Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Quick Flashes from My Crystal Ball

Over at Stick and Ball Guy today, SBG has compiled preseason forecasts by most of the Twins bloggers. Batgirl thinks she's being cute by picking the Twins to win every division and both wild card slots, but everyone knows the Twins have no chance in the AL East. The Twins are Mighty, but not wholly Omnipotent. The Force is strong with the minions of the Dark Side (of the Moon and New York City) too, and due respect should be paid. Even as I loathe them damned Yankees.

However, all us Twins bloggers are in agreement that the Twin Cities should expect to enjoy another AL Central title. Surrrrprise! Surrrrprise! I'm picking a repeat of the 2004 AL playoff teams straight across the board. In the NL, I'm taking the Cards, Dodgers, and Phillies, with the Braves in the wild card slot this year.

I expect the Angels to win the AL West again, fairly comfortably. Oakland should have a contending team, despite losing Hudson and Mulder. It looks like Beane acquired some true blue chip talent in both deals, and I suspect that he got rid of Mulder at just the right time, as he's been nagged by back problems for at least the past few years and that tailspin of his after the break last season would have worried me if I were a GM. I also applaud the move to bring in Jason Kendall, one of the great, underrated moves of the offseason. But I don't think the A's have the offense to keep pace with the Halos. Texas, as usual, still lacks pitching. Seattle made some splashy moves to upgrade the offense, but their pitching this spring is riddled with questions that need answering. I see the M's as being another year away from making a run at the top again.

In the Central, I see the Twins faltering only if the team is beset by a plague of locusts, frogs, a One Hundred Year Flood that submerges the Twin Cities, and serious injuries to Santana, Mauer, Morneau, and Radke. I don't think that Kevin Millwood is enough for the Indians to make the leap to 90+ wins. The Tigers offense should be solid, and that bullpen could be intimidating with Percival as its anchor, but their pitching rotation is young and mediocre. The White Sox, thankfully, had an awful offseason orchestrated by the man who could be the worst GM in baseball, trading his best hitter last season for junk parts even as he's throwing $22m at Jose Contreras, Carl Everett, Jermaine Dye, Dustin Hermanson, and a broken-down Orlando Hernandez. The Royals will only be a contender for the title of worst team in the league.

In the AL East, the Yankees and Red Sox will be great. Ho-hum. The Jays and Orioles will fight for 3rd place. The Devil Rays will be developing a young nucleus in an empty dome, for what could be a good Tampa Bay team in 2008 or else the next wave of stars in New York, Boston, LA, Chicago, Atlanta, and St. Louis. Cheers!

I could see the Padres winning the NL West, but I'll pick the Dodgers to repeat in a close race. LA has a deep, experienced pitching staff; I think Derek Lowe will thrive in the NL and Dodger Stadium; and the offense should be fine with J.D. Drew and Jeff Kent in the middle, even if it will be tough to replace what Adrian Beltre did for the lineup last year. But I'll give my respect to the San Diego team, a nice blend of youth and good veterans, which features my pick for the NL Cy Young: Jake Peavy. I expect the Giants to have a hard time without Barry Bonds, or even with him and all the attendant distractions when he is playing this year. Arizona threw bags of money at Troy Glaus and Russ Ortiz this winter, and also hired and fired a manager before he ever had charge of a game, which about sums up the direction of that club. The Rockies still don't really know the formula for winning outside, as well as in, Coors Field. Not that I know, either. I'm just sayin'.

I'm not sure that the Cards pitching can repeat its performance of last year: I suspect that the staff put on a show with smoke and mirrors, and I'm not that confident in Mark Mulder to replace Woody Williams going into this season. Still, what an offense, eh? It could be a(nother) tough year for the Cubs if Wood and Prior can't get healthy. The Astros last year scuffled until after picking up Carlos Beltran, and he isn't back this spring. I'm also going to predict that this is the year something really loony happens with Clemens, even loonier than throwing a bat at Piazza, something that effectively ends his career on a sour note and permanently tarnishes his legacy. I'm not saying he'll be caught with HGH in his chewing tobacky... but get ready. Or maybe that's just wishful thinking. As for the Pirates, Brewers, and Reds, they have some individual players of interest--like I'd just love to see Oliver Perez in the same rotation as Johan Santana--but we all know the teams won't be serious contenders in the division this year.

I'm picking the Phillies in the East because I've done it the last two years, and one of these times I hope to be right. The Braves probably will figure out a way to win it again, though. The Marlins signed Carlos Delgado and brought in Al Leiter to replace Carl Pavano. I wouldn't complain about having Josh Beckettt, Dontrelle Willis, A.J. Burnett, Miguel Cabrera, and Mike Lowell, either. Keep an eye on them. Even though I love Pedro and Dougie M., and the Mets did land the big free agent this winter in Carlos Beltran, they're still the Mets--and they're still rebuilding a team that won just 71 games last year. As for the Nats, we're looking at a last place team whose new GM this winter threw most of his improvement funds at Cristian Guzman, Vinny Castilla, and Esteban Loaiza. Exxxcellent, Mr. Bowden! Mwuhahahahahahahaha! Who says you need some kind of special expertise or experience to be a MLB GM? I could run the Nats into the ground just as well as their guy can do it, and for a fraction of the cost! Bud Selig, give me a call, will you?

