In Which John Royal Predicts the Winner of the 2012 World Series
The major league baseball season officially started last week when the Oakland A's and Seattle Mariners played two games in Tokyo. Most of the other teams open on Thursday, and the Astros get started on Friday when they host the Colorado Rockies.
Thus, here are my predictions for this season.
NATIONAL LEAGUE EAST:
1. Atlanta Braves: Chipper Jones says he's retiring after the season. Maybe he'll get to see the Braves pull off another epic collapse like last season.
2. Washington Nationals: Stop laughing. The Nationals are no longer a laughingstock. They've got talent in the field, on the pitching mound, in the batting box, the dugout and the front office.
3. Philadelphia Phillies: Chase Utley's out to start the season. Ryan Howard's out to start the season. The rest of the team's beginning to get older, though damn, what a starting rotation. Still, I just don't think they'll be able to score enough runs this season.
4. Miami Marlins: Ozzie Guillen's now managing for Jeffrey Loria, who isn't exactly known for getting along with managers with strong opinions. There could be some fireworks in Miami this season.
5. New York Mets: Bernie Madoff not only destroyed a bunch of lives, he might also have destroyed this franchise as the Mets owners got caught up in his little fraud. And frankly, it couldn't happen to a nicer team. This is what you get for destroying Dickie Thon's career and bitching and moaning about Mike Scott in the 1986 playoffs.
NATIONAL LEAGUE CENTRAL:
1. Cincinnati Reds: I don't really want to pick the Reds here, because when I predict the Reds to do good, they flop, but when I pick them to do bad, they excel. But the rest of the division isn't that good and they have the best player in the division in Joey Votto.
2. Milwaukee Brewers: The Brewers lost Prince Fielder, but they return many of the key people that got them to the playoffs last season. The pitching staff's good, not great, as is the rest of the team.
3. St. Louis Cardinals: The Cards lost Albert Pujols to the Angels and Tony La Russa to retirement (good riddance to seven-hour games). Staff ace Chris Carpenter is out until who knows when. The team's depending on Matt Holliday, Carlos Beltran, Adam Wainwright and Lance Berkman to stay healthy -- good luck with that.
4. Pittsburgh Pirates: Yeah, I've got the Pirates picked to finish fourth. That's not because they're improving as a team -- they are, though -- but more because of just how awful the Cubs and Astros are going to be.
5. Chicago Cubs: Hey, Cubs, you got Theo Epstein from the Red Sox. Congratulations. Unfortunately, he's just a GM. What the Cubs didn't get from the Red Sox are any good players.
6. Houston Astros: It's going to be another last-place season for the Astros. But new GM Jeff Luhnow actually appears to have an idea as to what he's doing. Meanwhile the Astros will be letting the kids get most of the playing time this year.