With the New York Mets defeat of the Colorado Rockies this evening, the non-mathematical first half of the 2008 Major League Baseball season is now over. With all of the hype that the All Star Game will bring the city of New York over the next couple of days, yet while this one does count, I am very excited to think about Thursday and the start to the 2nd half of the season. To honor what promises to be an exciting end to the season, I would like to make some off the wall and bold predictions.
BOLD The Red Sox will win the World Series
The reason why I think that the Red Sox will become the first repeat World Series winner since the New York Yankees went for three in a row 1998-2000. The Red Sox just are dominant at home and have been able to roll with every injury that they have endured throughout the season. They play 16 of their final 25 games in September at home and because of their trip to Japan back in March, the Red Sox receive extra off days in September to re-work the rotation if need be. To be in first place now without David Ortiz or a consistent bullpen, the Red Sox will be aligned to succeed in the second half with a potential trade to add a solid bullpen arm or Justin Masterson's presence as a converted reliever in another couple of weeks.
OFF THE WALL The Texas Rangers will be in the race for the Wild Card on September 22nd
Alright, so the Rangers can't pitch. The good news though is that division rivals the Angels, A's and Mariners can't hit while the Rangers have perhaps the most dynamic offense in all of baseball (1st in runs scored). With the anemic offenses that plague their division rivals, I really do not see a reason why the Rangers won't continue to contend until the final week of the season with 18 games against the AL West in September. The Rockies didn't have much for pitching in 2007 and made it to the World Series, stranger things can happen when a team gets in a groove.
BOLD The Tampa Bay Rays will make the ALCS and lose to the Red Sox in 7
Alright, well this is incredibly bold with the team in the midst of a 7 game skid, limping their way to the All Star break. The Rays offense has been inconsistent and their pitching has overachieved, but I firmly believe that with the teams three biggest offensive stars: Carlos Pena, Carl Crawford, and B.J. Upton not hitting to their potential, that the Rays will receive more of a contribution from that group in the second half, coupled with the emergence of their pitching staff. Plus with wunderkind David Price as well as the #1 minor league system waiting to help the big league team. I expect this team to make a small move at the trade deadline to help add consistency to their lineup.
OFF THE WALL The Pittsburgh Pirates will finish above .500 for the first time since 1992.
The Pirates are really looking like an improved team as of late and have avoided long term losing streaks. Remember that last season Ian Snell and Tom Gorzelanny were the Pirates best two starters, well this season things have changed. Each have WHIP's approaching 2.00 and ERA's at or above 6.00. I do not think that these guys are truly that bad and I expect that one of them can be productive in the second half of the season with the Pirates as they push towards the .500 mark. One other thing to note is that if the Pirates do trade off Xavier Nady or Jason Bay, their loss will be met by the emergence of Andrew McCutchen in their place. Also, Adam LaRoche is a notorious second half hitter and the offensive production may not fall too far off -- if at all.
AL East - Boston Red Sox
AL Central - Minnesota Twins
AL West - Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
AL Wild Card - Tampa Bay Rays
NL East - Philadelphia Phillies
NL Central - Chicago Cubs
NL West - Los Angeles Dodgers
NL Wild Card - Milwaukee Brewers