It's that time of the year again! Time for Coach Ken's 2009 MLB predictions! Last season we had some success.... and some big failures (Mariners 90 wins? Really?)! But here at KenWo headquarters, we don't let setbacks like that stop us from getting back in the box and taking another swing.
Boston Red Sox 101-61: Yes, the Yankees made the big splash in the offseason. Yes the Yankees are opening their new ballpark. Yes the Yankees will lose the division to the Boston Red Sox. In my opinion, the Red Sox have a much deeper pitching staff from front to back. With an offense that still includes MVP Dustin Pedroia, David Ortiz, Jason Bay, Jacoby Ellsbury and JD Drew, the Red Sox seem primed to keep the Yankees out of first place once again in 2009.
Tampa Bay DEVIL Rays 96-66: It will be the Devil Rays that will finish in second in the AL East. They have a solid young staff with Scott Kazmir and James Shields leading the way. The bullpen is strong with Troy Percival, Dan Wheeler, Grant Balfour and Joe Nelson. The offense is strong with Evan Longoria, Carl Crawford, Carlos Pena, BJ Upton (who is starting the year on the DL) and Akinori Iwamura. They have minor league pitching depth with future star David Price starting the season in the minor leagues. All of those early picks are finally paying off for the Rays. They have a core that should contend for the next 3-5 years.
New York Yankees 89-73: They made a few huge splashes in the offseason with the CC Sabathia, AJ Burnett and Mark Teixeira signings. The rotation looks to be in good shape with Sabathia, Burnett, Pettitte, Wang and Chamberlain, but Pettitte is old, Wang is coming back from an injury and Burnett is, in my opinion, highly over rated. He has only started 30 games 2 times in his career, and not surprisingly, both times were in free agent years. Now that he has signed that big contract, I have to question whether or not he will have 2 good seasons in a row for the first time in his career. The bullpen has the best closer in the history of the game in Mariano Rivera, but with Chamberlain in the rotation, Damaso Marte is the only other proven commodity. The offense already has lost ARod for at least a month. Jorge Posada, Derek Jeter, Johnny Damon and Hideki Matsui are all nearing the end of the line. Teixeira is a great pickup, but the offense is far from the offense of years gone by. Disappointing year with a third place finish for the Bronx Bombers.
Baltimore Orioles 76-86: The Orioles offense is a big force. Brian Roberts, Nick Markakis, Aubrey Huff, Melvin Mora and Adam Jones are a great core. Markakis is one of the best young players in all of baseball and I feel this will be an MVP-like season for the lefty. They have a hole at SS (Cesar Izturis) and LF (Felix Pie) but the rest of the line up will make up for them. The trouble with the Orioles still remains the pitching. Jeremy Guthrie is a solid guy, but the rest of the staff is full of has beens and never will be's. There will be a lot of 9-5 wins and a lot of 10-7 losses at Camden this year.
Toronto Blue Jays 73-89: The Blue Jays will bring up the rear of the AL East this year. It was only last year where the Jays had one of the best rotations in the league with Roy Halladay, Dustin McGowan, Shaun Marcum, AJ Burnett and Jesse Litsch. Burnett is off to NY and Marcum and McGowan are out for most (if not all) of the year. Halladay is the prototypical ace and Litsch is very solid, but the rest of the rotation is terribly young. On offense, the Jays have Alex Rios who is primed for a stellar year leading the way. Vernon Wells, Scott Rolen and Aaron Hill have all had success in the past but each have a history of injury problems. The bullpen may put them over the Orioles in the end with BJ Ryan, Scott Downs and Brandon League but in my opinion the Jays will be in the basement this year.
Chicago White Sox: 86-76: The White Sox will repeat in the central this year. With the rotation of Mark Buehrle, Gavin Floyd, John Danks, Jose Contreras and Bartolo Colon they have the clear strongest in the division. The bullpen with Bobby Jenks, Scott Linebrink, Octavio Dotel and Matt Thornton is also strong. The middle of the line up still has a lot of pop with Carlos Quentin, Alexei Ramirez, Jim Thome, Jermaine Dye, Paul Konerko and AJ Pierzynski. They have a hole in center field and the leadoff spot of the order which they are hoping Dewayne Wise fills. If they fail, it will be the defense that costs them. However, I think the pitching and power will lead to another White Sox division title in 2009.
