Friday, October 8, 2010

3 comments MLB 2010 Team Preview Review Part 1

I was going to see what Bill Simmons wrote today and see if it was worthy of being posted here, but the Boston Sports Guy has an entire column up about the Randy Moss trade. I keep getting confused why an ESPNBoston columnist has his columns posted on Page 2, but that may just be me. So not shockingly, Simmons has a column up about the Randy Moss trade and ignores MLB postseason because the Red Sox aren't "prominently involved" (those are the words he would use). So the Boston Sports Guy posts something about Boston, because we all care about what happens with his favorite teams in every sport. So I will ignore it because I don't give a shit about Randy Moss getting traded and could care even less about what Bill Simmons has to say about it as he rams his Boston-centric focus down our respective throats.

(I would have no problem with his point of view if ESPN still called him the Boston Sports Guy. That's what he writes about mostly. It is fine, but don't take away the "Boston" and think you are fooling everyone.)

I began the baseball season with a preview of each team in Major League Baseball and now that the season has ended, I thought I would do a review of how well/poorly I did. Obviously I am not an expert, but I figure unlike a lot of the real "experts" if I am going to make predictions and say things about a team before the season I may as well hold myself accountable to what I said. So I will give the final record, my predicted record, what I said that was right and what I said that was wrong for each team. You can find what I wrote about each team in the preview under the tag "MLB Preview." I will do 15 teams for this week and then finish with the remaining 15 teams next week.

Arizona Diamondbacks

Final record: 65-97
Predicted record: 84-78

What I said right: Very little. When you are nearly 20 games off a team's final record there isn't much positive to say.

I also think as much as I just ragged on Stephen Drew, a team could do a lot worse than him. I don't care for Chris Young and I just get this feeling the lineup should be absolutely lethal at this point. It is just not where I want it to be.

The D-backs were 16th in MLB in runs scored, Chris Young had the best year of his career and was elected to be an All-Star, so I was sort of wrong about that. Stephen Drew had a pretty good year though and my lukewarm sentiment was supposed to be an endorsement. Other than that, I wasn't exactly spot-on with this team. I bought high on them, even though I pointed out the lineup was disappointing and the pitching wasn't very strong, and ended up being incorrect.

What I said wrong:

I was excited to see the D-backs picked up Edwin Jackson. With Webb being healthy and Jackson finally being a legitimate #3 starter I like the D-backs rotation.

Jackson had one great game and then showed he may not be a #3 starter after all.

I like the D-backs because I think this lineup is going to be fairly strong, the front end of the rotation looks good and I think the bullpen should hold up fairly well.

The D-Backs were 28th in ERA, 23rd in starter ERA, and 30th in reliever ERA. They were terrible.

Atlanta Braves

Final record: 91-71
Predicted record: 80-82

What I said right: I missed the record pretty badly, but I didn't believe in this Braves team and I was wrong not to.

Trusting in Troy Glaus to rebound from injuries this year seems like a desperation move to me and if he gets hurt who plays 1B? The best thing the Braves could do is use go ahead and play Jason Heyward if he wins the job out of spring training and worry about him being a Super Two later.

I was right about Heyward. After a great start, Glaus went M.I.A. and hasn't played in nearly a month and a half. The answer was that Derrek Lee would play 1B in his absence, which isn't an answer I wanted.

The Braves rotation should be nearly as good as it was last year, it's just they may have to throw shutouts every night to win games.

The Braves were 13th in the majors in runs, but after injuries set in for them to Martin Prado and Chipper Jones, it did feel like they struggled for runs.

Weak in the outfield, no pop in the batting order and a team that will rely on 3 guys to score some runs. Does the offense have potential? Yes, it does, but it still lacks power in the outfield and the team has their fingers crossed for good health a bit much for my taste.

There was still no power in the outfield the entire year and I have no idea how the injuries didn't kill the Braves worse than it should have.

What I said wrong:

The bullpen will be this team's downfall. There is too much reliance on guys who are too old.

The bullpen was a strength for them with the 3rd best bullpen ERA in baseball. Other than that, I actually got a lot of the Braves preview correct, they just won more games than I expected they would.

Baltimore Orioles

Final record: 72-90
Predicted record: 66-96..

What I got right:

HERE is the problem with the Baltimore Orioles. They in no way have the pitching necessary to compete in the AL East.

They were 27th in ERA and 22nd in quality starts.

I have heard positive things about Brian Matusz and I think possibly next year he could make a difference for this team, but not this year.

