I couldn’t put this off anymore. The season is still young and fresh. So here it is. A team-by-team glimpse at the 2012 Major League Baseball season. And some predictions.
NEW YORK YANKEES
KEY ADDS: Michael Pineda, Hiroki Kuroda, Raul Ibanez
KEY LOSSES: AJ Burnett (actually, this loss should be associated with the Pirates…)
WHY: I’m an Orioles fan. But I’ll be honest. The 2012 Yankees are solid, 1-9. You really can’t hate Jeter. Hate the Yankees, but try and hate Jeter. Now look at your shortstop. Unless you’ve got Jose Reyes or Troy Tulowitski, you know you would take Jeter. Sure, his batting is on the decline. And his defense is sketchy. But it’s Derek EFF-ING Jeter. He’s a winner and he is still better than your starting shortstop. This lineup has Granderson. It has Cano (top 5 2B). Say what you want about A-Rod, but if he’s on a hot streak then how many worse situations are there if your team holding a 2-run lead… with men on the corners… a hot A-Rod at the plate… and Teixeira on deck? Not too many. You got Raul Ibanez hitting DH—a pretty good upgrade, considering they thought about bringing back an old Johnny Damon. And we haven’t even addressed the rotation yet. Sabathia is gonna be a beast—guarans. Kuroda-Pineda-Nova-Garcia… maybe it doesn’t look like your typical Yankees rotation… but they’re probably gonna pitch like one. Weakest link is probably Garcia. Plus the Yanks still have Hughes and Pettitte. Different era, similar story. You can’t ever rule the Yankees out.
TAMPA BAY RAYS
PREDICTION: 2nd + Wild Card
KEY ADDS: Carlos Pena
KEY LOSSES: Johnny Damon?
WHY: Umm… they brought back Carlos Pena to replace Casey Kotchman. Luke Scott is a significant upgrade in DH over Johnny Damon. And Desmond Jennings is a full-timer. They lost Carl Crawford before last season and their offense was better than “OK”. And now you’ve added Pena back into it? Yeah, I’m sure Tampa Bay isn’t worried. They just need to survive while Upton is injured. But why is Tampa Bay gonna make it to the postseason? Have you seen their rotation? Shields and Price are about as solid a 1-2 as there is in the AL. Hellickson won the Rookie of the Year and Matt Moore just might win it this year. The rotation is structured just like the San Francisco Giants. How does this team not have fans?!
TORONTO BLUE JAYS
KEY ADDS: Uhh…
KEY LOSSES: Uhh…
WHY: Well… they didn’t add anyone. But they didn’t lose anyone. And they were .500 last year. Colby Rasmus and Kelly Johnson are getting full seasons. And Brett Lawrie might become THAT guy. He hits, he’s quick, and he’s a native Canadian. Plus, his sister… I mean, Bautista seems legit. And Arencibia might be one of the strongest catchers in the league. Lots of upside. And they have some nice-looking uniforms too. The rotation isn’t anything eye-popping. But not too much in Canada is**…
**And I can say that, as I am a Canadian.
BOSTON RED SOX
KEY ADDS: Cody Ross
KEY LOSSES: Theo Epstein, Terry Francona, Jonathan Papelbon
WHY: The GM left. And so did their most successful manager. Amidst a lot of accusations, that’s a huge red flag. And Bobby V may be a proven manager… but he’s no Francona. This team just keeps getting worse. At some point, Big Papi is going to run out of magic. Red Sox Nation: you better start praying now that Carl Crawford was just sick from clam chowder last year. Because you aren’t gonna be able to trade him. And you’re invested pretty deep. I guess it was time to move on from Varitek. But I don’t think Saltalamacchia is a long-term answer. Not if the Red Sox wanna stay an elite team. I’m not even gonna say anything about Mike Aviles. Because I don’t know who he is. Letting Papelbon get away was a mistake. But maybe I’m just saying that because “I’m Shipping Up To Boston” is such an awesome song. Time to reload, Boston. Much like the Celtics… it might be time to prepare for the next era.
**And just after starting this preview, Ellsbury went down. Possibly for the season. So… yeah. Have fun with that—subbing Repko is like using scotch tape on the door to keep a hurricane out.