Kansas City Royals: 83-79: The Royals, in my opinion, have improved the most in the Central this year. However, they had the longest way to go. I don't think they improved enough to overtake the White Sox. Gil Meche and Zack Greinke are a very solid 1-2 punch at the top of the rotation. The bullpen is in good hands with Jokim Soria, Juan Cruz and Ron Mahay. The offense has potential to be very good with Coco Crisp, Jose Guillen, Alex Gordon, David DeJesus, and Mike Avilles. They have acquired power hitting Mike Jacobs for first base. The problems for the Royals will be the back end of the rotation which includes Sidney Ponson and Horatio Ramirez (YIKES!) and Kyle Farnsworth out of the bullpen. Much improved over the last few years, but only good enough for 2nd.
Cleveland Indians: 80-82: The Indians are the choice for most of the prognosticators. I don't see it. Yes, they added Mark DeRosa and Kerry Wood to much needed areas of the club. Yes, they have Grady Sizemore who is another possible MVP this year. They have the reigning Cy Young winner in Cliff Lee. When you look more closely to this club though, there are serious concerns. Travis Haffner and Victor Martinez had serious power outages last year. Will they regain their form of a few years ago? I don't think so. Ben Fransisco and Shin Soo Choo are being heavily counted on. Seriously, would you count on Ben Fransisco and Shin Soo Choo to take you back to the playoffs? Me either. The rest of the rotation consists of Fausto Carmona, Carl Pavano, Scott Lewis and Anthony Reyes. In my opinion they are not very intimidating. Cliff Lee went 22-3(!) last season and the Indians finished .500 last year. He will have to have the same type season for the Indians to overtake the White Sox. I don't see it. Third place for the Tribe.
Minnesota Twins: 78-83: In my rough draft I had the Twins winning 83 games this year. Since that time though, Joe Mauer has been placed on the DL and has no timetable for his return and top of the rotation starter Scott Baker has also been DL'd. Without Mauer, the Twins take a serious hit. The offense isn't good enough to last without him or Justin Morneau for any significant amount of time. They still have an outstanding defense and a good rotation which will keep them close in games, but I can't look past that huge hole in the offense that Mauer's aching back leaves. Disappointing final year in the dome for the Twinkies.
Detroit Tigers: 74-88: The Motor City Kitty's will have another rough year in 2009. Magglio Ordonez and Miguel Cabrera are as strong as most any 3-4 combination in the Majors. Curtis Granderson is a great player. Justin Verlander looks to get back on track after a rough 2008. The rest of this team is a hoge poge of crap. From the struggles in the bullpen where Fernando Rodney is the closer after posting a near 5.00 ERA last year, to the starting rotation when your most solid guy lost 17 games last year, this team is in dire straits. They paid Gary Sheffield 14 million to go away, Dontrelle Willis is being paid a nice sum of money to ruin their minor league pitching staff and the tough economy has cost the Tigers a good portion of their season ticket sales. Expect this team to dump a lot of salary come July. 74 wins may be too many.
California Angels 93-69 : I am done with the name Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim or whatever they want to be called. I am going back to California Angels. They shouldn't have changed the name in the first place. That being said, I think the Angels will have enough to win an improved West this year. They lost Fransisco Rodriguez, but the bullpen is still strong with Brian Fuentes, Jose Arredondo, Darren Oliver and Scot Shields. The rotation is a bit shaken up to start the year with injuries to John Lackey and Ervin Santana, but they have enough good pitchers to ride those injuries out assuming they are short term. Jared Weaver, Joe Saunders become the top of the rotation, which is still good. The outfield is aging but still strong with Vladamir Guerrero, Torii Hunter and Bobby Abreu. Mike Napoli serves as a good backstop and if Chone Figgins and Howie Kendrick can remain healthy the offense will be very formidable. They will not dominate the division like years past, but they still have enough for one or two more AL West titles.
