Thoughts on Fantasy, Predictions, and Soup

I love soup. Watching baseball in DC is like ordering soup in a restaurant. I won’t leaving you hanging with that little nugget, I’ll explain. Recently I went to a nice little restaurant called “Not Your Average Joe’s.” Steve may know this place because it is a Boston chain. We didn’t go on Friday which is a little disappointing because Friday is clam chowder day. I never end up at restaurants on the right soup day. I always get stuck on “Southwestern Chipotle Lintel Bean” night. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll still order the Southwestern Chipotle Lintel Bean soup, it just isn’t clam chowder.

Many of you may be tracking where I’m going here, other’s may not, so let me drive this car into the garage. Every time I flip on the TV to watch some sports, I’m stuck with many options. Orioles, Nationals, Cubs, Red Sox or Yankees are always on TV here. The Giants are never on.  All those other teams are Southwestern Chipotle Lintel Bean soup to me. I enjoy the heck out of watching them, they just aren’t clam chowder. I miss clam chowder. Nay, I need me some chowder.

After the first week of May, I feel the need to evaluate some of my choices. I have made some bad choices. Bad choice #1. Picking the Brewers to be good. You may be thinking, “you also picked the Red Sox to be good and their records are similar.” Great thought, however, the Red Sox have some proven veteran players. I think the Red Sox are performing at their lowest level. Eventually, those good players will start producing and average out this slow start.  I’m not so sure the Brewers are at their low point. This could just be their actual performance level.

Bad choice #2. The AL central. Ok so we all got this one wrong and it may even out in the end. However, this start is almost exactly backwards from how I predicted it. I think it is great for baseball when Cleveland is good, but this start came out of nowhere. I hope they can continue it.

Bad choice #3 is all about fantasy baseball. I drafted Troy Tulowitzki and Ryan Howard with my first two picks. How’s that working out? Well it could be worse, but besides the HR totals, I’m not impressed. Tulo is ranked 69th and Howard is ranked 33rd. I currently don’t have any hitters ranked higher than 33rd on my team. Suckfest! I guess my bad choice #3 should be my whole draft. Terrible. I am in fifth and sinking fast.

Making bad choices is part of the fun of baseball.  For all the talk about luxury tax issues, baseball has an incredible amount of parity. You never quite know who will be good and who will struggle. The first month of this season points this out perfectly. Who knew the Indians would be so good, Lance Berkman would be playing out of his mind, or that the White Sox would already be 11 games out of first. If you knew those things, before the season you would be a genius or a  liar. Me, I’m just going to eat more Southwestern Chipotle Lintel Bean soup while thinking about clam chowder.

(-JS)

Nick’s Prediction Reboot

(note: nick’s article was submitted on may 6th, before the completion of the Giants-Rockies series).

AL EAST

Well the Red Sox certainly blew up my prediction for a dominant run at the AL title. That being said I still see them recovering nicely and being in the playoff hunt for the rest of the season. I still think I’m sticking with them for the title since the Yankees seem to be falling apart. As for the Rays, they’ve sold me after a really rough start. That, in addition to the terrible Central and West mean I’m picking them as my new AL Wild Card winners.

AL CENTRAL

I still think the Royals are a few years away, but good lord do the White Sox suck right now. No hitting, no pitching, no nothing. I have no clue what the Tigers really are and I don’t know if I can trust the Twins with Morneau and Mauer out so much. Looking at the Indians I think they’re the real deal, or at least real enough to win the Central.

AL WEST

Not sold on the A’s anymore and I’m changing my pick to the Rangers. Losing Feliz and Hamilton didn’t help, but Neftali is coming back and when Josh returns the offense will continue to swing large. The A’s could make a run and I wouldn’t be surprised if they did, but it’ll be down to those two teams as the Angels don’t seem to have the pieces necessary to win and the M’s are the M’s.

NL EAST

I don’t buy the Marlins at all. I know everyone says that and then they go win a World Series, but I don’t see that pitching and offense outlasting the Phillies or the Braves. That being said I still have the Phillies winning the division but after watching Atlanta this past few weeks, It’s going to be a LOT closer than I thought, close enough that I think the Braves will take the Wild Card in the NL.

NL CENTRAL 

I know St. Louis is playing really well, but honestly I still see this as the Brewers’ division to lose. I’m not picking them to win the NL anymore, but this division should still be there with good pitching and REALLY good hitting.

