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Michael/Male/26-30. Lives in United States/Pennsylvania/Wexford/Christopher Wren, speaks English. Spends 20% of daytime online. Uses a Fast (128k-512k) connection. And likes baseball /politics.
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Friday, March 25, 2005

Overall 2005 NL Predictions / Playoffs 

First a recap of our 2005 predictions ...

NL East
Florida Marlins
Philadelphia Phillies
Atlanta Braves
New York Mets
Washington Nationals

NL Central
St. Louis Cardinals
Chicago Cubs (WC)
Houston Astros
Pittsburgh Pirates
Milwaukee Brewers
Cincinnati Reds

NL West
San Francisco Giants
San Diego Padres
Los Angeles Dodgers
Arizona Diamondbacks
Colorado Rockies

Playoffs: Cubs, Cards, Marlins and Giants. Not as strong as the AL entries to the post-season sweepstakes, but these are good teams … How do I see the playoffs unfolding? It is a risky pick, siding with the Cubs over the Marlins, but I think that they’ll avenge the ’03 NLCS and get into the ALCS. Any rotation boasting Maddux, Wood and Prior (note, I make this prediction under the assumption the Cubs Big Three are healthy come October) is going to be hard to beat in a best-of-five. As for the Cards, I see them making short work of the Giants and advancing to the 2005 NLCS as they did last year. I think the whole baseball world will hang on the outcome of the Cards-Cubs NLCS, which will be every bit the battle royale last year’s NLCS was (not that anyone fixated on the ALCS noticed). I think that the Cards are a better team than the Cubs, though a healthy rotation for the Cubs could give them the edge. Still, I see the Cards in the World Series for the first time since 1987.

NLDS:
Chicago over Florida, 3-1
St. Louis over San Francisco, 3-0

NLCS:
St. Louis over Chicago, 4-3

MVP: Albert Pujols, Cardinals
Cy Young: Tim Hudson, Braves
Rookie: Ryan Howard, whatever team the Phillies trade him to

World Series: St. Louis over Minnesota, 4-3

Rematch of the '87 series will be a good one. I give the edge to the Cards.

Monday: Season Preview, Part II: Pitching.

(3) comments

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Overall 2005 AL Predictions / Playoffs 

Here are my overall AL predictions …

AL East
Boston Red Sox
New York Yankees (WC)
Baltimore Orioles
Toronto Blue Jays
Tampa Bay Devil Rays

AL Central
Minnesota Twins
Cleveland Indians
Chicago White Sox
Detroit Tigers
Kansas City Royals

AL West
Oakland A’s
Anaheim Angels
Seattle Mariners
Texas Rangers

Playoffs: … So I see the usual suspects in this – Yankees, Red Sox, Twins, A’s. I could see the Indians, Angels and Mariners making a run perhaps, but I’d be surprised if I didn’t see these guys (the usual suspects) in the mix. So how will the playoffs unfold? I see the Yankees burning out against a confident Twins team playing with nothing to lose. (So no rematch of the last two ALCS.) Santana will dominate the overmatched Yankees hitters. I see a tough struggle between the Red Sox and A’s, but I think the Red Sox have the horses to outlast the thinner A’s … In the ALCS, I see a terrific struggle between the pitching oriented Twins and the offensively minded Red Sox. I think Santana will be dominating and ultimately the difference.

ALDS:
Minnesota over New York, 3-1
Boston over Oakland, 3-2

ALCS:
Minnesota over Boston, 4-2

MVP: Migel Tejada, Orioles
Cy Young: Johan Santana, Twins
Rookie: Nick Swisher, A’s

Tomorrow: NL Playoffs & World Series!

(1) comments

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

2005 NL West Preview 

I don’t know what to think about the NL West. Could be competitive, but maybe not.

Proj. Standings:
San Francisco Giants
San Diego Padres
Los Angeles Dodgers
Arizona Diamondbacks
Colorado Rockies

