On The Baseball Season Thus Far

The June 1st Report

AL Central:
They Showed Me:
“4. Detroit Tigers-The Tigers are good enough to play .500 ball in 2006, but it is doubtful that they will. David Dombrowski did a good job in the off season by hiring Jim Leyland, a manager that deserves more credit than he gets, and bolstering the pitching staff. This team will be a force in the Central for years to come, and glances of that will be flashed at times in 2006.”
-Dieter Kurtenbach 3.22.06 “2006 Major League Preview”
In my defense, I was only a year off. And I was not really writing them off, I just figured that they needed a year to get there. Now they are the best team in the Majors and it appears that they are there to stay. But not so fast! The pitching staff is coming apart slowly, and a recent series against the Yankees in which they lost 3 of 4 show that their bullpen lacks depth, and their hitting does not show up sometimes. The scary part: they came back to tie or lead the game in every single on of their losses. As their schedule becomes a little more daunting, we will see if these Tigers are last years White Sox, or this years Cincinnati

The White Sox meanwhile have had glimpses of a team that could be in the all time greats of baseball, but have been brutally inconsistent at other times. They truly need to lock it up. A recent 2 of 5-road trip let them gain no ground on a Tigers loosing streak. The true test will come with a three game series at home against those Tigers, where the division lead will be up for grabs. Jose Contreras, after showing Cy Young form for the first month of the season needs to bounce back from his sciatic nerve injury (therefore proving that he is 45 years old) to get this rotation that is the best in the league. This is really not an issue of whether or not the White Sox can win the division, it is rather will they go out there and do it. They are better than the Tigers, and the Tigers are the best team in the league. If the White Sox can endure this regular season, like they did last year with the Indians, they will find the playoffs excruciatingly easy.

Called It:
“This team has no offense, but a pitching staff that will be near the top of the league. Francisco Liriano will run away with rookie of the year, and be a second Johan Santana in the Twinkie dome. Those two might be able to get 35 for the Twins this year. The rest of the staff is solid, and the Nathan led bullpen is dangerous as always. The twins just will not be able to score enough runs to contend, and the though their pitching is good, it is not flawless.”
Called It:
While Dombrowski was doing a fantastic job resurrecting the Tigers in Detroit, Allan Baird ran the Royals into the ground so far, that they are better off digging down some more, as it is closer to land. The team is in disarray, and being run like a AA team. Speaking of which, most of the Royals players are of that caliber, so maybe it isn’t so awful after all.”
Baird was fired yesterday. Funny article from the Onion: Royals Hire Tom Emanski To Teach Them Fundamentals Of Baseball
NL Central:
1.Albert Pujols
3. Wait, Cincinnati?
They Showed Me (Thus Far) + Called It:
“6. Cincinnati Reds-Ken Griffey Jr. is back in town, and is fully expected to have a pre-trade year. Griffey truly deserves this, after enduring injury after injury, he had been put back, by default, on the podium of great power hitters. The Reds though, might never arrive in town. They might be able to score 10 runs a game, but they would give up 15 in the process.”
I am not a stubborn person, but I’m standing my ground on the Reds. Sure, I like the Reds, but second in the Central. That is a fluke that the Reds like to do once every few years until Griffey goes down. But this year, Griffey doesn’t look like he is going down. I probably should have noted that when I did the preview.

By the way, Albert Pujols…


Not to brag or anything.

Houston is right on track on what they need to do to win the Wild Card. They also did their best job in the Rocket race, and came up victorious, if 22 mil rationed for three months of work is winning. In this case, it might be.

Called It:
“3. Milwaukee Brewers-This team is on the upstart, but they have an over achieving pitching staff that is nothing less than suspect. Their bullpen might not be able to hold games, and they have no dominant pitcher to hand the ball off to in the 9th to save the game. This team also has the best group of young players in the league, and will be a dominant force and possibly contend for a crown…next year.”
I should really do this stuff for a living. I’m that good.