NL WEST

I just don’t know what to make of the Giants. They look SO bad some times, but they have had no Torres, Pablo, Zito, Wilson, Ross or Casilla and a bad hitting Belt for some or most of the season, and they’re still within a stones throw from the Rockies. The Rockies, on the other hand, are REALLY good. I’m sticking with the Giants out of plain homerism but I wouldn’t be betting against Colorado to win the division at this point.

(-NW)

Awards Predictions Remixed

Here’s the original post

Now, for the remix:

  • AL MVP: (original pick: Adrian Gonzalez) So much of the MVP choice tends to be tied in to who makes the playoffs (see Hamilton, Josh), but has there been a better player for the last 15 months than Jose Bautista? Obviously the award is only for 2011, but it is looking like 2010 (54 home runs, .995 OPS) was no fluke. Maybe the biggest sign of his turnaround is that he is walking twice as much as he is striking out. He is capable of a year that transcends the standings.
  • AL CYA: (original pick: Jon Lester) Thus far this award is Jered Weaver’s to lose, but I still think Lester will win. Jon usually starts slow and then has a torrid finish, but this year he has started strong and if he continues to dominate throughout I think he’ll win it with numbers clearly superior to Weaver. Part of what makes him so amazing is that he is left-handed and lefties typically don’t do well at fenway. Sticking to my guns here!
  • AL ROY: (original pick: Jake McGee) Huge whiff with this choice as Jake was just sent down to AAA to work some stuff out. Oh well, this is a hard one to pick anyway. The new pick is Eric Hosmer. He’s been killing it at every level and that will continue in KC. The future is rapidly approaching for the Royals.
  • NL MVP: (original pick: Albert Pujols) Pujols got off to a slow start and even then is not that far off from the numbers needed to be in this discussion. A big May could put him right back at the front of the pack. That said, Ryan Braun is going to be hard to catch, especially if the Brewers get going and take the division. I’ll take Braun for now, but with the full awareness that I might switch back to AP in June!
  • NL CYA: (original pick: Yovani Gallardo) Another big OOPS! Not only has Yovani not taken the step forward I anticipated he’s taken two major steps backward. Josh Johnson is the Jered Weaver of the NL right now and he is nasty but he always seems to get hurt or tire at some point. If he can keep it up for a full season he will be tough to beat. Halladay is right there in the mix, per usual (as is Cliff Lee). However, I think this may end up being Tim Lincecum‘s best season to date. His struggles of 2010 led to an evolution mentally and helped him develop his repertoire of pitchers. Now he has his fastball back. He is in the rare zone where his mental capacity and his physical abilities are on par. Very few athletes get to enjoy this. It’ll be number 3 for Timmy.
  • NL ROY: (original pick: Brandon Belt) Belt can still win this but he needs to come back by June 1 and he needs to absolutely rake. Otherwise, this is Brandon Beachy’s award to lose. This kid has come out of nowhere to dominate the NL this spring. Young pitchers like him tend to struggle the second and third times they face teams so he may be coming back to earth soon. Last year it was Giants vs. Braves for this award and everyone thought it would be again (Belt vs. Freeman) only we all got the wrong Brave!
(-SB)

Prediction Reboot

(**Note: records are taken from May 1st standings…also links to the original prediction articles can be found by clicking on the division titles). The first month of the season is in the books, so it seems like a natural time to review some of my preseason predictions and see how we’re doing and if we need to make adjustments. Today, we’ll look at the divisions, and later this week the awards.

AL East

Two weeks in to the season my Red Sox-first-Rays-take-second-and-the-Wild-Card pick was looking terrible. As bad as the Sox looked, the team I was really concerned about was the Rays. They looked awful out of the gate and then got hit with a big injury (Longoria). It seems, though, they’ve righted the ship, in part due to the emergence of Sam Fuld (thank you Manny) and also to the pitching, which I thought was the key all along. Now a month in and nothing has dissuaded me from my original pick. Red Sox still win it and the Rays have what it takes to win the WC. Sorry Yankees but your weak rotation and old man squad (I’m looking at you Jeter) aren’t going to cut it unless there is a major midseason trade.

AL Central

I will admit that the team I felt least excited about picking in all of baseball was the Twins. It felt uninspired in every way, yet I just couldn’t not pick them. Currently, though, this division is completely upside down from where I had everyone. Literally, my 1 through 5 is actually 5-1. I also don’t think the Indians can keep this up, but who else, honestly, is good enough to win this division? Maybe the White Sox. If I had to put money on someone, it would be Chicago, but wow, this division is completely baffling. Also, I would LOVE to see the Indians hang on and pull this out.

