Saturday, March 31, 2012

Pittsburgh Pirates Preview/Prediction

Our next post takes us across the state, where 20 straight years of losing in Pittsburgh has taken a toll on its fans.  The light at the end of the tunnel is getting brighter, and I think by 2014 they will finally have a winning record.  It is 2012 and let's see how they do this year.

Infield: Rod Barajas at catcher, Garrett Jones at first base, Neil Walker at second base, Clint Barmes at shortstop, and Pedro Alvarez at third base.

If you would ask me to name a prototypical offensive and defensive catcher my first answer would be Rod Barajas.  He is a career .238 hitter and will hit around 12 home runs.  He doesn't get on base a whole lot and hits in a lot of double plays but he does handle a pitching staff pretty well.  He will not do anything out of the ordinary but he won't kill you either.  Garrett Jones has a lot of power but he had more strike outs than hits last year.  You can't have an everyday player who is going to hit in the middle of your lineup have that stat.  He simply has got to cut down on his strikeouts if he wants to be an everyday player.  Neil Walker had a sophomore slump last year but still hit .273 with 12 home runs and 83 runs batted in.  I think he gets his average up to around .280 and his home runs get into the teens, which is a very good year from your second baseman.  It wouldn't surprise me if he was the all-star for Pittsburgh this year.  Clint Barmes might be one of the worst every day players in all of baseball.  He hasn't hit higher than .245 since 2008 and even though he played half of his games at Coors Field didn't hit very many home runs.  He signed a two year deal to be the starting shortstop for Pittsburgh, and they will regret that decision very quickly.  Pedro Alvarez has above league average numbers when he is thrown a fastball but he is absolutely putrid when he gets thrown an off speed pitch.  In his career his batting average against off speed stuff is .070.  I'll write that again, it is .070.  He also has struck out 199 times in 169 career games.  I think this is his last chance to be the starting third baseman for the Pirates.  If he doesn't perform he will be cut.

Who will have the best season of these guys? Neil Walker will have the best season of the infielders. Along with the numbers above Walker will have a good shot to drive in 100 runs.  If he does that at second base there is no chance he isn't an all-star, and no chance he doesn't have the best season of the current Pirate infield.

Outfield: Alex Presley in left field, Andrew McCutchen in center field, and Jose Tabata in right field.

Alex Presley doesn't hit for a lot of power and doesn't have a lot of speed but he can hit.  He hit .291 in the minor leagues.  In 58 games last season for the Pirates he hit .294.  I don't think he will hit .294 in his first full season, but I don't think .280 is out of the question either.  McCutchen is the heart and soul of this team, and a consistent threat to be a 20-20 guy.  McCutchen has increased his home run total each of his three years and this year he will top 25.  He also will increase his stole base total and be closer to the 30 he got in 2010.  The biggest problem with Jose Tabata is he can't stay healthy.  Moving from left field to right field should help a little bit, and McCutchen is going to have to realize he needs to cover  more ground.  When Tabata is healthy he can hit for a high average and steal some bases, but he is one of the safest bets in baseball to get injured.  Well, him and another guy who will be mentioned later.

Who will have the best season of these guys? Andrew McCutchen will continue his progression into the games elite.  He is entering his prime now at 25 and his power numbers will continue to rise and his batting average will not fall.  He will lead the Pirates in every offensive category, and that is why he will have the best season.

Starting Pitching: Erik Bedard, James McDonald, Jeff Karstens, Kevin Correia, and Brad Lincoln.

Here is the easiest prediction I have made in the last month.  Erik Bedard will get injured and will not make more than 25 starts for the Pirates.  When he does pitch he has been very good.  In the last five years he has an ERA of 3.8 and averages better than a strikeout per inning.  The problem is he has only made 82 starts in those 5 seasons because of his shoulder problems.  I think that continues this year.  James McDonald had the best year of his career last year, going 9-9 with an ERA over 4.  He also can't locate his curve very well, which is why he walks an average of one batter every two innings.  He needs to improve his control and he can be an above average pitcher.  Karstens also went 9-9 last year but his ERA was a full run lower than McDonald's.  He strikes out less batters and walks less batters, so he pitches to contact much more than McDonald does.  That is why I think he is going to have a better year.  Correia has won double digit games the last three years, and he has followed a very simple formula.  He just doesn't walk anyone.  He pitches to contact and he does give up a lot of home runs, but he also led the team in wins last year and was an all-star last season.  Brad Lincoln was the #4 pick in the 2006 draft, and one of the reasons why the old regime is no longer there.  In 17 career major league starts he has a 5.74 ERA and is career 3-7.  He was not worthy of the #4 pick then, and he is not worthy of a major league roster spot now.  It is also worth noting that A.J Burnett will be in this rotation once he comes back from injury.  My guess is once he gets into the rotation he will be taking the spot of Brad Lincoln, who will be officially be considered a bust after this year.

Who will have the best season of these guys?  Correia will have the best season, winning double digit games for the fourth year in a row.  He will have a higher ERA than most double digit winners, but he will still get there.

Bullpen:  Joel Hanrahan, Evan Meek, Chris Resop, and Daniel McCutchen.

Last year Hanrahan had 40 saves for the Pirates and earned his first all-star berth.  The reason for his success was because he only issued 16 walks all year long.  I don't think he will be as successful this year because I don't think he will have that many opportunities, but I still think he will be successful this year.  Evan Meek struggled with his velocity last year and it mightily affected his performance.  So far this spring he got up to 94 so it looks to be returning. He was one of the pleasant surprises of 2010 and if his velocity stays at 94 he will be fine.  Resop's primary tool in getting batters out is the strikeout and he did it very well last year.  If he continues to average more than a strikeout an inning he will have a job in this league for a long time.  Daniel McCutchen is probably best known for throwing 90 pitches in that 10 inning game against the Braves last year.  After that his velocity and usefulness went down the drains. He isn't a bad option as long as they can limit his pitches.

Who will have the best season of these guys?  Hanrahan will continue to throw strikes, get people out, and rack up saves.  Like I stated he may not get to 40 but he will be very effective again.  The only reason why he doesn't get to 40 saves is because he won't have that many opportunities.

Record: 74-88, fourth in the National League Central

Next up:  San Diego Padres

Philadelphia Phillies Preview/Prediction

Our next post takes us to the city of Brotherly Love, where injuries have decimated the infield and the bullpen has some questions, but the outfield and the starting rotation have very few holes.  Let's take an in depth look.

Infield: Carlos Ruiz at catcher, Ty Wigginton at first base, Chase Utley at second base, Jimmy Rollins at shortstop, and Placido Polanco at third base.

Carlos Ruiz has hit .292 the last two seasons and has been one of the most important players in the postseason for the Phillies.  He commands the pitching staff very well and has very few holes defensively.  He also isn't a liability offensively and that is always a bonus for a catcher.  While Ryan Howard gets healthy, Wigginton will get the majority of at-bats with Jim Thome getting some too.  With Wigginton being a .265 career hitter, the Phillies can't wait for Ryan Howard to get healthy.  Speaking of health Chase Utley is battling injuries, which should surprise absolutely no one.  When healthy Utley is the best second baseman in the National League, but the issue with him is always health.  I just don't see him staying healthy for the entire season, which is a shame.  Jimmy Rollins hit 16 home runs, stole 30 bases, and scored 87 runs last year.  The former National League Most Valuable Player is on the back half of his career but is still a very good option at shortstop.  He will get some time hitting third in the order and that should increase his RBI chances as well.  Polanco has always been known for hitting for a high average since he came in the league in 1998.  He is a career .301 hitter who plummeted to .277 last year.  Since he doesn't bring much else to the table other than a high batting average, he needs to at least stay at the .275 mark or the Phillies will be looking elsewhere at the hot corner.

Who will have the best season of these guys? Normally I would say Chase Utley but I do not think he is going to stay healthy all year long. That is the main reason why I am going with Rollins.  I expect Rollins to have 15 home runs, 30 stolen bases, 90 runs scored, and a bump up from 63 to 80 runs batted in because of the move to the three-hole.  Those numbers will mean that Rollins will have the best season of this talented yet oft-injured infield.

Outfield: John Mayberry Jr. in left field, Shane Victorino in center field, and Hunter Pence in right field.

John Mayberry gets first chance to win the job in left field, and he won that on the strength of his finish last season.  In limited action last year he hit a respectable .273 with 15 home runs.  Not bad numbers at all for someone getting his first extensive action in the major leagues.  I think he makes another jump this year, hits around .285 and gets to 25 home runs.  Victorino is a perfect lead off guy for this team.  He can run as evidenced by his 16 triples last year, and he gets on base a lot as well  I think that he will get to 100 runs scored this year and increase his stolen bases back up in the 30-35 range.  Hunter Pence will be hitting cleanup while Ryan Howard is injured, and with the three people in front of him all on-base machines Pence should have no problem getting to 100 RBI's. This is the year Hunter Pence makes the jump to elite status, as he will be one of the best outfielders in the National league.

Who will have the best season of these guys? Hunter Pence will have the best season for the reasons I mentioned above.  He will also get double digit stolen bases, and will be great in the clean up role until Howard comes back.  I think a career high in home runs, runs batted in, and runs scored are in the card for Pence.

Starting Pitching: Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, Joe Blanton, and Vance Worley.

This is the strength of this team.  Anyone of the first three starters would be aces on almost any other team, and they team up very well together.  In the last 5 years Halladay is the major league leader in ERA, complete games, and shutouts.  The man knows how to pitch.  This year will be another year of around 20 wins, 200 + strikeouts, and an ERA under 2.5.  He is a perennial Cy Young candidate and this year will be no different.  Last year Cliff Lee had 238 strike outs and 42 walks.  Those numbers are absurd.  The man pounds the strike zone like no other pitcher in baseball today, and that will also continue this year.  The result of pounding the zone will lead to another 17-20 wins and an ERA under 3.  Lee will also be in the Cy Young running this year.  Cole Hamels already had a devastating change up, and when he added a cutter two years ago become even tougher to hit.  The result of adding that cutter was lowering his ERA by a full run and a half in two seasons, and increasing his strikeout numbers as well.  The fact that he is #3 starter is the reason that the Phillies will once again be a World Series contender.  Joe Blanton has been part of trade rumors for the last few years and yet he still comes out and pitches well.  He isn't going to be confused with the three mentioned above, but you can do a lot worse for a #4 starter.  Vance Worley came out of nowhere last year to go 12-4 with an ERA of 2.86.  His main combination of pitches is cutter-slider, as he doesn't have a lot of velocity on his fastball.  Vance pitches to contact, and with a pretty good defense behind him, should be able to have a good year.  I expect a little bit of a regression in terms of ERA, but the wins will still be there.  

