Major League Baseball picks are in; see why the Cubs will go to the Series in ’08

Zach Anderson

Zach Anderson

West: The Los Angeles Dodgers will win the National League West if newly acquired Andruw Jones and Joe Torre can find their old forms. The hiring of four-time World Series champion Torre will bring some much needed accountability and leadership to the Dodgers. Jones finally gives the Dodgers the power hitter they desperately needed last season, and if Russell Martin can continue playing at a high level after his 2007 breakout year, the Dodgers catcher will continue to be one of the best. The Dodgers have a good mix of veteran and youth players that could lead them to a divisional title. The west will be one of the tightest races in baseball with the Padres and Diamondbacks fielding really good pitching rotations. The surprise 2007 National League Champion Colorado Rockies of last year will also contend in this tight race.

Central: Marking the 100th anniversary of the Cubs’ last World Series Championship, they finally have the team to take them back to the series. Boasting one of the fiercest lineups in the major league, with Alfonso Soriano, Derrek Lee, Aramis Ramirez and newly acquired Kosuke Fukudome, the Cubs will challenge the Mets for a World Series berth. If Carlos Zambrano and the Cubs pitching staff can stay consistent and healthy, they can ride their lineup to the division title, and if the Cubs can figure out the end of their pitching rotation, they will be hard to stop. After failing to make the playoffs, the Brewers will contend with the Cubs, along with the Astros and newly acquired Miguel Tejada. New manager Dusty Baker could make the Cincinnati Reds a surprise contender. The 2006 World Series champions, the St. Louis Cardinals, of two years ago have fallen off the beaten path and will finish low in the division.

East: The New York Mets should win the division if they can play like they did last year before their dramatic September collapse. Jose Reyes, Carlos Beltran and David Wright will once again lead one of the most potent offensive lineups in the National League. With the addition of Johan Santana in the off-season, they should finish with the league’s best record and be able to avoid another late season letdown. The Philadelphia Phillies should keep the race closer than expected with MVP’s Jimmy Rollins and Ryan Howard in the lineup. The Braves could be a surprise in the east with the reuniting of Tom Glavine and John Smoltz in the pitching rotation.

Wildcard: The Phillies could win the wildcard but with one of the closest races in recent history. The Brewers, Astros, Diamondbacks, Rockies or Padres will all be contending for the only wild-card spot. Each team could make their own case for the wildcard, but the Phillies should prevail with solid pitching and the leadership of Ryan Howard and Jimmy Rollins.