Thursday, March 31, 2005

GO CARDINALS

I am finally at the end of my NL Central predictions, which brings me to the top of the division and my beloved Cardinals. The Cards were the best team in the regular season last year, and the second best team in the playoffs. Not too shabby. A seven game series is almost a crap shoot, so if the Cards play exactly like they did last year, maybe they will win the series, maybe they won't. They don't have to worry about being better than the other teams in the league, they just have to worry about being as good as they were last year. I figure the best way to look at the Cards is with the improvement/decline at each aspect of the game to see if they can compete with the 2004 club.

Starting Pitching:
Woody is gone, Mulder is in. Mulder has a couple question marks around him since his collapse last August/September, and early struggles in spring training. I, for one, have no concerns. This guy should be an All-Star caliber pitcher. He started the All-Star game last year and I expect to see more of that guy than the guy who fell apart in the playoff run. Woody was a small loss. He was a consistently good pitcher. But he was getting older and losing some endurance he rarely went past the seventh last year, and I expect him to pitch less innings this year. Carpenter broke out last year, and should have been Comeback Pitcher of the year, but Randy Johnson was hurt for half of 2003 so his "comeback" was better. He has looked good in spring, and should pitch just as well this year, hopefully well into October. Morris is still a question mark. He should be ready on April 19. The question is will he be able to consistently pitch the way we want him too where his curveball mystifies all batters. Or will he serve up BP like he did 4 or 5 times last year. I am not going to predict him going back to 95 mph and 22 wins, but I can't see him being worse than last year when he still managed 15 wins. The huge beard should help if he keeps it. Marquis and Suppan each had career years, winning 15 and 16 respectively. I hope they can each be as effective this year, but that is a foolish hope. I think one of them will drop off somewhat and only win 9 or 10 this year.
Overall Starting Pitching: Significant Improvement.

Relief Pitching:
Kline is gone, he was the best pitcher out of our bullpen last year. Calero is gone, he was a great long reliever and good short reliever. Haren is gone, most of his innings were form starts last year, but his best innings were the few he had out of the pen. Ankiel is gone, he didn't pitch much last year, but I was counting on him for solid lefty work this year. All of that is bad news for what was one of the best bullpens in baseball last year. But what I am most afraid of is Jason Isringhausen. He was lucky to lead the league in saves last year. He always seemed to get the save with the tieing run in scoring position. He has struggled in spring. He is supposed to be better that last year due to his offseason surgery, but has not shown it so far. We gave him a contract extension, so we better hope I am wrong and that he gets to the real games and dominates like he should. Kline and Calero (or Cordero) gave the Cards 107 1/3 innings last year, which will have to be made up by Reyes, Lincoln, and either Pulsipher or Flores.
Overall Bullpen: Significant Decline

Lineup:
The Cards lineup was domination station last year. Add a full season of Larry Walker and look out. People make a big deal about the loss of Edgar Renteria, but in 2004 he did not have that great of a year at the plate. Grudzielanek in 2004 had a much better year. Womack was a surprise success last year, that David Eckstien has to try to replace at leadoff. There should be a dropoff there. Eckstien gets on base almost as much as Womack, but he gets less extra base hits, and fewer steals. But, what the Cards lose in Womack/Eckstien, they could gain in Matheny/Molina. Matheny was always a descent hitter for a catcher, but last year his numbers dropped big time. Molina has shown that he can handle well enough a bat well enough to be at least an average hitting catcher, probably better as he gets more big league ABs. Pujols is going to dominate as always. There is no reason to believe Rolen can not keep up his great numbers, he turns 30 opening day, so he should be in his prime now. Edmonds will have trouble duplicating his ridiculous numbers from last year (643 slugging, that's awesome) but should still be the best hitting CF in the NL.
Overall Lineup: Slight improvement