Oakland A's 88-74: The A's offense looks to be much improved. Matt Holliday, Orlando Cabrera and the return of Jason Giambi give this team much needed pop. Jack Cust is a real bruiser in the middle of the order who is capable of hitting 40 homers this season. Eric Chavez is giving it another go at 3rd base. If he could give them 120 games that would be huge. Kurt Suzuki is a workhorse behind the plate and has become a good hitter. The pitching staff is young but a little more advanced that the Rangers, which will give Oakland a 2nd place finish.
Texas Rangers 84-78: The Rangers are real boppers that is for sure. Ian Kinsler, Michael Young, Josh Hamilton, Chris Davis, Nelson Cruz and Hank Blalock can put up numbers with any offense in the league. The bullpen is improved with Frankie Fransisco taking over the closer duties. The starting rotation is still a mockery. Kevin Millwood, Vincente Padilla, Brandon McCarthy and Kris Benson are the top 4. The offense will destroy the opposition a lot of times this year, but the pitching staff will get destroyed almost as many times. The Rangers STILL need pitching.
Seattle Mariners 65-97: This is the worst team in the American League. Ken Griffey Jr returns, and that will provide some excitement at first. Then the Mariner fans will realize that Russell Branyon, Franklin Guttierez, Wladamir Balentien and Endy Chavez (until Ichiro gets back from a bleeding ulser) are also in the lineup. Jose Lopez and Adrian Beltre will have solid seasons. The rest of the offense is awful. The sad part is the pitching is not any better. Felix Hernandez is good at the top of the rotation and Erik Bedard is one of the best pitchers in the game when healthy (when is he healthy though?). Brandon Morrow has outstanding talent out of the bullpen but Carlos Silva, Jerrod Washburn, Miguel Batista and the rest of the staff are not very good.. they are not very average... hell, they are bad. The only excitement other than Griffey will be if the team can keep the losses under 100. No wonder Ichiro has an ulcer.
Philadelphia Phillies 97-65: The 2008 World Champs will repeat this year. Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, Raul Ibanez and Shane Victorino make for a prolific offense. They have a good bullpen with Brad Lidge and Ryan Madson leading the way. The rotation brings up some question marks. Cole Hammels threw 260+ innings last year including the playoffs which could take a toll on the youngster. Jamie Moyer is back and another year older, though at this point I am not sure if it matters that he is almost 50. Brett Myers and Joe Blanton are solid. Chan Ho Park is their 5th starter though and I am not sure he could start for many of the Philadelphia high school teams at this point in his career. Sure there are some questions, but the biggest question will be if they win 100 games or not. First place in the East for the Phills.
Atlanta Braves 89-73: The Braves have improved their starting rotation with the additions of Derek Lowe and Javy Vazquez. Jair Jurrjens is a solid top of the rotation pitcher to go with the 2 new acquisitions. Through in Japanese import Kenshin Kawakami and the Braves rotation has potential to be a top 5 in the NL. Garrett Anderson will be a steady stick to go along with Chipper Jones, Brian McCann and Jeff Francoeur. Yunel Escobar, Casey Kotchman and Kelly Johnson can also be productive. Justin Schafer could challenge for Rookie of the Year out in center field. The Braves have a nice team. Nice enough to finish 11 games behind the front running Phillies.
New York Mets 85-77: Another New York team, another team I am not buying in 2009. David Wright and Jose Reyes could be the best left side of any infield in baseball. Carlos Beltran is capable of being one of the best players in the game. Carlos Delgado is full of power and Johan Santana is an annual Cy Young contender on any team. They brought in Fransisco Rodriguez and JJ Putz to solidify the bullpen. In my opinion, something is still missing from this team. Gary Sheffield has just been signed to a contract which just adds another question in my opinion. They have a lot of star players, but their role players just aren't very good. The rotation has Mike Pelfrey, Oliver Perez, John Maine and Livan Hernandez filling it out. Decent, not spectacular. I have projected big things for the Mets for 10 years in a row now.... I finally jumped off the bandwagon. The only thing they will win is the battle for third place with the Marlins.
Florida Marlins 82-80: The Marlins are full of raw talent. Hanley Ramirez is one of the best offensive players in the Major Leagues. Dan Uggla provided a lot of power last year. Jorge Cantu reemerged as a force. Cameron Maybin could challenge for Rookie of the Year. Ricky Nolasco is developing into a strike out king. Matt Lindstrom throws lasers and will close out a lot of games. They will be an exciting team to watch, but the Marlins are still a few years away from competing with the Phillies.