Who will have the best season of these guys?  This was the toughest decision of all the blogs I have written so far.  With three options that would make sense to pick, I am going to say Halladay will have the best season.  I think he will win the Cy Young again, and he will do it in dominating fashion.  I also predict he will throw another no hitter this year.

Bullpen:  Jonathan Papelbon, Antonio Bastardo, Jose Contreras, and Chad Qualls.

Here is a prediction that won't be that hard to believe.  Jonathan Papelbon was the worst free agent signing all year long in baseball.  Papelbon got 50 million dollars from the Phillies, and he is a head case who I wouldn't trust to close out a high school game.  I know he got a lot of saves for the Red Sox the last few years, but I still think he is the most overrated closer in all of baseball.  They could have gotten someone better for much cheaper, like former Phillies closer Brad Lidge.  Instead they went all in on Papelbon and I think they will regret that.  They probably could have given the job to Bastardo, who struck out 70 hitters in 58 innings last year and had 8 saves himself.  The most amazing stat about Bastardo is he only allowed 28 hits in 64 appearances.  That is an outstanding number on any level, but in the Major Leagues it is almost unheard of.  It seems like Jose Contreras has been pitching since the Reagan administration and I think this will be the last year he will be on a Major League roster.  The Phillies have a bunch of kids in the minors that throw at least as well as Contreras and they are younger and cheaper.  Chad Qualls is another pitcher who I wouldn't trust late in games, but with the way the Phillies rotation is set up they probably don't think they will have to worry about the bullpen that much.  When you have Halladay, Lee, and Hamels pitching 8 or 9 innings every game, the bullpen doesn't need to be that deep to be successful..

Who will have the best season of these guys?  Bastardo will have the best season.  He will once again average more than a strike out per inning and will continue to frustrate hitters in the late innings.  Unfortunately Papelbon will come in the next inning and frustrate everyone else.  I give it until July when the Phillies will realize they made a mistake and should have had Bastardo close even though Papelbon will keep the job because he is making 12 million dollars a year.

Record: 96-66, first in the National League East

Next up:  Pittsburgh Pirates

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Oakland Athletics Preview/Prediction

2-0!! 2-0!! 2-0!!

Our next post takes us to the Bay Area, where they are already two games into the season.  They have high hopes for a certain Cuban defector, but who else on this team is worth getting excited about?  Let's take a look!

Infield: Kurt Suzuki at catcher, Brandon Allen at first base, Jemile Weeks at second base, Cliff Pennington at shortstop, and Josh Donaldson at third base.

Kurt Suzuki had a great 2009, and has been terrible ever since.  He has hit around .240 the last two years, and he doesn't take many walks.  He does have some power, and catcher is not usually a position you rely on for a bunch of offense, so take that for what you will.  Brandon Allen has played 108 career games and has 130 career strike outs.  He also is a career .207 hitter in those 108 games.  He does have a lot of power though and he walks quite a bit too.  Basically whenever he comes up to bat it will be a walk, home run or strike out.  With a .207 average expect a lot of the last one.  Jemile Weeks is a player I am excited to see.  He hit .300 last year and stole 23 bases, although he was caught 12 times.  He also hit 8 triples in only 99 games.  The kid can flat out scoot around those bases, and it wouldn't be a stretch to see him get to 12-15 triples and 45-50 stolen bases this year.  Cliff Pennington has been the starter for Oakland the last two years.  He has been very average these last two years and I don't expect that to change at all this year.  Another season of hitting around .260 with very little pop and some stolen bases sprinkled in.  Not terrible numbers but nothing that will make you jump out of your seat when he is up to bat.  I don't really have a lot to go on with Donaldson as he has only played in 15 games in his major league career.  The reason why he is the starter is because Scott Sizemore got injured before the season began.  He does have some power though so I'm going to guess about a .240 average with 18 home runs.  Decent numbers for a kid in his first year, and hopefully he can make the jump in year 2.

Who will have the best season of these guys? Hitting out of the lead off spot, Jemile Weeks will continue to torture teams with his speed.  He won't hit for any power at all, but he will wreak havoc on the bases and will draw the attention away from the batter whenever he is on first.  He will have the best season of these five.

Outfield: Coco Crisp in left field, Yoenis Cespedes in center field, and Josh Reddick in right field.

Coco Crisp moves over from center field to left field, and that should help him stay healthy as he won't be running down flyballs as much anymore.  When healthy the guy will challenge Weeks for the team stolen base crown, as he stole 49 of them last year, leading the league.  Cespedes surprised everyone in signing with Oakland this year, and surprised again when he was the opening day center fielder for the club.  He will still strike out a ton, but he does have humongous power.  I still think he will either get optioned to Triple A at some point this season, or have 200 strikeouts.  One of the two will happen.  Reddick came over from the Red Sox in the trade for Andrew Bailey, and in him the Athletics got a career .248 hitter.  He does have a nice left handed swing, he just needs to be more patient at the plate.  If he can cut down on his strike outs and put the ball in play, I think he will be a nice addition for this team.

Who will have the best season of these guys? I think Cespedes will get sent down this season, so I am going to go with Coco.  He will hit around .280 and be close to the American League lead in steals.  Those facts plus 80 runs scored will mean he will have the best season of the three.

Starting Pitching: Brandon McCarthy, Bartolo Colon, Tyson Ross, Tommy Milone, and Graham Godfrey.

McCarthy is a big kid at 6 foot 7 and has good stuff, the poor guy just can't stay healthy.  Last year he started 25 games, which is the most he has started in his career.  They are pretty serious injuries too, all of them being elbow and shoulder related.  When healthy he is a ground ball machine, and has the potential to be a very good starter, but until he actually goes a full season I am not committing anything to him.  Bartolo Colon is a 5 foot 11 267 pound bowling ball of a man who can still get hitters out.  I don't know how he does it, but he still can be very effective.  Last year he had 26 very effective starts for the Yankees, and while I don't think he will be as effective this year he obviously still has some juice in the tank, which is impressive in its own right.  Tyson Ross made 6 starts last year and had a very impressive 2.75 ERA.  The only thing this kid is lacking is experience, and I think he will be one of the break out stars in all of baseball for the 2012 season.  If Oakland monitors his innings correctly, this will be the first year of many good ones from him.  Tommy Milone was acquired from Washington in the Gio Gonzalez trade, and steps into the starting rotation on day one.  He has great command of the strike zone, and in a big park like Oakland's will make sure to pitch to his defense.  I think Milone will be a good pitcher for the Athletics, not really overpowering, but enough moxie and grit to get by.  Graham Godfrey is a good story.  He was a 34th round pick in 2006, and somehow has made it to the big leagues.  Always nice hearing stories like that.  However he has given up 32 hits in 25 innings and opponents are batting .302 against him in 5 career starts.  Maybe there was a reason he was a 34th round pick.

Who will have the best season of these guys?  Since I don't think Colon or McCarthy makes it through the entire season I am going to go with Tyson Ross.  I think he will get 10-13 wins and have an ERA in the 3.8 range.  He will also get over 150 strikeouts and with numbers like that Ross gets the nod for best starting pitcher on this squad.  

Bullpen:  Grant Balfour, Brian Fuentes, Fautino De Los Santos, and Jerry Blevins

Grant Balfour gets his first chance to be a closer and I think he will do just fine.  Watching him sling it in Tampa Bay, I knew it was only a matter of time before he gets his shot. I think he will get to 30 saves, and i think he will have a good ERA doing it.  Pitching his home games in this cavernous park will definitely not hurt him either.  Brian Fuentes has been a closer before, and he has 199 saves to prove it.  He doesn't have the same stuff that Balfour has though, and that is why he is relegated to 8th inning duty this year.  If Balfour gets injured expect Fuentes to come in and close, but I think Balfour makes it through the season, and Fuentes will be just another left hander with a really weird windup and pretty good numbers.  De Los Santos  struck out 43 batters in just 33 innings last year.  He will be with Oakland all year long, and will be the closer of the future.  He still needs to cut down on his walks, but he has electric stuff.  Jerry Blevins is a left handed reliever who has a career 3.73 ERA.  That makes him one of the few left handers that actually gets guys out on a consistent basis.  He averages almost a strike out an inning for his career, so he obviously has the stuff too.  Good to see a lefty that can actually get people out, and not be on a roster just because they are left handed.  

Who will have the best season of these guys?  Balfour will have the best season.  It wouldn't surprise me at all if he is the all-star for this team.  Like I said above, he will get to 30 saves, and give you the feeling that he is going to let leads slip away.  The crazy Aussie will lay the hammer down when he comes in.

Record: 70-92, fourth in the American League West

Next up:  Philadelphia Phillies

3-29 Recap

Again there was only one game on the ticket today and again it was Oakland and Seattle in Tokyo.  Bartolo Colon pitched like he usually does against the Mariners, going 8 strong innings and only giving up 1 run.  The only mistake he made all day was to Justin Smoak, who put one in the seats.  Vargas pitched pretty well but ran into trouble in the 7th and when Shaun Kelley gave up the home run to Cespedes that was the winning margin.  Insurance home runs by Josh Reddick and Johnny Gomes provided the winning margin.

I was right in my prediction that Colon would pitch the Mariners tough.

We don't have another regular season game for a week so until that happens we will continue with the previews/predictions.

Record: 2-0

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

3-29 Prediction

Alright we made it through opening day.  With the Mariners win I am 1-0.

