The Dord of Darien

Musings from the Mayor of the Internet

Darien’s totally worthless 2009 baseball predictions

The season starts in just forty short minutes as I write this, and I’m pretty psyched for it. This hasn’t just been the longest offseason of all time; it’s also felt like it. So to celebrate, here are my completely specious predictions for 2009. You might want to bookmark this so you can laugh at me when San Diego beats Seattle in the World Series. I’m not giving exact records because fuck that. I’d be completely making numbers up and I’d probably screw up the math and hand out more total wins than total losses anyhow.

AL East

1) Tampa Bay Rays — What we have here appears to be a fundamentally improved version of a team that came out of noplace and kicked everybody’s ass last year. Everybody except Philadelphia, I mean. Tampa Bay lost nobody of real consequence, and wasn’t coming off of a career season from any of their players (except maybe Grant Balfour). They’re still a well-balanced team with power, speed, defense, starting pitching, relief pitching, and Don Zimmer. What’s not to like? I mean, unless you’re Pedro Martinez.

2) Boston Red Sox — The Red Sox are a big question mark for me. They’ll be Mannyless for their whole season for the first time since, what, 1814? Jason Bay is pretty good, but he can’t produce at the plate like Manny can on account of nobody can produce at the plate like Manny can. Key word being "can," as opposed to "will." The pitching is mainly solid; I have some questions about the old men holding down the back end of the rotation, and I’m not supremely comfortable in long relief, but I am fairly sure Josh Beckett will return to form. On the other hand, I’m concerned that J.D. Drew will also return to form. You see how it is.

3) New York Yankees — I’ll get this out of the way right up-front: the Yankees spent an entire bank bailout on free agents this year. For their money, they’ll get a team that still won’t beat Boston or Tampa Bay. Why not? Well, frankly, CC will add a whole lot of punch to the front of the rotation, and Burnett will spice up the disabled list whenever A-rod recovers from Dominican hip rot or whatever he has, but the pitching still isn’t up to par. CC Sabathia, the late AJ Burnett, Chien-Ming Wang, the ghost of Andy Pettite, and DUI Joba? Even assuming they all stay healthy and actually perform this season, what happens after that? They won’t get eight innings out of anybody but CC, and they need somebody in between the starters and Mo. I just don’t see it. Also, hey, Cody Ransom! Awesome name for a wild west gunslinger, but not what you want to see penciled in next to "3B" on that lineup card for who-knows-how-long.

4) Toronto Blue Jays — Doc Halladay may be Cody Ransom’s worst wild-west nemesis, but he’s a pretty fine pitcher. Do the Blue Jays have any other, you know, actual major-leaguers on their roster? I mean other than Scott Rolen, who will spend the season platooning at DL with Casey Janssen.

5) Baltimore Orioles — With the condition the Blue Jays are in, I really wanted this year to bump Baltimore out of last place. Unfortunately, the Orioles forgot to come equipped with any pitchers, and that’s hurting their chances a bit. Their offense has some punch — Brian Roberts is one of the best leadoff men in baseball, Nick Markakis and Adam Jones have some pop, and Melvin Mora is consistently underrated. I hear this Matt Wieters kid will really tear shit up whenever he gets to the Bigs, but, hey Andy MacPhail, you probably should remember for next season that you need to bring some people to throw the ball, too. Jeremy Guthrie being your ace is shady enough, but when Jeremy Guthrie is actually your entire rotation, well, you’re fucked. You do have to give MacPhail credit for one thing, though — he has the perfect name for this job. Makes me wonder if he and Brian Cashman planned that.

AL Central

1) Cleveland Indians — Cliff Lee’s had a discouraging spring training and is not likely to duplicate his performance from last season, but he’s still going to be a legitimate ace. Cleveland added parts from the Cubs’ fire sale, picking up Kerry Wood and Mark DeRosa basically for a song. If Woody says healthy — and that’s no mean feat — he gives them a serious top-tier closer. There were concerns that DeRosa’s numbers were inflated by hitter-friendly Arlington and Wrigley, but then he went to the World Baseball Classic and lit shit up. The exact composition of the Indians’ infield is bizarre — they seem to have all the right players, but everybody in the wrong position — but I’m expecting they’ll sort that little SNAFU out. I’m strongly suspecting they’ll do well enough to win a weak division.

2) Minnesota Twins — What looked like half a team surprised us by holding on and almost winning the division last year, so just because something like 19 players on their 25-man roster are already hurt is no reason to count the Twins out yet. Excellent management and tenacious small-ball players should be enough to contend.

