Monday, March 5, 2012

The Phillies Win The World Series (And 29 Other Baseball Predictions)

March is here, possibly the most wonderful time of year.  The snow has melted, the birds are coming home and the sun is actually up when I am.  And then of course the sports.  There is no better month for sports.  Hockey and Basketball seasons are just starting to get interesting; there is excessive reporting on the NFL draft.  And then of course the Big East and Friends tournament, otherwise known as March Madness. 
But what truly makes March special is of course the start of Baseball, and since only sex and free t-shirts are better than gambling I’ve decided to take this time and compile a listing of everything that will happen over the course of the long season.  So sit back and relax, you now have seven months off to devote your time to do anything else because you’ll already know how the season will end.  I recommend starting War and Peace.

1.       NL East Order of Finish: Phillies: They still have the best 1-3 pitchers in baseball, they’ll have a full year with Pence hitting 3 (sorry Chase) and they still sport one of the best defenses in the game.  The bullpen might be better than last year with more experience from Stutes and Bastardo, plus a second lefty specialist in the D train. But even with all of that they won’t come close to as good a record as last year because...  Braves: The Phillies run of dominating the NL East came to an end last year.  With the exception of the last month of the season, the Braves were the second best team in the NL.  This year they should be even better.  No way will Uggla or Heyward be as atrocious as last year.  And with a full year of Bourn batting leadoff they will score a lot more runs.  Then there’s the pitching.  No team has a better 1-15, and with Teheran joining the staff and more reps for Kimbrel and Venters I expect this team to be very good.  Nationals:  Like the Braves I expect the offense to be much improved.  As fun is was to watch Jayson Werth struggle to come to grips with his contract there is no way he is actually as bad as he was last year.  And if he gets to bat between the new nine figure man (really)Ryan  Zimmerman and a healthy Adam LaRoche there is no reason to expect  the Nats will have to many problems scoring runs.  Combine that with Bryce Harper and you have a pretty good 2-5.  Then of course there is Strasburg.  After watching his first game you knew this kid would be a star.  And now a year removed from Tommy John surgery I see no reason why he won’t continue his climb up the ranks of great pitchers in the game today.  Add Gio Gonzales and Edwin Jackson and that’s a pretty good rotation.  Marlins:  The new Miami Marlins went out there and shocked the world by bringing in shiny new toys like Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle and Heath Bell.  They still have a lot of young talent like Mike (Giancano) Stanton and no way Hanley has another horrible season at the plate.  With the return of Josh Johnson and Annibal Sanchez they’ll have a pretty good rotation.  However they have a lot of personalities on this team including their manager and if things start to go south I don’t think there is a calming presence on the team.  But if everything break right for them there is no reason why this team can’t win 85 games, I just don’t think they will.  Mets: I just feel bad for them at this point.  I mean why kick a dead horse.  Oh yea, because I really hate them.  But besides that, they are just horrible.  They will probably end up trading David Wright (please to the Phils) for a bag of balls.  They are still trotting out Jason Bay’s corpse and they have no one else in the lineup who illicit any other reaction than pity.  They have decent starting pitching with what is left from Johan, Pelfrey and Niese but they have no bullpen or 4-5 starter.  If this team wins 65 games this year I will be impressed.   
