March 27, 2006

Predictions - Baseball Annuals

Stuff from the pre-season magazines:

Street and Smith's

East: Yankees, Blue Jays, Red Sox, Devil Rays, Orioles
AL Playoffs: Yankees, White Sox, Angels plus Athletics
NL Playoffs: Atlanta, Cardinals, Giants plus Mets
World Series: Angels over Cardinals
MVPs: Vladimir Guerrero, Albert Pujols
Cy Youngs: Johan Santana, Pedro Martinez

Dan Graziano of the Newark Star-Ledger wrote the AL East intro. New York's pitching staff is "a mixture of young talent and veteran savvy. ... The questions in New York are about age, but until guys like Johnson and Rivera prove they can't do it anymore, it's unwise to bet against them."

As for Toronto, an improved staff and Troy Glaus's bat "combined with Boston's disintegration" will lift the Jays into second place. Graziano dubs the Red Sox "Team Turmoil" and an organization that "continued to gut the core" of the 2004 team.

[Yeah, we shoulda kept that 2004 roster around forever. Any idea what Millar's OPS would be at age 58? ... Doesn't anyone remember all the talk about how "the window" was closing with that group of players and the Sox had better win in 2003 or 2004 or else?]

Graziano says the best thing that happened to the Yankees over the winter "may have been the disarray in which the rival Red Sox found themselves." Boston's four-page preview (which was written before the Crisp deal) ends: "The 2006 Red Sox could be good enough to hold off the improved Blue Jays for second place in the division. But it remains to be seen just how good they can be with so many changes."

The Sporting News

TSN includes the predictions of eight staffers. In the East, the Yankees were picked six times, Red Sox two. No one picked an East team for the wild card. Both writers who picked the Sox had them losing in the ALDS. ... No one picked any Boston players for any awards; one guy tabbed Damon as AL MVP.

AL Pennant: Cleveland 4, White Sox 4
NL Pennant: Cardinals 4, Mets 2, Atlanta 1, Cubs 1
World Series: White Sox 3, Cardinals 2, Cleveland 2, Atlanta 1

Overall the TSN Power Poll had the Yankees 2nd (2nd in AL), Toronto 8th (6th in AL) and Boston 10th (7th in AL). The MFY rotation has to "delay a trip to the glue factory for one more year", while Boston's rotation "again is shut-you-down-in-a-series scary. Can the bullpen -- and closer Keith Foulke -- return to lights-out form?" ... Papelbon is one of three "Hotshots to Watch".

Ian Browne of wrote the preview, noting correctly that the team has "reloaded with pitching and better defensive players". When they went to press, Youkilis was the leadoff hitter and "TBD" was in center, batting 9th.


East: Yankees, Blue Jays, Red Sox ("Key additions, key defections keep Red Sox running in place"), Orioles, Devil Rays
MVPs: Alex Rodriguez, Carlos Delgado
Cy Youngs: Johan Santana, Mark Prior
AL Playoffs: Yankees, White Sox, Angels plus Cleveland
NL Playoffs: Atlanta, Cubs, Giants plus Cardinals
World Series: Cubs over Yankees

The Sox preview sings the same tune we've been hearing from the national media: "the front office fell apart and Boston got outflanked in offseason maneuvers. ... [There are] a lot more questions than answers heading into 2006."

Also, possibly anticipating a move to fill the CF gap: "If the team can put together another blockbuster deal before the season, it may right the ship. Otherwise, Boston took a noticeable step back."

Athlon Sports

East: Yankees, Red Sox ("Trying to win with pitching?"), Blue Jays, Devil Rays, Orioles
MVPs: Mark Teixeira (Jeter 2d), Albert Pujols
Cy Youngs: Roy Halladay, Jake Peavy
AL Playoffs: Yankees, White Sox, Athletics plus Angels
NL Playoffs: Atlanta, Cardinals, Giants plus Mets
AL/NLCS: Yankees over White Sox, Cardinals over Atlanta
World Series: Yankees over Cardinals

The Red Sox, having "drastically overhauled" their roster since 2004, are "one of the most difficult teams to handicap" for 2006. ... The Final Analysis (which had Cora and Stern at SS and CF): "[F]or the Sox to win another championship -- or merely make a fourth straight trip to the postseason -- many things must break right. If things do not, the Sox may well finish looking up at both New York and Toronto..."


I actually agree with this last statement. But what I have not yet read is that the same could be said about the Yankees. A couple of key injuries and good news for the Sox and Jays could leave the Yankees in third place.


Jack Marshall said...

