2006 Pre-Season Predications
East - New York Mets
I do not buy picking the Braves until they lose. For me, I buy into the line off thinking that they cannot possibly win again. The odds are simply not with them. Hence, my Mets pick. They are better than every team in the division if health is on their side despite a manager that has trouble making simple decisions. Hopefully Willie taking the Mets to the playoffs does not cloud the eyes of people voting for manager of the year based on where the team ends up and votes on the actual managerial skills of the manager.
Central - St. Louis Cardinals
The easy pick here. No one is good enough to unseat them just yet. You have to believe that they will run away with the division again and win by a comfortable margin.
West - San Diego Padres
Taking the division with 80 wins? Possibly. I know the Dodgers did a lot to bolster their team this year, but I am just not enamored with them and still like the Padres to take the division with less wins than the Wild Card winner.
Wild Card - Houston Astos
Call me crazy, but Preston Wilson is going to have a big year and fat boy will be back for one more season. With fat boy back in the fold eventually, and even without him, I think they have enough pitching to get the job done since I believe their offense will be improved and eek out the Braves and the Brewers for the Wild Card.
MVP - David Wright
The best player on this year's best team in the NL. If only Willie will help a brother out and put him in a spot in the order that he can pile some numbers up to help him get there. People have been tough on him with his glove, but I see a guy who got better all year. His glove will be improved and I am expecting huge numbers offensively. People may think I am just being a wishful thinker, but he hit .281/.369/.470 with 11 homers and 44 RBIs in 302 pre-All Star at bats and .333/.409/.582 with 16 homers and 58 RBIs in 273 post-All Star at bats. The improved lineup will benefit him regardless where he hits and I'm seeing jaw dropping numbers from Wright this year and a solid all around game while exhibiting the leadership of a guy who has been in big league for a decade.
Cy Young - Roy Oswalt
I love the little Texan. What he does in that hitter's park is just silly. He is a horse and is flat out nasty. He logged 20 wins with a poor offensive team and this year's team has been improved. Oswalt is a CY Young award waiting to happen.
Rookie of the Year - Ryan Zimmerman
A third baseman from Virginia should have won it if the timing worked out better for his intro the league and this will settle the tear in the fabric of the universe. He will not put up big power numbers in 2006, but he is going to hit for a great average, show some double pop, and play near perfect defense. His bat is so refined that I think he will just have the best all around numbers when said and done.
Manager of the Year - Ned Yost
I know who it will not be for sure, and that is Willie. I have never seen anyone not deserve something so much. In the end, I think Yost has to get it because the Brew Crew will be this year's best story in the NL and make a run at the Wild Card while ultimately falling short with a very young team.
East - New York Yankees
I bet against them last season and I'm not doing that this season. Hopefully since nothing I pick actually ever wins, the Yankees will be cursed by me simply picking them.
Central - Chicago White Sox
As much as I would love the Indians to win it, the White Sox pitching is just too nasty. Is anyone else as deep? Probably not and adding Jim Thome just added some serious firepower to an offense that was already good enough to win the World Series. The Indians will make is close, but just do not have the juice to take down the reigning champs.
West - Oakland Athletics
I'm feeling the A's here. Their rotation is the best in the West in my eyes and I like their offense too. Bradley and the Big Hurt were great pickups that I think are going to work out nicely. The Angels and the A's will be in a dogfight all year, but Zito will be huge in his walk year and Harden is going to be one of the top five pitchers in the league this season. Add in Haren and Blanton with a year under their belt and this team is going to make it hard for any team to outlast them in the West.
Wild Card - Cleveland Indians
The AL East is better this year as is AL Central and I think the Indians will eek out the Red Sox just because the AL East is more competitive top to bottom. The Blue Jays improvement this year is going to end up doing the Red Sox in. The Angels will be in the fight for the Wild Card too, but the Indians are going to assert themselves as an AL power for the next ten years.
MVP - Alex Rodríguez
This one hurt me a lot write down. A lot.
Cy Young - Rich Harden
Dude is good. He is going to step it up this year and put up even better numbers than he did last year. Big things for Harden in 2006 and that includes the Cy Young Award.
Rookie of the Year - Casey Kotchman
Liriano is the sexy name here, but he is starting off the year in the bullpen most likely. By the time he gets to start, it will simply be too late to over take Kotchman who is going to start from day one. Casey is going to come in and hit like he is a ten year vet in the league.
Manager of the Year - Eric Wedge
It is a toss up between Wedge and Mache, but I think the Indians making the playoffs will be a bigger story than the A's making the playoffs.
"We walked up to him and said, 'Hey, you've got a chance to make us 10 times better, a chance to really be part of something special,'" Wagner recalled yesterday. "Once he kind of accepted that, I think he grew.
Heilman is saying the right things...
"It's not a demotion," Heilman said. "I was able to have success there in the bullpen last year. And hopefully I'll be able to have that same type of success and help us win. I mean that's the bottom line, if we can get into the playoffs and play in October. If this helps us get to the playoffs then that's what I'm going to do."
Yusaku Iriki got back on track, tossing two scoreless innings in the Braves' 4-1 win. Iriki lowered his Grapefruit League ERA to 5.93. The Japanese pitcher said he would report to Triple-A Norfolk if assigned. He said his previous string of sub-par outings was due in part to pressing over trying to make the team.
Bring in Heath Bell. Period. Give the kid a shot.
Item #1: I agree.
Item #2: I agree.
Item #3: This has been a long standing Met problem without the TV Network. Always worry about this one.
Item #4: I think not. I do think he will be a September call-up, but either Diaz or Nady will get the job done this year.
Item #5: I agree.
Not a bad set of guarantees.
"I really start doing well when I can prepare," Bannister said. "The other guys have been really helpful. We've been breaking down hitters every game out there, their tendencies. The older guys are so good about doing that."
Valentin, J, 2B
Lo Duca, C
Aldridge, C, LF