Washington Nationals 66-96: The Nationals signed Adam Dunn which should provide some moon shot homers to the DC faithful, but that is about all that the Nationals will provide other than a last place finish this year. Lastings Milledge has been touted for years as a future star. I think it is about time he shows up or ships out. The rotation got a little better with Scott Olsen and Daniel Cabrera joining the team, but when Scott Olsen and Daniel Cabrera improve your rotation, you are in trouble. They will battle the Mariners, Padres and Pirates for the title of worst team in baseball.
Chicago Cubs 96-66: The Cubs are by far the most talented team in the NL Central. It would be a huge upset if any team knocks them out of first this year. Alfonso Soriano, Aramis Ramirez, Derek Lee and Milton Bradley will put a lot of homers onto Waveland this summer. Geovany Soto is looking to build on his spectacular 2008 ROY season. The starting rotation is very solid with Carlos Zambrano, Ted Lilly, Ryan Dempster and Rich Harden. The addition of Kevin Gregg to the bullpen to go along with Carlos Marmol softens the blow of losing Kerry Wood. They lost a little bit when Mark DeRosa and Wood joined the Tribe, but they still have more than enough to win this division by 10 games.
Houston Astros 83-79: Other than the Cubs the rest of the NL Central is a mess. I think the Astros will emerge to the top of the mess to finish a distant second to the Cubbies. The offense is pretty solid with Carlos Lee, Lance Berkman, Miguel Tejada and Hunter Pence. Ivan Rodriguez has looked good this spring and may be a quality signing. Roy Oswalt is an ace on most teams in the majors. Jose Valverde is a formidable closer. Wandy Rodriguez has looked good at times and Mike Hampton is hoping to turn back the clock to 1999 when he was 22-4 for the Astros (good luck with that). The offense and Oswalt will carry them to an above .500 record, good enough for 2nd in the Central.
St. Louis Cardinals 81-81: Albert Pujols is an offensive machine. He is the best pure hitter in the league hands down. He is surrounded by Ryan Ludwick, Rick Ankiel and Chris Duncan who are all capable of 25 home runs. Troy Glaus is out until the all star break which hurts. Chris Carpenter is being counted on to solidify a rotation led by Adam Wainwright, Todd Wellemeyer, Kyle Lohse and Joel Pinero. Jason Motte has been named the closer and is joined in the bullpen by Ryan Franklin. I think their pitching is a tad better than the Astros but the Astros lineup is a tad better than the Cardinals. 3rd place and .500 finish for the Redbirds.
Milwaukee Brewers 81-81: The Brew Crew lost CC Sabathia and Ben Sheets which is a fatal blow to their playoff chances. Ryan Braun, Corey Hart and Prince Fielder still give the Brewers a lot of punch in the middle of the order. Mike Cameron, Bill Hall and Rickie Weeks will hit for low averages but provide power and speed, but I can't look past the pitching problems. Jeff Suppan is the ace followed by young and talented Yovani Gallardo and Manny Parra. If Sabathia and Sheets rounded out that rotation they may have challenged the Cubs.....instead it is Braden Looper and Dave Bush which will have them challenging the Astros and Cardinals for a distant 2nd. The Brewers may have missed their window. .500 and tied with the Cardinals for 3rd.
Cincinatti Reds 77-85: They probably have the 2nd best pitching in the division to the Cubs. Aaron Harrang, Johnny Cueto, Edinson Volquez, Bronson Arroyo are 4 solid starters. Jay Bruce and Joey Votto are very good young hitters. Willy Tavares has been signed to lead off. Brandon Phillips a good offensive 2nd baseman and Ramon Hernandez has pop as catcher. The Reds may bloom early and finish as high as 2nd this season. I think it will take another year or two, but this may be the team that eventually challenges the Cubs- not this year though.
Pittsburgh Pirates 67-95: This once proud organization has become a laughing stock of the MLB. People will continue to laugh at them in 2009. Nate McClouth is a very talented player, Ryan Doumitt and Adam Laroche can hit a little bit and Matt Capps has proven to be a capable closer. The rest of the team is a disgrace to the Pirate logo. They will finish in last with plenty of room to spare. Roberto Clemente and Pops Stargell will roll over in their graves if they haven't already done so.
