2010 MLB Predictions
In light of the 2010 March Madness brackets, I’ve gone ahead and worked out for you guys what all will transpire once college basketball ends, and baseball begins.
1. Yankees (99-63)
Postseason heroes Johnny Damon and Hideki Matsui may have left town, but new additions Nick Johnson and Curtis Granderson step in to replace them. Their additions lengthen an already potent lineup and that, paired with Javier Vazquez providing rotation depth should be plenty to help the Yankees repeat as division champs and make another deep postseason run.
2. Red Sox (95-67)
When Boston let Jason Bay walk and were outbid for Matt Holliday’s services, Theo Epstein turned his attention to pitching and defense. John Lackey gives Boston one of the best front three starters in baseball, and while there are plenty of options for the back of the rotation, each comes with looming questions. Marco Scutaro, Adrian Beltre and Mike Cameron all solidify Boston’s defense, while sacrificing some offense.
3. Rays (88-74)
In 2008, the Rays proved that they can compete with the AL powerhouses if everything broke in their favor. In 2009, they missed some breaks and instead of a pennant-winning club, they were simply a pretty decent one. They enter 2010 hoping for some more of the 2008 magic, and if they can’t find it again, they may look to move some of their veterans before the trade deadline. With Rafael Soriano brought in to help stabilize a questionable relief unit, the Rays are very much in position to make another postseason run.
4. Orioles (76-86)
After years of no direction, Baltimore is finally headed up. 2010 won’t be the year they finally make their long awaited return to the playoffs, but there’s enough young talent in the pipeline to believe that the Orioles can make some noise in the near future. They’ll certainly have one of the best young outfields in the game, with Nick Markakis, Adam Jones and Nolan Reimold patrolling the outfield grass at Camden Yards.
5. Blue Jays (66-96)
Times couldn’t be much tougher in Toronto for Blue Jay fans. Rookie GM Alex Anthopoulous did the best he could dealing away ace Roy Halladay, but for arguably best pitcher in baseball, he didn’t get a whole lot back. A decent return, but not a blow-your-mind type of one. Much like Baltimore, there’s going to be a lot of youth in Toronto this year, unlike Baltimore however, that talent isn’t going to be as impressive, which will ultimate lead to a long year north of the border.
1. Twins (92-70)
The loss of Joe Nathan certainly hurts the reigning AL Central champs, but if there’s a division where you can whether that type of injury, it’s this one. The offense is definitely improved and the pitching should be at least passable. But regardless of what the team does on the field, the bigger stories are going to be about the field. Minnesota bids farewell to comfortable indoor baseball and takes on Minnesota’s unpredictable weather. However, this new ballpark will hopefully bring in enough revenue for the Twins that they can easily work out a long-term extension for homegrown prodigy Joe Mauer.
2. Tigers (88-76)
Detroit started their offseason apparently concerned about their finances, trading away outfielder Curtis Granderson and starter Edwin Jackson, but quickly changed direction and signed Johnny Damon and closer Jose Valverde. The offense should be respectable enough and Valverde is certainly an upgrade over Fernando Rodney, if the former if fully healthy. But the starting pitching consists of the newly extended Justin Verlander and then a handful of question marks. WIll Rick Porcello build on his strong rookie campaign? Can Jeremy Bonderman get back to the form that helped him win 14 games in back-to-back seasons? Will Dontrelle Willis overcome injuries and psychological problems to be a passable Major League option?
3. White Sox (84-78)
The White Sox enter the season with an impressive front four in their rotation. But they also enter the season with severe problems on the other side of the ball. Gordon Beckham was intriguing once he was called up midseason, but the White Sox lack an impact bat in the middle of the lineup. Carlos Quentin could be that guy, but injuries may have sapped some of his power. At least Ozzie Guillen should be as “entertaining” as he always is.
4. Royals (69-93)
Zack Greinke’s back to defend his Cy Young award and the Royals are back to defend their position in the AL cellar. Fortunately for the former, Greinke doesn’t seem to be slowing down any from what has turned into an incredible career turnaround. Unfortunately for the latter, the 2010 Royals look a little better than the 2010 Indians. The Royals won’t be winning the division just yet, but they just may escape the basement for the second time since 2004.
5. Indians (67-95)
The Indians have cleaned house the past two years and while a couple of decent pieces remain (Grady Sizemore, Shin-Soo Choo), the cupboard’s pretty bare in Cleveland. A lot of the players they received for Cliff Lee, CC Sabathia, and Victor Martinez will get a chance to play for the Tribe this season.
