Well, it’s that day, isn’t it? The day Major League Baseball cranks back up in earnest. And The Common Man couldn’t be more excited. The Twins look good, TCM has a lot of writing irons in the fire, and there’s baseball for the next seven months. Just so that he can be on the record, here are The Common Man’s predictions for 2010:
AL East Wins Losses
Boston 96 66
New York 94 68
Tampa Bay 90 72
Baltimore 70 92
Toronto 55 107
As TCM mentioned over at It’s About the Money Stupid, the Sox lost Jason Bay, but added Adrian Beltre, Mike Cameron, John Lackey, and Marco Scutaro. They are a better team than last year, when they won 95 games. It will be enough to hold off the Yankees.
The Yankees look strong, and I like the Granderson addition. He hits a lot of fly balls, and was disproportionately hurt by playing in Comerica Park. New Yankee Stadium sees a lot of homers by left-handed hitters (see Damon, Johnny). Curtis Granderson will have a big bounce back year, and will get a few MVP votes. But there are enough question marks regarding this team’s durability that I think they’ll struggle to take the Wild Card.
Tampa had a good offseason. With a little luck, they’re perfectly capable of winning 95 games and forcing their way into the playoffs. Look for continued improvement by David Price and the debut of Desmond Jennings, and bask in the glory of Evan Longoria.
I like the O’s rebuild; Andy MacPhail has done a great job infusing this organization with young and potentially dynamic talent, while not mucking around with long term deals for mediocre veterans. I hope they’re able to flip Kevin Millwood, Garret Atkins, Mike Gonzalez, and Miguel Tejada for even more pieces to put together a contender next year or in 2012. Will the real Matt Wieters please stand up, please stand up?
Hey, silver lining: The club locked Adam Lind up into a very club friendly contract through 2016. The new regime is smart, but it will take a lot of time to get out from under the Vernon Wells deal.
AL Central Wins Losses
Minnesota 92 70
White Sox 86 76
Detroit 78 84
Cleveland 72 90
Kansas City 60 102
Minnesota was having such a great offseason until Joe Nathan went down. TCM has written extensively about that, but suffice to say that he’s not terribly concerned about the implications for this season. Aside from the NL Central, this is my second biggest disparity between the division winner and runner up in the league. Look for Delmon to be reduced to a platoon role by mid-season, with Jim Thome picking up additional ABs at DH.
Their pitching looks legitimately great, if Peavy comes back at 100%. Gavin Floyd, John Danks, and Mark Buehrle are terribly underrated, and the bullpen looks strong again with a slimmed down Bobby Jenks at the back end. Aside from Carlos Quentin, TCM just doesn’t see where the offense is going to come from though.
The Tigers are starting two rookies and are using Jeremy Bonderman and Dontrelle Willis as their 4th and 5th starters. The team was seriously banged up last year, and Brandon Inge and Carlos Guillen figure to break down again. Figure the Tigers to drop below .500, and to be manager shopping next offseason.
There is just not enough pitching here to make any noise. Fausto Carmona had a good Spring, and for the sake of his career, I hope he bounces back. Look for the club to try to move Jake Westbrook, Kerry Wood, and Russell Branyan at the first opportunity. After that, the freefall will be over.
There’s a lot not to like here, aside from Zach Greinke and Billy Butler. No team throws money away like the KC Royals. Meche is injured again, Jose Guillen making $12 million, Yuni Betancourt will make $4 million to be the worst everyday player in the American League. Kyle Farnsworth is getting $4.5 million, sucks, and the team tried to make him a starter for the first time since 1999. Jason Kendall parlayed naked pictures of David Glass with a lemur into $3 million this year and next. Seriously, if it weren’t for Joe Pos, TCM might forget the Royals are still in the league.
AL West Wins Losses
Texas 90 72
Anaheim 90 72
Seattle 86 76
Oakland 77 85
If Ian Kinsler’s high ankle sprain doesn’t knock him out for too long, TCM thinks the Rangers will win a squeaker in the AL West. Kinsler and Elvis Andrus form a ridiculously talented middle infield, and Michael Young continues to produce at the hot corner. Chris Davis figures to bounce back somewhat at 1B, and if not, the Rangers can look into renting a 1B at midseason, trusting that Justin Smoak will be ready in 2011. The rotation and bullpen look very strong. A lot hinges on Josh Hamilton’s health.
The loss of John Lackey will hurt, especially since Joel Piniero has to prove he can maintain success away from Dave Duncan. The bullpen is very suspect. The lineup looks good, but the team has no depth to deal with a Hidecki Matsui, Bobby Abreu, Torii Hunter, or Juan Rivera injury.
