Friday, October 4, 2013

2013 MLB Playoff Picks

I know I didn't pick the play in games and both NLDS series started last night but whatever.  Here are my playoff picks like a day late:

NLDS:
Pirates over Cardinals in 5
Dodgers over Braves in 4

ALDS:
Red Sox over Rays in 4
Tigers over A's in 5

NLCS:
Pirates over Dodgers in 6

ALCS:
Red Sox over Tigers in 5

World Series:
Red Sox over Pirates in 7

The Pirates lost 9-1 in Game 1 last night but they have a 5-0 lead right now in the 5th inning of game 2.  The Cardinals have been there before and they have a great mix of veterans and young players.  Starting rotation is top notch.  I just really think it's Pittsburgh's year.  They have a good mix and made the right late moves bringing in Morneau and Byrd.  I think they get past St. Louis and the Dodgers get past Atlanta easy.  Pittsburgh-LA is a fascinating NLCS match up.  The Dodgers got off to that awful start to the season but then Puig came in and gave them a spark.  They're really talented but I just don't know how well they'll perform in the postseason.  They're relatively inexperienced and are without Matt Kemp.  They have great starting pitching but I think they're a team that could see offense dry up in the playoffs.  I really think Pittsburgh is gonna get hot and play well enough to take this series, not even in 7 games.  

John Farrell did an amazing job in Boston this year.  He changed the vibe in that clubhouse from the start and established order.  They were consistent throughout the season and seem to be the best team in the AL.  Yeah the Rays had to win a few elimination games to get here but I think that took a lot out of them.  Boston is just too good for them.  I don't really know a lot about Oakland and for all I know they could show up and get past Detroit.  Verlander hasn't been what he has been but their offense is so good.  Cabrera's the best hitter in the playoffs and they have such balance in their line up.  I think they get by Oakland but won't put up much of a fight against Boston.  I think Farrell has this team playing well and peaking at the right time - just like Hurdle will do with the Pirates.

The Red Sox are way more talented than the Pirates, everyone knows that.  But I still think this would be a really competitive series.  The Red Sox have home field advantage and would host a Game 7.  It would be some run for Pittsburgh to get to that point, but I just have a hard time seeing this team winning a Game 7 at Fenway.  The Red Sox are just too good and they seem to have the right mix.  I think it's their year. 

Sunday, June 2, 2013

The State of the Mets

A third of the way into the 2013 campaign, the Mets are 22-31.  Offense for the most part has been anemic.  Bullpen's been bad.  Starting rotation has underperformed.

Matt Harvey has been the one major bright spot.  He hasn't lost yet and his ERA is still under 2.  It's a very real possibility that he takes the mound for the NL in July's All-Star Game at Citi Field.  A few weeks ago he was nearly perfect against the White Sox.  He was dominant; as good as I've seen him thus far in his young career.  He gave up a hit with two outs in the seventh, and ended up throwing a one hitter.  After that, things turned very sour for this team.

The Mets went 4-14 over roughly a 3 week stretch following Harvey's one-hitter.  They were brutal, and fans were rightfully up in arms.  At times the team looked lethargic and listless.  There was the Valdespin drama.  Had Terry lost control of his team?  Lots of fans thought so, but that wasn't the case.  It's a 162 game season and even the good teams have their ruts.  This team is bad; there isn't much talent on this roster, and stretches like that had to have been expected.

The Mets salvaged a game against Atlanta before starting the 4 game home and home set with the Yankees.  They swept them.  This is a Yankee team that was missing Teixeira, Youkilis, and Granderson, but they had been playing extremely well.  They were in first place and the Mets took all 4 from them after getting picked apart by the Pirates, Cardinals, Reds, and Braves (all solid teams, mind you).  They scored 2 off the best closer to ever play the game in Game 1 at Citi Field.  They played inspired baseball, and it was fun to watch.

Now off to Miami to play the lowly Marlins.  Time to build on these uplifting victories, right?  Nope.  Turns out they built us up just to break us down.  Two discouraging losses.  The Marlins are 5-3 against the Mets this year; 10-38 against everyone else.

