Take it to the bank: Jon Maletz and Jeff Caspersen fearlessly forecast baseball’s 2011 winners | PostIndependent.com

Take it to the bank: Jon Maletz and Jeff Caspersen fearlessly forecast baseball’s 2011 winners

Post Independent
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

Red Sox over Phillies

I know, way to go out on a limb. Honestly, though, can you blame me?

While last year’s World Series featured a surprise matchup, order will be restored in 2011 when battle-tested heavyweights face off in the Fall Classic.

Sure, questions abound for Philadelphia – closer Brad Lidge’s posterior rotator cuff strain likely will keep him out until July, and star second baseman Chase Utley has set no timetable for his return from a nagging, mysterious knee injury. Still, there’s no way I will count out a team with Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels leading the rotation.

Heck, the Phillies could win 95 games with me as their fifth starter. That should translate into a deep run come October.

It will not be enough to hoist a second Commissioner’s Trophy in four years, however.

Boston was the most aggressive team this offseason, landing prized free agent Carl Crawford, trading for a future MVP in first baseman Adrian Gonzalez and bolstering its bullpen. Assuming they do not experience the rash of injuries that derailed them in 2010 – and closer Jonathan Papelbon and starters Josh Beckett and John Lackey return to form – the deep and talented Red Sox appear primed to clinch a third World Series crown in the last eight seasons.

NATIONAL LEAGUE

Division winners

West: Rockies

Central: Brewers

East: Phillies

Wild card: Giants

MVP: Albert Pujols, Cardinals

Cy Young: Josh Johnson, Marlins

Rookie of the Year: Aroldis Chapman, Reds

AMERICAN LEAGUE

Division winners

West: Rangers

Central: Twins

East: Red Sox

Wild card: Yankees

MVP: Miguel Cabrera, Tigers

Cy Young: David Price, Rays

Rookie of the Year: Tsuyoshi Nishioka, Twins

Red Sox over Braves

It pains me to exclude my beloved San Francisco Giants from this Fall Classic prediction, but picking them to repeat as World Series champions would be a surefire jinx anyway.

With a medley of wily veterans (Tim Hudson, Derek Lowe) and promising young arms (Tommy Hanson, Brandon Beachy, Craig Kimbrel, Jonny Venters and, eventually, Mike Minor), the Braves boast one of the deepest pitching staffs in baseball. The addition of slugger Dan Uggla at second base and the arrival of highly touted prospect Freddie Freeman will push the Braves to the National League pennant. Oh, and don’t forget about 2010 Rookie of the Year runner-up Jason Heyward, stud catcher Brian McCann and Chipper Jones’ return from injury.

Atlanta is a team with few holes. This is a team that, if not for Brooks “E4” Conrad, might have taken down the Giants in last year’s National League Division Series.

All that said, the club they’ll face in the World Series – the mighty Boston Red Sox – are a juggernaut (see Maletz’s Series prognostication). A historically good offense and a veritable Cy Young candidate at the front of the rotation (Jon Lester) will bring the Sox the American League pennant – and a World Series title.

NATIONAL LEAGUE

Division winners

West: Giants

Central: Reds

East: Braves

Wild card: Phillies

MVP: Carlos Gonzalez, Rockies

Cy Young: Tim Lincecum, Giants

Rookie of the Year: Freddie Freeman, Braves

AMERICAN LEAGUE

Division winners

West: A’s

Central: White Sox

East: Red Sox

Wild card: Yankees

MVP: Miguel Cabrera, Tigers

Cy Young: Jon Lester, Red Sox

Rookie of the Year: Michael Pineda, Mariners


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