This should be a rollicking division, and the more I think about it, the more clueless I am as to who will win it. The White Sox and the Indians are two very good teams, as are the Twins. Detroit and KC should also be better than they were last year.
I still feel like the Sox have the best chance to win the division due to their phenominal starting pitching. But, as many people pointed out last year, they were quite lucky to win as many games as they did due to their weak, weak offense. Their offense should only marginally improve - they picked up Thome but lost Aaron Rowand. Their pitching should backslide a little too - Buerhle and Garcia should have similar years but I would be surprised if Contreras and especially Garland have another season like last year's.
This leaves them vulnerable to Cleveland and Minnesota. However, I don't think Cleveland has the pitching to win the division this year (and maybe not even the wild card). They lost Millwood, and while they have many quality pitchers, Millwood was their Ace last year. Byrd and Johnson are innings-eaters and the team will definitely lose more than half their starts. Their bullpen is also a question mark - Wickman had a great season last year but has proven in the past that he cannot stay healthy. They have several decent relievers but do one is really closer stock.
As for the Twins, I think this is the year they finally take a huge backslide from their 'perennial contender' status that they've enjoyed the past few seasons. Santana is money, as will be Liriano once they finally put him in the rotation (didn't they learn their lesson with all that time Johan freaking Satana spent in their bullpen?) Radke will likely decline, and the rest of their rotation has never been good to begin with. Their bullpen at least is better than the rest of the division, but they will ilkely be seeing lots of work. The real problem with this team though will be offense. Mauer and Morneau will be expected to carry this team, and they had awful seasons last year (along with Hunter). I expect them to improve, but this team will surprise everyone with the scarcity of runs they score. They will get off to a terrible start and then start playing .500 ball once Liriano gets in the rotation.
So in summary, I expect all three of the 'big' teams in this division to decline, and the Sox will win due to the fact that they will decline the least.
White Sox - 86 Wins
Indians - 82 Wins
Tigers - 80 Wins
Twins - 75 Wins
Royals - 68 Wins
March 31, 2006
This should be a rollicking division, and the more I think about it, the more clueless I am as to who will win it. The White Sox and the Indians are two very good teams, as are the Twins. Detroit and KC should also be better than they were last year.
Posted by Berselius at 9:45 AM
March 27, 2006
Just felt like sharing more of my random thoughts, though these aren't baseball-related. As I mentioned earlier, we bought Buffy The Vampire Slayer for our anniversary 2 weeks ago. Since then, we've watched the entire series and most of the commentaries, featurettes, etc. I think it was a fantastic show - Joss Whedon truly is The Man when it comes to making TV shows. I still think Firefly is better, and it stirs up the what-might-have-been thoughts about the show. Joss admits in some of the Buffy featurettes that he was new to TV when he started the show, and to imagine, say, 5 seasons of Firefly with an experienced Joss at the helm is a thing of beauty. Sadly is was not meant to be...Oh well.
Since I love lists and rankings so much, here are a few Buffy-related top-5s of mine.
-No explanation needed. Badass, funny, and everything else rolled into one character.
-He really grew on me. He was very much my least favorite of the core characters through most of the series...but then towards the end I finally got him. The producers etc go through great lengths explaining how crucial Xander truly is to the show, and I love goony henchmen whatever side they are on.
-She's just so damn funny and energetic. It must be Bunnies!
-I liked her much better as Geek Willow than Witch Willow, though her relationship with Tara was the best of all on the show (rivaled only by Buffy-Spike)
5. Principal Wood
-He was quite badass, and had a great story arc.
Top 5 Villains
1. The Trio (I always call them the Geek Squad)
-They were just so funny. I also think that Warren was by far the scariest of all the story arc villains. When he pulls out the gun and shoots Buffy and Tara it was the only moment in the entire series when I almost fell out of my chair - I literally shouted "Holy Shit" as it happened. What really sets him apart is the fact that he is not a demon/monster/whatever, he's just simply a really really bad person. It's not his nature to be evil - he made his own choices and had many opportunities to get off the path he was on. Just a fucking scary guy, despite the hilariousness of the three nerds together. I was glad they kept Andrew around in season 7.
2. Spike/Drusilla/Evil Angel
-They were all so great - especially the dynamic after Angel went evil. He was so much more fun as Evil Bastard Angel than Dark Brooding Angel. Spike and Dru worked so well together, and I wished there was more Drusilla across the whole show. She was jsut so deliciously insane.
