Friday, July 16, 2010

Degenerate Friday! 2nd Half Predictions

Since my baseball futures bet of the Mariners went so well in the first half of the season, I figured I’d make some predictions for the second half of the season. I mean, I believe I wrote that the addition of Milton Bradley combined with the veteran leadership of Ken Griffey Jr. would carry the M’s offense. Yeah, that didn’t work out all that well – it’s hard to lead when you’re sleeping in the clubhouse and retiring before the all-star break, and it’s hard to provide offensive punch when you’re taking time off for mental instability. Anyway, let’s hope my second half thoughts can burst on the scene like Jen Brown – the next Erin Andrews chosen to be the ESPN sideline princess during college football season. She seems to have all the assets, understands her role and judging by her outfit at the ESPY’s, is not afraid of the limelight.

AL Playoff Teams:
AL East: Yankees
AL Central: Twins
AL West: Rangers
AL Wildcard: Red Sox

It’s a pretty boring picture in the AL, without many surprises. The Yankees have the best team in baseball, with a pitching staff capable of carrying them through even without their potent offensive line up. It’s a bad sign when you know that they will be involved before the trading deadline and all they are looking for is middle relief or set up help in the bullpen. It’s like having the assets of Brooklyn Decker and only having to worry about finding the right dress for the ESPY’s to showcase her talent – it’s not really fair to anyone else around.

The Red Sox have been fighting the injury bug all season and the continued absence of Dustin Pedroia will hamper the offense as they try to stay with the Rays for the wildcard. If they can get him and Josh Beckett back healthy and effective, they will reel in the Rays and pass them for the last playoff spot. The Sox pitching with Lester, Lackey and a healthy Beckett could make them a nightmare in the playoffs if they can qualify.

The Twins will be able to outlast the Tigers & White Sox in the Central and the Rangers will run away the west with the addition of Cliff Lee. Lee can carry the Rangers to the AL Championship Series and gives them a fighting chance with his dominance of the Yankees. Unfortunately the Yankees veterans will prove too much for the Rangers, despite the playoff experience of Lee & Vladamir Guerrero.

Divisional Round:
Yankees over Twins
Rangers over Red Sox

AL Champ: Yankees over Rangers

NL Playoff Teams:
NL East: Braves
NL Central: Reds
NL West: Rockies
NL Wildcard: Mets

The Braves made a smart trade getting rid of the immensely talented but mercurial Yunel Escobar for Alex Gonzalez. In Bobby Cox’s final season, the team is all pulling in the same direction and can’t afford the distraction of the often-disinterested shortstop. With the return to health of Jason Heyward and Nate McClouth, the Braves offense will be able to match their strong pitching and hold off the Mets and Phillies for the division crown.

The Reds have been among the surprises in baseball this season. While they had the talent to compete, no one knew if the youth would finally come through. They are much like the 2008 Brewer team in that they have a young core of talent that should be able to carry them, but they could definitely use an extra pitcher to give them the leverage to hold off the Cardinals. They should try to get involved in the Roy Oswalt sweepstakes, yet it might be more difficult to get a division foe to trade with than it would be to get a Vegas VIP hostess job without frontcourt enhancements.

The Padres have been a tremendous story during the first half of the year with a pitching staff that has kept them at or near first place most of the season. Yet the Rockies have been coming on as of late and all the experts seem to think they are still the team to beat in the NL West.

The Mets will also be heavily involved in the Roy Oswalt sweepstakes and may be the team capable of taking on his big contract. Also look for them to be there to get Ted Lilly from the Cubs. That addition of a pitcher combined with the return of Carlos Beltran, even if he is not at full strength, should be enough to hold off the injury-riddled Phillies for the Wildcard.

NL Divisional Round
Braves over Reds
Mets over Rockies

NL Championship: Braves over Mets

World Series: Yankees over Braves

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