KEY ADDS: Jason Hammel, Wilson Betemit, , Wei-Ying Chen
KEY LOSSES: Jeremy Guthrie, Luke Scott
WHY: I’m optimistic. I say 5th, but I think the AL East is gonna be hard. A .500 season is best-case scenario and if the pitching ever arrives, it’s possible. Guthrie is gone and I say it’s about time. I know he’s probably the best pitcher the O’s have had for years. But I just never liked him. Now we’ve entered the Arrieta Era. Look, offensively, the O’s are capable to hanging in there. Mark Reynolds is gonna put some balls in the Inner Harbor when he isn’t striking out. Adam Jones and Matt Wieters are going to continue to progress into all-stars. Markakis might not turn into the all-star he was projected to be, but he’s more than solid. JJ Hardy is always a pleasant surprise. And Robert Andino is slowly making me forget about B-Rob. Seriously… I’m predicting 5th, but I think the O’s will put up a good fight before fading off. They just don’t have the pitching yet.
KEY ADDS: Prince Fielder
KEY LOSSES: food
WHY: Well, I mean… the Tigers have reigning Cy Young, Justin Verlander. And Doug Fister is pretty good/hilariously named. And the AL Central is usually pretty weak. Plus lately Detroit has sucked a little less as a city (thanks, Megatron). And the lineup is one of the best offenses in baseball. Miggy Cabrera, Brennan Boesch, Jhonny Peralta, Ryan Raburn, Victor Martinez. Oh? Victor Martinez is out for the year? Devastating. No… wait… oh yeah. I forgot about the $214 million they spent on THE PRINCE. Yeah, Prince is now in the American League. This team is going to romp. And they don’t even get Victor back until 2013. Wow. The Tigers could probably win the AL East. Convincingly. And hey, even if the Tigers somehow suck, the Michigan grocery industry about to boom bigger than the automotives.
PREDICTION: 2nd (like it matters… none of the teams are good enough for a Wild Card spot)
KEY ADDS: Derek Lowe
KEY LOSSES: Jim Thome
WHY: Like I said: the rest of the AL Central is pretty weak. The Royals have promise but aren’t there yet. The Twins and the White Sox suck. So the Indians win by default. And really, they aren’t too bad. The rotation is headed by Ubaldo Jimenez, Justin Masterson, and Derek Lowe. That’s pretty decent, right? And maybe they’ll eventually get Roberto Hernandez (aka Fausto Carmona) back. The Welcome Back Jim Thome thing is over… which is a shame. It was probably a mistake to let Grady Sizemore come back instead, because it’s not realistic to think he’s going to stay healthy. But you know who IS healthy and should be ok? Shin-Soo Choo and Travis Hafner. If Hafner can somehow go back to 2006-form, he’s going to complement Carlos Santana really nicely. And if not… well, good thing they signed Casey Kotchman?
KANSAS CITY ROYALS
KEY ADDS: Jonathan Sanchez, Jonathan Broxton
KEY LOSSES: Melky Cabrera
WHY: I became bored with this division after I covered the Tigers. This team is getting the nod for 3rd place only because when a team loses a lot, I support youth movements. And these guys have some potential. Alex Gordon might be an all-star, Lorenzo Cain will probably play some highlight defense, and Eric Hosmer/Billy Butler represents the offensive foundation. The pitching might be a problem though. Luke Hochevar is probably their #1—and I’m not sure he’s even a 3 on any good team. And Dirty Sanchez did throw that no-hitter. But the Giants love their starting pitchers… and they decided it was worth trading him. So… at least they’ll look like this sometimes. It’s nice on the eyes.
KEY ADDS: Josh Willingham
KEY LOSSES: who cares?
WHY: They get the nod over the White Sox simply because they have Mauer and Morneau back. And… Josh Willingham is worth picking up in a fantasy league. Pavano is a workhorse. So there’s that… plus remember when Francisco Liriano was good? They signed Jason Marquis. You know, the guy with the magic touch? The one who has pitched on a playoff team every year of his career, despite playing for several teams. The one who proved that was a mere coincidence when he signed with the Nationals in 2010 and didn’t make the playoffs?. Oh wait… I guess magic isn’t real afterall. Too bad—the Twins would need it.
