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Tuesday July 15, 2008 4:10 pm

2008 MLB Predictions - A.L. Division and Wildcard Winners




Posted by Dennis Velasco Categories:

The 2008 Major League Baseball season gets underway on 3.31.08, a mere two days away. What excellent timing for this blog right here. So, to jump on the bandwagon practice of making predictions, myself and Greg will go on the record and let you know whom we think will succeed and those who will fail. My predictions will go first on the record with Greg’s coming in a bit later. You must excuse the old-timer… in his old age, he can only go so fast. But, hang tight as I’m sure Greg will prove worthy of you reading his take on the upcoming MLB season!

I’ll break down my predictions in a series of posts since I tend to write a lot.

WHO WILL WIN EACH AMERICAN LEAGUE DIVISION AND THE WILDCARD?

AL East - Boston Red Sox

It’s hard to go against the defending World Series champions here, although you know the New York Yankees will compete until the end. However, with too many questions about their pitching, I just can’t have much faith in the men in pinstripes. The Red Sox have a very good rotation anchored by Josh Beckett, Daisuke Matsuzaka should improve on his relatively impressive numbers last season, and the two young pups Jon Lester and Clay Bucholz get to show their stuff for a whole season. And, of course, I’ll continue the tradition of Tim Wakefield getting overlooked. Offensively, any team with David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez as your three and four hitters are going to be dangerous. Kevin Youkilis, the Greek God of Walks is underrated by most. Jacoby Ellsbury and Dustin Pedroia get to prove that their respective performances weren’t flukes last season. How about Mike Lowell? If he repeats his ridiculous production from last season, it’s over… a done deal… indubitably finished… give the Sawx the division.

AL Central - Detroit Tigers

Have you seen the Tigers offense? Add Edgar Renteria and most importantly, Miguel Cabrera, and last season’s strong offense just got a whole lot stronger. Imagine having Curtis Granderson (starting off the season on the DL with a broken finger), Placido Polanco, Cabrera, Magglio Ordonez, Carlos Guillen, Gary Sheffield, Renteria, Ivan Rodriguez and you just have to look at the lineup card with your mouth open. If there is anything for the Tigers to worry about (besides a very good Cleveland Indians squad), it will be their bullpen, especially with Joel Zumaya out for an extended period of time. However, the starting pitching isn’t so bad with special pitcher Justin Verlander leading the way. If Jeremy Bonderman can find his way again and deal consistently, and Dontrelle Willils can adjust to the American League, the Tigers staff will be almost as dynamic as the offense. Okay, not really, but you know what I mean.

AL West - Seattle Mariners

Yeah, I really wish I could say the Oakland A’s here, but I’m realistic. And for those of you that say, “If you’re so realistic, why didn’t you choose the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim?” Well, because their pitching is broken down right now for starters? John Lackey will be sitting out the beginning of the season with a strained triceps and arguably the Angels best pitcher last season, Kelvim Escobar, could not only have his season ended, but his career because of a bum shoulder. Of course, Jered Weaver is nothing to sneeze at, and the Angels DID add Torii Hunter to Vladimir Guerrero in the outfield, but in the end, I just like the Mariners to take the division. I think Erik Bedard will at the very least match his incredible numbers from 2007 with more wins. But, on the pitching side of things, I don’t think it’s Bedard that makes more of a difference than the continued development of Felix Hernandez. The King is going to have a special season and when you take into account Bedard and the bullpen, as well as a decent offense with Ichiro, Adrian Beltre, Raul Ibanez (seriously, look at what Ibanez has done since joining the Mariners), potential 2006 production from Jose Lopez, solid numbers from Yuniesky Betancourt, and the Mariners can take the division. Especially if Jarrod Washburn or the newly acquired Carlos Silva steps up and Richie Sexson’s bat actually becomes productive, the Mariners could surprise the League.

AL Wildcard - Cleveland Indians

Oh no, a postseason without the Yankees! Well, their pitching is suspect despite having three potential studs in Phil Hughes, Ian Kennedy, and the seemingly annointed one, Joba Chamberlain. It doesn’t help that Mike Mussina is getting older and showing it, as well as Andy Pettitte. There are too many questions. The Indians on the other hand have C.C. Sabathia and there is no question he is one of the best (and fattest) pitchers in the game. Fausto Carmona surprised last season to the delight to the Tribe and all its fans. Offensively, the Indians can slug it out with the best out there - Grady Sizemore can do it all, Victor Martinez is the best catcher out there (respect to Russell Martin), Travis Hafner had a down 2007 season, but most ballplayers would take his stats without thinking, Ryan Garko is a big-time candidate to break out this season, and Jhonny Peralta and Casey Blake are very solid underrated hitters. If there is one thing I would change, however, I’d put Rafael Betancourt at the closer spot. That guy is straight up nasty!

Well, that’s it for the American League. Do you agree? Disagree? Leave your comments below!

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