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.

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Your 2010 Boston Red Sox

Or so it seems right now:

Starters

  1. Jacoby Ellsbury LF (yes, LF, according to the Sox)
  2. Dustin Pedroia 2B
  3. Kevin Youkilis 1B
  4. Victor Martinez C
  5. Adrian Beltre 3B
  6. David Ortiz DH
  7. J.D. Drew RF
  8. Mike Cameron CF
  9. Marco Scutaro SS

Rotation

  1. Jon Lester
  2. Josh Beckett
  3. John Lackey
  4. Daisuke Matsuzaka
  5. Clay Buchholz

Bullpen

  • Jonathan Papelbon
  • Daniel Bard
  • Hideki Okajima
  • Ramon Ramirez
  • Manny Delcarmen
  • Boof Bonser
  • Tim Wakefield

Bench

  • Jason Varitek (C)
  • Mike Lowell (3B)
  • Tug Hulett (UT)
  • Jeremy Hermida (OF)

I like it!

Scooting into Boston

Alright, so it looks like the Red Sox did, in fact, decide to sign Marco Scutaro. The deal appears to be 2 years with a mutual third year option, and no dollar details are available yet. I’ve been down on the concept of Scutaro to the Sox for a while for fear they would overpay him and he would regress. I’ve guessing both will still happen, but I’m guessing that (a) he won’t be that overpaid, and the Sox have tons of money anyway and (b) regression can be OK. Based on what I know about the Sox front office, you can guarantee that they release that the 2009 Scutaro is a wisp that will never return. Lets examine Scoot for a moment:

wOBA

  • 2009: .354
  • 2006-2008 average: .319

BB%

  • 2009: 13.6%
  • 2006-08 average: 10.4%

K%

  • 2009: 13.1%
  • 2006-08 average: 14.1%

OK, so he walk % went up, his strikeout % went down, both could be fluky, but both what you might expect from an older player, especially one like Scoot who spent much of his early career as a part-timer. Really, he’s only had two seasons with >500 AB (2008-09). So, where will Scutaro stand in 2010? My guess is a wOBA of ~.330 and slash stats of .285/.360/.385. Compare that to, oh, I don’t know, Orlando Hudson (the best best if Pedroia had moved to SS), the Bill James projection for Hudson is ~.280/.353/.409. Now, before you say Hudson is a better fielder, Hudson UZR/150 for 2009 was -3.7 and Scoot’s was 1.0, albeit at different positions. (And for anyone who believes such nonsense, Scutaro has “proved he can play in the AL East” and might be the clutchiest of the 2009-10 free agents).

So, if Scutaro can not collapse (i.e., regress, but not into, lets say, Julio Lugo) and keep SS warm for Jose Iglesias, I am all for it. Scutaro also offers the option that if a better SS were to fall into the Sox lap, he could easily move back into a super utility role (well, he might not like it). The Red Sox can afford to take chances like that and after all my bemoaning of this potentiality, I’m actually pretty comfortable with it … now, the Sox just need to sign/acquire a left fielder.

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!