Thursday, March 27, 2008

2008 mlb season preview: a.l. east

predicted order of finish:

boston red sox 100-62
tampa bay rays 82-80
new york yankees 81-81
toronto blue jays 80-82
baltimore orioles 61-101

it's kind of weird how the red sox went from the beloved "idiots" everyone in america was rooting for in 2004 to a team that's now mostly loathed by anyone outside of their "nation." i think their hitting and pitching will be far superior to anyone else in this division and they'll win it again for the second year in a row. hopefully some other team will beat them in the playoffs or else we'll have to deal with even more insufferable red sox fans. the tampa bay rays have been predicted by baseball prospectus to win 88 games this year, an improvement of 22 wins over last season. to put this in some perspective, the rays have not won more than 70 games in any year of their existence. i'll be honest here: i'd really like to see this. i want to see the rays succeed. but i do have a hard time believing this. their hitting will be really good, but what about their pitching (especially their bullpen)? however, i do think they're better than both the yankees and blue jays, and i do think joe maddon is a good manager. hopefully my prediction doesn't look ridiculous in september. the yankees have too much talent to not win at least 80 games, and new manager joe girardi doesn't seem like a guy that's going to get in the way of things. it will be the same formula as the past six years, good hitting, average pitching, mariano rivera at the end of games. however, i have them missing the playoffs for the first time since 1993. the blue jays have enough pitching and hitting talent, but manager john gibbons seems to rub some of his guys the wrong way. i could see him being anything from manager of the year to fired by july 1st. my money is on the latter. what can i say about the baltimore orioles? this is a really young team, which is usually viewed as a good thing, but they're going to struggle a lot this year. they don't have much in the way of hitting, and their starting pitching will be pretty lousy, too. i'll give new GM andy macphail some credit-- he's trying to rebuild the farm system, depleted after years of ill-advised moves under the peter angelos regime. but this team is at least two years away from even being respectable again, let alone competitive.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

2008 mlb season preview: n.l. east

coach is running out of steam here... five straight days with a post = brutal. i do not have the stamina of fiscal musings.

predicted order of finish:

new york mets 95-67
atlanta braves 92-70
philadelphia phillies 85-77
florida marlins 74-88
washington nationals 71-91

the mets should've won this division last year but picked the exact wrong time to go super cold. now with the addition of johan santana, they will rectify the situation this year (although i'm of the opinion that his most dominant days are behind him). i think the braves are going to be good this year but it kind of worries me that they're becoming a trendy pick to contend in the media. i'd almost rather nobody pay attention to them, but i suppose that's hard to do. their pitching will be improved and their hitting will be slightly worse (read: mark kotsay is the CF. not good.) the phillies got lucky at the right time last year, won the division, then ran into a buzzsaw in the rockies. i predict they'll regress a little-- that is to say, they'll be the phillies. the marlins and nationals will both struggle, but at least the nats will have a nice new park, which i will be fortunate enough to visit over memorial day weekend.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

2008 mlb season preview: a.l. west

predicted order of finish:

angels 91-71
mariners 88-74
athletics 74-88
rangers 72-90

while i'm not really high on any team in this division, i think the angels have the best chance. despite the early season injuries to lackey and escobar, they still have good pitching depth, both in the rotation and bullpen, and their hitting is adequate. they've also got a good manager in mike scioscia. the mariners have improved their pitching (sort of) with bedard, and their hitting will be decent, better than the a's at least. this is a team that won 88 games last year, yet, somehow, still doesn't seem like a contender. the athletics will have a lot of new players, most of them very young. their pitching will be good but their hitting will be fairly weak. they'll take their lumps this year but should be contending again within a year or two. in the offseason, the rangers once again traded away pitching to get hitting. i'm not really sure when the rangers will figure out that they need to stop relying on kevin millwood and actually start developing (and keeping) young arms. until they do this, they will continue to bring up the rear in the west.

