Speaking of coming from a horse's backside, here's where I think we wind up come the end of September:
NL West (Why does the East always get listed at the top? It's not even alphabetical)
- Colorado - I always get overly exuberant at the end of Spring Training. I will never apologize for being a homer in this regard. I'm going to say between 90-92 wins.
- Los Angeles - I'm worried about this team, Joe Torre's making the right decisions thus far. 89-91 wins
- Arizona - I think they wind up being relative disappointments in 2008, but I expect them to return to the top in 2009. 86-88 wins.
- San Diego - It's hard to tell because their FO does such a great job about keeping competitive in off years, but the Padres are rebuilding right now, and I see them taking a step back as they work to integrate Headley and Antonelli into the program. The downgrade defensively in the outfield costs them a lot more than people realize. 81-83 wins.
- San Francisco - How can you not watch this train wreck of an offense and take some perverse pleasure out of the misery of insufferable Giants fans? I'm looking forward to it. 68-70 wins.
- Milwaukee - I like the Brewers, they've been underestimated IMO by a lot of people thanks to their smaller media market. 85-87 wins
- Chicago - If they had traded for Brian Roberts, I might have had them in first. They've got a deep pitching staff, and a decent lineup. I think Fukuodome's going to be okay, but not what the faithful are expecting. 83-85 wins.
- Cincinnati - I had initially thought more of their potential this year than I do now, it looks like 2009 will be their breakout season. 79-81 wins.
- Houston - This organization has become a model of inefficiency and an absolute joke. The team in 2008 isn't going to be as bad as they will be over the coming few seasons, but still bad enough. 71-73 wins.
- St Louis - I might be underestimating them because they have a decent and deep outfield, plus Pujols, which makes their offense more formidable than I think many are giving them credit for, but the rotation and bullpen will be giving all those runs back. 68-70 wins.
- Pittsburgh - The rebuilding process has begun, but it will take a lot of time. Last season made me believe that the Pirates young rotation is a bit overrated and the offense is just plain bad. I think they wind up with the worst record in the NL and are more a threat than the Giants for 100 losses. 62-64 wins.
- Atlanta - I've decided to go outside of the conventional wisdom for all three of my division winners this year. I think Atlanta's got one of the top offenses in the league and pitching that's better than a lot of people seem to think and certainly deeper than their two primary divisional foes. I see the NL East as a three team horse-race, and I think the Braves pull it out. 92-94 wins.
- NY Mets - I could see a wild card play-in game between the NL West and NL East second place teams. The Mets are top heavy, with stars up front masking considerable weakness in both the lineup and rotation and a bullpen that's not really improved from last season. 88-90 wins
- Philadelphia - The Phillies are one of the hardest teams for me to figure out because there's a considerable gap in talent between the elite offensive unit they put out everyday and the substandard pitching they'll have outside Hamels and perhaps Myers. 86-88 wins.
- Washington - I'm not sold on the Nats. I think their peak is mediocrity and they aren't going to hit that for another season or three. 72-74 wins.
- Florida - The NL's three worst teams -the Marlins, Giants and Pirates- should be fodder for the top. If a supposed contender unexpectedly struggles against this group, you could probably count them out. 68-70 wins.