This week, I’ll provide my predictions for the 2011 season.
1. Boston Red Sox – I really like Lester and Buchholz at the top of the Red Sox rotation, but, at least in my opinion, it gets shaky after that. It’s a good thing their line-up is so good.
2. New York Yankees – The Yankees starting pitching is very thin, but you can get away with that in the regular season if you have the offense that the Yankees have. However, that does not bode well for the playoffs.
3. Toronto Blue Jays – The Blue Jays have loads of young talent on their team, with Ricky Romero and Kyle Drabek in their rotation, JP Arencibia behind the plate, and Travis Snider in left field. I think that the Jays have a bright future, but as far as 2011 goes, ‘future’ is the key word in that statement.
4. Tampa Bay Rays – I really don’t like anything about this Rays team. After David Price, their rotation is very questionable, their bullpen is awful, and, with their lineup, they will probably average about a run per game. They are better than the Orioles, though.
5. Baltimore Orioles – The O’s added come nice pieces this offseason, like Vladimir Guerrero, Mark Reynolds, Kevin Gregg, JJ Hardy, Derrek Lee, and Justin Duchscherer. They also have plenty of young prospects on the team. Despite their improvement and youth, however, they still will struggle, especially in this division.
1. Minnesota Twins – While the Twins don’t have an ace, their entire rotation is composed of solid pitchers, with Pavano, Liriano, Blackburn, Baker, and Duensing, and solid pitching is all you need to make it through the regular season.
2. Chicago White Sox – The White Sox could very possibly have an amazing rotation, but it is just as possible that it will be very mediocre. Buehrle and Danks are going to be very good pitchers as always, but then there is Edwin Jackson, who could be amazing, or could be mediocre, at #4 there is Gavin Floyd, and he is another guy who could be awesome or could struggle. And then who knows if Jake Peavy will stay healthy.
3. Detroit Tigers – The Tigers made a couple of big moves this offseason, signing Victor Martinez and Joaquin Benoit. But they didn’t do anything to help their starting rotation, which is what needed the most help. After Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer, the Tigers have Rick Porcello, who has loads of talent and had a very good rookie season in 2009, but then followed that year up with an ERA near 5.00 in 2010. They finish out the rotation with Brad Penny and Phil Coke, which is a very uninspiring 4 and 5.
4. Kansas City Royals – The Royals are not a good team. The average baseball fan could probably name about …… 0 players on the Royals roster. After Billy Butler, their second best hitter is probably Jeff Francoeur, and on most teams he would be a 4th outfielder. Their Opening Day starter had a 4.81 ERA last year. This team is bad.
5. Cleveland Indians – As bad as the Royals are, the Indians are worse. Their infield looks like a Triple-A squad, and their starting rotation is terrible. They have some good pieces, with Shin-Soo Choo and Carlos Santana, but those are about their only good pieces.
1. Texas Rangers – The Rangers can hit like crazy. The line-up contains 5 players that hit 20+ home runs last year (Josh Hamilton, Adrian Beltre, Michael Young, Nelson Cruz, and Mike Napoli), and another guy who has hit as many as 31 homers in a season (Ian Kinsler). The starting rotation may not be great, but it is good enough to get the Rangers their second straight division title.
2. Oakland Athletics – The A’s have fantastic young pitching. They have a good bullpen. Their overall pitching is phenomenal. But they have absolutely no hitting. Nobody on their team hit more than 21 home runs last year. However, since they have no power, they make up for it with their lack of contact and their mediocre speed.
3. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim – The Angels rotation could be very, very good, but I wouldn’t count on it. Jered Weaver will be an ace, but Dan Haren is getting older and struggled last year, Ervin Santana is extremely inconsistent, and Scott Kazmir seems to have lost it. And, on top of that, their lineup consists of old men on the downside of their careers.
4. Seattle Mariners – The Mariners have the reigning Cy Young winner in Felix Hernandez. They have one of the best hitters in baseball in Ichiro Suzuki. And that’s about it. Aside from those two players, there is no way to put it other than this: They’re a bad team.
AL MVP: Adrian Gonzalez, BOS
Runner-up: Robinson Cano, NYY
AL Cy Young: Clay Buchholz, BOS
Runner-up: CC Sabathia, NYY
AL Rookie of the Year: JP Arencibia, TOR
Runner-up: Brent Morel, CWS
1. Philadelphia Phillies – With the signing of Cliff Lee, no one has a better starting rotation than the Phillies. They are far and away better than anyone else in that category. But once you get past their rotation, they are shaky. Their bullpen isn’t very good, and they will struggle to score.
