2014 SEASON PREVIEW (PART 10): Predictions for the Season, without any further explanations (except one)

It’s time. Who will be the division winners? Who will win the World Series? Time to see my predictions… without further explanation (except for one).

 

AL East: Boston Red Sox

AL Central: Detroit Tigers

AL West: Texas Rangers

AL Wild Cards: Tampa Rays, Oakland Athletics

AL Champion: Detroit Tigers

NL East: Washington Nationals

NL Central: St. Louis Cardinals

NL West: LA Dodgers

NL Wild Cards: Reds and Giants

NL Champion: St. Louis Cardinals

 

And finally….
World Series Champion: St. Louis Cardinals

 

So why do I think the Cardinals are going to win it all this year? Well, it’s partly my gut, but there is also plenty of good logic behind it. While they have lost Carlos Beltran, the fact remains that their young players- and they have some good ones- will be one more year experienced. And, what’s more, many of those young players are pitchers (such as 2013’s postseason hero Michael Wacha and fire-balling reliever Trevor Rosenthal), and as always pitching is the way to October success. Mix that with their experienced players like Adam Wainwright and Matt Holliday, and you have a team that should be one of the favorites to win the World Series in 2014.

2014 SEASON PREVIEW (PART 9): Predictions for Awards without any further explanations

To predict awards is often even harder than to predict the actual results of the season. So I’m going to just get this out of the way quickly, without any explanation. So you can try to guess why I’m going out on a limb and predicting Matt Moore as AL Cy Young winner, but I’m not telling. Unless I’m right, in which case you can be sure I’ll go into detail on my brilliant genius.

And, yes, that was meant to be sarcastic.

 

AL MVP: Mike Trout

NL MVP: Andrew McCutchen

AL Cy Young: Matt Moore

NL Cy Young: Clayton Kershaw

AL Rookie of the Year: Xander Bogaerts

NL Rookie of the Year: Billy Hamilton

AL Manager of the Year: Brad Ausmus

NL Manager of the Year: Fredi Gonzalez

 

 

2014 SEASON PREVIEW (PART 7): Best Case/Worst Case for… the NL EAST (with Getty Images)

We reach our last installment of Best Case/Worst Case… with, of course, sometimes irrelevant images from Getty.

Here we go:

Atlanta Braves:

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Best-Case Scenario: World Series. I mean, look at that pitching staff! Look at the young hitters! They should at least make the playoffs, right.

Worst-Case Scenario: Well, unless their pitching gets hurt. If that happens, there could be big trouble.

Worst-Case Scenario That Could Actually Happen: Whoops. It’s already happened.

Washington Nationals

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Best-Case Scenario: The World Series comes to Washington for the first times since the 1930s, while Bryce Harper makes a great leap forward into near-Trout levels of awesomeness, bro.

Worst-Case Scenario: Stephen Strasburg’s arm spontaneously combusts during a game.

Worst-Case Scenario That Could Actually Happen: Harper stagnates, Strasburg and Friends get hurt, Matt Williams is not a good manager, etc.

New York Mets

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Best Case Scenario: Everybody stays healthy and they don’t embarrass themselves too much before Matt Harvey returns next season from Tommy John. Maybe some of the prospects, like Noah Syndergaard, make their first appearances.

Worst Case Scenario: This is the Mets, so you should imagine your worst case scenario for them then multiply it by 500.

Worst Case Scenario That Could Actually Happen: This is the Mets, so you should imagine your worst case scenario for them then multiply it by… 499.

Philadelphia Phillies

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Best Case Scenario: The Fountain Of Youth hits the Phillies and they do one last run.

Worst Case Scenario: They are a bunch of old guys who play like it, and Ruben Amaro still acts like it’s the last years of the previous decade.

Worst Case Scenario That Could Actually Happen: See above.

Miami Marlins
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Best Case Scenario: Giancarlo Stanton hits lots of dingers, Jose Fernandez is awesome.

Worst Case Scenario: The above doesn’t happen….

Worst Case Scenario That Might Actually Happen: See above.

