If you want some MLB predictions based on facts, research, science, and stuff in general, check out this site. In fact, if you want a preview that in any way contributes to intelligent discourse on baseball, check out any of the other thousands of MLB previews out there. But… if you’re a functionally illiterate cheapo who won’t pony up for the Baseball Prospectus and want a preview full of crazy whims, one-liners, inner-dialogue, and a total absence of transitional phrases and paragraph breaks, then stay here.
In order to make this as painstakingly long as possible, I’ll give my overview for each team, plus another for the Nationals [rimshot]. To cover my ass right off the bat, I make no promise that my predicted records will sum out to 2,430-2,430 because the exercise is absurd to begin with and will be implemented for approximation of my random perception only.
New York Yankees (94-68) “This is finally gonna be the year that the Blue Jays step up and overtake the Yanks and Sox!” Shut up. Don’t be an idiot. The Yankees are still gonna win the East. Say what you will about the back of their rotation, but outside of Mientkiewicz at first, they still field an All-Star team—a real, certifiable All-Star team—for their everyday lineup. They’ll have a full year of Matsui and Abreu, and they could always slide Giambi to first and Melky to the DH if Doug M doesn’t hit enough. Wang (assuming he’s not seriously hurt) and Mussina are strong, and Pettitte’s awful first half of ‘06 looked a little fluky by the end of the year. Sure, he’s over the hill, but I expect something halfway between his ’05 and ’06. As far as the only story that matters here, A-Rod and Jeter will kiss and make up. Literally. On the field. It’ll be kind of like that horrible ending to that horrible movie Anger Management. That said, the Yanks will need Brosius back if they expect to win in the playoffs.
Boston Red Sox (92-70) Look—people who doubt J.D. Drew deserve to have batteries thrown at them. He’s a jerk; he doesn’t care much; he spits at the homeless. That has no bearing on the fact that the Red Sox could put up 1,000 runs this year. And in the unlikely event that “Andrew” Dice-K (inverted Bermanism) doesn’t fulfill the hype, the rotation should be excellent. Beckett’s 5.01 ERA was his only really bad-looking stat last year, and I guarantee a much, much lower one this year. Here’s a good question, though—How many Red Sox fans will get really, really into Japanese culture this year…you know, purely out of coincidence? My guess: tons.
Toronto Blue Jays (84-78) Royce Clayton is their starting shortstop. That’s not really a stand-alone reason why the Blue Jays won’t win the East this year, but it is one of a few knocks on this team. I doubt Alex Rios will ever replicate his first half of last year, and his OBP was only .349. (And I think he’s Mexican or something, right?) The lineup will score, but the back three in the rotation will neither scare nor retire many hitters. Burnett, Halladay, and pray for… malad-ay... to, umm, afflict the opposing team...? ...No? Ok. Basically, the Jays could win a few other divisions, but I don’t see them hanging with the Yank Sox this year.
Baltimore Orioles (75-87) Just like the Jays, the Orioles would have a shot to make the playoffs if they played in the NL Central. Barring unexpected realignment in the next week, this won’t be the case. While they’re above average at the traditionally poor offensive positions with Tejada, Roberts, and Ramon Hernandez, the rest of their lineup is basically the same serviceable-like .280/15/.350/.450 hitter throughout. At least Markakis in his second year is something to be a little excited about. The front of their rotation is young and intriguing while the back end is Jaret Wright and Steve “Blood on the” Trachsel. Who knows, though. Leo Mazzone resurrected Wright’s career once before, so maybe he can do it again. After all, Leo Mazzone is, in fact, Christ.
Tampa Bay Devil Rays (73-89) These guys are young. Delmon Young, that is. And they’re talented. Carl Crawford can really rake it, and Jorge Cantu can too. I used to think Rocco Baldelli was just a bunch of mafia-feuled hype, but his numbers from his truncated 2006 seem to prove otherwise. Besides Kazmir, I believe the rest of the rotation is TBD (as in, like, “to be decided” and “Tampa Bay Devil Rays”…a clever double entendre. That’s pretty good Vin.), and they’re probably too young to make the Rays very competitive. This is my most punny team preview, and I’ll stop this now.
