Sunday, April 01, 2007

"Lazzari's Sports Roundup" ---- 04-07-07

Yes, as the 2007 baseball season is in its infancy, it's time to venture predictions as to how teams will fare. Though the current season will surely be dotted with talk of home run marks, question marks, and needle marks, it should be the usual, fun ride through October.
Here's how they'll finish:

N.Y. Yankees
Boston Red Sox
Toronto Blue Jays
Baltimore Orioles
Tampa Bay Devil Rays

Detroit Tigers
Chicago White Sox
Cleveland Indians
Minnesota Twins
Kansas City Royals

L.A. Angels
Oakland A's
Texas Rangers
Seattle Mariners

AL EAST- Payroll remains king in this division; Yanks will edge Boston, and will enjoy a better clubhouse w/o Johnson and Sheffield. "Dice-K" the real deal, but Papelbon needs to stay healthy in order for Sox to cement a playoff spot. Jays need to move west to get out of this division. O's may be fun to watch, but starting pitching kills them. No real closer (Seth McClung?) seals the D'Rays' fate.

AL CENTRAL- Tigers, despite losing Kenny Rogers for some time, are still hungry and know how to win under Leyland. White Sox looking to rebound and will challenge. Many like Cleveland; I don't like their bench. After Santana, Twins' pitching too suspect. Royals just glad they're still in existence at this point.

AL WEST- If Jered Weaver is a fourth or fifth starter, you KNOW the Angels have to be good; don't like the bottom of Oakland's rotation. Rangers relying on too many comeback seasons; Mariners' failure to land a stud free-agent lands them in the cellar.

Philadelphia Phillies
N.Y. Mets
Atlanta Braves
Florida Marlins
Washington Nationals

Houston Astros
St. Louis Cardinals
Chicago Cubs
Milwaukee Brewers
Pittsburgh Pirates
Cincinnati Reds

L.A. Dodgers
San Diego Padres
Arizona Diamondbacks
San Francisco Giants
Colorado Rockies

NL EAST- Phillies' pitching gets the nod over the Mets’; Mets' hitters just too streaky--which will continue to be a problem should they make the postseason. Braves need the Tim Hudson from five years ago to show up in order to contend. Marlins will have trouble closing games; Nationals won't score enough, which will put too much pressure on a suspect staff.

NL CENTRAL- The addition of Carlos Lee gives Houston a tough middle-of-the-lineup; Lidge to regain his form in the pen. Cardinals' pitching just too thin; Soriano helps Cubs, but bullpen remains "iffy" at this point. Brewers' staff may surprise, but I don't think they'll score enough. Pirates' outfield too suspect and fans won't show up; bottom part of Reds' rotation has more question marks than a "Riddler" convention.

NL WEST- Dodgers' rotation a strong one that should rule a weak division; I like the Padres' staff (the addition of Maddux is like having a second pitching coach), but they have too many .260 hitters. D'Backs lack power, but should pitch O.K. Bonds/steroids talk too much of a distraction in S.F.; same old Rockies--will score a lot AND lose a lot.

*Postseason: Always a crapshoot as current rosters will change a lot come October. I'll say that both the Yanks and Mets pitching staffs burn out in the fall and rivals will be unwilling to trade with them--enabling two teams like the Angels and Phillies to play in the Fall Classic; Angels in 7. Enjoy the season, everyone!

Bob Lazzari

Reprinted by permission of the Valley Times.


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