3) Chicago White Sox — I can’t understand the White Sox these days, and that’s not just because Ozzie Guillen is completely incoherent. Expect Jose Contreras to bounce back from the Cuban ankle crisis and be dominant. Behind Contreras and John Danks, though, it gets a little sketchy. Gavin Floyd and Mark Buehrle (good lord that’s hard to spell) should be decent, though I’m not expecting Floyd to match last year’s numbers. There was just something about guys called Floyd. Offensively, the White Sox can bang a shitload of home runs, but the trouble with having eleven fifty-year-old sluggers is the question of how many you can legally DH in one game.

4) Kansas City Royals — A lot of people say the Royals are this year’s Rays. Bullshit. Sure, you say, but nobody expected the Rays to be anything good last year, and they were. But the difference is that we should have seen the Rays coming. All the signs were there — they had clearly been making productive use of all those number one picks, they had a great player-development system, excellent coaches, and they’d started handing out serious contracts like you’d expect from a contender. We should have seen it, but we just didn’t pay attention because they’re the goddamn Rays. This year, everybody’s looking because last year done woke us up real good, and Kansas City just ain’t got it. They’re on the right track, and they’ll be able to contend shortly if they keep going where they’re going (and if the rest of the division stays mediocre), but now is not the time, Cato.

5) Detroit Tigers — Holy shit the Tigers got real bad real fast. How did that happen? Is it just part of the state of things in Detroit? Were they hoping for a government bailout if they failed hard enough? I can’t believe the mess of a team they put on the field last year was supposed to win a World Series, and I can’t believe this one will either. I only have two good things to say about the Tigers: 1) Dombrowski would be an awesome title for a blues album about what a complete piece of shit the Tigers are, and 2) the Tigers won me a ton of imaginary internet money in a betting pool last year by inexplicably not firing Jim Leyland, since I was heavily into Willie Randolph to be the first manager fired. I’m not completely sure I can bet anywhere but Leyland this season, though.

AL West

1) Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim Ducks Strike Back 4: Air Buddies or whatever the shit bizarre permutation of their team name they go by these days. It’s not that I like the Angels; I don’t. I think they’re a massively overrated team, and I thought they were a massively overrated team last year, and I was shown to be right when the Red Sox completely embarassed them in the ALDS. Now they’re bringing back fundamentally the same team, but with Bobby Abreu instead of Mark Teixeira? And with Brian Fuentes instead of K-rod? Bullshit. They’ll do fine over here tucked safely away in baseball’s worst division, and the number of games they play against the Athletics, Rangers, and Mariners will artificially inflate their win total and make them look like a real, honest-to-goodness Major League team, and then they’ll wipe out in the LDS again.

2) Oakland Athletics — I’m not fooled into thinking the Athletics are competing this year. They’ll be lucky to go .500 after trading away their entire pitching staff. Most of the time, when I say things like that, it’s poetic exaggeration, but this time I’m totally serious — Oakland does not have a complete pitching staff. They don’t even have five starters — they have four starters and a reliever they’re sticking in the five-hole because, hey, somebody’s gotta do it. They’ll get good production out of Matt Holliday for the three months he’s with the team, but don’t be stupid; Billy Beane traded for Holliday because the numbskulls in Colorado let him go for a song, and Beane’s going to hold him until July and then offload him at a stupendous profit.

3) Texas Rangers — Here’s where I owe Oakland an apology. Hey guys, I’m sorry I said you don’t have a complete pitching staff. I guess, in retrospect, yours isn’t that bad. The Rangers have Josh Hamilton to inspire us all to quit drugs and hit home runs, they quite literally have more good catchers than they know what to do with, but you know what? They still don’t have a single goddamn pitcher. Save us, Kevin Millwood! Save us from all the wins!

4) Seattle Mariners — The rattling scary skeleton of Ken Griffey Jr. is back in Seattle for one more hilarious fling of being called "Junior" as he attempts to amble over to lazy fly balls without tripping over his walker. If you guys are serious about putting Griffey in the field, at least get the man a Segway. That aside, Ichiro is still going to hit a ton of singles, get on base all the goddamn time, and then be stranded there by the clowns who hit behind him. At least they had the good taste to get rid of Richie Sexson. And, you know, the entire management team.

