Posted on: March 30, 2008 10:02 pm

2008 MLB Predictions

Everyone else is doing it, so here goes my shot...

AL East

1. New York: They have the best offense in the AL and their pitching and defense will be much improved from last year.
2. Boston: They have more holes than the Yanks and less options when stuff goes wrong. Ramirez, Varitek, Lowell will be disappointments. Still good enough to win the wild card.
3. Tampa Bay: Assuming than Longoria will be up in mid-May, they will catch and pass the Jays in their first ever winning season.
4. Toronto: Their good pitchers get hurt too often and the others aren't as good as they showed last year. Their offense is too old too.
5. Baltimore: The worst team in the AL. The outfield is ok, but the rest of the team is not. They should trade Roberts for some prospects.

AL Central

1. Detroit: The offense will be great, but the bullpen scares me, but Leyland is one of the best managers around. He'll get the most out of that unit.
2. Cleveland: I don't get why they didn't find a way to improve at one of the infield or outfield corners. They are hoping too much on a bounceback from Hafner.
3. Kansas City: If not for the Rays, KC would be the feel good story of the summer. They'll flirt with a winning record.
4. Chicago: The offense will be better, but still not very good and the pitching will be worse. Starting Crede instead of Fields is a bad sign.
5. Minnesota: The pitching won't be terrible, but they won't score much. They should have gotten more for Santana.

AL West

1. Angels: Despite the injuries to their pitching and the glut of outfielders they are still the best in the division and their farm system is one of the best.
2. Oakland: They won't challenge, but won't be the total disaster everyone is expecting. 80 wins are a possibility.
3. Seattle: Bedard and Hernandez are nice, but the offense is completely dysfunctional. Is there a team that could really use Bonds, this is it.
4. Texas: By far, the best last place team in baseball. Good offense, bad pitching. What else is new?

Wild card: Boston

NL East

1. New York: Santana saves this top heavy team. However, old age will catch up to them and another collapse would not be too far fetched.
2. Atlanta: The rotation is not quite ready... the Mets better hurry up and win now because these Braves are about to start a new run.
3. Philadelphia: They used up a lot of luck last year, so this year the pitching has to be better. Myers and Hammels will be good, but there's no one after them.
4. Washington: The new park will make fans forgive how bad the team's pitching is going to be, but at least the offense will be decent.
5. Florida: The pitching is bad, in front of that defense it could be historically so. Replacing Cabrera with an even worse fielder seemed impossible but they found Cantu.

NL Central

1. Chicago: The most complete team in the weakest division. Finding a better SS than Theriot would help even more.
2. Milwaukee: Love the offense, but the defense won't be good enough, and that will hurt their young pitchers. They'll be better next year.
3. Cincinnati: Giving Dusty Baker control over so many young prospects is like giving a teenager the keys to a Porsche. It won't end well.
4. Houston: Someone please explain to me what this team is trying to do? I see the NL version of Baltimore coming up.
5. Pittsburgh: The young pitchers will keep them in games even if the offense can put them over the top. Tons of 4-3 loses.
6. St. Louis: LaRussa is a good manager when he has the horses, but when he doesn't, like this year, it will be real bad.

NL West

1. Los Angeles: Now that Torre apparently will go with as little Pierre as possible and field their best possible lineup, they'll win the division.
2. Arizona: Last year's mirage (more runs allowed than scored) shows this is not a solid team. That offense has too little firepower.
3. Colorado: Their pitched over their heads last year, expect a typical Coors staff this year.
4. San Diego: Too many holes in this team, the park and their top pitchers will keep them on games, but the offense is weak.
5. San Francisco: Some teams AAA affiliate have better offenses. Lincecum and Cain will keep them from losing 100 games.

Wild Card: Arizona

AL Champs: Detroit over New York
NL Champs: New York over Chicago

World Series: New York Mets, hard to bet against Santana in a short series

AL MVP: Alex Rodriguez, he won't be as good as last year, but still the best in the AL.
AL CY: Josh Beckett, he'll lead the league in wins, and that's usually all that matters
AL ROY: Jacoby Ellsbury: memories of the 2007 post season will get him the award.

