Sunday, April 04, 2010

Baseball Preview, 2010

Ah me.... Spring is here - and today is that glorious day - Sox and Yankees, kick off the 2010 season.... And that means, it is time for my annual Baseball Prediction post - a great source of comedy come October, usually. It's turning into a source of - maybe not comedy - something - now - as this will be the third attempt to write it. Started yesterday, finished half of it, then broke for supper (rice and beans! simple, nutritious, tasty!) and a Howard Hawks movie, and when I returned, found Comcast extremely uncooperative... So I finished it this morning - and then, in the process of trying to spell check the thing in word, somehow manamed to delete half of it. (No idea how - command-A, cut, paste, command-A, cut, paste - I can see how I could have lost it all, but how did I just lose half of it? weird, man!) So third time a charm, I hope.... though I imagine this will cut down on the prosification, at least of the AL half of the post.

AL East:

NY Yankees - not that I want the Yanks to win, but they are the defenders and, I suppose, the default pick. They shouldn't be much different - Granderson should be a nice addition, though switching out Matsui and Damon for Nick Johnson and - Randy Winn is it? - doesn't seem like a step up. And they are old, and - there is hope! Though in the end, I suspect it will be just a question of who wins the division and who gets the wild card...

Red Sox - they have what should be a superb pitching staff - even with the kinds of niggling injured Lackey and Beckett always seem to end up with, they are dominant - if those two are 100% all year, they will be formidable. They have shored up the defense, possibly at the expense of the offense (lots of room for failure from Beltre and Cameron), though they should still score enough. Again - odds are the Yanks and Sox will be 1-2 in the division, and the teams to beat in the post-season...

Tampa Bay - every bit the equal of the first two on the field, maybe a tick down in the pitching, though with plenty of upside. Thinner, though, and less likely to pick up a superstar at the trade deadline. BUt perfectly capable of winning the division or taking the wild card, even if the first two don't collapse.

Baltimore - seem to be inching back toward respectability - especially on the field. The pitching, not so much - it is tempting to scoff at Kevin Millwood's presence, but he has been a nice stabilizing source of innings on a couple developing teams lately, so he might serve the same function here. Not yet, though - they have a couple years to go before even thinking about contending in this division.

Toronto - they've finally given up on their attempts to compete without the resources of the teams ahead of them and started rebuilding. Probably not going to do much this year, though they have some nice young players up there.

AL Central:

Twins - given the lousy division they are in, they have a pretty easy path tot he post-season I think. They did it last year with some significant injury problems (missing Morneau down the stretch, notably.) They could use some improved pitching - they will have to find something to replace Nathan - but they should be okay. They usually are.

Chicago - they have another pitching staff that oculd be dominant - only Peavy is in the same range as Boston's top 3, but behind him, they have some nice reliably innings fillers, and a decent bullpen - I don't know about the team on the field - they have Juan Pierre, don't they? they might bunt themselves out of the playoffs...

Detroit - retooling on the fly - with Cabrera and Verlander still on hand, they might manage to hang around the pennant race. Valverde will help - Johnny Damon has been washed up for years, though he doesn't seem to have noticed - he might catch on this year, but if not, he should provide a lot of helpful line drives around the kids they have... hard to say where they will land, but they could be decent.

Cleveland - do they have any pitchers? they have some nice players, but probably not enough to bother anyone.

Kansas City - it was madness to pick them to surprise last year - at least this year they have done nothing to give anyone delusions of their competence. Greinke, Soria and Butler are good players - the rest, not so much.

AL West:

Angels - this is a default pick - I don't know if I believe it. Losing Lackey and Figgens (not to mention Vlad) might be too much... I think they will continue to be a solid team, though, and thus the target for the rest of the division - a target the division might be able to hit, though.

Seattle - great pitching, iffy offense - though they might have enough to get into the race.

Texas - last year, they had their breakthrough - will they maintain it? will they improve? If Harden could stay healthy - maybe; if last year's kids develop, maybe - it's a pretty good bet, really - though I'm a bit more inclined to think they will slip a bit, and make their move next year (if they are willing to spend some money.) BUt they are close enough that, given the Angels regression, they could be there.

Oakland - have some nice young pitchers - I think they need a couple years, though, to get into any kind of contention.

NL East:

Phillies - I don't see them going anywhere - Halladay is a force; Hamels is a good bet to come back (I think) - the offense is still loaded - they are the cream of the crop in the NL, and not far off the Boston/NY/Tampa standard of the AL.

Atlanta - a very good rotation, some offense - they need Chipper to hit and Heyward to be the real deal - but it's a pretty good looking team, over all. They are in a position to get back in the playoffs, at least.

