2011 is here, as are predictions…

Happy New Year Everyone!

 

2011 is here, and the offseason is starting to settle down as we have 41 days until pitchers and catchers report, and to me, that is obscenely exciting. Derrek Lee has signed a 1 year deal with Baltimore, and it seems to me to only be a matter of time until Washington will reel in Adam LaRoche. If they bring him in, I hope it is for 3 years because I want a set first baseman for a few years, and not speculate and hope for a new first baseman after a year or two, like Adam Dunn, or Nick Johnson, when he actually played that is. I have decided to speculate and predict the NL and AL, division by division.

 

THE NATIONAL LEAGUE

 

NL East: The Phillies have the best rotation in baseball, bar none, and with Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Shane Victorino, and the rest of their lineup, they will be in every game this upcoming season, and the key for opposing team is this: if you can pitch with them and play good defense, the Phillies are very beatable. The problem with this theory, you ask? Easy, not many teams can pitch with the Phillies. This is the Phillies division to lose. Atlanta begins the Fredi Gonzalez era with the fountain of youth. Atlanta plays energetic baseball, and they can certainly pitch with the best of them, and the addition of Dan Uggla in that lineup is going to be scary with Heyward and McCann. The Braves will contend, hopefully, as I do not have much faith in Gonzalez as a manager at all. The Florida Marlins are young and in the Braves trade, did one of their “let’s trade our best player, or players, and start fresh with more youth.” Typically, it has worked in the past, as two out of the three years they have done it, they won the World Series in 1997 and 2003. The only problem is this: The Phillies and the Braves are simply better. They have better lineups and better pitching, although not much better on Atlanta’s part, with Philadelphia being the obvious measuring stick. Florida could maybe contend, and just maybe, make the playoffs, if a lot of things work in their favor with the Wild Card and other divisions. The Marlins will be able to pitch, and hit a little bit, but this will be a rebuild year with the Marlins. The Mets, who hired Sandy Alderson and Terry Collins, will also be going through a year filled with rebuilding and perhaps trading away their expiring contracts depending on where they are at the All-Star break. Mike Pelfrey will be the focal point of this rotation, as Johan Santana will be recovering from surgery, and that would be good, if the rest of the rotation (R.A. Dickey, Dillon Gee, Jenrry Mejia, Jon Niese) was not filled with youngsters(Mejia, Gee, Niese) and a ‘redemption story’ (Dickey). We know the Mets will hit, with Wright, Davis, Pagan, Bay, Reyes, and Beltran, but without a fully functional, concrete in roles pitching staff, it will be a long year in Flushing. And now, we go on to my Washington Nationals. The Nats still need a first baseman, want one more top of the rotation starter, and maybe add a few more small chips. I am a little annoyed they could not reel in these players earlier, but Pavano is supposed to be choosing his next cap soon, and Adam LaRoche seems to be out of options, with Derrek Lee going to the Orioles. With the additions of Jayson Werth, Rick Ankiel, Henry Rodriguez, and with the mainstays of the Zims (Jordan and Ryan), and a rotation that is decent at best, I could see the Nats surprising some people this year. With all this said, here is my standings prediction for the NL East in 2011:

 

1. Phillies 97-65 —

2. Braves 91-71 6.0

3. Marlins 80-82 17.0

4. Nationals 73-89 24.0

5. Mets 69-93 28.0

 

NL Central: We all know what the Brewers have done this offseason, bringing in Shawn Marcum for Toronto, and sending heaven and earth to Kansas City for Zack Grienke, along with Yovanni Gallardo and Randy Wolf, certainly seem  to have the pitching to compliment Prince Fielder, Ryan Braun, Corey Hart and Rickey Weeks. It seems to be Milwaukee has a much better team this year, and although Cincinnatti is better, they could not beat good teams, so there could be a new NL Central Champ for a third straight year, I believe. The Reds had a surprising year on all accounts, winning the NL Central for the first time since 1995, before being No-Hit by Doc Halladay and being knocked out in the first round by the Phillies. They certainly will be there this year, staying quiet and not making many moves. the Cardinals have Tony La Russa, Albert Pujols, Adam Wainwright, Chris Carpenter, Jaime Garcia, Colby Rasmus, Matt Holliday, and Yadier Molina. Those players, including their entire rotation, leaves no reason to believe the Cards will not be there this year. Houston is on the upturn, but with the top three teams i just mentioned, there is not much else to say, as is with the Cubs, even with the addition of Pena to Wrigley, and Pirates. Here is the projection:

 

1. Cardinals 92-70 —

2. Brewers 91-71 1.0

3. Reds 90-71 2.0

4. Cubs 82-80 10.0

5. Astros 74-88 18.0

6. Pirates 62-100 30.0

 

