Sunday, April 05, 2009

Baseball Predictions 2009

This will make a veritable flurry of posts - when I hit Publish Post, this will be the third post of the month, one shy of my achievement in both February and March, in just 5 days! A dazzling achievement... Anyway - it is time for a baseball post - might as well go on record guessing what is going to happen.


Boston - it is axiomatic that this is the toughest division in baseball. And if the principals stay healthy, there's not much doubt it will be. The Sox have to be the favorites though. They did not stay healthy last year, losing significant time from Ortiz, Lowell, Drew and Beckett - who were also off their A game when they were in the lineup. And yet they were in the playoffs, and probably would have won it all if Beckett or Lowell had been adequate in the playoffs. If they get reasonable performance from those 4 - especially Ortiz and Beckett - they should be in fine shape again this year. They are deep - very very deep, breaking camp with what looks like 6 major league ready starters and at least 2 more in reserve, 7 significant relievers, and a batting lineup that did a mess of damage last year. They weathered most of their troubles last year - they can weather injuries this year, probably. They will be hard to keep out of the playoffs.

Tampa Bay - they had some injuries last year as well, but they kept their rotation on the field, and that got them where they got. If that happens again, and especially if the guys who underperformed a bit last year (Upton, Crawford - Langoria, if you figure he can only improve) return to form, they should be just as formidable. They might even be able to afford losing a starter or two, if Price is ready (and he seems to be) - they may need to get lucky with the pen again as well, but they have lots of arms out there... They can't absorb as much adversity as Boston - but they have as good a core lineup and rotation.

New York - they spent a ton of money, basically to get themselves to the same level as Boston and Tampa. Sort of. There's a lot of mileage on this team - A Rod is hurt (more and more of that as he grows old without the help Modern Science provided the Bonds' and Clemens' of the world), and Jeter, Damon, Posada, Matsui, Rivera, Pettitte are all in the same age range... they have some kids who could step forward - and if they stay healthy, they do have a nice looking squad - but they are no better than the other two, and seem much more vulnerable...

Toronto - they missed their chance to step forward... they have some nice talent, but they have also had terrible luck - in a just world Shaun Marcum would be taking Burnett's place as a fine #2 - but instead he's taken his place on the DL... Their offense is dubious, they have some rickity pitchers... things could break right for them, but it would take a great year from them and none fo the other three having big years and that's not likely.

Baltimore - I don't think they have any pitchers. Actually it's worse than that - they have Adam Eaton. They seem to have a decent offense, and some emerging young players - but they won't be contending any time soon.

AL Central:

Cleveland - this is a very mysterious division. The Tribe has good pitching, fine position players, they've bolstered their bullpen, they have some guys who should come back - Martinez, Hafner maybe - why not? everyone in the division seems to have on/off years - they could be the on team this year.

Kansas City - You know what? you have to take at least one chance. If they win the division, I am going to come back and edit this post to make it look like I called it, too. (I seem to call it every year - I rated them higher than Tampa last year...) Because - given all the questions in the division - why not? They have some of the things Tampa had last year, the things most surprise teams have. 1) some nice young pitchers - Greinke, Meche, and some hope from other starters; 2) a good bullpen - Soria is fantastic, and though they traded 2 of their relievers for offense, they still have some talent in the pen; 3) a bunch of young hitters who are supposed to be ballplayers - Gordon, Butler etc. - they have not delivered yet, but none of them has washed out - they are young, they have had their growing pains, but if a couple of them break through - why not? 4) while Coco Crisp and Mike Jacobs are not superstars, they are solid contributors who do certain things very well - Crisp anchors the outfield; Jacobs puts a power bat in the lineup, a bit like Pena does in Tampa - if Coco has a good year with the bat, along with a ocuple kids stepping forward, this could be a pretty good team.

Minnesota - I would put them first, except Mauer and Baker are already on the DL - they don't have the depth to take that sort of thing. But they usually hang around, and they have some real talent - they are certainly capable of winning the division.

Chicago - same as last year - things break right they'll be fine - things don't, they'll be in the cellar. I'll go for the On/Off principal and guess they fade, but they could just as easily thrive...

Detroit - their pitching, which looked dominant a couple years ago, is a total mess - they have done very little to fix it. The offense is still an odd mix of magnificence and mess. I don't know what to expect. A couple breaks though - they could be back in it. Stranger things have happened - isn't Dontrelle Willis Cliff Lee with a better track record? brilliant young pitcher gone disastrously wrong? Those things can work themselves out. Ditto Bonderman, Robertson, though less dramatically... I doubt they'll do much, but it would be easy to be wrong.

AL West:

Anaheim - they missed all the stud free agents, but they still have a very strong team. They should run the table out west, though the playoffs will probably yield the traditional result.

Texas - not that they have any pitchers, but they have yet another crop of great hitters to trade in a year or two. If they ever did get some pitchers they would be a team to reckon with.

Oakland - actually this is probably a mistake. I don't trust their starters either - but they have some pretty decent offensive options this year. I could be very wrong - they could contend. I sort of doubt it though.

