Archive for March, 2010
Last year, when the New York Yankees won the World Series, they did it led by a high powered offense that for the most part overpowered opponents. The Yankees have simply been following a trend of the past few post-seasons. The 2004 and 2007 Red Sox (although the 2007 Red Sox to a lesser extent) and the 2008 Philadelphia Phillies all won the World Series with pretty high powered offenses.
This year however, something is going on in baseball. It seems teams are moving towards a defensive and pitching orientated teams. Seattle went out and acquired Cliff Lee, the Phillies went after Roy Halladay, the Giants didn’t lose anyone and the Red Sox completely went in a run prevention direction. Seems with teams already seen as contenders or wanting to make them selves contenders, defense and pitching is the way to go to counter the high powered bats of last year. With steroids and PEDS (allegedly) being shuttled out of baseball, it seems to be the way to go. With players not being able to power their way on base, small ball will rule the day and the way to prevent small ball is to pitch and field the ball to the best of your abilities.
Still, when you have such a high powered offense such as the Yankees, the Phillies, or Rangers, it’s hard not to be enamored by it. What’s the line, chicks dig the long ball? Well guys dig it as well and it’s certainly more fun to watch 9-8 games then 3-2 games. It’s a season where competing styles are really going to be put on the line in almost all the divisions, defense vs. offense. It’s going to be interesting to see who prevails.
Without further to do:
1. NY Yankees
2. Boston Red Sox
3. Tampa Bay Rays
4. Baltimore Orioles
5. Toronto Blue Jays
The Skanks are still the team to beat in the AL East but they do have two HUGE questions. One, how effective will Javier Vazquez be and two, is Joba a starter or a reliever? Yes Javier Vazquez didn’t work the first time in New York, in fact he was god awful (which was great for the Red Sox). My friend Scott (A Yankees fan) gave me an interesting theory though. Sometimes teams send players to the minors to let them build confidence. He’s using the National League as the minors of the American league. I don’t know if I’m buying it, but it’s an interesting thought, no way he should be ranked higher then contract year Beckett in fantasy though.
The Skanks other issue pitching wise is Joba. When he starts, he’s not very good, but when he relieves he’s lights out. I’m sensing an issue that I’m feeling Yankees fans are seeing yet. At the end of the day, that lineup only got better with a lead-off guy like Curtis Granderson. They’re still going to put up a crazy amount of runs and pop home runs over that right field fence.
Speaking of offenses though, everyone is all worried about the Red Sox offense. I’m still under the impression that they need another bat, but I was talking to my old history teacher the other day. He asked me whether I would be surprised if Youk had a 30/100 season (no) whether Beltre had 20 home runs (no) if Papi rediscovered him self for 20 home runs (no) if JD Drew hit 20 home runs (no) and if Mike Cameron hit 20 home runs (no). Maybe the offense won’t be as bad as I thought.
Their strength is their defense and pitching though, The defense is easily going to be tops in all of baseball and that pitching staff has Jon Lackey as the third starter. That’s scary good. The Sox are going to win a lot of close games this year, something they had trouble doing last year. The big question remains the bull pen. Doesn’t matter how good the starters are if you can’t finish games.
One last thing in the East. The Rays might end up with a better record then at least one division winner in baseball, but will miss the post-season because they play in the East. Sad, but true.
1. Chicago White Sox
2. Minnesota Twins
3. Detroit Tigers
4. Kansas City Royals
5. Cleveland Indians
Minnesota seems to compete every year. Joe Mauer is the American League MVP and is in a contract year. He is the best contact hitter in baseball and it’s hard to beat that when they also have Justin Morneau near him in the lineup. The Twins seem to just win.
HOWEVER, everyone seems to be forgetting about the deadline deal for Jake Peavy. When Peavy came back last year, he pitched well for the White Sox, but it was too late. Now, the former Cy Young is the ace of the staff that also still have Mark Buerhle, and John Danks. The offense is also good. Alex Rios, Alexi Ramierz, Gordon Beckham, and Carlos Quentin all are members of a talented offense. Not the sexiest pick out there, but I like this team this year.
1. Seattle Mariners
2. Texas Rangers
3. Anaheim Angels
4. Oakland A’s
This will be a very competitive division. Seattle might finally have just enough offense to win the division. They always had the defense and pitching, even more so after adding Cliff Lee, but Chone Figgens can bring Ichiro home himself and Milton Bradley if he keeps his head on straight is a dangerous bat in the line-up. Casey Kotchman and Jose Lopez are no slouches either.
Texas is still one of the most dominant offenses in baseball. Everything still almost hinges on the ability of Josh Hamilton to rebound after last year’s sub par effort, crippling fantasy teams everywhere. They still have Ian Kinsler and Nelson Cruz who are great hitters as well so it won’t all be lost if Hamilton can’t rebound. Rich Harden is a nice add pitching wise, but is it enough? Probably not, they don’t have enough pitching to win the West this year. Maybe next year they can get one or two more pitchers and make a run, but they’re not ready yet.
AL Wild Card Winner
Boston Red Sox beating out Tampa Bay Rays for the 4th and final playoff spot.
American League MVP – Mark Texiera. The man is having a 40 home run season. I am almost counting on it.
