Belated 2011 MLB Predictions
Yes, folks, the 2011 MLBÂ season is underway.Â Rosters have changed andÂ managers have changed; Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens HAVEN’T changed.Â Here’s how they’ll finish:
Boston Red Sox
Toronto Blue Jays
Chicago White Sox
Kansas City Royals
AL EAST- If anyone out there thinks thatÂ Boston has aÂ SIZEABLE advantage in this division, you’ve been nipping at the Samuel Adams wayÂ too much.Â Still a coin toss between Boston and NY–though I think neither will win 95 games; I’ll put theÂ Red Sox on top strictly due to the Crawford/Gonzalez additions (I also didÂ a quick coin flip). Â Boston will just haveÂ TOO many men on base TOO often; bullpen is deeper but will guys like Beckett and Dice-K burnÂ it out?Â Yanks stillÂ have WAYÂ too much offense AND Rivera–and will NOT go away due to aging as some suggest; they’ll acquire someone during the ‘dog-days’ ofÂ summer forÂ their post-season run.Â Rays still have a formidable staff, but scoring runs and a shaky closing crew (Farnsworth?)Â will catch up with them.Â O’s will score runs but strike outÂ WAY too much; staff isÂ still too unproven.Â Jays won’t pitch well enough, and closing games for them will be more difficult than keeping Lindsay Lohan away from HollywoodÂ gin mills.
AL CENTRAL- White Sox have best rotation in division, and Adam Dunn gives them additional pop; Guillen a maniac but a good manager.Â Â Twins’ approach to the game (and possibly havingÂ baseball’s best manager)Â rendersÂ them perennial contenders, but will JoeÂ Nathan be a shell of his former self?Â After Verlander and MAYBEÂ Scherzer, I question Detroit’s staff.Â Royals will need to scoreÂ SIX runs a gameÂ to win regularly–and justÂ won’t do that.Â Tribe has no legit .300 hitters and theÂ startingÂ staff will have manager Manny Acta chewing more Pepcid tablets than bubble gum on a daily basis.
AL WEST- Even w/o Cliff Lee, Rangers will hit aÂ tonÂ AND pitch wellÂ enough; I like the wholeÂ Nolan Ryan throwbackÂ approach.Â A’s have some great arms (and an improved offense), but will the staffÂ burn out come August?Â AngelsÂ have some proven vets (Hunter, Abreu), but don’t hit enough for average; they’ll continue to have a low OBP, too.Â Ichiro will be Ichiro, but M’s won’t generate enough runs–cementing a last-place finish.
St. Louis Cardinals
NL EAST- Phils and Braves will go down to the wire. IÂ prefer the Phils experience andÂ their stellarÂ starting pitching; Braves will be able to close well by committee, but the over/under date for Chipper Jones to get hurt is June 15th (they’re also shaky defensively).Â I’m justÂ not sold on the Marlins’ pitchingÂ staff after Josh Johnson.Â Mets’ health issues (Santana, Bay, Beltran) will put them under .500 and a “fire-sale” in July is imminent.Â Nats will score some runs, but Jayson Werth–while being able toÂ pick up dinner tabs NIGHTLY for teammates with noÂ worries whatsoever–will STILL wish he was back in Philly by June 1st.
NL CENTRAL- The Reds return a formidable offense and if they pitch just a little better than expected, they’ll win the division; Chapman will be dominant out of the ‘pen.Â Â Brewers will getÂ monster years out of guys like Fielder and Braun and newcomerÂ Greinke will be solid; will they be able to close games effectively and often?Â Wainwright going down seals Cards fate; Cubs can overtake St. Louis if some underachievers (hello, Mr. Soriano!) just ACHIEVE.Â Astros lack offensiveÂ pop and I question their bullpen.Â If you can name the Pirates rotation, you needÂ to get a job, get a grip, or get a LIFE.
NL WEST- Giants’ pitching staff STILL too good–and they now have championshipÂ swagger.Â Rockies can contend (which Todd Helton shows up?), but I question Huston Street’s closing ability and their ‘pen in general.Â Dodgers have talent, butÂ will Mattingly motivate effectivelyÂ and be able to handle everydayÂ pitching decisions?Â Padres won’t score enough, will miss Adrian G. too much, and hit home runs as often as yours truly dates supermodels.Â Can fiery Kirk Gibson motivate some players in AZ who trulyÂ NEED motivating?Â NO–they finish deadÂ last.
*Postseason:Â For some reason, I foresee a problem with the Red Sox pitching staff–particularly Beckett and Dice-K; too many 5 inning starts willÂ catch up with theirÂ ’pen.Â This will enable the Yanks–who get better starting pitching than expected–to emerge from theÂ AL while theÂ Phillies stay fairlyÂ healthy all year long and represent the NL in the Fall Classic.Â Call me boring–it’s theÂ same prediction as I madeÂ last year.Â Rivera REMAINS Rivera (shocking!)Â throughout October (I’m STILLÂ convinced he’s not human)–allowing the Yanks’ core playersÂ of Mo, Jeter, and Posada to win theirÂ final championship together.
Enjoy the season, everyone.