The Commish Online                                                                                
2007 Season Preview
March 30, 2007

Put your NCAA brackets away because Opening Day is right around the corner.  This year more than ever, parity rules in MLB.  Specifically, the Central divisions are nearly impossible to predict, and every team in the NL West looks virtually identical on paper.  Despite these difficulties, I will still have no apprehension in boasting about my successful predictions come October, while conveniently failing to mention the busts.

Because of the couple dozen mediocre teams sandwiched between very few dominant and poor teams, expect to see some surprises this year.  I don’t see the Yankees in the playoffs this year, but they can spend their time watching teams like little ol’ Milwaukee fight for the World Series.  For the rest of the fearless picks, enjoy TCO's 2007 Season Preview.

AL East
Papelbon in the end, “Dice-K” in the beginning, and plenty to like in between
New York
suspect pitching finally runs out of depth, and Rivera can’t close forever
financial commitment to star players (Wells, Halladay, Ryan, etc.) keeps them competitive in division
very little upside from players with proven track records provide little hope for top tier division status
Tampa Bay
once again, the talented lineup isn’t enough to offset a nameless starting rotation

AL Central
plenty of talent and it seems to be their turn in the Central
Sheffield helps, but the youngsters are bound to taper off from last year, leaving the Wild Card a dogfight
less quality starting pitching depth and some OF questions keep them behind Detroit
developing some superstars, but the role players are less qualified than past years
Kansas City
surprises from Grienke, Shealy, and others might give Chicago and Minnesota a run for third

AL West
the formula of rotating the talent inventory hasn’t failed yet, so expect more success in '07
it finally all comes together (and Otsuka becomes a dominant closer), but the ceiling is still 88 wins
Los Angeles
Kendrick flashes his potential, but the rotation suffers a few meltdowns heading to a 3rd place finish
not a bad team, just the worst of this division

NL East
nice combination of youth and experience on the pitching staff will complement the solid lineup
too much reliance on rookies for a division title, but a solid core keeps them above .500
New York
a great lineup and questionable pitching rarely succeeds over the long haul
Like a lesser version of Detroit, last year’s rookies won’t be fooling as many people this year
the least amount of talent in the NL except maybe Pittsburgh

NL Central
not elite status, but they have enough talent to catch lightning in a bottle in ‘07
St. Louis
still arguably the most talent in the watered down Central
despite all the money being spent, if Zambrano goes down, it could get ugly
Berkman and Lee should take some pressure off the staff and give .500 a noble fight
solid pitching performances and a healthy Griffey (unlikely) might push Cincy to the 80-win mark
LaRoche and Bay are not exactly Manny and Big Papi, and the pitching doesn’t help matters

NL West
Los Angeles
slightly better pitching, slightly better hitting, slightly more depth than any other NL West team
San Francisco
an underrated team, with a solid group a role players that should keep them in the hunt all year
just a hunch, but a renewed Helton and solid nucleus push Colorado above even
much improved staff, but the lineup will determine how high this team can climb
San Diego
losing Roberts will hurt more than advertised, and it’s ’07, not ’97 for Maddux and Wells

AL Playoff teams:  Boston, Cleveland, Oakland, and Texas (WC)
ALCS:  Boston over Cleveland
NL Playoff teams:  Philadelphia, Milwaukee, Los Angeles, and San Francisco (WC)
NLCS:  Los Angeles over San Francisco

World Series:  Los Angeles over Boston

Texas will sneak into the playoffs despite being the 6th or 7th best team in the AL, thanks to the Central and East teams beating each other all year.  Boston and Cleveland will advance in the first round, with Big Papi, “Dice-K” and company getting past the Tribe in the ALCS.  In the NL, San Fran will get a break and avoid LA in the first round, instead defeating Philly in a close series.  LA will handle Milwaukee and ultimately defeat division rival San Fran in the NLCS thanks to some veteran pitching.  The World Series will be a well played battle, but losing the DH for a few games will take away the slight advantage Boston has, as the Dodgers win Game 7 thanks to a gutsy play on the basepaths by Rafael Furcal.