Seattle (Vargas) at Oakland (Colon) in Tokyo, Japan

Bartolo Colon is 14-11 in 29 starts against the Mariners in his career, but hasn't faced them since 2009.  Since Ichiro is the only person who has faced Colon, and is batting .300 against him, I am going to throw that win-loss record out the window.  Meanwhile Vargas pitched against the Athletics five times last season alone, and while he went 1-3 he did have a decent ERA at 3.89.  So what is more important having a pitcher who has seen a hitter a bunch of times and vice-versa, or having a pitcher who has never seen the hitters before?  Because I think the pitcher has the advantage when they haven't seen the hitter, I'm going to go with Colon and the Athletics on this one.

Winner: Oakland

Record: 1-0

New York Yankees Preview/Prediction

With the Mariners beating Oakland yesterday we are off to a strong 1-0 start here at the baseball pickem'.  Still have 2,429 games to go so let's keep going with these team predictions.

Our next post takes us across town to the Bronx, where the Yankees did not make their usual splash in free agency.  The biggest acquisition this year for the team was via trade, and we will see if that is good enough to get them back to the World Series.

Infield:  Russell Martin at catcher, Mark Teixeira at first base, Robinson Cano at second base, Derek Jeter at shortstop, and Alex Rodriguez at third base.

Russell Martin is the one player in this infield who hasn't been a Most Valuable Player candidate at some point in his career.  He only hit .237 last year and there are two hot shot prospects ready to come up.  That is another reason why the Yankees were okay with trading Jesus Montero.  That and the fact they don't think he is a catcher.  Teixiera lost 15 pounds this off season so he won't wear down in the 2nd half of the season.  This is kind of ironic to me, because Teixeira has struggled in April and gotten better has the season has gone on.  Robinson Cano is one of my favorite players to watch.  He is a middle infielder with a sweet left handed swing, and he will have another MVP type season this year.  I'm thinking .310 with 30 home runs and 100  Runs Batted In.  Those will be right around his career averages, as he is one of the top 5 hitters in baseball now.  Jeter played in fewer than 150 games last year for the first time since 2003.  This was also the first time in his career he has played a full season and not double digits in home runs.  Three years ago I thought he had an outside shot at 4000 hits, and now I don't think there is anyway.  I think his days of hitting over .330 are behind him as well.  He is now an average shortstop, but because of his name will still make the All-Star team.  Alex Rodriguez didn't play 100 games last year and didn't hit more than 30 for the first time since 1996.  The fact that he is owed $27 million for another seven years is comical to me.  There is no way he lives up to that.

Who will have the best season of these guys? Despite playing with two hall of famers and a great first baseman, Robinson Cano will once again have the best season of these five. In addition to what I stated above, he will also steal 25 bases and score 100 runs.  .310 average 30 home runs, 25 stolen bases, 100 Runs Batted In, 100 runs scored and great defense at second base.  Sign me up!

Outfield: Brett Gardner in left field, Curtis Granderson in center field, and Nick Swisher in right field.

Brett Gardner has stolen 47 and 49 bases in the last two years.  If the guy gets on base he can turn a single into a double no problem.  He can flat out fly.  He only hit .260 last year though, and a true lead-off hitter needs a better average.  That is also the reason why he didn't get to 100 runs scored.  Granderson went from hitting .247 with 26 home runs to .260 with 41 home runs in his two years with the Yankees. I don't think he makes the jump again this year, and I don't think he hits 40 home runs this year, but he doesn't need to in this lineup.  He needs to get on base, run and score runs.  We know the power will be there, but he needs to put it all together.  Nick Swisher has played exactly 150 games each of the last three years for the Yankees. He always has a similar on base percentage, because if his batting average is low, he takes more walks.  The less walks he takes the higher the average.  It is actually rather interesting.

Who will have the best season of these guys? Curtis Granderson will have the best year.  I think he will still hit 30 home runs because that stadium is ridiculously small, and his average will be right around .270.  The average will be similar for all three, but it is the power Granderson brings to the table that separates him.

Starting Pitching:  C.C Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda, Ivan Nova, Michael Pineda, and Phil Hughes.

C.C Sabathia has a realistic chance to win 300 games in his career.  He has never won fewer than 11 games in 11 seasons, and has never had fewer than 139 strike outs.  The numbers he is putting up is making him a hall of fame candidate.  He has been as reliable as any pitcher in the league the last 5 years, and that will continue this year.  Hiroki Kuroda came over from the Dodgers last year and was a huge pick up for the Yankees.  The reason why he was a big pick up is because he is a ground ball pitcher.  In that stadium, the more ground ball pitchers you have the better.  Kuroda will enjoy winning double digit games this year.  Good pick up for the Yankees.  Ivan Nova somehow won 17 games last year.  Only on the Yankees would Ivan Nova win 17 games.  There is a reason why a 17 game winner didn't win the Rookie of the Year award, and it was because that was the least impressive 17-6 pitcher I have ever seen.  I see a huge backslide this year for Nova, maybe to 12 wins and an ERA over 4.  Still not terrible numbers, but not as good as 2011.  As for Mr. Pineda, Brian Cashman thought he was good enough to trade Jesus Montero.  Cashman said after that Montero is "The best player I have ever traded".  While we will see if that holds true it is not hard to see why the Yankees made this deal.  Pineda had a very good rookie year for the Mariners, although he did run out of gas in the second half.  I think Pineda will win double digit games because of the team he is on.  I also think he will have a worse ERA, give up more home runs, and not look as good because of the team he is on.  Pitching in that stadium with that old defense behind him will not do Pineda any favors.  It will be interesting to see who wins this trade.  Phil Hughes is trying to keep a spot in the rotation after basically having a dead arm at the beginning of 2011.  In 2010 he went 18-8, and I think that was an anomaly.  I think that this year he will win 9-12 games and still have an ERA over 4.  Not terrible numbers for a #5 pitcher but not good for a Yankee #5 pitcher.  They have much higher standards.  

Who will have the best season of these guys?  Mr. Consistency himself C.C Sabathia.  It is becoming routine how he will do.  230 innings pitched, 20 wins, 220 strike outs.  You can write that in black ink.  The monotony of the greatness that is C.C Sabathia will continue this year.

Bullpen:  Mariano Rivera, David Robertson, Rafael Soriano, and Boone Logan.

Let's get one thing straight here. Mariano Rivera has been pitching since World War II, and not one thing that someone says will convince me otherwise.  He has also been dominant on one pitch which is absolutely astounding.  Every hitter knows that the cutter is coming, and yet all they can do is break their bat as they watch the ball roll harmlessly to Cano at second base.  The man is an absolute marvel and will continue to pitch the way he has for the last 50 years (Okay last 15 years but humor me here).  Last year David Robertson struck out 100 hitters in 66 innings and had an ERA of 1.08.  And he wasn't even the best reliever on his team.  This year his job will be the same. Get through the 8th inning and get to Rivera.  With these two last year if you didn't have a lead after seven innings against the Yankees you were screwed.  That will not change this year.  Soriano only pitched 39 innings last year, and with the emergence of Robertson is no longer in line for the closer role should the machine need to get his oil changed or something.  I just wonder which is more humiliating for him.  Being relegated to 7th inning duty or once being traded for Horacio Ramirez.  That is a tough call.  Boone Logan is the left handed specialist for the Yankees, although they don't really need one because Rivera just dive bombs lefties with his cutter and Robertson blows a fastball by everyone.  That is why he only appeared in 43 games last year.  Don't expect too many more this year.

Who will have the best season of these guys?  Mariano Rivera is the greatest reliever of all time, and who am I to pick against him here.  Aside from one year his ERA hasn't been above 2 since 2003.  I think that stays true this year.  He also will continue to rack up the saves and put even more distance between him and Trevor Hoffman.

Record: 102-60, first in the American League East

Next up:  Oakland Athletics

3-28 Recap

The first game of the regular season has come and gone.  Normally these posts will be much longer, but with only one game today it is going to be a short one.

Seattle 3 Oakland 1 in 11 innings.

Felix pitched 8 great innings, Ichiro had four hits and Dustin Ackley hit a home run.  The Mariners won behind the strength of their pitching, despite the fact that the 4-8 hitters didn't get a hit.  So basically they won in typical Mariner fashion.

Record: 1-0


Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Opening day Prediction!

I am posting this at night because the game is at 3 in the morning.  That is right ladies and gentlemen the time has finally arrived for me to make my first prediction on a Major League Baseball game this year.  The first of 2,430.  Without any further ado....

 Seattle (Hernandez) at Oakland (McCarthy) in Tokyo, Japan.

Winner:  The Seattle Mariners will win this game.  Felix Hernandez gives them a huge advantage and the crowd will be rooting for them because of Ichiro.  Also, they haven't lost on opening day since 2007.

Record 0-0

New York Mets Preview/Prediction

We are here!!  Opening day is tomorrow morning at 3 am and we will be having our first official prediction in the next post.  For now let's keep going with the team predictions.

Our next post takes us to Queens where the Bernie Madoff situation has left the Mets unsettled.  It has also left them not very good.  What do they have?  Find out now.

Infield:  Josh Thole at catcher, Ike Davis at first base, Daniel Murphy at second base, Ruben Tejada at shortstop, and David Wright at third base.  

Josh Thole is the starting catcher for this team.  I have never heard of Josh Thole but he did hit close to .270 last year and only struck out 47 times in 114 games.  It looks like he actually has some value as a catcher, and he will be playing every day.  Ike Davis only played in 36 games last year and he hit over .300.  Now that he has the chance to be an every day first baseman I am excited to see what he can do.  I think he has the potential to hit 30 home runs this year and be the top power hitter on this team.  Daniel Murphy is six foot 2, which is big for a second baseman.  He is a career .292 hitter but he has got to stay healthy and he will be fine.  Unfortunately he has not shown the ability to stay healthy for an entire year.  I don't think this is the year.  Ruben Tejada has hit 1 home run in 544 career at bats.  He also has stolen 7 bases in his career.  Frankly I have no idea what he brings to the table.  I will be shocked if David Wright is healthy all season long.  On the off chance he is healthy and has a good season, I will be shocked if he is still on the Mets come  August.  Basically one or the other he will not be the everyday third baseman for the New York Mets this season.

