PHOENIX Tim Lincecum is about to twirl and deal for keeps,which means Id better hustle to get my 2012 predictions out there.
Annual reminder: Infotainment purposes only. Please do notpawn any belongings on your way to the sportsbook. (Unless its that euphonium.Youre never actually going to learn to play that thing, are you?)
AL WEST: Rangers, Angels, Mariners, As
Not sure if Texas can get back to the World Series, but Ilove their power-packed lineup. Even though the Angels staff might be bettertop to bottom, Texas has plenty of live arms in the rotation and bullpen.
AL CENTRAL: Tigers, Royals, Indians, Twins, White Sox
You heard it here first: The Royals will score more runsthan the Tigers this season. Youre welcome, Jonathan Sanchez. Justin Verlanderis still better than you, though.
AL EAST: Rays, Yankees, Blue Jays, Red Sox, Orioles
Anyone who thinks about picking Baltimore also thinks aboutself-appendectomies. I like everything about the Rays except Joe Maddon dyeinghis hair.
WILD CARDS: Yankees, ANGELS
Id love to take the Royals as my dark horse team. But itshard to pick against the second-place clubs in the West and East. Mike Sciosciamight resemble the Kool-Aid man more and more every year in that redwindbreaker, but the man knows how to beat the Yankees.
NL WEST: Diamondbacks, Giants, Dodgers, Rockies, Padres
Very, very tough call here. Im going with the Diamondbacksbased on their farm system in addition to the major league roster. Where theGiants have little rotation depth, Arizona could call up Trevor Bauer or TommySkaggs. Theyve got more in their system to trade in late summer, too. Plus Imnot sold on the Giants leadoff situation.
NL CENTRAL: Brewers, Reds, Cardinals, Cubs, Pirates, Astros
Houston will be baseballs only sixth place team, but thatsonly because by rule, they cant finish 187th. Lets go withMilwaukee here. Theyll still hit plenty, and their top three starters are theclass of the division.
NL EAST: Phillies, Marlins, Nationals, Braves, Mets
The Phillies lineup is getting so old, I half expected themto sign Steve Finley on general principle. But, hey. Halladay, Lee, Hamels.That gets you a hand stamp. Plus the Marlins will be in a fishbowl, literallyand figuratively, as the newest subjects of The Franchise. Cant wait for theshow where Zambrano and Ozzie go to the Sunglasses Hut together.
WILD CARDS: GIANTS, Reds
The Giants have not fared well in one-game wild cardplayoffs. Dont worry. Mark Gardner will not start this time.
ALCS: Tigers over Rays
NLCS: Brewers over Giants
World Series: Tigers over Brewers
Viva la Rust Belt. Prince Fielder clubs a game winner offJohn Axford, and all six people who live in downtown Detroit celebrate.
AL MVP: Miguel Cabrera
NL MVP: Hanley Ramirez
AL Cy Young: Justin Verlander
NL Cy Young: Zack Greinke
AL Rookie: Matt Moore
NL Rookie: Zack Cozart
AL Manager: Whoever the Royals manager is. Wait, its NedYost? I may have to rethink this whole dark horse thing
NL Manager: Ron Roenicke
Choco Tacos I will consume in Coors Field press box: Atleast eight.
Enjoy the season!