7 Bold baseball predictions for 2011 season

1. The Phillies will not win the NL East. Everyone makes a big deal about the starting rotation. They call Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels and Roy Oswalt the four aces. 

Oswalt isn't an ace. (Bonus prediction: 5th starter Joe Blanton wins more games than Oswalt.)

But, the Phillies aren't going to win the division because of their offense and bullpen.

They're really going to miss Jayson Werth. Yes, the Nationals overpaid for him. But what wasn't talked about during the offseason is how much Philadelphia will miss him.

Without Werth and injury questions surrounding 2B Chase Utley, only 1B Ryan Howard scares opposing pitchers.

Closer Brad Lidge is out until at least May. And Ryan Madson proved he couldn't close games in 2010.

2. The Yankees will not play in the postseason.
New York's starting rotation is C.C. Sabathia and hoping for 4 days of rain.

Now, the Yankees rotation in April won't be the same as it is in August. But Yankees' GM Brian Cashman's trades to get starters will be too little too late to catch the Red Sox & Rays. Boston is so loaded that even Red Sox manager Terry Francona can't screw it up.

Offensively, Manager Joe Girardi isn't sure what he has outside Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez & Robinson Cano. Legends Derek Jeter and Jorge Posada need to get off  to strong starts to keep fan pressure down.

3. The Houston Astros are the 2010 San Diego Padres. The Astros have the pitching to carry them through some games. Brett Myers, J.A. Happ & Wandy Rodriguez are three great starters. The Houston bullpen looks strong. Brandon Lyon settled into the closer role late last year.

Houston's offense is weak, but so was the Padres lineup last year when you take out Adrian Gonzalez. Houston's offense will be good enough to win some games, like they did over the last two months of 2010.

The Padres didn't make the playoffs. And Houston doesn't have enough to beat Cincinnati, but the Astros will be relevant in September.

4. Cardinals will trade Albert Pujols in July.   Without Adam Wainwright, St. Louis won't have enough guns to compete in the NL Central. When the Cardinals and Pujols couldn't work out an extension before Spring Training, it became clear the Cardinal legend will play in a different uniform in 2012.

So the Cardinals need to do what's in the best interest of the franchise. Get something in return.

5. The Arizona Diamondbacks will be the worst team in baseball. The Diamondbacks gave Kirk Gibson his first managing gig. Talk about a roll of the dice.

The front-office armed him with a terrible line-up. The All-Star game will be played in Arizona this year, and you'll need a search party to find the all-star on this team.

Arizona has great young talent. But bringing in veterans like LF Xavier Nady and 3B Melvin Mora won't protect them.

Mora was a bench player for the Colorado Rockies last year. Nady couldn't hack it with the Cubs last year. Now, they're both starters.

6. The Baltimore Orioles will win more games than they will lose in 2011.   Don't underestimate Orioles Manager Buck Showalter. Look at what he did in the strike-shortened 1994 season when he managed the New York Yankees.

Take a look at these names that got the most starts for that team. C Mike Stanley, 2B Pat Kelly, SS Mike Gallego and
LF Luis Polonia. None of them should make plans for enshrinement in Monument Park. Despite the lack of star power, Showalter lead these misfits to the best record in the AL.

Showalter won't tolerate the losing culture that his Orioles predecessors allowed. The starting pitchers won't match the under 4.00 ERA they had in the last 2 months of 2010, but they will be much better than the over 5.00 ERA they had in the first four months.

7. The Colorado Rockies will beat the Chicago White Sox in the 2011 World Series.

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