Sorry to everyone who reads my blog, I've been out lately not and have not posted in a while. Now that the season has started I should get back to posting on a more regular basis although probably not every day.
Twins vs. Blue Jays
Though I have plenty of thoughts on the Twins opening day roster, I will limit this post to putting out a preview of this game. No doubt this game should be exciting and the nation will be watching as the American League's top two pitchers coming into the season face off. Roy Halladay was on a torrid pace last season and would have made a serious bid for the Cy Young had he not been struck by a line drive. Halladay not only has the stuff to win Cy Young awards but he also rivals our own Carlos Silva in efficiency. He throws strikes and he gets outs (unlike Silva though Halladay can ring of the K's too). As far as tonight's game is concerned I think the Twins will fall short. There are a lot of factors at work here and will try to break them down. While Santana is amazing he does start slow and the past two years his 1st halves have just been slightly above average. On the other hand though, Santana should be ahead of schedule as he was revving it up early in the WBC for Venezuela just a couple weeks ago. This could bring a mix of good and bad news as the season progresses. Does this mean that Santana can be more dominating in the first half? And similarly if he is can he still keep up the same form throughout the season? We will see. Santana shouldn't get hit particularly hard tonight, although watch out for Vernon Wells who had a big game against Santana in their last meeting and overall had a whopping .673 SLG versus lefties last year (ouch!). Santana will go 6 IP with 3 ER's and 4 R's overall. As far as Halladay is concerned, watch out opening day lineup! Halladay for tonight will put in serious doubt in the minds of Twins fans that the offense is improved from last year. However, we should not be concerned as yet. For Halladay the line should be 7 IP, 3H, 1 ER and 8k's. Tonight's final score will be 4-2, Blue Jays on top.
2006 Regular Season Projected Standings
For now I will not do more than project how the divisions will finish come season end and a brief reason why. At this time I will not make projections for wild card's and the playoff picture.
American League Central
The Central has suddenly jump to the forefront of MLB after the successes of last season. The White Sox dominated all of baseball by almost winning 100 games during the season and then going a combined 11-1 throughout the playoffs and World Series. The Indians were also legitimate contenders for the Wild Card spot going into the last week of the regular season. The Twins, a distant 3rd in the division, still managed to mount the 5th straight winning season. So for now, the eyes are focused in the Central, but in my mind that should change as the season goes on.
5. Kansas City
As they clearly stated last year, Chicago boast one of the best and deepest rotations in baseball. Despite not having anyone with absolutely dominating stuff, all their pitchers have the potential to be 15 W, 200 IP guys. Mark Buerhle is easily one of the most underrated pitchers in the league (I guess there's no thrill in writing about guys whose fastball only clocks in the mid to upper 80's). The problem with the Chicago is that their offense still looks anemic even with the addition of Thome. I mean has anyone noticed that they really don't have a .300 hitter on their roster? They will continue to win games on timely homeruns but they should drop more one-run ball games this year. Still they will top the central.
I'm not yet willing to rule the Twins out of the Wild Card race, but it seems the management is still unwilling to make the necessary moves and decisions to seal the deal. The team has a ton of potential with their pitching depth but I'm not convinced with the offense yet (and the management of the offense, cough... cough). But as always, we will sit and wait.
This is my "Nobodies going to see them coming" pick. Their rotation is very underrated. Rogers is getting better with age and he should put up solid numbers if he can avoid the DL and beating up camera guys. Bonderman is poised for a break out, and Verlander is ready to prove his worth. The on other side, their offense has a really good mix of upcoming talent and veteran leadership, I think they'll produce. The thing that is going to make this team interesting though is their bullpen. They had some good arms to begin with, but now that Zumaya is being added into that mix, this crew could be really good. It'll be interesting to see who will be the closer though come September.
What! 4th! This guy must be nuts! Sorry guys, but last season was fun and all but you drop two legitimate pitchers and haven't made up for it. On top of that I believe Cliff Lee is vastly overrated and could be set for a pounding. As far as Sabathia is concerned he's got to figure things out, he's getting a little too old to continue talking about realizing his full potential. The offense for this team will continue to be fun to watch but I also think they could get hit with the injury bug, we will see. The other reason I have them falling to 4th in the division is the bullpen, while this was a strong suit of their last year, in should deteriorate as the season goes on. Wickman will not last as the closer past June.
Joe Mays is there number two started... need I say more? Sorry it's not that bad. This season they did their best considering the money they had, and instead of trying to lure in one big name star they got a bunch of second tier veterans. They will not be as horrible as last year but anything they do this year will mean nothing especially when there's 4 teams in the division that should finish above 500.
American League East
The question for this division is no longer who has the best offense, but rather whose pitching staff is more mentally capable of shrugging off regular beatings by division rivals. Analyst this year talked about Randy Johnson and how he can bounce back from last years numbers even at his age, and how it was surprising how he game up so many homers and yadda, yadda, yadda. You know why he gave up so many homeruns, look at the division! It will only get worse for Johnson and any other pitcher in this division. It's all about homeruns and high octane offenses, any pitcher not named Halladay will accomplish a major feat in not having an ERA above 4.
1. New York
5. Tamba Bay
Top to bottom, the Yankee lineup resembles more an All-Star team more than anything else. The only good news for opposing pitchers is that these All-Stars will continue to have bouts of laziness just because they can, but down the stretch (as always) they will turn up the juice and mash their way into the playoffs. Oh by the way, their back end of the rotation seems better coming into the year.
