Tuesday, March 29, 2011

MLB Preview: National League

Since I just learned today that baseball starts up for real on Thursday, which seems ridiculously early but is apparently real, I better get going with my baseball previews.  I'll start with the National League today, and go onto the AL tomorrow.  If you want to know who you should target in your fantasy league, feel free to just go ahead and take a gander at the bottom of this post.  That's your championship team, folks.

Once again, you can consider these to be equivalent to clairvoyant looks into the future.  I almost never get anything wrong.


1.  Philadelphia Phillies.  Pretty obvious pick here, but it's always going to be obvious when your first four starters are four guys who would all be the ace on the majority of teams in the entire league.  Of course, these kind of super team things rarely work out, at least in the regular season, and a very old offense has tons of question marks.  Utley is out and nobody knows when he's coming back, Rollins was a nightmare last year, they just gave a fat, old player a monster contract, and perhaps their best all-around offensive player is now on the Nationals.  They'll still win, but they aren't going to dominate.

2.  Florida Marlins.  They've been a scrappy bunch the last several years, and I think this is the year they finally make the leap.  Their rotation of Josh Johnson, Javy Vazquez, Ricky Nolasco, Anibel Sanchez, and Chris Volstad would be the best in many divisions, assuming they stay healthy, and there's enough offense here to keep them in Wild Card contention.  Whatever you think of Hanley Ramirez's attitude issues the guy is an incredible player and gives Florida a huge advantage by having such an offensive powerhouse at such a traditional weak position.  Mike Stanton is an absolute future star.

3.  Atlanta Braves.  Should be a very solid team, and for no particular good reason just as I'm blindly believing in the Marlins' rotation, I'm expecting the Braves to fall apart.  Tim Hudson and Derek Lowe are older than dirt, Tommy Hanson is inconsistent and for Jair Jurrjens inconsistent would be a huge improvement.  And what's to be excited about with the offense other than Jason Heyward, Brian McCann, and Freddie Freeman?  They'll be in the Wild Card running, but I think Bobby Cox being gone is going to take longer to adjust to than you'd think.

4.  New York Mets.  The division between the 3rd team and 4th team in this division is absolutely immense, because the Mets are absolute garbage.  Let's put it this way:  R.A. Dickey will be prominently involved, and he might actually be the second best pitcher on the entire squad behind Mike Pelphrey - and that's not a compliment to Dickey, these guys are brutal.  There's still some minor jump up potential here based on a decent offense with David Wright, breakout candidate Ike Davis, and contract year guy Jose Reyes, plus Jason Bay and Carlos Beltran.  The offense should be ok, but that pitching staff is terrifying.

5.  Washington Nationals.  I wanted to rank them ahead of the Mets because the Mets are terrible, but I just couldn't after looking at what they're rolling out there.  Livan Hernandez is still here, and so is Jon Lannan, Jason Marquis, and they added Tom Gorzelanny as starter #5.  Sweet, that should make all the difference.  There's a decent young base here with closer Drew Storen, starter Jordan Zimmerman, 3B Ryan Zimmerman, SS Ian Desmond, and, of course, SP Stephen Strasburg and minor leaguer Bryce Harper (Brian Harper's son), but with The Stras out until late this year or next this won't be the year they put it all together.


1.   Cincinnati Reds.  Love this team.  Absolutely and completely love them.  Young and talented pitching staff with multiple candidates to breakout (Mike Leake, Johnny Cueto, Travis Wood, Edinson Volquez), the hardest throwing man in all of MLB (Aroldis Chapman), and a young group of position players who are either already stars (Joey Votto), look to be right on the cusp (Jay Bruce, Brandon Phillips), or are still just in the "potential" phase (Drew Stubbs).  They aren't really the type of team who I'd consider a serious World Series contender unless multiple guys on that staff breakout this year, but they'll win this division.

2.  Milwaukee Brewers.  Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery some donk once wrote, and the Brewers are definitely going with the San Francisco Giants model and have assembled a very good rotation.  If Zack Greinke stops getting hurt playing basketball and doesn't end up on the floor in the fetal position every time someone asks him a question he should dominate the NL, and Shaun Marcum should be a poor man's version of the same after coming over from Toronto.  Add in Yovani Gallardo and a pretty good offense and they'll be a very good team, especially if Prince Fielder's contract year becomes PRINCE FIELDER'S CONTRACT YEAR.  And closer John Axford has the sweetest mustache in the league.

3.  St. Louis Cardinals.  Adam Wainwright is so good at throwing a baseball that his injury knocks St. Louis from division favorite to division also-ran.  Any team with Albert Pujols can't be completely counted out, but the rest of the lineup is either old guys on the downslope of their career or David Eckstein clones.  Honestly, I have no idea why a team with David Freese, Skip Schumaker, Ryan Theriot, and Tyler Greene would possibly be interested in signing Nick Punto since all five of these guys are basically clones of each other and they all suck.  Maybe LaRussa's gone all demented and is starting some sort of bizarre collection, and at the all-star break he's going to encase them all in wax and open some sort of Eckstein Wax Museum.  That's be pretty sweet, actually.

4.  Chicago Cubs.   This should be a pretty competitive division, because I can even see the Cubs jumping up and contending at the top if everything goes their way.  It won't, of course, because we're talking the Cubs here and there's an awful lot that would need to go right.  Carlos Zambrano's head has to be on right, Matt Garza has to be able to dominate more often being in the NL, Ryan Dempster has to be good, Carlos Pena needs to bounceback as does Alfonso Soriano as does Aramis Ramirez, and so on.  One thing is for sure, they have a future star at shortstop in Starlin Castro.  Or at least that's what I told myself when we ended up having to draft him as our fantasy shortstop.