So I was right and wrong about this. Matusz didn't pitch terribly this year, though his numbers weren't overly impressive he did show some potential for the Orioles.

What I got wrong:

The signing of Kevin Millwood is going to be important because he is a major upgrade in the starting rotation

4-16 and a 5.10 ERA. That's not an upgrade.

I love the lineup for the Orioles, mostly the outfield, but this team is going to score runs in my mind,

The lineup I loved was 27th in runs scored and 24th in OBP. Adam Jones took a step back this year and Markakis didn't have a great year for what he had shown previously.

Boston Red Sox

Final record: 97-65
Predicted record: 89-73

What I got right:

Bottom line, I like the lineup, and I actually like the depth of the lineup with Mike Lowell, Jed Lowrie, Bill Hall, Jason Varitek and Jeremy Hermida on the bench. They have what I consider a more balanced lineup this year.

Admittedly, I did worry about some problems in the lineup in my preview, but I did like the depth of it. I think the depth showed through when the massive amount of injuries hit.

I also love the ability some of the Red Sox players have to play multiple positions. Youkilis can play 1B and 3B and Martinez can play C and 1B. So that way if there is an injury to Beltre, Lowell, or Youkilis (not all at the same time)

Little did I know this would be almost true and these three players very well ended up all injured at the same time.

What I got wrong:

Clearly there is an incredible amount of depth here and it may not matter what the hitters for the Red Sox can do because the pitching is the best in baseball from starter #1 to starter #6.

There was depth, but ineffectiveness and injuries destroyed that depth. The Red Sox were 22nd in ERA and 17th in quality starts. It's all relative, but that's not good for a team that wants to compete in the AL East.

Chicago Cubs

Final record: 75-87
Predicted record: 77-85

What I got right: Besides the record, which I am somewhat proud of...

This Cubs lineup has the feel of either "we are going to blow this up and start over" or "this is the year these guys click and the Cubs can make the World Series."

I think they are heading for the "blow this up" route.

I don't think there is an in-between. Lou Piniella will either get a contract extension or just basically quit on this team.

Yes, I actually said this. I am like a sage, except not really. Piniella didn't quit on the Cubs, but he retired mid-year, which I don't believe would have happened if they were winning.

I don't like this team that much this year based on the lineup, the fact I do have some questions about the bullpen and the shit smell I just get from this team.

They were 29th in reliever ERA.

What I got wrong:

I have a hard time feeling good about a 34 year old coming off surgery in Ted Lilly and I don't know if they will get 2008 Ryan Dempster or 2009 Ryan Dempster. It wouldn't shock me to see Randy Wells end up being one of the better pitchers on this staff.

Lilly had a decent year and so did Dempster. Randy Wells was not one of the better pitchers on the staff.

Chicago White Sox

Final record: 88-74
Predicted record: 89-73

If only every team played in Chicago I could get my predicted records looking good.

What I got right:

Other than Konerko, I don't know exactly where the hitting is going to come from if both of those guys struggle. I see hitting as this team's problem, but I do think they will find a way to solve that problem with the guys on the roster.

Paul Konerko was easily the White Sox best hitter this year and the good hitting came from Alex Rios and even Andruw Jones. I am not sure I could exactly see that coming.

What I got wrong:

I would bet $100 it takes less than a month for Dan Hudson to take that spot from him.

I am talking about Freddy Garcia and Garcia had a good enough year to hold down the 5th starter spot for nearly the entire season and Dan Hudson made three starts. That's it. I would have lost $100 and even more respect for myself if someone made this agreement with me.

I like the choices the White Sox have in the lineup and I of course really like the pitching rotation of the White Sox.

The White Sox pitching rotation really wasn't especially great this year. They were 6th in quality starts though, so they weren't altogether terrible.

Cincinnati Reds

Final record: 91-71
Predicted record: 82-80

What I got right:

Throw in the uncertainty in exactly what we will get from some of the pitchers in the rotation and I think, as I have said they will be the official National League "team no one wants to play" for this year.

They were an improved team for sure this year. I don't know if they got this unofficial designation, but they had a good year.

This is the first year in a while I have looked at the Reds and thought, "if this goes right and if this goes right, I see them having a shot at winning the division."

I guess all things went right for them because I also repeatedly said they could win the division next year...not in 2010, but 2011.

What I got wrong:

First, I only mentioned Joey Votto twice in my preview. Since he could very well be the NL MVP that was a huge oversight. Huge. Quickly.

