2011 MLB Playoffs Predictions: Divisional Series Picks

29 09 2011

Okay, yeah, the Red Sox collapsed, the Braves collapsed, the Giants had a touch of the World Series hangover, the Blue Jays aren’t going to the ALCS, and the Diamondbacks are in the playoffs.  Oh, and the Cubs, yet again, had a dismal year.

Sounds like it was quite the season.

Last year, we ran an early September post with our playoff predictions.  Sure, the Phillies vs. Rangers World Series call was sort of an ideal scenario where the Phillies pitching would square off against the heavy bats of the Texas Rangers, but, instead, the Giants stunned the Phillies in game six of the NLCS, ultimately crushing our predictions.

Theoretically, was the idea of a Phillies vs. Rangers World Series such a bad thought after all?  Think about it.  Let it sit and marinade for a bit.  Would it be so bad to return to the well, and hope that the baseball gods give the fans one of the greatest World Series scenarios ever?  The MLB’s best pitching going against the MLB’s best offense? That would sell television ratings, that’s for sure.

Maybe the idea of the Phillies seeking out revenge over their 2009 World Series loss to the New York Yankees is a better story line?

Or maybe a battle of the underdogs that would pit the surprising Arizona Diamondbacks against the Detroit Tigers.  Imagine the television ratings for that one?  Yikes.

The well balanced Brewers going against the well balanced Texas Rangers?  Anyone on that train yet?  We’ll put that idea in our pocket for later.

 

2011 MLB Post Season Predictions:

Let’s keep this short and sweet.

 

American League Divisional Series: New York Yankees vs. Detroit Tigers

The grizzled Yankees go toe-to-toe with the hot Detroit Tigers.  In a series that will be decided by pitching, the edge goes to the Detroit Tigers.  C.C. Sabathia vs. Justin Verlander is a great game 1 matchup, and a game that will go to the American League’s best pitcher, Verlander.  After that, the Yankees pitching is extremely spotty.  Nova, and Garcia are not your typical Yankees dynasty pitchers, nor are they ready for the spotlight and pressures of being the top dogs in the Bronx.  The pressure will eat these young pitchers alive, and ultimately lead to a meltdown for the Yankees.

Pick:  Tigers in 5

 

American League Divisional Series: Tampa Bay Rays vs. Texas Rangers

Can the rematch of the 2010 ALDS be the perfect stage for an upset?

Tampa Bay are coming in hot, winning 17 of 27 games in September, but, have lost 5 of 9 this season to the AL West Champion Texas Rangers.

Rangers game 1 starter, C.J. Wilson is 2-0 against the Rays this season, and Derek Holland, who starts game 2, also has a victory over Tampa Bay.   On the flip side, the Rangers bats might be a little too much for the Rays to handle, again.

The clock strikes 12 as the Cinderella story that is the Tampa Bay Rays ends.

Pick: Texas Rangers in 3

 

National League Divisional Series: Philadelphia Phillies vs. St. Louis Cardinals

Chris Carpenter had a late come around for the Cardinals, but, it seems like he has really helped St. Louis in their post-season push.  Carpenter, a playoff warhorse, has an outstanding October record, boasting a record of 3-1, and a 2.93 ERA in NLDS games since 2005.  Carpenter also seems to be the most consistent pitcher on the rotation, currently.

This could be a bit of a problem going up against the talent rich Philadelphia Phillies rotation.  Cliff Lee (7-2), Roy Halladay(2-1) and Cole Hamels(6-4) have a combined 15-7 record in October games, including Halladay’s no-hitter against the Reds in game one of the 2010 ALDS.

The experience and arms of the Phillies are just too much to overlook.

Pujols has some sort of post-season voodoo curse, Lance Berkman isn’t the same Berkman that lead the Astros to the World Series in 2005, and an unhealthy Matt Holliday won’t be of much use either.

Pick: Phillies in 3

 

National League Divisional Series: Arizona Diamondbacks vs. Milwaukee Brewers

Upset central?

If you picked the Diamondbacks to win the National League West, chances are, you’re a liar.  Harsh?  Maybe.  The truth? More than likely.

Hell, if you check back to a post back in April you’ll see Arizona dead last.  Dead. Last.

