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a jim jividen blog

Here's the thing. I'm watching one of these shows on the Cooking Channel featuring food trucks. There's a Scottish expat making fish and chips; in a thick brogue he somewhat wearily explains his irritation with Americans who habitually order a side of tartar sauce: "tartar sauce is basically gherkins." That's this blog. I claim no particular insight, no revelation. If you enjoy the flavor, great, but this blog is basically gherkins.

2011 MLB Predictions

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

If there is any investment advice coming in the next few minutes of your reading life, it isn't in my prediction of a Red Sox/Braves WS - it's in the places where my season win totals differ significantly from those available in Vegas.  If you're a regular reader of mine, you'd know I'm fairly consistent in beating those totals - and in last year's NFL preseason picks, had as much success as I've had in any endeavor in several years.

With that.  My win total is first, the Vegas number is second.

AL East
1. Boston (94, 95.5)
2. NYY (91, 91.5)
3. Tampa (87, 84 - that's a reasonable play)
4. Baltimore (80, 76.5 - that's a reasonable play)
5. Toronto (79, 76.5)

Last year's Red Sox team was better than you think, despite missing the playoffs - and to it they add Gonzalez, Crawford and presumably a healthier Pedroia.  The Yankees have a bundle of pitching prospects that should pump up their pen by year's end and aid a shaky back of the rotation enough to get by Tampa, on whom if anything, I'm overly pessimistic in this projection.  If Yanks/Rays are fighting for that WC spot late that wouldn't surprise.  I like both Orioles and Jays more than the sportsbooks.

AL Central
1. CWS (86, 85.5)
2. Minnesota (85, 86)
3. Detroit (85, 84.5)
4. Cleveland (71, 72)
5. KC (64, 68)

-It's hard to be bullish about the top of the White Sox order, but CWS can hit homers (love me some Adam Dunn moving to the AL) and catch the ball, and I'm projecting that's enough to win the division.  Liriano, Morneau, and Nathan are all concerns for the Twins - I'd guess 85 is the top of their likely curve for the year, and were they to have a hot first half, I'd like an investment that says they cool down the stretch.  The Tigers, like the Brewers in the other league, are employing a stars and scrubs strategy, with some really strong front of the rotation starters, a couple of bit bats in the lineup and not a lot else.  That could be enough to win for both of them.  Cleveland doesn't have the pitching to do much this year; everyone loves the Royals farm system, but the prospects won't win many games for them this year.

AL West
1. Texas (86, 86.5)
2. Oakland (84, 84)
3. LAA (79, 82.5)
4. Seattle (69, 70)

I've got a bit of a crush on Oakland's pitching staff, but they'll need some uncharacteristic years from the bats to beat this projection and get past Texas.  The Angels are a .500 team; Seattle's pretty bad.  

The three best teams in the American League are the same 3 best teams from last year - Boston, the Yankees, and Tampa.  I'll take the Yankee/Red Sox ALCS and pick Boston to win the pennant.

NL East
1. Philadelphia (90, 96.5 - which is pretty clearly high, it's the best play on the board)
2. Atlanta (88, 88)
3. Florida (82, 82.5)
4. NYM (79, 76)
5. Washington (72, 72.5)

-They lost Werth, and it looks like Utley too for at least the first month of the season, add in a messy bullpen, and winning 97 games looks really far away for the Phils.   I like the Braves' bullpen arms a ton, assuming they can maintain their gains post-Cox.  Like the Angels, the Fish look like a prototypical .500 club; this is the first year in - maybe a decade that I like the Mets more than the books; and the Nats are hopeless.

