Thursday, April 01, 2004
Last year, I picked the Marlins to finish last in the National League East. You all know what happened with that.
So here they are, my 2004 predictions:
American League East
New York, Boston (Wild Card), Toronto, Tampa Bay, Baltimore
The Yankees and Red Sox will battle until the final day of the regular season for the A.L. East crown. But I see the Yankees coming out on top, barely. The Yankees pitching is not as good as it has been in recent years, but they are still solid. Curt Schilling makes Pedro Martinez better, and vice versa. Boy, those 19 games are going to be fun in 2004. Neither of these teams will win 100 games, however.
This is because of the new and improved A.L. East. Toronto is better. Baltimore is better. And Tampa Bay is better.
This isn't some April Fool's joke, I have the Devil Rays finishing ahead of the Orioles. Lou Piniella is not going to allow this team to finish dead last again. While the pitching is still below par, the Devil Rays have made some good moves, acquiring 1B Tino Martinez and OF Jose Cruz, Jr. Tampa Bay will give the Yankees and Red Sox fits.
American League Central
Kansas City, Minnesota, Chicago White Sox, Cleveland, Detroit
The Royals will finish the job in 2004. In contention for most of 2003, the Royals fell off late. But they will be back this season. Juan Gonzalez is going to have a big year. I think playing for Tony Pena is only going to help Juan Gone. The pitching in Kansas City is nothing to write home about, but in this weak division, they should be alright.
And the Tigers will still finish last. Nice job, Pudge. Maybe your boy Uggy Urbina will help you feel better.
American League West
Anaheim, Oakland, Seattle, Texas
The Angels are the most improved team in the American League. I'm scared to think of what Vladimir Guerrero is going to do with a contending ballclub. I'm glad he's in the American League West so I can get to see him play more often. Unfortunately, he's not a Mariner. Too bad, so sad. Same ol' song and dance.
The A's still have Mark Mulder, Tim Hudson, and Barry Zito, but their offense has gotten worse. Arthur Rhodes closing? I don't know about that.
And the Mariners...
They will win 88 games. It would be a good season.
However, that's not good enough. That 88 win total would put them in third place, 6 games behind the Angels. Yes, I think this team is 5 games worse than last season. The offseason was underwhelming at best. You can spin all the optimism you want to spin, but the fact is, Raul Ibanez is not a great player. Neither is Quinton McCracken.
There's no way in hell the starting rotation is going to have the same 5 guys in 2004. Someone is going to get hurt. I'm calling Gil Meche. I've called this since last September.
The bullpen is worse. I love the Eddie Guardado acquisition, but the fact that we're talking about Kevin Jarvis being in the Mariners bullpen on April 1 is just enough to make me go vomit all over the place. Watch the M's screw with Julio Mateo, who clearly deserves a better roll of the dice here.
Your 2004 Seattle Mariners, 88 wins, third place. I hope I'm wrong. (Honest.)
National League East
Philadelphia, Atlanta, Florida, New York Mets, Montreal
I predicted the Phillies to win the East last year. I was a year too early.
The karma of Citizens Bank Park will drive the Phillies to their first playoff appearance since 1993. Man I loved that 1993 season. First year of Lou in Seattle, the Giants-Braves NL West race (the last true pennant race before the Wild Card), the Phillies (John Kruk was awesome, still is), and the final seasons for Nolan Ryan and Carlton Fisk. It's been that long.
Anyways, back to 2004. The Phillies solidified their bullpen by acquiring closer Billy Wagner. The Astros are going to regret dealing Wagner big time. Not only did they add Wagner, but also signed former Giants reliever Tim Worrell. Eric Milton is now in Philadelphia, where he will contribute to an already solid rotation of Kevin Millwood, Randy Wolf, Brett Myers, and Vicente Padilla. And Jim Thome is going to love the new ballpark.
I can't help but pick the Braves to finish 2nd. I hate them, but something tells me that Bobby Cox is going to get the most out of those guys. It just won't be enough for them to win another division title.
