Prior to opening day, your intrepid authors were responsible to tender me their predictions for the season. Such has been the tradition for most every baseball outlet since web time immemorial, if only to show how the authors crib other sites. Due to circumstances somewhat beyond my control (it’s not my fault I’m lazy), I was not able to perform my sworn duty to put those predictions into our annual summary “Predictaroo” post for then-and-future ridicule prior to the first pitch of the season. As there are no beast games today, I thought it may be good fun to post those predictions and reflect upon the virtues of their authors 69 games in.
Updated to reflect Nick’s ’09 predictions as well as sort the attributions properly (some of Nick’s words ended up on John’s section).
al east: nyy
al cent: min
al west: laa
nl east: atl
nl cent: chi
nl west: ari
al champ: nyy
nl champ: ari
ws champ: nyy
al mvp: rodriguez
al cy: halladay
al roy: wieters
al man: girardi
nl mvp: pujols
nl cy: santana
nl roy: maybin
nl man: melvin
OK, here is my lazy, amateurish, and admittedly cribbed predictaroo. This offseason has been pretty baseball-free, I am still having a hard time wrapping my head around another season (my first full slate at the age of 40), and am really not all that excited about the pomp and circumstance that will surround every single game for both teams in my adopted city, self-congratulatory celebrations of new stadia being the culprit. So, how did I reach my conclusions? What was my method? Here goes:
1. Google “2009 predicted standings”
2. Find out if Nate Silver made his predictions yet
3. Use those
4. If Nate hasn’t made predictions, sub in any predictions from Baseball Prospectus
5. Wash, scrub for personal biases and potential high-upside/off-the-radar picks to make me look smart if any one of them comes true.
1. Yankees – Everything goes right this year. CC does his thing, Wang returns, Burnett stays healthy, Teixeira impresses everyone with his honesty, innocence, and utter lack of cynicism for the world at large and gets Scott Boras to leave Sports Marketing and serve on the board of Doctors without Borders. Bluebirds chirp, the temperature in the Bronx never goes above 72 degrees, and Hal and Hank Steinbrenner decide that yeah, the recession sucks, and make Legends Suites gratis for the entirety of 2009. Plus free porchetta all around. This is the Yankees’ year, nothing can go wrong to a team with an average age of 45.3, a hobbled former MVP, and solid injury risks at nearly every position but one or two.
2. Tampa – second best record in the League, wild card eligible, but are disqualified on October 2nd due to little-known “Shitty Ratings and Attendance clause” in the CBA.
3. Boston* – Everything goes wrong. Beckett goes hunting over the All-Star break against his contract and gets shot in the face by our former VP. Dustin Pedroia hits his head walking through a turnstile at the 42nd Street Subway station during a road trip to NY and is out for a month with a concussion. Jason Bay channels Michael Bay and blows up the clubhouse with walk-year antics and resentment, making “Yeah, go ahead, everyone blames f*cking Canada,” the most overused post-game comment to the media. Big Papi exposed as having used. By “used” we mean “ate leavened bread during Passover”, the off-season conversion to Judaism simply didn’t take. Daisuke Matsuzaka stops being lucky and his ERA balloons to 11.53, with the Sox waiting until August to pull him from the rotation. The Citgo sign explodes. All this and the Sox finish with the third best record in the AL, but make the playoffs because of the aforementioned “SRAC”.
5. Kansas City
AL MVP: Derek Jeter
AL Manager of the Year: Nobody. Nobody really ever deserves this in the AL, ever. It’s a stupid award, there’s a DH and bullpen use is overdone. But Joe Girardi, if I had to pick. Because he looks the part with his square jaw and military do and sense of painful seriousness, the press will play the “he’s maturing card” all season long even though this is like his third year managing and like 44th year of Yankee baseball experience or something, and the Yankees have a boatload of talent that makes the manager’s job that much easier. Oh, and lucky for him, the Yankees are going to have a great year.
AL CY: Halladay
AL RoY: Not picking. I have no clue who is even eligible. That pitcher guy on Tampa, though, if I had to pick, he’s the only guy I have seen articles about. (But is he eligible?!)
2. St. Louis
NL MVP: David Wright
NL Manager of the Year: Jerry Manuel
NL CY: Brandon Webb
NL RoY: Eric Holder
ALDS: Sox over Cleveland
ALDS: Yankees over LAA
ALCS: Sox over Yanks. Sox take it 6-5 in eleven games. MLB extends this series to milk every last cent out of the fans and television ratings. Yankees season comes to a sudden, empty, and emotionally crushing halt for our metropolis. New York City returns to being a wonderful place to live.
NLDS: Mets over Dodgers
NLDS: Phillies over Cubs
NLCS: Mets over Phillies
WS: Sox over Mets, revenge, which doesn’t really feel necessary at this point considering 2004 and 2007, finally arrives. Ray Knight blows out elbow throwing out first ball at Game 3, making the series an even bigger success.
