Sunday, April 4, 2010

Your Completely Incorrect And Only Slightly Biased 2010 Baseball Preview

Sometimes when you're young, Opening Day seems like some far off beacon and you count down the days excitedly until it's here. Other times, you're so preoccupied with life that it kind of sneaks up on you, even though you've been reading stories and watching Spring Training games on TV almost daily. 2010, for me, is most certainly the latter. In fact, it didn't hit me until about three days ago that baseball season was pretty much here. Hockey, college basketball, Israel and life in general have all conspired to keep me in the dark, but after a few moments of contemplation I'm ready.


This is a peculiar season for me because, as a Mets fan, everyone seems to think disaster is going to strike and 81 wins is a pipe dream. A remarkable change in my mind considering this team, which was mostly injured all of last season, has a largely unchanged starting lineup from the one Sports Illustrated picked to win the 2009 World Series. This team reminds me an awful lot of the 2007 New York Giants, who, after a disappointing 2006 season in which they were expected to contend for a Super Bowl, naysayers had finishing 4-12 before they made a remarkable run to the third Super Bowl title in franchise history.

The 2010 Mets, in a sense, seem similar to me. Of course, I'm also a naive wide-eyed optimist. So view it for what you will. I acknowledge that the pitching after Johan Santana doesn't scare a baby, but John Niese showed promise before becoming the umpteenth Met to go down with an injury last year, John Maine and Mike Pelfrey have both shown flashes of being solid Major League pitchers and, who knows, maybe Oliver Perez finally puts it together.

Ok, that last one is a bit of a stretch.

But who knows? It could wind up better than we think. That's why they play the games. I caution you all with the knowledge that I am making my picks as I write this so there's a good chance it will seem ridiculous. And as I always say when I have to write these things, none of you are probably going to remember what I wrote in November anyway. Always the silver lining.

Off we go:

NL East
1. Philadelphia
2. New York Mets
3. Atlanta
4. Florida
5. Washington

Wishful thinking that the Mets will crack second place? Probably. Atlanta could easily take that spot and Florida's talent is not to be trifled with. I would expect to see the Nationals stay in the cellar, but they're finally starting to build the right way. Five years from now, they could be at the top looking down.

NL Central
1. St. Louis
2. Chicago Cubs
3. Milwaukee
4. Cincinnati
5. Houston
6. Pittsburgh

Chicago will probably be the stronger team on paper, but I just can never put faith in the Cubs. Interestingly, I wouldn't be surprised to see the middle of this division -- Milwaukee and Cincinnati -- make some noise. As for the Pirates, I wouldn't be surprised to see them lose 100 games. Again.

NL West
1. Colorado
2. San Francisco *
3. Los Angeles
4. Arizona
5. San Diego

Colorado looks like the most well-rounded team of the lot to me, particularly once Huston Street is healthy, and while the offense is certainly lacking in the Bay, I think a rotation with Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain and potential strikeout machine Jonathan Sanchez is just too good not to make the postseason. Of course, if the Dodgers win this division like they're supposed to, I'll look like a fool. I can handle it.

San Francisco over Philadelphia
Colorado over St. Louis

Colorado over San Francisco

AL East
1. New York Yankees
2. Tampa Bay*
3. Boston
4. Toront
5. Baltimore

It really is a shame that the rest of these teams get stuck in the same division as the Yankees and Red Sox. I can't really see the Bombers not making the postseason, but with a number of impending free agent contracts, the Rays are loaded with talent and in "win now" mode. They'll have to make waves.

AL Central
1. Minnesota
2. Chicago White Sox
3. Detroit
4. Cleveland
5. Kansas City

The Twins have some obstacles to overcome, particularly with Joe Nathan going down for the year with Tommy John surgery. But the rotation is still strong and the lineup is still talented. And with Joe Mauer locked up and Target Field getting its debut, I suspect the stars will still align for Minnesota -- especially since they can spend money now.

AL West
1. Anaheim - Yeah people. They still play in Anaheim.
2. Texas
3. Seattle
4. Oakland

The Angels look like the clear favorite to me, but I'm awfully interested to see what happens with the Mariners and Rangers, both of whom are intriguing teams that could make a splash. If Cliff Lee gets healthy, Seattle has a nasty top two in their rotation with him and Felix Hernandez. The Rangers meanwhile, once Ian Kinsler gets back, have a lineup that can match anyone's. Well, except Anaheim's.

Tampa Bay over Anaheim
New York Yankees over Minnesota

Tampa Bay over New York Yankees

2010 World Series:
Colorado over Tampa Bay

The Colorado Rockies winning the World Series? Really? It seems odd to me too, but I think it could happen. And while a matchup between them and the Rays is hardly the sexiest thing fans could be seeing, it should be two damn good teams facing off. And if that doesn't excite you, you probably don't like baseball as much as I do. Either way, even if you don't care about the Rockies, at least you probably don't hate them. And unlike some other sporting events going on right now, that in and of itself would be satisfying.

First pitch is in seven hours. Get excited. Just try not to be distracted by Geelong's big showdown with Hawthorn four hours later.

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