The Face of our Country

41,000+ Americans expressed their dissatisfaction with the president last night. The only positive thing I have to say about this is that at least he can throw the ball from the mound like the big boys do.

Must have been all the practice on the South Lawn during the T-Ball games, when he wasn’t, you know, Running the Country…

What was worse was the Smug prick sat in the booth and talked about nothing for three innings. Joe Morgan (firejoemorgan.com) and John Miller are bad enough, but you throw W into that mix, and it is down right torture.

As a matter of fact, why all this nonsense about Water boarding. Why not just force detainees to watch video of Dubs talking baseball with John and Joe, it’s that painful.

Opening Day is Here


It is raining out. Fairly cold, dreary sort of morning. There is however, excitement in the air.

There is something special about opening day. It is probably because it comes with the start of spring. There are birds chirping outside, the air smells new and fresh.

The Mets open the season this afternoon (4 pm, SNY) against the Marlins in Miami. Today Terry will get the chance (weather providing) to watch Johan Santana pitch for the first time in a Mets uniform.

Terry has picked the Mets to win the divison, and expects Santana to compete for, and win the NL Cy Young award.

Today is a good day. Avi woke up, and spoke her first words. Just as I had hoped, they were “Johan Santana”.

My daughter is a baby genius.

Just for the fun of it… Terry’s predictions for post seasons awards.

NL MVP

David Wright, NY Mets

Mark Teixeira, Atlanta Braves in the running

Dark Horse Matt Kemp, LA Dodgers

NL Cy Young

Johan Santana, NY Mets

Jake Peavey, San Diego Padres in the running

Dark Horse John Maine, NY Mets

NL Comeback Player of the Year

Jeff Kent, LA Dodgers

Nick Johnson, Washington Nationals in the running

Dark Horse, Fernando Tatis (dont take this seriously), NY Mets

NL Rookie of the Year

Matt Kemp, LA Dodgers

Clayton Kershaw, LA Dodgers in the running

Dark Horse John Neise, NY Mets

AL MVP

Manny Ramirez, Boston Redsox

Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigres in the running

Dark Horse Josh Hamilton, Texas Rangers

AL Cy Young

Daisuke Matsuzaka, Boston Redsox

C.C. Sabathia, Clevland Indians

Dark Horse Francisco Liriano, Minnesota Twins

AL Comeback Player

Manny Ramirez, Boston Redsox

Scott Rolen, Toronto Bluejays

Dark Horse Mike Sweeney, Oakland Athletics

Terry is ready for baseball.

Everyone is Doing it Part, II

It’s time to tackle my predictions for the Juior Circuit (National League). I should not be so harsh on the NL, although the league has been clearly inferior to the AL in recent years, There are some very talented players and improving teams in the NL. Due to my inherent east coast bias, lets start here.(Once again last years records in parenthesis)

NL East

1. New York Mets(88-74)

The Mets (Terry’s Mets) came excruciatingly close to making the playoffs this past season. In one move, Omar Minaya fixed everything that was wrong with the Mets. Johan Santana represents salvation from the agony of last years collapse. Santana heads up a rotation that is among the elite in the league. Pedro Martinez is healthy and looks strong and effective this spring. John Maine has quietly become one of the better pitchers in the league. If he wore pinstripes and had a rediculous name that sounded like a Star Wars character, he would be a phenomenon too. Oliver Perez is as physically gifted as Santana, boasting a fastball that touches 95, and a filthy slider, the only thing holding him back seems to be, him. The fifth spot is a question mark at this point, but with a rotation 1-4 as strong as this, the fifth starter is a bonus.

The Mets have a very good lineup, albiet a left-handed heavy one. The top four is as good as it gets in the NL. Reyes, Castillo, Wright and Beltran are all very good hitters with speed and aside from Castillo have power. I have a good feeling (man does that sound like Willie “I went with Mota cause I had a feeling in my gut” Randolph) that Ryan Church is going to be a positive contributor to this lineup. Carlos Delgado continues to be a mystery.

The Mets Bullpen is strong. Billy Wagner is getting older, but has added additional pitches, as his fastball has lost velocity. Aaron Heilman is one of the better set up men in the NL. If Duaner Sanchez can return to anything close to what he was in 06, the Mets will be very strong after the 6th inning.

