Nick-YF’s 2006 Baseball Preview

Unlike YF or SF, I have complete confidence in my powers as a prognosticator. You won’t be reading any caveats from me about how this is just guess-work, that best laid plans can be easily dashed by flukey injury (eg. Schilling cutting his hand after slapping himself five in the mirror), or that historical inevitability is an impossibility. This is the definitive word. After four months of intensive research; 22-hour work days; careful studies of every projection system under the stars; and a trip to a psychic conference in Albuquerque, New Mexico, I’m ready to say that this is absolutely what’s going to happen. You might as well not watch a game this year after reading these predictions.

First off, as Laura pointed out in one of her comments, the AL wildcard is not going to come from the AL East. Toronto has improved, Tampa is on the rise, and Baltimore has Kris Bensen without Anna (without the distraction of the fair sex, Mr. Bensen is going to emerge as an elite pitcher. Please refer to the classic Seinfeld episode, wherein George becomes a genius during a prolonged period of celibacy, to understand the effect of Anna’s departure from the scene.). Thus, the AL East is more competitive than ever, and the two kings of the division will show it in their records. I’m going with the Yanks to beat out the Sox by a game. The teams are so close and I’m a homer. The revelation here is that the Sox ain’t making it to the post-season. Looks like Pats season is starting even earlier this year in New England. The rest of the AL is also very strong. The A’s are loved by most projection systems, and it’s hard not to see why. The staff, from starting to relief, is probably only second to the ChiSox, while the line-up is solid all-around. If there’s a potentially dominant team in baseball this year, it’s Oakland. And, of course, the A’s are followed by the Angels, which feature strong pitching and defense and Vladimir Guerrero. The Central will be a dog-fight and you gotta feel bad for the Tigers for being born into such as situation. Cleveland features probably the most exciting young talent in baseball, the Sox are coming off a world-series victory, and Minnesota’s got Johan, Radke and Liriano.

The NL, which is much weaker than the Junior Curcuit, will once again be lead by the Cards. St. Louis has taken a step back, but look at the rest of the league, what team’s going to compete with Pujols and Rolen? I’m saying this is the year the Braves are dethroned. I like Philly and the Mets more than Cox’s crew in Atlanta. And the NL West will be won by a team that will be swept in the first round of the post-season.

My predictions are below the jump:

AL East: NY, Bos, Tor, TB, Bal 
AL Central: Cle, Min, Chi, Det, KC
AL West: Oak, LA, Tex, Sea
AL WC: LA

NL East: Phi, NY, Atl, Fla, DC
NL Central: StL, Mil, Chi, Hou, Cin, Pitt
NL West: LA, SD, Az, SF, Col
NL WC: NY

AL Champ: NY
NL Champ: Phi (upsets StL in the NLCS)
WS Champ: NY

AL Cy: Harden
AL MVP: Vlad
AL Man: Macha
AL ROY: Verlander
NL Cy: Peavy
NL MVP: Wright
NL Man: Yost
NL ROY: Hermida

And the all-important come-back players of the year are: Sidney Ponson (NL) and Jorge Posada (AL)

14 comments… add one

  • Sidney Ponson? Yeah, Nick, I’m really gonna trust your word on this stuff. And with that, I now have four of the last ten comments. Not that it’s really that impressive of a feat, but I think it’s cool. =)

    Laura April 1, 2006, 12:26 pm
  • 1) The psychic conference was in Santa Fe. It’s always in Santa Fe.
    2) [George and Yankees Derek Jeter and Bernie Williams are at the ballpark.]
    George: Guys, hitting is not about muscle. It’s simple physics. Calculate the velocity, v, in relation to the trajectory, t, in which g, gravity, of course remains a constant. (Hits a home run) It’s not complicated.
    Jeter: Now who are you again?
    George: George Costanza, assistant to the traveling secretary.
    Williams: Are you the guy who put us in that Ramada in Milwaukee?
    George: Do you wanna talk about hotels, or do you wanna win some ball games?
    Jeter: We won the World Series.
    George: In six games.

    john April 1, 2006, 6:04 pm
  • A quick correction, too, Nick. I said the Wild Card won’t come out of the east IF the Yanks, Sox, and Jays all have a viable chance at making the playoffs. Personally I think that the Jays will fall off by August 1, so it’s possible the Wild Card will come from the East. Way to use that comment against me though. And just for the record, I picked the Yankees to win the Wild Card. And the Sox to win the division, obviously, considering my comment about the Jays and the fact that the O’s and the Rays are hopeless.

