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Hot Stone League

Larry Stone gives his take on a wide array of baseball issues and weighs in about the Mariners, too.

March 30, 2011 at 8:01 AM

Drumroll: The Hot Stone League 2011 predictions

I know I should quit while I’m ahead, but I’m going to forge ahead anyway with my forecasted finish for the 2011 season.

I’m sure you’ll all be nice enough not to dredge this up in October to remind me how wrong I was. Unless I’m right, of course — then dredge away.

AL West

1, A’s

2, Rangers

3, Angels

4, Mariners

Comment: I really like the A’s pitching, and I think they’ll score enough to get by. The Rangers’ rotation, on the other hand, is a concern, and I just think they will be hard-pressed to recreate last year’s magic. I see the Angels as a declining team, but not declining far enough to fall below the Mariners.

AL Central

1, White Sox

2, Twins

3, Tigers

4, Royals

5, Indians

Comment: Touch choice among the Chisox, Twins and Tigers, all of whom are capable of winning the division. I’ve regretted under-estimating the Twins before, but I just like the White Sox’s overall talent a little more. The Tigers are one Miguel Cabrera relapse away from disaster. The Royals go to the bottom almost by rote, but that will be changing very soon, if their young talent is half as good as everyone thinks it is.

AL East

1, Red Sox

2, Rays

3, Yankees

4, Orioles

5, Blue Jays

Comment: This division is tougher than ever, especially with Buck Showalter seemingly reviving the Orioles last year. It’s hard to pick against the Red Sox after they added Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez to a team that won 89 games last year. But they’re no lock. I still like the Rays an awful lot despite all their defections — they have talented replacements on hand. In fact, I like them more than the Yankees, whose rotation is very iffy after C.C. and Hughes. I feel for the Orioles and Jays, who might be contenders in other divisions but are destined for the second division here.

NL West

1, Giants

2, Rockies

3, Padres

4, Dodgers

5, Diamondbacks

Comment: It’s awfully hard to pick against Lincecum, Cain, Sanchez and Bumgarner throwing to superstar-in-the-making Buster Posey. So I won’t, though the injury to Brian Wilson is worrisome (but not nearly as worrisome as his Loony Tunes appearance on the George Lopez show). The Rockies have great frontline talent (Ubaldo Jimenez, Carlos Gonzalez), but not enough depth. The Padres will dearly miss Adrian Gonzalez.. The Dodgers will dearly miss having a stable ownership. The Diamondbacks will make Kirk Gibson very, very impatient.

NL Central

1, Reds

2, Cardinals

3, Cubs

4, Brewers

5, Pirates

6, Astros

Comment: The Reds won it last year with a pretty young, developing team,and I think they’ll only get better, especially with Aroldis Chapman around for the whole season. I’m not ready to count out the Cardinals yet despite the loss of Adam Wainwright for the year. Not with Albert Pujols still around — and I expect a monster year from El Hombre in the face of his contract issues. I really liked the Brewers until the Greinke injury, and I probably have down-graded them too much. They can really hit. If any team is going to rise up in this division, it’s them.

NL East

1, Phillies

2, Braves

3, Marlins

4, Mets

5, Nationals

Comment: I don’t care about the Brad Lidge injury or the Chase Utley concerns, it’s impossible to pick against the Phillies’ rotation. But the Braves are looking awfully good this spring — they’ll give the Phillies a run, and it wouldn’t be a total shock if they wind up on top. If only the Marlins had a little more depth, they’d be awfully dangerous.

AL wild card: Rangers

NL wild card: Braves

World Series: Cincinnati over Oakland

Comment: Yeah, a rematch of 1990, when the Nasty Boys swept the Bash Brothers. Just a hunch, folks, because that’s all we’ve got in March.



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The opinions expressed in reader comments are those of the author only, and do not reflect the opinions of The Seattle Times.

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