Baseball 2012: A good use of my time

27 Mar

This is my first foray into truly blogging about baseball. All this week, I’ll be posting bits of my 2012 baseball season preview. The next three days, it’s going to be the baseball teams, counting down from 30 to 1.

I’m so smart. Debut my baseball writing by talking about the crappy teams no one likes. And the Cubs – the crappy team a lot of people like.

Anyway, today is spots 30-21, otherwise known as the National League Central. Okay, not exactly, but man, that division sucks. First eight people to read this, e-mail me and we’ll start our own team. We could at least beat the Astros. Note that these are not ordered by projected final record, as the Astros are going to avoid having the worst record ever created by virtue of facing the Cubs and Pirates lots of times. Nice for them.

So that will take everything through Wednesday. On Thursday, I’ll talk about my projected award-winners and other fun stuff like that. And Friday will bring up my playoff projections, and whatever else I feel like talking about. This is my blog. I have all the power.

Okay, yeah, we’re starting with the bottom. Call it the “Sorry, but no” group. With one exception (the White Sox, at 22), I don’t see any way any of these teams could even consider competing for the division title, and the White Sox only have a chance by virtue of being in the AL Central.

I suppose there are no great shocks here. Maybe one of you thought the Dodgers would make a run this year. Maybe my friends in San Diego are blind to the Padres deficiencies and think this, at long last, is Chase Headley’s year. I mean, they’re wrong, but maybe they think that, and can read this and learn their mistakes.

I hope you all enjoy. At the very least, I hope you all acknowledge, comment, criticize, and send money to support my livelihood. That would be awfully nice of you.


30: Houston Astros

Projected record: 66-96 (sixth in NL Central, 20 games back)

What I said last year: “Everyone can win the Central. Except the Astros.”

What I say this year: Number of Houston Astros who would start for more than three or four other clubs: three? Maybe not even that. Other bad teams have shining spots (Mets have David Wright, Orioles have Adam Jones, A’s have the Cespedes/Ramirez parade), but geez, the Astros are just about as bad as roster as I’ve seen since the 2003 Tigers. Go Jose Altuve, Jed Lowrie and Wandy Rodriguez, I guess.

Lame tweet from guy who likes puns too much: They mentioned renaming the team as they move to the AL next year. How ‘bout the Houston LASTros?! #LOLOL

Make-or-break player: Originally, I was going to call this segment “Key guy for a possible playoff run,” but I started to write it here and just couldn’t stop laughing

Relevant link: This guy would be, what, the fourth-best athlete on the Astros?


29: New York Mets

Projected record: 62-100 (fifth in NL East, 33 games back)

What I said last year: “Ugh, this Mets team.”

What I say this year: Do YOU trust Johan Santana, Jason Bay, Jon Rauch, Frank Francisco? Five years ago maybe. Today, they’re in the doctor’s office as often as they’re on the field. The Mets have the unfortunate situation of being a bottom-three roster in the second-toughest division. A hundred losses seems to be a sure thing.

Lame tweet from guy who likes puns too much: If he’s jealous of the good teams, would that make him Jason GREEN Bay? #StretchingForAPun (Note: I read this a few days after I wrote it, and I’m not even sure I get it. Oh well)

Make-or-break player: I mean…it’s David Wright, right? He hasn’t had better than 4 WAR since ’08, and I wondered last year whether he’d ever be the David Wright he should be. Anyway, who else would I pick? Andres frickin’ Torres? This team isn’t good enough to have other key players.

Relevant link: I could TOTALLY see this being how Scott Hairston made the club.


28: Baltimore Orioles

Projected record: 59-103 (fifth in AL East, 38 games back)

What I said last year: “No one is rooting harder for radical realignment.”

What I say this year: A year ago, I thought these guys had the chance to be the next great pitching staff. It…wasn’t. Something in the Baltimore system is screwing pitchers up, and between that and the fact that half of the U.S. population turned down the GM job, it’s clear the Orioles’ problems won’t be solved as long as Peter Angelos is making the big decisions.

