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Season Preview

In honor of opening day, I thought I'd post a few thoughts about each division.

American League East: For something like the last five years, the AL East has stacked up NY, Boston, Toronto, Baltimore and Tampa Bay. While there's been a fair amount of shakeup in the divison since last season, I don't really expect things to change this year. New York's lineup is overwhelmingly good, and Joe Torre isn't wasting his time with guys like Tony Womack. Obviously, there are a lot of questions about the rotation, but I'm guessing the starters will stay healthy enough to pull out the divison. Boston will challenge, but when Mark Loretta is your best hitting infielder, you know you're in trouble--the Red Sox will settle for the Wild Card (again). Toronto will be better, but not nearly as much better as spending $100 million should have made them. Baltimore and Tampa will be Baltimore and Tampa.

American League Central: Top to bottom, the best divison in baseball. It might be a year too early still, but my hunch is that the dynasty in Cleveland will begin this year. Hafner, Sizemore, Martinez, Peralta-that's a pretty good core, and there's enough pitching to get them to the divison title. Chicago will finish a close second and miss the playoffs-they're good, but this is a tough division and the White Sox bullpen, a strength last year, is looking like it may have a lot of question marks. The Twins will beat out the Tigers for third, and the Royals will be the worst team in the AL by a long shot.

American League West: Oakland looks solid in all aspects of the game, and their overall balance and superior starting pitching should be enough to win the division. The Angels are still a great team, but Vlad won't be able to carry the offense by himself this year. Texas will score a lot of runs and give up almost as many, and Seattle fans will enjoy watching Felix Hernandez imitate Doc Gooden (the last time a pitcher this young was this good) and not much else.

In the playoffs, Cleveland will beat Boston in 4, and Oakland will finally beat New York to set up an A's/Indians ALCS, which Oakland will win.

MVP: Travis Hafner
Cy Young: Barry Zito
ROY: Ian Kinsler

National League East: Honestly, I have no idea who will win the NL East. The Braves, Mets and Phillies will be close all year. Ultimately, if the Mets' pitchers stay healthy, I think they'll pull it out. Atlanta will finish second (missing their pitching coach) with the Wild Card, and the Phillies third. A Triple-A Florida team will beat out the gloriously mismanaged Nationals, who were better off when they were owned by no one.

National League Central: The easiest division race to call--unless Albert goes down, the Cards should cruise to another title here. The Brewers will beat out the Cubs and Stros for second, and Cincinnati will continue to evolve into the Texas Rangers of the National League. Pittsburgh will make Royals fans feel better about themselves.

National League West: Another crapshoot divison. I'll go with San Diego in a close one over LA and San Fran. The most exciting event in the NL west will be when Barry Bonds breaks Babe Ruth's record on the road and has objects thrown on the field at him. Probably needles. Arizona should have their own dynasty in a couple years but not in 2006. The Rockies will continue to hope that maybe, just maybe Jeff Francis and Aaron Cook will be a couple of guys who can pitch in Colorado. They will be disappointed.

Playoffs: Cardinals over the Braves, Mets over San Diego. In the NLCS, Pujols takes Wagner deep in game 7 to clinch the series. In the world series, Dan Haren and Kiko Calero pitch lights out, Mulder gets shelled and the A's win in six.

NL MVP: Albert Pujols
Cy Young: Jake Peavy
ROY: Prince Fielder


Yep, we'll have a dynasty.

Oh, and Tracy...can't forget Tracy.

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