3. The Gentlemen
-These guys were just fucking terrifying, with the floating and their freaky smiles. Such a great episode.
4. Evil Faith
-She was pretty good, just for the whole Dark Slayer angle. She played really well off Buffy
-This is more due to the awesomeness of the episode that he was in, though he really played the badass cool card very well, with all his tap dancing and crazy glares.
Honorary Mention - Harmony the Vampire
-Good lord, so funny. I can't decide if the unicorns or the i's dotted with smiley faces are funnier.
Top 5 Episodes
1. Once More With Feeling
-No doubt, best episode. I wasn't sure what it's deal would be, but about 10 seconds before Buffy started singing I figured out that it was a musical. So much stuff goes down in that episode, funny and plot-advancey. The songs really get stuck in your head too.
-Again, such a great concept for an episode. Joss Whedon just owns. The Gentlemen were such great monsters. They did such a great job keeping all the humor in the show despite the fact that there was no speaking at all. I just loved the whole overhead projector scene. I don't know what was funnier - Giles bringing background music or Anya eating popcorn while she watched it.
3. Fool for Love
-Probably the best of the Spike episodes, though there are many. It's probably the best episode that really fleshes out the Spike character. It just sheds a ton of light on his character and his relationship with Buffy, Druscilla, and Harmony and women in general, and we get to see him turn from foppish awful victorian poet to the Spike we know today.
4. Lies My Parents Told Me
-Again, more Spike background stuff. All the storylines going on are great - I think the whole Principal Wood arc was great and it was very nicely interwoven with the whole early Spike storyline. I don't think Jennie will ever forgive Giles for being in on Wood's plan for revenge.
5. Same Time, Same Place
-This demon deserves an honorable mention for scariest monster on the show. It was also a great episode all around.
Conversations With Dead People
I could write more and more, but I should stop...
Posted by Berselius at 11:47 PM
Prior threw off the mound today, for the first time in the 2 weeks since he had the shoulder strain. He threw 30 pitches, which seems like a good sign, though he cartainly won't be ready for the start of the season. No timetable has been set yet for his return.
Meanwhile, Williamson, who seemed to have a bullpen spot all but locked up, left a game yesterday with back spasms. Baker said he would be day to day, but the bullpen battle has turned into a dogfight. Before spring training started I had the bullpen projected as Dempster, Eyre, Howry, Ohman, Wuertz, Williamson, and Novoa. Now Wuertz is having an awful spring, Novoa had pneumonia, and Williamson might miss the opening of the season with this back stuff. My guess right now is that the opening day pitching staff will look like:
Rotation: Zambrano, Rusch, Maddux, Williams, Guzman (5th starter, called up when needed on 4/15)
BPen: Dempster, Howry, Eyre, Ohman, Koronka, Wellemeyer, Novoa, Aardsma (Until Guzman needs to start)
Posted by Berselius at 3:46 PM
My first draft went down yesterday, and I'm mildly pleased with it. I only made one mistake pick - taking Noah Lowry when I meant to take some other pitcher (don't remember who). This is a 6-team NL-Only league, 5x5 with roto format.
CI A Ramirez
B C Jackson
B E Encarnasion
P C Zambrano
P K Wood
P N Lowry
P L Hernandez
P G Maddux
P M Gonzalez
I went a little Cub-heavy in this draft...and I was trying not to make so many homer picks. Oh well. I even got an ex-cub in Moises Alou. I can picture Jennie reading this and saying "Alouuuuu!"
The biggest holes in this team are in Saves and my catcher position. If this rookie works out I'm set, if not no big deal - it's not like C is a good NL position (Barrett is the best one for God's sake...) Hopefully these closers should work out - Gagne is coming back from injury and has been a little shaky spring, and Valverde and Gonzalez aren't on rock-solid ground in their positions. Howry has had a great spring, and if Linebrink doesn't work out I can just find the inevitable "reliever with a breakout year" as the season progresses.
Posted by Berselius at 11:07 AM
Many people are pointing to the NL East as the most interesting division this season. It certainly was last year - all 5 teams were in contention for a major part of the year. This year however the prevailing wisdom seems to be that the massive decline of Florida combined with the big acquistions of the Mets should result in a runaway victory for New York. I beg to differ. As much as I hate to say it, I think the Braves will win the division, AGAIN, and the Mets will again be the target of the gleeful NY tabloids.