I am pretty sure you don't pay $30 million to Aroldis Chapman for him to be a long reliever or go down to the minor leagues or at least I hope not.

They did send him down.

I am not sure the Reds lineup has enough firepower to compete in the NL Central.

Right...because it took a lot of firepower to keep up with Milwaukee, Pittsburgh and Houston.

Cleveland Indians

Final record: 69-93
My prediction: 68-94

Again, not a bad prediction. I am either really close or way off these predictions.

What I got right:

I have a feeling if Westbrook has a good first half of the season he will be wearing a new uniform come late July.

There you go. I predicted the Indians would trade a pitcher. It was a shock to everyone, I know.

What I got wrong:

Nobody knows what the hell happened to Fausto Carmona and there is a slight chance Justin Masterson may be the best pitcher on the staff.

Flip those around and it may be more accurate.

I am excited to watch LaPorta play everyday and see what some of the young guys on the Indians roster are able to do. I don't think they are going to be very good, but it will still be interesting this year.

LaPorta didn't have a great year, Manson wasn't good either, and neither was Michael Brantley. It was fun watching Carlos Santana for a while though.

Colorado Rockies

Final record: 83-79
My prediction: 94-68

What I got right:

Though many Rockies writers bemoaned the trade of Matt Holliday (Woody Paige especially), I think after realizing that Huston Street isn't all that bad of a closer and Carlos Gonzalez has the potential to be a special hitter these people all came around.

Carlos Gonzalez did become a special hitter this year (albeit only at home) and Street had a pretty good year when he was healthy.

This lineup is a nice combination of productive veterans, young guys who could take the leap and relatively young guys who can hit.

They were 8th in runs scored.

What I got wrong:

They have good hitters and they are strengthening their pitching just by having guys come back from injuries.

I counted a lot on Jeff Francis coming all the way back and that didn't happen. The Rockies pitching was what I missed on this year.

Detroit Tigers

Final record: 81-81
My prediction: 82-80

What I got right:

they didn't sign Polanco and he is being replaced by Scott Sizemore. It is going to be hard to think either of the new players can replace the production of Granderson or Polanco.

I got this right and wrong. Sizemore did not replace Polanco's production, but Jackson was great and looks like he replaced Granderson well.

I see the Tigers being 2nd or 3rd in the AL Central this year due to lack of overall pitching depth and a lineup that seems to have some holes in it when it comes to hitting the baseball.

The Tigers ended up third. The lineup and pitching depth did seem to be the problem this year. After Scherzer and Verlander there wasn't much starting pitching and Cabrera didn't much too help hitting either.

I like that the Tigers seem to be smart and see they need to push Gerald Laird out on an iceberg at this point and let Alex Avila slowly take over the catcher spot.

They started to do this, which is a good thing.

What I got wrong:

Of course the top part of the rotation with Verlander and Porcello (assuming he doesn't hit a sophomore slump) is a pretty good start to any rotation.

Porcello hit the sophomore slump so he wasn't part of the "good" part of the rotation.

Florida Marlins

Final record: 80-82
My prediction: 78-84

What I got right:

So in lieu of going further into this Marlins lineup that doesn't look terribly good, but is, I will say Mike Stanton is a ridiculous hitter and fielder.

He began to show how good he truly will be. The Yankees are looking forward to having him in their outfield in 2013. He really needs to work on cutting down his strikeouts though.

I don't know if Nunez has the closer mentality in him and his statistics in the short time he has had to close out games proves this.

He blew 8 out of 38 save opportunities. That's not good.

Count me in as one of those people are who counting the Marlins out this year. Fredi Gonzalez will get fired and then Atlanta will hire him to replace Bobby Cox when he retires after this season.

Step 1: Done.
Step 2: In process.

What I got wrong:

I would not be surprised to see a healthy Anibal Sanchez to make the leap like Josh Johnson has made.

Sanchez went 13-12 with a 3.55 ERA and a 1.34 WHIP. I am not sure he made the leap.

Morrison could end up in a platoon with Gaby Sanchez and I would like this platoon very much.

They didn't platoon because Sanchez was the clear best first baseman while Morrison got stuck in the outfield.

Houston Astros

Final record: 76-86
My prediction: 68-94

What I got right:

They have Lindstrom as the closer and Lyon as the main set up guy. I don't know how long this will last. I can see these roles being reversed at least once this year.

As of August 1, Brandon Lyon was the closer...and it was overdue before that. Matt Lindstrom was terrible.