NL Central
1. Milwaukee (86, 86.5)
2. St Louis (84, 83.5)
3. Cincinnati (84, 86.5)
4. Chicago (79, 82)
5. Pittsburgh (69, 67)
6. Houston (66, 71 - also, high)

I referenced the Brewers in the Tigers thought; the only reason for the disparity in their records is the AL is the better league, but they seem equally likely to me to win their divisions.  Cards probably don't have the arms to get closer to 90 wins; there's some emerging Reds love, I refuse to believe a team planning on hitting Edgar Renteria second in 2011 can win 87 games.  I like Chicago's starting staff but not much else; the Pirates have some young offensive talent, and Houston's DOA.

NL West
1. SFG (90, 88)
2. LAD (87, 83.5 - a reasonable play)
3. Colorado (85, 87)
4. San Diego (78, 75.5)
5. Arizona (71, 72.5)

If my Giants won a couple fewer games and the Dodgers or the Rox won a couple more and we got edged out late that wouldn't be a shock, but it's hard to look at SFG and not see an improved Sandoval, a full season from Posey and what looks like lots of ABs from Belt offsetting regression from Torres and Huff to give us comparable offensive production to last year - a full season from Bumgarner helps to mitigate what absolutely has to be regression from the bullpen, and we look to be just a little bit worse than last year.  If it turns out we win 87-88 and those other 2 wins go to LA - again, that wouldn't surprise.  LA's might nearly match us in arms, and bouncebacks from Ethier and (especially) Kemp gets them near us.  The best player in the division is Tulowitzki and Gonzalez isn't far behind - they're a Detroit/Milwaukee stars/scrubs team, but it would take injuries to the top end pitching by the other two clubs to slide them up.  Padres fall back without Gonzalez, and Arizona has no chance.

You're making it up if you don't take Philadelphia - last year, I took Phillies/Red Sox for the Series before the season and don't see much reason not to do it again in 2011.

But for the hell of it I'll say it's the Braves, coming out of the WC, who knock off the defending champs, my beloved Giants, in the playoffs and like the ALCS is Yanks/Sox, the NL is Braves/Phils - and Atlanta gets by them.

Braves/Sox WS.  I'll take Boston.

2011 - The 100 Best Players in Major League Baseball

In February, MLB Network did a list of the 100 best players in baseball right now, not a career list or a "who would you start a team with" - but really a list just for the 2011 season.  Note, it's a real world list, not a fantsay ranking. 

I did not see it at the time, as U-Verse just got MLB network a second and a half ago (but I'm appreciative).  So - as part of my opening week listmaking, here's my ranking.  My plan is to edit in the MLB ranking for comparison.  Hopefully, as you read this, I've already done that.

