Tuesday, March 29, 2011
Posted: 9:48 a.m.

By Joe Collins
CSNChicago.com

Here is the 'Fearless Forecast' for the 2011 MLB season. Will the rich get richer? Probably. Will the Pirates mark their 19th consecutive losing season? Probably. But there should be a few surprises that will make this baseball season more than interesting. Here goes:

( = Playoff Team)

NATIONAL LEAGUE

EastW-LGBRandom News
Atlanta Braves
95-67-Little bit of upset here, but their pitching will get them to the top. Jason Heyward is a best.
Philadelphia Phillies
93-692Ridiculously strong pitching staff. Can they stay healthy?
Florida Marlins
80-8215Pesky Marlins always overachieve. Marlins will get a new park in 2012. It's about time.
Washington Nationals
74-8821Might not be as bad as people think. Jayson Werth has to live up to 7-year, 126 million contract.
New York Mets
68-9427The roster is great...by 2004 standards. The Madoff mess continues to linger. At least Shea Stadium is gone.

CentralW-LGBRandom News
St. Louis Cardinals
86-76-Solid lineup should help offset Wainwright injury. Albert Pujols might hit one off the Arch. Will it help him stay a Cardinal?
Cincinnati Reds
84-782Could still take division thanks to an offense that's tougher than Skyline Chili.
Chicago Cubs
82-804The sleeper team of 2011? Carlos Silva's launching is addition by subtraction. Kind of a wait-and-see offense, though.
Milwaukee Brewers
79-837Nice pitching, but Prince Fielder's status could be a distraction. Look for the chorizo to dominate the sausage race, too.
Houston Astros
75-8711RF Hunter Pence now the it-man. Cannot afford another slow start, or they'll be lurking near Pirates Cove (or...6th).
Pittsburgh Pirates
69-9317If there is no NFL season...hoo-boy. At least the Penguins are intriguing.

 

WestW-LGBRandom News
San Francisco Giants
92-70
-Pitching staff, led by Mitch Kramer (err..I mean Tim Lincecum), needs to carry the load again.Colorado Rockies
88-744Great fantasy baseball team (Troy Tulowitzki, Ubaldo Jimenez, Carlos Gonzalez)--but they need to learn how to be a good reality team.
San Diego Padres
87-75
5Ran out of gas in September and might not have enough in the tank to hang with SF and COL in 2011.
Los Angeles Dodgers
81-81
11New manager Don Mattingly has a fairly decent rotation. So-so lineup. It adds up to a .500 season.Arizona Diamondbacks
71-91
21Manager Kirk Gibson means business. But Chase Field could be a wind tunnel if the D-Backs don't win.

AMERICAN LEAGUE

EastW-LGBRandom News
Boston Red Sox
94-68-Deep team. And it'll be interesting to see what Bobby Jenks does. Cubs fans will flood Fenway May 20-22.Tampa Bay Rays
91-711When will the first "Manny being Manny" episode happen? Not sure if Joe Maddon will put up with the tomfoolery.
New York Yankees
89-735Yes. 3rd place. Big bats, questionable rotation--but you know the Yankees will deal with that situation come July 31st.
Baltimore Orioles
75-87194th place will be a huge victory for the O's. Buck Showalter doesn't tolerate losing all that much.
Toronto Blue Jays
74-8820Might be an upper-tier team if not for the brutally tough AL East. Jays should hit a lot of homers, though.

CentralW-LGBRandom News
Minnesota Twins
90-72-The 'Rudy' of the AL Central won't go away anytime soon, especially with Justin Morneau, Joe Mauer and company.Chicago White Sox
88-742"All In" for a division championship? Lineup and pitching match up with the Twins. Jake Peavy, of course, the x-factor.Detroit Tigers
84-786Keeping Miguel Cabrera away from the bottle might help Jim Leyland keep away from the cigarettes.
Kansas City Royals
75-8715A surprise team at 75-87? That's the standard in KC. Joakim Soria alone might keep them in the race for a while.
Cleveland Indians
63-9927You might see tumbleweeds rolling through the upper deck of Progessive Field. Sad. The city deserves better.

WestW-LGBRandom News
Oakland A's
88-74-Fierce rotation with Gio Gonzalez and Dallas Braden and Brett Anderson. But will anybody in Oakland care?
Texas Rangers
86-762They'll score a ton of runs, but they're now the hunted instead of the hunters. Will the pressure get to them?Los Angeles Angels
79-839What I like to call a "Swiss cheese" team-- too many holes, particularly in the infield and behind the plate.Seattle Mariners
71-9117The Mariners will be a great team to watch...every fifth day. King Felix is worth the price of admission alone.

 

AL PLAYOFFS:
Boston over Oakland, 3-2
Minnesota over Tampa Bay, 3-1
Boston over Minnesota, 4-3

NL PLAYOFFS:
Atlanta over St. Louis, 3-0
Philadelphia over San Francisco, 3-1
Philadelphia over Atlanta 4-1

WORLD SERIES:
Philadelphia over Boston, 4-3

Well, either that or the Indians and Pirates meet to make this year's World Series the biggest ratings bonanza of all time.

Or something like that.