Baseball, At Last
Are you ready for some box scores? I sure am.
Baseball’s Opening Day arrives Thursday, and if you write about the game, you have to make your picks. It is a sports writing ritual. So here we go:
1. Boston. Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford join an already stacked lineup, and the rotation is excellent. The best team in baseball entering the season.
2. New York. The lineup is still fearsome, but the pitching is shallow. Expect a trade for a name starter before the All-Star break.
3. Tampa. If anyone can get along with Manny Ramirez, it’s Joe Maddon. Rotation is excellent, but will there be enough runs?
4. Toronto. These guys would contend in a lot of divisions. Just not this one.
5. Baltimore. Buck Showalter improved the chemistry, but there is still not enough pitching.
1. Minnesota. The Twins need Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau at full strength, but somehow, Ron Gardenhire always find a way.
2. Chicago. Adam Dunn and his 40 homers join an already good offense and the pitching is solid. Could finish higher.
3. Detroit. Miguel Cabrera is a one-man offense, and the rotation is better than you think. Could win 85 games.
4. Cleveland. Better than the Cavaliers, but not by much.
5. Kansas City. The future is coming, but it’s not here yet. Not with that pitching.
1. Texas. Easily the division’s best offense, but pitching still shaky.
2. Oakland. Added some solid bats to that exciting young rotation. They could win the division with some breaks.
3. Anaheim. Kendrys Morales is the key. If he isn’t back playing every day by mid-May, they will still be struggling for runs.
4. Seattle. King Felix is great, but not much else is in the Emerald City.
1. Philadelphia. Rotation is baseball’s best in years, but there are a lot of bats missing from that lineup.
2. Atlanta. You know Chipper Jones won’t stay healthy, but Dan Uggla improves the offense, and the pitching is fine. A definite threat.
3. Florida. Good rotation, and young outfielder Mike Stanton is about ready to bust through and become a star.
4. New York. Terry Collins is a nice guy. He deserves better than this injury-riddled bunch.
5. Washington. In a couple of years, Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper will be on board. In the meantime . . .it could be a long summer.
1. Milwaukee. Only if newcomers Zach Greinke and Shaun Marcum are healthy. That deep lineup is as good as any in the league.
2. Cincinnati. A young, exciting group led by Joey Votto. I’m just not sold yet on the pitching.
3. Chiciago. Look out for the Cubbies. The rotation is decent, and if Alexis Ramiriz and Carlos Pena have big years, they could contend.
4. St. Louis. The Adam Wainwright injury was a killer. Even Albert Pujols might not be enough to save them.
5. Houston. The pitching is better, but they’re lacking enough bats.
6. Pittsburgh. These guys are the Clippers of baseball.
1. San Francisco. Buster Posey will be a star, and the pitching is just too good, although the Brian Wilson injury is scary.
2. Los Angeles. Call me crazy, but I like Clayton Kershaw and the rotation, Matt Kemp looks ready to break out and Juan Uribe will add some punch.
3. Colorado. Two great hitters in Tulowitzki and Gonzalez and an outstanding pitcher in Jimenez. But that’s not enough.
4. San Diego. Still can’t figure out how they won 90 last year. A .500 season is more likely this year.
5. Arizona. It will be a long, hot rebuilding year in the desert.
Chicago in the American League
Atlanta in the National Leahue
WORLD SERIES: Boston over Milwaukee
American League: Adrian Gonzalez, Boston.
National League: Ryan Braun, Milwaukee.
CY YOUNG awards:
American League: Jon Lester, Boston.
National League: Roy Halladay, Philadelphia.
ROOKIES OF THE YEAR:
American League: Jeremy Hellickson, Tampa Bay.
National League: Freddie Freeman, Braves
— STEVE BISHEFF
3. Anaheim. Kendrys Morales is the