Defense:
This is bad news, luckily for us Moneyball proved defense does not matter. Even though Edgar struggled at the plate last year, he was great in the field. Eckstien is not in the same league. Matheny is the best defensive catcher in the game, maybe ever. Molina is good but not that good. Shortstop and Catcher are the two most important positions in the game. Rolen is still head and shoulders above all other thirdbasemen defensively. Pujols is getting real good at first, but first is the least important defensive position, except pitcher. Speaking of pitcher, once Maddux retires, Marquis should win a gold glove. Grud the Stud, is just as good as Womack. Walker and Edmonds each have a cabinet of Gold Gloves, but they are both old and on the decline defensively. Luckily, the young, fresh, 35 year old Taguchi is the outfield closer and can come in for Sanders and improve the outfield defense like he did last year.
Overall Defense: Major Decline

Bench:
Last year the bench was only mediocre. Mabry hit well, Taguchi and Cedeno were not bad, Anderson was pinch hitting machine for the first half. But Luna struggled at the big league level, and there was not enough power. This year, Anderson is gone, Einer Diaz will be wasting space on the bench for 4 out 5 games and in the lineup the rest of the time. Mostly because the back-up catcher is worse I have to call a decline here.
Overall Bench: Slight Decline

There are three decline and two improvements, so if I were a former baseball player analyst I would say the Cards will be worse. But the two improvements are in the two most important areas, Lineup and Starting Pitching. Defense and the bench are much less significant over a season. The bullpen will hurt the Cards compared to last year. However, consider that Mulder should pitch about 200 innings which is more that Kline, Calero, Haren combined plus 50 innings. So the improvement in the starters, will overwhelm the decline in the relievers. If everything goes to plan, the Cards should be even better that last year. But things will not go to plan. There will be injuries, Morris will struggle with control, Reggie Sanders will have a slump...

2005 Cardinals Prediction: 99-63 First in NL Central

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Cubs

Ahhh the Cubs...
Looking at the roster it is hard, even for a Cards fan, to deny that the Cubs have a hell of a team. They still probably have the best rotation in the NL. They have good young bats in Ramirez and Lee. Garciaparra is still capable of being an All-Star. Patterson has a lot of potential and is going to break out one of theses years. Walker and Barrett are very solid in the field and at the the plate. So why aren't they going to beat the Cards out? I have four reasons which are not all indepedent.

1) Bullpen
Last year the Cubs biggest problem was closing out games. The position they needed to fill the most, more than corner outfielder, was closer. But they did nothing. All the closers got overpaid and overvalued (Benitez, Kolb) and the Cubs stayed clear. I'm not saying there is anything they could have done, but it is still a huge hole. They lost Mercker, traded away the Farns, and Remlinger is now 39, so the middle relief which has been decent the last two years may be weaker. Borowski is missing the first month with a broken hand (see reason number two) taking away their most experienced closer. Hawkins pitched well in a set-up role last year, but blew 9 out of 34 saves when the pressure was on. Ryan Dempster KING OF THE WALKS could help out either trying to close, or as a long reliever, but if the starters are hurt, he will have to fill in there. Regardless, he is not a dominant pitcher, his two good seasons in Florida were only mediocre. The end result will be a shaky closer being set-up by the likes of Wellmeyer, Weurtz, and Leicester.

2) Injured Pitchers
Every year that I can remember the Cubs have had injured pitchers. The big two, Prior and Wood have already been hurt this spring. I would bet on a total of 40 starts combined for Prior and Wood. Maddux has never been hurt so he won't start now. Zambrano who was easily the Cubs best pitcher last year, might be next in line for the DL. He will probably do something crazy like Tavarez, Farnsworth or Kevin Brown and fight a dugout item. Borowski is out for a while, as I mentioned above. I don't think anyone would be surprised to see Maddux and Rusch get the most starts for the Cubs this year.

