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!
Ah, well. The Rays did not make any moves at the trade deadline. Despite two glaring needs, the team was unable to do that trade that might have helped to shore up some weaknesses for the final playoff push.
I don’t know that moves HAD to be made. This team stood pat last year and was able to utilize the huge talent it had to make it to October. This year’s iteration of the Rays is not much different, and should be able to ride its talent–both here in the majors and in the minors–to a division crown or wildcard berth.
It ain’t gonna be easy, though.
Even though I can’t look at any moves the Rays made, I wanted to take a look at the multitude of moves made yesterday and grade how each move should help each team.
Deal: Red Sox trade for Victor Martinez
Analysis: Jason Varitek has not been what the Sox have needed this year. Sure, he’s led the team as an old grizzled veteran should, but little more than that. Add in the fact that Mike Lowell’s hip is not long for this season and you have a need at catcher and first base. Well, the Red Sox filled those needs with the addition of Martinez. One of the more coveted players available at the deadline, the versatile Martinez might just be the piece that complete the playoff puzzle for the Sox
Deal: White Sox trade lots of young arms for Jake Peavy
Analysis: Initially this looks like a great deal. The White Sox were able to rekindle interest in moving Peavy late Friday (interest that waned early in the season) and finally consummated the deal. Why Peavy would want to pitch in hitter-friendly US Cellular Field in a new league is beyond me, but he had his reasons to waive his no trade clause. The Sox got a pitcher who is not ready to pitch now and might not be ready for several more weeks. The Padres got a plethora of arms that should help them long term.
Deal: Twins acquire Orlando Cabrera
Analysis: I don’t like Cabrera. Let’s get that out of the way. I don’t like the way he tried to make some lame point in the playoffs last year against the Rays. I am glad Grant Balfour struck him out, though. Why do I say all this pointless blather? Because this is a perfect move for the Twins. And if I’m saying that with the way I feel, then you know it is good. The Twinkies needed a strong shortstop, and they got it. He will hit 2nd in the lineup ahead of Justin Morneau and Joe Mauer and will help that offense really get going. And his defense will be welcome in the Metrodome–especially if you saw the bumbling of Brendon Harris in last night’s game.
Deal: Tigers get Jarrod Washburn
Analysis: Washburn was not going to be able to help the Mariners make the playoffs this year. And he was going to ask for more money than the M’s would be willing to pay him after the end of this season. For them, this is a great move. For the Tigers, this move makes sense. They will now have a solid 1-3 in the rotation. Plus, the move enabled them to keep pace with the moves the Sox and Twins made within the division. But can Washburn keep up his torrid pitching? I don’t think so.
Deal: Braves and Red Sox exchange 1B: Adam Laroche and Casey Kotchman
Analysis: The Braves have fallen out of love with the guy they acquired for Mark Teixeira not that long ago. Why? They want more home runs. Kotchman has just 6 this year. But the guy is hitting .283 and plays a decent 1B. Laroche, on the other hand, struggles to hit .250 and only has 13 dingers this year. Each guy has only around 40 RBIs. This is kind of a non-deal–much like the Jeff Francoeur for Ryan Church deal earlier. What are the Braves thinking?
Grade: Braves–C Red Sox–B
Deal: Marlins trade for the Nats’ Nick Johnson
Analysis: Everybody seems to love Nick Johnson. I don’t get it. He’s a marginal hitter, and ok fielder, and he might actually be slower than our own Pat Burrell. What’s the deal? When the Marlins’ Hanley Ramirez was told of the trade, he reportedly pumped his fist and yelled “YES!” Why? This might help the Marlins shore up their infield by moving Jorge Cantu to 3B and allowing Johnson to man 1B, but that’s about it. But, the Fish did not give up much for him so…
Deal: Rockies get Joe Beimel from the Nats
Analysis: Make fun of the Pirates all you want, at least it seems they are getting a direction in mind for the franchise. The Nationals don’t have a clue. They dumped a solid lefty bullpen guy in Beimel to get two youngsters–one of which, I read, is recovering from surgery. Ugh. This deal should help the Rox, but not that much.
Deal: Dodgers send minor leaguer 3B Josh Bell to O’s for closer George Sherrill
Analysis: I’m looking at both sides of the coin on this one. The Dodgers acquire a solid closer who has been more and more consistent as the season has gone on. Thus, right now the Dodgers have one of the more potent 8th- and 9th-inning guys out there. The Orioles got a guy I hadn’t heard much about, but about whom I read is something special at 3B. Melvin Mora won’t be long in an O’s uni, so getting Bell, who might get a callup sometime next year, plays out perfectly for Baltimore. This team is going to be pretty exciting come next season.
Grade: D’s–B+ O’s–B
As with any trade that went down in the last few days, we will have to wait and see how things go. Of course, the Cardinals have gotten immediate returns on their move as Matt Holliday has TORN IT UP since his arrival in St. Louis.
Lots of the deals above included young minor leaguers. Their value is not entirely quanitfiable just yet, but it may be sooner rather than later.
Either way, Friday was lots of fun.
Even if the Rays did do nothing.
Ok, so this is kind of a FLUFF post. I’m going to be asking your opinion about tonight’s Home Run Derby. I know, I know…
I am really looking forward to tonight’s Derby. I think that most fans love this night because it ain’t just “chicks” who dig the long ball.
And tonight will be full of plenty of ’em.
While I don’t think we’ll see the spectacle that was Josh Hamilton knocking 28 home runs in the first round again, I think we will see some serious competition–taken with a grain of salt, of course.
I am quite jazzed about the whole thing because the guy who I thought could do a great job in the derby in the first place made it.
And he happens to be a Ray.
Mr. Carlos Pena!
I’m hoping that Mr. Pena will provide the fans with something to cheer about and justify Maddon’s bringing him aboard. He really should have a good chance. His uppercut swing is tailor made for this kind of competition.
The other guy I’ll be rooting hard for will be Nelson Cruz of the Texas Rangers. I know that Jonestein over at Baseball, Apple Pie, and Lobster is just as thrilled about Cruz being involved in the Derby as I am. His 22 home runs are not a fluke.
There are lots of big hitters participating tonight, so here is a quick rundown of their credentials so that you can get an idea of who you will be pulling for.
Ryan Howard, Phillies 22 hrs
Albert Pujols, Cardinals 32 hrs
Adrian Gonzalez, Padres 24 hrs
Prince Fielder, Brewers 22 hrs
Carlos Pena, Rays 24 hrs
Nelson Cruz, Rangers 22 hrs
Brandon Inge, Tigers 21 hrs
Joe Mauer, Twins 15 hrs
So there’s the lineup.
The Cowbell is pulling for a Pena/Cruz final with Carlos Pena representing the Rays well and winning the trophy.
Here’s the question:
Who do you think will be the final 2 in the Derby and who will win it all?
Here is an updated list of your votes thus far.
Ryan Howard, Phillies 1
Albert Pujols, Cardinals 1
Adrian Gonzalez, Padres 2
Prince Fielder, Brewers 1
Carlos Pena, Rays 2
Nelson Cruz, Rangers 0
Brandon Inge, Tigers 0
Joe Mauer, Twins