 

Next Time: The Previews Continue…

2014 SEASON PREVIEW (PART 6): Best Case/Worst Case for… the NL CENTRAL (with Getty Images)

Oh, boy, the NL Central! It’s time for another round of Best Case/Worst Case. And, since the Cubs are in this division, you know there’s going to be a worst case. And, of course, they all have at least vaguely-connected images from Getty on them. Yeah!

(Sorry, Cubs fans)

St. Louis Cardinals

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Best-Case Scenario: World Series title, obviously. They aren’t that different a team from last year aside from losing Carlos Beltran and Edward Mujica as well as trading the not-what-he-used-to-be David Freese.

Worst-Case Scenario: The Rally Squirrel returns… rabid and with a taste for human flesh.

Worst-Case Scenario That Could Actually Happen: Injuries to the pitching staff, particularly Adam Wainwright.

Pittsburgh Pirates
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Best-Case Scenario: .500 again! The playoffs again! And this time, going further than the LDS, but all the way to the World Series.

Worst-Case Scenario: Scurvy.

Worst-Case Scenario That Could Actually Happen: The rotation and bullpen regress while Andrew McCutchen has a post-MVP hangover.

Cincinnati Reds

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Best-Case Scenario: It’s a team that’s good enough to win the World Series if their pitching works out… but that’s a big if. Still, best-case scenario remains World Series.

Worst-Case Scenario: Billy Hamilton runs so fast that he breaks the sound barrier, making everyone in the stadium go deaf.

Worst-Case Scenario That Could Actually Happen: The pitching doesn’t do it, and the Reds go nowhere in the playoffs, if they make it at all.

Milwaukee Brewers

Best-Case Scenario: Ryan Braun comes back from his Steroid-related… break… and returns to form despite the fact he, presumably, is no longer… doing the thing he was suspended for. The rotation does well and the Brewers stay in it for awhile before fading late in the season.

Worst-Case Scenario: Prohibition.

Worst-Case Scenario That Could Actually Happen: More-or-less what happened last year, only with Ryan Braun playing the whole season. Well, okay, it could get worse: they could be worse than the cubs.

Chicago Cubs

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Best-Case Scenario: Anthony Rizzo and Starlin Castro continue to develop, nobody gets hurt, and Theo Epstein’s Master Plan (C) continues.

Worst-Case Scenario: The Brewers try to bring Hank the Dog into the stadium. The Cubs refuse his adorableness. Angered, Hank casts another curse upon the Cubs. Soon, Rizzo and Castro are hurt, Jeff Samardzija has decided to go back to football, the Cubs are spiraling to one of the worst records ever, and Theo Epstein runs away screaming “NO! NO! NEVER! THERE IS NO HOPE! NONE!”

Worst-Case Scenario That Could Actually Happen: Injuries and being in a tough division lead to the team being one of the worst in Cubs history. Rizzo and Castro have slump seasons, too.

 

Next time: The NL East!

2014 SEASON PREVIEW (PART 5): Best Case/Worst Case for… the NL WEST (with Getty Images)

We went from East-To-West for the AL, but we’ll be going West-To-East for the NL, so… who is ready to learn what could go right and wrong in the NL West? And who wants to see some vaguely-related images from Getty, too?

Thought so.

Los Angeles Dodgers

Best-Case Scenario: The season begins in Australia and ends with Commissioner Selig handing the World Series trophy to Magic Johnson (or some other representative of the ownership group) in October. Clayton Kershaw wins CYA.

Worst-Case Scenario: Dingos eat their babies.

Worst-Case Scenario That Could Actually Happen: Injuries. It’s unlikely that a healthy Dodgers team can be beaten in the NL West.

Arizona Diamondbacks
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Best-Case Scenario: The Diamondbacks get their vengeance, kick the Dodgers out of their pool, and then make a playoff run.

Worst-Case Scenario: Mark Trumbo and Paul Goldschmidt get their butts kicked by a group of angry kangaroos.

Worst-Case Scenario That Could Actually Happen: Things go horribly wrong, injuries and steps-back to and by key players send the Diamondbacks tumbling into the cellar of the NL West. The Dodgers again celebrate in the Diamondbacks’ pool.