    Laura April 1, 2006, 8:01 pm
  • The weird thing is tha the Sox won’t actually make the post season!

    walein April 1, 2006, 11:03 pm
  • The Sox have a lot of question marks: at first, second, short, third and center, and with a lot of the pitching. They could do very well. They could have under 90 wins. Nobody knows at this point.
    The Yankees also have a lot of questions, but theirs are mainly in the pitching, IF the older position players can stay healthy.
    And its clear that the players will have to rest more this year, with no amphetamines. The amphetamines not only add mental and physical alertness, they actually improve eyesight, reaction time and hand / eye coordination. Even the younger guys are going to have to get to bed earlier.
    Damon used to go out last year, stay up late, take some greenies and have a good game. He’s going to need a new routine as a Yank.

    john April 2, 2006, 1:30 am
  • John: I don’t see that. The Sox look pretty solid at first, second, and center; at short they’re not great; and at third they have solid defense at a minimum from Lowell and Youk as as a backup. The pitching seems no (or not much) more dubious than the Yanks, if at all. And don’t discount the Yankee bench problem. The Yanks have a major bench deficiency. Big advantage for the Sox there. So yeah, they could tank and not win 90, but that seems to be copping out on the analysis. Any team can crap out. On the other hand, points well taken on the amphetamines. God only knows what that’s going to mean, and to whom.

    YF April 2, 2006, 1:48 am
  • I’d have to agree with YF (and not because I’m a Sox fan). I don’t personally see holes at first, second or centerfield and as far as short and third go – at a minimum – they’ll get very solid defense from Agon and Lowell (or Youk later in the year ;)). Their bench looks pretty solid as well.
    Pitching is where there’s a hint of mystery. Foulke and Schilling had encouraging springs, but we won’t really know until they’ve each had a few outings. Beckett is a question mark and his ’03 WS performance notwithstanding, has a lot to prove in my book. Clement also has a lot to prove and Wells is a physical breakdown waiting to happen. The same thing for the bullpen. Tavarez is a headcase and Riske and Seanez have looked lousy. Now, the Sox have talent at Pawtucket, but there are no guarantees that Hansen, Delcarmen and Lester are ready to step up.
    We’ll see, but if I were a betting man, I’d take the bet that the Sox will win at least 90 games this year. Whether they make the playoffs is another matter. Lot of strong teams in the AL.

    Craig April 2, 2006, 8:05 am
  • The Yankees also have a lot of questions, but theirs are mainly in the pitching, IF the older position players can stay healthy.
    I am not sure I understand. The Yankees have questions with the pitching and their older position players? Isn’t that the entire team except A-Rod and Jeter, pretty much?

    SF April 2, 2006, 9:30 am
  • Just to echo what YF and Craig said, there really isn’t a question mark in the infield. There is so much depth there that it’s the least of my worries this year. At the very least, we’ll have one of the best infield defenses in the league. Even if half our infield starters goes down, there is a solution. Youk is backed up by Snow and Choi. Loretta is backed up by Cora, and even Machado or Willie Harris if need be. Gonzalez’s primary backup will be Cora, but once again, Machado is an option. Plus there is always Pedroia at Pawtucket who could get the call if we need someone at second or short. At third, Lowell is primarily backed up by Youk, but once again, Cora can play third. And I’m sure there are more guys in the minors I’m forgetting about here. So, yeah, maybe offense is a question mark, John, but the infield defense is bound to save more runs than last year’s did, and their offense was nothing to get too excited about either, and we still led the league in runs scored. Craig is right, pitching is the question, but I’m a lot more confident in our staff than I would be in the Yankees’ just about now. And I am confident in those minor leaguers. I’ve seen Hansen, Delcarmen, and Lester all pitch in person in the minors, and they just really impressed me.

