|Notes and Observations Week 15: Patriots Blow Out Dolphins 41-13; Clinch AFC East||Connelly’s Top Ten: Patriots Defense, Special Teams Carry Home Team||Fantasy Football Start ‘Em, Sit ‘Em: Week 15||Right Idea? Red Sox Bring in Rick Porcello, Wade Miley, Justin Masterson|
This will hopefully be a weekly list of rants and meaningless predictions that have no validity whatsoever. It’s just designed to be a fun look into the possibility of what may come in the world of Major League Baseball. Enjoy it and feel free to add your own Nostradamus insight each week.
I am extremely serious about this. They have the talent, led by All Star third baseman David Wright. They also have one of the best pitchers in Johan Santana and a top closer with K-Rod. The Mets have proven they are willing to make deadline trades and spend whatever it takes, especially when picking up free agents like Jason Bay. Still, there’s one underlying factor that no one has seemed to see.
The Mets are always the most disappointing team in the league. Baseball experts always say they will make a push at the NL East crown, last won in 2006, but they never come close. They have only one playoff appearance since the savior Omar Minaya was brought in. So why would this season be any different?
It’s because they are expected to be dead last. People have even said they will be below the Nationals, and that’s as low as it gets. Still, the only thing the Mets are good at is ruining expectations. Even though they made the Playoffs in 1999, no one expected them to make a World Series run in 2000, but they did. Then, when people said they had a chance to beat the Yankees, they lost in five games.
Now, ten years later, the Mets are a bottom-feeder likely to trade away much of their talent and go into another rebuilding year. With a team payroll nearly $100 million more then the Pirates, it would be a slap in the face to not make the playoffs. Everyone has already written them off, but it appears the Metropolitans like it that way.
The baseball gods will speak and put at least one New York team in the postseason.
David Ortiz will get every chance imaginable to still remain in a Boston uniform. The Red Sox are a loyal team and will only give up on a player when they give up first (we don’t miss you Manny). Still, if a players seems to be losing more then just a step, it’s the fans that will take notice. So, when you’re someone as large as Big Papi, you can not hide.
Forget his atrocious start to last season, he was able to turn it around into a semi-successful season that helped the Sox into the playoffs. However, after two hitless games, a 1-4, one-RBI performance in a losing effort to the Yankees will go unnoticed. What will remain is the tantrum Papi had and that maybe he is no longer the hitting threat he once was. Should he start to open up against the Royals, it won’t matter because they are just the Royals. Ortiz needs to perform when it matters.
So, bring in Mike Lowell, someone who has performed in the spotlight. During the 2007 World Series, Lowell won MVP honors after hitting .400, with a home run, 6 RBI, and a stolen base. Remember, he did and still does have bad knees. Hip problems hurt him in 2008 and 2009 and eventually cost him his third baseman duties. He was originally sent to the Rangers, but the trade was rescinded when he needed surgery on his right thumb. That could have been a blessing in disguise for Boston.
Should Ortiz continue to struggle, his will be replaced. It would have been Jason Varitek, should Lowell have been traded. Thank heavens we still have Mike. He might get his chance over the weekend against the Royals and should he produce, it might be Big Papi who rides the pine. Then, if Lowell remains in the DH position, who knows what could happen to David Ortiz at the trade deadline. Stranger things have happened.
People expected the Braves to be good this year. Few had them winning the NL East, but many had them taking the Wild Card. (However as you already know from before, the Mets will win the NL East, so the Wild Card will be between the Braves and Phillies). In the first two games of the season, they have been tearing apart the Cubs, including a 16-5 win in their opening game. Their pitching, with the exception of Derek Lowe, has been stellar and rookie Jason Heyward seems like a All-Star in the making. But behind it all, the Braves success comes down to one man, Bobby Cox.