2.       NL Central Order of Finish: Reds:  Everyone’s darling team to win the now wide open central, might as well hop on the bandwagon.  With Votto, Bruce and the Professional Scott Rolen they have a very good lineup.  With the under rated additon of Mat Latos they have a very good  1-2 with Cueto.  I’m expecting a better year out of Stubbs and with a steady presence of Ryan Madson instead of the up and down Cordero and this team will be more like the team from two years ago rather than last year.  Brewers:  When I initially wrote my rankings out I had the Brewers ranked third.  But with Ryan Braun somehow getting his suspension overturned (probably a Jewish conspiracy.  L’chaim Bud) I vaulted them back into second.  With Gallardo and Grienke in the front and Rodriguez and Axford’s mustache in the back the Brewers will be damn good.  However the loss of 30/100 guy cannot be replaced with what used to be Aramis Ramirez and whatever a  Mat Gamel is.  I also suspect that just like everywhere else Nyjer Morgan will wear out his welcome and become a nuisance.   Pirates: The Pirates WILL have a winning record this year.  You can put it in the bank.  Damn it this is the year.  Andrew McCuthen is a star.  Neil Walker and Jose Tabata are good table setters and well that’s about it.  There rotation is a mess with A.J. Burnett and Eric Bedard (what really, he’s on a major league roster, ok I guess) getting starts and their bullpen is being anchored by Joel Hanrahan but with such a weak division they will finish with at least 82 wins.  Congratulations Pirates, you now might be worthy to play in that stadium (it might be the best in baseball, seriously) Cardinals:  I think I read somewhere that the face of the franchise left.  Yes with the insufferable Tony La Russa retiring there will be a real leadership void.  Oh and also Albert Pujols decided to tarnish his legacy, but at least he still respects Stan Musial enough to not want to be called ‘El Hombre.’  Way to have principles Albert.  The pitching staff should be better with the return of Adam Wainright to match up with Chris Carpenter.   But oh my God is this team old; Beltran, Berkman, and Rafael Furcal are all taking the field on opening day, and no way does Fat Elvis have the type of year he did last year.  This team will need to win a lot of game 2-1 to stay competitive and I’m still not sold on Motte being a shut down closer.  Cubs: The only thing they have going for them is that they aren’t the Astros.  Starlin Castro is a star in the making but that’s about it offensively.  My boy Marlon Byrd and his steroids probably will be traded mid season and Alfonso Soriano is still playing in left which probably gives new GM Theo Epstein heart palpations every time there is a routine fly ball.  After that it looks like Matt Garza will be there opening day starter (ouch) and it doesn’t get better from there.  Carlos Marmol probably won’t be as bad as last year, but that’s only the difference between having herpes and HIV.  Did I mention at least they aren’t the Astros.  Astros: They are the Astros and they will probably be the worst team in the majors again.  They are so bad the front page of their website is a picture of Jed Lowrie.  They still have to trot out El Caballo every day and they still have to pay J.A. Happ.  But at least they got rid of the mole in their front office; Ed Wade.  Thanks for Lidge and Pence, Sincerely, Every Phillies fan.
3.       NL West Order of Finish: Padres:  Seriously, the Padres?  You do know they are starting Orlando Hudson and whoever Jesus Guzman is right?  You’re also aware that if the season started tomorrow Calros Quentin would be batting cleanup?  I am, but I started drinking and wanted to mix it up a bit.  Plus I like their pitching with Stauffer and Richard, and I’ve always been high on Edison Volquez whom I expect to dig playing on the west coast.  The team is as exciting as white bread, but I think Bud Black is one of the few managers who actually do anything.  Heath Bell was a big blow, but in that park it is easier to keep a lead.  I think much like two years ago this team will do all the little things right and are the least flawed team in the craziest division in the league.  Seriously each team could easily win this division. Giants: 2010’s champions had a down year offensively and I expect that trend to continue.  However when your rotation is fronted by Lincecum, Cain and Bumgarner you can win some ballgames.  There are rumors that one of them will be traded for some offense which is good because I don’t think Aubry Huff and Melky Cabrera will get it done by themselves.  However with Buster Posey coming back they do have at least one hitter you kind of fear.  Bonus Prediction: Brian Wilson sometime this year will shave his beard, and no one will care. Diamondbacks:  Everything broke right for them last year, and that rarely happens two years in a row.  Ian Kennedy will not win 20 games again and JJ Putz won’t have another near perfect season.  However Justin Upton will take his game up another notch and Paul Goldschmidt is the real deal.  The Diamondbacks might have the best lineup in the NL, but that’s says more about the NL then the Diamondbacks.  Dodgers:  Even with career years from Matt Kemp and Clayton Kershaw the Dodgers still finished only 3 games over .500.  Both players are great but don’t look for them to replicate those numbers again.  They have no bullpen, Juan Uribe is scheduled to start at third and the Ellis brothers are going to start at second and catcher (you’re right I didn’t know Mark had a brother either)They did lose Kuroda to the Yankees, but I have always like Chad Billingsley more than anyone else so there’s that.  If everything breaks right then James Loney will have learned how to coordinate a steroid cycle and starts hitting 20-25 homers and they can finally get some production from easily the strangest fantasy player out there.  Rockies: They have CarGo and Tulo and then they hit a brick wall.  With Ubaldo gone they lost their only pitcher who was mildly intimidating.  Todd Helton and Casey Blake are entering their combined 74th season so maybe they can impart some wisdom about the creation of fire.  Yea, they aren’t very good; I’m out of things to say about this team.  How bout we move on to the American League then.  