2. Atlanta Braves – The Braves have a very good rotation, with Tim Hudson, Tommy Hanson, Derek Lowe, Jair Jurrjens, Brandon Beachy (who had a 0.90 ERA this spring), and have some good hitters in a solid lineup, even if it doesn’t blow you away.
3. Florida Marlins – It seems like every year, I pick the Marlins as a surprise team. Well, they never come through for me, and I am done picking them. I like their rotation, and I think their offense has potential, but I’ve learned my lesson. They’re underperformers.
4. New York Mets – The Mets are awful. Their rotation stinks, their offense is old, slow, and injury-prone, and their only good bullpen pitcher beat up his girlfriend’s dad. This franchise has many more bad years in its future.
5. Washington Nationals – Livan Hernandez was the Opening Day starter. Ian Desmond is leading off. I think that says enough. They’ll be doing well if they win 50 games this year.
1. Cincinnati Reds – Even though they have no ace, the Reds probably have the deepest rotation in baseball, with 6 proven big league starters in Edinson Volquez, Bronson Arroyo, Travis Wood, Johnny Cueto, Homer Bailey, and Mike Leake. Oh, and by the way, they also have one of the best lineups in all of baseball.
2. Milwaukee Brewers – Yes, they can hit. Yes, the top three in their rotation are very, very good. But they still have one of the worst bullpens in baseball, and that is why I don’t think they are good enough to be a playoff team.
3. St. Louis Cardinals – I don’t think the Cards would have won with Wainwright, but without him, they don’t have much of a chance. Their lineup has a total of two good hitters, and their rotation without Wainwright isn’t very good.
4. Chicago Cubs – Come on, it’s the Cubs. They’re old. They underperform. They’re hotheads. And they lose. The rotation could be good, but it won’t be. The offense could be good, but it won’t be. That’s the way the Cubs work, and that’s the way it will go in 2011.
5. Houston Astros – The Astros are terrible. It’s a good thing they have a good farm system. Oh, wait, they don’t have that either. It’s a good thing they’re in a good ownership situation. Oh, wait, that’s wrong. Well, there’s always 20 years from now, Houston.
6. Pittsburgh Pirates – The team slogan for the year for the Pirates is: ‘Pride. Passion. Pittsburgh Pirates.’ There is nothing for this team to be proud about, as their #1 starter had a 5.31 ERA last year, and they don’t hit the ball well.
1. Los Angeles Dodgers – I really like this Dodgers team. They have a deep rotation like the Reds, but unlike the Reds, they have an ace. They have six starting pitchers who have proven they can pitch well in the majors in Clayton Kershaw, Chad Billingsley, Ted Lilly, Hiroki Kuroda, Jon Garland, and Vicente Padilla. And while they won’t score too many runs, they’re offense is good enough to win ballgames.
2. San Francisco Giants – The Giants still have a great rotation, but I think that their hitting will be even worse than last year, and I just don’t see them going back to the playoffs, as while their rotation is very good, it’s not all that deep, and an injury would be terrible for this team.
3. Colorado Rockies – This Rockies team will hit the ball, but I think that they will get hit hard as well. After Ubaldo Jimenez, I’m not a big fan of their rotation, and I just don’t think that they are good enough to be ahead of either the Dodgers or the Giants.
4. San Diego Padres – I said this last year and it was wrong, so maybe it will be wrong this year, too, but the Padres have a bad team. They have okay pitching, and they will struggle to score runs offensively.
5. Arizona Diamondbacks – Every time I see their roster, I am surprised at how bad it is. Aside from Justin Upton and Chris Young, they don’t hit well, and there is not one pitcher in their rotation that you can count on to be good this year. This team has last place written all over it.
NL MVP: Ryan Braun, MIL
Runner-up: Jay Bruce, CIN
NL Cy Young: Roy Halladay, PHI
Runner-up: Cliff Lee, PHI
NL Rookie of the Year: Freddie Freeman, ATL
Runner-up: Brandon Belt, SF
Boston Red Sox over Minnesota Twins
Texas Rangers over New York Yankees
Philadelphia Phillies over Los Angeles Dodgers
Cincinnati Reds over Atlanta Braves
Boston Red Sox over Texas Rangers
Philadelphia Phillies over Cincinnati Reds
Philadelphia Phillies over Boston Red Sox
Come back next week for a brief interview with Elvis Andrus