Thursday, April 02, 2009

AL East

I was going to save this for last, but after seeing those other predictions, I suppose it is time.

Order first

Red Sox
Blue Jays

Yankees: This is not so much a prediction based on the roster as it currently stands. I believe there will be significant changes, especially as the DL, I mean outfield, sorts itself out. There are lots of pitchers there that are above average. Not only that, there are lots of other pitchers whose contracts are up in a year or two that will almost inevitably be traded mid-season to the Yankees. I can't imagine that Cashman will let it work out that the only seasons over a 10-15 year period where the Yankees don't make the playoffs are the last season in the old stadium and the first season in the new.

Rays: They didn't change their lineup or rotation all that much, but they now know how to handle themselves. With a young lineup, aging a year should only help, not to mention a full season out of Longoria and a resurging Carl Crawford. Big question is whether David Price can come out the minors and flame-throw.

Red Sox: Getting older when you're already kind of old does not make you better. The starting rotation could be great, or it could be 800 years old and realize it. Wakefield is done sometime soon if not already. You can't expect a full season out of either Penny or Smoltz, in fact they will be lucky to have a combined 35 starts between the two. Ped, Youk, and Ellsbury are great players for years to come. I don't believe in Drew and really never have, I think Bay has a decent year but is on the decline and I don't see how Lowell continues to defy age and injury.

Orioles: Don't ask me why, because I don't have a good answer. There's too much hitting there to not win some games and their pitching might be adequate. Everyone says that Wieters will come into the league and take off, and I'm inclined to believe that he will be good on offense and calling the game.

Blue Jays: They've been almost there for several seasons now, but they have made the mistake of trying to get better by getting older (naturally and through free agency). They have to break down sometime and I think it is this year despite Halladay continuing to be the best pitcher that only gets talked about when people want to talk about a pitcher who isn't talked about enough.


I check about once an hour at work.  Keeping up with current events is part of my job so this is excusable for me.  When I drift over to the sports and auto pages, I know I am pushing my luck.  Today, I read this piece on AL predictions from Tyler Kepner of the NYTimes Bats blog.

As the title might indicate, I disagree with the gentlemen's assessment.  First, he admits that he picked the Mariners to make the playoffs last year.  That's not such a terrible admission considering it was a relatively trendy pick this time last year.  What bugs me is that he doesn't learn from his mistakes.  First, he picks the Yankees to win their division, a homer call which I'm fine with.  But then he picks the Red Sox over the Rays despite the Rays getting better in the offseason and the Red Sox buying and getting older.

The real transgressions though are that he puts the Mariners last again to spite them or himself for their epic collapse last year.  Law of averages says that the Mariners can't have all the bad breaks they did last year.  In fact, the team is almost the same as the over-hyped team of a year ago.

Second transgression is picking the Royals to win the AL Central.  This is exactly the same thing as picking the Mariners to win the West last year and for some reason he doesn't get this.

Certainly, it doesn't help that the guy picks the Indians to finish last based completely on the fact that they signed my friend SW's relative by marriage, Carl Pavano.  Why would a team finish last because they signed a former flash in the pan pitcher to a low-risk incentive laden deal?  Also, there were another 4 guys who didn't make the rotation would could all step in as a starter.  At least when I do my predictions, I take a few minutes to check out a depth chart.

Also, the A's will finish last because they signed Giambi.

Regardless, I'm pretty sure I'm more informed than this random Yankees fan who happens to write for a high-profile publication.  I'll stand behind this enough to say that if his standings are closer to the final standings than mine, I will buy and wear a Yankees hat for a week before donating it to some poor sap of a Yankees fan friend of mine (or charity, but I don't want to do that to the homeless or poor).

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

AL West

Jumping around to the AL West solely because I'm tired and there's only 4 teams in the division.

Standings order first:


Angels: Despite changing cities without changing ballparks, the Angels have finished 1st in the division 4 of the last 5 seasons with over 90 wins in each of those seasons. There only off season they finished 2nd with 88 wins, so there's not many surprises here. They will miss Teixeiriaia's production, but they still have a collection of 35 outfield/1B/DH guys to fill in basically anywhere. Their starting pitching is banged up now, but I think they will be fine in the long run. In fact, a little extra prep and rest now may make for a strong finish in the late months of the season. Big question is how their bullpen deals with the loss of K-Rod and fits in behind Fuentes.