AL West

Texas got off a hot start but is coming back to earth. They have surprised me so far, but I still think their lack of quality starting pitching will be a liability. Best guess: it will only take about 90 wins to secure this division again, and so my money is still on the A’s. The Angels have been good, and they have a couple of hot pitchers right now, but in the end I still have to go with Oakland.

NL East

The Marlins are making me proud so far this season. I felt they would be good this year but really looking towards 2012 (new stadium, more maturity from Logan Morrison/Mike Stanton/Anibal Sanchez)…maybe they are ready now. That said, I believe this division still comes down to the Phillies and the Braves with the loser making it in as the Wild Card. Don’t be surprised though if both Wild Card teams are from Florida.

NL Central

The Brewers are right where they want to be with Zack Greinke coming back. If they can get Gallardo going they have a formidable four man rotation with Marcum and Wolf being lights out so far. Look for them to make some bullpen moves this summer to shore up what has thus far been their major weakness. I’m sticking with them winning this division. I love the Cardinals for so far proving that they won’t go quietly just because Adam Wainwright went down for the season. The Reds are still conundrum to me. Some days I think I was a fool for not picking them to win the division running away, and others I think third place is exactly where they deserve to be. Bottom Line: this is still the Brewers division to lose.

NL West

Other than the AL Central this is my biggest mistake so far. What to make of the Giants? If you had told me before the season started that the Giants would lose Torres, Wilson, DeRosa, Sandoval, Casilla, Ross, and Zito to the DL before May 1st and be at .500 only 4.5 games back, I’d say “wow, that’s pretty fortunate.” And yet, despite all that, I can’t help but look at this team and feel like they should be better. In addition to injuries, Huff has had a terrible start, Belt didn’t pan out (this time around), and Tejada has been a disaster. Meanwhile Bumgarner started slowly and the bullpen has some issues throwing strikes. Only 4.5 back. I don’t know…the injuries feel ominous…feel like the kinds of things that derail a successful championship defense. But, there’s still a lot of time left. Oh and the Rockies are good. Really good. I still think a healthy Giants club is the best team in the division, but they are going to have to do this the hard way.

(-SB)

2011 World Series Predictions

The season begins! And here are our predictions on how it all will end (maybe).

Nick:

Boston Red Sox over the Milwaukee Brewers (in 6). I almost picked this to go seven games, but in the end I think the Red Sox’s experience and their offense will outlast the Brewers pitching. It’ll be a good World Series but when the Red Sox get going in the playoffs, they will be really hard to beat.

Jon:

San Francisco Giants over the Boston Red Sox: Pitching wins championships, but you must have reliable offense to complement. The Giants have what it takes to be the first back-to-back winner since the Yanks. The Giants will have to get past the Phils’ rotation in the playoffs and get stellar pitching to beat the Red Sox in the WS. 2011 World Series winner: San Francisco Giants.

Josh:

Boston Red Sox over Philadelphia Phillies: Last year was all about pitching. This year will be the same but I think the sox hitting will overcome the great rotation of the Phillies.

Steve:

San Francisco Giants over the Boston Red Sox: I wouldn’t at all be surprised to see the Rays, Twins, Rockies, Braves, Yankees, Brewers, White Sox, or A’s make a “surprise” run and win it all, but I honestly think the three teams most likely to be there at the end are the Giants, Phillies, and Red Sox. The way I see it, though, the Phillies age and injuries will trip them up and the Red Sox rotation will be their downfall leaving the Giants as the most unlikely repeat WS champs maybe of all time.

Let the games begin!

2011 Awards Predictions

Who will take home the individual, end of season, awards? Traditional/repeat heroes like Pujols and Halladay, or new comers like Votto and Hernandez? Here’s what we think:

Nick

  • AL MVP: Adam Dunn
  • AL Cy Young: Jon Lester
  • AL Rookie of the Year: Dustin Ackley
  • NL MVP: Prince Fielder
  • NL CYA: Ubaldo Jimenez
  • NL ROY: Domonic Brown

Jon

  • AL MVP: Carl Crawford
  • AL CYA: Trevor Cahill
  • AL ROY: Jeremy Hellickson
  • NL MVP: Carlos Gonzalez
  • NL CYA: Timmy Lincecum
  • NL ROY: Bryce Harper (even though I REALLY want to pick Brandon Belt)