The M’s took a big step forward last year, and were savvy in picking up Cliff Lee and resigning Erik Bedard. And the addition of Chone Figgins is a terrific move. But Lee and Bedard are both hurt, and there is absolutely no power in the lineup. TCM likes Milton Bradley more than most people, but no team needs a thumper like Seattle. Will they look into a midseason pickup?
What happened, Billy Beane? You used to be cool. The A’s are going with the pitching and defense model that is so en vogue now, but TCM wonders whether the genius of Billy Beane was that he was a good listener when Sandy Alderson was still around. The A’s are counting on a lot of guys who have significant injury histories. And even their young guys (Wuertz, Bailey) are starting to show cracks. This could go poorly.
NL East Wins Losses
Philadelphia 95 67
Atlanta 90 72
Florida 84 78
New York 83 79
Washington 55 107
The Phillies upgraded from Cliff Lee to Roy Halladay this offseason, and while they could have kept both, they will still go into 2010 as the NL Champs and the prohibitive favorites to repeat. Ryan Howard has slimmed down and Chase Utley is an absolute beast (will he finally win the MVP this year?). Jimmy Rollins can’t be any worse than he was last year at the plate and is still only 31. Placido Polanco is a big upgrade over Pedro Feliz at 3B. Hooray for Jamie Moyer, the last active player from the 1987 Panini Sticker book, as the #5 starter!
Expect some growing pains for 20 year old phenom Jason Heyward. Jesus himself took several years to get 12 guys to follow him around, so give the kid a break. The rotation looks excellent, even with the loss of Javier Vazquez, and the outfield defense will benefit from having Melky out there. Nate McLouth is in Atlanta for the full season this year, and Martin Prado will be starting full time. TCM expects some bumps and bruises to Chipper may derail the Braves’ pennant hopes, but they should finish with the Wild Card in Bobby Cox’s swan song.
Another year comes and goes, and the Marlins are still a player or two short of being a contender. One of these years, it would be nice for Jeffrey Loria to spend some of the revenue sharing money he pockets, but then that would mean that he has to start giving a shit. And at this point, he looks incapable. It’s a shame. Dan Uggla, Hanley Ramirez, and Josh Johnson could form one hell of a core. If hell freezes over and Loria opens his checkbook, add the Fish to the list of teams that will be going after a rental 1B.
Craig covered this this morning, but look at the Mets’ opening day lineup. Does that look like the lineup of a contender to you? TCM is so sorry, Johan. The Common Man wanted better for you. Omar Minaya is a dead man walking.
Who cares about the Nats, all everyone wants to talk about is the Harrisburg Senators, for whom Stephen Strasburg will be debuting on Sunday, April 11. Mark your calendars, Altoona Curve fans! Also, look forward to June, when 17 year old Bryce Harper joins the fold. Also, Ryan Zimmerman is good.
NL Central Wins Losses
St. Louis 96 66
Cincinnati 85 77
Milwaukee 84 77
Chicago 81 81
Houston 74 88
Pittsburgh 72 90
The Cardinals have the clearest path to the playoffs of any team in baseball, as their rivals all seem to have fatal flaws. Meanwhile, the Cards have Albert Pujols and Matt Holliday, the best 1-2 punch in baseball. Plus, they have a healthy Chris Carpenter to match with Adam Wainwright, giving them the best 1-2 pitching combo in the National League (note: unless Matt Cain steps it up a notch). Plus the team is filled with good role players (Felipe Lopez, Skip Schumacher), and has a rising star in Colby Rasmus.
TCM likes the Reds and thinks they’re making good decisions. As he laid out a couple weeks back, TCM thinks Jay Bruce is poised for a big step forward. Joey Votto is a stud. The pitching should be solid 1-4, and either Mike Leake or Ardolis Chapman look to bring some excitement to the 5th spot. If Scott Rolen stays healthy and Drew Stubbs develops as expected, the Reds might make some noise in the Wild Card race.
There is just not enough pitching here. Yovani Gallardo, Doug Davis, and Randy Wolf are the only starters who figure to be above average, and none qualifies as an ace. Jeff Suppan, David Bush, and Manny Parra are frightening in their badness. Corey Hart has gone from All Star to headcase trade bait in the span of a year and a half. The Brewers are a decent team, but there are just too many question marks here.
The offseason didn’t treat the Cubs well, as they were forced to fall back on Marlon Byrd to play CF and Carlos Silva to fill out the rotation. The Cubs need Alfonso Soriano and Geovanny Soto to bounce back in 2010 to get into the Wild Card race, but don’t count on it. There are good players here, but also an awful lot of mediocrity.
