Monday, April 04, 2005

National League Preview

Before I get to my guaranteed-wrong predictions for this year in the National League, I just want to thank all of you who have checked out "The Sandlot." I also want to thank you all for pointing out my egregious wrongness in my Final Four forecast. You know, there's a reason why I teach English and Philosophy instead of breaking it down with Dan and Stu and Boomer on SportsCenter. But I'm always happy to see others laugh at my expense...

So with that in mind, here are some more wrongheaded predictions for this year in baseball. Remember kids, if you place any bets based on this column, then my friend Tuck has a couple bridges in his state you might be interested in. Oh, and I'm only picking the top three in each division; who cares about the bottom-feeders anyway?

NL EAST
1. Atlanta
2. New York Mets
3. Philadelphia

Atlanta Braves
Strengths: the smartest general manager in the modern era of baseball; starting pitching (what else?)
Weaknesses: perennial bridesmaids; the WORST bandwagon fans in the history of professional sports

New York Mets
Strengths: Pedro Martinez; a crazy owner who spends money like a drunken Steinbrenner
Weaknesses: given today's outcome, their bullpen, obviously

Philadelphia Phillies
Strengths: Jim Thome
Weaknesses: no longer have the steady, even-handed management of Larry Bowa to guide them.

NL Central
1. St. Louis
2. Cincinnati
3. Houston

St. Louis Cardinals
Strengths: Murderer's Row hitting lineup; starting pitching
Weaknesses: pressure of meeting expectations to win in last year in Busch Stadium

Cincinnati
Strengths: Ken Griffey Jr. in center field
Weaknesses: Ken Griffey Jr. on the disabled list

Houston
Strengths: starting pitching
Weaknesses: average age of starting lineup is older than ME

(Where are the Cubs? Screw them, they'll finish 5th behind Milwaukee. Deal with it.)

NL WEST
1. San Diego
2. Los Angeles
3. San Francisco

San Diego Padres
Strengths: good balance of pitching and hitting; veterans and up-and-comers
Weaknesses: surf's up, dude

Los Angeles Dodgers
Strengths: Eric Gagne
Weaknesses: lethargic fans; smog

San Francisco Giants
Strengths: Barry Bonds chasing home run history
Weaknesses: Barry Bonds, de-juiced, grounding weakly to second

Divisional Playoffs:
St. Louis over Los Angeles
Atlanta over San Diego

NL Championship:
St. Louis over Atlanta

next time: AL preview (not that I care...)

3 comments:

TUCK! said...

FINALLY a REAL sport to fight, er, debate (what is UP with freaking Roy Williams winning the tourney in STL, anyway? Couldn't they have rigged the floor to trip up the NC players or something?)(The only worse thing would have been the guys from the wrong side of the river winning. On the other hand, KANSAS LOST!)

Now, back to the real sport! I think you sold Florida short in the East, and Chicago (sorry, gotta go spit when I say that) in the Central. You oversell Cinci, too, Griffey or no.

The west is fine, but only b/c they're a non-factor. The Padres have the most Atlanta-like fans west of the Mississippi (they'll only show for a winner, and maybe not even then), but at least when they're there, they're there (unlike "Show at the third, leave in the seventh" LA)...

I'm worried that the Cards won't have the energy out of the gate that Houston and Chicago (spit) seem to be brandishing...if the Redbirds can keep it close in April (always an adventure for Los Russas), then maybe, just maybe, we'll be able to sell one of those bridges you refer to...

Sandman said...

Chicago just doesn't have the pitching, period. Prior's already on the DL, and Wood is like an injury time bomb. Their bullpen is a pathetic joke, and they let their two biggest power hitters, Alou and Sosa, go without a significant replacement. Cinci's got good young hitters--Dunn, Kearns, et al--around Griffey, and I expect some of their young pitchers to step up. Houston is old, old, OLD and won't keep the pace for a full season. I do agree with you about the west--the division champ is just cannon fodder for a first-round playoff opponent.

Big Pappa Pump said...

Cincinatti nope.....and probably not the Cubs in this division. I definately look at the Cards to win the division again, unless an injury to Pujols. I look at a new young team to pop up this year. This team has great young pitching. They may not be there this year, but all they need is a couple of good hitter. They are the Milwaukee Brewers. Look at their pitching, enough said.