Dodgers over Mets in 5
Cubs over Snakes in 4
Cubs over Dodgers in 6
BoSox over Tigers in 4
Indians over Angels in 3
BoSox over Indians in 6
Red Sox over Cubs in 5
This is probably too optimistic for the Cubs...but I really do think the Dodgers match up well with the Mets. The rest of their rotation is much better than the non-Santana Mets starters, and they have an underrated offense. Really the Cubs should probably lose to the Snakes, then one of the NL West teams should get the honor of being obliterated by the Red Sox.
March 29, 2008
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'.
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"
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...)
March 28, 2008
Here are my predictions for the AL
I'm not as high on the Yankees as a lot of people. Chances are that at least one of their young pitchers will get injured/be ineffective, and the longer that Joba is in the bullpen the more it will hurt this team. Wang and Pettite should be good to great, but I don't expect them to have truly stellar seasons. They don't have very much pitching depth if more than one person goes down.
Likewise, I'm not wild about the Jays. Their rotation should regress, and I don't see much upside in their offense either other than Alex Rios. Tampa Bay is a good, young, up-and-coming team that should take advantage of down years by the Yankees and Toronto, and of course the terrible, terrible Orioles. It's going to be a long, long year in Baltimore.
Everyone seems to be all over Detroit, but I still think Cleveland is the better team. Detroit has a good offense but their rotation and especially their bullpen is much more voliatile. I still like them to grab the Wild Card in the AL though. The White Sox could have been a lot worse - they made some decent moves in the offseason but now was not the time to do it. They needed to rebuild in the face of the twin juggernaughts of Cleveland and Detroit this season. I could see the Twins or Royals moving up a few wins here, but really the teams right now are pictures of small market mediocrity (though they certianly still have more upside than, say, the Pirates).
Even with the injuries to Lackey and Escobar, the Angels are clearly the best team in this division. Seatlle waaaay overplayed its talent last year, and while they did improve by adding Bedard, losing Adam Jones will hurt them. Oakland will be better than most rebuilding teams, but still has no shot. Texas still doesn't have pitching (who'd a thunk it?)
March 04, 2008
For the most part, the people in the bullpen are pretty set. Here are the locks
I think we can probably add Pignatiello to this list too, considering how terrible Cotts has looked so far
The last slot is the long reliever - I expect this will be Marshall or Dempster (if he loses out on a rotation spot and we don't trade Marquis).
The question that remains is what everyone's roles will be. Clearly Marmol is our best reliever, but Lou used him the way you're supposed to use your best reliever last season, i.e., putting him in to kill rallies, or to face the heart of the lineup late in the game (but not the 9th inning). I'm hoping that he remains in that role, though I'm worried that he might get overworked. Lou really leaned hard on Marmol last season, but luckily he only got worked during the stretch as opposed to the full season. He showed he still had it in the winter leagues, so maybe he is a little more durable than the typical reliever.
My guess is that Wood will end up with the closer's role, but I bet it will be more of a classical 'Nasty Boys' style of bullpen, where Wood is favored for saves but not the mandatory choice if he's been working for several days.
Wood (Primary Closer) -28 saves, 31 save opps, 60 IP, 65 K, 30 BB, 3.20 ERA, 1.28 WHIP
Howry (Backup Closer) - 9 saves, 10 save opps, 78 IP, 70 K, 15 BB, 3.48 ERA, 1.23 WHIP
Marmol (Fireman) - 2 saves, 2 save opps, 88 IP, 115 K, 40BB, 2.67 ERA, 1.11 WHIP
Wuertz - 70 IP, 72 K, 30 BB, 3.78 ERA, 1.32 WHIP
Eyre - 50 IP, 45 K, 25 BB, 4.12 ERA, 1.39 WHIP
Pignatiello - 35 IP, 20 K, 12 BB, 3.98 ERA, 1.28 WHIP
Marshall (as reliever) - 63 IP, 52 K, 28 BB, 4.84 ERA, 1.44 WHIP
Pignatiello will look pretty good if you isolate his stats against lefties...most LOOGYs have deceptively good statlines because for the most part they are only brought in where they are expected to succeed (see Will Ohman, 2005). The reason why his numbers aren't even lower is that I expect him to pitch in some garbage time as well against a more general sample of batters.