Thursday, November 12, 2009

20/20 Hindsight---National League East

  • My predictions in retrospect----National League East:

All Mets fans join hands and begin chanting: "It was the injuries; it was the injuries; it can't happen again(?).

National League East, Paul's Predicted Order of Finish:

  1. Florida Marlins
  2. Philadelphia Phillies *(Predicted Wild Card Winner)
  3. New York Mets
  4. Atlanta Braves
  5. Washington Nationals

National League East, Actual Order of Finish:

  1. Philadelphia Phillies
  2. Florida Marlins
  3. Atlanta Braves
  4. New York Mets
  5. Washington Nationals

Philadelphia Phillies:

Paul's Predicted Record: 88-74

Actual Record: 93-69

I did very well with my predictions for the Phillies all things considered. Much as familiarity breeds contempt, it also does the same for accuracy. I've seen enough of the Phillies in the past three years to suit my sensitive palate.

I nailed Cole Hamels having issues because of his workload in 2008; and that J.A. Happ had the potential to bust out----I was a big fan of his after seeing his stuff last year. It wasn't going out on too far of a limb to suggest that Brad Lidge was due for a fallback, but there's a difference between him "blowing a few games this season" as I wrote and him imploding entirely mentally and physically. I was right about Jayson Werth being productive if he stayed healthy, but no one could've expected him to become the weapon he was. Jimmy Rollins's inevitable decline began (and will continue); and Chad Durbin had a major downgrade after a career year in 2008.

I was totally off about Carlos Ruiz being supplanted by Ronny Paulino (who was traded to the Marlins shortly after being acquired by the Phillies); I said that Ruiz had a "poor" bat, which is totally off. In fact, he's becoming a very useful, clutch hitter to go along with his excellent defense.

The Phillies lefty-centric lineup was expected to be an issue and it wasn't as they rolled through the regular season and the first two rounds of the playoffs----then the issue did crop up in the World Series and it cost them. The hangover from the championship didn't stop them from winning another pennant.

Florida Marlins:

Paul's Predicted Record: 90-72

Actual Record: 87-75

This was the pick that launched a thousand attacks on me before and during the season partly because I wouldn't stop hammering at it----with good reason since I was right.

To the best of my knowledge, no one----specifically the stat zombies----had the Marlins doing much better than 75 wins; most had them at 67-69. The Marlins run into contention is a dual-edged sword for me. Had they won, I might start getting my props; but I was still thisclose to bringing down the zombies with this one pick.

Because of this near miss, the construction of the ultimate weapon must continue.

As expected, Josh Johnson developed into an ace; Dan Meyer was a solid, cheap pickup; Hanley Ramirez (my MVP pick) was one of the best hitters in baseball; I also correctly predicted the usefulness/production of John Baker, Cody Ross and Dan Uggla and that the Leo Nunez acquisition was under-the-radar masterful.

I was wrong about Matt Lindstrom handling the closer's role; that Cameron Maybin would develop into an everyday player; that Gaby Sanchez would take over at first base and contend for Rookie of the Year.

Overall, I powered that son of a bitch and almost hit the bull's eye.

Atlanta Braves:

Paul's Predicted Record: 75-87

Actual Record: 86-76

Not to provide caveats for being wrong by over ten games, but the Braves team that broke spring training and the one that ended the season in contention for a playoff spot were almost entirely different. 2/3 of their outfield was changed with the trade of Jeff Francoeur and the demotion of Jordan Schafer. The no-hit Casey Kotchman was replaced by Adam LaRoche. The team that they started the season with was no better than 81-81 if everything broke right. They changed on the fly and rode a late season hot streak to 86 wins.

Javier Vazquez won 15 games as I suggested he would (he should've won 22); Jair Jurrjens continued his development into an All Star; the bullpen was predictably shaky with Rafael Soriano's gopher ball troubles; and Tom Glavine was dumped later than he should've been. The club's aggravation regarding the clumsy release of Glavine could've been avoided had they done as I suggested and not re-signed him to begin with, or had they gently told him to retire in spring training before it got as far as it did, forcing them to do what needed to be done, cutting him after the season started and casing a firestorm led by Glavine's bizarre sense of entitlement.

With Francoeur, I said that going to another organization might be best for his career; never in my wildest imagination (don't ask) did I think he'd end up with the Mets.

