Tuesday, March 18, 2003

I'm decidedly mixed about my team, if that's a contradiction in terms. I like my pitching but my hitting may be iffy. I have no true first baseman. And that Nevin stuff pisses me off. Anyway, I think I'll do well in some categories, not so well in others. In other words, it'll probably be a lot like last season where balance will be my strength.

And, people here seem to be speaking about going to a game. When is this supposed to be taking place?

Baseball predictions. I'm thinking this year will be different, very different. I think the best of last year will be middle-of-the-pack this year and there will be lots of shuffling, and that includes even the teams that were surprises last year (Angels, Giants, Twins). So what the hell, I'm always off a little bit on these things so here goes.

NL EAST (Phillies, Braves, Mets, Marlins, Expos)

The additions of Kevin Millwood, Jim Thome, and David Bell are beautiful for Philly, to fortify good pitchers Padilla and Wolf and an offense that will definitely be hard to pitch against (Rollins, Abreu, Burrell, Thome) and when you include contact hitters like Polanco, with consistency of Lieberthal, you've got a tough team. I look for this team to struggle in the beginning and finish strong. Atlanta loses Glavine and I say good riddance, the Mets can have the man who always seems to be pitching out of a jam in the 1st inning and out of a mess in the playoffs, but Hampton is an if right now, Ortiz is better than average, Byrd may return to mediocre form, and Maddux is of course Maddux but not the Maddux we have grown accustomed to. The Braves lost their middle relief (Remlinger, Hammond) and got iffy Roberto Hernandez. Offense doesn't seem improved (Fick may be OK, and a healthy Giles and Furcal may help) and that's their worst asset. I don't see them making the playoffs this year. The Mets struggled all year with their old guys and they shouldn't be any better this year. The Marlins and Expos again don't have the firepower necessary to beat the top three.

NL CENTRAL (Astros, Cardinals (WC), Pirates, Cubs, Reds, Brewers)

Once again, you may be able to invert a lot of these. I pick the Astros to win it all this year, with the addition of Jeff Kent this team is going to be absolute murder to pitch against, and they have the basic core of good starters. It looks like once again the Cards pitching will be their liability, and they've sort of stayed the course for this year. The Pirates seem to be adding some veterans into their young group and they may be interesting to watch if Lofton and Sanders can somehow repeat past performances. I like Kris Benson, he's on my fantasy team and I look for him to truly return from elbow surgery. The Cubs picked up some pitching help but they added no offense, The Reds did nothing, and the Brewers will continue to strike out at an enormous pace.

NL WEST (Dodgers, D'Backs, Giants, Rockies, Padres)

I picked the Dodgers last year, and they had a slow fade near the end. I think if Kevin Brown can return, and Lo Duca can put up the numbers from two years ago, and McGriff continues his consistency, and Jordan keeps hitting in the clutch, they have the best chance in this division. Those aren't huge ifs, but I think Brown may be. The D'Backs did nothing, and their offense is terrible, which doesn't bode well for guys like Schilling and Johnson who will be facing the other teams' best starters and one run can decide the game. The Giants lost their manager and Jeff Kent. The Rockies and Padres did nothing to help themselves.

NL playoffs
Astros over Dodgers in NLDS
Phillies over Cardinals in NLDS
Astros over Phillies in NLCS

AL EAST (Yankees, Red Sox, Blue Jays, Orioles, Devil Rays)

One of those divisions you just can set your watch by as long as the teams remain the same. The Red Sox' offseason acquisition was Ramiro Mendoza, which may help but I can't see being the difference. In fact, you can already see the August meltdown. The Yanks will again have a brutalizing offense but with now-iffy pitchers. None of them seem big-game ready or where they were two-three years ago, but in this division the offense will carry them. You can't say too much about the rest of this division except that they suck.

AL CENTRAL (White Sox, Twins, Indians, Royals, Tigers)

The White Sox have Bartolo Colon, Mark Buehrle, and Dan Wright as good starters, an incredible offense, and a great closer in Billy Koch. The White Sox just may be my shock pick to go to the World Series. The rest of this division is not improved, although I believe the Twins will have another solid year with their team (and they just picked up Kenny Rogers, who will help).

AL WEST (Angels, A's (WC), Mariners, Rangers)

Almost a repeat of last year, only I don't think nearly as solid. None of these teams made significant moves except for managerial changes. The returning champion Angels, who won with a team that was not so different from their third place team a year before, should continue to be OK. I wonder what the Mariners do without Piniella. And I kind of wonder what the A's do without Howe. And I wonder why the Texas Rangers can't get some pitching so I can pick them, because their offense is incredible.

AL playoffs
Yankees over A's in NLDS
White Sox over Angels in NLDS
White Sox over Yankees in NLCS

World Series
Astros over White Sox


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