Monday, March 26, 2007

5 straight

I am aware it is still spring, but the M's are proving they can win and even come from behind. We are in the part of spring ball that clubs try to push starters to 6 or 7 innings. It appears the starters have responded well. When the pitching has flopped, the offense has done something that has not happened in years...run support.

One more week!

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

AL Summary

Your "sexy" pick this year will be the Indians. With the Angels winning the West and the Sox winning the East, the Wild Card team will once again emerge from the Central.

Hold on, the Central is gearing up to be a wild ride. If you don't care now, tune in around August as the horses come off the clubhouse turn.

Your World Series representative this year from the AL: I am going to go generic here, whoever wins the Central.

AL West

Angels -
M’s 2
A’s 3
Rangers 8

Playoff teams:
A’s
Angels

Angels of Orange County: This is the team to beat in the AL West. The right side of the infield has some promise and potential in Kendrick and Kotchman. Kotchman has been hitting with power this spring and could help protect Guerrero in the lineup. Pitching is in good working order. Jered Weaver should be over any bicep problems by the time his first start of the season rolls around.

Seattle Mariners: I have been critical the entire off-season on the mediocre acquisitions made. My thoughts have not changed. I can repaeat the washed up comment from the Rangers, but that would just require more typing. At least, this is how I feel about those players that will take the field. The bright spots to watch are going to be King Felix and J.J. Putz at pitching. I am still a huge fan of what we have going on defensively.

Oakland A’s: Bye-bye Zito, have fun in SanFran. Zito has had some sub-par seasons recently and the A’s still find ways to win. Harden will return to the mound in good working order. Offensively, not much has changed so a good chance to repeat as AL West champs could occur.

Texas Rangers: Offense is what puts the Rangers in the #1 spot. The infield is littered with proven and unproven power. The outfield is lacking some pop at the plate in terms of RBI’s. The current starting 3 had a total of 107 RBI’s last season, compared to Mark Teixeira who had 110. Pitching, they appear to be a bunch of older vets that were let go because their old teams perhaps considered them washed up. McCarthy could be the bright spot for this rotation. It will be interesting to see what Gagne can do in the closer role.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

AL Central

Indians -
Twins 1
Tigers 1
White Sox 2
Royals 45

Playoff teams:
top 4

Cleveland Indians: This is going to be a four legged race, so hold on. The AL Central will be the most exciting division in baseball to watch. This team is loaded with talent and a lot of young talent. In the field you have Josh Barfield at 2B, Ryan Garko at 1B, Andy Marte at 3B. You also have young veterans in Hafner, Martinez and Sizemore. This team should either lead the league in HR or K's, I have not figured it out. Pitching looks decent. They have young talent in this category as well in Sowers and Carmona. Carmona had a ROUGH time last year, but hope to improve from his 1-10 record. Also watch for Adam Miller to be called up by June, did not allow a run in his 14 innings of spring training.

Minnesota Twins: AL MVP, batting champ and the AL CY Young winner, what more could you ask for? I guess having Liriano would be about it, but come on, this team is solid. With the emergence of Cuddyer in RF and his 108 RBI's, this team is finding weapons with having players achieving break out years. Pitching wise is solid as well. It will be hard to fill Lirano's shoes for the next 12 to maybe 24 months, but players like Scott Baker could rise to the occasion. Don't forget Joe Nathan coming in to close games. With Rincon and Crain as setup, opponents are going to struggle in innings 7 thru 9.

Detroit Tigers: This team did not change much since its World Series appearance. They added a big bat in DH with Sheffield. Pitching is what carried this team last and should do the same this year. Verlander is emerging as one of the dominating AL pitchers with a fastball breaking 100 MPH. The bullpen is strong with Todd Jones closing. If anything does happen to Jones, Zumaya will fill his shoes nicely with his 103 MPH fastball.

Chicago White Sox: The White Sox will once again compete for the AL Central crown, just not like the other three. They still have some pop at the plate, they added the always scrappy Erstad. Look for Josh Fields to setup perhaps in LF while Podsednik is out. He needs to develop better plate presence but has the power to go yard. Freddy Garcia was traded to the NL Phillies, and in comes Gavin Floyd. He was a young gun in the Phillies org, but did not have a great year in the NL. Also look for the emergence of John Danks.

