Second-half MLB predictions | Joel Willits

It’s All-Star break time in Major League Baseball, so there’s no better time to lay out some bold predictions for the second-half of the season.

It’s All-Star break time in Major League Baseball, so there’s no better time to lay out some bold predictions for the second-half of the season.

1) The Chicago Cubs will continue to be the best team in the National League.

The Cubs countered the Brewers trade for former Cy Young winner CC Sabathia by acquiring Rich Harden from the A’s.

But while Milwaukee is all but playing for the Wild Card, the Cubs have their eyes on a division title and the World Series.

With Harden in the fold, Chicago boasts the best rotation in the NL, possibly in the Majors. Derek Lee, Aramis Ramirez and Ryan Theriot are all having strong seasons, and the Cubs lineup will continue to hit in the second half of the season, and Chicago will end the regular season with the National League’s best record.

2) The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim will continue to be the best team in the American League.

At 57-38, the Angels are the top team in the AL, with Boston nipping at their heels. The Angels are a staggering 31-18 on the road in the first half, but are only 26-20 at home. You’d have to figure the Halos will improve at home in the second half; if they can continue playing as well as they have on the road, they’ll be the team to beat in October.

3) The race for the AL East will go down to the last day of the season.

The Red Sox lead the East by just 1/2 game going into the All-Star break, after Tampa Bay ended the first-half on a seven-game slide. The two teams will battle all through the second-half, but the race will be decided with each team’s final game of the year. Advantage: Boston. The Red Sox play their entire last week of the season at home. The Rays end their last week of the regulars season on the road.

4) The Mariners will make big changes.

Interim General Manager Lee Pelekoudas was quoted by the Seattle Times as saying the team “owes it to the fans” to continue to play competitive baseball when asked about potential trades. Well, I’m sure fans would rather have a team compete with players that can help them next year and in the years ahead.

With that in mind, I’m predicting the M’s will trade left-hander Erik Bedard. Bill Bavasi is no longer here to have to swallow his pride and jettison his prized off-season acquisition. While Bedard hasn’t been a bust, the lefty’s 6-4 record isn’t exactly the dominance the M’s had hoped for when trading Adam Jones, George Sherill and a trio of prospects. While his reputation may have taken a hit with his play and injury struggles in the first half, there are contending teams that would covet Bedard. Philadelphia seems like the most likely fit.

Other M’s who may be on the move: Arthur Rhodes and Raul Ibanez. Rhodes is a left-handed reliever who can get outs, something teams looking to head to the playoffs will be looking for. Ibanez could be the left-handed bat a contending team is looking for.

And finally, thanks to his play in the last few weeks, Jarrod Washburn is another M’s pitcher who might be destined to head out of town. Seattle would love to get out of that contract and any team afraid to bite on Bedard could do worse than having Washburn as a fourth or fifth pitcher in its rotation.

5) The Cubs will play the Red Sox in the World Series.

Boston will falter down the stretch and take the AL Wild Card, while the Cubs will win their division and head into the playoffs with the best record in the Majors. Chicago will win in six games, capturing its first World Series title in 100 years.