CHICAGO WHITE SOX
KEY ADDS: Craig Robinson
KEY LOSSES: Mark Buerhle, Carlos Quentin, Ozzie Guillen
WHY: They have Adam Dunn. Through sickness and in health. And that’s too bad, because he might as well be terminal when he’s batting. I’m not sure why they traded Carlos Quentin… but at least they nullified his presence. Quentin is a slugger and they sent him to the Padres and their black-hole of a ballpark. That’s like sending Kevin Durant to a team that plays in a gym where the basketballs are bigger than the rims. The pitching is actually pretty decent. But they aren’t going to score runs. So whatever.
KEY ADDS: Yu Darvish
KEY LOSSES: CJ Wilson
WHY: Pretty much the opposite of the White Sox. Except instead of their pitching being the downfall, it’s also pretty good. They don’t need to be great though because this offense is going to score. They still have Kinsler, Andrus, Hamilton, Beltre, Young, Cruz, and Napoli. And defensively, they’re strong too. So they’ll save the pitchers more often than not. They won the Darvish sweepstakes (although Ichiro has pretty much been the only Asian import that was been a real success). With Wilson going to the Angels, this has become the West Coast version of Yankees-Red Sox. And playing the role of the Yankees is Texas. Firepower-wise. The Angels are the big-spenders. They turned Neftali Feliz into a starter and Joe Nathan is the new closer. That’s a good situation to have. If Feliz makes it as a starter, Nathan is more than an adequate closer. And if Feliz has to go back to the bullpen, that’s a strong-ass bullpen. This is a team that has been to the World Series in back-to-back seasons. And they keep adding just enough that it’s pretty inevitable they’ll win one.
LOS ANGELES ANGELS OF ANAHEIM
PREDICTION: 2nd + Wild Card
KEY ADDS: Albert Pujols, CJ Wilson
KEY LOSSES: Well… $317.5 million is a lot to spend on just two players… It’s gotta be taking away from someone, right?
WHY: Albert Pujols is also now in the AL. And he pushes Kendrys Morales to DH. Which is good for Morales because he tends to get injured in weird ways. And now that he doesn’t have to do anything but hit, he should be safer theoretically. Now they can pretend that Bobby Abreu is gonna get all those platoon innings. But when Mike Trout hits the big leagues… and if Mark Trumbo can hit consistently… LA might get a little awkward… Meanwhile, the pitching should be enough to rival the Rangers. LA’s version of Napoleon, CJ Wilson, joins Jered Weaver, Dan Haren, and Ervin Santana. The Angels might just go to a 4-man rotation simply because they can. The bullpen isn’t strong, but if they can realistically pitch with a 4-man rotation, they are probably pretty capable of going deep into games. I don’t think Pujols is enough to overtake the Rangers, but he should be enough to carry them to that one-game playoff. After watching Pujols last postseason, I don’t think I want that game.
KEY ADDS: Yoenis Cespedes, Bartolo Colon
KEY LOSSES: Billy Beane doesn’t like to spend on his players, so it’s hard to be a “key loss” when they’re gonna replace you for a guy who is $4 cheaper anyways
WHY: This is the team that started the Moneyball revolution, so it’s a little surprising that they spent so much on Cespedes. But then again, it’s Yoenis Cespedes—you can’t pass that up. Even if you have to stand on the corner and beg for change. Might have been a little easier if they didn’t sign Coco Crisp to such a ridiculous contract. Or here’s an idea: use Moneyball tactics to sign wallet-pleasing replacements for Crisp and spend the excess money on finding someone to replace Trevor Cahill and Gio Gonzalez. If you’re trying to get future star, start following the A’s—you can probably trade for Cespedes in two seasons when he’s “too expensive”.
KEY ADDS: Jesus Montero, George Sherrill
KEY LOSSES: Michael Pineda
WHY: Ichiro can’t have much left in the tank. Jesus Montero might be the next Edgar Martinez and Justin Smoak may be better than Tino Martinez… but Carp/Saunders is no Griffey/Buhner. I shouldn’t have even put those duos in the same column, that’s how far apart they are. Poor King Felix. He’ll have another awesome year of no-decisions because this team sucks. PS, how many times do you think they regret the Jones/Sherrill for Bedard trade? They’re getting Sherrill back, but it’s too late.
