Bold Predictions for the 2013 Baseball Season

Sometimes merely picks the teams to win the division and wild card is too random — I mean, I am usually entirely wrong and as predictions go, they’re pretty boring. So, I thought I’d whip up 10 bold predictions for the 2013 season that if they do come true, well, I might need to change careers. Here goes.

  1. Yoenis Cespedes will hit at least 40 HR. It seems like it has been awhile since any Oakland Athletic hit 40 HR. 13 seasons to be exact, when Jason Giambi (still kicking around with the Indians after almost getting named manager of the Rockies) hit 43. Cespedes is in his prime and looked very comfortable in the majors during the second half of 2012.
  2. Houston won’t be the worst team in baseball. The newly-American Leagued Astros have been getting a lot of grief over their AAA roster in the majors right now. However, I think that two teams actually might be worse: the Marlins and the Rockies. Sure, Miami has Giancarlo and Colorado has Troy, but the absolute lack of hitting for the Marlins and utter lack of pitching for the Rockies might put them into the 105+ loss realm.
  3. Joe Girardi will be fired by the end of the season. Here’s a fun one! Sadly, Joe will be the fall guy after Jeter, CC and Teixiera combine for over 162 games on the DL. I find it hard to imagine the 2013 Yankees being much different than the 2013 Red Sox … except there isn’t anyone to take on the Yankees bad contracts.
  4. Seattle makes a run at the playoffs. The Mariners have a few things going for them right now: good pitching, better hitting and closer fences. Of course, they are in a killer division, with the A’s, Rangers and Angels. However, they  will make a run at the end of the summer, but ultimately miss that second wild card by a game or two.
  5. Jacoby Ellsbury is traded by the deadline. Don’t get me wrong, I love Jacoby. He’s a Beaver like me and been a blast to watch when he’s not hurt. Unfortunately for him, his contract (or lack there of) for 2014 and the presence of Jackie Bradley Jr. means that Sox can try to get some value for Jacoby. My hunch might be a 1B prospect.
  6. The Tigers win the AL Central by 10 games or more. The Indians, Royals and White Sox might not like it, but the Tigers might lap the field in the Central. Sure, Cleveland and Kansas City are better than 2012, but too many problems remain. However, one of those teams might make a run at that second Wild Card.
  7. Tim Lincecum has Tommy John surgery. OK, not much of a bold prediction, but something must be wrong with Timmy after dropping off the face of good pitching over the last year.
  8. Ryan Zimmerman and Bryce Harper combine for 75 HR. Distribute the homers as you seen fit, but the Nationals will be a great team in 2013. The Braves will also be a good team, possibly the second best in the NL, but they’ll have to settle for the Wild Card again.
  9. Josh Beckett is traded again at the deadline. Josh wears out his welcome in Los Angeles as the Dodgers underperform yet again. Likely destination: the Royals as they try to make that playoff run (that fails).
  10. Cincinnati bests Toronto in the World Series. It will be a close Series, but in the end, Chapman is able to close the door on the Jays.
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An array of random 2011 MLB prognostications!

Yes, it is that time of the year again: baseball season. In years past, I have used all manner of device to try to pick the “winners” for the baseball season and they have all ended in tears (except that one year I picked the Phillies to win the World Series … and they did! That was awesome).

So, here I am trying to make these wild accusations about most team’s performance, which will be mostly wrong. To make this more fun, I think I’ll compare each time to a U.S. president so you can get an idea what the level of success we might have, where the gold standard is Abraham Lincoln or FDR and the bottom of the barrel is, oh, I don’t know, Andrew Johnson?

We’ll start in the National League, shall we?

NL East

  1. Philadelphia Phillies: 93-69: Ronald Reagan – A president that made it seem that disaster was around every corner … yet somehow avoided it.
  2. Atlanta Braves: 90-72: Bill Clinton – Of course, it could just be the accent.
  3. Washington Nationals: 81-81: Harry Truman – Without Strasburg, everyone will be claiming Dewey wins.
  4. New York Mets: 79-83: George H.W. Bush – Strong legacy, no charisma.
  5. Florida Marlins: 70-92: Franklin Pierce – Unremarkable man who has a small public college named after him. Marlins won’t even get that.