Seattle - ouch. Except, again - a couple breaks and they could be back around .500 - Bedard could be healthy, it's possible... King Felix is a fine pitcher - some of their young guys (Morrow etc.) are promising - so, I don't know. They can't get any worse.

National League:
AL East:

Philly - they need Hamels out there all the time, but otherwise, I see no reason not to expect more of the same. If they're healthy in October, they should be one of the prime contenders for the title again.

NY Mets - I see they just added Gary Sheffield - how that's relevant I don't know... They have spectacular talent at the top in Wright, Reyes and Beltran, though the rest is shakier - but could be quite good. Pitching - Santana has to be there all year, and they need some consistency from the rest of the staff, but it seems reasonable. They bolstered the pen - K-Rod and Putz are a good start... So - all things being equal, the Phillies probably win - but the Mets should be in it all the way again, and stand in good stead for at least a wild card spot.

Atlanta - has some nice, boring pitchers - not the most exciting offense ever, but not terrible. Be surprising if they contend, but not out of the question.

Florida - jeez - actually, they might be right in the thick of things again - they can hit, they have some decent looking starters - if they do contend, though, it's an open question whether they break the team up in August - though last year they were at least willing to talk about trading for Manny (not that he would have helped all that much - they were already hammering the living crap out of the ball) - don't they have a new park on the way? Will they try to spend to open it in style? not likely, but if they decide to try, they should have plenty of cap room available (or whatever you call it in baseball.)

Washington - they have some nice young hitters (Duke, Milledge, etc.), plus Adam Dunn to hit home runs. The pitching is another matter. Pitching is what gets young teams to respectability so I'm not holding my breath.

NL Central:
Cubbies - I hate the frigging cubs. I hate Lou Pinella. This has nothing to do with drafting Carlos Marmol as my closer, nothing. I think this division is soft everywhere else, and the Cubs have a free ride, unless Milwaukee or St. Louis bring in a Jake Peavy type. Deep rotation, deep bullpen, plenty of offense...

St. Louis - put them here until Milwaukee gets that starting pitcher.

Brewers - perfectly fine team on the field, Jeff Suppan as your ace? I suppose that's a technicality - Gallardo is the real ace, if he's healthy. Still... if they do get someone like they got Sabathia last year, they could get into the running...

Cincinnati - good gracious - they actually have some decent pitchers, don't they! Of course they need all of them to be effective - Aaron Harang got bad just as Volquez got good last year... Can they hit? Maybe. They could be a sleeper, no question.

Houston - I guess they still exist don't they? is Mike Hampton really being listed as their fourth starter?

Pittsburgh - probably some chance of a surprising improvement - a couple of their kids could turn out to be legit, they have a bunch of promising underachieving pitchers - possible. Not likely.

NL West:

Arizona - screw you Manny! Granted, they need their kids to all move forward - good years out of Drew, Upton, Young, possibly Snyder are a must - but why not?

LA - they are pretty loaded, I have to admit. I don't know if they can catch anything - I don't know... but they have offense, pitching, etc., so they will, I'm afraid, be hanging around the playoff picture. It will be fun to see what happens when Manny decides to be Manny again...

SF Giants - lots of pitching here, some of it maybe a bit risky, but still... they need some hitting, though they might get some modest improvements here and there.

Colorado - back to bland.

San Diego - so from a mediocre team able to pretend to contend because of the top of the rotation, they became Godawful indeed. Where they go from here probably depends on whether Chase Headley is any good and what they can get for Peavy.

So then! The results?

AL: Boston - Cleveland - Anaheim + Tampa: Boston should be the favorite to win that, though of course Tampa (or NY) should be perfectly capable. Best dark horse? Kansas City...
NL: Philly - Chicago - Arizona + NY Mets: I'd bet on Philly, but NY or Arizona could win the league championship. LA shouldn't be completely counted out. Dark Horse? Florida - Cincy isn't out of the question...
WS: Boston beats anyone they play, I'd say. Philly, possibly the Mets could beat Tampa or the Yankees if they got there.

AL MVP - Evan Langoria repeats Dustin Pedroia's repeat of Cal Ripken's feat - following up rookie of the year with the MVP
NL MVP - might as well keep picking David Wright until he wins one. Pujols being the default option, of course.
AL Cy Young - Roy Halladay is probably the most consistent pitchers going... I hope it's Beckett, of course.
NL Cy Young - lots to choose from - probably should have been Santana last year - if Hamels had won as many games as his stats seem to indicate, he would have won. It's odd to see w pitchers of their quality not getting enough wins to beat someone from San Francisco... I imagine whichever of the Santana, Hamels, Peavy, Lincecum group gets 18-20 wins gets the Cy Young as well. I think Santana will do it.
AL Rookie - they look like they are going to stash him in AAA for a while, but Price should be there...
NL - is Cameron Maybin ready? or Tommy Hanson?

Anyway - it's about time we started... Go Sox!

1 comment:

Vincetastic said...

Nice analysis Old Fart. I’m looking forward to this year’s season, should be another good one. I made a top ten list of my projections for the regular season results: I think my picks are solid, if you don’t agree you can actually change the order by voting.