2005 Major League Baseball Preview
Copyright © by Dan Schneider, 3/25/05

  Having recently seen the steroid scandal brought before Congress I can say that nothing can cure the game like a great season, after the shame that a number of baseballers- most notably home run kings Barry Bonds and Mark McGwire- have brought it.
  Ok, back to the real deal- my predictions last year had some good and bad. I thought the New York Yankees would beat the Houston Astros in the World series, and I came close, as both teams finished as league runners-up, with the Yanks collapsing in seven games to the Boston red Sox, after being up three games to none, with a lead in game 4 of the series. The Astros also collapsed, albeit not as dramatically, in squandering a 3-2 lead in games to the St. Louis Cardinals, who then were blitzed in four straight games by the curse-ending wildcard Red Sox- the third straight wildcard Word Series Champion, following Anaheim in 2002, and Florida in 2003, and the fourth straight surprise champion, including Arizona in 2001. I hope to do better this year, but here were my divisional picks last year:

National League  W-L-GB  * = wild card team


Philadelphia  95-67  -
Atlanta          85-77  10
Florida          78-84  17
NY Mets       75-87  20
Montreal       65-97  30



Houston           93-69  -
Chicago Cubs  92-70  1 *
St. Louis          88-74  5 
Cincinnati        78-84  15
Pittsburgh        66-96  28
Milwaukee       58-104 35


San Francisco  89-73  -
San Diego        86-76  3
Los Angeles     84-78  5
Colorado          79-83  10
Arizona            72-90  17


American League  W-L-GB  * = wild card team


NY Yankees  104-58  -
Toronto          92-70  12  *
Boston            88-74  16
Baltimore       76-86  28
Tampa Bay     67-95  37


Kansas City        84-78 -
Cleveland           83-79  1
Minnesota          83-79  1
Chicago W.Sox  76-86  8
Detroit                58-104  26


Anaheim  92-70  -
Oakland   90-72  2
Seattle      83-79  9
Texas       73-89  19

  I thought Philadelphia would end Atlanta’s 9 year reign in the National League East, but they extended it to 10 (and it is 10, not 13 for the Braves finished second in 1994- the strike year- if there were statistical champions there were division champions), and St. Louis had one of those everything goes right years- winning 105 games. San Francisco did a little better than I predicted but the Dodgers vested them in the West. Houston was about what I predicted, and took the wild card. The Yankees won their seventh straight division title, but the Red Sox snared the wild card and won the World Series. Toronto, my wild card pick, imploded, and finished last, behind Tampa Bay. Kansas City’s 2003 miracle was just that, as they won only 58 games last year, while Minnesota won their third straight Central crown. Cleveland did finish second, though. Anaheim did snare their division, but Seattle got old all in one year, and won only 63 games, as a last place team.
  Here is what I foresee this year: In the National League the Phillies will dethrone Atlanta- a year late, the Cardinals take the Central again, but will have a much tougher fight from the Cubs, who will snare the wild card, while San Francisco reclaims the West, even though Bonds will miss a few months, due to knee surgery, to start the season. In the playoffs the Cubs will get another nightmare handed to them by the Phillies, while the Giants blitz the Cardinals. In the NLCS the Giants will outslug the Phillies in seven games. In the American League the Yankees will take their eighth straight division title, as the Red Sox snag the wild card, again. In the Central the Twins’ magic ends, and Cleveland, which dominated the division in the ‘90s, returns to power, while Anaheim takes its second straight division title in the West. In the playoffs the Yanks get revenge on the last two AL teams to oust them from the postseason, by taking out the Angels, then the Red Sox in the ALCS, after they dispatch callow Cleveland. In the World Series it’s back to the future as the Yankees oust the Giants.
  Here’s the detailed prediction:

National League  W-L-GB  * = wild card team


Philadelphia  89-73  -
Florida          88-74  1
Atlanta          84-78  5
NY Mets       83-79  6
Washington  63-99  26



St. Louis          96-66  - 
Chicago Cubs  92-70  4 *
Houston           84-78  12
Cincinnati        79-83  17
Pittsburgh        66-96  30
Milwaukee      60-102 36


San Francisco  87-75  -
Los Angeles     86-76  1
Arizona            84-78  3
San Diego        84-78  3
Colorado          71-91  16


American League  W-L-GB  * = wild card team


NY Yankees  108-54  -
Boston            92-70  16 *
Baltimore       84-78  24
Toronto          76-86  32
Tampa Bay    60-102  48


Cleveland           90-72  -
Minnesota          88-74  2
Detroit                83-79  7
Chicago W.Sox  77-85  13
Kansas City        62-100 28


Anaheim  87-75  -
Texas       83-79  4
Seattle     74-88  13
Oakland   72-90  15

  Let’s take a look at why the teams will finish where they will! 1st the NL East:

1)      Philadelphia Phillies (89-73)- The hitting- with 1B Jim Thome, outfielders Pat Burrell and Bobby Abreu, and 3B David Bell, and SS Jimmy Rollins, is solid. It all depends on the pitching, led by Yankee import John Lieber. I think they sneak to the top for a year.