The Mets' big pickups were Delgado and Wagner. This certainly addressed issues the Mets had last season, and they will probably score a lot of runs (there's no way Beltran has another lousy season like last year). However, they very much DO NOT have the pitching to compete in the national league. Their staff isn't even as good as the Yankees', who will need to score a lot of runs to support their staff. Look at their starters: Glavine will run out of gas this season, Pedro is battling a bizarre foot injury and has his best years behind him anyway, Trachsel has always been a junkball thrower, and Zambrano and Heilman are consistently inconsistent. Similarly, in their bullpen they have no one after Wagner and Julio, and they will need bodies to pitch even if their old starters pitch well since they can't go deep into games. The mets should finish around .500
The Braves will likely win the division, and only the Phillies will be able to give them a run for their money. My final predictions for this division is
Braves 90 wins
Phils 87 wins
Mets 80 wins
Nats 78 wins
Fish 60 wins
Posted by Berselius at 11:02 AM
March 25, 2006
There's no question that this team will score the most runs in all of baseball. The only 'hole' in their lineup is Bernie Williams at DH, as he has long ago run out of gas. However, this team will probably give up a ton of runs as well. Their defense is pretty dodgy, with Damon's total lack of a throwing arm and A-Rod's sketchy D at third. Despite his reputation, Jeter is a sub-par defensive player as well. Their pitchers will give plenty of opportunities for errors as well. All of their starters have question marks - Unit and Mussina are definitely on the decline, Chacon and Wang need to prove that last season was not a fluke, and Wright/Pavano need to prove that that they can stay uninjured for any sort of reasonable stretch. Even more telling, their bullpen is quite questionable. Rivera is still good, but he isn't Mr. Sandman anymore. After seeing Farnsworth in Chicago, I don't think that the Yankees' big investment in him will pay off either. He won't be able to handle the pressure of pitchin in New York. The rest of their guys are washed up starters - this team is really missing the Tom Gordon/Mike Stanton/Jeff Nelson/Steve Karsay type guys that were the workhorses of their staff on all those good Yankees teams.
Like I said earlier, it's a 50/50 chance between the Yanks and the Sox as to who will win the AL east, and whoever doesn't win the title between the two of them won't make hte playoffs at all.
Posted by Berselius at 2:32 PM
March 23, 2006
So, it looks like my plan of posting about all the MLB teams might have been a pipe dream. I'm going to finish up the AL east with the yankees and do quick overviews of AL Central and NL east. I'll probably do each team in the NL central since I'm most familiar with them anyway. Then I can make my picks, bitch about my fantasy drafts, and get ready to start the season - woo.
Posted by Berselius at 6:33 PM
March 16, 2006
Reports are coming in that the Prior shoulder injury is merely a strain, rather than a, God forbid, tear or anything like that. This should probably push back his schedule a bit too. None of the reports I've seen seem to say how long he should be out, though I'm guessing a week. Certainly starting the second game of the season is out of question.
Luckily we have a lot of off days early in the season, so we won't need the full 5-man rotation probably for the whole first month of the season. I wonder why no one else has seen this as a mixed blessing though, since logic dictates to us that more off dates early in the season means less down the stretch, when the players really need the rest.
I also don't care for the people who bash Dusty, Hendry, et al about "overworking" the horses on the team. As Dusty pointed out, these guys are horses, and I think their injuries have more been due to bad luck (in Prior's case) or a history of bad mechanics (in Wood's case). It's not like Zambrano is having any problems and he's done the most work of all three of them, knock on wood. Hell, two or three years ago everyone was raving that Prior had the best mechanics in the game, and that every young pitcher should emulate his delivery.
Posted by Berselius at 1:55 PM
March 15, 2006
This should be an interesting team. As usual, depending on how things shake up either the Sox or Yankees will win the AL east. However, I do not think that the loser between these two will win the wild card, due to the rising quality of the AL east and the quality of the White Sox and Indians.
They can hit the ball like no other - with Manny Ramirez and Ortiz in the lineup they will score a ton of runs, and Nixon and Varitek are no slouches either. The rest of their lineup is filled with the same question marks, with different names. Gonzalez is not known for his bat, and Lowell slumped spectacularly last season. Loretta is a quality guy, and Youkilis is as yet unproven as a Major Leaguer. And, despite his awesome name, I'm not sure how Coco Crisp will do in his first season in the Black Hole that is Boston after filling Damon's shoes.
