A few random notes before I finish up the National League. I’ll even throw in some predictions at the end just so I can look completely foolish as the season progresses.
- This cyst on A-Rod’s hip. Do you think it could have been one of the spots his cousin injected him? Normally you’d want it in the fatty tissue (I think, don’t know for sure), but if you wanted to move around (like heroin addicts do to prevent track marks) wouldn’t the side of the ass be the next logical place. Just putting it out there.
- After reading some of the nameless Dodger quotes in Buster Olney’s blog regarding Brad Penny’s…uh…motivational challenges (he was a fat, lazy, slob), I am very concerned. On the other hand, maybe this will motivate him to kick some ass this season and prove everyone wrong. Can’t you picture Francona telling some batboy to print out and tape that article on Penny’s locker when he wasn’t looking?
- Am I the only one totally psyched for the ‘Watchmen’ movie? I may even go to the theater to see it, which never happens.
Alright, on to the National League West.
2008 Status: 82-80; second place; total and utter second half sputtering out
Key Offseason Moves: Signed Felipe Lopez, Jon Garland, Tom Gordon and Chad Qualls to one year deals; traded for Scott Schoenweis which is so insignificant I didn’t even look up the spelling of his last name to see if I had it right.
What’s It All Mean: I really like the Garland signing. This gives them a top four of Brandon Webb, Dan Haren, Garland, and Doug Davis (or vice versa). For the NL, that’s not bad. Webb and Haren give them a chance every start. The question remains whether they generate enough runs to make them contenders.
Wild Card: Is this the year Justin Upton breaks out? And which Eric Byrnes shows up this season? The MVP quality player from 2007 or the struggling one from 2008?
Bottom Line: Their starters will give them a shot most nights. The big question mark surrounds their lineup. Too many ‘What ifs’ to figure out what’s going to happen. The young talent is there. Will they mature enough to put it all together?
2008 Status: 74-88; third place; stink of World Series hangover
Key Offseason Moves: Traded their one superstar (Matt Holliday) to Oakland for Carlos Gonzalez, Huston Street, and Greg Smith; signed Umbaldo Jiminez to four years; Garret Atkins to one year; traded for Jason Marquis.
What’s It All Mean: Sure they have one of the top closers in the league, but losing Holliday leaves a crater in the middle of their lineup. How they’re going to score enough runs with Troy Tulowitki, Garrett Atkins and Clint Barnes in the power slots is a puzzle.
Wild Card: Outfielder Carlos Gonzalez who was part of the Holliday deal. Only 23 and this will be his first full season. Did the Diamondbacks see something in him that made trading Holliday worth while?
Bottom Line: Since everyone on the roster looks to be mediocre expect mediocre results.
LOS ANGELES DODGERS
2008 Status: 84-78; first place; lost to Phillies in NLCS; inherited the drama that is Manny.
Key Offseason Moves: FINALLY resigned Manny. No really! Look! If you’re confused that he basically agreed to the same deal he refused twice before, you’re not alone. He’s Manny. What are you going to do? What else? Oh, retired Jeff Kent; signed Orlando Hudson, Jeff Weaver (he’s back!), Mark Loretta, Brad Ausmus and Randy Wolfe to one year deals; signed Casey Blake to three years. Most importantly they rid themselves of Andruw Jones and his albatross contract.
What’s It All Mean: I must admit, I like the look of this team. Orlando Hudson is a steal, Andre Ethier is one year better, Juan Pierre and Rafael Furcal are back. And now Manny is smack dab in the middle of them all. Dangerous lineup.
Wild Card: How healthy is Jason Schmidt? Word is he’s healthier than he’s been in years. Most forget how good he was before the shoulder issues. Can he regain his dominant form? If so, this is a team to watch.
Bottom Line: Considering this is already a weak division and they really did manage to keep The Enigma (aka The Goofball) then expect them to take the East again.
SAN DIEGO PADRES
2008 Status: 63-99; last place; failed attempt to trade Jake Peavy; owners lost billions in the market crash; general all around shit show.
Key Offseason Moves: Resigned Mark Prior for pennies and it will still be considered wasted money; signed David Eckstein, Cliff Floyd, Brian Giles, and Scott Hairston to one year deals; landed a variety of dollar store minor leaguers and other team’s waiver wire junk.
What’s It All Mean: You thought they had trouble scoring runs last year? You ain’t seen nothing, yet. They still have Adrian Gonzalez, Jake Peavy and Chris Young, but expect a lot of trade rumors swirling around this team come June.
Wild Card: They did sign Eckstein and Floyd so if someone invents a time machine to send each player back 8 years to when they were productive, the Padres might be on to something.
Bottom Line: The weather is beautiful in San Diego. Cling to that Padre fans.
SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS
2008 Status: 72-90; fourth place; officially became owners of the worst free agent contract in MLB history.
Key Offseason Moves: Signed Ramon Ortiz; signed Jeremy Affledt to two years; Bobby Howry for one year; invested in unsuccessful hit attempt on Barry Zito; signed Randy Johnson to one and Edgar Renteria to two years proving once and for all the Giants’ owners like to mentally torment their fans.
What’s It All Mean: Despite my making fun of Renteria, he is back in the National League where he thrives. Aaron Rowand is still around and the rotation of Lincecum, Cain and Randy Johnson is decent.
Wild Card: Barry Zito has gone from multimillion dollar ace to multimillion dollar fourth starter/historic bust. What if the pressure is off him now? What if having another left handed former ace in Johnson around is a positive? What if Zito miraculously returns to his 2004 form?
Bottom Line: Well rounded team here. My pick to be the surprise of the year.
Some random predictions for the coming year:
- A-Rod has some strange lingering injury that ruins his season. Something like Nomar’s wrist injury. Or some random muscle injury that involves something being torn off the bone and months of rehab. This is probably more wishful thinking.
- Tampa Bay won’t make the playoffs.
- The Phillies will be even better this year.
- The Cubs will start off slow, but end the season on a tear and enter the playoffs as the favorite to win the World Series. They will lose in the first round.
- Some borderline contending team will sign Pedro for half a year and he will pitch fantastically.
- John Smoltz will win 8-10 games for the Red Sox.
- Nobody will sign Barry Bonds.
- The Mets won't collapse this year as they'll never be in first place for longer than a few weeks.
- Roger Clemens will get divorced.
- I won’t get to one game this year due to finances.
That’s all for baseball, my fanatic friends. Can’t wait for Opening Day.
Today’s distraction: 38 stupid and funny signs. I want the ‘No Stupid People Beyond This Point’ for my office. Nobody would ever come in. Except that they’re stupid and probably wouldn’t read the sign and come in to ruin my day regardless. People suck.