The Brewers, well, Milwaukee are right where a lot of people pegged them to be-first in the National League Central with a red hot pitching staff, and a set of powerful bats leading the offense.  So, could this force be good enough to make it beyond the first round and avoid an upset at the hands of the Diamondbacks?

Okay, sure.  Why not?  Yovani Gallardo seems to be automatic these days as he’s come a long way from being the young pitcher that served beach balls to opposing batters a few years back.

It seems like the Brewers really got a quick, and solid return on that trade with the Blue Jays in the offseason for Shaun Marcum, and, the addition of Zack Greinke has paid of big.

Unfortunately for the Diamondbacks, the depth at the plate just doesn’t seem like it can handle the Brewers arms.  For Milwaukee, Prince Fielder has a lot to play for-mainly a big contract next season.  The burly, productive first baseman is looking to have a solid post-season in hopes to land a big pay check next season from whoever.  If Fielder has a monster playoff run, chances are, he may get exactly what he’s looking for, and then some.

Pick: Brewers in 4

 

 

World Series Pick:

Phillies over Rangers in 7 

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2011 BCS Bowl Game Projections

31 08 2011

Orange Bowl

Virginia Tech Hokies vs. Notre Dame Fighting Irish

The battle between Florida State and Virginia Tech will decide not only who wins the ACC, but, also, who will represent the conference in the Orange Bowl.  Neither the Seminoles nor the Hokies have a record good enough to land themselves in the national title game, so, they will have to take the next best thing.  The edge goes to Virginia Tech to land here.

The Orange Bowl will take at-large Notre Dame to pit against the Hokies. The Fighting Irish will participate in its first ever BCS Bowl game in 2011.

 

Sugar Bowl

Arkansas Razorbacks vs. Cincinnati Bearcats

The SEC champion will not compete in the BCS National Championship game this year, bringing their five year stranglehold on the title game to an end.  Instead, sleepers Arkansas will come out of the SEC to head the Sugar Bowl.

The Houston Cougars could potentially land here with an at-large bid.  A lot is riding on Case Keenum to come through for the Cougars in his final season.  The order may be a large one to fill, and Houston may crumble under pressure, so, Cincinnati looks to be a safer bet here.  The Bearcats are projected to win the Big East, and have a better record than Houston, so, Cincinnati get the nod.

 

Fiesta Bowl

 

Boise State Broncos vs. Oklahoma State

The NCAA should consider renaming the Fiesta Bowl to the Boise Bowl.  Boise State’s schedule may not be strong enough to help them get national championship considerations, so, instead, the Broncos will yet again find a home in the Fiesta Bowl.

No, not Oklahoma, but, Oklahoma State, get slotted here.  The Cowboys will bring their firepower to the Fiesta Bowl to take on the Broncos.  This marquee matchup will pit two of the nations top, high-octane offenses against one another in an old fashioned shoot ’em out.

 

Rose Bowl

Wisconsin Badgers vs. Stanford Cardinal

Big Ten champions Wisconsin will have their Rose Bowl berth locked up come mid-November.  The Badgers should handle Nebraska with ease in the Big Ten title game and slide right into their rightful bowl game.

A two loss Stanford will have Andrew Luck smelling roses in his final game of his colligate career.  It may not be the ideal situation for the prolific quarterback, but, it’s better than sitting at home in January, that’s for sure.

 

BCS National Championship Game

Oklahoma Sooners vs. Oregon Ducks

Chip Kelly will have his Ducks back in the national title game for the second year in a row.  Oregon, lead by Darron Thomas and LaMichael James, will dazzle throughout the season and steamroll over the competition.  The Ducks are poised to make a statement again in 2011, and what better way than doing it on the biggest stage in college sports.

Oklahoma will easily win the Big 12, and complete the season with an undefeated record.  Landry Jones may not win the Heisman, but, a BCS National Championship shot may be more of a tantalizing accomplishment for the junior quarterback.





2011 MLB Predictions

28 03 2011

Wow, it’s been a long five month hiatus, but, I’m back.  Let’s cut the shenanigans. I’m not going to bore people with the details as to what I’ve been up to.  The past is the past, let’s move forward.

