Tagged: 2010 Previews

2010 Los Angeles Dodgers Preview

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dodgers.gif2009 Record: 95-67, 1st NL West

2009 Prediction: 87-75, 2nd NL West

2010 Prediction: 1st NL West

 

Impact Player: Matt Kemp

Impact Pitcher: Chad Billingsley

Top Prospect Player:
SS Dee Gordon

Top Prospect Pitcher:
RHP Chris Withrow

 

Manager: Joe Torre, 3rd Season (179-145,
.552)

 

Significant
Acquisitions
:  INF Jamey Carroll, OF Reed Johnson, OF Brian Giles,
INF Nick Green

Significant Losses: 2B Orlando Hudson, OF Juan
Pierre
, INF Mark Loretta, INF Juan Castro, 1B Jim Thome, LHP Randy Wolf,
RHP Guillermo Mota, RHP Jon Garland

 

During the regular season, the Dodgers were easily the best
overall team, not just in wins, but in everything.  They were number one in team ERA, runs
allowed, and hits allowed, and also number one in hits, batting average and
on-base percentage.  The Dodgers went to
the NLCS for the second straight year against the Phillies, and for the second
straight year they were bounced by the bombers from Broad Street.  This offseason, the team’s owner are engaged
in a bitter divource settlement that has led to a very unstable ownership
status, and the team is unwilling to spend any money at the moment.  Very little was done in the way of
acquisitions while the team lost many key parts including Randy Wolf, Orlando Hudson,
Juan Pierre, and Jon Garland.  There is little doubt, however, that the
Dodgers still have the depth of talent to win again in the improving NL West.  Two young hurlers in Clayton Kershaw and Chad
Billingsley
anchor the rotation while three bourgeoning young hitters are
about to become perennial MVP threats in Matt
Kemp
, Andre Ethier and James Loney.  There’s little standing in the way of LA
making it back to the playoffs.

 

Pitching

ChadBillingsley_2007_003.jpg

There is a lack of depth in the rotation that could be the
Dodgers biggest hurdle this season, but the top of the rotation is overflowing
with promising talent.  Billingsley is
about to become a true ace, the likes of which have not been seen in LA since the
days of Orel Hershiser.  He’s a dominating pitcher with the composure
of a winner.  Last season he wore down on
the second half after a very strong first half. 
With another year under his belt, he should be able to put together a
full season.  He won 16 games with a 3.14
ERA in 2008.  Kershaw is a Cy Young Award
waiting to happen.  He’s only 22, and he’s already an
established Major League arm.  Last
season he was only 8-8 in 30 starts, but he often didn’t pitch very deep into
games party because of a high walk rate, but also because there was a conscious
effort on a part of the Dodgers to limit his innings; there will be no such
limit this season.  His ERA last year was
a terrific 2.79, if he continues to pitch like that, he’ll be winning 15-20
games without batting an eye.  Hiroki Kuroda struggled with injuries
last season, but still had a 3.76 ERA in 20 starts; if he’s healthy he’s a
solid number 3 pitcher.  Vicente Padilla was much better after
the Dodgers acquired him from Texas and was re-signed to be the fourth guy.  The fifth spot will be a Spring battle
between lefties Eric Stults and Scott Elbert as well as bullpen
standout James McDonald.  Knuckleballer Charlie Haeger will be in the mix as well.

 

Jonathan Broxton
certainly has the mound presence of an elite closer at 295 pounds and a
fastball that touches 100 mph, but he’ll need to be slightly more consistent to
be considered in a group that includes Rivera, Papelbon and Nathan.  There’s no doubt that the ability is there,
though.  The bridge to Broxton is as
solid as anyone with lefty specialist and setup man George Sherrill back for a full season.  McDonald has become a dependable late inning
option as well and will be there unless he’s starting.  Ramon
Troncoso
and Ronald Belisario
were dominant last season with 2.72 and 2.04 ERAs respectively, while
dependable lefty Hong-Chih Kuo is
back from his shoulder injury and will look to remain healthy for the whole
year.  Cory Wade will be in the mix as well after shoulder problems kept
him from a repeat of his ’08 performance when he had a ridiculous 2.27
ERA.  Many other arms are also in the mix
and could step in if there are injuries, including Eric Gagne who’s back with the organization after a few years away.

 

ROTATION

Age

B/T

Chad
Billingsley

25/6

R/R

Clayton
Kershaw

22

L/L

Hiroki
Kuroda

35

R/R

Vicente
Padilla

32

R/R

Eric
Stults

30

L/L

 

 

 

BULLPEN

 

 

Jonathan
Broxton

25/6

R/R

George
Sherrill

33

L/L

James
McDonald

25

L/R

Roman
Troncoso

27

R/R

Ronald
Belisario

27

R/R

Hong-Chih
Kuo

28/9

L/L

Cory
Wade

26/7

R/R

 

 

 

POSSIBILITIES

 

 

Scott
Elbert

24/5

L/L

Charlie
Haeger

26

R/R

Carlos
Monasterios

24

R/R

Armando
Zerpa

23

L/L

Justin
Miller*

32/3

R/R

Jeff
Weaver

32/3

R/R

*=newly acquired

 

 

 

Lineup

matt-kemp1.jpg

Manny Ramirez‘s
suspension for steroid use last season derailed the image of the fun-loving,
uber-talented star outfielder and it now appears that his career is winding
down.  He’s still a terrific player and
is a force in the middle of this lineup, but even he acknowledges that this
could be his last season; it’ll definitely be his last in LA.  Along with Manny in left, the Dodgers have
one of the scariest outfields in baseball with young All-Stars Kemp and Ethier
in center and right respectively.  Kemp
is one of the best all-around players in baseball, doing everything very
well.  A 30/30 season seems
inevitable.  Ethier led the team in 2009
in both homeruns (31) and RBI (106), making the 50-game absence of Manny seem
like nothing at all.

 

First baseman James
Loney
should eventually develop more power than he’s shown so far, but his
all-around game is impeccable; he should win a Gold Glove any year now.  Rafael
Furcal
is back at shortstop and will look to bounce back from a
disappointing season a year ago.  He’s
still only 32 and is an elite defender.  Ronnie Belliard won’t play defense at
the level Orlando Hudson did last
year at second base, but he was basically the starter over Hudson down the
stretch and in the playoffs, while steady veteran Casey Blake is back at third base until the team finds a better
option there.  If ownership gets
steadier, they may make a run at Mike
Lowell
if he’s healthy to provide some depth at the position.  Catching will be the responsibility of
Canadian Russell Martin who will
look to prove his accusers wrong after a powerless 2009.  He’s still one of the best defensive and
game-calling catchers in the NL.

 

The bench has some depth with veterans Jamey Carroll and Reed
Johnson
and Blake DeWitt will
also be around.  DeWitt may still be
future at third.  41-year-old Brad Ausmus is back for yet another
year to backup Martin, while Jason Repko
and veterans Brian Giles and Alfredo Amezaga will fight for the last
roster spot.

 

Pos.

