AROD, Renteria Star on Mirror Image Clubs (AP)
I can't believe who I placed No. 1- Yikes. I really had no choice at this point after they punked another top team in a crucial three-game set.
1. New York Yankees (96-57)
No. 1 by default for now. If they could get career average performances from Mussina and Vazquez, the Yanks would be in business. Otherwise they might be done in round 1 of the playoffs.
2. Boston Red Sox (91-60)
A popular choice to win the AL, the Beantown Nine has a shot at the Eastern Division. Pedro will be key down the stretch.
3. St. Louis Cardinals (100-52)
The most balanced team in baseball is an ace shy of being the World Series favorite. Morris needs to regain his 2002 form.
4. Minnesota Twins (88-64)
The team nobody wants to play in the playoffs. They have everything going for them- the hottest pitcher in baseball in the last 35 years, an upstart offense with speed and power, and a great defense backing up the second tier of the rotation. Oh, and… Their closer is pretty good too.
5. Atlanta Braves (89-63)
Bobby Cox and Leo Mazzone must get some credit this time around. Jaret Wright is a top 10 Cy Young candidate, Mike Hampton has turned things around, and the offense is good enough…again.
6. San Francisco Giants (86-66)
If Barry Bonds is NOT the MVP, there should be an investigation. Perhaps the greatest season a hitter has ever had deserves the MVP whether the Giants make the postseason or not.
7. Chicago Cubs (86-66)
Could be the league’s best pitching staff. When postseason comes, Prior, Wood, and Zambrano make up the deadliest trio since… who knows when?
8. Los Angeles (86-65)
Depodesta could be searching for a new manager after the year. LA is fading, Tracy’s contract is up and the front office has refused to talk extension.
9. Houston Astros (83-69)
Scrap Iron may have earned a job somewhere in 2005, even if its not with Houston. If the Stros make the postseason, it will tough not to bring Garner back.
10. Oakland Athletics (87-75)
Fading down the stretch and being threatened by half the division. Mulder’s 10.35 ERA in September isn’t helping.
11. Anaheim Angels (85-67)
If you can’t beat the Mariners this year you don’t deserve to win the West.
12. Texas Rangers (85-67)
Buck Showalter is to the AL’s Manager of the Year Award as Barry Bonds is to the NL’s MVP Award. Will you help me cry FOUL if he doesn’t get the honor? Thanks!
13. San Diego Padres (82-70)
Probably are two pitchers and a hitter away from being the class of the NL West. Bochy should get a ton of MOY votes.
14. Florida Marlins (79-72)
The defending champs just couldn’t turn on the magic this year. McKeon coming back in ’05?
15. Philadelphia Phillies (78-73)
Bowa undoubtedly gone at season’s end, but with injury and underachieving players, is it really his fault? Actually yes it is. Way too much talent not to win 92 games.
16. Chicago White Sox (76-75)
Talk about fading. The White Sox are 37-42 since acquiring Freddy Garcia and have lost 12 games in the standings to the Twins.
17. Cleveland Indians (74-78)
The Padres of the AL, but a year away from serious contention. A veteran starter and a few quality relievers could make the Tribe the Twins’ nightmare.
18. Cincinnati Reds (69-82)
If the Reds traded Griffey, they might win 85 games again. The “kid” is a jinx. Win 95 the year before, haven’t come close since.
19. Baltimore Orioles (70-80)
Pitching. It’s what wins pennants. It’s also what Baltimore has very little of.
20. Pittsburgh Pirates (68-84)
The Bucs aren’t as far away as some think. A solid core of young players like the Wilson’s, Oliver Perez, Kip Wells, Jason Bay, and Jose Castillo have the steel town ready to make a move in 2005.
21. Detroit Tigers (68-83)
Another off season like last year and Detroit should join the ranks of the winners. Pudge and Guillen were great pickups. More pitching should head the list for Trammell and Dombrowski.
22. New York Mets (66-86)
Amazing Mess is back in Queens. Aging top of the rotation, shallow bullpen, and holes in the outfield and 1B, Duquette has a long winter ahead.
23. Tampa Bay Devil Rays (64-87)
Sweet Lou has a fight on his hands for the cellar in the East. I’m giving 5-1 odds that they stay off the floor. Any takers?
24. Colorado Rockies (67-85)
If anyone can ever learn to pitch consistently at Coors, the club would be a success. But that’s like saying if you could only guess all of the numbers correctly you’d get rich off the lottery.
25. Milwaukee Brewers (63-88)
One of the best farm systems in baseball could aid the Brew Crew in finally becoming a contender. Ok, fine. I’m kidding. This organization is awful and even the group of blue chippers down on the farm may not be enough.
26. Toronto Blue Jays (64-88)
I’m beginning to think that baseball is going to fail in Toronto. Canada is a terrible place to own a sports franchise.
27. Montreal Expos (64-88)
Proof of sentence two in ranking No. 26. If Selig ever gets off his tail, the ‘Spos will be the best team in Washington D.C.
28. Seattle Mariners (58-94)
M’s are playing the spoiler role very well this month, biting the Angels especially. Most important off season in franchise history starts October 4th with the firing of manager Bob Melvin.
29. Kansas City Royals (56-95)
Wonder who the worst pitching staff in baseball is? KC’s is close. Greinke and Gobble will be of great help with a full 2005 season.
30. Arizona Diamondbacks (47-106)
A pathetic excuse for a baseball team. Just 47 wins with Randy Johnson in your rotation is ridiculous. The Big Unit is 14-14 with a sub-3.00 era. Things may be dry in the desert for some time.