Rambling, dumb predictions

You’re supposed to make predictions, I guess. I really have no idea what’s going to happen, and neither does anyone else.

Well, the flipping Yankees are going to win, of course, they pretty much always do. The only thing that can stop them is that the AL East is ridiculously strong. It’s not impossible that the Yankees, Red Sox, and Rays are the three best teams in baseball. One of them’s going to get left out. The Orioles, with a bit of luck, could challenge in any other division, but in this one it’s hopeless. The Jays will probably be pretty sad.

Even without Joe Nathan, I think that the Twins should be the favorites in the AL Central. They’re just the only two-way team there. The Tigers can’t get anyone out, and didn’t help themselves by trading their only two good defensive players. The White Sox, on the other hand, couldn’t score any runs last year and don’t look much improved to me. The Indians are in full-on rebuilding mode, and the Royals are beneath contempt.

The AL East West has been the Angels’ playground for years. A lot of people think that this is over, but I’m reluctant to agree just because I never could figure out how they did it to begin with. The Rangers and Mariners both have taken a pitching-and-defense tack to improve, and the smart money is on a war between them. The Mariners’ version is stronger, but the Rangers are more balanced; I think that if it comes down to these two teams, the more veteran Mariners would prevail. The A’s have flatlined and may be in permanent rebuilding mode.

In the NL West, the Dodgers have some of the best topline talent in baseball, including a terrific outfield, a top-notch closer, and good young starting pitching. But the divorce drama has kept them from patching holes on the roster and may leave the door open for the Rockies or the Giants. The Rockies’ strength is actually their pitching, but even in the humidor era I’m not sure how that will hold up year-to-year. The Giants are even more pitching oriented and their offseason acquisitions didn’t really address their offensive woes, but they may allow so few runs it doesn’t matter. The D-Backs spent 2009 wondering what hit them, as most of their young talent flopped and Brandon Webb missed almost the whole season. Maybe things will reverse themselves. The Padres are basically in the place of the Braves circa 1985; they have a hometown hero they should probably trade, and nothing else of note.

In the NL Central, the Cardinals have two star pitchers, the best player in baseball, and one other star hitter. But their key remains Tony LaRussa’s ability to patch together a lineup that always seems to have two or three utility players in it and Dave Duncan’s ability to get something out of starting pitchers who seemed on their way out of the league. It’s precarious, and if anything happens to one of the stars (Carpenter is always an injury risk) the whole thing could fall apart. The Cubs might pick up the pieces if that happens, though they have all sorts of problems and their outfield looks to me to be about as bad as the Braves’ was at the beginning of last year. The Brewers have their two big thumpers and some young offensive talent, but I don’t buy their pitching. The Reds are getting some notice, but I don’t see how, even in that park, they’re going to score. The Astros are a sad shell of a once-proud franchise, while the Pirates enter Year Seventeen of their rebuilding process with not much to show for it but Andrew “I Don’t Know How to Spell My Last Name” McCutchen.

And the East… The Phillies are the class of the NL, the two-time pennant winners and a team with no significant holes except closer, a hole that is easily fixed. Their window has a couple of years left before it closes. The Braves look in pretty good shape to me, and should be right in the wildcard hunt if they can get through without major injuries; arguably, they should have won it last year except for their bizarrely inefficient offense. The Marlins are the Marlins; they have good young pitching, one star, some other good players, and some guys you can’t figure out why they’re in the majors, and you should never, ever, underestimate them. The Nats are slowly turning into a major league team, but have neglected to acquire a starting rotation. The Mets have Jeff Francoeur.

47 thoughts on “Rambling, dumb predictions”

  1. I forsee that last line become a Braves Journal Glossary addition very soon. Perhaps to indicate a complete loss of sanity/hope?

  2. Adjusting ERA for batters faced per game above league average? Why would you think that makes sense?

    Because how many batters a reliever faces can explain about 5% of their adjusted ERA. Gossage should get credit for facing more batters.

    Mainly just to show how insignificant a 5% adjustment is.

  3. Of course, the reason the Royals are beneath contempt is that thanks to Dayton Moore, they have ex-Braves even less useful than Jeffy. Would you rather have Frenchy or Tony Pena Jr. starting? (Answer: I’d rather have a hole in my head.)

    As for the Braves, this is a wild-card team built to win short series, like the *%&*! Marlins back in ’97. No reason this season can’t end the same way.

  4. This will be the best of the many prediction columns I’ll read before the season starts. The Mets line is classic Thomason.

    I really like our team this year. Thought about upgrading to digital cable and getting the MLB package, but alas 2 kids in college this year. sigh.

  5. Johnny, was it your daughter who was deciding between Vandy, UVA, Davidson, etc? If so, who did she pick?

  6. Because how many batters a reliever faces can explain about 5% of their adjusted ERA. Gossage should get credit for facing more batters.

    I’ll just come out and say it: There is no way this is true, and even if it is there is no way you could prove it’s true with the existing data we have.

    The AL East has been the Angels’ playground for years.

    Typo.

    The NL Central seems the most compelling to me. Throw the Pirates out and it’s five teams that could contend if they get the breaks. Ok, the Reds would probably need a lot of breaks but it’s not impossible.

  7. There is no way this is true, and even if it is there is no way you could prove it’s true with the existing data we have.

    Sort of like your assertion about how much harder it is to be a fireman.

  8. Jason – Yes, she applied to Northwestern, Duke, UVa, Brown and The Ohio State University – because her dad made her apply there just in case. She won’t hear anything from the first 4 until April 1st(?)

  9. Before I head off to get boned by my CS test, here are my stupid All Star predictions for the Braves:

    McCann (duh)
    Yunel if he keeps improving
    Wagner if hes completely healthy
    Hudson if hes healthy and because I’m a fan.