I see this team winning the division, fairly easily.

2. Philadelphia Phillies (89-73)

The Phillies won the division last year only to be swept out of the playoffs by the NL champion Rockies. The rotation beyond Ace Cole Hamels, and president of the He-Mans-Woman-Beaters-Club Brett Myers is a question. Kyle Kendrick showed promise last year. Jamie Moyer is 88, and Adam Eaton is terrible.

The Phillies 1-4 are as potent as the Mets, and just about any other team in the league. Jimmy Rollins, Shane Victorino, Chase Utley, and Ryan Howard will ensure that the Phils score a ton of runs.

With Brad Lidge going down with a knee injury, the bullpen has become more of a question than it already was. Tom Gordon will open the season as the teams closer. Beyond Lidge and Gordon there are few proven effective relievers.

The Phils will challenge for the Wild Card, but will not be much of a threat to the Mets.

3. Atlanta Braves (84-78)

The Braves have recently become the hot pick among the baseball writing community. I guess they all feel that they owe it to Bobby Cox after all these years and only one championship. Terry, however feels that this team lacks the pitching depth both in the rotation and the bullpen to challenge for the division. Tim Hudson is talented. Tom Glavin is old, he will give the Braves 200 innings, but that will come with at 4.50+ ERA. John Smotlz is a year older, and is going to start the season on the DL. Mike Hampton hasnt been healthy since he signed that rediculous contract with the Rockies. Chuck James is average, and beyond that the Braves have question marks like Jo Jo Reyes and Jair Jurrjens.

The Braves strength is their linup. Yunel Escobar is very talented. Mark Teixeira, Chipper Jones, Jeff Francouer, and Brian McCann are as strong as anyone. Kelly Johnson was suprisingly productive last year. Center field and Left field are problem areas for the Braves with the departure of constantly smiling, (the only player in the history of Major League Baseball to hit 50 HR, and have a BA less than .260) Andruw Jones.

The Braves Bullpen is anchored by Rafael Soriano, whom the Braves stole from Seattle for Horacio Ramirez two years ago (and who walked David Wright in the 9th inning, when Wright had a 20+ game hit streak on the line). Beyond Soriano the Braves are not very deep.

This team will be productive in a relatively weak NL East, but does not have the guns to compete with the Mets and Phillies.

4. Washington Nationals (73-89)

The Nats were suprisingly competitive for a team that was expected to lose 100 games last year. The problem continues to be Starting Pitching. GM Jim Bowden continues to make head scratchers for roster moves (keeping both Nick Johnson and signing Dimetri Young to a long term contract). The Nats look to struggle again this year with a starting rotation that is centered around Odalis Perez, and has a spot for Churchville Chili great, and MCC grad Tim Redding (you remember him, the NY kid who got a shot with the Yanks in a start against the Sox, and didnt make it out of the first inning).

The lineup has some productive players (Johnson, Zimmerman, Austin Kearns). The additions of Lastings Mill(Thrill)age from the the Mets this offseason in exchange for Brian Schiender and Ryan Church, and Elijha Dukes should ensure that at the beat writers should have pleanty to talk about off the field. There are many holes that need to be filled, and pleanty of oppertunity for young players.

The Bullpen is suprisingly strong at the end of the game. Chad Cordero, John Rauch, and Luis Ayala (the only guy to get injured in the World Baseball Classic, which by the way, Terry is Jacked about next spring, We thought it was an absolute awesome event) should be fairly effective.

5. Florida Marlins (71-91)

Man am I glad I dont live in Miami and cheer for this team. In typical Marlins fashion, they traded away the best young hitter in the game, and the only recognizeable face in their rotation, in Miguel Cabrera, and Dontrelle Willis. The rotation is young, and injured. Scott Olsen is talented, but a head case, Josh Johnson is talented and hurt. Anibal Sanchez, is talented and hurt. The rest of the rotation is unknown quantities.

The lineup begins and ends with MVP candidate Hanley Ramirez. Dan Uggla hits for a low average and a ton of power. Mike Jacobs struggles against lefties. If Jorge Cantu can repeat his numbers of two years ago (28 HR 118 RBI in Tampa) he could be a pleasant suprise.

