I know that we're right in the middle of the tournament, but I have a feeling that I will be way too preoccupied later on to not do my first ever over/under column with baseball. This is going to be a quick one probably, but I have to get it on record to look back on and say "hey, maybe I still have it," or "hey, I should have quit two years ago." Let's get right into it (last year's wins in parentheses):
Arizona Diamondbacks (82): O/U 85.5:
Obviously, the D-Backs are top-heavy in their rotation with Webb, Haren, and introducing Max Scherzer. The bullpen is pretty questionable, and it's not because the talent isn't there, but it's more like there are too many unknown factors, like if Qualls can adjust fully to being the full-time closer? Can Pena stay healthy? On offense, I love Stephen Drew, and outside of Hanley Ramirez, he's probably the best shortstop in the league. They couldn't bring back Adam Dunn, so they lose a bunch of power there. So, they're going to be relying heavily on Conor Jackson, Mark Reynolds, and Chris Young to put up similar power numbers as they did last year. Two more questions will be how well Justin Upton will do in his second full year, and can Eric Byrnes ever even come close to his form from '07? Too many question marks for me here.
Atlanta Braves (72): O/U 83.5:
This is going to be the first of probably numerous instances where I will just sit here in silence and think "damn you Vegas, why do you read my mind like this?" In all seriousness, I would have said 83 wins for the Braves this year. So, I guess I have to think this one out. Okay, well, I like the Braves' starters, especially Jair Jurrjens. I think he will be big-time this year. Questions definitely linger in the bullpen, especially considering there is really no clear-cut favorite for the closer position. Mike Gonzalez is penciled in, but Rafael Soriano is a very capable pitcher, but just can't stay healthy. On offense, Brian McCann has taken the torch of being the best offensive catcher in the majors from Joe Mauer. Chipper Jones is probably going to be out for a bulk of time though, and that's their go-to guy considering the utter collapse of Jeff Francoeur. I love Kelly Johnson, and I think especially in the situation he's in where his offense is going to be relied upon heavily. So, a .290/20/90/10/95 season is totally within reason. I think the NL East is going to be in kind of an off-year, with no one really running away with it. So, going three games over .500 is definitely a possibility.
Baltimore Orioles (68): O/U 73.5:
Baltimore made those two trades a couple of years ago to beef up their minor league system, but outside of Adam Jones, none of those prospects involved in those trades will really have any impact this year. Of course, the big story with the O's is Matt Wieters. I will fill you in right now, in case you were unaware, and just say that Wieters, in maybe two or three years, will absolutely be the best catcher in baseball. I predict things all the time, and I definitely have had my share of misses, but this one is as close to a lock as you can possibly get. We will get to see him probably around June, and I am really looking forward to that. Nick Markakis is one of the best young outfielders in the majors. Aubrey Huff had probably the most silent .300/30/100 seasons in recent memory. Brian Roberts will get his 40 steals, but outside of that, this will be a season of hard-knocks for the O's, and you pretty much have to know it considering Jeremy Guthrie is the "ace" of the staff. Again, can't wait for Wieters, love the Markakis/Jones outfield combo, and Huff may be able to come close to what he did last year, but they simply have no pitching, so I say they stay right around where they were last year
Boston Red Sox (95): O/U 95:
My read on this team is this: They may not score as many runs as Sox teams have in the past, but their pitching is probably the best in baseball. However, just because they have the best pitching, that does not necessarily mean they will shutout every team they play. I like this year's version a lot, but 95 wins could be a bit lofty. I'm thinking more like 91-93.
Chicago Cubs (97): O/U 92:
Basically, you're looking at the same Cubs team from last year without Kerry Wood and Mark DeRosa. In this division, which continues to be mediocre at best, the Cubs should have no problem getting back into the 95-win range. The only real question for me is Carlos Marmol becoming the closer this year. He's been lights-out as a set-up guy, but when he was asked to be the closer when Wood went on the DL, the results were very much mixed. This will be an interesting situation to follow especially after the Kevin Gregg trade with Florida. Gregg was the Marlins' closer last year, and if Marmol struggles out of the gate, you have to wonder how long Pinella's leash on him will be until he makes Gregg the ninth inning man.
