From: Subject: Date: April 21, 2005 3:53:51 PM CDT Hankblog: NL predictions for the season

Monday, April 04, 2005

NL predictions for the season

Understand I've paid no attention to the Hot Stove League this offseason, so most of this is just me talking out my ass and will likely be very very wrong.

National League
NL West
1. Padres
2. Dodgers
3. Giants
4. Diamonbacks
5. Rockies

I think the Padres have potentially the best young rotation this side of Chicago. Jake Peavy led the league in ERA last year with a 2.27, and was solid all season. Woody Williams is reliable and keeps the ball in the park, and Adam Eaton and Brian Lawrence have a lot of upside. If the starting rotation can give SD some good innings and keep them in games, the 1-2 punch of Otsuka and Hoffman in the pen can end things consistently. Considering the upheaval with Bonds in SF, and the changes to the rosted in LA, this division is there for the Padres to take.

NL Central
1. Cardinals
2. Astros
3. Cubs
4. Reds
5. Pirates
6. Brewers

This may make it sound like I'm smoking crack, but this might be one of the most competitive divisions in baseball. Everyone of these teams except for St Louis has flaws. The Astros will struggle to put up runs, and the Cubs have injury problems in the rotation and no consistent closer. The Reds have no proven aces in their rotation. The Pirates have some promising arms, but not much O. And the Brewers have some young talent, but then traded their second most consistent pitcher in closer Danny Kolb. But there is upside for every team in this division also, and I think that will make for a lot of interesting intradivisional games. The Cards have way too much all around for anyone else to run them down, but the Astros should have enough pitching to take the Wild Card again.

NL East
1. Marlins
2. Phillies
3. Braves
4. Mets
5. Expos

Every year I think the Braves can have dirt kicked over their lifeless bodies at the start of the season, and like a damn zombie they keep lumbering back to the postseason before finally getting their heads lopped off (love the imagery, no? ;-)). This year I think they finally run out of steam. They're taking a 37 year old pitcher who had been converted into one of the most lights out closers in baseball and making him the ace of a rotation when he hasn't started in what, four years? Yeah that's gonna work.

Now watch me be wrong and they win 110 games. Course they'll choke in the playoffs like always if they do make that happen ;-).

The Marlins have a lot of talent on the pitching staff, and Guillermo Mota has the potential to be a sick closer. And they added Carlos Delgado to one of the most active and dynamic offenses in baseball. I have a hard time understanding how anyone can be picked ahead of them this season in the NL.

Playoff results:
First round
St Louis over San Diego
Florida over Houston
St Louis blows the young Padres up with their offense, and the liability of Brad Ausmus kills the Astros against the running Marlins.

Florida over St Louis
Could be one of the best postseason series in history.

AL preview up in fits and starts as I blog the first game today.