And onto the NL...
1. New York Mets
Despite the starting pitching issues, I think the Mets will still be the ones holding the NL East division crown when all is said and done. While Oliver Perez, El Duque Hernandez, John Maine, and Mike Pelfrey make for a scary back of the rotation, I think Pedro will come back early enough to help and the bullpen will help support the rotation. The loss of Duaner Sanchez will certainly hurt the bullpen's depth but I just feel like the Mets have enough to eek out the division with 87-88 wins.
Undervalued: Tom Glavine, Moises Alou
Overvalued: Paul Lo Duca, Carlos Beltran
Deep Sleeper: Lastings Milledge, Mike Pelfrey
2. Philadelphia Phillies
I see how the enthusiasm behind the Phillies heading into the 2007 season gets going. They finish the 2006 season with a strong run buoyed by Ryan Howard's ascension into super-stardom and they add Adam Eaton and Freddy Garcia to a staff that was looking for some depth. Throw in a full season of Cole Hamels and you're looking at a potential 90 win club in the NL. I see it, I understand it, I just don't believe in it. In my opinion the Phillies offense essentially needs Howard to play at his 2nd half clip if they can continue to hide the loss of Bobby Abreu to the high-powered offense. The rotation looks deep and strong on paper but I don't have a lot of faith in Adam Eaton's ability to stay healthy, Freddy Garcia is already a bit banged up and there's not much in the minors that can help out if they run into some injury issues. The Bullpen is the biggest concern for the Phillies as beyond Tom Gordon and Ryan Madson (whose effectiveness dipped last year) there isn't much to rely on. I can see how the Phillies come back and win the division this season but I'm not buying into it just yet. I foresee another season of just missing out of the playoffs with 85-86 wins.
Undervalued: Shane Victorino, Pat Burrell
Overvalued: Ryan Howard
Deep Sleeper: Wes Helms
3. Atlanta Braves
I think the Braves season will rest pretty heavily on the backend of the rotation with Chuck James, Lance Cormier, Kyle Davies. If those 3 can be stable 170+ innings guys with ERA's in the mid 4's, the Braves could sneak up on some people. Unfortunately I don't have a lot of faith in those guys and while the Braves have done a wonderful job at rebuilding an atrocious bullpen I could see them falling behind the Phils and Mets early and being forced to consider moving Andruw Jones at the deadline. I think the Braves are in line for a middling 79-84 win season if they hold onto everyone and could slip down into the mid 70's if they're forced to move Jones.
Undervalued: Brian McCann, Tim Hudson
Overvalued: Andruw Jones
Deep Sleeper: Kelly Johnson
4. Florida Marlins
I think this is going to be a bit of a regression season for the Marlins before they start taking steps forward again in 2008. The Marlins stayed nearly injury free last season and saw most of their young pitchers see big inning increases over their previous career highs. Along with the pitching, the Marlins got unforeseen strong rookie years from both Dan Uggla and Hanley Ramirez and while I don't foresee a regression for Hanley I think Uggla will be hard pressed to repeat his successes. The lineup could be potent if Jeremy Hermida's minor league numbers finally translate to the big league level, but if not they'll continue to struggle getting production out of the bottom of their lineup.
Undervalued: Hanley Ramirez
Overvalued: Dan Uggla
Deep Sleeper: Ricky Nolasco
5. Washington Nationals
The Nationals will be the most dreadful team in the major leagues this season. Unlike the Royals they don't even have any top prospects coming up through the system that draw any interest. While Jim Bowden made a heck of a move acquiring Alfonso Soriano prior to the 2006 season, he made an equally big mistake in not acquiring anything worthwhile for him in return. The Nats could struggle to hit 60 wins this season while providing little fantasy value anywhere.
Undervalued: Ryan Zimmerman, Felipe Lopez
Overvalued: Chad Cordero
Deep Sleeper: Ryan Church
1. Chicago Cubs
OK, so this is my homer pick. To be fair though, this division is essentially a coin flip whatever way you look at it. I figure the division's going to be won with 84-86 games and I think the Cubs can get there this year. The lineup is going to be improved simply through the addition of Alfonso Soriano and a healthy Derrek Lee, and while they'll be bad defensively they do have some pitching depth in the bullpen and the rotation even without Wood and Prior and they should boast one of the deepest lineups in the NL.
Undervalued: Ted Lilly, Jacque Jones
Overvalued: Jason Marquis (as in if he has any value, he shouldn't)
Deep Sleeper: Ryan Theriot
2. Milwaukee Brewers
I like the Brewers a lot this year and think if they can stay healthy (Sheets, Weeks, etc) they could win this division easily. I think their offense is a bit behind the Cubs but their rotation is a little bit ahead and their bullpen is just as good and deep. The key for the Brewers this season will be their defense and their ability to manage the egos of Geoff Jenkins and Kevin Mench who both think they should be full time players but fit perfectly into a platoon role.
Undervalued: Corey Hart
Overvalued: Prince Fielder
Deep Sleeper: Yiovani Gallardo
3. St. Louis Cardinals
Cardinal fans will fight me on this one, but to be honest I'm not really a big Cardinals hater. Just not in my nature to "hate"other teams, especially one that has arguably the best fan base in all of baseball. This pick is more because I think the Cardinals derive the majority of their value as a baseball team from Pujols, Edmonds, Rolen, Carpenter, and Isringhausen and I don't foresee all of those guys staying healthy this year. The Cardinals don't have much on the way in terms of help on the farm (with the exception of Colby Rasmus) and if a few of these guys go down things could spiral quickly. LaRussa and Duncan will find a way to get the most out of their pitching rotation which I think could actually be better than last year, but I think the offense will struggle to generate runs as Edmonds and Encarnacion struggle to stay healthy.