3) Team Spite
For some reason the Cubs seam to all hate each other. Perhaps that reason was purely Sosa, but I do not think so. Losing the "Captain" and his boom box should help, but last year it was obvious that the team had a lot of bickering last year. A team needs clubhouse leaders and the Cubs have not had one for a while. Nomar was run out of Boston because no one liked him, so I doubt he will step up. Maddux is too mild mannered to actually lead the pitching staff like a veteran should. The other big name veteran, Alou, is gone. The Cubs need someone to be their Jake Taylor but that someone does not exist.

4) Dusty Baker
Last but certainly not least. He is a "player's manager" which from my understanding means he does not make the rules and is not good at calling a game. He does things wrong like the failure to report a double switch last year against the Cards. But more importantly he causes the other problems. Because of problem 1 he leaves guys in too long causing problem 2. He does nothing in the clubhouse to help problem 3 as a manager should. He does not force management to solve problem 1 by signing someone, or resigning Mercker. He plays favorites with his players to increase problem 3. He lies about problem 2 to the media, which makes the fans angry when Prior doesn't pitch. Dusty Baker is a BAD MANAGER.

Still the Cubs have a great roster due to a good farm system and a healthy payroll. They should be good enough to put up a fight against the Cards and win the wildcard.

Prediction: 93-69 2nd in the NL Central, Wildcard

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Coulda Woulda Shoulda Placido

I saw an interesting little blurb yesterday. Apparently this offseason before the Cards signed Grud the Stud and Eckstein, they offered Placido Polanco 3 years 12 million. The funny thing is, his agent, Andy Katz turned it down and never even told Polanco about it. Apparently, Katz knew that Polanco would get more in arbitration (1 year 4.6 million) and believed that the Phillies could not let that much money sit on the bench. Turns out that he was wrong and the Phillies plan on having the most expensive non-New York bench man around. Polanco claims he would have taken the Cards offer for slightly less money to come back the St. Louis and play everyday.

I find this quite upsetting. I want to blame Mr. Katz and move on with my life with Eckstein, but I have to call out both Polanco and Jocketty for not making sure that the agent was doing his job. Polanco is a better hitter than Eckstein and comparable to Grud. Plus his fielding is the best of the three at either shortstop or second base. In addition, he could fill in for Rolen at third when Rolen needs rest or gets hurt better than anyone the Cards have. Polanco is also younger than the other two. So compared to Eckstein, he is worth the extra 1.5 million difference over three years.

Polanco is asking for a trade now, but the Cards have their starters now. Perhaps next year when he is a free agent again, if Grudzielanek does not work out we can give him another shot.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

BBWAA

The BBWAA is the group that decides who gets into the hall-of-fame, and when they were polled this week, the results showed that Barry Bonds would get in while Mark McGwire would not. I don't understand that. I admit that Bonds is a better player than Big Mac, but the question then is, how good does a cheater have to be in order to get into the hall? For a juicer to get in does he need 600 dingers instead of 500, or at least 2 MVPs? It is crazy to set an arbitrary line where some would-be-hall-of-famers get in and some do not. It should either be all or none. With that out of the way here are the top five things BBWAA should stand for:

5: Big Berthas Win At Augusta
4: Bobby Bonillia Withers as Albert Ascends
3: Billy Beane Wins All Acclaim
2: Big Bootied Women At Arby's
1: Barry Bonds Whines All Afternoon

Almost There

Nine more days of painfully waiting for the regular season. The post-dispatch today says that Carpenter is ready to go in Houston on opening day. I figure Suppan will pitch game two of the series to set up Mulder for opening night in Busch. Marquis should pitch the second game of that series, and if Morris is not ready, Carpenter will be forced to throw again for the third game. That start would be on normal rest, since there is an off day before the home opener.

I am still hoping that Morris will be able to start that game, even if he only pitches 5 or 6 innings. Since there is another off day before the third series, Carpenter will have two extra days rest if Morris can go. Based on the end of last season I want to limit Carpenter's wear as much as possible early this season. The same goes for Mulder who had a historic collapse at the end of 2004. There is an off day between every series for the first four series, which will either allow Morris to take a slower recovery or allow the rest of the starters to save their arms a little bit for the rest of the season.

