Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Act Two Begins

If the baseball season can be looked at as a three act play, we would take each two months as an act. In your basic three act structure, Act One is used to introduce the audience to the characters of the play. The audience meets the protagonist, antagonist(s), and secondary characters to the story. What's interesting about a baseball season is that each team has it's own story with their own conflicts, plot twists, and developments. The star of my story may be Lou Piniella, while you may choose Alex Rodriguez, Tim Lincecum, or Theo Epstein to follow.

Before we start rambling, here is a quick snapshot at where we feel the chips will fall at the end of Act Three.

Playoff Teams
National League: Mets, Cubs, Dodgers, & Phillies (wc)
American League: Red Sox, Tigers, Angels, & Yankees (wc)

MVP
NL: Albert Pujols, Cardinals
AL: Miguel Cabrera, Tigers

Cy Young
NL: Johan Santana, Mets
AL: Zack Greinke, Royals

Rookie of the Year
NL: Colby Rasmus, Cardinals
AL: Rick Porcello, Tigers

Manager of the Year
NL: Tony LaRussa, Cardinals
AL: Ron Washington, Rangers

Postseason Predictions
NLDS
Phillies over Cubs
Dodgers over Mets
NLCS
Dodgers over Phillies
ALDS
Red Sox over Angels
Yankees over Tigers
ALCS
Red Sox over Yankees

2009 World Series
Red Sox over Dodgers

Not much has changed according to our outlook of what will happen come October. We still feel the Red Sox are the cream of the crop. The Yankees have surely impressed this month, while the Blue Jays and Rays have shown flaws and suffered in the standings.

The AL Central is still anyone's division for the taking, except maybe the Indians who look closer and closer to bringing out the white flag trade. They reportedly have Mark DeRosa front and center on the trading block, and the recent disabled list placement of Grady Sizemore and Rafael Betancourt have only fueled speculation that Cleveland is ready to get younger right now. The run differential of teams in this division make the Tigers look like the smart bet to win the division. Being the fans that we are of Jim Leyland, Miguel Cabrera, Justin Verlander, Fernando Rodney, and Rick Porcello makes it that much easier for us to envision them getting some distance between themselves and the Twins, Royals, White Sox, and aforementioned Indians.

The AL West has been a wild, wild mess all season. Only the first place Texas Rangers have a positive run differential. We are still picking the Angels because we feel they have more room for their pitching to improve, while the Rangers may be outperforming their abilities right now. We are also taking into account the fact that Arte Moreno still has money to spend. In this economy, it wouldn't be far fetched to imagine that money can get players even more easily than prospects may be able to this summer. So, why couldn't Matt Holliday go to the Angels? Why can't they end up with Prince Fielder? Garrett Atkins? Rafael Perez? Maybe they'll make a deal for Javier Vazquez. Could they trade someone like Kendry Morales for Javier Vazquez? Someone get Frank Wren on the phone!

The National League postseason outlook also looks relatively unchanged from one month ago. We may have flipped flopped the Mets/Phillies from Division Winner to Wild Card, and that could take place all season. The reason we feel the Mets will come out on top right now is because they probably have the most injuries they'll have all season right now. They are battling with a triple-A lineup that is supplemented by David Wright and a hobbled Carlos Beltran. Also, the Phillies accrued a lot of their early season wins against the Nationals. The Mets have played fewer games versus Washington, so we can expect them to get some of those Wins in the future.

How do we still have the Cubs winning the Central? They absolutely look horrible right now. They are one game over .500 and in 4th place, behind the Brewers, Cardinals, and even Dusty Baker's Reds. What the Brewers are doing is astounding. They are contending, with largely the same team they had last year minus Ben Sheets, C.C. Sabathia, and Rickie Weeks/Ray Durham. They've also gotten very little production out of Corey Hart, but they are still in first place at 30-29. The Cardinals are just a game out of first place, and they keep rolling with an astute manager, the best player in the game, and a 1-2 punch of Wainright and Carpenter that must absolutely stay healthy and effective for them to compete in September.

The West belongs to the Dodgers. If the Giants, D'backs, Padres, or Rockies thought they had some hope after Manny Ramirez got suspended for 50 games, that quickly vanished when Juan Pierre stepped in to perform like George Sisler. In 29 May games, Pierre got 41 hits, 11 walks, 18 RBI, and scored 23 runs, with slash numbers of .369/.435/.504.

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