Billy-Ball Daily: 2008-3-31

3/31/2008
Billy-Ball Daily
Bill Chuck (Billy-Ball his own self)

Never make predictions, especially about the future.” – Casey Stengel

Here is Billy-Ball’s opportunity to be a fool again (I will never let you forget that picked the Texas Rangers to win the AL West last season)

In light of the fact that my new book deals with famous “lasts”, please allow me to start with my picks for last place in each division and work my way up.

AL East
5 – Baltimore Orioles – last season this team finished at 69-93, and in 4th place, this year should produce the same kind of numbers, but in the cellar.

AL Central
5 – Kansas City Royals – last season this team finished at 69-93, and in 5th place, this year should produce the same kind of numbers, and once again in the cellar, but I think they will be more competitive and next season we should start thinking about this team as a definite contender for fourth place.

AL West
4 – Texas Rangers – Hey, I’m not that big an idiot. Last season the team was 75-87, in finishing fourth. More of the same this season.

NL East
5 – Florida Marlins – I can’t wish enough bad things for this team that is spending $9 million less on payroll than they receive from revenue sharing.

NL Central
6 – Pittsburgh Pirates – The Pirates are the Royals of the NL except I think they will probably be lousy next year. This will be their 16th consecutive losing season. It’s safe to say they’re in a recession.

NL West
5 – SF Giants – I wish I could say this team is better without B*nds, but I can’t. They are least more tolerable.

Still under .500
AL East
4 – Tampa Bay Rays – They dropped the Devil and they are starting to make their climb from Hades. This team will be fun to watch and should be nobody’s pushover. They make the AL East even more competitive and that will hurt the chances of a the second-place team becoming the Wild card team. Watch James Shield and Matt Garza. Troy Percival brings more to the clubhouse than the bullpen.
5 – Baltimore Orioles

AL Central
4 – Minnesota Twins – There are so many reasons to root for the Twins, but their so many reasons why they deserve a fourth place finish. They will miss Torii Hunter and Johan Santana more than their team can bear. Let’s just hope Al Franken wins in Minnesota.
5 – Kansas City Royals

AL West
3 – Oakland A’s – So the A’s have subtracted Dan Haren (15-9), Nick Swisher (.381 on-base percentage) and Shannon Stewart (.290 batting average) and the reason I’m picking them ahead of the Rangers is what?
4 – Texas Rangers

NL East
3 – Atlanta Braves – A new streak for the Braves has started – this will be to years in a row, where it’s not gonna happen.
4 – Washington Nationals – A new ballpark and Milledge and Dukes in the outfield and the return of Nick Johnson. Oh yeah, this is a fourth place team.
5 – Florida Marlins

NL Central
4 – Houston Astros – These guys are my mediocrity poster children. As Aretha used to sing, “Ain’t No Way.”
5 – St. Louis Cardinals
6 – Pittsburgh Pirates

NL West
3 – San Diego Padres – Fans here will be Peaved their team isn’t much better, but acquiring Tadahito Iguchi won’t be the way to the top.
4 – LA Dodgers
5 – SF Giants

Around .500+…
AL East
3 – Toronto – Here lies my first huge potential for error. There is a large part of my brain that says that the Jays win the East or at least finishes second. It all comes down to health and they get bitten by injuries more than anybody. What I mean is that there key players are the ones getting hurt. If, let me re-write that, IF, this team gets and stays healthy they could win 95 games and the AL East.
4 – Tampa Bay Rays
5 – Baltimore Orioles

AL Central
3 – Chicago White Sox – This is a better team as last year, but not as good as two years ago and you need to be very, very good to compete with the AL Central powerhouses. I love the additions of Nick Swisher and Orlando Cabrera, but they don’t have the goods to rise above the middle of the pack.
4 – Minnesota Twins
5 – Kansas City Royals

AL West
2 – LA Angels – Lookie, lookie, lookie, by now you have figured out who I have picked to win the AL West and my pick is better than the Rangers of last year. Torii Hunter (a Billy-Ball fave) is in center field and Jon Garland is in their rotation, but Garland won’t be enough to compensate for the already sore arms in the rotation. I also don’t think K-Rod is a happy camper.
3 – Oakland A’s
4 – Texas Rangers

NL East
3 – Atlanta Braves – The Braves will begin a new streak this year as the years not making the post-season reaches two. I don’t think Mark Kotsay over Andruw Jones in center will result in any improvement.
4 – Washington Nationals – A new ballpark and Milledge and Dukes in the outfield and the return of Nick Johnson. Oh yeah, this is a fourth place team.
5 – Florida Marlins

NL Central
3 – Cincinnati Reds – Could this team surprise? Why not the division is simply awful and they are not. I am a Dusty Baker fan.
4 – Houston Astros
5 – St. Louis Cardinals
6 – Pittsburgh Pirates