San Diego Padres

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Best-Case Scenario: People actually remember that they exist come September. Because, really, the Padres may well be the most anonymous team in baseball, and they are going to have to do well if they are going to change that.

Worst-Case Scenario: You forget the Padres even exist by September.

Worst-Case Scenario That Could Actually Happen: See above.

San Francisco Giants
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Best-Case Scenario: The pitching staff is revived as Tim Hudson– now back in the Bay Area- and Ryan Vogelsong have bounce-back years and Tim Lincecum finds his old groove.

Worst-Case Scenario: Godzilla Attack.

Worst-Case Scenario That Could Actually Happen: Pitching isn’t amazing. The lineup isn’t good enough. Another middle-of-the-division finish.

Colorado Rockies

Best-Case Scenario: Justin Morneau becomes his old self in the thin (but humidified) Colorado air, and he joins forces with a healthy Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez to bring back the Blake Street Bombers of old. While the pitching keeps them from being a serious playoff contender, they sure end up being fun to watch.

Worst-Case Scenario: The Colorado Rockies organization ceases to exist, since Todd Helton isn’t around playing for them anymore.

Worst-Case Scenario That Could Actually Happen: They finish in the basement and aren’t particularly fun to watch, either.

Next Time: THE NL CENTRAL

2014 SEASON PREVIEW (PART 4): Best Case/Worst Case for… the AL WEST (with Getty Images)

Today, we look at the AL West, and what could go right… and what could go wrong. Complete with Getty Images that may or may not have anything to do with the actual team.

Here we go:

Oakland Athletics

Best-Case Scenario: Billy Beane‘s @#$% finally works in October, the Athletics win the World Series, and their long-term stadium situation is finally solved.

Worst-Case Scenario: Billy Beane’s @#$% doesn’t work very well during the Regular season this year, the Athletics finish third, and finish the season as a barnstorming team when their stadium in Oakland disappears in a sinkhole of bad plumbing and a dark spell cast by Al Davis in the late 1990s.

Worst-Case Scenario That Could Actually Happen: See above, but remove the barnstorming, the sinkhole and Al Davis’ dark spell.

Texas Rangers

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Best-Case Scenario: It finally happens, and the Rangers win the World Series with the help of a resurgent Prince Fielder, the ever-underrated Shin-Soo Choo, a breakout year from Jurickson Profar and a Cy Young year from Yu Darvish.

Worst-Case Scenario: Ian Kinsler is a wizard, and his wish for the Rangers to go 0-162 comes true.

Worst-Case Scenario That Could Actually Happen: It all falls apart: Fielder continues to decline, Choo has an off-year, Adrian Beltre shows his age, Darvish gets hurt, Profar muddles and the Rangers have their worst year in years. Ron Washington is fired despite his recent extension.

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Orange County, California, West Coast, United States of America, North America, Western Hemisphere, Planet Earth, Sol System, Milky Way

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Best-Case Scenario: Mike Trout wins Triple Crown, MVP, All-Star Game MVP, the Home Run Derby title, Sports Illustrated‘s Sportsman of the Year, the AP Male Athlete of the Year, an EGOT, the Nobel Peace Prize and the Presidential Medal of Freedom as he single-handedly straps the team on his back and brings them to the World Series. Or something like that. In reality, the Angels probably need Trout to keep on Trouting while having both Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton show their old selves and the pitching staff stepping up.

Worst-Case Scenario: Mike Trout gets hurt. Fire and brimstone coming down from the skies! Rivers and seas boiling! Forty years of darkness! Earthquakes, volcanoes…The dead rising from the grave! Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together… mass hysteria!

Worst-Case Scenario That Could Actually Happen: To be honest, Trout getting hurt is arguably the worst-case scenario, as I find it highly unlikely that both the rest of the lineup can take up the slack AND the pitching takes a step forward.

Seattle Mariners

Best-Case Scenario: Felix Hernandez is still awesome, Hisashi Iwakuma gets better (health-wise), Taijuan Walker gets better physically and on the field, and Robinson Cano… just keeps doing what’s he’s doing.

