Oh My God, The 2010 MLB Regular Season Is Upon Us
This post might end up being the longest stream-of-consciousness post I’ve ever made. I’m not going to be looking up projections or Vegas lines or predictions while typing it up. I’m not going to be calculating stats in spreadsheets. I’m not even going to link anywhere else, since I’ll just do that in my link post later today. This is going to be the same talk you would get from me if you ran into me at the bar right now, devoid of Baseball-Reference and Fangraphs (I would link, but that’d be already breaking my promise).
While I’m giddy about meaningful baseball kicking off again, my excitement is of course tempered by the knowledge that the Mets will be lucky to break .500. There’s no way Omar Minaya actually believes the bullshit he spouts during an interview with Mike Francesa on WFAN, specifically when he insists he has some sort of faith in the starting rotation. He calls back to past performance of John Maine and Oliver Perez, but the last year they were good was 2007. And it’s not about past performance. It’s about future performance, and there’s not much of a reason to believe that either pitcher will regain their best form — and their best form isn’t exactly mind-blowing. Maine doesn’t have the late movement on his fastball that allowed him to throw it so frequently years ago. Perez just did not have the same stuff this spring, much like when he pitched last season. Maybe he’ll walk less than a man an inning this time around, though. I guess I have to hope Mike Pelfrey and Jonathan Niese live up to their potential.
Shall I go on about the Mets before I spout my thoughts on the rest of the league? The Opening Day lineup has to the most pathetic $130 million can buy. Gary Matthews Jr., Alex Cora, Luis Castillo, Jeff Francoeur, Mike Jacobs, and Rod Barajas will make up two-thirds of it. REPLACEMENT LEVEL LINEUP GO! I would certainly play Angel Pagan over Matthews Jr. and if the Mets are going to have Ruben Tejada on the Opening Day roster, there’s no way I want a 20-year-old who has been tearing it up this spring sitting on the bench while Alex Fucking Cora plays SS. And if somehow he does well while Reyes is hurt, move him over to 2B. The results of such a move certainly wouldn’t be any worse than Daniel Murphy in LF last season. I don’t care about starting his arbitration clock. The Mets have a lot of goddamn money.
Johan Santana will stand out quite a bit in that disaster of an Opening Day lineup. Shit, he’s a better hitter than some of the guys in front of him. Together with David Wright and Jason Bay, he makes up the trifecta of players with any significant value until Jose Reyes and Carlos Beltran come back. Daniel Murphy isn’t awful — especially if he repeats his second-half performance from last year — but he’s not exactly a heavy hitter for 1B, either.
Concerning David Wright, I’ve been predicting 23 HR for a while, but his spring — stupidly — has me a bit more optimistic at this point. He looks really good at the plate. If he took roids, I’m glad. He needed them. Bay will be the second-best hitter on the team, while covering a 20 square foot area in LF. I don’t know what the hell to expect from Reyes and Beltran once they return, I really don’t.
Have I written a diatribe on Jenrry Mejia yet? Oh yeah, I have. But the Mets didn’t listen to me and they’re going to put him in the bullpen. Fuck everything. Francisco Rodriguez will continue his decline. Pedro Feliciano and Sean Green combining for 8th inning duties isn’t a terrible idea, though. Bullpens are always tough to predict, I feel. Having said that, I do think the Mets’ has a very real potential to be a disaster, which undoubtedly is why they felt the need to put Mejia in it. Sigh.
I think I’m done with the Mets. Perhaps I’ll add additional thoughts when I get to the NL East.
Red Sox 96-66
Blue Jays 67-95
The Yankees are fucking stacked, plain and simple. They have $200 million to throw around each year and starting with last offseason, they’ve really learned how to spend it wisely. Supplementing the massive three deals they inked to cement that World Series title, they went out and grabbed Javier Vasquez and Curtis Granderson in two disgustingly good trades, despite what many Yankee fans may say about trading Melky.
The Red Sox aren’t exactly far behind — they just have a lot more value hidden in their fielding. No team’s lineup comes close to the Yankees, so the Sawx decided to grab a few defensive specialists who can also hit a bit in Adrian Beltre and Mike Cameron, and also signed John Lackey to form an extremely formidable 1-2-3 combo. I think it’s the best in the majors, as Jon Lester will be phenomenally good.
And then there’s the rest of the division. It’s sad that the Rays are an afterthought, but I just don’t see them contending with the Yankees and Red Sox. They’ll put up a good effort through most of the summer, though. Poor Orioles and Blue Jays. I guess at least Orioles fans still have some young players to watch in Matt Wieters, Nick Markakis, and Brian Matusz. Jays fans have…Adam Lind? And oh, Aaron Hill. Yeah.
