Well it seems like everything in NL West is extremely close. This division is a perennial race to the last week of the season, where one team comes out on top by a half game or something of that nature. Expect more of the same this year, I don’t see any teams winning more than 93(ish) games.
- Two words made the Dodgers my number one choice – Manny Ramirez. His numbers after the trade to the Dodgers was nothing short of ridiculous last year. He is teaming up with young and improving guys in Andre Ethier, Matt Kemp, James Loney, and the versatile Rafael Furcal to put up big numbers this year in Los Angeles.
- The Diamondbacks and Dodgers are the top 2 by a good margin here. So, since the Dodgers got the nod for number one, the Diamondbacks are pretty obvious here. This is one of the youngest and most exciting lineups in baseball. Stephen Drew, Chris Young, Mark Reynolds, Chad Tracy and the exciting Justin Upton team up to make a solid offensive threat. I can see this unit having stretches of greatness, but the down periods that they are destined to have make them inferior to the Dodgers.
- The Giants have been suffering ever since the loss of Barry Bonds. I think this is the year they are finally going to make a positive stride and get back towards winning ways. They have some solid bats in Aaron Rowand, Fred Lewis, and young phenom Pablo Sandoval. Sandoval is only 22 years old, he was signed as an amateur free agent in 2003 at the age of 16? Ridiculous! This guy has a sky-scraping ceiling. Don’t be surprised if he drives in 100 runs this year.
- The loss of Matt Holliday kills the Rockies. They do play in the most hitter friendly park in the league, but they are just lacking the tools to be a good offense. Garrett Atkins, Troy Tulowitski, and Brad Hawpe will have to carry the load, and I just don’t trust those guys with it.
- The Padres, unlike the Rockies, play in one of the league’s most pitcher-friendly parks. It also doesn’t help that they don’t have many threats in their lineup. Adrian Gonzalez, Brian Giles, Chase Headley, and Kevin Kouzmanoff provide the base for the offense, which isn’t a bad core of guys. All in all they probably have better hitters in their lineups than the Rockies, but the home field makes all the difference here. They are last, but not by much.
- The Diamondbacks have 2 great starters. Brandon Webb and Dan Haren are both top 15 starters in the league, and there aren’t many teams who have that. This rotation could be one of the best if Garland, Davis, and Scherzer put together good seasons. There’s no doubt that Max Scherzer has great things coming, but they might still be a year away.
- Jake Peavy is one of the game’s best pitchers, despite looking awful in the WBC and spring training. I’m not real worried about him though, I still think he’s going to have a great season. Chris Young is recovering from that terrible shot he took to the head last year, and I think he’s going to come back with a different kind of bang this year. I’m not real familiar with their 3-5 games, in fact I’ve never heard of Cha Seung Baek, but he’s asian, so he must be pretty decent!
- The Dodgers actually almost took the 2 spot here. I love Chad Billingsley and Clayton Kershaw. However, the loss of Derek Lowe will hurt them a lot. Billingsley and Kershaw have an extremely high ceiling, and they could soon be the game’s best 1-2 combination.
- The Giants were also very close to grazing a 2 or 3 spot, but unfortunately they fell the whole way to 4. That’s pretty harsh, considering they have (arguably) the game’s best pitcher. Tim Lincecum was last year’s Cy Young winner, and he led the league in strikeouts. It’s not like they have don’t have any other good starters, Matt Cain and Randy Johnson are both very capable starters, in their own ways. I love the Giants rotation, this division is just really deep on pitching.
- The Rockies are the only sure thing on this list. There was no doubt in my mind that they were #5. The Coors Field thing goes without saying, but again, it doesn’t help at all that they don’t have really good pitchers. Sure, Aaron Cook and Ubaldo Jimenez have both shown great signs at times, but I just don’t trust either of them. Even if these two do but up good numbers again, can you really tell me that Jason Marquis, Franklin Morales, Jeff Francis, and Jorge De La Rosa are gonna be effective as starters in Colorado? I don’t think so.
