Philadelphia Phillies: Despite some early injuries (see: Chase Utley), the Phillies four-headed pitching monster will propel them to the playoffs, and likely more. I don’t see this staff having an combined ERA over 3.50, and the top four should all be under that. The offense is going to have come at some point though, because as we see in Miami, a few stars and a bunch of hooligans doesn’t entirely work. Rollins and Howard have to have bounceback years.
Atlanta Braves: Jason Heyward, Freddie Freeman and Tommy Hanson will be the core of this team for years to come. The only question is when they will dethrone the scary Phillies. Don’t expect it this year, though this team could make a run as a wild card. Dan Uggla was a big addition.
Florida Marlins: Significant drop-off from numbers 2-3 here. Florida has some stuff in place, but how long will it be until they have to trade HanRam and Josh Johnson? For 2011 at least, this team should hold its own. I was at a Marlins game last year, (this one:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k-_BCaxMnPg&feature=related) and their fans suck. I mean, it was dead silent in there. You could hear Nyjer Morgan from inside the clubhouse.
New York Mets: On paper, this offense is good, with the likes of Beltran, Bay, Reyes, Wright and Ike Davis sporting Mets uniforms. But their catcher is Thole, their second baseman is their Rule 5 draft pick from the Jays, and their ace is Mike Pelfrey. Sorry Queens, not this year.
Washington Nationals: Hope lies in the minors and the DL, with super-phenoms Stpehen Strasburg and Bryce Harper. Just a matter of waiting it out for them. While we’re at it, I’ll take the time to introduce the newest contributor, Alex Bogach, to the now three guy team on Two Guys and a Sports Blog. You can check out some of his other stuff on his facebook page, definitely worth a read.
Are the saviours here yet?
Record: 71-91, meaning the $126m man leads to two more wins.
St. Louis Cardinals: Despite losing Adam Wainwright to the evil Dr. James Andrews, I think that the Cardinals will still take this division back, if not due to the futility of the rest of the teams here. Chris Carpenter and Jaime Garcia are still a great 1-2 punch, as are Pujols and Holliday in the field. Pujols will have a career year in his contract year, and lead the Cards back to the playoffs. (Sidenote: I think Pujols chases the money this year offseason, and I think that the Cards will appease to his $300m demands, because if they don’t, the Yankees will. I hope he doesn’t Lebron them though).
Cincinnati Reds: A year after a shocking division win and playoff appearance, the Reds regress a little bit. Last year the stars aligned, very unlikely two years in a row. Gotta love Joey Votto though, OH Canada!
Milwaukee Brewers: After giving up four prospects for Zack Greinke, they better hope he re-signs with them upon free agency after 2012. Greinke is hurt to begin the season, so sufficed to say it has not been a good start. Speaking of free agency, what are they going to do with the Prince? If they don’t start well, he will be gone by the deadline. Braun and Hart must step up.
Chicago Cubs: For the first time in a while, Cubs fans have some reason for hope (no Carlos Silva is a definite plus). Carlos Pena is a good replacement for Derrek Lee, and the pitching staff looks good, especially if Carlos Zambrano can control himself. Carlos Marmol is an all-star closer. The Cubs have quite the outfield, with Alfonso Soriano, Marlon Byrd and Kosuke Fukudome (talk about overpaid…).
Houston Astros: Wandy Rodriguez has some WANDerful stuff. Closer Brandon pitches like a Lyon. Michael was Bourn to be the starting centerfielder of the 2011 Astros. Catcher Humberto Quintero has a great name. If you haven’t already noticed, I know nothing about the Astros.
Pittsburgh Pirates: Too bad a nice stadium like PNC Park goes to waste on this bunch of bush leaguers. At least they have the Steelers and Penguins.
Record: 65-97. Hey, its an improvement.
San Francisco Giants: A murderer’s row in the rotation with Lincecum, Cain, Sanchez and Bumgarner (oh, and Barry Zito). Fierce Brian Wilson to close out games for them. Looking like their x-factor is the hitting, with the Sandoval looking for a bounce back season (or at least looking to lose weight). They are counting on an aging Miguel Tejada and washed up Freddy Sanchez in the middle infield. Buster Posey has got to have a good year if the Giants want to repeat.
Colorado Rockies: I think this team will give the Giants a run for their money in 2011. They have an extremely young and talented core, who are locked up for the lang haul. This is a team going in the right direction. Troy Tulowitzki and CarGo are special players. It will be a tight wild card race between the Rockies and Braves.
LA Dodgers: Its too bad you only hear about the Dodger owners, since their players are pretty good. Their starting rotation includes Chad Billingsley and Clayton Kershaw, both guys who continue to make strides in the National League. Outfielders Andre Ethier and Matt Kemp (who was with Rihanna) aren’t too shabby themselves. The Dodgers should not be overlooked this season.
San Diego Padres: Last year was probably more an illusion than anything else, and now they’re fighting without Adrian Gonzalez. Pitching will keep them respectable, but they do not have enough hitting to stay afloat this season. Not to mention a crushing end to 2010 probably means a bad start to 2011.
Arizona Diamondbacks: Worked hard in the offseason to shore up their bullpen, so that should be improved. Justin Upton has to get back into form. Kelly Johnson is a bright spot on an otherwise dark-looking season for the D-Backs.
NL East Champs: Phillies
NL Central Champs: Cardinals
NL West Champs: Giants
Wild Card: Rockies
NL MVP: Albert Pujols. He wins MVP, “proving” that he is worth $300m over 10 years. I say proving sarcastically since this is an absurd contract offer, and he will probably get it.
NL Cy Young: Roy Halladay. I know, these predictions are real original. Thing is, I think these two guys have to step it up this year, and I think both will. Plus, as a Blue Jays fan, how could I pick against Doc?