 

Age

B/T

SS

Rafael
Furcal

32

S/R

1B

James
Loney

25/6

L/L

CF

Matt
Kemp

25

R/R

RF

Andre
Ethier

28

L/L

LF

Manny
Ramirez

37/8

R/R

C

Russell
Martin

27

R/R

3B

Casey
Blake

36/7

R/R

2B

Ron
Belliard

35

R/R

 

 

 

 

 

BENCH

 

 

C

Brad
Ausmus

41

R/R

INF

Jamey
Carroll*

36

R/R

INF

Blake
DeWitt

24/5

L/R

OF

Reed
Johnson*

33

R/R

OF

Jason
Repko

29

R/R

 

 

 

 

 

POSSIBILITIES

 

 

INF

Chin-Lung
Hu

26

R/R

C

A.J.
Ellis

29

R/R

INF

Angel
Berroa*

32

R/R

INF

Nick
Green*

31

R/R

1B

Doug
Mientkiewicz*

35/6

L/R

INF

Argenis Reyes*               

27

S/R

OF

Brian Giles*

39

L/L

UTIL

Alfredo Amezaga*

32

S/R

*=newly acquired

 

The Dodgers still have one of the best teams in the NL.  Kemp, Ethier and Loney will be stars for a
long time and Billingsley and Kershaw are the future and the present in the
rotation.  The division looks to be more
competitive than it has been in years so the goings might be tougher this
season, but that adversity may end up helping them come October.

Final Prediction:
92-70, 1st NL West

2010 Colorado Rockies Preview

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rockies.gif2009 Record: 92-70, 2nd NL West

2009 Prediction: 80-82, 3rd NL West

2010 Prediction: 4th NL West

 

Impact Player: Troy Tulowitzki

Impact Pitcher: Ubaldo Jimenez

Top Prospect Player:
C Wilin Rosario

Top Prospect Pitcher:
LHP Tyler Matzek

 

Manager: Jim Tracy, 2nd Season
(74-42, .638)

 

Significant
Acquisitions
: C Miguel Olivo,
UTIL Melvin Mora, RHP Justin Speier, RHP Tim Redding

Significant Losses: 3B Garrett Atkins, C Yorvit
Torrealba
, OF Matt Murton, RHP Jason Marquis, LHP Alan Embree, RHP Josh Fogg,
LHP Glendon Rusch

 

For the second time in three years, the Rockies shocked the
baseball world and came back from a slow start to storm down the stretch and
get into the playoffs on a wildcard berth. 
Their 92 wins were a franchise record and manager Jim Tracy (who
replaced Clint Hurdle part way through the year) had a .638 winning percentage
with the team.  Unlike in 2007, however,
the Rockies couldn’t ride their hot streak to the World Series, losing to the
Phillies in the NLDS 3 games to 1. 
Colorado is hoping that they don’t have a repeat of the 2008 season when
they stumbled to a 74-win year following their improbable run to the World
Series.  The Rockies definitely have some
talent, but was the last part of last year a fluke, or are they that good?  They made no significant changes to their
team, but instead added small pieces such as Melvin Mora and Miguel Olivo
to strengthen their bench.  Will their
stability be a strength, or will teams adjust and push the Rockies back down
the list of good teams in the NL West.

 

Pitching

UbaldoJimenez.jpg

 The Rockies were 8th
in the NL in ERA last season, which is quite the feat when you consider that
they play in the thin air of Colorado. 
One of the reasons was their team control, the Rockies were fourth best
in the NL in walks allowed.  Ubaldo Jimenez has blossomed into a
solid number one pitcher, going 15-12 with a 3.47 ERA.  When adjusted for ballpark differences,
Jimenez’s ERA is 3.14, putting him among the best in the NL.  The team lost its other 15-game winner, Jason Marquis, to free agency, but the
Rocks are hoping that Aaron Cook can
stay healthy and be back in the 15-17 win area. 
He was 11-6 last season in just 27 starts.  There was some talk of Jorge De La Rosa winning the Cy Young Award last season, which was obviously
crazy, but De La Rosa finally had the breakout year experts have been
predicting for a while.  He led the team
with 16 wins and had a 4.38 ERA striking out 193 in only 185 innings.  There’s no questioning his raw ability, but
his elevated ERA and high career walk rate suggest he’ll slump back to earth
this season.  Jason Hammel is back and is expected to the fourth man in the rotation
after a 10-8 season in 2009; he could be poised for a breakout season.  The fifth starter will likely be Canadian Jeff Francis who is apparently healthy
again and will need to prove it to stick in the rotation.  If he can’t, another injury-riddled lefty Greg Smith could be in the mix.  22-year-old Jhoulys Chacin could also step in at some point in 2010.

 

Huston Street was
re-signed in the offseason and will remain the Rockies closer.  He can be erratic at times and gets beaten up
too often to be an elite closer, but he still saved 35 games and posted a
decent 3.06 ERA.  He also does three
things any good closer needs to do:  He
doesn’t give up many hits (6.3 per 9 innings); he doesn’t walk many (1.9 per 9
innings); and he strikes out a lot of batters (10.2 per 9 innings).  Former lefthanded starter Franklin Morales will be given the setup
job to start the year, but his permanent place is in the rotation, while Matt Daley will setup from the right side.  24-year-old Esmil Rogers will help fill out the rest of the ‘pen with
35-year-old Rafael Betancourt and
former playoff standout Manuel Corpas.  The long-man will likely be Taylor Buchholz.  Lefthander Randy Flores will have a decent shot at making the team considering
Morales is the only other lefty, while Matt
Belisle
, Justin Speier, Jimmy Gobble, and Juan Rincon are all in camp on minor-league deals and could make
hte team.

 

ROTATION

Age

B/T

Ubaldo Jimenez

26

R/R

Aaron Cook

31

R/R

Jorge De La Rosa

29

L/L

Jason Hammel

27

R/R

Jeff Francis

29

L/L

 

 

 

BULLPEN

 

 

Huston Street

26/7

R/R

Franklin Morales

24

L/L

Matt Daley

27/8

R/R

Esmil Rogers

24/5

R/R

Rafael Betancourt

35

R/R

Manuel Corpas

27

R/R

Taylor Buchholz

28

R/R

 

 

 

POSSIBILITIES

 

 

Randy Flores

34/5

L/L

Matt Belisle

29/0

R/R

Greg Smith

26

L/L

Samuel Deduno

26/7

R/R

Justin Speier*

36

R/R

Tim Redding*

32

R/R

Jimmy Gobble*

28/9

L/L

Juan Rincon*

31

R/R

Jhoulys Chacin

22

R/R

Shane Lindsay

25

R/R

Greg Reynolds

24/5

R/R

*=newly acquired

 

 

 

Lineup

troy-tulowitzki.jpg

Even though the Rockies were second in the NL in homeruns,
the Rockies don’t appear to be as power-oriented as it has been in the past,
but there are still some very good young players that will hope to score as
much as they did last season when they were second in the NL in runs.  The outfield has 5 players who will all try
to get enough playing time.  Brad Hawpe will be the everyday
rightfielder after another decent season. 
Hawpe hit .285 with 23 homeruns and 86 RBI in 2009, while logging an
impressive .384 OBP.  Dexter Fowler showed promise last year
in his rookie season and is a tremendous athlete; he’ll steal close to 30 bases
and play outstanding defense.  Carlos Gonzalez and Seth Smith will likely both see time in
leftfield.  Gonzalez has a much higher
ceiling and is ultimately a better athlete, so he will likely have the inside
track.  His 13 homeruns in only 89 games
last season suggest that he could be a 25/25 guy in the near future.  Smith, on the other hand, was solid last
season hitting .293 with 15 homeruns and 55 RBI.  Ryan
Spilborghs
will see significant time as well.

 

First baseman Todd
Helton
is the franchise’s best ever player and as he winds down his career,
his numbers will surely continue to fall off. 
He won’t hit for 30-40 homer power anymore, but he still hit .325 last
season and is one of the best hitters of this generation.  Shortstop Troy Tulowitzki is currently the best player on the team and will
be for years to come.  He hit 32 homeruns
last season and hit .297.  Some people
say he’s Derek Jeter with more
power, but I’m not sure he can claim such things just yet.  He certainly is an MVP candidate in
waiting.  Clint Barmes hit 23 homeruns last season but was only a .241
hitter.  It’s amazing he’s still with the
organization after all the terrible seasons, and ultimately isn’t part of the
long term plans of the organization, while Ian
Stewart
will get the chance to play third. 
He hit 25 homeruns last season, but hit only .228 and had just 70
RBI.  If he struggles immensely, Mora
could step in.  Catcher Chris Iannetta also hit only .228 last
season and will have to prove that he is the player scouts once thought he was.

 

The Rockies have a much deeper and more versatile bench than
in past years which certainly helps them. 
Smith, Spilborghs and Mora will be joined by Jason Giambi who will spell Helton at first and also provide a
powerful pinch-hitting bat off the bench. 
Olivo will be the veteran backup catcher and could end up starting if
Iannetta struggles.

 

Pos.

 

Age

B/T

LF

Carlos Gonzalez

24

L/L

CF

Dexter Fowler

24

S/R

1B

Todd Helton

36/7

L/L

SS

Troy Tulowitzki

25

R/R

RF

Brad Hawpe

30/1

L/L

C

Chris Iannetta

27

R/R

3B

Ian Stewart

25

L/R

2B

Clint Barmes

31

R/R

 

 

 

 

 

BENCH

 

 

C

Miguel Olivo*

31/2

R/R

1B

Jason Giambi

39

L/R

UTIL

Melvin Mora* (3B, SS, CF, LF)

38

R/R

OF

Seth Smith (LF, RF)

27

L/L

OF

Ryan Spilborghs (LF, CF, RF)

30

R/R

 

 

 

 

 

POSSIBILITIES

 

 

UTIL

Eric Young, Jr. (2B, LF, RF)

24/5

R/R

C

Paul Lo Duca* (1B)

38

R/R

*=newly acquired

 

I could be completely off-base here, but I don’t see the
Rockies contending in 2010.  The
honeymoon period of Jim Tracy’s arrival will be gone and this team
traditionally doesn’t perform well under high expectations.  Outside of Jimenez, the rotation lacks high
ceiling players entering their prime and their bullpen might have a really hard
time bridging the gap to Street, who isn’t the greatest of closers.  Their lineup is full of players who hit for
power in the thin air, but struggle on the road and hit for horrible
averages.  I don’t buy that the Rockies
have what it takes to contend in a much deeper and more talented NL West.

Final Prediction:
79-83, 4th NL West

2010 Arizona Diamondback Preview

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arizona_diamondback_logo.gif2009 Record: 70-92, 5th NL West

2009 Prediction: 93-69, 1st NL West (NL
Champs)

2010 Prediction: 3rd NL West

 

Impact Player: Justin Upton

Impact Pitcher: Dan Haren

Top Prospect Player:
3B Bobby Borchering

Top Prospect Pitcher:
RHP Jarrod Parker

 

Manager: A.J. Hinch, 2nd Season
(58-75, .436)

 

Significant
Acquisitions
: 1B Adam LaRoche,
2B Kelly Johnson, RHP Edwin Jackson, RHP Ian Kennedy, RHP Bob Howry,
RHP Aaron Heilman, RHP Rodrigo Lopez

Significant Losses: UTIL Chad Tracy, OF Eric Byrnes,
1B Tony Clark, LHP Doug Davis, RHP Max Scherzer, RHP Yusmeiro
Petit
, LHP Doug Slaten

 

So I might have been a little off the mark last season when
I predicted that the D’Backs would win the NL pennant.  In my defense, a healthy Brandon Webb would have made them significantly better, but I was a
little excited about the young core of players this team has and perhaps I was
off by a couple seasons for their big post-season run.  Well, Webb is healthy in 2010 and the lineup
has some of the best young talent in the game, but do they have what it takes
to compete in a suddenly competitive division? 
Their soon-to-be 36-year-old manager thinks so and he’s hoping he can
better relate to his players than regimes in the past simply because he’s more “their
age.”

 

Pitching

danharen.jpg

Webb was one of the best pitchers in baseball before shoulder
surgery knocked him out for all but one start last season.  If he’s healthy and back to form, the D’Backs
have a 1-2 that rivals anyone’s in baseball. 
From 2006-08, Webb finished in the top 2 in Cy Young voting in each year
and won the award in 2006.  His record in
those three years was 56-25 and he never had an ERA higher than 3.30.  Dan
Haren
is the number two guy, although he’d be an ace on most teams.  Haren was 14-10 with a 3.14 ERA on a bad team
last season and is certainly capable of 17-20 wins.  Realizing some depth was needed, the
Diamondbacks gave up talented young hurlers Max Scherzer and Daniel
Schlereth
in the three-way Curtis
Granderson
deal.  The Diamondbacks
received pitchers Edwin Jackson and Ian Kennedy in the deal and they
believe those two have as high a ceiling as Scherzer and Schlereth, but are
further along in their development.  It’s
hard to believe with all of the talent Jackson possesses that he’s on his 4th
Major League team.  Kennedy on the other
hand should slide into the fourth spot in the rotation if he proves he belongs
there in the Spring.  The D’Backs believe
he’s about to have a breakout season away from the pressures of New York.  The fifth spot will be a competition between Billy Buckner (who had a strong finish,
unlike another baseball player with his name), Kevin Mulvey, Rodrigo Lopez,
and Bryan Augenstein.  Buckner likely has the best chance.

 

Chad Qualls is
being given another chance to close out ballgames for the Diamondbacks after 24
saves last season.  He’s not the most
consistent of relievers, but he seems to get the job done.  Bob
Howry
was signed in the offseason and figures to be the setup man, a spot
he struggled in at times in 2009 with San Francisco and with Chicago in 2008.  Juan
Gutierrez
was okay last season but finished strong and could be a late
innings option if Howry and Qualls struggle. 
Aaron Heilman was brought in
from the Cubs where he struggled last season and really hasn’t been good since
2007 with the Mets.  He’ll be joined on
the right side by Blaine Boyer who
has great stuff but can’t seem to keep it together in pressure situations, and
lefthander Clay Zavada who was solid
in 2009.  The long-man job will go to one
of the starting candidates.

 

ROTATION

Age

B/T

Brandon
Webb

30/1

R/R

Dan
Haren

29

R/R

Edwin
Jackson*

26

R/R

Ian
Kennedy*

25

R/R

Billy
Buckner

26/7

R/R

 

 

 

BULLPEN

 

 

Chad
Qualls

31/2

R/R

Bob
Howry*

36/7

L/R

Juan
Gutierrez

26/7

R/R

Aaron
Heilman*

31

R/R

Clay
Zavada

25/6

L/L

Blaine
Boyer

28/9

R/R

Rodrigo
Lopez*

34

R/R

 

 

 

POSSIBILITIES

 

 

Bryan
Augenstein

23/4

R/R

Kevin
Mulvey

24/5

R/R

Esmerling
Vasquez

26

R/R

Leo
Rosales

28/9

R/R

Zach
Kroenke

25

R/L

T.J.
Beam*

29/0

R/R

*=newly acquired

 

 

Lineup

Justin_Upton_Icon.jpg

The D’Backs have one of the most talented outfielders in the
game in rightfielder Justin Upton.  B.J.’s brother was fantastic last season with
a .300/.366/.532 line and 26 homeruns and is only 22.  Upton could have a huge year in 2010 and is
an MVP in waiting.  Centerfield will
likely be the territory of Chris Young
who has plus power and speed and is a terrific defender, but suffers from a
long swing and hits for an extremely low average.  If the holes in his swing can be fixed, he
could be a perennial 30/30 man.  If he
struggles again in 2010, look for young Gerardo
Parra
to step in.  Parra hit .290
with 60 RBI in 2009 and needs to be in the lineup somewhere.  Conor
Jackson
will likely start the year in leftfield where he is more
comfortable, but he could be moved back to first base if offseason acquisition Adam LaRoche struggles and prospect Brandon Allen isn’t ready.

