Alright, with the season almost upon us, it’s time to wrap up this whole prediction business. I’ve already listed my AL East and AL Central picks. I’ve included them in the rest of the picks below, but if you want to find out my well-researched, brilliantly-reasoned reasons for them, you’ll have to go back to the old posts. So, without further ado, I present to you the rest of the case for my baseball genius:
(see old post for explanation)
(see old post for explanation)
This is another division where almost anything can happen. The Angels are not as good as they were last year – lost K-Rod and Teixeira, and the heart of their lineup is getting old. And the rest of the division has gotten better – the A’s added some offense, Rangers finally have some young pitching ready to take the stage, and you have to expect the Mariners’ Erik Bedard will be better this year. Still you have to like the Angels track record, especially in light of the questions surrounding the other teams. Oakland will find out Matt Holliday is overrated away from Coors, and you can’t depend on rookie pitchers for your starting rotation. Rangers pitchers could improve, or just not be there yet. And Seattle still lacks the offense. Overall, this will not be a strong division. In fact, the East appears heads and shoulders above the rest of the AL.
The Mets can hit, and with Mike Pelfrey ready to arrive as an elite talent behind Johan Santana, not to mention a reinvented bullpen with K-Rod and Putz, the Mets should win this division by five games. Expect the Phillies to be in the wildcard mix, though. The Marlins have a bunch of good young pitchers, and that should carry them past the Braves, who had an active, yet foolish, offseason.
The Cubs are way-above the rest of the NL Central. It would take a curse for them not to win this division. How the rest of this division shakes out is anybody’s guess (a common theme this year). I expect a comeback year from Aaron Harang, and the emergence of their young pitching staff to carry them to second place. The Brewers take a step back; they can’t thrust all their hopes on young Gallardo. I really, really, really wanted to pick the Pirates to surprise. And, until recently, I had them in second. Yes, it was based more on emotion, but they do have a cast of super-talented young pitchers . . . if they can ever put it together. But, ultimately, they don’t have the offensive depth to mimic Tampa’s success from last year.
The Dback already have two of the game’s best pitchers in Brandon Webb and Dan Haren. Throw in uber-talented strikeout artist Max Scherzer, and that’s one impressive staff. The Dodgers have a core of excellent young pitching and hitting talent, and Manny will produce — but he’ll be much closer to our Manny. The rest of the division is scuffling. (But keep an eye on Colorado’s Ubaldo Jimenez — breakout year.)
AL Wildcard: Yankees
NL Wildcard: Dodgers
AL Champion: Red Sox
NL Champion: Diamondbacks
Both these teams have great pitching staffs and, depending on how Scherzer pitches, the edge in starting pitching might go to the Dbacks. Of course, with trades, injuries, etc., nobody knows what these staffs will look like come October. Still, I like the depth of the Sox offense and bullpen. The Series will go 6 games,
World Champion: Your Boston Red Sox
AL MVP: Miguel Cabrera
NL MVP: Carlos Beltran
AL Cy Young: Josh Beckett (maybe Scott Kazmir)
NL Cy Young: Johan Santana
If the Philadelphia Phillies make it back to the World Series next year, Philly fans will look back at today as the reason why.
The Phillies made one of the best acquisitions of this offseason today by signing . . . no, not CC, not Tex, not Manny or AJ . . . but Raul Ibanez.
Raul Ibanez is the most underrated baseball player in the major leagues . . . by far. And he has been for a long time. Over the past six years, Ibanez has toiled in relative obscurity with the Mariners as Seattle has been mired in mediocrity. While he isn’t a flashy name, and most fans who don’t play fantasy baseball probably don’t know him, for the better part of this decade he has been one of the Top 25 most productive hitters in baseball. He’s been a model of consistency year-in and year-out. And he just signed a contract that pays him “just” $10 million a year for the next three years. His value should easily put him north of $12 mill annually.
While it is true he is no spring chicken (he’s 36), his production has yet to drop off, despite most experts and fantasy players waiting for it to happen. And even if it drops off a little, his numbers will still be worth every penny of his $10 million a year. Now he’ll be playing in a tiny, glorified wiffleball park in Philadelphia, with a lineup consisting of big bats like Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley and Ryan Howard. He’ll finally be playing on a contender next season. And don’t be surprised if you hear a lot about Raul Ibanez in 2009; and don’t be surprised if he helps keep K-Rod and the Mets home come October.
Its was with mixed emotions that I read about Trot Nixon being traded to the Mets. First and foremost, I’m happy that Trot has the opportunity to help a big league club. However, I would much rather have seen him with the Brewers, Dodgers, A’s, or Devil Rays — all of whom could use his veteran presence and skills. Atlas, he’ll be playing ball in NYC.
It’s a good match though. Trot is a big time player with a lot of grit. He could help to fire up the Mets, who have been nothing if not lethargic all year. Trot won’t be able to carry this team, but he could be the spark that lights the fire under the rears of players that could (read Beltran, Reyes, etc).
The problem, for me anyway, is that I’m now conflicted about the Mets. With Pedro pitching only, at best, every fifth night, it was possible to cheer for him and still relish in the short coming of the Mets. With Trot possibly getting more playing time, my calculus is challenged.
I’d like to see Trot to well and prove that he should get a shot at a job next year. I’d also like to see the Mets continue to wallow near the bottom of the NL East. Thus my conflict. So, here’s to Trot doing well and getting the Mets good enough to just miss the post-season.
It’s hard to believe, but the 2008 MLB season is just about 25% complete. There’s a lot of ball left to be played, for sure. We also have some good data to look at the Pythagorean standings to see what teams are under or over performing in the win column. The complete standings are below. Here are a few things that stand out to me.