NL Central

  1. Chicago Cubs: 91-71: Andrew Jackson – It took a couple tries, but Ol’ Hickory made it to the White House.
  2. Cincinnati Reds: 89-73: Woodrow Wilson – I couldn’t find any president who removed arms like Dusty Baker, so Wilson’s League of Nations seemed close enough.
  3. Milwaukee Brewers: 87-75: Grover Cleveland – Good enough to win two non-consecutive terms, but not enough to be a great president.
  4. St. Louis Cardinals: 81-81: George W. Bush – Thrust into history, but ultimate not enough there to keep it together.
  5. Pittsburgh Pirates: 68-94: Gerald Ford – Couldn’t even beat Jimmy Carter.
  6. Houston Astros: 58-104: Chet Arthur – I’m guessing some sort of horrible scandal will come from the sale of the Astros. Chet would be proud.

NL West

  1. San Francisco Giants: 93-69: Thomas Jefferson – Is the whole Bonds thing like Jefferson owning slaves?
  2. Colorado Rockies: 90-72: Lyndon Johnson – You almost feel bad that no matter how good they are, no one really remembers your accomplishments.
  3. Los Angeles Dodgers: 85-78: William Howard Taft – Hey, the wheels didn’t come off the country, did they?
  4. Arizona Diamondbacks: 72-90: Calvin Coolidge – A whole lotta nothing, but it could be worse.
  5. San Diego Padres: 66-96: Richard Nixon – Not to say the first term was bad, but the second term is a disaster.

American League!

AL East

  1. Boston Red Sox: 97-65: Dwight Eisenhower – People seem to think that the Sox will be walking on water. Eep.
  2. New York Yankees: 93-69: U.S. Grant – He served two terms, was well loved but was mostly an old drunk.
  3. Tampa Bay Rays: 88-74: Teddy Roosevelt – 2011 might be the baseball equivalent of the Bull Moose years.
  4. Toronto Blue Jays: 78-84: Pierre Trudeau – I’ve probably offended every Canadian reading this, but he was the only Canadian PM I could remember.
  5. Baltimore Orioles: 70-92: Jimmy Carter – So much optimism with so little to be to really optimistic.

AL Central

  1. Chicago White Sox: 90-72: John Adams – Ozzie might be the only MLB managers that could start an X, Y, Z affair via Twitter.
  2. Minnesota Twins: 86-76: James Monroe – Mostly so I could mention the Morneau Doctrine, which I think involves keeping Michael Cuddyer out of his locker.
  3. Cleveland Indians: 82-80: James K. Polk – Clearly, the darkhorse here, just like Polk.
  4. Detroit Tigers: 77-85: Martin Van Buren – He tried so hard to be President but never really got it right.
  5. Kansas City Royals: 72-90: Rutherford Hayes – Now, if ever there was a caretaker roster, it is your 2011 Royals. You’d be lucky to see 10% back for 2012-13.

AL West

  1. Texas Rangers: 95-67: James Madison – The War of 1812 might be like losing Cliff Lee, but it probably helped the country unify.
  2. Oakland A’s: 85-77: William McKinley – In which I suggest that Oakland provoke war with San Francisco in order to move to San Jose.
  3. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim: 82-80: Herbert Hoover – Things started off so promising from Mike Scioscia, but the Depression looms.
  4. Seattle Mariners: 68-94: Barack Obama: Last year, I picked the Mariners to win the AL West. I was high on the unbridled enthusiasm about their plan to cultivate defense and pitching to win games … and then they sucked like you wouldn’t imagine. Yeah, that about sums it up.

Playoffs:

ALDS

  • Red Sox over White Sox
  • Rangers over Yankees

NLDS (* COL wins tiebreaker over Atlanta)

  • Philadelphia over Colorado*
  • Chicago over San Francisco

AL/NLCS

  • Boston over Texas
  • Chicago over Philadelphia

World Series

  • Boston over Chicago
Yet again I make the Homer pick.

Some Awards!

  • AL MVP: Dustin Pedroia (2B Boston) – Everyone says Adrian Gonzalez, so I’ll be different
  • NL MVP: Carlos Gonzalez (OF Colorado)
  • AL Cy Young: Jon Lester (SP Boston)
  • NL Cy Young: Roy Oswalt (SP Philadelphia)
  • AL Rookie of the Year: Hank Conger (C LAA) – This will only happen if they fire Scioscia, which they won’t.
  • NL Rookie of the Year: Freddie Freeman (1B ATL)

Enjoy … !