 

The right side of the infield has a new look this season
with LaRoche at first and another former Brave Kelly Johnson at second. 
Both are looking for bounce back season in the desert.  The left side of the infield looks no
different this season with returnees Stephen
Drew
and Mark Reynolds.  Drew was decent last season but has yet to
really fulfill his immense potential at shortstop; Arizona is hoping for a
.290-.300 hitter with 20-25 homerun power, right now he’s a .260 hitter with
10-15 homerun power.  Reynolds strikes
out at a rate that has never been seen before, and ‘so what?’  If he continues to hit homeruns at the level
and sheer distance he currently does, than who cares how many times he strikes
out?  There are many teams who would love
a guy who hits around .260 with a .350 OBP and 45 homerun power, people need to
stop caring so much about his strike out rate. 
Miguel Montero established
himself as the number one catcher last season after hitting .294 with 16
homeruns in 128 games.  Chris Snyder struggled so badly that
not only is he the backup, but the Diamondbacks tried very hard to trade him in
the offseason.

 

On the bench, Snyder will be joined by infielders Ryan Roberts and Tony Abreu who work well in bench roles, while young outfielders Parra
and Cole Gillespie should also make
the team.  Veteran Augie Ojeda has a shot as well but could hit the waiver wire before
the end of Spring.

 

Pos.

 

Age

B/T

SS

Stephen
Drew

27

L/R

LF

Conor
Jackson

27/8

R/R

RF

Justin
Upton

22/3

R/R

C

Miguel
Montero

26/7

L/R

3B

Mark
Reynolds

26/7

R/R

1B

Adam
LaRoche*

30

L/L

CF

Chris
Young

26

R/R

2B

Kelly
Johnson*

28

L/R

 

 

 

 

 

BENCH

 

 

C

Chris
Snyder

29

R/R

INF

Ryan
Roberts
(2B, 3B, LF)

29

R/R

OF

Gerardo
Parra
(LF, CF, RF)

22/3

L/L

INF

Tony Abreu (SS, 2B)            

25

S/R

OF

Cole
Gillespie
(CF, LF, RF)

25/6

R/R

 

 

 

 

 

POSSIBILITIES

 

 

C

John
Hester

26

R/R

INF

Augie
Ojeda

35

S/R

INF

Rusty
Ryal

27

R/R

1B

Brandon
Allen

24

L/R

OF

Drew
Macias*

27

L/L

*=newly acquired

 

 

With Webb healthy, the acquisition of Jackson and Kennedy,
and continually developing lineup, the Diamondbacks should be a much better
team in 2010 than they were last year, but I’m not going to go out on the limb
I did last season and pick them to win the NL. 
They probably don’t have the tools to compete with the Dodgers and
Giants in the NL West, and they might not be as good as the Rockies
either.  I’m not sold on Colorado, so
there’s a good chance the D’Backs with finish up third in this division.

Final Prediction:
84-78, 3rd NL West

2010 St. Louis Cardinals Preview

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cardinals.gif2009 Record: 91-71, 1st NL Central

2009 Prediction: 86-76, 2nd NL Central

2010 Prediction: 2nd NL Central

 

Impact Player: Albert Pujols

Impact Pitcher: Adam Wainwright

Top Prospect Player:
OF Daryl Jones

Top Prospect Pitcher:
RHP Shelby Miller

 

Manager: Tony LaRussa, 15th Season
(1232-1034, .544)

 

Significant
Acquisitions
: LHP Rich Hill

Significant Losses: UTIL Mark DeRosa, OF Rick Ankiel,
3B Troy Glaus, UTIL Joe Thurston, OF Chris Duncan, INF Khalil
Greene
, RHP Joel Pineiro, RHP Todd Wellemeyer, RHP John Smoltz

 

The Cardinals have been the class of this division since
manager Tony LaRussa arrived 15 years ago. 
They’ve consistently had great pitching and middle-of-the-order power
that is unrivalled in the NL Central and last year was no different.  Chris
Carpenter
came back from yet another
near career-ending injury to be in Cy Young conversation and he was joined by Adam Wainwright who established himself
as a true ace.  The game’s best player Albert Pujols won another MVP (ho-hum)
and was joined late by trade-deadline acquisition Matt Holliday to form a dynamic 3-4 combo with the ability to
punish any team.  With the loss of the
middle part of their rotation and some veterans from their lineup departing in
the offseason, can the Cards repeat as Central champs and get back to the
playoffs?

 

Pitching

AdamWainwright_2006_002.jpg

How many more times can Carpenter suffer a major arm injury
and come back to pitch among the elite in the game?  If he had stayed healthy throughout his
career with both the Blue Jays and the Cardinals, he might be a
Hall-of-Famer.  Last season, he was
terrific coming off of shoulder surgery that saw him pitch only a few games in
two seasons; he went 17-4 with a 2.24 ERA, finishing second behind Tim Lincecum in Cy Young voting.  With Carpenter, you always have to worry that
he’ll suffer another arm injury, and at 35, another major one would probably
end his career.  Adam Wainwright led the NL with 19 wins last season and was 3rd
in Cy Young voting.  Over the last two
years, he has a 30-11 record with an ERA under 3.00; there’s little doubt that
he is one of the best pitchers in the NL. 
Kyle Lohse had a comeback
season in 2008, winning 15 games, and he’ll need another one in 2010 after starting
only 22 games and winning only 6 in 2009. 
Brad Penny was terrible with
the Red Sox in his comeback attempt last season, but seemed to figure it out
after joining the Giants in August, going 4-1 with a 2.59 ERA in 6 starts.  The Cards basically handed Penny a contract
and a spot in their rotation based on those 6 starts, so they’re really hoping
that pays off.  The fifth spot will
likely go to lefthander Rich Hill
who has never since been able to find the form that saw him have a solid 2007
with the Cubs.  Kyle McClellan, Mitchell
Boggs
, Canadian Blake Hawksworth,
and prospects Jamie Garcia, Ben Jukich and Adam Ottavino are among a few of the pitchers who have a shot at
making the rotation instead of Hill.

 

37-year-old Ryan
Franklin
had a breakout 2009 (odd for a guy his age) with 38 saves and a
fantastic 1.92 ERA.  A repeat of that
performance would be terrific, although it shouldn’t be counted on.  Jason
Motte
enters camp as the likely setup man after showing signs of brilliance
a year ago; he also showed his fare share of inconsistency.  Veteran lefthanders Dennys Reyes and Trever
Miller
return and both were solid last season; Miller had a 2.06 ERA.  McClellan was very good in the middle innings
last season and will be back if he’s not starting and the remaining spots
should go to other pitchers who don’t make the rotation.  Tyler
Norrick
, Francisco Samuel and P.J. Walters could also get a look.

