Now is no longer the winter of our discontent. Well, at least no longer than now lasts, which will be for a couple of days once the season kicks off in a couple hours, until those intrepid Sock and Athletic travelers return for a few more [fake] pre-season games state-side after their [real] battles in The Land of the Rising Sun. I’m rooting for Ghidorah.
As is customary on the cusp of a new season, we have spent dozens of minutes preparing predictions for your enjoyment, in(di)gestion, and prime bookmark material come October. Please note that YFSF staff predictions should be used for entertainment value only and should not be used for investment purposes. Or for entertainment value.
Intriguing but ultimately meaningless individual honors
YF: David Ortiz
SF: Alex Rodriguez
Paul: Miguel Cabrera
Nick: Alex Rodriguez
John: Miguel Cabrera
ag: Alex Rodriguez
YF: Erik Bedard
SF: Justin Verlander (I really, really want to pick Daisuke Matsuzaka but just can’t pull the trigger)
Paul: Josh Beckett
Nick: Felix Hernandez
John: C.C. Sabathia
ag: Fausto Carmona
YF: Joba Chamberlain
SF: Evan Longoria
Paul: Clay Bucholz
Nick: Evan Longoria
John: Evan Longoria
ag: Jacoby Ellsbury (grr)
YF: Joe Girardi
SF: Joe Maddon
Paul: Terry Francona
Nick: Joe Girardi
John: Jon McClaren
ag: Jon McClaren
YF: Albert Pujols
SF: David Wright
Paul: Troy Tulowitzky
Nick: David Wright
John: David Wright
ag: Prince Fielder
YF: Johan Santana
SF: Johan Santana
Paul: Johan Santana
Nick: Johan Santana
John: Brandon Webb/John Smoltz
ag: Jake Peavy
YF: Jay Bruce
SF: Kosuke Fukudome
Paul: Jay Bruce
Nick: Geovanny Soto
John: Jay Bruce/Brandon Jones
ag: Cameron Maybin – oof.. no clue really
YF: Lou Piniella
SF: Willie Randolph
Paul: Willie Randolph
Nick: Lou Piniella
John: Bobby Cox
ag: Ned Yost
This year I had a very difficult time concocting these predictions. A couple of reasons for this. First, I have paid almost no attention to baseball since the end of October. Events, both global and personal conspired to cause this. Because the Red Sox won the World Series and because I have stopped participating in rotisserie baseball my knowledge of tangential players has gone to squat, and the urgency with which teams make transactions is no longer mirrored in my own desire to scour the waiver wire. Second, I finally realized that any knowledge I picked up during the offseason was of little use, such is the wrongness with which my predictions are typically littered. So there’s the disclaimer. Now on to my explanations for the AL East.
The AL East poses a great dilemma for me. Last year I overestimated the Yankees. I picked the Sox to make the Series, but lose. So I underestimated them. I’d like to say that I learned my lesson, that I have turned over a new leaf as a front-running Sox fan, but that just can’t happen. The Sox, a darn good team, have big question marks that I cannot get past. It mostly starts and ends with the rotation. I simply don’t see Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, and Tim Wakefield contributing enough to make me comfortable speaking of winning the division as a fait accompli. In fact, when you add a Bad Beckett Back (BBB) into the mix, the Sox are left with one proven top-of-the-rotation starter (TORS), Daisuke Matsuzaka, and even that assertion, that Daisuke is a TORS, might be reasonably argued. The bullpen is also a worry. Hideki Okajima will surely regress (how can he not?). Jonathan Papelbon may regress. Mike Timlin is hurt, though that appears to be superficial. Color me worried, at least a little. The saving grace? Offense. I expect a great deal from this team. I expect Kevin Youkilis to be less streaky. I expect David Ortiz to be David Ortiz. I am excited to see Manny Ramirez mash this year, perhaps his last in Boston. I am really looking forward to seeing JD Drew play, making me one of seven Sox fans to hold this sentiment. I expect Jason Varitek to infuriate me. I expect this offense to help this team stay in the mix, but to equivocate I would also not be surprised to see the Sox really struggle at times, to acquire three-game losing streaks at an alarming rate. I am excited to see the young pitchers learn, develop, grow, same with Jacoby Ellsbury. But these guys will have their frustrating moments, guaranteed. Young pitchers just don’t come in and dominate a league, particularly not the AL East. We should expect struggles this season. I can see this team winning 88 games. I can also see this team winning 96 games.
