Well, the cards aren't here, but the ratings are, and that makes it time for this year's Crystal Ball Gazing post. So many things to consider... Can Kershaw and the Fungoes repeat? Will the Drillers finally return to the post season after two years away? Are the Buckeyes really rebuilding for the first time since... well... ever? And does this mean they will miss the post season for the first time since 2008? Can the Zaps or Pigs get back on top? Can the Snakes ride the best pitching staff in the league to another title? Is this the year the Nads make the playoffs? Is this finally the Year of the Inmates?Do the Bees still suck?
Let's take a look...
The Herman Wheeler Division
Let's start at the home of the defending champion Fungoes. Kershaw and Trout are back. Matt Carpenter is as good as ever. Price is improved. Harvey is gone but more than adequately replaced in the rotation by Roark. The Fungi have excellent starting pitching and a pretty good bullpen. All they need is a shortstop. They don't need one other thing. Well, and a 2nd baseman. A shortstop and a 2nd baseman, and that's ALL they need. They don't need one other thing. And a right fielder. A shorststop, a 2nd baseman, and a right fielder. And that's all they need.
The Inmates have a strong infield, but have needs everywhere else. They have two early 1st round picks, however. Now we see if he can turn those 2 picks into an ace for his rotation, a dominant reliever, and a top tier left-handed bat.
The Nads finally have a roster ready to play beyond game 162. All they really need is bullpen, and there will be plenty of bullpen to choose from in the first few rounds of this draft.
The Rhinos made it to the World Series in 2010 and 2012. That's all I got.
Prediction: 1. Fungoes, 2. Inmates, 3. Nads, 4. Rhinos
The Ab Wheeler Division
The Snakes have the best pitching staff in NASOMA. Best rotation. Best bullpen. Best staff. His offense is heavy on the left-handers - which fits his park - but there are a couple of holes to fill. Kipnis getting a 2b-4 is the biggest of those holes. But this is the Snakeman, and it is a lock that he'll have the Sidewinders in the post season. Book the flight now.
The Bees have Freeman and Simmons in their infield. And they have Teheran, E.Santana, and A.Wood at the top of their rotation, but they have almost nothing else. It could be a long year at the Hive.
The Tweeners have the deepest rotation in the league, with 7 starters who could help the rotations of anybody. The Tweeners need some bats and bullpen, but having a great rotation is a good start.
The Goofs have a lot of needs - mostly health for his rotation. If the Goofs were in the HWD, I'd give them a chance at the post season. But beating the Snakes and Tweeners will require something Goofy happening.
Prediction: 1. Sidewinders, 2. Tweeners, 3. Goofs, 4. Killer Bees
The Bob Uecker Division
The Warpigs have their roster set, which is good because they have no picks. The pitching staff is not as good as the Snake staff, but will still be a strength. The starters aren't as good as the 2013 staff, but this time there's a bullpen to bail them out. And after a year setting offensive futility records, trades were made to improve the run-scoring potential.
The DVs have an aresenal of RH hitters, and their infield defense will be air tight. They even have a quality rotation. But the bullpen needs a major re-stocking, and a left-handed DH needs to be found. The bigger problem is the lack of draft picks with which to fill those holes. The draft is deep in RH relief, so that part should be easy to rectify.
The Wahoos have a great infield, an ace in the rotation, and one of the best relievers out there. An even better asset is 4 picks in the first 19 picks of the draft. By the time those 4 picks are made, the Wahoos could be the team to beat.
The FFTs are the sleeper team in the BUD. Their right-handed hitters are as good as the DV group, and if they can add a shortstop and some bullpen, the FFTs will be much improved over last year. On the other hand, if the FFTs go for an infusion of youth, it might be another down year - but with good things ahead.
Prediction: 1. Warpigs, 2. Wahoos, 3. DVs, 4. FFTs
The Millard Fillmore Division
The Zaps are once again loaded for bear. The only offensive hole is LF, and Chris Dickerson is poised to be the first pick in the draft to make this lineup complete. The rotation is also top tier. And with so much bullpen being available in the draft, expect the Zaps to win 100+ before losing to the Sidewinders again in the playoffs.
The Buckeyes don't miss the playoffs very often. The last time was 2007 & 2008. But the great Houdini is rebuilding from scratch. Looking at how bad this team is for 2015, most managers would expect 100 losses easy. But this is the Buckeyes... so I'm gonna say... 95-67. :o)
The Drillers have been oddly missing from the post season the last 2 years, but that should end in 2015. A couple of years of astute drafts have brought the Drillers to the point where they will not only challenge the mighty Zaps for the MFD, but challenge everybody for the Higdon. They'll need some quality pitching depth. And they'll hafta hope the Zapper will continue telling him who to draft.
The Mavs might be in trouble. They still have one of the best catchers... and one of the best closers... and their outfield is still deep. But they need a lot, and this division will be tough at the top. The have pick 4 in the draft, so that will help. The best bet is a .500 year followed by a return to the top in 2016.
Prediction: 1. Zaps, 2. Drillers, 3. Mavs, 4. Buckeyes
I just realized my division winners would all be repeats from last year. Hard to believe that would happen, but it's certainly possible.