Let's begin with a quick recap of last year...Phillies won World Series over upstart Tampa Bay Rays. OK, now onto this year. Here is a division by division preview, followed by my predictions for this year.
- Phillies bolster lineup with Raul Ibanez, but spring scare with Cole Hamels' elbow, Philly fans hold breath it doesn't flare up again.
- Braves add some starting pitching, look to come back with a healthy offense, will be much improved.
- Marlins have top staff in division, look for young players to make a huge impact (Maybin, Bonifacio, & Sanchez).
- Mets try to justify their huge payroll, starting pitching questions, and two consecutive chokes at the end of season look to rebound.
- Nationals tried to make a splash with Teixeira.
- Red Sox hope for a healthy Ortiz, and sleeper free agent signing Brad Penny makes them a favorite.
- Yankees will look to C.C. and A.J. to help the pitching but age may catch up with the rest of team.
- Rays try to match last year's magic, the future looks bright, but everyone else improved.
- Orioles have a great young OF-Nick Markakis and it seems they are finally headed in the right direction.
- Blue Jays will struggle but Roy Halladay is the BEST PITCHER in baseball.
- Cubs have not done much, but Milton Bradley will help a lot. The pitching looks strong, Kevin Gregg will probably be involved in waaay to many decisions for a closer.
- Cardinals like their chances basically because of 2 people-La Russa & Pujols. Their pitching looks to get healthy with the return of Ace Chris Carpenter.
- Astros seem to always be around and look for more of the same this year. A lot of guys born in the 70's means a breakdown by end of year is possible.
- Brewers will fall back to the pack this year with an unhealthy Ben Sheet and no Sabathia. Offense will put up huge numbers, but can they score more than their opponent everyday?
- Reds could be a surprise, look for Brandon Phillips to be recognized nationally, and Edinson Volquez has absolutely nasty stuff.
- Pirates have a couple good players, Ryan Doumit could be an all-star catcher.
- White Sox have suspect pitching, and aging hitting.
- Indians will try to rebound after a disappointing 2008, and life after C.C. is in its first full year. They could make a run at the division title, hoping for a healthy Travis Hafner.
- Tigers could hit a lot of homers, and Miguel Cabrera just keeps on chugging.
- Royals fans could have something to cheer about this year, and its been a long time coming. I mean cheering in August, September could be possible.
- Twins are a classy organizations and are always competitive. I don't expect anything different this year. Liriano is a stud who is a Cy Young Candidate.
- Dodgers hope Manny can lift them to playoffs again.
- D-Backs are young but they have some great starting pitching and should be in a lot of games.
- Rockies will struggle this year 2 years removed from a World Series appearance.
- Padres need to get rid of Peavy in order to move forward as a franchise, and it should be a loooong year.
- Giants have a horse in Tim Lincecum, and this will be a fun team to watch. Good starting pitching will keep them around for a while.
- Angels have a great lineup but the loss of K-Rod and some other pitching questions will test the teams front office.
- Athletics are always a tough game and that will continue. They look to make the playoffs again with a new crop of young starting pitching and try to find magic in a bottle with the return of Jason Giambi.
- Mariners have one of my favorite players in Ichiro, but that's about it.
- Rangers have Josh Hamilton who is probably the greatest story in sports history.
NL- Los Angeles Dodgers, Chicago Cubs, New York Mets, Wild Card-Florida Marlins
AL- Boston Red Sox, Minnesota Twins, Oakland Athletics, Wild Card- New York Yankees
World Series Winner- Chicago Cubs