Worst-Case Scenario: Robinson Cano gets hurt in a money-counting incident, misses rest of the season.

Worst-Case Scenario that could actually happen: Felix actually starts to show that he may be human, Iwakuma and Walker struggle with health problems all year, and Cano has problems playing in Safeco Field all year around.

Houston Astros

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Best-Case Scenario: Ha. Hahahaha. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Are you kidding me? Even their best-case scenario sees them, at the absolute very best, in fourth place. In some ways, their best case scenario may actually be for them to have one of the worst records in league, as it’ll let them get better draft picks.

Worst-Case Scenario: 1898 Cleveland Spiders.

Worst-Case Scenario That Could Actually Happen: 1962 New York Mets.

2014 SEASON PREVIEW (PART 3): Best Case/Worst Case for… the AL CENTRAL (with Getty Images)

We continue our big preview of the MLB Season by looking at the best-case and worst-case scenarios for the AL Central. And, what’s more, that includes Getty Images, no matter how irrelevant the picture is.

Detroit Tigers

Best-Case Scenario: Who need Prince Fielder? They have Miguel Cabrera still, and their starting rotation is still one where the reigning Cy Young winner, Max Scherzer, may not even be the ace, due to Justin Verlander. And they now have Joe Nathan as their closer! With that, there can only be one best-case scenario: World Series Title.

Worst-Case Scenario: The Tigers are seized and sold to pay off Detroit’s bankruptcy debt.

Worst-Case Scenario That Could Actually Happen: Joe Nathan starts showing his age, Verlander’s below-average-by-his-standards season last year turns out to have been the start of his decline, and it turns out that maybe Miguel Cabrera did need Prince Fielder. And even then, they still probably are in the playoff hunt.

Cleveland Indians

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Best-Case Scenario: They make the playoffs again, and actually make it farther than the Wild Card game this time.

Worst-Case Scenario: Nick Swisher secedes from the Union to found the state of “Brohio”.

Worst-Case Scenario That Could Actually Happen: With two pitchers (Ubaldo Jimenez and Scott Kazmir) having left in Free Agency, the depth isn’t what it used to be, and the Indians are left in the dust in the AL Central.

Kansas City Royals

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Best-Case Scenario: The youngsters make a great leap forward, James Shields continues to do well, and the Royals sneak in as a Wild Card.

Worst-Case Scenario: Young guys flop or get hurt, James Shields starts to take a downturn, and the Royals fall back into the total basement.

Worst-Case Scenario That Could Actually Happen: See above. I couldn’t come up with anything outrageous for the Royals.

Minnesota Twins

Best-Case Scenario: Joe Mauer wins the batting title and upsets both Miguel Cabrera and Chris Davis for the 1st-base starting spot at the All-Star Game. The new pitchers turn out to be genius moves. The Twins end the season near .500 and plenty of good prospects in their future.

Worst-Case Scenario: Joe Mauer goes outside Justin Morneau‘s house to play 1980s power ballads from an oversized stereo system. Hurts himself lifting that stereo. Misses rest of season.

Worst-Case Scenario That Could Actually Happen: The pitchers brought in flop, Mauer doesn’t improve all that much playing every day at 1B, or, worse, gets hurt. Prospects get hurt or hit a ceiling. Last place. Glen Perkins is the lone Twins All-Star at Target Field after Josh Willingham‘s “Final Vote” campaign falls short due to the fact he’s going against Derek Jeter, who will end up in the ASG this year, no matter how or what, even if he’s hitting .220.

Chicago White Sox

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Best-Case Scenario: The Jose Abreu signing is genius and some other stuff goes right (primarily with the pitching staff), and the White Sox are a surprise contender for awhile before fading in the second half.

Worst-Case Scenario: They do more-or-less what they did last year, and Paul Konerko gets so depressed he decides to retire early.

Worst-Case Scenario That Could Actually Happen: See above, only presumably without the Konerko retirement.

Next on the list of Best Case/Worst Case: The AL West.