 

ROTATION

Age

B/T

Adam Wainwright

28/9

R/R

Chris Carpenter

35

R/R

Kyle Lohse

31

R/R

Brad Penny

31/2

R/R

Rich Hill*

30

L/L

 

 

 

BULLPEN

 

 

Ryan Franklin

37

R/R

Jason Motte

27/8

R/R

Dennys Reyes

33

R/L

Kyle McClellan

25/6

R/R

Trever Miller

36/7

R/L

Mitchell Boggs

26

R/R

Blake Hawksworth

27

R/R

 

 

 

POSSIBILITIES

 

 

Josh Kinney

31

R/R

Ben Jukich

27

L/L

Jamie Garcia

23/4

L/L

Tyler Norrick

26

L/L

Adam Ottavino

24

R/R

Francisco Samuel

23

R/R

P.J. Walters

25

R/R

*=newly acquired

 

 

Lineup

albert-pujols.jpg

Considering the Cardinals have some middle-of-the-order
firepower, it was sort of surprising to see them only 7th in the NL
in runs scored in 2009.  In leftfield,
the Cardinals re-signed Holliday and are hoping he can keep up the pace he had
after being dealt to St. Louis from Oakland at the deadline.  Holliday hit .353 with 13 homeruns and 55 RBI
in just 63 games with the Cards.  The
7-year, $121-million deal is considered by some to be a lot for someone who’s
had only half a great season outside of Colorado’s thin air, but without
Holliday, the Cards lineup would be in big trouble outside of Pujols.  In centerfield is young Colby Rasmus who could be a mainstay there for years to come.  Rasmus showed major promise in his rookie season
and will look to build on that going forward; he’s also a terrific defender who
could win a Gold Glove someday.  Ryan Ludwick will look to have another
good year after a solid 2009.  His
numbers dropped from .299/37/113 to .265/22/97, but that’s still solid.  A full year with Holliday hitting in front of
him should help; however, the late-bloomer alert applies here.

 

Pujols is the best player in baseball.  He’ll obviously be at first after another
ridiculous season that saw him hit .327/.443/.658 with 47 homeruns and 135
RBI.  He was once again the runaway
winner of NL MVP; his second straight and third overall.  Skip
Schumaker
is back at second base after a seamless conversion from the
outfield defensively.  Schumaker is also
a solid contact hitter, hitting .303 with a .364 OBP last season.  Brendan
Ryan
hit .292 last season and appeared to finally play the way the Cards
have been hoping he would for years, however, he’s 28, putting him, like
Ludwick, in the late-bloomer category. 
27-year-old David Freese is
the expected opening day third baseman, although Tyler Greene could challenge him. 
Neither is expected to be a long-term solution.  The catcher is the solid Yadier Molina who can do it all. 
He hit .293 with 54 RBI last season and is widely considered the best
defensive catcher in the game, winning his second straight Gold Glove in 2009.

 

Veteran Jason LaRue
is back as the backup catcher, but the Cards will likely try to upgrade there
during the season, while veteran infielder Julio
Lugo
is back as an extra infielder. 
Greene has a better chance of being put on the bench than Freese simply
because he’s more versatile, being able to play third, short and second.  The extra outfielders will likely be Joe Mather and Nick Stavinoha although 25-year-old Jon Jay may get a look in the Spring.

 

Pos.

 

Age

B/T

2B

Skip Schumaker

30

L/R

SS

Brendan Ryan

28

R/R

1B

Albert Pujols

30

R/R

LF

Matt Holliday

30

R/R

RF

Ryan Ludwick

31/2

R/L

CF

Colby Rasmus

23/4

L/L

C

Yadier Molina

27/8

R/R

3B

David Freese

27

R/R

 

 

 

 

 

BENCH

 

 

C

Jason LaRue

36

R/R

INF

Julio Lugo (SS, 2B)

34

R/R

INF

Tyler Greene (3B, SS, 2B)

26/7

R/R

OF

Joe Mather (RF, LF, 1B)

27/8

R/R

OF

Nick Stavinoha (LF, RF)

27/8

R/R

 

 

 

 

 

POSSIBILITIES

 

 

C

Matt Pagnozzi

27

R/R

C

Bryan Anderson

23

L/R

OF

Jon Jay (CF, LF, RF)

25

L/L

 

 

The Cardinals will be favoured by many to win the NL Central
again this season, and although they certainly have as good a chance as anyone,
they won’t come near the 91 wins they had last season in coasting to
victory.  The Reds and Brewers are better
than they were last season and the Cards lack depth everywhere.  Their lineup has a nice 3-4 combination, but
unless Ludwick returns to his ’08 form and Rasmus has a breakout year, they
could have trouble doing anything outside of Pujols and Holliday.  Their pitching is top-heavy and injury prone
with an aging closer and very little to bridge the gap to him.  Add on top of that that there are no big-time
prospects ready to make the jump this season and you have the recipe for a step
backward.

Final Prediction:
84-78, 2nd NL Central

2010 Pittsburgh Pirates Preview

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pirates.gif2009 Record: 62-99, 6th NL Central

2009 Prediction: 60-102, 6th NL Central

2010 Prediction: 6th NL Central

 

Impact Player: Andrew McCutchen

Impact Pitcher: Paul Maholm

Top Prospect Player:
3B Pedro Alvarez

Top Prospect Pitcher:
RHP Brad Lincoln

 

Manager: John Russell, 3rd Season
(129-194, .399)

 

Significant
Acquisitions
: 2B Akinori Iwamura,
INF Bobby Crosby, OF Ryan Church, RHP Octavio Dotel, RHP Brendan
Donnelly
, LHP Javier Lopez, LHP Jack Taschner, RHP D.J. Carrasco, RHP Vinnie
Chulk
, LHP Neal Cotts

Significant Losses: C Robinzon Diaz, RHP Matt
Capps
, RHP Jesse Chavez

 

The Pittsburgh Pirates now hold the professional sports
record for most consecutive losing seasons with 17.  The Pirates have been the prime example of
how not to run a baseball franchise wince their last winning season in 1992;
trading away good prospects before they develop, losing franchise players and
not getting anything noteworthy in return, and hiring scouts that apparently
have no idea how to do their jobs.  Will
2010 be different?  A new-look bullpen
and a budding star centerfielder will try to push this band of mediocre
baseball players toward the .500-mark. 
Let’s face it, though, they’ll fail; it’s the Pirates!

 

Pitching

paul-maholm.jpg

Paul Maholm is
this team’s number one pitcher in terms of overall talent, but he’s coming off
a sub-par year where he went only 8-9 with a 4.44 ERA.  He’ll be 28 this year, this is the season he
needs to prove he’s worthy of the number one spot on this staff.  Ross
Ohlendorf
made some strides last season after tying for the team lead in
wins with an above .500 11-10 record.  His
ERA was the best of any starter at an impressive 3.92.  He’s probably a number 4 or 5 starter on a
good team, but he’ll need to be a number two for the Bucs.  There were once very high expectations for
lefty Zach Duke who led the NL in
losses last season (16), but he also won 11 games and had a
somewhat-respectable 4.04 ERA.  Beyond
those three, there are serious questions. 
Charlie Morton, Kevin Hart, Jeff Karstens, and Jimmy
Barthmaier
appear to be the frontrunners for the final two spots, but there
are other minor-league arms, such as Daniel
McCutchen
(no relation to Andrew) in the mix.  2006 first-rounder Brad Lincoln and tall righty Tim
Alderson
(acquired in the Freddy Sanchez deal with San Francisco) could
make the jump to the majors if they prove they’re ready.  Both should at the very least end the year in
Pittsburgh.

