Thursday, March 31, 2011

Are you ready for some Baseball???

After a layoff that seems as long as the season itself, we’re finally ready to throw out the first pitch and none too soon as I was growing weary of the Pujols contract talks and I’m already sick of the Bonds’ trial. Unlike the NFL and NBA there wasn’t a labor strike looming to steal the season away but rather injuries have already dimmed the hopes of some clubs. So, amid the story lines to start this season will are the Giants quest to make the jump from Cinderella to the first NL Repeat champion since the Big Red Machine in 75-76. Yes, it’s been that long since we’ve had a dominant National League club. In the AL is this the last ride of the ‘four horseman’? As A-Rod, DJ, Super Mariano, and Jorge try to get back to show one more time. With those as two of the storylines, let’s look at our choices for the division winners:

NL WEST – Los Angeles Dodgers Let’s start things off with the upset of the season. Finally out from under the shadow of Super Joe, Donny Ballgame will make a name for himself this season as the LA will get some pitching to stay healthy to go along with that consistent hitting. The signings of Kemp and Loney in the midst of a funds freeze was a catalyst to galvanizing the club and that will pay dividends this year. The Mannywood drama is long over but the McCorts are still in the courts and that can’t be good for the Dodgers. Despite all of the Hollywood sub-plots this is a sold ball club that will be this season’s surprise.

NL EAST – Philadelphia Phillies
Are these guys starting to remind you of the 90’s Atlanta Braves? I mean they have more arms in their lineup than most third-world countries, and with the addition of Cliff Lee are the favorites to take down their fifth consecutive NLE title. The perfect combination of “Arms and Hammers” Philly has plenty of power on offense to supply plenty of run support. The big question mark facing the Phills is can they stay healthy enough fulfill expectations?

NL Central – Cincinnati Reds
I thought they were the team no one wanted to play near the end of last season and they only look stronger to start the 2011 campaign. They may get out of the box a little slowly because of the injury to Cueto bit the rest that rotation of Volquez, Bailey, Arroyo, Wood, and Leake is second only to the team we just mentioned.

AL West – Oakland A's
Our second upset, as we don’t think the Rangers will be back for seconds, perhaps as the wild card but not as the division winner as that will come from the Bay Area. The A’s will also get out of the gates slowly as a shortage of RHP may take its toll. Rich Harden and Andrew Bailey will be on the 15-Day DL to start the season but Brett Anderson, Trevor Cahill, Gio Gonzalez, and Dallas Braden will provide plenty of support to hold them over until week 3. The big question facing the A’s is can they manufacture enough runs as they were 26th in the league last season in slugging pct., 17th in average, and 23rd in runs scored. They added Josh Willingham from the Nats, who’s consistency will be need, and he will start in the 3 spot, followed by Godzilla the crafty vet that needs to stay healthy, and then David Dejesus. If Coco Crisp can play 2/3 at lead off the A’s will be tough to beat.

AL East – Boston Red Sox
Man did these guys re-load or what? Last year the Sox were in the top three of the four major offensive categories last season and have added Crawford to an already potent line-up that is top to bottom the best in the league. The question mark in Beantown are a couple of questionable starters in the rotation but other than that Boston is our pick to come of the division formerly known as Yankeeville.

AL Central - Chicago White Sox
Yes, Ozzie and his gang will be back again at the end of this season another club with a starter that will be out with an injury as Jake Peavy will miss the beginning of he season but like many we’ve mentioned the Sox have the depth to pick up the slack and stick in the lineup to make up for a multitude of deficiencies. Offensively they’re pack quite a punch but I for one can’t wait to see Ozzie keep that clubhouse from igniting and going up in flames when Manny and Ozzie but heads.
Who do you think will take the flag in each division?

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