MLB playoff picks 2008

Now that the White Sox dispatched the Twins and were officially crowned the AL Central Champions (by the way, I was rooting for the Twins), we can get to my picks:

American League Division Series

  • Boston Red Sox (WC) vs. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (ALW): Boston in 5 – Sure, I might be biased, but I think most people underestimate Lester and Matsuzaka, along with the Sox bullpen. The biggest question mark is the health of Lowell and Drew. This series will be a nailbiter
  • Chicago White Sox (ALC) vs. Tampa Bay Rays (ALE): Tampa in 4 – I’m not the first to dub them the “team of destiny,” but yes, the Rays are “the team of destiny” in 2008.
National League Division Series
  • Milwaukee Brewers (WC) vs. Philadelphia Phillies (NLE) – Philadelphia in 4 – Unless CC goes all Walter Johnson on us and pitches on 1 days rest, the Phillies are just too potent to be slowed down by the Brewers.
  • Los Angeles Dodgers (NLW) vs. Chicago Cubs (NLC) – Chicago in 5 – Sweet Lou will outdo Torre to win the series, even with the fragile arms of the Big Z and Harden.
League Championship Series
  • Boston Red Sox (WC) vs. Tampa Bay Rays (ALE) – Tampa in 7 – I had to think long and hard about this, but with the home field advantage and the “team of destiny”, I can’t really justify picking against them. However, that being said, I wouldn’t mind if either team wins the series.
  • Philadelphia Phillies (NLE) vs. Chicago Cubs (NLC) – Phillies in 6 – Yes, yes, Cubs fans, get over it. The Phillies will win the series and your long suffering will continue. Sorry.
World Series
  • Philadelphia Phillies (NLE) vs. Tampa Bay Rays (ALE) – Phillies in 7 – Apologizes to you, too, Tampa Bay fans, but my hunch is that Philadelphia will walk away World Series champs this year. Utley and Howard will carry the team, especially when Howard can DH in Tampa. And Jamie Moyer will get his ring.
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AL and NL Cy Young Awards

To continue my look at the 2008 MLB season, here are my picks for the AL and NL Cy Young Awards.

American League Cy Young

Contenders (in alphabetical order)

  • Roy Halladay – SP/TOR – 20-11, 2.78 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, 206 K in 246 IP – What can you say about Halladay that hasn’t been said? He might be one of the most underappreciated pitchers of our time, toiling away in Canada. His 2008 is his second-best campaign since his last Cy Young season.
  • Cliff Lee – SP/CLE – 22-3, 2.54 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 170 K in 223.1 IP – Last year Cliff Lee couldn’t even stay in the majors. This year, he had one of the most dominant AL seasons for a lefty this side of Johan Santana in his peak. 
  • Daisuke Matsuzaka – SP/BOS – 18-2, 2.80 ERA, 1.32 WHIP, 149 K in 163.2 IP – Daisuke might have had one of the oddest seasons in MLB history. He walked a lot of batters (with a 1.62 K/BB), but he was ridiculously good at not giving up hits (.209 BAA). He didn’t pitch enough – both due to injury and pitch inefficiency – to really be a serious candidate, but he did take a step forward from his 2007.
  • Mike Mussina – SP/NYY – 19-9, 3.47 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 147 K in 194.2 IP – The Moose’s last gasp (most likely) was solid, but not enough to get his first Cy Young.
  • Francisco Rodriguez – RP/LAA – 2-3, 2.27 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, 76 K, 62 SV in 67.1 IP – His place on the list was secured by his record 62 saves, but the rest of his season was by no means even in the top 10 of closers in history.
How I’d vote:
  1. Lee
  2. Halladay
  3. Matsuzaka
National League Cy Young
Contenders (in alphabetical order)
  • Ryan Dempster – SP/CHC – 17-6, 2.96 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 187 K in 206.2 IP – Dempster had the best year for a converted closer since Derek Lowe won 20 in his first season starter after being Boston’s closer.
  • Brad Lidge – RP/PHI – 2-0, 1.84 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 91 K, 40 SV in 68.1 IP – A token closer, but the most dominant one in the NL, possibly in all of MLB, this season.
  • Tim Lincecum – SP/SFG – 17-5, 2.66 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 252 K in 220.0 IP – An amazing season for the sophomore player, especially considering the ineptitude of the Giants. Hopefully this is not his career high point.
  • Johan Santana – SP/NYM – 15-7, 2.64 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 197 K in 225.1 IP – Johan has a great second half – something he seems to do often – and put himself back in the Cy Young race, but is hurt by his lower win total.
  • Brandon Webb – SP/ARI – 22-7, 3.24 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 176 K in 219.2 IP – The NL leader in wins, but not the same level of dominance as Lincecum or Santana.
How I’d vote:
  1. Lincecum
  2. Santana
  3. Webb