Chicago White Sox (89): O/U 77.5:
I'm not really sure what I'm missing here to make me believe that the ChiSox will drop twelve games from last year. Buehrle is still going to get his 15 wins, Gavin Floyd and John Danks look to improve on their fast starts from last year, they have a solid closer in Jenks, the offense is pretty well off with Dye, Quentin, and Thome, and Alexei Ramirez is already being touted as one of the best second basemen in the game...what exactly is there not to like?
Cincinnati Reds (74): O/U 77.5:
I think this one will be close. This is a different team without Adam Dunn. They really missed his 40 homers in the middle of the lineup. Still, there are a bunch of bright spots. Jay Bruce and Joey Votto both showed they were worth the hype, Edwin Encarnacion silently continues to pile up good numbers for a third baseman, Edison Volquez is making the Josh Hamilton trade at least look somewhat fair to them, and I think Francisco Cordero will have a nice year. However, questions still have to linger about the two struggling starting pitchers: Aaron Harang and Bronson Arroyo. Both of them pitched way below their collective potentials last year, and it remains to be seen if they can get back to their past forms. Also, the offense has a ton of holes in it. One of the keys will be how Ramon Hernandez does in a contract year at a hitters' park. If he can get to the 20/90 range, the Reds have a chance to get to .500. Also, can WIlly Taverez make the kind of impact at the top of the lineup as he did in Colorado? Right now though, I don't quite see it.
Cleveland (81): O/U 84.5
There are a lot of unknowns circling this team. I have to start with Kerry Wood, because I still don't think you pay a guy with that questionable of an injury past $10 million a year to close out games. Then there is Victor Martinez and Travis Hafner. Martinez is coming back from an elbow injury that basically had him out of the entire season last year. Wedge will try to get him in as a DH and at first, but you have to wonder if he will be able to hold up through an entire season. As far as Hafner goes, what happened to Pronk? He was one of the most feared lefties in the AL, and now, you can pick him up on the waiver wire in fantasy leagues. If he can figure out whatever reverse voodoo was put on him, he still is totally capable of 25/100. After Cliff Lee, this pitching staff is pretty dreadful. To sum that up: Carl Pavano is the team's fourth starter. Really, how good could they be?
Colorado Rockies (74): O/U 76.5:
With Matt Holliday gone to Oakland, the Rockies are in a state of rebuilding after making the World Series just two years ago. They are on a five-year plan, and these will be the beginning stages. Colorado still doesn't have the starting pitching that it takes to make a run for the division, despite the fact that the NL West is probably the worst division in all of sports. Tulowitski will be back to full strength, and they desperately need him to be back to his '07 form to at least attempt to make up for Holliday's absence. If Brad Hawpe ever wants to become a legitimate star in this league, now is his chance.
Detroit Tigers (74): O/U 81.5:
The Tigers severely underachieved last year. Their hopes were riding on Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis to right the ship, and while Cabrera lived up to expectations, Willis was a disaster who ended up in single A. Their offense is still very potent with Cabrera, Ordonez, and Granderson. Carlos Guillen will be making his debut as a full-time outfielder, so it remains to be seen how that experiment will work. The Tigers traded for Gerald Laird and signed Adam Everett to improve on their defense. The starting pitching is actually not that bad. Verlander is the ace, and the Tigers are counting on him big time. Detroit wanted Joel Zumaya to close for them, but he could not stay healthy, opening the door for the Brandon Lyon signing. There are going to be three teams to finish over .500 in the AL Central, and I think Detroit will be one of them.
