Spring training and started, and basically, that’s how I feel so far. Nobody has run into a wall, or slipped while hopping over a fence (sorry Mark Fidrych). The Tigers start their games Wed. against Florida Southern, then face their first major league team on Thursday when they square off against the Expos.
With that in mind, I’m going to make some predictions for the current year. Write them down, so you can make fun of me next in the fall.
Prediction 1 – Bobby Higginson is going to have a career year. Not because he’s at the end of his rather generous contract, but because he has some hitters more in line with his abilities hitting around him. Although I don’t think he’ll hit 30 homeruns like he did in 2000 (the last time he had good hitters in the lineup with him), a .300/25/100 season is not out of the question. Throw in some good defense, and Bobby is going to once again be a linchpin of the Tigers. He’s a good player, and these numbers aren’t out of the realm of possibilty when (yes, another prediction) he stays healthy the entire year.
Prediction 2 – Although I don’t think Jeremy Bonderman is going to break out, I think he’ll reach the 200 inning mark, and strikeout at least a 150 batters. A combination of being in the league for one entire season, and playing in a relatively weak division (although hitting wise, I wouldn’t call it too weak) will give him some respectable numbers. You’ll also see his 6-19 record even out to 11-14.
Prediction 3 – The Tigers are going to win 74 games, finishing 74-88. They’ll also flirt with the .500 mark, similar to what happened in 2000, late in the season (say early August).
Prediciton 4 – Not only will Pudge Rodriguez make the All-Star game, he’ll be a starter. I can’t remember the last time the Tiger’s had someone voted in and I’m too lazy to look it up.
AL Division Winners
AL East – New York Yankees (in a division where both they and the Red Sox win 100 games)
AL Central – Kansas City Royals (They were the only team in the league, other then Detroit, that really didn’t take a step back).
AL West – Anaheim Angels (Their great acqusitions were overshadowed by what the Yankees and Red Sox did during the offseason.
Wild Card – Boston Red Sox
Dark Horse – Although the odds are really stacked against them, I really like the Blue Jays this year. Of course the fourth place team in that division, the Orioles, would probably be the leading contender if they played in the AL Central.
NL Division Winners
NL East – Phildelphia Phillies (Edges out the Braves in the final game. The Braves, in an ironic twist, will lose to the Cubs on the final game of the season to none other then Greg Maddux, ending the Braves division title streak at 8 consecutive seasons).
NL Central – Chicago Cubs (Not only will Maddux beat his old team to prevent them from making the playoffs, but he’ll teach Kerry Wood 1/10 of his control, turning him into a Cy Young winner)
NL West – San Francisco Giants (This was probably the toughest one, so I went the easiest answer. Barry Bonds will do what he’s done the last few years and get his 700th homerun. This may be the weakest division outside of the AL Central).
Wild Card – Houston Astros (Clemens and company will be edged out by the Cubs, but still make the playoffs).
World Series – Chicago Cubs 4, Boston Red Sox 3 (The curse of the Bambino will go on, but they’ll be celebrating in ChiTown.
AL MVP – Alex Rodriguez
NL MVP – Sammy Sosa (edging out Bonds)
AL Cy Young – Javier Vazquez
NL Cy Young – Kerry Wood
AL ROY – Justin Mourneau (Does he still qualify, he’s listed as a prospect most everywhere)
NL ROY – Edwin Jackson
Another interesting weekend. Made some progress on the kid’s room, and got some taxes done. I’m looking forward to April 15th coming and going.