As far as pitching staffs are concerned, this is probably the best in the league including the bullpen. Halladay (if healthy) could actually make a bid for the first 25 Win season, the likes of which we don't see much in the American League. The full success of the club will somewhat hinge on how much consistency they can bet out of the inconsistent Burnett. But I also think the back of their rotation will continue to be sneaky good. As far as offense is concerned there is a high ceiling for this group. There's is a good mix of high-power, high-average potential, just depends on how well they put it all together.
Yes Schilling looked good the other night... whatever. Schilling might make comeback player of the year, and while he's probably one of the mentally toughest pitchers in the game, he is old and is body might not handle 200 innings anymore. As far as Beckett is concerned, bringing in a fastball pitcher who throws in the mid-90's is a recipe for an inflated ERA. Most hitters in this division, consider that meat. Anyways, this rotation just seems as weak as it turned out to be last year. As far as the offense is concerned it's still the Big-Papi and Manny show, but has anyone considered what happens if one of these guys goes down? Just putting it out there. Anyways, putting them at third in this division is not a complete loss however as they should still finish several games over .500.
It says a lot about your team when your number one guy had a 4.90 ERA but still managed a 15-12 record. The Orioles rotation last year experienced some of the worst of the inflated ERA syndrome in the division. The bad news for Baltimore is while there are a good deal of reasons for optimism in Berdard, Cabrera and Chris Ray, their success will be limited for the time being in this division. Will see if Leo Mazzone can work some wonders for these guys. On the other side their offense will also continue to be high powered with Tejada, Mora and others.
Everybody admits now that they are real fun to watch, for half the game anyways... Watching their pitchers is a formula for mental weariness, but there are definitely some fun hitters. On top of that, this team can easily lead the league in SB's as they have plenty of speedsters. For now, they will remain at the bottom of the division.
American League West
Ah the west... Is it finally time for Billy Beane's Athletics? Probably. The Athletics go into the season as the team to beat and have made a curious amount of moves that have not involved letting players move on to bigger and better contracts. Though only four teams there appears to be a good chance of squeezing two playoff teams out of the division.
2. California, Anaheim, Los Angeles... whatever!
All the right things seem to finally be falling into place for Oakland. They have one of the best rotations in baseball, a formidable lineup and a good defense. Their two main question marks will be their bullpen and their ability to avoid injury. Despite their overwhelming amount of youth, the A's got hit hard with the injury bug last year so we'll see what happens, seems Gary Sheffield is already trying to answer that question for them. Anyways, I usually don't like going with the popular picks, but I think Oakland will come out on top especially to Harden, Haren and Blanton improving on last years performances. I also see Thomas desperately trying to out-slug is replacement in Chicago for pride's sake.
At this point I'm unwilling to rule them out of the playoff picture. There offense might continue to be semi-anemic but I like their willingness to commit to some rising talent instead of throwing money out for a big name bopper. Even without a left-hander, this rotation looks to be very good. Yes Colon is overrated but Lackey, Weaver and Escobar are seriously underrated, so I see no issue. For anyone who plays fantasy ball, they'll recognize that all 5 of the Angels starters were drafted plus F-Rod and Shields, that says a lot. The Angels should be there all the way down the stretch.
Seattle's not ready to contend but I think there are some definite positives coming into the year. They have an improved rotation with the addition of Washburn and of course all eyes will be on King Felix. And while they didn't make any serious offensive changes they should be a bit better than last year, I can't imagine Beltre doing what he did last year. And it appears Seattle was the only team smart enough to take a chance on Roberto Pentagine (the name you've been reading about and http://twins.mostvaluablenetwork.com for some time now).
While Texas is hoping that Milwood and Eaton will be their saviors, so far that appears not to be the case. This team just fails time in and time out to get the right pitchers. Because of Eaton's injury they went out and traded with the Phillies for Tejeda I believe it is. If they were smart they would have upped their offer and asked Phillie for Ryan Madson who looks like a very good ground-ball pitcher in the making. Anyways as long as they continue to but too much emphasis on the power, don't expect them to do anything. How much longer I they going to wait before they ask the Twins for Carlos Silva?
Anyone Interested in Fantasy Baseball?
This is my first go with Fantasy Baseball, I had a lot of fun scouting players and their particular fantasy talents. I find that I now know too many baseball players for my own good, but oh well. I'm in a 10 team Rotisserie League, unfortunately we had a couple guys pull out at the last minute to make for the normal 12 but oh well. Better players for me. Anyways here's my group.
C Kenji Johjima SP Roy Halladay
1B Derrek Lee SP John Lackey
2B Luis Castillo RP Billy Wagner
3B Eric Chavez RP Huston Street
SS Jose Reyes P Kelvim Escobar
OF Hideki Matsui P Oliver Perez
OF Willy Teveras P Chris Ray
OF Torii Hunter BN Aaron Harang
Util Adam Dunn BN Daniel Cabrera
BN Mark Ellis (2B/SS) DL Kerry Wood
BN Kevin Mench (OF)
BN Edwin Encarnacion (3B)
If anyone has and advice, inside information or ways to make my team better I'd be much interested to hear as this is all new territory for me, however they seem like a pretty good bunch.