The Crystal Ball of Hedgehogs

It’s 2015; it’s baseball season; it’s time for thousands of people to scientifically guess at who will win the World Series.  Ok no one really uses science, but we try and use math.  Last year, the majority called for the Nationals, Dodgers, and Red Sox.  This year, the same majority, is calling for the Nationals, Dodgers, and Red Sox.

NL WEST

Let’s start where our defending champs will look to defend their 2nd place finish.  The Giants made a few off-season moves, like losing 300 lbs at the hot corner, while their southern Cali neighbors reshuffled everything except their uniforms.

1. San Franciso Giants wpid-giants.jpg

Oh my goodness, the Giants will win the division.  Only because everyone else has giant craters at every major position.  Casey McGehee might not replicate the Panda, but Brandon Belt is going to become a star.  We also should finally get to see the deadly prospect tandem of Joe Panik and Gary Brown; 5 years after we started talking about them.  It’s not that the Giants are the best; they just have the highest probability of not going completely bust.

 

2. San Diego Padres  wpid-padres.jpg

What an offseason!  They still play in Petco, but this will be the ultimate test for an offense in San Diego.  If they can find gap doubles then maybe a wild card birth happens.   If not AJ Preller will be in the third season of True Detective.

3. LA Dodgers  wpid-dodge.jpg

Andrew Friedman has an unlimited budget.  He also has Puig and Pederson.  Replacing Matt Kemp’s 89 Runs Created isn’t as easy as placing Joc in the line up. Hip Hop fans are excited from Young Joc’s cup of coffee last year though.  Clayton and Zack are amazing, but neither one has ever had a major injury.  In this Dr. James world that is scary.  Bet on Carl Crawford becoming a superstar again, before you bet on Pederson bashing homeruns or Puig winning the MVP.

4. Colorado Rockies  wpid-rockies.jpg

If Tulo and Cargo stay healthy, 90 wins are possible.  It’s also possible that Larry Walker and Dante Bichette find Preston Wilson and go on a safari.

5. Arizona Diamondbacks  wpid-stewart.jpg

I feel bad for the Diamondbacks.  I also feel bad for the kids on the Sally Struthers infomercials.  The owner hired Kevin Towers, and the baseball Gods disapproved.  Enjoy purgatory for the next few years.

 

NL Central

The Cubs are the hottest thing since the cronut.  Does the cronut still exist?

1.  Pittsburgh Pirates wpid-pirates.jpg

No team can match the talent of the Pirates in the entire National league.  The Pirates are still confused that they have so much talent.  Gerrit Cole, Starling Marte, and Gregory Polanco become stars and the national media (ESPN) finally finds a way to visit PNC Park.

2.  Cincinatti Reds  wpid-reds.jpg

Last year, I called for the Reds to take a step back.  I was right…Aaron Boone wasn’t.  This year, Votto will show last year was an anomaly.  Cueto continues being the best pitcher not named Kershaw, and well the Reds find a way to surprise everyone but me.

3. St. Louis Cards wpid-cards.jpg

When was the Cards pitching their weakest link?  Maybe the 90’s when Tewksbury was an ace.  Wainwright is a stud that is aging.  Everyone else is a young arm one slider away from being a Medlan or a Beachy.  The Heyward trade was noteworthy, but it was last years signing of Jhonny P that will start being the difference between Wild Card and Hunting trips.

4. Chicago Cubs wpid-cubs.jpg

Joe Maddon has walked into a perfect situation, except he has to manage 24 rookies and Jon Lester.  Ok, that’s hyperbole, but for anyone to think that Kris Bryant, Jorge Soler, and Javier Baez will all come out as ROY candidates is just silly.  I mean what is this BOSTON.  81 wins should be the goal for 2015.  Anything more than that is surprising.  A World Series appearance is suspect– like Wrestlemania suspect.

5.  Milwaukee Brewers wpid-melvin.jpg

IT’s TIME:  Rebuilding time. It’s been a blast, but the Brewers are just meant to be a bad team.  Their farm has locusts, and an aging Lohse & Garza pitching combo calls for trade deadline movement.  Anything less will be just Philly…er I mean Silly.