Steve

  • AL MVP: Adrian Gonzalez (huge first year in Boston numbers wise, plus team with best regular season record=hardware)
  • AL CYA: Jon Lester (King Felix will have slightly better peripherals, but Lester could win 25 games and have great stats…too good to pass up)
  • AL ROY: Jake McGee (goes all Neftali Feliz on the AL and saves over 40 games for an overachieving Rays team)
  • NL MVP: Albert Pujols (the great Pujols goes off during contract year, puts to bed any question as to whether he deserves riches contract in MLB history)
  • NL CYA: Yovani Gallardo (outshines two big additions in Grienke and Marcum to prove he’s the true ace of the staff and the class of the NL, at least in 2011)
  • NL ROY: Brandon Belt (there was a time when even imagining the Giants producing back-to-back ROYs would have induced side-splitting laughter…laugh no more: Belt is 2011 Posey)

2011 NL West Predictions

Three days to go until “real” baseball games are played. Until then, enjoy our final season preview and predictions posts leading up to the seaon. Today, our final divisional look, the National League West.

Nick

  1. San Francisco Giants
  2. Colorado Rockies*
  3. Los Angeles Dodgers
  4. San Diego Padres
  5. Arizona Diamondbacks

After trading Adrian Gonzalez there is just no way the Padres contend like they did last year. To that I add: the Dodgers have some major pitching and hitting issues and the NL West will turn out to be a two team race between the Giants and Rockies. While the Rockies are the one team that scare me every time they play the Giants, I just love the Giants pitching (and Buster Posey) way too much to pick the Rockies, although I do have Colorado winning the Wild Card.

Josh

  1. San Francisco Giants
  2. Colorado Rockies
  3. San Diego Padres
  4. Arizona Diamondbacks
  5. Los Angeles Dodgers

Yep, the Dodgers will always be in last. I’m not just picking the Giants to win this division because I’m a homer. Well, ok, yes I am. However, I really think they will win it and I don’t think it will come down to the last game of the season. I will say that I’m a bit nervous about the Rockies. They could turn out to be the wild card team. Now as a Giants fan, I have a hard time picking them to win the division because I don’t want to jinx it. Because of this, I’m writing this blog sitting on a wood floor, knocking on a wood door, watching old games of Kirk Rueter pitch, and whittling a wooden canoe out of pure wood. COME ON G-MEN!

Jon

  1. THE San Francisco Giants: World Series Champions of the World
  2. Colorado Rockies
  3. San Diego Padres
  4. Los Angeles Dodgers
  5. Arizona Diamondbacks

I won’t lie, the last 7 days have been a bit sour in the Giants’ Spring Training camp. A couple of injuries and a few poor performances have given the impression that they are limping into the season after dominating most of the preseason schedule. Fear not, the Giants are way too young, talented, and angry (in the sense that they still believe they have something to prove) for them not to be the front-runners in the battle for the NL West Crown. The Rockies are good, real good and they may prove to put up a battle for the Wild Card against the Phils. The Pads aren’t going to drown in the sea of mediocrity because of the loss of Gonzales, but they will not have enough to take the crown. The Dogs got divorced and the D-Backs are hopeless.

Steve

  1. San Francisco Giants
  2. Colorado Rockies
  3. Arizona Diamonbacks
  4. San Diego Padres
  5. Los Angeles

It’s clear we are high on the Giants and low on the Dodgers. Bay Area homers or what? Really, though, could these two organizations be more different? Whatever one thinks about Brian Sabean, the Giants are showing the wisdom of stability in the front office and management of a baseball orgnanization. The Dodgers, by contrast, are in chaos. My controversial statement is this: the Giants are the class of the division and the Rockies are closer to 3-5 than 1. The Giants win because of pitching and depth. This team is much deeper going in to the season and well equipped to deal with injuries (like Wilson and Ross). Now if Lincecum or Cain go down, that’s a world of pain. The Rockies have some stud hitters and Ubaldo Jimenez but I don’t like the rest of the rotation. Arizona is better than people think, especially with some real pitchers in the bullpen. San Diego will not even come close to what they did last year and it’s not because of losing Adrian Gonzalez. Injuries, luck, and the inability to repeat their bullpen magic will make for tough times.

