Wednesday, April 05, 2006


2006 MLB Season Preview

OK, so I did off-season reviews for everyone but the NL West. You can read them here, here, here, here and here.

I really wanted to do a super-detailed post like last year's , but there just isn't time, so here's the quick'n'dirty predictions.

AL East: I think the Blue Jays are, on paper, better than the Red Sox this year. The Sox offense can be controlled if Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz don't have runners on base to knock in. I think the Jays can do damage from anywhere in their order. However, they're playing for the wild card. I think the Yankees have a pretty special team this year. I expect Randy Johnson to be much improved in his second year in NY and Johnny Damon is going to have a huge impact at the top of the order. 150 runs scored by Damon this year is not inconceivable. I also expect the Devil Rays to finish ahead of Baltimore and Miguel Tejada to be elsewhere by the trade deadline.

Predicted order of finish: Yankees, Blue Jays, Red Sox, Devil Rays, Orioles.

AL Central: The Indians are the darling pick this year, but there's a lot risk here. C.C. Sabathia has already gone on the DL, Bob Wickman is an injury risk and there is the potential of sophomore slumps for Jhonny Peralta and others. The White Sox were the better team last year and the changes they made (Javier Vazquez for Orlando Hernandez, Jim Thome for Frank Thomas) are all improvements. If Brian Anderson can handle centre field, the Sox should run away with the division. Minnesota and Detroit will have a battle for third. Detroit could backslide this year in terms of wins, but that's just because other teams improved so dramatically. Kansas City should just stimk on general principle.

Predicted order of finish: White Sox, Indians, Twins, Tigers, Royals.

AL West: This should be a fun division. I think the Angels are weaker this year and will be passed by the A's, who have much better pitching. Texas took some big strides forward, pitching-wise, this offseason but took a major hit losing Adam Eaton until the All-Star Break. Seattle is coming on strong, and may pass Texas this year, but it'll be next year they contend for the division title.

Predicted order of finish: A's, Angels, Mariners, Rangers.

NL East: A lot of predictions I have read this year favour either the Braves or Phillies this year. I think the Braves are thin on offense and Philly's starting pitching is thin. I am leaning in the direction of the Mets, but this is a division loaded with ifs. If Chipper Jones stays healthy, if Andruw Jones' numbers are closer to 2005 levels than 2004, if John Thomson comes back strong and if Chris Reitsma or Joey Devine can become a reliable closer, the Braves can win this. If Philly's starting pitching is better than advertised, if Tom Gordon can hold up as closer, if Ryan Howard doesn't have a sophomore slump and if the Phils can land a solid #1 starter in exchange for Bob Abreu, the Phils can win. If Billy Wagner, Pedro Martinez and Steve Trachsel stay healthy, if David Wright and Jose Reyes continue trending up and if the clubhouse holds together, the Mets win. The Nats and Marlins go into the season knowing they have no hope of making the playoffs, so it will be interesting to see how things play out in those two cities. I still see good things happening in Florida and Washigton dismantling at the deadline.

Predicted order of finish: Mets, Phillies, Braves, Nats, Marlins.

NL Central: St. Louis still wins, but the Cubs and Brewers will close the gap. I really like Milwaukee this year, with better-than-average starting pitching (especially once Ben Sheets is healthy), a plus closer and a great offense made up of up-and-coming youngsters and experienced veterans. The Cubs have a good setup for the top of the order, but need Kerry Wood and Mark Prior. Houston will struggle this year, with or without Clemens (but I like their chances better with him) and Pittsburgh is a year away yet. Cincy could compete, if they could find some pitching.

Predicted order of finish: Cardinals, Cubs, Brewers, Astros, Pirates, Reds.

NL West: 82 wins will not win the division this year. Assuming San Francisco stays healthy and the Bonds Circus doesn't swallow the team whole, they have a shot. Chris Young should be really good following Jake Peavy in San Diego this year and, as they learn how to play at Petco, the Padres should enjoy one of the more significant home field advantages in the majors. Arizona will muddle along this year, as will Colorado. The wild card is the Dodgers. They made some great moves in the offseason, particularly signing Rafael Furcal away from Atlanta. The Dodgers are a talented team, but they always get burned by intangibles and/or injuries. Says here it happens again this year.

Predicted order of finish: Padres, Giants, Dodgers, Diamondbacks, Rockies.

So the division winners are: Yankees, White Sox, A's in the AL. Mets, Cardinals, Padres in the NL. AL Wild Card will be Toronto. NL Wild Card will be Philly.

Division Series:

White Sox over Blue Jays
Yankees over A'
Cardinals over Phillies
Mets over Padres


Yankees over White Sox
Cardinals over Mets

World Series:

Yankees over Cardinals