Thursday, February 26, 2009

Spring Training--Quick Darts.

ITEM! The inevitable begins. I see a murder-suicide involving Dusty Baker one of these days. (However, the gunman is going to be Mark Prior.)

ITEM! Baseball Prospectus and CHONE projections are out, and a few things are apparent, if you take these at face value (which, of course, you should not):

1) Holy fucking shit is the AL East a loaded division this year.

The Orioles stand to get better if not win more games, the Blue Jays are a pesky .500ish squad for as long as they choose not to trade Roy Halladay (note: not long), and as for the top three, we needn't say more.

The Yankees and Sox project well in both models, as well as within two games of each other in both models. This could be a good 'un.

2) The NL East ain't shabby either.

Three good teams, one good race, one big problem (it's the National League) which renders them all 91-87 win teams.

3) These ain't your daddy's Angels. Unless your daddy remembers when they sucked.

I saw an earlier version of the BP model where the A's won the division with 82 or 83 wins...did someone just bitch out, or was Bobby Abreu that much of a game changer? (Him and his awesome glove, I mean?)

In any case, the West seemingly ain't what it used to be, but the Angels look just good enough for it, although a Matt Holliday-enhanced Oakland youth movement seems dangerous to me. They do look up to another first-round playoff loss though. The more things change...

4) Best race in baseball: the race for 6th place!

CHONE has the Astros losing a measly 90 games to be their lowest ranked and least-winning team; BP sees something even more exciting, with the 'Stros and Pirates battling all year long to delve the depths, and the Pirates finally losing 98 games to beat Houston out. Woo!

(Additionally, this is why I like BP's model: it doesn't have everything falling or rising to the mean and instead actually takes some chances.)

Also, the Indians are back. Hard luck season last year, no surprise there for me. Will I pick Grady Sizemore for MVP for the 4th straight year? Wait and see.

ITEM! Josh Beckett is KILL! Well, this remains to be seen, but when you consider just how early the misfortunes of 2008 began for my namesake, it's amazing he had the season he did.

If he stays healthy enough, perhaps taking a DL vacation in July, Beckett's 2009 will make up for any problems Jon Lester has bouncing back from a hefty innings load in 2008. If he doesn't, there are problems.

If both are healthy and powerful, and I say this with respect to forces acquired by the New York Blackwaters, there will be no AL East race. That's not so much a big statement as it is a big if.

ITEM! The Boston media, like the rest of us, has no idea how the Bard-Wakefield pairing is going to work out, but hey, one start, so good?

Ideally, I'd like to see Varitek take a few Wakefield starts (partially in penance) and a more flexible, 60/40 arrangement between the two catchers, but we'll see how Tito does making actual decisions about catching for the first time. If anyone can balance 'Tek's ego and pride to the realities of age, it's him.

ITEM! Manny Ramirez will be a Dodger, or Scott Boras will lose clientele ultimately. At some point, you just can't invent more generous offers and bullshit and waste your client's time. $25 million this year, the possibility of $20 million next, but year #2 is on you? Sign. Play problem-free for a season, Manny, and mayhaps you'll get an actual multi-year deal in 2010. Don't, and, see Abreu, Bobby.

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