Ok I’m back to make my claim for the National League divison winners. By the way, if your trying to figure out how to make comments on my blogs, here is how. At the bottom of every blog, it says comment. Just click and comment away. Now on to my picks!
NL West- The NL West reminds me of the AFC West in football. Bunch of decent to crappy teams, and whoever finishes around .500 will get the playoff nod. I mean, look at it. The Marlins finished 3rd in the East and they would of won the West had they been in there. To make an even better case, the Cardinals finished 4th in the Central and they too would of finished first in the West. As of right now, Manny Ramirez has yet to sign with a team but all signs point to him resigning with the Dodgers as soon as him and Boras come to their senses. Even without Manny, the Dodgers still do pose a great offensive lineups with a bunch of young studs like James Loney (.289, 13 HR, 90 RBI’s,), Matt Kemp (.290, 18 HR, 76 RBI’s and his 35 SB’s), and Andre Ethier (.305, 20 HR, 77 RBI’s). Their offense is set with or without Manny, but the bigger question will remain with their pitching. Outside of Chad Billingsley, they have no great option to go with. Hiroki Kuroda will most likely fill the 2nd spot in the rotation followed by top prospect Clayton Kershaw, who might have a breakout season this year, and injury prone Jason Schmidt. Schmidt by the way has only made 6 starts in his two years as a Dodger. Don’t be fooled, the Diamondbacks are definatly the better team in the divison though. They may not have the pop like the Dodgers, but up and coming young guys like Stephen Drew and Justin Upton only make this team look like they really have this divison held down. Brandon Webb and Dan Haren are one of the best 1 2 pitchers in the league. Along with great starting pitching, their bullpen, which has Chad Qualls slated to be the closer. Tony Pena and Jon Raunch will be in charge of the set up roles and should be tough to get at the Dbacks after the 7th inning. It will definatly be a two team race most of the year while the Padres continue to rebuild and cut back on salary. The Giants on the other hand claim they are trying to get younger, but seem to sign two to three 36+ year old veterans a year to one year contracts. And the Rockies definatly took a hit in their offense with the loss of Matt Holliday. They haven’t done quite enough to prove they are ready to contend again.
NL Central- Lets start with the bad. As in the Pirates and the Reds. The Pirates as usual didn’t add anything to write home about this offseasn. They continue to try to build within their farm. The Reds do look to still be a few years away but have big time young guys who could turn into all stars in the upcoming years. Jay Bruce, Joey Votto, Johnny Cueto, and former top prospect Homer Bailey. The rotation really needs work, and quite honestly….Dusty Baker isn’t the guy for the job. The big moves for the Cards this winter was the trade for Khalil Greene and the rehab of former Cy Young winner Chris Carpenter. Word so far is that Carpenter is rehabing to take over the closers role this season. Albert Pujols is still hitting in a lineup that really has no one protecting him in the lineup. Ryan Ludwick will have to fill the stat sheet again this year if he plans to repeat last years numbers. Good luck to him. The Astros have made no big moves to name. None what so ever. Same team will take the field come opening day. And the Brewers only signed former Padre Trevor Hoffman to close for them. But lost Ben Sheets and CC Sabathia. After Gallardo, theres nothing there. Which comes down to my Cubbies. The only additions were Milton Bradley, Joey Gathright, Aaron Miles and Kevin Gregg. No $136 million dollar players there. You really can’t complain if your a Cub fan as no one else in the Central made any strides to make their team better. The Cubs will start opening day favorites to win the NL Central. A full year with Rich Harden a Cub and Carlos Marmol as the closer. Jake Peavy is still available for the Cubs, pending the sale of the Cubs and the Padres. With Z, Dempster, Harden, Lilly and pending a trade Sean Marshall, the Cubs will have one of the best rotations in the Central and arguably the league.