The Bullpen is loaded with live arms (many of which were imported from the Mets, thanks Omar). Kevin Gregg is the highest paid player on the roster. Tankersley, and Lindstrom are hard throwers.

NL Central

1. Chicago Cubs (85-77)

Could this be the Cubs year. I know of at least one person who wouldnt know what to do with himself if one of his sports teams were to actually succeed. The Cubs look to have the pieces to make a run this year. The Starting Pitching is deep, with Carlos Zambrano, Ted Lilly, and Rich Hill leading the staff. Zambrano had an off year last year and seemed to be distracted by his contract situation (or by Michael Barrett’s fists).

The Lineup is deep and balanced. Theriot, Soriano, Lee, Ramirez, Fukodome, and others are going to put up very good numbers (Terry is banking on Lee making an MVP run). Geovanny Soto gets a shot at catcher as a rookie.

The bullpen will be very strong if, and again I said if, Kerry Wood is finally able to stay healthy (Maybe Mark Prior was keeping him hurt, like the mom in “the sixth sense”, because he didnt want to be the only one hurt all the effing time). Carlos Marmol is a very talented young reliever.

2. Milwaukee Brewers (83-79)

The Brewers were an exciting, suprising team last year. If Ben Sheets is able to put together a season like he did between ’02-’04 (200+ innings, 150+ Ks) he should anchor as fairly strong staff. The recent release of Claudio Vargas opens a hole for youngsters (I called someone “youngster” again) Yovanni Gallard, and Manny Parra.

The Lineup features one of the best young hitters in the game, Prince Fielder. With Ryan Braun (who took over Shawn Green as the best Jewish player in the game), Rickie Weeks, J.J. Hardy and Bill Hall around him, the Brewers should not struggle to score runs.

The Bullpen took a hit with the departure of Francisco Cordero to the Reds. Derrick Turnbow (and his steriod allegations) will be asked to fill the closers role. With veterans David Riske and Solomon Torres in set-up roles.

3. Cincinnati Reds (72-90)

The Reds feel that they finally have the pieces to put together at .500 or better season and compete for the wild card. An infusion of young talented players (shockingly after Jim Bowden’s departure, see: Washington Nationals prediction) has left this team with a surplus of talented youth. The Rotation of Aaron Harang, Bronson Arroyo, Matt Belisle, Edinson Volquez, and Jonny Cueto should be solid.

The lineup should be solid. Adam Dunn (played by Will Ferrell in the film) kills the ball. The departure of Josh Hamilton (remember the five-tool, rookie of the year candidate who, if healthy could challenge for a triple crown), is a bit of a head scratcher. Brandon Phillips (whom Terry picked up off the fantasy scrap heap last year), has become one of the better offensive second basemen in the game(and and second rounder in fantasy).

The bullpen should be stronger with the addition of Francisco Cordero from Milwaulkee. There are some veteran relievers in set-up roles, including (former Met) David Weathers.

4. Pittsburgh Pirates (68-94)

I cannot help but pull for this team. I need to get in touch with someone in training and development in the three rivers area. It seems as if every year they have five or six talented young pitchers, who for what ever reason fail to pan out (or in the case of Oliver Perez, post a 6.00+ Era, get thrown into a deadline trade for Xavier Nady, only to put up one of the better season in the NL last year). This year that group includes staff ace Ian Snell (Terry’s fantasy team), Tom Gorzelanny, Paul Maholm, and Zach Duke. If these young men can out perform their expectations, the Pirates may be competitive after the break.

The lineup is built around all-star, turned bust Jason Bay. If Bay can repeat his numbers from two years ago, and forget about what he did (or didnt do) last season, the Pirates should benefit.

Closer Matt Capps was effective last year. Demaso Marte (if he isnt traded) gives the Pirates a veteran lefty in the pen.

5. St. Louis Cardinals (78-84)

If the Cardinals are able to tread water until the All-Star break, the potential return of Chris Carpenter (Tommy Johns) could be the shot in the arm this team desprately needs. In the mean time, Adam Wainwright, Braden Looper, Kyle Loshe, Todd Wellemeyer, and Anthony Reyes will be asked to hold down the fort.

The Lineup is predicated on the production of Albert Pujols, if only his elbow can hold up better than his hair-line. Chris Duncan and Rick Ankiel provide pleanty of power. Replacing Jim Edmonds in center may be an issue.

