Saturday, April 4, 2009

2009 National League Predictions

Yesterday, I made my predictions for the American League, where I predicted that the Red Sox would make it to the World Series. Now we have the National League predictions where we find out just who Boston will be facing. Can the Phillies defy the odds and repeat as World Series Champions?

NL East
1. Phillies

Make it three NL East crowns in a row. The Phillies were smart to bring everyone back with the only big move being the swap of Pat Burrell for Raul Ibanez, which looks at worst to be a wash. While there are some concerns over the lefty-heavy lineup, this group will still mash with the best of them. Add in the fact that the core of this team, Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, Ryan Howard and Cole Hamels, are all still in their primes and you have the recipe for a successful team this year and for the foreseeable future. The bullpen will likely come back to Earth a bit and the 7-8-9 hitters will still be a black hole but this Phillies team looks poised to repeat as National League Champions.

2. Mets (Wild Card)
The Mets biggest weakness last year, the bullpen, all of the sudden becomes a strength with the additions of J.J. Putz and Francisco Rodriguez. It's been well documented that if they had even an average bullpen last season they would have easily won the NL East, so you can be the Mets will be a dangerous team this season. Their main concern now is a weak rotation that starts with Johan Santana and follows with a whole lot of question marks. If Oliver Perez and Mike Pelfrey find some consistency, the Mets could win 95 games. Unfortunately for Mets fans, it's an unlikely scenario.

3. Braves
The Braves should be much better this year but they still have too many holes to seriously compete. Their outfield corner spots are a mess with an ancient Garret Anderson and Jeff Francoeur coming off an awful season. Francoeur is still young enough to rebound but he has a long way to go to become even an average major leaguer. The Braves rotation looks better with the additions of Derek Lowe and Javy Vazquez, but they still have Tom Glavine penciled in as the 5th starter and he hasn't been effective or healthy for years. Atlanta is still an impact player or two away from contending.

4. Marlins
The Fish were a surprise last year as they won 84 games and finished 3rd in the division. The uptick in wins can be attributed to the power-laden lineup and the arrival of Hanley Ramirez as an elite player. They didn't add any free agents in the offseason so they will continue to rely on their minor league system to fill any holes. The Marlins will continue to improve as these rookies develop.

5. Nationals
The Nats and the Pirates will compete for the worst record in baseball. I don't like anything about this team at all, from their signing of a useless defensive player in Adam Dunn to their abysmal rotation and bullpen. About the only thing this team has going for them are the Zimmerman's: third baseman Ryan and rookie phenom Jordan. If Jordan Zimmerman were on any other team, he would be in contention for Rookie of the Year. Unfortunately he's going to get about three wins pitching for this crappy team.

NL Central
1. Cubs

I have a feeling the Cubs are going to fall back a bit this year but I don't see anyone else in the Central strong enough to catch them. Their big offseason move was to bring in Milton Bradley to hit cleanup and that could be a solid move for the 100 games or so where he is actually healthy. The rotation remains a plus for the Cubbies but I don't see them getting over the hump in the playoffs. I picked the Cubs to finally break their curse and win it all last year but I don't see them making any kind of run this season. Sorry Cubs fans, your wait continues.

2. Brewers
If the Brewers had any semblance of a pitching staff I would put them above the Cubs. Besides Yovani Gallardo, I don't see any other pitcher worth getting excited about on this team. The bullpen will also be a mess, which is too bad because it looks like another year the talents of Ryan Braun, Prince Fielder and the rest of this young lineup will be wasted. It really is an amazing lineup when you consider every regular position player, with the exception of Jason Kendall, has a legitimate shot at hitting 20 homers this year.

3. Reds
I like the Reds to make a big leap this year. They have always had a strong lineup that has only gotten better with the emergence of Joey Votto and Jay Bruce, but now they have some pitching to even out this team. With youngsters Edinson Volquez and Johnny Cueto, who only figure to get better, and the pickup of a decent 5th starter in Micah Owings, the Reds can finally feel good about who they send to the mound every day. Add in an elite closer in Francisco Cordero and you have a team that is nearly ready to compete.