The only good thing is that the Yankees have the same dilemma. Hughes and Kennedy in the rotation, who both appear to have tremendous upside but who are also on a learning curve (I expect big things from Hughes this year). Moose. Mariano another year older. Pettitte another year older. Chien Ming Wang solid but not scary solid. The offense mirrors the rotation: Cano, developing into one of the great hitters in the league. Alex and Derek likely to do their thing. But Jorge Posada has another year in the books and can’t possibly repeat last year’s accomplishments. Johnny Damon better stay healthy, and first base is basically something of a mess particularly if Jason Giambi is not productive. Abreu, Matsui. This offense is OLD. So I can see the Yankees also winning in the mid-to-high 90s, but also in the high 80s. It makes predicting the division a great dilemma, and I am inclined to say that the teams will win the same number of games, with the division settled in a one game winner-take-all playoff game in what will be the last game in Yankee Stadium, the Red Sox doing a closure dance on the heart of the Yankees and their fans. They will shutter the House that Ruth Built in bitter, losing fashion for the Yankees and their fans, bookending the Game Seven celebration from 2004.
But the celebration (and schadenfreude) won’t last long, as the Sox will bow out to Miguel Cabrera and the eventual World Series champion Detroit Tigers.
And I, of course, will be mostly wrong. - SF
Standings: The rich got richer and the poor got poorer, leading to what amounts to predictions that closely rival the year-end standings of 2007 … The Red Sox may or may not have a better pitching staff, but they will have a better offense than last year. Watch Bartolo Colon win Comeback Player, nearly mitigating the loss of Curt Schilling, and Jon Lester figure out the strike zone as he goes through the year. One last party: Ortiz and Manny have monster years, and they’ll never match them again. Add rebounds from Drew and Lugo (offsetting regressions from Lowell and Pedroia), and this could be an ’03-’04-esque offensive revival … Can Joe Girardi survive after skippering the first Octoberless Yankee team in nearly 15 years? I don’t expect Mussina to be useful by the All-Star break, or Pettitte by September. The Big Three may or may not be great, but what happens down the stretch when they start bumping against their innings limits with no legitimate fifth starter or bullpen to support them? Will Girardi really pull Joba after 6 with no one but Rivera to trust out there? Not sure where the big offensive boost will come from to offset the regressions from A-Rod and Posada.
Toronto the sexy pick, as always, but remember: A blue jay is just a crow doing magic tricks … Everyone loves Detroit, but they won’t by July, when Willis is a flop and much of the lineup has regressed … Boston and Cleveland were the two best teams last year, and they haven’t done anything to give up their claims. They both have the arms to win the short series, and they’ll rematch for the pennant … In the NL, it’s a mess, and the winner is just playing for who will lose to the AL champ … That said, Pedro will be good, Santana will be great, and the Mets will sew it up easily — before being toppled by a hungry, late-charging Braves team.
