I did abysmally in my picks last year, and hopefully I'll do an equally terrible job this year (at least in the AL Central, since I'm not picking the Twins for once, but I'll still be rooting for them). For those wondering where my annual call for Opening Day to be recognized as a national holiday is, don't worry, it'll get its own post this year.
So, without further delay, here are the picks:
NL East: The Mets added a HUGE piece in Santana, and I still love the guy so much that I'm going to predict he alone pitches them to the top of the East. No big chokes like last year. Philly is a great team, and the Nationals will hopefully turn some heads (beautiful new stadium, a lot of excitement around some good, young offensive threats) and finish in third. Of course, that involves me picking against the Braves, which is something I know I should never do. But Jayson Stark picked the Braves to win it all, so I think that'll be an effective enough curse, and I'll stick with my pick. NL East shapes up as Mets, Phillies, Nationals, Braves, Marlins.
NL Central: Never a fun division to pick because there are so many middling teams, and it's baseball's biggest division. I think the Cubbies will take the crown, provided they get a second baseman. Fukodome will quitely put up solid numbers, and Kerry Wood will thrive in the closers role. Of course, they'll choke it all away in the first round of the playoffs. The Brewers are good, but I think they've got one more year to go, and the Cardinals have fallen a long way. NL Central in order: Cubs, Brewers, Astros, Reds, Cards, Pirates.
NL West: Another difficult division, with a handful of middling-to-good teams. I loved the Rockies last post-season, but I think they'll fall back to Earth as teams frequently do. The Padres will show some cracks, and the Giants are probably the worst team in baseball. That'll leave the door open for a battle between the Dodgers and the Diamondbacks. I love the Diamondbacks' pitching, so I'm giving them the edge over the Torre-led team from L.A. Your NL West finishes Diamondbacks, Dodgers, Padres, Rockies, Giants.
NL Wild Card: East or West? The good teams in the West are closer to each other than are the good teams in the East, so I think the West will bully each other around too much for one of them to take the wild card. Of course, the same thing happened last year, but it came out of the West. This year though, conventional wisdom rules, and the Phillies take the Wild Card.
MVP: David Wright leads the Mets to a East title over the Phillies and takes home the MVP trophy as a result.
Cy Young: Johan Santana proves to the rest of the world what those of us in Minnesota have know for years: unless you're at least 47, he is a better pitcher than anyone you've ever seen.
Rookie: Um... I dunno. I'll say that Geovany Soto guy, because I recognize the name.
AL East: You know, I really hate the Red Sox. So I'm not picking them. Yankees take the East. How do you like them apples, Boston? Welcome to second place. It's called hubris, and the baseball gods don't smile upon it. The full AL East shakedown goes Yankees, Red Sox, Blue Jays, Rays, and Orioles.
AL Central: This pick hurts me. Because I'm such a Twins fan, I always want to pick them. And maybe they'll have a miracle season, but that's exactly what it would have to be, so I can't knowingly predict they'll win. I'll hope for it though. And let me just say that if there is one surprise team that could do big things this year, it's the Twins. I think Cleveland's pitching is actually quite suspect after Captain Cheeseburger, and I don't know if I even trust him after all the innings he threw last year. Fausto will, like his namesake, realize that deals with the devil that result in temporary glory are ultimately unwise exchanges. Detroit has another season of glory, before next year when suddenly a suprising number of guys are too old (see White Sox, Chicago '06 & Cardinals, St. Louis '07). Your AL Central finish: Tigers, Indians, Twins, White Sox, Royals.
AL West: The Angels are the obvious choice, but I've been writing this post for too long, and I think Seattle puts it together while the fans in Anaheim realize that $90 million is an awful lot for garbage time home runs and GIDPs. The real question here is whether the Rangers or the A's are the worse team. I'll say the A's, because we all know they'll be back on top soon enough, while the Rangers continue to languish in irrelevance. Mariners, Angels, Rangers, Athletics.
AL Wild Card: Once again, screw you Boston. Indians take the wild card.
MVP: Hmm, this is tough. Oh wait, no it's not. Alex Rodriguez.
Cy Young: Hmm, this is tough. Yes. Yes it is. I'm going to go with Eric Bedard who leads all AL pitchers in K's and a surprising Seattle team to the playoffs.
Rookie: I'd pick Evan Longoria, but he's not even in the majors right now. Bucholz would be a wise pick, but once again, I hate the Red Sox. On roughly the same principle, I not going with Joba Chamberlin of the Yankees. That leaves... Daric Barton?
NLS: Mets over Cubs, Diamondbacks over Phillies
NLCS: Mets over Diamondbacks
ALS: Tigers over Mariners, Yankees over Indians
ALCS: Tigers over Yankees
World Series: Tigers over Mets
I don't care if I ever go back