So here’s my final standings for the 2009 National League West:
Los Angeles Dodgers………………..91 – 71
Arizona Diamondbacks………………88 – 74
San Fransisco Giants………………..82 – 80
San Diego Padres…………………….74 – 88
Colorado Rockies……………………..62 – 100
Alright so the race is heating up for the Pirates 5th spot in the rotation. The two battling for the job in spring training are Jeff Karstens and Virgil Vasquez. Neither of these guys have been fairing well in camp.
Hey guys I am thinking about renaming my
blog. I’m not going to make a new one to change the URL, but
just the name. I am struggling to find a good name though. I
definitely want to make it something clever dealing with the
Pirates. Right now I have an idea but it’s a Veggie Tales
reference from my childhood and I really don’t think many
people would get it… leave comments with ideas,
Alright well first off I’d like to express my anger about the Missouri loss today. They played Uconn well, but just got outmatched in the end. This kind of put a sour taste in my mouth.After that, Pitt lost, so I lost 2 of my final 4 tonight. However, the Pitt loss was probably more good news than bad news for me. Living in Pittsburgh, most people in the polls I am had Pitt winning it all. There is a very small amount of people who had them losing before now, so it’s really not a bad thing. The Missouri loss hurt me a lot though, because a large amount of people had Uconn. I have to be perfect from here on out to have a shot. That means I need Louisville and Oklahoma to win their next 2 games and then face off in the championship, where I need Louisville to win. I think it’s doable
- The first (and probably the only) thing that instantly comes into my head is a big name in Pittsburgh sports. That’s fast Willie Parker. That pretty much speaks for itself right there.
- In math, the sum of the first 5 primes equals 39. (3 + 5 + 7 + 11 + 13). Now, that’s just eery.
- 39 is the atomic number of yttrium
- In the Torah, there are 39 mentions of work or labor.
- In baseball, Roy Campenella wore the number 39, and had the number retired.
- 39 is also the number of nanoseconds of the nuclear reaction in the largest nuclear explosion ever recorded.
- Neil Armstrong was 39 years old when he stepped foot on the moon.
- Queen recorded song titled “39″.
Alright let’s go to my second divisional preview for the ever so fastly approaching 2009 season. Here is the N.L. East Preview just in case you missed it.
- The Chicago Cubs were far and away the best hitting team in this division last year. They averaged 5.3 runs per game, that’s a half a run more than the Cardinals, who finished second in this category last year. Geovany Soto, Derrek Lee, Aramis Ramirez, and Alfonso Soriano will put up more great numbers this year. The only thing is that there are a lot of injury risks in that lineup, but they are deep enough to compensate.
- The Cardinals averaged 4.8 runs per game last year, near the top of the ranks in the National League. There’s really only one thing you need to know about this offensive unit, and that’s Albert Pujols. Aside from him, they weren’t looking that great until Ryan Ludwick and Rick Ankiel had great seasons at the plate, and now their offense looks great. Troy Glaus is going to struggle with injuries this year, but that’s not enough to shake me from naming them second in hitting in the 2009 NL Central.
- The Brew Crew had 90 wins last year, party because of CC Sabathia and Ben Sheets, but the offense did enough to compete with the rest of the league last year. They have a lot of young guys that are now in or entering their prime, which makes me believe that this offense could have its best season in recent memory. Prince Fielder is one of the best home run hitters in the league, Ryan Braun is just one of the best hitters in the league, and they have great role players in Rickie Weeks, JJ Hardy, and Bill Hall.
- There is a big drop off here between the Brewers and the Astros. 3 of Houston’s best hitters (Lee, Berkman, Tejada) are all over 32. Michael Bourn and Hunter Pence are exciting players. Bourn can run faster than most Kenyan Olympians, and Pence just does everything well. However, I see way to much risk to say this offense is going to put up good numbers this year.
- Well the Reds gets the nod over my Pirates at the cellar of the division here. Look, the Reds are a pretty good looking team. They have a lot of young guys with big upside. Joey Votto could really break out this year, and he is the Reds best offensive threat. The Reds will definitely continue to feel the effects of losing Adam Dunn last year. Brandon Phillips and Jay Bruce are there to provide good bats with a good amount of power, but this lineup is lacking in a lot of aspects still.
