Pretty much every blog in the universe remotely related to baseball has been making its predictions for what will happen in the majors in 2010. Some have done it division by division, and some have done it in one big shot.
I’ll be subscribing to a combination of both as I go league by league.
I will not be including records because, well, I’m just not that smart.
I see 2010 as a season that will have more than just a few surprises. Sure, teams such as the Phillies and Yankees will be right there until the end, but there are other squads that I think possess much intrigue because of their offseason moves and the emergence of their younger players.
More than likely this is an effort in futility, but it sure is fun.
Today I will break down the National League. Tomorrow the American League. Tuesday I’ll put out my playoff predictions.
Phillies Nobody’s better in the NL. They would be better with Cliff Lee AND Roy Halladay, but they are pretty darn strong as they stand.
Braves I like their mix of youth and experience. Their pitching will be a strength for them, especially if Tim Hudson can turn in a strong season.
Marlins How can you pick against them? Nobody knows how they do it, but they win every year. Ricky Nolasco is back and Josh Johnson is solid.
Mets How can you pick FOR them? The addition of Jason Bay would seem to bode well for the offense, but the recent injury to Daniel Murphy won’t help. Neither will the fact that they seem to have given up on their pitching.
Nationals I don’t want to pile on. They are not a good team. But their offseason moves and slow dedication to a youth movement points them in the right direction.
Cardinals Makes me sick to say it, but they are darn good. Their offense will more than make up for any pitching deficiencies. They have the potential for closer problems this year, though.
Cubs I love this team, but it seems no matter how much talent they get on the squad they do not win. Sure, they won the division for three straight years, but that was about it. Last year was an abomination. Marlon Byrd, and a healthy Aramis Ramirez, will really help the offense.
Reds They could be the surprise of the division in 2010. I like their staff (and the addition of Cuban defector Aroldis Chapman, even though he is in the minors now) and their bats. Might sound crazy, but I think these guys could push for a playoff spot this year.
Astros Sure Lance Berkman is hurt, but this team has some talent. They are getting older at some positions (Carlos Lee, Berkman, Oswalt) and injuries could derail their season.
Brewers Their pitching is horrendous. Yovani Gallardo can’t stay healthy and one of their starters, Jeff Suppan, is already out. Prince Fielder and Ryan Braun are not enough.
Pirates Andrew McCutcheon will be fun for the entire league to watch and will more than likely represent the Bucs in the All-Star Game. That’s about it.
Giants As fans of the Tampa Bay Rays know, pitching wins. And there are few staffs (provided Barry Zito is actually good this year) as strong as the Giants’. “Kung Fu Panda” Pablo Sandoval will really shine this year.
Dodgers Why won’t they win the division? Health. I just think that they are going to have some big injuries this year and that Manny will do all he can to distract the team from winning baseball games. I like their young starting pitching, but it won’t gel enough this year.
Rockies Coors Field seems like a great place to watch a baseball game. Its offensive stats seem to have calmed down a bit. The rise of Ubaldo Jimenez and his ability to induce ground balls will help this team have a solid season.
Padres I love their youth. Everth Cabrera, Mat Latos, Chase Headley. I like ’em. This will be a big surprise if they don’t finish in the basement of the division again. I think they have some surprises in them.
Diamondbacks It will be a surprise if these guys DO finish in the basement. I like Dan Haren and their emerging catcher, Miguel Montero (he’s on my fantasy team!). But I don’t see a lot to get excited about in the desert.
Well, that was fun. No doubt, some of my picks might be debatable.
And, if they are debatable, feel free to tear me apart.
Let’s play some baseball!
The first post I put out a few days ago was only to rate the trades that occurred on Friday, the trading deadline day.
However, I got a few e-mails asking me why I left out one trade or the other. They got me to thinking….why NOT go through the notable trades from the trading deadline and just before?
I enjoyed arguing with some of you through comments and e-mail about what you thought of some of the trades. Good times…
This post might be more for me than anybody since I LOVE trades and how they affect teams. I think they are something that is utilized by baseball better than any other sport and is part of the reason why this game is so grand.
Again, I’m primarily looking at the team that is the bigger part of the deal, though in some cases I grade both teams.
So without further adieu….here is part deux.
