Evan Longoria, Tampa Bay Rays: The 2008 AL Rookie of the Year should expand big time on his 27 HR, 85 RBI rookie campaign in his first full season in the bigs and once again lead the Rays' to success in '09.
Francisco Liriano, Minnesota Twins: Liriano returned to dominance in the second half of '08 after getting back on track in the minors and will probably sport a sub-3 era and win 18+ games if healthy for 32 starts this season.
Rookie of the Year:
Matt Wieters, Baltimore Orioles: Wieters will start off in AAA, but will be up a few weeks into the season, like Longoria did in '08. He probably will put up similar numbers to what Longoria did, but probably hit for a better average. Keep an eye on Tampa's David Price for this award as well.)
Manager of the Year:
Ron Gardenhire, Minnesota Twins: The Twins never have quite the same talent as some of the other teams in the league, but Gardy always has them winning. He should get his first M.O.Y. award if he can guide the Twins to the playoffs yet again.
Comeback Player of the Year:
Travis Hafner, Cleveland Indians: Hafner hit just .197 with 5 HR and 24 RBI in '08 and you know that's not happening again. He should be back around .275, 25 HR, and 100 RBI while helping Cleveland battle for the AL Central title in '09.
Manny Ramirez, Los Angeles Dodgers: Man-Ram will be in L.A. for the full 6 month season this time around and should put up huge power numbers while hitting around .330 and leading L.A. to another playoff berth. Just look at what he did in his 2-month stint there last year.
Cole Hamels, Philadelphia Phillies: The only concern I have with this choice is that Hamels has an elbow issue coming into the year, but I think he'll get healthy and end up building off of last years postseason success in which he went 4-0 with a 1.80 ERA and 30 K's in 35 innings pitched. If he goes down for any stretch of time, my pick goes to Johan Santana.
Rookie of the Year
Cameron Maybin, Florida Marlins: Maybin got a brief stint in the bigs last season and showed his speed and ability while also looking strong this spring. The prize acquisition from the Miguel Cabrera trade should start paying huge dividends for the fish in '09.
Manager of the Year
Joe Torre, Los Angeles Dodgers: Torre should lead the Dodgers to the NL West crown and possibly earn his first MOY award in the NL. Charlie Manuel would be my 2nd pick as he really should have won it last year.
Comeback Player of the Year
Chris Carpenter, St. Louis Cardinals: The former Cardinal ace has only thrown 21 innings combined over the past 2 seasons, but has appeared healthy and effective this spring. He should go back to the top of the rotation for the Cards and become a 15+ game winner again with good health and a terrific offense.
Playoffs/World Series Predictions
Angels over Rays
NLCS: Cubs over Dodgers
Chicago Cubs over Los Angeles Angels (6 games)
The Cactus and Grapefruit Leagues have officially ended as teams are getting set to play an exhibition game or two before the real games begin. A lot of good came of spring training this year as Pablo Sandoval and Travis Ishikawa both proved their ready for their everyday roles once the curtain unveils on the 2009 season. The Giants also saw a bunch of youngsters come to camp and really thrive. Jesus Guzman (.412, 5 HR, 15 RBI) was definitely a bright spot and probably stuck out the most of any youngster this spring. The Giants also got positive performances from Buster Posey and even a dominant start out of Madison Bumgarner this spring as well. Posey really proved that he's closer to the big leagues than I think any of us thought and could be on the Giants roster by the 2nd half of this year.
Trevor Cole The San Francisco Giants Blog