NL East Predictions and Preview

February 28, 2008

nym.gif1. New York Mets (95-67)

2007 Season: 2nd Place (88-74)

Best Off-Season Move: Trading for Johan Santana 

Why They’ll Be Better: After one of the worse end-of-season meltdowns in baseball history, the Mets are pissed off. Not only do they have a chip on their shoulder, but they have got be excited after landing, umm, THE BEST PITCHER IN BASEBALL! Santana will do very well in the NL East, where he will face depleted lineups in Florida, Atlanta, and Washington (Philly is tough). Their lineup is very good, but will need 2006 MVP candidate Delgado to at least be a servicable bat after a dissapointing ’07 campaign. The starting staff will be great if Pedro Martinez, El Duque and John Maine can stay healthy, but their bullpen leading up to Billy Wagner concerns me.

phi.gif2. Philadelphia Phillies (94-68)

2007 Season: 1st Place (89-73) Lost in NLDS

Best Off-Season Move: Signing Pedro Feliz

Why They’ll Be Better: Throwing Brett Myers back into the rotation should have been done a long time ago – that will help them a lot this year. Cole Hamels will anchor the staff, and if healthy is a sure fire ace. Reigning NL MVP Jimmy Rollins, ’06 MVP Ryan Howard and possible future MVP Chase Utley make up arguably the best trio in baseball on the offensive side – those guys in one lineup is scary. Feliz is a major upgrade at third base and I like the addition of Geoff Jenkins to the lineup.If newcomer Brad Lidge can return to ’05 form and Tom Gordon doesn’t blow leads like he has been lately, these guys could win 100 games this year.

atl.gif3. Atlanta Braves (86-76)

2007 Season: 3rd Place (84-78)

Best Off-Season Move: Trading for Mark Kotsay

Why They’ll Be Better: Their pitching staff got a little better and wiser with the signing of Tom Glavine. I think the signing will re-energize John Smoltz and Glavine, and they will put up as good of a season as they physically can at this point. Getting Kotsay after losing Andruw Jones was not a bad move – Kotsay has a good glove and fits into the lineup nicely with Mark Teixeira, Chipper Jones, and Brian McCann shouldering the power load. I think they have a good team, with one weakness – their bullpen. Rafael Soriano as the closer? He’s got good stuff, but not closer stuff. The rest of their bullpen is inexperienced – Peter Moylan is alright, but they’ve got no one else.

was.gif4. Washington Nationals (79-83)

2007 Season: 4th Place (73-89)

Best Off-Season Move: Trading for Elijah Dukes

Why They’ll Be Better: What was a headache for the Tampa Bay Rays may be a blessing for the Nationals – Dukes is a VERY talented player, and if he can shape up his image, the Rays will regret that move forever. I think the Nationals had a tremendous off-season – re-signing Chad Cordero, trading for Paul Lo Duca and Lastings Milledge, and trading for Yankees prospect Tyler Clippard. They are building for the future, yet have a nice mix of young and old. Dmitri Young looks to capitalize on a surprising ’07 season, and Shawn Hill and John Patterson will continue to develop in to good pitchers. Playing in a brand new stadium this season, things are looking up for the Nationals.

fla.gif5. Florida Marlins (60-102)

2007 Season: 5th Place (71-91)

Best Off-Season Move: Signing Luis Gonzalez

Why They’ll Be Worse: It is going to be a loooong season for the Fish. They have some talented young bats, including the most talented young bat in the MLB, Hanley Rameriz, but they have some very weak bats in that lineup too. Their pitching staff is loaded with young pitchers, including newcomer Andrew Miller (who they got in return for Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis), but they just can not shoulder the load. Their bullpen is horrendous too. Enough said. Signing Gonzalez was a good move because he can give some good insight and be a teacher to guys like Rameriz, Jeremy Hermida, and Dan Uggla.

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NL Central Predictions and Preview

February 25, 2008

chc.gif1. Chicago Cubs (90-72)

2007 Season: 1st Place (85-77) – Lost in NLDS

Best Off-Season Move: Signing Kosuke Fukudome

Why They’ll Be Better: Their pitching staff , andchored by workhorse Carlos Zambrano, will carry them this season. Their offense is not quite there yet, but if Fukudome pans out like they hope (and like they paid for) they should have a pretty solid lineup with Derrek Lee and Alfonso Soriano shouldering the load.

mil.gif2. Milwaukee Brewers (82-80)

2007 Season: 2nd Place (83-79)

Best Off-Season Move: None.