Cleveland Indians (91-71) I hope Victor Martinez constantly thanks him mom that he can hit because he sure can’t play catcher. Oh yeah, hitting comes from the X chromosome; I should’ve mentioned that. Martinez’s embarrassing arm aside, this team is ready to take back the AL Central. After Sabathia, the rotation looks a little sad, but it’ll get a little better once Cliff Lee recovers (in about a month, I guess). I only saw this Garko kid at 1B a couple times last year, but he looks like the goods. Basically, this lineup will score tons, and pitching won’t matter so much. Tribe wins the division, and that mink-wearing whore of an owner won’t relocate them to Miami.
Detroit Tigers (86-76) Remember how awesome Chris Shelton was last April? What was that about? Anyway, he now finds himself listed third on the first base depth chart behind Bible-thumper and pro wrestling fan Sean Casey. I’m not sure why I’m taking up space talking about Chris Shelton. Todd Jones is maybe the worst pitcher in their bullpen but still listed as their “closer.” Have I ever mentioned I don’t like the concept of a “closer”? Thousands of times? Ok. Kenny Rogers turns 80 next week, and I see “flash in the pan” with Verlander, so they’ll need a great year from Bonderman. Of course, I’m probably dead wrong about Verlander. And I might be a little off on Rogers’s age. Gary Sheffield will beef up their so-so lineup from last year--with only raw eggs and medicine balls, of course--but I predict a substantial slip in the Tigers win total. I also predict Jim Leyland to accidentally light his mustache on fire with a cigarette.
Minnesota Twins (83-79) According to our friend Dave Sampair who played football with Joe Mauer in high school, Mauer’s a really awesome guy. I think that gives the Twins a huge edge in being awesome. What also gives them a huge edge as starting Rondell White in left field. Obviously, I’m kidding. About the “edge” part that is. I only wish I were kidding about the starting part, but he’s currently listed in their lineup. An 0-38 start should put the kibosh on that. Besides Santana, their rotation on paper is kind of horrible, with a glimmer of hope in Bonser. I’d like to see the Twins repeat in the AL Central this year, but even Joe Mauer’s being a really awesome dude probably won’t be enough.
Chicago White Sox (78-84) It’s pretty obvious that Ozzie Guillen is the most important person on this team, so it’s only proper that all my White Sox predictions revolve around him. By May, Ozzie’s stomach will be one massive ulcer, and he’ll be bright yellow from jaundice. By July, Brian Anderson will be dead after Ozzie kills him for a botched sac bunt. By August, Ozzie will be dead after a poorly-picked gunfight with Juan Uribe. Ok, real stuff: The Sox were smart to stop clinging to ’05 and cut payroll, but they forgot to trade Joe Crede. I know he’s a heartthrob and all, but they missed cashing in on the peak of his value and also Thome's. Speaking of heartthrobs, Scotty PoPoPo is still around. And the Sox’ billboard marketing slogan is “Back to the grind.” Yikes. Contreras is over the hill, so the Sox are only left with one pretty good starter in Garland, and St. Louis Cardinal Mark Buehrle was only average last year. Don’t tell that to the guy who picked him for the All-Star Game, though. Who was that again?Hopefully Buehrle can turn it around with this being his contract year, so the Sox get some value for him in July. Either way, this is the season when Guillen’s antics go from “That’s Ozzie being Ozzie” to “Trade me before I kill that motherfucker.”
Kansas City Royals (68-94) Oh man. Do I really have to preview them? I’m not even gonna bother. Too boring. Ok fine—one quick look at the lineup. Oh God. Reggie Sanders and Mark Grudzielanek. No mas. On the bright side, they still have Jimmy Gobble, who I think is a fictional cartoon turkey from children’s Thanksgiving special. I could be mistaken, though. I’ve only seen him a few times on highlights.