KC Royals: This is a "rebuilding" year. Watch out at 3B with Alex Gordon, he had great plate discipline with a bit of pop. One other person to consider on the Royals is Ryan Shealy at firstbase. He will see plenty of at bats, and would make for a nice sleeper in deep fantasy leagues. Pitching is another story. I feel they overpaid for Meche, but we will see. On a bright note, and a very bright one at that, they now have Brian Bannister. Brian had a spectacular start last year with the Mets. Not sure how well he will do on the Royals, but keep your eyes peeled. With there closer MacDougal departing for the White Sox, a closer is in question for the Royals.

Opening Day Lineup

I am going to try to have patience this season and stick with who I drafted for opening day. Here is my team:

Chris Iannetta - Catcher- Rockies
Ryan Howard - 1B - Phillies
Ian Kinsler - 2B - Rangers
Ryan Zimmerman - 3B - Nats
Michael Young - SS - Rangers
Carlos Lee - OF - Astros
Delmon Young - OF - D-Rays, yes the bat thrower
Jeff Francoeur - OF - Braves
Paul Konerko - UTIL - White Sox
Conor Jackson - Bench 1B - D-Backs

Starting Pitchers:
Roy Halladay - Blue Jays
Brandon Webb - D-Backs
Jered Weaver - Angels
Justin Verlander - Tigers
Rich Harden - A's
Tom Glavine - Braves
Anibal Sanchez - Marlins
Ian Snell - Pirates
Chuch James - Braves
Tim Hudson - Braves
Kei Igawa - Yankees

Relief Pitchers:
Bobby Jenks - White Sox
Jason Isringhausen - Cardinals

Friday, March 16, 2007

AL East

Red Sox -
Yanks 1
Blue Jays 3
D-Rays 4
Orioles 10

Boston Red Sox: This is always the hardest to pick, Boston or New York. I am going with Boston to finish atop the East. I am giving the Sox first place, because I see a slight edge in the pitching department. What will Dice-K be like; no one is going to actually know. We also need to see what Papelbon will do as a starter. As of now, there is no set closer for this group. Offensively, a new face will be leading off this year in Julio Lugo, always a threat to steal some bases. Pedroia at second is not a power hitter, but should be on base, probably going to hit .280-.290. Of course, you have Ortiz and Manny.

NY Yankees: I am interested to see what Abreu is going to do this year. With Sheffield off to the Tigers, Abreu on paper should fill in nicely. Pitching is strong; they lost 1 40+ year old but gained another in Pettitte. So far this spring, the pitching import Igawa has been inconsistent. This is to be expected making the transition over to the MLB. Again, the Sox/Yanks games should be ones to watch.

Toronto Blue Jays: I think if you put the Blue Jays in the West division they could win every year; the same may be said for the central. They have great pitching and some decent hitting. My favorite pitcher for Toronto is Chacin, he has been fairly consistent, next to Halladay of course, as long as he can stay healthy. The pitchers for the Jays all seem to be having decent springs that could bow well.

Tampa Bay D-Rays: This is a team waiting to break out. Kazmir is a great talent to anchor their starting rotation. For being on a bad team, he is able to still able to have a winning career record. They have a new 3Dman in Iwamura. He sat out a game this spring due to fatigue. This is a concern to me, since the season is 162 games long. He does come with a fair amount of promise and potential, I hope it pays off. Crawford and Wigginton are your fantasy players of choice on the offensive side of the ball.

Baltimore Orioles: There is no telling what this team is going to do. Having Sosa on your team is not really a good thing. Offensively, this team looks really good; however, consistent pitching will be the death of them. I am sure they will bring up plenty of talent from AAA to take a stab at pitching. Take anyone that plays the field in fantasy, you really cannot go wrong.

NL Summary

Now that I have completed my NL picks, lets summarize.

The "sexy" pick this year is going to be the D-Backs. However, after putting much thought into this, my NL rep in the World Series will be the Dodgers. The Cards are my runners up.

Next up, AL East

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Fantasy Draft this Sunday

I best get cracking, my league has a draft this coming Sunday and I am not prepared. I have a lot to live up to, I need to do better than 8th. I still need to beat Greg.