Who will have the best season of these guys? Ike Davis will have the best season of these five.  He won't have any real protection but he will still hit well and play a good first base.  He will hit 30 home runs, and while he might not get to .300 he will be close.  I'm guessing .285.

Outfield: Jason Bay in left field, Andres Torres in center field, and Lucas Duda in right field.

Jason Bay has struggled since he joined the Mets.  He was good with the Red Sox but has since struggled with the Mets.  He only hit .245 last year and hit 12 home runs.  This is a guy who has hit 25 home runs six times in his career.  Andres Torres is going to bat lead-off this year for the Mets.  He hit .221 in 112 games last year.  That is the Mets in a nutshell.  The plus side is he couldn't be worse this year.  We hope.  Lucas Duda was the only pleasant surprise for the Mets last year.  He hit .292 and had 10 home runs and didn't play a full season.  I think he will continue to go forward and have a very good year this year.

Who will have the best season of these guys? Lucas Duda will have a better season this year.  He is the youngest with the most upside.  I think he doubles his home run total to 20, and continues to hit over .280.  He also is the cheapest of the three.

Starting Pitching:  Johan Santana, Mike Pelfrey, Jonathon Niese, R.A Dickey, and Dillon Gee.

Johan Santana didn't pitch at all in 2011 after repairing a torn capsule in his shoulder.  Oral Hershiser, Mark Prior, and Chien-Ming Wang.  Two of the three never pitched the same again and frankly Santana doesn't have the same mental toughness as the bulldog.  I don't think Santana will ever be the pitcher he was a few years ago.  Mike Pelfrey had his worst statistical season of his career last year.  I think he will bounce back this year, and win double digit games once again, after failing to do so for the first time in four years.  Look for him to be the surprise of this staff.  Jonathon Niese is a ground ball pitcher who can't stay healthy.  He also has allowed 417 hits in 370 innings.  Those are facts I do not trust.  R.A Dickey is now the longest tenured knuckleball pitcher in baseball with the retirement of Tim Wakefield.  He also throws a better fastball than Wakefield.  He isn't going to get a lot of wins, but he is going to have an ERA under 4 and will be entertaining every time out on the mound.  Most knuckleballers are fun to watch, and Dickey is no different.  Dillon Gee walks too many hitters, but he was statistically the best pitcher on this staff last year.  That isn't to say he is a great pitcher, and to be honest it shows you dire the situation with the starting rotation is, but he did go 13-6 last year so there is some upside.  He is a much better pitcher at home where the park is bigger, but he should still provide some quality starts for a team sorely lacking in them.

Who will have the best season of these guys?  Mike Pelfrey will bounce back this year and have the best season of these five.  That season will be about 13 wins and an ERA of around 4, but that will be the best you get from this team this year.

Bullpen: Frank Francisco, Jon Rauch, Ramon Ramirez, and Manny Acosta.

Frank Francisco has been placed on the disabled list at least once the last three seasons.  When he is healthy he is a good closer.  The problem is staying healthy.  If he does get injured, enter 6 foot 11 Jon Rauch into the closer role.  The problem is last year his ERA was almost 5 and he gave up 11 home runs in only 52 innings.  Not exactly numbers you want to hang your hat on.  Ramon Ramirez came over from the Giants, and brought with him one of the nastiest sliders in the game.  Even though he is a right hander, I can see him being the guy to get lefties out as well because of that pitch.  Manny Acosta has been as reliable a reliever as the Mets have had in the last two seasons.  I don't really know how much of a ringing endorsement that is, but hey its something.  Look for him to have another solid, yet unspectacular season.

Who will have the best season of these guys?  Ramon Ramirez will and I think he will end being the closer if/when Francisco gets injured.  He will out perform Rauch to win the 8th inning job and when Francisco goes down, there is Ramirez to pick up the pieces.

Record: 73-89, fifth in the National League East

Next up:  New York Yankees

Monday, March 26, 2012

Minnesota Twins Preview/Prediction

Now that we got the division predictions done it is time to dig a little bit deeper.  Between now and the opener in Japan each team will get their own prediction/preview.  I am going to go in alphabetical order.

Our next post takes us to Minnesota where they still have Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau, and... Well little else. With Morneau's head and Mauer's knees up in the air, this could be a team that is out of the race in a hurry. Let's take a look.

Infield:  Joe Mauer at catcher, Justin Morneau at first base, Alexi Casilla at second base, Jamey Carroll at shortstop, and Danny Valencia at third base.

Joe Mauer is the biggest mystery in the American League this year.  I could see him hitting .300 with 25 home runs again, and I could also see him playing only 25 games at catcher before his knee gives out.  I don't think it will and I hope not, because I love watching this man hit a baseball.  He probably has the sweetest swing in all of baseball and he has so much talent.  It would be a shame if he goes down again.  The same thing could be said for 2006 Most Valuable Player Justin Morneau.  He has had concussions end his last two years early and that is an injury that can creep up at anytime.  I don't have as much faith in his return as I do in Mauer's and I don't think he will ever be the same hitter he was just a couple years ago.  Casilla was the shortstop on opening day last year, but has since moved to his more natural position of second base.  He did steal 15 bases last year and was only caught four times, but he needs to get more hits to get on base more.  He needs to improve on that lifetime .252 average or he will get replaced pretty quick.  Jamey Carroll is a fun player to watch, but he isn't an everyday player in my opinion.  He hasn't hit a home run since 2009, and he doesn't do anything at all that a minor league guy couldn't do.  That speaks for where this organization is right now.  Danny Valencia is another guy that probably shouldn't be handled a starting job, but he is the best option for the Twins right now at third base.  That's right Minnesota fans your best option is a guy who hit .249 last year and was only successful on 25% of his base stealing attempts.  Good luck.

Who will have the best season of these guys? Joe Mauer will play a full season, either catching, playing first base, or being the designated hitter, and will exceed all expectations.  I am expecting another season of him hitting over .320 and driving in 100 runs.  He will not hit for a lot of power, but he will get a lot of doubles and that brings in people just as well.

Outfield: Josh Willingham in left field, Denard Span in center field, and Ben Revere in right field.

Josh Willingham is your ultimate boom or bust guy.  He had 55 extra base hits last year, but also struck out 150 times and had a .246 average.  You know exactly what you are getting from him.  Power and strike outs with a low average.  If you are okay with that as a guy hitting in the middle third of your order you could do a lot worse.  Denard Span is another Twin who is coming back from a concussion that ended his season prematurely last year.  A career .285 hitter with good speed, I think he will come back from his concussion and return to that number.  I also think 100 runs scored is within reach for him.  Ben Revere is only 23 years old, and I think he will get most of the at bats in left field.  He can flat out fly as evidenced by his 34 stolen bases last year, and he makes good contact as well.  He needs to improve on that average but in his first full year hitting close to .270 isn't terrible.

Who will have the best season of these guys? I think Denard Span does get to 100 runs scored and gets close to 30 stolen bases.  Combine that with a .285 average and good defense in center field and you have your best player in the outfield.

Starting Pitching:  Carl Pavano, Francisco Liriano, Scott Baker, Nick Blackburn and Jason Marquis.

I have to give Carl Pavano credit for one thing.  The man can grow a killer mustache.  Unfortunately that is where the superlatives end.  There is no way the guy should be in line to pitch opening day.  He went 9-13 last year and that warrants an opening day start?  No wonder the Twins are in trouble.  Liriano is more talented in comparison to Pavano, but he is also a much bigger question mark.  He threw a no hitter last year, but also went 9-10 and had an ERA over 5.  I do not trust him to come back to be the pitcher he was a few years ago, and I think those numbers will be pretty similar this year.  Baker is currently battling some elbow issues, but he should be ready to go as the #3 starter.  A fly ball pitcher could do a lot worse than pitching in Target Field half the time, but be wary whenever he pitches on the road.  Nick Blackburn gave up 183 hits in 148 innings last year.  He also only had 76 strike outs.  He needs to improve on allowing less hits and striking out more hitters.  I don't think it is going to happen.  Jason Marquis is the opposite of Scott Baker.  He is a ground ball pitcher who relies on his defense to get him through the game.  He allowed batters to hit almost .300 last year against him, and with the left side of the infield not being very good, I think that will happen again.

Who will have the best season of these guys?  This is one of the tougher calls I have had to make so far.  None of them are very good, but I am going to say Pavano has the best season of the five.  I don't trust Liriano's head, and I don't trust the stuff of the other three.  Pavano is the horse I am going to ride on this one.

Bullpen: Matt Capps, Glen Perkins, Alex Burnett, and Kyle Waldrop.

Matt Capps struggled last year and only got 15 saves, making the Twins regret the Wilson Ramos trade almost immediately.  This year he has the closer role because there is no one better on the Twins roster.  I think he bounces back a little bit this year, but doesn't come close to the numbers of a couple years ago.  Glen Perkins is the main lefty out of the bullpen.  Last year Glen Perkins struck out 65 hitters in 65 innings.  If Capps fails Perkins is the next in line.  I think he will get that chance this year, because if Capps is good they will look to flip him at the deadline, and if Capps is bad they will replace him.  Either way Perkins has a shot.  Alex Burnett is currently struggling to make the roster, and even if he does in 66 games last year he had an ERA of over 5 and a half.  I don't think he finishes May with the Twins.  Waldrop is a former first round pick by the Twins who made his debut last year.  At 6 foot 5 he is a big kid, and he showed flashes last year.  This year he will get a larger role in the bullpen, and we will see how he holds up.

Who will have the best season of these guys?  Perkins will have the best season of these four.  Like I stated above I see him as the closer at the end of the season, and getting to 20 saves is a very realistic possibility.

Record: 71-91, fifth in the American League Central

Next up:  New York Mets

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Milwaukee Brewers Preview/Prediction

Now that we got the division predictions done it is time to dig a little bit deeper.  Between now and the opener in Japan each team will get their own prediction/preview.  I am going to go in alphabetical order.

Our next post takes us to Milwaukee where we will see if the controversy of Ryan Braun has a lasting effect on the team.  The National League MVP is going hear a  lot of boos from the fans, and he needs to stay on track for this team to be successful.