I thought Derek Lowe would be an excellent pickup, but after a great start, he was horrific after the All Star break. Aside from Lowe and their final record (for which there is the excuse of drastic changes), I was pretty accurate across the board with the Braves.

New York Mets:

Paul's Predicted Record: 86-76

Actual Record: 70-92


I'm a Mets fan. Everyone knows that. And I still picked them to miss the playoffs despite their glossy acquisitions to address their needs in the bullpen. It wasn't due to the fact that the rosters of the Phillies and Marlins were so much better, but that the Mets in 2007 and 2008 gave me little confidence that they'd be able to win a late season dogfight for the playoffs.

I was right about Oliver Perez either looking like a Cy Young contender or a guy who should be released. (It was the latter.) Ryan Church was traded as I suggested; and Fernando Tatis did nothing.

There's no way to accurately judge the 2009 Mets. Everything that could possibly have gone wrong---on and off the field----did go wrong. By the time the Tony Bernazard controversies popped up, the Mets were a wounded animal under heavy pursuit by the rabid dogs in the media looking to tear the beast to shreds. Even with my prediction that they'd miss the playoffs, if that roster was healthy or even moderately healthy, no way they would've stumbled to the 90-loss monstrosity they were. Savaging them after the fact is piling on and it's not fair.

Washington Nationals:

Paul's Predicted Record: 70-92

Actual Record: 59-103

There's not much to say about a team that loses 103 games. I was right about Ryan Zimmerman blossoming; and that Josh Willingham would put up his usual numbers if given a chance to play. Why he was benched early in the season was bewildering then and now----when he was placed in the lineup regularly, he hit because that's what Willingham does; he hits. Predicting Adam Dunn's numbers didn't take any great intuitive abilities since he puts up the same stats every year, almost literally.

The rotation, talent-wise, should've been better than it was. Scott Olsen and Daniel Cabrera were both horrible and their entire pitching staff from top-to-bottom was a train wreck early in the season, contributing to their hideous start, manager Manny Acta's firing and 103 losses.

  • Speaking of the Nats, um....Jim Riggleman?

Jim Riggleman is a retread as a manager. He's a guy who's just sort of there. As a replacement for the short term when there's a firing (as he's been over the past two years with the Mariners and Nats), he's fine. He can run the game; handle the clubhouse; deal with the media and do the job----the key words are "in the short term".

Much like the Rene Lachemann type, Riggleman can do the job if you don't expect to win and need someone in there who's not going to embarrass himself or the organization; but is Riggleman really the guy for a young and rebuilding team to grow with?

Riggleman has something of an unfair reputation as an arm shredder after he overused Kerry Wood when Wood was a rookie with the Cubs; but just as Dusty Baker was blamed for the fall of Mark Prior, with the Cubs it was a choice that had to be made: try and win when there's a chance or build for the future. Riggleman tried to win in 1998 and got them to the playoffs where they were overwhelmed by the Braves. He won't abuse pitchers like that with the Nats.

I can absolutely understand the reticence to hire a "name" manager like Bobby Valentine. With the Nats in their current state; in that division; with the amount of money that Valentine would cost; the entire "Bobby Package" that scares teams off; and that the Nats can't hope to contend until maybe 2012, Valentine wasn't the right fit. But why Riggleman as the other option?

There are so many respected coaches/former minor league managers who deserve a chance to have a full-time job that there had to be more viable choices than Riggleman. Gary Varsho, Pete Mackanin or John Gibbons are all men who would be better for the Nats than Riggleman and none would've cost a lot of money or years.

Maybe Riggleman deserves another chance, but to me this is "been there, done that" when what the Nats needed was someone to grow along with the players while providing experience and discipline to a young team. I don't think Riggleman is that guy based on the team playing better after he took over for Acta and losing only 103 games when they were on the way to 115. If that's the standard----not doing as badly as expected----it's a low one, and no reason to give him the permanent job.

  • Uh, yeah; sounds familar:

This is an excerpt from Keith Law's early trade analysis from the Hot Stove season and discussing Mark Teahen:

Teahen has been overrated since he made a cameo in "Moneyball...

Hmmm. The same could be said for, oh, I dunno........KEITH LAW!!!!!

Law regurgitates scouting terminology and rode the Ivy League/stat zombie wave into getting a job with the Blue Jays and is now accorded a column (which he more often than not mails in with pablum) on

Find a mirror, pal.

