Sunday, March 27, 2011

Signor Baseball's 2011 NL Preview

Put on your protective cup, stuff a few pieces of double bubble in your mouth, and grab your big foam finger (if you don't have one, I think Robert Sarver is done with his), because it's time for Signor Baseball's 2011 National League preview.

The Phillies have all the pitching in the world. And pitching is everything. So, until somebody gets a sore arm, it's impossible to bet against the Phillies. (Of course, somebody always gets a sore arm.) Mrs. Signor Baseball thinks they have nice uniforms, too.
Atlanta will hang with 'em for awhile and be a strong wild card contender. Which means we may have to suffer through more of that Tomahawk Chop nonsense come the post season.
The Marlins, who have the best scouting department and the fewest fans of any good team in baseball, should be third.
The Mets will be in receivership by June and forced to play in a pasture somewhere on Long Island because Citi Field has been padlocked by their creditors. Bernie Madoff giveth and Bernie Madoff taketh away.
The Nationals have the best young injured pitching arm in all of MLB. That pretty much sums it up.

I'm taking the Cubs. Yes, I have been drinking. A lot. And I'm not even a Cubs fan.
Of course, the Cardinals should win. But through the years I've developed a very strong dislike of Tony LaRussa, so I hope the Cards crash and burn (again) and Mr. Pujols leaves for greener pastures.
The Reds are managed by another of my managerial favorites, Dusty "No, I never noticed that Barry Bonds all of a sudden started to look like the Incredible Hulk--what you gettin' at?" Baker. So I'm not pulling for them either. Plus I'm still sick of all that "The Big Red Machine is the best team ever!" crap from the 70's. No, they weren't.
The Brewers are my pick if the Cubs don't make it. Yep, I'm still drinking. Good hitting, OK defense, pretty good pitching. With a few breaks...?
The Astros have that stupid hill in centerfield. Who thought that was a good idea? Anyway, can you name one Astro? Is Rusty Staub still playing? And besides, as long as that phony secessionist weasel Rick Perry is governor, I'm not rooting for anything from Texas.
Pittsburgh has great fans, and a great ballpark and maybe someday they'll get a major league team again. (If it sounds like I'm holding a grudge about the two World Series the Pirates won against my Orioles in the 1970's, I am. Even today the sound of the Staples Family gives me nightmares.)

This is the only division where all the teams can be considered legitimate contenders. Yes, even the Diamondbacks. (They would've won 15-20 more games last year, if they hadn't had the worst bullpen in living memory. When a reliever came in, instead of Enter Sandman they played that David Bowie song about putting out a fire with gasoline.) So, should we just put all the names in a hat and draw them out one by one? No, that would be wrong and completely unscientific. Instead, we'll rank them according to the quality of their ballparks.
Giants: Best ballpark in the division, one of the top two or three in all of baseball. Very good pitching. Not much offense. Best manager. Got hot last year when it mattered most. That may not happen again.
Dodgers: Other than Wrigley Field the oldest ballpark in the National League, but still one of the best. And Vin Scully remains the best play by play man in the world. Pitching is not nearly as deep as the Giants. Probably have more offense. Classic underachievers. Let's see if Donnie Baseball can manage. (And let's see who ends up with the team in the McCourt divorce.)
Tie Rockies/Padres: I think I liked Coors Field more before they started putting the baseballs in a humidor. Damn, would the ball carry there! And all of the Rockies' pitchers had that shell-shocked look on their faces, which was kind of cool. The Rockies have two of the top everyday players in the NL--but maybe not enough pitching. Plus there's always the chance that, should they make it to the playoffs and/or World Series, a couple of their home games might get snowed out. Which would be a first, I think. The Padres would've been better off if they'd just copied the Giant's ballpark exactly when they built Petco. Lost their best hitter, but somehow they always manage to compete. Good bullpen, wonder about their starters. Lose the camo uniforms, OK?
Diamondbacks: All the charm of a Costco. Leave the roof open. Leave the roof open. Leave the roof open. Some very good--but inconsistent-- young players, some big question marks in the starting pitching. The bullpen has to be better, right? The outfield and up the middle look solid, but who's going to play first and third? Where have you gone Adam LaRoche? And I'm pretty sure I went to grade school with Melvin Mora. (Curious to see what Mark Reynolds does in Baltimore. 35 homers, .235, and 210 strikeouts is the over/under.) However, if the pitching holds up they'll be in the race. (I know that's the biggest cliche in baseball, but after all, really big cliches are what keep our society afloat. Besides, in this case it's true.)

A Caveat: For what it's worth, about 10 years ago Signor Baseball was sure that Travis Lee was going to be a star.

Stay tuned for Signor Baseball's 2011 AL preview...

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