Tuesday, November 10, 2009

20/20 Hindsight---American League Central

  • My predictions in retrospect----American League Central:

Suffice it to say I didn't do as well in the AL Central as I did in the AL East.

American League Central, Paul's Predicted Order of Finish:

  1. Cleveland Indians
  2. Minnesota Twins
  3. Chicago White Sox
  4. Detroit Tigers
  5. Kansas City Royals

American League Central, Actual Order of Finish:

  1. Minnesota Twins
  2. Detroit Tigers
  3. Chicago White Sox
  4. Cleveland Indians (Tied for last.)
  5. Kansas City Royals (Tied for last.)

Minnesota Twins

Paul's Predicted Record: 82-80

Actual Record: 87-76

The Twins always seem to outplay their projections whether they're formulated by stat zombie tenets or the way I come to my conclusions----don't ask. Could it be that they win those extra 4-5 games based on the excellent fundamentals (the playoff gaffes notwithstanding) that are drilled into the players from the bottom of the organization up?

I didn't think their fine manager, Ron Gardenhire, nor their attention to playing the game correctly would be able to keep them in serious contention, but the division was weak and they hung around throughout the summer when they got smoking hot to catch and pass the Tigers. I was totally off about Francisco Liriano carrying his solid late-season run in 2008 into 2009----he was atrocious. I was right about Scott Baker still dancing through the raindrops and having a good year; and the bullpen of the Twins is always good.

One thing that on the surface would appear to have been a correct prediction was that Joe Mauer would begin hitting for power; but it's inaccurate to say I was "right" even though Mauer busted out and hit 28 homers. My feeling was that Mauer would begin to turn on inside pitches a la Don Mattingly and start hitting the ball out of the park; but of his 28 homers, 15 were hit to center; 11 to the opposite field; and 2 were pulled.

I was right about Carlos Gomez not learning how to be anything but a wild-eyed lunatic (reason to listen to me when I discuss former Mets and what type of players they really are; reason to believe what I say about Ryan Church as people insist he's a "better" player than Jeff Francoeur; he ain't).

Detroit Tigers

Paul's Predicted Record: 76-86

Actual Record: 86-77

I vacillated on the Tigers. There were three ways for them to go. Either they were going to utterly collapse into 2008 Padres/Mariners territory and lose over 100 games; they were going to be somewhere in the middle; or they were going to have a bounce back year and contend. It turned out to be the last of the three.

The Tigers year shows the danger of kicking a team when they're down and jumping on a negative bandwagon. Things could not have gone as horribly wrong for the Tigers in 2009 as they did in 2008.

I accurately predicted that Justin Verlander's season would go a long way in determining the Tigers season. I nailed Dontrelle Willis being unable to regain his form; that Nate Robertson would stumble into the status of highly paid journeyman that his abilities dictate; that Armando Galarraga would not sneak up on anyone again; and that the bullpen would be hit or miss with Joel Zumaya continuing down the road of "what could have been" with his injuries.

I thought things were going to crash so rapidly that manager Jim Leyland would be fired and a drastic housecleaning would tear the Tigers apart. I was wrong.

Chicago White Sox

Paul's Predicted Record: 81-81

Actual Record: 79-83

This is a club that's hard to predict because no one seems to know what GM Kenny Williams or manager Ozzie Guillen are going to do next. I think that's a positive. I was right about Jose Contreras continuing his downfall; Gavin Floyd having a fallback from what could've been his career-year in 2008; and that John Danks would develop further onto the verge of stardom. Given Mark Buehrle's consistency year-after-year, no one deserves credit for any predictions with him----the numbers go up annually.

I didn't mention Gordon Beckham at all as a major contributor and I felt that there might be an aggressive housecleaning of the likes of A.J. Pierzynski, Jim Thome, Paul Konerko and Jermaine Dye. Williams did deal Thome, but instead of cleaning house, he brought in Jake Peavy and Alex Rios with an eye toward 2010.

I was pretty close to the mark with the White Sox.

Cleveland Indians

Paul's Predicted Record: 93-69

Actual Record: 65-97


That's right.

I had the Indians winning 93 games and the division title.

Sue me.

While the Mets got the most attention around baseball for "everything that could go wrong, going wrong" the Indians were a close match for what happened to the Mets. The Indians didn't hit; didn't pitch; didn't do anything. I still believe that the Indians were one of those clubs that were demolished by a bad start. It began on opening day when the Rangers punished Cliff Lee; Kerry Wood was a disaster as closer; and the entire season snowballed until it became an avalanche which brought about trades of Lee, Victor Martinez and Ryan Garko.

This was a nightmarish season for the Indians and a hellish series of inaccurate predictions from yours truly.


They screwed up my aesthetic.

Kansas City Royals

Paul's Predicted Record: 72-90

Actual Record 65-97

Stunned by the "experts" who had the audacity to look at the Royals and think that they'd vault into contention with that pitching staff and bizarrely constructed lineup, I was on the money about the Royals falling backwards into a ditch.

My man-crushes on GM Dayton Moore and Trey Hillman wore off long before their disastrous 2009 season. The inexplicable signings of Kyle Farnsworth, Willie Bloomquist and Horacio Ramirez bore out as the stupid moves they were. Trading for Mike Jacobs was absurd before, during and after the season----specifically for an arm like Leo Nunez. Ramon Ramirez to the Red Sox for Coco Crisp was almost as bad.