Florida - over the Mets? I think so. They are always close - if they actually kept their players around long enough, they could be a major threat every year.

NY Mets - lots of talent on the team, but it isn't very often on the field. Beltran and Reyes are already out - who knows what the non-Santana pitchers will do - or even how healthy Santana is. So - I expect the worst...

Washington - one of these years they might not suck - but this year, I expect they will still suck. They might score more runs, though. Maybe.

NL Central:

St. Louis - again - no reason for them not to repeat. Same rotation, more or less, Holliday is back to compliment Pujols - the rest of their team is pretty decent - they should be fine. They are beatable, especially if Carpenter gets hurt again - but hard to see who will do the beating...

Milwaukee - someone has to finish second - why not the Brew Crew? I like them more than the rest, so there you go.

Chicago - I don't like the Cubs, but have to admit they have the makings of a good team. Or another full on collapse. Or boring mediocrity.

Cincinnati - I'd like to see them do better - it's not impossible. They have pitchers who have had some good runs; they have interesting talent on the field; they have a couple very good players (Votto, Phillips) - it's quite possible. They have lots if ways to fail though, from the inconsistency of their pitching to the unproven youth of their talent - so who can say?

Houston - a theme emerges - a few strokes of luck, and they could be in the thick of something - or not. Berkman's out - that can't help. Whither Roy Oswalt? Etc. I don't expect much, though - which means they probably win the division...

Pittsburgh - who can they trade this year? do they have anybody left? will they have to trade McCutcheon in just his second year? why not? he will be arbitration eligible soon, far too soon!

NL West:

Dodgers - it pains me, but they probably do have the best and deepest team. Don't their rivals all have holes? they may not have the means to respond to trouble (with the financial confusion caused by the McCourt divorce) - but I think they have the best team coming in to the season.

Colorado - this is probably risky, thinking the Rockies could be good 2 years in a row. They do have some talent (some of it young and getting better) - they have pitching (Jimenez etc.) - so maybe... I'm not sure I believe it though.

San Francisco - their pitching is ace; their offense - Sandoval is certainly a real hitter - the rest, though - would not seem to be enough to really compete. Like Seattle last year - or the Giants themselves. I suspect this will be a repeat of that.

Arizona - I'd say, if Webb is healthy, this could be a dark horse - though right now, it looks like Webb is nowhere near ready... They still could surprise - they have some real talent (Haren, plus Upton and Reynolds, maybe LaRoche and Montero) and some guys who have done enough in the past to make you hope they could do it again (Drew, Young, notably) - but it's probably not worth betting on.

San Diego - they didn't finish last last year! that actually surprised me when I looked it up. They have some talent - Gonzalez particularly, and a couple younger guys - Cabrera, Headley maybe - but I don't see much room for a good team to emerge. Maybe in a year or so, since they do have some nice pitching prospects, I am led to believe (I have Mat Latos on my fantasy team, so I hope that is true!), but this looks like a very Pirates west kind of year, complete with the July trade of their best hitter to the Red Sox. (I hope.)

And so? The playoffs? AL - wait, who did I pick to win the east? Sox? No - Yankees (a hazard of rewriting the thing 3 times) - hardly matters - both should be in the playoffs.... So this version says - Yankees, Twins, Angels (I guess) - plus Boston for the wild card.... Tampa should be close enough to get in easily; Rangers and Mariners look like strong dark horse contenders. Sox or Yankees to emerge and win it all.... NL: Phils, Cards, Dodgers (ho hum) - Braves for the Wild card. Giants and Marlins being the most likely other teams to get in. The Phillies look like a good bet to make a third trip to the World Series - to lose to the Red Sox this year!

Individual awards? AL MVP - Mauer again, I suppose - he had a good case for the award 2 years ago, as well as last - with Langoria and the usual subjects (A Rod, Pedroia/Youkilis, etc.) lurking in the weeds. Cy Young? actually a pretty good race - all those Red Sox, Sabathia, Greinke again, King Felix - and don't forget Jake Peavy, who healthy might be the best of the bunch. Rookie? um - not sure; let's say - Feliz in Texas? though he needs a clear job...

NL: MVP - it's Pujols' to lose - if he does, it will probably be to a Phillie, or Ryan Braun, or maybe Matt Kemp or someone like that. Cy Young - Lincecum's to lose, though if Santana is healthy, it might be closer - Roy Halladay will make things more complicated, and Haren, the Cards and so on (Tommy Hanson?) should be in the running... Rookie? there are a few of them floating around - Jason Heyward sounds like the most interesting choice.

So off we go! Happy Easter and go Sox! I'm off to see a Kurosawa double bill... I'd better post before blogger crashes...

No comments: