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Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Note: This entry was, for the most part, written intermittently this past weekend while I had one helluva cold/flu thingy. I'm not trying to completely dissociate myself from what I've written here, but if it's completely incoherent, you know the reason. Any predictions made within this post were made before today's games. -- Not that I'm stupid enough to let one game influence my decision in such a long season.

So I dug through the history folder in my Mozilla Firefox browser, which I highly recommend, -- Adblock, Baseball-reference, and Bloglines toolkit, are just a few of the great extensions available that add great functionality to an already solid browser. -- and pulled up all of the prediction columns that I could find for the past few weeks. Go ahead and bookmark this page so you can have a reference to see who really did know what they were talking about and who was just full of hot air.

Here are the predictions I came across, in no particular order. If I missed one, either email me the link, and I'll add it to the list, or just dump it in the comments section.The one thing I don't understand in all of these picks is the love for Cleveland. Picking Cleveland is the equivalent of getting a tribal tattoo around your bicep, or on your lower back if you're of the female persuasion. -- I like to call those the tramp stamp. -- I don't honestly believe there are that many people who feel that Cleveland is actually better than the Twins, who, as if I needed to remind you, are the three time defending division champs. Cleveland is just the flavor of the month. Do you remember how many people actually picked the Royals to win the Central last year? The Royals!

So here are my predictions for the season: AL Central
  1. Minnesota Twins -- 89 victories -- They're first until further notice. I wouldn't predict the sun not to come up tomorrow, so why would I pick against the Twins? It's become that predictable.
    Why they win the Central:
    • Johan.Santana.
    • They didn't really lose anything in Guzman and Koskie -- Cuddyer should do a decent job filling Koskie's shoes, and Jason Bartlett should easily fill in for the overrated Christian Guzman.
    • The bullpen is actually better. Yes, Nathan may have trouble matching his output last year, but overall the pen is deeper and stronger.
    How they can lose the Central:
    • Aaron Gleeman does a pretty good job listing multiple reasons why. I don't really need to expand further.

  2. Chicago White Sox -- 86 victories -- I don't get angry when I see the Sox picked anywhere from 1st to 3rd, but when I see us picked 4th, I wonder why. The sox have finished 3rd or better every year since 1990.
    How they can win the Central
    • One of Contreras/Garland/Hernandez pitching to his full potential for the entire season
    • Sound defense -- Should be the best in the AL Central
    • Mark Buehrle -- OK, I'll admit I added that one after today's game.
    • The Bullpen is no longer a liability, but an asset.
    Why they finish second
    • Contreras/Garland/Hernandez not likely to combine for an above average ERA.
    • Scott Podsednik & Tadahito Iguchi -- It could spell trouble relying on a leadoff hitter who had an OBP of .313 last season and a #2 hitter who has never had a Major league at bat. It may be a while, but at some point you'll begin to miss the defensive wizardry of Willie Harris too.
    • Ozzie Guillen -- If he uses the small-ball approach as much as he has indicated he would, he'll bunt us right out of the opportunity to compete for a division title.

  3. Cleveland Indians -- 83 victories -- They remind me of the 2001 White Sox, with a little more solid starting staff.
    How they can win the CentralWhy they finish third
    • Defense is suspect. They're poor up the middle with Peralta and Belliard, and they probably downgraded at both corner OF position (Blake & Juan Gone)
    • Some of those career years last season will prove to be just that. Career years, once in a career.
    • Kevin Millwood? Are you kidding me? This guy is a $7M Jon Garland.

  4. Detroit Tigers -- 77 victories -- Not quite yet.
    How they can win the CentralWhy they finish fourth
    • Starting pitching is at least another year away from being above league average.
    • Even with the subtraction of the empty average roid user Alex Sanchez and the addition of Maggs, I still don't see enough offense. -- At least not with this pitching staff.

  5. Kansas City Royals -- 58 victories -- Somebody had to lose a lot in my prediction. Three teams are over the .500 mark, and the other is just below it.
    How they can win the Central
    • Multiple plane crashes?
    Why they finish last
    • Even Joe Posnaski doesn't think they'll win. He did write his annual "why the Royals will win the Central" column though.
    • Terrance Long is a starting corner outfielder, that's almost makes Scott Podsednik look good.
    • Jose Lima was their opening day starter.
Some general Sox Predictions/Observations
  • Aaron Rowand -- All-Star. Sounds weird doesn't it? It shouldn't in a few months.
  • Jon Garland -- He'll pitch right around 200 innings of league average ball and win 12 games. This is on the same level as predicting the Twins to win the division, or Eric Gagne to be dominant in 82.1IP.
  • Carl Everett -- Gets off to a hot start, so much so that we don't really miss Frank. -- I must say I'm not as confident in this as I was just a couple days ago when I started to write this. He's been unimpressive against the Brew Crew and the Tribe.
  • Tadahito Iguchi -- Will struggle early on. Will struggle for a while if Ozzie continues to cut his field in half by drilling him to go to the right side with everything. Japanese Gold Gloves don't mean shit.
  • Dustin Hermanson -- Will turn out to be a much more valuable player than I had first envisioned. He's impressed me so far.
  • Joe Borchard -- In a new organization by the end of June.
  • Joe Crede -- Becomes Public Enemy #1. Think Billy Koch. Every team needs a whipping boy. If Joe doesn't improve soon, he's going to be hearing it from both barrels; the media and the fans.

* * * * *

This is where I would usually write about the game, or tell you it was the first 1-0 shutout by the White Sox since May of 2003, or something cool like that, but it's really late/early in the morning. I should get to bed. I've got all night to think of superlatives for Buehrle's magnificent performance.