Infield:  Jonathan Lucroy at catcher, Mat Gamel at first base, Rickie Weeks at second base, Alex Gonzalez at shortstop, and Aramis Ramirez at third base.

Lucroy is a good hitter, especially against left handers.  He hit .291 and hit half of his home runs against lefties.  He needs to get better against right handers so he can improve on his .265 average, and I think he will this year.  Lucroy will be one of the better offensive catchers in the National League this year.  Mat Gamel has the unenviable task of replacing Prince Fielder.  He has had good numbers in the minors and I think he will be good first baseman.  Just don't try and be Prince Fielder.  Rickie Weeks has shown flashes of brilliance in his time in the majors, but he also has shown flashes of frustration.  He needs to be consistent and it would start with walking more.  He only took 50 walks last year.  Alex Gonzalez has somehow been a starting shortstop for 12 years, despite the fact that he has a career .247 average.  He is a good locker room guy and he plays good defense.  He is on his sixth team however, so five other teams realize that there are better options.  Ramirez is making his tour through the National League Central and hes next stop is here in Milwaukee. He hit over .300 last year and hit 26 home runs.  He has the third most 25 home run seasons in baseball history for a third baseman.  He will be an all-star this year for Milwaukee.

Who will have the best season of these guys? Aramis Ramirez will have the best season.  Another 25 home run season which will be his tenth.  Another year of hitting .290.  Another year of being the most underrated third baseman in baseball.

Outfield:  Ryan Braun in left field, Nyjer Morgan in center field, and Corey Hart in right field.

Ryan Braun had a very tumultuous off season to say the least.  He tested positive for performance enhancing drugs and got a 50 game suspension.  His suspension was then overturned because of a technicality.  The season starting is the best thing going for him.  He needs to forget about that and the season the best way to do it is to actually play baseball.  Nyjer Morgan is known more for his nickname "Tony Plush" and his tweeting then he is for actually playing baseball.  He needs to focus on baseball because when he does he actually is a good player.  He hit over .300 last year so he can hit.  He also is a pretty good defensive outfielder which is good because Ryan Braun is a butcher out there.  Corey Hart hit over 25 doubles and 25 home runs last year and batted .285.  He isn't healthy right now, and I expect a regression from those numbers.

Who will have the best season of these guys? Ryan Braun will have the best season of these three.  Like I said earlier he just needs to forget about everything that happened in the off season and focus 100% on baseball.  If he does that he will have another 40 home run season and be in the Most Valuable Player race again.

Starting Pitching:  Zack Greinke, Yovani Gallardo, Shaun Marcum, Randy Wolf, and Chris Narveson.

Zack Greinke went 16-6 last year and had a good ERA.  He also struck out over 200 hitters and did win Cy Young just two years ago.  He is a legitimate #1 starter and that is not very common in this league.  Gallardo actually won more games, had a lower ERA, and had more strikeouts in 2011.  Overall he was the better pitcher.  Gallardo had his breakout campaign last eyar and is poised to take the step to super stardom this year.  I think he gets there this year.  Shaun Marcum gives this team a very good top of the rotation.  Marcum only averaged 87 miles per hour with his fastball last year but he changes speeds very well and has good location with all of his pitches.  With Randy Wolf you know exactly what you will get.  210-215 innings, between 10-15 wins, and about 140 strike outs.  Not terrible numbers for a #4 starter, but he will not be wowing anyone either.  Narveson is a 30 year old #5 starter who the Brewers will be looking to replace with someone younger and more talented.  I think they will this year.

Who will have the best season of these guys?  Most people would answer Greinke but I am going to say Gallardo.  He will win 20 games this year for the first time in his career and strike out 220 hitters.  I think he will be one of the favorites for the Cy Young this year.

Bullpen: John Axford, Fransisco Rodriguez, Manny Parra, and Kameron Loe.

Last season John Axford saved 46 games and had an ERA under 2.  He also only made $442,000 last year making him one of the better bargains in baseball.  While he was making pretty much the league minimum, one of the people setting him up was making over 12 million dollars.  Francisco Rodriguez is not as good as he was a few years ago, his velocity is down and his slider doesn't have the same sharp bite to it.  He is still a good reliever, but he is not worth 12 million dollars.  Manny Parra is another one of those guys that only has a job because he is left handed.  In over 100 career appearances he has an ERA over 5, and yet he still has a job.  Why?  Because he is left handed!!  Kameron Loe appeared in 72 games last year and only walked 16 hitters.  He pitches around the zone and gets guys to make contact.  He will have his off days because he pitches to contact, but for the most part this strike throwing machine will be very effective in the 7th and 8th innings.

Who will have the best season of these guys?  Axford will continue to be a huge part of this bullpen.  I don't think his ERA will stay under 2 this year, but I do think he gets to 40 saves again and will be the best option in this bullpen.

Record: 89-73, second in the National League Central

Next up:  Minnesota Twins

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Miami Marlins Preview/Prediction

Now that we got the division predictions done it is time to dig a little bit deeper.  Between now and the opener in Japan each team will get their own prediction/preview.  I am going to go in alphabetical order.

Our next post takes us all the way across the country to Miami, where a bunch of big free agent signings have the Marlins thinking big.  A new manager doesn't help ease expectations and this team is expected to contend.  Will they?  Let's find out.

Infield:  John Buck at catcher, Gaby Sanchez at first base, Omar Infante at second base, Jose Reyes at shortstop, and Hanley Ramirez at third base.

Buck is a career .241 hitter but has been a starting catcher for nine years.  Catcher is one of the positions that places more emphasis on defense.  As long as you can control a pitching staff and can throw runners out, any offense is just gravy.  Gaby Sanchez has now had two full years in the big leagues, and he took a huge stride from his first season to his second.  If he takes another jump from year two to year three we might have an above average first baseman here.  He has got to improve his batting average, but everything else is stepping in the right direction.  Omar Infante needs to be more patient at the plate.  In 148 games last year he walked only 34 times. I know he is a free swinger but he still needs to be much more patient at the plate.  The left side of this infield is probably the most talented in baseball, but also has two of the most privileged players.  I must admit I lost a lot of respect for Jose Reyes when he took himself out fo the game so on the last day of the season so he could win the batting title.  You didn't see Ted Williams do that, play the game right son!  I personally think that since he got his money he won't be playing as hard.  I have a feeling that he will be one of the biggest disappointments in 2012.  He definitely won't come close to replicating his .337 average that he hit last year.  Hanley Ramirez will be mad that he isn't the shortstop anymore, and he is a pouter.  He does things that Ozzie Guillen will not put up with and it is only a matter of time before he is in the doghouse.

Who will have the best season of these guys? I still think Hanley Ramirez is one of the most talented players in all of baseball, and I think he will have the best season of these five.  He will not have as good of a season in comparison to his talent level, but he will still be alright.

Outfield:  Logan Morrison in left field, Emilo Bonifacio in center field, and Giancarlo Stanton in right field.

Logan Morrison had a very promising 2010, but dropped off strongly last year.  He only hit .247 and was actually demoted to the minors in August.  Although he is one of the more entertaining people to follow on twitter, he needs to have a good season on the field or the marlins will quickly get tired of his exploits off of it.  Bonafacio had a season that you want to see out of a lead-off hitter.  He hit .296 last year and stole 40 bases last year.  We will see what Ozzie had in mind but I don't think he will be in that role this year with Reyes there. I think he should be in the lead-off role but won't be. Stanton changed his name from Mike to Giancarlo.  As long as he keeps hitting home runs the way he is you can call him whatever you want.  He already has 56 home runs and is only 22.  If he keeps up this pace we could be talking about over 500 home runs.  I know its early but he has been that impressive so far.

Who will have the best season of these guys? Stanton will continue to amaze people with his raw power.  He will hit another 35 home runs this year and will improve on his .267 average.  He will also lead the league in majestic home runs, the kid has amazing raw power.  The Marlins got a guy here who they can build around for the next decade.

Starting Pitching:  Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle, Ricky Nolasco, Anibal Sanchez and Carlos Zambrano.

After the month of April Josh Johnson looked like the unanimous Cy Young winner.  In May he got injured... Again.  He only got 9 starts in last year, and while I think he will get more this year, I will be very surprised if he gets to 30 starts.  Buehrle is the best free agent signing the Marlins had this year.  Better than Reyes.  Better than Heath Bell.  He will continue to throw 88 miles per hour, work very quickly, and frustrate the hell out of hitters.  Ricky Nolasco suffers from Bronson Arroyo syndrome.  He goes from having a great start to getting pulled in the first inning.  He is so inconsistent you just can never trust him.  Anibal Sanchez struck out over 200 hitters last year and had an ERA under 4.  I think he is vastly underrated and will win 15 games this year.  That leaves only Carlos Zambrano.  No one is denying his talent, and if anyone can reign him in it might be Ozzie Guillen.  That being said this is still a move that I don't understand.  He has shown his off the field antics outweigh his pitching abilities and I don't think he finishes the season in baseball.  He will say something stupid and will get cut.

Who will have the best season of these guys?  I think Anibal Sanchez will have the best season of these five.  Josh Johnson will not stay healthy so it will be between Buehrle and Sanchez.  I think Sanchez will out pitch Buerhle and will be the best starter on this team.

Bullpen: Heath Bell, Juan Oviedo, Edward Mujica, and Randy Choate.

Heath Bell is the most overrated closer not named Johnathan Papelbon in the Major Leagues today.  He had a great park to pitch in and a great set up guy in front of him.  Now that Mike Gonzales and Petco Park are in his rear-view mirror I think he will struggle this year.  Oviedo, the former Leo Nunez, saved 92 games the last three seasons and if Bell gets injured or struggles, the closer role will go to him once again.  Mujica won 9 games last year, and I don't think that will happen again for any reliever this year.  He will still have a good year, but not too the extent he had last year.  Randy Choate is 36 and has a career ERA over 4.  However he is left-handed and had a great season last year for this team with an ERA under 2.  I think that his numbers will be closer to his career average, but he sill still be used because he is left-handed.

