The people have spoken.
Curt Schilling wants it released.
So does Reggie Jackson.
They are not alone.
The 103 must be named.
So I will do it. Here they are…
My 103 Semi-Fearless predictions for the 2009 MLB season.
Two things to remember…
(1) Not just baseball here. You’ll get the other sports and some movies and TV stuff. As long as it is going on during the season it is in play.
(2) My cousin did not help me with this list. And no, Selena Roberts is not stalking me.
Here we go (with 1-51. You’ll get 52-103 next week, by which time I’ll probably be wrong on about 20 of these)
1. Manny Ramirez will sign with the Dodgers for two years, $45 million.
2. His line for the season? .310, 36 homers and 110 RBI. Won’t be enough as the Dodgers miss the playoffs.
3. The Kansas City Royals (Zach Greinke) will have more 20-game winners than the New York Yankees (C.C. and Wang each win 18, though.)
4. The Royals will finish above .500 (83-79) and put together a decent run at the AL Central title.
5. The first significant milestone of the 2009 season? Gary Sheffield hits career home run No. 500 on April 8th vs. the Blue Jays. Gee, what a swell moment that will be for a sport trying to get away from the stink of flaxseed oil and “the clear”. When the Son of Conte makes his way around the bases think, at least for a moment, of the first NL player to ever reach 500. Mel Ott stood five-foot-nine and weighed 170 pounds (think Wes Welker). Up next to pass Ott: that noted slugger Carlos Delgado (469 and counting). Home run titles for Ott—six (and seven runner-ups). Home run titles for Sheffield and Delgado combined—zero (and a combined two runner-up finishes).
6. There will be just one no-hitter in 2009.
7. It will be authored by Johan Santana, the first in Mets history. The date? April 16th vs. San Diego (more on them later).
8. That will kick off a MONSTER season for Santana. 22-6, 2.28 ERA and Cy Young number three.
9. Runner-up for the NL Cy? Brandon Webb, who will turn in his usual 230-inning, 18-win season.
10. But Webb will finish the season with the Cubs as part of a deadline deal.
11. The other big name moved at the deadline? Jake Peavy, who will agree to go to an American League team—60 or so miles north in Anaheim.
12. The fate of the Celtics?
No moves at the deadline (you know that by now). They’ll finish 66-16 for the regular season and sweep the Bucks in the first round. The Hawks are next, and there will be no Game 7 this time as the Celtics win in five. That will set up the epic rematch with LeBron and the Cavs in the Conference Finals. I just can’t shake the feeling that James Posey (who is having a decent year, shooting 40 percent from three) will be missed in a big spot in this series. Cavs in six (they’ll need to win in six—Celts will have home court) and Danny starts looking for some help on the bench.
13. Jon Lester will prove to be the ace of the Red Sox staff with another terrific season. Think 18-6 with a 3.30 ERA.
14. Lester is my bet to start the All-Star Game for the AL.
15. Figure Santana for the NL.
16. The Red Sox pitcher who takes a step back in 2009 is Dice-K. Hard not to see his 2.90 ERA in 2008 as a fluke. He had 14 more walks in 2008 than in 2007 (in 37 less innings) and the same WHIP (1.32) with a significantly worse K/BB rate (2.5 in ’07, 1.64 last year). He’ll still be a solid third starter, but a return to an ERA around 4 is pretty likely.
17. How will this season of Lost end? Are we all getting a little weary of the time travel? I can take about three more hours of it. I think Thursday’s episode was a key one. There is little doubt in my mind that Ben was behind Hurley, Kate and Sayid getting on that plane. (I suspect he stole Aaron and told Kate she won’t get him back until she does what has to be done on the island.) I also believe that he killed Penny last night and escaped from Desmond, but not for long. I think the lost shot of the season will be Desmond killing Ben on the island.
(A little random, but how great is Jeff Fahey as Pilot Frank Lapidus? “We’re not going to Guam, are we?” might be my favorite line in the history of the show. Perfect casting. )
18. I was tempted to pick Joe Girardi as the first manager to be fired, I really was. (A 6-14 start and he’s toast. Plus he’s starting to give me a Herman Edwards vibe, all the way down to running on the treadmill. If I’m a Yankee fan I might want a slow start. I still think Bobby V. on the Yanks would be a great combo, both for the team and for the Sox/NYY rivalry, which is sort of inching close to “Celtics/Lakers in 1990” kind of territory. Still fun, some of the same guys, but doesn’t really feel like it means a whole lot.) But they’ll be OK, so I guess I’ll go with Ozzie Guillen. I know they won the division last year, but I suspect he’s about used up all his goodwill from the World Series title in 2005. He’ll get bounced in May and will be a regular on Baseball Tonight by Memorial Day (anyone perk up at the idea of Chris Singleton, Orestes Destrade and Ozzie breaking it down with Karl Ravech? One subscription to the MLB Network, please?)
19. Call it a hunch, but nobody reaches 50 homers this season in either league.
20. Ryan Howard hits 46 to win the NL title.
21. Miguel Cabrera repeats as the AL winner with 44.
22. Nobody will care about the World Baseball Classic.
23. A year ago at this time, I was pretty sure that at year’s end the top three box office movies, in some order, would be The Dark Knight (which was first), Indiana Jones (third) and Hancock. (fourth). Never would have thought of Iron Man (second) as a contender (if had stunk (like Indy) it would have made 130 mil and gone away). But 2009 is hard to figure out. Gun to my head (copyright Chris Russo) I guess my top three picks would be the new Star Trek, Terminator Salvation and the Transformers sequel. Oh, I forgot about the Harry Potter. Move that to the top and bump the Transformers. That was 110 words on four movies I will never see, by the way.