Florida Marlins (84): O/U 75.5:
The Marlins start with Hanley Ramirez, who is now the top-rated fantasy player in all of baseball. Of course fantasy very rarely translates into reality, but believe me, you are not going to see too many guys like Ramirez come along very often. The numbers he puts up in that offense is staggering. Dan Uggla and Jorge Cantu are two 25-homer infielders that seemingly can't get any respect. Jeremy Hermida is much like Brad Hawpe in that if he ever wants to make a name for himself, now is the time. Matt Lindstrom will enter the season as the closer, but he already has gotten himself dinged up at the WBC. We'll see how much of a factor that will be going forward. I think the Marlins have just enough pitching and hitting to put them around the .500 mark.
Houston Astros (86): O/U 73:
The Astros fell right off the deep end this offseason, failing to make themselves a legit division title contender, like they have been for most of the decade. When I looked at the over/under and saw that there would be a potential thirteen game drop-off, I thought there may have been some mistake. Then I looked at their depth chart...Mike Hampton is the third starter, Russ Ortiz is their fifth, they just signed Pudge Rodriguez...this may have worked if you wanted to build a winner in 1998.
Kansas City Royals (75): O/U 75.5:
I pegged the Royals early on as the team to watch in 2009. I absolutely love this team. Mike Aviles is on the cusp of becoming an elite middle infielder in just his second year. Mike Jacobs was a great pickup from the Marlins who could hit 30 homers. Alex Gordon showed his potential in the second half, and now that people are not going to be riding him to become "the next George Brett," I think he will become more comfortable at the plate and get to the .300/25/90 that his potential suggests he should do. The outfield is probably the most under-appreciated in baseball...it's pretty solid with DeJesus, Coco, and Jose Guillen. The pitching is above average with Grienke and Meche anchoring the staff, and one of the best closers in baseball in Joakim Soria. Watch out for the Royals.
Los Angeles Angels (100): O/U 88.5:
If the Angels had an outspoken owner and spent $50-75 million more, they very well could be called the Yankees. The Halos spend close to $100 million each season ($119,216,333 last year), and yet they have not made it past the first round of the playoffs since '01 when they won it all. Is it me, or is it painful just to watch Vladimir Guerrero do...anything? I can't even imagine what his knees are like right now. After that, there is a ton of young players that will be stepping into full-time. Napoli could be one of the best catchers in the league if he stays healthy. They picked up Bobby Abreu to add to an outfield of Guerrero and Torii Hunter...not bad. They lose K-Rod and replace him with Brian Fuentes, which is interesting because Fuentes was not the full-time closer last year in Colorado (although he did have to step in after Manny Corpas started falling apart). This is an interesting staff with Lackey (contract year), Weaver, Saunders (who for some reason everyone hates even though he will put up 17 wins this year), Dustin Moseley and Nick Adenhart, who both have been erratic in the majors and the minors. The thing is that the Angels play in a terribly weak division, which makes me believe they can get to 90 wins.
Los Angeles Dodgers (84): O/U 85:
Manny has signed...I think? So, just with that, the Dodgers should make it to 90 wins easily. This team has a ton of quality hitters. Russell Martin is one of those "M" catchers that you have to have (Martin, McCann, Mauer, Martinez). James Loney is totally underrated because he doesn't hit 30-35 homers, but still, expect 20-25 from him. The outfield is stellar...probably the best in baseball. Manny, Matt Kemp (who if you were unaware of before this season, you should probably look into his numbers and his projections for this year...pretty impressive), and Andre Ethier. The pitching is also extremely young, which is both exciting and horrifying in the same instance. Hiroki Kuroda is in his second season, and he has already been dubbed the "ace." Billingsley and Kershaw are both young hurlers who both could hit 17 wins. Then, the biggest question mark is probably Jonathan Broxton, who will be in his first full year as the closer. He did step in last year when Takashi Saito went on the DL. Can Broxton be an elite closer (in case you didn't know, Broxton is like the NL Papelbon...at least in potential), or will he just be average? I'm thinking elite...really like the Dodgers this year...World Series? I wouldn't doubt it.