 

Former closer Matt
Capps
had a rough year in 2009, but most expected the Pirates to offer the
26-year-old arbitration in the offseason; they did not and now he’s the
expected closer in Washington.  As a
stop-gap replacement, the Pirates signed veteran Octavio Dotel to close out ballgames.  He hasn’t been a full-time closer since the
2004 season when he saved 36 games with Houston and Oakland, but the Pirates
believe he still has enough left in the tank for 2010.  If he doesn’t, Joel Hanrahan could step in, but he’s probably better suited for
setup duties.  Evan Meek looked solid in mid-relief last season and will probably be
joined by fellow righties Steven Jackson
and D.J. Carrasco, a versatile and
effective sinker/slider pitcher who was surprisingly non-tendered by the White
Sox.  Lefties Javier Lopez (who was never really on the ins in Boston) and Jack Taschner will probably make the
team, while 38-year-old Brendan Donnelly
was signed and could make the team. 
There are a few other arms that could also be in the mix, including
Alderson, who could be of some use in the ‘pen before making the jump to the
rotation.

 

ROTATION

 

 

Paul Maholm

27/8

L/L

Ross Ohlendorf

27/8

R/R

Zach Duke

27

L/L

Charlie Morton

26

R/R

Kevin Hart

27

R/R

 

 

 

BULLPEN

 

 

Octavio Dotel*

36

R/R

Joel Hanrahan

28

R/R

Evan Meek

26/7

R/R

Steven Jackson

28

R/R

Javier Lopez*

32/3

L/L

Jack Taschner*

32

L/L

D.J. Carrasco*

33

R/R

 

 

 

POSSIBILITIES

 

 

Jeff Karstens

27/8

R/R

Daniel McCutchen

27

R/R

Brendan Donnelly*

38/9

R/R

Wilfredo Ledezma*

29

L/L

Vinnie Chulk*

31

R/R

Brian Burres*

29

L/L

Neal Cotts*

30

L/L

Jimmy Barthmaier

26

R/R

Tyler Yates

32/3

R/R

*=newly acquired

 

 

Lineup

andrew-mccutchen.jpg

Not only were the Pirates 14th in the NL in ERA,
they were dead last in runs scored.  The
Bucs are hoping a full season with young star centerfielder Andrew McCutchen will change that.  McCutchen lit up the NL after a June call-up
last season and torched his way to a .286/.365/.471 line with 12 homeruns and
54 RBI to go along with 22 stolen bases; 20/40 is in his future.  Lastings
Milledge
looked comfortable for the first time in his major-league career
after being traded to the Bucs part way through last season and hit .291 after
being acquired; he’ll play leftfield. 
The rightfielder is expected to be Garrett
Jones
who was called up last season and swatted 21 homeruns in only 82
games while hitting .293.  He does have
plus power, but out-of-nowhere breakout years from 28-year-olds don’t tend to
last long.  If he proves to lack staying
power, Ryan Church was acquired and
could get some playing time.

 

Last year’s opening day infield of Adam LaRoche, Freddy Sanchez,
Jack Wilson and Eric Hinske is gone and was replaced throughout the year last
season.  Andy LaRoche is back at third after getting most of the playing
time after Hinske was dealt to the Yankees and was decent last season, but
needs to strike out less.  His defense
was passable at third.  Ronny Cedeno is the probable shortstop,
and the once highly-touted Cubs prospect has something to prove this
season.  If he struggles, the Pirates
have veteran Ramon Vazquez and they
also signed former AL Rookie of the Year Bobby
Crosby
.  The Pirates traded
semi-effective reliever Jesse Chavez
to Tampa Bay for second baseman Akinori
Iwamura
.  Iwamura hit .290 in only 69
games last season and was the odd man out after Ben Zobrist took flight.  At
first base, there’s expected to be a competition between Jeff Clement (a once can’t-miss prospect catcher in Seattle’s
organization), Crosby, Steve Pearce,
and Garrett Jones if they decide he
shouldn’t be in the outfield.  Clement is
expected to get the job, but Jones might be a better fit, allowing Church to
start in right.  The catcher will be Ryan Doumit who’s coming off a down
year.  He’s trade bait at this point.

 

Crosby, Church and Vazquez will be on the bench if they’re
not starting and they’ll be joined by fifth outfielder Brandon Moss who is a nice left-handed power threat late in
games.  Jason Jaramillo, once thought of as the future starting catcher,
may get his shot if Doumit is traded this year, but for now he’ll likely be the
backup.  Utility-man Delwyn Young could also find himself on the opening day roster.

 

Pos.

 

Age

B/T

CF

Andrew McCutchen

23

R/R

2B

Akinori Iwamura*

31

L/R

RF

Garrett Jones

28/9

L/L

C

Ryan Doumit

29

S/R

1B

Jeff Clement

26/7

L/R

LF

Lastings Milledge

25

R/R

3B

Andy LaRoche

26

R/R

SS

Ronny Cedeno

27

R/R

 

 

 

 

 

BENCH

 

 

C

Jason Jaramillo

27

S/R

INF

Bobby Crosby* (SS, 3B, 2B, 1B)

30

R/R

OF

Ryan Church* (RF, CF, LF)

31

L/L

OF

Brandon Moss (LF, RF)

26

L/R

INF

Ramon Vazquez (2B, SS, 3B)

33/4

L/R

 

 

 

 

 

POSSIBILITIES

 

 

UTIL

Delwyn Young (2B, CF, LF)

27/8

S/R

1B

Steve Pearce (RF)

27

R/R

OF

John Raynor (CF, LF)

26

R/R

3B

Neil Walker

24

S/R

INF

Doug
Bernier
(SS, 2B)                               

29/0

R/R

OF

Jonathan
Van Every
(CF, LF)

30

L/L

*=newly acquired

 

The Pirates were the best defensive team in the majors last
season with a sparkling .988 fielding percentage, but that was about the only
thing they had going for them, falling 4 wins off their 2008 record and
finishing with 99 losses.  The Pirates
need to have a strong season very soon or their already apathetic fan base,
could give up altogether.  The 2010
Pirates are probably not that team; they have only one top-tier player in
McCutchen, but their farm system is improving so Pirates fans will need to
continue holding on to their very tried patience for at least another year.

Final Prediction:
62-100, 6th NL Central

2010 Milwaukee Brewers Preview

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brewers logo.png.gif2009 Record: 80-82, 3rd NL Central

2009 Prediction: 78-84, 4th NL Central

2010 Prediction: 3rd NL Central

                                        

Impact Player: Ryan Braun

Impact Pitcher: Yovani Gallardo

Top Prospect Player:
SS Alcides Escobar

Top Prospect Pitcher:
RHP Eric Arnett

 

Manager: Ken Macha, 2nd Season
(80-82, .494)

 

Significant
Acquisitions
: C Gregg Zaun, CF Carlos Gomez, C George Kottaras, UTIL Joe Inglett,
OF Jim Edmonds, LHP Randy Wolf, LHP Doug Davis, RHP LaTroy
Hawkins
, LHP Scott Schoeneweis

Significant Losses: INF Felipe Lopez, SS J.J. Hardy,
CF Mike Cameron, OF Frank Catalanotto, RHP Mark DiFelice, RHP Seth McClung

 

The Milwaukee Brewers followed up their first playoff
appearance in 27 years with a losing season. 
It wasn’t entirely surprising considering the organization’s best two
pitchers (C.C. Sabathia and Ben Sheets) left via free agency.  The Brewers were left with very little in the
way of pitching and were relying on aging vets like Braden Looper and Jeff
Suppan
to carry the staff which was anchored by the very talented, but
largely inexperience Yovani Gallardo.  The young and talented lineup finished 3rd
in the NL in runs scored, but the pitching staff was second from the bottom in
ERA.  The Brewers are hoping that the
acquisition of Randy Wolf, Doug Davis, and LaTroy Hawkins helps reverse that and get Milwaukee back into the
playoffs.