NL East- So I’m going out on a limb here. Most “experts” will probably pick the Mets or the Phillies to win the East. With the way the Mets play in September, they are starting to look like great choke artist. And the Phillies, well they did nothing to impress me. They let go of Pat Burrell and sign Raul Ibanez. WHY? Who knows. But my “wild card” of the East, is going to be the…Atlanta Braves. Yes, they did finish 20 games out of 1st place last season. Yes, they did finish 18 games under .500. Yes, they had one of the worse records on the road last season. But throw all that crap out the window. They will most likely be without ace Tim Hudson for most of the season, but they did try and help the situation by dealing for Javier Vazquez from the White Sox. Jurrjens made great strides in his first full season in the pros. Jo-Jo Reyes will definatly need to improve greatly or his spot in the rotation won’t be there for long. Offensively, they still have one of the best offensive catchers in Brian McCann. Not to mention Chipper Jones who seems to produce every season. Well at least when hes actually on the field. Mike Gonzalez should be the man getting the ball in the 9th for the Braves. He actually had a streak going last season of 183 appearances without blowing a lead both as a setup man and a closer and thats dating back to June of 2004. That’s pretty damn impressive.
NL Wild Card- And my wild card winner? Well it should be tight race between the Dodgers, Mets and the Cardinals.s All three could win it. My pick though? The Los Angeles Dodgers. Yes the Mets will once again choke and make the signings of JJ Putz and Francisco Rodriguez look like a waste. The Dodgers youth already do have the playoff apperance and know what it takes to actually get there. Like I said before, their pitching is still questionable. So Kershaw will need to keep the walks and hits down. He gave up 50 walks and over 100 hits in 100 innings pitched. Scott Elbert will get a shot as well to make it into the rotation. The loss of soon to be HOF Greg Maddux will hurt, but the Dodgers will fight it out and come out as the winner in the end. Better luck next year Mets!
As for my award winners. I’ll do a few and name the winner from both leagues.
AL- Miguel Cabrera- Cabrera’s average, OBP, SLG, and OPS all took a hit when he came over to the AL. But you can’t deny that Miggy is a stud. 5 seasons in a row with 100+ rbi’s and at least 25 HR’s each year. Cabrera should top off at 40 HR this season and around 140 RBI’s. His average should definatly improve after a full season seeing the AL pitchers.
Runner Up: Evan Longoria, Grady Sizemore
NL– Hanley Ramirez- Ok, he won’t actually win it. But he should and most likely will deserve it. But the voters usually pick players on winning teams. Unless your name is Albert Pujols…your not getting it. His stolen bases did take a dip in 08′ but he should be back on the basepaths this season. He did hit 33 homeruns last year he could possibly reach that 40/40 mark this season. If so, he deserves the award, hands down.
Runner Up: Albert Pujols, David Wright
AL- CC? No. Lee? No. The 2009 winner……Justin Verlander. Yes I said it. Mr. 17 losses, 4.84 ERA, and 87 walks. I think Verlander can turn it around in 09′ and become, what we all thought he was going to be, one of the best pitchers in the AL. And just for fun, I predict Verlander will be starting for the AL in the ASG.
Runner Up: Scott Kazmir, Francisco Liriano
NL– Tim Lincecum. Really, what is there to say about this guy? His numbers all say it for themselves. This guy is not going to stop anytime soon. Unless Tommy John comes a calling.
Runner Up: Rich Harden, Jake Peavy
Rookie of the Year
AL– David Price- Yup. Price should get a spot soon in the rotation and will only prove why he was taken first overall in the draft a few years ago. He has progressed quickly throughout the Rays farm system and was a huge part of the Rays playoff run last season. He will get a full year in 09′ in the majors and will definatly take advantage of it.
Runner Up: Matt Wieters, Travis Snider
NL- Carlos Carrasco- He has an outstanding change to go with decent heat so he could be something as he progreses A live fastball and a change if you can throw them for strikes is a great combination to get you there so you have to keep an eye on him. Should make a splash this season in a very weak Phillies rotation.
Runner Up: Andrew McCutchen, Colby Rasmus
Thats all I got for now. My next blog will be a little something like…”What the F$%K were the Braves thinking signing Lowe to $60 million?” Until next time…