Every spring, Ernie Harwell, the longtime voice of the Detroit Tigers would read the following verse to announce the new season:
For, lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone; The flowers appear on the earth; the time of singing is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land
One reason why technology is great: I'm currently watching Food Network in a window on my desktop while writing this post. It's the squash episode of Good Eats.
Anyhow, I'm pretty excited for the upcoming baseball season. I'm in a previously mentioned fantasy league, but more on that another time. For now, I'll give my quick division by division preview along with my predictions on the playoff participants.
American League West
Full seasons from Harden and Crosby will help the A's stay near the top of the league, but Anaheim is still the team to beat. Continuing to play Erstad at first in the presence of better options may yet drag them down, but the real problem can occur if K-Rod's inevitable arm injury happens this year or some year in the future. His mechanics are so screwed up it hurts him less to throw a slider than a fastball. It's a two team race, in my book, though Texas could end up ruining someone's season with a few late season wins. Wilkerson bolsters an already strong offense, but will the pitching hold and will management realize how the bandbox of a park they play in changes performance analysis? King Felix and Ichiro will be fun to watch, but this team won't win more than it loses
Predicted Finish: A's, Angels, Rangers, Mariners
American League Central
Can the champs keep it up. They'll definitely be in it the whole season, as GM Kenny Williams didn't stand pat, recognizing that his team, like all winners, benefited from its fair share of luck and wasn't really a 99 win team. Thome joins the party and Southsiders are hoping for more power. It's a gamble considering his age, salary, and injury history, but he and the newly (and expensively) resigned Konerko can provide power in the middle of the lineup. They will need to hit to support a lineup that includes Podsednik, Crede, and new centerfielder Anderson. Breathing down their necks are the Tribe and Twins. The Twins can pitch but not hit, while the Indians can pitch a little and boast as much up the middle talent as anyone. The Twins seem stuck in an organizational malaise, so the Tribe will have to knock of the champs. Avoiding last season's slow start and regressing to the mean in one-run games will do a lot to help them win. As for the rest, the Tigers will call it a success if they reach .500, and the Royals will again struggle (and fail) to avoid 100 losses.
Predicted Finish: Indians, White Sox, Twins, Tigers, Royals
American League East
Yankees and Red Sox look to dominate again, as they've finished 1-2 for something like 8 straight years. The Blue Jays made their big offseason spending spree, but I don't think they've done enough. Not enough offense, but they could make it interesteing. If the Red Sox or, more likely, the Yankees suffer a few major injuries, the Jays could crash the party. It will take a lot, though, to derail those powerful offenses. The winner of the division will likely come down to health. If Clement, Schilling, and Foulke can be healthy, the Sox have a chance. Similarly, the Yanks are counting on Johnson, Mussina, Pavano, and Rivera to hold other teams in check so the big bashers can do their job. The Orioles are stuck where they always are, fighting for third, and the Devil Rays have a bright future now that the old regime has finally left town and the new crew can use those good young players to get the team out of the basement, but not this year.
Predicted Finish: Red Sox, Yankees, Blue Jays, Orioles, Devil Rays
National League to come...