of the toughest things about making out my predictions for the
year ends up being the records.
said it before, in previous years… for every team that earns a
win, there’s a team that gets a loss. So even if you want to go
crazy and predict a massive run on 90-win seasons… or incredible
improvements as more teams make trades or sign larger contracts
or do a fantastic job developing their young players… the basic
math comes right back into play.
in the National League Central, in 2013 that becomes a bit more
evident than it might seem on the surface. Why? Because all things
aren’t equal in 2013. Houston is gone. The Astros took a trip
to the American League for this year. And when a team that loses
roughly two out of every three departs, that “loss for every win”
math problem changes… even if only because of how you approach
let’s not go crazy about my predicting 5 fewer wins for the Reds.
finish: 97-65, division winner
of note: I already told you… Houston is gone… the Astros
are not even in the National League these days. That means a more
interesting NL Central… where the Cubs think they are improving,
and the Pirates have been improving, and… yeah… I’m not going
out and giving the Reds 100 wins.
this is the division where I don’t see two distinctly strong teams
as options. The Reds are winning this division.
changes: Brought in Shin-Soo Choo with a trade. Plans
seem to have him leading off and patrolling center. Shouldn’t
be a daunting task for him… while not turning into a strength,
I think it will work out in a way they can handle. (At least during
the sun shining and calm seas: The Reds are capable of
representing the National League in the World Series. I’m not
saying it will happen, but…
is one of those forgotten teams. No one really knows how good
they are with everyone giving press to the Rays and Jays, Harper
and Trout, and the LA payroll.
year they’ve added Choo… which should really balance out the lineup
nicely… and hopefully they can stay healthy. (If healthy, I’ve
got Joey Votto taking the MVP award.) And it’s easy to forget
how guys like Brandon Phillips have become solid role players.
have two very good pitchers in Mat Latos and Johnny Cueto, along
with decent end of the rotation performance and experienced depth
from Homer Bailey and Bronson Arroyo.
sunny blue skies… this team could represent the National League
in paradise: I’ve read in a few places where people think
Aroldis Chapman might get moved again. He has been placed back
in the bullpen. Some feel he may be needed in the rotation. Honestly,
a pitcher hasn’t been messed with this badly in the past ten to
twenty years except in New York when the Yankees kept playing
yo-yo with Joba Chamberlain. (The concept being Chapman is a talented
pitcher… maybe the most talented on the Cincinnati staff… and
yet they consistently have troubles trying to find a place for
him. And so to that we add Dusty Baker -- who obviously has had
lengthy and continued success as a manager, and deserves credit
for that… he also seems to get into trouble when trying to handle
situations like player roles when the ship isn’t sailing smooth
the Reds shouldn’t be challenged. This is also not a
reviewed and critiqued to a level of insanity market to play in.
And even if you remove Chapman from the discussion, the Reds still
have good pieces in place for both the starters and the bullpen.
All I’m saying is that between Chapman’s place and Baker making
the decisions, I see something yellow and waddling in the room…
where there is a history of duck sightings.
the way… probably should be under “Worthy of note”... the Reds
under Baker won 74 games in his first year of 2008, 78 in 2009,
and then 91, 79, 97 the past three. This is not a team that is
turning in 90-wins… or even .500 seasons… on a consistent basis.)
expectations: I believe they’ll win the division with
may not provide it in the field… his on-base percentage at the
top of the order will be phenomenal for the Reds.
also quickly be dispatched in the postseason.
finish: 88-74, playoff wild card
of note: If a team is going to make the playoffs and
win it all and I’m missing them… this is it. This is the team
don’t have them as a surprise. You don’t pick a team to win 88
or so and prepare for surprises. (Well… scratch that… you do in
problem is that there is so much youth that needs to deliver.
changes: Randy Choate.
know. I know. And it’s probably a contributing factor if it turns
out I do underestimate them.)
the sun shining and calm seas: Oscar Taveras wins the
Rookie of the Year.
don’t expect that to happen… he’s headed for the minors, though
likely will be playing soon enough. Instead just understand that
you have a lot of talent in the minors for the Cardinals, or even
in place. And if not Taveras, then a pitcher like Shelby Miller
is a good example of that.
a way it’s hard to judge the Cardinals because they do such a
great job of bringing talent up through their organization.
in paradise: Injuries have already hit their rotation
(Chris Carpenter) and veteran presence (Rafael Furcal). And that’s
my trouble here.
most of the other clubs are hitting April healthy. The Cardinals
have already lost pieces for the season, and have some players
that don’t stand up to everyday use. To try and make a bit of
a stretch with the old story… eventually you have too many holes
in the dike and not enough fingers.
expectations: I just think this club is a year or two
they better than teams like Pittsburgh and Chicago? Yes they are.
they as good as Washington and Cincinnati? I don’t think so. I
don’t think they can win 90 this season.