NL East

Mets -
Phillies 2
Braves 4
Marlins 6
Nationals 11

NY Mets: Not much has changed for the Mets. I am concerned that Pedro will not be back until the All Star break, but that should not matter. He was hurt last year and they were still able to do well without him. If Mike Pelfrey can make the 5th starting spot, this should help with dealing without Pedro. Offensively this team is once again strong. David Wright is a great thirdbase man and you have Reyes with his breakout performance last year.

Philadelphia Phillies: They have done a lot for pitching on this team. They signed two ex-M’s in Moyer and Garcia. Hamels is a concern as a starter with is ailing back. Offensively they have enough bats to protect Howard and see if he can once again produce numbers like last year. The kid is young and should do well.

Atlanta Braves: You never know with this team, they have some great players. This team would benefit greatly from a healthy Chipper. A full season out of Chipper and I don’t have them finishing third. Pitching looks strong, anchored by Smoltz with his return to the starting spot last season. Bring back a healthy Hudson, and a second place finish could be in the works. Offensively, you have to mention Andruw Jones, beyond that you have some youth that could make the starting 9. The Pen has Wickman and Gonzalez, with Wickman probably taking closing role. Gonzalez was the most successful closer last year, playing for the hapless Pirates.

Florida Marlins: I am still bitter they fired the NL manager of the year, even though he took the lowest payroll in MLB within a game or two of making the post season. I like the talent this team offers, especially at pitcher. One big blow, Josh Johnson is out until mid-summer, this will hurt the rotation. To help, Sergio Mitre is looking strong this spring. Offensively, Uggla they have some decent bats, especially in Uggla and Willingham. The should compete with the Braves for the 3rd spot.

Washington Nationals: I don’t have much to say about the Nationals. They do have Ryan Zimmerman at first and Austin Kearns in RF, this gives them some offensive power. Nick Johnson is out until at least mid-May, but his return will add some extra punch to the middle of the batting order. Pitching is probably going to be mediocre, nothing too spectacular. Cordero should be decent at closer, but I am only predicting maybe 30 chances.

Monday, March 12, 2007

NL Central

NL Central
Cards -
Red 1
Cubs 4
Brewers 4
Astros 6
Pirates 8

Playoff team(s):
Cards
Cubs

St. Louis Cards: Not much has changed for the defending World Series champs. That is why I am picking them to repeat as Central winners. The rotation again looks strong, as long as Carpenter can maintain his surprising dominance. They have some youth trying to make the opening day roster. Looks like the young pitching star Anthony Reyes is the #3 starter. He has yet to live up to the hype. If John Rodriguez can make the opening day roster, he may be a person to consider in deeper fantasy leagues.

Cincinnati Reds: They were a surprise team from a year ago, and I hope that continues into this year. Rule 5 player Josh Hamilton is playing out of his head. Not being around baseball for 4 years (due to drug related problems); he is making a strong return. If they pick him, he could add some pop to the offense that was lost with Casey last year. The top 4 pitching slots won’t change with Arroyo, Harang, Milton and Lohse, but they due have about 10 guys fighting for the 5th spot. Add a healthy Griffey to the mix and Reds should compete well this year.

Milwaukee Brewers: Yes, I have them picked third. With young pitching come up in Gallardo and the HR hitting Hall in CF, this team has potential. Prince Fielder needs to start living up to expectation if they are to finish 3rd or higher this season. Cordero appears to be the front runner for the closer spot and is a free-agent-to-be. With the return of a healthy Sheets and the potential for a formidable (That one was for you Bill S.) talent in Gallardo, this could be a great year for the BrewCrew.

Chicago Cubs: I am a Piniella fan, just like the next guy; however, he has his work cut out for him. To put the Cubs 4th, or tied for 3rd, seems odd since they added Soriano in center, and starting pitchers Lilly and Marquis. By moving Woods to the pen, you may see more innings from him than you have in the past 2 years combined. Prior is actually competing for a starting position on this team now with Wade Miller. These two pitchers have seen more time on the DL than on the field last year. Perhaps a tie for 3rd was lower than what most have figured for this team, but you have to admit, they are still the Cubs. I have them picked as a playoff team just in case they due better than expected.

