AL East - Red Sox
Everything starts and ends with starting pitching, simple fact of life. The Sox have two number one starters in Lester and Beckett. Dice K won 18 games last year, Wakefield will do his usual hot and cold through the season, and Brad Penny looks like he'll be healthy enough for the 5th spot. If it's not Brad Penny, don't rule out Buchholz or Masterson and Smoltz comes back in May or June.
The Bullpen is stacked and anchored by Pap, no worries here. Saito gives them the option to rest Pap in some save situations, and Ramirez, Delcarmen, Okijima and Masterson give the Red Sox the best bullpen in the majors.
The 2009 line up won't be the 2003 lineup, but that's okay because it doesn't have to be. The two keys are going to be Ortiz's health and Ellsbury's production at the top of the order. Ortiz doesn't have to hit 50 home runs this year, nor will he, but some where between 30-40 is probably on target. As for Ellsbury, he has to get on base more this year, his OBP was .336 last year because he never walked.
Why not the Yankees? Name one guy in their bullpen besides Mirano Riveria. Even if you were to name one guy, that guy sucks. Another concern is their line up. Arod is out until May and there's no guarantee he's makes it the entire season. Jeter is another year older and that's not a good thing, his range is awful and his WBC was brutal. Only Davey Johnson and Grady Little would play him over Jimmy Rollins. They are going to miss Bobby Abreau. Good luck Mark Texeira.
Why not the Rays? Everyone had career years last year, that will be nearly impossible to duplicate. Their bullpen is a concern, Troy Percival is their closer and he's at least 52 years old. They're still a good team and I have them finishing second behind the Sox. I wouldn't be surprised if they win the division, but I'm picking against the cowbells this year.
Onto the other predictions, not quite as long winded.AL Central - Minnesota Twins. Young and fast team. I like Morneau, MVP candidate every year. Gardenheir is a great manager.
AL West - Anaheim Angels. I don't know what to make of this division, I think everyone sucks but at the same time I don't. Mariners could be better, Rangers will hit, Oakland is...
Wild Card - Tampa Bay Rays for reasons previously stated.
NL East - Philadelphia Phillies. They have 3 MVP candidates in Rollins, Howard, and Utley.
NL Central - Chicago Cubs. The rest of the NL Central sucks, Cubies will choke come October. Reds might make some noise, I'll drink the kool aid on them.
NL West - Los Angeles Dodgers. Signing Manny was huge for their offense. Add in Matt Kemp, James Loney, Russell Martin and Rafael Furcal and they look pretty good on paper.
Wild Card - New York Mets. They finally have some help in the bullpen to get them down the stretch run.
ALCS - Red Sox over Rays. 4-3.
NLCS - Phillies over Mets, 4-2.
World Series - Red Sox over Phillies 4-1.
AL MVP - Grady Sizemore. I think he blows up this year, more so then in years past.
AL CY Young - Roy Halladay.
NL MVP - Albert Pujoles. Simply put, he's a stud.
NL CY Young - Johan Santana, the Mets actually have a bullpen this year that can hold a lead.
Rookies' of the Year, I am in no position to even make a guess, I'll admit that.
Some other predictions:
-Jason Varitek is worse offensively this year and gets booed after a 4 strike out game.
-The Rangers lead the league in runs scored and have the highest team ERA.
-Someone throws a car battery at Arod during his first series at Friendly Fenway.
-The Tigers end up trading some big contracts (Ordonez) and the city of Detroit is sold to Canada for $50 and a case of Molsons.
-Nomar gets a standing ovation when he comes back to Fenway, then attacks Rocco Baldelli for taking his number 5.
-Less then 25% of these predictions will come true.