Harvey and Niese and pray for peace!

2013 Maurice Fenichel Memorial MLB Predictions

2013 Maurice Fenichel Memorial MLB Predictions

Playoff and World Series Predictions:

American League Playoff Teams: Blue Jays, Orioles, Angels, Tigers, Athletics
Battle for the Pennant: Blue Jays over Tigers.

National League Playoff Teams: Nationals, Braves, Reds, Giants, Dodgers
Battle for the Pennant: Giants over Nationals

World Series: Toronto over Giants

The American League East Predicted Standings:

Blue Jays
Orioles WC
Devil Rays
Yankees
Red Sox

One’s view of how powerful the AL East will be this year may well depend on how much trust one has in the newly revamped Blue Jays. If one thinks former Mets Jose Reyes and R.A. Dickey will repeat their All-Star appearances from each player’s final season with the Mets, thus leapfrogging Toronto over last year’s AL East front-runners, then one may see the AL East as baseball’s best division. However, if you think Toronto still has work to do to make up their 20-game deficit last year, then one may still go with the West. The money here is on Reyes, as long as he’s healthy, to spearhead the league’s highest scoring offense in 2013, and Dickey could approach 25 wins. And as much as it may displease to say it, the Yankees will still be a force to be reckoned with based on what could be the division’s best pitching staff. Rivera returns to head up perhaps the league’s best bullpen, and CC Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda, Andy Pettitte lead an oldie-but-goodie top of the rotation that can run with any in the division. Plus Gardner and Ichiro will generate runs in the absence of all of the all-or-nothing power. Tampa will always contend, despite a mediocre offense, so long as they keep producing top starting pitching. Baltimore has Showalter now and may thus be an AL East force for years, or at least until he leaves. The Red Sox are always dangerous if healthy, but they don’t ever seem to be healthy anymore and have lost some big guns.

American League Central Predicted Standings

Tigers
White Sox
Royals
Indians
Twins

This continues to be a division of one have, and four have-nots. While Chicago made surprising strides last year, Detroit gets Victor Martinez back and has by far the division’s best offense coupled with perennial Cy Young contender Verlander heading up a solid all-around pitching staff. Kansas City will be much improved, but is still at least a year away and Minnesota needs more time that that despite the league’s beset catcher. Cleveland could surprise with a retooled offense, but lacks the pitching to contend.

American League West Predicted Standings

Angels
Athletics WC
Rangers
Mariners
Astros

The West is the most up for grabs as to which team will win the division. Oakland, with its strong pitching and rookie of the year (ROY)/MVP Candidate Yoenis Cespedes led the way in 2012, but few think they have the offense to repeat as division champs. The Angels seem to be the 2013 favorite based on adding superstar Josh Hamilton and with expected full years from 2012 ROY Mike Trout and superstar Albert Pujols. However, while the Angels may score plenty of runs, the exodus of SP Dan Haren may lead to painful starting rotation results, and Hamilton probably will not hit in Anaheim nearly as well as he did in Texas. Speaking of Texas, their offense takes a hit from Hamilton’s departure. While new DH Lance Berkman may pick up much of the slack, while healthy, replacing injured starting pitchers will be Texas’ biggest headache this year. Seattle’s offense and pitching are retooled, which will help in the future…but not this year. But at least Seattle will be better than Houston.

AL MVP: Miguel Cabrera. Hard to repeat, but for a future HOF in his prime, with all-star teammates.
Runner up: Home Run Champ Jose Bautista is back, and Mike Trout would have to regress an awful lot not to dominate again.
AL CY Young: RA Dickey, Toronto. To boldly go where no knuckler has gone before.
Runnerups: Verlander, Price.
First-time AL No-Hitter Candidates: Yu Darvish, RA Dickey, Max Scherzer

National League East Predicted Standings

Nationals
Braves WC
Phillies
Mets
Marlins

Almost did it. Almost picked the Mets ahead of Philly. The Mets are younger. And they’ll get better when the kids come up. But Philly gets the edge for one more year. The Nationals are young. The Nationals are talented. The Nationals run deep. The Nationals are coming in first. Atlanta has the offense to run with the Nationals, but not the pitching. The Phillies got old in a hurry, but with Hamels, Cliff Lee and what’s left of Halladay are enough for third. The Marlins sold the stable. Giancarlo Stanton is a monster at the plate and could easily lead the league in homers, but why pitch to him?

