crazy colored glasses

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Spring Fever

I know I'm a few days late on my pre-season baseball predictions, so I had to go on the record and tell my girlfriend my picks while we watched the Final Four on Saturday night as we made cookies, damn those Oatmeal Scotchies are good... anyway, here they are

American League East: New York Yankees
Top to bottom this is the toughest, most competitive division in baseball. I'm convinced if you take the team that ends up in last place in this division and put them in any other division in the league they probably win it. The East has three of the strongest teams in the American League. All except the Yankees have major flaws. Thats why they are my pick to win the division (for a 9th consecutive year). The RedSox made some major offseaason moves adding Coco Crisp, Mark Loretta, Alex Gonzalez, Mike Lowell, J.T. Snow, Wily Mo Pena, Julian Taverez and Josh Beckett. I think they sacrificed too much offense for the sake of defense. On games against right handed pitchers their infield will be Snow, Loretta, Gonzalez and Lowell. I'm sorry but thats not a lineup that will put a lot of fear in people. While adding Josh Beckett is a good move I feel like he will need at least a season to adjust to being an American League pitcher. I also dont care what people are saying, I dont think Coco Crisp is an even trade for Johnny Damon. Damon meant a lot more to the team. More than just his numbers indicate. While the BlueJays made just as many moves adding Lyle Overbay, Troy Glaus, Bengie Molina, A.J. Burnett and B.J. Ryan, they went the opposite way of the Sox. I feel like they sacrificed defense for offense. They also ppaid too much money for unproven players. A.J. Burnett is an injury prone .500 pitcher and B.J. Ryan has one full season as a closer under his belt. I do like the moves for Molina and Glaus as I feel both have a lot to prove. The Yankees on the other hand have no visible holes, I don't remember any season besides 1998 that you can look at the team and say that. They have a record-breaking offense an above average defense, one of the best bullpens in the league, and they have 7-8 starting pitchers. Absolutely no holes, and the last time they had a real leadoff man (as good as Jeter is, he's not a prototypical leadoff man) they won 3 World Series in a row. The rest of the league should be worried. The Orioles and Devil Rays are both stocked with young talent. For the Orioles its on the pitching side, while for the D-Rays its on offense. They'll battle each other for the right to 4th place.

American League Central: Cleveland Indians
While everything I've read has told me that the Chicago WhiteSox are a lock to win this division and repeat as champions, I just dont buy it. I see a veteran team who traded away a key ingredient to last years success (Aaron Rowand) who have no chance of remaining as healthy as they did last year. Rowand is similar to the way Damon contributed to the RedSox success last year. So much more than the numbers, he set a gritty workmanlike tone for the team. I think adding Thome (who has a lot to prove, and must also stay healthy) was a nice move, but the cost of Rowand was too much. He won so many games for them last year because of his defense. The WhiteSox had the best record in 1-run games last year. I think thats a feat they'll be hard-pressed to match. The starting rotation is as strong as any I've ever seen, I ust don't think they can remain as healthy again as last year. Guillen is very taxing on his arms, and for a veteran club that pitched a lot of innings last year deep into the postseason I don't think they can replicate last years success. The Cleveland Indians on the other hand are one of the most talented young teams in the game. They lost 36 1-run games last year. A staggering number. They have up and coming stars at almost every position with a potential superstar in Grady Sizemore. I think he's going to have a serious breakout year. There is not a hole in the lineup, they have a strong starting staff and a good bullpen (Guillermo Mota should help bridge the gap to Bob Wickman, which was a problem last year). The rest of the division should finally see the Tigers finish above .500 and jump over the Twins. The Royals are barely even worth mentioning.

American League West: Oakland Athletics
I think it will be an interesting two team race between the A's and the Angels. I think the A's get the nod based on their potentially dominating starting pitching. While the Angels rotation is good, the A's rotation is scary, and young. I feel like they have a real sense of urgency as well, knowing that they'll probably lose Barry Zito (to the Mets) this offseason. The offense is good, not great, the Angels definitely have the edge in that department. I just like the way Oakland batters work the count and get into the bullpen early. It's been their recipe for success the last few years. The Angels scare me the way they are trying to work their youngsters in. I think Casey Kotchman, Dallas McPherson and Jeff Mathis can all play, but right now for a contending team, i'm not sold. They do still have a dominant bullpen, and that will win them a lot of games. The Rangers will again have a great offense and not enough pitching. They are the American League version of the Rockies. I have a hard time believing any pitcher can be successful there. The Mariners will be better, but not good enough to escape the cellar.