The state of the 2011 Red Sox Roster

Over the last year or so, I haven’t done a lot of blogging over here on the Intellectual Thicket, mostly because I’ve been busy with (a) being a junior faculty member and (b) blogging about volcanoes. However, whenever baseball season is around the corner, I start to get that itch to write/think/obsess about baseball, so I have to do something about it. Last year I joined way (as in waaaay) too many fantasy baseball leagues, which didn’t really end up being very productive. This year, I might try writing about baseball here on the Thicket instead. So, to steal liberally from Lookout Landing’s post on the state of the Mariners roster in 2011 (admittedly, a much less static target than the Boston Red Sox), I’ll look at the Sox for 2011.

Death-grip mortal locks – position players

  • 1B Adrian Gonzalez
  • 2B Dustin Pedroia
  • 3B Kevin Youkilis
  • CF Carl Crawford
  • LF Jacoby Ellsbury
  • DH David Ortiz

This bunch was easy, except for maybe Ellsbury, whom I briefly hesitate to put as a mortal lock but then came to my senses.

Death-grip mortal locks – starting pitchers

  • Jon Lester
  • Josh Beckett
  • John Lackey
  • Clay Buchholz

So, not much drama in starters 1-4

Death-grip mortal locks – bullpen

  • Jonathan Papelbon
  • Daniel Bard
  • Bobby Jenks

I suppose all three of these guys could take over each other’s roles, or possibly get dealt at some point, but none would conceivably be left off the Opening Day roster.

Battles – starting position players

  • SS: Marco Scutaro, Jed Lowrie (and in the shadows Jose Iglesias): Tito has already said that Scutaro is the starter for Opening Day at SS, but after his shoulder troubles in 2010 where he ended up moving to 2B in September, you never know. I get the impression that Theo would love to have Jed Lowrie start at SS and Scutaro moved in a deal, but Theo can’t do everything (at least I think). Jose Iglesias likely needs more AAA seasoning in the hitting department, but hey, stranger things have happened.
  • RF: J.D. Drew, Mike Cameron, Ryan Kalish: You have to image that J.D. and Cammy are the top of the heap for RF – if only you could take all their working body parts and merge them into some sort of Frankenfielder, then we might be onto something. Now, if they both break down, which given their age/track record isn’t unimaginable, we might see the return of Ryan Kalish to start in RF. This is a walk year for both J.D. and Cameron, so hey, maybe they’ll find the fountain of youth.
  • C: Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Jason Varitek (and in the shadows Mark Wagner): Going into Opening Day, you have to expect that the Sox will give Salty every opportunity to start, oh, maybe 5 days a week with ‘Tek someone’s personal catcher (Beckett?) It could have been a much more interesting positional battle if the Sox hadn’t lost Max Ramirez on waiver to the Cubs, but Theo love to rifle through players like so many used books that we barely knew Max existed.

Battles – starter

  • The #5 slot: Diasuke Matsuzaka, Felix Doubront, Tim Wakefield: Nothing like an exciting battle for the 5th roster spot, eh? Again, considering the money involved, unless a trade happens, I would expect to see Daisuke as the #5, tantalizing/terrorizing us as much as he can. Hopefully, 2011 will allow me to see anyone on the Red Sox start a game I attend beyond Daisuke (unlike 2010). However, if Daisuke collapses or is moved, I might expect to see Felix in the #5 spot unless Tito gets nostalgic and slots in Wakefield.

Battles – bullpen

  • LHP: Rich Hill, Felix Doubront, Adam Miller, Hideki Okajima, Randy Williams, some other guy who throws left handed: Theo is taking the “throw against wall/see what sticks” method for getting someone, anyone, to be an effective leftie out of the bullpen. Now, rather than spend money on this, Theo just has a bunch of hard and soft throwers that may or may not work. Curt Young, best of luck!
  • Other bullpen arms (3): some combination of Matt Albers, Scott Atchinson, Robert Coello, Dan Wheeler, Jason Bergmann, Brandon Duckworth, Tim Wakefield: My hunch is that Dan Wheeler is close to a lock, followed by Matt Albers and Scott Atchinson. Wakefield is likely the longman.