4.       AL East Order of Finish: Rays: The Rays made me believe in God for a day last year.  That whole day with the improbable comeback and monumental collapse was a thing of beauty.   And this year’s team will be even better.  In an always brutal AL East the Rays are anchored by the three best young arms in the game with Price, ROY Hellickson and Matt Moore and are poised to control the division for as long as there is a recession.  Not to mention Longoria, Jennings and the return of Pena they are not lacking in pop either.  Yankees:   Just when everyone thought they were out they pulled us right back in.  With the signings of Pineda and Kuroda only hours apart the Yankees went from a shortage to a surplus on starting arms, so they go out and trade their cancerous growth otherwise known as AJ Burnett for a couple of bags of Big League Chew.  I like Pineda but he faded further down the stretch than Smarty Jones at the Belmont.  That was probably more due to age rather than ability, but his numbers away from Safeco where troubling.  As for Kuroda, has anyone ever felt confident when an NL pitcher playing with no pressure immediately becomes the #3 pitcher in the AL East?  I would ask Daisuke but he’s still crying in the fetal position.  But you can never count out an order that has Cano, Tex and A- Rod, plus last year’s Gold Glove winner Derek Jeter.  Baltimore:   I have been predicting the resurgence of the Orioles ever since the hiring of Leo Mazzone in 2005, and while he has been gone for 5 years already I still believe in this team.  And now that I have a blog I can put my lack of money where my overly large mouth is.  Finally breakout seasons for Adam Jones and consistency from Nick Markakis and just because he has been on all of my fantasy teams for the last three years I’m ready for a monster season form Mark Reynolds, just hit .240 I beg you!  I also like this pitching staff with Britton and Matusz.  I’ve always loved Camden (the stadium not for the piece of shit in South Jersey) please let this be the year it’s finally a place worth going to.  Toronto:  Jose Bautista proved everyone (Re. me) wrong last year by having an even better season than the year before.  And with additions of Colby Rasmus, who like any reasonable person wanted to get away from La Russa and a full season with Bret Lawrie he might finally have some protection in the lineup.  Wow just looking at their depth chart and Darren Oliver still has a job, good for him.  I like Morrow and I like Cecil.  In fact if it wasn’t the fact that I can never forgive Toronto for ‘93 I might have put them above Baltimore.  Now if they were to send me complimentary pass to one of their infamous strip clubs I could let my animosity slide.  Red Sox:  My how things can change.   Everyone’s darling from a year ago they are now the bottom feeders.  After their epic collapse they did what any franchise with a long standing tradition of excellence would due, they flipped shit.  After firing the architect and all around insufferable prick Theo Epstein and booting the most overhyped manager ever, Terry Francona, the Sawx are starting over with who else, Bobby “I created the Wrap Sandwich” Valentine.  A manager who in 16 years as manager has never won a division title, good start.  From there the team is similar to last year’s train wreck.  Crawford can’t be as bad as he was last year, it is almost statistically impossible, but no way Ellsbury has a season like that either.  Papi and Youk are a year older and apparently Mike Avilles and Donald Mcdonald will get a lot of playing time.  But at least they were able to get Chris Caprpenter, what’s that, not the Cardinals ace but rather a scrub that won’t make the team, oh boy. 
