Sunday, April 5, 2009

2009 MLB projected records Version 2.0

By Rick Morris


X-Boston 95-67
Y-New York Yankees 94-68
Tampa Bay 92-70
Baltimore 74-88
Toronto 72-90

NOTES: Until the Angels get their key starting pitchers healthy, the top three teams in the AL – by a wide margin – play in this division. Only two, of course, can make the playoffs, which would make Hank Steinbrenner’s meltdown all the more hilarious if his team fails to make the playoffs despite a spending spree that included dropping more than the combined total of all AIG bonuses on CC’s left arm. Right now, Boston looks like the most balanced team of the three, but the Yankees have the highest upside if everything goes right (which it rarely does in baseball – but did in 1998 for them). Don’t listen to anyone who tells you that the Rays are due to come back to earth this year – Carl Crawford and BJ Upton really didn’t contribute to their success that much last year and they’ll be back 100%, so that will offset any individual falloff from certain players. Baltimore will be where Tampa is at in two years, but it will be a long slog with that rotation until then. Toronto is not a victim of the division they’re in; they’d likely be too thin to compete in all but the worst divisions in baseball.

X- Minnesota 84-78
Cleveland 83-79
Chicago White Sox 82-80
Kansas City 80-82
Detroit 79-83

NOTES: This division will be the living definition of mediocrity this year, with all teams cloistered around the .500 mark and some flawed team limping into October only to be swiftly dispatched by one of their superiors. Minnesota overachieves every year with a thin lineup; they almost made it to the playoffs last year and have added Joe Crede at third base, so they are likely to go further this time around. While most analysts worry about whether or not the Indians have enough pitching (those who aren’t overrating them, that is – the ESPN worship of all things Mark Shapiro has brainwashed a great many people), the real problem comes from a lineup that has had holes in it for years and still does. The fact that the team wouldn’t chase Bobby Abreu when he was going for $5 million in a buyer’s market demonstrates yet again the pathetic lack of commitment from the Dolans. The ChiSox will bash away softball-style again, but many of their key mashers are aging and they don’t really have a true stopper in their rotation. No, Mark Buehrle doesn’t count. Kansas City is improving rapidly and could steal this crappy division. Detroit still doesn’t have nearly enough pitching, in a pitcher’s park no less.

X-Los Angeles Angels 87-75
Oakland 83-79
Texas 79-83
Seattle 70-92

NOTES: Unless the questions involving the health of the rotation last well into the year, the Angels are still the team to beat. The primary questions for the As also stem from the rotation – in their case, the extreme youth of it. In order to keep it close with the Angels, they’ll need to build a decent lead early in the season. Texas also doesn’t have nearly enough pitching, which is the refrain year in and year out, although the farm system allegedly has some help on the way for subsequent seasons. Seattle has taken some impressive steps in the rebuilding process already, and has a potentially excellent 1-2 punch in the rotation, but their lineup is still very slaptastic.

X-Philadelphia 89-73
Y-New York Mets 87-75
Florida 82-80
Atlanta 76-86
Washington 69-93

NOTES: We questioned Philly’s depth of starting pitching last year, even with Joe Blanton, but it turned out to be sufficient. This year could well be different, unless Brett Myers permanently stops underachieving, so the team may need to make a move at the deadline again. Can the Mets be cohesive enough to stop choking at the end or has Carlos Delgado’s loser-itis so poisoned this locker room that they’ll never match the sum of their parts? With the decisive moves made to shore up the bullpen (with probably the best 1-2 punch in the game in the eighth and ninth innings), this year will tell the tale. With their young arms, Florida could well have the best rotation in this division and notwithstanding a lineup of questionable depth, they’re probably the best dark-horse bet in the game as far as stealing a division crown. Atlanta doesn’t have enough pitching or offense to seriously hang, so they’ll probably turn to their outstanding blue-chip minor league players in the second half to get them ready for 2010 and 2011. Washington’s moves to upgrade represent merely a small down payment on what is still needed to field a legitimate major league team day in and day out. The rotation in particular is still woefully deficient.

X-Chicago Cubs 90-72
St. Louis 85-77
Milwaukee 80-82
Cincinnati 79-83
Houston 78-84
Pittsburgh 71-91

NOTES: The Cubs remain the best – and best-balanced – team in the league on paper, but must muster a decent effort once the regular season ends. If St. Louis has a fully healthy rotation, they could make a serious run and perhaps even steal this division. Milwaukee’s lineup continues to improve, but their rotation is now questionable. The ‘Nati has a host of young talent and in a best-case scenario they could battle for the wild card all the way through the season. Houston is spotty in both their pitching and hitting. Pittsburgh could have their best offensive team of the last few years, but the rotation is problematic. It’s always one thing or another with this team.

X-Arizona 87-75
Los Angeles Dodgers 84-78
San Francisco 76-86
Colorado 75-87
San Diego 68-94

NOTES: If the Diamondbacks augment their great 1-2 combo in the rotation and their raw talent throughout the lineup with a great bat at the trading deadline, they could easily make a run at the World Series. For the first time in a very long time, the Dodgers have a better lineup than they do a rotation – and they need to have their pitchers step up if they are to win the West. Speaking of pitchers, San Fran has them, but their lineup still looks putrid. Colorado’s just the opposite, even after the Matt Holliday trade. San Diego still has a great 1-2 punch themselves – everyone is sleeping on Chris Young for some reason – but very little else.


1 Boston
2 New York Yankees
3 Tampa Bay
4 Chicago Cubs
5 Philadelphia
6 New York Mets
7 Los Angeles Angels
8 Arizona

9 St. Louis
10 Los Angeles Dodgers
11 Minnesota
12 Oakland
13 Cleveland
14 Florida
15 Chicago White Sox
16 Kansas City
17 Milwaukee
18 Detroit
19 Cincinnati
20 Texas

21 Houston
22 Atlanta
23 San Francisco
24 Colorado

25 Baltimore
26 Toronto
27 Pittsburgh
28 Seattle
29 Washington
30 San Diego

Boston over Minnesota in 4
Los Angeles Angels over New York Yankees in 5
Chicago Cubs over New York Mets in 4
Arizona over Philadelphia in 5
Boston over Los Angeles Angels in 6
Arizona over Chicago Cubs in 5
Boston over Arizona in 6

AL Rookie of the Year: Matt Wieters
AL Most Valuable Player: Matt Holliday
AL Cy Young Award Winner: Josh Beckett
AL Manager of the Year: Ron Gardenhire
NL Rookie of the Year: Cameron Maybin
NL Most Valuable Player: David Wright
NL Cy Young Award Winner: Johan Santana
NL Manager of the Year: Bob Melvin
World Series MVP: David Ortiz

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