I’m here on my family vacation in the Blue Ridge Mountains near Asheville, North Carolina. And I had some downtime so I figured rather than sleep or look at the clouds that are eye level outside our mountain house, I would blog.
And okay, caught me, I said I wouldn’t be posting again until I got back to school, but.. I am. I figured I would post some of my predictions for the rest of the season. Note: These are my predictions as of August 5th, I reserve the right to change my mind as the season progresses, after all–it is my blog.
The NL West goes to the Dodgers, that was hard.
The Phillies are in quite a slump. They’re not hitting, not pitching all too well, and making an error here and there. The greeting card sitting at Cliff Lee‘s locker when he arrived at CBP Tuesday might have read: “Welcome to town, Mr. Lee! We’ll continue to win once every fifth day when you’re out on the mound and maybe not even win then, if our offense doesn’t get going!” Lets hope that Lee didn’t bring the funk that the whole Cleveland Indians team is going through to Philly. I’m just playing around, teams go through valleys and reach mountain peaks throughout the season and I’m hoping the Phils are just in a small valley. My guess is that the Phils don’t suffer from Tribe Syndrome, turn it around in the coming week, and win the NL East.
If the Rangers had more than Dustin Nippert and Kevin Millwood then I would seriously consider them in the West over the Angels. But since they don’t, I got the Halos.
One of the best races to watch may be that AL Central. It is going to come down to what pitching staff steps up and holds off each opponent because the Tigers, White Sox, and Twins all scrap until the end to win baseball games. I love the punches Buerhle, Danks, and Floyd but the combination of Mauer and Morneau is lethal as well. So lets knock off who leads the division right now, the Detroit Tigers. They’re near the back of the AL in a bunch of categories and in the long haul, that won’t get you to the playoffs. So if its White Sox vs. Twins, advantage: Twins. They are 7-5 against the ChiSox this year.
The case for the Colorado Rockies (in a few sentences):
They have the pitching finally as their rotation has really come together this season even when Jeff Francis went down before the season started. Seth Smith and Dexter Fowler are maturing in the majors. They’ve always had the middle-of-the-lineup bats to drive in the guys that get on base before them. Todd Helton is healthy. They have more home games left than any other NL contender. They’re my NL wild card pick.
Why not the Giants?
This makes me feel like a HUGE hypocrite. I usually am all about pitching. Pitching wins, pitching wins, pitching wins. That’s what I lay my baseball foundation on. The Giants have one of the best staffs in the National League. AND they just upgraded their awful offense AND they’re now scoring runs. They do have some great young players but I’m not sure that I can see this team playing in October. Maybe because I’ve never seen Freddy Sanchez there. Haha. Speaking of which…
Poor Pirates fans. But only the Pirates fans because Pittsburgh’s won two other championships this year. Jerry Crasnick, of ESPN.com, wrote a great article about the dismantling of this team here: http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/columns/story?columnist=crasnick_jerry&id=4373943.
Lets get to the touchy subject, the AL East. The Red Sox own the Yankees this year, but the Rays own the Red Sox, but the Yankees lead the division. Huh? Yea, this is a tough division to choose. The Yankees score 0.29 more runs per game than the Red Sox and 0.32 more than the Rays. The Sox ERA is 0.06 better than the Rays and 0.39 better than the Yanks. My guess is that the Yanks lose their game and a half lead to the Red Sox.
Then since the Yankees play in a park where an everyday flyout to right is homerun, I say they win the wild card. Followed closely by Tampa Bay who put themselves in too big of a hole to start to season. My same reasoning for why the Rangers don’t win the West is the same reasoning I’m using here for the wild card.
This may be preaching to the choir, but the Cardinals really bolstered their lineup at the deadline. It is a top tier NL lineup now. As long as the pitching keeps the Cards in games I see the additions of Mark DeRosa, Julio Lugo, and Matt Holliday paying off and getting the Cards into October. Sorry Cubbies.
So as of now, my playoff pairings guess goes:
Twins at Red Sox
Rockies at Phillies
Yankees at Angels
Cardinals at Dodgers
I haven’t written in a little while, my apologies. I really need to kick it into high gear if I want to finish my team previews before the season starts. So I’ll type up this one as I watch Japan play the USA.
Team Preview: Chicago White Sox
Projected MLB Rank: 17th — AL Rank: 6th — AL Central Rank: 2nd — Record: (80-82)
The White Sox have a great mix of veteran stars and young talent. Most homes in America know of Jim Thome, Paul Konerko, AJ Pierzynski, and Jermaine Dye. I guess we’ll see how youngsters Josh Fields and Chris Getz pan out in the infield. But here are some of last year’s contributors to one of the best offenses in the AL, that may have flown under to the average fan.
Carlos Quentin had an unbelievable year and would have probably won the AL MVP award had he not gotten injured at the end of the season. He drove in 100 runs while crushing 37 homeruns and batting .288. He may not put up the same numbers as he did last season, but he will definately be a middle of the lineup contributor for the White Sox.
Alexei Ramirez is a five tool player who was born in Cuba. He had a great rookie campaign hitting over 20 homers and driving in over 70 runs. He should only blossom this season and improve upon those numbers. Outfielder Dewayne Wise should have the starting centerfield spot this season after he filled in nicely when Quentin went down last season. He has a good combo of power and speed but really hasn’t found his average in the MLB.
The rotation is lead by southpaw veteran Mark Buerhle who has become a staple at the top of the White Sox rotation. He is followed by young arms Gavin Floyd and John Danks. Floyd was awarded for his great 2008 when he scored a big contract extension today. We will see if he can match his 3.84 ERA and 17 wins in 2009. Danks is a great young lefty who kept a 3.32 ERA in 33 starts last season. They are followed by aging injury-ridden righties Bartolo Colon and Jose Contreras. They are 35 and 37 respectively and may not start the season in the rotation but will get their shot to work their way in when they become fully healthy.
Bobby Jenks and Matt Thornton are the highlights of the southside’s bullpen. Jenks had 30 saves last season with a ERA under 3.00 and has become a very good closer in this league. Thornton, a team USA member, had a great 2008 with an ERA around Jenks in over 70 appearences. Octavio Dotel, who is 35 years old, assumes the setup role as he is a big time strikeout pitcher. Scott Linebrink also had a nice year last season with a 3.69 ERA in 50 games.
This division is weak and I seriously think that any team can win it. I’m projecting the White Sox second behind (use the process of elimination and you’ll see who I think will win it). Some of the players on this team are getting older and if the younger ones don’t pick up the slack, the White Sox may not repeat as division champions.