5 Comments:

At 3/30/2005 12:18 AM, Blogger Leslie Monteiro said...

Great breakdown on both leagues, fright. You had me laughing about how the Twins would flater if the team is beset by locusts, frogs, and flood. You should have mentioned mosquitoes too since it's a common during the summers in Minnesota.

I thought I would give you my take on the leagues myself.

AL Central: I gotta give it to the Twins. They have the pitching and the offense. Not to mention those guys have become veterans who know how to win in division race. Cleveland and Detroit fight for second place. I will go with the Indians. I am still not sold on the Tigers pitching. Detroit is a year or two away. She-ca-go and KC are fighting for last place. I think the Whiney Sux finish in last place.

My standings:
Twins
Indians
Tigers
Royals
Whiney Sux

AL East: Red Sox. I think they have the talent and chemistry to do good things. Their pitching is still good though Matt Clement needs to get his act together when you look at his spring performance. I am going on a limb, but the Yankees ain't making the playoffs. I think that team is too old. I don't think that team has the chemistry to do good things. Randy Johnson's back will break down come this summer and I really don't like their pitching. Mariano Rivera's arm could be a problem this year. Orioles, Blue Jays, and Lou's D-Rays are fighting for either third, fourth, or fifth. Orioles has a shot to contend for the wild-card, but Cabera and Bedard really need to be legtimate and reliable as pitchers. Those two are going to have to find a way to be co-aces of the staff because Sidney Ponson being an ace of the staff is way too much to ask. As for the D-Rays, you forget to mention that Lou Piniella could be leaving by 2008 along with the players he groomed.

AL East:
Red Sox
Yankees
Orioles
Blue Jays
Devil Rays

In the AL West, it's going to be the Angels. They spent lot of money with free agents and they complement that with young players like Kotchman, MacPherson (though he may be out for awhile), and etc.
Are the Angels a WS Contender? That remains to be seen. Their pitching really has to be a lot better than last year especially Bartolo Colon. Angels need an ace big time. Can Jarrod Washburn regain that magic from 2002?
Texas's pitching is a year away. I think Seattle will contend for the wild card. Oakland is building for next year or the year after that.

AL West:
Anaheim
Seattle
Texas
Oakland

AL Wild Card: Mariners. I think they will be good enough to get that last wild card spot.

How does anyone count out Bobby Cox and the Braves? How? Braves just find ways to win the NL East every year and this year will be no different. Last year, Bobby Cox did his best work as a manager. This year, his pitching is a lot better with the addition of Tim Hudson in the staff not to mention John Smoltz is back in the staff. Can their offense helped the Braves come playoff time? I think this is the year Atlanta gets out of the first round. Phillies are overrated. Their hitters are overrated outside of Thome and I don't like their pitching. I don't like the team's mental toughness either. Marlins got a good team as long as they are healthy. I think last year, the Marlins thought it would be a breeze and they got lazy at times. Mets? I think they will win 84 games at third place, but I am not crazy about their starting pitching and their bullpen is a question mark outside of Braden Looper. Losing Steve Trachsel hurts and to rely on Zambrano who is not pitching well, is hazardous. The Nationals will compete, but they will be a year or two away till they are a contender. BTW, it will be interesting how our old friend Cristian Guzman deals with Frank Robinson who won't have time to put with Cristian's antice the way Gardy put up with.

NL East:
Braves
Marlins
Mets
Phillies
Nationals

I think the Cardinals will be a very good team. LaRussa will find a way to get the most out of his team like he did last year. I think their pitching is good enough to win the division. I don't like the Cubs. They got a lot of losers in that team and their manager did a very lousy job last year. Cubs will be in third place. The Astros pitching will have them contend in the NL Central and wild card. I think the Brewers and Pirates will be exciting to watch. I think this is the year the Brew Crew could be an over .500 team. You mention Oliver Perez, fright. That guy is special. He was awesome to watch last year. I got to watch him make his ML debut for the Padres against the Yankees in 2002 and he was very good. Pirates snookered the Padres good in getting Bay and Perez for Brian Giles.

NL Central:
Cards
Astros
Cubs
Brewers
Pirates
Reds

Not only am I picking the Padres to win the NL West, but I am picking them to go all the way. I think their pitching is very good and I am with you on Jake Peavy winning the Cy, fright. I think their hitters will bounce back from a rough year and they got guys who can steal bases in Dave Roberts and Khail Greene. Dodgers? I think they are overrated. I can't wait till they fail this year. I hate that team with a passion. I rather root for the Yankees if they play the Dodgers. I just don't like the arrogance of the Dodgers and their fans annoy me. Their offense will be back in Earth. It was so nice to see St. Louis clock LA in the NLDS. Giants will likely win the Wild Card, but all bets are out if Bonds is out for the year. D-Backs will improve,but they are not going to be as good as San Diego. I am not sure why Arizona spent money. Shouldn't they be developing youngsters like San Diego has done in the last years at Jack Murphy Stadium. Colorado got some good young talent. It will come down to the consistency of the starters and the relievers. Rockies need a closer who is reliable in the ninth. They haven't had that in two years. Arizona, LA, and Colorado for last place.

NL West:
Padres
Giants
Dodgers
D-Backs
Rockies

NL Wild Card: Giants

 
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