At this point, aren’t the Astros just thumbing their nose at us? Everyone outside the organization seems to think that rebuilding is the only option, but the ‘Stros just keep signing mediocre veterans and hoping to catch lightning in a bottle, win 86 games, and compete for a Wild Card. It just isn’t happening. Brandon Lyon is not a difference maker. Pedro Feliz is not a difference maker. And both are not likely to be as effective as the players they’re replacing (LaTroy Hawkins, Miguel Tejada). Now Lance Berkman’s hurt, so it looks like a long season in Houston.
The Bucs seem to have finally bottomed out. Their roster turnover seems to be complete, and they are starting to put pieces into place to build a quality club. Andrew McCutchen is crazy talented, and will probably be one of the 10 best CF in the game this year. Lastings Milledge still is likely to be a productive player. Jeff Clement and Andy LaRoche still have some promise. Aki Iwamura is a perfectly acceptable player at 2B. And Ryan Doumit is a good catcher, if he’s healthy. And the Pittsburg top 3 starters are decent. That said, the team is not going anywhere this year, but this reminds me of the 2000 Twins a little bit.
NL West Wins Losses
Colorado 92 70
Arizona 88 74
Los Angeles 84 78
San Francisco 79 83
San Diego 52 110
Mark this down, the Rockies are good. Troy Tulowitzki has made the leap, and is TCM’s choice for NL MVP as the rest of the league starts to realize it. Todd Helton continues to be strong at 1B. Dexter Fowler is a terrific young player. And their starting rotation, provided Jeff Francis gets healthy fast, is sparkling.
Pundits aren’t as high on the D-Backs this year, and they appear to have gotten the raw end of the three-team Granderson/Edwin Jackson deal. But Jackson is, in the short term, a good pitcher. But if Brandon Webb is healthy for most of the year, they will have a good Top 3 in the rotation. Offensively, they’re poised to make a big step forward as Justin Upton comes into his supreme talent. Chris Young also improved last year and will be 26 in 2010, and Stephen Drew seems to have finally hit his stride. Mark Reynolds is a three-true-outcomes champ, and new additions Kelly Johnson and Adam LaRoche figure to provide some additional firepower. Arizona will be there at the end.
The Dodgers just didn’t do enough to improve their team this offseason. Matt Kemp is a transcendent talent, and Clayton Kershaw will finally be an ace this year. But Manny’s older and was already shaky last year. Andre Ethier can’t hit a lefty. James Loney has no power and is miscast at 1B. Rafael Furcal is going to be 33 and has established a new level of performance that is far below what the Dodgers thought they were getting. Russell Martin is run down. And the back end of the Dodgers rotation is a flaming mess. Add that to the distraction of the McCourt divorce, and the team’s probable inability to add payroll midseason, and 84 wins is being generous.
The Giants have two of the three most fun players in the majors to watch in Tim Lincecum and Pablo Sandoval (the other being Joe Mauer, yes TCM is a fanboy). That said, they’ve stashed Buster Posey at AAA again, even though he’s the best catcher in the organization. And they have nobody else who is a lock to be above average offensively. TCM likes their rotation though, and thinks Matt Cain could break through with a Cy Young type season in 2010.
Things don’t look good in beautiful San Diego. Adrian Gonzalez may be a golden god, but he’s not likely to last the year Southern Cal (TCM predicts he’ll go to the Mariners). The Pads may be all about family (Nick Hundley, the Hairston brothers, Max Venable, and Tony Gwynn Jr. all are Big League Legacies), but they just aren’t much good. Nevertheless, there are good young players here. Chase Headley seems to have found a home at 3B. The giant Kyle Blanks is a stud who will move to 1B when Adrian is dealt. Everth Cabrera looks like he could be a terrific young player with more experience. But the pitching doesn’t look great at this point. Look for a Gonzalez deal to try to bring back one or more MLB ready starters.
AL MVP, Cy Young, ROY
Adrian Beltre, Felix Hernandez, Scott Sizemore
Beltre’s offensive numbers will rise thanks to the move to Fenway, and his defense will continue to shine. When the Sox win the division title, he’ll get a lot of the credit. Felix has to win one sometime, doesn’t he? And Sizemore benefits because the Tigers will not be in the playoff hunt, and have no one else to play at the Keystone.
NL MVP, Cy Young, ROY
Troy Tulowitzki, Roy Halladay, Jason Heyward
It’s Troy’s world, you just don’t know it yet. Roy Halladay goes from the big boy league to the pee wee league, and has a terrific defense behind him up the middle. Heyward will struggle at times, but will hold down the RF job all year and will have good counting stats.
Yankees over Rangers
Twins over Red Sox
Twins over Yankees
Cardinals over Braves
Phillies over Rockies
Cardinals over Phillies
Twins over Cardinals