Called It:
4. Chicago Cubs- The Cubs made some great off-season acquisitions (Juan Pierre), and retained some solid players (Murton, Rusch) and, if healthy, would win the Central, but when have you ever known the Cubs to be in full health?
Actually they are worse than I expected. Way to be the Cubs…

And for some reason, I really like the Pirates. Their pitching is awful, but they are fun to watch and when your team is so inferior, that is what you need. I really hope that they keep the core of this team together, because with a few arms, they could be pretty good.

AL East

Everything is going to plan. Check it here. http://southsidepride.blogspot.com/2006_03_01_southsidepride_archive.html
But the Devil Rays need to pick it up. They are better than 22 wins. Seriously, do better. I’m really close to picking a perfect division.

NL East:
The Mets need to fade faster. The Braves and Phillies are holding up their end of my bargain, but Tom Glavine looks like he is going to die, and yet is still pitching out of his mind. 8-2? I thought that was his age. It appears as if he will get 300 wins, which he deserves, but seriously, this man looks like he is going to die!

Decrepit old man?

I think the real kicker is that they tried to sure up their rotation with El Duque, who might be the only person older than Tom Glavine in this league. Oh, wait; they have Julio Franco, who was literally born in the ‘50s. Julio Franco is actually older than my father, and only a few years away from Social Security and a 3.50 matinee movie ticket. My God is that man old. The question is how can David Wright have a conversation with these guys. It would probably go like this.

Wright: Hey, Tom great job today.
Lastings Milledge (greatest baseball name ever): Did you see D5’s pick at 3rd? It was off the hook!
Franco: Back in my day we used to play without gloves!
Glavine: When I played with Frank Robinson, he would go 25 feet to his left and still throw the guy out while throwing from the stands. Now where is my Serialized Fitzgerald’s?
Franco: Oh crap, I’m late for a phosphate!

They need to fade like the days of youth from their memory.

The Nationals will be selling soon, and that means good news for anyone who wants Livan Hernandez, one of the most underrated pitchers in the game. I just hope the Mets don’t get them. The geezers.

The Marlins are going to be something. In five years. Then they can sell all their talent again. But this really is the way to rebuild a team. It works. They kept their best players under 25, gave them the money and built up with A+ prospects getting valuable experience. You hear that Kansas City? The right way!

AL West:
Called It:
“4.Texas Rangers-The pitchers stink, they lost good solid position players, and the bullpen is absolutely putrid. It is a shame too, because they have Teixeira, one of the best players in the major league, stuck in the cellar in Arlington. Mark might hit .330 with 55 and 150, but no one on his team will come even remotely close to any numbers similar, and the other teams hitters will average about the same against Ranger pitching.”
The sad thing is I did call it, all of those things are true, but Texas? First place? What the hell? Looking at their stats I ask how in God’s name could they be winning the division, and for the first time ever, I have no explanation. They are an enigma of baseball. Their best pitcher has a 4.85 ERA. What are they, the Rockies? Their hitting has always been exceptional, but this year seems to be down. Wait, I might have an explanation, could the Rangers success be that, all the other teams in their division suck?

It is! This division is worse than the old American Association. Oakland is the only team that could possibly put up a fight against the Rangers. (It feels funny every time I type it.) And they are going out there and apparently not trying to win. They are far more talented than they play, but their bullpen in horrendous. They need all their starters to go 8 and leave to 9th to Huston Street, who is having a little sophomore slump himself.

He Showed Me:
“The A’s were decimated by injuries last year, and will get MVP candidate and all underrated team captain Bobby Crosby back for hopefully an entire year… AL MVP:Crosby”
I love Peter Gammons, but you have served my wrong sir. Let’s just pretend that I said Joe Crede.