Milwaukee Brewers (90): O/U 81:
Don't kid yourself by thinking otherwise...the proposed nine win drop-off has anything and everything to do with C.C. Sabathia going to the Yankees. Another factor could be Ben Sheets, but honestly, when can you really make an accurate prediction about not only how many wins he could account for, but how many starts he'll make in general? They get Trevor Hoffman, who, not surprisingly, has already succumbed to the injury bug and is out indefinitely. The offense is still nasty. They have the best 3-4 combo in baseball in my opinion with Braun and Fielder (sorry Yankee fans), Hardy brings the rare "power shortstop" aspect to the table. I love Rickie Weeks, Corey Hart, and Mike Cameron because you have three 20/20 guys in the same lineup...how many teams can boast that (and actually, you can throw Braun in there to make it four). All and all, the Brewers' staff will obviously be taking a hit with their two best pitchers gone, but are they really that bad? Gallardo, Bush, Suppan, Looper, and Parra...it's not the best 1-5 in the game, but all of them are capable of double-digit wins. The bullpen really has me concerned. There's not a lot of depth, and most of the guys there I just don't like (basically everyone outside of Seth McClung). Still, this team will be second in the N.L. Central, and make a push to get back to the 90-win mark.
Minnesota Twins (88): O/U 83:
Already, this Joe Mauer injury really makes me second-guess the legitimacy of this team. I know that they have a really nice compliment of starting pitching with Liriano, Baker, and Slowey, and have one of the most consistent closers in Joe Nathan, but where do they go from there? The outfield literally has no power (Delmon Young, Carlos Gomez, and Denard Span combined for 23 homers last year), you have a Nick Punto/Alexei Casilla double play...outside of Morneau and Kubel, I have a hard time trying to figure out where the offense will come from.
New York Mets (89): O/U 89.5:
This is another one where I'm very much on the fence about my pick. Do we really know what is up with this team? The core guys have been there for like three years, and yet it just doesn't seem to be clicking in Flushing. Now, with a new stadium, and two consecutive choke job seasons (yeah I said it), the Mets, hopefully, will be playing with a sense of purpose this year. This team is like the Tigers but with even more potential, which really baffles me how they couldn't eclipse 90 wins in the NL. The first thing you have to look at is behind the plate with Brian Schneider, who will be going into his second season in New York. Here's a guy who has never had over 12 homers and has not hit over .270 for an entire season. That's a question mark...does this remind you of any other team with a $100+ million payroll with a suspect offensive catcher? Hmmm. Another question comes in the outfield. Beltran in center is solid, but Daniel Murphy in left and Ryan Church in right?...a little less solid. However, I think Church has potential as long as he can get his 400 ABs (his one season with 400+ AB in '07 w/ the Nats: .272/15/70...not bad). The staff is headed up by Santana, but after that, it gets interesting. I think Mike Pelfrey and John Maine are just bugging the crap out of Mets fans...like when are these guys going to be the stars that they were advertised to be? You already know how I feel about the Putz/K-Rod set-up/closer combo (and in case you don't know...I'm not a big fan). Even with the question marks, the Mets have got to get to 90 wins...it would just be appalling if they didn't. I know "appalling" is harsh...but wouldn't it be? A team spends $140 million...you have to get to 90.