Jason Isringhausen appeared to have regained some of his previous “stuff” last season. His health and effectiveness are paramount to the success of the bullpen. There are not a lot of places to look if his is ineffective.

6. Houston Astros (73-89)

There is not a whole lot to say about this team at this point. Roy Oswalt is the one bright spot in a very dismal starting rotation. They do however have a guy named Wandy.

If Lance Berkman can bounce back from a very poor season last year, the Astros could put some runs on the board. With Carlos Lee, Hunter Pence, Rookie J.R. Towles who should be an upgrade offensively over Brad Ausmus, and a steriod free Miguel Tejada the Astros could put together a decent offensive season.

The addition of Jose Valverde gives the Astros some hope at the back end of the bullpen. The departure of Brad Lidge (who missed signifigant time recovering from whiplash, after watching home run after home run leave the park) to Philly should not be a big blow. The Bullpen depth beyond Valverde is a question.

NL West

1. Los Angeles Dodgers (82-80)

How quickly things change? Just a few years ago, this division was the laughing stock of baseball as the very real possibility of a sub .500 team making the playoffs was faced. Now the West of the deepest, most talented and competetive divsions in all of baseball. If you take the top three pitchers from each team in the division and compare them statistically, the worst pitcher in that group is former Cy Young Award winner Barry Zito (you know, the one the Giants signed to a 7 year, 156 million dollar contract).

The Dodgers trot out one of the stronger rotations in baseball. Brad Penny (who tends to dominate pre allstar break, and suck post), Derrek Lowe, and Chad Billingsley head up the staff that should benefit from a ton of runs scored.

The line up is deep and balanced (specifically if Joe Torre is aloud to ignore the front office’s mistake and bench Juan Pierre and his One Tool production, regardless of what Bill Plachke thinks, see http://www.firejoemorgan.com). A healthy Rafael Furcal followed by Russ Martin, Andrew Jones, Jeff Kent, James Loney, Matt Kemp, and Andre Ethier should be very productive.

The Bullpen is deep and strong. The Closer Takashi Saito is steady. Jonathan Broxton struggled in save situations last year, but thrived in a set up role.

2. Arizona Diamondbacks (90-72)

Perhaps the best one/two punch in all of baseball. Brandon Webb and Dan Haren are the aces of a stron pitching staff. Not only can they pitch, but Micah Owings is among the best hitting pitchers in the sport, and may see time in the outfield.

A young, fast lineup should play an aggressive style of ball. Light on Experience, Eric Byrnes is the veteran presence in this lineup.

The Bullpen is young and strong with potential closers Tony Pena, Brandon Lyon, and Chad Qualls all competeing for the 9th inning job.

3. Colorado Rockies (90-73)

Last year’s league champions are going to have a hard time duplicating the 22-1 run they went on to get themselves into the playoffs. A young rotation headed by Jeff Francis is developing, Ubaldo Jimenez showed his capability in the playoffs. Aaron Cook is not flashy, but gets the job done.

The Lineup is built around MVP candidate Matt Holliday. Todd Helton, Garrett Adkins, Brad Hawpe, and Troy Tulowitzki are the nucleous of the offense.

The Bullpen came on strong last year when Manny Corpas unseated Brian Fuentes as the closer.

4. San Deigo Padres (89-74)

This team came within one Tony Gwinn Jr. Triple of the playoffs last year (imagine the irony). Jake Peavey will compete with Johan Santana for the mantle of best pitcher in the NL. Chris Young scuffled down the stretch last year, and the rotation beyon Maddux is a bit of a question mark.

The offense lacks pop. Adrian Gonzalez fell off after a tremendous start (and Terry’s fantasy team suffered for it).

The bullpen is not a given as it has been in years past. Trevor Hoffman (who gave up the hit to Mr. Gwinn) has seen his fastball start to look an awful lot like his changeup in recent years. Heath Bell (former Met, thanks Omar) is the primary setup man.

5. San Francisco Giants (71-91)

The starting pitching of the Giants is a real strengh. Barry Zito, Matt Cain, Tim Lincecum, Kevin Correia, and Jonathan Sanchez would greatly benefit from some more runs being score. Matt Cain’s record last year was attrocious (once again proving that record means nothing when evaluating pitching).

