After getting the AL champ right in last year's picks (yes I actually had the Royals losing the Series but to St. Louis not the Giants) another year has rolled around and it is time for the annual pre season picks. Despite my choice of the Royals do not take these to your local betting parlor. But as usual this is my outlook on a new baseball season done in the style first used (to my best recollection) by Peter Gammons and the other Globies in the 1970s. Here are my division by division finishes, post season series winners, award winners, and a list of Red Sox thoughts and random predictions around the game.
*= first wild card winner **= second wild card winner
1. BOSTON- Worst to first again?? Place your Betts now.
2. BALTIMORE- Buck's Birds Battle- But can they win without an ace??
3. TORONTO- Their arms are up in the air like they just do not care.
4. NEW YORK- Hopes Hinge on aged stars, Tanaka's UCL and CC's knees.
5. TAMPA BAY- It's all about the (getting on) base, that's their trouble.
1. CLEVELAND- The Indians win it, the Indians win it, omigod the Indians win it.
2.*CHICAGO- Back to the Future 2 may have had the wrong Windy City team.
3. DETROIT - It doesn't look like a Buick, and the window is closing.
4. KANSAS CITY- Defending AL Champs get Yosted from '15 post season.
5. MINNESOTA- Never recover from Lee County Championship Series loss.
1. SEATTLE- Cano's Club will Cruz to Crown.
2.** LOS ANGELES-Halos no longer biggest fish in the AL West pond.
3. HOUSTON- And a little second baseman shall lead them.
4. OAKLAND- What has Billy Beane wrought this time?
5. TEXAS- Can Injuries Derail the Rangers train again?? Yu betcha!
Wild Card Game: Chicago behind Chris Sale shutout the Angels.
ALDS Seattle (behind Felix, Paxton, and Walker) take White Sox in five.
Boston bests Cleveland in four (sorry, Tito)
ALCS Behind Rick Porcello, Boston takes Game 7 in Seattle to win AL pennant again.
MVP Hanley Ramirez (edging out Jose Abreu and Michael Brantley)
Cy Felix Hernandez (besting Chris Sale and Porcello)
MGR Terry Francona (for the first time believe it or not)
ROY Micah Johnson, 2B Chicago (over Rusney Castillo)
HR Jose Abreu 44
1. WASHINGTON- Max effort from loaded rotation leads Nats
2.** MIAMI - You gotta get up and try, try, try
3. ATLANTA- Two things keep rebuilding Braves from bottom- Mets and Phils
4. NEW YORK- High expectations flushed
5. PHILADELPHIA- Twenty Five shades of grey.
1. PITTSBURGH - Pirate Festival
2.* ST.LOUIS- Consistent Cardinals are Central's competitors Arch enemy
3. CHICAGO - The wait for the Cubbies kids to mature will be Maddon-ing.
4. CINCINNATI - Cueto's contract conversations and Cincy's club collapse.
5. MILWAUKEE- The team that will NOT make Milwaukee famous.
1. LOS ANGELES- Friedman's franchise fends off Fightin' Friars.
2. SAN DIEGO- They have the Wil/Will's but do the have the way?
3. SAN FRANCISCO-Another odd year for the World Champs.
4. ARIZONA- Their best pitcher is GM Dave Stewart.
5. COLORADO- If Tulo and Cargo are healthy....they could finish...ah never mind.
Wild Card Game- St. Louis schools upstart Marlins
NLDS Washington over St. Louis in five
Pirates over Dodgers in four as Clayton Kershaw fails in October again
NLCS Pirates outlast Washington star studded rotation (a la the '13 Sox over the Tigers) in six
MVP Andrew McCutchen
Cy Max Scherzer (in a photo finish over Kershaw and Mets' Matt Harvey)
MGR Clint Hurdle (edging Mike Redmond of Miami)
ROY Jorge Soler (besting teammate Kris Bryant)
HR Giancarlo Stanton 39
With the Pirates making the first World Series since 1979 (versus Earl Weaver and the Orioles) and Boston making its fourth appearance of the 21st century, we have a rematch of the first World Series ever played in 1903. One thing is a guarantee this one will not go eight games as in 1903 when Boston won the best of nine series 5 games to 3.