5.       AL Central Order of Finish: Tigers: The Tigers had a down then up offseason.  With Victor Martinez already out for the season the front office apparently needed to do something drastic.  So they signed Prince Fielder to a contract that even Ryan Howard thought was excessive.  But because the Tigers just shelled out 100% of Detroit’s yearly GDP on a position they didn’t need they now have the best 3-4, lefty, righty combo in the game.   But if the Tigers will struggle it will be on offense.  After those two their most intimidating hitter is either Delmon Young or Jhonny Peralta.  But in a weak central division with Verlander and Doug “Fist-her” Fister the Tigers should win the division by a wide margin again.  Indians: The year of the groundball in the Rock N Roll capital.  With Derek Lowe, Justin Masterson (isn’t he in the WWE) and however old Fausto Carmona really is the infield will literally have their hands full. And oh yea they stole Ubaldo Jiminez from the Rockies.  If he can still throw 94-96 then he will be the ace of their staff.  With Choo healthy and if they can get anything out of either Grady Sizemore of Travis Hafner then there is no reason why the Indians can’t finish second.  Royals:  Like the Pirates the Royals WILL have a winning record this season.  With Eric “I will draft him three rounds too early because of all the publicity he has received thus far” Hosmer on the team they could finally have found the bat they’ve been looking for ever since Mike Sweeney left.  I suppose that’s not a great comparison but hey it’s been a long dark road for the Royals and I am rooting for a feel good story.  But in all seriousness I like the Greek guy they have at third and Soria is probably one of three dependable closers in the game, so there’s that.  Twins: If M&M are healthy this team could compete for the division.  They have the best manager in the game and Carl Pavano’s beautiful mustache.  But I’m skeptical, like Sidney Crosby I don’t know whether Morneau will ever be healthy.  Francisco Liriano is still a complete disappointment without really being terrible and now with Zumaya out for the year their bullpen is awfully thin.  Could they do it, sure, I’ve seen Gardenhire win the division starting Nick Punto so anything is possible.   White Sox:  This team is so old I’m surprised they don’t have a segregated team.  This team is so old their pitcher’s mound should be what it was in 1968.  This team is so old Shoeless Joe could play Left.  Seriously this team should move to Florida and play in Miami’s new stadium.  They are starting Paul Konerko, Adam Dunn, AJ Pierzynski and Jake Peavey.   Alright they aren’t that old because who the hell are A. De Aza, B. Morel or D. Viciendo?  What a great combination of has -been’ and never- was.  Also nice to see Alex Rios charity fund is still operating, you know the White Sox are in bad shape if he is the best option for center field.  The only thing nice I can say about this team is that Chris Sale is pretty good, and will make a good summer clearance item (eh, get it?  Sale- clearance item, hahaha.  good times)
6.       AL West Order of Finish: Rangers: Yu Darvish - CJ Wilson + Joe Nathan-Alcohol=3 straight AL West divisions.  Yes even with the loss of their ace going over to the division rival halos the Texas Rangers will still win.  They still have the best lineup in baseball and if Yu Darvish or Neftali Feliz can find success in the starting rotation there is no reason why this team can’t make it back to the World Series.  And even if Josh Hamilton falls off the horse, there is still too much firepower to stop this team.  But if he does miss extended periods of time then Ron Washington can blow as many lines in the dugout as he wants.  Angeles: To say the Angels won the offseason would be an understatement.  Whenever you can get the best baseball player since Willie Mays you have to do it.  This contract is probably only good for 6 of the 10 years but still when Albert “Not El Hombre” Pujols is on your team you get a guaranteed 80 wins.  Then mix in CJ Wilson and an already dynamic starting 5 which includes Weaver, Haren and Santana and this team can go far.  However the team is getting a little long in the tooth.  Will Torii Hunter finally have a bad season; will Vernon Wells ever have a good season again?  The return of Kendry Morales from funniest season ending injury after Martin Grammatica will be a big boost, but will it be enough offense?    Mariners:  Speaking of not enough offense; The Seattle Mariners.   Coming of the most futile offense ever the Mariners attempt to be slightly less embarrassing.  Shouldn’t be too hard, all they have to do is score at least twice every three games (citation needed) But I suppose this team does have some blue chippers.  With Ichiro you’re always going to get around 200 hits.  My boy Chone Figgins might finally get used to all the rain and remind me and the citizens of Seattle why they gave him all that money.  Felix Hernandez will always be in the running for the Cy Young and they have a full season with the Smoak monster.  So it could be worse I mean you could be the…  A’s:   Winners of the last four “Least Recognizable Team” this year’s team will make it five in a row.  With apparently guys like B. Allen, Ricky Weeks’ brother and Chad Pennington  getting significant playing time Billy is doing all he can to make a sequel to Moneyball.  “Moneyball 2:  What happens when you give away all your secrets and then an entire city sodomizes you into the ground.”  I don’t mean to be so harsh towards the A’s but that movie really sucked.  The dramatic turn in a movie can’t be will they win 20 games in a row?  And you can’t base a movie where Scott Hatteburg is the star when you had the best trio in baseball and the MVP at shortstop.   Screw you Brad Pitt.
