Friday, April 18, 2008


Friday Royal Nonesuch

Giants. Cards. Are you revved up? Well, you should be. The Cardinals still sport the second-best record in the league, and the Giants were one bullpen implosion away from taking three of four from them last weekend. Cardinal fans are already talking shit on Rob Neyer and Keith Law ESPN chats due to the fast start, apparently unable (or unwilling, more likely) to comprehend that a rotation anchored by Todd Wellemeyer and Joel Piniero probably couldn't carry you to a pennant even in the Pacific Coast League. I realize belligerent Internet denizens make up a very small sample of the St. Louis fanbase, but I'm still going to use it as extra motivation to root the Giants on to a sweep.

--Jim Baker thinks the Giants will have a historically bad offense this season, even comparing them to (gasp!) the 2003 Dodgers. That's just uncalled for. If anything, the threat of joining such dubious company should convince the Giants to continue playing Fred Lewis, Eugenio Velez, and John Bowker, and to...please, God...get Rich Aurilia out of the everyday lineup.

What I want to know, though, is what is Jim Baker, a respected former BP analyst...a smart guy...doing writing for Page 2? I thought that was just where the Skip Baylisses and Ralph Wileys of the world lurked. I guess if Baker starts peppering his articles with references to Teen Wolf Too, then he'll be past the point of no return.

--Luckily, I think I may have solved the Dave Bush Conundrum. Turns out he probably just plain sucks. After years of trying to figure out why his terrific peripheral numbers didn't translate into a low ERA, it seems as though all the time and energy I spent fretting over this (I even e-mailed a Brewers blogger to ask him if he knew what was going on) was all moot. Whereas before Bush never walked guys but struck out his fair share (166 to 38 K:BB ratio in 210 innings in 2006...drool), in 17 innings this year he's already walked ten batters. Small sample size, blah, blah, but that's still scary. Luckily, Bush is no longer anywhere to be seen on my fantasy team, so I guess I should stop caring.

--OK, not that anyone really cares, but I just got too busy to finish my division predictions, so here's a condensed list, with some off-color comments thrown in for good measure. Now, these predictions were written down like three weeks ago, and I haven't changed them to reflect how the season has gone so far. Honest.

NL Central

1. Milwaukee Brewers
2. Chicago Cubs
3. Cincinnati Reds
4. Houston Astros
5. St. Louis Cardinals
6. Pittsburgh Pirates

The Brewers are the sexy pick to win the NL Central this year, so I guess that means I've been seduced. They haven't made the playoffs since the year this piece of genius came out, so they're due. This division is just awful, though. The Dusty-fication of the Reds is going to be a grisly process, and they only rank this high because they're the best of a bad lot after the Brew Crew and the Cubs. Too bad this guy isn't a Reds fan. And no, I obviously don't think the Cardinals are for real.

AL Central

1. Cleveland Indians
2. Detroit Tigers
3. Kansas City Royals
4. Chicago White Sox
5. Minnesota Twins

If we're going by who I want to win this division, I'd pick the Royals. Too bad their offense is horrendous. I'd probably change my ranking of the Tigers nowadays due to how poorly they've played out of the gate, but they've got too much talent not to rebound and they should be okay.

On a related note, if you want a beautiful example of the difference between a great GM and one who is a miserable failure, read this.

NL East

1. New York Mets
2. Atlanta Braves
3. Philadelphia Phillies
4. Washington Nationals
5. Florida Marlins

I'm calling it now. The Phillies will sink into the depths of the division this year due solely to Pedro Feliz's abysmal bat, and Phillie phans will be calling for his head by August. If you think it's crazy talk to say that one bad player can destroy a team's playoff hopes, well, you don't know Pedro.

The Mets and Braves, I think, should battle it out right until the end. I thought the Johan Santana trade tipped the scales clearly in New York's favor at first, but they have some serious rotation problems and their outfield is a bit of a mess. The Nationals are going to suck, but at least they give us the joy of watching Manny Acta try to reign in not one, but two, out-of control malcontent outfielders. The Marlins, meanwhile, trot out a defensive unit that has about as much range as your local beer league softball team.

AL East

1. Boston Red Sox
2. New York Yankees
3. Tampa Bay Rays
4. Toronto Blue Jays
5. Baltimore Orioles

I was watching the Sox-Yanks game last weekend when the unthinkable happened. I found myself rooting for the Yankees. That's right, it must be the end of the world. Cats and dogs living together, and so forth. It's gotten so bad that the formerly underdog (at least in this matchup) and somewhat charming Sox have now usurped the never-likable Yankees for title of Evil Empire. A blowhard, right wing starting pitcher and a drunken, obnoxious fanbase will do that, I guess.

The Blue Jays are probably better than the Rays, but I'm going to violate my own convoluted code here and pick Tampa Bay higher simply because I want to root for them. If even two-thirds of their hitting and pitching prospects pan out, they could be frightening, although some of that depends on how much cash their new ownership is willing to shell out to keep everybody around. The Orioles won't be good again until Peter Angelos sells the team, which ain't happening any time soon. Sorry, O's fans.

For what it's worth, the Yanks will win the AL Wild Card, and the Braves will take it in the NL. For World Series picks I'll go with the Red Sox versus the Brewers. Yeah, I'm all about the Brew Crew this year. If they fail to live up to my expectations, just picture me screaming "Brauuuuuuun" a la Captain Kirk, as the camera circles over my head.

--TGIF vid. Haven't done one of these for a while. Work and beer-swilling will do that. Here's a creepy-ass Brian Eno/David Byrne collaboration. The music is great, but if you figure out the point of what is going on in the video, give me a call.

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