The Angels will be the Wild Card. With serious contention from Boston, Toronto and Chicago.

The Yankees will win the American League and go to the World Series (did you expect any other prediction from me, c'mon, I love my boys in the Bronx)

National League East: New York Mets
As much as it pains me to say it, I think the Mets are the cream of the crop in the National League East. Tough outs in the whole lineup. A good starting five (provided Pedro is healthy), a rebuilt bullpen. The only hole on the team is their bench. Can Victor Diaz be productive while pouting because he was passed over for the starting rightfield job. A lot of their season will count on it. The Mets also just have that swagger that a good team has, I think Willie has instilled that in this team from his years in the Bronx. The Braves will again be good (aren't they always) and should win the Wild Card. I dont like Renteria at short, but they are strong every where else. They also have to hope that they will get the Jeff Francoeur from August and not from September. The starting pitching is also strong, but should slip a little without the guidance of Leo Mazzone. The bullpen is still an issue, that really was the deciding factor in me thinking the Mets could finally overtake them.The Phillies should be good as well. Good offense, good pitching, but how much will they miss Billy Wagner. Ryan Howard is one of, if not the best top young slugger in the game. It'll be exciting to see him over a full season. These guys could be a real darkhorse this year. The Nationals will be about the sam as last year, I really dont see where they upgraded besides in left with Soriano which is a defensive downgrade. The Marlins have good young talent, but they should all probably be in the minors ecept for Miguel Cabrera. I think they have two future stars in Mike Jacobs and Jeremy Hermida and I think Joe Girardi will have these kids motivated and ready to play every day.

National League Central: Houston Astros
I think I should caveat that and say If Roger Clemens comes back. This is gonna be a tough division, because I think the Cardinals are going to start to slip and the Brewers and Pirates are gonna be better than last year (they each have some of the best young talent in the game... Fielder, Weeks, Clark for the Brew Crew and Wilson, Bay and Duke for the Pirates). Which leaves the enigma, the Chicago Cbbs. The Cubs have a bona fide leadoff man and centerfielder in uan Pierre, power at the corners in Derek Lee and Aramis Ramirez, a good catcher in Michael Barret, and potentially dominant starting pitching... if healthy. Pitchers health always seems to be the problem in Chicago. I feel like every year I say the Cubs will win the division if their pitching is healthy. I mean you'd be hard pressed to find pitchers with better stuff than Kerry Wood and Mark Prior, but they're nevver healthy. My girlfried is a Cubs fan though, so I have to hope they do well. LETS GO CUBS. The Reds are simply not good enough, although I think Ken Griffey will have a huge year, as well as a big bounce back year from Tony Womack.

National League West: Los Angeles Dodgers
Once again the weakest division in baseball. The Dodgers are simply the best in the division. They upgraded every part of the team, the offense, pitching, bullpen and bench. Look for a big season from Nomar, who wants to show the world he still has something left. I also love Jae Seo in the back of that rotation, on of the best number 4 tarters in the league. The Giants should get a boost offensively from Barry Bonds but must hope for a healthy season from Jason Schmidt. They are a very veteran team who will need some contributions from young pitchers. San Diego should be good as well. The addition of Mike Piazza should provide some punch to this lineup. Peavy is an elite pitcher, and I think they will get good seasons from Dewon Brazelton and Shawn Estes. The Diamondbacks and Rockies both need lots of work. The Diamondbacks don't have enough offense, and the Rockies don't have enough pitching (what else is new).

I think the Atlanta Braves win the Wild Card with serious contenntion coming rom the Cubs, Brewers and Giants.

It pains me to say that I think the Mets can win the National League. I think they are the team with the fewest holes. Strong bullpen, great starting lineup, good rotation ( as long as Pedro is healthy)

Subway Series Part Two... Much like the last Yankees/Mets World Series... Yankees win in 5.