Sunday, April 03, 2005

National League Predictions

This is a little harder for me than the AL because I don't have any NL-only fantasy teams. But whatever.

An interesting and very tight division with 4 out of 5 teams having a legitimate shot.

1. Atlanta, 93 wins
Never pick against the Braves. Leo Mazzone should be the first pitching coach in the Hall of Fame. A lot rides on Smoltz staying healthy but the staff should be good enough with Hudson as the leader. Bullpen looks solid. Not much production at 1B but there's enough around to make up for it with Estrada, Andruw and Chipper, and Furcal. At lot also rides on Raul Mondesi, which wouldn't make me feel all that confident if I were a Braves fan. Still, never doubt Cox and Mazzone.

2. Philadelphia, 91 wins.
At last Larry Bowa is gone. I think this could be a pretty good team. But I think that they also won't actually do that. For the second straight season, people are saying that Pat Burrell will make it back to his 2003 totals. We'll see. Starting pitching has some questions. I guess Lieber's the ace. It's time for Brett Myers to really step up if that's the case. Wagner is of course a fine closer. Rollins is a top SS and with Thome, Abreu, etc. they should be fine. Chase Utley should be a nice 2B as well. If the pitching steps up, they could easily win the division.

3. Florida, 88 wins. A pretty solid team who could also easily win the division. A lot rides of Burnett, Beckett, and Willis being solid and healthy all year. Time for Dontrelle to gain some consistency and start playing to his potential. Carlos Delgado was a nice offensive addition to go with Pierre, Castillo, and Lowell. A slugging 1B was one thing they really lacked last year after moving along Derek Lee. It's hard to pick them 3rd and somehow I think they will finish higher. Over which of the 2 top teams, I don't know.

4. New York, 78 wins. I don't like this team as much as everyone else. Beltran's a great signing but they are relying on Pedro to be 1999 Pedro and that's just not going to happen. It was the perfect time for Boston to be done with him. The loss of Steve Trachsel actually hurts this team a lot since they have a lot of potential in that staff but a lot of questions too and Trachsel is always a solid fourth starter. Glavine and Pedro are aging, Kris Benson is a great underachiever, and I guess this could be the year that Victor Zambrano breaks out but would you want to place money on that? I didn't think so. With Piazza at catcher, every team should get 5 SBs a game. The infield is frankly weak and the OF is above average but not so far to make up for the other questions this team has.

5. Washington, 64 wins. Thank God this team is out of Montreal. At least people might come to see them in Washington. Now if only they weren't owned by MLB. The thing that worries me about this team is that they aren't particularly young or particularly good. If I were a Devil Rays fan, I would have a bit of hope but not if I were a Nationals fan. How are they going to get better by signing players like Vinny Castilla and Christian Guzman? I wish them luck because they are going to need it.

Always a tricky division to pick. The combination of lots of bad teams with top teams historically prone to failure makes this interesting. But #1 this year is quite clear.

1. St. Louis, 87 wins.
I don't like this team as much as a lot of people. I am still worried about Mark Mulder's decline last year and I'm not sure he is the ace St. Louis needs. After him we are looking at Matt Morris and Chris Carpenter which could be really good if they both stay healthy, but what are the chances of that? The hitting should be great again with Edmonds, Pujols, Rolen, Walker, etc. But I don't like the David Eckstein signing at all. I guess if you need neither good hitting or fielding from your shortstop, this is the player for you.

2. Chicago, 84 wins.
Another team I don't like a great deal. I mean if Prior and Wood can stay healthy all year they could be great but they are already having problems. Zambrano could really become the ace of this staff this year and Maddux should be good for at least 12 wins. The bullpen is a mess though and the OF is subpar. The infield should be quite good though with Garciaparra healthy, Lee, and Ramirez. But this is not enough for them to win the division.

3. Milwaukee, 81 wins
I do like this Brewers team. They fleeced the White Sox in the Carlos Lee trade. This provides some protection for Geoff Jenkins who will likely have a better year. Lyle Overbay is a year older. I like their starting pitching with Doug Davis, Ben Sheets and Chris Capuano. Bullpen could be shaky. J.J. Hardy is taking over at SS which could turn out well or it could take some time. This is probably not the year for this team. But maybe in 2007 when players like Prince Fielder and Rickie Weeks are on the team, they could be really good.

4. Houston, 79 wins.
A team that took a serious decline in the offseason. Berkman got hurt and is out for a couple of months, they lost Beltran, let Wade Miller go for some reason, and overall just aren't very good anymore. Oswalt is great and maybe Clemens can go strong for another year and Pettite stay healthy. But that's too many maybes for me. What went right? Um, they signed John Franco...

5. Pittsburgh, 70 wins.
A young team that still has too many holes to compete. Really nice young pitching led by Oliver Perez and the rise of John Van Benschoten and Sean Burnett. 2007 could be a good year for Pirates fans if these 3 stay healthy and progress as planned. Jason Bay is the anchor of the batters and that's probably asking too much of him.

6. Cincinnati, 66 wins.
Playing in that park is not helping a team whose pitching is questionable anyway. For the Reds, Ramon Ortiz and Eric Milton are actually upgrades. Not good. OF should be solid of course if the injuries are limited to the 1 needed to get Wily Mo Pena in the lineup. But hey, they signed Joe Randa to be their 3B. What could go wrong there?

A slightly down division but one that will probably rebound pretty quickly to a high state of competition.

1. San Diego, 89 wins.
I like this young Padres team. Led by Giles, Greene, Nevin, Burroughs, and Klesko they should be above average in batting, though perhaps hurt a bit statistically by their pitching-friendly ballpark. A lot rides on how pitchers like Adam Eaton and Jake Peavy do. If they continue to develop, winning the division is a real possibility.

2. Los Angeles, 85 wins.
I guess this team is pretty good, but I'm not sure why. Jeff Kent might have been a nice signing but he's pretty old. Derek Lowe might have been a nice signing, but he's an inconsistent pain in the ass. J.D. Drew might have been a nice signing but he's had one good year and is usually hurt. So I guess if all of these mights turn out right they could be a very solid team.

3. San Francisco, 80 wins.
Bonds hurt and even more sullen than usual. Ancient team--Durham, Alfonso, Snow, Vizquel, Grissom, Alou. A lot of potential for 04Mariner type of decline here.

4. Arizona, 68 wins.
Not a very good team but one that should improve some this year. Signing of Glaus could be great if he actually stays healthy. Signing of Russ Ortiz was incredibly stupid. But hey, like Chan Ho Park his last year in LA, I'm sure those terrible road numbers are just a fluke. It's time for Chad Tracy and Alex Cintron to become solid regulars and Brandon Webb to come back from his terrible year, all of which I believe is likely. If so they could be in pretty good shape by 2007.

5. Colorado, 60 wins.
A disaster of a franchise. They still haven't figured out how to win in Colorado and now their fans are starting to abandon the franchise. They have some potential in their young pitching, but can those guys survive Coors Field? Going with guys like Clint Barmes and Garett Atkins probably makes sense since the team is so terrible anyway but will they build with these guys?

MVP: Albert Pujols, St. Louis
Cy Young: Tim Hudson, Atlanta
HR Leader: Albert Pujols
Rookie of the Year: Chris Burke, Houston