Deal: Reds trade Edwin Encarcion et al to the Blue Jays for Scott Rolen
Analysis: It seemed that Encarnacion never really got it going in Cincinnati. He hit a load of dingers last year, but the average the last few years was never really what Dusty Baker wanted (.209 in 2009). I don’t see him being the 3B of the future for the Jays, unfortunately. However, from what I’ve read about the two young pitchers who were also sent to the Jays, the real value might be there. These two pitchers might make an impact on Toronto this season, which would make the Jays winners here. The Reds get an aging 3B who might be able to help out a little next year. While the Reds play in a strong offensive park, the fact is that Rolen is 34 and has seen his best years pass him by.
Grade: Reds–C+ Jays–B+
Deal: Jerry Hairston, Jr. to the Yankees for a Single-A catcher
Analysis: This just doesn’t seem like a big deal to me. Of course, the Rays are notorious for making the “not a big deal” trades that end up getting them a bunch of wins. Maybe the Yankees have been taking notes. They already went into the Rays’ playbook to make a deal for Eric Hinske earlier in the year, after all. Hairston, Jr. has speed and versatility. For those reasons he might be a nice guy to have on a team. A National League team. I don’t see him helping the Yanks out too much. Then again, New York didn’t give up much, either.
Deal: Brewers deal to get Claudio Vargas from the Dodgers
Analysis: The Brewers needed a starter. A good starter. They needed somebody to help them contend with the Cubs, Cardinals, and, suddenly, the Astros. Instead they dealt for a bullpen guy in LA who they actually had not that long ago and dumped because of his ineffectiveness. They didn’t give up much, but they didn’t get much, either.
Deal: Cubs get John Grabow and Tom Gorzelanny from Pirates
Analysis: This is a case where I think both teams won out. The Pirates got a young hurler in Kevin Hart and a strong piece of the bullpen in Jose Ascanio. The Cubs needed a starter in Gorzelanny (he’ll start this week) to fill in for Ted Lilly and they needed a strong lefty in the ‘pen in Grabow who will take the place of the Tommy John-bit Neal Cotts. Grabow will complement Sean Marshall in the bullpen and add some stability to a shakey group.
Grade: A for both teams (especially because of the mad kung fu skills of Gorzelanny)
Deal: Royals get Josh Anderson from the Tigers
Analysis: This guy was got for cash. That’s it. Typically these deals are non-issues. This one fits in with that characterization. So why are we talking about it?
Grade: Who cares?
Deal: The Giants get Freddy Sanchez from the Pirates
Analysis: The Pirates are becoming to be old hat in these trade discussions. With that said, the Bucs are doing the right thing. Sanchez was scheduled to make $8 mill next year. That’s too rich for a team with so many holes. I was hoping that the Rays would get this guy–he’s one of my faves–so that they could move Ben Zobrist’s rocket arm and huge bat to right field. Alas, not to be. This move will probably lead to the Giants releasing Rich Aurelia and his salary. Sanchez will help the Giants. The Pirates got a pitcher in Tim Alderson who will help them–in the future.
Deal: Phillies land Cliff Lee from Indians
Analysis: C’mon, do we have to talk about this one? I was hoping the Rays might get active here, and they were, but not as active as the Series champs. They got Lee, gave up some guys they’ll miss, and promptly saw him throw a complete game shutout. ‘Nuff said.
Deal: Mariners get Jack Wilson from Pirates for a bunch o’ guys
Analysis: The M’s got the shortstop they had hoped they had in Yuniesky Betancourt. When they realized Betancourt was a flop defensively, they shipped him to Kansas City–where he’s struggled. Wilson is a solid piece of the future puzzle for the M’s and will get them some wins in the future. The guys the Pirates got will be helpful, but not too helpful right away. Ronny Cedeno is flopping right now and catcher Jeff Clement was not sparking the way the Mariners wanted. I thought that the addition of Clement might lead to the Bucs moving Ryan Doumit–to the Rays. Not so. Oh well.
Grade: Mariners–B+ Pirates–B
Deal: White Sox get Mark Kotsay, Red Sox get Brian Anderson
Analysis: No doubt, the White Sox won this trade–right now. The White Stockings got a premiere pinch hitter who can play almost any corner position. He is a veteran who can fit in immediately with is new team and pay dividends as they push for October. The Red Stockings got a supreme underachiever in Anderson. He might develop, though, into a guy who might be the utility outfielder Rocco Baldelli is supposed to be. With JD Drew on his way out (c’mon, folks, he’s hurt, like, ALL THE TIME) this might be a good add–next year.