****This Just In: Albert Pujols is a BAD ASS!****
He is hot in spring training looking to dominate as the season starts. He has got to be the favorite for NL MVP now with Bonds whining.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Vegas Baby Vegas

I'm off to Vegas for a few days, with the Mikes from Old Style Cubs. I will be putting down ten bucks on the Cards to win it all and hopefully betting on some spring training games. When I come back I will finish up my predicitions/analysis for 2005 and get ready for the best seven months of the year.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

The Brew Crew

My upset special for the year: The Brewers in third in the NL Central.

At least it was a couple days ago, now I am backing off the Brew Crew. I wanted to write this post about all the reasons the Brewers were going to come around this year and finish ahead of the Astro's. But I thought about it some more and realized that they are not. I decided to list the pros and cons of the Brewers in '05.

PROS:
1) Carlos Lee! Easily the best trade of the offseason. They bring in a young guy with some power that really hammered the ball last year in exchange for Podsednick, leadoff man that never gets on base.
2) Duh, Ben Sheets. He still needs to become more consistent, and I believe he will be this year if the Cubs boys are hurt and The Big Unit is in pinstripe Sheets should lead the NL in Ks. Brady Clark leading off. He gets on base and has some speed, he should really help generate some offense.
3) Lee, Overbay, Jenkins is not (Walker) Pujols, Rolen, Edmonds. Still, it is the best heart of the lineup the Brewers have had in years. Lee and Overbay hit for moderate power and average and Jenkins should hit 30 dingers this year.
4) Brooks Kieschnick. Definitely one of the coolest guys in baseball. He is their best pinch hitter and best long relief pitcher. He had a .270 average batting lefty and a 3.77 ERA pitching righty.
5) A year older, a year wiser. The whole team is young, every year they should get better there was not a whole lot of change on the team, so they should grow as a unit and as individuals.

Cons
1) Every Starter not named Ben Sheets. Davis is ok, nothing special and everybody else was just plain bad in 2004 and probably will be in 2005.
2) Bullpen! Kolb is overrated, but gone none the less. I think they have a guy name Vizquano and good ol' Dave Burba. Other than that, I don't know.
3) Shortstop. They got some rookie coming up since Counsell went to the desert. Maybe he will be good, I doubt it.
4) Damian Miller, he is like Matheny but not so good behind the plate. He sucked for the Cubs 3 years ago when he was 32, now he is 35, and I don't think he is getting better.

So I came up with 5 pros and only 4 cons, but cons # 1 and 2 alone are bigger than all the pros. So I am changing my predictions: 80-82 good enough only for fourth in the Central.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Zambrano, Maddux, Rusch, Mitre, ???

I don't like to cheer for injuries but when I learned of Prior's elbow inflammation I could not help a small chuckle. That means Prior and Wood have already had set backs this year and the chances of at least one of them missing significant time this year is good.

Maybe it is just a coincidence that this happens to Cubs pitchers, or maybe it is because Dusty Baker works them too hard. It is not entirely Dusty's fault, if he had a bullpen that he could trust with a lead in the seventh or eighth inning he could save his pitchers some work, but the last couple years have not been good for arms in the Wrigley pen. People get mad at La Russa for changing pitchers too often, but I think the Cards have less pitching injuries that most teams. Especially, when you consider that Carpenter's injury last year was a freak nerve injury that was not due to chronic arm fatigue.