NL MVP: David Wright: will be the main reason why the Mets win the division.
NL CY: Santana (put me down for this in 2009, 2010, etc.)
NL ROY: Kosuke Fukudome, a much more polished product than your typical rookie.
Category: MLB
Tags: Predictions
Posted on: March 28, 2008 8:53 pm

Fantasy Surprises and Busts

I'm also a big fantasy baseball fan, so now that I've had all my drafts completed, I'll share my top surprises for 2008 as well as the biggest busts. As a baseline, I'm using our own Draft Averages (
) So for each position I'll pick a player who I think will most outperform their draft slot and the one that will most underperform it.


C: Geovany Soto: Won the job after a great callup last year. I have him ranked at #6 after all the M's (Martinez, Martin, Mauer and McCann) and Posada. He's #11 by our users, behind over the hill guys such as Varitek, Hernandez and Rodriguez. I also like Napoli and both Molinas better than most.

1B: Todd Helton: I have him as the 7th best 1B, while our users have him at #12. He'll hit for a higher average than any 1B not named Pujols and his R and RBI totals will be very strong, considering the park and the lineup. I like LaRoche and Jackson to out do their 16th and 17th ranking as well.

2B: Dustin Pedroia: #7 for me, while #11 for our users. Not much power and not much speed, but if he bats at the top of that lineup, he'll score a ton of runs. Others I like: Roberts (I have him at #2), Weeks.

3B: Ryan Zimmerman: Only ARod, Wright, Braun and Cabrera are better. The Nationals will have their best offense ever and their new park has to be friendlier to hitters than old RFK. Our users have him at #9. I also like Encarnacion and Kouzmanoff.

SS: J.J. Hardy: He's somewhere in between the player he was last year in the first half and the one he was in the second half. He's my #7 SS, while he's #12 among our users. I also think Lugo and Lopez will outdo their rankings.

OF: Chris B. Young: He's a younger version of Alfonso Soriano. I expect another 30-30 season and wouldn't be surprised with 70 total HR+SB. If only he would bat 5th so he could get more RBI's.

OF: Corey Hart: He's Chris Young lite. But with better average and more RBI potential. Won't be surprised if he goes 30-30.

OF: Matt Kemp: He's #33 on our list, which is ridiculously low. Only if Joe Torre falls asleep and gives Pierre AB's at his expense will this not be the steal of every draft. Others I like: Milledge, Victorino, Delmon Young, Adam Jones.

SP: Javier Vazquez: This is probably my most controversial pick. His offense will be better this year so he could win 16 games with a mid-3 ERA.

SP: Cole Hammels: The park may scare some, but not me (and Webb and Haren have the same issue too). In a league with Peavy and Santana he's got no hope to win a CY, but he should in the hunt for #3 with Webb for the foreseable future.

SP: Jeremy Bonderman: He was downright atrocious in the second half last year, but I expect a big bounceback this year. Others I like: Gallardo, Hill, Garza, Duke.

RP: Francisco Cordero: The NL has few no doubt about it closers. He's one of them and the Reds should be improved this year. Expect 40-45 saves. Also like Soria, Lyon (although a bit risky) and Chad Cordero.


C: Ivan Rodriguez: I hate to say it as I've always liked Pudge, but he's done. He's lost his power (regardless of his spring training HR binge) and last year he walked a total of 9 times! Also I'd stay away from Varitek and Hernandez.

1B: Carlos Delgado: Another player I think is done. Between injuries and ineffectiveness, he'll be lucky to get 400 AB's this year. Also in the running are Konerko and Sexson.

2B: Robinson Cano: He's not a bad player (in fact his stats are better than Pedroia whom I have in the other list). But he's not the 3rd best at the position as our users think. Others overrated: Kent, Hill.

3B: Mike Lowell: Had a great season last year, but he could go all 2005 on us again when he hit .236. Blalock, Glaus and Rolen are all way too high.