7.       NL MVP: Joey Votto: With the star power diminished in the NL I turn to the best pure hitter in the National League.  It also doesn’t hurt if he is also playing on the best team in the Central either.  Easy choice.  Runners up:  Hunter Pence: Big year from my boy in a (hopefully) rejuvenated Phillies offense “Let’s go Eat!” Amen.   Andrew McCutchen: The new look Pirates are depending on this guy and I think he steps up and has a year akin to Jimmy Rollins circa 2007. 
8.       AL MVP: Evan Longoria: So I jumped the gun last year with him drafting him fourth overall.  So that means this will be the year he hits .330/40/120.  Plus he finally catches that guy who stole his hat in that commercial and gives me the number for Eva Longoria.  Runners up.  Miguel Cabrera: When you bat in front of Prince Fielder good things happen, and Miguel doesn’t even do steroids, just lots of food.  The only reason I have him finishing second is because lord know how many errors he’s going to commit going back to 3rd base.  Over- under on 55 and I’m taking the over.   Nelson Cruz: Why not? He bats third or fourth on the best lineup so he’s my token Rangers pick. 
9.       NL Comeback Player of the Year: Josh Johnson: This is a stacked category this year, but I’m givin it up to JJ.  Last year he was on pace for a monster season but was sidetracked by his right shoulder.  If he can pitch 25-30 times he wins this in a landslide. Runners up.  Buster Posey:  Potentially the best catcher in the NL is coming back from that awesome collision.  If he can be 75% of what he was this award could be his, and maybe even a division crown. Steven Strasburg: The bane of my existence for the next decade Steven Strasburg was everything and more than what was expected of him until he needed Tommy John.  But surgery is not what it used to be and pitchers who have had it can come back strong, which he will.
10.   AL Comeback Player of the Year: Carl Crawford: Simply put, he can’t be as bad as he was last year.  The guy is too.   So even if he hits .280 then he wins the award just because the Red Sox have to win at least one thing a year.  Runners up.  Josh Hamilton:  As long as he stays sober/ doesn’t kill anyone he’s got this award in the bag.  In all seriousness though I hope he does, he really is a great ball player.  Howie Kendrick: Hitting either in front or behind of Albert Pujols will definitely help anybody’s stats.  I could probably post a pretty good OBP batting ahead of The Machine.
11.   NL CY Young: Cliff Lee: A deserving candidate last year but was cursed to split the vote with Halladay and Hamels and because Kershaw won the pitching triple crown (why isn’t that a bigger deal?) Anyway this year he stands head and shoulder above his peers and wins.  Runners up.   Yovani Gallardo:  He’s been building into something special and this is the year is the year he takes the leap and becomes an upper echelon pitcher.  Clayton Kershaw:  He’s too good to keep of this list, but players rarely win the same award back to back, and the Dodgers will be worse than last year which won’t help his candidacy. 
12.   AL CY Young: David Price:  Last year I was high on the Rays.  This year I’m even higher.  David Price is a beast and with all the primetime games he’ll pitch in will be great exposure. Runners up. Jered Weaver:  He might be the best strikeout pitcher in baseball, and with Albert on board he might just pick up a few more wins, but I hate that category for pitchers so he comes in second.   Justin Verlander: Like Kershaw in the NL if Verlander will probably be unfairly viewed if he has even a slightly disappointing season.  And a disappointing season for him means his ERA is 2.5.
13.   NL Manager of the Year: Bud Black.  With the Padres winning the division with sub standard talent Bud Black will win this unanimously. 
14.   AL Manager of the Year: Manny Acta.  I’ve never thought he was a good manager, but you’re only a bad manager until you have talent.  And the Indians might actually have some. 
15.   NL Rookie of the Year: Julio Teheran.  They won the award last year for Craig Kimbrel, so why not double down with someone who might be even better.  Watching last year, albeit briefly, was almost enough to make me want to change underwear.  He has a great fastball with good breaking stuff and should be able to make me throw my remote through the TV.  Where do the Braves keep finding awesome pitching?
