Sunday, April 05, 2009

Steve's 2009 MLB Preview

I have one more chance to sneak in my MLB preview until the season officially opens tonight. Ryan and Beth already made their picks. In the past, I've always looked forward to opening day of the baseball season as a sign summer is near. Now that I live in Arizona (home of Ryan's 2009 World Series champions) and I've been wearing shorts every day for the past 6 months, I'm so screwed up as to what season it is I don't even try to think about it anymore....but I can't complain. A lot of people seem to think this will be some kind of revolutionary year in baseball, with a bunch of bad teams surprisingly becoming good like last year. I think the odds of that happening again are pretty slim. Here are my picks...

NATIONAL LEAGUE

EAST
Phillies
Marlins
Braves
Mets
Nationals

Can you absolutely choke away a division 2 years in a row and expect to win it the 3rd year? In the Mets case, I think not, and despite their talent, I'm predicting a collapse in 2009. Even though they have suspect pitching, I think the World Champion Phillies have what it takes to be playing in October again this year. I'm going with the Marlins for 2nd because their extremely young team will have another year of experience in a pretty weak division, and the Braves for 3rd, who have maybe one of the oddest pitching rotations I have ever seen (but it could work out pretty well for them). As an American League fan, the Nationals have officially joined the Giants as teams that are loaded with "I wonder whatever happened to ____ guys." The kind of guys you are pretty sure haven't played in the majors for a few years.

CENTRAL
Cubs
Astros
Brewers
Cardinals
Reds
Pirates

I obviously hate this pick, but it's hard to go with anyone but the Cubs this year, mostly because this division isn't very good. I do think though, there are some high hopes for a wild card to come from this division, because the 4 decent teams get to play the Reds and Pirates roughly 40 times. I'm going with the Astros for 2nd here because I think they can carry the momentum they had at the end of last season into this year. They are pretty solid offensively but have pretty horrible pitching. If you think about it though, you can make the playoffs by mashing bad teams all year, but you need to have the pitching to win it all. The Brew Crew won't have C.C. Sabathia to carry them down the stretch again, but they will definitely be competitive in this division. I think the Cardinals are due for a bad year, fighting with the Ohio River scum buddies for last.

WEST
Dodgers
Diamondbacks
Giants
Rockies
Padres

It's pretty amazing to see what Manny Ramirez did for the Dodgers when he joined them late last year, and I think having him for the entire season, and letting him win games in a truly horrible division, will keep him pretty happy and allow the Dodgers to coast to an easy division title. I went with the D-Backs for 2nd, only because they seem to have a moderately good pitching staff compared to everyone else (especially after the Padres trade Peavy), but I don't think they will be in the divisional hunt at all.

AMERICAN LEAGUE

EAST
Red Sox
Yankees
Rays
Orioles
Blue Jays

I just don't see the Rays repeating their run from last year. If you aren't going to have a big payroll in a big money division like the AL East, you pretty much have to catch lightning in a bottle with a bunch of young players and then try to make a run, which is exactly what the Rays did last year. No one is going to be taking them for granted this year, and the Red Sox and Yankees have had time to regroup, reload, and rest up. I haven't paid enough attention to the talking heads this spring if its popular to pick the Yankees to go all the way or bury them this year, but I think they've made some nice additions in the offseason. They're going to have their injuries, but if the AL Central is going to be as competitive as everyone thinks, I can see them easily picking up the wild card spot this year.

CENTRAL
White Sox
Indians
Twins
Royals
Tigers

I noticed the Minnesotans decided to bury the White Sox while picking the Twins to finish a close 2nd. Sure, it can happen, but I can also seeing things going in a completely opposite direction. Having big meanies on your team like A.J. Pierzynski doesn't mean you're going to finish in last...last time I checked this isn't a little kids movie. In case I don't get around to doing a White Sox preview, I'll make some comments here. They are coming off a division title, with an almost completely intact team from last year, in year where Paul Konerko was horrible, Jose Contreras was hurt most of the year, Javier Vazquez hurt more than helped, and they really had no good options at 3rd base. They were led to the playoffs in large part by (ages last year) 25 year-old Carlos Quentin, 26 year-old Alexei Ramirez, 23 year-old John Danks, and 25 year-old Gavin Floyd, while they let Jim Thome and Jermaine Dye provide the power. Those guys are getting older and they get hurt, but they still haven't shown signs of a complete breakdown. The prospects of having Bartolo Colon in your starting rotation are kind of scary, but if he's great, everyone else will look stupid for not getting him, if he sucks, you drop him off at Old Country Buffet with a pink slip and go with Clayton Richard or some other youngster. So there's my justification for this pick. I think the Indians will definitely be back and in the hunt again this year, finishing 2nd and challenging for the wild card. I have the Twins third, because that seems like a good spot for team boredom. The Tigers seem like they are turning into the late 90's Orioles, and I couldn't be less afraid of their huge payroll this year, so the Royals get 4th.

WEST
Angels
Rangers
Athletics
Mariners

Angels by default. The Rangers bring back their same horrible pitching again, the A's got some major league talent in their lineup, but most of their pitchers were still in high school when Ryan and I started our original site in 2005, so they'll probably be a little rough around the edges this season. The Mariners are pretty bad on all fronts, but hey, people will go say goodbye to Ken Griffey Jr. on his victory lap.

PLAYOFFS

NATIONAL LEAGUE
Phillies over Cubs
Dodgers over Astros
Dodgers over Phillies

AMERICAN LEAGUE
Red Sox over White Sox
Angels over Yankees
Red Sox over Angels

WORLD SERIES: Red Sox over Dodgers. I don't like the Red Sox at all, but I have to admit they still look like the most solid team heading into this season. As always, I hope I am horribly wrong with my World Series pick just like I was in 2005.

Awards:
AL MVP: Mark Teixeira, Yankees
NL MVP: Manny Ramirez, Dodgers
AL Cy Young: Joba Chamberlain, Yankees - He actually blows out his rotator cuff in July, but in an ugly hostage situation, ESPN forces the BWAA at gunpoint to vote for their beloved Joba, the single greatest thing to happen to baseball...ever.
NL Cy Young: Tim Lincecum, Giants
AL ROY: Chris Getz, White Sox - I got close with Alexei last year...lets try it again
NL ROY: Cameron Maybin, Marlins
AL Manager of the Year (AKA Steve's AL Kiss of Death): Eric Wedge, Indians
NL Manager of the Year (AKA Steve's NL Kiss of Death): Cecil Cooper, Astros

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2 Comments:

Blogger Ryan said...

If you look closely, Beth's picks were pretty much the opposite of what the "experts" picked for the sake of being the opposite.

9:51 AM  
Blogger Beth said...

Ryan's right. As I said in the intro: "I looked at predictions by others, and completely disregarded them to make the worst possible guesses."

I think the AL-Central and AL-West are the two that aren't in reverse order of what I really think (to be fair, very minimal research!). I don't expect the Mariners to come in second, nor the Tigers to come in first.

3:03 PM  

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