Philadelphia Phillies 77-85
With the exception of Jim Thome the Phillies don't have much else for fans to be excited about, as they did nothing to improve last year's disappointing team. Look for the Phillies to be out of it early as they are trampled by the Mets, Marlins and Braves in the competitive NL East.
2005 BASEBALL PREVIEW
LEAGUE LEADERS AND AWARDS
National League American League
Albert Pujols Cardinals Batting Crown Ichiro Suzuki Mariners (.402)
Albert Pujols Cardinals HR Leader Vladimir Guerrero Angels
Albert Pujols Cardinals RBI Leader Vladimir Guerrero Angels
Jose Reyes Mets SB Leader Ichiro Suzuki Mariners
Mark Mulder Cardinals Win Leader Randy Johnson Yankees
Pedro Martinez Mets ERA Leader Randy Johnson Yankees
Ben Sheets Brewers K Leader Randy Johnson Yankees
Cincinnati Reds Surprise Team Toronto Blue Jays
Philadelphia Phillies Disappointing Team Boston Red Sox
Shawn Green Diamondbacks Comeback Player Richie Sexson Mariners
Andy Pettitte Astros Comeback Pitcher Roy Halladay Blue Jays
Jose Reyes Mets Breakout Player Casey Blake Indians
Aaron Harang Reds Breakout Pitcher Bronson Arroyo Red Sox
Carlos Beltran Mets Best Acquisition Randy Johnson Yankees
Jeff Bagwell Astors Falling Star Hitter Sammy Sosa Orioles
Al Leiter Marlins Falling Star Pitcher Kevin Brown Yankees
Vinny Castilla Nationals Worst Acquisition Sammy Sosa Orioles
Clint Hurdle Rockies First Manager Fired Ken Macha Athletics
Armando Benitez Giants Fireman Francisco Rodriguez Angels
J.J. Hardy Brewers Rookie of The Year Gustavo Chacin Blue Jays
Willie Randolph Mets Manager of The Year John Gibbons Blue Jays
Albert Pujols Cardinals Hank Aaron Award Vladimir Guerrero Angels
Pedro Martinez Mets Cy Young Randy Johnson Yankees
Albert Pujols Cardinals MVP Vladimir Guerrero Angels
Predictions Made by Frank Fleming on April 2, 2005 at 10:20s pm EST
Florida Marlins 91-71(Wild Card)
The Marlins have one of the best young pitching staffs in baseball and an improved offense. However durability can be a problem. If everyone stays healthy all year the Marlins will be hard to beat, but a few injuries could derail everything. Look for them to be close all season as they capture the Wild Card.
New York Mets 93-69
The Mets have made massive changes in the past only to come up snake eyes. However this time the formula is right Pedro Martinez is still a dominant pitcher, and Carlos Beltran is on the verge of superstardom as opposed to the past when the got players at the end of their prime. Look for a big year from Beltran and a Cy Young for Pedro as the Mets win the division.
Atlanta Braves 85-77
One of these days the Braves will make the wrong turn, and that day is now. John Smoltz is approaching 40 and returning to the rotation will be harder then expected Danny Kolb, will not be the closer Atlanta expects and the offense just will not score enough after losing J.D. Drew, look for the Braves to fade late in the 3-team NL East race.
Washington Nationals 73-89
After years twisting in the wind in Montreal this franchise has finally got a place to take up roots with a new beginning. However, the team is not much better and will spend the entire season in last place. However one should not take them lightly because with a home crowd charge they may be able to win a few games alone on the adrenaline rush.
St. Louis Cardinals 96-76
Look for a big year from Albert Pujols as the Cardinals continue to be the best team in the NL easily winning the Central Division Title for the 2nd year in a row as the Cardinals season will be judged by how the Cardinals do in October rather then how they do in the regular season.
Cincinnati Reds 87-75
The Reds already have one of the best young Outfields in baseball with Austin Kearns, Willy Mo Pena and Adam Dunn getting better each year. In addition they were able to upgrade their pitching through free agency with the signing of Ramon Ortiz, look for the Reds to be a factor in the Wild Card Race all season.
Houston Astros 84-78
The killer Bs of Berkman, Biggio and Bagwell still have some sting but the off-season losses of Carlos Beltran and Jeff Kent through free agency will be too hard for the Astros to overcome as they are stuck in the middle of the pack, as Roger Clemens struggles to equal his Cy Young season from 2004.
Chicago Cubs 78-84
Can the Cubs overcome the loss of run production left by Moises Alou and Sammy Sosa ? Can Mark Prior and Kerry Wood stay healthy? Can the bullpen hold a late lead in a close game? Is that pen already hit by injuries deep enough? Too many questions, which all need the answer Yes for the Cubs to compete.
Milwaukee Brewers 72-90
Look for the Brewers to get better as the season goes on as some of their prospects like Prince Fielder are called up at the end of the year setting the stage for the Brewers to return to respectability in 2006.However until then look for them to continue to be pushovers.
Pittsburgh Pirates 64-98
Not many positives for the Pirates as reigning rookie of the year Jason Bay is still recovering from off-season surgery at the start of the season. Other then Bay there's not much there in terms of talent, as the Pirates will sink fast in the NL Central struggling just to avoid 100 losses.
