The second half of the baseball season has started and I have a few predictions in store for the rest of the season. Of course, I coud be wrong.
AL East-I see the Yankees taking the division, but they won't run away with it. Tampa Bay and Boston will ahve a lot to say about that. I figure either the Rays or Red Sox should win the wild card. As of now New York holds a 4 game lead on Tampa and 7 up on Boston. I do expect all three to make significant trades as the deadline nears. The Yankees are in the mix on everyone, Boston has been quiet on the rumor front, and the Rays have been rumored as a possible destination for Kansas City's Zack Greinke. If Greinke lands in Tampa, that could possibly change the tide in chase for the AL East title.
AL Central-No one seems to want to take control of this division. Although it looks like the White Sox are showing no signs of slowing down. They've been involved in trade talks, notably for Milwaukee's Prince Fielder. If that happens, pencil them in for the playoffs. I do think they need more pitching,especially to be considered a serious threat to get to the World Series. I expect the Twins to get healthy and right the ship and make their annual late season surge. I like the Tigers, but I think they should play more for the future of the franchise than make any deadline deals. They should hang around, but flame out towards the end. You can't lose four straight to the Indians and expect to win your division. Also, the Twins and White Sox have their number, even though no one in the Tiger clubhouse will admit to it.
AL West- The Texas Rangers have forged ahead to a seven game lead over the Los Angeles Angels, with a chance to push it to nine by the end of the weekend. Texas got one of the biggest trade deadline prizes, being the surprise winner in the Cliff Lee sweepstakes. The offense can mash with the best of them and now they have a little piching to go with it. The Angels need to pick it up if they want to catch the Rangers. I still think they need another big bat in their lineup to make that happen. Right now I see the Rangers running away and hiding with the division crown.
NL Central- I think the St. Louis Cardinals will overtake the Cincinnati Reds when it's all said and done. The Reds have shown more staying power than I thought they would. Scott Rolen, who has been a big piece of the Big Red resurgence is hurt and I can't say for how long. That could be crucial. I do hear pitcher Edinson Volquez is due back soon and that could balance out the loss of Rolen. St. Louis has staved off these kind of challenges before and I don't expect that to change. Their involved in the Roy Oswalt trade talks and Roy wants to be in St. Louis. Do the Cards have what it takes to pry him out of Houston? Who knows. If that trade is made, they would be the favorites to represent the National League in the World Series.
NL East- It's a bit surprising the Atlanta Braves are in first and six up on the Mets and Phillies. I mentioned in another post the Phillies hve shown themselves to be a strong second half team in the past. They could get Pedro Martinez back and could also make a big trade to vault them back into first. I haven't been sold on the Mets since they blew that seven game September lead a few years back to the Phillies. They're starting to fade, even with the return of Carlos Beltran. The Braves are the surprise leader in the clubhouse and I don't see them going anywhere. They have a balanced lineup and their trademark pitching with the savvy Bobby Cox leading the way. I expect this one to go down to the wire between the Braves and Phillies.
NL West-Once again, this is the wild west. Four teams have a legitimate shot at winning the West. The San Diego Padres don't have much offense, but they do have strong pitching and they do have the best offensive force in the division in first baseman Adrian Gonzalez. Don't expect them to make any moves at the deadline though. I haven't seen many of the games the teams in the NL West play in since its too damn late to watch them. I do know this much, the Giants,Dodgers,and Rockies will make this pennant chase exciting to watch. With six games separating the furthest competitor (Dodgers), this will be another that goes down to the wire.