Undervalued: Scott Rolen, Jason Isringhausen
Overvalued: Chris Carpenter
Deep Sleeper: Kip Wells
4. Houston Astros
I don't like the Astros this year unless they somehow come out the winner of the Roger Clemens sweepstakes again. I think the pitching without Clemens takes a big hit and they have questions in the rotation as well as a lineup that desperately needs Morgan Ensberg to rebound to be a force. The addition of Carlos Lee helps support Berkman but the main problem was guys getting on base in front of Berkman and that issue hasn't been solved. The bottom of the lineup remains a black hole with Adam Everett and Brad Ausmus still around and Craig Biggio's HOF profile will hold this team back at the beginning of the year.
Undervalued: Luke Scott, Morgan Ensberg
Overvalued: Brad Lidge
Deep Sleeper: Hunter Pence
5. Cincinnati Reds
The Reds took some gambles last season and some of them turned out quite well (Brandon Phillips) and others not so well (Bill Bray, Gary Majewski) but I can't fault the organization too much for taking a chance in a weak NL Central last season. I don't see Bronson Arroyo having the same impact he did last season and on the whole I think the Reds makeshift rotation will be their downfall yet again. If Homer Bailey can come up and have immediate success they could surprise, but their offensive firepower isn't what it used to be and I think the Reds will struggle to challenge .500.
Undervalued: Edwin Encarnacion
Overvalued: Bronson Arroyo
Deep Sleeper: Homer Bailey, Joey Votto
6. Pittsburgh Pirates
The Pirates starting rotation will likely dictate how much of a surprise they can be this season. If the rotation comes together the Pirates could do what the Reds did a year ago buoyed by a lineup that's improved with Adam LaRoche added to it. If the rotation suffers some injuries or remains stagnant in their development the Pirates will continue to be one of the bottom-feeders in the NL.
Undervalued: Jason Bay, Ian Snell
Overvalued: Chris Duffy
Deep Sleeper: Ronny Paulino
1. Arizona Diamondbacks
The Diamondbacks are my "Indians"of the NL, I love nearly everything about this team. The young talent they have offensively is elite and the pitching acquisitions they've made over the last year have really given them one of the underrated and deeper staffs in the NL. I like Randy Johnson to bounce back after a rough year in the Bronx and I think the offense could potentially challenge to be one of the best in the NL. I think this team can win the division before running into some problems in the playoffs as some of the younger players and the lack of bullpen depth end up costing them.
Undervalued: Stephen Drew, Chris Young, Randy Johnson
Overvalued: Brandon Webb
Deep Sleeper: Brandon Medders
2. Los Angeles Dodgers
If the Dodgers didn't have this need to give away playing time to aging veterans instead of cheaper in-house solutions, I'd pick them to win the division. But I think they'll get in their own way too much early in the season and end up costing them the division. I think they'll still be good enough to secure a wildcard birth largely on the strength of their pitching and eventually put it together before the playoffs begin.
Undervalued: Nomar Garciaparra, Russell Martin
Overvalued: Jason Schmidt
Deep Sleeper: Wilson Betemit
3. San Diego Padres
Ultimately, I think the Padres will struggle to score runs this season and I think it'll be there downfall. They just don't have a single hitter in the lineup that can anchor the middle of the order and be relied upon if the team gets into slumps. There's no one that teams will be forced to pitch around and ultimately I think they'll end up being a streaky offensive team. I think the pitching will be required to keep this team afloat and will be able to for much of the season before they fall just short of both the division and the wildcard in a tight race.
Undervalued: Adrian Gonzalez
Overvalued: Khalil Greene
Deep Sleeper: Termel Sledge
4. Colorado Rockies
I really like what the Rockies have done for the future with the Jason Hirsch acquisition for Jennings who was going to leave in FA at the end of the year anyways, but I think their rotation is too thin this season to allow them to compete immediately. But I like the offense and think they could really score a lot of runs this season with Holliday and Atkins being legitimate stars and underrated Todd Helton, Chris Iannetta, and Brad Hawpe adding good depth to the lineup. The bullpen is solid with Fuentes at the end and Ramon Ramirez as a solid setup guy, but the rotation is just too thin for them to compete this season.
Undervalued: Garret Atkins, Brian Fuentes, Todd Helton
Overvalued: Kaz Matsui
Deep Sleeper: Chris Iannetta
5. San Francisco Giants
The Giants have made some steps to stave off the inevitable decline of the organization after the Barry Bonds years by just throwing money at high priced Free Agents. This year's acquisition was Barry Zito, who probably wasn't worth the money he was given, but should provide lots of stability in the rotation. The Giants should have a solid rotation with Cain, Zito, Lowry, and Morris and they should be able to score runs as long as Bonds is healthy, but the majority of this team is old and the depth is questionable. In the end I see injuries dictating just how far they could slide and I see a last place finish.
Undervalued: Armando Benitez
Overvalued: Brian Wilson
Deep Sleeper: Tim Linecum
Division Winners: New York Mets, Chicago Cubs, Arizona Diamondbacks
Wildcard Winner: Los Angeles Dodgers
Playoff Matchups: Los Angeles Dodgers defeat Chicago Cubs
New York Mets defeat Arizona Diamondbacks
Los Angeles Dodgers defeat New York Mets
World Series: Cleveland Indians defeat Los Angeles Dodgers