5.  Pittsburgh Pirates. Is this the year the Pirates finally turn it around?  Well, if by turn it around you mean don't finish in last then I say yes, although that's more of a testament to the shittiness of the Astros than the improvement of the Pirates.  I mean, you can at least see that they're trying to turn it around:  Neil Walker, Pedro Alvarez, Andrew McCutchen, and Jose Tabata are a nice young core but after that it's very blah - and that's the upside.  Assembling young arms is a good strategy, but someone needs to tell these guys that it really only helps if at least some of them have some talent.

6.  Houston Astros.  Kind of the opposite of Pittsburgh in that the starting pitching is at least ok (Wandy, Bret Myers, JA Happ, and Bud Norris) but the lineup is just brutally brutal.  The middle infield pairing of Clint Barmes and Bill Hall should make you feel better knowing there's actually a worse combo than what the Twins are trotting out there, I've never even heard of their third baseman, and their first basemen is a rookie who was traded three different times before he managed a major league at-bat.  And they still have Carlos Lee, who continues to kill team morale by constantly pawing through teammates' lockers looking for snacks.


1.  San Francisco Giants.  It's hard to believe any team that was so reliant on it's starting staff can repeat, but in this case you have to pick the Giants because 1.  The NL West sucks, 2.  At least one of those pitchers (Madison Bumgarner) is still waiting to breakout, and 3.  there only losses off the roster of "significance" were Juan Uribe and Edgar Renteria.  They might have the worst hitting outfield in history, but they should still be good enough to win this crappy division, especially since they have a rich man's Joe Mauer in Buster Posey.

2.  Colorado Rockies.  I wanted to pick the Rockies to win the division but I just can't.  Troy Tulowitzki is a pimp and Carlos Gonzalez is awesome, but then it's crickets.  Todd Helton is old with the power of Drew Butera but is still starting somehow, Chris Iannetta and Ian Stewart are starting to look like they're "potential" and that's about it, Dexter Fowler is Carlos Gomez with a slightly better batting eye, and Seth Smith should be a pinch hitter.  They also have Ty Wigginton.  Yeah.  The pitching is alright and could probably clean an office building or hotel like nobody's business, but that lineup is just really, really icky.

3.  Los Angeles Dodgers.  These guys have been about as underachieving as the Mets the last few years, and it all starts with Captain Disappointment (that's also what Mrs. W calls me), Matt Kemp, who decided to go from future superstar do everything five tool player to Adam Dunn with less power.  Think about that one. And speaking of less power we can't forget first baseman James Loney, the only 1B in history with less power than Dough Mientkiewicz.  Clay Kershaw is probably a future Cy Young award winner, but behind him is a soft-tossing old man (although he's a lefty) and a Japanese guy who will probably throw his arm out by July.  And also Chad Billingsley, who sucks.  How you can have that much money and fuck up a team should be the next study done by Dateline.  I think we've got all the sex predators by now.

4.  Arizona Diamondbacks.  You could basically flip a coin between Arizona and San Diego right now because both of these teams are equally depressing and shitty.  I'm giving the nod slightly to Arizona because they at least have a few players who could have huge years:  Justin Upton (although I feel like we're saying this every year for the last several), Miguel Montero (not a huge year overall, but at least for a catcher), and Daniel Hudson (if his post-trade results were real).  They also have a middle infield with some pop in Stephen Drew and Kelly Johnson, even if they field as well as Roger Dorn.

5.  San Diego Padres.  The list of exciting players on this team is Mat Latos and Cameron Maybin.  That's the entire list unless you really like nondescript but effective closers who are going to be traded at some point or mediocre-to-poor starting pitchers who were featured in really awesome books.  All I know is a team with zero offense just got rid of the man responsible for about 106% of that offense.  Plus their middle infield combo is Jason Bartlett and Orlando Hudson.  Ouch.    

The last thing I want to mention here is what should/could be considered a national travesty.  Take a look at this picture and guess who this is:

No, it's not the female joker (and I don't mean Harley Quinn), no matter how much it may look like it.  It's actually Rose McGowan, formerly the super hot and busty star of Scream and Jawbreaker.  This is what she used to look like:

Why?  Why would you kill that?  Even setting aside her formerly awesome boobs which have suddenly disappeared, check out this side-by-side of her formerly beautiful face:

Good lord, why?  This is the kind of thing that convinces me that the devil actually exists.  I'm actually near tears right now.  I'm going to go cry myself to sleep and probably masturbate.


Loretta8 said...

Brewers chick: WANT

But jesus, Rose McGowan, that is indeed a national tragedy.

Maggie said...

Once again, Brian Harper is not Bryce Harper's father. Brian Harper's father's name is Ron. Brian Harper's son's name is Brett. Google. It is not that hard. http://www.baseball-reference.com/bullpen/Brian_Harper

WWWWWW said...

Pretty sure you're wrong on this one Mags.

And Loretta, sorry on the no NIT Final Four. I was pulling for the nerds.

Loretta8 said...

It's all good, on Friday the Red Sox begin their run to another championship.

ICanConfirmThat said...

I can confirm that Brian impregnated Bryce's mother.