Pointless Exercise 2008
Ok, ok, ok...stop me if you heard this one before.
The New York Mets are the best team in the National League and frankly, it is not even close. The Mets should run away things and a healthy Pedro means the Mets might actually field a team that could quite possibly make your head explode. I mean, sure the season could be exasperatingly boring, but a little boring is good every once in a while. With all that said, my picks:
1) Mets (suck it Philly fans and Atlanta 'fans')
Easy, breezy, beautiful. Willie gets some more undue credit for turning this team around as they motor on to 95 wins. They would have gotten 100, but they started mailing it in after Sept. 1st.
Pitching? Check. Offense? Check. Fielding? Check. Stupid rally cry? Check. Organizational depth? Check. If not for Omar's crafty moves this off-season, I might actually pick the Braves. However, Pedro covers Glavine's innings (still cannot believe I dumped $250 on that dumb ass jersey) and Johan covers....um...well no one's innings. He brings 9 to 10 wins alone. Good lord, that is tough to overcome. Nice team for sure, but Wild Card candidate the whole way.
When your off-season was lost when you failed to resign Kyle Lohse, things are not good. The Mets have four pitchers better than their second best pitcher. 'Nuff said.
The mini-Mets will be reminiscent of the Devil Rays. Sure they might be bad, but they are an annoying team that could really give some teams fits.
I will enjoy watching Cameron Maybin, Hanley Ramirez, Jeremy Hermedia, and Andrew Miller, but yikes. Bad team.
Quick and Dirty:
The most exciting fight might be between the Astros and Pittsburgh for last place. Someone did remind Ed Wade someone needs to start games, right?
I would have picked the Dodgers if not for these two words. Juan Pierre. I just have no faith Joe Torre will do the right thing and the D-Backs have a good enough team to outlast everyone in the West. It will be a fight until the end, but it will be D-Backs as the last team standing.
The Wild Card
The best recipe for the playoffs is feasting without famine. Sounds like a good recipe to fatten up on to me. The Brewers have some great young arms, tremendous young bats, and three terrible teams in their division. The West has four good teams and the bad team has some scarily good pitching. No esta bien para otras equipos. The Braves will be in on this one and miss out by a game or two, but I think Gallardo and Parra are really going to be a big boon for this team.
1) Red Sox
4) Blue Jays
The Red Sox are good and the Yankees are depending too much on young arms and two sub .400 SLG outfielders and one really ugly one. The Rays are good. Reeeeallly good. Not second place good, but good enough to show the world they actually exist. The Jays will be battling for third no doubt, but I think the Rays will shock people and a four teams with 80 or more wins in the AL East is what I'm seeing.
4) White Sox
I like the Royals and do not think they will be putrid. In fact, I think they can take out the White Sox for fourth. The Tigers edge the Twins out by a hair, but fear not Cleveland fans, they will be in the playoffs.
The West will be better than anticipated with some pretty decent baseball. The Angels are still going to edge out the Mariners despite the injury concerns. It will be a fun race to watch with the A's being the feel good story and putting forth a better year than anyone expected.
I picked the Yankees to miss the playoffs for four years now and this will be my fifth. I will be right one of these days at which point I will unleash a barrage of 'I told you sos' like you have never seen. I just think the Indians are really, really good and have a weaker bottom three in the Central than the East has. I think the AL East will produce four 80 win teams as stated above and that simply means not enough wins to go around for everyone in the division to produce two playoff teams.
Not that there is anything wrong with that. The Yankees are on a great path, but depending on their young pitching is big risk and there will be high highs as well as low lows. And their offense? I think they are very good, but as good as everyone thinks? Damon and Cabrera are not boppers, Abreu and Matsui are diminished players at this point, Giambi is more valuable than people think, but still nothing tremendous, Posada is just not as good as his MVP-like numbers would suggest from last season, and Jeter, while very good, is getting older and not the offensive player he used to be. A-Rod and Cano are unabashed studs. However, A-Rod will regress off his insanely good historic 2007 season. That is nothing to be ashamed about as 20% less than what he did last year is still good for one of the top five players in the league, but it is unreasonable to expect him to replicate that.
The Yankees will be very good in 2008, but the Indians are just as good, if not better, and have an easier road to the playoffs.
We'll cover the individual awards on Monday.
At this point, I'd call up the Cardinals and see if they would do a Reyes for Pelfrey swap. They seem to be two guys that need a change of scenery and still have some considerable upside. I think Mike can be good, but this scrapping of pitches and yo-yo-ing that seems to be going on with him cannot be all that good for him. Maybe Duncan's approach will work better.
Willie Randolph, as you know, has to win and keep winning if he'd like to keep his job. This is as it should be. The manager always gets the credit when things go right and the blame when things go wrong, and in both cases this is often unfair, but Randolph was directly accountable for several inscrutable choices that directly cost the Mets a playoff spot and millions upon millions of dollars in associated revenues last year. His inexplicable willingness to repeatedly hand the ball to bad relievers in tight games down the stretch in September, his refusal to give Lastings Milledge the playing time he'd earned, and his inability to dispel the evil funk that settled on the team in the last weeks of the season could, individually and collectively, be fairly said to be why the Mets aren't now gunning for a third straight NL East title.
In two of three seasons, the Mets have played below their talent. Whatever his strengths, this is good reason to think that Randolph isn't a good enough manager to actively improve his team's chances. Fortunately for him, all he has to do is not actively damage them. If he can't do that much — and all that would take is an ability to learn from past mistakes — he has no business running the Mets.
Preach on brother Tim. Your words resonate like a symphony to me. I've said it a million times before, Randolph adds nothing to this team. He takes away a few wins and at best, we can hope he does no damage as Marchman states. He is a disaster when it comes to the Xs and Os and his reluctance to trust youth over stale veterans is borderline criminal. One win cost the Mets 1st place and I believe Randolph added negatively to the team, which should never happen and is unacceptable for a team of this caliber to lead by a sub-par captain.
When he first started managing, people said give him a chance. It's his first time out and he is learning. You know what? Learn in Pittsburgh. Learn in AAA. Not on the Mets when they have a team that is ready right now. Frankly, it blew my mind they gave the reigns to someone with zero managerial experience and only one year of bench coach experience to the most passive manager I have seen. Three years later, Randolph has proved to me he just might be incapable of learning from his mistakes because he is stubborn. Just like he says the young kids have to 'earn their chops', he has to earn his. As of now, he is far from doing that.
Randolph believes what ultimately doomed them is "we weren't ready to be a champion. Baseball is funny. It can fool you. You think - because it's such a long marathon - we've got time, we've got time. But the game is cruel sometimes. When you think you've got time, you don't.
Yup. He just said that. Willie is the one who kept saying they had time and was saying there is no reason to panic....publicly at least. There were a few million people that believed the entire 'we've got time' thing was bullshit.
How is it possible that this guy already is entering his fourth full season in the majors? Wasn't it just last week when he leaped on the scene? Check out this fact: He already has hit 97 home runs, which is 10th in team history, and driven in 365 runs.
Never mind that Wright already has scored a nice $55-million contract, has received his share of publicity thanks to dozens of magazine covers and can't walk in Manhattan without people snapping photos on their cell phones.
He's living the life of a superstar and he's only 25 years old.