Predictions don't really mean anything. You really can't predict injuries, breakouts, breakdowns, etc., but I like making them anyway. It's a fun exercise. What do you think is going to happen? What actually happens? We always have excellent reasons for why we think something is going to happen, but we're usually dead wrong. This is just an exercise. Feel free to disagree with me, but please realize that you're just as likely to be wrong as I am.
Philadelphia Phillies --> I'm a Braves fan by trade, but even I can't come up with a reason the Phillies will lose the division. The offense might be better than that of the Yankees, and the defense is pretty good all the way around, as well. The starting rotation looks swell, and the Lee trade looks better by the strained abdomen (though it still doesn't make much sense that they made that trade). The bullpen should be fine, and I wouldn't bet on Lidge being that bad again. All around, this looks like a good team with the bullpen appearing to be the only real threat to collapse. Final Prediction: Chase Utley does enough to deserve the MVP Award and doesn't even come in the top 10 in the voting. Life just isn't fair.
Atlanta Braves (WC) --> I'm a Braves fan, so you know I won't have them out of the money. But I don't think this is a stretch, and I pride myself on not being terribly biased. The rotation looks like the best in the National League from 1-5, and the bullpen restocked with the addition of Wagner (I remain unimpressed with Saito, but Wagner will be just fine). The defense should improve, especially in the outfield, but it probably will be middle of the pack, at best. Offensively, there isn't too much pop, but there's a decent chance that Chipper, Glaus, McCann and Heyward hit 25+ bombs. Final Prediction: Bobby is ejected 9 times during the season.
New York Mets --> The offense comes alive again, but much like the Indians, there just isn't enough pitching to get them anywhere. The bullpen should be fairly good, and although they're misusing Mejia, that doesn't change the fact that he can be effective as a reliever. They could make a run if all goes well, but they don't have much wiggle room. Final Prediction: Jerry Manuel rips off his shirt in an effort to motivate his players, and they just laugh at the white, wispy, and uneven hairs.
Florida Marlins --> They should have a good offense (at least until Uggla is traded), but I'm not terribly excited by the defense. As for the pitching staff, they have a nice 1-2 punch in Johnson and Nolasco, but I worry about the rest of the rotation. The bullpen may not end up a whole lot better. They're like the Rays in some ways -- tons of potential and youth -- but with less chance of realizing that potential. Final Prediction: Florida doesn't break the 1.5 million attendance mark despite the added payroll.
Washington Nationals --> The offense looks decent. The rotation looks decent. The bullpen looks decent. The defense looks decent. It's just that decent doesn't get it done. Strasburg will make an appearance by June, and he'll give the team some excitement for a few months. That'll be about it. Final Prediction: They won't have the first pick in a supposedly-loaded 2011 draft.
St. Louis Cardinals --> They have a helluva 3-4 punch in Pujols and Holliday, and Colby Rasmus is due for a breakout. The rest of the offense is good enough. The starting rotation is a bit top-heavy (there needs to be a snide remark about Brad Penny and the bottom of the rotation), but the bottom is solid enough. I don't really know what to expect from the bullpen, but Franklin will do just fine as the closer. There's really not much other competition in this division. Final Prediction: McGwire and Pujols have a home run derby during a pre-game BP, and McGwire wins.
Cincinnati Reds --> This ought to get me some funny looks. The rotation should be fairly decent, but it won't be better than middle-of-the-pack. The bullpen will probably be a major strength (rip on Cordero's contract if you want, but he is effective). The offense should be due an improvement with a six months of Votto and a better version of Jay Bruce, and the defense could be a major asset. The more I looked at the team, the better I felt about this decision. Final Prediction: Something about Dusty Baker and Mike Leake and Aroldis Chapman's arms falling off.
Chicago Cubs --> Some of their players (Zambrano and Soto) will rebound, but some of them just aren't that healthy anymore (Soriano and Ramirez). Unfortunately, they need everyone to make a run at this. There are just too many questions in the rotation, bullpen, and offense to accurately assess this team. Final Prediction: Soto wins Comeback Player of the Year Award but doesn't make the All-Star team. It happens.
Milwaukee Brewers --> I've seen way too many stories about how "nasty" the Brewers rotation can be. While I agree, it's not the compliment that the journalists usually mean. The bullpen may not be any better, especially when Trevor Hoffman loses his invincibility. Luckily, the offense and defense will be helpful, but they just aren't deep enough to get much done. Final Prediction: Rickie Weeks plays in a career-high number of games.
Houston Astros --> I bet they make things interesting at some point because they always seem to. There isn't much to like beyond Oswalt, Rodriguez, Lee, Berkman, Bourne, and Pence, but there's an awful lot of money tied into those guys. Everything else is iffy at best, and there is no help coming up the pipeline. If one or more of those guys goes down, the team might cross the 70-win threshold the wrong way. Final Prediction: There will be all sorts of stories about Brad Mills and teaching the "Red Sox way". That's fine and all, but it won't make a bit of difference.
Pittsburgh Pirates --> Just wait a little longer Pirates fans. I like what Neil Huntington has done, but it's going to take another season. Nothing looks special, and most of the team looks less than so. The fans won't like it, but this is progress. Final Prediction: Huntington makes his first major splash by jumping in on one of the major free-agent starters in the off-season. You heard it here first.
Los Angeles Dodgers --> The offense should be just fine as there hasn't been a major turnover, and there's more upside than down. I imagine the bullpen will remain stellar and with incredible depth. Critics seem to hate the rotation, but I don't know what the problem is. Kershaw hasn't lost anything, Billingsley had a rough second half but he's still incredibly talented, Kuroda should be solid, and Padilla could be league-average. There's still a lot to like about this team. Final Prediction: They win the division by the largest margin of any division champion.
Colorado Rockies --> Their spot here is more about how bad the rest of the division is than how good the Rockies are. I expect the rotation to give a lot back, and I don't think the bullpen will be much better. I'm also not incredibly sure how many runs they are going to score, but the defense should be good enough to save some. I just don't see it. Final Prediction: They narrowly eclipse the .500 mark.
Arizona Diamondbacks --> I'm tired of believing in this team. Of course, that means they'll actually come through this season. I like Haren, but I remained unconvinced that Webb and Jackson will be healthy and effective, respectively, all season. The bullpen will probably be a strength, but usually, that's the last thing you worry about. At this point, the "young D-Backs" aren't really young anymore, and they are who they are. And they just aren't that good. Final Prediction: Adam LaRoche and Kelly Johnson's WAR won't combine to equal Justin Upton's.
San Francisco Giants --> Well at least they have Lincecum and the Panda. After just getting an extension, Cain will also start to give up more runs, and the rest of the rotation won't really pan out all that well. It's too bad because the offense isn't going to be good enough to carry the team. It's Lincecum, Cain and pray for rain and an offense. Final Prediction: Lincecum pitches extremely well again, but he'll fall by the wayside this time because the Giants just won't be any good.
San Diego Padres --> I actually think the Padres could end up being better than the Giants, but I just don't have the stones to put them any higher up. Gonzalez, Blanks, and Headley could make for an interesting offense, but I doubt they'll score very much. The rotation should improve fairly dramatically, and the bullpen will be pretty good. They're moving up in the world, just not very far. Final Prediction: Adrian Gonzalez and Heath Bell remain Padres through the season. Just a hunch.
MVP --> Just don't bet against Albert Pujols. You're just throwing money away.
Cy Young --> I hate saying it, but I think this is the year Halladay finally gets his due.
Rookie of the Year --> I didn't want to choose Heyward, but I can't think of a good reason not to take him.