2009 MLB Predictions

2009 Major League Baseball Preview and Predictions
by Badger of Predictem.com

The Philadelphia Phillies defeated the surprise Tampa Bay Rays in four games to win the 2008 World Series title last October, so the
quest to knock them off the throne begins Sunday, April 5th, when the
reigning champs host the Atlanta Braves in the primetime season opener.

Teams will have over a month of spring training to get ready for the
2009 season, due to the renewal of the World Baseball Classic (WBC)
in March, so there are still lots of position battles, rotation spots
and injuries waiting to happen to instantly change the landscape of
the game.

But for now, lets take an early season look at each division in
Major League Baseball and see what future odds look to be promising
for 09. All of the odds listed are currently available at
www.Sportsbook.com.

2009 American League East

Odds to win the Division:

New York Yankees : -130
Boston Red Sox : 2-to-1
Tampa Bay Rays : 4-to-1
Toronto Blue Jays : 20-to-1
Baltimore Orioles : 100-to-1

The Yankees and Red Sox both reloaded in the offseason to create even
more separation between them, the haves, and the bottom half or the
have nots of the AL East. Even last years surprise division winner,
the Tampa Bay Rays, cant compete with the everyday lineup and the
five-deep pitching staff the Yankees and Sox can trot out.

Toronto already has its best everyday player hurting (Vernon Wells
out with bad hamstring), and their top pitcher (Roy Halladay) is
already rumored to be a trade-deadline candidate for teams in
contention, so its not really worth discussing their 20-to-1 chance
in the AL East. Baltimores No. 1 starter Jeremy Guthrie probably
wouldnt even crack the rotation on any of the other teams in the
division, so that tells you all you really need to know about the
Orioles.

AL East Prediction: Yankees But Im not eating the chalk in order to wager a future bet on them, so even though I think the Yanks will
win the AL East, Im not putting money on it at less than even money.

2009 American League Central

Odds to win the Division:

Minnesota Twins : 1.8-to-1
Cleveland Indians : 2-to-1
Chicago White Sox : 4-to-1
Detroit Tigers : 4-to-1
Kansas City Royals : 15-to-1

The American League Central is by far the most wide-open division in all of baseball, with four teams that have a legitimate shot at
winning it and one perpetual doormat that is slowly closing the gap.

To some it may be surprising to see the Twins considered as the
favorite in the division, but they are the healthiest and most stable
team in the AL Central. With Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau leading the
offense, and a young and solid rotation of Scott Baker, Francisco
Liriano, Kevin Slowey, Glen Perkins and Nick Blackburn all returning,
its not surprising to see oddsmakers considering the Twins as the
team to beat in the division.

Cleveland and Detroit both folded under heavy expectations in 2008,
but both of them were due to multiple and untimely injuries.
Cleveland was unable to replace the offense it lost when DH Travis
Hafner and catcher Victor Martinez struggled with injuries in 08.
Detroit was unable to keep games close when pitchers Jeremy Bonderman
and Dontrelle Willis were lost for the year. If the Indians offense
returns in tact, and the Tigers pitching does as well, they should be
able to stay in the pennant race all season.

The White Sox, winners of the Central in 08, went through some
considerable turnover during the winter by trading Javier Vazquez and
Nick Swisher and allowing malcontent shortstop Orlando Cabrera to
walk away as a free agent. All three were important pieces that must
be replaced in order to repeat in 2009.

The Royals are getting closer, but they would need some breakout performances from youngsters to stay in the race all year. The Royals top three pitchers (Gil Meche, Zach Greinke and Brian Bannister) are
as solid as the rest of the divisions rotations, but even with the
addition of Coco Crisp and first baseman Mike Jacobs the Royals
offense may struggle to score runs.

AL Central Prediction: Tigers So much was expected from the Tigers
in 08, and they failed so miserably, that they enter the 2009 season
sort of under the radar. If they had a legitimate closer Id like
their chances more, but at 4-to-1, they offer the best risk-reward
payout for a future as AL Central winners.

2009 American League West

Odds to win the Division:

Los Angeles Angels : -225
Oakland As : 3-to-1
Texas Rangers : 6-to-1
Seattle Mariners : 12-to-1

The Angels have dominated the division in recent years, and with the
addition of Bobby Abreu and Brain Fuentes they not only have
addressed their losses of Garret Anderson and Francisco Rodriguez,
they may have actually improved their chances.

Oakland landed outfielder Matt Holliday in the offseason, but if the
As dont hang around in the race long enough he may be traded before
the deadline. Jason Giambi is back, and if Eric Chavez and Mark Ellis
(both had offseason surgery) are both healthy enough to play
everyday, the As should have enough offense. They just dont have
enough pitching.

Texas and Seattle have both thrown it into rebuilding mode, although you could argue the Rangers have been stuck in rebuilding mode for a
decade now. Texas will be playing rookies at short (Elvis Andrus) and
first (Chris Davis) on opening day, while the Mariners brought in fan-
favorite Ken Griffey Jr. to sell tickets while they retool the
organization. Both of these teams will be worth watching as the trade
deadline approaches, as they both may be wholesale sellers with a
plethora of big names (Michael Young, Kevin Millwood, Adrian Beltre,
Erik Bedard) available for the right price.

AL West Prediction: Angels Again, going way out on a limb here.
The Angels are the class of the division, but at -2.25-to-1 they
are not really a worthy future. If you want a dark horse, throw some
change on the 12-to-1 Mariners as their rotation (Hernandez, Bedard,
Silva, Washburn and Rowland-Smith) could be the best in the division.