 

Pitching

yovani-gallardo.jpg

Gallardo is the ace of the staff.  At only 24 years old, he already has the best
track record of any Brewer starter and rightfully so.  Gallardo was 13-12 last season but had a 3.73
ERA in a career-high 185.2 innings which was second on the team.  With the Brewers lineup, there’s no reason
why Gallardo can’t soon enter Cy Young conversation.  After Gallardo, the Brewers are relying on
three veterans in Wolf, Davis and Suppan. 
Wolf was terrific in Dodger-Blue last season racking up 11 wins and a 3.23
ERA.  A repeat of that performance will
certainly help the Brewers be better than last year.  Davis returns for his second stint with the
Brew Crew.  He’s battled injuries and
cancer of the past couple seasons, but he’s a gutsy pitcher who can be very
effective at times.  He still managed
over 200 innings last season with Arizona. 
Suppan is back after a disaster 2009 that saw him go 7-12 with a 5.29
ERA and will need to be better to keep his job. 
The fifth starter will be one of uber-talented but erratic Manny Parra, inconsistent Dave Bush, or Carlos Villanueva.

 

Most people expected closer Trevor Hoffman to fade away into obscurity after leaving his
long-time playing ground in San Diego, but instead he came to Milwaukee and was
one of the better closers in the NL in 2009. 
Hoffman posted 37 saves and a 1.83 ERA proving that he still has
something left in the tank.  At 42, the Brewers
are hoping he has just a little more.  Todd Coffey rejuvenated his career last
season fighting his way to a 2.90 ERA in 78 games.  He’s back as the main setup option and a
possible closer if Hoffman starts to show his age.  37-year-old Hawkins was signed in the
offseason to provide some depth, while lefthander Mitch Stetter is coming off a solid campaign.  Veteran righties Claudio Vargas and David
Riske
are expected to fill out the middle-relief core.  Riske is coming off an injury-riddled season
that saw him pitch in only one game while Vargas has accepted and thrived in
his new bullpen role.  He had a 1.78 ERA in
the ‘pen after being re-acquired last year at the trade deadline.  Whoever’s not starting will be the long-man.

 

ROTATION

Age

B/T

Yovani Gallardo

24

R/R

Randy Wolf*

33/4

L/L

Doug Davis*

34

R/L

Jeff Suppan

35

R/R

Manny Parra

27

L/L

 

 

 

BULLPEN

 

 

Trevor Hoffman

42

R/R

Todd Coffey

29

R/R

LaTroy Hawkins*

37

R/R

Mitch Stetter

29

L/L

Claudio Vargas

31/2

R/R

Carlos Villanueva

26

R/R

David Riske

33

R/R

 

 

 

POSSIBILITIES

 

 

Dave Bush

30

R/R

Chris Narveson

28

L/L

John Axford

27

R/R

Chuck Lofgren

24

L/L

Chris Capuano

31/2

L/L

Scott Schoeneweis

36

L/L

*=newly acquired

 

 

Lineup

ryan-braun.jpg

The Brewers still possess one of the best lineups in the NL
and should have no trouble scoring runs in 2010.  Leftfielder Ryan Braun is one of the best pure hitters in the game; he hit .320
with 32 homeruns and 114 RBI last season and at only 26, he’s not expected to
slow down anytime soon.  Expect an
MVP-type season once again.  Veteran
centerfielder Mike Cameron is out
and has been replaced by Carlos Gomez
who comes over from the Twins for struggling shortstop J.J. Hardy.  Gomez is a truly
gifted defensive player but has struggled thus far in his career at the
plate.  He hit just .229 last season and
the Twins got tired of waiting for him to develop plate discipline.  A change of scenery and a move to the NL
might be what he needs.  Corey Hart not only wears his
sunglasses at night (kills me every time, I don’t care if it gets old) but he
also plays rightfield for the Brewers. 
Although he didn’t show it last year, Hart is a 20/20 threat, but the Brewers
need more out of him than they got last year when he hit just .260 with 12
homeruns and 48 RBI.  If Gomez struggles,
fourth outfielder Jody Gerut could
step in.

 

Prince Fielder
may not be a Brewer much longer as he stands to make a ton in arbitration and
the Brewers traditionally don’t spend a lot of money, but for now he’s one of
the most feared hitters in the game.  He also
works hard at his defense at first and has been getting better than he once
was.  Second baseman Rickie Weeks rebounded to have a solid season in 2009 after a
terrible one in 2008, but at only 27 he appears to have already lost much of
his power.  Shortstop Alcides Escobar will finally get his
chance to prove he can live up to the hype with the trading of Hardy and rookie
standout Casey McGehee is back at
third base where the Brewers hope his out-of-nowhere first year wasn’t a fluke.  Veteran Gregg
Zaun
is a fantastic game-caller and an extremely hard worker and will
likely get most of the starts behind the plate in 2010 after signing in the
offseason.

 

Canadian George
Kottaras
will probably backup Zaun but both are merely holding a place
until Angel Salome is ready, which
should be some time this season.  Gerut
will be the fourth outfielder unless he’s pushed into starting and veteran
infielder Craig Counsell is back as
well.  Utility-man Joe Inglett  comes over from
the Blue Jays and can play just about anywhere while the final roster spot
could go to Mat Gamel who could end
up starting at third if McGehee isn’t what he was last season.  Outfielder Jim Edmonds has come out of his forced retirement and will try to
make the team in the Spring.  He should
have a decent shot, but he probably won’t start much.

 

Pos.

 

Age

B/T

2B

Rickie Weeks

27

R/R

RF

Corey Hart

28

R/R

LF

Ryan Braun

26

R/R

1B

Prince Fielder

25/6

L/R

3B

Casey McGehee

27

R/R

C

Gregg Zaun*

39

S/R

CF

Carlos Gomez*

24

R/R

SS

Alcides Escobar

23

R/R

 

 

 

 

 

BENCH

 

 

C

George Kottaras*

26/7

L/R

INF

Craig Counsell

39/0

L/R

OF

Jody Gerut

32

L/L

UTIL

Joe Inglett*

31/2

L/R

3B

Mat Gamel

24/5

L/R

 

 

 

 

 

POSSIBILITIES

 

 

C

Angel Salome

23/4

R/R

INF

Adam Heether

28

R/R

INF

Hernan Iribarren

25/6

L/R

OF

Norris Hopper*

31

R/R

OF

Jim Edmonds*

39/0

L/L

*=newly
acquired

 

The Brewers
will be among the top run producing teams in the league again this year with
one of the best 3-4 combos in baseball in Braun and Fielder, but their pitching
isn’t much better than is was last season. 
The big plus for the Brewers is that the division shouldn’t take as many
wins to take down as it did in 2009. 
They could be in the hunt if the Cardinals aren’t as good this season.