Grade: White Sox–B+ Red Sox–B+ (potentially)
Deal: Giants get Ryan Garko for Single-A pitcher
Analysis: Garko was a fan fave in Cleveland, but he was going to be up for big money in the off season. So he was shipped. He was taking playing time away from guys the Indians really wanted to see and they did not view him as a piece of the future. He has a gift for being offensive–in a good way–and should help the Giants offense get going. The guy Cleveland got will be good two years from now. That’s something to be happy about in Clevelend–and there isn’t much these days. However, the move will give more AB’s to superstar-in-the-making Matt LaPorta
Deal: Matt Holliday goes to St. Louis
Analysis: Waste of time to talk about. He’s hitting .529!!!
Grade: A+ (and it sickens me to say that)
Sorry if the pics got a little weird there at times. I’m as distracted by the strange moments of our favorite sport as anybody.
I think that runs down most of the more notable trades that have occurred the last few weeks (and a couple of not-so-notable trades).
I think that this time of year is the most captivating of any sport out there. Teams are fighting for division titles. Others are scrambling for wildcard berths. Franchises are deciding whether to buy or sell. Squads are scouting for both this and next year–and with a do-or-die attitude.
It’s just great.
And the waiver-wire trades are going to get going soon too. Teams have to make waiver deals before August 30th if they want that guy to be eligible for the post season.
And the countdown begins.
And if anybody asks me about the Julio Lugo deal……..
(Not an actual portrait)
I was laying around watching Sportscenter this morning, as I can often be found doing most mornings, and found myself feeling nauseous.
No, it wasn’t because of the ubiquitous coverage of White Sox Mark Buehrle’s perfect game yesterday that happened to occur against my beloved Rays. (The coverage was, of course, warranted, by the way…I just am sick of seeing my guys as the team that was no-hit)
No, it wasn’t because of Brett Favre’s constant whining about whether he should come back to play for the Vikings or not (Who isn’t getting sick of that? Geez! I used to like the guy! Now I just want him to go away!)
It was because of a simple poll question the geniuses at the sports network formulated for the fans to vote upon.
In light of the amazing catch that Dewayne Wise made in the top of the 9th inning of Buehrle’s perfect game yesterday (it was quite a catch–dammit!) ESPN decided to give a list of the greatest catches in major league history and ask, “Which of these catches was the best catch?”
Of course I was giddy because I was going to see my guy Carl Crawford honored with a spot on the list because of his exceptional catch in this year’s All-Star Game that helped to preserve the AL’s victory and secure home field advantage of the American League team in the World Series.
It was going to be there and I was going to hear the ESPN (I’m pronouncing it “ess-pin”) anchors gush about how amazing it was.
Catch #1 was Dewayne Wise’s amazing catch.
I threw up a little in my mouth, but was otherwise ok.
Catch #2 was Kirby Puckett’s catch against the wall in the 1991 World Series that they say helped the Twins to win it all that year.
Catch #3 was the black and white filmed Willie Mays World Series catch that we all know and love (and have imitated) way back before anybody can remember.
That’s a good one. I think that is THE best catch ever. I’m ok.
Catch #4 was Torii Hunter’s catch to rob Barry Bonds of a home run in the 2002 All-Star Game.
The game was an exhibition back then, so who cares, but whatever. It was good, I guess.
Catch #5 was Endy Chavez’s catch in the 2006 NLCS against the Cardinals to rob a home run.
A catch that did not save the game because the Mets still lost. So who gives a crap?
And that was it.
I was waiting for Catch #6, Carl Crawford’s game-preserving catch against the NL in the 2009 All-Star game that allowed the AL to clinch home field advantage in the World Series.
Where was Catch #6!? Where was it!?
Apparently, the masterminds who create the extremely varied and always fresh shows such as blabfest “First Take,” blabfest “Around the Horn,” blabfest “Pardon the Interruption,” and the blabfest “SportsNation” (what other blabfests have I left out?) forgot that one of the best catches just occurred a few weeks ago!
I was livid!
As a Rays fan you have had to accept certain things over the years.
#1–Your team will be ridiculed as being one of the worst ever.
