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March 31, 2008


AL West:

LAA: 84-78
OAK: 81-81
SEA: 77-85
TEX: 77-85

I originally pegged LA for 87-88 wins, champions by default, but the injuries to Escobar and Lackey make the division competitive. Torii Hunter’s a long-term liability, but for now he’s a huge addition to an offense that suddenly has more responsibility for LA’s fortune.

Despite the housecleaning, I think Oakland can compete. Last year’s squad was hindered by injuries and dubious allotments of playing time (900+ plate appearances by Jason Kendall and Shannon Stewart).

Seattle will score and allow 50 fewer runs, and Pythagoras won’t permit a repeat of last year’s fluky 89 wins. The offense was last in walks, 12th in doubles, 10th in homers, and the offseason consisted of replacing Jose Guillen and Adam Jones with Brad Wilkerson.

My computer says Texas will score 812 runs and allow 869; that’s a gain of two runs on offense and a loss of 25 runs on pitching/defense compared to last year. (That indicates only 76 wins, but I think the computer’s being a little hard on Michael Young and Vicente Padilla.)

Part of the increase in runs allowed is park-related; The Ballpark was weirdly pitcher-friendly last year and I’m assuming a return to normalcy. The other part is the million questions surrounding the staff. Can Millwood and Padilla rebound? Can Jennings? Is Gabbard better than the batting-practice pitcher he often resembled this spring? Can Luis Mendoza pull off a 2004 Ryan Drese imitation? If needed, do Patterson or Ponson bring anything to the table? Might Hurley (or Murray or Harrison) announce his presence with authority? Can Wilson retire righties? Does Guardado offer anything? Will Fukumori translate to the U.S.? Etc.

The offense is respectable when it contains both Josh Hamilton and Milton Bradley. How often will that be? If they’re both out, Texas has an outfield of Catalanotto/Botts, Murphy and Byrd, and a dicey middle of the order. The pivotal season belongs to Hank Blalock. Texas badly needs his bat and to find out whether he’s worth extending. As I’ve mentioned, for his career Blalock has hit lefties considerably worse than Ben Broussard. Without improvement, he’s just not an everyday player. If that’s the case, would the Rangers offer, and would he accept, a discounted extension and a platoon role? Probably not. If not, does German Duran have the arm and bat to man third on a regular basis?

Last year I calculated the Rangers would score 800 runs and allow 834. They actually scored 816 and allowed 844. Yay, me. Unfortunately, being the hopeful sort, I picked them to win 81 games despite the run deficit. Boo.

AL Central: Cleveland

Detroit has a bunch of hitters on the ugly side of 30 and some questions in its rotation and bullpen. Cleveland won’t win 96 games again, but they’ll hold off the Tigers.

AL East: New York
AL Wild Card: Boston

My computer shows the Yankees winning comfortably over the Sox. I don’t believe it. It shows good seasons from Chamberlain, Hughes and Kennedy, but one (or two) of them ought to suffer an injury or be terrible. In an case, Boston and New York should both play in October, and Detroit again will fall just short.

NL West: San Diego

Really? I’ve got the Pads with 86 wins, barely above LA and Arizona. A wide open division.

NL Central: Milwaukee

What a great offense. What an ugly defense. They won’t collapse this time and will barely hold off the Cubbies.

NL East: New York

Atlanta and Philadephia will challenge but fall short.

NL Wild Card: Chicago

Again, Atlanta and Philadephia will challenge but fall short.

World Series: Yankees over Mets

I really hope I’m wrong about this.

I don’t have anyone winning or losing 100 games. If anyone’s a 100-game loser, it’s the Giants. I see the Orioles as just bad, not epically bad.

Posted by Lucas at March 31, 2008 05:30 PM