The San Francisco Giants are finding the window of opportunity closing fast. Barry Bonds can’t play baseball forever and this team is chock full of veterans in their mid-to-upper 30s (their starting outfield has a collective fifty years of MLB experience). Omar Vizquel is 37. Moises Alou is 38. Mike Matheny is 34. These guys were signed to win a pennant. If they don’t win in 2005 or 2006, I think you’ll see a long-term rebuilding effort by the Bay. So enjoy Giants fans. You have a beautiful city (my wife & I stopped by for two nights last year on our way to our honeymoon in Hawaii and loved it), a goregous ballpark and a team that had better win or else. The good news for Giants fans is that I think they can do it, even without Barry Bonds in the lineup … I like the Padres. I think the Padres could win a lot of games. They made major strides as the season wore on offensively, but they need to improve their pitching and defense before they can make a run for first place. They’ll be a contender in 2006 … the Dodgers: I haven’t loved Paul DePodesta’s wheeling and dealing in the offseason: replacing Adrian Beltre (Runs Created, 2004: 120) and Shawn Green (76 Runs Created) with oft-injured J.D. Drew and Jeff Kent? I’m a little baffled. I think signing Derek Lowe is a good deal, especially with the new, pitcher-friendly dimensions of Dodger Stadium. But this team just isn’t going to be that good. They will be winning lots of 2-1 games this year, which works for them, but on the road they are going to have difficulty scoring. I also question the wisdom of giving a massive multi-year contract to a guy as injury-prone as Drew. I’m sure there is a method to the madness that I see, but I don’t see it. Still, this team is good enough in its pitching and defense to win 85-87 games. I’m not sure they can catch their old New York rivals though … Is there an MLB franchise that was worse than the Diamondbacks in 2004? They had the Big Unit and still (still!) ranked fourteenth of sixteen teams in Fielding Independent Pitching. From the fiasco of hiring and firing Wally Backman to showering money on guys like Shawn Green and Troy Glaus, this team doesn’t know what it is doing … Why do the Rockies bother? I’m serious. They should just hold batting practice for fans to watch Todd Helton clobber home runs and just stipulate that they can never win more than 70 games a season. These guys finished fifteenth of sixteen teams in FIP and sixteenth of sixteen in Defense Efficiency Ratio (DER). Thanks to their ballpark they are an offensive jauggernaut, but an absolute disaster defensively. They will never lure pitchers to the Mile High City and they don’t seem to care about defense. Enjoy the view of the Rockies, enjoy the 10-8 slugfests, and enjoy fifth place, Denver.

(18) comments

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

2005 NL Central Preview 

The MLB’s largest division is also its most mysterious. There are lots of variables, lots of X factors at work.

Proj. Standings:
St. Louis Cardinals
Chicago Cubs
Houston Astros
Pittsburgh Pirates
Milwaukee Brewers
Cincinnati Reds

Peter Gammons likes the Cardinals and thinks they’ll be better than last year’s 105 win jauggernaut. Do I agree? I think the ’05 Cardinals will be stronger in terms of pitching with Mark Mulder on staff, which is a fearsome thought to consider: a team with tremendous hitting and fielding now with better pitching? I think they’ll win 100 games and win the Central in a walk … I think the Cubs will be a good team in 2005. I’m tempted to give them the edge in their battle with the Cards. I like their rotation (Wood, Prior & Maddux ... provided they are all healthy), and I think losing Sammy Sosa will improve their team chemistry (addition by subtraction and all that), but the Cards are far too talented to lose out to the Cubs. The Cubs don’t play good team defense, and they don’t have enough OBP guys. They are a team built on power: power pitching (best team FIP in the NL in 2004: 3.84, 0.46 better than the rest of the NL) and power hitting (their .190 ISO was better than any other NL team). I think they can contend, but they are badly built. If they emphasized defense and getting on base more, I think they could be very good … Poor Astros. Will Petitte be healthy? How much will losing Beltran hurt them? Will they miss Jeff Kent? This team is less talented than the one that came within a game of the World Series in 2004. Even with Roger Clemens mowing down batters left and right, I can’t see them having much success. They don’t have the firepower to keep up with the Cubs or Cards … I’m intruiged by the Pirates. They have a good core of young pitchers and some good bats. Jason Bay had a sterling year and eased the pain of dealing Brian Giles. That said, this team has some major problems. They might be the worst defensive team in baseball (and that’s saying something with Jack Wilson manning short), and they don’t pack much of a punch at the plate (-.019 behind the NL average in ISO, and -.012 in OBP). I think Perez could have a fantastic season for them, but their decision to deal Jason Kendall was terrible: they got a mediocre pitcher and a an outfielder who is an absolute disaster defensively for an OBP machine and one of the best catchers in the game. Awful. Simply awful … Did you know that Milwaukee ranked third last year in Fielding Independent Pitching in the NL? Their 4.01 FIP was better than everyone except the Cubs and Astros. The Brewers have a very good pitching staff developing in Milwaukee and could actually make some noise in the NL Central … in 2006. This team is awful at the plate. If they could add some bats, they’d start to have a pretty decent team developing up there, but I don’t really see that happening. Still, if they continue to build their pitching and improve on defense, the Brewers could be dangerous some day soon … What really can you say about the Cincinnati Reds that hasn’t already been said? I thought they were going to the World Series in 2000, with most of their core, 96 win 1999 team intact and Ken Griffey Jr batting. I was stunned to see them collapse these last few years. They really have little-to-know hope. Their big free agent signing was to bring in a pitcher (Eric Milton) who surrendered an MLB high 43 home runs in 2004 into a stadium that ranked a 110 Park Factor in 2004 (i.e., it was 10% easier to homer at Cincy’s Great American Ballpark than at a neutral park). Catastrophic doesn’t even begin to describe the decision. This team is below average defensively, below-average in terms of pitching, and they don’t score that many runs. The ’04 Reds out-performed their pythagorean win-loss record by 9 wins, and they still won just 76 games! This team will be lucky to win 70 and stay out of last place. Might be the worst in the NL.

