This is a guest post by Jim Brakewood. Jim is a Mets fan and dedicated fantasy baseball aficionado. He told me about his predictions for the 2011 MLB season and I offered him an opportunity to post his thoughts for The Mets Report readers. Comment at the bottom of the page with your thoughts on Jim’s predictions.
American League National League
AL East: Red Sox NL East: Mets (pfft kidding, Braves)
AL Central: White Sox NL Central: Brewers
AL West: Rangers NL West: Rockies
AL Wild Card: Yankees NL Wild Card: Phillies
AL Champion: Yankees NL Champion: Braves
World Series: Yankees over Braves
Sorry Mets fans, I couldn’t help the Mets winning the East… joke. Red Sox from the beginning of the season to the end may very well have the best record in baseball. Top to bottom, with a few question marks in Dice-K, Lackey, and Beckett, has the best team. So why don’t I have them in the World Series? I really believe the New York Yankees are going to trade Jesus Montero and whomever else they need to in order to grab another stud pitcher, whether it’s Liriano from Minnesota (some rumors have King Felix being available) or Wandy Rodriguez from Houston. I’ve heard rave reviews about Burnett and Ivan Nova. A-Rod also claims to be in the best shape of his life and from what I’ve seen and heard…..I believe him. He is going to have a monster year.
I know the popular pick is Minnesota right now. I just don’t trust Mauer and Morneau to be healthy all season and I can’t say I am a fan of the pitching staff beyond Liriano and perhaps Pavano. The Tigers will be the biggest challengers to Chicago: between Verlander, Scherzer and Porcello and the bats of Migs, V-Mart, Guillen, Ordonez and Inge they should be able to capture the Central. Verlander has been amazing this spring and I don’t see any reason it will stop. I just love the White Sox this year; they have athleticism, power, great depth at starting pitching, and an upper tier closer. Beckham is poised to have a break out year, Ramirez and Pierre add to the speed and athleticism with Dunn, Quentin, Konerko always a threat to go yard.
I am picking the Rangers not so much on their roster as is, but more about what it will be. They have a better team with Beltre with an already potent offense. They have money to spend and trade pieces in order to make a splash before the trade deadline.
If the Red Sox are the most complete team in the AL, the Braves are in the NL. Offense, starting pitching, depth and a quality bullpen. A healthy and spry Chipper Jones was spotted this spring, Uggla and Heyward providing the pop, possibly the deepest starting pitching in all of baseball, All-star catcher and utility man Martin Prado give the Braves the make up for a deep postseason run. The Phillies will make the playoffs. They almost don’t have a choice with the pitching they have. The fact is, I think they lost way too much offense. No Werth, no Utley (I’ll bet for a while), Ibanez is a shell of himself two years ago, too many questions from Dominic Brown….outside Howard there just isn’t enough. If the pitching stay healthy and dominant all season and can make the scores look like soccer scores, they have a chances. But that’s a chance I’m not taking.
Greinke, Marcum, Wolf, Gallardo for the Brewers. That’s why I picked them to win the NL Central. I also see Fielder in his contract year really bouncing back from a down year, well by his standards anyway. They have power from Braun, Weeks, Fielder, and Hart. McGehee will also provide some pop. They have a good closer in Axford. Top to bottom they have the best roster in the division and that should carry them to the playoffs. I like the Cubs and I really believe that Carlos Pena is going to be a monster in the National League but between coulda-been shoulda-been players and what really is going to happen…they won’t have enough to threaten the Brew Crew.
The Reds have been the sexy pick to win this division and you could absolutely make that case. Personally, nothing in that outfield scares me at the plate and neither does Janish or Hernandez. Rolen and Votto you have to be weary of, Votto even more so. Volquez and Arroyo provide quality pitching but not in the same realm as Milwaukee. Chapman may very well top 105 mph this year at some point…..but one 105 pitch isn’t going to help them make the post season.
I know I am in the minority here but I see the Giants have more questions than answers. Linecum is coming off a regular season where he looked downright……human. I am not on the Jonathan Sanchez bandwagon and the same goes for Bumgarner (at least for this year). Huff is being moved to right field with new first baseman Brandon Belt starting at the corner. 30 or 40 year old (because who really knows?) Tejada starts in the shortstop slot and defensive dynamo Freddy Sanchez covering second. I know Posey will have a whole year behind the plate and should see marked improvement, I’m just not confident they can rekindle that postseason magic into this season.
The Rockies have one of the best young teams in the majors. Between super studs, CarGo and Tulo, star pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez, Closer Huston Street they have all the needed parts to beat the Giants. The main wild card in this line up is Jhoulys Chacin. If he can string together solid starts to back up De La Rosa and Jimenez I feel the Rockies will put the kibosh on their notoriously slow starts and put it together for an entire season.
So there you have it. Some upsets specials in there, maybe the only person on earth who thinks neither the Red Sox nor the Phillies will make it to the World Series. For Mets fans it will be a long season. I still think we should have some kind of mutant experiment and combine Beltran and Bay into some…well still mediocre player. Lets just say I hope Alderson and Collins make some…good investments.