National League Central Predicted Standings:

Reds
Brewers
Cardinals
Pirates
Cubs

The future is finally now for the Reds. They may not have the starting pitching to make a deep playoff run, but their offense may be the league’s best. The Brewers are talented, but the pitching staff may not be deep enough. Cardinals are still good but no longer dominant. The Pirates are on the way up, but need contributions from more young pitchers. The Cubs no longer have the Astros to kick around and will solidify last place.

National League West Predicted Standings

Giants
Dodgers WC
Diamondbacks
Rockies
Padres

This division could be up for grabs but until proven otherwise, San Francisco has the pitching to go to the World Series. Dodgers have purchased a playoff spot the Steinbrenner Way, and Donny Baseball will keep them on their toes, but postseason is once again about pitching: Do the Dodgers have enough healthy horses? Diamondbacks lost Upton and thus the chance to compete this year. Rockies are…..better than the Padres.

NL MVP: Joey Votto; Runners Up: Braun, Kemp
NL Cy Young: Clayton Kershaw; Runners up: Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, Matt Cain, Stephen Strasburg
First-time NL No-Hitter Candidates: Stephen Strasburg, Matt Harvey, Clayton Kershaw, Yovanni Gallardo

10 Things to look for if you are a . . . .

Mets fan:

1. A Matt Harvey no-hitter
2. 25 homers from the catcher position (they hit five last year)
3. David Wright’s first 30-30 since 2007
4. Zach Wheeler not to be called up until he walks fewer batters.
5. Travis D’Arnaud not be called up until he develops a good rapport with Wheeler
6. Matt Harvey tossing fewer pitches per inning (2012: pitched into the 7th only twice in 10 starts)
7. Parnell to become dominant closer the rare times the Mets have a lead
8. Murphy to triple last year’s 6 home runs.
9. Ike Davis to hit 40 homers.
10. Trading young pitching to the Oakland As for a young outfielder.

Yankees fan:

1. Not AROD
2. Mark Teixeira to platoon at 1B.
3. Brett Gardner to lead the league in stolen bases
4. Phil Hughes resurgence.
5. Derek Jeter not to play 119 games at SS for the first time since 1995.
6. Mariano to be the league’s best closer again. (OK, that’s an easy one)
7. Teixeira to get traded to the Brewers in 2014.
8. Curtis Granderson to be the Rockies’ opening day CF in 2014.
9. Ichiro to pass Pete Rose on the world’s hit list next year.
10. The Yankees to miss the playoffs and Steinbrenner to hire Billy Martin.

Ode to RA Dickey

http://newyorkhaiku.wordpress.com/

Losing Wright Would Be Wrong

Two decisions loom large over the Mets as they spend the winter building their 2013 roster and planning their franchise future: What to do with third baseman David Wright and starting pitcher RA Dickey, both of whom are scheduled to be free agents after their 2013 options years.

Both stars appear to want to return to the Mets and, money aside, both are no-brainers for the Mets to want to keep, as each was this year’s best in the National League at their respective positions.

David Wright is the Mets’ lone remaining superstar, he is the face of the franchise, and, with the Braves’ Chipper Jones retiring, Wright is the king of all National League third basemen. Losing him would send a message to Mets fans that the team has no intention of attempting a playoff run until at least 2015.

While Wright’s injury-plagued and mediocre-performing 2011 season dimmed his reputation, Wright’s 2012 resurgence and overall career performance speak for themselves: Wright was again as good as any 3B in the league, and next year he will be the National League’s active career leader at third base in virtually every offensive category that matters, including batting average, slugging average, on base percentage, stolen bases, etc.