NL EAST

4 teams will fight for .500.  One team will try and win 100 games.  Jose Fernandez will be the difference between a World Series ring for Miami or another Washington choke job.

1.  Washington Nationals wpid-rizzo.jpg

The rest of the EAST is average at best.  Max K and Stras on paper is like Glover and Gibson. (A Lethal Weapon)  Jordan Zimmerman might actually be their best pitcher.  The offense will leave a lot to be desired, but Bryce might actually play 120 games.  If Bryce plays 130 games, World Series.  If Bryce plays less than 100 can someone throw out the bust word.

2. Miami Marlins wpid-loria.jpg

Jeffrey Loria is a douche.  Giancarlo is a beast.  Jose Fernandez is the new Doc Gooden.  This team is dependent on Dan Haren and Matt Latos.  In other words bet on 69 wins, but don’t be shocked if they win 89.

3. Atlanta Braves  wpid-braves.jpg

I’m either a homer or a moron.  Even without Gattis, Justin, and Heyward the offense can not be worse than last year.  Seriously, they scored 573 runs.  As a Braves fan I would love to see them lose 100.  As a realist, they will fight for .500, save Fredi G’s job, and then go spend way too much money on Free Agents in 2016.

4.  New York Mets  wpid-mets.jpg

The Mets could win the division…if they didn’t have to bat.  When Curtis Granderson is your big free agent in 2014 and you follow that up with Michael Cudyer.  You’re management team is out of touch.  Then again, the Asst. to the GM did give Vernon Wells one of the worst contracts ever.  *Update* Zack Wheeler is having Tommy John, and the Mets season is already over! 

5.  Philadelphia Phillies wpid-rube.jpg

Old, old, old, really old.  Ruben Amaro doesn’t get it.  He has no idea what WAR is.  I even question if he knows what OBP is.  The only hope of the Phillies competing in the next 5 years would be if Chip Kelly replaces Ruben and makes personnel decisions.  Not that Chip Kelly knows much about baseball, but he would at least trade Ryan Howard and Dominic Brown.

AL EAST

What was once a 2 team race has become a roll of the dice.   The Yankees and Boston might spend 400 million each year, but Baltimore has been the best team over the last 3 years.

1.  Baltimore O’s wpid-os-2.jpg.jpeg

The defending East champs will repeat.  It seems impossible by every single baseball pundit.  Here are the facts Manny Machado, Chris Davis, and Ubaldo Jiminez can’t be as bad as they were last year.  Losing Cruz and Markakis might hurt, but getting Bundy and Gausman for the stretch run gives Showalter his best pitching rotation since his Yankee days.

2. Toronto Blue Jays wpid-bjays.jpg

The Jays are the most talented offensive team in Baseball.  The pitching is questionable.  A wild card birth would save Anthopoulos job, but the potential of 3 under 26 starters is scary.  Don’t believe me…just research Shaun Marcum, Jesse Litsch, and Dustin McGowan.

*Update Marcus Stroman out for season….I told you so!

3. Boston Red Sox wpid-red-sox.jpg.jpeg

If Mookie Betts this; If Rusney Castillo that; if the Red Sox get Cole Hamels.  A lot of ifs, but here is the biggest if.  IF PAPI ORTIZ can hit 30 homers again.  Eventually, age will catch Big Papi.  If not; then the Red Sox may very well win 90 games.  “If ifs and buts were candy and nuts then we would all have a Merry Christmas”

4. New York Yankees wpid-yanks-.jpg.jpeg

The current Yankees would be a lock to win the World Series if this was 2006.  Instead it’s 2015 and the Yanks are really old.  Thank God for next years free agency.

5. Tampa Bay Rays wpid-rays.jpg

Bad things come in 3’s.  Losing Friedman, Maddon, and Zobrist is the realization that Tampa Bay just can’t compete with the big boys any more.  On the bright side, they have a lot of promising middle infielders in their farm.  You know for the Tigers, Yankees, and Angels to trade for soon.

