Thursday, April 02, 2009

Season Preview - NL West/Postseason

I'm cheating a little by posting today's post real late at night, and tomorrow slightly early because I'm moving tomorrow and won't have internet access likely for a few days. Anyways, here's the NL Least, I mean West plus my postseason predictions.

1. Dodgers. I went back and forth on this one, because every team in this division has major holes. The Dodgers have easily the best line-up with Manny back and probably the best bullpen, so I'm going with them. I love Russel Martin. Second favorite catcher in MLB next to Yadier. Kemp. Looney, O-dog, Furcal, Eithier. Very deep line-up. Their bullpen should also be pretty good with Broxton maybe the next great closer on the horizon. Their rotation is a major concern. They have two good ones in Wolf and that Japanese guy (Kujima? - something like that), but after that they are counting on young guys to dramatically increase their workload, which usually isn't a good idea. I'm not sure why they let Lowe go so easily, he carried them down the stretch and in the playoffs, but if they make it back to the playoffs, they'll miss him big-time this time around.

2. D-Backs. This team is loaded with good young hitters, but they just don't know how to take a pitch right now, which makes for a lot of games where this team only scores 1-3 runs. With their starting pitching, that will sometimes be good enough though. The key guy to me is Justin Upton. Most people think this kid is going to be MUCH better than his brother B.J. from the Rays eventually. Scary. He's only 21 though, so it's hard to say that he can carry the offense in this, his second full MLB season. They also have problems in the pen with no clear closer and iffy solutions from the left side as well. In other words, they'll need Upton and the other kids in the line-up to grow-up fast to contend this year.

3. Giants. It's hard to pick between them and the D-Backs for best rotation in this division. They also should have an improved bullpen this year. The offense though? Yuck. Give them L.A.'s line-up, and ladies and gentlemen, your 2009 World Series Champions! Sadly, they are only saved from having the worst line-up in the NL by their fellow division mates the Padres, and even then it's close. Still, this team should be around .500 this year because of the weak competition in the division and the fact that their pitching is so very stellar.

4. Rockies. This team seems a long way removed from being in the world series. Losing Fuentes and Holliday was huge, and I expect them to slid back even a little more than last year. Tulowitski is a major key for them. Looked like Jeter+power+defensive range his rookie year, in other words, a sure superstar, but struggled with injuries and slumps last year. If he rebounds, this team could be a surprise, because the line-up is still solid with Hawpe, Adkins, and Helton. They have some good young pitching, but will miss Francis, one of the few veterans on the team who is out for the year with an injury, so the rotation is thin, but the bullpen should be OK with the addition of Huston Street. A team to keep an eye, but probably a year away from contending again.

5. Padres. I'm not going to waste much time on them. At least they have a new owner coming on. Should be fun to see exactly how bad they will be. If you are a betting person, any time Peavy or Young isn't starting, this is the team to go against.

Post-Season Predictions:

AL Wild Card Round: Red Sox beat Indians, Angels beat Yankees
AL Pennant: Red Sox beat Angels

NL Wild Card Round: Mets beat Cards, Cubs beat Dodgers
NL Pennant: Mets beat Cubs

World Series: Red Sox beat Mets

Basically, I love the Mets chances in the NL this year IF they make it into the playoffs. In the postseason, they can really shorten the game with Putz/K-Rod conceivably getting the last 9 outs together. Plus, they have Satanna and some good post-season gamers in Reyes, Wright and Beltran. The Red Sox should also have an improved pen and have, I think, the current best closer in the game in Paplebon. Additionally, they could have all-time scary rotation at that point if John Smoltz is healthy. Statistically, Smoltz is up there with Gibson, Schilling and anyone else when it comes to playoff performance. In other words, as much as I think the Mets are geared towards being a good playoff team, the Red Sox simply have more of the same and I like them to take the title in 6 games.

AL - MVP: Grady Sizemore
CY Young: Francisco Liriano
Rookie: no clue honestly
Comeback player: Travis Hafner

NL- MVP: Pujols
CY Young: Brandon Webb
Rookie: Jason Motte
Comeback player: Troy Tulowitski

Hey, I didn't pick the Cards winning a playoff series, but at least I have them with two major awards! Alright, that's it for now. I'll hopefully be back online to comment on opening day. I should have plenty of time to blog in the next few weeks because I don't know a soul in Port Arthur Texas!


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