At the beginning of the year, I made some bold predictions that I felt would happen throughout the course of the 2008 season. I didn’t do all that bad after all was said and done. Here are the results:

southchiKosuke Fukudome will shorten the name on the back of his jersey to just the first four letters to give the finger to RF fans after they begin to boo him for his poor start to the season.

While this one was obviously done in jest, it is interesting to note that I felt Fukudome would struggle. I felt it would be early and would slowly work itself out. Instead, it was the opposite, which couldn’t have been worse for us. Imagine what we might have looked like offensively with Fukudome’s left handed bat down the stretch. There is no question the lineup was too right handed and has been for the past two seasons. It’s something we very much need to improve this offseason if we’re going to have any amount of success in the 2009 season.

The Cubs will win the NL Central by at least 10 games.

I actually just missed on this one. I know they won by only 7.5, but when you factor in how poorly they played in September (12-12), it was totally reasonable to say that they should’ve won this division by double digits when all was said and done.

Lou Piniella will be ejected from four game throughout the course of the season, but will not be issued a suspension. The Contractor release

Maybe someone can help me on this one, but I can’t remember any ejections for Lou this year. I’m sure I have to be wrong on that one, but none come to mind. One thing I’m certain of is that he wasn’t ejected. I guess I missed on this one. Lou has tamed himself down drastically as he gets older.

Rich Hill will, once again, lead the staff in strikeouts.

OK, I completely missed on this one, as did everyone that made any predictions regarding Rich Hill this year. I wanted to make myself feel a little better so I decided to look at what Ron Shandler had to say about Rich coming into the season. His predictions were generous as well. 13-8, 201 IP, 205 K’s, 3.63 ERA, 1.21 WHIP. Let’s just say we all missed on Hill this year. The big question then becomes what to make of him for 2009. The key, in my opinion, is to not count on him as a valid asset to the rotation. Essentially, treat him the way we as fans treated Mark Prior and Kerry Wood once we figured out the injuries were bad. If we can get something out of him, it’s gravy. Personally, I think Hill will come back and make a difference for this team next year. It could be my cautious optimism coming into play, but he can’t possibly be as bad as he was last year, right? Anyone? (insert crickets chirping here)

Jon Lieber will replace Jason Marquis in the starting rotation after Marquis is traded to the Red Sox. Lieber will promptly get injured and open the door for Sean Marshall to step in.

I felt like Boston would make a deal for a starting pitcher after the loss of Curt Schilling was announced. Instead they made due with Clay Buchholz, Paul Byrd and Bartolo Colon and received a huge year from Jon Lester. Lieber ended up being a reliever and essentially a non-factor for this team. Marquis, on the other hand, was league average according to his ERA+ (100) and that’s all you can ask for from your 4th and 5th starters. He did the job he needed to do.

Derrek Lee will fail to drive in 100 runs or hit 30 home runs, but will win the gold glove.

This was easy to call. If you know anything about Derrek Lee, you know he’s not a run producer. I am somewhat of a Lee hater, but when you look at the numbers and see a player that will be 33 years old next year that has only driven in 100 runs once in his career in spite of batting in the center of the order, it’s hard not to shout “Overrated”. Lee is not the problem on this team, don’t get me wrong. The problem is that too many people feel he’s more than he truly is after that breakout year in 2005.

Kerry Wood will make one trip to the DL this season, and will finish the year with 22 saves.

I was right on with the DL prediction, though it looked like I might be wrong for the majority of the first half of the season. What I missed on, and I think many did as well, was Woody’s effectiveness as the closer. He improved his first strike % to a career high 61% as well as his overall strike % to another career high 67%. The key? Woody threw strikes and went back to trusting his stuff. He didn’t overpower guys all the time, but pitched like a veteran. There is no question in my mind that he needs to return to this team as the closer again in 2009 and gradually turn over the reigns to Carlos Marmol when he’s ready.

Alfonso Soriano will have one of his legs fall off during the season and be forced to play the rest of the year on one leg. This injury will finally cause him to go to Lou and ask to be put in the fifth spot to avoid the pressure of stealing bases on one leg.

Obviously what I was going for here was that Soriano would have leg issues. Two straight years tells me that it’s going to be a recurring issue for the remainder of his career. What didn’t happen was the move of Soriano to leadoff. Can you really blame Lou? Has he really been provided with a viable option to replace him? Think about it for a second before you go flinging poo at Piniella. Don’t you think he wants a better option to lead off? Of course he does, but until Hendry provides him with someone that will do a better job in that spot he’s forced to stick with Soriano. Perhaps the answer to that dilemma is a move for Rafael Furcal in the off-season.

Aramis Ramirez will be thrown out at first by a right fielder one time during the regular season.

This one didn’t happen, but boy would it have been fun.

Fukudome and Geovany Soto will finish second and third in the Rookie of the Year voting behind Joey Votto of the Reds.

I missed badly on this one for Fukudome, but I think you can make a valid case for Joey Votto over Geo for the rookie of the year award. Look at the numbers and tell me how you don’t have a valid argument:

Geovany Soto – .285 / .364 / .504, 23 HR, 86 RBI, 122 OPS+
Joey Votto – .297 / .368 / .506, 24 HR, 84 RBI, 124 OPS+

The argument, in my mind, that separates the two is position. Geo did all that he did while managing a pitching staff, battling the physical demands of the catcher position and preparing for not only his at bats by watching game film of pitchers, but also film of hitters to prepare for calling a game. That puts him ahead in my book.

The sale of the team will not take place during the season.

Wanna hear another bold prediction? The sale of the team will not even take place before next season is over.

Ryan Theriot will cement his spot at the top of the order will a breakout season at the plate.

This one will drive Dave crazy, but Theriot really did have a breakout season at the plate. At the same time, and hear me close, Theriot was a below average player when you look beyond just the batting average and on base percentage. He simply didn’t have the secondary numbers to justify a lock to start next season status that I would love for him to have. I like Theriot. I’d even be so bold to wear a Theriot jersey if given one as a gift (hint, hint). What I won’t be so bold, or should I say foolish, enough to say is that Theriot is an all-star shortstop. Take these arguments. Among 17 qualified ML shortstops (a player must average at least 3.1 plate appearances for every game his team has played)

  • Ranked 15 of 17 in slugging %
  • Ranked 17 of 17 in doubles
  • Ranked 17 of 17 in homeruns
  • Ranked 17 of 17 in RBI (13 RBI behind the 16th ranked player.)

The St. Louis Cardinals will finish last in the division and the Pittsburgh Pirates will finish fourth.

Dang Tony LaRussa. Why does he have to be such a good manager that gets something out of nothing? He did a great job managing with the team he had. He’s one of the best in the game and doing that and you’ve got to tip your cap to his efforts time and time again.

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Joe Aiello is the founder of View From the Bleachers and one of the lead writers as well as host of VFTB Radio. Growing up in Chicago, he fondly remembers attending games in the bleachers before that was the popular thing to do. Currently Joe resides in North Carolina with his wife and three kids. Connect with Joe via Twitter / Facebook / E-mail