Alright here are my 2008 MLB Preseason Rankings and Predictions.
1. Red Sox- They are the defending champs. Really they come into this season with almost the same exact team and a few young guys that should show major strides (Ellisbury, Pedroia, Bucholz, Lester) The pitching staff is going to be something to reckon with yet again. Dice-K has a year under his belt, and i think he pitched pretty well his 1st season. It can only get better right? Its kind of odd, David Ortiz and Man Ram had off years compared to what they usually do, yet this team was the best in baseball all year long and still won the WS. Its kind of scary to think what they can do when Ortiz and Manny are hitting HRs like usual. Lowell is not going to produce the same as he did last year. He kind of bailed Manny and Ortiz out last season. Thats not going to happen this time. Dont be suprised if he has a large drop off production wise.
2. Tigers- At this point its a toss up for me between them and the Mets. I pick them because of all the offensive firepower they have. The only weak link in the lineup is Jacque Jones and hes batting 9th. And even he isnt that bad of a hitter when he wants to be. I hear alot on the boards of how people think that they wont be that good because their pitching is horendous. Its not that bad. While ill agree its nowhere near the level of the Red Sox pitching is, its still solid. Verlander is an ace i dont think there is any question. Bonderman at times looked brilliant last year, he just needs to stay healthy. Willis is a solid #3 guy. Hes also only what 25. Rogers brings the veteran leadership that you need. And Robertson is a solid 4-5 guy. The staff isnt that bad. This team is going to put up insane offensive numbers that will make what their rotation does obsolete.
3. Mets- Before they got Santana they were top 5 in my mind. With all the young talent they got how can they not be here? Really their only weakness was the pitching staff. Maine emerged as the ace of the staff last year. Hes young and can only improve. Perez actually had a solid season. He needs to be a little more under control on the mound and he will revert back to that 220 K season he had in Pitt. And then you give Mike Pelfrey another year of MLB experience. And then toss in the best pitcher in baseball. This team is all around good now. They really dont have one glaring weakness.
4. Indians- They were able to do what they did last year with Hafner hitting awful. If he can improve slightly on that this season this team will be that much better. Im liking the way young Ryan Garko is progressing. While his power numbers werent anything to gawk at he hit for a solid average and played good defense last year as the everyday 1B. Grady Sizemore gets better every season. The pitching staff is pretty deep. It wil be interesting to see if Adam Miller can finally make the squad after battling injuries the past few seasons. The kid has immense talent. It will be an all out brawl between them and the Tigers for the AL Central.
5. Phillies- The pitching is their only problem. They have 3 MVP Candidates in that lineup. Cole Hamels is really the only consistent pitcher they have right now. I dont see Myers making a return to the rotation anytime soon. He pitched pretty well in that closers position last season. Kyle Kendrcik wasnt bad last year, i think after Hamels hes really the only guy they can rely on every 5th start. Adding Geoff Jenkins helps alot more than it looks. Hes always been a 25-30 HR guy. Now he gives guys like Burell and Howard a little more cushion. Unless they add a solid arm at the deadline i dont see this team making any noise in the playoffs.
6. Yankees- The biggest question is the pitching. Where will they put Joba, what will Phil Hughes do? Big questions. They need Hughes to stay healthy and be a main contributor in the rotation. I can almost guarantee Clemens wont be wearing pinstripes any time soon. So theyre one down already. Wang has established himself as the ace. But the middle of the rotation is really shaky. Maybe they will cruise by and into the playoffs again this season but its going to be tough.
7. Cubs- I put them ahead of the Angels not because im biased, but because i like out pitching staff a little better. With the addition of Jon Lieber we now have 5-6 guys that we know are going to throw 175+ innings this season. Thats huge. There are so many teams in the leauge that can barely get one. Now a days pitching isnt just becoming about ERA and Ks. A big part of it especially in the back end of the rotation is sturdiness. How many innings can you give me? Also the bullpen is looking like one of the best in the bigs. Its been awhile since i can say that. Marmol was a man beast last season. Id like them to give him a shot at the rotation but i dont see that happening. Kerry Wood is a good SU/CL. And Kevin Hart is a very good young arm. Also you add in Howry who is a work horse. Hitting wise, i expect Soriano to do better especially in Wrigley. he should be hitting close to 45-50 HRs. Any thing that Fukudome brings to the table is a plus. He will be better than the platoon of Cliff Floyd and Murton last year. So just with the addition of him the OF improved. Also Lee had a down year power wise as did A-Ram. If those guys can pick it up the slightest bit i think we will be a team to be reckoned with.
