The MLB regular season starts tomorrow.
Guess what else?
Brad Lidge is injured. I know, you're surprised.
Guess what else else?
I'm gonna throw out some predictions for the standings at the end of the season as well as postseason predictions. No stats, no rationality, just straight gut feeling. Here we go:
Red Sox: 96-66 (7 game improvement)
Yankees: 91-71 (4 game dropoff)
Rays: 90-72 (6 game dropoff)
Blue Jays: 83-79 (2 game dropoff)
Orioles: 75-87 (9 game improvement)
Boston added Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford, not to mention getting a bunch of guys back from injury. The Yankees and Rays didn't do anything but lose guys in the offseason, and both bottom-feeders are improving but can't compete with the big boys. Best division in baseball right hurr.
Twins: 91-71 (3 game dropoff)
White Sox: 90-72 (2 game improvement)
Tigers: 83-79 (2 game improvement)
Royals: 70-92 (3 game improvement)
Indians: 68-94 (1 game dropoff)
I'm really high on Francisco Liriano this year for the Twins, and they've got a healthy Justin Morneau and, well, that Mauer guy. The Sox added Adam Dunn and the Tigers added Victor Martinez, so they'll be fine, and the Royals have the best farm system in the league right now and I see them using that to get a couple wins.
Rangers: 86-76 (4 game dropoff)
Athletics: 85-77 (4 game improvement)
Angels: 77-85 (3 game dropoff)
Mariners: 63-99 (2 game improvement)
Yes, the Rangers lost Cliff Lee, but they only had him for half the year and he didn't do very well in Texas anyway! I think Josh Hamilton falls back to earth a little, though, and that allows the solid young pitching of the A's to get into the conversation but fall short. The Angels don't really have much going for them, and the Mariners offense has to be better, right?
Braves: 94-68 (3 game improvement)
Phillies: 92-70 (5 game dropoff)
Mets: 81-81 (2 game improvement)
Marlins: 77-85 (3 game dropoff)
Nationals: 72-90 (3 game improvement)
Color me concerned about the bullpen depth without Brad Lidge and the 3 and 5 spots in the lineup minus Chase Utley and Jayson Werth. I know I predicted 97 wins earlier, but the injuries are already mounting. The Braves have yet another early-season Rookie-of-the-Year candidate in 1B Freddie Freeman, who could combine with Jason Heyward and Dan Uggla for a solid 80 homers this year. Not to mention they've got some nice bullpen arms. The Mets are going to hit just fine this year, although not having Johan Santana will hurt. The Marlins lost Uggla, and Josh Johnson had the injury at the end of last year. The Nationals added Werth, but not having Steven Strasburg, Adam Dunn, or prospect Bryce Harper (at least for a while) will have them saying "wait 'till next year".
Reds: 87-75 (4 game dropoff)
Brewers: 84-78 (7 game improvement)
Cardinals: 81-81 (5 game dropoff)
Cubs: 78-84 (3 game improvement)
Astros: 76-86 (no change)
Pirates: 60-102 (3 game improvement)
The Reds' rotation will be solid and Joey Votto will help keep them afloat, while the Brewers adding Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum will allow them to surge towards the top of the division, but falling short. The Cardinals lost Adam Wainwright for the year and will have to deal with the Pujols drama all year, and that's gonna drain on them. The Cubs and Astros are, you know, whatever, and the Pirates use some of those young position players to move up in the world a little.
Giants: 87-75 (5 game dropoff)
Rockies: 84-78 (1 game improvement)
Dodgers: 82-80 (2 game improvement)
Padres: 80-82 (10 game dropoff)
Diamondbacks: 67-95 (2 game improvement)
The Giants can still pitch (although they might be a little tired), but their rag-tag lineup won't be able to pull off what it did last year. The Rockies will be solid but won't pitch well enough, and the Dodgers will just be inconsistent despite a big year from Andre Ethier and Clayton Kershaw. The Padres lost Adrian Gonzalez and had an unexpectedly great year last year, and I think they'll fall way back to earth. The D'backs bring up the rear, and I gave them a little regression-to-the-mean bonus.
Phillies over Reds, Giants over Braves
Yankees over Twins, Red Sox over Rangers
Phillies over Giants
Red Sox over Yankees
Red Sox over Phillies
Yes, the World Series is super-cliche, but I just can't see the Phils' pitching or the Sox' lineup getting neutralized over the span of a seven-game series. Sadly, the Phils' lineup won't be able to hold its own and the championship experience of Lester, Beckett, and Lackey will prevail in the end.