  10. Does anybody know what happened with Sucre’s hit to win the game the other day? At first it was reported as a 3 run homer. in the boxscore a rbi single. I just saw a picture on mlb.com of Sucre watching the ball clear the fence. What was it?

  11. You have to think Hanson/Jurrjens are on everyone’s all-star radar this year.

  12. I read that Sucre’s hit was over the fence but that he stopped running at first base… Which didn’t make a lot of sense to me. I know it’s spring training and all.. But it isn’t beer league softbal.

  13. CS=my Computer Science class at Georgia Tech. It just stripped me of quite a bit of my dignity. I hate that class with a passion.

  14. I thought the Sucre thing was strange too. Apparently he just stopped running and it was counted as a 3 run single.

    I know Spring Training stats mean nothing, but it would seem to mean a lot more for Sucre to count his hit as a walkoff HR. If I were Sucre I would look for every possible accomplishment I could claim – Spring Training or not.

  15. 12,
    If you really want me to show you why I’ve come to this conclusion, I’ll summarize the research and send it to you / publish it.

  16. If Heap gets stuck behind an undeserving scrub, I’ll bet on Carlos Ruiz.

    All-Starwise, I have Hanson and Heap. Outside chance that Chipper gets the backup spot reserved for aging legends, but I really doubt that Yunel makes it — everyone hates him and he looks like a bonehead half the time. All-Star talent, but not an All-Star reputation.

    Of course, if Heyward comes out and hits .400 in April, May, and June, then he just might make it.

  17. I just re read my post #15 and it sounds like I am disparaging OSU. Quite the contrary, the school has done a great job of enhancing its academic reputation. Sure don’t want to get any Buckeyes mad at me.

    Hang in there Mike N. I was just curious because one of my degrees is in Computer Science.

    I don’t know about y’all but I’m ready for some baseball.

  18. Powell and Sutton are in rare form today. (paraphrased)

    Sutton: “Sometimes, I’ve learned even when you’re right, you’re wrong”

    Powell: “How many wives ago did you learn that?”

    AND

    Powell: “I’ll remember things exactly how I want to remember them”

    Sutton: “So you’re kind of like the Russians?” (which I’m not completely sure I understand…maybe I’m not old enough)

  19. Guys, I have a legitimate question. I don’t follow college basketball much, and the extent is checking scores and stats of Florida on my phone when I’m bored. When Florida was on their back-to-back run, I did follow much more. My question: is Florida just not a big program? They played in 3 national championships and won 2 in the 2000’s, but it seems like since the days of Noah, Horford, Brewer, Green, Humphrey, and Richards, they haven’t been able to do much of anything. Your unbiased opinion, did Donovan just get lucky with an amazing group of 6 players, or is Florida just missing something?

  20. As a Mizzou fan who doesn’t really care about SEC basketball:

    Florida had a great couple of years, but they’re competing with decades of consistency to be compared with the all time great programs (Duke, Carolina, Kansas, UConn, Kentucky etc)

    I think to start putting Florida into that conversation, they need to go back to the Final Four with a different class.

  21. @38,

    Ethan,

    I think the line about the Russians refers to the penchant of the Communist rulers during the Cold War to revise history to suit their purposes; for example, that American Lend-Lease aid during WWII had nothing to do with the Soviets defeating the Germans.

  22. I agree Ethan, but I think I’m asking a different question. It’s not whether or not Florida has the prestige of the top programs that you mentioned. I suppose it’s more this: does Florida have the ability or resources to year-in-and-year-out have a top program? They went to the NIT last year, and this year they’ll have a very low seed in the tournament. Relating it to the SEC, it seems like Tennessee and Kentucky perennially have quality programs and would never settle for an NIT berth. Does Florida just not have what it takes to be big every year the way the football team does? The baseball team is similar, but they’ve had even less success as the basketball. Speaking geographically and climate…ly, I would expect Florida baseball to always have a top program.

  23. Ethan – during the good old days when the United States could concentrate on only one Evil Empire, Soviet propaganda was so relentless that it became fact, even to the Soviets themselves.

  24. Yes, we should always be careful of relentless propaganda that somehow becomes considered fact.

    The Cold War, however, did make The Olympics more interesting.

  25. Ethan, to put Duke ahead of Carolina in talking about best programs is a bit, well, short-sighted. Duke had a run in the late 60s. Sucked until K came and turned it around in 85 and have been good for the past 25 years. They still haven’t won a NC in 9 years and, while this team is decent, they won’t get to the elite eight.

    We (UNC) have had 1 losing season since 1945. 1. This year wasn’t losing. We sucked, yes, but coming off a NC and losing 88% of your scoring plus losing our best player for the bulk of the second half of the year and starting 2 freshman will do that to you. Harrison Barnes (best amateur in the country not named Evan Turner) comes next year with Reggie Bullock (6’7″ SG who can SHOOOOOT) and Kendall Marshall (6’3″ PG who knows how to run a team) and the rumor is we might be getting back involved with CJ Leslie (6’9″ PF who can run and jump out the gym and plays at Wall’s old HS).

    Yet, we all have to admit that either Kentucky (who’s been pretty bad the past five years (outside of this one, of course)) or UCLA (the past two years have been awful in Westwood, but don’t give up on Howard yet, next year they’ll be pretty nasty) as the best programs ever.

    Florida Basketball is, to me, how UNC football is: the cute step-sister of a SMOKIN’ HOT supermodel who’s married to a 250 lb. computer programmer. Nothing you can do will sway the fanbase’s obsession with the historical money maker. Donnovan had his program in place and then something has happened the past 2 years: the wheels have fallen off of that program. Still, he’s a player or two away from being a very very strong team.

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