1. Mariners (91-71)
I always hate falling for teams that improved themselves after a seemingly good season. Seattle won 85 games last season, but seriously outperformed their expected record. So even though I love the moves they made this offseason, I think their improvement will be offset a little by the team as a whole coming back to earth. Cliff Lee and Felix Hernandez is an outstanding 1-2 punch at the front of the rotation, but if Milton Bradley doesn’t rebound, the Mariners may not have a regular that hits 20 home runs.
3. Rangers (89-73)
The Rangers have the most impressive young talent in the division, but they may still be a year or two away from translating that talent into a division crown. The offense will continue to slug away, with Vladimir Guerrero replacing the departed Marlon Byrd, but the pitching may still be lagging behind. Rich Harden will have to step up and remain healthy, especially after Texas shipped workhorse Kevin Millwood off to Baltimore. With outfielder Josh Hamilton and manager Ron Washington in the clubhouse, new owner Nolan Ryan has to be relieved the Yankees opted to deal Phil Coke to Detroit, rather than Arlington.
3. Angels (87-75)
The Angels have long been able to replace departed production from within their own system, but the rest of their division has typically made repeating as division champs easier. They’ve lost talent on both sides of the ball this offseason, seeing John Lackey sign with the Red Sox, and Chone Figgins with division rival Seattle. The loss of talent has inevitably caught up with the Angels, and while their deep rotation will keep them hanging around, I believe they’ve been passed in the AL West race.
4. Athletics (76-86)
Oakland is one of the more enigmatic teams in the American League. They have a lot of promising young arms in their rotation, that if they perform well, the A’s could make a serious run this summer. Brett Anderson may develop into a sleeper Cy Young candidate, but the A’s may end up lacking enough offensive pop to contend deep into the season.
1. Phillies (94-68)
With a championship and two pennants in the last two seasons, Philadelphia has clearly been the class of the National League the past two years. By trading for Roy Halladay, the Phillies ensured they’d stay on top in 2010. There are still questions about the reliability of the bullpen and back end of the rotation, but the Phillies are the team to beat not only in the division, but in the league as well.
2. Braves (92-70)
After a good-but-not-great campaign in 2009, the Braves went about bettering themselves this offseason by taking on some risk-reward type players in addition to shedding payroll. The backend of the bullpen is completely remodeled, featuring Billy Wagner and Takashi Saito rather than Mike Gonzalez and Rafael Soriano. Troy Glaus and Melky Cabrera help out the offense, but the potentially biggest addition might end up being stud prospect Jason Heyward, who’s living up to his billing early in spring training. I see the Braves sending Bobby Cox off with an appearance in the playoffs.
3. Marlins (88-74)
The Marlins have some top-flight talent leading their team, but budgetary constraints leaves them scraping the bottom of the barrel to fill out the roster. Much like the Athletics in the American League, the Marlins could make some serious strides in 2010 if their crop of young starters continues to develop and get better. The offense, led by Hanley Ramirez, Dan Uggla and Chris Coughlan will be there, it’s simply a matter of the pitching performing up to, or exceeding expectations. Isn’t it about time the Marlins won a wild card berth, and subsequently a championship?
4. Mets (81-81)
Just about anybody with a name succumbed to the Queens injury bug in 2009. It appears to be much of the same for the Amanzin’s in 2010 as Carlos Beltran and Jose Reyes appear primed to open the seadon on the DL. Other than Johan Santana, who is recovering from offseason surgery himself, the Mets are one enormous enigma. Can anyone step up behind Santana in the rotation and contribute? Will lowering the centerfield wall eight feet cure David Wright’s power outage?
5. Nationals (67-95)
Very slowly, the Nationals are becoming watchable. First overall pick Stephen Strasburg should find himself up in the majors by June when the Nationals will make the first overall pick again in the amateur draft. Their offense is more than respectable, anchored by Adam Dunn and Ryan Zimmerman and they’ve added some nice pieces to patch together and workable bullpen. If Chien-Ming Wang returns to some sort of semblance to his pre-injury days, the Nationals have the makings of a solid front three with John Lannen and Jason Marquis holding down the fort until Strasburg arrives.
1. Cardinals (91-71)
As much as it pains me to admit, I’ve quietly become a Redbird fan. Being nearly 800 miles away from their fans has helped quite a bit. Baseball wise, the Cardinals and head and shoulders above anyone else in the NL Central and should remain that way should they lock up Albert Pujols. They’ve got the best pitcher in the division and the best hitter. Add that to a solid-if-not-spectacular supporting cast and the Cards should be flying into October once again. Let’s just hope that not too many routine fly balls come flying at Matt Holliday.