NL West
3 – San Diego Padres – These fans will be Peaved when they find the biggest improvement made in this tough division was acquiring Tadahito Iguchi to play second base. The next time Jim Edmonds is injured they should do a carbon dating to find out how old he really is.
4 – LA Dodgers
5 – SF Giants

The cream of the crop…
AL East
2 – Boston – Unless the independent league Brockton Rox can break the Curse of Frazee (more on that at a later date), the Sox will not repeat. If Beckett’s back balks they will finish third. I have higher hopes for Jon Lester improving on the mound than I do Dice-K. Wakefield is a .500 pitcher if he’s healthy and Schilling is close to done. Buchholtz is too young to be the difference. They just don’t do it for me dog, I think they’re a little pitchy. Beyond their pitching, they have a great team and a great manager and the resources to buy whatever they need.
3 – Toronto
4 – Tampa Bay Rays
5 – Baltimore Orioles

AL Central
2 – Cleveland Indians – This is the team that came very close to going all the way and there is no reason they shouldn’t do the same this year. Yes, there is the Detroit Tigers. Pronk should be better this season.
3 – Chicago White Sox
4 – Minnesota Twins
5 – Kansas City Royals

AL West
2 – LA Angels
3 – Oakland A’s
4 – Texas Rangers

NL East
2 – Philadelphia Phillies – No Aaron Rowand, but yes, to Pedro Feliz and Geoff Jenkins, these are not the changes you need to repeat particularly when you won last year only because of a freak collapse.
3 – Atlanta Braves
4 – Washington Nationals
5 – Florida Marlins

NL Central
2 – Milwaukee Brewers – I love Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder but Mike Cameron and Eric Gagne?
3 – Cincinnati Reds
4 – Houston Astros
5 – St. Louis Cardinals 6 – Pittsburgh Pirates

NL West
2 – Arizona Diamondbacks – This pick was harder for me than the AL East. I think Dan Haren will be a huge pick-up, but he’s a much better pitcher than hitter and the D-Backs need bats.
3 – San Diego Padres
4 – LA Dodgers
5 – SF Giants

The Division Champs
AL East
1 – New York Yankees – Go ahead Red Sox Nation, direct your vile barbs at me, but this is my pick. While I agree that like the Sox, the Yanks may have a combination of pitchers that are too old and too young, unlike the Sox, I think they are better. Between Phil Hughes, Ian Kennedy and Joba Chamberlain, I think they have some awesome potential and their batters are still effective enough to scare anybody. I think Joe Girardi will give this team a boost of energy.
2 – Boston
3 – Toronto
4 – Tampa Bay Rays
5 – Baltimore Orioles

AL Central
1 – Detroit Tigers – This is the best team in baseball. Their pick-up of Miguel Cabrera should be huge and I think Dontrelle will put it together. They seem to have a weak bullpen but with their awesome lineup they will not be out of any game.
2 – Cleveland Indians
3 – Chicago White Sox
4 – Minnesota Twins
5 – Kansas City Royals

AL West
1 – Seattle Mariners – From one Ivar’s location to another, Mariners fans will celebrate this team. Adding Erik Bedard will be a most significant addition. The player to watch? Wladimir Balentien
2 – LA Angels
3 – Oakland A’s
4 – Texas Rangers

NL East
1 – New York Mets – Johan Santana will be the King of Queens. Willie Randolph will make certain Jose Reyes’ legs are fresh in September and David Wright will continue to show why he is Bill James’ favorite player
2 – Philadelphia Phillies
3 – Atlanta Braves
4 – Washington Nationals
5 – Florida Marlins

NL Central
1- Chicago Cubs – Konishiwah, Kosuke Fukodome and I like Pie. Let’s go Cubbies!
2 – Milwaukee Brewers
3 – Cincinnati Reds
4 – Houston Astros
5 – St. Louis Cardinals
6 – Pittsburgh Pirates

NL West
1 – Colorado Rockies – This is the year they show they were not a fluke. I like Troy Tulowitzki, Matt Holliday, Todd Helton, Garrett Atkins and Brad Hawpe a lot.
2 – Arizona Diamondbacks
3 – San Diego Padres
4 – LA Dodgers
5 – SF Giants
Wild Cards
AL
Cleveland Indians
NL
Diamondbacks

League Champs
AL
Detroit Tigers
NL
Chicago Cubs

World Champs
Detroit Tigers

Bill Chuck is the creator of Billy-Ball.com and, with Jim Kaplan, is the author of the book, “Walk-Offs, Last Licks, and Final Outs – Baseball’s Grand (and not so Grand) Finales” to be published by ACTA Sports, in April.