KEY ADDS: perilously none
KEY LOSSES: Derek Lowe
WHY: The NL East is going to be hard. I could make a case for 4 of the 5 teams. But the Phillies are too banged up, the Marlins just have too much stuff going on this year, and it’s not the Nationals time yet. So I’d go with the team that came thisclose to the postseason last year and kept basically the exact same team. This is probably the last stand for Chipper Jones. But it’s also the passing of the torch to Freddie Freeman and Jason Heyward. Brian McCann will help shift generations. The clincher for me is the pitching staff. Jair Jurrjens and Tommy Hanson are proven. Brandon Beachy and Mike Minor could be great. And Tim Hudson will be back at some point. Not to mention the guys waiting for a chance to show their stuff, like Julio Teheran. Then there’s Craig Kimbrel leading the bullpen. The other teams need everything to go right, the Braves just need to stay steady.
KEY ADDS: Jonathan Papelbon, Jim Thome
KEY LOSSES: Raul Ibanez, Ryan Madson, Brad Lidge, Roy Oswalt
WHY: I find most Philadelphia sports fans to be annoying and dumb. And since I live in PA, I’m often exposed. What gets me is their refusal to admit what is going on. They have the trio of Halladay-Lee-Hamels. They had Oswalt, but he was a disappointment/bust (hey, when you’re the best player on the Astros… buyer beware). If the Phillies can’t work the finances correctly, Hamels is gone after this year. You better believe teams are gonna bid high and I don’t think the Phillies can afford to keep him. Especially because Philadelphia and their fans refuse to admit their offense isn’t what it used to be. Ryan Howard is vastly overrated. Don’t get me wrong, he’s a slugger and he’s good. But he’s not in the tier with Pujols and Fielder. I don’t even think he’s in the same tier as Teixiera and Adrian Gonzalez because he’s not as good of a fielder. Chase Utley has no knees and he may be baseball’s version of Brandon Roy. Jimmy Rollins is good, but he’s slowing dropping out of the top 5 shortstops conversation. Polanco and Victorino don’t stay healthy. The “promising” youngster is John Mayberry, Jr. And he’s 28. Getting Papelbon was a plus. This team will find a way to win because the pitching will be good as usual. But the Phillies really need to start worrying about positions that don’t with “schmitcher”.
KEY ADDS: Ozzie Guillen, Jose Reyes, Mark Buerhle, Carlos Zambrano, Heath Bell, this atrocity
KEY LOSSES: not getting to play on the same field that Dan Marino once played on anymore
WHY: The Marlins spent so much money to win. They got a crazy-nice new stadium. They officially claimed Miami. They got new uniforms. But what they also got as a lot of distractions. They didn’t land Pujols, but they reeled in Jose Reyes (fishing terms!!!). Hanley eventually agreed to move to third base. And the outfield is gonna have Giancarlo/Mike Stanton and Logan Morrison. They will not have a problem scoring runs. But the pitching got sketchy. Josh Johnson is amazing when he’s on, but he missed a lot of last year. Buerhle is good… but I just don’t see him as an ace. He’s very dependable… but they would probably have been better off making a stronger run at CJ Wilson. Or… making finding some Cuban/Dominican hurler hanging out off the coast of Florida. Zambrano is a question mark. Inside a glass box. Placed inside of a protective cell phone case. Maybe he will work out, or maybe he will just break and cause a huge mess. One thing is certain: the Marlins will be entertaining. But there’s just too many “new” things going on… just like season 1 of the Miami Heatles project, it’s going to take time.
KEY ADDS: Edwin Jackson, Gio Gonzalez
KEY LOSSES: Livan Hernandez
WHY: Predicting a 4th place finish is tough. Because I think they will be a .500 team. A .500 4th place team. Ryan Zimmerman will be good and Danny Espinoza should be suprising. But Michael Morse is going to start the season on the DL. But Jayson Werth has not been worth much. And settling on Adam LaRoche after striking out with Prince Fielder is not a home run move. It’s hitting into a triple play. Bryce Harper could turn that around… but he’s not major league ready yet. The pitching is enough to make teams envious. If this was a team that sucked, you would be trying to snatch up these pitchers. Strasburg only has 160 innings in him this season—if he makes it that far. But a core of Strasburg-Gonzalez-Zimmermann-Jackson… this team is taking the road the Rays once paved.