Battles – Bench

  • Utility Infielder: Marco Scutaro, Jed Lowrie, Yamaico Navarro : I suppose this isn’t too much of a battle considering the loser of the Scutaro/Lowrie SS fight will end up here.
  • 4th OF: Mike Cameron, Josh Reddick, Ryan Kalish, Darnell McDonald, Daniel Nava: With Drew and Cameron sharing a spot, Cammy is likely a lock. The Sox will likely want Kalish to play fulltime, so he’ll be a AAA, leaving Reddick and McDonald to fight it out. Nava will likely be on the Providence Shuttle if needed too.
  • Backup C: Jason Varitek, Mark Wagner: The backup job is ‘Teks, ideally to tutor Salty, but if Varitek goes down, Wagner is next.
  • Utility: Drew Sutton, Nava, Reddick: Sutton is the most interesting here, although he is only a NRI but has a lot of versatility.

So, the roster looks like:

  • Starting position players (9): Pedroia (2B), Drew/Cameron (RF), Crawford (CF), Youkilis (3B), Gonzalez (1B), Ortiz (DH), Saltalamacchia (C), Scutaro (SS), Ellsbury (LF)
  • Starters (5): Lester, Beckett, Lackey, Buchholz, Matsuzaka
  • Bullpen (7): Papelbon (CL), Bard, Jenks, Hill, Wheeler, Albers, Wakefield
  • Bench (4): Varitek, Lowrie, McDonald, Cameron

There ya go. Less than 3 weeks until pitchers and catchers report!

A vision for the 2010 Red Sox (a.k.a. wild fantasies that will not come true)

The 2009 Red Sox were pretty good. They weren’t great, but they did make the playoffs only to flame out in ALDS versus the Los Angeles Angels (which, incidentally, translates to The Angels Angels, right?) Since 2004 and 2007, the blow of such events has been greatly lessened for me. Sure, I was not pleased with their performance and the eventual crowning of the hated Yankees as champs, but by no means was I heartbroken/crushed/unable to eat or sleep for days as it was before the Sox return to glory. The Sox didn’t win, but hey, you can’t win every year (and I still can’t imagine what 2003 me would think if he knew that 2009 me would be writing that calmly, lucidly and soberly.)

Anyway, this is not to say that I don’t want the Sox to succeed. Of course I do, that is why I’m a fan. I love my Red Sox no less than I did in 2004 and I still can’t stand to listen (yes, I tend to listen to the Sox) them lose any game. So, with the Yankees not getting any weaker and the Rays likely to bounce back, what can the Red Sox do to keep pace in 2010? Let’s see …

The roster (as of 11/23/2009) – starters in italics when there is an appropriate starter

  • C: Victor Martinez; Jason Varitek
  • 1B: Kevin Youkilis*/Mike Lowell*; Casey Kotchman
  • 2B: Dustin Pedroia
  • 3B: Kevin Youkilis*/Mike Lowell*
  • SS: Jed Lowrie
  • RF: J.D. Drew; Jeremy Hermida
  • CF: Jacoby Ellsbury; Brian Anderson
  • LF: Jeremy Hermida
  • DH: David Ortiz
  • SP: Josh Beckett, Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Tim Wakefield
  • CL: Jonathan Papelbon
  • SU: Daniel Bard, Hideki Okajima
  • MR: Ramon Ramirez, Dustin Richardson, Manny Delcarmen
  • LOOGY: (none)
  • MU: (none)

* According to some things I’ve read, Youkilis might play third and Lowell might move to first, which could make sense in terms of defense. I’ll list them at both of the hot corners.

So, what is needed? A shortstop, a left fielder, a starter and some relievers. Sounds about right, and mostly in that order. What to do?

Shortstop: Am I the only one who thinks signing a 34-year-old after a fluke year is a bad idea? That idea’s name is Marco Scutaro. Now, trading for either Stephen Drew or Brandon Phillips is a good idea. Drew will cost more and Phillips costs more money, but either at short would be just fine. Additionally, I’d sign Khalil Greene to a minor league deal.

Leftfield: Everyone seems to think this should be a question of Jason Bay or Matt Holliday. Don’t get me wrong, they’re both fine players, but I just feel a lot of enthusiasm towards signing either to the big, long term deals they will want. Sure, if you can get either for 3 years, do it, but thats not happening. So, if the Sox don’t sign either? Well, how about a platoon of Marlon Byrd/Rick Ankiel and Jeremy Hermida? I’d also be tempted to sign Rocco Baldelli or Austin Kearns to minor league deals if possible. Or lets think waaay outside the box: Miguel Tejada in left? Maybe Conor Jackson?

