Major league baseball predictions unveiled

Major league baseball predictions unveiled

by David Morain

With another baseball season just around the corner, many questions loom large. Who did enough in the offseason to make themselves legitimate contenders? Who did not do enough? Who is only one arm or bat away from the playoffs? Who is doomed to the cellar for the year? The Simpsonian takes a crack at breaking down every team and attempts to predict the big winners and losers from April to October. Take a look at the picks for the National League. Catch the American League predictions next week.

Arizona Diamondbacks: World Series champs are back with their core intact. The only problem is that they were old to begin with. Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling will have to stave off Father Time to get back to the Series.

Projected Finish: 2nd in the NL West (Wildcard)

Atlanta Braves: Great move trading Brian Jordan to Los Angeles for superstar Gary Sheffield. Pitching staff will be one of the best in the league as per usual. Rafael Furcal’s comeback from a season-ending injury last season will be the question mark.

Projected Finish: 1st in the NL East

Chicago Cubs: Baseball’s longest running punch line finally did enough in the offseason (Moises Alou, Alex Gonzalez) to be taken seriously. Kerry Wood showed no ill-effects of Tommy John surgery and looks to make a run at the Cy Young Award.

Projected Finish: 3rd in the NL Central

Cincinnati Reds: The team that landed Ken Griffey a couple of years back is on the ropes. Not only have they lost their pitching staff to poor trades and free agency, but good young batters such as Pokey Reese and Dmitri Young have deserted as well. Look for a better performance from Griffey this year.

Projected Finish: 6th in the NL Central

Colorado Rockies: The Mile High Boys will once again try to outscore their opponents in the thin air of Denver. Pitching is always a question, but hot prospect Juan Pierre and rookie of the year candidate Juan Uribe look to add some punch to the lineup.

Projected Finish: 4th in the NL West

Florida Marlins: Once a joke among baseball enthusiasts, the Marlins finally have a pitching staff that might allow them to stay in the hunt past the All-Star break. Josh Beckett is one of the best young pitchers in the game.

Projected Finish: 3rd in the NL East

Houston Astros: Enron problems aside, the future looks like clear sailing for the Astros. The “Killer B’s” of Jeff Bagwell, Craig Biggio, and Lance Berkman will drive in enough runs to make things easy on their young pitching staff that includes ace-in-the-hole Roy Oswalt.

Projected Finish: 2nd in the NL Central

Los Angeles Dodgers: Perennial underachievers will look to an aging and oft-injured Kevin Brown to rally the troops again. Paul Lo Duca will have trouble repeating his batting performance from last year.

Projected Finish: 3rd in the NL West

Milwaukee Brewers: Two of baseball’s hottest young pitching prospects (Ben Sheets, Nick Neugebauer) will try to turn around a club whose lineup struck out more than any other in history.

Projected Finish: 5th in the NL Central

Montreal Expos: Though they are more notably a farm club for late-season contenders, this year’s team is young and more talented than any in recent history. Vladimir Guerrero could be the best natural ballplayer since Willie Mays.

Projected Finish: 5th in the NL East

New York Mets: Completely revamped their lineup in the offseason, acquiring all-stars Roberto Alomar and Mo Vaughn. Loss of pitching should be made up by ludicrous amount of runs scored.

Projected Finish: 2nd in the NL East

Philadelphia Phillies: Scott Rolen is a tremendous talent at third base and Jimmy Rollins will vie for the MLB lead in stolen bases. Larry Bowa is on his way out as manager.

Projected Finish: 4th in the NL East

Pittsburgh Pirates: Superstar Brian Giles is lost in a sea of sub-mediocrity. If Kris Benson gets healthy then they might win 60 games.

Projected Finish: 5th in the NL East

San Diego Padres: Slugger Phil Nevin’s move to first base will make way for rookie of the year candidate Sean Burroughs. Untested pitching staff will have to get into the ninth with a lead in order for ace closer Trevor Hoffman to be effective.

Projected Finish: 4th in the NL West

San Francisco Giants: Barry Bonds will hit around 60 homers, a far cry from his record 73 last year. Jeff Kent’s mysterious hand injury may cost the team a few wins at the beginning of the season.

Projected Finish: 1st it the NL West

St. Louis Cardinals: The loss of Mark McGwire will not hurt as bad with Tino Martinez around. They have one of the best pitching staffs in the league. Erratic golden-boy Rick Ankiel could make or break this club.

Projected Finish: 1st in the NL Central