Since it is the almost the end of spring training and most of the rosters are set, I think it is time for my predictions for the upcoming season. I am going to put my predictions out in the cyber world to be criticized and possibly praised. Will be curious how I will do compared to the so-called experts of the national media. Today I will be starting with the senior circuit, the National League, and tomorrow, the AL.
Washington Senators return a very solid team that won the division in 2012. They were led by a strong pitching staff and timely hitting. I think this team will improve on the accomplishments from a year ago. Having 2012 Rookie of the Year Bryce Harper for a full season and pitching ace Stephen Strasburg not having an innings limit, should help on it's own. Washington also traded for OF Denard Span as a lead off hitter and signed closer Rafael Soriano to add to a very good bullpen. Prediction: 1st Place
Atlanta Braves is also a very good team that made the playoffs a year ago. Atlanta's biggest off season acquisitions were the Upton brothers, B.J. and Justin, for their outfield. The Braves still have a very solid ball club, but for me, the biggest question marks is the loss of Chipper Jones, primarily his leadership and possible long term injury to set up man Johnny Venters. Prediction: Wild Card
Philadelphia Phillies had a disappointing year in 2012 mostly because of injuries. If pitcher Roy Halladay, 1B Ryan Howard and 2B Chase Utley all return to their old form, or close to it, they should compete. Remember they still have Cole Hamels, Cliff Lee and Jonathan Papelbon on their pitching staff. Off season pick ups Ben Revere and Michael Young should help in the run production.
New York Mets are still rebuilding and the loss of Johan Santana does not help.
Miami Marlins, well they have Giancarlo Stanton....for now..
Cincinnati Reds won the division last season and should compete again for it. They added OF Shin Soo Choo from Cleveland and decided wisely to keep Aroldis Chapman as their closer instead of converting him as a starter. Prediction: 1st Place
St Louis Cardinals won a wild card spot and beat the Braves in a one game playoff game a year ago. I am not sure if they have enough to make up for the loss of starters Kyle Lohse and Chris Carpenter. If Adam Wainwright and Jaime Garcia are healthy and the young arms of Lance Lynn and Shelby Miller do well, St Louis could win the division.
Milwaukee Brewers added Kyle Lohse late in spring training to their rotation, which should compliment Yovani Gallardo quite well. Brewers still have MVP candidate Ryan Braun, but I don't think they have enough to make the playoffs
Pittsburgh Pirates are slowly becoming a better and better team each year. C Russell Martin should help some and if 2012 rookie Starling Marte emerges as a bonafide run producer to go with OF Andrew McCutchen, it would make them even better. The X-factors for Pittsburgh are starters Francisco Liriano and Johnathan Sanchez and closer Jason Grilli. If these guys have solid years, Pittsburgh could compete for division to the end. Rookies Gerrit Cole and Jameson Taillon could help late in season also
Chicago Cubs are slowly adding young talent. Sometimes it takes awhile. Javier Baez and Jorge Soler could be future stars but could be a year or so away. Cubs fans stay loyal, one of these "next years" could actually be here.
San Francisco Giants won it all last year behind MVP Buster Posey and a solid starting rotation.. They return just about the same roster from a year ago. My worries is Pablo Sandoval's weight, which if not maintained could lead to subpar season for him and will the magic be there from a year ago? They did win a lot of close games. They will compete to the very end for a division title or wild card spot. Prediction: Wild Card
Los Angeles Dodgers went on a shopping spree late last season and into the winter. So, they have a deep roster of stars, but will they work well together and stay healthy? I have an idea that the Dodgers will do whatever it takes to win the division. Prediction: 1st place
Arizona Diamondbacks made some moves in the off season to better fit the personality of manager Kirk Gibson. They should play hard and compete for the divison for awhile. Do they have enough horses to win the division, especially if injuries hit them?
San Diego Padres and Colorado Rockies round out the division and don't have enough to compete. San Diego has better pitching than Colorado, which makes them a bit better.. Colorado may end up trading stars Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez for rebuilding.