Likewise, their pitching is full of question marks. Schilling still isn't the Schilling of 2 years ago, Wells has nothing left in the tank, you never know which Tim Wakefield you will see, Clement is the very definition of the enigmatic pitcher, and I still don't expect Beckett will ever be able to pitch a full season. At least their bullpen has improved from last year.
I predict ~90 wins for this team
Posted by Berselius at 5:27 PM
March 14, 2006
Toronto spent a lot of money in the offseason, and anyone expecting the team to get significantly better will be disappointed. On the pitching side, look at what they added: a perennially underachieving (and injured) starting pitcher, and a half-decent closer who was wildly overpaid. These additions, while great, won't contribute as much to this team as having a healthy Roy Halladay. On the batting side, Glaus should mash and Overbay was a great pickup. However, Molina did not seem very happy to sign with the Jays...we'll see if he has a Revenge Season or a Sullen Season. Aside from the new guys, only Wells is any good, though their young middle infielders are highly touted and may progress this year.
I predict yet another slightly sub-.500 year from this team.
Posted by Berselius at 3:08 PM
March 13, 2006
I'm posting this a day late, but yesterday was our 5th anniversary. We had a good, relaxing, and fun day, and continued our membership in the Cult of Joss Whedon by purchasing and watching the first season of Buffy The Vampire Slayer, and capped off our evening with a delicious caramel apple and walnut pie.
Jennie, you are my love. I can't wait to see the smile on your face after you read this.
Love, Your Jorah
Posted by Berselius at 7:11 PM
This team is a mystery. They have the bats in Tejada, Mora, Lopez, and Roberts, and on a pure stuff level their pitchers are pretty good. This team's chances hinge on the impact of Leo Mazzone, which was by far the best signing by any team this offseason. Their entire rotation is full of pitchers who haven't lived up to their potential, and Mazzone can turn things around. The only question is - will their starting pitching be enough to hang with the rest of the AL East?
This team certainly should have the offense to hang with any team but the Yankees. Matos is the only hole in their lineup, provided Patterson gets his act together now that he doesn't have the boo-birds hovering around his head.
However, their bullpen is not looking to be very good. And the linchpin of their offense last season, Brian Roberts, is still coming back from an injury and reports are looking like his elbow isn't the same. I predict the Orioles to have a sub-.500 season (though not a 100-loss season by any stretch of the imagination).
Posted by Berselius at 2:57 PM
March 11, 2006
The Devil Rays are intriguing this year, for once. They certainly will not make hte playoffs this year, but it will be a different team than we are used to seeing. I think they will surprise many people with the pile of runs they will score this year - Baldelli and Crawford are crazy fast, and Cantu, Huff and hopfully Delmon Young (their can't-miss prospect) will drive in the runs. Lugo, Burroughs and Hall aren't very good, which may be a problem, but at least the team can play defense as well.
The reason why this team will not contend is their awful, awful pitching. Kazmir is the only decent pitcher on the entire staff, everyone else (starters and relievers will be lucky to have ERA's under 4.5. Look for this team to starting making a real push in 2 years, if they ever sign or develop any pitching.
Posted by Berselius at 11:57 AM
Oakland is clearly the best team in either western division, AL or NL. They have the best rotation in the majors, a great young closer, a decent bullpen, and a bevy of young hitters - This is the kind of team that Billy Beane and the other saber geeks drool over. The only question marks on the team are Milton Bradley and Jay Payton - Payton will get surly due to lack of a starting role, and Bradley is kind of a surly guy anyway.
I think this team will win 100 games and likely win the World Series.
Posted by Berselius at 11:50 AM
March 06, 2006
This Mariners team is part of an unlucky pantheon - teams that have no chance whatsoever to make the playoffs, joining such illustrious teams as Kansas City, Colorado, Arizona, Washington, Cincinatti, and Tampa Bay. Not to insult other well-'deserving' teams, like say Baltimore or Pittsburgh, whose chances are infitessimally small.
The team does have a few bright spots. Management wisely brought in another Japanese star - I would guess that the presence of Ichiro and Matsui have given the Mariners and Yankees mad $$ from overseas, much like Yao and the rockets. Jeremy Reed is a rising star, and Sexson is solid. The rest of their infield is quite forgettable, yes, even the tantalizing Adrian Beltre. Beltre is the poster child of the athlete who suddenly has a career year when he has a new contract coming - He'll wake up again when his current deal begins to run out.