AL East –
Toronto really is this bad. They’ve only under preformed by a little more than a game. With Wells now hurt, it looking like it will be another disappointing year from the team north of the border. It’s too bad to. Come next year, Toronto might be the standard pick for 5th in the AL East – it’s going to be a tough division.
Cleveland has under preformed by nearly three games – which is huge. They appear in good shape to right the ship and win the division.
What’s more surprising? The fact that the Angles are over performing or that the A’s have under preformed. Not having seen any A’s games outside of Japan this year, I’m not really up on the team. Guess I’ll need to spend some time watching, but how can they be this good? If it’s the youth, will it last?
Atlanta has under preformed by 4 games and the Marlins have over preformed by 3. All the talk before the season was about the Phillies and the Mets. However, its plausible that two teams from this division will make the playoff this year and both will play well south of the Mason-Dixon line. I’m not saying its going to happen (Go Phillies!). I’m only pointing out that base on a quarter of the season – it’s a real possibility.
I hate to say it but, … the Cubs are a darn good team. St Louis too appears destined to make my last-place pick for them continue to look horrible. Another shock is the Brewers. You’d think a team with so many blown saves would be under performing – but they aren’t. I’m still a believer in them, but they need to have a really good next month – or it might start getting late early. And then there are those almost 500 Buccos! The pitching is starting to come together and the bats are OK. A word to the rest of the league – don’t let this team start to believe in themselves.
Bad news for the Giant – you’ve been over performing at 16 -22. Worse news for the Padres 14-24 seems to suit you fine. The Diamond Backs are clearly the cream of the crop here.
W%=[(Runs Scored)^2]/[(Runs Scored)^2 + (Runs Allowed)^2]
Pythagorean Winning Percentage.
Boston 0.587 1.1
Tampa Bay 0.549 0.7
NY Yankees 0.509 -0.3
Toronto 0.483 -1.4
Baltimore 0.465 1.3
Cleveland 0.576 -2.8
Chicago Sox 0.564 -2.3
Minnesota 0.480 1.2
Detroit 0.426 -0.2
Kansas City 0.400 1.2
Oakland 0.625 -1.4
LA Angels 0.500 2.5
Seattle 0.430 -1.8
Texas 0.418 1.7
Atlanta 0.632 -4.1
NY Mets 0.542 0.0
Florida 0.540 3.0
Philadelphia 0.528 0.4
Washington 0.370 0.9
Chicago Cubs 0.641 -1.7
St. Louis 0.569 0.8
Houston 0.554 -0.1
Pittsburgh 0.455 0.6
Milwaukee 0.438 1.8
Cincinnati 0.418 -0.9
Arizona 0.617 -0.4
LA Dodgers 0.548 -1.3
Colorado 0.407 -0.5
San Francisco 0.361 2.3
San Diego 0.354 0.6
We are just over two weeks into the season and hitting that fun early time of year when some teams are doing surprisingly well early and making excited fans wonder: Are they for real? Let’s seperate the pretenders from the contenders.
Baltimore Orioles Sure, the O’s may have started out 6-1, but c’mon. This team has nobody on it except for some young players who are still a few years away from making an impact. Pretender.
Kansas City Royals I know, they’re the Royals. Still, Zach Greinke and Brian Bannister are the real deal — exciting young arms with great stuff. Gil Meche might be considered the ace of the team, but in reality he gives the Royals a very good Number Three. The lineup has some exciting young players with a world of upside, the tops being Alex Gordon who after disappointing last season looks ready for primetime. Funny as it may sound, this might be a team who could really use a stick like one Barry Bonds. They could stick around long enough to contend for a wild card this season, so consider them a contender, but this team is truly poised for next season.
Chicago White Sox The White Sox are a tough, tough team to read. On paper they have more talent than a team like K.C., so if I’m going to consider the Royals contenders, then . . . Still, there is something uneasy about a team that tanked so badly last season and is made up of a lot of aged vets. Given that the division suddenly seems wide open, it is hard to count anybody completely out of it. Still, I just don’t believe in the White Sox. Call it a gut feeling. Pretender.
Detroit Tigers Okay, so they’re not surprising in a “good” way for their fans. Still, their start has been surprising to say the least. The national media, which was on the Tiger bandwagon in a big way a month ago is suddenly jumping off like it is the Titanic. Slow down. This is still a very, very good team. And by August their mini-slump in early April will be a distant memory. Contender.
Oakland Athletics In the midst of a rebuilding phase, the A’s seemed poised to battle the Rangers for the basement of the division. However, despite three losses to the Red Sox, Oakland has started off the season in first place. But don’t believe in them. They have good arms in Joe Blanton and Rich Harden, but Billy Beane knows this isn’t his year. The team will fade toward the back of the pack quickly, and don’t be surprised if Beane deals Harden this summer (Boston is a nice place to live, Rich). Pretender.
Florida Marlins Before last season, I picked the Marlins as one of the teams I thought could surprise in 2007. But, they didn’t. Still, this is a team stacked with great young talent. It could be that time when that young talent clicks, and if Anibel Sanchez comes off the DL looking strong in June, watch out. All that being said, at the end of the day I liked this team a lot better when they had Miguel Cabrera. And, the team that won it all in 2003 was built by one John Henry — not MLB Public Enemy Number One Jeffrey “The Bandit” Loria. That team also had some vets on it, including Ivan Rodriguez. And there are too many other titans in the division. So where do they stand? Hell, if I know. They probably won’t beat out the Mets and Phillies, as those teams have the resources to make a mid-season deal. But, the Marlins could conceivably contend for third place, which is a good season for them. So . . . Contender.
St. Louis Cardinals What’s up with the Cardinals having the best record in baseball right now? They have no business doing that, especially when I picked them to contend for the division’s basement. They’ll fade soon . . . I think. Pretender.