4. Cardinals
Thanks to Tony La Russa, the Cardinals always play better than they look on paper. With the way the roster looks this year, if they want to break .500, it's going to some of La Russa's best work. While they still have the best hitter in baseball in Albert Pujols, there isn't another hitter in the lineup that really instills fear in the opposing pitcher. Ryan Ludwick had a great season last year but it's too early to tell if it was a fluke. Their biggest offseason acquisition was Khalil Greene, whose best years are behind him. Unless Chris Carpenter can return to form, the pitching staff also looks weak.

5. Astros
This team deserves to suck since they were dumb enough to hire Ed Wade. While they made a remarkable run last year to stay in contention, Houston has only one way to go: down. Lance Berkman and Roy Oswalt still anchor the team, but both have problems putting together a full season. The Astros also still feature former Phillie Michael Bourn near the top of the lineup, but his .229 batting average shows that isn't a good thing. Their biggest offseason move was bringing in Mike Hampton, and knowing that he will be their #3 starter tells you everything you need to know about the Astros.

6. Pirates
Officially the worst team in baseball, they will be fortunate to win 65 games this year. With the trading of Jason Bay, very few people living outside of the state of Pennsylvania can even name more than four Pirates. Haven't they had a top pick in the draft for like 15 years in a row now? Shouldn't they have more talent than this?

NL West
1. Dodgers

If they hadn't re-signed Manny, this team was going to be in trouble. As it is, they aren't a lock to win the division because of their suddenly thin pitching staff and weak bench. Are they really going to rely on Jason Schmidt to take the ball every 5th day? And, while I like Randy Wolf, he shouldn't be near the top of any rotation. Luckily, the NL West only takes like 85 wins to be the champ, so Manny's typical 35 homers and 130 RBI should carry them to the playoffs. The continued emergence of Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier won't hurt, either.

2. Diamondbacks
With Brandon Webb, Dan Haren, Doug Davis, Jon Garland and Max Scherzer, the rotation is probably the best in the National League. Unfortunately, there is another part of baseball called hitting where the D-backs aren't quite up to par. They have some great young hitters in Stephen Drew and Conor Jackson who can really slug the ball, but the lineup may not have a .300 hitter in it. The best power hitter of all on the team is Mark Reynolds but his 204 strikeouts and .239 batting average are a testament to his all-or-nothing swinging style. Arizona won't score enough runs to keep up with the Dodgers but their pitching will keep it close.

3. Giants
This team is on the upswing. Their pitching, with the exception of Barry Zito and Randy Johnson, is young and only going to get better. The lineup doesn't look great but it could be much improved if Pablo Sandoval lives up to even half of the hype. I'm not sure what they were thinking when they signed Edgar Renteria to a big contract but at least he gives them a veteran presence to mix in with all of the kids.

4. Rockies
How was this team in the World Series two years ago? This team destroyed the Phillies on the way to getting destroyed by the Red Sox in the World Series and since that time the Rockies have been a shell of their former selves. They spent the offseason unloading players like Matt Holliday, rather than building the roster, so expectations are low in Colorado. They still have some guys that can mash, like Braw Hawpe and Garrett Atkins, but their rotation isn't going to cut it.

5. Padres
The pitchers are still there for the Padres but the lineup is still weak. Petco Park saps runs but this group wouldn't score any no matter where they played. Jake Peavy and Chris Young can't pitch every day so the Padres will find themselves in the cellar in a hurry this year.

Phillies over Dodgers
Cubs over Mets

Phillies over Cubs

World Series:
Red Sox over Phillies
They get back to the series but they are World F'n Champs no more.

MVP: Chase Utley
I picked him last year and he was well on his way before he got injured. If he stays healthy this year he will finally put it all together.

CY Young: Johan Santana
He will make it a New York sweep for both Cy Young awards.

Agree or disagree with my predictions? Want to make your own? Include your thoughts in the comment section. Check back later for my Phillies individual player predictions.


GaroH said...

As a Philly fan, I hate to admit this, but your pick of the Red Sox is right on. I'll offer some metaphysical support:
Every year a girl is born in my family, the city in which she is born wins the World Series. Brother in MA had 2 girls each in the baseball season in which the Sox won; then I had a girl when Game 5 started (10/28) this year, and brought her home the day the Phils won (she'll be forever linked to this team). Well, he's pregnant again, and it's a girl, due July 3 and they're having her in MA. So, Red Sox.
Your way is more scientific, but thought I'd offer support.

allthingsphilly said...

GaroH, sounds like you should be putting some money on the Sox this year!