February 09, 2013

So, it's a Nationals-Blue Jays World Series? Do #stlcards have a shot?

Yahoo Sports has those two teams pegged as the top two in baseball in its preseason ranks.

Don't like that? On the National League side, your next two options are Dodgers at No. 3 overall and Reds at No. 4.

On the AL side, it's the Angels at No. 5.

All of these predictions are a bit fraught with peril, of course.

That said, I think the Nats' tap is the safest bet. Could have been there last year if they had not shut down Stephen Strasburg.

On the AL side, the Jays will have to show that all of the trades they made pan out. They'll also have to hope that, in light of initial reporting on the Miami roiding allegations at Biogenesis, that Melky Cabrera doesn't get a second suspension to follow the first one. They also, after years on the outside, have to show they know how to win.

Dodgers? I think Zach Greinke, and his signing, are overrated. They also have to have all the players they got from Boston last year, like Carl Crawford (also overrated, from this corner) actually pan out.

Reds? Can Aroldis Chapman be a starter and Joey Votto be healthy again? I think both have to happen for them to deserve to be ranked this high, and I wouldn't hold my breath in the Riverfront City.

Frankly, I wouldn't be too surprised if, even without Chris Carpenter, my St. Louis Cardinals pass them in the NL Central.

On the AL side, Albert Pujols had his knee cleaned up with simple arthroscopic surgery and the Haloes now add by swap, with Josh Hamilton replacing Greinke (and Hamilton having to bear less spotlight than in Texas). Wouldn't be surprised for them to win it all.

Tigers, the No. 3 team in the AL? Could still be a bit fragile psychologically. Victor Martinez coming back will help, but how much?

My picks?

Well, I always personally pick the Cards to win it all, of course.

They do have a reasonable chance, but I'm going to pencil in Nats-Haloes as my prediction.

I put Cards at 85-15 to make the playoffs, and, if Matheny shows growth as a manager, 55-45 (yes, over the Reds) to win the NL Central. I'll put them at 1-5 on NL title and 1-10 on World Series.

Teams most likely to fall further than Yahoo ranks? I think the Yankees at No. 11 are definitely too high. Frankly, I wouldn't be surprised to see them below .500 at the end of the season.

Others? No. 14 D-backs, No. 15 Phillies and No. 16 Orioles could all slip a bit. Even the No. 10 Rays may finally spit the bit. In short, the AL East in general could be less than its cracked up to be.

Sleepers? Especially if Juices Maccabee, aka Lyin Braun, or known to others as Ryan Braun, gets lucky or whatever and doesn't get a roiding suspension himself, the Brewers are probably better than No. 20. And, even if they don't make the postseason, the Pirates are better than No. 25.

I'm not even going to discuss ESPN's previews, posted so far on its Sweet Spot blog. First, they do team-by-team letter grades, which is nice, but is chickenshit on dodging comparisons. Second, when an ESPN blog talks about the possibility of the Bosox winning the AL East and David Schoenfield, usually a stinker even among ESPN's baseball writer stinkers, talks about that division being a five-team race into September, you know you're going to get nothing but the usual ESPN baseball stupidity mixed with Boston/New York homerism.

More proof of that? The truly hypocritical on roiding Jayson Stark claims the AL East is the top division in baseball. I'm not sure I'd rank that division higher than fourth.

Ahh, ESPN. The Peter Principle of the sports writing world.

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