The only assessment difficulty for the Mets’ brain trust, notwithstanding ownership’s monetary woes, is that David Wright will be 30 this winter. While the “first half” of Wright’s career has certainly been Hall of Fame-caliber, historically, 30-something players who do not performance-enhance are subject to decline and/or injury–at some point. That said, other Hall of Famers at the hot corner, such as Mike Schmidt and George Brett, remained extremely productive well into their 30s, and Wright matches their athleticism, if not their abilities. There is every reason to believe that a healthy Wright continues to be a dominant offensive force.

Bottom line for the Mets, and for Wright, is that both sides would dramatically benefit by finding a way to keep Wright in a Mets uniform, certainly for the next five years and, one imagines, for the remainder of his career. The Mets need the good PR of “trying to win” as well as a having home-grown superstar to market, and, for Wright, one can imagine far worse baseball fates than spending perhaps the rest of his life universally acknowledged as the everyday player with the greatest career in Mets history.

Which CC Sabathia shows up tonight?

Who will we see tonight? The CC Sabathia who was terrific in game one on Sunday, and who was great throughout the Yankees’ 2009 Championship run? Or the pitcher who has otherwise been terrible in the postseason over the last
six seasons. To wit, here are Sabathia’s earned run averages in each of his last 6 playoff series, aside from his stellar 2009 run.

2007 ALDS 5.40 ERA
2007 ALCS 10.45 ERA
2008 NLDS 12.27 ERA
2010 ALDS 4.50 ERA
2010 ALCS 6.30 ERA
2011 ALDS 6.23 ERA

Carlos Beltran has the highest slugging percentage in playoff history

Despite Carlos Beltran’s 13 homers in 25 post-season games, including three as a Met in the 2006 NLCS, many Mets fans recall Beltran solely as the guy who took a called strike three to end the Mets’ hope of reaching the 2006 World Series.

With last night’s two homers, Beltran now has a career .819 post-season slugging average in 115 plate appearances. The only other players in the top 10 who have 100+ plate appearances are Lou Gehrig and Babe Ruth.

What Met Pitcher RA Dickey could do against the Marlins and Jose Reyes tonight.

New York Met pitcher (and Cy Young contender) RA Dickey’s final 2012 start is tonight against the Florida Marlins and their big free agent acquisition, former Met shortstop Jose Reyes.

The last Mets fans saw of Reyes, he was taking himself out of the last game of the season after one at bat, in order to secure for himself the first batting title in Mets history.

So, while RA Dickey is too classy to do such a thing, what if Dickey were to strike out Jose Reyes, and call over to him: Hey, Jose, should I take myself out of the game to secure my Cy Young bid?

Celebrating Success

What did Mets Pitcher RA Dickey do after winning his 20th game of the season, solidifying his Cy Young bid? He went home to his wife and four children. “I gave them all a bath and put them to bed,” Dickey said. “They’re not really impressed by what I do.”

Dickey’s children probably ARE impressed, but by his Daddy skills, regardless of how he performs on the field.

Meanwhile, we Mets fans are celebrating the most successful pitch in the game today: RA Dickey’s knuckleball.

Year One of an Extra Playoff Team, an MLB Success Story

For the 2012 season, Major League Baseball added a second wildcard team, seeking to maintain a bunch of teams’ hopes
(and attendance) until the very end of the season.

Lo and behold, with a week to go in the baseball season, and in addition to the six division leaders and two wildcard leaders, EIGHT teams, four in each league, are alive for the last playoff spot.

Which means that, with a mere six games to go in the 2012 season, more than half of the league is either in the playoffs, or still alive for a post-season berth.

Thoughts?

RA Dickey = CY Young?

Mets All-Star Pitcher RA Dickey …

… is 19-6 for a team whose other pitchers are 49-77.
… leads the league in ERA.
… leads the league in innings pitched.
… leads the league in strikeouts.
… leads the league in complete games.
… leads the league in shutouts.
… deserves the Cy Young Award.

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