Houston Astros: The Astros will still be competitive in the Central even though offensively they did not add much. Adding Jennings from the Rockies could be a good thing, he may have better luck pitching in the launching pad, rather than mile high. Woody Williams joins this starting rotation as well, coming off a 12-5 season. I am a fan of pitchers remaining in the same league.

Pittsburgh Pirates: Offensively, this team is not that impressive. They have Zack Duke, the young prospect anchoring a starting rotation that resembles a three stooge’s movie. A lot of these starters have had failures with other teams; Armas for example never was great for the Expos. Sean Chacon had semi-success with the Rockies and Yankees. The one pitcher I do like is Ian Snell. He doesn’t pitch as deep into games as Duke, but has a lot more K’s. With Mike Gonzalez departing for the Braves, look for Salomon Torres and Damaso Marte to compete for closer spot.

Quick update

Purchased MLB.tv this weekend...it rules. Looking forward to actually watching the M's play this year. I am not sure if this changes once the season starts, but in the Spring, you only have the option of watching 1 broadcast. For example, yesterday M's/W Sox game was televised by the Chicago station. So I had that going on Firefox muted while I listened to Rick Rizzs and boys on my IE radio broadcast.

Friday, March 09, 2007

NL West

Final standings:
D-Backs -
Dodgers 1 GB
Padres 3 GB
Giants 4 GB
Rockies 10 GB

Potential Playoff teams
D-Backs
Dodgers

Arizona D-Backs: These guys did the most damage in the off season. Bringing back Johnson from the evil empire, signing a .500 pitcher in Doug Davis away from the Brewers has made this pitching staff solid. With the emergence of Enrique Gonzalez, assuming he takes the 5th spot, should bowed well for the Diamondbacks. Offensively, they are strong, watch out for Stephen Drew, Chris Young and Carlos Quentin. At first base they have Conor Jackson, in 140 games last year he batted .291 with 15 4-baggers and 79 RBI’s, he could be the glue of this offense. The Bullpen is the only current true weakness next to Melvin. Back in Seattle, Melvin inherited a good M’s team, but did not deal well with tough times; he could turn it around this year.

LA Dodgers: The addition of Schmidt could be impressive. This is an organization that comes into every year with high hopes and doesn’t meet this expectation. They are coming off a playoff appearance, and perhaps the Dodgers can make that next round. On paper, they could have the best starting 5 in the NL West maybe even the entire NL, so placing them second seems questionable right now but I am taking a risk. Offensively in the infield the Dodgers look solid with Furcal, Kent and an improving Betemit. Players to watch this year are the RF’er Ethier coming off an impressive rookie outing, and the starting pitcher Billingsley. I am high on Billingsley, perhaps too high but once his command settles down, watch out, this kid has CY Young written all over him.

SD Padres: Sure, they added Maddux, but is that what this team needs? The nice thing about Maddux, this takes some “ace” pressure off of Peavy. Peavy has risen to the challenge; however, last season was his career worst to date. Maddux is aging and is not his younger, control freak self. The pen of the Padres, I think, is their strongest quality. Offensively, not much has changed. Players to watch are Greene at SS and Hensley, their young starting pitcher.

SF Giants: They lost Schmidt and this will be felt throughout this organization, but they did add Zito. I am not sure how Zito’s transition to the other side of the bay will be. I think he will be glad to leave the A’s and join the offensively Bonds driven team of the Giants. I don’t see too much youth in the team that takes the field everyday. I am sure this will change. The player to watch this year is Tim Linececum, he is a young starting pitcher for the Giants. If he makes in the rotation, this could bowed well. He will start in AAA.

Colorado Rockies: What to say about the Rockies. Nothing from hot stove really stands out and grabs my attention. They had a small PR fire in the hot stove season about Helton leaving, but those rumors never were true. They did do a fairly good job of taking Astros: Taveras in center and Buchholz on the mound. Players to watch…no idea. SLC does receive Rockie coverage, so I may amend this prediction.

Let's get this going!

With some downtime as I prepare for Y2K part duex, I figure I should start my baseball picks.