Starters: The Sox have 5 guys who should be good to serviceable (when averaged over all 5). If you look at the top three, the rotation should be quite good, and if Daisuke can get his act back together, they should have a decent top 4. However, as last year showed, you can never, ever, ever have too much pitching. So the Sox really need to go out and sign some reclamation projects to shore up the rotation. Ben Sheets? Rich Harden? Eric Bedard? Justin Duchscherer? Kelvim Escobar? Brett Myers? Chien-ming Wang? There are a lot of options. This all being said, 2010 is a year of decision for the Sox – can they compete for a championship, so should they wait until it all comes off the books (well, Beckett, Lowell and Papi) in 2011? If they think they can win, they should go all in for any of the aces that could be dealt: Roy Halladay, Josh Johnson, Roy Oswalt, someone like that. It will be pricy, but that would definitely shore things up.

Relievers: OK, way too many to go through for potential relief help through free agency or trades, but … how about kicking the tires on guys like Joaquin Benoit, Kiko Calero, JJ Putz, Takashi Saito (again), Ron Mahay (as a LOOGY) or Chan Ho Park. Potential nontenders worth examining might be Jeremy Accardo, Taylor Bucholz, Matt Lindstrom or Seth McClung.

Wild card ideas: What if the Sox bring in a big 1B and just cut/trade Lowell or Papi – maybe acquire Lance Berkman for a bevy of prospects to the rebuilding Astros? Or what about signing Garrett Atkins as a free agent if he is nontendered? Or even get Tejada to play 1B?

My ideal 2010 Red Sox roster

Batting

  1. Jacoby Ellsbury CF
  2. Brandon Phillips SS
  3. Dustin Pedroia 2B
  4. Kevin Youkilis 3B
  5. Victor Martinez C
  6. Miguel Tejada 1B
  7. J.D. Drew RF
  8. David Ortiz/Mike Lowell DH
  9. Hermida/Ankiel LF

Starters

  1. Josh Beckett
  2. Jon Lester
  3. Clay Buccholz
  4. Daisuke Matsuzaka
  5. Justin Duchscherer

Relievers

  • CL: Jonathan Papelbon
  • SU: Daniel Bard, Hideki Okajima
  • MR: Ramon Ramirez, Kiko Calero, Ron Mahay
  • MU: Tim Wakefield

Bench

  1. Jason Varitek C
  2. Casey Kotchman 1B
  3. Khalil Greene SS

Enjoy!

2009 MLB Awards

Now that we’ve crowned the truly uninspring 2009 World Series Champions, we can move onto the offseason hoping that 2010 offers a little more drama than the richest team in the league winning it all.

Next week, the MLB Writers will announce the 2009 MLB awards, so on that note, I’m posting my ballot (if I had a vote …)

All players listed with their WPA and WAR (from FanGraphs)

Rookie of the Year

American League:

  1. Brett Anderson SP (Oakland) – 0.12/3.8
  2. Jeff Neimann SP (Tampa Bay) – 1.87/3.2
  3. Elvis Andrus SS (Texas) – (-0.66)/3.0

WAR tends to heavily favor starters in these situations and also favors defense, which is why Andrus snuck in at #3 instead of Gordon Beckham (3B CHI).

National League:

  1. Andrew McCutchen OF (Pittsburgh) – 2.02/3.4
  2. Tommy Hanson SP (Atlanta) – 2.04/2.6
  3. Randy Wells SP (Chicago) – 1.64/3.0
  4. Garrett Jones OF (Pittsburgh) – 1.25/2.6

UPDATED 11/13: You know, somehow I completely forgot Tommy Hanson (SP Atlanta). He rolls in with a 2.04/2.6, which puts him very close to McCutchen. My gut says to rank the position player higher than the pitcher, so there you have it.

Amazingly, J.A. Happ’s WAR was only 1.8, below all of the above and guys like Casey McGehee (UT MIL) and Chris Coghlan (OF FLA).