I feel like they are half-ass rebuilding and I don't like that. This isn't a terrible team, but just a team with decent players at certain positions and holes at other positions.

The Astros are still built that way. They didn't get too much for Lance Berkman and I am shocked they got some value in return for Roy Oswalt since the Astros management essentially seems to be clueless.

What I got wrong:

They paid $12 million for Brett Myers? Where is the justification for this? I know the team needs pitching, but my God can't the money be used somewhere else on this roster?

I still don't know why they signed Brett Myers, I would have given that rotation spot to Felipe Paulino and just given him a shot.

I still don't think I was completely wrong about this. I know Myers had a great year and was the anchor of the staff, but I still would not have spent $12 million him. Of course then they signed him to an extension, hopefully with plans to trade him next year at the trade deadline. Maybe Felipe Paulino wasn't a great idea to be in the rotation, but the Astros are still spending money while rebuilding, which isn't working for them.

Kansas City Royals

Final record: 67-95
My prediction: 71-91

What I got right:

How terrible this team was. Yuniesky Betancourt led the team in RBI's (or was tied with Billy Butler). Read that again. That's not good.

The Royals willingly signed Jason Kendall this offseason. Why? I know it is supposedly for the sake of defense and that is fine when you have a team with decent hitters other places in the lineup and a starting rotation that will prevent the other team from scoring runs.

I was 100% right about this. Kendall still sucks.

So not only can the Royals not develop any good, young pitcher even though they have a high draft pick every year, they can't even develop other team's good young pitchers either.

The Royals have taken on Phillip Humber and Bryan Bullington, and why not, the Pirates and Twins probably just couldn't develop these guys properly right? When have the Twins ever developed a prospect?

There was no pitcher who started a game for the Royals who ended the year with an ERA below 4.00. The bullpen was the only area that had pitchers with ERA's below 4.00, so if the bullpen had been as bad as the starting pitching this team could have been even worse.

What I got wrong:

In fact, this lineup has no building blocks, just expensive useless players like Jose Guillen and just fairly useless players like Scott Podsednik.

Podsednik may not have been useless because he did contribute something before he got traded. That "something" was 30 stolen bases and a decent OBP.

There also isn't a whole lot in the bullpen that I like.

The bullpen was the "strength" of this team. This team seems to be overwhelmingly still moving the wrong way.

Los Angeles Angels

Final record: 80-82
My prediction: 92-70

Big miss here. I was way off.

What I got right:

This is the part of the Angels team I am not quite as giddy about as some other people seem to currently be. Lackey wasn't a true #1 starter but he was doing a good job of impersonating one in Los Angeles over the past couple of years. The Angels have a set starting rotation with Erwin Santana, Jered Weaver, Joe Saunders, Scott Kazmir and Joel Pineiro. I feel like I should like this rotation a little more than I do.

This is the closest I got to getting something right about the Angels, other than my babbling about how their players may get old all at the same time. The Angels pitching was merely average this year and they walked a lot of batters. The rotation wasn't bad, but I had a good reason to not like the rotation more than I did.

I didn't think I would like the Angels as much as I do. In all seriousness, I think I may like this year's lineup better than the one featuring Vlad, Matthews, and Figgins.

No. Absolutely not. This team was 27th in OBP, 23rd in BAA, and 20th in SLG %. This was not a good offensive lineup. A lot of that may have had to do with Morales' injury, but that isn't the whole cause.

I know that is being fairly picky with a bullpen that features solid guys like Brian Stokes, Kevin Jespen, and Jason Bulger. A lot of this pen's effectiveness depends on the health of Rodney and Shields.

They were fairly healthy, just not very good at pitching when they were healthy.

Really that is a bad reason to not like a team. I don't think this will be as good a team as last year's Angel team but they will still be in the hunt for the AL West.


Los Angeles Dodgers

Final record: 80-82
My prediction: 86-76

What I got right:

I also like Broxton, but I am a little nervous that he had blown some saves last year. It's not like he had a bad streak or anything and his saves weren't back-to-back, but he just would randomly blow saves during the season. He also blew saves at a rate that I feel was a little high for a guy with his stuff.

Broxton did have an off-year in 2010, and I have defended him in the past, but he has blown a few too many saves, though I wouldn't agree with Plaschke that he should be traded.

A weaker offense, less depth, a weaker rotation (even with improved pitching from Kershaw and Billingsley), and a tough division all adds up to a Dodgers team that doesn't do as well this year as last year.

I was right about the Dodgers struggling this year, but sort of wrong. This team did even worse than I thought they would do.