  • A note about Mark McGwire:

Who's running things in St. Louis? Is GM John Mozeliak the boss or is he just a puppet who had to acquiesce to Tony La Russa's wishes to keep the manager and the team structure in place?

I'm on the record in my admiration for La Russa, but this Mark McGwire silliness is over the line. Why was it not a prerequisite to him getting the job as hitting coach that he speak to the media and come clean about his past? Why is he being allowed to dictate where and when he speaks and the nature of the questions he's willing to answer? If he didn't like the terms, I'd have told him I'd find another hitting coach, no problem.

It's castrating the GM to have the new hitting coach pull this stuff and it appears to be happening with the complicity of the manager.

  • Unsold on Chone Figgins:

Angels free agent INF/OF Chone Figgins is in heavy demand for his speed and versatility, but with his main attribute speed and that it's such a weak free agent class, people forget that he's not exactly young (he'll be 32 in January). He's coming off a rotten post-season; has no power whatsoever; gets caught stealing an inordinate amount of the time; strikes out a lot; and wants at least $10 million a year presumably for four years (or more).

Speed doesn't improve with age, so what will the team that "wins" Figgins's services have by 2013-2014? This is a decision I wouldn't take lightly because it could wind up being an expensive mistake for a player cashing in on his career year coinciding perfectly with his free agency. Mark DeRosa's a way better option for a versatile veteran.

  • Viewer Mail 11.12.2009:

Gabriel writes RE Roy Halladay and the Blue Jays:

I'd have led the angry mob. And I'm a gentleman, I'd have slapped them, then throw them to the mob.

Roy Halladay as a Dodger it's something I'd like to see, because I like LA, and I like all the prospects they might be willing to give. In all fairness, I just hope he ends up far away from both leagues' east coasts, except for the Mets and the Marlins.

Adam Lind and Aaron Hill should win their respective Silver Slugger awards. They had stronger years than all contenders at their respective positions.

If I had to stake the odds for Halladay's landing spot, I'd say: 1) Dodgers; 2) Rockies; 3) Angels; 4) White Sox; 5) Giants; 6) Mets.

I refuse to believe the Blue Jays are going to trade him to either the Yankees or Red Sox unless they get a massive chunk of either organization's entire foundation. I'm talking both Joba Chamberlain and Phil Hughes from the Yankees just to start.

The Marlins/Halladay talk was a mid-season thing. He's not approving a deal unless he gets an extension and that's not happening in Florida; in fact, the Marlins look like they're unloading some of their more expensive names which will lead to a drop of about 10 wins next year.

Jeff at Red State Blue State channels the stat zombies:

Oooooh.... YUM-YUM... Errrrggghh... LOVE WAR... Mmmm... W.A.R. v. PECOTA PYTHAGOREAN THEOREM OF BRAINS v. WHIP.... Mmmmmm... y-y-y-y-yeeees... Likey Like... grrrr... CHOMP CHOMP... WHERE IS WILSON BETEMIT... MMM... CHAD B-B-B-Bradford SUBMARINE... BRAINS!!!!!!

Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in!!

Jane Heller at Confessions of a She-Fan writes:

So you love a good scrap or a good scrape? Hmm.

I find myself in the middle of both far too often, I think. Sometimes by my own hand, but occasionally----as in yesterday's case----not.

A note about Jane: here's reason #15.964 to worship Jane Heller. In response to a comment I wrote on her blog about the idea that stat zombies were disputing both Mark Teixeira and Derek Jeter winning Gold Gloves (I've paid little attention to the Gold Glove Awards since Rafael Palmeiro won the award for ostensibly not playing first base), Jane responded:

That's funny about Palmeiro, Paul. Since I'm not a stat zombie or even a stat vampiress(...)

Stat vampiress!!!!!!

Why didn't I come up with that one?!?!

It's mine now, but she still gets credit for it. BRILLIANT!!!!


She-Fan said...

I love being called brilliant but worshipped? That made my day, week, year, life, afterlife, etc.

Jeff said...

In a world...

Where Stat Zombies have infiltrated the highest offices of Major League Baseball...

Where feasts of brains cause one after another after another to fall (Joe, where are you?)...

Where life as we know it has been ultimately compromised...

A NEW fiend is unleashed:


...The WAR has JUST BEGUN.