Anyway, I wouldn't be surprised to see the top two Cubs starters limited to a total of 40-45 starts this year, probably meaning 25ish wins. While it's too bad that injury is holding the Cubs back I will be happy if the Cards have a three game set against Glendon Rusch, Sergio Mitre, and some prospect that should still be developing in AAA.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Roid Rage

All of this congress steroid subpoena shit is starting to give me roid rage. I am not against what Congress is doing, I just don't think it will help. So far in the steroid scandals only two big name players have admitted to using steroids, Canseco and Giambi. Not surprisingly, they are the two people getting the worst of the public opinion. What ever happened to going easy on a person as a reward to confessing? If admitting guilt causes people to call out for your records to be removed from the record books (Canseco's MVP), why will anyone else ever admit to using steroids? Think about it: Say Canseco is telling the truth and McGwire used "real" roids, why would he confess whether he is under oath or not? He won't be convicted of perjury when the only evidence is he said/she said and it is impossible to test a person for seven year old steroids. If he is smart, Mark will just keep denying it and we will never know if his use was limited to 1998-legal Andro.

It is unfortunate that Giambi and Canseco used steroids and worse that Canseco is bending the truth to make money in his new book. However, the worst thing for us fans to do is to be angry with them for admitting it, and be easier on the guys that have obviously used them like Sosa and Bonds yet continue to deny any knowledge. Perhaps the subpoenas will help to turn up some new stories, but I doubt it. Somehow it needs to be worthwhile for players to admit it. I believe that is impossible, aside from writing a best-seller, players will not profit from confessing their cheating ways. Instead they will lose their contracts with Burger King, or Dave's Used Auto-Mart, or whatever.

I guess that means we should give up worrying about the past and focus on the future. No changing the record books, no congressional inquiries. Instead, more testing and better testing. Another point I need to get out there is that the steroid panic is not for the shorties. Finding out whether McGwire, Sosa, and Bonds used juice will not save any children. The point is to level the playing field for the actual players. You probably don't consider Craig Biggio a top tier hitter of his time, but if there were no steroids in that time maybe you would. A player like Biggio, would have a much harder time making it into the league now if he has to fight for a job against guys on the juice. Unless you get on as much as Ichiro you can't make it as a corner outfielder or corner infielder without power. Rod Carew wouldn't make it at first now unless he juiced up, because he never hit dingers.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Miklasz vs Gammons

Every baseball writer, myself included, is trying get in their two cents about my boy Rick Ankiel. NO two opinions could be more different than those of STL's Bernie Miklasz and ESPN's Peter Gammons. Gammons (from a blue state) give the bleeding heart idea that Ankiel should do whatever makes him happy, because that is what matters most. Miklasz, gives the hard ass perspective that Ankiel needs to be let go to maximize the profits of the corporation, I mean success of the team. Both make excellent points, although I think they are both a little off. I don't want Ankiel to give up pitching if it makes him happy or not, I want him to get his head straight and through fastballs and curveballs that make me go OOH. Meanwhile, Ankiel should not be let go outright. As I said in my last post, I don't think he is Big League material at the plate, but he has hit well enough in the pros and minors to warrant giving him the opportunity to prove himself.

Meanwhile the Cards are playing like it's July 2004 in Florida. They've won 5 in a row to go to 6-1 overall. Pujols is raking the ball and the pitchers are looking good. Walker is healthy and Morris is ahead of schedule for his return, making the Ankiel decision less vital.

The Cubs are playing nearly as well at 6-3. Yesterday K-Wood came up gimpy after a rough couple of innings. Officially it is just tightness, but with a Cubs pitcher you never know. Prior was supposed to be ready for opening day last year and he was out until June.
I read something that really bugged me about this situation on ESPN.com:
"Baker said Wood made the right decision to come out of Wednesday's game.
'You don't want to take a chance,' Baker said. 'I'm glad he is mature enough to stop when he felt that tightness. In the past, he might have kept trying to pitch. You just got to be safe at this point.'"
Is it just me or should Baker be TELLING Wood that he has to stop, not letting him make his own decisions. This is another example of Baker being too much of a "player's coach" and not enough of a Manager.