But like 1903, Boston falls behind 3 games to 1, losing games two through four after winning the opener behind Rick Porcello. Boston staves off elimination in Game Five when David Ortiz doubles in two in the 14th inning. The Sox return to Boston and cruise through Games Six and Seven behind the red hot bat of World Series MVP, Mookie Betts. The winning pitcher in Game Six is Clay Buchholz and the starter acquired at the deadline wins Game Seven (who is it? stayed tuned you will find out .... in July).
Red Sox predictions (other than winning the World Series):
1. The outfield logjam shakes out like this: Hanley Ramirez, Mookie Betts, and Rusney Castillo each start 125 games or more as the regular outfield. Shane Victorino is traded in mid-May to Seattle, and Allen Craig stays with the team until July before he is traded. After the Craig trade, Jackie Bradley, Jr. rejoins the Sox and along with Daniel Nava are the 4th and 5th outfielders.
2. At least one of Mookie Betts and Xander Bogaerts makes the AL all star team.
3. As stated above the Red Sox acquire a starting pitcher at the deadline--but it will not be Cole Hamels.
4. One of the three kid lefties- Brian Johnson, Eduardo Rodriguez, Henry Owens- will win at least eight games for Boston.
5. Rick Porcello and Wade Miley have strong Boston debuts--but Porcello hits the free agent market next winter.
6. Blake Swihart arrives in Boston by no later than the All Star Break to become the starting catcher, Ryan Hanigan will keep things afloat, but is running out of gas by the time Swihart arrives.
7. David Ortiz needing 34 home runs for career # 500 will fall ten shy as his numbers begin to slowly decline. 24 HR, 88 RBI, .284 BA.
8. Dustin Pedroia will have a better offensive year, due to better health, but his power numbers are gone for good.
9. Pablo Sandoval will put up the always solid, not superstar, numbers and will again shine in October.
10. Yoan Moncada will be playing for Portland by no later than July 4th.
Lastly some general MLB predictions:
The 2015 All Star Game is played in Cincinnati and the starting NL pitcher is hometown Johnny Cueto who flashes two shutout innings just weeks before he is traded to the American League. The AL wins the game when Mookie Betts doubles home Jacoby Ellsbury (the lone Yankee representative) in the ninth inning.
Not only is the AL East very balanced and open, but the entire American League is filled with parity. Only the Twins, Texas, and Tampa Bay are out of the race entirely come September 1st.
Jose Abreu challenges for the AL triple crown into the last week of the season. But he loses the RBI title to Hanley Ramirez and the batting crown to Jose Altuve.
All three Pirate outfielders-Sterling Marte, Andrew McCutchen, and Gregory Polanco will have over 25 home runs and 25 steals.
First manager fired will be Mets' Terry Collins, and it may be before Memorial Day. The Jays John Gibbons will be the next to go. No one else is fired during the season because most of the other bad teams have first year managers. If San Diego, with their high expectations and new GM, should stumble out of the gate, Bud Black could go as well.
The Mets' Matt Harvey is the only bright spot for his club and challenges for the NL Cy Young Award and does win comeback player of the year (Prince Fielder wins comeback in the AL).
At least two more well known pitchers have to undergo Tommy John Surgery. I will not mention any names because I do want to wish an injury on anyone. But I will add rest and rehab for an injured UCL is a recipe for disaster.
Jason Heyward revives his career in St. Louis and enters next winter's free agent market looking for a $200 million dollar contract.
Alex Rodriquez struggles to get at bats with the Yankees at DH because the team has so many players needing time at DH.
The defending AL champs Royals trade free agent to be Alex Gordon at the deadline and fire Ned Yost after the season as manager.
Jon Lester will have a okay but not great first campaign in the National League, wining 11 games with an ERA of around 4.00. Not exactly what the Cubs were paying for.
Jerry Remy will announce his retirement for broadcasting in October, and in a more surprising note, radio voice Joe Castiglione also announces he is retiring after 33 years in the booth, the most in Red Sox history surpassing Ned Martin.
Well, that is it. I may very well be out on a limb picking Ye Olde Towne Team to win it all, but hey we have all seen it in this heyday of Boston sports. I cannot wait to get another season started.