So real baseball technically starts today, so it's probably time to get all of our crazy predictions out of our system. Mine are below, but I just want to make sure everybody's clear that I don't take these very seriously. There is so much randomness that can happen in the 2430 regular season games that are about to be played that the possible win/loss ranges for all of these teams are probably much larger than most people think.
For the NL West:
- Colorado will win the NL West with around 95 wins. The team's true talent isn't that high, but the Rockies are in the weaker league and have more tools at their disposal than the surrounding teams. We'll make separate playoff projections when we get there, but I like our chances as well as anybody this year. I should probably lower my expectations a little with the Jeff Francis and Huston Street shoulder issues (like maybe 92 wins), but this is Spring, the purple flowers get in my way of seeing clearly.
- Clayton Kershaw and Matt Kemp are two absolutely fantastic young players, but the rest of Los Angeles' team tends to be overrated for 2010. This team's still quality, but I think the Dodgers take a tumble this year and the Rockies finish ahead of them by more than five games.
- I really like Arizona to take the place of San Francisco as the third playoff threat in the NL West, but their front office is going to be paying some of a price for dipping into the red for Adam LaRoche and Kelly Johnson rather than an adequate backup plan for Brandon Webb, so I'm backing off my second place projection given the lack of progress seen with him. Otherwise, I think Arizona has enough offense and pitching to pass the Giants.
- San Francisco's method of team construction reminds me of the White Sox and Blue Jays teams of recent years. Build a strong pitching staff with a mediocre (at best) offense and then hope to get lucky. In a weak division like the AL Central, the philosophy works well enough to get several playoff appearances. In the strong AL East, the team that employs this strategy typically finishes third or fourth. I don't think the NL West is as strong as the AL East, but it's certainly strong enough now to make this a failed strategy for this division for the time being.
- As in 2009, the Padres are fighting only for the pride of being "not last". They are close enough to mediocre that they could well do it again, I'm just not going to predict it.
In the NL Central:
- Milwaukee - This is where I'm going to go way out on a limb from the mainstream. I think the Cardinals are being a bit too reliant on older starters with injury histories and I really think that the Brewers made some quietly strong moves in the offseason to improve a team that wasn't as bad as it seemed last year. If St. Louis is healthy, the Cardinals will win again, but I think injuries hit them this year.
- St. Louis
- Cincinnati -
In the NL East:
- Atlanta - I think the Rockies will be playing the wild card Braves in the first round in a reversal of the 1995 NLDS.
- Washington - Jason Marquis gets traded to the Brewers mid-season, continuing his legend.
- New York - Finally, Omar Minaya will mess up so badly they have to fire him.
- New York
- Tampa Bay - The Rays go back to the playoffs as the AL wild card team.
- Boston - I think the Red Sox did good for themselves in getting John Lackey, but not as good in the rest of their moves this off season.
- Kansas City
AL West (I actually have no clue what to expect with this division, the teams are too similar):
- Los Anaheim
My other predictions:
NL ROY: Jason Heyward
NL Cy Young: Ubaldo Jimenez (the Rockies first and NL's only 20 game winner is hard for voters to ignore)
NL MVP: Chase Utley (Tulo gets robbed)
I really can't guess on the AL.
Tracy Ringolsby reported last night that Esmil Rogers will be the last man in, first man out of the MLB bullpen once the Rockies are comfortable with Joe Beimel's readiness.
In another post at Inside the Rockies, Jack Etkin goes over the minor league players let go by the team. We had high hopes for Xavier Cedeno and Daniel Carte as prospects at different times, and Austin Chambliss was one of my irrational favorites in the system. I hope these players are all able to move on to better success in their future endeavors.
The Denver Post has previews for the coming season, including features on Troy Tulowitzki and another Mark Kiszla as the Rockies biggest fan column, I'm just going to be lazy and post the entry page this morning.