LA Angels of Anaheim (91-71) World Series champs. You heard it here. And maybe elsewhere. But here as well. I’d really like this to happen, but if the Rally Monkey comes back, along with the frequent allusions to said monkey, I’ll shoot myself and not live to see it. The young guys like Jared (the younger) Weaver, Ervin (the other) Santana, Maicer (the not-horrible) Izturis, and catcher Mike Napoli, who drew a remarkable 51 walks in 299 plate appearances last year, are pretty exciting. The three vet starters (Colon, Escobar, and Lackey, a personal favorite of mine) should be strong, and Weaver’s blonde locks will help him lead the league in swooning maidens and potentially ERA. Orlando Cabrera didn’t play up to his free-agent deal last season—shocking—but their middle infield is deep with Izturis and the other young prospect Howie Kendrick. The corner outfielders are excellent, and new acquisition Gary Matthews Jr. is what he is (on steroids)—a strong defensive player (both in a baseball and litigious sense) with one big offensive year (on steroids, like everyone else, so who cares) in a hitters’ park (where the drinking fountains dispensed “the clear”). All in all, not too shabby. The Angels also signed Shea Hillenbrand to cover themselves at 1B, but I’d like to see them start the young Cubano Kendry Morales. The filthy commie.
Texas Rangers (85-77) I don’t think there’s a baseball fan alive that isn’t super stoked about the return of fave teammate and dynamic agent-coached personality Sammy Sosa. The Rangers must have won the sweepstakes for players none of the 29 other teams wanted because they also have Bruce Chen as their fifth starter. I don’t know much about this Robinson Tejeda kid in the fourth slot, but since Robinson Checo was never any good, I don't like Tejada's outlook. Then again, Robinson Cano is good, which is also relevant. At least the Rangers don’t completely lack pitching, as we’re so used to. I think keeping Padilla was one of the smartest of the dumb overpaid mid-level free agent signings, and the front three (Padilla, Millwood, McCarthy) is pretty strong as a whole. The lineup has glaring holes at LF, RF, and DH, unless Sammy Slamando really has something left or Brad Wilkerson can get his OBP up to respectable.
Seattle Mariners (83-79) I’m tagging the Mariners with the hollow label of “Team That Could Surprise.” I’d gather that Jose Guillen will improve upon his sheer awfulness of 2006, and I expect Felix Hernandez to live up to some prorated percentage of his hype from a year ago. For me, Jeff Weaver is that one player every fan has to whom they always give the benefit of the doubt because they don’t understand why he can’t consistently play as well as he sometimes looks in isolated blips. I’m not sure what I just wrote there, but I think it was stupid. Something about Weaver winning the Cy Young or having a 6.00 ERA. While I question the wisdom of starting Jose Vidro at DH, this lineup should do a little scoring. Ibanez, Sexson, Ichiro, and Beltre should be make for a decent offense. Don’t be a J.J. Putz and fall asleep on this team. On second thought, Jarrod Washburn is their opening-day starter. I’m probably being too optimistic.
Oakland A’s (81-81) As bloggers who blog about baseball, I’m told we’re supposed to love Billy Beane and overrate his team. Not so fast, old codgers who fear stats! I actually expect the A’s to slip quite a bit this year. Though they successfully cornered the market on old catchers by signing Piazza and retaining Jason Kendall, some of the other important non-old catcher elements lack. Last year, the much-ballyhooed Bobby Crosby played like Bing Crosby (as he would play baseball, not as he sang… Sorry, I happen to be writing this preview late at night when my humor suffers, and my parenthetical apologies triple), and the lineup lost its best hitter in Frank Thomas. Who predicted we’d be saying that a year ago? Oh that’s right; I did. The “Really Similar Last Name Brothers” Harden and Haren are strong at the top of the rotation, but the back end is pretty lame. The A’s will need the goods out of Swisher and Milton Bradley to have a shot. Even then, the Angels are way better.
Philadelphia Phillies (91-71) I don’t see many holes on this team. Utley, Rollins, Burrell, Meyers = activist, record producer, playboy, wife-beater. What a motley bunch! When Shane Victorino retires, he should start a company that sells floor wax or furniture polish or pesto sauce or something. The rotation has no real weak spot (semi-contingent on Eaton and Garcia’s health), and if Cole Hamels is as good as advertised, they might have the best one in the league. I can’t quite understand why people think the Mets are still better. The pitching on this team is stronger, and the offense is comparable. World Series—book it. Then again, other previews = facts and research, this preview = whims and biases.