MVP

American League:

  1. Joe Mauer C (Minnesota) – 3.64/8.2
  2. Ben Zobrist UT (Tampa Bay) – 4.10/8.6
  3. Derek Jeter SS (New York) – 1.41/7.4
  4. Franklin Gutierrez OF (Seattle) – 3.72/5.9
  5. Zack Grienke SP (Kansas City) – 6.07/9.4
  6. Kevin Youkilis 1B/3B (Boston) – 2.36/5.6
  7. Miguel Cabrera 1B (Detroit) – 1.59/5.4
  8. Mark Teixiera 1B (New York) – 3.58/5.1
  9. Shin Soo Choo OF (Cleveland) – 2.11/5.0
  10. Victor Martinez C (Boston) – 3.23/4.9

A few surprises, wouldn’t you say? I couldn’t bring myself to putting Zobrist at the top over Mauer – too many questions in my mind about the value of C defense in the WAR calculations. It was also hard to figure where to slot in the pitchers, but Grienke belongs in the list somewhere. Franklin Gutierrez looks like the steal of the year for the Mariners – adequate hitting and remarkable defense = high WAR (yet no Gold Glove … gotta love it). I was also surprised to see the good showing of Shin Soo Choo.

National League:

  1. Albert Pujols 1B (St. Louis) – 8.24/8.4
  2. Chase Utley 2B (Philadelphia) – 4.3/7.6
  3. Tim Lincecum SP (San Francisco) – 4.26/8.2
  4. Hanley Ramirez SS (Florida) – 3.09/7.3
  5. Prince Fielder 1B (Milwaukee) – 7.79/6.8
  6. Adrian Gonzalez 1B (San Diego) – 4.2/6.3
  7. Derek Lee 1B (Chicago) – 3.84/5.3
  8. Pablo Sandoval 3B (San Francisco) – 4.71/5.2
  9. Ryan Howard 1B (Philadelphia) – 6.03/4.8
  10. Ryan Braun OF (Milwaukee) – 4.73/4.8

Nothing too shocking – Pujols wins by a (not as big as I expected) margin over Chase Utley. Tim Lincecum is the on the list as the only starter. This was quite a year for 1B in the NL.

Cy Young

American League

  1. Zack Grienke (Kansas City) – 6.07/9.4
  2. Justin Verlander (Detroit) – 4.19/8.2
  3. Roy Halladay (Toronto) – 3.52/7.3
  4. Felix Hernandez (Seattle) – 3.26/6.9
  5. Jon Lester (Boston) – 2.50/6.2
  6. CC Sabathia (New York) – 2.89/6.0
  7. Andrew Bailey (Oakland) – 2.68/2.4
  8. Mariano Rivera (New York) – 3.99/2.0
  9. Jonathan Papelbon (Boston) – 5.13/1.9
  10. Josh Beckett (Boston) – 2.2/5.3

OK, anyone who says Grienke shouldn’t be the Cy Young should be excommunicated from baseball fandom. There was a steep dropoff in starters after CC, thus the three relievers in a row … and yes, Andrew Bailey was the best of that bunch.

National League

  1. Tim Lincecum (San Francisco) – 4.26/8.2
  2. Javier Vazquez (Atlanta) – 2.41/6.6
  3. Dan Haren (Arizona) – 2.95/6.1
  4. Adam Wainwright (St. Louis) – 3.60/5.7
  5. Ubaldo Jimenez (Colorado) – 3.16/5.7
  6. Josh Johnson (Florida) – 3.05/5.5
  7. Chris Carpenter (St. Louis) – 5.41/4.5
  8. Jair Jurrjens (Atlanta) – 3.35/3.9
  9. Randy Wolf (Los Angeles) – 0.69/3.0
  10. Huston Street (Colorado) – 3.38/1.5

Much like the AL, anyone who thinks Lincecum shouldn’t win the Cy Young (again) is silly. He didn’t get the wins, but everything else was hands-down better. And two Colorado pitchers in the top 10? Go figure.

2009 MLB Playoff Picks

Now that the Twins dispatched with the Tigers (in 12 innings no less) to capture the AL Central, we can make some picks!