Retiring number 6

The Red Sox will retire Johnny Pesky’s #6 this weekend during the last series of the season (versus the Yankees). Johnny Pesky (now 89, but that doesn’t stop him from having a myspace profile) has been associated with the Red Sox since the 1940s (albeit with a few years where WWII and getting traded got in the way), but he, if anyone, symbolized the long-lived anguish that the Red Sox lived under until 2004/2007. He deserves his day in the sun at Fenway. Congratulation Johnny!

The Manny-Bay trade

 

Most people/sources really hate the bay deal, well, at least a lot of the loudmouth fans and talk radio idiots. They say the Red Sox gave up their “best hitter” for magic beans and the Yankees are laughing their way to the playoffs now because they don’t have to face Manny anymore. They say Theo Epstein is an evil overlord who wanted to run Manny out on a rail, that Theo and the front office just want to destroy players they don’t like, like Manny, Pedro, Damon, etc. The hatred being spewed is astounding, and it really makes me wonder if any of these so-called “fans” actually like the Red Sox in the first place.

You know, I can’t really imagine changing my team affiliation from the sox, not realistically, but after reading the sorts of responses that folks on SOSH had to this whole thing, I realized that I can’t stand most Red Sox fans these days… they seem to have no joy in their hearts about the team, that it is all anger and second guessing. They say things like that Theo caved to manny by trading him – that theo should have taken the options to spite Manny – that Theo hates blacks and thats why he traded Manny – that the red sox spread rumors and did a hatchet job on manny to convince people that the trade was needed. It is ridiculous the level of paranoid/idiotic/downright depressing stuff was being tossed around and if you had a reasonable thing to say about the trade, you were labeled a patsy or fanboy. Theo’s hand was forced and made possibly the best deal imaginable for Manny – no, we weren’t going to get Hanley or Kemp or all those pie-in-the-sky names people were wishing for all day. Yet, somehow, people started asking, after the trade, if Theo wa done and should be fired. What? The Red Sox won the World Series LAST YEAR. It made me want to trade in my Sox paraphernalia for the Rays or the ‘Ners. heck, I posted on the Sons of Sam Horn for the first time ever to more or less say that I was deleting my bookmark for the site because of this madness. I mean, what is the point of being a “fan” of the team when its obvious you hate them?

Anyway, I’m trying to get over that. The Red Sox did not trade “in his prime” Manny. They traded 36-going-on-37 Manny and got, well, a really good player in return. Jason Bay has 19 Win Shares so far in 2008, putting him in at 10th in all of baseball, between Grady Sizemore and Chase Utley. Manny has 15, the same level as Johnny Damon, Corey Hart and Ryan Ludwick. Heck, over the last three years, here are they season win shares: Manny –  29/15/15; Bay – 24/13/19. Sure, Bay might be have the so-called fear factor that Manny has, but he’s been playing in Pittsburgh! You could be Ted Williams 2.0, but if you played for the Pirates, you wouldn’t get anyone’s attention anyway. Craig Hansen and Brandon Moss were both throw away pieces – look at it this way: if the Yankees had traded Jason Giambi, Edwar Ramirez and Brett Gardner for Bay, people would be in the streets claiming what a steal it was for the Yankees. Red Sox fans (and fans in general) tend to overvalue their own players (I know I do with my fantasy teams), but now with the press-induced hysteria over Manny, it has been amplified a thousand-fold. By claiming that Bay is not “Manny in his prime” like I have heard some people say, it is like taking your 1995 Corvette to the dealer and demanding they trade you a brand new Corvette for it – straight up! This is madness, and I am ready for it to be over. I’m ready to watch the Sox play baseball and not get lost in these soap operas. I’m ready to stop paying attention to the Red Sox Nation, where many fans have bought into their own stereotype. I’m ready to see if the Sox can keep up with the Rays and Yankees from here on in. And I’m more than ready to watch Jason Bay patrol left field at Fenway for 2008 and 2009.