SS: Miguel Tejada: This is probably the weakest of my picks. There wasn't really anyone that jumped out as being terribly overrated.

OF: Manny Ramirez: He's #9 on our list, and that's simply too high at this stage in his career.

OF: Nick Markakis: He's #14 on our the list. I must be missing something. He's young so he has that going for him, but I just like too many guys ranked after him better.

OF: Vernon Wells: He's had two good seasons in his career. He could have another 2003 season, but that was 5 years ago. Other choices: Abreu, Hawpe, Pierre, Ankiel, Bourn.

SP: Justin Verlander: I know many consider him a top favorite for the CY, but not me. Hell, he's not even the best pitcher with the initials JV in his division. He's still the best pitcher in that staff, just not as good as everyone expects.

SP: Roy Halladay: Just because he never seems to be healthy.

SP: Brad Penny: He had a great year last year, but he's never been that good, and he's an injury risk. Others I'm not high on: Jared Weaver, Wainwright and Lester.

RP: Jason Isringhausen: Another injury risk, and every day I like this Cards less. Also on this watch all the old guys: Borowski, Jones, Hoffman, Percival, Sherrill and Gregg.
Category: MLB
Tags: Fantasy
Posted on: March 8, 2008 9:24 pm

Cactus League Report 3/8

Yesterday (Friday) we went to Mesa to watch Seattle play the Cubs. Here are some observations:

  • Mesa Stadium is the largest of all the Cactus League parks, and it's always packed. Today was no exception.
  • Ted Lilly started for the Cubs and he promplty walked Ichiro and Yuneisky Betancourt hit a bomb to give the M's a 2-run lead. But Lilly settled down from there on and didn't allow another baserunner in his three innings of work.
  • I was looking forward to see Kosuke Fukudome play and fortunately Pinella put in the game. Actually, it was a pretty good lineup, with all the starters in except Soriano. The Mariners did likewise, with Adrian Beltre being the one notable absence.
  • With Ichiro and Fukudome on the same game, the Japanese media was out in full force for this game.
  • Fukudome showed good line drive power when he doubled to left center in the first inning:

