Category Archives: Predictions

Damon’s return would make sense

It’s early to be speculating about the offseason, but the Yankees have been cruising along pretty well and we still have awhile before the playoffs start, so why not.

Coming into the season, I, like most people, assumed this would be Johnny Damon’s last in pinstripes.  However, Damon is having a great season and the Yankees will need to sign at least one outfielder.

But is it really worth it for the Yankees to sign an aging outfielder to a big money deal?  Probably, if it’s only a 1-2 year commitment.  Since Scott Boras is Damon’s agent, we know he’ll follow the money, but if Boras is smart, he’ll do everything possible to keep Damon a Yankee.

Damon has significantly better numbers at home; the New Yankee Stadium is perfect for him.  The Yankees won’t let themselves get into a bidding war over Damon, but they will certainly give him a respectable amount of money.  Most importantly, playing another year or two in New York will be the best way for Damon to post great and get exposure and continue being able to get big money deals.

So yeah, the Yankees could use Johnny Damon, but Damon also would benefit by staying with the Yankees.

Buster Olney suggested the Yankees should offer Damon and Matsui the same contract and sign whoever takes it first; with Matsui unable to play in the OF, such an offer doesn’t really make sense – the two players occupy different roles.  Damon is more versatile and therefore signing him should be a higher priority.

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Predictions

Last year I tried to make some predictions, and mostly they were terrible.

Teams I missed on:

Yankees.  I penciled them in for 95+ wins and it didn’t quite happen that way. 

White Sox.  I thought they’d be one of the worst teams in the AL and they won the division.  To be honest, I still don’t know how.

Rays.  I thought they’d be good… not that good though.

Teams I was right about:

Tigers.  I said they were overrated, especially their lineup and catcher.  Too bad that catcher ended up playing for the Yankees.

Mariners.  If you remember, there was a lot of buzz about the Mariners winning the AL West, but anyone who looked at their run differential could see that they would not be good in 2008.

This year, rather than taking all the time to break down every team, I’m just going to list some teams I like more than most people and some I like less.

Teams I like:

Rangers.  If Texas can get anything at all from their rotation, they should be a potential sleeper in the west.  Their lineup could be the best in the AL.

A’s.  Another potential sleeper.  The rotation has a bunch of nobodies, but remember, Zito, Mulder, and Hudson were nobodies once upon a time too.  The offense is much improved with the return of the Big G and his golden thong.

Braves.  Their lineup is a little sketchy, but that starting rotation should be great, even with the pitcher formerly known as Tom Glavine holding the fifth spot for now.

Marlins.  Probably won’t compete for a playoff spot quite yet, but I thought last year that the Rays were still a year away. 

Teams I don’t like:

Mets.  I still think they have enough to get into the playoffs, but with their resources, it shouldn’t even be a doubt.  They really dropped the ball in free agency this year.  Their bullpen problems were highly publicized, but where they really need help in with their rotation.  Who do they have after Johan?  What if he gets hurt?

Angels.  Like the Mets, I could very well see the Angels still in the playoffs; I just think they missed an opportunity to make themselves really good this year.  Manny made so much sense for them.

Phillies.  Hamels is out and Utley is coming back form injury.  Ibanez is a downgrade from Burrell.  No way Lidge is as lucky this year as last year.  I’m sure they’ll still win a decent number of games, but it wouldn’t surprise me if they miss the playoffs.  Needless to say, I think the NL East will be very interesting.

I really believe that this year the Yankees, Red Sox, and Rays are the best teams in baseball.  It would be nice if baseball went back to a two division format and had two wild cards but that’s not going to happen, so one of those teams won’t make the playoffs. 

But you want to talk about parity in baseball?  Every single division is open.  Sure, some teams probably won’t factor into their divison race (Balt, Tor, Pitt, etc) but really only the Cubs stand out as a clear division favorite.  If you told me Texas, Florida, San Francisco, and Minnesota would all end up in the playoffs, I wouldn’t be that surprised (though I can’t say I think that will happen).  The point is – there are a lot of teams who have a good shot at being relevant all season long.

Should be a fun year.

Bad predictions

So my predictions for the postseason thus far have been nothing short of atrocious.  If this was a march madness style pool, I’d be destined for last place.  I nailed Tampa in 4 exactly but was wrong on every other pick. 

So what to do now?  Well, I’ve decided to scrap the prediction thing.

I am rooting for a Tampa Bay – Philly World Series.  I don’t think it will happen, but if it ends up a Red Sox – Dodgers World Series, I might be forced to leave the country.  I thought the Eagles – Patriots Super Bowl back in the day was the worst thing ever, but Red Sox – Dodgers might top it. 

On the positive though (at least for me), I think the Rays are going to hang tough against the Red Sox.  Their pitching matches up favorably and the Red Sox definitely have some weaknesses. 

As for the Phillies – Dodgers… oh my.  Have you looked at those teams?  How does Joe Torre do it?  They are probably the most talented team in the NL, underachieved all year, and now they’re in a position to go to the World Series.  Lowe and Billingsley are a great 1-2.  Is there any hope that Philly wins the first two games at home?  I don’t think so.  I think best case the Dodgers take home field away and worst they take a commanding lead heading back to L.A.  But hey – I’ve been wrong before.