New York Yankees (89): O/U 94.5:
Oakland Athletics (75): O/U 82:
You know, I like this team, but I don't like them that much. Here's what I like: The Matt Holliday trade is obviously going to be a rental kind of situation unless Billy Beane gives someone around $100 million for the first time ever. Still, Holliday is going to put up decent numbers in that lineup. They signed the OC...if you've been reading this column from the start, you know of my insatiable love of Orlando Cabrera. I don't know what else to say, I just love the guy...as a player. That was one of the top 10 free agent signings, and another one, at least on paper, is getting Jason Giambi back. I think he will work out...again, in Oakland. Plus, I like the potential of the pitching staff, especially Sean Gallagher (a guy from Boston who throws in the mid 90s...what is there not to like?). Now, here's what bugs me: First, Duchscherer, their ace, may not be able to pitch until May because of the most dreaded injury to hear concerning a pitcher: "elbow issues." Then, who exactly is closing for this team, and once we figure that out, are they even major league ready? It's between Ziegler and Devine, and I don't know how much confidence they have in either of them. Lastly, Eric Chavez just cannot stay healthy, and if they are trying to contend for second place in the West (which is basically the best that Oakland, Seattle, or Texas can do at this point), then you're going to need Chavez's bat and, more importantly, his glove out in the field.
Philadelphia Phillies (92): O/U 88.5:
The defending World Champs are expected to have a drop off this year? Really? Hmmm...well this is definitely worth breaking down. Okay, hands down the best double play combo (Utley/Rollins) in baseball...I mean it's not even a competition for that anymore. If the Phils ever got a somewhat decent catcher, they would probably have the best lineup since the '03 Red Sox. At the corners, they have Ryan Howard, who hits obscene amounts of homers, and Pedro Feliz, who I have always been big on despite an off-year last year (first time in five years he did not hit the 20 home run plateau). In the outfield, you have a solid group in Jayson Werth (potentially could go 30/30), Shane Victorino (20/40 guy), and new addition Raul Ibanez, with the only knock on him potentially being the big contract he pulled down. My concerns are all pitching-related. Cole Hamels has basically been deemed "untouchable" in fantasy drafts, which just means trouble. Then you factor in Brett Myers, Joe Blanton and Jamie Moyer...they pitched faily well last year, can they all collectively stay healthy and pitch anywhere close to last year? The odds say no. Then you throw in the Brad Lidge factor, who was perfect last year (and I would know because I was the smart one that drafted him in the 14th round last year...yeah-ya!). I think he's a great pitcher, but there is no way we can honestly expect him to do the same thing this year. It's simply not realistic, as it is not realistic to expect the Phillies to run the tables again this season. I am with Vegas in expecting a bit of a drop-off.
Pittsburgh Pirates (67): O/U 69:
Ahhh yes, the Bucs, who now own a piece of my heart after this summer in Lynchburg. What to make of this team? Well...they're young, that's for sure. The most experienced starter on the team is Jack Wilson, and he's 31, so you can pretty much go from there. When you talk about the Pirates, you have to talk about Nate McClouth, who had one of the best all-around seasons the Pirates have seen since at least the first couple of Jason Bay years. McClouth is the real deal, so expect more of the same this year. No one talks about Ryan Doumit because, well, he plays for Pittsburgh, but in all seriousness, he's definitely one of the top 5 catchers in the NL. Adam LaRoche also was a pleasant surprise in the Manny-Bay trade. Now, here are the concerns...and there are plenty. First, Nyjer Morgan and Brandon Moss starting off the year in the corner outfield positions. Basically, both these guys are rookies. I know much more about Moss than Morgan from him being in the Sox organization, and from what I've seen, I think Moss will end up as a guy who will not crack the 20/80 zone at any point in his career. He's a good player, but he's not a game-changer, which the Bucs need now that Bay is in Boston. I look for Steve Pearce to supplant one of these two (most likely Morgan) before the All-Star break. Then you have the rotation, which is a total mess. Maholm looked good at times last year. I've all but given up on Zach Duke. Who really bothers me in terms of if he will show up is Ian Snell. I remember watching him in the WBC, and thinking something like "is this Ian Snell's brother?" and "where as he been all this time?" I understand the stage was more grand in the WBC than it is at PNC, but Snell looked amazing for the P.R., and yet I think he will just be mediocre...again. Also, Matt Capps is coming back from a year in which he battled a shoulder injury to save 21 games. If he stays healthy, they at least have a shot late in games if they are ahead or close.
