Second Half Preview

I decided to go back and look at what my thoughts were in my pre-season preview, so I could give some perspective on my evolving state of mind.

AL East- I thought that the Yankees, Red Sox, Blue Jays, and yes, the Orioles would all finish within 10 games of each other. Oops on the O’s. My second half crystal ball sees the Red Sox winning the East, as the Yankees can’t overcome losing Sheffield and Matsui. I think the Blue Jays will fade, making it a 2 team race.

AL Central- The best division in baseball, I predicted that the Wild Card would come out of here and it does look to be a good bet to happen. I thought the Indians would have the best record in baseball, so I was way off on that measure. Look for the Tigers to fade behind Chicago in August, but I think they will have enough to hold off the Yankees and Twins for the final playoff spot. I’m not the Under the Knife part of the thejuiceblog.com, but I do see a lot of Detroit players being second-half injury risks. The idiot moves at the start of the season will cost the Twins the final spot in the AL.

AL West- I was one of the few that thought the A’s were vastly overrated, with worries about a young pitching staff and a lack of power. I also lamented the loss of Chris Young, by the Rangers, so I went with the Angels. I’m sticking with them to win the weakened West, as they have the best pitching staff and I think a couple of their top prospects will make the difference down the stretch.

NL East- Here is some vindication, as I liked the Mets to win their division, with the Braves falling to third. It looks like I was off on the Phillies, but with just a little better starting pitching, they still have a chance to be the NL wild card pick I dubbed them at the beginning.

NL Central- I wrote that I wouldn’t be surprised if the Cardinals won 10 less games than in 2005 and still won the division. Seems like a pretty fair chance of happening. While you can make a case for the Astros, Brewers, or Astros getting the wild card, I think they will fall just short. Should be a great race, though.

NL West- I had the Padres repeating and I will stick with them. While I suspect that Nomar will go on the DL soon, I still think they have enough to get the wild card. I had the Rockies finishing 4th and I still think that will happen, as I see the second half of the year being unkind to the Diamondbacks. The West will be a 2 team race.

Playoffs

I had the Yankees beating the White Sox and the Cards sliding by the Padres in the LCS, at the beginning of the year. Here is my revised choices.

White Sox over A’s
Red Sox over Tigers

Mets over Dodgers
Padres over Cards

White Sox over Mets

Please list your choices in the comment section, as the only way to win is to play.

6 thoughts on “Second Half Preview

  1. 1.  I think the East is still a wild crap shoot right now, both teams got no real 5th starter at the moment, Yankees managing to do suprisingly well with fill in corners (a really old one and a really young one.. amusingly .. both switch hitters)

    Meanwhile the Sox is far from immune at the moment, The Yankees are still getting a ton more out of C, SS, CF while getting more out of 2B and 3B also.

    It really depend on how everything turns out, I think the current key is how the pitching turns out? Will Schilling or Mussina falters first? Will Wang keep up? Will Beckett keep giving up gopher balls or will turn into what the Sox thought he should be? will either team find a 5th starter? Will Lester remain effective? etc..

  2. 2.  I do think Toronto will hang, and Oakland will take the West. And Milwaukee will surprise people, as well as Colorado.

  3. 3.  The Yankees and Red Sox each come with real problems, but I think the Yankees’ problems are worse. Their corner outfielders are, at the moment, catastrophes, despite an alleged resurgence from Bernie Williams (.282/.323/.416) and an alleged breakout from Melky Cabrera (.275/.358/.375). Not unmitigated catastrophes, but catastrophes just the same. Given an understandable unwillingness to unload Philip Hughes and the fact that most teams are still within shouting distance of a playoff spot, possible replacements to be had are not that promising: No matter who they go after, the Red Sox can drive up the asking price by dangling baubles from their vastly superior farm system at the same time as offering similar financial relief. The Red Sox’ superior farm system comes into play with the pitching situation, as well; unlike the Yankees, the Red Sox have found a variety of successful patches for the bullpen — and may have found one for the rotation in Lester — in their young minor leaguers. On the whole, I’d say it probably shakes out as a wash, given the Yankees’ advantage on the left side of the infield and at catcher and the Sox’ advantage at the outfield corners and the combined DH/1B slot. I’d say that the three game lead they’ve been staked makes the Sox the favorites in the AL East, though that’s by no means prohibitive.