Lame tweet from guy who likes puns too much: Did Mark Reynolds and 196 K’s stage a walkout? ‘Cause he seems like he’s on STRIKE! #CouldntThinkOfAChrisDavisPun

Make-or-break player: Brian Matusz. I was ALL OVER this kid last year. I had him on three of my four fantasy teams, and tried my damnedest to trade for him in the fourth. This was slightly before his 10.69 ERA. I’d love it if he could find the MPH he seems to have lost off his fastball – and, to be honest, it looks this spring like it has returned — because the skill is there. Or, at least, it used to be.

Relevant link: Hey, it’s 2011 Brian Matusz!


27: San Diego Padres

Projected record: 74-88 (fifth in NL West, 11 games back)

What I said last year: “Losing Gonzalez means they might score about six runs all season.”

What I say this year: Okay, here’s the thing. The Reds gave up way too much for Mat Latos. If I’m ever in charge of a team — and, if any teams are reading this, I’m available — I can’t picture ever trading for a pitcher who spends his time in Petco Park. I know, I know, Latos’ road numbers are good, but still. I don’t trust ex-Pad arms. But, while Alonso and Grandal are the best players the Pads got, everyone is going to THINK Volquez is the prize of the deal, because that guy is going to look AWESOME in San Diego.

Lame tweet from guy who likes puns too much: These guys hit so bad it’s OFFENSIVE!

Make-or-break player: Carlos Quentin, I guess. We know they’ll pitch pretty well (because if Petco can revive Aaron Harang’s career it can do anything), but yuck, that offense. Quentin and Cameron Maybin are the crucial bits here, but I feel like I don’t doubt much about how Maybin is going to perform. Kid is going to be a stud this year. Quentin, though? Well, he’s injured for a bit, and he’s moving to a tougher park. But if there’s going to be any pop, he’s it.

Relevant link: Sources: No truth to rumors he will be batting cleanup this year.


26: Oakland Athletics

Projected record: 65-97 (fourth in AL West, 33 games back)

What I said last year: “I love this pitching staff, especially in that field.”

What I say this year: I mean…Billy Beane is smart. And yes, the A’s are broke. But they traded away a lot of innings pitched, and then signed Yoenes Cespedes and Manny Ramirez? I guess those two can eventually be trade chips, and will bring in the fans, but I’m not sure I see the method to Beane’s madness.

Lame tweet from guy who likes puns too much: These guys hit so bad it’s OFFENSIVE! (I used a joke twice! I’m funny.)

Make-or-break player: Wait, it’s NOT Cespedes or Ramirez? Well, no. Best-case scenario for Manny is 100 games played and 15 homers. Cespedes might not get that many games. No, I suppose it’s Brandon McCarthy. With Gonzalez and Cahill gone, he’s the de facto ace, and if he can somehow stay healthy, he sure has the talent to do it.

Relevant link: Well, this is what Oakland pitchers think while in Japan.


25: Minnesota Twins

Projected record: 69-93 (fifth in AL Central, 19 games back)

What I said last year: “If Morneau-Mauer-Liriano-Nathan are now healthy and remain that way, they can easily win the division.”

What I say this year: Well, Morneau-Mauer-Liriano-Nathan weren’t exactly healthy. Morneau’s career is hardly a sure thing, Nathan is gone, Mauer seems to have some chronic issues, and the less said about Liriano, the better. And yes, he threw a no-hitter last year. I had him on every one of my fantasy teams, and I still don’t care.

Lame tweet from guy who likes puns too much: They’ll need more than St. Paul to win this year…They’ll need St. Christopher! #TwinCities

Make-or-break player: It’s Joe Mauer. It’s cliche, but it’s Joe Mauer. They have so freaking much money invested in this guy that, if his injuries, illnesses and infirmities continue, this franchise is going to be in some seriously dire straits.

Relevant link: Some people are crazy.


24: Chicago Cubs

Projected record: 72-90 (fifth in NL Central, 14 games back)

What I said last year: “I could see them winning 90 games. I could. But so bleeding much would have to go right that I can’t predict it.”

What I say this year: For my buddy Sean, I hope Theo Epstein has the impact Cubs fans are hoping for. And, in honor of the best commercial ever, for MLB12 The Show, I hope all those long-suffering Cubs fans get their celebration one of these days. But it ain’t happening this year, and I don’t see it happening any time soon. Castro is good, but he’s just about the only one. I just don’t see any reasons for optimism.