ALCS: Red Sox vs. Rays
NLCS: Mets vs. Phillies
World Series: Red Sox over Mets
AL MVP: Matt Holliday, A’s
AL Cy Young: Daisuke Matsuzaka, Red Sox
AL ROY: Matt Wieters, Orioles
NL MVP: Albert Pujols, Cardinals
NL Cy Young: Johan Santana, Mets
NL ROY: Pablo Sandoval, Giants
So unoriginal in the AL East, and I think it’ll be close, but all the
pitching in the world isn’t going to save the Yankees’ injured and
fading offense…Good thing new MVP winner Holliday will be available in
the offseason!…The Smoltz signing will ultimately prove to be the
biggest of the 2008-09 offseason and he will propel the Sox to the
finish line…Well, him and Daisuke, whose walk rate dropped as 2008
went on while his other peripherals stayed the same…This is the year
he breaks out…Wieters is the easy and logical choice for ROY…I want
that trophy!…So that’s also why I picked Pujols…Well, also because
Hanley ain’t playing for a winner right now…Santana will remind
baseball this year that he’s still a pretty good pitcher, too…Sox v.
Mets Part Deux, but instead of Calvin Schiraldi and Bill Buckner the Sox
have Jonathan Papelbon and Kevin Youkilis…At this point I wonder if
some AAA clubs for AL teams could beat a sizable portion of the NL’s
AL div: Sox over Angels in 4; Yanks over Twins in 3
ALCS; Yanks over Sox in 7
NL Div: Mets over Diamondbacks in 4; Cubs over Phils in 4
NLCS: Cubs over Mets in 6
World Series: Yanks over Cubbies in 7.
AL MVP: Miguel Cabrera
AL CY: Zach Greinke
AL Rookie: Matt Wieters
AL MOY: Earl Weaver or Ron Garndenhire
NL MVP: Jose Reyes
NL CY: Johan
NL Rookie: Someone named Jordan
NL MOY: Looooouuu!
This year was a record: a little under one minute. I took a sip of
coffee and then came up with these predictions in about 47 seconds.
Here’s my rationale: One of the things that has been underrated about
the Yanks’ off-season is just how much they’ve improved on the
run-prevention side of things. Yes, they’ve added fireballers, but i’s
not just the pitching. By ridding themselves of Abreu and Giambi and
adding the likes of Tex, Swisher and Gardner, this is a defense that
is much better than last season’s sad group. It might even be what you
would call average (and that’s even with Jeter at short). Meanwhile,
the Sox are strong as well. I put them second because I’m a Yanks fan.
And to complete the oft-repeated sentence of the off-season: The AL
East has the three best teams in all of baseball. It’s a shame that
Tampa will be watching post-season baseball instead of playing it.
I found the AL Central extremely difficult to call. Basically I see a
bunch of 85-86 win teams. I refuse to believe in Cleveland simply for
the fact that Carl Pavano exists. The Twins, on the other hand, have
solid pitching. But recent reports about Mauer’s injuries aren’t
exactly encouraging. Meanwhile Kansas City, while improved, is still
too young; the Tigers’ #2 starter is Edwin Jackson; and I don’t know
what to think of the White Sox.
Out west, I’ll go with the Angels even though their whole rotation is
currently hurt. Oakland is probably number two but their pitching
staff is super young. The Mariners have too many holes and are in
rebuilding mode. Texas could be really bad or very good.
My analysis of the National League is even more superficial. I’m
strangely indifferent. Coin flips determined by predictions. The Mets
improved enough to overtake the Phils who didn’t improve at all.
Meanwhile, my most controversial pick of the D-Backs winning the
division is predicated on the break-out of Justin Upton who is
probably going to be the best player for the next decade. I like their
starting pitching as well.
And the Cubbies will win the NL Central because of Lou doing his Lou thing.
Yankees over the Angels
Red Sox over the Tigers
Cubs over the Mets
Diamondbacks over the Phillies
Yankees over the Red Sox
Cubs over the Diamondbacks
While reviewing last year’s predictions it came to me that all in all, baseball is a crap shoot. What you think is the case in April, rarely is the case in September. With that said, I am most confident in my NL Cy Young pick, NL ROY and AL ROY. Billingsley is going to be great this year, Colby Rasmus should have contended for this award last season and Matt Wieters is the goods. The Cubs are the class of the central, but everything else in the NL is cloudy to me. The Diamondbacks are counting on a very young team to win and win now. The Phillies are only as good as their starters and if Hamels is out for a long period of time they are in trouble. I don’t think the Mets are as good as people think, but they will be good enough to edge the Dodgers for the Wild Card. The team that has the potential to be the 2009 Rays would be the Marlins, except they don’t have the same offensive depth that the Rays had last season. As for the AL, I feel confident that the Yankees can win with this team provided they stay healthy. Remember a big part of the Rays success last year was due to how healthy they stayed all year. I think the Sox will once again be very, very good. I think Jason Bay will have a monster season and win the AL MVP. The Athletics and Royals will definitely surprise some people, but in the end they are still a year away from making some real noise. All in all though, the only thing I am certain of is that I love this game and I am glad it’s baseball season.
I will recuse myself because there is no way for me to be honest about my “work” as secretary this late in the race. I will say that I predicted Boston to win the East and go to the series (with LAD) because of pitching, the Yanks to miss the wild card because of pitching, and Seattle to win the West because that’s what I always do.