Since I made my completely unresearched picks for the AL yesterday, I figured I'd go ahead and get the NL out of the way tonight. So, here comes the big pile of randomness based on nothing more than my gut feelings.
1. Philadelphia. Ryan Howard is a beast, and throw in Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley, they are gonna be tough to beat. They've got emerging ace Cole Hamels, wife beater Brett Myers, and 64 year old Jamie Moyer in the starting rotation, and that'll be enough. Also always entertaining are the hooligans in the stands screaming profanities at everyone from the starting pitcher to The Easter Bunny. Gotta love Philly.
2. Mets. Johan Santana is one of the best in the game; Pedro is your #2, and while I love the guy, he's not a #2 anymore. Delgado is showing his age, Beltran is soft, and David Wright can't hit 9 times in a row. Plus, the mental baggage left over from gacking up a 7 game lead with 17 left to last year? That doesn't go away over night.
3. Braves. They've got John Smoltz, Tommy Glavine, and Mike Hampton. Sorry fellas, but it's not 1995 anymore. Offensively, Chipper is still an elite player but he's breaking down, Francoeur is a star, and along with Brian McCann they've got a good core of guys to build around. They just don't have the horses to keep up. On the plus side, manager Bobby Cox gets tossed from games more often than they do the Tomahawk Chop, so at least it's must see tv.
4. Nationals. New park, same results. They'll be hard pressed to win 70 games. However, they do have Elijah Dukes and Dimitri Young on the same team, so the possibilites of mayhem are endless.
5. Marlins. Slappy makes more per season than their ENTIRE team. 'Nuff said.
1. Cubbies. This is the year that hockey is played on the river Styxx; Cubs go to the World Series. (more on that tomorrow, hopefully.) If they don't run away with this division by June I'll be shocked. Plus you've always got the chance that Carlos Zambrano goes bonkers and starts a fight with the entire Cardinal bench, which is always entertaining.
2. Brewers. IF they can get decent pitching, IF Prince Fielder can hit bombs on a nightly basis, and IF Corey Hart, Ryan Braun, Bill Hall, and Richie Weeks play up to their abilities? They can make it exciting. It's a long shot, though. But I like watching them play.
3. Reds. Every spring they look better, and by May 15th Junior Griffey's pulled a hammy and the pitchers resemble Rick "Wild Thing" Vaughan. And not the good Wild Thing, either.
4. Astros. Roy Oswalt and pray for rain. Considering they play in a dome, not a good sign. Though Carlos Lee and Lance Berkman are always fun to watch. Also they've got Tal's Hill out in CF, which always make me look for that "and he tears his knee to shreds on the hill" highlight.
5. Pirates. Good young talent, decent pitching, and I honestly think the Cardinals will be that bad. FANTASTIC park, though. Maybe one day...
6. Cardinals. Pujols needs elbow surgery. After him, they might beat a college team. Maybe. This may be the year we see LaRussa flat out lose his mind and run out to argue with the umpire in just a pair of sliding shorts while wielding a metric ruler. Which would re-define the word awesome.
1. Dodgers. In what may be the most competitive division, the Dodgers have good pitching, really good young players like Russel Martin and Matt Kemp, and a nice mix of veterans led by perennially grumpy Jeff Kent. Plus they've got one of those sections where you buy a ticket and get all the food and drink you can consume for one low price. Cardiac specialists in SoCal are celebrating this development as I type.
2. Rockies. As we all saw last fall, they can rake all day long. Holliday, Atkins, Hawpe, Helton, etc.. are as good as anybody. Pitching? Not so much. Getting to play in that launching pad 81 games is huge for them, but they'll win a lot of 10-9 games. I AM picking them for the NL Wild Card though.
3. Diamondbacks. Great pitching led by Webb and Haren, but they were outscored last year by a pretty large margin. When Eric Byrnes is your centerpiece player? You've got issues.
4. Padres. Peavy, Young, and Maddux are outstanding, but the offense is going to struggle. I could go either way here. Petco Park is home to some of the best ball park food though, from what I hear. That's a plus, right?
5. Giants. Bonds is gone, so at least they'll be smiling.
So, there you go. Mind you, these are only guesses, and I've pulled the whole thing out of my rear end, so we'll see in October how close I get.
Tomorrow, I'll give my playoff and World Series picks.
However, I reserve the right to change my mind if any of my future stand up comedians give me better material.
Let's face it; it won't take much.
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