The Commish Online                                                                                
2003 Season Preview
March 26, 2003

The Yankees are sending their multimillion dollar offseason acquisition to the bullpen while the Brewers are trying to figure out how to avoid an 11th straight losing season.  That can only mean one thing:  the beginning of the baseball season.  Go grab your mitt out of the garage and throw the ball around, but first check out The Commish's predictions for the upcoming year:

AL East  a closer look
1. New York
hard to argue against all that money, talent, and success
2. Boston
enough hitting but a little shallow in the rotation to keep up with New York
3. Toronto
making progress, but stuck in the middle again
4. Baltimore
young and better than Tampa Bay is all we can say
5. Tampa Bay
Piniella dealing with all the inexperience and losses will make for a long season

AL Central  a closer look
1. Minnesota
know how to win and have an unspectacular but deep rotation
2. Chicago
close, but the good hitting won't always make up for the poor defense
3. Cleveland
the best of this sorry group of 3 bottom dwellers thanks to some impressive prospects
4. Detroit
somebody has to come in fourth
5. Kansas City
not one recognizable pitcher on the team

AL West  a closer look
1. Oakland
great pitching, powerful infield, and defensive outfield should spell success
2. Anaheim
same team as last year but hard to pick them ahead of Oakland's staff
3. Seattle
their rotation doesn't scare many teams and the hitters are getting older
4. Texas
Schowalter will make them better than last year, but still last in this tough group

NL East  a closer look
1. Atlanta
potent outfield and remade rotation should be enough for another division title
2. Philadelphia
will provide a serious threat to Atlanta, but young pitching and Bowa's outbursts will shortchange them
3. Florida
the surprise team as Pudge adjusts well and the young talent blossoms under easygoing Torborg
4. Montreal
too much talent to finish last
5. New York
another disappointment as Glavine and Floyd arrive a couple years late

NL Central  a closer look
1. St. Louis
well rounded team that can overcome diversity over the course of a season
2. Houston
new additions should help them contend
3. Cincinnati
too many question marks in the rotation
4. Pittsburgh
should build on their 72 wins last year
5. Chicago
their staff can't compensate for their miserable lineup
6. Milwaukee
new stadium didn't help the team on the field

NL West  a closer look
1. Arizona
with Johnson-Schilling, losing streaks are nonexistent
2. Los Angeles
92 wins last year and a healthier Kevin Brown this year
3. San Francisco
lost more than they gained in the offseason
4. Colorado
must figure out a way to win on the road
5. San Diego
lousy, but the youth provides an optimistic future

AL Playoff teams:  New York, Minnesota, Oakland, and Boston
ALCS:  Boston over Minnesota

NL Playoff teams:  Atlanta, St. Louis, Arizona, and Los Angeles
NLCS:  Arizona over St. Louis

World Series:  Boston over Arizona

Boston may not have the overall team to overtake the Yankees in the regular season, but when the playoffs begin, you can throw away your 4th and 5th starters.  Pedro and Lowe can match up with any team's top 2, and in the World Series, they should be able to neutralize the aging Johnson and Schilling while the Red Sox's potent offense provides the edge and their first World Series crown since 1918.