San Diego Padres (63): O/U 71.5:
I definitely have to side with Vegas in believing that the Padres will be able to improve on last year's 99-loss season...actually, it's extremely hard for the Padres to do any worse, which makes me believe that there is nowhere to go but up. I expect superstar years from both Adrian Gonzalez and Jake Peavy because, well, they're superstars. Chase Headley is on the fast track to really putting up some huge numbers, and I expect that coming sooner rather than later. Chris Yound had a huge down-year, and I really think he will be turning it around because he simply has too much talent to be a below-average pitcher. The bullpen is surprisingly deep even after Hoffman moving on. Also, never bet against a David Eckstein team.
San Francisco (72): O/U 79.5:
There seems to be a little buzz going on about this Giants team. One of the reasons is Pablo Sandoval, who will start the season at third and can also play first. Based on what we saw last year, Sandoval could answer some of the questions about power that the team has. Bengie Molina had a huge season last year, leading all catchers in RBIs with 95. The outfield is also fairly underrated with Fred Lewis, Aaron Rowand, and Randy Winn. Tim Lincecum is the reigning Cy Young award winner, and expect the same kind of things this year. Matt Cain is also due for about 14-16 wins. The question marks come in the form of 3/4 of the infield. Travis Ishikawa, Kevin Frandsen, and Edgar Renteria...not exactly the guys you want to start a franchise around. Then there is Barry Zito and Randy Johnson in the rotation. Zito arguably received the worst contract is professional sports, and has not even come close to earning a tenth of what he got. Johnson is 45, and while people believe that he may have something left in the tank, I respectfully disagree with that. Jonathan Sanchez is the fifth starter, and in terms of #5's, you can't do much better than Sanchez. All and all, I think the Giants were one move away (Manny) from being a serious contender, but with that being said, I think that the pieces they do have in the lineup and the Lincecum/Cain combination will be enough to get this team close to .500.
Seattle Mariners (61): O/U 72.5:
Another really interesting team. The Mariners start the year with a new coach in Don Wakamatsu, and that's just the beginning of the changes. Ken Griffey, Jr. makes his triumphant return to Seattle. Much like Jason Giambi, I think this will be kind of a rejuvanating force on Griffey's career. Ichiro will move back to right field after spending last season in center. Of course, he will get his 200 hits, 40 steals, and a gold glove...that's just what he does. Adrian Beltre is ready to hit his 25 homers and 90 RBIs, as is Jose Lopez, who is vastly underrated as a second baseman. Felix Hernandez will be looking for a little more support this year, and Erik Bedard is a prime candidate for comeback player of the year. What concerns me the most is the indecision about who is starting for this team. Jeff Clement has been groomed to become the starting catcher, and yet the M's signed Kenji Johjima to a contract extension. The same goes with Wladimir Balentien, who was slated to be the starting left fielder in place of Ibanez, and now it seems that Endy Chavez will start the season there. Then there is the closer situation. It makes too much sense to have Brandon Morrow there. This is kind of like the Joba Chamberlain situation in New York, where the club believes they are under-utilizing a young pitcher in the bullpen. Morrow is the best option to be the closer, and yet the M's want him to be the 5th starter. I think these indecisions will hurt the team from the start, and it will be hard to make up those wins later on in the season.
St. Louis Cardinals (86): O/U 82:
When you talk about the Cards, you have to talk about Albert Pujols, the most consistent and apparently clean player in the majors. Pujols actually has a nice compliment of hitters behind him in Rick Ankiel and Ryan Ludwick. They have a .300 hitter behind the plate in Yadier Molina. Colby Rasmus is one of the highest touted prospects in baseball, and will immediately be put into the lineup in left field. I can see some big things happening from Rasmus this season, as it seems that every Cardinal hitter who has come through the system with power potential has seen it come to fruition. Jason Motte will start the year as closer, and I expect that if he is able to hang onto the job, he will be in line for 30-35 saves. There are some question marks with the infield and the starting pitching. The Cards have two guys in the infield who are career outfielders (Skip Schumacker and Joe Mather), and the starters include Joel Piniero, who will be going into his second full season as a starter, and Chris Carpenter is still recovering from shouler and elbow troubles. Still, I think they have enough with Wainwright, Lohse, and Wellemeyer just in case either of them don't pan out.
