Monday, March 31, 2014

Pre-season predictions

Be sure to check out my Derek Jeter baseball card retrospective over at the Hall of Very Good. He has had some pretty comical cards over the years.

Every year I do some pre-season predictions. I know some teams have started playing already (heck, the Dodgers have played three games before most teams have played any) but the Yankees don't open until tomorrow night, so for me it is still solidly the pre-season.  Here are this year's predictions.


AL East.
1. Yankees
Yes, I'll always pick the Yankees first. But I don't understand why everyone is picking the Yankees to have a losing record this year. They were 85-77 with a ton of injuries last year. This year they've upgraded their offense and starting pitching considerably. Yes, with an old team there are always concerns about injuries, but most teams have that problem anyway. 90 wins or even more is hardly far-fetched.

2. Red Sox
Losing Jacoby Ellsbury will hurt them, especially as it looks like Jackie Bradley Jr. isn't quite ready to pick up the slack. They also probably won't get the same career-year production they got last year from Gomes and Napoli. Still, this team won 97 games last year and should still be very competitve for years to come.

3. Rays
They're a very solid team that won 92 games last year. However, their lineup is not very imposing, and they seem easily as likely for a downfall as the Yankees. (The Yankees outperformed their Pythagorean standings by six games last year; the Rays by five. Everyone points out the Yankees pythag record as to why they will regress; no one does the same for Tampa Bay.)

4. Orioles
They picked some guys off the scrap heap at the end of the off-season, but it looks like they're basically the same team that won 85 games last year. In this division, that probably means another fourth-place finish.

5. Blue Jays
They finished last after making a ton of moves last off-season. They'll finish last again after making very few moves this off-season.

AL Central:
1. Indians
Terry Francona has a very solid track record. This team won 92 games last year and could certainly match or exceed that this year. And, doesn't David at TribeCards deserve a winner?

2. Tigers
I just don't understanding signing Miguel Cabrera for all the money in the world while dumping Doug Fister and blowing off Max Scherzer. Yes, big contracts for pitchers are dangerous, but so are astronomical contracts for players with substance abuse problems. Things could get difficult quickly for rookie manager Brad Ausmus.

3. Kansas City
They're everyone's darling pick every year. I remain skeptical that they'll even match last year's 86 wins.

4. White Sox
I hadn't even realized the White Sox lost 99 games last year. They'll almost certainly be better this year.

5. Twins
When you're biggest acquisition is Phil Hughes, expectations are not very high. I say it every year - this seems to be a team content with losing.

AL West
1 . A's
I don't know how they do it, but until proven otherwise they're still the class of the division.

2. Rangers
They've had some bad injury luck this spring, and their off-season acquisitions weren't thrilling. However, they're in the thick of the division race every year.

3. Angels
I just find it hard to believe that Albert Pujols is toast. I think the Angels bounce back from 78-84 and finish well over .500 this year.

4. Mariners
With the addition of Robinson Cano, they could go from a 71-win team to a 76-win team.

5. Astros
Last year they were a 111 loss team. However, they had some bad luck, and according to their talent indicated only a 105 loss team. Who knows, maybe this year they could be as good as a 100-loss team!


NL East
1. Nationals
The injuries to the Braves' starting rotation give Washington some nice breathing room in their quest to reclaim the top spot in the NL East.

2. Braves
Losing two starting pitchers hurts a lot, but this is still a talented team that won 96 games last year. Fredi Gonzalez is the most underrated manager in baseball and will find a way to keep this team competitive.

3. Phillies
They still have one of the best 1-2 starting combinations in baseball with Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels. It doesn't take a lot to break right for this team to finish above .500.

4. Mets
They are still in a holding pattern, making few improvements to the team. Their best case scenario is that all of their young talent make strides in 2014 to help position the team for a run in 2015 when Matt Harvey returns.

5. Marlins
Maybe they need to return to the team. Those rainbow uniform's aren't working out so well.

NL Central
1. Cardinals
Year after year, the cast of characters change, but their position atop the standings rarely does.

2. Pirates
This team has been steadily improving over the last few years. If they are buyers at the trade deadline, they could really make some noise in the National League. More likely, they are like the 2013 Orioles, where everything that broke right one year doesn't the next.

3. Reds
Losing Aroldis Chapman hurts as this team fights to maintain relevance in an increasingly difficult division.

4. Brewers
There is some decent talent on this team - a fight for the Wild Card is hardly out of the realm of probability.

5. Cubs
Theo Epstein sure is having a hard time duplicating his Red Sox success.

NL West
1. Giants
It is an even-numbered year, isn't it? Time for another surprise World Series run.

2. Dodgers
Kershaw is already on the DL. There are already problems with Puig. This team has a few big stars and lots of holes.

4. Diamondbacks
5. Rockies
I'm not going to pretend I have any great insight into these teams.

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