I wanted to do a prediction post but don't want to repeat what people who get paid to write about baseball lucky bastards have written, so I'm going to forget the stats and the conventional wisdom and listen to the optimist and dreamer in me.
1. Phils (92-70)- Rollins is right. The Phillies ARE the team to beat in the NL East. With Howard, Utley, Rollins, and Burrell plus a rotation of Garcia, Hamels, Myers, Eaton, and Moyer, these guys are going to win a lot of games. The question is the bullpen - can GM Pat Gillick add a reliable arm or two to set up closer Tom Gordon? Jon Lieber is available for trade bait. (Will they take Rheal Cormier? Please?) Howard will hit 60 home runs but Barry Bonds will still get more attention when people say "and he did it legit!" I like this team, but hopefully I won't have to break out my Phillies cap in October in lieu of a Reds cap...
2. Mets (88-74) - Wright, Reyes, Beltran, and Delgado will score a lot of runs, but the shape of the rotation is atrocious. Billy Wagner sux. Pedro will throw at Rollins' head and miss during the entire year, then throw a fit and go on the DL every time. This team is fun to watch.
3. Fish (80-82)- Those rooks from last year can only get better, right? This team stupidly does not have Girardi to hold it together, so they'll splash out of contention at the beginning of August. I have 5 games against this team in my season ticket package, so I'll be getting to know this team too well.
4. Nats (77-85) - Manny Acta is a new school guy who has statheads drooling. The Nats have a good offense led by Zimmerman, Kearns, and Lopez. They also have a good pen with Cordero, Ayala, Wagner, and Rauch. Behind Patterson is a bunch of question marks, but I'm optimistic that there are two ten game winners in the bunch competing for spots. I have a full, optimistic preview at Chad Grambling's Baseball Blog. Check it out (and make sure you go through his site - it's a good one.)
5. Braves (75-87) - Because I hate this team and have put a voodoo curse on them.
1. Reds (85-77) - I honestly think - not just wishfully think - that the Reds can win the NL Central this year (so does Baseball Prospectus!) Harang, Arroyo, Lohse, and Bailey (after May) will have the entire country talking about the Reds rotation. ESPN might even put the Reds on television instead of the Red Sox or Yankees one night later in the season. An in-shape and focused Dunn will hit 50 homers this year. Griffey will have one last hurrah and hit 39 to become the fifth member of the 600 club.
2. Jim Hendry's Traveling Bank Account (81-81) - The Cubs will be in first place until August 14, when the entire starting lineup gets hurt in one game against the Reds and they lose fifteen straight. Cincinnati sweeps them in two more series in September to take the division. Marquis is converted to an outfielder after someone in baseball finally realizes he can't pitch. Soriano hits a record of disappointment, knocking in only 20 roundtrippers, which makes him realize it was a mistake not doing everything he could to stay with the Nats. The goat laughs.
3. Sausages (77-85) - With the additions of Jeff Suppan and no one else worth mentioning, the Sausages look to repeat another year of not fulfilling their dark horse role. In an effort to draw more fans, GM Doug Melvin trades for Gary Matthews Jr and Jose Cruz Jr and signs Pete Rose Jr, Ryan Clemens, and an illegitimate son of Keith Hernandez. Never Surrender will continue not to play for some odd reason.
4. Asstros (74-88) - Roy Oswalt. Lance Berkman. Old Geezer Biggio. A fish called Wandy. The addition of Carlos Lee can't save them. Even the 44 year old Rocket can't save them. How many times can we bear to see Barbara's face behind the backstop?
5. Deadbirds (70-92) - My dream for the year, aside from seeing the Reds win the World Series, is to see the St. Louis Alberts lose 90 games. Why they are picked as the team to beat by many people, I don't know. Aside from Carpenter and that first baseman guy, they have nothing. Edmonds and Rolen are ancient, Eckstein's a pest, Kennedy stinks, Izzy likes to give up walkoffs, and Mulder's arm fell off and he's gone until August. I'm sharpening my voodoo pins...
6. Pirates (6something and horrible) - At least they have Jason Bay.
1. Giants (86-76) - I'm the only non-San Francisco native to be rooting for Bonds this year. He'll lead his team one last time to a division title and retire without a World Series ring. Isn't that enough, you Barry haters? Oh, and Barry "Straight Up" Zito.
2. Dodgers (82-80) - Ugh. If I didn't think the D'Backs uniforms were so hideous, I'd give the Dodgers the last spot, but I guess they have those young studs playing all over the field, so I have to give them second. Too bad Jeff Kent can't fall off his truck and break his arm again. He may just be my least favorite ballplayer ever, and since the Baseball Writers are so stingy and wrong with giving deserving people places in the Hall, I hope they leave him out, too.
3. Padres (81-81) - Two Giles does not a champion make.
4. Rox (77-85) - z z z z z z zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. Atkins rox. Glad Helton is still on the team.
5. D'backs (75-87) - This team should not exist in the first place. Good pitching, though.
In case it wasn't clear, this is an unscientific, fun post and not what I logically think will happen. Though I do think it could happen if the wind blows the right way...