Tank’s 2009 Preview

EASTERN DIVISION

New York Mets 95-67

Last year the Mets suffered another late season collapse, and missed the playoffs, but one look at the roster this year, and you can tell it won’t happen this year for several reasons, one the Mets bullpen that blew 29 saves last year is vastly improved with two pitchers who have won fireman awards in the past two years, their line up is solid, the bench is solid, their starting staff may be the best in the NL, and a better manager from the start of the season. Keep in mind last year with a terrible manager the first half of the season, and an awful bullpen they still won 89 games, this year they will get to the mid 90s and that will be good enough to win the East.

Philadelphia Phillies 93-69 (Wild Card)

Move over Yankees-Red Sox, the new hot rivalry in baseball is the Mets and the Phillies. The last two seasons the Phillies benefited from the Mets late season struggles and they have boasted and gloated. Even at their victory parade they took shots at the Mets and seemed to have the Mets on their mind all off season. This year they will battle again, and it won’t end with the regular season as these two seemed to be destined to fight it out tooth and nail all season, with the Phillies powerful line up once again wrecking havoc on NL pitching, look for the loser of the East race to get the Wild Card, and make it to the NLCS where the battle truly begins.

Atlanta Braves 83-79

It’s retro mania, and I am not talking about this year’s throw back themed preview. I am talking about the Braves roster. They have several good young players on the verge of making key contributions, but a vast majority of the Braves roster is full of aging players that if they all put it together could lift the Braves into contention with the Mets and Phillies, or they could falter and they can battle the Nats in the basement. Likely it will fall somewhere in the middle as they old guys will have enough flashes to keep the Braves close most of the season, before the dogs days of August take them out.

Florida Marlins 77-85

On the opposite end of the spectrum is the Marlins who have a solid young foundation that of they grow up they can be dangerous, especially with SS Handley Ramirez and 2B Dan Uggla, who could be on the verge of superstardom. The good news for the Marlins is a new stadium in Miami is on the way. The bad news its a few years away, and so is there time to be a serious contender. The biggest hole is their pitching staff, and in the end that is what will be the Marlins undoing as they take a slight step backward.

Washington Nationals 64-98

The Nationals might as well be the Expos; the move has not improved their fortunes, as they continue to be one of the most poorly run organizations in baseball. Their big off season moves revolved around getting players other teams passed up on, and can be dealt for prospects when the Nats fall out of the race, like Adam Dunn. There are some pieces here, but many more holes, and anything short of a federal bailout in which the Nats can take a star off every other team’s roster, last place will be where Washington resides again.

CENTRAL DIVISION

Chicago Cubs 91-71

It will be hard to imagine the Cubs equaling their 97 wins from last season. Not that they have to, because they are clearly the class of the NL Central, with a terrific line up and a solid starting staff. The bullpen however, could be an issue as the departure of Kerry Wood, and the addition of Aaron Heilman will cause pleanty of heartache at Wrigley in the late innings. However, in the end the Cubs will capture the Central Division again, but come playoff time they will come up short in the NLDS.

St. Louis Cardinals 88-74

Albert Pujols is the best player in baseball, and any season he is a threat to win the Triple Crown, or carry the Cardinals into the playoffs if he gets just a little help. However, that is the problem the Cardinals are a team with many holes. This year they are also going with several young players in key positions, especially on the mound. If the Cubs falter the Cardinals could make a move and grab first place, but that does not seem very likely though the Cardinals should provide the best challenge for the Cubs in an otherwise mediocre division.

Cincinnati Reds 85-77

Youth will be served in Cincinnati as the Reds have several young dynamic hitters and solid starters who are on the verge of becoming All-Stars. The best of the bunch is OF Jay Bruce, who hit 21 homers in half a season in the majors last year, in the band box in Cincy it won’t be a stretch to see him reach 40 this season, and challenge for the slugging awards. However, that small park will doom the Reds as their pitching will continue to get lit up, nonetheless a winning season will be seen as a positive step.

Houston Astros 78-84

The Astros have a few good players that individually could have good years, but not much else as a line up full of holes and a starting staff needing a number two man to back up ace Roy Oswalt, will hold the Astros from contending. If they looked at things realistically down in Houston they would consider selling off players like Lance Berkman, Miguel Tejada and even Oswalt to focus on the future, but the signing of Ivan Rodriguez seems to indicate they think they are better then they are, the upcoming season should set them straight.

Milwaukee Brewers 76-86

There’s a tear in my beer is the theme of this year’s Brewers who made the playoffs for the first time in 26 years last season, but saw there two top pitchers depart. They still have a solid young line up led by Prince Fielder, and Ryan Braun. However, the pitching staff is enough to drive their fans to drink, as long as they don’t drink and drive it will be fine, but on the field the Brewers will be starting a new playoff drought as they plunge back under .500.

