East- Tampa Bay Rays
Tampa Bay has a significantly better roster in 2009 than in 2008. Although they traded starter Edwin Jackson to Detroit for Matt Joyce, they may have a better starting five. Highly touted rookie David Price will have his chance to start and should make the most of it. The Rays added veteran Pat Burrell who will bat as the DH. Howell, Wheeler, Balfour, and veteran Percival make for one of the strongest bullpens in the American League (I would put them behind Boston). With rising stars Evan Longoria, BJ Upton, and Carl Crawford, the Rays are definitely the team to beat even with the stacked Yankees (with a lame A-rod) and a World Series contender in the Red Sox within the same division.
Central- Detroit Tigers
The American League East is completely up for grabs in the 2009 season and no team can be ruled out. The most improved team due to off-season acquisitions is the Detroit Tigers. The Tigers have improved their starting rotation, defense, and bullpen. Starting pitcher Edwin Jackson and new closer Brandon Lyon will bring stability to the pitching staff. The Tigers have one of the best lineups in all of baseball with Granderson, Polanco, Cabrera, Ordonez, and Guillen. The Detroit Tigers will control the AL Central in 2009.
West- LA Angels
The American League West is a lock for the Angels. The Texas Rangers seem to not care about pitching, and they will be hurt once again in 2009. With a healthy Vladimir Guerrero and new addition Bobby Abreu, the Angels may be able to out hit the Rangers, even though they won’t need to with the strength of their pitching staff. Even with the loss of Francisco Rodriguez, the Angels arguably have the best pitching staff in the AL West.
Wildcard- Boston Red Sox
The New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox will have a classic battle for the Wild Card this season. Unfortunately the Yankees are bound to have an inconsistent season with A-rod out an indefinite amount of games. The Red Sox are getting back Mike Lowell who is finally recovering from injury, and have added veteran pitcher Brad Penny who will solid up the starting rotation. Boston can dominate games with pitching and hitting, and should contend with Tampa Bay the entire season for the top spot in the AL East. The Red Sox will fall behind the Rays but will beat out the Yankees for the 2009 AL Wild Card.
Los Angeles Angels vs. Boston Red Sox- Red Sox will once again win this match-up, too much pitching and experience, Boston moves on. 3-1 Boston Red Sox
Tampa Bay Rays vs. Detroit Tigers– Although this series might not bring in the ratings, it would be a great watch. The Tampa Bay pitching staff and young talent would prevail against the Tigers powerful lineup. 3-2 Tampa Bay Rays
Tampa Bay Rays vs. Boston Red Sox
Although the Tampa Bay Rays have improved, I wouldn’t count on them to beat the Red Sox in the ALCS two years in a row. The Red Sox are battle tested and as long as they are at full strength, should be able to beat the Rays in a 7 game series. 4-3 Red Sox, Papelbon ALCS MVP
East- New York Mets
The New York choke artists will overcome their recent troubles to win the National League East in 2009. Francisco Rodriguez and J.J. Putz instantly turns their bullpen into a power in the National League. These moves mirror what the Phillies were able to accomplish in 2008 with Brad Lidge and staff. As for the Phillies, I see a rough year for their starting staff and see them just missing the Wild Card spot to the rising Florida Marlins. The Mets lineup with Wright, Reyes, and Delgado rivals that of the Phillies and should put up significant power numbers. This is simply the Mets year, sorry Phillies.
Central- Chicago Cubs
The National League Central is the Cubs’ division to lose. No team in the Central has made significant enough moves to surpass the Cubs as the power in the division. Carlos Marmol will save 40+ games and Zombrano will have a better season than in ’08. The Cardinals may make a push and should finish 2nd in the Central, but I don’t see them getting past Cubs in the standings.
West- Los Angeles Dodgers
Manny Ramirez is the key to the 2009 Dodgers as he was the second half of 2008. The entire lineup (especially Andre Ethier benefits greatly from the presence of Manny in the lineup. The Dodgers will have to fend off Arizona in the West, but should pull away down the stretch with consistent hitting. Hiroki Kuroda and Chad Billingsley will have to have breakout seasons, but I see both of them contributing 15 wins. The Dodgers will win the West by 5+ games.
Wildcard- Florida Marlins
The Florida Marlins are one of the fastest rising teams in baseball. In 2008 the Marlins were an impressive 7 games over .500 at 84-77. The Marlins will have an incredible year offensively due to one significant change in the lineup. Cameron Maybin will start in center field and will lead-off for the Marlins. This will push star Hanley Ramirez deeper into the lineup (at the 3 spot possibly) and will result in a dangerous lineup and much better power numbers for the Marlins and Ramirez. The Marlins starting five consists of some of the best young players in all of baseball. Starters Andrew Miller, Chris Volstad, Josh Johnson, Anibal Sanchez, and Ricky Nolasco are all under 28 years old and have the best years of their careers ahead of them. Don’t count the Marlins out of the East, but I would consider them the favorite for the Wild Card spot.
New York Mets vs. Los Angeles Dodgers
The Mets bullpen and strong lineup is no match for the Manny dependent Dodgers. 3-1 New York Mets
Chicago Cubs vs. Florida Marlins
The Florida Marlins will have a better than expected year, but the Cubs will be too much to handle even with their supreme choking abilities. I expect a clean 3-0 sweep, Cubs win
Chicago Cubs vs. New York Mets
This is the series that MLB wants and will get in 2009. The New York Mets against the Chicago Cubs will be one of the highest watched National League series’ ever. Sadly for the Cubs, they will feel the wrath of the newly improved Mets bullpen. The Cubs will once again miss the World Series.
4-3 New York Mets, NLCS MVP Carlos Delgado
New York Mets vs. Boston Red Sox
This series has 7 games written all over it. For the first time in many years we will have an over five game World Series. This series will come down to starting pitching. Although I like the lineup of the New York Mets over the Red Sox lineup, there is no competition as far as the starting pitching staffs are concerned. Beckett, Matsuzaka, Lester, Wakefield, and Penny (or Masterson) far outmatch Santana, Perez, Maine, and Pelfrey. In some playoff series the entire starting lineup may not be used, but in a seven game series it is hard to imagine Johan Santana being effective in three starts with minimal rest. 4-3 Boston Red Sox
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