1. Albert Pujols (Albert Pujols)

2. Troy Tulowitzki (Roy Halladay)

3. Roy Halladay (Joe Mauer)

4. Felix Hernandez (Miguel Cabrera)

5. Hanley Ramirez (Felix Hernandez)

6. Evan Longoria (Tim Lincecum)

7. Ryan Braun (Adrian Gonzalez)

8. Tim Lincecum (Robinson Cano)

9. CCSabathia (Ryan Braun)

10. Kevin Youkilis (Josh Hamilton)

11. Joe Mauer (Mariano Rivera)

12. David Wright (Evan Longoria)

13. Miguel Cabrera (Hanley Ramirez)

14. Joey Votto (Troy Tulowitzki)

15. Prince Fielder (Joey Votto)

16. Alex Rodriguez (Buster Posey)

17. Mark Teixeira (Carlos Gonzalez)

18. Adrian Gonzalez (Kevin Youkilis)

19. Josh Johnson (CC Sabathia)

20. Justin Verlander (Ryan Zimmerman)

21. Matt Holliday (Alex Rodriguez)

22. Cliff Lee (Carl Crawford)

23. Jon Lester (Jon Lester)

24. Ryan Zimmerman (Mark Teixeira)

25. Josh Hamilton (Ryan Howard)

26. Dustin Pedroia (Chase Utley)

27. Brian McCann (Ichiro Suzuki)

28. Jared Weaver (David Price)

29. Nelson Cruz (Prince Fielder)

30. Robinson Cano (Matt Holliday)

31. Carl Crawford (Cliff Lee)

32. Matt Cain (Justin Verlander)

33. Carlos Santana (Josh Johnson)

34. Carlos Gonzalez (SS Choo)

35. Dan Haren (Adrian Beltre)

36. Zack Greinke (Chris Carpenter)

37. Ubaldo Jimenez (Dustin Pedroia)

38. Ian Kinsler (Zack Greinke)

39. Ryan Howard (Ubaldo Jimenez)

40. Clayton Kershaw (Trevor Cahill)

41. Chris Carpenter (Brian McCann)

42. Jay Bruce (David Wright)

43. Buster Posey (Dan Uggla)

44.  Jayson Werth (Brian Wilson)

45. Adrian Beltre (Jayson Werth)

46. Mat Latos (Derek Jeter)

47. Clay Buccholz (Paul Konerko)

48. David Price (Adam Dunn)

49. Matt Kemp (Joakim Soria)

50. Dan Uggla (Jose Bautista)

51. SS Choo (Roy Oswalt)

52. Adam Dunn (Clayton Kershaw)

53. Roy Oswalt (Victor Martinez)

54. Cole Hamels (Matt Cain)

55. Tommy Hanson (Clay Buchholz)

56. Colby Lewis (Andre Ethier)

57.  CJ Wilson (Neftali Feliz)

58. John Danks (Jared Weaver)

59. Yovani Gallardo (Johan Santana)

60. Max Scherzer (Andrew McCutcheon)

61. Jason Heyward (Carlos Marmol)

62.  Rickie Weeks (Brandon Phillips)

63. Hiroki Kuroda (Ian Kinsler)

64.  Victor Martinez (Heath Bell)

65. Jason Bay (Matt Kemp)

66. Geovany Soto (Martin Prado)

67. Trevor Cahill (Nelson Cruz)

68. Phillip Hughes (Jason Heyward)

69. Chad Billingsley (Rickie Weeks)

70. Dan Hudson (Andrew Bailey)

71. Nick Swisher (Cole Hamels)

72. Mike Stanton (Tim Hudson)

73. Chase Utley (Dan Haren)

74. Pedro Alvarez (Mark Reynolds)

75.  Brett Anderson (Rafael Soriano)

76. Shawn Marcum (Mike Stanton)

77. Curtis Granderson (Nick Markakis)

78. Justin Upton (Justin Upton)

79. Jose Reyes (Jose Reyes)

80. Hunter Pence (Curtis Granderson)

81.  Tim Hudson (Jay Bruce)

82.  Javier Vazquez (Shane Victorino)

83. Chipper Jones (Vlad Guerrero)

84. Martin Prado (David Ortiz)

85. Torii Hunter (Austin Jackson)

86. Ryan Dempster  (Jason Bay)

87. Andre Ethier (Scott Rolen)

88. Joe Nathan (Yadier Molina)

89.  Alexei Ramirez (Colby Rasmus)

90. Paul Konerko (Michael Young)

91. Alex Rios (Brian Roberts)

92. Dallas Braden (Vernon Wells?  Really?)

93. Francisco Liriano (Justin Morneau)

94. Ryan Ludwick (Torii Hunter)

95. Heath Bell (Elvis Andrus)

96. Joakim Soria  (Jose Valverde)

97. Mariano Rivera (Jacoby Ellsbury)

98. Justin Morneau (Grady Sizemore)

99.  Pablo Sandoval (Carlos Santana)

100. Jake Peavy (Aroldis Chapman)

My current roster, therefore, of baseball's best players would be this:

C Mauer McCann
1B Pujols Youkilis Cabrera
2B Utley Cano
SS Tulowitzki Ramirez
3B Longoria Wright
LF Braun
CF Hamilton
RF Holliday
OF Crawford
OF Cruz
P Halladay
   Hernandez
   Lincecum
   Sabathia
   Johnson
   Verlander
   Lee
   Lester
   Weaver

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