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Champs to chumps

Predictions for '05 include Red Sox missing playoffs

Posted: Friday April 1, 2005 1:33PM; Updated: Friday April 1, 2005 1:33PM
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Red Sox
Could the Red Sox really go from World Series champs to being shut out of the postseason?
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

Some things are easy to predict: Juan Gonzalez will eventually find his way to the disabled list. Baseball's bigwigs will find new and creative ways to look foolish in the face of the steroids scandal. (The doctor they trotted before Congress turns out to have a George O'Leary resume, and their response is that his credibility is impeccable? Please.) And jilted ex-mistresses who professes to have knowledge of stars' steroid habits always seem to have literary agents on speed dial.

Those are the slam dunks. Now for the tough calls on how the 2005 season will play out. As always, I reserve the right to change my picks come October.

American League

East: Yankees; Central: Twins; West: Angels; Wild Card: Indians

No, that's not a misprint: I have concerns about the Red Sox making it back to the postseason. It's not the championship hangover, though the cult of Johnny Damon does seem to be a bit out of control. It's the rotation, which is one David Wells back strain away from chaos. (Matt Clement will find that the switch from the NL to the AL is a tough one.) It'll be close, but behind a breakout year from Jake Westbrook the young Indians will overtake Boston for the wild card.

National League

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East: Braves; Central: Cardinals; West: Giants; Wild Card: Marlins

This assumes the Giants have Barry Bonds in the lineup for at least the second half of the season; otherwise, the Dodgers will sneak to the top of the West. Even with Mark Mulder, the Cardinals are still thin on pitching; they'll have a hard-time winning 105 games again, but no one else in the division is ready to topple them. (Injuries to Mark Prior or Kerry Wood will doom the Cubs.) Mulder's former Oakland rotation mate, Tim Hudson, will love the switch to the NL. With him and John Smoltz atop the rotation, Atlanta is the league's most dangerous playoff team.

Postseason

ALCS: Yankees over Twins; NLCS: Braves over Cardinals;
WORLD SERIES: Yankees over Braves

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