  • Carlos Silva started for the Mariners. He looked a bit overweight and his pitches looked like they barely hit 80mph. Since his fastball can get anyone out, he really has no margin for error. If his control is not great, he's in trouble. At least Seattle has a good defense and big park. Still, I don't want him anywhere near my fantasy team.
  • Silva escaped some trouble in the first inning, settled down and then got hit hard in the 4th. When the dust settled he had allowed 4 runs, two of them on a 2-run shot by pinch hitter Daryle Ward.
  • Brad Wilkerson is now with Seattle. A few years ago I thought he was going to become a superstar with his combination of power and speed. I guess that will never happen now.
  • R.A. Dickey looked fantastic in 3 innings of relief for Seattle. I don't know how many pitches he threw, but it couldn't have been much more than 20. He had some sort of screwball looking pitch that was breaking in the wrong direction for a right handed. It was much too fast to be a knuckle ball, but whatever it was it kept the Cubs hitters from making solid contact.
  • Dickey of course is the player born without a ligament on his elbow. So if he can pitch without one, how come all these other pitchers can't pitch when they tear theirs?
  • Richie Sexson looked pretty bad. He struck out twice and didn't seem to be getting good swings at all.
  • Today's "Wow he's still around?" player is JD Closser who came in to catch in the late innings. How many catches have come out of the Colorado system with a lot of promise and have not panned out?
  • Carlos Marmol pitched the 9th for the Cubs which may or may not say something about his chances to be the Cubs closer. Managers in spring training usually bring their top relievers early on in the game to insure that they face top hitters, not the triple A fodder that typically bat in the 8th and 9th innings.
And today (Saturday) we went to Tempe to watch the Giants play the Angels
  • Now, I consider myself to have a good knowledge of young prospects, but I must say that the lineup the GIants threw out there stumped me. Maybe it was the Fresno Giants that showed up.  Eugenio Velez started at 2B, Travis Denker at 3B, Clay Timpner at CF, and Brian Bocock at SS. I've never heard of these guys.  If those were the starters, who came in after?  Well John Bowker, Travis Ishikawa and Steve Holm.  Never heard of them either.  Yes it was a split squad, but still, that is ridiculous.
  • And the recognizable names were either has been (Aurilia, Durham) or never will be's (Fred Lewis, Rajah Davis, Eliezer Alfonso).
  • Meanwhile, the Angels had a murderers row by comparison: Figgins, Matthews, Guerrero, Anderson, Hunter, Kotchman, Kendrick, Napoli, Aybar.
  • Joe Saunders started for the Angels and quickly got in trouble when he allowed a single by Davis.  He had him picked off first, but Kotchman's throw hit the runner and went into centerfield, allowing Davis to get to third.  Davis then scored on a sac fly by Velez:
  • Brad Hennessey started for the Giants and was effective.  The Giants pitching is much better than their hitters, so he's not assured of a starting job. 
  • Runners had problems all game long.  4 players were picked off in the game, including Denker who got himself picked off from third with one out.  Guess what Travis, your odds of making the team, which were around zero coming in, just went negative.
  • Gary Matthews (below) started at DH while Garret Anderson played left.  I figured that Matthews would play the OF most nights while Anderson, Guerrero and Rivera take turns at DH.  Not that it really matters as all 5 OF should get enough playing time to get over 500 ABs each. 
  • The Angels brought in a true side armer to pitch in the middle of the game.  Didn't catch his name because the PA system at Tempe stadium sounds as good as the local McDonalds drive thru speaker and the scoreboard dates around 1950 and no one's ever replaced a burned light bulb.  But anyway, it's always cool to see someone do things differently, it's what makes this such a great game.
  • Ray Durham hit a bases loaded double that scored 3 runs.  Rajah Davis showed some speed by scoring from first on the play as the ball wasn't hit that hard and didn't even get to the warning track.
  • Somehow these crappy Giants managed to take a 6-3 lead on the Angels. But it didn't last as their bullpen blew it and allowed the Angels to tie the score in the 8th.  The game ended in a 6-6 tie.
Posted on: March 7, 2008 12:57 am

Cactus League Report

Today we went to watch the Arizona Diamondbacks take on the Kansas City Royals in Surprise. Here are some observations:

  • The Surprise stadium is perhaps the nicest in the entire Cactus League. Too bad its tenants are the Royals and Rangers.  The good thing is always easy to get good seats.
  • Dan Haren (below) started for the D-Backs and pitched really well. I'm as big a fan of him but fans in Arizona are expecting Brandon Webb and him to do what Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling did in 2001. The thing is, this team has so many good young players, their two aces don't have to be that good to win a championship.
  • Arizona played their entire starting lineup except for Justin Upton. Too bad, I was really hoping to see that future star play.
  • Why do they bat Chris Young leadoff? Yeah, he's fast, but he has absolutely no idea what the strike zone looks like. In his first at bat he swung at a pitch that was way outside and grounded weakly to second. In his next at bat, he took 3 consecutive balls and then took three consecutive strikes. Bat him 5th or 6th and use his power to drive others in.
  • For the Royals the starter was former super prospect Zach Greinke. He got into some trouble in two of the three innings he pitched but worked thru it.
  • The Royals lineup was downright horrible. Billy Butler starting at DH was the only noteworthy thing. Miguel Olivo batted cleanup. Too bad Alex Gordon took the day off.
  • Is there a team will less name recognition than the Royals?
  • The coolest part of the game was seeing George Brett and Kirk Gibson taking before the game started. There must be a rule in MLB that says that each team has to have a former local hero be a spring training coach of some sort. Since the Diamondbacks haven't been around long enough for that they must have gotten Gibson to fill in. Next year Luis Gonzalez may be available.
  • Joakim Soria came in in the 4th... I guess the Royals wanted him to pitch to the major leagues in the D-Backs roster. He looked really good. Even a closer for a bad team will get 30-40 chances, so I wouldn't shy away from him.
  • Here's Mike Reynolds breaking his bat on a pitch from Leo Nunez, who also pitched pretty well.
  • Emiliano Fruto pitched an inning for the D-Backs and the Royals beat him pretty good.
  • Billy Butler showed why he's one of the top prospects in baseball by hitting a HR to tie the game in the 7th.
  • Today's Wow, he's still around? is Tim Raines Jr. He's trying to win a job with the D-Backs. Do you think if his name was anything else that he still be around? Someone must really be hoping he's a late bloomer. When his father was 28 years old, he already had 7 All Star appearances and had over 500 SB.
  • Ryan Sheely, who was a bust as a rookie last year hit the first pitch of the bottom of the 9th over the left field fence for a walk off home run giving the Royals a 4-3 win. If he can put it together, him, Gordon and Butler could make the Royals somewhat interesting to watch this year. They still won't finish any higher than 4th though.
Category: MLB
Posted on: March 6, 2008 1:02 am
Edited on: March 6, 2008 11:49 am

