Are you sick of meaningless regular season NBA and NHL games and tired of hearing about the NFL lockout? Perfect. So are we. Fear not, my friends — that smell you’re smelling is baseball season. It may be long, but it gives us something to do for more than half the year. On Wednesday, Doc Brown broke down all 30 MLB teams and gave you his playoff predictions. That means it’s Del’s turn. It’s nice to have these picks and predictions in writing because, frankly, the season is so long even we might not remember what we had to say before it started. Here are Del’s predictions.
It’s part of the annual passage of Spring — the transition from ripped up brackets and vasectomies to fantasy baseball drafts and predictions. And nobody does it better (worse?) than Doc and Del. We’ve been previewing the MLB season and pronounced the Yankees, Red Sox, and Phillies the biggest contenders. Now it’s time to put our virtual ink where our mouths are. Or something like that. Here are Doc Brown’s predictions for the 2011 MLB season (playoffs/World Series picks and MVPs at the bottom)
In honor of the coming baseball season, as well as the growing number of news sources and the subsequent collective shrinking of attention spans, here is the shortest and least informative 2011 Major League Baseball season preview you will find. Enjoy!
San Francisco Giants: Based on their years of experiences with Barry Bonds, the defending champions should not have much trouble with their heads getting too big. By the way, if you’re keeping score: Ernie Banks 0 World Series titles, Santiago Casilla, 1.
Colorado Rockies: Judging from his record before (15-1) and after (4-5) the All-Star break, they may want to stick Ubaldo Jimenez’s pitcher’s mitt in the humidor sometime around July, along with Todd Helton’s bloated contract.
LA Dodgers: The predicted settlement for Jamie McCourt includes the rights to Frank’s swimming pools, three monkey butlers, and custody of Travis Schlichting. I can’t wait until Vin Scully brings out the stories weaving a connection between Jackie Robinson and the vaunted Juan Uribe at second base.
Previewing the 2011 MLB season, we’ve already named the Phillies, Yankees, and Red Sox the top World Series favorites. We’ve already looked at the NL Central and NL East and this week we’re analyzing the AL East teams not based in New York or Boston. We looked at the Tampa Bay Rays on Monday and the Toronto Blue Jays on Tuesday. Today we’ll wrap up the division with the Baltimore Orioles.
Off-Season Moves: The Orioles had a relatively quiet off-season as compared to the rest of the AL East. They brought in third baseman Mark Reynolds — he of the major league-leading 211 strikeouts in 2010 — from Arizona in exchange for two right-handed pitchers. They also traded for shortstop J.J. Hardy and acquired first baseman Derrek Lee, designated hitter Vladimir Guerrero, and right-hander Justin Duchscherer via free agency. Baltimore lost second baseman Julio Lugo, left fielder Corey Patterson, first baseman Ty Wigginton and rightie Kevin Millwood to free agency. Finally, the team re-signed reliever Koji Uehara and signed reliever Kevin Gregg.
Strengths: Three of the team’s four 2010 leaders in home runs and RBI — plus the top three batting averages — make up this year’s starting outfield; left fielder Luke Scott (.284, 27, 72), center fielder Adam Jones (.284, 19, 69, pictured above) and right fielder Nick Markakis (.297, 12, 60). The fourth member of that group is the departed Wigginton (.248, 22, 76).
Previewing the 2011 MLB season, we’ve already named the Phillies, Yankees, and Red Sox the top World Series favorites. We’ve already looked at the NL Central and NL East and this week we will analyze the AL East teams not based in New York or Boston. On Monday we looked at the Tampa Bay Rays and today we’ll cover the Toronto Blue Jays; Wednesday: Baltimore Orioles.
Off-Season Moves: Toronto had about as busy an off-season as any team in baseball, most notably trading away center fielder Vernon Wells — and all but $5 million of the $86 million he’s owed over the next four years — to the Angels for catcher Mike Napoli and outfielder Juan Rivera. Napoli was almost immediately sent to Texas in exchange for right-handed reliever Frank Francisco. Along with Wells, the Jays lost last year’s primary left fielder, first baseman and catcher in Fred Lewis, Lyle Overbay and John Buck, respectively.
Outfielder Rajai Davis (pictured below) was acquired from Oakland for two minor leaguers as an economical replacement for Wells. They also traded rightie Shawn Marcum to the Brewers in exchange for highly-touted second base prospect Brett Lawrie. Finally, Toronto appeared to do as much as possible to bolster the bullpen, signing righties Chad Cordero, Octavio Dotel and Jon Rauch.
Previewing the 2011 MLB season, we’ve already named the Phillies, Yankees, and Red Sox the top World Series favorites. We’ve already looked at the NL Central and NL East and this week we will analyze the AL East teams not based in New York or Boston, starting with the Tampa Bay Rays; Tuesday: Toronto Blue Jays.
Off-Season Moves: This off-season was one that dramatically changed the makeup of this team. The Rays lost left fielder Carl Crawford, first baseman Carlos Pena, and closer Rafael Soriano to free agency. Those three were “replaced” by outfielders Johnny Damon and Manny Ramirez (both pictured at left), first baseman Casey Kotchman and rightie Kyle Farnsworth, none of whom represents anything other than a downgrade. The Rays also traded away shortstop Jason Bartlett and right-hander Matt Garza, each for a number of players who likely won’t factor much into this season.
Strengths: Despite losing Garza (15-10, 3.91), the rotation looks to be the strongest aspect of this year’s Rays. Leftie David Price (19-6, 2.72, pictured below) is the staff ace and a bona fide superstar. Price will likely be followed by righties James Shields (13-15, 5.18), Jeff Niemann (12-8, 4.39), Wade Davis (12-10, 4.07) and Jeremy Hellickson (4-0, 3.47). That rotation doesn’t have a single player over the age of 30 and an average age of 25.6. Those five had a combined 3.96 ERA last season, which would have been good for 12th in the majors and first in the division.
Previewing the 2011 MLB season, we’ve already named the Phillies, Yankees, and Red Sox the top World Series favorites. We’ve already looked at the NL Central, and this week we’re looking at the NL East. We’ve already covered the Phillies, Braves, Marlins, and Mets. Today we’ll wrap up the division with the Washington Nationals.
Off-Season Moves: Obviously, the Nationals’ biggest off-season move was signing right fielder Jayson Werth (pictured at left) to a seven year, $126 million deal. Washington picked up outfielder Rick Ankiel as a possible replacement for last year’s primary left-fielder Josh Willingham, whom they traded away. Other notable additions include first baseman Adam LaRoche, utility man Alex Cora and left-hander Tom Gorzelanny. Other noteworthy departures include first baseman Adam Dunn and utility man Adam Kennedy.
Strengths: This is a tough one. The Nationals did rank ninth in the majors in stolen bases last season with 110. The issue there is 34 of those belonged to center fielder Nyjer Morgan, no other player had more than 17, and only two other current players hit double-digits. Pitching-wise, last year’s Nationals finished ninth in hits allowed and 10th in runs allowed. If default ace Livan Hernandez can do what he did last year and Jason Marquis and Tom Gorzelanny can improve, they should be able to remain in the top third of the majors in those categories again.