2)      Florida Marlins (88-74)- will dogfight the Phillies all year. Juan Pierre might be the best leadoff man in the NL, while LF Miguel Cabrera’s a stud. A healthy Mike Lowell and 1B Carlos Delgado should compensate for the loss of 18 game winner Carl Pavano, but the bullpen could be their undoing.

3)      Atlanta Braves (84-78)- 10 straight Division titles are nice- but history. All that are left from the glory years are the Jones boys- Andruw in CF and Chipper at 3B. But, with Jon Smoltz back as a starting pitcher, and Tim Hudson over from Oakland they could steal another title, although their bullpen is their Achilles Heel.

4)      New York Mets (83-79)- this piss poor division could be theirs if all goes right. Pedro Martinez is not what he was in Montreal or his early years in Boston, but he, Tom Glavine, Kris Benson, Victor Zambrano, and Steve Trachsel could be the top staff in the East. If CF gem Carlos Beltran has a monster year the Mets are a team that could run away with the title. I say their bullpen bombs, injuries hit, and they disappoint all year, before closing with a rush to tease for 2006.

5)      Washington Nationals (63-99)- The return of baseball to DC in the form of the ex-Expos won’t be pretty.

   Over to the National League Central Division:

1)      St. Louis Cardinals (96-66)- Won’t come near 105 wins this year, as they played a good ten games over their heads, but that return to balance, and the losses of SS Edgar Renteria and 2B Tony Womack will be offset by Oakland’s former ace Mark Mulder. The MV3 of 3B Scott Rolen, CF Jim Edmonds, and 1B Albert Pujols, if healthy, is the best 1-2-3 punch in baseball.

2)      Chicago Cubs (92-70)- OF legend Sammy Sosa is gone, as is Moises Alou, but this team will have better chemistry, and can hit- with 3B Aramis Ramirez, SS Nomar Garciaparra, CF Corey patterson, and 1B Derek Lee. The starting staff could be great if healthy- Mark Prior has Cy Young stuff, but Carlos Zambrano is the most consistent, while Kerry Wood’s heat and Greg Maddux’s smarts are still potent. Could win 100 games if all falls into place.

3)      Houston Astros (84-78)- This team floundered until the last quarter, when a run to Game 7 of the NLCS almost made it all worth it. Cy Young winner Roger Clemens returns, as does a healthy Andy Pettite, to team with stud Roy Oswalt. The bullpen seems solid, but the offense will suffer without midseason pickup CF Carlos Beltran, as the Killer Bs age. Only Labnce Berkman is prime time, and he’s not enough for more than third place.

4)      Cincinnati Reds (79-83)- The pitching is so-so but if this team is healthy they could crack .500, with CF Junior Griffey, RF Austin Kearns, LF Adam Dunn, and 1B Sean Casey in the lineup. That lefty Eric Milton was their big offseason acquisition speaks volumes.

5)      Pittsburgh Pirates (66-96)- Is there a recognizable name on this team? They purged their sole name talent in C Jason Kendall. They could lose anywhere from the 89 they lost last year to 110.

6)      Milwaukee Brewers (60-102)- They are RF geoff Jenkins and right-hander ben Sheets’ team. If Sheets improves on last year the Brewers could leap over Pittsburgh and Cincinnati, if they implode. If Milwaukee implodes they could top Arizona’s 111 losses last year.

  Now, the NL West is in decline:

1)      San Francisco Giants (87-75)- This may be Barry Bonds’ last hurrah, and shot at a World series ring, especially determined to prove the steroid scandal was BS. RF Moises Alou will help keep the offense solid, while righty Jason Schmidt was on track for the Cy Young before injuries did him in. Armando Benitez as closer can be solid, but he can kill the team in the playoffs.

2)      Los Angeles Dodgers (86-76)- 2B Jeff Kent and RF J.D. Drew won’t replace 3B Adrian Beltre and 1B Shawn Green, while a staff led by Jeff Weaver and Derek Lowe is suspect. Last year they overachieved. This year they find their level. 