    Though the AL Central is clearly the best division in baseball, with four teams that could win other divisions, I think that neither the Tigers nor the White Sox are as good as they look. They’re both good, but I don’t think either is a true 105-win team; it’s a question of who fades less. The Sox faded badly down the stretch last year, though who knows if that means anything — I don’t anticipate Jermaine Dye’s keeping up his current pace, nor Contreras, but everybody else seems to be performing at or near expectations, or at least within their normal range of abilities. They’ll likely see some fall-off from Dye, Contreras, and Thome, but some pickup fro Vazquez and maybe Garcia. To me, the question is: Does Jermaine Dye turn back into a pumpkin? If he does, they win maybe half their games or a little more and settle in at about 95 wins, taking the Wild Card by four or five games over the Yankees. If he doesn’t, they win 100 or more and probably the division.

    The Tigers, meanwhile, are depending a lot on some young pitchers who have never sniffed the kind of innings they’re going to be expected to throw in order to push for the playoffs; I’d expect at least one of Bonderman, Zumaya, and Verlander to go down for some period of time between now and October. If it’s Bonderman or Verlander, that could spell big trouble. Also, they’re strong but not deep up the middle; if Guillen or Granderson goes down, that could shave a bit too much off an already-only-kind-of-okay offense. A worst case scenario would see recurrences of injury from Guillen and/or Mags, and injury to two or more of the pitchers named above, resulting in a profound collapse and giving away the wild card to Minnesota, or whichever of New York & Boston doesn’t win the East. A best case scenario involves everybody staying relatively healthy and the Tigers winning on the order of 105 games and taking the division in a cakewalk. I’ve got them pegged for somewhere in between, probably finishing with 99 wins and in the playoffs, one way or the other.

    As far as the AL West goes, who knows? I still think the A’s are the most talented team in the division; questions for them are mostly injury-related. Can Thomas stay healthy? How about Bradley? Will Harden ever come back, and if he does, will he be the Rich Harden we all know and love, or some lesser version? Is there something wrong with Bobby Crosby? How about Eric Chavez? Is Jay Witasick done? If it all comes together, the A’s strut to the finish line without looking back. Since it probably won’t, it’s anybody’s guess. I don’t think that the Angels can score enough runs to win much more than half their games, especially since I’m selling on all their pitchers other than Lackey, Santana, and Weaver. (Yes, that includes Rodriquez). The Mariners aren’t real — I don’t think even the Mariners themselves think so. What it really comes down to, for me, is this: Do Mark Texiera and Brad Wilkerson start to hit like we all know they can? If that happens, you’ve got a dogfight with the A’s and Rangers to see who can get to 88-90 wins and the division title. If not, the A’s could win this thing with 85.

    Brief in the NL:

    Mets all the way. Best team in the NL by miles.

    Since the Reds just threw away the season, the NL Central is St. Louis’ to lose, and they won’t. I’m still going with my early-season WC pick, Milwaukee, who I have tabbed for a turnaround.

    The NL West: None of these teams are anything related to perfect, but the Dodgers are the most talented, just as they have been for the last three years. They gimp to the title in spite of Colletti’s attempts to exchange every good young player in the system for bastions of veteranitude. Even if Garciaparra or Penny hit the DL for extended stays, the Dodgers have fewer holes than the Padres. I expect the D-Backs to start building wholly for the future soon, jettisonning guys who won’t help next year and beyond if possible. The Rockies are not a good baseball team, and God isn’t going to make them one.

    Red Sox over White Sox, 3-2
    Tigers over A’s, 3-1
    Tigers over Red Sox, 4-2

    Mets over Brewers, 3-0
    Dodgers over Cards, 3-2
    Mets over Dodgers, 4-2

    Mets over Tigers, 4-3

    Wow, that was a long post. I’m done now.

  4. 5.  No way I’m competing with Voxter on length. (That’s what she said!) (D’oh!)

    White Sox over Rangers
    Red Sox over Tigers
    White Sox over Red Sox

    (bonus — Tigers over Yanks in one game playoff)

    Mets over Brewers
    Cards over Rockies
    Mets over Cards

    WS: White Sox over Mets, in a sweep.

  5. 6.  I forgot to mention the part where the Sox & Sox shatter all records ever set for most runs scored in an ALDS. For four games they’ll average 13-15 total runs scored at least. The winner will be determined by who pulls out the 3-2 victory in the Game 2 matchup between Buehrle & Beckett.

    If I’m as right as I expect to be, I’m totally changing my screen name to Nostradamus.

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