they have talent. And they managed to overcome departing free
agents and injuries last year to challenge the Giants for a spot
in the World Series.
they do manage to score runs. If the pitching holds up and the
defense can reach the lofty heights of just average, they will
make life difficult for their opponents every night.
of note: Not much... middle of the road finish. Nothing
exciting to add right now.
changes: I like the addition of Kyle Lohse. It may be
difficult long term… since draft picks and associated draft dollars
are becoming so valuable in an ever-more-complex system. But they
signed him for three years and now have a pairing for Yovani Gallardo
that hopefully answers a question for the club for a couple years,
in a way the likes of Zack Greinke and Shawn Marcum couldn’t.
the sun shining and calm seas: There’s a lot to like
here. Unfortunately the Brewers simply haven’t been able to cap
their run recently by either keeping great players or winning
Gomez is young and finally finding himself. (27… he’s been to
organizations like the Mets and Twins, and has seven years of
professional baseball on his resume already. Yeah… good stuff.)
in paradise: Corey Hart is out for at least the first
40-games, and Ryan Braun continues to stay in the news for all
the wrong reasons (thanks to the offseason reports).
this team did not have a great year in 2012. They had a great
expectations: Honestly, the club isn’t much different
in 2013, and they won 83 last year. With Kyle Loshe around for
a full season, and expectations that they can stay balanced for
the whole year and not great streak to overcome bad streak, I
put them in the same place.
there is no depth… and there is honestly nothing to trade if they
need reinforcements. This is the club… and they could easily slip
of note: Andrew McCutchen is the best player no one talks
about. (If the Pirates can get over 81-wins, that could change.
(And ok… it already is changing. But realistically, when his name
is mentioned A LOT of people are still asking who he is.))
changes: Added Russell Martin. Traded away Joel Hanrahan.
the sun shining and calm seas: A few years ago, I
visited Pittsburgh as part of my Ballpark Tour.
And I have to tell you… best stadium I’ve ever been to. Great
design, comfortable, incredible sense of history, and just the
nice to see is that the team finally seems to be escaping the
shadows of years of losing and moving in the right direction.
Spending money and making moves is part of that… such as getting
Martin from the Yankees, which could be significantly more important
symbolically as the Pirates try to attract talent now and in the
future than it is for Martin’s on-the-field contributions.
in paradise: I like what this club is doing. I just don’t
know how long they have to play with results… since during the
past two seasons they have faded and faded quickly.
Astros are paying Wandy Rodriguez a ton of money to pitch for
Pittsburgh. He teams up here in the rotation-that-other-teams-pay
with A.J. Burnett.
the Pirates really need is best exemplified by James McDonald.
In his fifth season, the 28-year old has had flashes of brilliance…
high-strikeout games… months with an ERA under 3 (and even one
last year under 2). Care to guess where things go wrong? Sure…
around mid-season. Look at this breakdown of 2012: April (5 starts
– 2.97 ERA), May (5 starts – 1.54 ERA), June (5 starts – 2.93
ERA), July (hold on… here we go… 6 starts – 5.97 ERA), August
(5 starts – 4.45 ERA, and September (3 starts – 12.75 ERA). 2011
started out poorly, and then improved, but eventually there was
still a rise from July to August and then August to September.
the Pirates are going to win… clear .500 for the year… then they
need full seasons and consistency from their roster. Gone are
the days where flashes of brilliance are nice.
expectations: I think they have a chance to get over
.500 this year. I like the positive attitude that seems to be
building… I like that players seem to have chosen to go there…
and I like that attention is going to be far, far away from traditional
power bases this season.
don’t see the Pirates making the playoffs. I do see them turning
into a winner.
of note: Keep an eye on Anthony Rizzo. The Boston and
San Diego connections that run the Cubs… and also arranged the
Adrian Gonzalez trade involving those clubs… managed to bring
Rizzo to Chicago. And he looks like he will be a cornerstone piece
for the rebuilding franchise.
changes: Edwin Jackson?
I suppose. But to me it just goes to show the Cubs are playing
the 2013 season to prepare for 2014 and beyond.
misread that sentiment though. Because with Matt Garza on the
roster (even though he’s likely out until May) and other pieces,
the Cubs will be getting calls from those interested in trading
for pitching. I do not expect both Jackson and Garza to be playing
for the Cubs by August.)
the sun shining and calm seas: Well… I’ve told you there
isn’t much of a way for them to get out of the basement. Mid-70s
would be great for them, and if everyone else is nearing even
or better… yeah… picking up the back of the division.
shining sun? I suppose if Milwaukee or Pittsburgh falters, they
could finish fourth in the division. I do not expect any of the
other four division rivals to falter enough though.
in paradise: There is no way I expect them to get as
high as fourth in the division. But with low expectations come
few surprises when those low expectations are realized.
expectations: A great year from the Cubs would be getting
to 70 or more wins.