Lame tweet from guy who likes puns too much: “These are the saddest of possible words: We are the Chicago Cubs. A whole team of awful and pitching like turds. I hope Theo offers backrubs.” (Note: This was not a tweet. It was not a pun. I don’t care. I wrote a poem!)

Make-or-break player: We know Starlin Castro is good. We do not know Darwin Barney is good. He might very well be bad at baseball. The Cubs hope he is not. The truth will matter greatly.

Relevant link: The only reason I’m ever rooting for a Cubs World Series.


23: Pittsburgh Pirates

Projected record: 77-85 (fourth in NL Central, 9 games back)

What I said last year: “You know what? They could win the division.”

What I say this year: The Pirates are still on the rise, but they’re still a few years away from being truly competitive. Even last year, when they flirted with first place for a while, was a mirage. But I do like what they’re putting together.

Lame tweet from guy who likes puns too much: AJ makes way too many BUCS! #JokeThatDidntWorkBeforeTheTrade (Tweet #2: Hey, AJ: Way to keep your EYE on the BALL! #LiteralTweet #WockaWocka #HeGotHurt)

Make-or-break player: A couple weeks ago, this paragraph was about AJ Burnett. But the bunted ball to the face kind of negates that. So I suppose it will instead be about Pedro Alvarez. He was a massive disappointment last year, and really needs to resemble the top prospect he used to be for the Pirates foundation to be anything more than Andrew McCutchen waiting to be traded.

Relevant link: Man, doesn’t THAT just sum up what Alvarez needs to do this year? Power through the overrated chants.


22: Chicago White Sox

Projected record: 77-85 (fourth in AL Central, 11 games back)

What I said last year: “There’s a lot of names on the pitching staff, but not a lot to fear. Not anymore.”

What I say this year: The thing about this White Sox team is that there’s no particular position at which they’re awful. There’s youth, veterans, some pitchers. But there’s absolutely nothing that really impresses me; on the contrary, the more I look at their roster, the more I yawn. I still say Gordon Beckham is good at baseball. But I’m pretty sure I’m the last person in the world who thinks that — including Beckham’s parents.

Lame tweet from guy who likes puns too much: Let’s just call him Adam Done, ‘cause he’s finished! #PeteIncaviglia

Make-or-break player: This is the first team I could see actually somehow, some way making the playoffs. It’s a super-duper long shot, but all of the AL Central has questions, and if Adam Dunn can remember how to be Adam Dunn, they might be able to make something happen.

Relevant link: Thanks to this video, this girl has evidence to show her therapist in 2027 when he asks her why she has trust issues and gets nervous around Christmas.


21: Los Angeles Dodgers

Projected record: 79-83 (fourth in NL West, 6 games back)

What I said last year: “So much mediocrity. So, so much.”

What I say this year: Man. I thought they were mediocre last year. Then they go out and — intentionally, by all accounts — spend money on Mark Ellis. Aaron Harang. Chris Capuano. The Dodgers are the mediocrest mediocre that ever mediocred. I mean, Matt Kemp and Clayton Kershaw are great, but when the third-best player on your roster is Andre Ethier, and Andre Ethier isn’t the long-hitting-streak, make-an-ESPN-commercial Andre Ethier (and he’s not), then your team isn’t special at all.

Lame tweet from guy who likes puns too much: Mark AND AJ? This year, Chavez Ravine will be Ellis Island!!!! #HistoryLessonPun

Make-or-break player: James Loney. This is my fun little way of saying that the Dodgers won’t “make.” They will “break.” James Loney is, by all accounts, a perfectly respectable human being. If he was a slick-fielding shortstop, I’d add him to my theoretical team in a second. But that first baseman’s mitt he carries around with him tells me that he is little more than a drag for this team. A team can go a long way with a subpar first baseman (I’m a Rangers fan, after all), but it needs to have some great strength elsewhere. Well, the rest of the Dodger infielders are named Ellis, Uribe and Gordon. Harang is in their rotation. Simply put, this team is not the 2011 Rangers, so there’s nowhere to hide that first baseman.

Relevant link: No, no, it’s okay. You can stop believing now.


One Response to “Baseball 2012: A good use of my time”

  1. Kevin March 30, 2012 at 11:56 am #

    I think you might be too high on the Mets. They are ass.

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