WHOA - some of you may be looking for our 2009 preview, these are our preseason rankings from last season. Here are the important links to the 2009 previews:
NL East - http://sportshubris.com/content/mlb-preview-2009-nl-east
NL Central - http://sportshubris.com/content/mlb-preview-2009-nl-central
NL West - http://sportshubris.com/content/mlb-preview-2009-nl-west
AL West - http://sportshubris.com/content/mlb-preview-2009-al-west
AL Central - http://sportshubris.com/content/mlb-preview-2009-al-central
AL East - http://sportshubris.com/content/mlb-preview-2009-al-east
The 2008 MLB season opens this week with a match up of the defending champion Boston Red Sox taking on the rebuilding Oakland Athletics in Tokyo. With the start of the season comes peanuts, cracker jacks and in this year’s case raw fish eyes, but Sports Hubris is happy to give you it’s preseason power rankings as well! Besides taking into account our ever confident bordering on arrogant opinions, we’ll factor in issues besides what’s on the paper; like injury concerns and strength of division. We’ll keep our rankings updated weekly and ready for you every Monday morning this season, so come back often and make sure to let us know how badly we’re underrating your team.
I absolutely hate when a preseason ranking system drops the defending champion from the top perch before a game is even played, but I’m forced to do it. The Boston Red Sox decided to ride last season’s success with the same cast, but unfortunately for them Curt Schilling and Josh Beckett both suffered early injuries. No team can last long without its 1 and 2 starting pitchers, but the Sox have the depth to at least weather the Beckett injury for a week or two. The problem is they aren’t ready to saddle up against the big boys in the current state of flux they find themselves in. Could even the biggest die hard Boston fan say they would match up well against the Mets in a 3 game series right now?
Johan and Pedro are healthy, and the Mets are hungry for retribution. They open with what should be an easy set against the Marlins, and should use that early momentum to grab the reigns in the NL East.
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New York Mets
The shaky rotation of last September suddenly looks very deep with Johan anchoring it, but injuries could derail this team in a hurry. They were already bit by the injury bug when Alou was diagnosed with a hernia. Any production they receive from him is a bonus, but his malady could just be the beginning for the Mets, and in their division that could spell disaster. Pedro is the key for this team, and if he should falter they won’t just be falling in our rankings, but in their division as well.
Boston Red Sox
I could only consciously let the defending champs slip so far. While they currently aren’t a top 3 team without Beckett in the rotation, they have a relatively easy schedule until he’s slated to return for the home opener. It’s evident that Colon is not the answer to fill in the rotation, so Lester and Buchholz will have to hold their own all season long.
New York Yankees
Girardi seems to have this team fired up and under a stricter regime. The advancement of the young pitching will be the focal point of attention all season long, but with reports of Abreu showing up with less poof in his belly and more umph in his bat, this team may just pick it up on both sides of the ball.
The addition of Miguel Cabrera is a great one, but what can they expect from Dontrelle Willis? No doubt the offense will grind all season long, giving one of Kenny Rogers, Jeremy Bonerman or Dontrelle the opportunity to cement themselves as the #2 behind Justin Verlander. The recent injury (finger) to Curtis Granderson could have some detrimental effects to the offense should it prove to be a nagging one.
The weakness of the division is a major factor here. The Cubbies are set for the divisional race as they have a deep lineup and rotation. This should afford them plenty of time to shore up that shaky bullpen anchored by Kerry Wood.
Right now they are poised to run out Brandon Webb, Dan Haren and Randy Johnson 1,2,3. As long as those Big 3 stay healthy and effective the young offense lead by Byrnes will scrap and claw for every run they can get. It’s fun time to be a Diamondback fan.
Very tough division this year to be relying on Brett Myers (68 IP last year) to be able to produce all season. You have to love their offense though, and if the pitching can tap into its potential they will be very dangerous all season long.
Too many question marks to be a top team; Carmona repeat? Hafner resurgence?? Borowski sub 5.0 ERA??? They have way too much talent to be outside the top 10 though.