Final Prediction: 82-80, 3rd
NL Central

 

2010 Houston Astros Preview

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houston logo.png.gifHouston Astros

 

2009 Record: 74-88, 5th NL Central

2009 Prediction: 74-88, 5th NL Central

2010 Prediction: 5th NL central

 

Impact Player: Carlos Lee

Impact Pitcher: Roy Oswalt

Top Prospect Player:
C Jason Castro

Top Prospect Pitcher:
RHP Jordan Lyles

 

Manager: Brad Mills, 1st Season

 

Significant
Acquisitions
: 3B Pedro Feliz, RHP
Brett Myers, RHP Matt Lindstrom, RHP Brandon Lyon

Significant Losses: SS Miguel Tejada, UTIL Darin Erstad,
RHP Russ Ortiz, RHP Jose Valverde, RHP LaTroy Hawkins

 

Not to toot my own horn, but beep, beep.  Notice the 2009 prediction and 2009 record at
the top of this page.  Dead on.  Wins and
division standing.  Athlon Sports; I’m waiting
for my job offer.  Many people had the
Astros finishing with a winning record last season, but not this guy, I knew
their team was too old and lacked depth, and guess what; this year won’t be any
better.  The Astros are slightly younger
than last year, but not much, and their rotation still lacks depth, as does
their lineup.  It won’t be a fun year in
Houston.

 

Pitching

RoyOswalt_2006_006.jpg

Is Roy Oswalt‘s
small stature finally catching up with him? 
Back problems led to the perennial All-Star’s worst season in the majors
in 2009.  He still started 30 games, but
his health prevented him from going deep into them and he was left with only 14
decisions.  His 4.12 ERA was by far the highest
of his career and it was the very first time he finished with less than 10 wins
in a season (8).  He’ll look to prove the
critics wrong in 2010 (something he’s very good at) and reassert himself atop
of this rotation.  Wandy Rodriguez finally had his long-awaited breakout season in
2009; the lefty posted a 14-12 record with a 3.02 ERA.  A word of caution: he’s 31; not exactly the
age most pitchers have breakout years, don’t expect it to last.  The ‘Stros signed former Phillie Brett Myers to a contract in the
offseason and he hopes to remain healthy; something he hasn’t been able to do
very well the last few years.  The last
two spots in the rotation will likely go to youngsters Bud Norris (25) and Felipe
Paulino
(26).  Norris was 6-3 in 55.2
innings last year, while Paulino struggled going 3-11 and has a career ERA of
6.40.  Young lefthander Wesley Wright could also have a shot at
making the rotation, but his ability to get lefties out might be needed more in
the bullpen, while veteran Brian Moehler
is still around and will be given a chance to make the team.

 

All-Star closer Jose
Valverde
signed with the Tigers so the Astros acquired two pitchers to
anchor the back end of the ‘pen for 2010. 
Matt Lindstrom is likely to
have the best shot at the closer job with his electric arm; he struggled in
that role last season in Florida and if he struggles again, veteran setup man Brandon Lyon could step in.  Lyon had a 2.86 ERA last season in Detroit
and has experience closing.  Righthanders
Jeff Fulchino, Alberto Arias, and Chris
Sampson
are expected to pitch the middle innings while veteran Tim Byrdak will be the team’s main
lefthanded option.  Moehler could be the
long-man if he’s not starting and Wright could also be in the mix as well.

 

ROTATION

Age

B/T

Roy Oswalt

32/3

R/R

Wandy Rodriguez

31

R/L

Brett Myers*

29/0

R/R

Bud Norris

25

R/R

Felipe Paulino

26

R/R

 

 

 

BULLPEN

 

 

Matt Lindstrom*

30

R/R

Brandon Lyon*

30/1

R/R

Jeff Fulchino

30

R/R

Alberto Arias

26

R/R

Tim Byrdak

36

L/L

Chris Sampson

31/2

R/R

Wesley Wright

25

L/L

 

 

 

POSSIBILITIES

 

 

Brian Moehler

38

R/R

Samuel Gervacio

25

R/R

Gary Majewski

30

R/R

Casey Daigle

29

R/R

Gustavo Chacin

29

L/L

Josh Banks

27/8

R/R

Shane Loux

30/1

R/R

*=newly acquired

 

 

Lineup

carlos-lee.jpg

The Astros were 3rd last in the NL in runs scored
last year and only 12th in homeruns in sprite of being in one of the
best homeruns hitter’s parks in baseball. 
They didn’t do much in the offseason to remedy the situation by gaining
only Pedro Feliz who had just a .386
slugging percentage last year in Philadelphia, while losing Miguel Tejada.

 

The outfield features the team’s three best players.  In leftfield, Carlos Lee continues to battle weight and conditioning problems
which will eventually force him to DH on an AL team, but is coming off a
.300/26/102 season, while rightfielder Hunter
Pence
is the team’s present and
future.  Pence was an All-Star last
season and finished hitting .282 with 25 homeruns.  Michael
Bourn
is one of the fastest players in baseball, proving it with an NL
leading 61 stolen bases and also winning a Gold Glove in centerfield.  He also broke out with the bat, hitting .285.

 

First baseman Lance
Berkman
is very slowly starting to show his age, but is still one of the
most powerful switch hitters in the league. 
His .399 OBP doesn’t hurt either. 
Feliz is one of the best defensive third basemen in baseball, but his
bat continues to be his weakness.  Don’t
let his 12 HR and 82 RBI from 2009 fool you. 
He did that in a stacked Phillies lineup (which Houston’s is not) and he
had only a .692 OPS, simply not good enough for a corner infielder.  Kazuo
Matsui
is back at second base, but at 34, is well past his best days while
the shortstop job will likely end up in the hands of rookie Tommy Manzella who’s 27.  Manzella is only ranked 11th on
the organization’s prospect list (according to Baseball America) which isn’t great considering the Astros rank
dead last in the majors in minor-league talent. 
The catcher’s job will be a Spring battle between J.R. Towles and Humberto
Quintero
.  Towles has been handed the
job a few times before and has failed miserably every time; this may be his
last chance.

 

On the bench will be the backup catcher along with
outfielder Jason Michaels who can
play all three outfield positions. 
Veteran infielders Jeff Keppinger
(who might start at short if Manzella struggles) and Geoff Blum are back and so is infielder Edwin Maysonet and all are expected to make the team.  Cory
Sullivan
could be the fifth outfielder if the Astros decide they need one.

 

 

CF

Michael Bourn

27

L/R

2B

Kazuo Matsui

34

S/R

LF

Carlos Lee

33/4

R/R

1B

Lance Berkman

34

S/L

RF

Hunter Pence

27

R/R

3B

Pedro Feliz*

35

R/R

C

J.R. Towles

26

R/R

SS

Tommy Manzella

27

R/R

 

 

 

 

 

BENCH

 

 

C

Humberto Quintero

30/1

R/R

INF

Geoff Blum (3B, 1B)

37

S/R

INF

Jeff Keppinger (SS, 2B, 3B)

30

R/R

OF

Jason Michaels (LF, RF, CF)

33/4

R/R

INF

Edwin Maysonet (2B, SS, 3B)

28

R/R

 

 

 

 

 

POSSIBILITIES

 

 

3B

Chris Johnson

25

R/R

INF

Chris Shelton

29/0

R/R

OF

Cory Sullivan

30/1

L/L

C

Kevin Cash

32

R/R

*=newly
acquired

 

I doubt I’ll be exactly right on the Astros two years
running, but bet on them being as bad or worse than they were last season.  Their rotation is thin and injury-prone (even
if Oswalt returns to form) and the lineup is filled with aging vets well beyond
their most productive years.  The bench
is also thin and if you think a youth movement will save the franchise; think
again.  The ‘Stros have the least
talented farm system in all of baseball and will likely have to trade away veterans
like Berkman, Lee, Oswalt, and others to replenish it to the point of
respectability.

Final Prediction:
68-94, 5th NL Central