Prediction Friday

The roster is all but set as spring training is coming down the backstretch….opening day is just 18 days away. The final battles should be between Angel Guzman and Wade Miller for the last spot in the rotation with Mark Prior likely remaining in Arizona for extended spring training and starting the season on the DL once again. With the recent news surrounding Kerry Wood there could be a spot or two available in the bullpen as well. Angel Pagan, Buck Coats, Tomas Perez, Ronny Cedeno and a yet unnamed middle infielder Jim Hendry is rumored to be shopping for will be competing for the all important 25th spot on the roster.

The other teams in the central are taking shape with Josh Hamilton’s performance being one of the biggest surprises of the spring. The Cardinals announced on Wednesday both Jim Edmonds and Juan Encarnacion will likely start the season on the DL, with Ken Griffey, Jr. likely joining them on the list as well. The Astros have holes in their rotation, the Brewers have holes in their gloves and the Pirates could be the biggest surprise of the year….every team has question marks. So does the central have a clear cut favorite? It’s ‘Freeform Friday’ at the CCO…. Before the Cubs take on the White Sox later today with Angel Guzman set to make his first start of the spring….let’s talk Predictions for 2007.

Next Friday the CCO will publish our predictions for the upcoming season for all to critique, but today it is the Faithful’s turn. While our predictions will focus mostly on how the central could pan out (remember the first goal for every team is to win the division), today you can focus on the divisional race or individual players. And for a little additional fun….how many games will it take before Lou Piniella is ejected and what is your over/under on the total number of times he will be asked to vacate the dugout?

2006 Final Standings (with additions and subtractions for the 2007 season)

St. Louis Cardinals – 83-78

  • Key Additions – Adam Kennedy, Kip Wells, Ryan Franklin, Eli Marrero, Russ Springer
  • Key Losses – Ronnie Belliard, Jeff Suppan, Jason Marquis, Jeff Weaver

Houston Astros – 82 – 80

  • Key Additions – Carlos Lee, Jason Jennings, Woody Williams, Mark Loretta
  • Key Losses – Andy Pettitte, Jeff Bagwell, Willy Tavarez, Aubrey Huff (possibly Roger Clemens)

Cincinnati Reds – 80-82

  • Key Additions – Alex Gonzalez, Jeff Conine, Mike Stanton, Kirk Saarloos, Josh Hamilton
  • Key Losses – Rich Aurilia, Brandon Claussen

Milwaukee Brewers – 75-87

  • Key Additions – Jeff Suppan, Johnny Estrada, Claudio Vargas, Craig Counsell
  • Key Losses – David Bell, Jeff Cirillo, Tomo Ohka

Pittsburgh Pirates – 67-95

  • Key Additions – Adam LaRoche, Jose Hernandez
  • Key Losses – Mike Gonzalez, Jeremy Burnitz, Joe Randa

Chicago Cubs – 66-96

  • Key Additions – Alfonso Soriano, Cliff Floyd, Mark DeRosa, Ted Lilly, Jason Marquis, Neal Cotts, Daryle Ward
  • Key Losses – Juan Pierre, John Mabry, David Aardsma

So how will the Cubs finish this season? What about the finishing order for the division? How many games will they improve from 2006? How many home runs will Alfonso Soriano hit? What will be Matt Murton’s OBP? What do you think the opening day lineup will look like and why? Will Felix Pie have an impact this season? Will Carlos Zambrano have a new contract soon? How many wins for Big Z this year? How many strikeouts for Rich Hill?

Remember anything goes, as long as it is Predicting the Upcoming season….