The Mariners real problem is their pitching. Jarrod Washburn and Jaime Moyer are their top 2 starters? I'd be shocked if they win 15 games between them. Among all their pitchers (starters and BP) only Felix Hernandez, who is 3 years younger than me (man I am old), is the only one worth his salt. They are going to have a ton of runs scored on them, and will be lucky if they lose less than 100 games.
Posted by Berselius at 5:17 PM
This is an easy post to write - the Rangers have some bats, and they have no pitching. Their corner infielders are blue chippers (Texiera and Blalock), they have a (questionable) Nevin at DH, and Young is quite good at SS. Wilkerson is pretty good too, but the rest of their team is just replacable parts, with Generic McOutfielders like Dellucci and Mench, and Barajas isn't going to win awards anytime soon. Still, surrounding 2 blue-chippers with average offensive players (rather than sub-par ones) is a good recipe for runs, especially at The Ballpark.
Pitching on the other hand is a different story. They overpaid for Millwood, who had an inexplicable career year last year but is quite prone to the gopher ball and starting the stage in his career when pitchers beging to decline. Eaton never got his act together in San Diego, mainly due to injuries, and is not known for his control. Padilla is also an injury risk who hasn't got his stuff back, and may never have really had much in the first place. The rest of their rotation is full of scrubs, and their good bullpen will be negated by their lousy starters. They'll probably finish around .500 and give anaheim and oakland a few headaches.
Posted by Berselius at 1:09 AM
March 04, 2006
I'm going to do the AL west next - luckily this division is quite easy to call (the A's should run away with the division)
The Angels are the only team with a remote chance of challenging the A's for the title. Their hitting and defense should be pretty good, though Vlad and Erstad are clearly declining in both categories. Catching should be a slight question mark for them, but this team's biggest question will be pitching. They just don't have the horses the A's have, though Colon, Weaver, and Lackey are no slouches. Their bullpen is still the great Angels bullpen we've become accustomed to seeing since their 2002 title run.
I bet that they will be competing with the White Sox/Indians for the AL wild card spot, and will probably win it over either of those teams (I think both of them will decline)
Posted by Berselius at 3:58 PM
In news that was no surprise to any Cubs fan, Kerry Wood had his knee scoped this week, pushing back his rehab about two weeks. Wood didn't want the surgery but this was probably the right decision. Hendry pointed out that though Wood can still pitch on that knee, his fielding/baserunning/hitting will suffer and might cause an even worse injury to it. Still though - GRUMP. They shuold just put a giant "If Prior and Wood stay healthy..." message on the big sign on Wrigley Field all season.
Posted by Berselius at 3:50 PM
March 02, 2006
The first Cubs spring training game is in 13 hours and 53 minutes (they have a ticker on the cubs website). Sadly I'm going to miss the beginning of it, since I have class until 2:15. Luckily the class I usually have at 2:25 has been cancelled tomorrow, so I should be able to catch a good chunk of the game. We're going to meet to do homework when class normally would meet, but I'll probably boogie early to try to catch some of the game.
Posted by Berselius at 12:13 AM
March 01, 2006
Before I start talking about this team, did you see the crazy "Giants Idol" event they're holding this year.
The writeup made it seem pretty cool - they even got Bonds to dress up in drag (see pic below). Apparently he was hilarious as "Paula Abdul."
I'm not a big Barry Bonds fan, but I think a lot of the "Barry Bonds is a dick" stuff is more related to how he treats the media as opposed to whether or not he actually is, in fact, a dick. This whole thing has made me think twice about whether he's an amenable guy or not (though it has not made me think twice about him and the steroids issue).
Anyway, the Giants. Everyone seems to be saying that they will win the NL West if Bonds stays healthy, but I don't agree with this. While their outfield would be pretty good offensively with the speedy Randy Winn, Barry Bonds and his giant head, and Jennie's boy Moises Alou, the rest of their offense is pretty forgettable. Though their bullpen looks decent, after Jason Schmidt they do not have the starting pitching needed to win the division. Morris was overpaid for and I think he is definitely on the decline. What is more important for the Giants is for their rookies/young players to do well (especially Lowry and Niekro). They certainly have the best chance to win the division after the Dodgers, but I'm not really seeing it.
Posted by Berselius at 12:27 AM