Who will have the best season of these guys?  Oviedo will have the best year for this team.  Bell will struggle and they eventually will have to replace him and Oviedo will be the guy.  Oviedo kind of embodies this whole team though.  New identity.  That is what the Marlins are going for.  They have a new park, new name, new manager, big new signings, but they still got to perform on the field.  I don't think this year is the year for them.

Record: 79-83, fourth in the National League East

Next up:  Milwaukee Brewers

This just in... Ryan Madson injured.

Ryan Madson has torn a ligament in his throwing elbow and will miss the entire season.  He no longer will have the best season for the Cincinnati Reds bullpen because of this.  As tempting as it will be for the Reds to put Aroldis Chapman in the closer role he is not ready.  Sean Marshall will take over for the injured Madson and in turn will have the best season out of the bullpen for the Reds.  It is a step down, but not a major one and I think the Reds will still be in contention.  Marshall has good stuff against both lefties and righties so he will be ok.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Los Angeles Dodgers Preview/Prediction

Now that we got the division predictions done it is time to dig a little bit deeper.  Between now and the opener in Japan each team will get their own prediction/preview.  I am going to go in alphabetical order.

Both the Mariners and the Athletics are now in Japan!! That can only mean that it is almost time.  Opening day is almost here!!

Our next post takes us across town, where the Dodgers are ownerless, still going through a messy divorce at the top, and still have some intriguing talent.  Let's see what they have.

Infield:  A.J Ellis at catcher, James Loney at first base, Mark Ellis at second base, Dee Gordon at shortstop, and Juan Uribe at third base.

A.J Ellis has been back and forth between the minors and the majors for the last four years.  Now he will be the opening day catcher for the Dodgers.  The prediction here is that this is the first and only opening day he will start for them.  James Loney has been a severe underachiever ever since he won the job.  He has been remarkably consistent, but that has been consistently below average.  He needs to have a big year this year or the Dodgers will be looking elsewhere next year.  Mark Ellis is a 34 year old middle infielder who didn't have much pop to begin with and now that Coors Field is in his rear-view mirror, might struggle this year.  I think he will hit around .255 but will not reach double digit home runs.  Dee Gordon can flat out fly, stealing 24 bases in 56 games.  He only had 7 walks in those 56 games, but he did hit .304 and I will think he will have a very good first full season.  He is also my pick to lead the league in stolen bases, I'm going to predict he gets to 60.  Juan Uribe looks exactly like Dusty Baker, and if Dusty were playing still would probably be about the same player.  He has always been a free swinger, but last year his swinging was downright awful.  He hit only .204 in 77 games, and at 33, his best days are behind him.

Who will have the best season of these guys? I predict that Dee Gordon will have the best season of these five.  He probably won't hit over .300, but he will still get on base enough to steal those 60 bases and score at least 100 runs.  He will never hit for any power, but these are numbers you can consistently expect from Mr. Gordon.

Outfield:  Juan Rivera in left field, Matt Kemp in center field, and Andre Ethier in right field.

Juan Rivera had a very good year for the other team in Los Angeles in 2009, and now is trying to replicate that with the dodgers.  He hits right handers well but struggles against lefties.  The Dodgers would be wise to get one of the young guys in the minors ready to go, because I think Rivera is going to be out by the end of June.  Matt Kemp should have won the MVP award last year instead of Ryan Braun, but he has to settle with being the #1 ranked fantasy player instead.  Like I stated in my division predictions, he will not get to the 50/50 like he predicted, but he will get to 35/35 again and make another run at #1.  Andre Ethier might be the best April hitter in all of baseball, but the most brittle May hitter.  He always starts out so hot and has his injury, it's like a Spring rite of passage.  When healthy he is a very dangerous hitter, so stay healthy Andre!!

Who will have the best season of these guys? Matt Kemp will have another MVP type season and will be Mr. Everything for the Dodgers.  He will hit for power, hit for average, steal bases, play great defense, and gun people out from center field.  He is a true 5 tool player and will have another dynamite season because of it.

Starting Pitching:  Clayton Kershaw, Chad Billingsley, Ted Lilly, Aaron Harang, and Chris Capuano.

Kershaw won the Cy Young last year at only 23, and he won it because he found his control.  Last year he struck out 248 hitters and walked only 54 en route to a 21-5 record with a 2.28 ERA.  His lifetime ERA?  2.88.  Look for Kershaw to continue to pound the zone with his good fastball and his hammer curve, and try and make it four years in a row the N.L. West has w0n the Cy young.  Billingsley went 11-11 last year, a remarkably pedestrian effort for someone that was supposed to be the ace of the staff a few years ago.  He is only 27, but the Dodgers expect less of him that Kershaw has emerged is a bonafide ace. Ted Lilly is another one of those pitchers that is consistently reliable.  He will not excel in any category but he will not kill you in any games either.  He is a guy you can trust to give the ball to in a pressure situation and he will give you 6 good, but not great innings.  Aaron Harang won more than 6 games for the first time since 2007 last year, but pitching half of his games in the cavern that is Petco Park helped him.  He will still be pitching in a friendly park, but look for his ERA to go up, his home runs allowed to go up, and his wins to go down.  Not by a bunch but a little.  Capuano was one of the bright spots for the Mets last year, winning double digit games and striking out 168 batters.   You could do worse for a #5 starter.

Who will have the best season of these guys?  Kershaw will once again have his epic duels with Tim Lincecum and will electrify the finnicky fans of Los Angeles.  Look for Kershaw to win 20 games again this year and have an ERA under 3.  He will once again be in the running for the Cy Young.

Bullpen: Javy Guerra, Kenley Jansen, Todd Coffey, and Matt Guerrier.

This will be the downfall of the Dodgers this year.  The bullpen will give up countless leads that the starters have given them.  I do not trust any of these guys.  Javy Guerra filled in admirably once Jonathan Broxton went down last year, and now the job is his.  Guerra will be on a short lease because the more talented Kenley  Jansen struck out an amazing 96 batters in only 50 innings.  That is absurd!  That averages 16 strikeouts to every 9 innings, which is the most in MLB history with a minimum 50 innings pitched.  Coffey went from Cincinnati to Milwaukee to Cincinnati to Milwaukee and ended up in Washington last year.  Now he is with the Dodgers.  He will be the guy relied on to get those two mentioned earlier, and I don't think he will be able to do it successfully as there is a reason he is already on his fourth team.  I think he will end up on at least three more before his career is over.  Guerrier has been an effective reliever, not good enough to be a closer, but good enough to have a 9 year career that won't be ending this year.  With all of this being said do you trust any of these guys in a pressure situation? I don't.... yet.

Who will have the best season of these guys?  Jansen will have the best year and will be the closer at the end of the year.  He won't strike out 16 batters per 9 innings but he will pitch more innings and will get to 100 strikeouts, which is amazing for a reliever.  For that reason alone I am picking him over Guerra.

Record: 80-82, fourth in the National League West

Next up:  Miami Marlins

This just in.. Joakim Soria injured.

Joakim Soria is missing the 2012 season to undergo reconstructive elbow surgery.  Jonathan Broxton is the favorite to replace him as closer for the Kansas City Royals.  I guess my prediction about Broxton having the best season is no longer off the board.  I hope he regains the from that made him so lights out in Los Angeles and keeps the Royals in contention.  I think he will pitch well for the Royals, get his 30 saves and have an ERA of 2.5

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Los Angeles Angels Preview/Prediction

Now that we got the division predictions done it is time to dig a little bit deeper.  Between now and the opener in Japan each team will get their own prediction/preview.  I am going to go in alphabetical order.

Our next post takes us to Anaheim, where the biggest signing in Major League history is trying to drown out the fact that the outfield is old and feeble.  How will they do?  Let's take a look!

Infield:  Chris Iannetta at catcher, Albert Pujols at first base, Howard Kendrick at second base, Erik Aybar at shortstop, and Alberto Callaspo at third base.

Chris Iannetta came over from the Rockies, and it will be interesting to see how he fares without the help of the thin air in Coors Field.  The most expensive free agent in baseball history is now Albert Pujols.  No pressure on him at all right?  I think he will do just fine this year as the anchor in that lineup and be right up there in the MVP race. It will take him a month or so to adjust to the American League, but he will be devastating once he gets all the pitchers down. Howard Kendrick changed his name to sound more grown-up and his game became grown-up last year as well.  Hitting in the 2 hole with Pujols behind him will give him even more good pitches to hit and make him even better this year.  Erik Aybar is in a contract year this year and he is a pesky lead off hitter in the Chone Figgins mold.  Back when Chone Figgins was good of course.  Aybar gets on base, steals bases, and scores runs.  Not really much else you could ask for from him.  Callaspo doesn't strike out very often, but he doesn't hit for a lot of power either.  He only had 29 extra base hits in 145 games last year, and with Mark Trumbo hot on his heels for playing time at third base, he is going to need to step it up in a big way.

Who will have the best season of these guys? Albert Pujols.  A lock every year for a .300 batting average, 35 home runs, 100 runs batted in, 100 runs scored, good defense at first base, and very good base running makes him a legitimate baseball super duper star and a surefire first ballot hall of famer.

Outfield:  Vernon Wells in left field, Peter Bourjos in center field, and Torii Hunter in right field.

The funny thing is the five year ago, the two corner outfielders were two of the best center fielders in the game.  Now Vernon Wells is knows for having the worst contract in all of baseball, which means that the Angels have no shot in hell of trading him.  They could cut him and eat the remainder of that money, but he did hit 25 home runs last year, albeit with a .218 average.  Bourjos came out of nowhere last year to excel in center field, and it was because of him they were able to keep Mike Trout in the minors for so long. He had double digit triples and double digit home runs last year, something you don't see very often.  Torii Hunter still shows flashes of brilliance but he has lost a step and has been relegated to right field. Even though he still has some pop in his bat, I will be very surprised if he is a full time starter in 2013.  

Who will have the best season of these guys? Bourjos, but only because Wells and Hunter are so far removed from what they were a few years ago he wins this by default.  He will be solid, hit around .280 with double digit doubles, triples, home runs, and steals.  The real gem in the outfield is Mike Trout, but he doesn't figure to have an opneing day starting spot with the team, so we will see how it goes.