San Francisco Giants 91-71
The longer Barry Bonds is out the harder things will be for the Giants, figuring 1 loss for each week that Barry misses if he's back by June the Giants should still be able to take the NL West. However if he's out much longer all bets could be off as the Padres can sneak in and take it away.
San Diego Padres 88-74
Padres hitters hate Petco Park their pitchers love it as fly balls die in the outfield of the thick sea air. Look for frustration to mount from hitters whose averages and power numbers are hurt as the Padres fall a few games short of winning the NL West backed by solid pitching.
Los Angeles Dodgers 77-85
The Dodgers front office looks dazed and confused allowing young emerging stars like Adrian Beltre to walk away while backing their hopes on fading stars like Jeff Kent, as the Dodgers lack of offense will hurt whatever solid pitching the Dodgers get.
Arizona Diamondbacks 74-88
Despite losing Randy Johnson the Diamondbacks are a much better team then the one which lost 111 games as they upgraded their offense and acquired a deeper pitching staff led by Russ Ortiz and Javier Vazquez who will each have big years pitching with no pressure in Arizona.
Colorado Rockies 54-108
It's going to get ugly early for the Rockies, who will sink a Mile Low in the NL Standings; with a pitching staff whose ERA could approach record-breaking heights. Look for an empty Coors Field and a midseason fire sale as the Rockies try to rebuild for the future with Todd Helton possibly wearing pinstripes by August 1st.
New York Yankees 110-52
There's a quiet confidence from the Yankees that is scary. The last time the Yankees had such a quite confidence was in 1998, as following last year's playoff collapse they need to reestablish their dominance. Look for the Yankees to regain the dominance early as they run away with the AL East Title.
Boston Red Sox 87-75
It will be hard to imagine the Red Sox having the same hunger as last year additionally without Pedro Martinez and Derek Lowe their pitching will not be as good, add a few players not being able to equal career years and what you get is a Major let down for the Boston Red Sox.
Toronto Blue Jays 84-78
Last year was an unmitigated disaster for the Blue Jays who finished in last place. This year with the blossoming of a young pitching staff the Jays will be much better despite the loss of Carlos Delgado. Don't be surprised if the Jays are a in the race for the Wild Card all year with a team close to becoming a true contender.
Baltimore Orioles 77-85
Last year the Orioles had one of the nest offenses in the AL with Miguel Tejada leading the league in RBI. However their pitching staff was among the worst with a bullpen that often tried to put out fires with gasoline. So what do the Orioles do to improve acquire Sammy Sosa. Sosa will struggle and the Orioles will go nowhere.
Tampa Bay Devil Rays 64-98
One step forward out of last place for the Devil Rays gives way to two steps back as they finish in last place again with Manager Lou Pinellas growing more and more frustrated at a farm system that just has been unable to develop any talent leading the firey manager to quit by the end of the season.
Cleveland Indians 87-75
After a solid second half in which the Indians young talent began to show promise. This year expect the Indians to be the type of team nobody wants to face in the playoffs, as they regain control of the weakly AL Central Division, as Casey Blake has a break out season.
Minnesota Twins 83-79
It will be hard to see the Twins holding on to the AL Central as they keep seeing key players like Christian Guzman get away. Look for Johan Santana to have a bit of a let down as the Twins struggle just to stay above .500, while finishing in 2nd place.
Detroit Tigers 81-81
Things are beginning to look up for the Tigers who will make a run at .500 just 2 years after losing 119 games. Look for vast improvements in every area as the same pitchers who were smacked around 2 years ago begin to learn how to win and pitch as the Tigers come close to regain respectability.
Chicago White Sox 71-91
The White Sox just can't seem to get things right and appear to be heading over the falls in a barrel. Losing Magglio Ordonez and Carlos Lee will hurt, as Scott Podesdnik struggles to adjust to the AL. Look for the Sox to fall out of the race early as only the Royals keep them out of the cellar.
Kansas City Royals 59-103
Two years ago things looked promising in Kansas City as they were the biggest surprise in the AL. However now things are bleaker then ever Carlos Beltran is gone and not much else remains for the Royals who hit the century mark in losses for the second straight year.
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim 97-65
The growing stardom of Vladimir Guerrero continues as he haves another monster MVP type year for the Angels who continue to control the West in the American League. Look for Francisco Rodriguez to become one of the more dominant closers in baseball taking the job over from Troy Percival.
Texas Rangers 90-72 (Wild Card)
The Rangers last year were the biggest surprise in the AL contending all season for the AL West despite losing Alex Rodriguez. Look for the Rangers to continue to improve as they capture the Wild Card away from the Red Sox led by a young dynamic offense and an improved pitching staff.
Seattle Mariners 79-83
The Mariners wont bne nearly as bad as the team that lost 99 games last year as the addition of Richie Sexson and Adrian Beltran will help, as Ichiro makes history again by becoming the first player in 64 years to hit over .400 for an entire season while scoring runs at a record pace.
Oakland Athletics 70-92
A few years ago Athletics GM Billy Beene was the new genius in baseball complete with his book Money Ball, now comes the sequel No Money Ball, as usual the sequel is not as good as the original as the A's will sorely miss Tim Hudson and Mark Mulder while finishing in the basement.