American League Division Series

  • Minnesota Twins vs New York Yankees: OK, sure, the Twins look a little overmatched. In Game 1, they face CC Sabathia and offer up, well, Brian Duensing. Not exactly a “fair matchup”. The same might be said for the rest of the respective teams’ parts: as I mentioned to Big Lou yesterday, any team that has Jose Morales as their DH might not have any business being in the postseason. That being said, I hate to pick against the sentimental favorite – and yes, the Yankees are only sentimental favorites in the minds of their players’ mothers (if that). So, I’m going to say that the Twins will scare the bejesus out of the Yankees … but fall just short. Yankees 3-2.
  • Boston Red Sox vs Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim: Maybe they need to start scheduling this series in April? I feel like the Sox and Angels have played in Round 1 since the dawn of time. Anyway, the Sox sort of scuffled to the finish line – or at least streaked to the finish line, with a sweep of Cleveland after being swept at the hands of New York and Toronto. Ah, that is the nature of baseball! Everyone says “the Angels get hits! the Angels steal bases!” Well, fine, they sure do. However, unless you’re Jacoby Ellsbury, you don’t steal home much. The last I checked, the Sox aren’t slouches with the bats either (unless you count Jason Varitek). I’m going to go out on a limb here and say the Sox starters show up for the series and quiet the free-swinging Angels. Red Sox 3-1.

National League Division Series

  • Colorado Rockies vs Philadelphia Phillies: The last time this happened, the Phils were favored to win the series and the Rockies, well, steam-rolled them. Will it happen in 2009? Neither time has what might classically be known as “good pitching” – both are adequate and beasts of their respective home parks. The Phils do have Chase Utley and Ryan Howard as the backbone of their lineup. The Rockies, although a lot of fun, have Todd Helton and Troy Tulowitzki. The Phillies – if they can find a closer – will scrape by this series. Phillies 3-2.
  • St. Louis Cardinals vs Los Angeles Dodgers: It seems wrong to me that the Dodgers have home field in this series – I mean, when was the last time the Dodgers seemed like a good baseball team? Who has the pitching advantage: Cardinals. Who has the hitting advantage: Cardinals. Seems to me that the Cardinals might be the better team here. Could it be that simple? Cardinals 3-0.

League Championship Series

  • Boston Red Sox vs New York Yankees: Has it really been five years since the last Sox-Yankees ALCS? What happened last time, anyway? The Sox won the first 7 meetings of these teams in 2009 and then the Yankees returned the favor by winning most of the rest. However, the teams are definitely well-matched. It will all boil down to which versions of the numbers 1-2 starters for each team decide to show up. I would say that Lester-Beckett in top form trump Sabathia-Burnett (remember, the Sox have beaten up on both of them), but the Yankees will have home field. The new Yankee Stadium bandbox plays into the strengths of the Yankees – that being “hit ball hard”. Will it be a grinder of a series? Indeed. Flip a coin ten times to try to pick a winner. Me, I’ll follow heart but with the caveat that brain says it might be otherwise. Red Sox 4-3.
  • St. Louis Cardinals vs Philadelphia Phillies: It is funny, comparing these two LCS. Likely, as an impartial observer, I might see the Yankees in the same light I see the Cardinals, i.e., the obvious favorite to win the League. However, in this postmodern world in which we live, one cannot deny context. The Cardinals have the shutdown pitching vs. the Phillies (well, unless Hamels and Lee get back on track). The batting order is pretty evenly matched – heck, I might even give Philly the advantage. Both teams have really questionable (or nonexistent) closers. If anything, the series might be wild. In the end, though, I might still have to lean towards St. Louis. St. Louis 4-2.

World Series

  • Boston Red Sox vs St. Louis Cardinals: Indeed, a rematch of 2004. Last year, I picked against the Red Sox and gave the Phillies the keys to the World Series. I have to admit, I feel the same way this year: the Cardinals will win it. However, as before, the Sox have all the tools to have the World Series for the third time in 5 years as well. However, the Sox need to have all their ducks in a row to make it through, while the Cardinals seem to already be in that “well-oiled machine” form. However, there are weeks of baseball to go before we get to the October (er, maybe November) Classic. St. Louis 4-3.

(Nearly) postseason baseball

The MLB postseason starts tomorrow – and I’ll have a few predictions for that coming later today or tomorrow.

However, today we have another tiebreaker, third year in a row – and second in a row featuring the Twins!

The Twins have Scott Baker facing off against the Tigers Rick Porcello. You know me, I do love an underdog, so I’m picking the Twins to win the tiebreaker – final score: 5-3. Heck, the Twins are really the better team with a positive run differential (+51) over the Tigers negative run differential (-1), so Twins win the Central!