What I got wrong:

I personally like this lineup, but of course I am sucker for a lineup full of young guys with potential.

Overall, I actually like this lineup of the Dodgers.

The Dodgers were 21st in runs scored. A couple of guys like Kemp, Loney and Ethier either didn't progress or took a step back this year. This wasn't a good lineup.

I don't know if Kuroda is a 3rd starter and I am not sure if Padilla is a 4th starter either.

Kuroda had a great year and was the second-best starter on the Dodgers pitching staff.

The Dodgers have an advantage other teams don't in that they have a young, great closer in Jonathan Broxton and a reliable set up guy with George Sherrill, who can close games if necessary.

Sherrill wasn't reliable at all. He had an ERA over 6.

If the Dodgers have a lead in the late innings, I feel confident the pen is going to be able to hold it, provided Broxton gets over his blown saves problem from last year, which I think will happen.

It didn't happen. I missed on the Dodgers pretty badly because I overrated their offense and thought their bullpen was better than it really was.

I will be back next week with the second half of my MLB 2010 Team Preview Review.


Matt said...

yeah, i saw the new simmons article and decided to pass. i'm sure it was all about how singular he was as an athlete and how it was incredible to watch moss week after week. good thing for boston that no other cities have amazing and unique athletes on any of their 3 or 4 pro sports teams.

we're just 2 days into the MLB postseason and we've seen a no-hitter (yawn), a 14 k game (bo-ring), the yanks and rangers take 2-0 leads on the road (ho hum), and tons of umpiring controversies.

so if i'm simmons, what do i chosse to write about? well, there's lots of crazy baseball angles. no, my fans will see right through me. they know that since the sox are out of it that i'll come across as bitter and jaded. any good story lines in the nfl season? nah, peter king has them all covered. i know, my readers haven't had me do a team centric piece on my favorite nfl squad in weeks. they're probably going through withdrawal. moss it is!

JM said...

Here is an untapped line of criticism about Simmons; what is up with his sexism? This isn't just me, right? I am a pretty typical semi-reconstructed male, admittedly do not have a perfect track record in treating women as well as I should, but I try to be aware of my flaws in this respect and work on them.

For fuck's sake though, Simmons is going to turn me into a hard core feminist. It isn't any single thing, just a recurring theme in his pieces.

Today, he went on a jab about comparing the team's relationship with Moss to a relationship with an unstable, super hot woman. Really? That is the best analogy you could come up with? I mean, he does write a national column with a nominally co-ed reader base, right? So what is with the misogynist frat boy perspective? And does the fact that he and Jason Whitlock are on the same wavelength not give him pause?

Is the super hot-crazy woman a recurring character for Simmons?

A few weeks ago, Simmons went on an extended rant about women participating in fantasy sports. He backed this point up by bitching that women had taken Vegas from him and other guy things.

Then there are the appearances of his wife as channeled by Bill that are of the patronizing 'women say the darndest things!' genre.

There is one other example recently that I am having a hard time recalling and too lazy to look up.

Bengoodfella said...

Matt, I am with you. Moss being traded was a news story. I don't need Bill to recap it all for me.

Why would he write about postseason baseball? The Red Sox aren't in it, so no matter what happens it can't be interesting. I can't believe Bill couldn't do his "Bill Simmons-pop culture thing" with these playoffs, but he doesn't care to because he won't really be watching. Again, he is the Boston Sports Guy. If the Red Sox aren't involved, he's not paying attention.

JM, I actually heard some rumblings of that criticism of Bill's basketball book. He has a ton of references to porn stars and compares players and other things unfavorably to women.

Yeah, I won't be a hardcore feminist about it either, but he does tend to look at them, like you said, like they are there so he can do the "women say the darndest things" bit. I don't think he intends for it to come off that way, but it can. It doesn't affect his writing, but there are many, many comparisons of sports figures to unstable women. Possibly Bill has a long history with unstable women because they do pop up in his writing alot.

The interesting part, at least to me, is that the unstable woman comparison is just so easy to make. I have made it myself and I always feel lazy doing it because it just seems like a lazy comparison. I think it is a comparison he uses to connect with his fan base. I know crazy guys and girls, but because I am a guy I understand knowing a crazy woman even better. Still, there are undercurrents of sexism in his columns.

In the past, he has used tales of woman taking away fantasy sports and other things away from his friends. He may not even be aware of it, but he does come off that way sometimes.

Again, I am not the best example of not being a sexist at times, but I notice it a bit in his columns a decent amount.