Archive: April 4th, 2009

National League Predictions

Everyone else is making predictions, so why not MetsToday? We’ll focus on the National League, since that remains the only professional league still playing baseball, and not some twisted variation of the sport.

Cy Young Award

Obvious Candidates: Johan Santana, Roy Oswalt, , Brandon Webb, Tim Lincecum, Jake Peavy, Dan Haren, Cole Hamels, Carlos Zambrano.

Sleepers: Edinson Volquez, Chad Billingsley, Aaron Cook, Ricky Nolasco.

Prediction: Santana

If Santana remains healthy, he should pitch through the 7th inning at least 25 times this year. If his one-two finishing punch of J.J. Putz and Frankie Rodriguez also remains healthy, Johan could win 20 of those 25, if not more.

Should any of those three suffer a significant injury, my money is on Volquez.


Obvious candidates:
Ryan Howard, Albert Pujols, Manny Ramirez, Ryan Braun, Prince Fielder, Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, Carlos Beltran, David Wright.

Hanley Ramirez, Brian McCann, Dan Uggla, Lance Berkman, Adrian Gonzalez, Joey Votto, Nate McLouth.

Prediction: This one’s too hard, you can’t really choose an MVP without knowing what teams are in the playoffs. I’m going to go on a limb and give it to Votto, who is poised for a breakout year.

Rookie of the Year

Jason Motte, Colby Rasmus, Jordan Schafer, Jordan Zimmerman

My research on the rookies is awful. I’m going to go with Motte, who could save 25+ games for the Cardinals. After Motte I like Schafer, who is slated to start in centerfield for the Braves.

Batting Title

Another tough one. I don’t see Chipper Jones hitting .364 again, though I wouldn’t be stunned to see Pujols hit .350 again. In fact, with Matt Holliday out of the league, this might be Pujols’ best chance for a triple crown. Someone’s going to come out of nowhere and surprise us all, and I say it’s going to be James Loney.

Saves Leader

Can Francisco Rodriguez save 60 games again? Doubtful — he may not get that many opportunities in the competitive NL East. I’m betting on a neck-and-neck race between Jose Valverde and the “other” Francisco Cordero, of Cincinnati.

NL West Champion: Arizona Diamondbacks

The Dodgers still have Manny, but they don’t have Derek Lowe, Brad Penny, nor Takashi Saito. After Chad Billingsley, the pitching staff looks questionable — even Jonathan Broxton looks like he might take a step back. I like the pitching of the Giants and the Diamondbacks, and think Arizona will have a little more offense and the better bullpen.

NL Central Champion: Chicago Cubs

On paper, the Cubs look to be the class of the NL, with great pitching depth and plenty of offense. However, they won’t run away with the division. I’m betting that the Reds have a surprising season, and that the Pirates climb out of the basement, while Houston and Milwaukee fight for last place.

NL East Champion: ?

This one’s too close to home. If I choose the Mets, I’m supposed to because this is a Mets blog. If I don’t choose the Mets, you wonder how I can’t since this is a Mets blog. So I’ll say this: the NL East is going to once again be a dogfight, and go down to the last weeks of the season. Further, neither the Marlins nor the Nationals will be pushovers in ’09, and the Braves won’t be left behind when it gets down to the wire. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if four games or less separates the Phillies, Mets, Braves, and Marlins when it’s all said and done. The Wild Card also will come from the East.

Agree or disagree with anything? Comment away!


Final Tuneup vs. Red Sox

Oliver Perez

Ollie was an absolute disaster from pitch one. Dan Warthen and Jerry Manuel can bitch at him all they want about being in shape and earning his keep, but the bottom line is that there is a mechanical issue preventing him from throwing strikes. Ron Darling suggested that Ollie’s front shoulder was opening too early, but that’s a symptom, not a cause. The SNY camera angles stink if you want to analyze a pitcher’s mechanics, so I can’t figure out what’s going on — I just can see something’s not right. My best guess is that Ollie’s stride is too short (similar to John Maine’s issue earlier this spring). I think he’s landing too early and not giving his arm a chance to catch up, so his release point is too early, leaving the ball up and away to RH hitters. He threw 10 of his first 12 fastballs to that exact spot, yet no one — not Brian Schneider, not Warthen — made a trip to the mound until the bases were loaded. Too late, fellas!

Nelson Figueroa

Some of you have disagreed with me on Figgy vs. Parnell, but today’s outing by Ollie is exactly the reason I prefer a coolheaded veteran long man such as Nelson waiting in the bullpen. It makes all the more sense when you consider that neither Perez nor John Maine are physically ready to start the season, and each may have early exits among their first few starts.

John Maine

Maine looked OK in his tune-up, with sporadic command issues and velocity a little lower than we’d like to see. It may take him until May to get to 100%.

Danny Murphy

On the radio broadcast, Howie Rose compared Murphy to Edgardo Alfonzo, and Wayne Hagin compared him to Will Clark. So, let’s see … Wade Boggs, Fonzie, Clark, Don Mattingly … when is someone going to compare Murphy to Babe Ruth? How about we just let this kid be himself, whomever that is. It’s not fair to put all this pressure on a player who will most likely be a .275 -.285 hitter — which would be a disappointment if you’re expecting Will Clark numbers but is perfectly fine for his role in the Mets’ lineup in 2009.

Marlon Anderson

Marlon started the game in centerfield. Hmm … why? Was it because the plan is to make Marlon the backup centerfielder and late-inning defensive replacement, and Jeremy Reed will be sent down to make room for Gary Sheffield? There is no other explanation, because as long as Reed is on the roster, Anderson would never play center. If you want to experiment with a spot for Marlon to expand his versatility, put him at 2B, where he’s played nearly 700 big-league games but only twice in the last two years. I’d much rather see Marlon spell Castillo at 2B once in a while than centerfield, where he has no range, no arm, and no experience.

Final Word

Not the most inspiring tune-up, so we’ll glaze over it and keep Friday night’s contest fresh in our minds. The real games begin on Monday, in Cincinnati, against a Reds team I think will surprise some people. Buckle up, we have 162 games to go!