8. Angels- They still have a solid team year in year out. Vlad looks like hes slipping a bit but hes still one of the best overall hitters in the game. Brandon Wood really needs to tap into his potential this season. His call up last year was a disgrace. He was supposed to be the next big SS prospect he hasnt shown it yet. He will get his chance to be the everyday SS with Cabrera gone, he needs to perform. The pitching staff is solid. Ervin Santana really needs to have a bounce back year. He looked better down the stretch but it still wasnt the same we saw his rookie year. I dont see Escobar repeating last season. I think hes a solid 2 or 3 guy but i cant see him dominating again. Lackey seems to improve every season. This team will be good for years to come, but will they be WS good?
9. Rockies- I like them over the D-Backs because they have better hitting to go along with decent pitching. Francis looks like an ace in the making especially after his playoff performance. Jimenez should have a very nice season that curveball is wicked esepcially going with that 100 mph fastball he should be a solid #2. The problem is after that they dont have much consistency. Morales is a good young arm but he hasnt shown his potential yet. Aaron Cook is good for about 160 innings and a 4 era. Wich now a days isnt bad but besides Francis he is their only veteran pitcher. But we all know how good the lineup and the defense is, the pitchers just cant give up too many HRs and they should be ok.
10. Diamondbacks- I love their staff and the defense. But unless Upton really shines this year the lineup is nothing to be excited about. Chris Young is good, but he needs to improve that .232 BA especially batting leadoff. Eric Byrnes was their best hitter last season. Thats not good. While i like Byrnes, he cant be your best hitter. Stephen Drew also needs to improve on his hitting. This team will make the playoffs and possibly win the NL West but i dont see any chance of them making noise in the postseason. Losing Valverde really hurts.
11. Dodgers- Just by adding Joe Torre this team imroves. Also you throw in Andruw Jones and give Loney and LaRoche another year to improve the lineup looks scary. The only flaw is their pitching. Penny at the top is good and Lowe as a #2 isnt bad. I really like Billingsley the kid is a stud. But i will guarantee that Schmidt will make a trip to the DL at least once. And who knows what Kuroda can actually do. I dont think hes anywhere near Matsuzaka material. Id say more like Kei Igawa. And after those 2 guys your looking at Loaiza who hasnt done much of anything since that 20 win season. And then really a bunch of unproven guys. The NL West is going to get pretty crowded this season.
12. Braves- I put them below the Dodgers because they lost Renteria. But this team is still solid up and down. They dont really have one glaring flaw. They have some unproven guys that are gonna get the shot to start this year (Escobar, Johnson, Diaz). But the 3-6 in the lineup are among the best in baseball. This team is going to score runs we know that. They need better defense if they wanna have any shot at challenging the Mets. The staff is solid you have a good 1-4 but the 5th spot is a bit of a toss up. Well see what Reyes can do and maybe Hampton can finally pitch a whole season who knows.
13. Brewers- You know people bash the NL and say it pales in comparison to the AL. Thats not really true. The AL is very top heavy. But the NL is very deep, they have alot of solid teams. For the Brewers, the loss of Gallardo hurts a bit. Hopefully hell be back by starting day, but they said thats unlikely. Sheets will make at least one trip to the DL before the season is over. There is no question that they have the young talent, but they dont have leadership that gets you through August and September. Geoff Jenkins really was their only veteran leader last year, and they let him go. So really its a bunch of kids trying to win a divsion. I dont see it happening. Especially because the pitching staff really isnt that deep. They added Gagne which will do nothing. And they traded one of the best SU/MR guys in Linebrink.
14. Padres- We all know how good that staff is. But they still dont have any great hitters. Adrian Gonzalez really needs to have a MVP type season for this team to contend. Because after him they really dont have anything. They let Cameron walk. They are going to have to rely on young guys like Headly and Kouzmanoff to provide more run support. And while those guys are good, i dont think they can do it. Adding Jim Edmonds i dont think does much of anything. He may provide a little more power but hes getting close to being done and at this point he cant be relied on as your second best hitter.
15. Mariners- The bullpen is good. JJ Putz was one of the best closers last season. But even with the additon of Bedard im not 100% sold on the starting rotation. Bedard and Hernandez is a good 1-2. Im anxious to see if Batista can perform on the level he did last season. But after him you got Washburn and Silva. Washburn doesnt do much. Hes basically just an inning eater. And the only thing Silva is good for is not walking people. Richie Sexson needs to do alot better if this team is going to have any realistic shot.
