Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Picking on Gammons (Part 2)

The experts have made their picks. Now it's the amateur's turn. To set my goals high, I line up against the best of them, against baseball reporter legend Peter Gammons. Opposite to yesterday, I'll only take one pick for each division.
Ok, so I was wrong about Martinez getting his first W. Still, 12k on opening day is still pretty impressive and a good sign if you remember Pedro on in April 2004. But no further delay, let's go on with my predictions before the season is half over.

AL East
Peter Gammons: Yankees, Red Sox, Orioles, Blue Jays, Devil Rays
Although I'm currently watching the Red Sox losing their second game in a row to the Yankees, I still expect them to win their division. The reason is that during the season, Johnson, Pavano and Brown will all go down with injuries and the Red Sox will find out that Wells really is over 40 years but luckily, at that time, Wade Miller steps in. The Orioles will finish third, cause they can hit (If they miraculously start pitching, they do have a chance for the postseason). The Blue Jays have Roy Halladay and, ah, some guys. The Devil Rays have, oh, Alex Sanchez. They do have Kazmir, but let's talk about him next year.
My pick: Red Sox, Yankees, Orioles, Blue Jays, Devil Rays

AL Central
Peter Gammons: Twins, Indians, Tigers, White Sox, Royals
Let's start from the bottom. The Royals, coming of a season where most "experts" picked them to win their division are now the unanimous choice to finish last. After them, it's wide open. The White Sox have signed some pitching, but lost much power with Ordonez and Lee (why? why did they made this trade?) and that will hurt them, because they are used to be an all long ball team. The Tigers signed Ordonez and though everybody talked about what a bad contract that was, if he stays healthy, he will certainly help theTigers, but after Bonderman, they pitching isn't strong enough, though the pen looks decent. The Indians might really challenge the Twins for the division title if their pitching holds up, but the Twins pitching was great last year and should stay good. Their hitting was only mediocre, but is likely to improve. So, I come to the same conclusion as Mr. Gammons (Yes, I'm lame).
My picks: Twins, Indians, Tigers, White Sox, Royals

AL East
Peter Gammons: Angels, A's, Rangers, Mariners
I also expect the Angels to win the division, I explained that earlier in this blog. I'm a big fan of Billy Beane and I think his Moneyball philosophy certainly works. But I don't expect the A's to contend this year. Rich Harden will be good, Barry Zito will be decent or good, but to count on three unproven pitchers all to perform well is just unlikely. The A's offense gets on base, but is unspectacular and won't be able to pick up mediocre pitching for a longer period. I don't want to make the same predictions as Gammons again, so I say the Rangers will finish last in the east. Their infield is great, no doubt about that, but their pitching will evaporate this year. Kenny Rogers won't start 10-0 this year and the Rangers will have troubles finding a servicable rotation, which, combined with a revival of Seattle's senior club, will lead to these standings at the end of the season:
Angels, A's, Mariners, Rangers

NL East
Peter Gammons: Braves, Marlins, Mets, Phillies, Nationals
How can someone not take the Braves? I don't like their outfield corners and nobody knows what Smoltz can do in the rotation, but I still have a feeling they win the east. But the Marlins look better on paper to me and if they stay healthy, this will be the year they finally win their division (unfortunately, the Braves won't take the wild card and win the World Series now, though this certainly would be THE story). The Mets don't have the pen to win a division and I have no reason to believe the Phillies will put it together this year. The Nationals deserve being last just for their stupid name.
My picks: Marlins, Braves, Mets, Phillies, Nationals

NL Central
Peter Gammons: Cardinals, Cubs, Astros, Brewers, Reds, Pirates
The Cardinals infield won't be as good as last year (I'm a big Eckstein fan, did I mention that?), though I don't understand why the people pick on Grudzielanek while at the same time everyone is convinced that Womack won't be good in New York? They have a rookie catcher, but the Mrs. Molinas sons all make pretty decent catchers and young Yadier is supposed to be the best of the three brothers. The Cardinals also have Larry Walker for a whole seaons and Mulder replaces WoodyWilliams. I don't see any other team in the division improved, so who should challenge them? The Cubs lost a lot of offense and have a hard time staying healthy, second place and the wildcard should be considered a big success. The Astros just don't have it this year, Petitte is back, but Miller's gone, so are Kent and Beltran. Clemens won't have a Cy Young season again. So I don't expect them to contend this year. The Brewers will be better and have some talent in the minors that might help them next year, but I don't think they'll catch the Astros this year already. The Reds might finally have a healthy centerfielder and they can hit enough to pick up their mediocre pitching. The Pirates, well, maybe next year.
My picks: Cardinals, Cubs, Reds, Astros, Brewers, Pirates

AL West:
Giants, Padres, Dodgers, D-Backs, Rockies
I think this will be the year Barry Bonds finally declines. The steroids talk, the pressure of the media, injuries, the absence of his father and his age will finally take their tolls and make him look human. With a human BB, the rest of the lineup has to stay healthy and productive, which is hard to do when your starting lineup age rivals the Yankees & Red Sox payroll combined. I think the Dodgers will win the division again. Lowe and Penny will pitch like aces and Drew will hit and stay healthy, making Podesta look like a genius. The Padres will stay in the race until early September and the D-Backs will surprise everyone, challenging the Tigers record for games improved. The Rockies, well, they'll hit a lot of dingers at home and enjoy their field trips.
My picks: Dodgers, Giants, Padres, D-Backs, Rockies


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