24. Francisco Liriano (2.74 ERA in the second half of 2008) will be an All-Star.
25. So will Scott Baker.
26. The Twins win 87 games and the AL Central title.
27. Matt Cassel? I still think Pioli and Belichick will make a deal. Would you be happy with a second (34th overall) and a fourth (98th overall) for a player that you don’t really ever want to see on the field for your team again?
28. David Price will win 14 games with a 3.30 ERA, good enough for the AL Rookie of the Year Award.
29. Can’t mention Price without thinking of Varitek (think Whammer vs. Hobbs). Pencil in the captain for a .246, 12 HR, 54-RBI line.
30. This is actually a 2012 prediction, but here it is: Varitek is the manager of the Red Sox. He’ll retire after this season, spend two years as the bench coach and take over for Francona (who will leave on his own accord).
31. No repeat World Series winner as the Phillies win 86 games and miss the postseason.
32. Only one team in 2008 won 100 games (the Angels). Only one team will win 100 games in 2009 (and it will be the Angels).
33. Randy Johnson wins his 300th game June 30th at St. Louis. (My favorite line in Johnson’s Wikipedia page? “He has the most Cy Youngs for a player not associated with steroids.” What an era.)
34. I won’t be a moron and suggest that we will never see a 300-game winner again after that, but take a look at this list and give me a realistic candidate. Roy Oswalt is 30 years old. If he wins 20 a year over the next eight seasons he’ll still be 11 games short. Is there a prediction in here? How about this: I guarantee you there will never be a sequel to Ordinary People. Which is too bad, but it could’ve added some value to my Judd Hirsch action figure from the film.
35. The Red Sox outfielder of his era will finally be in Cooperstown for Hall of Fame Weekend. Of course he will be there to support longtime teammate Jim Rice, but it’ll be nice to see Dewey at least close to the Hall for once.
36. Pedro Martinez will sign with the Dodgers in May. He’ll struggle again and retire at the end of the season. And with every big name linked to steroids it becomes clearer that what Pedro accomplished from 1997-2003 is simply this: the greatest stretch by any pitcher in history. And it is not even close.
37. Call it a bounce-back year for David Ortiz in 2009. Not vintage, but a 32-HR, 104-RBI season sounds about right.
38. I still think it’s a poor use of $60 million, but Derek Lowe will give the Braves 200 innings and a 4.00 ERA in 2009.
39. Guess we can finish up with the Old Sox here. Nomar will sign a one-year deal with the Phillies. I still think he can have some use for a contending team, bet he hits .280 or so.
40. I smell a whiff from Tarantino with Inglourious Basterds (that is the correct spelling). Don’t like Mike Myers, Cloris Leachman and B.J. Novak (Ryan Howard from The Office) in a WWII movie. Is this going to be a goofy comedy? And how about QT? I enjoyed the Kill Bill movies, but can we call the last 10-12 years of his career a waste? So much promise at the start, and now he just makes really good B movies. Is that all we'll get?
41. I know this isn’t during the MLB season, but I’ll toss you some Oscar picks for Sunday. It is during spring training, kind of.
Picture: Slumdog Millionaire (though I would’ve voted for Frost/Nixon if it had been a love story between Robert Frost and Otis Nixon).
Actor: Mickey Rourke (this may be a bit more with the heart than with the head, but I’m thinking the voters will figure that Sean Penn will get four or five more shots at it. Better speech: Mickey at the Oscars or Rickey at the Hall of Fame?)
Actress: Kate Winslet
Supporting Actor: Heath Ledger (maybe the biggest lock in Oscar history.)
Supporting Actress: Viola Davis (and I suspect that is the only time her name will ever be written in WEEI.com annals.)
42. Mark Teixeira (.326, 32, 124) wins AL MVP.
43. John Smoltz will win his first five decisions with the Red Sox and land on the cover of Sports Illustrated in July.
44. A.J. Burnett will read that cover story in a waiting room in Birmingham, Alabama.
45. It will be batting title No. 3 for Joe Mauer. He’ll make a quasi-run at .400 (which is the only mark left in baseball that means something. That and Joe D’s 56, I guess) before finishing at .352
46. NL batting champ? Albert Pujols (.344)
47. Throw in 40 homers and 118 RBI for Pujols and you’ve got the NL MVP.
48. Golf majors.
Masters: Tiger by two shots over Fred Couples, who makes one last run at age 49.
US Open: Sergio Garcia. Remember, he played well the last time the Open was played at Bethpage (4th in 2002). Tiger finishes sixth.
British Open: Tiger in a playoff over Justin Leonard.
PGA: Tiger. Should’ve won in 2002 when the PGA was also at Hazeltine (Rich Beem pulled off the miracle that year).
49. The Pirates will be awful (96 losses) but will have two All-Stars—Ryan Doumit and Nate McLouth.
(Kind of a strange stat on Doumit. His first two seasons: 380 total at-bats and was hit by a pitch 24 times. His last two seasons: 683 total at-bats, 10 HBP. What happened? Did he change his stance? I’m serious, I need to know.)
50. I’m sure if the Sox could go back in time they’d still do this trade (pretty sure) but Hanley Ramirez joins the 40/40 club in 2009 (40 homers, 44 steals) to finish second behind Pujols in MVP voting.
51. Games played for J.D. Drew in 2009? 102.
Kirk Minihane, WEEI.com Contributor, is the resident Fantasy Sports expert for WEEI.com. Email him at email@example.com and read his blog at WEEI.com