Awards: If the Sox make the playoffs, Francona will win MOY — not for 2008, but for 2004 and 2007 … Cabrera will either struggle badly or have an MVP season; I’d actually put money on the former, but picking Ortiz would just be too homerish … Beckett may be last man standing in Cy Young race: Santana and Haren are both out of the league, Bedard is pitching in an even more obscure city, leaving Sabathia
and Carmona … ROY will be either a Sock (Buchholz, Ellsbury) or a Yank (Kennedy, Chamberlain); the final standings could well determine which. - Paul
Hey, I’m a Yanks fan, and I might as well be optimistic about the Bombers going forward. Yes, I’m a bit worried about the pitching, considering that three spots in the rotation are taken by two very inexperienced prospects and a guy who can’t hit 88 on the radar gun (Wait, am I talking about the Yanks or the Sox?), and I’m nervous about the bullpen and those long, depressing Kyle Farnsworth summer night meltdowns, BUT…I believe in Science, Progress and Reason. And I believe in PECOTA. And PECOTA says the Yanks are the team to beat. So there!
Elsewhere, I am intrigued by the Tigers, but I still feel the Indians core line-up and exceptional top of the rotation will hold them off. I also flirted with the idea that the Royals will jump past the Twins this season, but figured Mauer and Liriano are still worth something. And while the Angels are dinged up early, I still think they have enough depth to win the AL West. Oakland is going to be good in 2010.
Anyone else notice how difficult the National League is to call? There are about 4 teams (Nats, Marlins, Giants, Pirates) who I think have no shot at the post-season, and then there is everyone else. I, of course, predicted what I want to happen, and that means a big year for the Cubbies and Mets, who I think are the class of the league.
It sucks that most of this will be proven wrong. - Nick
What? Two seasons in a row I pick the Yanks out of contention? What kind of a fan is ag anyway? Well, my friend, my concern with the Yankees this year is the same as last year (and every year): where’s the
beef wait.. there’s plenty of beef. Where’s the pitching? It ain’t with the Yankees. The beef looks great right now, probably good enough for five-point-five to six runs a game, reggalarly, but how many is this pitching roster going to give up? The song goes "It don’t mean a thing if you ain’t got that swing", and the Yanks have plenty of it. What they don’t have is a solid reason for me to think they will get 210+ mostly better than average innings out of Wang/Pettitte, and though I love the thought of being wrong (I frequently love myself that way .. NO not THAT way) how do I rationally believe that IPK/Hughes/Mussina/??/??/?/?/???????? are going to fill the void? Maybe they will fill it up to about 90 wins, but against divisional rival Boston’ roster that looks frankly fantastic? And Detroit? Now that is just now a terrifying organization right now, for now and later, and later than now. And the Tribe? Awesomeness. And I’ll throw another tip in the jar of the flannel Seattle panhandlers because I think they are much, much better than last year, as silly as that sounds when I say it out loud. Gosh, I truly, utterly hope I am a moron who is completely, utterly wrong as opposed to one who is just unlucky enough to be right regarding the Yanks’ pitchers.
I don’t really care about the NL. Wait, there is some care. I get to watch up-and-coming Padres play at PGE Park, which is why I wrong-headedly pick them in the West again. And I care to watch my best friend, a life-long Cubbie, fall into a pit of self-despair when they flail at my perennial favorite minor-league team, The Beermakers.
Reading through my picks when putting this post together with everyone else’s, John looked really smart, because his were similar to mine. Or wait, I’m maybe really really dumb, considering my tourney bracket and last year’s picks as case law.
For the individual honors, there is no reason to pick against RoboRod. I picked C.C. last year and got it right (boggle) so let’s give a nod to Fausto this time (I actually feel very good about this pick). Ellsbury is bonafied. And if Seattle actually does take the ALW, McClaren is a lock. Prince is pissed about his money. Arrgh! Prince SMASH! Peavy? Like the post said, it’s an election year; vote for the incumbent .. oh wait .. you mean Bush can’t win a third time? Why didn’t someone tell me that? I have no idea about the NL ROY, so Maybin is a Maybe? And who doesn’t love them some Ned Yost?
Now I’ll just sit back with a beer-flavored beer while watching and waiting for IPK/Hughes/Moose/Rasner/Karstens/Hawkins/Igawa/Pavano to fail at filling in those many question marks. - ag
Okay… YOUR turn. Who ya got?