In 2010 I had the Phillies and Yankees as my pre-season picks, and, well, they couldn’t deliver.  I think last season was a clear indication that we have to start thinking outside of the box, right? I mean, who predicted the Texas Rangers and San Francisco Giants to make the World Series?  If you just said “I did”, then you’re the biggest liar in the world.  Yeah, I just called you out.

So, with that being said, should I pull an Anthony Castrovince and pick a San Diego Padres vs. Tampa Bay Rays World Series like he did last season?  No.  I’m not ripping rails, or puffin’ on that kush.  What a pipe dream that was, bud.

2011 looks like it could be a repeat of wacky and weird finishes like last year, but the World Series for sure looks like a clear cut pick.  No surprise teams this year folks. However, I see some interesting divisional finishes that could make the 2011 playoffs a very exciting time for some unexpected markets.

Without further adieu, here are my picks for the 2011 MLB Season.

NATIONAL LEAGUE


East

1. Philadelphia Phillies

2. Florida Marlins

3. Atlanta Braves

4. Washington Nationals

5. New York Mets


Central

1. Milwaukee Brewers

2. Cincinnati Reds

3. St. Louis Cardinals

4. Chicago Cubs

5. Pittsburgh Pirates

6. Houston Astros


West

1. Colorado Rockies

2. San Francisco Giants

3. Los Angeles Dodgers

4. San Diego Padres

5. Arizona Diamondbacks


National League Wild Card: Cincinnati Reds


Awards:

National League Manager of the Year: Fredi Gonzalez, Atlanta Braves

National League Rookie of the Year: Freddie Freeman, Atlanta Braves

National League Cy Young: Zack Greinke, Milwaukee Brewers

National League MVP:  Hanley Ramirez, Florida Marlins


AMERICAN LEAGUE


East

1. Boston Red Sox

2. Toronto Blue Jays

3. New York Yankees

4. Tampa Bay Rays

5. Baltimore Orioles


Central

1. Minnesota Twins

2. Detroit Tigers

3. Chicago White Sox

4. Cleveland Indians

5. Kansas City Royals


West

1. Texas Rangers

2. Oakland Athletics

3. Anaheim Angels

4. Seattle Mariners


American League Wild Card: Toronto Blue Jays


Awards:

American League Manager of the Year: John Farrell, Toronto Blue Jays

American League Rookie of the Year: J.P Arencibia, Toronto Blue Jays (edges Desmond Jennings, Tampa Bay Rays)

American League Cy Young: Jon Lester, Boston Red Sox

American League MVP: Evan Longoria, Tampa Bay Rays


2011 MLB Post-Season Predictions


National League


NLDS:

Phillies over Reds in four games, Brewers over Rockies in five games.

NLCS:

Phillies over Brewers in six games.

American League


ALDS:

Red Sox over Rangers in three games, Blue Jays over Twins in five games.

ALCS:

Red Sox over Blue Jays in six games.

World Series:

Phillies over Red Sox in seven games






The MLB Post-Season Prediction Bandwagon: Vol. One

11 08 2010

I really don’t know what to make of this. Talk about a pipe dream, or, maybe a dream that came from a night of hitting the pipe? Who knows. Either way this article found at the link below is definitely a wacky, out of control read. I really hope this is the MLB’s attempt at a practical joke.

MLB.COM Columnist Playoff Predictions

If you don’t want to read the full article, then please allow me to give you a rapid fire summary of Mr.  Castrovince’s Predictions:

American League- the Yankees win the East (a no brainer), the Minnesota Twins yet again play a 163 game season, this time outlasting the White Sox to take the Central, the Rangers hold off the A’s and Angels in the West and the Rays snag the wild card.

National League- Atlanta takes the East, the Reds out muscle the Cardinals for the Central crown, but St. Louis settles for the wild card, and finally, the Padres win the West.

Playoffs- in the A.L. the Yanks over the Twins, Texas fall to the Rays, Rays head to the World Series by beating New York.

The National League sends the Padres to the fall classic after they oust the Reds in the NLDS and then out pitch the Cards in championship series.

World Series- Rays over the Padres in seven games.

Wait… What?

I’m sorry, but come again?

The Padres to out-pitch the Cardinals? Seriously?

Latos is no Carpenter, Wainwright has way more depth than Correia, and LeBlanc couldn’t hold a candle to the likes of any of St. Louis’ bottom half of the rotation.