- It kills me to do this, really, it does. However, the Pirates have the worst looking lineup in the last 5+ years, I’m not going to lie. McLouth and Doumit are great hitters, but there really is nothing behind them to get excited about. Andy LaRoche is having a nice spring and could put up good numbers this year, but he’s unproven. There are guys with good upside, like Brandon Moss and then some minor leaguers that the we could see up this year, but it’s pretty obvious we are still the worst offense in the division. Maybe next year.
- The Cubs led this division in most pitching categories last year as well, making them a very solid team. Their rotation is definitely going to take a step backwards this year, but not enough to knock them off of the top ranks. Carlos Zambrano is slowing down, Rich Harden is always injured, and you want me to believe Ryan Dempster is going to repeat last year’s numbers? I’m not buying it. However, these 3 all have the chance to be elite pitchers, and any time a team has that chance, I’ll take them. They take the top spot by a slight margin.
- I really struggled with this one, I just about took them to be first. Volquez, Harang, Cueto, Arroyo, Owings, and Bailey all have huge upside. Harang and Arroyo are proven veterans, and the other 4 are young guns with great arms. This has the chance to easily become the best staff in the Central, and even challenge to be one of the best in the majors. However, until I see Volquez and Cueto repeat their successes, I can’t put them on top quite yet.
- Well the 1-2 race was close, and so is this 3-4-5. I’m giving the Astros a slight advantage here. They have a proven ace in Roy Oswalt, who I think will have a great season. Wandy Rodriguez is set to have the best season of his career, and then there’s Mike Hampton, Brian Moehler, and Russ Ortiz. The back end is kind of weak, but definitely not terrible. Enough to earn the 3 spot.
- This Cardinals vs. Astros vs. Brewers is so tough. The reason I’m taking the Cardinals here is the resurgence of Chris Carpenter. He has looked great in spring and is really healthy. I think he could return to his former state as a dominant ace. Even if he doesn’t, they have a solid ace in Adam Wainwright, and a decent back end with Pineiro, Lohse and Wellemeyer.
- A young staff with a lot of upside. Yovani Gallardo looks like an ace. Dave Bush could be a very good pitcher. The back end doesn’t look too hot with Jeff Suppan, Braden Looper, and Manny Parra, so that’s the real reason I had them 5th here. The rotation is solid enough to team with that great offense and ead them to another good season, and probably another 2nd place finish.
- Another tragedy. The Pirates rotation is worse than their offense. This was a no brainer. The Pirates would be bottom 3 if I did this for the entire National League. Paul Maholm is the only thing that is sure in this rotation. He’s a stud. After that, there is a bunch of crap, with a little bit of upside. I’ve pretty much given up on Zach Duke, and Ian Snell is heading down that road as well. The upside comes with Ohlendorf and Karstens. Ohlendorf has been spectacular in spring, and Karstens was awesome last year with the Pirates. However, they have also both shown very bad stretches, and with the Pirates history, I’m not taking the upside to the bank quite yet. I wish I could say there is help coming from the minor leagues, but there really is not.
So here’s my final standings for the 2009 National League East:
Chicago Cubs…………………..90 – 72
Milwaukee Brewers………….. 89 – 73
Cincinnati Reds…………………80 – 82
St. Louis Cardinals…………….79 – 83
Houston Astros…………………77 – 85
Pittsburgh Pirates……………….71 – 92
- Kansas Lost.
- The Pirates Lost.
- My Throat Hurts.
- I Have To Work Early Tomorrow.
All reason I am not in a very happy mood right now.
- I picked Michigan State in my bracket, and I now have 7/8 elite 8 teams right.
- The Pirates lost in a spring training game, which doesn’t matter, and Virgil Vasquez didn’t do too well, which means Karstens has a better shot at getting the 5th shot.
- My throat will probably not hurt tomorrow morning.
- My job’s a joke and sometimes borders on fun, plus I make some money.
Just quick posting to say
LET’S GO JAYHAWKS!
Alright well we are only 10 days away from opening night, so I figured now is a great chance to start my divisional previews. Since I’m a national league guy, we’ll start right at the top with the National League East. I will rank the teams in 3 categories, hitting, pitching, and peripherals (if you will). Let’s get to it.