2009 National League East

Odds to win the Division:

New York Mets : 1.3-to-1
Philadelphia Phillies : 1.5-to-1
Atlanta Braves : 5-to-1
Florida Marlins : 6-to-1
Washington Nationals : 50-to-1

The Mets collapse down the stretch for a second year in a row
prompted them to go out and get closer Francisco Rodriguez and his
MLB-best 62 saves to try and avoid the same fate in 2009. But will it
be enough to surpass the Phillies, as the reigning champs replaced
Pat Burrell with Raul Ibanez as they too try to make another go of it
all.

Atlanta is the sleeper in the NL East, as they added some solid
pitching in the offseason by signing Derek Lowe and trading for
Javier Vazquez. If Chipper Jones can stay healthy enough to play 150
games, and Jeff Francoeur rebounds from a horrible 08, the Braves
might have enough pieces on offense to stay in the race till the end.

Florida still has the talent to compete, they just dont have the
payroll to make a late-season acquisition to put them over the edge.
Another mid-August fade is probably in the cards for Fin fans this
season.

Washington well, lets not go there. Adam Dunn will hit 40 homeruns
and strike out 200 times and the Nats will be 20-plus games back by
July 4th, so save your money on any ideas of them pulling off a miracle.

NL East Prediction: Phillies With basically all of the pieces back
from last years championship, Im staying with them until they are
knocked off. But at even money (1.5-to-1), betting on them to win the
NL East is a worthless future proposition. Even though I think the
Phillies win the league, Im more willing to wager on the 5-to-1
Braves as far as a future bet goes.

2009 National League Central

Odds to win the Division:

Chicago Cubs : -160
Milwaukee Brewers : 5-to-1
Cincinnati Reds : 6-to-1
St. Louis Cardinals : 6-to-1
Houston Astros : 15-to-1
Pittsburgh Pirates : 30-to-1

The Cubs lead the Central nearly tape-to-tape last year and are heavy
favorites to do it again in 09. However, the Cubs have some bigger
questions in the coming season than most people think. Can Carlos
Marmol handle to closer role? Will they be able to replace Mark
DeRosa at second? Will Milton Bradleys body hold up before he blows up?

Milwaukee no longer has CC Sabathia or Ben Sheets, so their pitching
might not good enough to keep pace despite having Ryan Braun and
Prince Fielder in the heart of the divisions deepest lineup. The
opposite could be said for the Reds, who seem to have the pitching
(Harrang, Arroyo, Cueto, Volquez) but not enough offense to stay in
the race all season.

The Cardinals return to the top of the division hinges on the health of starter Chris Carpenter. If hes back to full strength, a big if
after missing two straight seasons basically, the Cards have the best
combination of pitching and hitting in the Central hands down. They
still dont have a closer though, which could be their only downfall.

Houston still has some big names on its roster, guys like Roy Oswalt,
Carlos Lee, Lance Berkman and Miguel Tejada, but a lack of pitching
behind Oswalt will probably make the Astros sellers of those big
names at the deadline.

The Pirates are, well um, not good. With zero changes to a team that only won 67 games in 08, its amazing the good fans of
Pittsburgh even buy tickets to watch this team.

NL Central Prediction: Cardinals A healthy Chris Duncan and the
addition of Khalil Greene at short will boost the offense. If
Carpenter can bolster the rotation with Wainwright, Lohse, Wellemeyer
and Pineiro, they may not need a legit closer to win the NL Central
at 6-to-1.

2009 National League West

Odds to win the Division:

Los Angeles Dodgers : 1.4-to-1
Arizona Diamondbacks : 1.6-to-1
San Francisco Giants : 4-to-1
Colorado Rockies : 6-to-1
San Diego Padres : 20-to-1

The Dodgers are still the odds-on favorites in the division, even though the soap opera between them and Manny Ramirez has yet to
resolve itself. Even with Ramirez, the Dodgers may not have enough
pitching to stay in the race down the stretch with Lowe and Brad
Penny now gone.

The Diamondbacks look like the best in the West on paper. They easily have the deepest staff with Brandon Webb, Dan Haren and Doug Davis
now joined by newcomer Jon Garland. If their young offense continues
to improve, and they find someone to close games in the pen (Chad
Qualls was only 9 of 17 in 2008), they could do more damage in the NL
then just win the West.

The Giants are one of the only teams in MLB that have more pitching than hitting. Youngsters Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Jonathan Sanchez
and Noah Lowry are joined by vets Barry Zito and future Hall of Famer
Randy Johnson to form a deep starting staff. The Giants problem is
that catcher Bengie Molina (a career .277 hitter) is their best
offensive threat.

The Rockies and Padres are in rebuilding mode and not likely to contend, not even in a weak NL West. The Padres Jake Peavy could
become a Sabathia-type of pickup at the deadline this year. The
Rockies will put up impressive offensive numbers in Coors Field again
in 09, but a lack of pitching will cause them to fade at the tape.

NL West Prediction: Diamondbacks The D-Backs have the best
combination of everyday players and pitching in the West, so despite
the meager 1.6-to-1 odds, Im picking them to win the division. If
the Giants can get a run-producer (maybe a Matt Holliday or even
Manny Ramirez) by the trade deadline, a small flyer at 4-to-1 odds
could pay off big.