The lineup has been imploded following the departure of the guy who broke the all time home runs record last year. Bengie Molina looks to be the cleanup hitter, if that tells you anything about the state of this offense. The addition of Aaron Rowand should add some toughness (if only that were help this team score runs).

The Bullpen is full of young pitchers, whom I honestly know nothing about. Many of the stats and facts that I pulled from in the article came right from my head, I know that much useless information about baseball, but I honestly know nothing about this bullepen. I know as much about this bullpen as our president knows about foreign policy, the economy, history, politics, or any other damn thing.

I will follow up with Playoff matchups, and season ending award winners soon.

Come On Terry, Everyone is Doing it?

I have to do it, everyone else is. I have to give my valued opinion concerning the outcome of the Major League Baseball season. For whatever reason, it is important for every single baseball writer, analyst, and former player to announce to the world who they think is going to be on top of each division in six months (then in July, we will revisit each pick and change our minds). I tend to think that some of the writers for a certain network (read: ESPN) make outrageous picks just so the other people on said network (once again, read: ESPN) will have something to talk/write about. Which usually fills at least a few weeks of dead time between the start of spring training and the beginning of the season in April. Unlike said writers, I am actually going to put some thought, and (analysis) into my predictions.

Lets start with the American league, which we all realize is where the majority of the real Major League Teams are. (last seasons records in parentheses)

AL East

1. Boston Redsox (96-66)

I realize this is a bit of a Homer pick, as I moonlight as a Redsox fan. I do however think that this team will match, or at least come very close to matching last years record.

The Rotation has had a shaky start to the season. Curt Schilling is going to be on the DL for what looks like an extended period of time. Josh Beckett is going to start the season on the DL, but I expect another Cy Young caliber season. I fully expect Daisuke Matsuzaka to live up to the hype, with a year of experience under his belt. I think Jon Lester is going to be suprisingly good (prior to being diagnosed with Lymphoma, he was more hightly regarded than Yankees savior Phil Hughes). Wakefield is getting old, but it hasnt seemed to effect his performance so much as his health. Clay Bucholz is as talented as any young pitcher in the league. Kyle Snyder is terrible, and Julian Tavarez is Julian Tavarez.

The Sox have one of the most balanced lineups in the league. The top five of Pedroia, Youkilis, Ortiz, Manny, and Lowell are as good as any. I expect Manny to have an MVP type season if he is able to say healthy. He looks great (although he sort of looks like the Predator).

The Bullpen is deep and talented. It doesnt get any better than Riverdancer Jon Papelbon.

2. Toronto Blue Jays (83-79)

That’s right, I said Toronto Blue Jays, not New York Yankees. The question for the Jays, as it is for everyone, is can they pitch enough. I think they can. I expect Roy Halladay to return to his Cy Young production. If A.J. Burnett can stay healthy (I feel like I have said that before), he is as talented as anyone (The Jen and I watched him pitch in person last year, very fun). I think Dustin McGowan, and Shaun Marcum are going to each win 15.

The lineup is centered around ultra-talented RF Alex Rios (one of Terry’s favorites). If Vernon Wells can return to the type of production he displayed two seasons ago (.303 36 102), this team is going to be interesting to watch.

Another big “if”, B.J. Ryan’s health may ultimately decide how deep the Jays Pen is. Comming back from Tommy Johns, (and on Terry’s fantasy team), Ryan’s health is very important to the success of this team.

3. New York Yankees (94-68)

I declared this team dead last July, only to watch dumbfounded, as they roared back to win the wild card. So I hate to write them off again this year, only to look like an idiot. I understand the concept behind Brian Cashman’s strategy of winning with young pitching. I just dont see it paying off this year. I am still unsure how this team won as many games as it did last year. (I still have visions of 15-year-old Tyler Clippard shutting down the Mets in interleague last year). Andy Pettite’s Elbow, sans-HGH is a huge problem. Wang continues to win way too many games with smoke and mirrors (one of the lowest K/9 innings pitched in the league).
I continue to be throughly underwellemed by Phil Hughes, and Ian Kenndedy looks like a AAAA pitcher to me. I suppose they can always count on Kei Igawa (Recently voted ugliest man in the league) to give you a solid 3 innings of 8 run ball.

