The Commish Online                                                                                
2008 Season Preview
March 30, 2008

After poring over the rosters and looking at the spring results, one thing is clear: no one, and I mean NO ONE, has a completely flawless team.  The $200+ million Yankees have plenty of weaknesses, and the low budget Marlins will be lucky to field a team of major leaguers on a daily basis.  Baseball would be a lot more competitive with four fewer teams, but since the MLBPA will never let that happen, we have to live with what we have - plenty of solid teams lacking some integral parts of championship-caliber level baseball.  MLB is becoming like the NFL in terms of parity despite the lack of salary restrictions.  Why?  There's simply not enough talent to fill 30 rosters.

Players like Woody Williams are getting multi-year deals only to be released (and still paid) because they just aren't good enough.  The problem is that the replacements aren't BEATING them out - they're just the lesser of two evils.

What does that have to do with the season preview?  Making predictions are that much more difficult when no teams have any depth and one or two injuries mean the difference between first place and third.  No one wants to hear The Commish complain, however, so without further adieu, it's time for TCO's 2008 Season Preview.

AL East
same team as last year and Manny and Big Papi have room for improvement
-New York
pressure on veterans to stay closer to first than third
-Tampa Bay
Shields, Kazmir, and a winning spring have me believing 80 wins is possible
not sold on pitching or the additions of Rolen and Eckstein
hard to believe so much money has yielded so little

AL Central
scary good lineup, iffy staff, but Leyland will make it work
Hafner will be better, but division title will depend on repeat success of Carmona
if Contreras regains '05 form, magic could happen in Chicago
Santana irreplaceable, but the Twins always find a formula to stay competitive
-Kansas City
supposed to be improving, but too much youth to compete in '08

AL West
M's will take advantage of LA's injuries and a favorable early season schedule
-Los Angeles
overpaying for Hunter and Mathews Jr. will haunt them as pitching needs still exist
Blanton and Haren give A's a shot, but too many DH's in the field will be undoing
still. no. good. pitching.

NL East
similar pros/cons as Detroit but no Cleveland to contend with
-New York
Santana and the Mets' hitters will need to carry the bottom of a questionable rotation
Cox will make the balanced lineup and veteran staff work to perfection, possibly a WC spot
still enough offensive talent to avoid the cellar
new ballpark, but virtually no dependable arms to anchor a staff

NL Central
many questions but fewer holes than other NL Central teams
plenty of hitting, addition of Tejada, and a healthy Oswalt give Houston hope
if young pitchers' sensational springs transfer to regular season, Reds might rise
Sheets must stay healthy, but hard to believe young hitters can repeat '07
-St. Louis
no magic this year as no-names in the lineup won't help anemic staff
not enough money, not enough talent to compete

NL West
'07 was no fluke, and maturing players still improving
Webb and Haren make D-Backs as dangerous as any NL team
-San Diego
no big bopper keeps Peavy and Young in the spotlight all year, leaving Padres a little short
-Los Angeles
Kuroda (from Japan) and Schmidt (injury prone) are wild cards that might help Torre win one
-San Francisco
looking more and more like "Pittsburgh West," Molina isn't exactly Bonds in the middle of the lineup

AL Playoff teams:  Boston, Detroit, Seattle, and New York (WC)
ALCS:  Seattle over Boston
NL Playoff teams:  Philadelphia, Chicago, Colorado, and Arizona (WC)
NLCS:  Arizona over Chicago

World Series:  Seattle over Arizona

Detroit's lack of an ace or power closer will due them in come playoffs-time as Boston will dispose of the Tigers while Seattle knocks off the Yankees, who will get to the playoffs thanks to the solid bullpen help of Chamberlain and Rivera.  Seattle will then get over the hump by taking care of Boston, sending the Mariners to the Series.

In the National League, Carlos Zambrano and Chicago will beat Colorado as the Rockies' pitching can't replicate its '07 performance.  Arizona will beat Philadelphia in quick fashion thanks to Haren and Webb.  The NLCS will be close, but Arizona's pitching will neutralize Chicago's bats and send Cubs' fans home crying in their beer once again, 100 years after their last World Series Championship.

In the World Series, Bedard and Felix Hernandez will keep up with Webb and Haren, and even Miguel Batista will figure prominently in a victory against his old mates, earning the victory in a game where Ichiro wins it thanks to his bat, glove, arm, and legs.  In a year of unlikely playoff matchups, a Mariners World Series parade will fit right in.