The Book of Mike

"This is no junior college. This is the notorious University of Miami.” -- Marlins starter Dontrelle Willis, after getting knocked around for six runs in 2 1/3 innings by the Canes.

Monday, March 28, 2005

TBOM's 2005 AL Predictions

Fine - so the title is a little pig-headed of me, or at least not very clear to most folks. But "we" decided to go with TBOM's 2005 AL Predictions for fun. TBOM of course stands for The Book of Mike. We love ourselves. Moving on...

Last year I got my predictions up just after the start of the regular season, and even then, they weren’t so great (so I’m not linking back to them). Anyways, here’s how I think things will end up in 2005

AL East
1. Boston Red Sox
2. New York Yankees
3. Baltimore Orioles
4. Tampa Bay Rays
5. Toronto Blue Jays

The Red Sox really should have one the division last year. Based on a number of metrics – or even something as simple as just comparing runs scored to runs allowed – the Yankees were a very fortunate team last year. Some feel that the Yankees were “lucky” to the tune of twelve extra wins last season. Normally that sort of good luck catches up with you pretty quickly and the win level returns to where it should.

Plus, the Yankees are another year older. Alex Rodriguez, at 30, is the youngest starter. Yes, the Yankees got better this offseason, by acquiring Randy Johnson, but with Johnson, Kevin Brown, and Mike Mussina on staff, this is an old rotation and it’s likely that a part or two will break down. Carl Pavano isn’t likely to put up the same numbers with the Yankees as he did with the Marlins as now he’s in the AL (one extra hitter to face each time through the lineup) and half his games won’t come in the pitcher’s haven that is the former Pro Player Stadium. Jaret Wright, another Yankees pickup, is also likely to regress, as most pitchers do when they leave Leo Mazzone’s watchful eye.

In many years, this Yankees team could outright miss the playoffs, but the Central is so weak and the teams out West will likely beat each other up so much that the Yankees could sneak in.

I’d like to predict one of the other clubs in the division to finish second, but I just don’t see it happening. Just for fun I put the Rays in 4th (and left out the Devil part, just to be PC). Not sure if that will really happen though – it’s probably wishful thinking on my part (hey – they’re a fun club to watch, even if Duane Keiper isn’t that fun to listen to).

AL Central
1. Minnesota Twins
2. Cleveland Indians
3. Detroit Tigers
4. Chicago White Sox
5. Kansas City Royals

As I’m sure you can imagine, putting the White Sox fourth in this division pains me deeply. The Twins remain the class of the division, although with the Sox resourced, I don’t think it’s too much to expect them to be able to compete with them year in and year out (that sounds ridiculous doesn’t it? Of course a team in Chicago has to be able to compete with a team in little Minnesota).

But on oh-so-many levels, the Sox have failed to keep pace. Many moves were made this offseason and an emphasis was placed on speed and defense. Only time will tell how this will pay off, but by the All-Star break I’m guessing that folks will wish the outfield included Ordonez and Lee again instead of Podsednik and most anyone else.

I’d continue, but it’s too painful.

AL West
1. Lost Angeles Angels
2. Oakland Athletics
3. Texas Rangers
4. Seattle Mariners

This is tough. In my mind, there’s no clear cut favorite here. Each team has strengths and weaknesses. Take any one of them and put them in the AL Central, and they’re likely the immediate favorite (or at least not farther back than in second place, behind the Twins).

The West will likely be won on who wins the most in-division games. The unbalanced schedule requires the West teams to play each other much more frequently, so that should go a long way to deciding the West champion.

After having been the trendy pick the past few years in many circles, the A’s are not likely to be this year. Trading away aces like Mark Mulder and Tim Hudson has that kind of impact on people’s perceptions of your club. But Billy Beane and the A’s acquitted themselves quite well in those deals. They landed a number of prospects and major league ready ballplayers. Whether or not all of those pieces are ready to compete or not in 2005 is unknown at this point.

Given that, I went with the Angels. The Halos won the division last year and there are fewer question marks, or at least more known entities in their 25 man roster going into the season. I’m not at all comfortable with this pick though. This should be a fun division to watch.

Awards and Post-season
MVP: Alex Rodriguez, Yankees – the guess here is that Steinbrenner’s offseason motivational efforts will work and will put together a season for the ages

Cy Young: Johan Santana, Twins – this could be a pick that we’re all making for a long time to come. Barring injury, I don’t see any reason why he shouldn’t win it.

Wild Card: Yankees – I sure hope I’m wrong and I hope this is the year that their playoff streak ends. It could be. If they’re back at the All-Star break it could be hard for them to make a move, as every dollar they add in payroll adds a significant amount to what they will be forced to donate to revenue sharing.

Champion: Boston Red Sox – sure, it took them 86 years between titles, but they could get a chance to play for another one pretty quickly. Besides, the last time they won a title (prior to last year), didn’t they win back-to-back?


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