I nailed Gil Meche missing time due to injury and dropping in performance; and that Zack Greinke would develop into a top starter (everyone was in agreement about that). I've always been right about Brian Bannister not being anything to write home about despite certain stat zombie lust for him because he's acquainted with and tries to apply numbers to his performance----he isn't any good. Accept it. (Note: another former Met is Bannister.)

I drilled my predictions on the Royals almost point-by-point.

  • Uh, Dan O'Dowd deserves this award why?

Colorado Rockies GM was named The Sporting News General Manager of the Year.

No, I don't know why.

Aside from firing his manager Clint Hurdle and installing the superlative Jim Tracy in his place, precisely what did O'Dowd do to deserve this award?

Admittedly, I'm no fan of O'Dowd who is either smarter than everyone else without knowing it or is the luckiest son of a bitch on the planet (maybe there's something to the adherence to Christian moral values he preaches as part of his procurement of players).

This award is the epitome of subjectivity. Had he not fired Hurdle with the Rockies staggering at 18-28, it's likely that rather than collecting an award for a job "well done", O'Dowd would be on the unemployment line himself.

The firing of Hurdle and hiring of Tracy set the ducks in a row for the Rockies blazing hot streak and eventual winning of the Wild Card. The relationship between Troy Tulowitzki and Hurdle had deteriorated until one had to go. It was Tulowitzki reverting to his 2007 form that was the catalyst of the Rockies leap into contention.

What did O'Dowd do to deserve this honor? Trading for Huston Street? For Rafael Betancourt and Jose Contreras? And to select him over more deserving candidates like Larry Beinfest of the Marlins? Tony Reagins of the Angels? Jon Daniels or Nolan Ryan of the Rangers? Jack Zduriencik of the Mariners? O'Dowd had a better year than each and every one of these other men? It's a farce.

  • If this is really on the table, do it and do it NOW!!!!!

There was a rumor that the framework of a three-way deal was being discussed by the Mets, Cubs and Blue Jays that would send Luis Castillo to the Cubs; Milton Bradley to the Blue Jays; and Lyle Overbay to the Mets.

If you're the Mets, this deal is a no-brainer. Castillo had a fine year in 2009 and has $12 million coming to him in 2010-2011. He's an injury-risk and the Mets need some more pop somewhere in the lineup. Overbay has $7 million coming to him next year and is the perfect line drive/all field-type hitter and solid fielder to thrive in Citi Field. They can then sign Orlando Hudson to play second base and get something going offensively without spending a fortune on the likes of Matt Holliday.

One would assume the Blue Jays are interested in Bradley if the Cubs pick up part of his contract, which has $21 million remaining through 2011. Naturally, the contract is secondary (and thirdary and fourthary) to Bradley's other issues. Bradley is a time bomb, but he still gets on base and has pop when he's healthy.

People don't want to discuss the elephant in the room in terms of Bradley----his best year on the field and in his behavior came the one year in Texas when he played for a black manager in Ron Washington. Cito Gaston is patient and laid back enough to handle Bradley as well as Washington did. Under no circumstances am I implying that Bradley's problems come simply from a racial chip on his shoulder, but it's not something to discount out of hand even if few want to see the correlation.

  • Viewer Mail 11.10.2009:

Jeff at Red State Blue State writes:

Following on the coat tails of your Ichiro/Matsui theme, maybe Halladay would only go to Colorado if they brought in fellow Coloradans Chase Headley, David Aardsma and Luke Hochevar... cuz like McCarver teaches us, all baseball players feel more comfortable playing with people who are from the same place.

Yeah, nevermind. That's stupid.

But Tim McCarver started the theme and his long history in broadcasting and that he's still the number one analyst for Fox automatically anoints him credibility in all things baseball. Doesn't it? And he's got a music album out too in which he sings. Sings!!!!

Jane Heller at Confessions of a She-Fan writes:

Halladay to the Rockies. That would make sense since he's from Colorado. But if the Dodgers pay him more, the home advantage would probably go right out the window. On the other hand, I wonder how the McCourt's divorce will hurt the team's ability to get deals done, Torre's extension aside.

I would think the divorce might make it more likely that the Dodgers do something aggressive to send a signal that it's business as usual. They can pay Halladay for an extension; it's a pitcher-friendly park; and they have the prospects to get it done. All things being equal, I'd say that Halladay would prefer playing for the Dodgers, hometown longings aside----if he indeed has any hometown longings.


She-Fan said...

How about those Cleveland Indians. I think I would have predicted the Twins for first place, because they always seem to do better than people expect them to, but I never would have predicted the Indians to fall off the face of the earth. Awful season.

Gabriel said...

If the Blue Jays get Milton Bradley I'll personally go to the office and slap Alex Anthopolous and Paul Beeston.

Jeff said...

At this point, because the Cubs will be paying the majority of Milton Bradley's contract the next two years (one would assume) I am surprised that more teams aren't jumping at him. At such a low price, why wouldn't you take the risk? And when he DOES blow a gasket, it won't cost ya anything anyway. Personally, I hope the Cubs keep him because I spend so much of my time ripping the guy and getting cheap laughs. Yeah, I'm not ashamed.