Pittsburgh Pirates 59-103

I can see it now Bollywood reality stars turned pitching prospects Rinku Singh and Dinesh Patel become the cornerstone of a Pirate pitching staff that is the biggest surprise in baseball as the Pirates stun the world and win the World Series, calling their championship DVD “Slum Dog World Series.” Yeah right, but the sad thing is that was the big pick ups in the off-season for the Bucos, who are going to be awful with a capital A. At least Steelers training camp begins in three months, as the Pirates will be lucky just to avoid 100 losses.

WESTERN DIVISION

Arizona Diamondbacks 89-73

Last year a late season slump was the only thing preventing the Diamondbacks from repeating as Western Division Champions. This year, they will avoid those potholes and grab back the West, in a tight race among mediocre teams with a key missing ingredient. For the D-Backs the missing piece is plate discipline. However, their line up is good enough to hit the ball just enough as their solid pitching staff carries them the rest of the way.

San Francisco Giants 88-74

With Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain the Giants have one of the best young pitching staffs in baseball that can be good for years to come. Don’t be shocked if Barry Zito has a bounce back year to make it even better. If they had some hitting to go with their pitching they could make a serious move forward this year. However, the line up will be the Giants undoing, as they will battle for the Western Division title all season, but fall just a little short as the Diamondbacks have just enough balance to hold off the Giants.

Los Angeles Dodgers 84-78

If the Dodgers and Giants some how merged they could be world beaters as the Dodgers line up is clearly the best in the West led by Manny Ramirez, who after trying to hold out for more money settled for the Dodgers two year $45 million contract, and you thought you were hurting in the economy. However, the pitching once the hallmark of the Dodgers is to a gigantic question mark at best. This is what will be the down fall of the Dodgers as they end up falling just a few games short of a return to the playoffs.

Colorado Rockies 77-85

Just two years removed from the magical Rocktober run to the World Series, the Rockies are picking up the pieces again, as they were forced to part with Matt Holliday in the off season. Fortunately, with players like Troy Tulowitzki and Garrett Atkins the Rockies have a solid foundation, but in a Western Division with three good teams a head of them the Rockies will struggle just to come close to .500, as Todd Helton could end up on the trading block before the year is over.

San Diego Padres 63-99

Jake Peavy will be a major factor in a pennant race this September, as his pitching could mean the difference between a playoff spot and a spot on the couch in the October. However, it will not be in San Diego, as the Padres don’t have a prayer at finishing higher then last place. It will be a long season at Petco Park as the Padres with new ownership begins to tear the team apart and rebuilding for the future, with Peavy being the big prize of the trade deadline.

EASTERN DIVISION

New York Yankees 97-75

After trying to go with a youth movement and missing the playoffs for the first time in the Wild Card era, the Yankees are back to their free spending ways, as only Congress spent more in the last six months then the Yankees. While the Yankees payroll is not a trillion dollars, it’s up there and with the addition of C.C. Sabathia, A.J. Burnett and Mark Teixeira, they will return to the playoffs as last year’s team beset with injuries still managed to win 89 games.

Boston Red Sox 93-69 (Wild Card)

The Hatfields and the McCoys are the only rivalry that is deeper in a historical context then Yankees and Red Sox, and this year they will battle again, as the two teams will edge out the Rays in the division, and fight for American League East supremacy in the playoffs. While the line up may not be as powerful as it was with Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz is starting to get long in the tooth, the Sox have a deep bullpen, and a good 1-2 punch at the top of the line up that could make the Red Sox a pesky team that can produce runs in many different ways.

Tampa Bay Rays 91-71

The Tampa Bay Rays came out of nowhere last year and made it all the way to the World Series, after ten years in baseball hell with 90 or more losses every season. The Rays are for real and can go back to the World Series, and will be a threat for years to come. However, this year they will be the odd team out in a tight battle in the East, as there lack of a dependable closer will be the Rays undoing, as the injury plagued Troy Percival and Dan Wheeler are not good enough to keep up with the Yanks and Sawx.

Toronto Blue Jays 79-83

With Roy Halladay and Jesse Litch the Blue Jays a good 1-2 combo at the front of the rotation, while Vernon Wells and Alex Rios provide an excellent middle of the order. However, beyond that the Jays have way too many holes to make a run at the Eastern monsters ahead of them. Making matters worse the young Orioles are gaining on them, as the Jays continue to remain in baseball purgatory, as they lack the true depth to make a true run at a Wild Card, while not being bad enough to consider rebuilding.

Baltimore Orioles 73-89

There is light at the end of the title, as the Orioles who for years tried to get a big name to lift the Birds back into contention have finally decided to focus on building around youth. In another division, they could show even greater improvement, but in the East with the three headed monster at the top, it’s going to be a few more years before they are a serious contender. Look for a break out year from Adam Jones as the Orioles could be the ultimate spoiler down the stretch.