NL East

1) Philadelphia Phillies — The World Phucking Champions can probably repeat at least their division win, since Jimmy Rollins really can only get better than he was in 2008. Assuming Rollins does return to form, and assuming that Chase Utley and Cole Hamels and all the other broken and battered Phillies stars recover quickly and stay recovered, and assuming that Jamie Moyer doesn’t finally give in and collapse into a dessicated, ancient mummy with a terrifying secret, I don’t see any reason why Ryan Howard can’t at least set a new record for strikeouts in a season. Oh, he’s a batter? Well shit. That’s not as much of a feat, then.

2) New York Mets — I’m putting the over/under on the day the Phillies pass the Mets for good on the last day of the season. You know, as usual. The Mets have upgraded their bullpen by adding not one but two closers, in J.J. Putz and K-rod. Getting there is going to be a journey, though, since their rotation sucks out loud after Santana and they still don’t have anybody for middle relief. The Mets can mash with the best of them, though, so maybe they can just score a lot of runs and it won’t matter. After all, last year, that… almost worked.

3) Atlanta Braves — Honestly, I don’t expect the Braves to suck this season. They were a lot worse than they deserved last year, which is the sort of thing that happens when your entire rotation goes on the DL for the whole season. Sure, Chipper is getting old and broken and infirm, but when he’s occasionally healthy he can still hit with the best of them. Sure, the Braves may have gotten jilted by almost every single free agent on the entire market this season, but they did manage to land one, and Derek Lowe is a bona fide ace when he’s not busy sulking and having emotional crises. Sure, the bullpen is (as the French would say) les bullshit, but at least… ah… well, I’ll get back to you on this one.

4) Florida Marlins — The Fish had to offload almost their entire team after last season, since they were hitting arbitration and Florida’s still intent on keeping payroll under A-rod. They still have Hanley Ramirez, even though they appear to be making arbitrary rules just so he’ll get pissed off and demand a trade. They still have Dan Uggla, even though he almost singlehandedly lost the All-Star Game last year with his amazing defensive skills. Outside of that, well, they have a whole lot of question marks. Which is what happens when you sell off your whole team and reform from rookies.

5) Washington Nationals — I’m not sure if Jim Bowden counts as the first general manager fired this season, since technically that was before the season started. Oh, also, the Nationals fired their #1 starter since he refused to play unless they gave him a better contract — a position he adopted almost immediately upon signing the old contract, which smells a little fishy from here. Those two facts, and the fact that they’re the Washington Expos Nationals, are the only pieces of information you should need to deduce how well they’ll do this season. I expect they’ll lose 162 games.

NL Central

1) Chicago Cubs — The biggest lock in non-AL-West baseball, but I’m not totally convinced the Cubs got better in the offseason. They traded Kerry Wood and Mark DeRosa for (effectively) Kevin Gregg and Milton Bradley. In order for that trade to work out, Gregg would need to be (I can’t believe I’m about to write these words) as consistent and reliable as Kerry Wood, and, while Uncle Miltie’s had an outrageous spring, we’ll see if he can stay healthy long enough to have an OBP this season, much less keep it above 1.500. Also, can we please stop batting Alfonso Soriano first? He’s probably the worst leadoff man in baseball, and Ryan Theriot is a great replacement. Other than that, though, the lineup is terrifying, and the rotation should be among the best in baseball as long as Carlos doesn’t forget to have any more injuries treated.

2) St. Louis Cardinals — I know they suck, but they’re the best of a bad lot, and Tony LaRussa is still the best manager in baseball. Look what he did with that hopeless mess he had to work with last year; he kept Albert Pujols and a little league team in contention in a tough division until the last few weeks. With a weaker division, I don’t see any reason why he can’t manage his way into the #2 spot. And who knows? Maybe Albert Pujols will single-handedly destroy an entire opposing team again like he did last season. Or maybe at least he’ll finally get an apology from his parents and, of course, Bud Selig, for being stuck with the name "Pujols."

3) Milwaukee Brewers — A funny thing happened on the way to the season. All those draft picks Milwaukee was supposed to get in return for their expensively-mortaged aces? Yeah, about that. Turns out that the Yankees subsequently paid more for Mark Teixeira than they did for CC Sabathia, reducing the sure-thing two-first-rounders the Brewers were going to get to one sandwich pick. And then Ben Sheets? He failed his physical. So actually nobody signed him, and they get no compensation at all, plus have to pay to repair him for people can pick him up later. All of which is terribly, terribly funny. So now Prince can shuffle around the bases dreaming of meatloaf in peace and not have to worry about any pesky pennant-race pressure.

