The play-in round is always exciting, with … Both play-in game winners should make for some compelling matchups in their respective divisional series.
I need to get something off my chest.
For those folks in the media elite who love to poo-poo players celebrating when clinching a wildcard spot (or for that matter, winning a playoff series not named the World Series), shame on them. They fail to realize that the regular season is such a grind, and that the amount of work teams put in during spring training is monumental. So to the media folks I say, “shaddup!”
Now to my MLB playoff preview…
Kansas City Royals vs. Houston Astros
Analysis: The Royals kinda stumbled down the stretch, but still landed the home-field advantage in the American League playoffs. Still, KC needs to get right fast. Johnny Cueto needs to be the same ace he was before he was traded from Cincinnati. And the Royals’ bullpen needs to be on point.
I love the Astros grit and toughness. Plus those guys can mash the hell out of the baseball. Still, I think the Royals have the edge here in terms of experience, and that will be the deciding factor over an Astros team who may be the team to beat in the AL West next season.
Prediction: Royals in 4.
Toronto Blue Jays vs. Texas Rangers
Analysis: This is may be considered the undercard of the AL playoffs, but I think this is more compelling than KC-Houston. I love the fact that both squads have aces on their respective pitching staffs: David Price (Toronto) and Cole Hamels (Texas).
Having said that, there is just something I love about the Blue Jays. They can mash, have one hell of a homefield advantage (and that dome of their’s STILL looks great), and have been riding on some incredible momentum.
Texas is a good underdog story. It didn’t quit when they started the season poorly. It made a risky move at the trade deadline in acquiring Hamels (as did Toronto with Price and Troy Tulowiski). I just don’t think the Rangers are talented enough to beat the Blue Jays.
Prediction: Blue Jays in 5.
I would continue giving an in-depth analysis on the National League side, but some things came up. First of all, it’s almost 11:30 PM. The second AL playoff game is almost over. And my wife made me help her look for a remote that she misplaced. Therefore, I have to wrap this up…
St. Louis Cardinals vs. Chicago Cubs
Analysis: See above explanation.
Prediction: Cardinals in 5.
Los Angeles Dodgers vs. New York Mets
Analysis: If you’re still looking for some analysis, either you can’t read, are slow as hell, or you are as sleepy as I am.
Prediction: Mets in 4.
How does a team with one of the best starting pitchers and arguably the best closer in baseball suck? Said team should be in contention for a wild card at the very least.
Say hello to the 2015 Cincinnati Reds.
The same Reds once employed one of the best starting pitchers in the league in Johnny Cueto (who has been since traded to the Kansas City Royals), as well as in my mind the best relief pitchers in Aroldis Chapman is sitting in 4th place in the National League Central Division with a 43-53 record.
How did the Reds become so bad the last couple of seasons? It’s easy: bad management.
The organization, namely general manager Walt Jocketty, invested in the wrong players. He gave starting pitcher Homer Bailey – who is injured and only played in two games this season – a 6 year, $105,000,000 contract. This is also the same pitcher who is sporting a 58-51 record and a 4.19 ERA for his career.
I’m sorry, but no GM with half a brain would give a dude with pedestrian career numbers a $100 million contract. If that weren’t bad enough, Bailey’s contract expires in 2021.
Unfortunately for Reds fans, that’s not the only sin that Jocketty had committed. He also signed first baseman Joey Votto to an absurd 10-year, $225 million contract extension that expires in 2024!
And before you Reds fans out there lecture me on how big of a stud Votto is (and that is true, by the way), no one in his right mind should give a player in his 30s a big contract extension that will expire when he turns 40! Period.
I understand that the Reds wanted to invest in their franchise player and not risk losing Votto to the New York Yankees or other big market, big spending teams. And he has decent stats to boot. But it’s just not smart for a team to invest SO MUCH MONEY into ONE PLAYER when it have other studs on your squad, especially if that team is not a big market club with a suspect minor league system.
There is no way in hell that a team would trade for Votto’s contract, not with nine more years left on it.
Thanks to bad contracts like those, the Reds were not able to give Cueto the contract extension he deserves. They may not be able to pay Chapman after this season as well.
And if the Bailey and Votto contracts weren’t bad enough, Jocketty hired Bryan Price to replace the fired Dusty Baker after the 2013 season. It’s pretty safe to say that Price has proven to be not only a lousy manager (98-113 record during his Reds tenure), he is also a bonafide clown.
Nice hire there, Jocketty.
