Tuesday, April 02, 2002

The Zisk Predictions for 2002 by Steve Reynolds

AL East
1) New York Yankees

Oh how it pains me to make this prediction. I would like nothing more than to see these fat cats stumble and not even make the playoffs as a wild card. But that's not about to happen. The Yanks have six quality starters, and that the reason alone should guarantee them a spot in the postseason. Add in Jason Giambi's bat (which will come around by the time June rolls around) and the shocking reemergence of Robin Ventura as a power hitter and these guys are unstoppable. But watching the Red Sox take three of four early season games give us hope.

2) Boston Red Sox

Speaking of the Sox, I think a wild card berth could happen—if Pedro Martinez stays healthy and gets his control back; if Derek Lowe continues to pitch like the second coming of Roger Clemens; if Scot Hillenbrand keeps hitting: and IF Rickey Henderson isn't playing cards in the clubhouse during a game. But when one of these if doesn’t happen, the “Curse of the Bambino” will last for another season. At least Dan Duquette got rid of a lot of last year’s dead wood. And kudos to the new Sox owners for getting rid of the infested wood—a.k.a, Duquette. New skipper Grady Little has the respect of his players unlike Joe Kerrigan and Jimy Williams—and that’s even before he was hired. Little is shaping up to be the best quote maker since Bill Lee floated out of Fenway. On seeing a giant cockroach crawl across the floor of his office, Little said: "That might not be the first time a Red Sox manager's office has been bugged.”

3) Toronto Blue Jays

Wait—you’re telling me there’s still baseball in Canada? And that there’s TWO teams? No WAY

4) Baltimore Orioles

So Cal Ripken is gone—now what? Well, hopefully manager Mike Hargrove invested in the company that makes Pepto Bismol, as he’s going to have a long hard season watching this truly untalented team. The cupboard will likely be barren for a long time after the idiotic ways of owner Peter Angelos. This is one guy that should look back at the Yankees from 1985 to 1991 to see how karma can come back to get at an owner.

5) Tampa Bay Devil Rays

One of the two teams that should have seriously been considered for contraction (the other being the Marlins, as it is apparent baseball is not the sport for Florida, except in spring training) is the only thing keeping the Orioles from falling all the way to the basement. Ugh.

AL Central
1) Cleveland Indians
I would love for a Twins miracle finish which lands them in the playoffs for the first time since 1991, but Cleveland looks too powerful for the little team that Selig couldn’t kill. New GM Mark Shapiro probably had to change his phone number after trading away Robby Alomar and letting Juan Gonzalez go. Now he looks like a genius as the young and solid starting pitching is leading the Tribe to a huge start.

2) Minnesota Twins

Really, how could anyone think of getting rid if this team? The history (Orlando Cepeda, Rod Carew, Kirby Puckett) and the incredible 1991 World Series should have been enough to secure their place in the Twin Cities forever.

3) Chicago White Sox

If Frank Thomas comes back to have a monster season, they could be a surprise. But the pitching is a bit lacking, and having Kenny Lofton as your key off-season addition doesn’t spell title in anyone’s book.

4) Kansas City Royals

Chuck Knoblauch. Two words that will doom this team to another 90 loss season.

5) Detroit Tigers

“You know, if we open a great new park, we’re bound to win and thousand more people will show up!” Ah yes, the dream of four years ago is now a nightmare. They could challenge the Mets record for most losses in a season pretty easily.

AL West
1) Seattle Mariners

Seriously, how the hell did they lose to the Yanks? I’m still shaking my head over that one. They’ll get a second shot this year.

2) Oakland Athletics (Wild Card)

Jason Giambi has gone to live out his childhood dreams in the Big Apple. So where does that leave baseball’s low budget overachievers? Not that bad off actually. They still have four great starters, and David Justice should supply some muscle in the hitting department. And don’t forget, the Mariners somehow kept improving after losing their best players.

3) California Angels

There’s no way this team won’t be better than the Rangers. That’s about all you can say for them.

4) Texas Rangers

Alex Rodriguez sold his soul to the devil—and look what it got him.

NL East
1) New York Mets

I don’t usually pick my own favorite team to win their division because I fully buy into the curse of the Braves. This year seems different to me somehow. The Mets have played awful, horrific baseball the first three weeks of the season, just like last year. But the 2002 Mets are in first place. The pitching has been superb so far, which no one expects to last all the way to September. But if the hitting comes around and Mo Vaughn can actually contribute, this is a team that could go all the way.

2) Philadelphia Phillies (Wild Card)

Sure, they didn’t add any impact players. Sure, many of the players hate Larry Bowa. But this team got enough seasoning last year to make another good run at it this year.

3) Atlanta Braves

Ding-dong, the witch is dead. Finally, the Braves pitching (except for Tom Glavine and Greg Maddux, if he stays healthy) is their weak spot. Gary Sheffield will help, but he won’t be able to also pitch middle relief.

4) Montreal Expos

Frank Robinson will get the best he can out of the last year of this franchise.

5) Florida Marlins

The pitching has potential. Didn’t someone say that about the Mets in 1996? Ex-Expos owner Jeffrey Loria deserves a last place finish.

NL Central
1) St. Louis Cardinals

Mark McGwire is gone, so I imagine St. Louis will take a page from the Mariners book and do even better. Albert Pujols will led this team back into the playoffs.

2) Pittsburgh Pirates

Yeah, this makes no sense, but they got rid of Operation Shut Down Derek Bell! How can I not root for them?

3) Houston Astros

Larry Dierker got fired for not making it past the Division Series. What will happen to Jimy Williams when he doesn’t make the playoffs?

4) Chicago Cubs

Sammy Sosa could hit 150 home runs and drive in 300 runs—this team still ain’t making the post-season.

5) Cincinnati RedsDo you think someone has told Ken Griffey Junior that you can’t go home again?

6) Milwaukee Brewers

It will be so great to see the team run by Bud Selig’s daughter lose more than 100 games this year.

NL West
1) San Francisco Giants

Barry Bonds will hit 75 home runs, drive in 130 runs and walk 200 times, and somehow won’t get the MVP. But he will make the playoffs.

2) Arizona Diamondbacks

If Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling could pitch every other day, this team would return to the World Series. Alas, this year the dynamic duo won’t be able to get them 90 wins.

3) Los Angeles Dodgers

A hurt Kevin Brown and no Gary Sheffield equal another long season for the Dodger blue. They’ll be heading to the parking lot in the fourth inning this season.

4) Colorado Rockies

Fuck you, Mike Hampton.

5) San Diego Padres

Oh where have you gone Tony Gwynn—a city turns its lonely eyes to you.

ALCS: Yanks vs Mariners

NLCS: Mets vs. Giants

World Series: Mets vs. Mariners

Oh, why not live in a world of fantasy: Mets in 5.

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