Starting Pitching:  Jered Weaver, Dan Haren, C.J Wilson, Ervin Santana, and Jerome Williams.

Talk about an embarrassment of riches.  The top four pitchers in this rotation all could be #1 guys somewhere else.  Three of them have been.  Last year Weaver went 18-8 with a 2.41 ERA.  He has good stuff and a bulldog mentality, and all he does is win. I do think he has the fourth best stuff on this staff though, and that is how talented everyone else is.  Haren has very good stuff and struck out almost 200 hitters last year.  He might be the most consistent starter on this team winning between 14-16 games in six of the last seven years.  That 7th year he won 12.  C.J Wilson is the other big free agent signing the Angels brought in, and it helps that they stole him from Texas.  Another huge plus that Wilson provides is he is the only left hander the Angels have in the starting rotation this year. He needs to stay healthy this year, although with the last two years we have no reason to think he won't.  Ervin Santana might have the best pure stuff of any of these pitchers, but he doesn't have the mental make up of the other 3.  Saying that about your #4 starter is a luxury that not many other teams have.  Just to top it all off, the #5 starter is a former first round pick that went 4-0 in six starts last year.  This staff is filthy.  I think 3 all-stars at of this rotation is very doable.

Who will have the best season of these guys? I think it will be Dan Haren.  Weaver, Santana or Wilson would not surprise me, but I think it will be Haren.  He will finally win over 16 games and will continue to rack up the strike outs and make life miserable in the American League West.  As a Mariner fan I know.

Bullpen: Jordan Walden, Latroy Hawkins, Scott Downs, and Hisanori Takahasi.

I have to admit that Jordan Walden was my best fantasy pick up last year.  I got him in the 20th and last round and all he did was save 32 games and strike out 67 in 60 innings. He will get to 40 this year.  It seems like Latroy Hawkins has pitched for every single team, and yet every single year he gets traded to a team that needs relief pitching and ends up making the post season.  Unlike other lefties I have written about, Scott Downs is actually a good pitcher.  He had an ERA of under 1.5 last year and he is sensational against both left handers and right handers.  Takahasi pitched in 61 games last year for the Angels and they are keeping him around so I guess he did alright.  I don't remember him pitching once though, and for a reliever that isn't a necessarily a bad thing.

Who will have the best season of these guys?  Even though Walden led the league in blown saves last year he still will be the guy this year.  Averaging almost 98 with his fastball, he is no longer a rookie and should cut his blown saves in half.  I see him getting to 40 easy this year like I said above and continue to have a sterling ERA.  I don't thin i will be able to get him in the 20th round this year.   

Record 99-63, 1st in the American League West

Next up:  Los Angeles Dodgers

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Kansas City Royals Preview/Prediction

Now that we got the division predictions done it is time to dig a little bit deeper.  Between now and the opener in Japan each team will get their own prediction/preview.  I am going to go in alphabetical order.

Our next post takes us down up to Kansas City, where a bevy of young studs has changed the culture around on this team.  This will be one of my favorite teams to watch throughout the year, as all of this talent comes to the big club.

Infield:  Brayan Pena at catcher, Eric Hosmer at first base, Johnny Giavotella at second base, Alcides Escobar at short stop and Mike Moustakas at third base.

Brayan Pena was not supposed to start this year, but with an injury to Salvador Perez he is the guy.  He doesn't do anything spectacular but doesn't do anything that terrible either, so for a catcher he will be a decent replacement until Perez comes back.  Hosmer is an absolute animal with the bat, and he is only 22.  He will be the best overall for first baseman in the American League Central this year, and it is because he does everything well.  He has double digit stolen bases last year to go with 19 home runs and almost a .300 batting average, in his first taste at the Major League level.  He will continue to get better and develop and the sky is the limit for him.  Giavotella has some competition from Chris Getz as the second baseman on opening day, but I think he will get it.  If he keeps it or not is all dependent on how he bats in the number two hole in this line up.  Escobar was attained in the Geinke trade from a couple years ago and even though the Royals brought back Yuniesky Betancourt, Escobar should be the starter.  He did have 26 stolen bases last year but he has got to improve on that .254 average in order to keep his everyday job.  Moustakas is another of the hot shot prospects to come up, but unlike Hosmer he struggled a little bit last year.  I think he will be fine as long as there isn't any pressure on him and he will continue to work his way into a good role for this team.  I think eventually both Hosmer and Moustakas will be all-stars, and how long has it been before the Royals had multiple all-stars?

Who will have the best season of these guys? Eric Hosmer will continue to develop his approach at the plate and will have an even better year in 2012.  He will hit over .300, steal 20 bases and hit 30 home runs.  I think the Royals have found a fantastic first baseman to build the rest of the team around.

Outfield:  Alex Gordon in left field, Lorenzo Cain in center field, and Jeff Francouer in right field.

Alex Gordon was supposed to be the biggest thing to come to Kansas City since George Brett.  He was also supposed to be doing this at third-base.  Last season was his last chance to make an impression on the team and what an impression it was.  After switching to left field all he did last year was hit .300 with 23 home runs and 45 doubles.  That is the Alex Gordon the Royals have been waiting for!! Lorenzo Cain only played in 6 games with the Royals last year, but with Melky Cabrera gone he is the favorite to start opening day in center field.  He didn't steal any bases last year but I expect him to wreak havoc on the bases from the bottom of that line up.  Francouer is a lot like Gordon in that they both were heralded prospects who had a good 2011 to probably save his career.  He still has that rocket for an arm, but after flaming out in both Antlanta and New York 2011 was his last shot to prove he should be on a team.  All he did with his last opportunity was hit .285 with 20 home runs and 47 doubles.  He still strikes out a lot but it is good to see someone come back from the down years he was having with a year like this.  Hopefully 2012 continues his run of success.

Who will have the best season of these guys? Even though Francouer and Gordon are similar in terms of the paths they took to got to where they are now, Gordon is still three years younger and has better tools at the plate.  I'm going to say Gordon is going to have a better year, only because of a higher batting average.  Look for both to once again get over 40 doubles and 20 home runs.

Starting Pitching:  Jonathan Sanchez, Luke Hochevar, Bruce Chen, Danny Duffy, and Felipe Paulino.

Sanchez came over from the Giants in a trade for Melky Cabrera.  I am going to call it right now that the Royals will get the better end of that trade.  Sanchez struck out 102 batters in 102 innings last year, but he also walked 66.  Those numbers tell me that he has talent but has no idea which direction the ball is going.  I think he tones down the walks, gets a full season worth of starts, and pays immediate dividends for the Royals this year.  Hochevar was the number one overall pick in 2006, and while it is safe to say that if the draft was redone he wouldn't be, he still does have some talent to get hitters out. I think he takes another small step forward this year and has his first winning season. It seems like Bruce Chen has been pitching forever, and last year was one of his best years to date.  He went 12-8 with an ERA under 4, but he does have a tendency to have some really bad outings.  He is a flyball pitcher with not a lot of velocity, so if he is pitching in Texas, Boston or New York watch out, because he might get whiplash with all the home runs he i  s sure to serve up.  Duffy is another one of those young kids who was thrust into duty last year.  He didn't fare as well as others, but he does have good stuff and I like his make up.  I think he gets to double digit wins this year.  Paulino throws really hard (his fastball averaged 95 mph last year) but he throws a lot of pitches and usually fails to get deep into games.  He will continue to tax his bullpen and get roughed up this year, and I predict another double digit loss season for him.

Who will have the best season of these guys? I think Hochevar will have the best year of any of these starters.  This is the year he turns it around and starts looking like a guy worthy of a #1 draft pick.  He will lead the team in wins this year, and I'm going to say he gets to 16.

Bullpen: Joakim Soria, Jonathan Broxton, Jose Mijares, and Todd Collins

Soria  has been part of trade rumors the last three years and he has managed not to let them bother him and pitch very well.  He has been the brightest spot of this team and now he has some talent around him.  Broxton was an all-star closer for the Dodgers but only threw in 14 games last year.  He needs to prove to teams that he can still be an effective reliever, and I think he will be for the Royals this year.  Mijares is a lefty and that is about the only thing going for him.  His numbers since his debut in 2008 have been remarkably pedestrian, and that trend will probably continue.  Tim Collins is only 22 years old and he walked 48 batters in 67 innings last year, but so far this spring has shown a vast improvement in his ability to throw strikes.  He will need to prove that he can continue that in the regular season, but a fan favorite at only 5' 7", he has been fighting adversity his whole life and this is just another stepping stone for him.

Who will have the best season of these guys?  I'm going to go off the board here a little bit and say Broxton. I think he regains his all-star form now that he is healthy and just blows the doors off his competition.  An ERA under 2 and more than a strike out per inning are both numbers I think Broxton can, and will, hit.

Record 83-79 3rd in the American League Central

Next up:  Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

Monday, March 19, 2012

Houston Astros Preview/Prediction

Now that we got the division predictions done it is time to dig a little bit deeper.  Between now and the opener in Japan each team will get their own prediction/preview.  I am going to go in alphabetical order.

Our next post takes us down to Houston, where Carlos Lee and a bunch of people who no one really knows try to get out of the basement.  Hint it isn't going to happen!

Infield:  Jason Castro at catcher, Carlos Lee at first base, Josh Altuve at second base, Jed Lowrie at short stop and Jimmy Paredes at third base.

Um... Ok where do I begin?  Jason Castro is the Astros catcher of the future, but because this team is so bad he is also the catcher of the present.  He hit .205 in 2010 and missed all of last season to a torn ACL, so take that for what is worth.  Carlos Lee is somehow making $19 million dollars in this team, but he does still have some pop in his bat.  He did hit 38 doubles and drive in 94 runs last year, plus he will be hitting either 3 or 4 for this team so he should get RBI opportunities.  Altuve only walked 12 times last year in 221 plate appearances so we know he likes to swing the bat.  He did also hit a serviceable .276 and he has some speed.  I actually like him to have a good year, as long as he improves his patience at the plate.  Jed Lowrie came over from the Red Sox in the trade for a relief pitcher, and it still doesn't make sense to me that they did.  Now the Red Sox are having 31 year old Mike Aviles play short stop when they could be having 27 year old Jed Lowrie, who does everything batter and is cheaper.  Still confused on that one.  Paredes is a lot like Altuve actually.  He also has speed and hit for a decent average, but doesn't take many walks.  One of the two will make it this year and I don't think that Paredes is the guy.

