2010 Baseball Predictions
by Trevor Whenham - 4/6/2010
After a long offseason filled with far too much Yankee gloating, baseball is finally back. For almost seven months we can now count on having something to watch and bet on virtually every day. As we get ready for to make some profits this summer, here are seven 2010 baseball predictions that will guide my betting decisions:
The Dodgers will be let down by their rotation - The NL West should be winnable for the Dodgers, but not unless their pitching overperforms. All you need to know here is this - Vicente Padilla was the opening day starter. He's a decent guy to have at the back of the rotation, but he's certainly not an ace. Neither is anyone else the Dodgers have. Clayton Kershaw is promising but too young. Chad Billingsley is Padilla in a different uniform. Hiroki Kuroda is inconsistent and won't win much more than he loses. The fifth spot is a disaster - unproven knuckleballer Charlie Haeger, journeyman Jeff Weaver, or other equally ugly choices. There are a lot of reasons to like this team, but the starting pitching definitely isn't one of them.
Ubaldo Jimenez is a Cy Young darkhorse - The NL Cy Young race is widely seen as a three-horse race - Lincecum, Halladay, and Santana. It's hard to argue with that, but I'd add the Colorado ace to that list as well. Jimenez is a rapidly improving 26 year old that has dropped his ERA significantly in each of his first three seasons as a starter. He's got dirty stuff, and he'll be helped out by strong defense and solid offensive production behind him. Playing in Coors Field is a handicap, but not as big of one as it used to be. His Opening Day start was absolutely brilliant, and it was no fluke.
The Phillies really are that good - What can't this team do? They have the best pitcher in baseball, and Halladay is a massive upgrade over what they had at the start of last season. He's at the top of a solid rotation - especially if Cole Hamels can look as good in the summer as he did in the spring. They have as many as eight All-Stars to put up against opposing teams, and they can hit the lights out unlike almost anyone. A few teams have a guy in the heart of the MVP race to start the season. The Phillies have three or four. They have a few faults - notably their bullpen has issues - but this team hasn't been a fluke in reaching the last two World Series', and they certainly wouldn't be a shock to do it again. I'd argue that this is, by a fair bit, the best team they have fielded in April. A Phillies World Series return is a great possibility.
Tampa's bullpen will cause issues - There are a lot of reasons to like the Rays. They can hit. Their defense is going to be solid. Their rotation has the potential to be brilliant, and they have Jeremy Hellickson waiting in the minors to step in when he is needed. The big problem they have, though, is their bullpen. It's almost like they spent all of their money before working on the bullpen, so they decided to make do with what they had. Playing in the AL East the Rays don't have any margin for error, and the bullpen could be what holds them back.
Joe Nathan's injury will haunt the Twins - Nathan, Minnesota's closer, has had Tommy John surgery and is out for at least the year. The Twins have enough talent to win the AL Central, but this is a massive blow. Nathan has had 246 saves in the last six years since joining the Twins, and hasn't had fewer than 36 in a year during that stretch. Minnesota will miss those saves, but there is more. They don't have the best pitching in the league, but their arms have drawn confidence from knowing that Nathan is behind them ready to shut the door. Without him this team could suffer a serious crisis of confidence, and that could cost them the division.
It's too easy to sell the Angels short - It has become popular to suggest that the Angels have no chance of winning the AL West - that it is just a two-team race between the Mariners and the Rangers. While I like both Texas and Seattle a lot, I am nervous about counting out the Angels. They have lost a lot, but they still have a solid rotation if it's healthy, they have guys who can hit, and they can play some defense. They likely won't meet their win totals of the last couple of years when they have won, but this is still a team that could win 90 or more and be in position pounce if either of the upstart teams falter.
The Marlins could rise again - No team in league history has done more with less than the Marlins. It's been a while since their last run to the World Series, and they could be due for a resurgence again. There are a lot of teams who don't have the talent the Marlins do even if they are paying significantly more for it. Josh Johnson is unquestionably an ace, and Ricky Nolasco has the look of a guy who is ready to be special as well. Hanley Ramirez is as good as anyone, and Cameron Maybin could be a star as well. This is a team that shouldn't be taken lightly.
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