian Roberts, Melvin Mora, Aubrey Huff and new addition Ty Wiggington, give the team a stable line-up, that throws up numbers on a year to year basis that you can count on. In addition to that, Adam Jones in center-field and the seemingly second coming of Christ in the MLB 2009 season, catching prospect- Matt Wieters, garner a lot of hype on how good they can be. Too bad neither of those guys can throw six innings a start.
5. Toronto Blue Jays (72 wins)
– How Blue Jays’ General Manager, J.P. Richardi still has a job is mind boggling to me. His model of trying to out spend the Yankees and Red Sox a few years back have left the franchise almost crippled with zero results. This year’s team will be banking on production from several young players (too many to be honest). The team will bank on the likes of Alex Rios (who is still waiting for the breakout year), Travis Snider, Adam Lind, and Aaron Hill. Meanwhile, Roy Halladay continues to be the best pitcher that no one ever sees pitch. He’s another year closer to signing with a winner.