American League Cy Young – Cliff Lee. His presence is winning Seattle the American League West division. Best pitcher in the American League…. again. The only person who is beating him is Zach Grienke who also has ridiculous stuff. It’s a shame he plays in KC. Cliff Lee might win it just because he will bring a division championship to
National League East
1. Philadelphia Phillies
2. Florida Marlins
3. Atlanta Braves
4. New York Mets
5. Washington Nationals
You’re kidding yourself if you don’t pick Philly to win the division again. In the weaker National League, they are the most American League team. They hit for power, they get on base and they score a ton of runs. With Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, and Jimmy Rollins leading the way again, it’s a tough offense to stop. The argument could have been made to hold Lee and acquire Roy Halladay, but Halladay is the best pitcher in baseball and when you have a chance to lock him up you have to do it. Halladay solidifies that order. The question remains now if Lidge and Hammels can find their 2008 stuff again. I think they can, and if they do this may be the best team in baseball.
Florida isn’t bad, and they have the second best player in baseball in Hanley Ramierz, a couple nice young pitchers in Josh Johnson, Ricky Nolasco, and Anibal Sanchez, but they just don’t have enough to de-throne the Phillis in the East.
National League Central
1. St. Louis Cardinals
2. Milwaukee Brewers
3. Cincinnati Reds
4. Chicago Cubs
5. Houston Astros
6. Pittsburgh Pirates
Remember how dominant St. Louis was down the stretch? The minute they acquired Matt Holiday from the A’s and returned him to the National League, the Cards finally had their protection behind Albert Pujols. Thanks to this, the best player in the game has been even better. Teams have to pitch to Albert Pujols and more likely then not he makes them pay. Not to mention St. Louis has potentially the best one two pitching punch in the National League, Adam Wainwright and Chris Carpenter. It will be hard for anyone to dethrone them.
Don’t count out the Brewers and the Reds for the wild card though. The Brewers have one of the better offenses in the national league with Prince Fielder and Ryan Braun leading the way. They have just enough pitching to get by. Cincinnati on the other hand, have secretly one of the better pitching staffs in the National League. Harrang, Arroyo, Cueto, and Bailey can hang with almost anyone. The Reds would be smart to have Chapman as the closer. The Cuban fire baller is just that and he would be perfect in a closer role. The offense isn’t bad either and both these teams can contend for the wild card.
National League West
1. Los Angeles Dodgers
2. San Fransisco Giants
3. Colorado Rockies
4. San Diego Padres
5. Arizona Diamondbacks
LA is simply the most complete team in this division. They can hit with Kemp, Loney and Manny and they can pitch with Kershaw, Billingsley, and Kuroda. The only team I can see competing with them is San Fran. With the best pitcher in the national league in Tim Lincecum they have the stop gap they need every 5 days. Matt Cain and Barry Zito aren’t bad either. Can the offense win games however? That’s the question. Pablo Sandoval is a nice hitter and acquisitions Freddy Sanchez, Mark DeRossa and Aubrey Huff are also nice, but they aren’t scary. Giants biggest issue last year was their offense, and it will continue to be their issue.
National League Wild Card
1. San Fransisco Giants
2. Milwaukee Brewers
3. Florida Marlins
4. Cincinnati Reds
I’m saying this now. This will come down to the final week.
National League MVP- Albert Pujols
National League Cy Young- Roy Halladay
1. NY Yankees over 3. Seattle Mariners
4. Boston Red Sox over 2. Chicago White Sox
1. Philadelphia Phillies over 4. San Fransisco Giants
2. St. Louis Cardinals over 3. LA Dodgers
1. NY Yankees over 4. Boston Red Sox
I don’t want it to go down this way, but I think it would happen. If any team can beat Boston in Boston, it’s New York and in the current set-up of the playoffs, barring injury, the Yankees can just thrown CC Sabathia, Andy Pettite and AJ Burnett on three day’s rest and win the series. It’s sad but true. The only prediction I want to be wrong.
1. Philadelphia Phillies over 2. St. Louis Cardinals
It’s a boring World Series, I know. It was the same series that it was last year. The issue is this, they are both quite simply the two most complete teams in baseball. They can hit the hell out of the ball and have just enough pitching to get by. But to think the Yanks are winning back to back World Series seems odd. Therefore,
PHILLIES over YANKEES in one of the most epic World Series of all time.
Until Next Time
As mentioned yesterday, it looks like Tuukka Rask is here to stay as the Bruins number one goal-tender and he turned in another magnificent performance last night as he shut out the New Jersey Devils in Jersey. Here is a kid playing amazing goal turning in brick wall performances night after night and how do the Bruins repay the kid? By almost giving him a loss in a shutout effort. In one of the most boring games of the season, the Bruins didn’t score until the final thirty seconds of overtime on Patrice Bergeron’s put back effort to beat the Devils 1-0. Again for about the billionth time this season, the defense played incredible and held the top scorers of the other team (Parise and Kovalchuck) to little to no production. In fact, last night, they had no production. Tuukka really didn’t have to work TOO hard, as the defense forced a lot of easy to save shots.
The biggest issue was, again I sound like a broken record, the offense. They did not score until literally the end of the game. Yes, I know the offside trap is annoying to play against and yes, Micheal Ryder got robbed on a great drive in the beginning of the third period, but come on. This is a team that showed last year and has shown at times this year they can score. They just continue to have zero consistency. It’s annoying, and it’s more annoying that I have to keep mentioning it, but it’s true. Injuries killed this offense, but by that same token, someone like Michael Ryder has played more games this year (two more) and has scored ELEVEN less goals. Come on man. I know Savard is important and they have loss Krejci for longer times then last year, but you still have to score and this year they haven’t.
Thankfully, the playoffs are won and loss on defense and goaltending and the Bruins have some of the best in the league. Not saying it can take them all the way to Cup, but I am saying that they might be able to pull an upset or two.
Washington be ready.