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Archive for March, 2010

Next, we move on to what I consider to be the most interesting division, second only to the AL East.

1) Philadelphia Phillies–As a baseball fan, I love watching this team play, which is what made the 2009 World Series all that much better.  I can’t get enough of Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Jason Werth, or Raul Ibanez.  What an incredible offense this is.  However, I could do without Shane Victorino, or as I call him, the Cryin’ Hawaiian.  With the addition of Roy Halladay to the team, the defending National League champions have only gotten better.  And I can only see another NL East division title in their sights. [Prediction: 93-69]

2) Atlanta Braves–I question why I like this team so much what with a aged Chipper Jones and an inexperience pitching staff, but from what I’ve seen this Spring training, I love this team.  Unfortunately for them, they play in a division with a team that boasts the best offense in all of baseball.  I love watching Tommy Hansen pitch almost as much as I love watching Jason Heyward swing the bat.  Bobby Cox should not be underestimated, nor should he be counted on leaving at the end of the season.  Great all-around team.  [Prediction: 89-73]

3) Florida Marlins–Again, I love the front-end of the starting pitching in Josh Johnson and Ricky Nolasco.  The offense also boasts a lot of middle-of-the-order power in Hanley Ramirez, Chris Coghlan, and Dan Uggla.  But I don’t think that this team can be consistent enough over a 162-game schedule to win its first NL-East title in team history.  Also, I don’t like Freddi Gonzalez as a manager.  [Prediction: 85-77]

4) New York Mets–I don’t believe in this team so much that I wanted so badly to pick this team to finish in dead last place in the East.  But I think that even though they have no heart outside of David Wright, and no brains in a seemingly clueless manager, whose only good quality is that he gets along with the media, when both Jose Reyes and Carlos Beltran come back to the team, they should provide enough of a threat for the Mets to out-play the lowly Washington Nationals.  Also, there is something screwy going on behind the scenes.  Either the Mets management is incompetent or they are not making public the truth of how badly the team is struggling financially.  I tend to lean towards the latter because I don’t believe that a management team of a $1 Billion company in New York City can be this incompetent on accident.  Anyway, back to the baseball field.  With John Maine as the third starter and no Reyes or Beltran on the team until who knows when, the Mets are going to stink for the amount of their team salary. [Prediction: 75-87]

5) Washington Nationals–I feel like this team is still a year or two away from emerging from the NL-East cellar.  I think they at least need to have Steven Strasburg in the rotation and another bat to support Ryan Zimmerman and Josh Willingham before they are going to hope to contend.  The strike-out, big-swinging Adam Dunn can’t possibly be the answer.  And the pitching rotation just doesn’t cut it to contend on the major-league level.  [Prediction: 72-90.]

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The next division is the AL West…

1) Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim South of San Luis Obispo–As sexy a pick as the Mariners or Rangers could be, I don’t see anyway I can possibly pick against the best manager in baseball or one of the most resilient and deep teams in the league.  I don’t care about the “losses” they had in Figgins & Lackey because living in the city that hosts their minor league team, I see first hand how great their minor league system is and how each year they are at the top of the Pacific Coast League.  [Prediction: 89-73]

2) Texas Rangers–Ever since Nolan Ryan has taken a leading role in the Rangers management, he has seemingly infused confidence in both the team and the fans.  However, even though this team has more promise than last year and continues to be trending upwards, I’m not sure that they have enough pitching to out duel the rival Angels.  [Prediction: 86-76]

3) Seattle Mariners–Again, this is a very sexy pick.  But I don’t believe that Cliff Lee is as happy to be in Seattle as he says he is.  Nor do I believe that the back-end of the rotation is good enough for this team to truly contend in the AL West.  I like the offense, including the best 1-2 hitters in the league in Ichiro and Figgins, and I really like Jack Wilson.  But I think that Milton Bradley is a loose wire and I don’t think Junior will give them anything other than a boost in ticket sales.  I like Wakamatsu, but I don’t see this team contending like a lot of pundits think.  [Prediction: 81-81]

4) Oakland Athletics–Ever since the loss of Zito, Hudson, and Mulder, this team hasn’t been able to find good consistent pitching.  Nor has Billy Beane been able to develop a very good offense.  If this were an NCAA program, I would conspiracy theorize that it is under a secret probation for some sort of NCAA violation.  But since it’s a major league team, I would just suggest that it needs a new stadium before it will be able to really compete again.  [Prediction: 70-92]

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As we follow the natural order of the major league standings, next we move onto the AL Central.

1) Minnesota Twins–I think the pundits have been focusing way too much on the loss of Joe Nathan as the Twins’ closer and are forgetting that he mostly pitches only when the team already has a lead, which has been established by the offensive juggernaut and MVP-candidate Joe Mauer and company.  Watching this team very closely at the end of the 2009 season and into the playoffs, I honestly thought that they were the toughest team the Yankees played in the postseason.  That may sound like stupid baseball babble, but considering that the Twins didn’t have Justin Morneau at the end of the season and picked up Jim Thome in the offseason, I think their improved offense will win many ball games in 2010.  Also, with a refocused and seemingly fully healed Carl Pavano, how can anyone pick against the Twins in the central?  I think Minnesota is going to win this division and win it easily.  [Prediction: 91-71]

