The 2005 baseball season has officially begun. What happens this first week will likely have little effect on the final outcome of the season (just ask Johan Santana), so now is the ideal time to make a set of annual predictions. If you’ve been clamouring for season predictions, it’s probably because most baseball writers dislike rocking the boat. Every prediction this year seemingly has the Braves-Yankees in the World Series. Pure laziness I say; they are merely rehashing the same prediction they’ve been making the last decade.
Want a real prediction? How about a Phillies-Angels World Series? Read on.
Bold prediction 1: Phillies reach the World Series. I thought the Phils were one of the best teams last season, and the way people describe them you’d think they were the second coming of 1990s Pittsburgh Pirates. Just about everything went wrong for the Phillies and they still finished 10 games over .500. Larry Bowa, Kevin Millwood, Randy Wolf and Vincente Padilla had bad years. Jim Thome was hurt all season, Lieberthal and Burrell struggled and Billy Wagner got hurt – that series of unforuntate events will not happen again.
What will happen is that Jimmy Rollins will emerge as one of the best leadoff hitters in the game, and Jon Lieber will bring his lunch box every fifth day, giving the team what they need most: are liable starter. The Phillies are this season’s Cards.
Bold prediction 2: Jeremy Bonderman will win the AL Cy Young. The youngest opening day starter since Doc Gooden, the Tigers young phenom will take a big step this year. Anyone who read Moneyball remembers Billy Beane throwing a hissy fit over drafting him as a high schooler, but Bonderman is the type of talent that could make the Tigers a force in the future. He struggled often during the year, but ended the season with a 2.53 ERA and 42/14 K/BB ratio in September and October.
He could start off slowly, but expect him to account for a quarter of Tigers wins, a sub-3.00 ERA and at least 200 K’s.
Bold prediction 3: The Mets will be worse this season than last season. They added the game’s most electric centre fielder, and they added a former Cy Young winner who won 16 games last season. Unfortunately, neither Beltran nor Pedro can protect the lead. Sadly, that task has been delegated to the average Braden Looper and one of the worst bullpens in baseball history. Mike DeJean, Dae Koo, Felix Heredia, Robert Hernandez and, heaven forbid, Manny Aybar could very well eliminate 20 potential wins this season. They don’t have any starters who can consistently pitch seven innings-per-start, so this already horrible bullpen will be taxed immensely. The Mets are a potential 85-win team, minus at least 15 blown leads from the bullpen.
Bold prediction 4: Guillermo Mota will be the best closer in the NL this season. Eric Gagn