Why they’ll be worse: Although not much worse, they will certainly not be much better with the pitching staff they currently have. If Ben Sheets can stay on the mound, he will finally be the ace that he is, but his supporting staff is nothing to write home about. I like what I see from 24 year old Carlos Villanueva, but he has got to break out for this staff to conted. Their offense is very good, and just knowing that young guns Ryan Braun (“The Hebrew Hammer“) and Prince Fielder are only getting started is pretty scary. Swapping Fransico Cordero for Eric Gagne doesn’t make sense, and Mike Cameron? Why not give Tony Gwynn Jr. a shot?

hou.gif3. Houston Astros (76-86)

2007 Season: 4th Place (73-89)

Best Off-Season Move: Signing Miguel Tejada

Why They’ll Be Better: Their lineup got much better by adding Tejada, who is out to prove he still has some fuel left in the tank and after being named in The Mitchell Report. J.R. Towles looks like a promising young player steping into the starting spot at catcher, and Hunter Pence looks to continue his torrid start in the MLB. They had a pretty productive off-season – I liked the Kaz Matsui signing and the Valverde signing, however they did not do anything about their starting rotation – their biggest weakness. Oswalt can’t win 50 games unfortunately.

cin.gif4. Cincinnati Reds (75-87)

2007 Season: 5th Place (72-90)

Best Off-Season Move: Signing Francisco Cordero

Why They’ll Be Better: The Reds have a new manager, Dusty Baker, and look to turn the page after an awful season. Their pitching staff is anchored by Aaron Harang, who is turning into an ace, and will feature 21 year old first round pick Homer Bailey. Their lineup is pretty solid, but the catcher and first base positions pose an offensive problem. They now have a good bullpen by adding Cordero and shifting David Weathers to set-up man, so their season relies on how their starting staff performs in the ban-box that is the Great American Ball Park: good luck.

stl.gif5. St. Louis Cardinals (74-88)

2007 Season: 3rd Place (78-84)

Best Off-Season Move: Traded for Troy Glaus

Why They’ll Be Worse: The Cardinals did not do anything to improve their offense this off-season with the exception of swapping Scott Rolen for Glaus – and that only works if Glaus can stay on the field. Glaus’ glove is a major downgrade, but his bat is worth it with their depleted lineup. Their outfield is very very weak offensively, and their pitching staff will suffer without Chris Carpenter until the All-Star Break.

pit.gif6. Pittsburgh Pirates (59-103)

2007 Season: 6th Place (68-94)

Best Off-Season Move: Change in management

Why They’ll Be Worse: This season will not be pretty for the Pirates. I really like what they are doing – they cleaned house and rebuilding the right way. Looking at their lineup, the average fan will not recognize half of their starting lineup and pitching staff. If they play their kids and let them play together for a couple of seasons hopefully they will contend some time down the line. If I were them I would trade Jason Bay at some point this season to a contender for some young pitching (if he isn’t traded to the Padres before the season begins).


Fans Aren’t Stupid

February 22, 2008

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What Andy Pettitte did was wrong. No question about it. However, I give him credit for admitting it, and denouncing it. What else can he do now? If Barry Bonds did that from the get-go, I would feel the same way about him. However, Bonds’ situation is One Million times more sticky than Pettitte’s because he broke the single most coveted record in the history of sports (in my opinion): the career home run record. And he cheated. There is nothing Bonds can do now – he cannot untake the steroids. But, what he can do is come clean and apologize: that is all, as a fan, I want from Barry Bonds.

Bonds continually lies about taking steroids and HGH – even to this day! And even when he is indicted by the United States Government for perjury! Give it up Barry! Now that is what pisses me off about Barry Bonds. Barry Bonds was a fantastic baseball player, but he cheated. Andy Pettitte was a good baseball player, and he cheated as well – not even to the extent that Bonds did – just a guess. However, the difference between them is that Pettitte manned up, and admitted he did it. He admitted he made a mistake. He never lied to the press and the fans when questioned. He openly stated that steroids and HGH are terrible for the game. Bonds, when asked about it, basically told the press that he had never taken steroids, and even if he did, it wouldn’t help him anyway. Bonds lied to everyone, and endorsed the idea that steroids is not cheating, and not a big deal.