White Sox 83-79
As seemingly always, this division can go a lot of ways. I don’t see the Indians as a contender, though (the Royals go without saying). People might point to Joe Nathan going down as a reason why the Twins might not win the division, but he’s not as important as he might seem. No closer is. The Twins have a pretty damn good lineup that I think will carry them. The White Sox have the pitching. And the Tigers have a bit of both. Any of them can win, I think — but I have to put my fake money on the Twins and Joe Mauer.
I don’t think the Indians have an ace pitcher to trade away this season — unless Fausto Carmona makes a huge comeback. If his ERA is around 3.00 come August, I wonder which team he’ll end up with.
The Royals suck. If only Zack Greinke could pitch every game.
My sabermetric leanings almost force me to pick the Mariners, with their emphasis on defense. The Cliff Lee trade created an insane 1-2 punch with Felix Hernandez (unfortunately, it won’t kick into gear until a month into the season). The Chone Figgins signing was also a great move. On the other hand, the Angels just always outplay their numbers. It’s uncanny. And the Rangers have an obscenely young team that I wish I was a fan of. This will be a very, very interesting division. I predict 1276453 mentions of how badly the A’s are doing and whether Billy Beane has lost his touch or whether MONEYBALL works anymore.
AL Cy Young: Felix Hernandez, Mariners
I’m picking Mauer for the MVP, so I didn’t want to pick both of last year’s winners. So since King Felix was pretty damn awesome last year and I predict his team to win the AL West, I’ll go with him.
AL MVP: Joe Mauer, Twins
The best player in the American League, hands-down.
AL ROY: Brian Matusz, Orioles
He seemed popular in my auction fantasy draft. That’s enough evidence for me.
AL Champion: Yankees
Baseball playoffs are so unpredictable, so this is a pick that can get a bit creative, but I can’t bring myself to pick against this $200 million juggernaut.
I’ve seen a few projection systems putting the Braves above the Phillies. I really cannot see that happening, barring a Mets-like injury bug befalling the Phillies. I’m talking Chase Utley, Ryan Howard and Jayson Werth all going down. Sure, the Braves rotation is pretty solid all the way through, but the Phillies lineup is just too good. And now they have Roy Halladay. Brad Lidge also can’t be any worse than he was last year.
But the Braves will be good enough to contend for the wild-card (and I predict them to win it), as I think Chipper Jones has one good season left in him and Jason Heyward will have a solid season at age 20. I might actually be underestimating the Marlins, as opposed to the Mets. The Nationals won’t contend this year at all, but they definitely have the pieces in place for a possible run in 2011. Even if Stephen Strasburg pulls a Mark Prior, he’ll still be good for a year and a half before he falls off the face of the baseball earth!
The Cardinals — and then everyone else. This division is mediocrity defined. I can’t even bring myself to type anything up, because 1) I’ve used up my energy at this point, and 2) the Midwest sucks. Other than the Cardinals, all these teams could be dissolved tomorrow and I wouldn’t give a fuck. Keep Wrigley Field standing as a U.S. Historical Landmark signifying pure ineptitude.
Yes, the Rockies. The Dodgers have Vicente Padilla lined up as their opening day starter. The Giants lineup is still godawful. The D-Backs are depending on Brandon Webb to regain his previous form and I’m not sure it’s going to happen. And the Padres only have one Adrian Gonzalez. A World Series game in November in Denver would be interesting.
NL Cy Young: Roy Halladay, Phillies
I love Tim Lincecum, but winning three Cy Youngs in a row is tough, and Halladay is going to eat the NL alive. The most formidable lineup in the league is the one he takes the field with. 20 W, 2.50 ERA, 220 Ks. Book it.
NL MVP: Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies
This is the biggest limb any prognosticator can go on. I am not predicting that Albert Pujols will win the NL MVP award. I just want ANYONE else to win it, and if the Rockies win the NL West on the back of another fantastic season from their sure-handed shortstop, I think this prediction has a non-zero chance of coming true.
NL ROY: Jason Heyward, Braves
Really, who else am I going to pick?
NL Champion: Cardinals
This time around, I don’t think the Phillies rotation will do as well in the playoffs. As amazing as Roy Halladay is, it’s practically impossible for him to be better than Cliff Lee was. Meanwhile, I think the duo of Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright will actually win some playoff games. This is probably wishful thinking.
World Series Champion: Yankees
So there we go. Are you ready for the season to start?
Tonight. 8:05 PM EDT. Yankees vs. Red Sox. ESPN. Jon Miller and Joe Morgan. Goddamn it.