"Lazzari's Sports Roundup" - - - - 4/6/13
Yes, it's that time of the year, folks--time to offer some MLB predictions. *DISCLAIMER: If one chooses to use the following as "gospel", just remember that I picked the Angels and Phillies to play in the World Series last year (ughh). Here's how they'll finish in 2013......
Toronto Blue Jays
Boston Red Sox
Chicago White Sox
AL EAST- Rays and Jays will go down to the wire; I like the Rays' closer Rodney to be the difference-maker while Jays' closer Janssen has to prove himself. Yankees are just too old and will have even MORE guys go down with injuries as the season progresses; Jeter not being close to 100% physically would worry me if I'm a N.Y fan. Red Sox stay out of the cellar with a better clubhouse, but closing games may be "iffy" (will it ultimately be Hanrahan--or by committee?). Orioles pitching will disappoint (unlike last year) and they simply don't get on base enough (too many .250 hitters in lineup).
AL CENTRAL- Tigers are built to win NOW--and they will--but will they incorporate a full-time closer? Royals have an improved staff (Shields, Davis) and will finish above .500. White Sox are simply a "decent" team in a bad division; they could finish fourth if any starting pitcher goes down (will Peavy last the year physically?). Indians will score some runs (and also strike out a TON--maybe 7 position players with 100+ K's), but starting pitching is worrisome. Mauer will be the only .300 hitter in Twins' lineup while too many "no-names" appear on their roster.
AL WEST- Angels will score at will and Trout may win MVP--only question mark is Frieri as a closer. Rangers will continue to score--even without Hamilton in lineup--but bullpen will disappoint. A's have no .300 hitters--putting too much pressure on a good pitching staff (Jarrod Parker is the "real deal"). Seattle can't hit for average, either, and will rely too much on "King Felix." Astros will be downright AWFUL--causing fans to continually echo a famous phrase: "Houston--we have a problem."
St. Louis Cardinals
NL EAST- Nats' pitching just TOO good; they have too much overall talent for the rest of this division and Harper blossoms BIG TIME. The Uptons will do fine in Atlanta, but 93-95 wins may not win the division. Phils much like the Yankees: a lotta age, a lotta injuries; their outfield is weak, as well. Mets lack power (too much pressure on Wright to produce) and the bullpen will be a continual concern. Marlins rely too much on one guy (Stanton) for punch--and closing games (Cishek?) may be questionable.
NL CENTRAL- Reds the class of this division--a championship-quality team with good pitching and great balance. Cards have some "pop" in their lineup (Beltran, Holliday, Craig), but are one major injury away from disaster. Hurdle a great manager, but just doesn't have the "horses" in Pittsburgh--although McCutchen will put up MVP #'s. Brewers will score enough, but if you can name their rotation, you have WAY too much time on your hands. Poor Cubbies (AND Cub fans); some decent, young talent in the Windy City (i.e. Castro), but also some underachieving veterans (hello, Alfonso!).
NL WEST- Kershaw simply the best lefty in baseball; if Dodgers offense plays even CLOSE to its ability--nothing more--they'll beat out S.F. Can Lincecum and Zito regain some past glory for Giants--and is Romo an everyday closer? D'Backs have some deep pitching (Kennedy, Cahill, Miley) but no .300 hitters. Padres lack power (Headley and Quentin need to combine for more than the 40 HR's they hit last year) and the second half of their rotation is shaky. Rockies have no potential 15-game winners on the staff and may rely too much on guys who've already had career years (CarGo, Helton, Tulo).
*Postseason: Jays, Rangers capture the AL wild cards; Giants, Braves do the same in the NL. Some nail-biting post-season series in store for BOTH leagues. Tigers and Reds will emerge from their respective leagues; closer Chapman cements his star-power as Cincinnati wins its first championship since 1990.<\b>
Enjoy the season, everyone........