NL West: The defending champion Giants have the best 1-2-3 punch in a rotation in the league, and, unlike the Phillies, 4 out of their 5 projected starters are under 30, with one being under 25 (Bumgarner). They will certainly be in the hunt this year. San Diego did not expect to be in this year’s race, and thanks to their pitching, they were. Without Adrian Gonzalez, however, it will be much harder to compete in that division, although with the division being somewhat weak, they certainly could do it. The Dodgers, going into their first year under Donnie Baseball, will be better, and will compete, with pitching and timely hitting, period. The Rockies will be there, at the end of the season, as always, and the Diamondbacks are rebuilding and we’ll see them in a few years. Here are the projections:

 

1. Giants 98-64 —

2. Dodgers 88-74 10.0

3. Padres 83-79 15.0

4. Rockies 82-80 16.0

5. Diamondbacks 58-104 30.0

 

THE AMERICAN LEAGUE

 

 

The AL East: Well, let’s reminisce. The Red Sox added Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, and Bobby Jenks. The Yankees added…Russell Martin…and…uh…yeah. The Rays lost Pena to the Cubs, sent Bartlett to Baltimore, lost Dan Wheeler to Boston and Randy Choate to the Marlins. The way I see it, the Rays will be like the 2010 Giants, relying more on pitching and timely hitting, and being a ‘just enough’ team offensively. The Rays’ pitching with certainly be in games becaues of their pitching, but not much else. Now onto the Yankees. They wanted Cliff Lee, and he singed with Philly, they also wanted Crawford…sorta…but he went to Boston. Zack Grienke had them on his no-trade list, so where does that leave the Bronx Bombers? They now have…drum roll please…TA DA! RUSSELL MARTIN!? They informed Jorge Posada he will be the everyday DH and Martin and Jesus Montero will compete for the full time catching job. The Yankees will be there somehow be there, basically riding on CC Sabathia and hoping Burnett can have a bounceback year. Toronto, in my eyes, could certainly be a dark horse. They can hit a bit, and with John Farral as their new manager, pitching minded, they could certainly develop some great pitchers to compliment that. The Jays could compete if everything goes their way. The Orioles, with Buck Showalter, the man behind the dynasty of the Yankees, will be developing the O’s for a few years until we hear from them again. Here are your projections:

 

1. Red Sox 96-66 —

2. Rays 93-69 3.0

3. Yankees 90-72 6.0

4. Blue Jays 88-74 8.0

5. Orioles 69-93 17.0

 

The AL Central: We know the White Sox brought back Paul Konerko and brought in Adam Dunn to do what he is destined to do: be penciled into the lineup to hit, and only hit. The White Sox can certainly hit, with Quentin, Dunn, Konerko, Rios, and Pierzynski, and can have a pretty decent rotation with Buerhle, Peavy, Jackson, and Danks. They could be considered the early favorite here. Don’t forget about the Twins, though. They can hit a little, with Morneau, Kubel, Cuddyer and Maur, and if Pavano does not return, their rotation won’t be the same, but still solid, led by Liriano. It could certainly be a a battle at the top between the Sox and Twins, but let’s not count out the Tigers. Detroit I could see winning this division, but only if there are big injuries in Minnesota and Chitown. Ordonez is getting old, and is coming off a broken ankle, Victor Martinez could be productive if healthy, and Miguel Cabrera is the only offensive guarantee. Their rotation and bullpen are their strengths, and if they ride them, they can contend. I do not like Cleveland at all. I believe Manny Acta is a terrible manager, and he is emotionless, as is this team. They will most likely move Carmona at some point, and will only contend with Kansas City to stay out of the basement in the AL Central. With this said, here are your projections:

1. White Sox 94-68 —

2. Twins 93-69 1.0

3. Tigers 88-74 6.0

4. Indians 68-94 16.0

5. Royals 58-104 36.0

 

The AL West:  Texas lost out in the Cliff Lee sweeps, and honestly, did not do much to get better. Oakland, on the other hand, did. They re-signed Rich Harden, acquired Josh Willingham, David DeJesus and Hideki Matsui. The A’s retooled their offense and improved their pitching with Harden to compliment Braden, Cahill and Gonzalez. They will definitely compete, and even win the division. The Angels have a great manager in Mike Sciosca, and can pitch and hit, they are just a bit old. This could be a three team race, with Seattle still at the bottom of the pile.  Here are the projections:

 

1. Oakland 92-70 —

2. Texas 91-71 1.0

3. Angels 90-72 2.0

4. Seattle 69-93 23.0

 

Well there we are. My 2011 season predictions. I’ll post later with my playoff predictions.

 

Go Nats!

 

-Nick

 

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s