Tomorrow: NL West.

(3) comments

Monday, March 21, 2005

2005 NL East Preview 

And here is the one you've all been waiting for ...

If the NL East isn’t the most competitive division in baseball in 2005, then I will be very surprised. The Marlins, the Braves, the Phillies and the Mets could all finish 1 through 4. The only team I am certain will be in the cellar is the Nationals.

Proj. Standings:
Florida Marlins
Philadelphia Phillies
Atlanta Braves
New York Mets
Washington Nationals

I like the Marlins to win the division because they have strong pitching (fifth best NL in 2004), good defense (fourth best Defense Efficiency Ratio in ’04) and thanks to their acquisition of Carlos Delgado, a terrific bat. I like these guys to win because I think they have the best balance of all of the NL East teams. They aren’t a jauggernaut, but they are significantly better than the Braves and the rest of the division. The acquisition of Delgado (Bill James proj.: .390 OBP, .565 slugging percentage, 35 home runs, 110 Runs Created), the last significant free agent signing of 2005, will prove to be the most important for the season. The Marlins improved an offense that ranked in the middle of the NL in terms of runs scored, ISO, GPA, OBP and all of those stats we all follow … I’d dearly love to put the Phillies first, but I can’t. This is a competitive division and I don’t think the Phillies closed many gaps in 2005. I think this team will be better than the ’04 version, but the Mets, Marlins and Braves made tremendous changes to their organizations. They all improved in some respects. I just don’t think the Phillies did quite the same, especially compared with the Marlins. They are strong offensively (best offensive team in the division still), terrific defensively (only team nearly as good: the Marlins) and they have a good pitching staff. But taken as a whole, I think they are a few steps behind our archnemesis in Miami … I don’t think the Braves will win the division in 2005. Yeah, the reign of the bland champions comes to an end. Sure, they upgraded their pitching staff with Tim Hudson, but that’s it. This team has been declining offensively for some time and losing J.D. Drew (Runs Created 2004: 122) is going to cripple their chances on the pennant. The Braves are unbalanced: terrific pitching, decent fielding, and a lack of firepower. I think Hudson will pitch well and is the favorite to win the NL Cy Young, but these guys need to retool their lineup for 2006. They need bats … Could the Mets win the division? Sure, but I don’t see that happening. I know Jason at Berks Phillies Fans disagrees with me, but these guys lag behind the Phillies, Marlins and Braves. So they got Pedro and Beltran. Big deal. They still have a lot of holes. I don’t care for their rotation much (after Glavine and Pedro, both of whom are in decline) and they don’t have much offensive firepower. Defensively they play well, but this team is too weak. Had they signed Delgado, I might feel better about their chances, but they are just short of being good. I also have reservations about Pedro: his numbers have been declining for years. Will the pressure of playing in Queens finally catch up to him? And what in the heck were the Mets thinking, tossing money at Kris Benson? Lots of holes. Fourth … I’m glad to see baseball move out of Montreal and accept reality. I’m thrilled to see a team in our nation’s capitol for the first time in … what, 35 years? … I’m not thrilled by the team’s name (ugh) or by the players on the team. The Nats are going to be mediocre for a long time. This team doesn’t have a whole lot of talent and it is competing against four big-market teams intent on winning. Life is going to be tough for Nats fans. Sorry fellas.

Tomorrow: the topsy-turvey world of the NL Central.

(2) comments

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