2) Detroit Tigers–While I think the offense on this Tiger team is going to put up some monster numbers with the addition of Johnny Damon and Austin Jackson, I think it will be equalized by the young and inexperienced pitching staff.  Outside of Justin Verlander, I don’t really see anyone else complementing him this year.  That isn’t to say that the Tigers pitching won’t be good in years to come, but I just don’t think they are ready to bring a division title home to Detroit in 2010.  [Prediction: 83-79]

3) Kansas City Royals–While I am sure that the Royals offense will continue to be mediocre at best, I’m not so sure the pitching staff, most notably 2009 Cy-Young winner Zack Greinke, will be able to repeat its performance from last year.  However, I think they will be better than the other two cellar-dwelling division rivals when the year comes to an end.  [Prediction: 80-82]

4) Chicago White Sox–Despite the fact that Manager Ozzie Guillen will now be able to broadcast his post-game exploits more quickly and universally through the use of Twitter, I think the White Sox are going to be incredibly underwhelming this year.  And the only reason I have them finishing fourth in the central is because I think the Indians are going to be that much worse.  [Prediction: 75-87]

5) Cleveland Indians–I could be way off on this prediction, but I just don’t see the Indians doing much more this year than building for the future.  I always like it when the Indians are good because it’s fun to see the Jake (that’s what I still call it) rocking at full capacity.  But I’m not sure which will be worse: the lackluster offense or the bad pitching.  [Prediction: 70-92].

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Well, baseball is just around the corner and the anticipation is killing me.  Literally.  No, not quite literally, but I absolutely cannot wait until next Sunday at 6:00 when baseball kicks off for real with the Yankees and Red Sox.  I honestly can’t think of a better way to get it started then to go straight into the fire. 

Will the Yankees win the first game?  Who the hell knows.  I view the first couple games of the season almost as an extension of Spring Training as most pitchers are still trying to extend themselves to full strength.  But the first month of the season is going to be a beast for the defending champs, and to start off at Boston doesn’t really make an easy transition.

So, my question is why couldn’t MLB have scheduled the Red Sox at the Yankees to start the season so the Yanks could shove their championship rings in the Red Sox players faces?  First off, MLB didn’t hesitate to schedule the opening series at Fenway in 2005 between the Yanks and Sox after Boston won their first championship in 86 years.  And secondly, both teams also finish the 2010 regular season at Fenway.  Come on, MLB, show some love for the most hated team in sports.

Anyway, with that said, it’s time for some officially unofficial predictions for 2010, beginning with the AL East.  [Editor’s note: I recently had my hard drive restored and have yet to reinstall any Microsoft Office products onto it, so, unfortunately, these predictions come only with fancy words but no fancy pictures or logos.  However, I may correct that next weekend when I might have a little more time.]

1) New York Yankees–Can the Bombers repeat as World Champions of the World?  After some key acquisitions in Curtis Granderson, Javier Vazquez, and Nick Johnson, and key departures by Johnny Damon (please come back Johnny), Hideki Matsui, and Melky Cabrera, the Yankees seem poised to defend at least the AL East.  Their pitching got deeper and stronger, their offense remained about the same, and their clubhouse chemistry seems to have taken a huge hit in losing Damon.  But, as Jeter always says, winning creates good chemistry and I think that at the end of the regular season, the Yankees chemistry will be very strong.  [Prediction:  95-67]

2) Boston Red Sox–In my opinion, this is the best starting pitching in baseball, one through five.  However, I could have said the same thing about their pitching at the beginning of last season, and that didn’t seem to be enough.  I still have major questions about their offense, and with Big Papi seemingly on the downside of his career and the loss of Jason Bay to the Mets, who knows what the 2010 Red Sox offense will bring.  I think that Victor Martinez will put up huge numbers and will be an MVP candidate.  Dustin Pedrioa is always a threat and Kevin Youkilis remains to be one of the hardest outs in baseball.  But combined together, is it enough offense to win an AL East crown?  My answer is it can be.  I think that going into the regular season, even though the story of the 2010 Sox will be their pitching, the offense is going to be better than what most pundits believe.  However, I don’t think I can give the Sox the nod quite yet. [Prediction:  94-68]

3) Tampa Bay Rays–With a much improved starting rotation, I think the 2010 Rays’ pitching staff, led by a Cy-Young caliber pitcher in David Price, will be much stronger than 2009.  Supported by a great offense, including Jason Bartlett, Carlos Pena, and of course, Evan Longoria, I think the Rays are going to surprise some people.  However, after flashing onto the scene in 2007, I don’t think they are going to surprise anyone in the AL East.  They’ll be good, but not AL-East-champion good.  [Prediction:  89-73]

4) Baltimore Orioles–The O’s are also a much improved team, but I think they are one year away from being this year’s version of the 2007 Rays.  While their starting pitching should be much better than 2009, it’s still relatively young and inexperienced and may run into arm issues towards the end of the season.  The bullpen still has some holes, and even though they may boast the best outfield in the division, I don’t think the re-addition of Miguel Tejada will pack enough punch to overcome any pitching deficiencies.  [Prediction:  81-81]

5) Toronto Blue Jays–This once-promising franchise now finds itself in a rebuilding mode after trading its key franchise player in Roy Halladay to the Philadelphia Phillies.  While they did acquire some promising prospects including they highly touted Kyle Drabek, I don’t think this team has enough to compete in this beast of a division.  [Prediction:  75-87]

So, there you have my 2010 AL East predictions.  More to follow on the other divisions as Spring Training winds down this week.

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