Now, that doesn’t mean I’m slotting the Cards in the World Series, no. I’m just saying the Padres are in no way going to make it that far, and I’ll even go as far as saying they probably won’t make it to the post-season. Sorry, Padres fans.

I pray to the baseball gods that we don’t have to endure a smurfs vs. army men World Series. God, I hate those stupid, hideous powder blue Rays jerseys.

My (sensible) Playoff Predictions:


American League:

The New York Yankees have stronger bats than the Rays and the return of Andy Pettitte should help bolster the rotation. C.C., Hughes, A.J and Andy will lead the way for the Yankees A.L. East crown.

Fear not Rays fans, a wild card berth puts you in the post-season. Don’t get too comfy though.

Texas will continue to heat up from here on out, and the Angels and A’s don’t have the pitching or heavy bats to challenge the explosive Rangers.

No game 163 in the Central this year. Twins take the title again. Liriano and Pavano lead the way.

ALDS:  Twins get out pitched (again) by the Yankees, and the Rangers lead by Lee, Wilson and the Tommy (Hunter) Gun make quick work of the Rays. Blame it on Upton.

ALCS: Yankees battle hard to seven games against the Rangers, but the resilient Cliff Lee gets sweet revenge against the Yankees. Nolan Ryan gets a quick return on his investment. Sell now, Nolan, sell quick, sell high.

National League:

Phillies put together one massive charge to the playoffs lead by Halladay and Utley. Cue the return of a missing teammate come playoff time though.

St. Louis wins a tight one in the Central by no more than two games. Hold your heads up, Reds fans, you’re playoff bound, too.

Let’s not sell ourselves short and buy into this ridiculous idea that the Padres have a better team than the Giants. We all know this is the year of the pitcher, so, let’s continue this trend. Take the “Freak” and Zito to hold it down for the bay area faithful.

NLDS: Phillies dodge the Cards in the first round, and instead, draw Cincinnati. Philly manages to slip by the Reds in five games thanks to the return to form of Cole Hamels. Hands down, this could be the best playoff series of the year.

The Cardinals rotation may be scary, but, so is Tim Lincecum. However, Jake Westbrook could prove his worth here. Cliff Lee v2.0? Probably.

NLCS:  Phillies over the Cardinals.

World Series: Texas Rangers vs. Philadelphia Phillies. This might be the biggest, and most entertaining championship series in the history of the MLB.  Halladay/Hamels/Oswalt/Moyer vs. Lee/Hunter/Harden/Wilson… Yeah, I’m going four man rotation here. It’s the World Series. It’s expected.

I won’t pick it. This is a piece of art. I just want to sit and admire it.

(Okay, the Phillies.  But I want to see it go the distance and get a dramatic 13th-inning win in game seven.  Pushing it?  Whatever.  We all have dreams)

Hey, at least this is a tad more realistic than a Padres vs. Rays World Series, right?

In the pre-season, I had the Phillies over the Yankees in the 2010 World Series.  Just a tad alteration here and there, and voila.  I’m sure come October, I’ll have three more of these “predictions” articles out.  Hopefully not though.





2010 MLB “Should Be” All-Star Team: National League

13 07 2010

National League

1B- James Loney (Los Angeles Dodgers)

There’s just so many first baseman in the National League to choose from.  Pujols, Fielder, Dunn, Votto, Adrian Gonzalez and even Troy Glaus, but then there’s the Dodgers’ James Loney.  Sure, Loney isn’t a powerful bat as he’s just sitting on six home runs in 88 games, but he’s consistent at the plate.  Seven of his past 10 games have been of the multi-hit variety.

2B- Dan Uggla (Florida Marlins)

I still can’t believe Martin Prado got this spot over Uggla.  Dan Uggla might be one of the best in the game, if he checked his attitude at the door of Sun Life Stadium and used his full potential consistently.  The numbers are there.  44 RBI, 16 HR, and a .285 AVG should have gotten the Florida Marlins star to the mid-summer classic.

Let’s not forget to mention Uggla’s ability to move around the field sharply and come up big for the fish in clutch defensive situations.

I’m a strong believer Uggla is a main reason why the Marlins haven’t fallen out of the National League East picture yet.