AL CENTRAL

This will be Mike Vick’s favorite Pennant race:  It’s a dog fight…(Every blog needs a really tasteless joke)

1.  Detroit Tigers wpid-tigers.jpg

I really don’t want to pick the Tigers, but then again it’s impossible to pick against Miggy and David Price.  It’s now or next decade for the Tigers.

2.  Kansas City Royals wpid-dayton.jpg

Nobody thinks these guys can repeat.  Then again no one thought that the Atlanta Braves could repeat in 1992.  Dayton Moore has done it, and offensively Alex Rios and Kendry Morales is an upgrade over Aoki and Butler.  The scary thing is Moustakas and Hosmer might eventually learn how to hit–at the same time– over the course of 162 games.

3. Cleveland Indians   wpid-indians.jpg

This one is really tough.  I tend to think Superstars have great names.  Kluber is the worst name for a potential star ever.  Bauer on the other hand rolls of the tongue like a star.  Lindor now that screams SUPERSTAR.  Unfortunately Lindor isn’t a star yet.  Kluber isn’t a fluke, but he’s more Mark Buerhle than Greg Maddux, and well Moss and Swisher are the power hitters.

4.  Chicago White Sox wpid-whitesux.jpg

Next year, I will pick the White Sox.  This year, I can’t pick a team with Conor Gillaspie starting at 3rd.

5.  Minnesota Twins wpid-twins-.jpg.jpeg

The future is very bright for Minnesota.  Until then, it’s a bleak 2 or 3 more years.  Unless Buxton and Sano have another setback, and then it’s just ugly– kind of like network TV trying to create great TV Dramas.

AL WEST

2 weeks ago, I was dead set the Rangers would bounce back and win the west.  Then YU had elbow complications. Yes, elbows aren’t just sensitive, but they mean the difference of 30 wins for a team.

1. LA Angels wpid-angels.jpg

The Angels suck.  Like seriously, this team is a joke, but Trout and Pujols are heads above the entire AL WEST.  Andrew Heaney is a legit ROY candidate and Jered Weaver is either a bounceback or weeks from retiring.  It’s hard to pick against a team that won 98 games last year.  Trust me, I tried.

2. Oakland A’s wpid-as.jpg.jpeg

Billy Beane is a genius, but lack of healthy pitching will keep Oakland on the outside of the playoff race.  Then again Jarrod Parker and AJ Griffin both could come back from TJ and the A’s could steal 97 wins.

3. Seattle Mariners wpid-zman.jpg

Cano went from 27 home runs to 14 once joining Seattle.  Austin Jackson suffered his worst offensive season ever after being dealt to Seattle.  It’s very simple…Safeco hates hitting.  If you think 35 year old Nelson Cruz is going to replicate his power numbers from last year, and everything falls just right for Seattle then well you’re not paying attention.  Oh that’s right the M’s have 2 hot shot rookies in their rotation…so does Baltimore and not many are picking them to win the AL East.

4. Texas Rangers wpid-daniels.jpg

They only finish 4th because Houston is still in their division.  The Rangers have a ton of talent, but keeping them on the field together at the same time is becoming more art than science, and Jon Daniels is no artist.

5. Houston Astros wpid-astros.jpg

Trading for Evan Gattis and Jed Lowrie made absolutely ZERO sense.  You know what else makes ZERO sense…striking out 2000 times.  Houston is gunning for it.  Best Case:  Springer and Singleton learn to make contact.  Worst Case:  The Astros starting pitching implodes and Colby Rasmus leads the team in WAR(WARP for you BP Fans).

 

PLAYOFF TEAMS

National League: Washington, Pittsburgh, San Fransico, Miami and Reds fight off the rest for Wild Cards.

American League: Baltimore, Detroit, Angels, Royals and Indians grab the Wild Cards.

NLCS:  Nationals over Miami

ALCS: Royals over Angels

WORLD SERIES:  Nationals over Royals

This is painful to pick, but 6 potential All Star Starters and then a farm system that will allow them to plug holes during midseason.  How can anyone pick against Scott Boras favorite team?

scott-boras-2

 

 

 

 

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