Thursday, March 31, 2011

2011 MLB Preview!!

Tomorrow is opening day, which means the great game of baseball is offically back!  This season features a few interesting storylines:  The Giants defending their title, the impending free agency of Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder, and the new-looked Red Sox.  Here is how I see the divisions playing out. *Wild Card Winner.

AL East:  Red Sox(99-63), Yankees (96-66)*, Rays (85-77), Blue Jays (84-78), Orioles (70-92)

The Red Sox made huge headlines by grabbing Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez this offseason.  Both should be great fits in Boston.  I also like what Boston did, by adding Dan Wheeler and Bobby Jenks to the bullpen.  The Yankees still have a great lineup, and one of the best starters in the game, with C.C. Sabathia, but the rest of their rotation is shaky to say the least.  The Rays have a rotation of great young arms, but losing Carl Crawford and Carlos Pena will hurt.  The Blue Jays would be a big-time contender in almost any other division, but they lack the firepower of the Yankees and Red Sox. Ricky Romero should be a sleeper Cy Young candidate.  The Orioles should be improved, but don't have the talent to contend in this division.

AL Central:  Twins(92-70), White Sox (87-75), Tigers (84-78), Royals (60-102), Indians(58-104)

The Twins can be a legitimate pennant contender if Justin Morneau can return to his MVP form.  Joe Nathan and Matt Capps can also be a solid combo at the end of games.  I love the White Sox pickup of Adam Dunn, who I feel is one of the most underappreciated players in the game.  If Jake Peavy can pitch like he did in San Diego, I expect the White Sox to be in the mix.  I like the Tigers lineup, but I do not feel their rotation is deep enough.  The Royals will be awful this year, but with a deep farm system full of potential stars, their time will come.  The Indians might be the least talented team in all of baseball, 110 losses isn't out of the question.

AL West:  A's(91-71), Rangers (88-74) Angels(80-82), Mariners(65-97)

I like the A's here because of their young pitching staff.  Trevor Cahill, Brett Anderson, and Gio Gonzalez are all capable of making the All-Star team.  The Rangers lost Cliff Lee, and added Adrian Beltre.  Their rotation simply doesn't stack up with that of Oakland.  The Angels made no significant additions, except for Vernon Wells and Scott Downs.  They have big question marks on the right side of the infield.  The Mariners might be one of the worst offensive teams in all of baseball.  At least they have King Felix and Ichiro.

NL East:  Phillies (96-66) Braves(92-70)*, Marlins(81-81), Mets (74-88) Nationals (72-90)

The Phillies have an amazing rotation, but I have questions about their bullpen, and Chase Utley's absence will hurt, but the team has enough talent to overcome the questions.  The Braves added Dan Uggla, and have a solid rotation, although they are lacking a legitimate closer.  This Marlins team is very close to being s serious contender, Mike Stanton is a threat for 40 bombs.  The Mets are an absolute mess, which is completed by starting a Rule 5 Draft Pick at second base.  The Nationals are thin in pitching, and have questions in their lineup outside of Werth and Zimmerman.

NL Central:  Brewers(91-71), Reds(89-73), Cardinals(86-76), Cubs(80-82), Astros(72-90), Pirates(62-100).

I love what the Brewers did in the offseason. Zack Grienke and Shawn Marcum are great additions, and with Yovani Gallardo and Randy Wolf, the Brewers have a very good rotation.  Prince Fielder is my choice for MVP.  The Reds are an exciting young team, that should fight to the end.  The Cardinals will sorely miss Adam Wainright, and Lance Berkman will be a failed experiment in right field.  The Cubs are loaded with bad contracts, and I am not a fan of their bullpen.  The Astros have a few interesting young players, but don't have much pitching.  The Pirates "splurged" on free agents Kevin Correia, and Lyle Overbay.  I do like Pedro Alvarez and Neil Walker, however.

NL West:  Giants(92-70), Rockies(87-75), Dodgers(84-77), Padres(83-79) Diamondbacks(64-98)

The Giants are the defending champs, and have the best pitching staff in all of baseball.  The Rockies have two MVP candidates in Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez.  The Dodgers are the wild-card of the division, this team has the talent to win the west, but has had issues playing up to their capabilities.  The Padres lost Adrian Gonzalez,and replaced him with Brad Hawpe.  The team has a tremendous bullpen, but the weakest lineup in the league.  The Diamondbacks are just a mess, and they will go with a platoon of Melvin Mora and Geoff Blum at 3rd, and Xavier Nady in left.

AL Wild Card Playoffs: Yankees over Twins, Red Sox over A's
AL Championship Series:  Red Sox over Yankees
NL Wild Card Playoffs:  Giants over Braves, Brewers over Phillies
NL Championship Series:  Brewers over Giants
World Series:  Red Sox over Brewers

AL MVP:  Adrian Gonzalez, Boston
AL Cy Young:  C.C. Sabathia, New York
AL ROY:  Jeremy Hellickson, Tampa Bay
Breakout Candiates:  Gordon Beckham, Chicago, Gio Gonzalez, Oakland, Peter Bourjous, Los Angeles, Brian Matsuz, Baltimore.

NL MVP:  Prince Fielder, Milwaukee
NLKershaw, Los Angeles
NL ROY:  Freddie Freeman, Atlanta
Breakout Candidates:  Mike Stanton, Florida, Tim Stauffer, San Diego, Drew Stubbs, Cincinnati, Chris Johnson, Houston.