They aren’t a great team, but they have a spattering of great parts in their closer, pair of aces, and a lineup centered around Ichiro. The Angels begin the season with a hurting rotation, and this Mariner team will pounce on the chance to gain an early lead in the division.
Los Angeles Dodgers
The Dodgers are one of the deepest teams in the NL. That may be because of their lack of upper tier talent, but they should withstand the grind of the season as good as any team out there. Should another team falter they’ll be there to scoop up that playoff spot.
This team shouldn’t be overlooked. They have all the pieces to compete in the highly contested NL East. Philly and the Mets have a slight advantage on paper, and if the Braves don’t shake things up early they could be looking in from the outside all year long.
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
Early injuries to the staff may have cemented their second place finish this year. Jered Weaver is having a phenomenal spring, but no matter how good he starts it won’t make up for the early losses of Lackey and Escobar. Their injuries seem minor, and if they make full recoveries the Angels will find themselves still in the hunt.
San Diego Padres
Will Peavy and Young be enough for the Padres? I don’t think so, but if Adrian Gonzalez can inspire that offense to pick up the slack they’ll be contenders.
Everyone knows without their miracle run they were a .500 team. That run was no happenstance though, and if the offense continues to chew up and spit out NL pitching they will prove worthy adversaries in the NL West.
15. Milwaukee Brewers
The Brew Crew could end up being a top 8 team by the end of the season, but a lot has to go right for them to match up with the Cubs. Gallardo will have to overcome his early DL stint and provide that spark in the rotation they need.
The Astros chances of competing with their rotation are well, astronomically bad. The offense should fare well in the weak NL Central, so they have a fighting chance.
Toronto Blue Jays
Ah the unenviable task of competing in the AL East. Rios and Wells will have to produce beyond what they did last year if they are to have any chance.
You have to love the young pitching, but Red’s fans must hate having Dusty Baker in charge of it! Cueto and Volquez will start the year in the rotation, and provide some good baseball early for the Reds and their fans.
Chicago White Sox
Ozzie Ball! Swisher may park a few, but not as many as Contreras will allow. They have a lot of wrinkles to iron out on this squad.
So much is riding on the shoulders of Liriano. His early production may determine if they rebuild or contend. The lineup is solid and the bullpen is amongst the top in the league. The SP is the major concern here.
St. Louis Cardinals
Pujols’ supporting cast on offense isn’t as dreadful as most people make it out. Maybe it’s because the pitching leaves such a bad taste in their mouths? We’ll soon find out.
Will Josh Hamilton be enough to replace Teixeira ? Being in a 4 team division you should like your odds to compete every year, but that just hasn’t been the case in Texas.
Tampa Bay Rays
Definitely a better team on paper than some of the above, but Kaz is already suffering through a minor injury, and it is the Rays and they do play in the same division as the Sox and Yanks. Can Bud Selig transpose the Ray and Blue Jays to the AL West for the year? Imagine a division with Seattle, LA, Toronto and Tampa. Now that would be a fun divisional race.
Plenty of tradable assets on the team, which may translate into some good baseball on the field, but this team is rebuilding.
San Francisco Giants
In what will be a close division they sport 3 legitimate pitchers. Where will the offense come from? The Dude is digging Eugenio Velez. Here’s hoping he makes the starting lineup.
A weak division propels them to the top of the basement. They do have some good looking young pitching and a lineup that could be feast or famine….mostly famine.
Hanley Ramirez and the other cast of youngsters should keep this team hungry all year round. They won’t go down in defeat easily, but that whole division will have the eye of the tiger going, and they’ll be ready to handle this young team.
Kansas City Royals
This team is heading in the right direction. Look for Butler and Gordon to take huge steps forward this year.
I think they just cut Patterson…wasn’t he one of their only legitimate starting pitchers? Oh well let the Dukes/Milledge era commence!
They are the worse team in the most talented division. The only damage they’ll do this year is to the hitters Daniel Cabrera beans with his wild pitches.