Here's my take on the 2012 preseason predictions. I want to fully disclose the fact that I have never been so torn on a Red Sox team in my adult life (Duquette years-present) they really could go all the way to the top or crash and burn.
New York Yankees- I've been hearing the age argument for half a decade and I'm not buying it. They certainly are not a shoe in, but they have less question marks then the rest of the division at this point.
Boston Red Sox- I like the fact that most people are not picking the Red Sox to do well. They seem to have all the motivation in the world for a strong season...they will play in the first ever one game wild card playoff.
Tampa Bay Rays- Serious offensive deficiencies and their pitching is not as bullet proof as people want to think and they were pretty bad for two-thirds of the season last year.
Toronto Blue Jays- They are good and they have a very good manager. They will certainly be in contention for a playoff spot past the All Star break, but not much longer than that.
Baltimore Orioles- I'm gonna enjoy the shots of the Duke in a booth at Camden Yards on NESN when they play the Sox. He'll probably be wearing that same look he had on his face when Clemens “gestured” his way at Fenway. The look that says “what the hell have I done?”
Detroit- They will struggle...to catch a ground ball...and to win the division, but I think they will take the lead by September 1 and hang on from there
Cleveland- I don't think their young pitching will be as good as it was last year, but D-Lowe will have a bounce back year.
Kansas City- I agree that starting real soon (maybe this year) they will be the team to beat in this division for a 3-5 year stretch. I think they will lead the division for a large portion of the year before fading down the stretch
Chicago- The highlight of their season will be the last two weeks of July.
Minnesota- In one of the surprises of the year Ron Gardenhire will not be the manager of the Twins in '13. He either resigns or is fired after the year is over.
Texas- The Angels are obviously the offseason champs just like the Sox a year ago and the Rangers are the team with a consistent nucleus that knows how to win together. Rangers win the division by 5 plus games.
Anaheim- Their pitching was good enough last year to contend now they will get the second wild card spot and play a one game playoff in Boston to kickoff the post season.
Seattle- Good young core of position players and some pretty good pitching too. They will surprise some people.
Oakland- Speed is the new Moneyball stat? How's this for stats: Their team stinks! Can I get a sabermetrics stat on that?
Playoffs- Sox win first Wild Card Play-in Game
Tigers beat Yankees in 7
Red Sox beat Rangers in 7
Red Sox beat Tigers in 6
AL MVP Jacoby Ellsbury
AL Cy Young Jered Weaver
AL ROY Lorenzo Cain
AL Manager Bobby V
Phillies- Just too much pitching not to win the division
Marlins- Should be entertaining that's for sure
Nationals- They'll battle for a Wild Card spot
Braves- I don't think they will recover from last years collapse and their manager won't make it through the year
Mets- Worst team in baseball
Cincinnati- Best in a weak division
Brewers- Fall a bit without Fielder, but their pitching is good enough to keep them in Wild Card contention
Pirates- another good young team that showed flashes last year and I believe they are for real. They will finish over .500!!!
Cardinals- Matheny will bomb and they will not be very good
Cubs- Major Rebuilding job for Theo and Jed
Astros- Millsie's timing is bad he could have been the manager of the Sox if he had gotten fired a year sooner
Rockies- Tulo has a huge year and C-Gon bounces back
Giants- The best pitching in the division, but Melky Cabrera is going to fix their offensive woes??
Dodgers- Do you believe in Magic? Yes I do actually, but it's too soon
Diamondbacks- A stat correction year for them.
Padres- Just another year for them
Playoffs- Giants over Brewers in Wild Card Play-in game
Phillies over Giants in 6
Reds over Rockies in 5
Phillies over Reds in 6
NL MVP Troy Tulowitzski
NL Cy Young Cliff Lee
NL ROY Bryce Harper
NL Manager of the Year Jim Tracy
World Series 2012- Red Sox over Phillies in the match up that everyone is picking...Wait a minute. What's that? This is not 2011? OK, so this is the popular pick from a year ago. Sox win in 7 games finally delivering an exciting World Series that goes longer than 4 games. (Wow am I a spoiled Red Sox fan or what. Now I'm complaining about the two WS wins not being exciting enough. Never would have said that 9 years ago.) While I wrote this I've convinced myself that the Sox season will go all the way and not all the way into the toilet.
A Few Extra Tidbits:
- I can't help but shake the feeling that Aaron Cook is going to be a major contributor to the Sox rotation this year, just not sure how yet.
- I agree with the Deacon that Vincente Padilla can be this years Aceves. Or this years Joaquin Benoit. In other words he may be our best set up guy.
- I like the idea of Bard getting about 130 innings as a starter and then bolstering the bullpen late in the year.
- Speaking of the bullpen, it will be a major STRENGTH this year. Once Hill comes back and Bailey gets healthy Bobby V will have plenty of weapons out there, but Albers isn't going to be one of them this year.
Keep in mind these are just my opinions and I'm sure most of them will be wrong by May Day!!