In personal news, this blog may be changing names to "Cards Fan in Reds Land" in a couple months when I move to Northern Kentucky. Or maybe "Cardinal Spy." Post any other suggestions you may have.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

RIP Left Arm of God

NO!!! Why, Rick WHY?!?!?!?
Everybody's favorite headcase essentially retired today. My boy claims he is switching to outfield, but I doubt we will ever see him in the big leagues again. He can swing a bat well enough that he would have been considered one of the "best hitting pitchers" in the game. He hit well when he was a DH in A ball, but that is A ball. He has a career 258 OBP in the bigs, although that's only over 87 ABs. Not to mention that he will probably field ground balls and throw the ball to the back stop. I hope that he keeps pitching on the side, and someday finds his sanity enough to not be afraid of the big leagues.

Coming into this season I thought that Ankiel was going to be a Disney movie. Bad childhood, dad busted for drug dealing, finds relief on the baseball diamond. He goes pro and he looks good until tragedy strikes, he battles adversity, and finally rises above. Instead its more like an Aronofsky movie. If you haven't seen Requiem or Pi, let me tell you they do NOT have happy endings.

In other news, Anthony Reyes is going to be the bomb diggity. He's got to be in the lead for the fifth spot until Morris gets back. The bad news is going to be if two starters get hurt. I do not believe Adam Wainwright is ready for the bigs after the numbers he put up before his injury last year. Mark Prior thinks he's the bomb diggity, plus he wears his hat like he is the bomb diggity. Conclusion, Anthony Reyes is the Bomb Diggity.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

WHO-ston?

The Astros led the Cardinals 2-1 in the sixth inning of the seventh game of the NLCS last year. Then Roger Cedeno got a hit, Renteria and Walker sacrificed him to third (for no reason), Pujols hit a double and Rolen hit a dinger. The moment before Cedeno's ground ball found its way through the infield, will be known as the highpoint in Astro's history for a while. That or Jeff Kent's walk-off in game five.

This week the Chicago Sun-Times predicted that the Astros will win the NL Central. The same newspaper that had a front page headline, "Justin and Britney go Splitsville" and the same newspaper who's biggest story of the last ten years is that R-Kelly has sex with children. Jay Mariotti and his cohorts only make me more convinced that "The 'Stro's are going to Loserville."

Beltran is gone, Kent is gone, Berkman is out for a long time. Those three had the best OPSs on the team last year. Biggio and Bagwell can't carry a team like they used to. They are both slipping, Bagwell faster than Biggio. They still haven't determined is Biggio will play left field or second base. If he plays second, that means they will Mike Lamb and two nobodies in the outfield for the first couple months.

Andy Pettitte will be back, but for how long, and how effective will he be. Clemens and Oswalt were the best one-two combo in the league last year, and they could be again this year, but they will probably switch roles. Wade Miller is gone because apparently the Astros couldn't afford to give him 2 million. Now they have Backe and Munro, and even though Backe dominated the Cards in the playoffs, I don't expect more than a combined 18 wins out of those two. Lidge is easily a top five closer but his middle relief is HORRIBLE.

What it boils down to is this simple: no team with a hill and a flagpole on its field has ever gone to a world series. I think The Astros will struggle around 500 until Berkman get back and then battle for third in the division.

PREDICTION: 84-78

Friday, March 04, 2005

Stupid Rainout

I've been counting down for months until I could see my boys play a game but it was all ruined by a little falling water. What makes it worse is that yesterday's game was the only Cards game on MLB.TV until the 12th so I can't actually watch Mulder in his new jersey when he does play. I was also looking forward to seeing Anthony Reyes throw a couple innings against real batters.

Apparently Izzy is working on a sinker to try to earn his money. That would be pretty sweet. It would take him up to five pitches by my count, which is a lot for a closer. Some outings he might only throw the ball five times.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Random Stuff

I've been focused on my predictions lately so I need to put up a post to comment on some things.