Redsock: Every year, these things are written so far in advance that their analysis is completely worthless, but this year takes the cake. The Sox are picked for 2nd or third with Alex Cora at short and Adam Stern in center, with Foulke never having thrown a pitch to test his knees and Schilling's resurgence unknown, without Taveras or Riske, with Wells assumed to be on the way out of town and Arroyo presumed to be the fifth starter, with Flaherty presumed to be Wakefield's catcher, without Willy Mo and with Manny still asking to be traded!
Why buy these rags, read them, argue with them or pay any attention to them at all? What possible relationship do predictions based on such incomplete information have to reality?

Zenslinger said...

Fella at Foxsports predicted the Jays to win the World Series, and that's with all the information! He admits it's not a likely outcome, but...I think the guy just wanted to write about the Jays. Who I insist on putting at 83-84 wins.

allan said...

Jack, the appearance of these magazines is one of the first signs of spring. Tradition keeps me buying them. Plus predictions and best of lists are always fun to read (and make fun of).

I'll also be posting writers' picks as I find them this weekend.

P.S. The Fox guy is Ken Rosenthal.

He says: "Right now, on paper, the A's look like the best team, particularly if Frank Thomas is healthy enough to make 450 plate appearances as their DH. The A's have almost as many starting pitchers as Manny Ramirez has mood swings ..."

Ha ha ha! That's so clever! All that writing talent -- and a sense of humor? Wow!

Jack Marshall said...

Redsock...Oh, I know, I know; I buy the damn things myself. I just hold you to a higher standard.

I've actually had a nasty e-mail exchange with Rosenthal. He based his assessment of the Sox on a statistical presumption that J.T. Snow would be the regular first baseman (and be as lousy as he was last year), and when I wrote him suggesting that he was too experienced to really believe such a thing,and that it was obvious and well-known that the Sox were planning on Youk being the regular, he wrote me back saying that I was a rude ---hole "like most Red Sox fans." Nice guy! I'm sending the jerk the Youk/Snow breakdown at the end of the year.

allan said...

Oh, I know, I know; I buy the damn things myself. I just hold you to a higher standard.



Rosenthal is a dope, no three ways about it. Yet every so often, he's lucid. ... Like so many of us, I suppose.

Jack Marshall said...

Why? Because you're the leader, man! Leaders always have to be held to a higher standard!!!

Meanwhile, if you need another reason to hate the Yankees, check out the story over on "The Smoking Gun" web site. It appears that Randy Johnson, he of the 16 mil a year salary, is nickel and diming the mother of his 16 year old daughter in child support. Really a class act.

Biglaw Associate said...

The media = stupid. Look at their predictions each year, versus the results.

Red Sox have a lot of ?? true. But I view this as a rebuilding year, where they're essentially reloading to create a nucleus for runs from 2007-2010. If everything breaks right this year, the Sox will challenge for the WS again. If not, they'll finish 2nd or 3rd and be a monster next year.

I'm surprised there's not more focus on the impending demise of the Yankees. Their core players are really old, and they have more question marks than the Sox, without any of the backup plans. I.e. Sheffield, Giambi, Posada, Mariano + their entire starting rotation have HUGE risks in my mind, and there really is no Plan B. True, IF RJ pitches like he used to, and IF Mussina can stop the now-dramatic decline, and IF Wang/Chacon/Small can prove that last year's results were no flukes despite a bevy of minor league numbers saying they were, and IF Giambi's sudden resurgence won't drop off in the wake of renewed focus on steroid testing, and IF Sheffield doesn't blow up, and IF Jeter can stay perpetually young, then the Yanks will be WS contenders. But if a few things go off course, the Yanks are precipitously close to competing with Tampa Bay for last place in this division.

I think people are not giving Toronto enough props this year. Given all the question marks surrounding NYY and BOS, the Blue Jays are stacked for 2006-7, and look likely to win 85+. I could easily envision a scenario in which Schilling/Foulke suck again, Beckett can't pitch a full season, the Yanks suffer through an injury plagued season and Giambi goes back to sucking, Sheffield demands a trade, etc. and both the Yanks and Sox win under 90. Don't count out Toronto. They've also really got a devastating short series rotation, with Halladay/Burnett/Lilly and a solid solid bullpen.

Jack Marshall said...

The Jays have a top of about 90 wins if everything goes right. Their defense stinks. Burnett is a head case; the Sox got the best of the available Marlins starters. Right and Left fielders continue to be mediocre; their closer is a crap shoot, which means the bullpen only deserves one "solid" at best.
For some reason people always overrate the Jays; Gammons used to pimp for them every year. I will be more surprised if they pass the Sox than I will be if the Rays pass the Yankees.