Spring Training, Cactus League Style

So I'm spending a few days in Arizona and catching some Cactus League action. Today I was at the San Diego vs Oakland game and here are some observations:
  • This early in the season, pitchers don't go very long into games and that's understandable, but there are lots of batters that are way deep in the depth chart that are getting playing time.
  • Randy Wolf started the game for San Diego. He warming up right in front of us and he seemed extremely wild. I said that he wouldn't get out of the first inning. He lasted 2/3 of an inning and allowed 4 runs. Not even Petco Park makes him someone you will want to have on your fantasy team.
  • Chase Headley (right) played left for the Padres. He didn't look particularly good out there but he seemed to have a lot of difficult plays to deal with. He did have an assist. I doubt he'll make the team out of spring training, but he should be in the majors sometime in 2008.
  • Jody Gerut started for San Diego at 2B. If you failed to stick as a Royal and a Pirate, shouldn't that be a sign that you should look for alternate forms of employment?
  • From the wow, he's still around department: Shawn Estes was brought in to pitch the 3rd for the Padres. He also failed to get out of the inning.
  • Mike Sweeney looked real good at the plate for Oakland. He also managed to play for 5 innings without injuring himself.
  • Justin Germano pitched 3 innings for the Pads... he looked real good in the first two, only allowing a long double to Mike Sweeney,. but in his third inning, he was beaten up by a series of A's that no one's ever heard off.
  • Lenny DiNardo started for Oakland. Compared to the losers the Padres threw out there he looked like a Cy Young contender.
  • Bobby Crosby also managed to play half a game without getting hurt.
  • Oakland has most of their starting lineup in the game. Eric Chavez being the one notable exception. I don't see how this team will not finish last in the division.
  • The weather in Phoenix was absolutely perfect. 70 degrees, clear, deep blue sky, no humidity. You just can't beat that.
  • Hudson Street came in to pitch the 7th and gave up a homer to Edgar Gonzalez. No, not the pitcher for the Diamondbacks of the same name. The Padres have an infielder with the same name.
  • In addition to the adventures of Chase Headley in left, Kevin Kouzmanoff (right) had a bad day at third base. He just didn't seem to be very mobile at all. He didn't get charged with any errors but there were at least three plays that he could have made. Mayeb he should be moved to left and keep Headley at 3B.
  • Kouzmanoff looking better at the plate than at 3BMatt Antonelli made a cameo appearance for the Pads at 2B. While he probably won't be in the majors this year, look for him to a ROY candidate in 2009.
  • Dallas Braden also pitched for Oakland and was reasonable effective. He's not as bad as he was last year, and he may find himself in Oakland's starting rotation this year.
  • Oh and yes, there was a final score... i think it was 15-4 Oakland, but if Bud Black is not going to care (given his choice of pitchers), why should the rest of us.
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