Monday, March 24, 2008
PREDICTIONS: Boston versus New York once-a-*&%#ing-gain
Unbelievable that the MLB schedule has pushed me to have to make my season predictions with a week to go in March (and that the Red Sox are playing a two-game series that counts in the standings between two exhibition series, placing them in a weird preseason/season middle zone), but with less than a full feel for the league, here we go all the same.
Then again, I didn't feel that confident when I made disturbingly good picks last year. Let's give it a whirl, again, in reverse divisional order of importance.
1. ChiCubs (proving money can win you a pennant...a mediocre division pennant)
2. Milwaukee (third place if this happens)
5. Colt .45s (Miguel Tejada's looked awful in the field...think he can learn LF by year's end?)
6. Pirates (now under GMership that seems to have a clue, but in the short term, no number of fish can save Pittsburgh)
1. Diamonded Backs (last year, they did it with smoke and mirrors; this year, they do it with Haren, the reanimated corpse of Randy Johnson, and just enough of an improved offense)
2. Rocktober Blood (Wild Card. Who cries for you, Kaz Matsui?)
3. Padres (Friends of mine have bet the under in a hypothetical bet on Mark Prior getting 25 starts. I'd bet the under on 20. The ghosts of Prior and Kerry Wood's arms haunt Dusty Baker's dreams.)
4. Dodgers (My guess is that Joe Torre took the Dodger job explicitly to get the chance to start running Scott "Gasoline" Proctor's arm into the ground. Over/under on Proctor appearances: somewhere in the mid-80s.)
5. The Now Barry Bonds/"Steroids"-Free San Francisco Giants! (With 70% more Who Gives A Shit About This Team!)
1. L.A. California Anaheim Angels (Dave Chappelle doppleganger Torii Hunter isn't going to be a difference maker, but you'll think this team is headed for the World Series at some point during the year, and you will be wrong.)
2. Ancient Mariners
3. Walker, Texas Rangers
4. Oakland A's (It's not the end of Moneyball. It's rebuilding. Now let Jeremy Brown grow fat(ter) and happy in peace.)
1. CitiCorp Metropolitans of Greater New York City (Pedro has looked really good at moments in Spring Training and is throwing up to 95 mph. John Maine and Oliver Perez are inconsistent, but put together are 1.25 consistent good pitchers. And, um, pitches will occasionally get in the way of Carlos Delgado's incredibly slow bat.)
2. Philadelphia Philadelphians
3. Atlanta Chief Nokahomas (The remains of Tom Glavine are back. Swell. [Could no one find Steve Avery?])
4. Florida Fish
5. Washington Nationales (The Meat Hook and Elijah Dukes on the same team? There will be blood. [But if there isn't, good pickup. I'm serious.])
1. Cleveland Injuns (C.C.'s last season; better make it count this time)
2. Detroit Tigres (Wild Card here, but a popular pick for the division. I'm not quite feeling it; Renteria's numbers will dovetail a bit in his return to the AL, where he wasn't so good for a season the readers of this blog might remember too well, and Miguel Cabrera has some pitchers to learn himself; Sheffield will miss at least 20 games with various injuries, likely more, and probably won't hit as much for power as his swing slows; the back of the rotation sure could use an Andrew Miller; and most frightening of all, the bullpen is presently Todd Jones, and pray for an official game rainout, the sort of bullpen that may require them to score 1000 runs this year. This is a potentially very good team. It's also something of a, y'know, paper tiger.)
3. ChiSox (Not because they're good or anything, but because the rest of this division ChiSux.)
4. Minnie Twinnies (Over/Under on Francisco Liriano starts: 25. I'm going under.)
5. Kansas City Royals (Now in powder blue. And they signed Jose Guillen. Whoop-dee-damn-doo.)
1. Boston Medias Rojas (Everything you loved last year, plus the hope of a regular season performance from J.D. Drew resembling his postseason, a regular season performance resembling anything from Julio Lugo, a slight jump from Jacoby Ellsbury over my still-beloved Coco Crisp [Red Sox career R.I.P....I hear Tampa Bay's on line 2 making an offer], and the thrill of what Daisuke can deliver after a year making the big adjustments. Losing Schilling for at least half a year isn't too concerning with a team this pitching-deep. Justin Masterson will boost the bullpen by July as well.)
2. New York Highlanders (It's great that Johnny Damon and Bobby Abreu showed up to camp in good shape. Too bad they also showed up a year older. Rebuilding in the Bronx has a hideous, stitched together look, like something out of Re-Animator, where a live limb (Phillip Hughes' right arm), a half-dead limb (Ian Kennedy's #4 starter stuff right arm) and rotting flesh (Mike Mussina) combine to form a monstrous back of the rotation. Or is that middle of the rotation? Joba or not, it's the same old story albeit in a positive direction: this team can slug, this team can't pitch. Not yet, anyway.
3. Tampa Bay De-Deviled Rays (Baseball Prospectus' PECOTA has them for 86 wins. I don't go that far, but this is actually a damn good team. Now.)
4. Toronto B'Jays
5. B. O's
Red Sox beat Tigers
Angels beat Indians
Mets beat Rockies
D'Backs beat Cubs
Red Sox beat Angels (badly, as usual.)
Mets beat D'Backs
And in yet another New York v. Boston sports event, as the rest of the nation moans, the Red Sox repeat in six games over the Mets.
I'm not picking awards this year. Except AL MVP. Grady Sizemore. I've picked him every year of the last three, and I refuse to not pick him the year it finally happens, damnit.