New York Mets (87-75) In the NL East this year, the Nigh Mets are my second-favorite squadron. I can’t believe Orlando Hernandez is their second starter, but the offense should be able to carry them until Pedro comes back. I think Burgos was a nice pickup in the pen; good work KC—trade one of the few guys on your roster with some real potential. I still consider Oliver Perez a great talent and expect him to rediscover the magic this year, both on the mound and in the sack. Hopefully this means a lot of “Oliver’s Army” references because I love that song. Perez could be the secret ingredient to the Mets success this year, as could Moises Alou’s urine.
Atlanta Braves (79-83) The Braves need Mike Hampton to come back and pitch well. Otherwise, they’re rotation is too crappy for them to take the East. Even with Hampton, I’m not picking them. Plus, I should stop acting like Mike Hampton is some huge star. The lineup should be productive with McCann and the Joneseses, but if Jeff Francoeur doesn’t at least double his walks, I’d trade his ass to wherever Dusty Baker turns up next because he's the embodiment of the "It's called hitting, not walking" mantra. It’s one thing if you swing at everything and hit .330 like Vlad Guerrero or "Ducky" Joe Medwick, but Francoeur just gets himself out on bad pitches way too often. Mike Gonzalez doesn’t give up many hits and has a good strikeout rate, but for some reason, his walk rate quadrupled from ’04 to ’05 and didn’t improve last year. I mean, he’s a strong reliever, but was he really worth Adam LaRoche? He’s never pitched more than 56 innings in a season. Ted Turner would’ve never stood for this shit.
Florida Marlins (85-77) Leap into serious contention or a bunch of sophomore slumps? Joe Girardi’s gone, so the Marlins will forget how to win. Just kidding. I hear that prick was like Mussolini. They won’t have Josh Johnson for a couple months, but I expect the D-Train to shovel some extra coal on the engines and choo-choo this freighter straight to Contentionville Junction, squashing all kinds of pennies on its way. That said, a team this young has real letdown potential. I’ll stay cautious and pick them to finish in the middle of the East. Way to cop out, Vin.
Washington Nationals (67-950...not a typo. They'll barnstorm in addition to playing their regular schedule of sub-.100 W-L%) They should get fine seasons out of Zimmerman and Kearns, but they’re gonna miss Nick Johnson, who’s out with a broken leg. As if that matters. Manny Acta will have to do his best juggling Acta if he hopes to win Manny games with this rotation! Their two most proven guys (Redding and Patterson) are coming back from injury. The other three spots are two rooks and JASON SIMONTACCHI. Yes… JASON SIMONTACCHI. And I’m out.
St. Louis Cardinals (87-75) Like most members of the blogging community, we at YCS despise David Eckstein. Also, we are mostly Cubs and Brewers fans. So maybe this pick should be considered me going out of my way to seem objective. This team may not luck their way into another championship, but I do think another Central title is in the… fuck… cards. I particularly like the conversion of Looper and Wainwright to starting pitchers. Nuts to this “closer” bunk; maximize the innings of your best pitchers. I’m glad some team gets it. Kip Wells and Reyes are sort of wild (… fuck!…) cards, but I’d like to assume they’ll get a decent season out of one of the two. And don’t ever doubt the heart of a champion ("champion" = David Eckstein and David Eckstein alone).
Houston Astros (85-77) Like every team in this division, I can make up some pretty rational reasons why the Astros will win the Central. And I could also see them sucking a bunch. To be honest, this division might really come down to the team who has the best luck with injuries and youth. The resurgent Jennings and Woody Williams (aka “Dub-Wil,” aka “Dub-Dub”) were okay pickups, though age is a factor for the 40 year-old Woody. Who is Luke Scott? Is he for real, or was that some Shane Spencer shit? If he’s the goods, that makes the ‘Stros strong at both corner OF positions, 1B, and 3B. Their backup catchers are a .211 lifetime hitter and a guy with 170 career ABs. I’ll still take either one over Brad Ausmus. And lay off Brad Lidge. He’s still one of the best relievers in the game, and he’ll prove it this year.