16. Astros- The lineup looks scary. But their main question is how will the rotation hold up after Oswalt. There is no doubt hes one of the top pitchers in the game. But Wandy Rodriguez as your #2? I keep hearing about how good hes supposed to be, well he hasnt shown it yet. And after him Backe, Williams, and Sampson? Its not looking to promising. And they really dont have any young arms they can call up for help. It will be interesting to see how it pans out. The addition of Valverde really helps out.
17. Blue Jays- Every year i look at this team and they look so promising to start the season. And they always start off really good, but falter torward mid season. They add Rolen and Eckstein who should hopefully give them the veteran leadership they need to get over the top. The pitching staff looks very good. They have a very good 1-4. And if Chacin can pitch like he did his rookie season and stay healthy then they may just have a top 5 rotation. The bullpen is the ? though. Losing Ryan last year really hurt. He says hell be back the 1st month. Well see how effective he can be. Im guessing he wont be so good right away if at all this season.
18. Devil Rays- Call me crazy if you want to. But i really like this team. Yes this may be a little high for them, but they've been stock piling this talent for so many years. I think it finally pays off. Upton finally made the impact expected of him. Evan Longoria is an absolute stud. Hes got it all. I think hes better than Ryan Braun, because hes a much better fielder. The lineup has been solid for some time. The biggest problem was the pitching. But now with the emergence of Kazmir and Shields, and the addition of Garza, its not looking so bad. You also got Edwin Jackson who has the stuff to be an ace just not the mentality yet. And Sonnastine who last year was a good young prospect and at times showed some real promise. I think this team is going to make big strides this season.
19. Reds- All the young talent is finally coming up. Joey Votto looked really impressive in his debut torwards the end of the year. Homer Bailey didnt. This guy was supposedly the top pitching prospect last season. He really dissapointed in the bigs. Hes gonna be a full time starter this season. He needs to show all that talent that hes got. Jay Bruce is crazy good at the age of 20. And with all the injury problems the in the OF the Reds have been having expect him to get called up very early. They added Volquez who was also a top young pitcher and has fluttered over the past seasons. But here he will get his chance. You combine those 2 young kids with Harang an Arroyo, the rotation doesnt look that bad.
20. White Sox- I like them over the Twins because they didnt go on a selling spree this season. Maybe they should have, but Kenny Williams promised Hunter and Rowand would come to Chicago. Well neither did and he was left looking like an idiot. He tried to make up for that by trading for Swisher, but hes not really that good. He brings power and nothing else. This team alreay has enough bad hitters so they added another .250 guy???
21.Cardinals- What are they left with? Rolen, Eckstein and Edmonds are all gone. Pujols is good but he cant do it by himself. Troy Glaus isnt anything to be thrilled about. And the OF looks bad. Can Ankiel continually produce on a day by day basis? The only thing that will save the OF is if Colby Rasmus gets called up and has Hunter Pence like numbers. But thats not likely considering hes only 21. So rebuilding year? I think so.
22. Twins- While they sold everything, they still have a decent team. They added future phenom Delmon Young who will produce right away, and a bunch of young players that could see some action this season. This team may end up being exciting down the stretch when all those young players start getting called up.
23. Marlins- They seem to still be decent even after a fire sale. Hanley Ramirez is the 2nd best SS in baseball. What would really help is if their young pitchers got off the DL sometime this year and whent back to pitching like they were. While that is unlikely, this team wont be horid. They have oodles of young talent that could be exciting come years end.
24. Royals- They added Jose Guillen and it looks like over the past 2 seasons they are looking to get better other ways that through the farm system. Gil Meche had a nice season. His record was bad but thats what you get for playing on the Royals. Greinke finally returned to the rotation and looked ok. He needs to better especially with all the expectations that were given him. This team should make strides.
25. Pirates- I like them over the other teams because they are not rebuilding. They have a very good young staff. A decent lineup. So they are set for the future they just need to be able to hang onto some of these guys.
NL West winner- Rockies
NL Central winner- Cubs
NL East winner- Mets
Wild Card- Dodgers
AL East- Red Sox
AL Central- Tigers
AL West- Angels
Wild Card- Indians
NL Playoffs- Mets over Dodgers. Cubs over Rockies
Cubs over Mets
Al Playoffs- Red Sox over Indians. Tigers over Angels
Red Sox over Tigers
WS- Cubs over Red Sox
Okay so maybe im a little biased but hey thats not really that far out there. IT COULD HAPPEN.