The lineup is as good as it ever is. There is some question about first base if Giambi is the DH. It is hard to see Posada repeating last years production (.338 BA, career .277, maybe spending a little time haning out with Roger and Andy?). And I continue to struggle to see what everyone is so enamoured about with Melky Cabrera. He peforms at Major League average, nothing more, and plays good defense. Carlos Beltran he is not (Jacboy Ellsbury he is not).

The Bullpen beyond Mariano (who has to get old at some point, unless again, he is spending a little time with Roger and Andy), and Joba the Mutt is a bit of a question mark. Who knows about LaTroy Hawkins and Kyle Farnsworth.

I just dont see this team making the playoffs this year.

4. Tampa Bay Rays (66-96)

Perennial cellar dwellars no more. Just the kind of team that I love to cheer for. Young guys, playing very hard, very aggressive on the bases. Through good drafting and savvy trades (thank you Jim Duquette), the Rays finally have the makings of a decent rotation. Scott Kazmir’s health is a concern, as it always is. James Shields (again, on Terry’s fantasy team) looks to be the goods. Matt Garza (whom Terry has also seen pitch live) is very good, and what’s better, he knows it. The farm system is loaded with young talented pitchers, that will only help the Rays in the future.

Carl Crawford is among the best kept secrets in the league. Jonny Gomes swings very hard, and when he makes contact the ball goes very far (and the dude can fight, just ask Shelly Duncan). Carlos Pena will be hard pressed to repeat last years out-of-this-world numbers, but if he even comes close they Rays should score some runs.

The achilles heal of this team continues to be the bullpen. Troy Percival, Dan Wheeler, and Al Reyes give this team three veterans, beyond that it is a crap shoot. This team is definately improving.

5. Baltimore Orioles (66-96)

The Orioles are clearly in the stages of rebuilding (especially if trades for Brian Roberts and Melvin Mora go down). Tight fisted Ebenezer Scroodge wanna be owner Peter Angelos finally allowed team President Andy McPhail to unload some of the teams talent this offseason (somehow he managed to trade Miguel Tejada the day before his name showed up in the Mitchell Report). In return the Orioles received a ton of young talent. None more talented that OF Adam Jones whom the Orioles received from Seattle in the Erik Bedard trade. The rotation looks to be shaky. Human rain delay Steve Trachsel seems to have found his way into a spot, so at least you know the games will be at least 4 hours every fifth day.

The lineup has some very talented young players. Nick Markakis is one of the better young outfielders in the game.

The bullpen is full of questions marks, starting with expected closer George Sherrill, who also game over in the Bedard trade.

The Orioles will struggle this year, but look to be building something promising for the future.

AL Central

1. Clevland Indians (96-66)

I understand that Detroit is the “in” pick this spring. I can see why people would look at that lineup and see them being hard to beat in the Central. I however continue to think that Pitching is the most important thing. The Indians have pleanty of it. Last year’s Cy Young winner C.C. Sabathia looks great again this spring. Fausto Carmona is only getting better (which is hard to believe as Terry and The Jen were there in Boston two years ago during his failed attempt at being the closer of the future).

This team scores a lot of runs. Grady Sizemore (once again, on Terry’s fantasy team) and Travis Hafner had very “down” years last year, Look for both of them to bounce back. Victor Martinez is going to get more ABs as a firstbasemen and DH. Franklin Gutierrez has flashed potential and Garky (Ryan Garko, see Terry’s fantasy team) are both strong performers.

The Bullpen is the real difference maker for this team in their division. Jo Bo (Joe Borowski) is a blown save waiting to happen, but the rest of the pen is very strong, headed by a pair of Rafael’s (Bentancourt and Perez).

Detroit Tigers (88-74)

As mentioned above, the Tigers are the hot pick in the central, and to represent the AL in the World Series. I think the Tigers will make the Playoffs, but as the wild card.

I dont like the rotation. Verlander is one of the better pitchers in the league, and Bonderman is better than average (and on my fantasy team). Kenny Rogers, Dontrelle Willis, and Nate Robertson are all question marks to me. I supect that Willis is not going to have a good year. He posted a 5.17 ERA last year in a HUGE park in Miami. I see him getting killed this year in the tough Central.