Who will have the best season of these guys? Carlos Lee will have the best season of these 5, and it will be because he has more experience than all of them combined.  He has more hits, home runs, at bats, and everything else you can think of and because of that experience he will have the best season.  I don't think he will have a great season, but we have nothing to compare it with for the other four players.

Outfield:  J.D Martinez in left field, Jordan Schafer in center field, and Brian Bogusevic in right field.

J.D Martinez took over in left field last year after the Astros traded Hunter Pence to the Phillies.  He struck out in a quarter of his at-bats after the trade, but hit .274 and had 6 home runs.  Not terrible numbers for a guy who was seeing his first significant action in the Majors.  Jordan Schafer also came over in a trade, this one was for Michael Bourn.  He projects as the lead-off guy for the team because he did have 22 steals in only 82 games last year but the guy also hit just .242.  He has got to get that average up in the .270 to .280 range this year, and I think he will.  Bogusevic is the guy I put to start for the Astros in right field because it has to be somebody, and he was talented enough to be a first round draft pick a few years ago.  I do have a sneaky suspicion he doesn't finish the year as the starter, and they will bring someone up from the minors to take his job.

Who will have the best season of these guys?  Jordan Schafer will be one of the break out players on this horrid team.  He will get up to that .275 range and will steal 50 bases.  He will also hit at least one inside the park home run and have double digit triples.

Starting Pitching:  Wandy Rodriguez, Bud Norris, J.A Happ, Jordan Lyles, and Kyle Weiland.

This will be the best part of the team, as I have actually seen these guys play.  Wandy will not finish the year on the team, as he will be the easiest person to move.  He has a decent contract, and has 66 quality starts the last three seasons, which are not bad numbers.  I see a team that will be in contention that is light on pitching making a move for him, I.E the Toronto Blue Jays.  Bud Norris actually had an ERA under 4 last year, but went 6-11 because the Astros can't score any runs.  He struck out almost a batter an inning, and you could do a lot worse come fantasy season.  J.A Happ came over from the Phillies in the Roy Oswalt trade and pitched so bad last year he had to be sent to the minors.  I think this year he sticks with the team all year long and pitches much better.  He just needs to improve his control which is something he has been working on all off-season.  Jordan Lyles is only 21 years old, but he got 15 starts under his belt last year because the team had no one else as talented as him.  I think he improves on his 2-8 record but because the team behind him is so bad, will still have a pretty ugly win-loss record.  Weiland also was included with Jed Lowrie in the trade from the Red Sox, and he has a good shot of breaking camp with the Astros.  This will be his first full year in the Majors, but I have heard good things about him and am intrigued to see him throw.

Who will have the best season of these guys? Bud Norris will win double digit games this year, even with this putrid line up behind him.  His ERA will stay under 4 and he will be the Astros lone representative in the all-star game in Kansas City.  I do think Wandy will have a good year but I will be shocked if he concludes 2012 with Houston.

Bullpen: Brett Myers, Brandon Lyon, Fernando Abad, and Wilton Lopez

The roller coaster for Brett Myers continues.  Is he a starter?  Is he a reliever?  Is he a closer?  We don't know so we will keep jerking him around, just like everyone before him his entire career.  He also is the 2nd highest paid player on the team with an annual salary of 8 million dollars, or less than half of what Carlos Lee is making.  I like Myers and I think he will have a good season, it's just all about how many save opportunities he will get.  Brandon Lyon had an ERA over 11 last year and was put on the disabled list after 15 appearances.  He was supposed to close but they chose Myers instead.  I don't know how much confidence I have in him either.  Fernando Abad is the lefty specialist the Astros will have this year.  With a life time ERA over 5 that is not a good sign for the Astros, but again he will keep getting work because he is left handed.  Wilton Lopez has a ground ball pitcher which is always good because it means they won't give up a lot of home runs.  Only 6 in 73 appearances in 2011 does the trick for me.

Who will have the best season of these guys?  Brett Myers will excel in this role.... again.  The only issue is how many save opportunities he will have because I am afraid this will not be a good team.  I still see him getting to 30 saves though, but no more because of the lack of talent that will surround him.

Record 58-104 5th in the National League Central and the worst record in the Majors.

Next up:  Kansas City Royals

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Detroit Tigers Preview/Prediction

Now that we got the division predictions done it is time to dig a little bit deeper.  Between now and the opener in Japan each team will get their own prediction/preview.  I am going to go in alphabetical order.

Our next post takes us to the Motor City, where a huge signing has the Tigers thinking World Series.  Let's see the rest of the roster.

Infield: Alex Avila at catcher, Prince Fielder at first base, Ryan Raburn at second base, Jhonny Peralta at shortstop, and Miguel Cabrera at third base.

Alex Avila had a break out year in 2011, hitting .295 with 19 home runs.  Those are outstanding offensive numbers from a position you normally don't expect to get much out of.  He did strike out over 130 times last year, but hey no one is perfect.  Prince Fielder was one of the biggest free agent signings this year, and the fact he signed with the Tigers came as a bit of a surprise to everyone.  With Victor Martinez out for the year, they need some more offense and why not go after a guy who is a lock for 155 games, 35 home runs and 100 RBI's.  They paid an awful lot of money to get him, but if he helps them win a world series he would be worth every penny.  Ryan Raburn will get his first shot at an opening day second base start and while he also strikes out a lot, he is another player that has power at an unlikely position.  Wouldn't surprise me to see him hit 20 home runs this year, and he will have the lowest number of home runs of every infield starter on this team.  Peralta has long been underrated as a good defensive shortstop who can also hit a little bit too.  I don't expect him to hit 35 points higher than his career .269 average again, but in this line up he will not have too.  Miguel Cabrera is going to get a lot of pitches to hit with Fielder hitting behind him.  He is already the best pure hitter in the American League and now teams have no choice but to pitch to him.  Cabrera is going to have a MONSTER year this year.  

Who will have the best season of these guys? Cabrera will have the best year this year among this talented group.  He will also win the American League MVP award and will also be in the running for the Triple Crown.  Him and Matt Kemp of the Dodgers ate the two players that have the best chance to win the Triple Crown, and Cabrera will come close this year.

Outfield:  Delmon Young in left field, Austin Jackson in center field, and Brennan Bosch in right field.

Delmon Young was a hero in the Division Series against the Yankees last year, hitting home runs and clutch hits to help the Tigers advance.  He has been around forever and is still only 26, and while he doesn't really hit for a lot of power or steal a lot of bases, he has a good approach at the plate and will get plenty of chances to drive in runs hitting fifth behind Fielder.  Jackson will bat lead off and has so much talent.  He has amazing speed and if he can get on bases could score 150 runs with this lineup.  The problem with Jackson is he doesn't get on base enough, and he has got to cut down on his 181 strike outs from last year.  Bosch is a powerful left handed hitter that will also see a lot of strikes with Cabrera and Fielder behind him.  If this team is going to go far in the post season they need Bosch and Jackson to get on base for Cabrera and Fielder to hit them in.  

Who will have the best season of these guys?  All three are talented players but I am going to go with Bosch this year.  He has perhaps the least amount of talent of the three but he also has the best approach at the plate and I think that is most important.  He will score 100 runs and drive in 100 runs and be the third best hitter on this team.

Starting Pitching:  Justin Verlander, Doug Fister, Max Scherzer, Rick Porcello, and Jacob Turner.

Justin Verlander won the pitching Triple Crown last year and won both Cy Young and Most Valuable Player awards.  He is the best starting pitcher in all of baseball and will dominate again.  A lock for the all-star team, Verlander only needs to make sure he has enough in the tank for three starts in a seven game series in October.  Doug Fister will continue to make the Mariners regret that trade last August. I don't even think the Tigers expected him to be as good as he was last year, and with this lineup and this big park he will continue to thrive.  Scherzer seems like he has been in the league forever, but he is only 27 and he did win 15 games last year.  Still the drop-off between 2 and 3 is very big, and something the Tigers will have to worry about come playoff time.  Rick Porcello is only 23 years old and has very good stuff.  He is a very good #4 and should match up well with other teams fourth starters.  Jacob Turner is the top prospect for the Tigers and if he is healthy will make the staff.  He isn't even old enough to drink and yet he has the talent to make an opening day roster.  Very impressive. 

Who will have the best season of these guys? As good as Doug Fister is going to be this year, it has to be Justin Verlander.  As stated above, the man is the best in the game and is still young.  He will be in the running for the Cy Young again this year, and it wouldn't surprise me if he goes back to back.

Bullpen: Jose Valverde, Joaquin Benoit, Octavio Dotel, and Phil Coke.

This is a deep bullpen that has a little bit of everything in it. It will be a huge advantage for this team having guys like these closing down games.  This is the most underrated part of this team.  Jose Valverde had 49 saves last season and had 0 blown saves.  That is one of the more impressive stats from 2011.  The man doesn't have the most electric stuff, but he knows how to close games and that is huge for a team with World Series aspirations.  Benoit had 61 innings pitched and 63 strikeouts in 2011.  Those are good numbers.  Octavio Dotel is pitching for his 13th team this year.  That is the most for one person in MLB history.  He must be doing something right to still be pitching in the bigs, but he also wears out a lot of welcomes because he does give up a lot of home runs.  Phil Coke is the left hander out of the bullpen, and he has made so many appearances the past few years that I expect his arm to fall off at some point this year.

Who will have the best season of these guys?  Valverde will blow a save this year but not many.  With the squad that has been assembled he will have many opportunities.  He will get 40 saves at least this year and will do it with grit, moxie, and just enough pitching ability to get the job done.

Record Prediction: 101-61 first in the American League Central

Next up:  Houston Astros