Thought you all might be interested in some more predictions. Here's who I think will be in the playoffs this year....
AL East: New York Yankees
AL Central: Chicago White Sox
AL West: Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
Al Wild Card: Tampa Bay Rays
The Yanks will win the East because they have the best rotation in baseball now. They also have a pretty darn good offense. I also see a more motivated team this year, missing the playoffs sucks, and Derek Jeter isn't going to deal with that two years in a row. Also, on the team chemistry component everyone(other than A-Rod) is pretty classy. Sabathia is one of the world's most renowned "nice guys." Derek Jeter is a natural leader. Nick Swisher has fun, but not carelessly, and has been called a "grinder." Johnny Damon is a great guy for the clubhouse, I mean who doesn't love Damon? Andy Pettitte, Mariano Rivera, and Jorge Posada are classic Yankess who know how to lead by example and not let the press get to them. Mark Teixeira is a professional kind of guy who obviously has a great work ethic, and is a no-nonsense type of guy. The manager, Joe Girardi, has a year managing in New York under his belt, and has shown he's going to be even better this year through his honesty on injuries so far with the press, and his epic "pool tournament" outing with the team. The Yanks are the team to beat in the East.
The White Sox will win the Central simply because they have the best pitching. The Tigers have too many question marks in the rotation, the only established guys the Royals have in the rotation are Gil Meche and Zach Greinke. The Twins have some talented pitching with Francisco Liriano, Scott Baker, and Kevin Slowey, but their offense is so weak (outside of Mauer and Morneau) that I don't see them holding up. Lacking a veteran ace is also problematic (although Tampa didn't have any true vets in their 08 rotation). The Indians have a great offense, but their pitching scares me. Cliff Lee won't repeat his super human 08, and Anthony Reyes won't be anywhere near as good either. And Aaron Laffey and Fausto Carmona are real question marks. Also, they signed some guy named Pavano, word has it he's one of the worst people to ever walk the earth and one of the worst players to ever enter a ballpark, not to mention he's a compulsive liar. Kerry Wood could be great, however he usually has trouble keeping healthy, with only one year under his belt as a closer who knows how he'll do this year. Chicago, however, has the following players that could fill rotation spots:Mark Buehrle (a veteran ace), Jon Danks (a proven young arm), Gavin Floyd(another nice young arm), Bartolo Colon (a former Cy Young winner), Jose Contreras(a questionable quantity nowadays, but he used to be one of the best in Cuba), Jeff Marquez (former Yankee prospect), Lance Broadway( young prospect), and Aaron Poreda (pormising young prospect). With Buehrle, Danks, Floyd, and Colon, Chicago could have a pretty great rotation. They've got a decent offense with power(Jermaine Dye, Jim Thome, Paul Konerko, Carlos Quentin), speed(Alexei Ramirez), and athletic young players (Jayson Nix, Brent Lillibridge, Ramirez, Josh Fields, Jerry Owens, etc). Add in a phenomenal closer named Bobby Jenks and a veteran catcher (AJ Pierzynski) and you have a team that can dominate the AL Central.
The Angels will bring in the West simply because of pitching. Texas has practically no starting pitching, Seattle has too many question marks and underachievers, and Oakland's rotation has too little experience. The Angels however have John Lackey, Joe Saunders, Ervin Santana, and Jered Weaver who all have experience and talent. Add in some young talent with Nick Adenhart and Dustin Moseley and you have a strong rotation. They have a decent 'pen even without K-Rod, and a managable offense with Vlad Guerrerro, Bobby Abreu, Torii Hunter, the versatile Chone Figgins, and possible breakout candidate Howie Kendrick. Add in the fact that they have baseball's greatest manager (Mike Scioscia) and the team is headed for good things.
The Rays will win the Wild Card because, well how can that team not make the playoffs? Carlos Pena, Carl Crawford, Evan Longoria, Dioner Navarro, BJ Upton, Pat Burrell, they make up a great offense. A rotation of Scott Kazmir, James Shields, Matt Garza, and David Price is pretty scary too. Add in Joe Maddon's ability to make his pen work extremely well, and you have a recipe for success. The Rays could win the East, but it'll be close between them and the Yanks. For anyone who wants to know why I'm not saying Boston will make it...here's why. David Ortiz and JD Drew are too big of injury risks. They'll feel the loss of Manny's bat this year, no matter how good Jason Bay is, he'll never fill Manny's shoes. Josh Beckett's ERA was over 4 in 08. Dice-K's lgERA, park adjusted, was 4.62 this year, so don't expect another strong season. Tim Wakefield is 42 years old. And then Brad Penny and John Smoltz are too big of question marks. Also, there's no way that both Youkilis and Pedroia repeat their phenomenal 08 years, and Lowell has hip issues. They'll still be a good team, but not as good as the Yanks and Rays.