Friday, April 10, 2015

Signor Baseball's 2015 NL Preview

Hey Man! Forget about wealth inequality and climate change and ISIS/ISIL and racism and sexism and all the other isms we seem doomed to wallow in. It's baseball season! Spring for the MLB package, get the big Costco bag of chips, load up the Frigidaire with cheap beer and relax....Bread and circuses baby!

The National League East should be all Washington. They've added Max Scherzer to an already strong pitching staff and have more than enough hitting to get by. So get ready for the Nationals to more or less run away with it...And then get ready for Matt Williams to screw up the bullpen in the playoffs and the watch the Nationals crash and burn. Again.  Miami, even with their farm system churning out a seemingly endless supply of good young players, doesn't look strong enough to contend for the whole season, and Atlanta has lost too many big bats and arms to be feared, though the Braves always seem to come up with new talent from somewhere. Both teams should keep pace with Washington for awhile, but eventually drift back, with little or no chance at a wild card. The Mets will be better--perhaps even the best team in New York--for whatever that is worth these days. Unless Matt Harvey blows out his arm again. At that point their season will be reduced to guessing what Bartolo Colon weighs. The Philadelphia Phillies have, right before our eyes, gone from being the strength of the division to being a train wreck. By mid season, Cole Hamels, who deserves better, will sue for lack of support and demand to be traded anywhere.

In the Central, if you believe the hype, the Chicago Cubs are legitimate contenders. New manager, new ace, best farm system in the majors. On the other hand, they've sent a player who sounds like the second coming of Mike Schmidt down to the minors for a few weeks to save some money. Don't you just love it when billionaires pinch pennies?  Oh, and they screwed up rebuilding the bleachers so badly that Wrigley Field will now look like a construction site for the first two months of the season. Sounds like the same old Cubs to me. The Cardinals are still the team to beat, just like last year, and the year before that, and the year before that, and... St. Louis will be closely followed by the Pirates, with their all-star outfield, the Brewers, who gacked up a big lead last year in fairly impressive fashion, and the Cincinnati Reds, who always look better on paper than they really are. However, if the Cubs are as advertised, this might be a 5 team race to the very end, with a wild card probably coming from this division as well.

Out West, even with all the line-up changes, San Francisco and Los Angeles are still at the top of the heap.The Dodgers have the highest payroll in MLB, and that ought to count for something--shouldn't it? I mean, look at the Yankees...The Giants, on the other hand, just win World Series on a regular basis with strong pitching, Buster Posey, and any seven other guys they can find. Somebody in "The City" must know what they're doing. San Diego got themselves a whole new outfield, a #1 starter, an elite closer and should compete. They look impressive on paper, but the Padres' Petco Field seems to be a place where power hitters go to die. So Meyers, Kemp, and the "good" Upton may just end up with a lot of long outs. Arizona has a new manager, no everyday big league catcher, a starting staff you've never heard of, and the look of a non-contender. They spent a lot of money on a Cuban kid who apparently can't field very well, wherever they put him. Maybe someday the Diamondbacks will start an everyday lineup with real major leaguers at every position. To quote Principal Skinner, "Prove me wrong kids, prove me wrong." They will be lucky to stay a little ahead of Colorado, which is still a lovely place to spend the summer. And that legal weed should help people cope with yet another mediocre Rockies team. You have to wonder at what point Tulowitzki says "get me out of here!"

But hey, it's a long, long season and anything is possible, so "play ball!"

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