March 29, 2008

NL Predictions

NL East

NYM: 95-67
ATL: 84-78
PHI: 81-81
WAS: 73-89
FLA: 72-90

This prediction would appear that I am all over the Mets' bandwagon...but I assure you that I am not. Santana is fantastic, but I say meh to everyone else in their rotation. Their win total is more a reflection of how overrated I think their main 'competition' is. I see Philly as a .500 team, great offense notwithstanding. As bad as their pitching was last season, several of their guys were pitching above their ability. Moving Myers back into the rotation was the right move, but I don't think it will make up for some regression on Hamels (good, but not great), yet more attrition on Jaime Moyer, the revelation that Kyle Kendrick is a league average pitcher at best, and whoever occupies the rotating door at the 5th starter position. Offense can only get you so far, and this team matches up especially poorly with the Mets, who also have a great offense but better pitching. While the Phillies are overrated, everyone continues to underrate the Braves. They do have the pitching to go with a decent (not great offense) and that's a better formula for getting some wins. Washington should be a little better this year...though I'm probably just biased since I'm a HUGE Manny Acta fan. No one else gets more production from so little talent. Their outfield situation should be interesting this year, but their pitching isn't going to get them anywhere. As for Florida, I hope Loria enjoys all the cash he's pocketing from the team and his new sweetheart staduim deal. Here's hoping they call it 'Taxpayers' Stadium'.

NL Central
CHC: 91-71
MIL: 85-77
CIN: 80-82
PIT: 75-89
STL: 74-88
HOU: 69-93

The fact that the Cubs' record isn't much better, given so many crappy teams in the division (see the Mets, above) is that the Cubs are still a pretty flawed team. Their biggest asset is their bullpen - aside from that I see them as having a merely above-average offense and rotation (good but not especially great). Defense should be pretty good - we have 4 plus defenders on the field at any moment (maybe 5 if Soto is as good defensively as people are projecting). I am still a little worried about our D up the middle though. The club's biggest needs are upgrades at SS and at starting pitcher, but we're really only throwing out 3 replacement level players in our entire effective starting lineup (Theriot, Marquis, Dempster), which is more than anyone else in the division can say.

Milwaukee, on the other hand, has a great offense, combined with a very shaky rotation and a bullpen that probably isn't much better than last year's. The lack of depth in the starting rotation will make it seem like deja vu all over again for their overworked bullpen, and Gagne is definitely a downgrade from Cordero (and I don't think he will do as well as most seem to think). Actually, the best thing they did was sign Mike Cameron, which radically realigned their defense. Braun goes from a butcher at 3B to merely a crummy (at worst) defensive left fielder, which should be worth a win or two.

Cincy is a team with a ton of upside, but Dusty Baker + Young upside = bad combination. The fortunes of this team depend on how many ABs Bruce and Votto get. Even if they all get in there and Cueto/Volquez have good seasons, I don't think this is their year. But man, watch out in 2009/2010.

As for the rest, I put Pitssburgh above the rest on the strength of their pitching. They might have the trio of starters in the division with Snell, Duke, and Gorzelanny. Too bad the rest of their team is replacement level. St. Louis should just move their team to Birmingham, AL this year, due to their close relationship with Dr. James Andrews. This team is Pujols, Wainwright, and a whole ton of reclamation projects. I get the feeling that La Russa is going to just take it easy this year. As for Houston - hooray for the Ed Wade era! They should make their front office motto "Keeping mediocre middle infielders and middle relievers away from YOU since 2007"

NL West:
ARI: 94-68
LAD: 88-74
SDP: 86-76
COL: 81-81
SFG: 59-103

While Arizona's great season last year was kind of fluky, this year they truly have reloaded to make themselves a 90+ win team. There should be lots of development on their young players, and getting Haren was a great deal for them too. The NL west should be a tough division, but I think that they are the cream of the crop. The Dodgers should do well too, despite Joe Torre and Ned Coletti. That said, the more ABs Juan Pierre gets, the less likely they will win the wild card. Also, let's have a Moment of Silence for Scott Proctor's and Jonathon Broxton's arms...they will be hanging on by a thread by the end of this season. The Padres will continue their all pitching, no offense ways but they just don't have enough talent to compete with the top 2 teams in the division. I don't get all the love for the Rockies. Last year was certainly a great story, but they're still the Colorado Rockies. Look, I admire their retooling to offset the Coors effect, but they're really just the Phillies in a different stadium. The Giants will be awful. At least last year they had Bonds (still one of the top 5 players in baseball, when he plays at least). This year...well....they have Lincecum and Cain. And, um... (maybe I better change that...)