NEW YORK METS
KEY ADDS: hard to add big names when you have less than no money
KEY LOSSES: Jose Reyes
WHY: The Mets need to be able to spend money. The NL East is beginning to look like the AL East. And the Mets are the Orioles. Except the Orioles choose not to spend the money. The Mets don’t have any anyways. David Wright has got to be wanting out. Or at least pinstripes. At least they’ll have Johan Santana back this year. RA Dickey and Jon Niese will do what they can. But it won’t matter.
KEY ADDS: Aramis Ramirez
KEY LOSSES: Prince Fielder
WHY: If Ryan Braun getting his suspension overturned isn’t a good sign, then nothing is. Losing Prince means losing 30-40 homers and 100+ RBIs. But Aramis is good for 25-30 and 95+… so are the Brewers really losing much? They return Rickie Weeks, Braun, and Corey Hart. Mat Gamel will be unleashed, and if he can put up a fraction of what the Prince did, mission accomplished. Gallardo and Greinke will lead a decent rotation that includes consistent Randy Wolf and Shaun Marcum. This Brewers team might not be as exciting as past teams. But the foundation is still there for them to be a likely playoff team. Plus, the Cardinals didn’t walk away unscathed either…
ST. LOUIS CARDINALS
PREDICTION: 2nd + Wild Card
KEY ADDS: Carlos Beltran
KEY LOSSES: Albert Pujols, Tony LaRussa
WHY: I wanted to put the Reds here and give them the Wild Card nod. But the Cardinals pitching has the edge. Beltran won’t make the Cards forget about Pujols, but he’ll help. And David Freese should get better, so that will help. I think Matt Holliday suffers a little because teams aren’t going to set him up with pitches as they used to when they pitched around Pujols. The pitching should be better because Adam Wainwright is back from TJ surgery. It might not be immediate, but he should get close to what he was. Carpenter and Lohse should have enough to temporarily make up the difference. But they need to watch out because the Reds are gonna be good.
KEY ADDS: Mat Latos, Ryan Ludwick
KEY LOSSES: Edison Volquez, Ryan Madson**
**I know they just signed him, so he should be a key add. But he’s also out for the year due to injury. Thus, loss.
WHY: Look at these names and understand why Cincinnati is excited for its future: Drew Stubbs. Brandon Phillips. Joey Votto. Jay Bruce. Johnny Cueto. Mat Latos. Yeah. Should the Cardinals’ pitching falter or should they go through a cold spell, the Reds could easily take the Wild Card spot. They might take it anyway and put 3 NL Central teams in the playoffs.
KEY ADDS: Theo Epstein
KEY LOSSES: Aramis Ramirez, Carlos Pena, Carlos Zambrano
WHY: The Cubs won’t be good. But neither will the Pirates. And the Astros… well, they’re gonna move to the AL in 2013 and make the Mariners look good. I picked the Cubs to finish this high because Theo Epstein knows what he’s doing. He’s got a few tools to work with: Starlin Castro, Marlon Byrd, Bryan LaHair, Matt Garza, Ryan Dempster. And what if this is the year Alfonso Soriano decides to show up? Ultimately, the NL Central is just too competitive.
KEY ADDS: AJ Burnett, Erik Bedard
KEY LOSSES: AJ Burnett
WHY: I think the Pirates are a team that will be battling the Reds in a few years. They have lots of potential with Jose Tabata, Alex Presley, Andrew McCutchen, and Pedro Alvarez. AJ Burnett will probably disappoint as always, but he will provide experience—and for what it’s worth, he played on a winning team. Plus, I think Jeff Karstens is a sleeper.
KEY ADDS: they got a new owner?
KEY LOSSES: they got kicked out of the NL
WHY: This team should somehow be better. I mean, they had Lance Berkman and Roy Oswalt. But their ineptness in trading them netted nothing. And they had Hunter Pence and Michael Bourne. And netted nothing. At least they have Lil Papi, Carlos Lee—who they might have been able to trade for 2, maybe 3, prospects… 3 years ago. The good news is they’re getting out of the NL. The bad news is it doesn’t matter. The Astros are the worst team in baseball.
SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS
KEY ADDS: Melky Cabrera, Angel Pagan
KEY LOSSES: Jonathan Sanchez, Carlos Beltran, Cody Ross, Pat Burrell
WHY: Well… they probably should have made more moves than turning Dirty Sanchez into Melky. There’s a lot of places they could have upgraded. But Buster Posey is back. And Kung Fu Panda is a great third baseman. Add a personal favorite of mine, Aubrey Huff, and you have am ok middle-of-the-order. Freddy Sanchez will eventually be in the lineup and the Giants are hoping Brandon Belt becomes what they have projected. Things could be worse… but there’s a reason they’ll win the West. It’s called Lincecum-Cain-Bumgarner-Vogelsong-Zito. And it’s called “You’re welcome”. Well, maybe not Zito. But he’s one of those guys… that if he finds a time machine… And when they come out of a game, you’re got one of the best bullpens ready to take over. Don’t pretend like you didn’t know. There’s no way you can pretend this slipped your mind.
**My heart broke when I found out The Beard is gonna be shut down for the season. Why him? Won’t see this again until the middle of 2013.
PREDICTION: 2nd + Wild Card
KEY ADDS: Trevor Cahill
KEY LOSSES: the Cinderalla aspect of success
WHY: There’s enough bright spots in the lineup that Arizona could sneak the West from the Giants. I’m eyeing Justin Upton, Miguel Montero, Chris Young, Paul Goldschmidt, and Ryan Roberts. And additionally, it will be nice to have Stephen Drew back. Ian Kennedy-Trevor Cahill-Daniel Hudson is a formidable trio. And with JJ Putz and David Hernandez in the ‘pen, the Diamondbacks should be looking pretty good. This team’s young… so look for them to be contenders for a while.
KEY ADDS: Michael Cuddyer, Jeremy Guthrie, Jamie Moyer
KEY LOSSES: Huston Street
WHY: I really think I’m underestimating the Rockies. This is a lineup that includes Carlos Gonzalez, Troy Tulowitzki, and the ageless Todd Helton. Plus Dexter Fowler could be an all-star. Trading for Jeremy Guthrie was not the right move to make if you’re looking for an ace. But he’s a workhorse. And maybe he’ll be a good #2 behind Jhoulys Chacin. Not to mention Drew Pomeranz was worth giving up Ubaldo Jimenez… And come on, everyone’s pulling for Jamie Moyer to sneak a few wins.
LOS ANGELES DODGERS
KEY ADDS: they finally got bought
KEY LOSSES: Casey Blake, Hiroki Kuroda
WHY: Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier. Those guys are pretty good. But that’s pretty much it. The pitching should be fine (Kershaw-Billingsley-Lilly-Harang-Capuano) but this team has been surrounded by uncertainty for too long. They need to make some moves and the farm system isn’t going to make that easy. Magic’s gonna need a lot of magic.
SAN DIEGO PADRES
KEY ADDS: Carlos Quentin, Huston Street
KEY LOSSES: Mat Matos, Heath Bell
WHY: Cameron Maybin is going to be a focal point. But Quentin is going to begin the year injured. And I don’t recognize a single name left in the lineup. Cory Luebke could be the ace, but I think the Padres need help. And a way to not put me to sleep. Maybe they should bring back this guy or this guy. Couldn’t hurt to try.
SO WHO WINS?
WILD CARD ROUND
2012 marks the first year of the Wild Card round. And I’ve got the Rays up against the Angels in the AL; Cardinals-Diamondbacks in the NL. Yeah, it’s gonna be a lot of fun. Any one of the Rays starters could conceivably handcuff the Angels lineup. But the same could be said the other way around. As for Cards-Dbacks… well I know that’s who I predicted. But I think you can sub out either team with someone from the Phillies-Reds-Rockies pool. The I think the wild card spot is going to be bat-shit crazy in the NL. But since I already called the matchup… Arizona just has too much upside. How ironic that the absence of Pujols is going to doom the Cards—because I don’t think the addition of Pujols is not enough for the Angels.