- The Mets come in to 2009 with something to prove. They have two consecutive years of choking in September which both resulted in missing the playoffs. This team’s offense has been one of the best in the game the last 5 years. In 2008, they averaged 4.9 runs a game, tied for 2nd in the national league. This lineup features great hitters in Jose Reyes, David Wright, Carlos Beltran, and Carlos Delgado, along with a young left fielder in Daniel Murphy with loads of potential.
- The world champion Phillies tied the Mets for 2nd in the NL in runs per game last year. Their offense was led by Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, and Pat Burrell. The Phillies lost Burrell to free agency this offseason, but picked up Raul Ibanez to help fill the void. All-in-all, this lineup is deadly and could very well lead the Phillies to their 2nd division title in as many years.
- The Marlins are full of youth. This unit averaged 4.8 runs per game last season, a very solid number. The signs show this team going no where but up. The offense is led by Hanley Ramirez, and supported by Jeremy Hermida, Dan Uggla, and soon to be 22 year old Cameron Maybin. I definitely see the Marlins contending with the top of this division, almost singly because of this offense.
- The Nationals made a splash this offseason by adding Adam Dunn, who is far and away the best hitter on this team. That should provide done with a lot of confidence, and my guess is he’ll be swinging for the fences every single at bat. This could result in a 50+ home run season for one of the big league’s best power hitters. Dunn will be helped by (still young) Ryan Zimmerman, Lastings Milledge, and Elijah Dukes, who all have potential to put up good numbers this year.
- It seems like the Braves have been going downhill for a couple of years now. They’re record streak of division titles ended in 2007, and the offense doesn’t look potent. They averaged 4.6 runs per game last year. Their offense (still) features Chipper Jones, however it’s kind of weak after that because of the offseason loss of Mark Teixeira. Brian McCann is a budding young slugger at the catcher position, but it’s bad news when you rely on your catcher for most of your offense. Guys that need to step up this year are Josh Anderson, Kelly Johnson, and Casey Kotchman.
- The Phillies ranked first in the NL East in runs allowed last year. Their pitching is what got them to the World Series. Cole Hamels is an already established ace who will just keep getting better, barring that elbow issue. Brett Myers, Joe Blanton, and Jamey Moyer should lead the Phillies to once again rank first in runs allowed this year.
- Two words : Johan Santana. Johan is probably my pick for Cy Young this year. He is going to be unbelievable. The problem is, there isn’t much in this rotation after him. Mike Pelfrey and John Maine could both have solid seasons, but there are question marks. If those guys pitch well, this pitching staff could be the best the Mets have had in awhile.
- I almost took the Braves to be second in this category. The offseason additions of Derek Lowe and Javier Vasquez should do nothing but improve last year’s mark of 4.8 runs allowed per game. 2008 breakout Jair Jurrjens makes a very nice looking 3 starter. I really like this pitching staff for the Braves. Although Mike Gonzalez is kind of shaky in the closer role. I’m rooting for him though.
- The Marlins are very youthful on this side of the ball as well. At the top of this staff is Ricky Nolasco, who could have a monster season. Josh Johnson and Chris Volstad are also guys with a lot of upside. Andrew Miller will be in the 5 spot, which could really determine how this rotation fairs. Miller was a top prospect and has nasty stuff. If he takes positive strides this year, this Marlins rotation could surprise you.
- I was generous to the Nats in putting them 4th in the hitting race, but it’s not going to happen here. John Lannon, Scott Olsen, Daniel Cabrera, and another Zimmerman? Really? Nationals lose a ton of games because of this rotation.
So here’s my final standings for the 2009 National League East:
New York Mets…………………..98 – 64
Philadelphia Philles………….. 90 – 72
Florida Marlins…………………..85 – 79
Atlanta Braves……………………78 – 86
Washington Nationals…………68 – 96
Alright we are now only 11 days away from opening night, when the Philadelphia Phillies begin their quest to defend their championship against the Atlanta Braves. As we approach the final week of spring training, the every day big league hitters are really starting to gear up and really start swinging the bats. I’m looking forward to looking around the league to see what happens in this last week of spring training, but I am even more looking forward to the end of spring training. It’s been going on forever, let’s get to the regular season already! Anyways, let’s get to some Pirates news.