4) Houston Astros — As much as I love BerkMan, he’s becoming both increasingly old and increasingly the only player on the Astros. World Baseball Classic star Roy Oswald is the same story on the pitching side. I don’t think the two of them have enough all by themselves to catapult themselves past anything but the hopeless mess in Pittsburgh and the waste of good talent that toothpick-swilling, lineup-mangling murderer of starting pitchers is assembling in a house that once held Pete Rose.

5) Cincinatti Reds — A lot of people are predicting that the Reds will be this year’s Rays. Bullshit. See above for the rest of this argument. Jay Bruuuuuuuuuce and Joey Votto are great, sure, but they’re not a team all by themselves. And just look at all those young arms they’ll be sending to see the Angel of Death. Warm up a seat or two next to Mark Prior in baseball purgatory, since I detect some promising careers about to have their mortal coils shuffled the hell off.

36) Pittsburgh Pirates — If there were any justice in the world, this would be the worst team in baseball. This would be the worst possible team in baseball. I mean, as I may have mentioned the other day, the Pirates recently lost to a community college. It shouldn’t be possible to be a worse team than this, and yet, I honestly think the National League is home to something even more depraved and terrible. Though at least Pirates fans can enjoy one of the nicest ballparks in existence! You know, as they watch their team sinking inexorably into its record-extending seventeenth consecutive losing season.

NL West

1) Los Angeles Dodgers — Much like last year, the Dodgers aren’t going to win this division so much as they’re going to lose it a bit less than everybody else. The Dodgers have a whole year of Manny in the field and behind the plate and on the basepaths, which is bad and good and bad in that order, they have Rafael Furcal but don’t have Derek Lowe, which is good and bad in that order, and they get to leave Juan Pierre on the bench all season long, which is really in everybody’s best interest. In other news, they’re a spotty, incomplete team that has as its primary virtue that it sucks less than every other team in the division. Again.

2) San Fransisco Giants — The Giants are terrible, but whaddaya gonna do? In Tim Lincecum and Randy Johnson they have a solid one-two punch of starting pitchers, and, hey, it’s not like sexy, swanky Barry Zito could be any worse than he was last season. The bullpen’s not bad either, with a perfectly capable if un-superb closer in Brian Wilson. Now if they only had somebody who could hit the ball, they’d have a team! Maybe they could trade for a slugger near the deadline. Somebody like, I dunno, maybe Matt Holliday? Just an idea I had, you understand. Can you believe this is Randy Johnson’s twenty-second season in the Bigs? Neither can God. I checked.

3) Colorado Rockies — Remember when these guys went to the World Series? Yeah, neither do I. Holy shit did they get real bad again real fast. Look at it this way. This year’s Rockies team is basically the same as last year’s team — you know, which won 74 games — except without Matt Holliday, Brian Fuentes, or Jeff Francis. Instead, they have… Jason Marquis. Who, after his grand slam last season (lol@Mets) might just be the best hitter on the team if Helton and Tulowitzki can’t get their shit together again. I asked the internet what this lineup portends for the Rockies this season, and it told me this.

4) Arizona Diamondbacks — Brandon Webb and Dan Haren are two of the top starters in the game, but between the two of them they’ll get probably 35 to 38 wins. Which means — not to put too fine a point on it — that Arizona is looking at 124 to 127 losses. The only thing I like about Eric Byrnes is this picture of Todd Helton stomping his face into the dirt as Colorado advanced to the World Series and left his useless ass to scrape itself off of first base. Maybe if he weren’t old and fat and useless, and maybe if his bat provided half as much offense as his mouth, I’d change my tune. But Byrnes is garbage, and he’s pretty much all the Diamondbacks have as far as run production goes.

255) San Diego Padres — The Padres just got new ownership after the messy divorce of the old ownership, and you know what? They still can’t make payroll! So Peavy, he gots ta go. But Peavy has a no-trade clause, and the only team he’ll agree to be traded to is the Cubs. So the ownership can try to put it off, but they really have no choice but to get completely soaked when they trade him, which is hilarious. Especially since — and I hate to be the bearer of bad tidings, lord knows — Peavy is actually the only Major League player on the Padres’ roster. Without Peavy, they’ll probably end up doing impossibly awful things like losing to community college teams. In all seriousness, I fully expect the Padres — who just scraped themselves north of 100 losses last season — to find some heretofore unknown means of losing 174 games in one season.


April 6th, 2009 Posted by | Baseball | no comments

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