Silent Assassin

Zach Anderson

Zach Anderson

The baseball season is fast approaching, and I have yet to complete a fantasy baseball draft. Here is the way I think things will shape up this year in baseball.

In the American League East, it is basically the division of the Red Sox and the Yankees. The Yankees picked up free agent pitcher C.C. Sabathia who should immediately propel the Yanks back to the top of the East. Sabathia went 11-2 last year after joining the Milwaukee Brewers midseason with a 1.65 ERA.

The Red Sox have arguably some of the best pitching in baseball with Josh Beckett, Jon Lester and Daisuke Matsuzaka. They also have Dustin Pedroia, Kevin Youkilis and Jason Bay on offense.

The East also boasts the biggest surprise team of the year: the Tampa Bay Rays, who boast good pitching in Scott Kazmir and James Shields. Plus, they have Evan Longoria who won AL Rookie of the Year in 2008.

A team that could surprise, but more than likely won’t due to three loaded teams in front of them, is the Toronto Blue Jays. Roy Halladay leads the Jays’ pitching staff. He went for 20 wins in 2008 and pitched for 2.78 ERA.

The bottom of the east is the Baltimore Orioles who lost ace pitcher Erik Bedard to Seattle for center field Adam Jones, who immediately added some offense to the O’s as he earned 129 hits in 132 games for Baltimore in 2008.

Prediction: The Yankees will finally beat Boston due to the addition of C.C. Sabathia.

The AL Central is going to be wide open again, as this division is arguably the most competitive against each other. The defending division champs, the Chicago White Sox, have young pitchers Gavin Floyd and John Danks who will pitch behind veteran Mark Buehrle. They retained power hitters Jermaine Dye and Jim Thome and should be a threat to lead the majors in homeruns.

Division runner-up Minnesota Twins added Joe Crede from the White Sox and have a healthy Francisco Liriano, which could spell trouble for the other division teams.

The Detroit Tigers have a lot of power from the likes of Miguel Cabrera, who hit 37 homers in 2008. They acquired Edwin Jackson from the Rays and will try to build on a 14-win 2008 season.

The Cleveland Indians have good pitching in Fausto Carmona and ace Cliff Lee who went 22-3 in 2008 with a 2.54 ERA. Travis Hafner coming back from injury will provide more offense as a designated hitter and give the Indians more offense that they lacked when he was available to play in only 57 games last year.

The Kansas City Royals have Gill Meche at the mound; he pitched the Royals to 14 wins and a 3.98 ERA. Jose Guillen will anchor the outfield for the Royals. Guillen hit 20 homeruns in 2008.

Prediction: Picking this division is impossible because someone different wins it every year, which leaves the Twins or Royals; I think the Twins will win it.

In the AL West, the Angels are still kings of the west, as they still have Torii Hunter, Vladimir Guerrero and newly acquired Bobby Abreu anchoring the outfield. They lost key closing pitcher Francisco Rodriquez to the Mets.

The Oakland Athletics are right behind the Angels and might give them the best fight for the division. They have Justin Duchscherer on the mound, and he should build on his 10-win season last year during which he pitched his way to a 2.54 ERA.

The Mariners may be more formidable this year since they resigned Ken Griffey, Jr., who is no longer the Ken Griffey, Jr., of the past; in 131 at-bats he only acquired 34 hits after being traded to the White Sox from the Reds. Seattle also got Erik Bedard from the Orioles to take the second spot in the pitching rotation behind ace Felix Hernandez.

The cellar dwellers of the West are the Texas Rangers, who have to find some pitching to go with their offense. Josh Hamilton plays center field and is their best prospect. He hit 32 homers last year and gathered 190 hits. In the infield, Ian Kinsler, who hit 18 homers out of 165 hits, is the best compliment to Hamilton.

Prediction: The Angels should run away with the division again because they have the best combination of pitching and hitting.

NL East: The Phillies are the team to beat in the east, with stud pitcher Cole Hamels on the mound and Chase Utley, Ryan Howard and Jimmy Rollins on offense.

Johan Santana will try to lead the Mets to the playoffs, and Jose Reyes and David Wright will try to provide the offense.

The Atlanta Braves will lean on an aging Chipper Jones to try and get back to the playoffs. Derek Lowe will try to build on a 14-11 season on the mound in 2008.

The Florida Marlins will rely on Hanley Ramirez, one of the best shortstops in the league, and Dan Uggla to try and dig themselves out of the middle of the NL East.

The Washington Nationals will try to overcome mediocre pitching and rely on Elijah Dukes and Adam Dunn to provide a spark on offense. Dunn had 32 homers in 2008.

Prediction: Provided another late season collapse, the Mets can win the division this year.

The NL Central will be a three-man race again, with the Cubs, Cardinals and Brewers racing to win the division. Carlos Zambrano will try to improve on a 14-6 season and playoff collapse to lead the Cubs back to the World Series.

The Cardinals have current NL MVP Albert Pujols and Adam Wainwright on the mound and have the chance to overtake the Cubs for the division.

The Milwaukee Brewers lost C.C. Sabathia but still have Prince Fielder and Ryan Braun. Fielder hit for .276 in 2008 and 34 homeruns.

The Pittsburgh Pirates have pitcher Paul Maholm, who pitched in 18 games and threw for 139 strikeouts. They also have Nate McLouth in center field, who had 165 hits and 26 homers in 2008.

Cincinnati Reds have Edison Volquez who pitched his way to a 17-6 record in 2008 and 206 strikeouts. Jay Bruce is their best offensive star who hit 21 homers last year.

Astros will try to use Lance Berkman and Hunter Pence to dig the team out of the bottom of the division.

Prediction: The Cardinals will overtake the powerful Cubs and win the division for the first time since 2006.

The NL West consists of the Dodgers, with Manny Ramirez returning and hoping to lead the Dodgers back into the playoff race.

The Giants will try to come up on the Dodgers, with Tim Lincecum and Randy Johnson pitching. Lincecum went 18-5 and threw for 265 strikeouts in 2008.

The Diamondbacks have Brandon Webb and Dan Haren on the mound and a mediocre offense that will try to challenge the Dodgers for the division.

Jake Peavy, David Eckstein and the Padres will try to fight off the Giants and Diamondbacks to be division runner-up.

Prediction: The Dodgers will be challenged but should win the division behind Manny Ramirez and good pitching.