Chicago Cubs (84-78) Obviously, Jason Marquis lasted in the Cardinals’ rotation for a reason last year. I’m not being facetious. If a guy is truly horrible, he gets optioned or released. Besides the obvious reason—no one better to take his spot—there must have been something. They liked his potential; they liked his track record; he came through with occasional good starts. However, none of these reasons mask the fact that he was the worst performing starting pitcher in all of baseball. I think the Cubs would have been better off filling the Lily and Marquis rotation spots through open competition among guys without $7mill and $10mill guaranteed and, you know, making sure there was enough money to keep their best player after this year. Let’s examine what $300mill gets you in today’s MLB: 1) retention of your best offensive player, 2) another All-Star position player, 3) 200 IP of adequacy, 4) a nothing utility infielder, 5) a corner outfielder that runs with a cane and can’t hit anymore, and 6) the worst performing starting pitcher in the MLB last year. Items 3 through 6 are don’t sit well with me. Why Cubs fans should be excited: Prior and Lee could come back from their injuries and be the stars they were before. Why Cubs fans shouldn’t be excited: This won’t happen, ever. Derrek Lee will never have another 2005. Prior may have another 2003, but it won’t be within the next few years. Jacque Jones is one of the worst starting RF in the league. Assuming Rich Hill will be as good as he ultimately will be over the course of his first full season is starry-eyed for sure. 84 wins could be charitable. But it’s ok; Mark Cuban will save us.
Milwaukee Brewers (82-80) Unloading Carlos Lee and getting something in return last season was the right thing to do. Using the free agent dollars they might have used on Lee to sign Jeff Suppan at $10mill/yr was clearly the wrong thing to do. He’s ok and all, but this team’s too poor to afford that kind of salary for an average player. Pass the collection plate and sign some real free agents if you’re gonna get in that game, Brew Crew. Dave Bush could emerge as an ace this year, and Ben Sheets will be back, giving the Brewers more pranks and a pretty strong rotation. But don’t expect Bernie Brewer to slide into that big invisible mug of air very often this year, except when Prince Fielder is hitting. He’ll stroke about 40 dingers, but the rest of the lineup may not produce much. I expect Bill Hall to slip now that pitchers have heard of him. Estrada was a nice pickup, and year two of Rickie Weeks is reason for excitement. As for Corey Hart jokes, I’ll save those for the season. Come to think of it, there are no real “jokes.” I just sing “Sunglasses at Night” and laugh while everyone tells me to shut up.
Cincinnati Reds (75-87) I still can’t get over how stupid that trade with the Nationals was last year. Gary Majewski, where have you gone? Starters three through five on this team are an unfortunate collection of retreads, and I doubt either Arroyo or Harang will repeat their ’06 performances. Kirk Sarloos walked more hitters than he struck out the last two years and is arguably one of the worst starters in baseball. The offense will be pretty good, but let’s not get too carried away. Dunn is the only sure thing in this lineup. David Ross was nothing before last year, and if pitchers start paying him attention, that HR rate could plummet. Brandon Phillips OBPed a horrible .287 after the break last year, and Junior, as much as I love him, slipped considerably last year. His move to right field—a traditionally strong offensive position—will only highlight his inadequacy as a hitter (.316 OBP last year). Seriously, that kills to me to say. I hope he proves me wrong and keeps launching dingers.
Pittsburgh Pirates (70-92) According to everything I’ve read, Freddy Sanchez is the only player on this team. But I’ve looked into it, and they will, in fact, retain 24 other players. Actually, take a good look at that everyday lineup—not too shabby. Paulino at catcher and Jose Bautista at third are—as Harry Caray used to say—fine looking young ballplayers. This hard-nosed, lunch pail steel town will appreciate the gamer mentality Adam LaRoche will bring to the Steel City of Steel. The rotation will be a weakness—extremely young guys + Tony Armas Jr. = tired bullpen. Zach Duke has good control, but he’s too easy to hit—only about 5 Ks per 9 IP and a .302 BA against last year. Ian Snell or Tom Gorzelanny will probably emerge as the ace; of course, that won’t be saying much this year. Cellar dwellers again, Steelburgh.
