Thursday, March 30, 2006

2006 MLB Predictions

Alright, here goes nothing. After spending most of a plane ride to Atlanta with BP 2006 it's time for my 2006 MLB predictions. This is really just for fun and to start some debates. My picks are based upon things I've read about the teams, things I already knew about the teams, wishful thinking, and thick bias against teams I don't like. The format is each division's finishing order (* denotes wild card) followed by comments on the division. The NL Central will be a little more in depth because I know more about it and it's more pertinent to the Pirates. My final Pirates pre-season preview will be tomorrow. Here goes nothing...

AL East

  1. NY Yankees
  2. Toronto Blue Jays
  3. Boston Red Sox
  4. Tampa Bay Devil Rays
  5. Baltimore Orioles
Comments: Clearly it's still the Yankees division to lose, though I do think this is the year they could. The Red Sox seem to be aging in leap years and their pitching staff at the moment centers around Schilling, David Wells, and the Kip Wells of Boston, Matt Clement. Toronto got a lot better, but not enough to catch up to the Yankees, though I think they could nip Boston from behind. Tampa has a ton of good young talent, and frankly, I just can't seem them finishing last again.

AL Central
  1. Cleveland Indians
  2. Chicago White Sox*
  3. Minnesota Twins
  4. Detroit Tigers
  5. Kansas City Royals
Comments: Yeah, the White Sox won the World Series last year, but the Indians lost 6 of their last seven and otherwise would've gone into the playoffs as the hottest team in either league. The White Sox outplayed themselves a bit last year, but they knew well enough that you have to mix things up, even after the best of seasons and I think that will put them back into the playoffs. Well, that and their amazing rotation. The Twins will be about the same as last year, I'm not sure what the '92 Pirates can bring to Detroit, but I don't think it's contention, and the Royals are, well, the Royals.

AL West
  1. Oakland A's
  2. LA-A Angels
  3. Texas Rangers
  4. Seattle Mariners
Comments: In the only four team division, Rick Harden and Danny Haren are only going to get better. Huston Street probably can't, but only under the Zach Duke corrollary (the numbers he put up last year were almost unreal by human standards and thus probably won't be replicated). The Angels are lead by a superduper star with a bad back and a fat man with a Cy Young. There's lots of potential for bad things to happen there. Also, I can't pick a team from nowhere to win a division. I picked the Rangers and Mariners to finish 3 and 4 because I don't know much about them besides the fact that they aren't better than the top two teams in the division (and the Rangers hit a ton of homers), don't care to learn much about them, and know that's how they finished last year.

NL East
  1. NY Mets
  2. Philadelphia Phillies*
  3. Atlanta Braves
  4. Washington Nationals
  5. Florida Marlins
Comments: OK, here's the deal with the Braves. To win 14 straight divisions, you don't only have to be very good, you have to be very very lucky. When you do things like let Leo Mazzone walk to Baltimore, you lose some of that luck. I think the pitching staff takes a step back this year and I'm not sure many of those 9 million rookies from last year can match their performances. Francouer is not that good, they replaced Furcal with Edgar Renteria, and as nice as the city of Atlanta was to me this week, I just plain don't like the Braves. The Nationals? Come on, they gave the D-Train a roster spot over Ryan Church. If it wasn't for the Marlins, I'd put them in last place on pure principle.

NL Central
  1. St. Louis Cardinals
  2. Milwaukee Brewers
  3. Houston Astros
  4. Pittsburgh Pirates
  5. Chicago Cubs
  6. Cincinnati Reds
Comments:The Cards are the best team in the division. They'll come back to the pack a little (think 95 wins instead of 100) with Edmonds getting older, Rolen being uncertain after a serious injury (torn labrum) and Carpenter probably not being able to match last season, but no one's good enough to catch them. The Brewers are coming close and I think they'll end up like the Indians of last year, big push at the end when everyone matures and gels, only to run out of gas and fall just short of a division or a wild card. The Astros, well, I don't know. Something about them I just don't like this year. I don't see Clemens coming back and I get this feeling that even though they somehow made the World Series last year that they just weren't that good. We'll discuss my semi-optimism for the Pirates tomorrow, but mostly I just hate picking us to finish in fifth or six, it's so depressing. I just plain don't like the Cubs chances (Wood and Prior are both starting on the DL, their top offseason acquisition (Pierre) is coming off a Tike Redman like season, and I'm not sure he's much better than that. They also picked up Jacque Jones... blah. I have the Reds last because of their rotation, which I think could take on nightmarish proportions between Dave Williams, Eric Milton, and an unhappy Bronson Arroyo. I mean, their ace is Aaron Harang. Sure, he's not that bad, but one year we started Ron Villone in the season opener because we thought the same thing. We lost 100 games that year (albeit without Griffey, who looks great, Dunn, Kearns, etc.).

NL West
  1. LA Dodgers
  2. San Diego Padres
  3. Arizona Diamondbacks
  4. San Francisco Giants
  5. Colorado Rockies
Comments: This is another division in which I profess ignorance of the teams. The Dodgers got hit massively hard by the injury bug last year, and because of that we have a new manager and Paul DePodesta is out of a job. Adding Furcal and Nomar were great moves (Nomar killed the ball after he came back from injury last year). I don't know a ton about the Padres, but hey they won the division last year, right? And they ditched Joe Randa, that had to be a good move. The D'Backs improved last year, but outperformed their pythagorean record by 11 games. What goes around comes around, I say. The Giants have the oldest outfield ever (Alou, Finley, Bonds) and Bonds is just falling apart physically. The rest of the roster is just kind of blah. The Rockies, are, well the Rockies, kind of how we're the Pirates and the Royals are the Royals. Sorry, guys, it sucks, I know (if I was anything but a Pirates fan I'd probably have them picked for last place, too).

Playoffs (just for fun)
AL Wild Card: Indians over Yankees, White Sox over A's
NL Wild Card: Cards over Philles, Mets over Dodgers

ALCS: Indians over White Sox
NLCS: Cards over Mets

World Series: Indians over Cards (this eliminating "curses" thing is pretty en vogue, it's Rocky Colavito's turn to be exorcised, plus, let's face it, God probably owes Cleveland fans after Pittsburgh got to witness the GREATEST PLAYOFF RUN IN NFL HISTORY, EVER, PERIOD).