Monday, March 24, 2008

2008 mlb season preview: n.l. west

predicted order of finish:

arizona diamondbacks 92-70
los angeles dodgers 89-73
colorado rockies 84-78
san diego padres 81-81
san francisco giants 65-97

the diamondbacks are the defending division champs. they got outscored last year but still somehow went 90-72. while i think some of that good luck will start to even out this year, the d-backs also acquired dan haren, who, with brandon webb, forms probably the best 1-2 starting pitching combo in the national league. their offense will be largely the same, so i'll predict 92 wins, which given the depth of this division, should be good enough to win it. the dodgers biggest offseason acquisition was not andruw jones but rather new manager joe torre. granted, this team will not be as talented as his late 90's/early 00's yankee squads, but torre is an intelligent, well-respected manager who occasionally falls asleep in the dugout and will get the best out of these players. the dodgers pitching remains strong while their offense remains fairly weak, but it will be good enough to compete. the rockies made the playoffs last year through an incredible hot streak at the right time and rode that streak all the way to the world series. maybe i'm just biased because of the rockies history of non-success, but i don't see this happening again this year. i think the rockies are a good enough team, and will stay close into september. but their pitching is mostly inexperienced or mediocre, and that won't be good enough in this division. the padres once again will have exceptional pitching and break their own record for 1-0 games. they'll be close in september but find a way to come up short, mostly due to their bad hitting. (note: if they make a trade deadline deal for a big hitter, i think they would both win this division and probably the world series. but i don't expect this to happen.) the depths of futility in which the giants will languish this season can be best illustrated by examining the probable middle of their batting order: rich aurilia, aaron rowand, bengie molina. that's quite possibly the saddest 3-4-5 in the history of baseball, and that includes any 3-4-5 that had the misfortune of having willie mays hayes in it. on a positive note, they have some pretty good starting pitchers.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

2008 mlb season preview: a.l. central

continuing on with our baseball season previews in no particular order, today we preview the american league's central division. click the "mlb season previews" label on the left menu to see other exciting previews.

predicted order of finish:

detroit tigers 95-67
cleveland indians 94-68
chicago white sox 79-83
minnesota twins 75-87
kansas city royals 73-89

the tigers are loaded on offense with new additions miguel cabrera and edgar renteria. i'll be surprised if they don't score over 900 runs this season. their pitching, especially their starters, will struggle somewhat. ordinarily this would cause me to pick against a team but i'll go with my guts here and predict the tigers to barely hold off cleveland to win the division. the indians return basically all of their key players from their 96-win division-winning team last season. if travis hafner returns to his previous form, cleveland's offense will be even stronger. their bullpen is always a slight concern when joe borowski is the closer, and sabathia logged a ton of innings last year and thus may not be as effective this year. i don't have them winning this division but i think the indians will win the wildcard. the twins pitching will struggle this year with the departure of johan santana and because their management is treating francisco liriano's left arm like it's a paper napkin. the twins hitting will struggle because they are forced to rely on guys like lew ford and mike lamb. white sox manager ozzie guillen said he's going to go back to being himself this year and that this will cause the white sox to win a lot, or something like that. while i'm not sure exactly what that statement means, i'm also not sure how they didn't win more last year, as they seem to have adequate pitching and hitting both. however, i think they'll still have the same level of quit in them as last year, leading to a similarly mediocre performance. the royals are still hapless, but GM dayton moore is slowly getting this franchise moving in the right direction. most importantly they have some decent young arms, and with the jose guillen signing in the offseason they're at least trying to attract people to kansas city, as difficult as that no doubt is.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