CENTRAL DIVISION

Minnesota Twins 90-72

Last year the Twins lost the division title in a tiebreaker to the White Sox, despite losing Johan Santana. While they may not be flashy the Twins, are one of the best organizations in baseball, as their player development is a model for contending in a small market, while their Manager Ron Gardenhire may be the best in baseball. Look for nothing to stop them from getting to the postseason this year, as full season of Francisco Lirano on the mound will get the Twins into October.

Cleveland Indians 85-67

Last year the Indians got off to an awful start and finished strong, to post an 81-81 record after spending time in the cellar, as Cliff Lee had a break out season, winning the Cy Young, after the Indians made the tough decision to trade C.C. Sabathia. It will be hard to imagine Lee repeating last year’s 22-3 performance, but he may not have to as Kerry Wood gives the Tribe the reliable closer they have been lacking. However, with Carl Pavano in the rotation it will be hard to imagine them getting too far in the Central Division playoff chase.

Kansas City Royals 83-79

The Royals have just completed a major overhaul of Kaufman Stadium, while the team on the field is beginning to take shape. The pieces are starting to come together as several young players in the middle of their line up could have the Royals pushing closer to reaching .500. Look for a break out season from Alex Gordon, as the addition of Mike Jacobs will give the Royals a powerful heart of the order.

Detroit Tigers 82-80

Last year the Tigers entered the season as a trendy pick to reach the World Series, before stumbling from the start and finishing in last place. The expectations are significantly lower this year, but the Tigers should be able to bounce back and could make a run if all the chips line up right. However, all the chips rarely do connect, as the Tigers pen still leaves something to be desired, while the line up with Miguel Cabrera should be strong enough to get the Tigers back over .500.

Chicago White Sox 70-92

Last year the White Sox rebounded from a 90-loss season to capture the division title, as they got a career year from Carlos Quentin. However, the loss of Joe Crede, and the aging of Jim Thome makes repeating a tough task for the Sox, as every other team in the division has improved in the off-season. Look for them to revert to their 90-loss form of 2007, which will mean going from the penthouse to the outhouse in this tight division.

WESTERN DIVISION

Oakland Athletics 87-75

No team was busier then the Athletics in the off-season who completely remade their team, acquiring Matt Holliday from the Rockies, while welcoming back Jason Giambi, after he was exiled by the Yankees. In a mediocre division it will be good enough as the A’s find away to edge the Angels in a tight race. Look for a breakout season from Justin Duchscherer on the mound, while Giambi minus the pressure of New York, has a big year in his return to the Bay.

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim 83-79

After winning 100 games last season only to lose in the playoffs to the Red Sox, the Angels are due for a let down, as they were unable to resign Mark Teixeira, whom they acquired to make a run at the title last season, with hopes of signing long term. While Bobby Abreu could replace his power, Abreu seems to be a strange dynamic, as his 100 RBI seasons, never seem to make his teams better for some reason, and it won’t be any different with the Angels.

Seattle Mariners 74-88

Ken Griffey Jr. has proven you can go home again, as he returns to Seattle after spending nine years in Cincinnati where he climbed up the home run charts, but never made the World Series. Now finishing up his career in the place it started he will be greeted by cheers every night as the Mariners should be improved their disappointing 100 loss season last year, but not nearly enough to get back on the positive side of .500.

Texas Rangers 68-94

The Rangers have some good solid hitters with Michael Young and Josh Hamilton in the middle of the order. However, the pitching staff is really bad, and in an American League chock full of good hitters, the Rangers are going to allow allot of runs. Look for ERA’s to go up with the mercury in Texas as they will find themselves on the wrong end of 10-9 games through out the season.

LEAGUE LEADERS AND AWARDS

National League

  • Albert Pujols Cardinals
  • Ryan Howard Phillies
  • David Wright Mets
  • Jose Reyes Mets
  • Jose Reyes Mets
  • Johan Santana Mets
  • Johan Santana Mets
  • Tim Lincecum Giants
  • Cincinnati Reds
  • Milwaukee Brewers
  • Edgar Renteria Giants
  • Barry Zito Giants
  • Daniel Murphy Mets
  • Jonathan Sanchez Giants
  • Chipper Jones Braves
  • Chad Billingsley Dodgers
  • Francisco Rodriguez Mets
  • Aaron Heilman Cubs
  • Lance Berkman Astros
  • Trevor Hoffman Brewers
  • Francisco Rodriguez Mets
  • Cameron Maybin Marlins
  • Bruce Bochy Giants
  • Ryan Howard Phillies
  • Johan Santana Mets
  • David Wright Mets
  • Batting Crown
  • HR Leader
  • RBI Leader
  • SB Leader
  • Runs Leader
  • Win Leader
  • ERA Leader
  • K Leader
  • Surprise Team
  • Disappointing Team
  • Comeback Player
  • Comeback Pitcher
  • Breakout Player
  • Breakout Pitcher
  • Disappointing Player
  • Disappointing Pitcher
  • Best Acquisition
  • Worst Acquisition
  • Falling Star Hitter
  • Falling Star Pitcher
  • Fireman
  • Rookie of The Year
  • Manager of The Year
  • Hank Aaron Award
  • Cy Young
  • MVP