More Predictions

I’m going to go back and review my preseason predictions shortly, but before the games start today I’m going to offer up my own playoff predictions, because, well, everyone likes predictions.

AL

Tampa over ChiSox in 4 games

Angels over Red Sox in 5 games

In both cases I am going with the team with the deeper pitching staff.

Angels over Tampa in 6 games

NL

Milwaukee over Philadelphia in 4 games

The Brewers seem like the hot team this season.

Cubs
over Dodgers in 4 games

We know how Joe Torre teams do in 5 game series.

Milwaukee over Cubs in 7 games

WS

Angels over Milwaukee in 5 games

And the big question remains: do I cheer against C.C. Sabathia?  Doesn’t every win he gets make him $10 million more expensive for the Yankees come the offseason?

Predictions: The NL Central

1. Chicago Cubs (90 wins)

Is this the Cubbies year? No, probably not. But they should be pretty good. Fukudome (which until someone corrects me, I will continue to pronounce Foo-Koo-Dome) seems like a good fit, if he really is the Japanese Bobby Abreu, as the Cubs desperately need OBP. Derrek Lee should have a good bounce-back year, as he is finally healthy (and everyone forgets he was one of the best players in baseball before his string of injuries).

The Cubs still have some glaring holes in their lineup though right up the middle in Theriot, DeRosa, and Pie. Also, I think we’re going to start seeing Soriano regress. My first post ever on this blog was about how I thought Soriano’s contract was one of the worst ever. Barry Zito aside, I think we’re going to start seeing evidence to support my theory.

2. Milwaukee Brewers (87 wins)

I’m rooting to be wrong on this one. I like Milwaukee and I’d like to see them win the division. I think their lineup is going to really rake this year, especially once Cameron comes back from suspension. Their defense should be improved also, thanks in part to moving Braun from third.

But that pitching staff frightens me. Ben Sheets has never been able to put together a totally healthy season and after him, there is pretty much no depth. When Jeff Suppan is your #2 starter… well that means Jeff Suppan is your #2 starter.

3. Cincinnati Reds (85 wins)

I was all set to pick the Reds as a playoff surprise. But then came the flood of “the Reds are this year’s sleeper team” stories. So yeah, sorry Cincinnati, but once you’ve been anointed as the sleeper team, it pretty much ensures that you won’t be.

They’ve got a lot to like though: Joey Votto at first should be the real deal and Brandon Phillips is turning into a star. Adam Dunn and Aaron Harang are better than they get credit for. Edinson Volquez and Johnny Cueto have come seemingly out of nowhere and dominated this spring. And super prospect Jay Bruce isn’t too far away.

But there will be growing pains for this team, so they are probably still a year away. Also, they have Dusty Baker as their manager, perhaps the worst manager in baseball. He’s one of those guys who takes personal offense whenever someone mentions a way of evaluating baseball players that didn’t exist 40 years ago. Reportedly, he’s been telling Adam Dunn to swing more and not take so many walks, which is the equivalent of telling your Quarterback to throw a hail mary pass whenever he can. Even mention OPS or innings limits to a guy like Dusty Baker and he’ll accuse you of witchcraft.

So Volquez and Cueto may want to read up on Tommy John.

4. St. Louis Cardinals (75 wins)

I considered picking the Cards for a few more wins, but despite essentially stealing Kyle Lohse, their pitching staff is just a mess.

When you also factor in that Pujols is probably headed for surgery at some point, I can’t imagine this team doing much.

5. Houston Astros (68 wins)

I’m probably underselling the Astros just a bit. The heart of the order with Berkman, Tejada, and Lee should be tremendous.

But the pitching staff is just terrible after Roy Oswalt. And the ‘stros foolishly traded for saves in Jose Valverde, which any fantasy player can tell you is always a bad idea. (And for those of you who don’t know what I’m talking about: saves are a pretty much meaningless stat (ahem, Joe Borowski) and you shouldn’t value them too much when evaluating a player. All they mean is that that player’s manager allowed them to close, not that the player is good.)

6. Pittsburgh Pirates (63 wins)

Quite possibly the most depressing franchise in baseball. Very little big league talent and they continue to draft poorly so their farm system has next to nothing.

The Orioles and Giants may be worse this season, but both of those teams have a couple of legitimate prospects, not to mention the money to go out and sign players.

What are the odds the Pirates compete in the next decade? I’d say, very small.

Predictions: The AL Central

1. Cleveland Indians (93 wins)

Cleveland was very good last year and there is no reason to think they won’t be very good this year, as they are comprised of mostly young players who are improving. Fausto Carmona’s workload (and Sabathia’s to a lesser extent) scare me, but I think Cliff Lee should be able to bounce back. At some point you’d think one of the Indian’s great middle relief guys (Betancourt, Perez, Lewis) will take over for Borowski.

2. Detroit Tigers (91 wins)

I’ve already described at length my feelings on the Tigers in a previous post. I think they will be good, but not as good as everyone thinks. There are a ton of question marks with their pitching staff, particularly in the bullpen, and their lineup is good but not quite historically good, as some people suggest.