Everybody loves to point fingers and that's understandable.  Sandy tried to rebuild the bullpen this past offseason, and it hasn't panned out too well.  He didn't trade for Justin Upton and didn't bring in any sort of offensive help.  It's important, though, to keep the financial situation in mind.  Johan Santana and Frank Francisco are on the DL.  The Mets are still paying Jason Bay very handsomely.  The 25 man roster is making around $42 million.  Around $33 million is on the Disabled List, and they're spending $22 million on players that aren't with the team.

You can try to find someone to blame for that, I suppose.  Omar Minaya for giving Santana and Bay those bad contracts?  Terry for letting Johan throw all those pitches in his no hitter?  You can play the blame game all you want, it doesn't change reality.  More than $50 million was tied up this season and you can't bring in a big time player under these circumstances.  It's just not plausible.  This team was going to be bad this year and everyone knew it.  It feels like we as fans have been jerked around a little this past month.  3 weeks of lifeless baseball, a little fun at the Yankees' expense, and now losing a pair to the worst team in baseball.  What exactly can we expect from the Mets the rest of the way in 2013?

I hate to be the bearer or bad news, but we can probably expect somewhere around 75 wins.  That's ok though, because there's still a lot to look forward to the rest of the way.  Zack Wheeler just pitched 6 very good innings tonight in Las Vegas and should be up within the next couple weeks.  Travis D'Arnaud is hurt right now, but we'll probably be seeing him at Citi Field towards the end of the year.  Rafael Montero has been brilliant in Binghamton and we might see him get some action with the big team in September.  This organization has a lot of good pitchers, even those in the lower levels who aren't close to breaking the big leagues.  Those arms can be used in trades this offseason.  And remember, around $55 million is coming off the books.  I don't want to speculate too much right now on free agency, but Sandy will have money to spend for the first time in his tenure as GM.  He's just getting started, and I have confidence that he'll bring in the offensive help that is needed.  Yeah, the bullpen hasn't been good, but bullpens change every year.  Beltran for Wheeler was a steal, Wright was re-signed long term, and the Dickey trade set the organization up very well for the future.  It seems like we as Mets fans have gotten used to always waiting for next year, and I understand people getting impatient and frustrated.  But it really seems like a new dawn is on the horizon.  It's been a rough few years for the Mets, but better days are coming.  Keep that in mind as you watch this team the rest of the year.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

The Tejada Situation

Ruben Tejada strained his right quadriceps in the 9th inning of last night's 9-4 Mets win at Yankee Stadium.  He's been placed on the 15 day DL and Omar Quintanilla had been called up from Las Vegas.

Tejada has struggled at the plate this year.  Not getting deep into at bats, hitting a lot of balls in the air, his swing seems like its loopy and dragging.  Even more discouraging seems to be his apparent lackadaisical approach in the field and on the bases. He got picked off of second base on Tuesday, and took his time on a routine ground ball last night, allowing the runner to beat out his throw to first.  

Ruben had an awful spring training.  He was 5 for 52, which is a .096 batting average.  You can't look into spring training numbers too much, but there were reports about him reporting a tad overweight and Terry not being too happy about that.  Maybe we're seeing a sense of undeserved entitlement from a young player.  

When Ruben was good last year he had great at-bats.  Saw a lot of pitches, always had  the right approach, was a good situational hitter.  We haven't seen that this year, even going back to Spring Training.  A lot of fans have been calling for a demotion - maybe a wake up call is what he needs.  I wasn't one of those fans.  I feel like his struggles have been unfairly lumped together with Ike's.  What Ruben is going through is nothing like what we're seeing with Ike.  Ike was hitting like .150 and was just giving away at bats.  It seemed like he struck out 3 times every game and he's supposed to be one of the main run producers on this team.  Nothing like that was expected from Tejada.  Ike's had a couple 2 hit games recently (sandwiched around two games in which he went 0-6 with 5 k's), so maybe he's on the verge of turning things around.  But Ruben was not struggling to the extent Ike was and he's not expected to be one of the big bats in this lineup.