Tampa Bay Devil Rays (97): O/U 89:
Why am I supposed to believe that the Rays can't do it again, or at least come close to doing what they did last year? They are returning everyone from their starting lineup, and if anything, they have gotten better with the addition of Matt Joyce. If B.J. Upton and Carl Crawford can stay healthy, Tampa could sneak up to the 100-win mark. If anything, maybe you have to worry about Percival as the closer. Other than that, I can't find many weaknesses here.
Texas Rangers (79): O/U 75:
How many years have we had this thought: "Hmmm, the Rangers...if only they had pitching." Well, we go back to that thought again this year, as the Rangers inexplicably could not find any starters in the market. However, the Rangers do have plenty of offense. Jarrod Saltalamacchia will begin the year behind the plate, and could receive competition from Taylor Teagarden and Max Ramirez throughout the year. At first, Chris Davis is my #1 candidate for breakout player of the year. Kinsler is one of the best offensive second basemen in the game. Michael Young will start the year at third to make room for Elvis Andrus. This will be Young's second position change, and one that he was not too thrilled about. That could be a developing story this season. The outfield is an interesting one. Josh Hamilton thrilled everyone with his barrage at the Home Run Derby, but saw his second half numbers trail off, much like Bobby Abreu's did three years ago after he set the single round record. Still, I think Hamilton will be able to rebound this season and put together huge numbers. Many have Nelson Cruz on pace for a 25/90 season, and David Murphy has definitely shown flashes that he could be an above-average outfielder. The pitching is and will continue to be the reason that this team cannot contend for a title. Still, the offense alone should get the Rangers to the .500 level.
Toronto Blue Jays (86): O/U 79:
This is another example of a team I simply cannot see regressing. They return everyone from last year's 86-win team, and will hopefully have B.J. Ryan and Scott Rolen for an entire season, so why will they go backwards? Plus, they will have Travis Snider in a full-time role. I just don't see it happening.
Washington Nationals (59): O/U 72:
I like the Nationals, I really do, but do I like them enough to see thirteen more wins? Ehhh...I'm not so sure about that. They have two breakout candidates in Lastings Milledge and Elijah Dukes. I'm especially high on Milledge, and I think he could be one of the top 5 leadoff hitters in the game as this season progresses. They made a huge upgrade in their lineup with the signing of Adam Dunn, and although they probably wish they had Mark Teixeira, Dunn will still get 35-40 homers this year. Still though, you have to wonder about a starting pitching staff that has John Lannan as their #1. I like Hanrahan as the closer, but I don't see any kind of bridge to get to him, which could end up being a problem. I think the Nats will improve, but I'm thinking they are about two years away from making a serious run at .500.
Absolute Best Bets:
- White Sox and the Over (77.5)
- Rays and the Over (89)
- Angels and the Over (88.5)
- Rangers and the Over (75)
- Yankees and the Under (94.5)
The Top 10 March Madness Moments:
- The Alley-Oop (1983)
- The Shot (1992)
- Valpo (1998)
- The Legend Of Gus Johnson Is Born (1996)
- Larry vs. Magic (1979)
- The TO (1993)
- Today, We Are All Patriots (2006)
- The Left Handed Free Throw (1990)
- The Prayer (1981)
- The Best Upset Call I Ever Had (2006)
Alright, that's all for now. Oh, and here's to the 2008-09 Northeast Division Champion Boston Bruins! Finally, hockey is back (although it really never left, many were convinced that it did). Take care. Peace.