3. Minnesota Twins (81 wins)

Despite losing Johan Santana, the Twins have some reasons for optimism. Liriano is coming back, Delmon Young seems poised to achieve some of his considerable potential, and the Twins still have a good core of players in Morneau, Mauer, Nathan, etc.

All that said, they just don’t have the lineup to compete with the Indians and Tigers. However, they are such a well-run team, I think they’ll still find their way to .500.

4. Kansas City Royals (71 wins)

I don’t follow the Royals too closely, but they do have some positives. Gil Meche proved himself last year to be a quality starter. Alex Gordon and Billy Butler are poised for breakout years. The rest of the squad is young and improving as well. Joakim Soria had a great second half at closer last year.

Will they win this year? Probably not. But they’ve shown a recent willingness to spend some money so I think there is some hope that they can compete in the future.

5. Chicago White Sox (70 wins)

This is probably too low for the White Sox, but I just don’t know if I see them putting it all together. I like Swisher and Vazquez is quietly becoming the pitcher everyone thought he’d be, but everyone else on the team is aging and figures to get worse.

They’ve also had a plethora of articles written about them this spring saying their projected win total is way too low because you can’t quantify things like “heart” and “will” and “character.”

Unfortunately for the Sox, those things aren’t real so they don’t really help win baseball games. And what’s most ironic about the whole thing is I have no idea why the White Sox sports writers would choose to take umbrage with PECOTA’s projected standings. PECOTA nailed the White Sox last year. 72 wins. Exactly.

So shouldn’t they just shut up about projections for at least a year?

Predictions: The NL West

Predictions are fun, so I am going to cover every MLB team, but first a caveat: I don’t follow the NL nearly as closely as the AL.

Today the NL West.

1. Los Angeles Dodgers (91 wins)

I am very conflicted over this one. On one hand, I know how overrated Joe Torre is. But the Dodgers are a very talented team. Even if Torre does throw away at-bats on veterans like Juan Pierre (by most accounts, one of the worst players in baseball) and Nomar Garciaparra, the Dodgers will probably still be good. James Loney, Matt Kemp, and Andre Ethier should all improve. Russ Martin is getting a little too much hype (I don’t want to read any more about how he’s the best SS and 3B in the NL – then why are you playing him at catcher?) but he’s obviously a good player. And with pitchers like Penny, Billingsley, and Broxton, LA has a great young foundation, and Clayton Kershaw is waiting in the wings.

If this does happen and the Dodgers win the division, the media will say it’s because they signed Torre. But take a look at this article, that suggests that Torre has been killing the Yankees recently in close games (which as a Yankee fan, seems accurate to me). Most likely, the Dodgers this year are talented enough to win no matter who manages them. In the NL especially, I think they could win 95. So I’m predicting the 2008 Torre-led Dodgers to win 91.

2. Arizona Diamondbacks (89 wins)

Arizona was a lucky team last year, despite having the NL’s best record. Like the Mariners, their expected win-loss was actually under .500, as they were outscored by their opponents. But I’m still picking them to win 89 games because I think they’ll be an improved team. Like the Dodgers, they have a lot of talented young players who should be getting better: Conor Jackson, Mark Reynolds, Stephen Drew, Chris Young, Justin Upton, Brandon Webb, and Dan Haren to name a few.

Dan Haren in particular I think some people are overlooking. He was dominant in the AL last season, particularly in the first half. He’s a year and a half younger than both Erik Bedard and Johan Santana and has been a work horse the last 3 seasons. I’m not saying he will be better than those other 2 pitchers, but it does seem like he’s been ignored a bit.

No matter what happens this year, the D’backs and the Dodgers should be the primary contenders in this division for the next 5 years. And this is no slight to the Padres and Rockies, who both have solid foundations. It’s just that there is too much of a disparity in both finances and young talent.

3. San Diego Padres (86 wins)

I like the Pads. Their pitching staff will be good and when you look at their roster, they have a lot of players where you think to yourself “given the right circumstance, I could see them filling in nicely.” The problem is, they don’t really have any offensive players who are really good and they have a terrible farm system.

They had similar problems last year and were still able to put together a decent season and I think this year will be more of the same. They’ll miss the playoffs, but still go over .500 and stay close until September.

4. Colorado Rockies (83 wins)

So yeah, that whole expected win-loss thing I talk so much about? Well according to that, the Rox were the best team in the NL last year. So before you go saying I put too much faith in that stat, let me tell you, I don’t like Colorado this year. They’ve got some good position players (Holliday, Tulo, etc.) but their pitching is suspect and other players tend to look better because of their home/road splits.

I think they’ll still be a decent team, but I don’t see them recapturing last year’s second half fire, especially in such a tough division.

5. San Francisco Giants (59 wins)

I think you can sum up my thoughts on the Giants with this:

I wrote this entire thing and was ready to publish it and then said to myself, “wait there are more than 4 teams in the NL West, right?” I had to look up who the 5th team was.

So yeah, I think the Giants will be the worst team in baseball.