He Showed Me:
Adrian Beltre will respond to an awful year by performing at a higher level. It will not be MVP, but enough to win a few games, and deserve some of the money he gets paid.”
Yeah, he’s batting .230, but that is a higher level for him. This is just another reason why you should trust your instincts:
Expect a down year from Beltre, he gave 150 percent for the Dodgers in his contract year, and carried them to the playoffs. Chances are he will go back to his normal slacker self.”
-Dieter Kurtenbach 3.5.05 “2005 Major League Preview”

NL West:
Called It:
4. San Francisco Giants-A team this good does not deserve to have a player like Barry Bonds on it, bringing nothing but adversary towards it. They will never be able to shake his stigma off the team in general, and will underachieve under the spotlight of shame.”
Apparently They Read The Article (But still called the standings):
5. Colorado Rockies-Now is the time to clear house, as the Rockies will sink into another vile season at altitude. Instead of going out and getting a tough and battle tested pitching staff, they decided, if you can’t beat them, emulate them, not realizing that they were emulating teams pounding awful pitching for 20 runs a game. The Rockies don’t have the talent to go out and score 20 consistently, and until they decide to play real baseball, they will be perpetually in the cellar.”

Ok, so the NL west isn’t brutal, as it was last year, but it is not exceptional either, it is a strong mediocre, with the cellar dwellers above 500 and 4 games back, (ok, it might be bad) the division is really competitive, and the most entertaining in baseball. Now the question is, are all these teams just 500, or is the competition equally matched and better than their record. Answer: inconclusive. To this point, teams are all playing roughly 500 ball in the division, and some are playing better out of the division, some floating at 500. So, it cannot yet be decided.

What has been decided though is that Brandon Webb is a beast. Then again I thought that this was going to happen three years ago. But let’s not forget that this happens rather frequently, that is a sinkerballer going 8-0 and then coasting to a better than truth record. JON GARLAND! Sorry, just had a tickle in my throat.

They Showed Me:
“3. Arizona Diamondbacks-This team is young, and short on starting pitching. They might have enough offense to make 2006 a respectable looking season, but in reality it will be lost, just like their rotation.”
Correction: Brandon Webb showed me that he could hold an entire rotation up for the first part of the season. So, when his incumbent downfall happens there will be a fat Called It next to him and the D-Backs early season predication.

Season Awards and Wild Cards

“Season AwardsMVP:AL:CrosbyNL:PujolsCY Young:AL:Zito NL:PeaveyRookie of the YearAL: Francisco LirianoNL: Ryan Zimmerman”

We already touched on my Crosby predication, but seriously, Joe Crede. (Batting .296 with 8 dingers and 33 ribis while slugging 484 and playing beyond gold glove caliber third base.) Considering that the favorite at this point is Jim Thome, I don’ t think Crede is that far removed, he plays the field. Other candidates: Maglio Ordonez, Paul Konerko, and Derrek Jeter.

If anyone argues with the NL MVP, they should die. That is why I am for capital punishment.

Al Cy Young is really up in the air at this point. It seemed a lock for Contreras at the beginning of the year, but he has struggled as of late. Zito has put it on recently, and right now I believe he is the front-runner. Other candidates: Josh Beckett, Curt Shilling, Jose Contreras, Mark Buehrle, and Scott Kazmir.

My NL prediction was not as wise; I say that right now the Winner would be Pedro Martinez, with Webb and Glavine following up.

Liriano: Called it. There are no other candidates.

I’m going to give the pole position to Prince Fielder, who is having a strong rookie campaign in Milwaukee, which of course is Algonquin for “the good land” Zimmerman needs to boost the average a bit more in order to take the cake, but he is in a strong position to do so. Hanley Ramirez and Dan Uggla are also making a good push at this award. This should be a good one to follow.

Yeah, About That…
“2. Los Angeles Angels-This team though is strong enough to go deep into the playoffs…The team is solid, but built up for a downfall, and will just be plain overmatched by the A’s down the stretch, and will squeak into the playoffs.”

E-1 on the journalist. This team is not going to make the playoffs. Right now, the White Sox hold the Wild Card, and it will be the team that does not win the AL central division that goes to the playoffs, barring a massive Detroit collapse.

I feel pretty confident in my NL pick. The Fightin’ ‘Fills are just hitting their stride. Right now LA is in the lead for that category, but I believe that they will likely win the West. I hope the Padres do, so I can save face, but I can accept the Dodgers. And even though the Wild Card is always fun in the NL, this year should be nothing less than zany.

Dieter Kurtenbach