2011 NL Central Predictions

We end our week in the NL Central…here we go (also scroll down to see our updated posts with Jon’s picks):

Nick

  1. Milwaukee Brewers
  2. Cincinnati Reds
  3. St. Louis Cardinals
  4. Houston Astros
  5. Pittsburg Pirates
  6. Editor’s Note: No Cubs were included in Nick’s picks…they will probably win the World Series

The Brewers had the best offseason in my opinion and that rotation is a LOT stronger than last year. Milwaukee’s offense is very underrated, with an unheralded trio of Corey Hart, Rickie Weeks and Casey McGehee. If they hold onto Prince Fielder, which I think they will if they’re making a run at the postseason, then they  will outlast the Reds, who have great pitching but not as good off an offense.The loss of Adam Wainwright is a big blow to the Cards, and if Chris Carpenter is injured then kiss their season goodbye, despite the awesomeness of Albert.

Josh

  1. Milwaukee Brewers
  2. Cincinnati Reds*
  3. St. Louis Cardinals
  4. Chicago Cubs
  5. Houston Astros
  6. Pittsburg Pirates

I really like the top half of this division and I think it could be the most interesting to watch. Either the Brewers, Reds, or Cardinals could win this one. I’m picking the Brewers because of, well, everything. Great pitching and I think they will have the best lineup in the National league. In Spring Training, they lead the National League in Average, slugging, on base percentage, RBI, and triples. Ya Triples!!! Ok who cares about triples…and who cares about spring training. However, they are going to be great and I want them to do well.

Steve

  1. Milwaukee Brewers
  2. St. Louis Cardinals
  3. Cincinnati Reds
  4. Chicago Cubs
  5. Pittsburg Pirates
  6. Houston Astros

As much as I want to be different, I have to go with the Brewers. They fit the model of adding pitching to a T. I love what Bob Melvin has done there: every small market team builds with youth for a window of opportunity and that window is now open and he is going for it, as he should. Kudos. Hope they pull it off. What is interesting to me, though, is the rest of the division. I actually think the Cardinals will make this a very, very close race. Here’s why: Tony LaRussa will manage to lead his team through adversity and a million distractions (Pujols contract, injuries, his own uncertain future) for one last hurrah and they will make it very interesting, but just fall short in the end. A couple of other thoughts: I can’t make up my mind about the Reds…they appear to be going in the right directing, and in many ways it would not surprise me to see them run away with the division. But they are managed by Dusty Baker and seem just as likely to fall back into mediocrity. The Cubs did some things to get better (love Garza and some of their young players) but not enough for this year. I also think the Pirates will make some noise…lots of good young position players there now, but no pitchers. Houston is a mess.

2011 NL East Predictions

We turn our attention to the National League. It is my (steve’s) opinion that the National League is actually the stronger league right now because of the amazing depth of pitching. We’ll see if that holds up. On to the picks…

Nick

  1. Philadelphia Phillies
  2. Atlanta Braves
  3. Florida Marlins
  4. Washington Nationals
  5. New York Mets

As much as I have a fiery hatred in my heart for Shane Victorino and a general hatred of the Phillies, I cannot deny how good that pitching staff is. The big question mark for them is health, especially the health of Rollins and Utley but I think that even their starting pitchers could cover an injury to either of those players. I feel the Braves just have too many question marks right now. They need Chipper Jones to be healthy and playing above average ball, they need Craig Kimbrel to really step up and become a consistent closer in his first season doing so, they need Martin Prado to build on last year, and Freddie Freeman needs to play as well as Hayward did last season, which reminds me that Jason Heyward needs to not have a sophomore slump.

Josh

  1. Philadelphia Phillies
  2. Atlanta Braves
  3. Washington Nationals
  4. Florida Marlins
  5. New York Mets

I tried to come up with an argument for the Phillies not winning this division. Couldn’t do it. That rotation is too rock solid. I’m not 100% crazy about their lineup and they do have a tendency to go ice-cold for stretches of games. However, they will win this division by at least 10 games. I think the interesting team in this division is the Nationals. I say that not because I live in DC, but rather because they could be a tricky team. I also have to comment on something more interesting than the Phillies because even my wife knows the Phillies will win the East. Ok maybe not but it sounded good. Last year at the end of May, they were above 500. Yes, I know, its May, but still impressive for the Nationals. They have improved their team slightly over last year so I think they will be in the conversation well into the summer. I really want to see Bryce Harper come up this year.  He could be ridiculous.

