(our version of the MLB Preview, 5 days late due to a steak choking incident and a re-balancing due to the Mercury Retrograde that just ended… http://karma.astrology.com/retrogrades2.html here’s us puttin’ it on the Ritz w/Over/Unders courtesy of pinnaclesports.com. Each team w/some BBHeckler and the "Sources"’ Color…this was consummated 2 weeks ago, and our views on Philly/LAD speak to that…0-3 and 1-2 respectively w/injuries to boot—Ed.)
New York(+/-100): Under. Kyle Farnsworth signs to be the setup man to chase tail in a big city, rather than remaining the de facto Atlanta closer.
Boston(+/-90.5): Over. Foulke needs to be put out to pasture, but look, I mean look, at the Starting Pitching. Look again.
Toronto(+/-86): Under. Spent more money–yes. Spent 10 bucks for 5 dollar merchandise. I’m fading the easy groupthink pick. No soul. Malcontent central. (79 wins—E Maj)
Tampa Bay(+/-67.5): Over. Joe Maddon had the base corners painted fluorescent orange on the corner during Spring Training running drills. Nice.
Baltimore(+/-76.5): Over. By a 1/2. 77 wins. Mazzone plus an interesting experiment in clubhouse chemistry by virtue of ridding of the Steroids Boys Raffy and Sammy.
ChicagoWhiteSox(+/-91.5): Under. Jose Contreras lost his psychologist El Duque. No one picked them last year, everyone is picking them this year. 88 wins.
Cleveland:(+/-90): Over. Grady Sizemore catches the bunny fly ball last year and the WhiteSox don’t make the playoffs, imo. More on that later. Injuns doing things right.
Detroit: (+/-77): Over. Big time. My bet on Leyland, one of the best and brightest in the game. Baseball Prospectus doesn’t agree, and dissed me at their nerdy(i can say that, being the dork that I am) Pizza Feed last year…no love for an agnostic E Maj comment about Grady Little or Leyland(the moderator’s response was…"I think I’ve seen enough Grady Little.", and that was IT!!)…nice analysis…my take is he got a raw deal in Boston, staying with his #1 Pedro, who told him he wanted the ball….more on that later..
Minnesota: (+/-80): Over. Will be wishing they kept J.C. Romero. Enough pitching to get low 80 wins.
Kansas City: (+/-64): Over. Went away from youth movement and added 10 veterans, some of whom decent like Grudzie and Mentki…(applause)…67 wins…whatever…play the kids…
Oakland: (+/-88.5): Under. By a 1/2. 88 wins. Everyone’s picking them(again). I’m not everyone. Beane signs an innings eater and some defense, and he’s heralded. Ummm, Kenny Williams anyone???…. Donde esta’ Moneyball?….How ’bout real Baseball?! Someone please write the ******* book, I don’t have time, or I would. It’s called buy low/sell high….duh….thanks *******…common sense… it’s possible Beane didn’t go to Boston because he’d be outed. He developed Moneyball to compensate for his own lack of acumen as a player. It wasn’t the scouts’ fault Billy. It was yours. See a therapist for that. Props on being ahead of a ‘cycle’, said ‘cycle’ is over….the playoffs are an anomaly??….my *****.—-and you can pay me triple when we prove otherwise…if still around…i digress…
LAAngels: (+/-88.5): Over. 90+ wins. filthy bullpen got filthier w/pickup of Romero…
Texas: (+/-80.5): Under. 75 wins. Tom Hicks has a habit of outbidding himself. Curious how Lawrence can’t throw 10 minutes after averaging 33 starts over the last 5 years. "I am….Doll Parts"
Seattle: (+/-75.5): —–Can I just say 75 1/2 wins?….doh….Jojihma’s worth a 1/2 win…76 wins….
NyMets: (+/-91): Tough one. Can I say the under by one???..I’m not on the Mets wagon at all, yet it’s more from a bang for your buck standpoint. 90 wins, make playoffs, out in 1st round.
Philadelphia: (+/-81.5): Over. Great lineup, but their starting pitching is suspect, as admitted by stud GM Pat Gillick. Refreshing isn’t it?. It seems the great ones like Gillick never have to resort to spin-doctorism, they just tell it like it is. Phillies are going to be good, if not this year, next.
Atlanta: (+/-89): Under. 85 wins. This is the year they don’t make the playoffs, and although I like Mazzone, he’ll get far too much credit for it.
Washington: (+/-77): Under. Euphoria of 1st year is over. Hangover sets in. 73 wins.
Pittsburgh: (+/-75.5): Under. Thought about this one a lot. They’ve done a few nice things, but 76 wins is too high.
St. Louis: (+/- 94): Under. Thought they shouda kept Grudzie and Morris. Still make the playoffs with 91-92 wins.
Chicago: (+/-85): Over. 87 wins, no playoffs. Perhaps the most frustrated team to look at. Plenty o’ talent. Dogmatic coaching staff that employs the groupthink exhibited by the shoddy corporate media these days. Cubs owned by the Tribune Co. so no surprise there.
Milwaukee: (+/-80.5): Over. Let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves. A year away perhaps. More than 80.5 wins and we’ll leave it there.
Houston: (+/- 83): Under. Oswalt is a stud. Doesn’t have enough help this year. Clemens set the tone. Back to middle-market meandering.