    Laura April 2, 2006, 10:10 am
  • YF –
    When your entire infield and center field is new you have questions, even if they’ve all had good years in past (Youk hasn’t), and especially when some of them are new to the league. The majority of major league scouts think Lowell has permanently declined at the plate (that’s one question), which means Youkilis might have to move over (that’s another question — plus no one knows how he’ll deal with a whole season, and how will his defense be at third — that’s four), leaving no good answer at first (five). Loretta is new to the league and had problems last year — he may do just fine, but he’s still a question. Gonzales has never hit much, is new to the league (remember Renteria?) and with the other questions more offense may be needed at short. And obviously no one knows how Coco will fit in as Damon’s replacement. Could he be fine? Of course, but it’s still a question.
    As I’ve said several times, the Yanks and Sox both have questions with their pitching. But Yankee questions don’t actually reduce the Sox questions, because this is not the Sox against the Yanks, but Who can win the most games in the AL?
    If Johnson has a mediocre year, that will not increase or decrease the chance that Schilling will too. I happen to think that Johnson will do better than Schilling this year, but THEY’RE BOTH QUESTIONS.
    SF — there is always the possibility that older players can break down. I think that Matsui, Damon, Sheff, Giambi and Posada will not (Cano’s not old), but obviously it’s possible. But a difference between them and the Sox is that with the exception of Damon, they all played together last year. Jeter and Cano know what to expect from each other, none of them are new to the New York stage, none of them are new to the AL, etc.
    What is a distinct possibility, as I said, is that Matsui et al will have a hard time without greenies, but then so, most likely will Manny, Trot, Tek and many other major leaguers. Relatively young Eric Chavez says you can not expect major leaguers to be able to do what they did last year with the help of drugs.

    john April 2, 2006, 6:44 pm
  • PS YF – We expect SF to pick at Yankee comments, but you’re supposed to be a Yankee fan. I started my post by saying, “The Sox have a lot of question marks: at first, second, short, third and center, and with a lot of the pitching. They could do very well. They could have under 90 wins. Nobody knows at this point.”
    Only to Sox fans is that controversial. I heard 5 or 6 people baseball experts say the same thing on the FAN and ESPN today. Several had no New York connection.

    john April 2, 2006, 6:49 pm
  • What bugs me is that the media, along with fans outside of the Sox/Yanks rivalry, keep saying how the Sox have so many question marks, but don’t even mention the quetion marks on the Yanks or Jays. How is it that the Sox are going to finish third and the Yanks win the World Series when there are the same number of question marks on each team. Just because most of the Sox haven’t played together before, I’ve watched them all spring training, and I am most definately confident in this team. The turmoil they are supposedly in will not keep them from playing well.
    And did you just completely ignore my rant about depth, John? As YF noted earlier, the Yanks really have no bench to speak of. If any of their starters are injured, which is likely, given the age factor, then they are basically screwed without making a huge trade and giving up top prospects. They have no options at several positions. The Sox have options. As long as manny and Papi stay healthy and the rest of the team doesn’t implode, they should be fine. That’s what I think, at least.

    Laura April 2, 2006, 7:22 pm
  • Oh, and John, if you are listening to the “experts” on ESPN, well then, I don’t know if it’s even worth arguing with me. I watch ESPN for highlights, but not the analysis of Harold Reynolds, John Kruk, and Steve Philips.

    Laura April 2, 2006, 7:24 pm
  • John: it is because I’m a Yankees fan that I’m particularly nervous about the Red Sox. It’s nice to be all confident and bombastic, but it’s my inclination to be realistic, if not harsh, because only then are you prepared to address what may come. Plan for the wost case scenario….

    YF April 2, 2006, 7:25 pm

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