And I wish that I could tell Reds fans that things will get better soon, but they won’t. In fact, it will take at least two or three more seasons before things will get better. The Votto and Bailey contracts will handcuff the Reds for at least the next six seasons. And even if Price were to be canned after this season, who in the hell could manage this bunch?
Seems like Jocketty had lost his magic from his days with the rival St. Louis Cardinals. Maybe he wants to get himself fired with those dumbass moves so he could go back?
The All-Star break means one thing: we’re at the midway-ish point of the 2015 Major League Baseball season. This is also the time to see either how well I’m doing in my preseason prediction or how much I sucked at doing so – and it’s usually the latter.
Anyhoo, without further ado…
- New York Yankees
- Tampa Bay
- NY Yankees
Analysis: Well whaddaya know, my Yankees are in first place at this juncture of the season. And it’s all thanks to that fraud Alex Rodriguez. Part of me wants to throw up in my mouth after uttering that last sentence.
This division is pretty balanced – and weak as hell. The winner of this division may not win more than 85 games.
- Kansas City
- Chicago White Sox
- Kansas City
- Chicago White Sox
Analysis: I guess I should’ve known to pick against the Royals. Those guys are young, good, and like to fight. Meanwhile, no one, and I mean NO ONE, saw the Twins coming. They might be the story of the year.
- LA Angels of Anaheim near El Segundo
- LA Angels
Analysis: The Angels are on a bit of a roll lately, overtaking the surprising Astros for first place. I figured the Astros would be a little bit better, but damn was I wrong. And speaking of being wrong, I nailed that “Seattle in first” pick huh?
- New York Mets
- NY Mets
Analysis: Much of the division aligns with my prediction after you swap Miami with the Mets. The Mets have been surprisingly good, and the scariest part is they are young and will only get better.
As for Miami, talk about a disappointment. If only there was a way to fire an owner…
- St. Louis
- Chicago Cubs
- St. Louis
- Chicago Cubs
Analysis: I pretty much nailed this division. I’ve actually got something right for a change. Nothing to see here…
- Los Angeles Dodgers
- San Francisco
- San Diego
- LA Dodgers
- San Francisco
- San Diego
Analysis: Damn, I pretty much nailed the National League – save a swap here and there. I guess that means I need to pay closer attention to the American League…
While I am a lifelong fan of the New York Yankees, I am not a fan of Alex Rodriguez. In fact, I cannot stand the man.
I do not like the fact that A-Rod had been so disingenuous with the way he conducted himself on and off the field over the last few seasons, he had become more of an “A-Fraud”. And with the cat out of the bag on his apparent use of steroids, he has become “A-Roid” to me, not to mention a liar for denying such charges for such a long period of time.
I’ll also go a step further and express how incensed I was that the Yankees allowed A-Rod back. Why my Yankees didn’t buy his roided ass out and move on was a mystery to me, even more so when they bid against themselves in re-signing A-Rod to that albatross of a deal.
Having said all of that, the Yankees should do the right thing and honor A-Rod’s achievements. The team wrote clauses in his contract calling for such milestones to be rewarded by handsome bonuses.
And being a disgraced steroid cheat aside, performance enhancers does not help a player put a bat on the ball at a high level.
After all, 668 home runs is… well, 668 home runs. And only 29 players in Major League Baseball history has at least 3,000 hits. Those are achievements the Yankees have to honor since A-Rod’s milestones were met while wearing a Yankee uniform.
I know New York loathes A-Rod and would really prefer that he would go the hell away, but this was what the Yankees signed up for when they signed A-Rod to that ridiculous contract extension in the first place.
As for me, I feel like such a profound hypocrite while pulling for this man to help my Yankees stay in the AL East pennant chase with the Tampa Bay Rays. What’s even worse for me to stomach is that he is the main reason why my Yankees have been doing surprisingly well this season.
God, I feel so dirty…
In the American League: will Alex Rodriguez bounce back? Will the New York Yankees rebound? Will the Boston Red Sox’ hitting take them to an AL East division title? Will Robinson Cano lead the Seattle Mariners back to prominence?
In the National League: will the Washington Nationals FINALLY put together a successful postseason? Ditto for the Los Angeles Dodgers? Will someone FINALLY take out the St. Louis Cardinals, aka “Team Cockroach”?
Inquiring minds want to know. In the meantime, on to the quick-ass preview (predicted records in parentheses)…
*-denotes wild card team
- Baltimore Orioles (89-73)
- Boston Red Sox (87-75)
- Toronto Blue Jays (85-77)
- New York Yankees (81-81)
- Tampa Bay Rays (74-88)
(Memo to my beloved Yankees: please win! Prove me wrong dammit!)