2. Reds (83-79)
It feels like every year, I sense some hope coming for Cincinnati, but never quite enough to get them over the hump. With the arrival of Aroldis Chapman and a potential midseason return from Edinson Volquez, coupled with the continued development of Johnny Cueto, the Reds have a chance to have a decent starting rotation and because of this, I like them more than Milwaukee and Chicago.
3. Cubs (81-81)
The Milton Bradley disaster is finally taken care of, but the Soriano contract is more hinder-some than Milton Bradley ever could be. The Cubs have some talent, but it’s aging and/or fading. They’ve got pieces to contend in a weak division, but for them to have a chance, they’ll need some miraculous bounceback years combined with a key injury or two from their division rivals.
4. Brewers (80-82)
Yovani Gallardo is a stud. But beyond that, the rest of the rotation is up in the air. Randy Wolf had a nice season for the Dodgers, but they might have overpaid for his services. Much like the did with Jeff Suppan after his short run of good seasons, the Brewers may end up getting the backend of a career again. Some of their problems will be masked by the best 3-4 middle of the order combination in baseball. Ryan Braun teams up again with Prince Fielder, maybe for the last time to continued to destroy NL pitching. But ultimately, they won’t have enough pitching to last the season.
5. Astros (67-95)
If I may quote Paul Simon for a moment:
Where have you gone Bagwell and Biggio?
Our nation turns its lonely eyes to you.
What’s that you say Drayton McLane,
the talent has all up and gone away?
I feel sorry for Roy Oswalt and Lance Berkman. Two immensely talented ballplayers stuck in a train-wreck of an organization. Their organizational philosophy for the past few years has been questionable at best and detrimental at worst.
6. Pirates (59-103)
As bad as the Astros are, the Pirates are worse. They haven’t had a winning season since Barry Bonds’ hat size was 7 1/8. For a team that’s perennially terrible, they have surprisingly few hot young prospects. They may have something in Pedro Alvarez, and Andrew McCutchen showed some star potential last year, but their entire rotation is filled by guys that would struggle to crack some Triple-A rotations across baseball. Rarely do I predict a team to lose 100 games, but the Pirates seem to be a lock.
1. Giantes (92-70)
Their rotation is great and has been for several years. But the offense has been downright pedestrian since Barry Bonds retired. Collusioned, whatever. Pablo Sandoval emerged as a middle-of-the-lineup threat and they filled the lineup around him with the likes of Mark DeRosa and Aubrey Huff. Who, while not Barry Bonds, may provide just enough pop to grab the division while the Dodgers are somewhat vulnerable.
2. Dodgers (91-71)
Because of the uncertainty of their ownership situation (shoulda had a better pre-nup, Frank!) the Dodgers return basically the same team as last year. They lost starter Randy Wolf, but improvements from Chad Billingsley and Clayton Kershaw should help offset that loss. Continued developments from young players Andre Ethier, Matt Kemp and James Loney could result in the Dodgers winning the division again. But I think San Francisco has passed them for the time being.
3. Rockies (86-76)
It’s been a nice couple of years for Colorado since “Rocktober” hit back in 2007. But they’ll be turning some young talent loose in 2010 and counting on some question marks in their rotation. Both Jeff Francis and Aaron Cook are coming off injuries and Jorge De la Rosa must show that 2009 wasn’t a fluke year and continue to improve on his success.
4. Diamondbacks (79-83)
Brandon Webb is the wild card in Arizona. If he’s healthy and pitching well for most of the year, then this team, along with holdover Dan Haren and newcomer Edwin Jackson come close to matching up arm for arm with the Giants. And with the young, powerful bats like Justin Upton and Mark Reynolds locked up for the next few years, this team could regain an edge in the NL West. But if Webb misses a significant amount of time and no one steps up at the back of the rotation, the Diamondbacks could fall hard.
5. Padres (63-99)
Forget about the boxscores coming out of San Diego and focus more on the trade rumors. The Padres could have a major impact on several different playoff races come July, but only because they could move first baseman Adrian Gonzalez and closer Heath Bell to a contender for an enormous haul. Clearly, the off-field activity is going to be more interesting than the on-field activity.
AL Playoff Teams: Yankees, Twins, Mariners, Red Sox (wc)
NL Playoff Teams: Phillies, Cardinals, Giants, Braves (wc)