In what will be his final year, Cox might be saving the best for last. He won’t be able to catch Tony La Russa for third all time in managerial wins, but one more Manager of the Year award will be one more then Tony. Cox is a four time winner, once in ’85 with the Blue Jays and three others while in Atlanta. Some of his accomplishments will never be matched, especially the 15 straight years leading the Braves to the divisional titles. Also, his 151 ejections might stand the test of time, seeing how few mangers last long.
Still, in order for “The Cox” to be MotY, the Braves will most likely have to be playoff bound. Standing in their way will be the Phillies (and Mets). Many see Philadelphia returning to the World Series for a third straight season, but Atlanta has something to truly play for. They have a pretty strong lineup, including Brian McCann, Melky Cabrera, Nate McLouth, and the ageless Chipper Jones. Throw in Billy Wagner as their closer and it all of a sudden appears that the Braves might be able to make a World Series push of their own. If not, Phillies manager Charlie Manuel and Cox can see who can hold their pants up the longest.
He could be the start of new things in Washington D.C. He could be so important to the franchise and baseball in the District that ESPN News will be broadcasting his first minor league start. Should he look sharp, he might be bringing his 102 mph fastball to the majors sooner then later.
It’s too early to tell, but the Nationals seem poised for another disastrous season. They opened the season with an 11-1 loss to the Phillies. Even President Barack Obama was wearing a White Sox hat as he threw out the opening pitch, which shows little faith from the head of state. Their next game was an 8-4 loss. The Nationals starting pitching has given up eleven runs. IN TWO GAMES!!! It is the worst possible situation. In a division with Atlanta, Philadelphia, Florida and New York, falling behind early spells doom.
Should the Nationals continue their poor start, changes will be made soon. After signing a $15.1 million deal, with a $7.5 million signing bonus, expect Washington to get their money out of him. He might be raw talent, but throwing him into pro games might be a good thing. Should he have success, confidence will grow and he might become the dominant pitcher much earlier then expected.
There is always the possibility of him getting rocked and being a bust, but from everything I have read about him, he appears to have a good head on his shoulders and can handle the pressure of the majors. He has already played at the Olympics, winning a bronze at Beijing (since then Baseball has been eliminated from Olympic play). His fastball and curveball could be put to good use in Washington, just hope they don’t wait too long before they bring him in.
There has been a lot of hate on the NL the past few seasons. The NL Central was filled with many jokes. The Pirates, Cubs, Reds, Astros and Brewers have all been lovable losers, but with the Brewers and Cubs having recent success, and the Astros five years removed from a World Series berth and even the Reds expected to have a big season, the Central has a lot to look forward to. Then, there was the NL West. Even with the San Diego Padres expected to struggle, the Diamondbacks, Giants, Dodgers and Rockies will all be competitive this year.
The NL Central and West usually contained the league’s worst, but that honor might go to the AL West this season. The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim became depleted this offseason and have started the season 1-2 against the Twins, losing to Nick Blackburn and Carl Pavano. Some expected Texas to steal the weakened west division, but they came out struggling against the Blue Jays. THE FREAKING BLUE JAYS!!! My pick, The Seattle Mariners, dropped two of three to the Oakland Athlethics. The A’s are the only west team above .500 and they were supposed to struggle the most.
It’s way to early to tell. The season is only three games deep. I mean come on, there are still 159 remaining games. It’s a long, long season and there is no way of really telling if the west will be the beating stick for the rest of the league. Still, when you see how teams come out of the gate and the lackluster performances they have, it’s not hard to predict that the same gameplay will continue.
If you don’t agree with that, don’t worry. I mean I did just say the Mets will win the NL East. Crazy talk.
So there you have it. The first of many articles predicting the Major League season. Do you feel that you have a better idea of the things to come? If so leave your own crystal ball predictions, should they seem plausible, they might even make next weeks article.
Tags: Atlanta Braves, Bobby Cox, Boston Red Sox, David Ortiz, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Mike Lowell, New York Mets, Oakland Athletics, Seattle Mariners, Stephen Strasburg, Texas Rangers, Washington Nationals