I don't know why I still try this prediction thing. After all, my bracket is in a pile of ashes in the backyard (and that was after I crumpled it up several times), and when I did this same column last year, I think I got six of the 30 teams correct (and only one division winner).

I don't know why I still try this prediction thing. After all, my bracket is in a pile of ashes in the backyard (and that was after I crumpled it up several times), and when I did this same column last year, I think I got six of the 30 teams correct (and only one division winner).
But so much has changed in a year in the world of baseball; Toronto's the new kids on the block in the AL East, and the Astros are now in the AL, where they'll be the doormats for powerhouses Los Angeles and Texas.
On one hand, we're seeing a generation of ballplayers riding off into the sunset. It'll be Mariano Rivera's last year, and last year was the farewell tour for the illustrious Chipper Jones. Derek Jeter, Andy Pettitte, Alex Rodriguez and Jim Thome are also nearing their farewell tour, and at least half of those names (Jeter and Thome) are guaranteed first-ballot Hall-of-Famers.
But alas, I offer you my predictions for the 2013 MLB season, one that promises to see some new faces emerge atop their respective divisions, and also see others mired at the bottom looking back up top.
AL East Toronto, Tampa Bay, Baltimore, Boston, New York. Toronto's revamped roster will give them the edge this year, but they're not exactly built for the long haul. They should ask the Yankees about how that goes. Speaking of whom, the Yanks will probably finish in the cellar for the first time since the Don Mattingly era. The injuries are going to start mounting up, and replacing Curtis Granderson and Mark Teixeira with Vernon Wells and Lyle Overbay (respectively) isn't exactly the best recipe for success.
AL Central Detroit, Chicago White Sox, Cleveland, Minnesota, Kansas City. This year will be another slugfest for the division title between the veteran (Jim Leyland) and the young gun (Robin Ventura). Personally, I'm rooting for Robin, but I think the Sox are still another year out. A lineup with Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder in the middle of it is a scary sight for any opposing pitcher. Cleveland's pricy additions will certainly help them in the race, though I don't believe Kansas City's "all-in" move of trading for James Shields will produce the same result.
AL West Los Angeles Angels, Texas, Oakland, Seattle, Houston. The Angels couldn't overtake the mighty Rangers last year, but now that they have Texas' heart and soul (Josh Hamilton), it might just happen. Texas, though, has some young players who can fit in nicely (Craig Gentry and Leonys Martin). Though all four teams will greatly benefit from the addition of the lowly Astros, who will probably break 100 losses this season despite the arrival of Bo Porter and the addition of the DH.
NL East Atlanta, Washington, Philadelphia, New York Mets, Miami. Atlanta returns to glory this year with the outfield of Heyward, Upton and Upton (which sounds much like a law firm). It's probably the best outfield Atlanta has had since Andruw Jones, Chipper Jones and Gary Sheffield back in the early 2000s. Washington will put up a fight, though; Philadelphia, on the other hand, is on the way down. They're getting old, slow and fragile. At least they're not the Marlins; it's the start of the rebuilding process for the Fish, and odds are it'll probably result in a World Series victory in about five years.
NL Central Cincinnati, Milwaukee, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, Chicago Cubs. I don't foresee the Cardinals being very good this season. After all, Chris Carpenter's career is in jeopardy, their projected starting shortstop (Rafael Furcal) is done for the year, and behind Jason Motte, their bullpen is not all that great. The third time should be the charm for the Pirates (the two previous seasons competing above .500 in June and August, only to fall below late in the season), and if the Cubs can become good again (key word, if), the Central could become a competitive division again.
NL West San Francisco, Los Angeles Dodgers, Arizona, San Diego, Colorado. San Francisco is about the only known entity in this division. The Dodgers beefed up with Zack Greinke and friends, but now Greinke's arm isn't feeling good. Arizona traded about the best overall hitter they had in Justin Upton, but they've got some strong arms returning from injury. Last year, the 5,182 project the Rockies tried last season isn't going to work again this year. It drove Jim Tracy nuts (though I think it was the other way around), but I like Walt Weiss as a manager.
My playoff predictions include the Giants coming out of the NL, and the Angels in the AL (yes, a rematch of the 2002 World Series). And, just like 2002, the Angels will come out on top (except this time, J.T. Snow won't have to save his manager's kid from getting run over).

Alix Kunkle is the editor of the Leesville Daily Leader and Beauregard Daily News. You may contact him at akunkle@leesvilledailyleader.com.