Time for those strange predictions I give every year that actually come close. But here comes the fateful insight of the crystal ball.
The Pittsburgh Pirates with a starting staff that averages a frightful 35 years of age still has enough in the tank for one more run. The offense and defense will provide enough leverage to make sure it happens.
The Chicago Cubs are a young bunch that needs to prove last year was not a fluke. Will Jose break his Willie again remains to be seen. I think they are good enough to tie the Pirates or make it real close again.
The Milwaukee Brewers look better on paper than what they will attain. I am not convinced that Bart Ross can play 1B or Munoz for that matter without causing problems around the horn. Pitching is adequate but has some let down spots that could cause trouble.
The Cincinnati Reds are no slouches but may be relying heavily on youngsters that are not ready for The Show. Improving on last years mark would be a winning feat.
The New York Mets gets the first place vote not just because I can either. I have my doubts believe it or not. Pitching is adequate but not really a strong suit. The offense and defense sure is strong enough to make things happen. Believe it or not, the first series of the season could decide the fate of the East.
The Louisville Colonels has the wings on the barbie so don't count them out of things. The pitching staff may have too many youngsters to be a real threat this year. The offense is formidable so don't let that fool ya.
SJR is back in his favorite stomping grounds, Atlanta. Too bad he can't go back to his original name, Pork n' Beans. The one thing about the Braves will be that they are going to be young. Maybe not ready this season but the future looks bright.
The Philadelphia Phillies are a mere shell of themselves. With Stone still on the DL for much of the season, the offense could be in disarray. Much of the pitching staff has moved on also. Rebuilding time for sure.
The Florida Marlins look impressive as ever. Ivan the Terrible looks for another 20 to 30 win season. Offense is just as potent as ever. Another 100 win season is probable.
The Houston Astros are still a formidable foe. Offense is going for the fences once again. Can the pitching staff hold it together this season remains to be seen.
The Mexico City Diablos Rojos is a wild card this year. They have the ability to challenge Houston for sure. Will they be there at playoff time is a hard one to answer for sure.
The St. Louis Cardinals is not expected to do much this year. Rebuild and be competitive is in the mindset of the new owner. It will take time and could be tough in this division.
The Salem Super Sequoias without a doubt will be on its way to another division championship. Stymied once again from the promised land, is the Series in the bag this year or will it be another let down.
The Arizona Diamondbacks keep improving and keep falling short of the playoffs. It will be another tough season that could go either way.
The San Francisco Giants could be a surprise team but not playoff caliber. They have been rebuilding and it is about a year or so away yet.
The San Diego Padres are a tough bunch to place as they could finish better than the Giants. A word of warning however, starting pitching looks very thin and the new owner may need some help in stabilization in this department before the season is through.
Analysis: I see a minimum of ten teams throwing their hat in the ring for six playoff spots. What will happen is a swag at the moment as a critical injury or two could throw everything out of whack. But here is how WIS Chuck sees it happening in the NL.
1. Florida - Ivan the Terrible gets them to the #1 seed again.
2. Salem - They can only stop themselves.
3. Pittsburgh - However a critical injury this year could doom them.
4. New York - It could be ugly.
5. Houston - I just can't rule them out of the picture what so ever.
6. Chicago, Arizona, Milwaukee, Mexico City and Louisville is gonna have a battle royal for the final spot.