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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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!

My 2010 MLB Predictions

Ah yes, Opening Day is around the corner, so as I do most years, I will make my prognostication about the 2010 MLB season. Now, sometimes I employ simulations, sometime I make wild guesses and sometimes I do a little of everything. This year I’m employing a system called Player Ranking and Evaluation for Season Standings, or PRESS. What does that mean? Not much beyond looking at the depth charts, assigning some values, adding short columns of small numbers and voila! I have predictions. Enjoy at your leisure…

American League East

  1. New York Yankees: 102-60
  2. Boston Red Sox: 98-64
  3. Tampa Bay Rays: 93-69
  4. Baltimore Orioles: 70-92
  5. Toronto Blue Jays: 61-101

After finding out that Shaun Marcum will be the Opening Day starter for the Jays, I feel like 61 wins is generous. Also, it sucks to be the Rays in the AL East.

American League Central

  1. Minnesota Twins: 81-81
  2. Chicago White Sox: 80-82
  3. Detroit Tigers: 74-88
  4. Cleveland Indians: 67-95
  5. Kansas City Royals: 63-99

The land of AL mediocrity. Again.

American League West

  1. Seattle Mariners: 93-69
  2. Texas Rangers: 84-78
  3. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim: 70-92
  4. Oakland A’s: 69-93

I worry I am blinded by the fact I really, really want the ‘Ners to win the West, because I’m fond of them and I like a lot of their players. I’m also concerned that the Angels might be undervalued here, but here, what is the fun of predictions if you don’t go out on a limb?

National League East

  1. Philadelphia Phillies: 99-63
  2. New York Mets: 92-70
  3. Atlanta Braves: 83-79
  4. Florida Marlins: 77-85
  5. Washington Nationals: 63-99

I would have to assume that the Mets winning 92 games is predicated on Omar Minaya being bound and gagged for most of the season and every member wearing a magic amulet to keep them healthy. But yeah, the Phils win the East again.

National League Central

  1. Chicago Cubs: 86-76
  2. St. Louis Cardinals: 85-77
  3. Milwaukee Brewers: 83-79
  4. Cincinnati Reds: 78-84
  5. Houston Astros: 75-87
  6. Pittsburgh Pirates: 71-91

Maybe, just maybe, things will break for the Cubs. Maybe.

National League West

  1. Arizona Diamondbacks: 94-68
  2. Colorado Rockies: 93-69
  3. Los Angeles Dodgers: 91-71
  4. San Francisco Giants: 85-77
  5. San Diego Padres: 73-89

Last year in this space, I bolding predicted the Dbacks would win the West … and they promptly sucked. This is a message to Josh Byrnes: please, don’t suck again.

Playoffs

ALDS

  • New York over Minnesota
  • Seattle over Boston

NLDS

  • Philadelphia over Colorado
  • Chicago over Arizona

LC

  • Chicago over Philadelphia
  • Seattle over New York

World Series

  • Seattle over Chicago

Yes, the ‘Ners win it all in 2010. I mostly wish this so I can hear whatever brilliant thing Ichiro might say upon winning the World Series.

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!