Mariners: This is a sleeper pick, but I think the Mariners will finish the season just over .500 because they have a decent combination of slick defenders (Franklin Gutierrez, Ichiro, Beltre) and swing and miss bashers (Junior, Branyan to a lesser extent). I don't think their pitching is spectacular if healthy, but I don't think it loses a lot of games for them this year.

Rangers: Milwood, Padilla, Benson, McCarthy. With the exception of McCarthy, their starters were being described as has-beens 5-6 years ago. McCarthy, at this point, seems to have become a much hyped never was. Kinsler and Hamilton are stud hitters that are only helped by hitting in a hitters park. Chris Davis will have a break out year, but the rest of the lineup needs work. No one will find out how good the bullpen is, because it is likely to rarely matter.

Athletics: When I looked at the teams, I thought I would be putting the A's in the 2nd spot as a sleeper instead of the Mariners. Then I looked at the A's depth chart, which reads like a highlight of the all the things that are wrong with the other AL West teams' rosters. There are a couple of starters (Duchscherer, Eveland) that may find their groove this year, but other than that it is a showcase of terrible. After Matt Holliday (who will be traded by the middle of the June), the offense peak (pimple) is either Orlando Cabrera (who I still can't believe couldn't find a real job this offseason) or Jason Giambi. The best they can hope for is putting at least half their roster on the DL to check out what talent they have in the minors.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

NL Central

So my weekend break became basically a week and a half off. That shouldn't happen over the summer as there will actually be baseball that counts being played.

To get things going again, lets talk about the NL Central. Here are my predictions:

Nothing ground breaking here, but I think the Cubs will win the NL Central again. I'm not sure that Dempster repeats his outstanding season, but the starting pitchers are either consistent, or at least flashes of great (Zambrano). D. Lee isn't getting any younger, nor is Aramis Ramirez, but their lineup is consistent throughout. The biggest question mark may well be how Fukudome and Soto deal with leaving the sleeper status because of their breakout 2008 seasons. The only other major question is whether the game board (Milton Bradley) is able to just rake, or whether he continues to be a head case (see being traded from Cleveland because of a fight with Wedge, blowing out his knee while arguing a call at first).

The rest of the Central is much closer than it should be. First the order




The Brewers have a hearty lineup (good for NL standards, a little light compared to most AL teams). I think they are able to finish the season above .500 based on slugging and speed, but lack of pitching and pitching depth leads to missing the playoffs.

The Reds might be another year off, because of their overall youth. The big question I have about the team is whether or not they will cast off their swing for the fences image and go with the speed they have all around. I know they play in a bandbox, but I think the team as currently built would have more success hitting singles and stealing bases and letting the homers come to them. If they continue to use the Dunn 3 outcome philosophy (homer, walk, strikeout), then I will have overestimated their record and place. If they focus on their good to great rotation and hit just enough, the can make a run at the Brewers for 2nd, possibly for a wildcard spot (assuming some great breaks along the way).

Cardinals: Without Pujols, they are 5th or 6th in the division, with him, they are in the mix for anywhere from 2-4th. There's Pujols and a bunch of other guys who are either past their prime, waiting for a prime, or Ryan Ludwick (who will not repeat his awesome 2008, but will continue to look productive because he will be the 2nd best hitter on his team). The big question is how Carpenter finally comes back. If he can be a staff ace again, maybe the rest of the rotation feels less pressure and performs adequately to the tune of a .500 record. I don't see it though and expect to see them in the 70 - 75 wins area.

Astros: I should have them higher, and I can think of a lot of reasons to have them higher, but in the end, I have them finishing 5th. Their starters after Oswalt are decent, though not great (I'm not completely on the Wandy Rodriguez bandwagon). But their lineup seems to be Berkman, Carlos Lee, and a bunch of players who are known for what they might do (Pence, Bourn) or what they used to do (Tejada). Nothing great here, lots of adequate and in a 6 team division, that translates to a low finish.

The Pirates are the clear scum of the division. Enough said about that.

I would be very surprised if the wild card comes out of this division because I see very little separation between teams 2-4, maybe even 1-5. And unlike other divisions that gravitate towards being very good (AL East, AL Central) or bottom feeders (NL West), this division is all huddled around 81-81.