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MLB Playoff Team Predictions

I'll post complete projections for all 30 teams, with regular-season records, playoff results and award winners, at before Monday's first pitch. For now, here are your eight 2009 MLB playoff teams.

AL East
Tampa Bay Rays: The Rays did an excellent job this off-season of meeting the Plexiglass Principle head-on, with Pat Burrell, Joe Nelson and Gabe Kapler joining a team that should expect improvement form the likes of Carl Crawford and B.J. Upton. The Yankees might've been the pick before the A-Rod injury; the Red Sox' offense will disappoint.

AL Central
Cleveland Indians: A Swiss cheese rotation where even defending Cy Young winner Cliff Lee is a question mark, but the Indians have enough offense to win one of baseball's two weakest divisions.

AL West
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim: Another pick made by default, the Angels go into the season missing their top three starters–but their bullpen and rising young talent should still be enough to overcome Oakland's pitching kiddie corps, Texas' not-yet-ready prospect brigade and an improved but still highly flawed Mariners team.

AL Wild Card
Boston Red Sox: The Rays, Red Sox and Yankees all have 95-win talent if things break right, but someone has to be the odd team out. Even with Mike Lowell falling fast, David Ortiz not what he once was and Manny Ramirez gone, there's enough pitching and younger talent to get Boston back to the postseason, just barely ahead of the Bombers.

NL East
New York Mets:
The additions of Francisco Rodriguez and J.J. Putz shored up the team's Achilles heel bullpen, and the quartet of Jose Reyes, David Wright, Carlos Beltran and Johan Santana is the best in baseball.

NL Central
Chicago Cubs: The defense will regress, and Ryan Dempster's not contending for a Cy Young again. Still, deep rotation, top-flight offense and the resources to upgrade during the season give the Cubs a leg up on the rest of the division.

NL West
Los Angeles Dodgers: Both a repeat of his historic pennant race run and a terrible season after signing a contract are unrealistic predictions for Manny, who should split the difference with a still solid season. Locking up both Ramirez and the underrated Orlando Hudson gave the Dodgers the lineup upgrades they needed to hedge against a talented but still very young rotation.

NL Wild Card
Arizona Diamondbacks: Justin Upton's my pick for biggest breakout player of 2009, the rest of the lineup's stuffed with youth and upside, the bullpen's quietly effective, and it doesn't get much better than Brandon Webb and Danny Haren at the top of the rotation. The Phillies' SP concerns (look for Cole Hamels to pull back after a monster workload season) and the Brewers' loss of Ben Sheets and CC Sabathia leave them out of the playoff mix, and I'm not quite sold on the bullish, and the Braves' lack of offense will short circuit a vastly improved rotation.