Los Angeles Dodgers 98-64: The Dodgers have a ton of talent on offense and on the pitching staff. Manny Ramirez will lead the Dodgers to the West championship, but he is not alone. Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier, James Loney, Russell Martin, Orlando Hudson, Rafael Furcal and Casey Blake give the Dodgers the best offense in the N.L. Hiroki Kuroda, Chad Billingsley, Randy Wolf and Clayton Kershaw will get plenty of run support... a lot more than they actually need. Jonathan Broxton has a rocket for an arm and will be as good as any closer in baseball. The rest of the bullpen with Hong Chih Kuo, Cory Wade and Gulliermo Mota is deep and good. First place in the much improved NL West.
San Fransisco Giants 93-69: The Giants have recovered from the Barry Bonds era nicely. Their pitching rotation is spectacular with NL Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum leading the way. Randy Johnson, Matt Cain, Johnathan Sanchez and Barry Zito round out what might be the best rotation in the majors. There will be a lot of strikeouts for opposing teams when the Giants come to town. If they could get any offense whatsoever they would challenge 100 wins. I think they will get enough offense to improve to 93 wins with Pablo Sandavol and Edgar Renteria moving into the left side of the infield. The bullpen shouldn't blow too many games with Brian Wilson closing games. Jeremy Affeldt and Bobby Howry are decent set up men. The question will be the offense but I think the Giants will win the Wild Card.
Arizona Diamondbacks 86-76: The Diamondbacks also have a good pitching staff. With Brandon Webb, Dan Haren, Jon Garland, Doug Davis and youngster Max Scherzer they are more than formidable. The bullpen has Chad Qualls closing games with Jon Rauch and Tony Pena setting up. The offense is led by Stephen Drew, Chris Young, Mark Reynolds and Justin Upton. The Diamondbacks have the talent to contend with the Giants but I think they will fall short. Third place for Arizona.
Colorado Rockies 79-83: The Rockies dealt Matt Holliday to Oakland early in the offseason, which is a huge blow to the offense. They still have Garrett Atkins, Troy Tulowitzki, Todd Helton and Brad Hawpe to bring home some runs. On the mound, Aaron Cook and Ubaldo Jimenez are very talented but Jason Marquis and Jorge De La Rosa cannot compete with the top 3 pitching staffs in the division. Houston Street and Manny Corpas both are talented but both have had their struggles out of the pen. The Rockies were so promising after their amazing World Series run in 2007- two years later and they are an afterthought in the NL West.
San Diego Padres 70-92: Adrian Gonzalez and Jake Peavy are outstanding players. Brian Giles and Chris Young have been solid in the past. If you look at the rest of the Padres, however, they are filled with a bunch of castoffs from other teams. They don't even have mainstay Trevor Hoffman in the bullpen anymore. Gonzalez and Peavy will keep them from being the worst team in baseball, but they will finish at least 25 games behind the Dodgers.
Boston Red Sox vs. Chicago White Sox: White Sox are good enough to make the playoffs but not good enough to win in them yet. Red Sox in 4.
California Angels vs. Tampa Bay Devil Rays: The Rays will prevail over the slowly fading Angels. Devil Rays in 3.
Los Angeles Dodgers Vs. Chicago Cubs: Cubs cannot match the Dodgers on either side of the field. Dodgers in 3.
Philadelphia Phillies vs. San Fransisco Giants: Giants pitching bests Phillies bats. Giants in 5.
Boston Red Sox Vs. Tampa Bay Devil Rays: Boston gets the better of them this time. Red Sox in 6.
Los Angeles Dodgers vs. San Fransisco Giants: Classic Giants vs. Dodgers matchup ends with LA going to the series. Dodgers in 7
Boston Red Sox vs. Los Angeles Dodgers: Manny gets the best of his former team, Dodgers win World Series in 6.
World Series MVP: Manny Ramirez
AL MVP: Evan Longoria
NL MVP: Manny Ramirez
AL Cy Young: CC Sabathia
NL Cy Young: Tim Lincecum
AL ROY: Chris Getz
NL ROY: Cameron Maybin