Cincinatti: (+/-74): Under. Every Reds fan I talk to is despondent, at the START of the season. They have ample reason.
LA Dodgers: (+/-85.5): Over. Brought in a real baseball GM Ned Colletti, who brought some baseball players back to LA. Bill Mueller, beefed up bullpen in Baez/Carter, Furcal(albeit overpaid), Nomar, etc. As well as a great manager Grady Little who got the shaft in Boston. Division winner to these eyes.
San Francisco: (+/-81.5): Under. Tough line to pick. The under because of the Barry uncertainty/distractions, and this is a really old roster, that will be affected more than most if amphetamine use was as widespread as I think it was.
San Diego: (+/- 77.5): Over. By a couple of games. Jake Peavy wins the NL Cy Young this year. Lineup is weak however.
Colorado: (+/- 68.5): Under. They just stink.
Peace, E Maj
**the BBHeckler is all about infotainment, baseball education, inside-the-lines analysis, toilet humor and fun….in the post-Steroids Era that will be more important to engage the fan, rather than meaningless groupthink predictions that are mirrored by most writers…we’ll be out w/a Vegas over/under style 2006 outlook…for now, here’s a taste of a couple surprises for the playoffs**
AL Playoff Teams: Boston, New York, LAAngels, Detroit
ALCS: Boston over LAAngels
NL Playoff Teams: LADodgers, St. Louis, NYMets, Philadelphia
NLCS: LADodgers over Philadelphia
World Series: LADodgers over Boston (Grady’s Revenge)
Peace, E Maj
x**Toronto continues their shopping spree, acquiring 3B Troy Glaus and a minor leaguer for Miguel Batista and Orlando Hudson…. proving that when you get a chance to put a defensive Liability at 3B who strikes out 150 times a year, and also rid your soft-tossing pitching staff of a great defensive 2B, Hudson, for Glaus’ mere $10 million/yr you make that move every time….(sarc.)…Could GM J.P. Ricciardi be a Lame Duck come this time next year?
Look, the BB Heckler is aware it costs money to ‘change a franchise’s perception’ argument. And you can expect Toronto to be the "En Vogue" pick of the Phil Rogers of the world, and most other quasi-journalists as well. It is safe. ‘Corporate’ safe. ‘If everyone thinks it, I can’t possibly get fired’ safe. The Blue Jays went 80-82 last year, and spent 140 some-odd million TRYING to improve. For the ‘mail-it-in’ pablum producers, this is such an easy, safe story.(tomorrow, I will show the universal by-line, writer by writer)
On one hand, I can see the scenario of Toronto making things more difficult for New York and Boston in the AL East, maybe not enough for the Blue Jays to make the playoffs, but enough to keep one of the Big 2 out.
The BB Heckler cannot and will not stop there. That’s way too easy. As a former risk manager, I’ve learned one needs to analyze all risk factors, attach an economic to them, and then TRY and make an informed decision.
Potential Red Flags:
1) Outside the recently acquired arms, Burnett and Ryan, this is not a power pitching staff. Ask pitchers how they feel about losing Gold Glovers(Hudson) up the middle, especially soft-tossing ones. Add in an expensive 3B who more often than not emulates a Spanish Matador(OLE’!…OLE’!) and the potential for some long 1/2 innings for fans and their Labatt’s Blue.
2)No P&V. **** and vinegar. Where’s the leadership going to come from? The clubhouse is going to be so quiet you could hear a mouse fart.
3)They now have four 3rd baseman. Glaus, Hillenbrand, Hinske, Koskie. Lovely.
4) They invested 5 yrs/55 million into a pitcher, whose heart/guts have been questioned in the past, as well as a guy who threw his team under the bus last year. BbHeckler: Could it work out for the Jays? Fer sure. Good Risk Management? No.
5)I really enjoy watching BJ Ryan pitch; his slider puts Left-handed hitters into the fetal position crying, "MOMMY! MOMMY!" Once again, back to the Risk MGMT. At 5 yrs and $47 million dollars, I think the only closer making more money is the best closer of all time, Mariano Rivera of the NYYanks. Throw in the fact BJ signed for more millions (47) than his career saves (42), and now, Ladies and Gentleman, we have some Risk.
Summary Conclusion: To simply write that Toronto should be better next year, after they went out and raised their payroll by 67% to $75 million is lazy analysis. IMO, the Jays have gotten worse defensively, and for the money they spent, they did not replace the leadership lost when Carlos Delgado departed. Throw in some chemistry red flags, and Toronto, with a lot of reasons for Blue Jay optimism, is still not a known quantity. 350 Million High Lifes spent inefficiently. Period. No questioning that. Entirely. Bottom Line. Clearly. It goes without saying. But not. For what it’s worth. Literally. Obviously. Obviously I am clearly being entirely sarcastic. It goes without saying that the bottom line for what it’s worth is Clearly, Literally, and Obviously Clear. Social Moods are changing…get/stay ahead of the curve
BB Heckler Conspiracy Theory: Toronto GM J.P. Ricciardi saw his Moneyball buddy Depodesta get canned in LA, and fearing the same fate, altered his 5-yr plan into a 1-yr plan.
p.s. Rick Morrissey for the Trib has been hitting home runs(pun intended) for the last 4 months. Please email me any more writers you Hecklers deem worthy.
Peace, E Maj