3B- Casey McGehee (Milwaukee Brewers)

The Brewers third baseman has been a treat to watch in the Sunday night games this whole season, especially when he lifted the Brew Crew to a walk-off win back on April 11th at the start of the season.  I love McGehee because he’s Milwaukee’s “Captain Clutch” and it’s sad that he gets lost in the mix of great contributors at the position, but, when Chipper Jones retires, I think it could be McGehee who gets ushered in as the “next big thing” at the hot corner.

SS- Rafael Furcal (Los Angeles Dodgers)

The National League team would need speed, and Furcal would be the prime candidate.  Not only is the Dodgers’ shortstop one of the best next to Jimmy Rollins at his position and can change a game defensively, but, Furcal loves collecting bases, even when they don’t belong to him.  14 swiped bases out of 17 attempts is pretty impressive, and all I need to add him to this team.  Speed is key to any team, and even though he’s 32, it doesn’t show.

C-  Buster Posey (San Francisco Giants)

Forget Stephen Strasburg, Buster Posey is the real deal and will win the Rookie of the Year award.  I can almost bet that without the rookie out of Florida State, the Giants would be in a much deeper hole in the National League West division than just four games back.

25 RBI, seven home runs, and an outstanding .350 batting average is just phenomenal for the youngster and more than enough for me to put him on my All-Star team.  I’m all aboard the Posey bandwagon, and I’m not ashamed to admit it.

RF-  Jay Bruce (Cincinnati Reds)

The Reds are on fire, and are definitely the surprise team of the 2010 season, and Jay Bruce is a huge reason why.

LF- Josh Willingham (Washington Nationals)

Sure, Dunn and Zimmerman  are the most known boppers of the Nats, and Strasburg has the MLB in awe over his pitching, but Willingham might be the next big thing to come out of the Washington organization.

His batting numbers are legit, and he definitely shows a great deal of hustle day in and day out, along with a lot of respect and pride for the game of baseball.

CF-  Carlos Gonzalez (Colorado Rockies)

Gonzalez might be the only player on the Rockies that is consistent, well, next to Ubaldo Jimenez that is.  His potent bat (17 HR’s and 60 RBI) has helped the Rockies shoot up the standings in the N.L. West and brought them back into the thick of things.  What a bright spot for such an underachieving club.

P-  Mat Latos (San Diego Padres)

I said this the other day, and I’ll repeat:  the National League is where pitching thrives.  There’s just so many outstanding and incredibly talented pitchers right now that it’s tough to pick ONE.  Sure, if I took out the ones who actually made the 2010 All-Star team, and even looked at Barry Zito, R.A. Dickey, Carlos Silva, and even Edwin Jackson, none of them stack up to the surprise that is Mat Latos of the Padres.

Latos is rocking a 2.45 ERA and is 10-4 on the season, racking up 99 strike-outs in 17 games.  Not too shabby for a guy who appeared in 10 games last year, got rocked every outing, couldn’t keep his team in the games, but now, he’s a stud in San Diego.

I say Latos might be the dark horse for the National League Cy Young award; all the guy needs is for Ubaldo Jimenez and Roy Halladay to stumble after the All-Star break and he’s in there like swimwear.





2010 MLB “Should be” All-Star Team: American League

12 07 2010

American League

1B-  Paul Konerko (Chicago White Sox)

How did Konerko get snubbed from the first team?  The 34-year old has proven he hasn’t lost a step and can still hang with the new class of MLB stars.  80 games in, Konerko is batting .299 with 20 HR, and 63 RBI and is the battery that has jolted the White Sox back to the top of the A.L Central.

2B- Orlando Hudson (Minnesota Twins)

Hudson is easily a top candidate for comeback player of the year.  It seems since joining the Twins, O-Dog had been able to put on a spectacular athletic showing as to why he’s the best at his position- something he didn’t really do when he was with the Dodgers.

3B- Michael Young (Texas Rangers)

Let’s face it, when it comes down to the hot corner at third base, Evan Longoria and A-Fraud are at the top of their games, and as much as I hate to admit it, they are really spectacular to watch at times (well, more so Longoria than A-Roid) but if I were to pick an alternate to the consensus then it would be big Michael Young.