Tampa Bay Rays over Los Angeles Angels
Arizona Diamondbacks over St. Louis Cardinals
Holy crap. Yankees, Rays, Tigers, Rangers… Braves, Brewers, Giants, Diamondbacks… We got some of the every-year contenders and we have some newer blood. I don’t even think it’s possible for me to accurately predict this round’s matchups. It’s been a long time since I think the playoff scenario was this fun. Yankees-Red Sox is old news—Yankees-Rays is in. Tigers-Rangers is kinda where we’re at in baseball these days. The Tigers have the reigning Cy Young (Verlander) and decent pitching. Or I guess the pitching is suffice considering they teamed up Prince Fielder and Miguel Cabrera. Plus, you know, Victor Martinez will be a factor someday. The Rangers have a nice offense of their own. And every year, they tinker around just enough to make it marginally better. And they tried to harden the rotation with Darvish. These two teams are gonna be in the picture for a while. BUT, what if it’s Yankees-Rangers and Rays-Tigers? Or Yankees-Tigers and Rays-Rangers? In every one of those matchups, you’re getting a dogfight. The NL is no slouch either. The Braves are old school. But they never stop getting that pitching! Put them up against the Giants and we’re talking about a series where no game is shorter than extra innings. And those bullpens… you might need to expand the rosters to 53, because arms are going to get tired. Brewers and Diamondbacks will be the opposite—SLUGFEST!!! I’m less excited about other combinations, except maybe a potential Brewers-Giants round. Which I might still get.
Detroit Tigers over New York Yankees
Texas Rangers over Tampa Bay Rays
San Francisco Giants over Atlanta Braves
Milwaukee Brewers over Arizona Diamondbacks
LEAGUE CHAMPIONSHIP ROUND
This is better. It won’t be easy to get here, but it’ll be fun to watch. I’ve got Prince/Cabrera slugging their way in, while the Rangers just do work. Then on the other side, the Giants sneak in—if they can outduel the Phillies, I think they can outpitch the Braves. And the Brewers will just be too motivated. Somehow, the clincher for the Tigers will occur just before the potential clincher for the Brewers and Milwaukee will just get angry. I think Prince continues to slug his way along and once again, Texas falls short. But this time they fall short of the World Series, sending them off to re-tool. Darvish’s postseason run ends badly—he goes 0-2 this round. Fielder and Cabrera’s combined stats off him: 5-5, 5 home runs, 9 RBIs (at one of those bombs get hit even though Darvish was trying to intentionally walk). Again, the Brewers just watch the Tigers and try to out-do them. That’s all that is fueling the run.
Detroit Tigers over Texas Rangers
Milwaukee Brewers over San Francisco Giants
It had to end this way. I don’t want some 4-year story arch, where Braun and the Brewers wait for revenge against Prince. I don’t want some story where Prince says he still loves Milwaukee. I want a rivalry. I want baseball’s version of Steelers-Ravens. Or Lakers-Celtics. Or Yankees-Red Sox. Wait… No, this will do. Because Prince Fielder did the Brewers dirty. And before you say it, Johnny Damon changing sides is not nearly on the same level. I’m talking about the Fall Classic, up north. Brushback pitches. Home runs, complete with the batter watching in awe as the ball smashes some (un)lucky fan’s face. And the perfect ending. Yeah. Detroit. Bases loaded, 2 outs, bottom of the 9th. Prince up to bat. Full count. Next pitch, BOOM! He goes deep to left. Deeper, deeper, deeper… and Ryan Braun climbs the wall and robs him. Game over, Brewers win. Or this one. Milwaukee. Bottom of the 9th. Two men on, two outs. Braun batting. Pitch in on the hands, and Braun barely fights it off. Cheap, slow roller to first. The state of Wisconsin dropping their heads. Tigers outfield already running in for the celebration on the mound. And Prince pulls off the Bill Buckner. Brewers win.
Milwaukee Brewers over Detroit Tigers
PS– AL Cy Coung? Jake Arrieta (of course). NL Cy Young? Matt Cain. AL MVP? Prince Fielder. NL MVP? Ryan Braun (the Fielder-Braun rivalry WILL happen). AL Rookie? Yoenis Cespedes. NL Rookie? Drew Pomeranz