Steve

  1. Philadelphia Phillies
  2. Atlanta Braves*
  3. Florida Marlins
  4. Washington Nationals
  5. New York Mets

This might be the most interesting division in baseball. In fact it may be worth a separate post at some time. I agree with the guys the Phillies are going to win it, but I think it will actually be a lot closer than anyone expects. The Braves will be right there all season and win the Wild Card. A couple of thoughts: the Phillies lineup is old. Utley is hurt already and someone else will get hurt too (probably Rollins). I also think one or more of the big four starters will spend time on the DL. The Braves have a lot going for them: exciting young players (Heyward and Freeman), solid additions (Uggla), players returning from injury (Jones), dudes in their prime (McCann and Prado), and lots of pitching. Look for Tommy Hanson to have a Ubaldo Jimenez-like breakout season. I also think the Marlins are pretty good but a year away from seriously contending. I agree with Josh that Nationals are heading in the right direction. And the Mets hired the right guy to be their GM and if you squint right you can see a scenario where big first halves from Wright, Reyes, Beltran, Davis, and Bay could lead to a semblance of contention and then Santana comes back and…….yeah, right, not going to happen, but I am fascinated by this division!

————————————————————————————————————

Jon (Jon’s picks added 3.25.11)

  1. Atlanta Braves
  2. Philadelphia Phillies*
  3. Washington Nationals
  4. Florida Marlins
  5. New York Mets

I’m not jumping off the Phils’ bandwagon because I don’t think they are the best team in the East, I am jumping off their wagon because of their injury problems, an overrated Ryan Howard, and a really good Atlanta Braves squad.  I run the risk of being made a fool on this pick, but I like it and look forward to seeing how this shakes out in Sept/Oct.  The Phils will take the Wild Card and will remain a World Series candidate with their lock down starting pitching in playoffs.  P.S. The Nationals will be fun to watch and will be around .500 (which is equivalent to any other team winning the WS).

2011 AL West Predictions

The Monks wrap up the American League today with a look at the Western Division. Here we go!

Nick:

  1. Oakland A’s
  2. Texas Rangers
  3. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
  4. Seattle Mariners

Worst division in baseball by far. Losing Cliff Lee is a huge loss to Texas and if Michael Young gets traded that’ll hurt too. Getting Beltre will help, but the A’s will manage to squeak by with good, young pitching and some not quite over the hill vets in the batter’s box. The Anaheim Angels (the only name they should ever be called) continue to fall apart with laughable trades and big time misses on free agency, a fact that will always bring me joy. Seattle just sucks.

Josh:

  1. Texas Rangers
  2. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
  3. Oakland A’s
  4. Seattle Mariners

I think the Rangers have a great shot at winning this division again. Their lineup is stacked with some great hitters. The bullpen will create problems again. I hate their bullpen. I had a great time researching this division and reading all the Ranger fans’ blogs complaining about the ‘pen. They have every right to be pissed. Neftali Feliz is the only good thing in it and they want to move him to the starting rotation. This makes him a very intriguing fantasy player but creates big problems for their pen. If he isn’t there, they won’t win the West. I think the Angels will give the Rangers a good run for their money. I’m just going to say that I am confused about the Angels. They could be great or awful. I hope the latter. I do want to mention the A’s….now that I mentioned them….that is all.

Steve:

  1. Oakland A’s
  2. Texas Rangers
  3. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
  4. Seattle Marines

This division is one of the best testing grounds for my ideas about the importance of pitching acquisitions to the success of a team. In that model both the Angels and the Rangers are in trouble. The Angels are a mess for many reasons but after Jered Weaver I don’t like their staff at all (and I know they have Dan Haren, but I don’t like him in the AL). Texas, especially, seems poised for a big step backwards on the mound. They will score runs, but they’ve scored runs for the last 10 years. No Cliff Lee and regression performances from Lewis and Wilson will be their downfall. The A’s on the other hand, in a bit of irony, look a whole lot like the 2010 Giants. Really good young pitching (lots of strikeouts) a strong bullpen and several under the radar but helpful veteran additions to a lineup that struggled mightily to score runs last year. Outside of SF I think they have the deepest pitching from opening day starter to last man in the bullpen. It will be close but the A’s are going to be back in the postseason.

————————————————————————————————————

Jon (Jon’s picks added 3.25.11)

  1. Oakland A’s
  2. Texas Rangers
  3. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
  4. Seattle Mariners

I am so under impressed by this division, it’s hard to really invest much analysis. Anaheim is a mess, Seattle is perennially terrible and the Rangers have failed to lock up a potentially bright future. The A’s are going to be really fun to watch and will be the only team draw to my (or anyone else’s) attention.