Young seems to have his inner-demons tamed, and resurrected his monstrous swing.  The Rangers’ star may be batting .301 with 12 HR, but don’t let that fool you.  His 24 doubles and 54 RBI are a huge reason why the Texas offence is so potent and exciting to watch.

SS- Alex Gonzalez (Toronto Blue Jays)

Gonzalez might have been the biggest and best signing Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos made in the past off-season.  Gonzalez’s 25 doubles, 17 HR and 50 RBI are enough offence to help keep the Blue Jays from tanking early in the season as many had predicted.

C- Jason Varitek (Boston Red Sox)

With Victor Martinez on the shelf and the pile up of injuries in Boston, the Red Sox captain has jumped off the bench and back on the front lines.  I would love to bet that without Varitek on that team then the Red Sox would be in mounds of trouble.

RF- Shin-Soo Choo (Cleveland Indians)

I’m all-aboard the Choo choo train.  Choo might be one of the best exports out of Korea and his fan following is unbelievable.

Put aside his decent plate appearances and focus on his acrobatics in the outfield.  Choo is definitely a treat to watch.  The Indians better consider keeping him around for years to come.

LF- Juan Rivera (Los Angeles Angels)

Rivera’s arm alone should be reason enough to have him in the All-Star game, not to mention how much he’s stepped up offensively since the injury to Kendry Morales.

CF- Alex Rios (Chicago White Sox)

If you know me, then you know how much this pains me to do.  If you don’t know me, then here’s the low down:  I HATE Alex Rios.  He’s an arrogant, egotistical athlete who hates kids.  Yep.  Google “Rios refuses autograph” and you’ll see his shenanigans outside of a charity event when he played for Toronto.  However, with that aside, Rios has really impressed me this year.

82 games into this 2010 season, and he’s already jacked 15 HR’s which is two off of his total from all of last year.  The resurgences of Rios’ bat is another big reason for the White Sox success.

P- Jeff Niemann (Tampa Bay Rays)

We all know pitching resides in the National League with Halladay, Jimenez, Lincecum, Josh Johnson and Chris Carpenter, but, if you factor out C.C, Hughes, Price and Braden, Niemann is the next on the list of legit American League pitchers.

His 7-2 record and 2.77 ERA is enough for me.  If you need more, then in his 18 starts, the Rays are 14-4, and the “ace” has won two meetings against A.L. East rivals Boston Red Sox.

National League Selections Coming Tuesday





Five Changes That Should Be Made in the MLB: #2

5 07 2010

2. Scheduling Adjustments

I love baseball as much as the next guy or girl, but maybe tweaking the schedule wouldn’t be so bad.

Currently the MLB has a 162 game schedule in place with the following breakdown:

– 81 home games and 81 away games
– 18 games against each team within the division
– at least 9 games against each team within a team’s respective league
– 18 interleague games

Now, in order to change the schedule, the MLB would have to shift teams around to even out the divisions.

Currently the National League has 16 teams, and the American League has 14. The solution would be shifting the Houston Astros out of the National League Central division and plugging them into the American League West. With that done, there would be six MLB divisions with five teams in each.

Now the fun begins.

After watching the Angels vs. Rangers last week, and then the Cardinals vs. Brewers series and Rockies vs. Giants this weekend, I realized how intense divisional games could be (aside from the Yankees vs. Red Sox series) so I think there should be more emphasis on divisional matches, and less mediocre plugin series like the Diamondbacks vs. Pirates.

With a new schedule that puts the spotlight on divisional battles, I feel that fans would be treated to more energy driven and intense games with playoff implications in months like July and August.

Not only would a shorter schedule paired with the importance of divisional games provide more exciting games, but, it would also draw more people to the ballparks, especially if each game is basically treated as a “must win” game. Ultimately, this new schedule would create more revenue in ticket sales for each club and the MLB.

How would the new schedule work out?

Shorten the season by 60 games; like I said, I love baseball and everything, but, a shorter more divisional based season could bring more excitement to the sport.

Here’s how the new schedule could be broken down:

– 61 home, 61 away
– 18 games against each divisional opponent (9 home, 9 away) 72 games total
– 4 games against teams in other divisions (2 home, 2 away) 40 games total
– 10 interleague games (4 series= 3 game set, 3 game set, 2 game set, 2 game set) 10 games total

-122 game season