Wednesday, March 30, 2011

2011 predictions

I'm still plowing through all the cards I got this weekend. I got a huge amount of late-eighties Fleer. I got a 1989 Fleer Billy Ripken with the black box on the bat. As I already have it, it's up for trade if anyone wants it. Speaking of up for trade, I also got several hundred 1990 Fleers that I would love to trade to someone who could use them. Surely someone must? I also got dozens of the team stickers from that year which are actually pretty nice, and I've got plenty to trade.

Now, on to the predictions.

AL East

1. Yankees
If Burnett bounces back and Hughes pitches like he did in the first half and Nova and Garcia are solid and Joba bounces back and Robertson's playoff meltdown was a fluke and Russell Martin bounces back and Teixiera hits in cold weather and Cano's 2010 wasn't just a career year and Jeter bounces back and A-Rod stays healthy and Swisher and Gardner's 2010s weren't career years and Granderson plays like he did in September, then the Yankees will be just fine. Unfortunately, it won't take to many of these what-ifs to go wrong for the Yankees to be a sub-.500 team.
2. Rays
The Rays won 96 games last year. Yes, they lost their bullpen, but individual reliever performance always swings wildly anyway. Other than that, they replaced Carlos Pena with Manny Ramirez, arguably an upgrade, and replaced Carl Crawford with Johnny Damon, not a huge downgrade.
3. Red Sox
Meanwhile, the Red Sox replaced Victor Martinez and Adrian Beltre with Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez. They're upgrades, but hardly such huge upgrades that this otherwise-injury-riddled team should be prohibitive favorites.
4. Blue Jays
Good young talent but losing two of those mashers in the middle of the lineup really hurts.
5. Orioles
Bad teams that finish strong rarely carry it over into the next season.

AL Central

1. White Sox
They have a lot of good young players and had a good off-season.
2. Twins
Of course, if the Yankees make the playoffs, I'll be hoping the Twins do as well.
3. Tigers
Bad news when your best player is a barely-functioning alcoholic.
4. Indians
Some good young talent but not a contender.
5. Royals
Their good young talent is a bit behind Cleveland's.

AL West

1. Rangers
Even without Cliff Lee, this team is pretty scary.
2. Angels
Maybe not as good as they once were, but not as bad as they looked last year.
3. Athletics
Good young pitching but not much else. They need all those young pitchers to both stay healthy and keep their 2010 form to even have a remote shot.
4. Mariners
Worst team in the American League last year, and didn't upgrade this off-season

NL East

1. Phillies
Halladay and Oswalt are true aces. Hamels and Lee aren't (especially with Lee not having the Yankees to kick around anymore) but barring big injuries to the pitching staff this team is good enough to hold off Altanta and Florida.
2. Braves
Young teams that surprise one year usually regress a bit the next year as the league makes adjustment. Look out for the 2012 Braves, though.
3. Marlins
Early in the organization's history, they swung wildly between world champions and cellar dwellers. That pendulum seems to have stopped swinging right in the middle.
4. Mets
They won't be as bad as everyone says, and could definitely be one of the surprise teams of 2010. Remember, this time last year Texas was facing bankruptcy and they did just fine.
5. Nationals
Signing Jayson Werth hurts the Phillies more than it helps them.

NL Central

1. Cardinals
Losing Wainwright hurts, but the Cardinals have enough pitching to compensate. And what might Pujols do in a walk year?
2. Reds
See Braves comment.
3. Brewers
All of a sudden the NL Central is a pretty good division. Milwaukee is a good team and could easily win this division. Greinke's injury is a bad sign, though.
4. Astros
With some decent young talent and a manager in his second year, Houston could be a surprisingly good team this year.
5. Cubs
The Cubs seem to be a team in transition right now. Their veteran core doesn't seem like a championship team, though. Probably better to blow it all up and go into full-on rebuilding.
6. Pirates
I actually think that Pittsburgh had some pretty good young talent, but even if they improve by 20 games, which is a huge one-season transition, they'd still only be 77-85.

NL West

1. Giants
I think we have to give the World Champs the benefit of the doubt that last year's successes weren't a mirage. Defending champions usually at least make it back to the postseason the next year.
2. Rockies
What a wildly streaky team. Very entertaining, and could easily put it all together and win this division.
3. Padres
See Braves and Reds comments.
4. Dodgers
See Mets comment. Actually, I may just be ranking them so low because I can't get used to seeing Mattingly in a Dodgers uniform.
5. Diamondbacks
Ian Kennedy is the opening day starter. Nuff said.

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