Dave's Sports Views

Analysis, humor and opinion on the sports world

Location: Dallas, Texas, United States

Monday, March 27, 2006

Baseball Predictions, Part 1

With the college basketball season winding down, baseball season is nearly upon us and something to look forward to. The story of the season, unfortunately, will be Barry Bonds -- both his pursuit of Babe Ruth and Hank Aaron, and Bud Selig's own pursuit of Bonds' activities.

That aside, it is shaping up to be a wide-open year. I'll take a look at the teams over the next few nights, and make some guesses about the order of finish, with the National League East and Central tonight.

National League East

1) Mets -- The Braves have to lose the division at some point, don't they? And don't the Mets' spending sprees have to pay dividends at some time?
2) Braves -- The departure of Leo Mazzone could be the one defection the Braves can't handle. Edgar Renteria is a downgrade from the departed Rafael Furcal.
3) Phillies -- A solid lineup and defense is offset by weak starting pitching and a bullpen that can't hold up without Billy Wagner.
4) Nationals -- The stadium is being built, but that's not to say the same thing for the franchise. Frank Robinson will keep them out of the cellar.
5) Marlins -- Fire Sale No. 2 leaves them with only Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis among last year's regulars.

Best Starting Pitching -- Atlanta, even without Mike Hampton. Tim Hudson and John Smoltz are a solid 1-2, and a healthy John Thomson would give the Braves a solid core of starters.

Best Bullpen -- New York. Billy Wagner is almost automatic, and Jorge Julio could be a strong performer in a set-up role.

Best Lineup -- New York. That's assuming Carlos Beltran returns to his pre-free agent days. With the additions of Carlos Delgado and Paul LoDuca, the emergence of David Wright and the always-solid Cliff Floyd, the Mets can hit.

Best Defense -- Philadelphia. Aaron Rowand is a major upgrade in center field, Bobby Abreu is a so-called Gold Glover with a great arm, and Jimmy Rollins and David Bell are solid on the left side of the infield.

National League Central

1) Cardinals -- Still better than the rest of the field, if a bit long in the tooth. This is a team built for a long season rather than a short series, but maybe their new park will hold some magic.
2) Astros -- It's time to turn the page for Jeff Bagwell and Roger Clemens, both of whom might never play again. But the Astros are developing a new core of position players and still have great pitching with Roy Oswalt, Andy Pettitte and Brad Lidge.
3) Brewers -- If you're looking for a surprise team, look no further than the great young nucleus taking shape in Milwaukee.
4) Cubs -- They're counting on too many fragile arms behind Carlos Zambrano, but the additions of Juan Pierre and Jacque Jones will help the lineup.
5) Pirates -- The young pitching is solid, but this is still a team caught on a treadmill. The additions of Sean Casey, Joe Randa and Jeromy Burnitz seem like band-aids until the Pirates fall out of the race and these guys are traded to contenders.
6) Reds -- Bronson Arroyo instantly becomes the ace of the staff, something you never want to say about a guy picked up in spring training. The outfield will be very good, if healthy, but that's about all there is.

Best Starting Pitching -- Houston. Everyone but Cincinnati has at least a decent rotation, but no one has a better pair at the top than the Astros' Oswalt and Pettitte.

Best Bullpen -- Houston. If Lidge has overcome his postseason problems, the Astros can bring it in the late innings with Dan Wheeler and Chad Qualls setting him up.

Best Lineup -- St. Louis. The Cardinals lost three starters but still have the best hitter in baseball, Albert Pujols.

Best Defense -- St. Louis. Yadier Molina made the Cards forget Mike Matheny, which is saying something. David Eckstein is a fine shortstop, and Scott Rolen and Jim Edmonds are Gold Glove-caliber.

Tomorrow night: The NL West and the AL West.



Anonymous Joe said...

What a surprise. Johnny Sports Fan/Reporter/whatever picks the NL East big free agent spending team du jour to FINALLY upset the Braves. I think we have seen this before, no?

Make no mistake about it. The reason the Braves win (in the reg season) every year is because of Schurholtz and to a lesser extent, Cox.

Mazzone's specialty was turning average veteran pitchers into very good ones. The Braves SPs have all been tutored under him for a couple years, and have pretty much established themselves. Mazzone never did much w/ the young guys other than give up on them (Chen, Schmidt, Marquis, Odaliz Perez). I am excited to see what McDowell can do w/ developing the young arms and bullpen, two things Mazzone never gave a shit about.

As for the Mets...name the last time a big money offseason pickup did jack shit for them. Or just look at their rotation.

8:14 AM  
Anonymous Joel said...

Well now I can see why all your posts have no comments. Way to enable discussion or hear differing opinions.

7:10 PM  

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