Here are Bonds’ comments regarding steroids throughout his career.


Bright Future Ahead?

February 19, 2008
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News broke today that Fidel Castro has resigned as president of Cuba.

This news may finally lead to the opening of the floodgates that quite possibly could be the greatest rush of talent to hit the MLB at one time. The baseball talent in Cuba is quality, and there is plenty of it there. Team Cuba lasted much longer in the 2006 World Baseball Classic than the Team USA squad filled with major leaguers on it, even making it to the final round. Players such as, Minnie Minoso, Rafael Palmerio, Tony Perez, Jose Canseco, Orlando “El Duque” Hernandez, and Livan Hernandez, hail from Cuba. In total, 153 players from Cuba have played in the MLB; that number may explode in the very near future.


Honest Andy

February 19, 2008

I am happy for Andy Pettitte. Happy for him that he has been put in this situation? No. Although I would rather not see him in this current debacle, he did place himself smack in the middle because of actions he made, therefore he is in a deserving spot.

However, I am happy for Andy Pettitte for staying true. In a world, and a sport, so conscious of image and damage control, Andy Pettitte did something quite rare in a rare situation: he was honest, and extremely open with the media in time of diress. While most public figures would dance around certain questions, Pettitte took them dead on, and gave you a straight answer.

Although I strongly disagree with his decision to take HGH, I am extremely impressed with the way he has handled the whole ordeal. In fact, just the way he has handled it in my eyes almost cancels out the fact that he took HGH in the first place – only twice after two injuries (according to Pettitte).


You Can’t Handle the Truth!

February 14, 2008

mlb_a_clemens_600.jpg 

Who should we believe?

Roger Clemens? Brian McNamee? Andy Pettitte? Chuck Knoblauch?

It is quite a messy situation, with a lot on the line; seven cy youngs and a storied reputation to say the least.

ESPN.com writer Gene Wojciechowski explains.


NL West Predictions and Preview

February 11, 2008

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1. Arizona Diamondbacks (93-69)

2007 Season: 1st Place (90-72) – Lost in NLCS

Best Off-Season Move: Acquired Danny Haren

Why They’ll Be Better: With Haren in the mix the “Baby Backs” make a case for the most solid starting rotation in the National League. Their entire team oozes with young talent, including Chris Young, who will come into his own this season. Expect a possible 40-40 season from him.

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2. Los Angeles Dodgers (87-75)

2007 Season: 3rd Place (82-80)

Best Off-Season Move: Signed Andruw Jones

Why They’ll Be Better: Andruw Jones is out to prove himself after a downer year. A risky move, but will put the Dodgers offense over the hump. Watch out for James Loney in ’08 – expect a breakout campaign for the young lefty first baseman.

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3. San Diego Padres (82-80)

2007 Season: 2nd Place (89-74)

Best Off-Season Move: Signing Mark Prior

Why They’ll Be Worse: Lineup is very weak; I am sorry, but Jim Edmonds is not the answer. Jake Peavy and Chris Young make up one of the best 1-2 punches in not only the NL, but the MLB, and Maddux is still servicable, however Randy Wolf and Mark Prior (I like that move) are too injury-prone and both will likely miss a chunk of the season. But if those two stay healthy – watch out.

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4. Colorado Rockies (78-84)

2007 Season: 2nd Place (90-73) – NL Champs, Lost in World Series

Best Off-Season Move: None

Why They’ll Be Worse: The Rockies got very hot at the end of the season, and even hotter in the playoffs. Can they carry over that fiery momentum over the cold wintry off-season into the ’08 campaign? Blockbuster says no. They did nothing to improve themselves in the off-season. Expect Jeff Francis to continue his success, but the rest of the staff is mediocre at best. Holliday and co. will carry them with their bats as far as they can.

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5. San Francisco Giants (76-86)

2007 Season: 5th Place (71-91)

Best Off-Season Move: Signed Aaron Rowand

Why They’ll Be Better: With the Bonds’ circus out of town the Giants can now focus on re-building and playing the game of baseball without, well, the circus. Although they may have overpaid Rowand, I think it is a good move for them. Matt Cain and Tim Lincecum will develop more into the eventual aces they will be in the future, and Barry Zito can only get better after last year. Right?