San Diego Padres (87-75) Adrian Gonzalez and Josh Bard had nice rookie seasons, but this lineup probably won’t score much. Fortunately, their pitching should carry them, which makes them my kind of team. Greg Maddux is still good. I think I dropped the “washed-up” phrase last year, and I regret it immensely. You don’t turn on your heroes like that—especially not to say something so inaccurate. By the end of the year, his K/BB was over 3, his WHIP was 1.22, and he managed to throw 210 innings despite averaging just 83 pitchers per start. That is truly incredible. As for David Wells, this may be the proverbial last hurrah. He’s 43; opposing hitters have hit over .300 against him the last two seasons; and now he’s diabetic. Expect Peavy to have a better ’07 than ’06 and Chris Young to do the opposite. The teams in this division are effectively pretty equal, so it’ll all come down to the team with the most guts to win in September. By which I mean it’ll come down to the team lucky enough to win a couple extra games.
Arizona Diamondbacks (86-76) Randy Johnson’s 5.00 ERA last year doesn’t look so bad next to a 1.24 WHIP and a K/BB of almost 2.9, so there’s no doubt he’ll contribute. For the first time since 2004, the D’Backs can get the flour down from the top shelf in the pantry. (Tall jokes… again, I’m up late. A different night but same effect.) Over 500 IP in ’04 and ’05 might’ve caught up to Livan Hernandez last year, but he finished strong and is only 32 according to his fake Cuban birth certificate, so I see no reason why he can’t be effective. And let’s face it—would you bring your A-game if you played for the Nationals? Anyway, the story with this team isn’t old pitchers but the young core of Chad Tracy, Connor Jackson, and Orlando Hudson, complemented by OF prospects Chris Young and Carlos Quentin and SS Stephen Drew—all of whom will start. Julio and Valverde in the pen have some explosive stuff, but they’d be well-advised to give up less runs. Mostly, I can’t wait until this team plays the Astros, and no one’s sure which team they’re on because of these retarded new D’Backs uniforms.
Los Angeles Dodgers (83-79) The Dodgers signed Juan Pierre to a $27mill/3yr contract. For this reason alone, the Dodgers deserve to win no games. Unfortunately, life isn’t always fair, so the Dodgers are likely to win some games. Losing J.D. Drew was unfortunate. Now—if I may take a little tangent—here’s a perfect example of how crazy public perception can be. I’m guessing that a substantial percentage of Dodgers fans—and baseball fans in general—view plus-Pierre and minus-Drew an upgrade to the Dodgers’ lineup because of Drew’s rep as a “selfish” player and Pierre’s as a guy who “makes things happen.” Anyway, this team has other players besides Pierre. They’ll actually have one of the NL’s better rotations with Schmidt, Lowe, and Penny. Still, I don’t think this lineup has enough to power to make it back to the postseason. And Juan Pierre will never again start for a playoff team so long as God exists
Colorado Rockies (79-83) The “Killer H’s plus A” (I claim all marketing rights to that) Holliday, Hawpe, Helton, and Atkins—have people all uppity on this team, but I don’t see the pitching. Impressive walk total aside (55 in 212 IP), I’m not convinced that someone who lets the ball in play as much as Aaron Cook (only 92 Ks) will continue to succeed in a park with such spacious alleys. And after him and Jeff Francis, the back three in the rotation (B.H. Kim, Rodrigo Lopez, and Taylor Buchholz) are not so good, unless Lopez and Kim rediscover the magic of random good seasons in their respective pasts. Give it up, Rockies. You’ll never win. Just bring back Dante Bichette, shave the grass to a short stubble, and ditch the humidor. That’s the Rockies we all wanna see.
San Francisco Giants (77-85) Last year, the Giants were older than dirt. This year, they’re roughly the same age as dirt, which is still pretty old. That said, old isn’t necessarily bad. That said, sometimes it is. Klesko/Aurillia is the lamest first base platoon since Coomer/Stairs, and Dave Roberts is starting in center. Zito’s been acting like a goofy jackass all spring, which has no bearing on his performance, but it does hurt his reputation as a great philosopher of our time. Noah Lowery took a step back from his 2005 rookie season, and Matt Cain could be in for a sophomore slump himself. Matt Morris and Russ Ortiz will do well as long as we warp back to 2002 tomorrow. I think a lot of fans are hoping for Barry Bonds to get hurt, so there’s a good chance he will if you subscribe to the power of collective thought or whatever new-age weirdo shit Barry Zito probably believes in. How do you like that Zito? You’re gonna cause your new buddy Bonds to get hurt through your heathen beliefs.