Injuries are never good, but this might turn out to be a blessing in disguise for Ruben.  It gives him some time off to clear his mind, and he'll have a few minor league rehab games before coming off the DL.  It's better for his psyche to be playing in Las Vegas in this manner rather than simply being sent down for performance issues.  

Let's not give up on Ruben though.  Last year he hit .289 with 26 doubles in 114 games.  His issues at the plate are fixable and like I said, this time off could revitalize him and reduce whatever perceived complacency exists.  

Championship teams are more than a collection of superstars, most rational baseball fans understand that.  There needs to be a solid core, and for whatever reason, I feel like Ruben can be an integral part of the Mets' core moving forward.  When he's right he does the little things well (situational hitting, seeing lots of pitches).  Every good team needs that sort of role player; sort of the glue that holds the run producers together and balances the lineup.  He't not a big energy guy or a charismatic leader like his predecessor at shortstop, but that's ok.  He's going through a little rut right now like all big leaguers do.  If he turns things around and resembles the player he was last season, this will all be forgotten.  


Wednesday, March 20, 2013

2013 Bracket

First Round Upsets:

Midwest Region:
(9) Mizzou over (8) Colorado State.
(12) Oregon over (5) Oklahoma State.

West Region:
(12) Ole Miss over (5) Wisconsin
(11) Belmont over (6) Arizona
(10) Iowa State over (7) Notre Dame

South Region:
(11) Minnesota over (6) UCLA

East Region:
(13) Montana over (4) Syracuse
(11) Bucknell over (6) Butler

My Final 4:
(1)Louisville, (1)Gonzaga, (2)Georgetown, (2)Miami

Gonzaga-Miami championship game.

Gonzaga wins it.


Sunday, March 3, 2013

Preliminary 2013 MLB Predictions

I know it's very early, but here's a quick look at how I think the 2013 season will end up.  I'll probably be making changes to this before the season ends.

AL East:
1. Blue Jays
2. Red Sox
3. Yankees
4. Baltimore 
5. Tampa Bay

The Blue Jays brought in Reyes, Dickey, Buerhle, Melky Cabrera, etc. A team is more than just the sum of its parts but I really think this is gonna be a big year for them.  Their rotation is deep, their offense is dynamic.  As long as their bullpen is serviceable and won't blow too many late leads, I think 2013 will be their year. 

This division is really good though and I think everybody will beat eachother up a bit.  The Yankees have regressed and I think they'll find a tough time gelling.  I think Boston will surprise some people and finish in second.  They unloaded Crawford and Beckett to LA last year.  They brought in Victorino so they'll have speed in the outfield.  Their lineup isn't really that scary but I think they'll find find ways to score runs.  Also, I don't expect Baltimore to repeat their success last year.

AL Central:
1. Tigers
2. White Sox
3. Indians
4. Royals
5. Twins

The Indians brought in some big names but I don't see them as a team that will be able to sustain success.  They'll be ok but not as good as some people think they will.

AL West:
1. LA Angels
2. Texas
3. Seattle
4. Oakland
5. Houston

I don't think the Angels' line up is as deep and potent as a lot of people think it is.  Hamilton, Pujols, and Trout are obviously a dynamic trio but I'm not big on guys like Kendrick, Callaspo, and Ianetta.  They're still good enough to beat a diminished and weakend AL West.  

NL East:
1. Braves
2. Nationals
3. Phillies
4. Mets
5. Marlins

I think Atlanta is poised for a big year in the first year of the Post-Chipper era.  

NL Central:
1. St. Louis
2. Cincinnatti
3. Pittsburgh
4. Milwaukee
5. Chicago

NL West:
1. Dodgers
2. Giants
3. Arizona
4. Colorado
5. San Diego

The Giants are coming off of a Championship run, but the Dodgers made all the big moves and their team is stacked.  I think they'll take the division.  

Wild Card games:
AL: White Sox over Red Sox
NL: Nationals over Giants

ALDS:
Blue Jays over White Sox in 3
Angels over Tigers in 5

NLDS: 
Dodgers over Nationals in 4
Braves over Cardinals in 5

ALCS:
Blue Jays over Angels in 7
Dodgers over Braves in 6

World Series: Dodgers over Blue Jays in 7