The Pirates defeated the Atlanta Braves 5-2 last night. The big story here was Ross Ohlendorf. Ross pitched 6 scoreless innings, giving up 5 hits and striking out 3. His spring ERA is now down to 0.59, making him a lock for a spot in the starting rotation (at least he’s a lock in my book). He has looked terrific, being efficient and location all of his pitches extremely well. I’d love to see him in the 4th spot in the rotation, preceded by Maholm, Snell, and Duke, and followed by Karstens. The Pirates offense was provided by Craig Monroe, Nate McLouth, and Ryan Doumit. Let’s take a closer look at these three hitters, shall we??
- Craig Monroe
Craig Monroe has been stellar for his new team this spring. He’s hitting .302 with 12 RBI and 6 runs. Monroe is a lifetime .253 hitter, which is obviously not too good. He has had three 20+ home run seasons, but that’s in his past. Monroe is going to be nothing more than a pinch hitter and a situational player. I don’t know who will have the advantage between Monroe and Hinske. They will be two great players coming off the bench. Personally, I like Eric Hinske better, just because of his defense. Hinske, by the way, is a career .254 hitter. He had 24 homers in his first season, and hit 20 again last season. His defense is definitely superior to that of Monroe, but the way Monroe has looked this spring, I don’t see how you could look him over that quickly. It’s a good problem to have. If the Pirates do indeed record their 17th consecutive losing season, it won’t be the fault of the outfield.
- Nate McLouth
Nate McLouth, pretty much the single reason to watch the Pirates last year, had success out of nowhere. No one expected him to do that. The only reason he even became an every day player was because of his awesome performance in spring training last year. He is mimicking that success again this spring. He’s hitting .325 with 3 home runs and 8 RBI. The average is good to see. McLouth hit .276 last year. Don’t expect a .300 season from McLouth. I’m a little weary of his power numbers as well, I don’t see him hitting 26 homers again this year. If he stays healthy all year, he’ll probably eclipse 20. I would also say he’s not going to repeat his RBI number again (94). Hitting in the 3 hole, it’s a guaranteed minimum 75, with potential to get to 100. I’m thinking somewhere in the mid to high 80′s. With hitters Nyjer Morgan and Freddy Sanchez hitting in front of him, I’m not seeing many runners to be on base for Nate (at least until Andrew McCutchen starts leading off for the Pirates). Nate could very well make his 2nd consecutive all-star appearance, just because the rest of the club is so mediocre.
- Ryan Doumit
Ryan Doumit is one of the pillars that is holding the future together for the Pirates. He’s been showing good signs this spring as well. He is hitting .295 with 2 home runs and a .477 slugging percentage. Doumit is a rare catcher. He hit .318 last year, and it’s pretty rare to see a catcher hit that far above .300. His career average is .278. It wouldn’t surprise me to see Doumit’s average take a step backwards this year, but I definitely can see his power numbers rising. He hit a career high 15 homers last year. I expect Ryan to raise that number into the 20′s this year. This guy has great potential, and hitting in the clean up spot could warrant a legitimate chance to get to 100 RBI. Although his 69 ribs last year suggest otherwise. Maybe I’m expecting too much out of him, but I see Doumit as our best offensive player, so he’d better perform.
The Pirates play another night game tonight against the Rays at 7. Jeff Karstens will take the mound to try and boost his chances at making the rotation. We should be hearing word from manager John Russell soon about who the rotation will be. This is definitely a big start for Karstens. He hasn’t been great this spring, but has shown good signs and had some ups, enough to put him ahead of Virgil Vasquez, atleast. Personally, I’m rooting for Karstens. Let’s Go Bucs.
Alright tonight I will be taking a trip around mlblogs.com and clicking on various blogs, then writing a couple sentences. I’ll probably do between 5 and 10, and I’ll just click on the most recently updated blogs. I’ll leave links and comments on all of their blogs to let them know they’ve been featured on the ever prestigious EAT, SLEEP, MLB. Here we go!