The Marlins will drop back a little in 2004, but they still have a ring to look back on. The Mets will finish ahead of the Expos, if for the simple reason that the Expos can't possibly finish out of the cellar again.
National League Central
Chicago Cubs, St. Louis, Houston, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Milwaukee
The Cubs are without Mark Prior to start the season. Oh well.
The Cubs will win this division, but the Cardinals will give them a run. Notice that I didn't say the Astros. I don't trust a Jimy Williams-team to live up to expectations. And quite frankly, I hope Roger Clemens gets beaned big time. That's right, Roger has to bat now!!!
The Pirates, Reds, and Brewers are horrible. You didn't need me to tell you that.
National League West
San Francisco, San Diego (Wild Card), Arizona, Los Angeles, Colorado
The Giants are not what they once were. However, this year's N.L. West is not as good as it has been in recent years.
It should be interesting to see what Jason Schmidt's status will be. It could play a huge factor as to how good the Giants will be in 2004.
Yes, I'm picking the Padres to win the Wild Card. Why not? They are young, but they are talented. Brian Giles is in San Diego for a full season. Phil Nevin should be healthy for a full season. Trevor Hoffman is back as well. And the new ballpark karma will pay off for the Padres, even though they play in a fricking Litterbox. Oh, and David Wells was signed in the offseason. If he can stay healthy, he will be a great fit in that young Padres rotation.
This will be the final year of Bob Brenly in Arizona. Hopefully, it's one and done for Richie Sexson in the Valley of the Sun as well.
The Dodgers have the pitching, but their offense makes the Mariners look like the Bash Brothers. Expect new GM Paul DePodesta to make some changes in Chavez Ravine. And the Rockies are terrible, even though I expect Jeromy Burnitz to hit 40 bombs in Coors Field.
AL MVP---Vladimir Guerrero, ANA (.325, 46 HR, 138 RBI)
NL MVP---Albert Pujols, STL (.358, 47 HR, 146 RBI)
AL Cy Young---Tim Hudson, OAK (21-6, 2.92 ERA)
NL Cy Young---Russ Ortiz, ATL (20-8, 3.08 ERA)
Sidenote: WHY DID THE GIANTS TRADE THIS GUY???
AL Manager of the Year---Mike Scioscia, ANA
NL Manager of the Year---Bruce Bochy, SD
You're Fired!!!---Carlos Tosca, TOR (April 30), Lloyd McClendon, PIT (May 19), Jim Tracy, LA (July 11), Frank Robinson, MTL (July 23 "resigns")
American League Division Series
New York defeats Kansas City in FOUR GAMES
Boston defeats Anaheim in FIVE GAMES
National League Division Series
Philadelphia defeats San Francisco in FOUR GAMES
Chicago Cubs defeat San Diego in FIVE GAMES
American League Championship Series
Boston defeats New York in SEVEN GAMES
ALCS MVP: David Ortiz, BOS
National League Championship Series
Philadelphia defeats Chicago in SEVEN GAMES
NLCS MVP: Placido Polanco, PHI
2004 WORLD SERIES
Philadelphia Phillies defeat Boston Red Sox in SEVEN GAMES
WS MVP: Jim Thome, PHI
Schilling returns to Philadelphia for the World Series. However, he will not help the Red Sox end their "curse" in 2004.
Quite frankly, I hope the Red Sox Nation suffers for a long time. Remember, most of those fans already have a few championships in their possession. 2 Super Bowl titles in the last 3 years, 16 NBA titles, and a few Stanley Cups.
Am I bitter. YES.
Because you need to remember this about me. I don't want to see other cities celebrate a championship. I've never been able to celebrate a championship. So why should anybody else?
OK, maybe a little over the top there. But it's the truth.
Just to remind everybody, these are not the type of predictions you want to put money on. However, you can bet on two of the managers that I named above to get canned in 2004.
Enjoy the 2004 season. I know I will.
Well, I won't enjoy the inevitable Raul Ibanez 2-for-32 slump.