16.   AL Rookie of the Year: Desmond Jennings.  Technically he’s no longer qualified for this award, but since the Rays have my MVP and CY Young they might as well win AL ROY.  Plus dude is a monster in line for a breakout season a la Jason Heyward.  But fine how about Jesus Montero instead?
17.   Manager fired mid season: Ozzie Guillen.  This isn’t so much that he’s fired I just think he’ll take one look at these uniforms, laugh derisively and curse his way out. Plus who wants to deal with Hanley Rameriez and Carlos Zambrano when you’re playing in front of 37 people a night.
18.   Hottest WAG: Diana Roberts.  I suppose this is more an opinion rather than a prediction, but come on look at the picture again.  It might turn out to be the wrong girl though if Jeter gets back together with Minka Kelly.
19.   Most likely Player to Surprise: Drew Stubbs:  I think I mentioned before that I like the Reds this year.  With that in mind why not pick a player who used to sleep with one of my good friends girlfriend.  Stubbs is coming of a disappointing season but he has long been touted as being a 25/25 guy.  That’s a lot to expect but if he can stay healthy I see him coming close and will score a lot of runs hitting ahead of Joey Votto.
20.   Most likely Player to Flop: C. J. Wilson:  Does anyone trust a guy coming off the best year of his career after he’s been paid?  I don’t.  C.J. Wilson broke out last year at 30.  This seems more like a guy who had a great contract year and will fit in nicely as the #3 guy in LA, but the contract was for an ace which he (probably) isn’t. 
21.   Most likely team to Surprise: Ohio.  With the Reds winning the Central and the Indians finishing 2nd things start to look up for Ohio.  So maybe they can get away from this or this and have something to actually cheer about. 
22.   Most likely team to Flop: Marlins.  With all that money in new players, coaches and stadium a lot of pressure is on this team.  Can they handle it while playing in front of a raucous 200 person crowd?  Doubt it.  If Hanley isn’t 2010 Hanley and decides he’d rather sulk about playing 3rd then there is a big gap in the middle of their order.  And when Carlos Zambrano freaks out and starts punching old Jewish women there will be some problems.  And have I mentioned how horrible their uniforms are?  This team will flop like a gasping fish.
23.   All Star Game Winner: AL.  With two marquee NL guys switching leagues there is now a pretty severe talent gap developing.  The only question really is who will start at first for them.  Pujols, Fielder, Tex or Gonzalez?
24.   All Star Game Starters: Halladay vs. Verlander.  I needed to pad the list to get it to 30 questions, so I’m taking the easy way out with this one.
25.   Last Team In NL:  Brewers
26.   Last Team IN AL: Yankees
Last year neither of these teams would have made the playoffs but with the new rule change both teams get in on a stupid technicality.  Prepare for very boring September baseball.
27.   NLCS Series: Reds vs. Phillies:
The two best teams in the NL square off in a rematch of 2010 NLDS.  This time the Reds will have home field advantage(which there won’t be in the divisional round this year in what might be the worst baseball decision since the tied all star game).   
28.   ALCS Series: Rays vs. Angels: 
With the MVP, Cy Young and ROY the Rays roll into the playoffs where they will meet the most hyped team to start the year.  Plus I need at least one wildcard team in the championship round.
29.   World Series: Rays vs. Phillies:
Rematch of 2008 (Yay) but the Rays now are a little older and a little wiser.  Not to mention better pitching.  But the Phils are no slouch either.  Great series which goes seven climactic games ending with…
30.   Champion: Phillies:  Come on like you thought this was going to end any other way (plus the headline was a dead giveaway).  This team knows that this could be their expiration date.  If the bats can pull through at all in October there is no reason why this team won’t be celebrating another parade down Broad Street.
And now Predictions to my Predictions:
30-28: Job as General Manager of the Phillies
27- 25: Dominate my fantasy league
24-20: Can explain WOBA and FIP in excruciating detail          
19-15: Job as Assistant to the Traveling Secretary for the New York Yankees
14- 10: Know enough to fool others at Chickie’s and Pete’s.
9-5:  Mets offer me a job as GM
4-0: Grow a Brian Wilson beard

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