#2–Your dad will call your team the best AAA team in the majors.
#3–People will not go to the games during the week.
#4–Fans of the opposing team will make up more of the audience at a game than your own team’s fans.
#5–The media will ignore you, except to mention thing #1.
But all that changed with last year’s Rays team. The World Series Rays team. The AL Champion Rays team.
All that changed, right?
Well, all but thing #5.
ESPN has been notorious for allowing the baseball team in Tampa Bay to go without notice. If they play a team in Los Angeles (Dodgers only), New York, Boston, Chicago, or Philadelphia, then they will get plenty of press, but only because of their association with aforementioned team.
But on their own, the Rays are typically pushed to the end of the Sportscenter program. I can remember many a time where the Rays were actually not even mentioned in the show because they ran out of time. I can remember many a time on “Baseball Tonight” the Rays receiving barely a sentence of acknowledgement from the mouth of Karl Ravich before moving on to the more marketable teams.
I was able to overlook much of this over the years because I guess I figured the Rays deserved it a little bit. They were bad for a long time. That’s hard to forget right away.
But boy oh boy ESPN doesn’t care about the success in Tampa Bay, they care about making sure they pander to the fans of the “big five” baseball markets mentioned above. Because God forbid they don’t smooch the backsides of those teams.
So I walked away from the tv. Angry and incredulous, I made a bowl of Cap’n Crunch. The Cap’n makes all the world’s ills disappear.
Then I accidentally turned on Sportscenter exactly 1 hour later than when I saw it the first time and SAW THE SAME STORY AGAIN!!!
So I stormed like a pouting child to my keyboard and punished it by pounding out my feelings into “words.”
The nausea returned and the frustration boiled over. Almost lost the Cap’n!
Carl, I think that many fans in the country know that your catch belonged on a list of best catches well ahead of a catch a guy made in an All-Star Game when nothing counted and a catch a guy made in a playoff game his team lost and nobody remembers.
Who cares that it wasn’t against the biggest steroid user or for the second team in New York?
We in the oft forgotten Tampa Bay area know your catch garnered you the All-Star Game MVP this year and will help the AL team (the Rays) beat the NL team in the World Series.
Too bad we aren’t one of the “big 5” markets ESPN loves so much.
They probably would have pushed Willie off the list if we were–who cares about catches that really matter, right?
The injury bug has hit a few of the players in this year’s All-Star Game.
For the AL, Torii Hunter has been forced to miss the game with an abductor strain (whatever that is), allowing one of my favorite players to make the game: Nelson Cruz. One of the top sluggers in the AL right now (who is somehow being platooned by Rangers Manager Ron Washington) with 20 homers and 50 RBIs, I found it very surprising that he was left off the roster the first time around.
What is especially cool about Cruz’s move to the roster is that he has said he will participate in the Home Run Derby. It is going to be lots of fun seeing him park balls over the fence in St. Louis.
I am still hoping that something happens so that Carlos Pena will be able to slide into the game. The chances are getting slimmer, though. And you have to feel doubly bad now for Ian Kinsler, a guy who should have made the team, then should have won the final vote, and then should have been put on the squad after Hunter’s injury. Poor guy.
What really bugs me, though, is how Jayson Werth was able to secure a spot on the roster in place of the injured Carlos Beltran. Don’t we have enough Phillies outfielders on the team!?
It is surprising to see Werth get the nod, although he has fine enough stats, when you consider that a perfectly acceptable outfielder was up for the final vote and did not get in: Matt Kemp. I would certainly rather see Kemp on the team than Werth. I would like to know the reasoning behind that selection, Charlie Manuel.
On a side note, the no hitter last night by Johnathan Sanchez was just classic. He missed a perfect game because of an error by his third baseman late in the game, but his no hitter was saved by an amazing play by Aaron Rowand on a huge drive to center field. I’m sure A Diatribe from a Journalism Student would be thrilled to find that one of her fave players helped to save a no hitter by playing the fearless defense he is known for. She is right about how hard-nosed that guy is. Well done Aaron Rowand.
But what makes this whole night perfect is the fact that Sanchez’s dad was in the stands to see him pitch for the first time. Seeing the father and son hug after the game was a little <sniff, sniff> touching.
I’m not crying. There is something in my eye. DOES SOMEBODY HAVE A TISSUE!?