The major league baseball season officially starts this weekend with two so-called major league teams playing on Sunday night (New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox). I was going to try and do a little Astros preview for today, but they're still trying to figure out who exactly is healthy and who is not, so I'll hold that off until Monday.
Instead, I thought I would trot out my picks for the season. And since it's Friday, that means you still have time to make it out to Vegas and bet the opposite of what I suggest.
AMERICAN LEAGUE EAST
1. New York Yankees -- When you got money and a good a farm system, well, you should win.
2. Tampa Bay Rays -- The collection of talent on this talent is unbelievable. Drayton, this is how a small market team should operate. Maybe you should try what they've done.
3. Boston Red Sox -- Just because this pick will piss off Red Sox Nation.
4. Baltimore Orioles -- After years of bad free-agent signings and a depleted farm system, the Orioles just suck. They are the AL version of the Houston Astros. There's some talent on this team -- Adam Jones is their equivalent of Michael Bourn and Nick Markakis is kind of Hunter Pence. And hey, they got Miguel Tejada.
5. Toronto Blue Jays -- Hey, Toronto is a nice city.
AMERICAN LEAGUE CENTRAL
1. Minnesota Twins -- The best catcher in the majors. They have an underrated starting staff. Then there are guys like Justin Morneau, Denard Span, and Michael Cuddyer. Missing Joe Nathan for the year will hurt, but the Twins always find a way to fill these spots. And there's the new-stadium effect.
2. Detroit Tigers -- Any team with Jim Leyland as manager and Justin Verlander heading up the rotation cannot be discounted.
3. Chicago White Sox -- Ozzie Guillen is on Twitter. Unfortunately, he doesn't appear to have gone nuts yet. But might be a fun read if the ChiSox going on a losing streak.
4. Cleveland Indians -- Several years ago, the Indians were the It Team of the AL. Now they're the Not It Team.
5. Kansas City Royals -- Making the Astros look like a well-run franchise since 1995.
AMERICAN LEAGUE WEST
1. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim -- I'll keep picking the Angels until someone finally dethrones them.
2. Texas Rangers -- Lots of talented hitters. Signed a somewhat decent pitcher in Rich Harden this off-season. And Nolan Ryan's in charge. But won't catch the Angels.
3. Seattle Mariners -- The Mariners are a trendy pick because of their off-season moves, like getting Cliff Lee. I fell for the Mariners hype a couple of years ago. Not doing it this time.
4. Oakland A's -- Quiet: Billy Beane, so-called genius, is supposedly at work as GM. But I'm still waiting for him to adjust his moneyball formula now that other teams are copying his original approach.
NATIONAL LEAGUE EAST
1. Philadelphia Phillies -- They lost Pedro Feliz and Brett Myers to the Astros this offseason. Yet they gained Roy Halladay. I think the Phillies came out for the better.
2. Atlanta Braves -- This is Bobby Cox's last season as manager, so watch the team try to go out on top for him. The pitching staff is underrated. And outfielder Jason Heyward is already being discussed as Rookie of the Year.
3. Florida Marlins -- Hanley Ramirez is still pounding pitchers. And the rest of the no-name team will sneak up on everyone and be in the playoff hunt until late, just like normal.
4. New York Mets -- As hard as this is to believe, but money alone can't buy a pennant. David Wright is good. Jose Reyes is back on the DL. Jason Bay is going to wish he stayed in Boston.
5. Washington Nationals -- Watch for Stephen Strasburg to hit the majors around the end of May and early June. Then the Nationals might finally have a decent pitcher. Adam Dunn and Ryan Zimmerman will hit. But the team will still stink.
NATIONAL LEAGUE CENTRAL
1. St. Louis Cardinals -- Easily the class of the division. They've got the best two starters in Adam Wainwright and Chris Carpenter. Then there's Albert Pujols and Matt Holliday. And Tony LaRussa's the best manager in the division.
2. Milwaukee Brewers -- Just because someone has to finish in second.
3. Chicago Cubs -- They were the trendy team last year. But I think that everyone is awaiting the inevitable Lou Piniella explosion.
4. Cincinnati Reds -- I've seen some predictions that the Reds will finish as high as second. I thought this about the Reds last year. They've got lots of young talent, Joey Votto, Jay Bruce, Brandon Phillips, Johnny Cueto. There's a good nucleus here. But I'm not falling for them again.
5. Houston Astros -- Hey, the last time I checked, Michael Bourn and Hunter Pence were healthy. Then again, the last time I checked, Geoff Blum was the starting first baseman. Thank God the Pirates are in this division.
6. Pittsburgh Pirates -- Yes, the Pirates still supposedly play baseball. Only nobody has seen this happen since 1992.
NATIONAL LEAGUE WEST
1. San Francisco Giants -- Pitching wins pennants, and the Giants have pitching. Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Jonathan Sanchez, and Barry Zito are the best one through four starters in the NL.
2. Los Angeles Dodgers -- They have good pitching, and some good young players in Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier. But they just won't catch the Giants.
3. Colorado Rockies -- They should be able to stick around with the Giants and Dodgers, but they just aren't good enough.
4. Arizona Diamondbacks -- Mark Reynolds should hit a lot. He'll also strike out a lot. His whiffs should keep the fans in Chase Field cool.
5. San Diego Padres -- Adrian Gonzalez is a good player. But Jake Peavy's gone. Finally. At least San Diego is nice.
AL: Yankees defeat Angles. Twins defeat Rays. Twins defeat Yankees.
NL: Giants defeat Phillies. Cardinals defeat Braves. Giants defeat Cardinals.
And in a nightmare for FOX, Twins defeat Giants in a World Series that no one will watch.
Happy Baseball Season, everybody.