American League

  • Dustin Pedroia Red Sox
  • Josh Hamilton Rangers
  • Justin Morneau Twins
  • Carlos Gomez Twins
  • Dustin Pedroia Red Sox
  • C.C. Sabathia Yankees
  • Roy Halladay Blue Jays
  • C.C. Sabathia Yankees
  • Kansas City Royals
  • Chicago White Sox
  • Jason Giambi Athletics
  • Francisco Liriano Twins
  • Carlos Gomez Twins
  • Justin Duchscherer Athletics
  • David Ortiz Red Sox
  • Josh Beckett Red Sox
  • Mark Teixeira Yankees
  • Pat Burell Rays
  • Jim Thome White Sox
  • John Lackey Angels
  • Jonathan Paplebon Red Sox
  • David Price Rays
  • Trey Hillman Royals
  • Josh Hamilton Rangers
  • Daisuke Matsuzaka Red Sox
  • Justin Morneau Twins

National League

  • Albert Pujols CardinalsBatting Crown
  • Ryan Howard PhilliesHR Leader
  • David Wright MetsRBI Leader
  • Jose Reyes MetsSB Leader
  • Jose Reyes Mets Runs Leader
  • Johan Santana Mets Win Leader
  • Johan Santana MetsERA Leader
  • Tim Lincecum GiantsK Leader
  • Cincinnati RedsSurprise Team
  • Milwaukee BrewersDisappointing Team
  • Edgar Renteria GiantsComeback Player
  • Barry Zito GiantsComeback Pitcher
  • Daniel Murphy MetsBreakout Player
  • Jonathan Sanchez GiantsBreakout Pitcher
  • Chipper Jones BravesDisappointing Player
  • Chad Billingsley DodgersDisappointing Pitcher
  • Francisco Rodriguez MetsBest Acquisition
  • Aaron Heilman CubsWorst Acquisition
  • Lance Berkman AstrosFalling Star Hitter
  • Trevor Hoffman BrewersFalling Star Pitcher
  • Francisco Rodriguez MetsFireman
  • Cameron Maybin MarlinsRookie of The Year
  • Bruce Bochy GiantsManager of The Year
  • Ryan Howard PhilliesHank Aaron Award
  • Johan Santana MetsCy Young
  • David Wright MetsMVP

American League

  • Dustin Pedroia Red SoxBatting Crown
  • Josh Hamilton RangersHR Leader
  • Justin Morneau TwinsRBI Leader
  • Carlos Gomez TwinsSB Leader
  • Dustin Pedroia Red SoxRuns Leader
  • C.C. Sabathia YankeesWin Leader
  • Roy Halladay Blue JaysERA Leader
  • C.C. Sabathia YankeesK Leader
  • Kansas City RoyalsSurprise Team
  • Chicago White SoxDisappointing Team
  • Jason Giambi AthleticsComeback Player
  • Francisco Liriano TwinsComeback Pitcher
  • Carlos Gomez TwinsBreakout Player
  • Justin Duchscherer AthleticsBreakout Pitcher
  • David Ortiz Red SoxDisappointing Player
  • Josh Beckett Red SoxDisappointing Pitcher
  • Mark Teixeira YankeesBest Acquisition
  • Pat Burell RaysWorst Acquisition
  • Jim Thome White SoxFalling Star Hitter
  • John Lackey AngelsFalling Star Pitcher
  • Jonathan Paplebon Red SoxFireman
  • David Price RaysRookie of The Year
  • Trey Hillman RoyalsManager of The Year
  • Josh Hamilton RangersHank Aaron Award
  • Daisuke Matsuzaka Red SoxCy Young
  • Justin Morneau TwinsMVP

Postseason

NLDS

Mets 3

Diamondbacks 1

Phillies 3

Cubs 2

ALDS

Yankees 3

Athletics 0

Twins 3

Red Sox 2

NLCS
4
2
ALCS
4
2

Managers to be Fired

  • Manny Acta Nationals
  • Bud Black Padres
  • Cecil Cooper Astros
  • Ozzie Guillen White Sox
  • Clint Hurdle Rockies
  • Ron Washington Rangers

WORLD SERIES


4

2009 World Champs
New York Mets

3

Predictions Made by Frank Fleming on April 4, 2009 at 11:30 pm ET

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