The Lineup is by far the strength of this team. When Granderson is healthy some combination of Granderson-Polanco-Cabrera-Ordonez-Sheffield-Guillen-Rodriguez-Rentareia-Jones and Inge are going to score a million runs (that was Hyperbole).

The Bullpen is the weakness of this team. Todd Jones continues to smoke and mirrors his way into the closers role, but with Joel Zumaya (and his 103 MPH fastball), and Fernando Rodney hurt, there are not a ton of options.

This team is talented, no doubt, but head and shoulders the best team in the AL it is not.

3. Minnesota Twins (79-83)

The loss of Johan Santana is going to hurt this team, there is no way around that fact. The Twins are not however in full-on, Orioles-rebuilding mode.

The rotation has in odd mix of young and old and young and injured. Livan Hernandez will eat 200+ innings (and everything else in sight), but will post a 5.00+ era while doing it. Kevin Slowey, Scott Baker, and Boof (who changed his name to Boof) Bonser are all young and talented. Francisco Liriano is as talented as any left handed pitcher in the league, the question as it so often seems to be with these young pitchers is, can he stay healthy?

The Twins trot out a very talented young lineup. J. Mo, and J. Mau (Morneau and Mauer, I came up with the nicknames like three years ago when they both way underperformed), are two of the best in the game. Delmon Young (traded from Tampa for Matt Garza and others) brings his talent, and his headcasey-ness, Michael Cuddyer is steady, Jason Kubel is always hurt, Brendan Harris is an upgrade offensively, and former Met prospect Carlos Gomez is a bit of an unknown quantity.

The Bullpen is a real strength for this team. Joe Nathan (and his sporty new contract) is one of the leagues most reliable closers, Pat Neshek is awesome (as is his website) Jesse Crain, Dennys Reyes, Juan Rincon and Matt Guirrer round out a strong pen.

If the stars allign for this team (read: Liriano’s elbow, Nathan remains a Twin), the Twins might sneak up and be a factor in August and September.

Kansas City Royals (69-93)

This is a very intriguing team. The Royals have followed a similar path to the Rays. Good young players that are slowly starting to produce at the Major league level.

The Gil Meche signing was laughed at last offseason, now it looks like a bargain. Brian Bannister (another former Met, great move Omar) was in contention for Rookie of the Year in the AL, and if Zach Grinke can keep his head on his shoulders, the rotation is not “terrible”

The Royals lineup is going to be a fun one to watch. David DeJesus is fairly productive. I expect Alex Gordon to have a monster bounce back year. 21 year old Billy Butler looks legit. And Mark Teahan can hit.

The Bullpen is going to be a problem. Joakim Soria won the closers job last season and should be solid, beyond that the Royals have some questions to answer.

This team is on the rise, but will not challenge for the divison or the wild card this season.

Chicago White Sox (72-90)

The Sox are going to struggle this year. Trading away pitching (Jon Garland for Orlando Cabera) seems a bit odd.

Mark Buehrle heads a staff that consists of Javier Vazquez, John Danks, 88 year-old Jose Contreras, and Gavin Floyd. The Sox will win some games, but .500 is going to hard to reach.

The lineup looks potent on paper. Jim Thome’s health is always a question. Which Jermaine Dye are the Sox going to get(2006: .315 44hr 120rbi, 2007: .254 28 78)? Konerko is a year older. Pierzynski is bound to get on everybody’s nerves at some point (ask the Twins and the Giants). The additions of Carlos Quentin and Nick Swisher (who Terry and The Jen have been within a stones throw of) should help the offense.

The Bullpen beyond Big and Tall poster boy Bobby Jenks is a huge question mark. Octavio Dotel if healthy (is there an echo) is effective.

The Sox look like an odd assortment of old and young, as if Kenny Williams could not decide if this time was going to be good or bad.

AL West

1. Oakland A’s (76-86)

Thats Right, I said Oakland A’s. The “White Elephant” of the AL West. Billy Beane traded away some very talented Major League players this offseason, and appears to have gotten back many very talented young players. This team would be better this year with Nick Swisher and Dan Haren. There is no doubt about that. I just never sleep on Oakland.

