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Will your team be left standing?
Posted April 3, 2009

Finally, the 2009 Major League Baseball season is here. All of the off-season drama, A-Rod, Mannywood, will be become secondary stories and the news can come from the field. Who could have predicted the Rays playing for a World Series championship? Who bolstered their lineup and who lost valuable pieces? Here are my picks for every division in the 2009 MLB season.

The A.L. East is going to be one of the most competitive divisions in all of baseball. Last year the Tampa Bay Rays surprised us all and beat out the Yanks and Sox to claim the division title on their way to the World Series. The Rays added a power bat in Pat Burrell and will feature a very talented and capable starting rotation. However, this off-season the Yanks didn’t seem to let the economy slow down there multi-million dollar contracts to pitchers CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett and to infielder Mark Teixiera. The Red Sox did not add nearly as much as the Yankees this off-season, but return an extremely dangerous lineup that features last year’s AL MVP, Dustin Pedroia. Their starting rotation includes Josh Beckett, Daisuke Matsuzaka and newly acquired Brad Penny. It should be another great rivalry year for the Yanks and Sox, but the division winner will be the Boston Red Sox. Wild Card: New York Yankees. Team to watch: Tampa Bay Rays

Last year the Chicago White Sox won the AL Central division by one game over the Minnesota Twins in a two team race. However, this year with the added help to their starting rotation, the Cleveland Indians should become a factor in the division. The Detroit Tigers, who many picked to go to the World Series last year, were a major disappointment in 2008 finishing the year in last place and 14-and-a-half games out of first. The Tigers didn’t bolster their roster too much this off-season but their lineup is liable to put up massive numbers, the question mark on the team is their starting rotation, but they should make the division a four team race. With Grady Sizemore leading the way offensively, to go along with the emergence of pitchers Cliff Lee and Fausto Carmona and the addition of Carl Pavano and Anthony Reyes, the Cleveland Indians will win the AL Central division. Team to watch: Detroit Tigers

The AL West was handled easily last year by the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and the result should not be different in 2009. The Oakland A’s usually provide a formidable opponent inside the division and the addition of Matt Holliday and Jason Giambi will help there offense, but the youth of their team poses too many question marks. The Angels lost Teixiera and their closer, Francisco Rodriguez, who set the all-time record for saves last season, but they were able to pick up reliable Brian Fuentes to fill the hole at the end of the bullpen. Team to watch: Oakland A’s.

The National League produced the World Series champion Philadelphia Phillies in 2008 in a hotly contested NL East division race with the New York Mets. The Phillies only real noticeable change is the loss of a powerful bat in Pat Burrell. Ace pitcher Cole Hammels should have another phenomenal year and get a lot of run support from one of the most powerful lineups in all of baseball that feature, Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley and Ryan Howard. The New York Mets can be viewed as disappointments the past two years, but nobody can argue with the explosiveness of their left side of the infield in Jose Reyes and David Wright. Their bullpen was addressed in a large way this offseason, adding former Angel closer Francisco Rodriguez and former Mariners closer J.J. Putz. These two additions will help their starting rotation immensely which gets thin after Johan Santana. This year the Mets will put it all together and have an MVP candidate in Wright lead them to the division title. Wild Card Winner: Philadelphia Phillies. Team to watch: Florida Marlins

Usually there are three teams in the NL Central that compete for the league crown, but this year the Cincinnati Reds should be taken seriously as well. The defending champion Chicago Cubs are still the most talented team in the division but the Milwaukee Brewers and St. Louis Cardinals always find a way to compete especially when you have perennial MVP candidate Albert Pujols playing first for the Cardinals. The Cubs stormed through the regular season, so they did not make too many off-season acquisitions. The Cubs should defend their division title, although it will not be easy in a highly contested four team race. Team to watch: Cincinnati Reds

The NL West could have been a very different division if Manny Ramirez did not re-sign with the Los Angeles Dodgers, but he did and so the edge has to go to the Dodgers. Look for Matt Kemp, James Loney, Andre Eithier and Russell Martin to benefit from Ramirez and become the nucleus of a very potent offense. The pitching staff for the Dodgers could prove to be their biggest problem; they lost Penny, Derek Lowe, Greg Maddux and closer Takashi Saito. The Giants pitching staff could be dynamic with Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Barry Zito and newly acquired Randy Johnson. The Diamondbacks cannot be left out of the conversation either with Brandon Webb and Dan Haren leading the way on the mound. Team to watch: San Francisco Giants.

Kevin Garrity, a junior journalism major, is sports editor of the Campus Times. He can be reached by e-mail at kevin.garrity@laverne.edu.