2007 MLB Predictions
by Robert Ferringo - 03/26/2007
Oh yeah, baseball.
Over the past several weeks there has been so much attention focused on college basketball and the NCAA Tournament, not to mention the upcoming NFL Draft, that a lot of gamblers may have overlooked the fact that Major League Baseball is actually less than a week away.
That's right: another season of blown saves, base stealing threats, pitchouts, walk offs, double plays, missed signs, rally killing catches, Joe Morgan and Alberto Castillo. It's going to be a laugh riot and a daily grind. I, for one, can't wait. Since I'm one of the few baseball fans that the MLB does care about - translation: I have DirectTV - I have the Extra Innings package and am looking forward to watching my Mets run roughshod over the National League East again this season. It's made especially sweet by the fact that I live in the heart of Braves country.
I don't put much stock in preseason baseball predictions. To me, they're the most worthless of all sports prognostications because by October everyone's going to be so wrapped up in football that they won't care who John Kruk thought would win the World Series or whom Buster Olney thought would win the American League Cy Young. I know I won't be thinking about it.
Instead, I care about knowing who's going to be better this year than they were last year. So while my preseason predictions may seem curious in some spots and square in others, it's all in an attempt to get you thinking outside the box and focusing on teams and subplots outside the usually Yankees-Red Sox, Los Angeles-San Francisco mumbo jumbo. And my best advice for right now is this: do everything you can to think creatively about the first month of the baseball season, and avoid a common betting fallacy that the general public seems to fall into every season - playing teams early in the year expecting them to perform like they did at the end of the previous year.
So now that we got all that out of the way we can get to my 2007 MLB predictions:
American League East: New York Yankees
This could be one of the last go-rounds for the aging Yankees. The farm system has run dry and guys like Mo Rivera, George Posada and even Derek Jeter aren't getting any younger. I think they have enough starting pitching for one last crack at it, but holding off the Sox and the upstart Blue Jays and Devil Rays won't be as easy as it was five years ago.
American League Central: Cleveland Indians
In my mind this is the best division in baseball. I think the Tigers pitching staff is going to feel the effects of logging so many innings last year and expect some dead arms by June. Minnesota finally has some offense, but after Johan Santana there's a dearth of serious starters. Chicago is a shell of its championship self and I expect an Ozzie Guillen implosion within the first seven weeks of the seasons. So that leads to Cleveland. They were a trendy pick last year, and I think that potential is still there. They need a closer and a shortstop, but I get the impression that general manager Mark Shapiro is going to do some wheeling and dealing. Call this my hunch play.
American League West: Anaheim Angels
What a wild, wacky and whimsical division this will be. I have a gut feeling about Seattle - Ichiro is in a contract year and some journeymen could be due for a bounce back - but I'm going to go with Anaheim over Oakland because Oakland is a couple poorly timed injuries away from becoming a 90-loss team. As far as Texas, let's just say that Sammy Sosa's involvement with the organization doesn't exactly ooze confidence.
AL MVP: Joe Mauer, Minnesota
AL Cy Young: Felix Hernandez, Seattle
AL Rookie of the Year: Alex Gordon, Kansas City
AL Manager of the Year: Eric Wedge, Cleveland
Potential AL Money Teams: Cleveland, Toronto, Boston and Seattle.
National League East: New York Mets
As long as the injury bug doesn't bite, the Mets have the best lineup and the best bullpen in the National League. If they could run away with the division last year while trotting out guys like Jose Lima, I think they can manage this season with John Maine and Oliver Perez. Philly is still desperate for bullpen help and Atlanta doesn't have the frontline talent it once did. Florida is skilled, but young and probably prone to a brutal start. Beyond that is Washington, still broken hearted and scarred for their one-night stand with Alfonso Soriano.
National League Central: Milwaukee Brewers
What an absolute goddamn disaster this division will be. Right now I'm posting a tremendous "STAY AWAY" sign to all bettors through April and a fair portion of May. We've got to see who is for real and who is going to end up as one of the worst teams in the league.
The Brewers are everyone's sleeper pick - which naturally means that it can't possibly come to fruition. However, I do like their starting pitching and I've heard that closer Derrick Turnbow has his mojo back.
St. Louis is due for a severe drop off this season. Edmonds and Rolen are gimpy and aging, Tony LaRussa is a drunk and Albert Pujols is a prick. Bad karma. But in truth, I think that St. Louis has been working so hard for that elusive championship for the better part of the last 12 years. Now that they finally reached the mountaintop I think that complacency will set in.
As for the rest - I think the Pirates will be better than expected (and a very good money team), I think the Cubs will do what the Cubs do (disappoint) and I believe that Houston is just too thin at too many positions to compete for the entire season. Also, Cincinnati is the Mariners of the National League.
National League West: Los Angeles Dodgers
Naturally, there are questions about the Dodgers offense. But that doesn't make them unique in this Dead Ball Era division. When healthy, they may have the best top-to-bottom pitching staff in the league. But health is always an issue and this team will need to find some ancient Chinese healing methods to keep their boys off the disabled list.
San Diego is still a threat and San Francisco will hang around. But I think the Padres have an even weaker lineup than the Dodgers and the Giants don't have the arms in the bullpen. Look for a bit of improvement out of the Diamondbacks as well. If some of their young players get their growing pains out of the way then Arizona could be back in the mix in 2008.
NL MVP: Carlos Lee, Houston
NL Cy Young: Carlos Zambrano, Chicago
NL Rookie of the Year: Troy Tulowitzki, Colorado
NL Manager of the Year: Ned Yost, Milwaukee
NL Money Team: Cincinnati, Atlanta, Milwaukee and Colorado (totals only).
Questions or comments for Robert? E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org or check out his Insider Page here.