3)      Arizona Diamondbacks (84-78)- Last year I predicted a last place finished, but they were more than 20 games worse than I foresaw. This year they zoom back over .500. Javier Vazquez has Cy Young potential, and will thrive in the desert, while Troy Glaus and Shawn Green could be big boppers, if healthy.

4)      San Diego Padres (84-78)- Overachievers in one year tend to crash the next. Will righty Jake Peavy again lead the league in ERA?

5)      Colorado Rockies (71-91)- Could challenge Washington, Pittsburgh, and Milwaukee for worst record in the league.

  Let’s hit the American League. 1st up is the East:

1)      New York Yankees (104-58)- After a few years of tinkering the Yanks will get back on top, via pitching. If healthy they will run away with the division, as they are better than last year, and the Red Sox overachieved. newcomers Randy Johnson, Carl Pavano, and oft-injured Jared Wright, will, if healthy, allow the bullpen some rest, while 3B A-Rod and LF Hideki Matsui will have better years than last, as will SS Derek Jeter. Gary Sheffield will be solid in right, while anything more than last year’s production from CF Bernie Williams and DH Jason Giambi is topping.

2)      Boston Red Sox (92-70)- SS Edgar Renteria is not Nomar Garciaparra, and many of the Red Sox will come down to earth- including DH David Ortiz, 3B Bill Mueller, and C Jason Varitek. Curt Schilling may be out early in the year after his postseason heroics, and Pedro Martinez will be missed. david Wells may be an idiot, but he’s 41 with chronic back pains. matt Clement and wade miller will be hard pressed to replace Pedro and Derek Lowe. Bullpen is solid enough to win wild card again.

3)      Baltimore Orioles (84-78)- with OF Sammy Sosa, C Javier Lopez, 1B Rafael Palmeiro, and SS Miguel Tejada, the Birds have bop, but Sidney Ponson as an ace? They’ll top .500, but so what?

4)      Toronto Blue Jays (76-86)- Splitting the difference of the last two years and this is where they end up.

5)      Tampa Bay (60-102)- CF Carl Crawford is a stud, but the rest of the team is pitiable. This may be Lou Piniella’s last year as a manager.

  On to the AL Central:

1)      Cleveland Indians (90-72)- The bills come due, and the Tribe can hit- LF Coco Crisp, DH Travis Hafner, C Victor Martinez, free agent RF Juan Gonzales (if healthy), LF Casey Blake, and 1B Ben Broussard will se to that, while CC Sabathia and Kevin Millwood, plus a decent bullpen should help them edge out the Twins.

2)      Minnesota Twins (88-74)- Basically the same team as the last three years. Good, but not good enough, although a Cy Young repeat from Johan Santana could mean four in a row.

3)      Detroit Tigers (83-79)- A young, solid team, with some solid pitching. Closer Troy Percival and OF Magglio Ordonez could make them contenders.

4)      Chicago White Sox (77-85)- Lost Magglio Ordonez, but a healthy DH Frank Thomas could make up for that. Big years from Mark Buehrle and Freddy Garcia could make them division winners, but more likely they’ll merely avoid the cellar by being in the same division as the abysmal Royals

5)      Kansas City Royals (62-100)- If things go to form they merely lose 100 games. If it gets ugly they could be to 2005 what the Tigers were to 2003.

  On to the AL West:

1)      Anaheim Angels (87-75)- Vladimir Guerrero is the reigning MVP, and could be better this year, but the rest of the team will probably not be. But, this division is the worst in baseball.

2)      Texas Rangers (83-79)- Great lineup, but piching sucks. An injury here or there and they’re under .500. Still, that’s likely good enough for a second straight second place finish.

3)      Seattle Mariners (74-88)- 1B Richie Sexson and 3B Adrian Beltre could do real damage, along with RF Ichiro Suzuki, but the pitching, which tanked last year, is no better. .500 is possible, but 70-75 wins is likely.

4)      Oakland A’s (72-90)- Losing Tim Hudson and Mark Mulder will hurt, but still the best last place team in the game.

  In the AL the sleeper teams could be Baltimore and Chicago, while the NL could be surprised by the Mets or Diamondbacks. But, count on the Giants and Yankees playing in the Series. The Yanks should win it because the two things their pitching has lacked the last few years is power and grit- the trio of Randy Johnson (Seattle- 1995, Arizona- 2001), Carl Pavano (Florida- 2003), and Jared Wright (Cleveland- 1997), are all post-season winners who beat the Yankees (years in parentheses). This time, they help the Yanks beat the Giants.

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