- Detroit Tigers (85-77)
- Cleveland Indians (83-79)
- Kansas City Royals (80-82)
- Chicago White Sox (75-87)
- Minnesota Twins (68-94)
- Seattle Mariners (94-68)
- Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim below El Segundo in Orange County (90-72)*
- Oakland Athletics (88-74)*
- Texas Rangers (72-90)
- Houston Astros (65-97)
- Washington Nationals (96-66)
- Miami Marlins (84-78)
- Atlanta Braves (80-82)
- New York Mets (76-86)
- Philadelphia Phillies (70-92)
(“METS” = “My Entire Team Sucks”)
- St. Louis Cardinals (89-73)
- Pittsburgh Pirates (88-74)*
- Chicago Cubs (86-76)
- Cincinnati Reds (81-81)
- Milwaukee Brewers (75-87)
- Los Angeles Dodgers (94-68)
- San Francisco Giants (90-72)*
- San Diego Padres (85-77)
- Arizona Diamondbacks (75-87)
- Colorado Rockies (69-93)
AL MVP: Robinson Cano
NL MVP: Andrew McCutchen
AL Cy Young Award Winner: Felix Hernandez
NL Cy Young Award Winner: Clayton Kershaw
American League pennant winner: Mariners
National League pennant winner: Nationals
2015 World Series winner: Nationals
The two participants in the 2014 World Series are wild card teams. Both of those teams did not win over 90 games in the regular season – the first time it has happened in World Series history. One of those teams made its first appearance in the playoffs in almost 30 years.
In short, this past season has been “bizarro world” in major league baseball.
And this should make for one interesting preview. Speaking of which…
San Francisco Giants vs. Kansas City Royals. Here we go again: it’s experience vs. youthful exuberance. The Giants are playing in their third World Series in five years. Let me say that again: the Giants are playing in their THIRD WORLD SERIES IN FIVE YEARS. Giants manager Bruce Bochy has to be considered the best manager in baseball. If he does deliver San Francisco its third World Series title of the decade, no one would dispute his standing.
On the other hand, the Royals keep surprising the hell out of me. Looking back at the start of the post-season, I could easily say that Kansas City has no business advancing deep into the post-season – let alone the World Series. The Royals hitting does not scare most pundits, and their starting pitching does not give many to pause. Hell two of the teams they beat to get to this point (the Angels and Orioles) were far better teams on paper.
But the Royals have one thing that is totally immeasurable: heart.
Kansas City swept both Los Angeles and Baltimore, two of the best teams in all of baseball. And sure the Royals have a speedy team that is deadly on the base pads, as well as arguably the best bullpen in baseball. However, there was little doubt that toughness play a big role in the Royals reaching the World Series without even losing a game.
I’ve made the mistake of not picking the Royals in the AL Divisional and Championship Series, but I will not make the same mistake for the World Series. Call it destiny, call it selling one’s soul to the devil, but I do not see the Giants derailing the Royals a World Series title. Kansas City’s bullpen is way to strong to overcome, and it should put the finishing touches on what has been a magical season.
Royals in 6.
First of all, I should have known better but the St. Louis Cardinals, aka “Team Cockroach”, got me AGAIN. The Cardinals simply out-played, out-hustled, and more importantly out-managed the Los Angeles Dodgers. Speaking of the latter, manager Don Mattingly almost single-handedly lost Game 1 when he left Clayton Kershaw on there too long.
Secondly, the two best teams in baseball were unceremoniously bounced out of the playoffs. The Washington Nationals were out-toughed by the San Francisco Giants, and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim near El Segundo were swept – SWEPT – by the young and inexperienced Kansas City Royals.
All of that makes for an old-school “Final Four” in Major League Baseball’s championship round. Let’s go…
Baltimore Orioles vs. Kansas City Royals. It’s nice to see the Royals competing for the AL pennant again. Shades of George Brett and the 1980s are back and are likely here to stay. However, the Orioles are simply better. As long as Baltimore keeps Kansas City off the base pads where it could do some major damage with its running game, it will advance to the World Series. Don’t forget that the Orioles can mash a helluva lot better than the Royals as well. Orioles in 6.
St. Louis Cardinals vs. San Francisco Giants. Old-school matchup on all levels here in terms of style and personnel. Both teams are grinders that look to wear opposing teams down. This should be a classic, competitive series. That said, I’m not going to pick against the Cardinals again. Cardinals in 7.