2008 mlb season preview: n.l. central

predicted order of finish:

chicago cubs 90-72
milwaukee brewers 84-78
houston astros 80-82
st. louis cardinals 77-85
cincinnati reds 74-88
pittsburgh pirates 68-94

like most people, i'm picking the cubs. this is partly due to their strength, but mostly due to the weakness of this division. though fukudome won't be as big a pickup as people think, their offense will be good, and their pitching will be good enough. i think the brewers' pitching is still not strong enough, and their defense is below average. at the plate, however, they have one of the deepest lineups in baseball. the astros have made lots of moves this offseason in an effort to win now. miguel tejada improves the offense and jose valverde strengthens the bullpen. but their starting pitching is too patchwork after roy oswalt. much to limeade's chagrin, the cardinals will have problems on offense this year. albert pujols is wandering into vlad guerrero territory in terms of limited lineup protection. but fortunately their new GM believes in trading away dinosaurs for younger players, so it won't be long before they're competitive again. the reds are a trendy sleeper pick to make the playoffs. one announcer on espn went so far as to say that, because the reds now have an elite closer, they're now contenders. to demonstrate how ridiculous a position that is, simply ask yourself if francisco cordero has ever turned a team into a contender. the pirates will continue to be the pirates. they'll match the 1933-48 phillies record of 16 consecutive losing seasons. at least they have one of the nicest stadiums in baseball which offers a great view of both baseball and ducks.

when visiting PNC park, be sure to look for the ducks, else some random dude
talk your ear off for 20 minutes. but don't eat the pierogies. they are garbage.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

tournament time

it's the second-most wonderful time of the year. a time for spring training baseball. a time for march madness. a time for some idiots somewhere to claim that worker productivity will go down by $1.7 billion because of the NCAA tournament. look dorks, people aren't robots, ok? that's all i'm going to say about that.

anyway, if you click on the image below you will see that, not unlike happy ninja's, my bracket is fairly gutless. however, i do actually believe all four number 1 seeds will make the final four. despite the fact that this has never happened in the past, there's a first time for everything. but, as per usual, i will be rooting for low seeds to beat high seeds, and for big ten teams to get humiliated. i'm an SEC homer like that.

be sure to take this bracket to your local kfc for a delicious toasted twister combo.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

the best a man can get?

much has been made of roger federer's struggles in recent tennis matches. his first round loss in the dubai tennis championships in february was his first since the cincinnati masters in 2004. in january of this year at the austrailian open, his streak of 10 consecutive majors finals was broken. some have speculated that this is the beginning of the end of his brilliant career.

many are curious as to the cause of federer's sudden misfortune. what many people may not know is that roger federer is laboring under a curse. it's a new kind of curse, one that is not restricted to only one sport, such as the curse of the billy goat or the curse of the bambino. it is the curse of the gillette fusion power phenom. since endorsing gillette's new five-bladed razor, roger federer's game has significantly declined. as long as these commercials remain on television, his struggles will continue. i expect we will soon see tiger woods and thierry henry, who also endorse the product, begin slumping as well. the gillette fusion power phenom knows no mercy.

while it is possible to break free of a curse, it is very difficult. the exact methods are not always known, nor do they always make sense. only after the red sox signed mark bellhorn before the 2004 season was the curse of the bambino finally broken and boston won the world series. for the curse of the gillette fusion power phenom, more drastic measures are necessary. i suggest roger federer begin endorsing the DOVO Solingen line of straight razors. it's clear the facial hair demons are not pleased with the ridiculous number of blades that are packed into today's razors. they are taking out their anger on those that are profiting off these devices. however, if federer endorses the DOVO straight razors, i believe he will be released from the curse. he will once again regain his dominant form, much to everyone's delight.

Friday, March 7, 2008

happy birthday joe carter

Happy birthday to former major league outfielder and 5-time All-Star Joe Carter. Joe was drafted with the 2nd overall pick by the Chicago Cubs in 1981 and made his major league debut in 1983. He played for the Indians and Padres in the late 80's before his best-known years in Toronto. It was there that he eventually became the Blue Jays all-time sacrifice flies leader with 65. Joe is also one of only 6 major league players to have hit 3 home runs in a game on at least 5 different occasions. But Carter is likely best remembered for having had a grown man attempt to crawl into his butt shortly after the Blue Jays won the 1993 World Series. Coincidentally, Carter also hit a game-winning 3-run homer off Mitch Williams that same day. From everyone here at the rogue league, happy 48th birthday Joe.