IZZY SIGNING: At first when I saw that the deal was three year 25.75 million, I was very angry. No relief pitcher is worth that much, especially one on the decline like Izzy. He has lost velocity. He did lead the league in saves last year, but he had a lot of lucky saves and was helped by being on a 105 win team. Last year it seemed like he could not get a save without letting the tieing man on base first. The redeeming factor is that the contract wiped out the last year of his current deal which would have been 9.5 million. He still gets the money he has deferred so far, which I think is a couple million. So the Cards save two million this year, and then lock up Izzy for two years at 16.75. The option/buyout is practically the same for 08 as it would have been for 06, so that does not matter. So considering the Cards could take the 2 million they save and use it on Izzy the next two years, the deal boils down to a two year extension at 7.37 per year. That is a lot, but reasonable.

I think that the demand for Isringhausen went down slightly when the Cards signed Grudzielanek, a brother in the twelve letter club. As a member of that twelve letter club (my real name isn't Hilario), I just ask for one Cardinal who can stretch the back of his jersey with letters, but if I can get two I'll take it.

Ankiel Freak out:Derrick Gould had been giving the post daily updates from spring training. Last week he talked about how Ankiel had a wonderful outing: "Ankiel, now 25, threw 40 pitches to four hitters. Five were hit but only two left the cage. Only Gonzalez's opposite-field swing on a too-high offering would have fallen for a hit." A couple days later apparently Ankiel faced some big boys and collapsed. He threw 26 pitches and couldn't get very many over the plate. He's got under a month to figure this stuff out otherwise Anthony Reyes could be the guy for Morris's fifth spot. The only thing the Cards can do now is give him the ball as much as possible in spring training and hope that he fixes himself.

I am a well documented Rick "left arm of god" Ankiel lover and I would be very disappointed if he is not a successful pitcher this year. I had visions of an April that goes 3-0 with a 2.30 ERA and him winning a rotation spot away from Suppan or Marquis followed by a "Comeback Player of the Year" season. Everytime he freaks out that image fades a little. Come on Rick, do it for the shorties.

Sosa: For the first time since the Evil Detroit Red Wings stopped existing (YEA!!) me and the Cubs fans around me are able to agree on something. Sammy Sosa is a selfish, immature, wash-up crybaby. With his new team he is talking about how the Cubs need him and he is irreplaceable. I hope this does not give the Cubs something to rally around. It is too bad they do not play the Orioles this year. Although the NL Central plays the AL East, the Orioles avoid the Cards and Cubs.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

CinCinnati

I spent three hours in Cincinnati yesterday, at Airport Terminal B3, and the snow delay gave me extra time to ponder. Mostly I thought about how horribly the Cardinals beat up on the Reds last year and dreamed about more matchups this year.

The offense has five solid batters, unfortunately only four of them can play, Wily Mo Pena (what a great name) has to ride the pine until Griffey gets hurt. Funny story: in my MVP Baseball 2005 season it took ONE DAY before Griffey got hurt. Those games keep getting more realistic. Joe Randa will upgrade third base over Castro. The Larkin Era has ended, but Felipe Lopez won't be any better or worse, so that doesn't really matter. Adam Dunn will attempt to never put the ball in play this year. All ABs will end in Ks, BBs, or HRs. Sean Casey will put every ball in play. Austin Kearns is back from his injury, he is a big question mark. If Griffey stays healthy, and Kearns plays well, and they find a way to work in Wily Mo, the offense could be pretty damn good.

The rotation also took a step forward this year. Paul Wilson (my 2004 first half fantasy hero) is still at the top. They added Ramon Ortiz, who is bad, and Eric Milton, who is overpaid. They sill have that Harang guy who had the game of his life against the Cards last year. The have a rookie phenom Luke Hudson, who I don't think is Tim's brother.

The biggest problem for the Reds is that they have the worst bullpen in baseball. The Danny Graves experiment failed, but they are sticking with it. They got him Kent Mercker to be the set up man, whoopdy-doo.

The 2005 Reds are going to be a good team, but they are not better than the Cards, Cubs, or Astros, and the Brewers are my upset special. So, sorry, Cinci, gotta put you in fourth.