The rotation is not flashy. A major reason for the A’s being picked #1 here is Rich Harden. Always a health concern, “if” he can stay healthy, he is as talented as any right handed pitcher in the AL. He displayed that talent the other morning against a Redsox lineup that I have already heralded as the best in the AL (9 k’s in 6 innings). If Harden can stay healthy, and Joe Blanton can perform at a level at or near his career averages, I believe the A’s can pull out the division.

The lineup is a fun mix of young players and veteran performers. Travis Buck is fun to watch if nothing else. Bobby Crosby has not changed bodies with someone in the last three years, so somewhere in there is the guy who won Rookie of the Year. Mike Sweeney fits nicely as DH. Deric Barton looks to be the goods. Jack Cust is a statistical annomoly, as the first player in Major League history to have the highest K’s Per 9, and BB per 9. He either strikes out, walks or hits a home run (like Maahk Bellhorn in his Redsox days). Kurt Suzuki is quickly becoming one of Terry’s favorites. And Jack Hannahan has an aweome name, and awesome hair (Sorry Eric Chavez).

The Bullpen should be strong. Once again, If Huston Street can stay healthy, and do better against Righties, the A’s pen should be fairly strong. (I have an awesome story about the time I threw a ball at Huston Street’s head at the Roger’s Centre during an A’s/Jays game).

2. Seattle Mariners (88-74)

Seattle is a good team. They improved themselves this offseason and look to be at or near the top of the division at seasons end.

The top two in the rotation look to be about as good as anyone. Felix Hernandez is growing into the Ace he was talked about being two years ago. The trade for Eric Badard helps this team win now. The rotation behind these two leaves a lot to be desired. Jared Washburn is average, Miguel Batista is old, and Carlos Silva is overpaid.

Ichiro and Raul Ibanez are the best offensive players on this team. Adrian Beltre still struggles to show the kind of production he displayed (in his contract year, and suspected steriod enhanced year) in L.A. Richie Sexon continues to be a headache for Mariners fans. Jose Vidro is old. Kenji Johjima is a good offensive catcher.

J.J. Putz is among the best closers in the game. Beyond him, the bullpen an unknown.

3. L.A. Angels of Anahiem, Orange County California, USA, North America, Western Hemisphere, The World, The Solar System, The Galaxy, The Universe, All of Existence. (94-68)

This team looked very different two weeks ago. Injuries to the top two starters have put the Angel’s season in question. Kelvim Escobar, the Angel’s number two starter may miss a very significant amount of time. And team’s Ace John Lackey will start the year on the DL. The Angels do boast a very deep rotation, not however an overwhelmingly good one after the top two. Jon Garland, Joe Saunders, Jered Weaver, Ervin Santana and others will be called upon to keep this team afloat while they work through the injuries.

The Lineup continues to be very potent. Chone Figgins, Howie Kendrick, Vlad, and Torii Hunter should be the best performers on this team. The Angels are one of the most aggressive teams in the AL on the basepaths. Casey Kotchman, if healthy (now it is just getting redundant) is very talented.

The Bullpen, specifically the closer Francisco Rodriguez is a real strength. Injuries and ineffectiveness have diminished Scott Shield’s value.

The Angels will be hard pressed to repeat last years easy division win.

4. Texas Rangers (75-87)

One of the few remaining teams in the league that have yet to come to terms with the fact that pitching wins, specifically when you play in a park the size of my daughter’s room.

Kevin Millwood and Vincente Padilla (and his drinking problem) are at the top of a very weak pitching staff. This team is going to give up a ton of runs.

The Ranger’s lineup is respectable. Ian Kinsler is very talented. Michael Young is quietly one of the best hitters in the game. Hank Blalock (when healthy) hits a ton. The addition of Josh Hamilton (Terry’s favorite story in all of baseball, and also on his fantasy team) from the Reds (who inexplicably traded him to Texas, who needs a five tool center fielder who could win the triple crown?) will benefit this offense.

C.J. Wilson (Terry’s fantasy team, although it doesn’t look like such a smart pickup) is expected to be the closer. Joaquin Benoit and Eddie Guardado both have closing experience.

This team continues to be less than mediocre.

NL predictions to come in the comming day/days

Perspective

A little Perspective.

It is a funny thing. Perspective.

How a little change in Perspective can change the way we see something. How adjusting our angle can show us something completely different.

I am trying to offer a different perspective. Only I have seen the world the way I do. I want to talk about what I have seen.

My Perspective.