It's season preview time here at Distinguished Senators, and I for one have been looking forward to it for some time. The season preview is when I let my biases roam freely, unhindered by any concern for facts or decency. And while the swears may be down a bit from last year, but let me assure you than I have far less idea what I'm talking about than I did last time.
Atlanta - I'm rooting for the Braves, which I guess Nats fans aren't supposed to do. I won't be cheering them on against the Nats, if that makes you feel any better. But this is a great organization. They do things the right way. They don't insult departed players, play desiccated vets in favor of competent rookies, or trade for Alfonso Soriano.
Florida - It was real neighborly of the Marlins to sell off everybody just to keep us out of last place. On the other hand, it ups the pressure on the Nats pretty severely. Imagine if we do finish behind a team that's thinking about starting some dude named Uggla at second.
New York - I'm still too busy laughing about Victor Zambrano to say anything about the Mets. They picked up some important dudes, but something will go wrong.
Philadelphia - I mocked the Phillies last year for having Jon Lieber as their opening day starter. They have not fixed this problem. Did you notice how they spent the whole off-season trying to trade their best player? Say what you will about Jim Bowden, but at least when he tries to trade his best player he gets results.
Washington - The Nats were quite a bit better last year than they actually were, and no I don't care if that makes any sense. We won more games than we should have, and any attempt at predicting our 2006 performance must begin with figuring out why. Tom Boswell, depending on what fearsomely illogical viewpoint he's arguing, will tell you it's because 1) Frank's a genius 2) SWAGGER 3) the players wanted an owner 4) Guzman hit .325 in September! That's fine, but I'm more willing to chalk it up to my old friend Dumb Fucking Luck. The problem is that DFL isn't a very reliable guy, and he'll probably be spending his summer in Detroit or Milwaukee or somewhere like that, leaving us to suck really bad. But what the hell -- I was wrong last year, and I hope I'm wrong again.
Chicago - I haven't heard a lot of Cub fan bleating about how this is their year, so maybe they're more reasonable than I'd given them credit for. You would have to be pretty delusional to think Juan Pierre is going to solve all your problems.
The Cubs totally suck, but you know that, so I'm going to go on a tangent. Now, the Cubs have all these great young pitchers who keep getting hurt. You can blame Dusty Baker or high school or whatever, but which one of them has actually stayed healthy? The fat one. Look at the Hernandez brothers -- el hermano delgado is like the Tony Armas of pitching, while el hermano gordo is completely indestructible. Bartolo Colon, C.C. Sabathia -- hell, David Wells is coming up on 50 and routinely downs his age in beers, and he's still good for almost 200 innings a year. Some team is going to figure this out and gain a huge advantage when they stop training their pitchers like they're baseball players and start training them like they're sumo wrestlers.
Cincinnati - The NL Central has a pretty deeply entrenched underclass, doesn't it? The Reds kept Adam Dunn, at least, but that doesn't make up for Tony Womack and Scott Hatteberg being the right side of your infield. It takes some balls to charge money to watch a team like this.
Houston - I have developed an almost religious belief in the ability of the Astros to shrug off any off-season setback, finish ahead of the Cubs, and scare the hell out of me. So here's the scenario: that fat cocktease Roger Clemens stops farting around and comes back; he, Roy Oswalt, and Andy Pettitte kick ass again; Lance Berkman (.416 career OBP!) wins the MVP; and they pull of a mid-season trade to pick up a high-priced rental who propels them into contention after sucking like a Hoover for his previous team.
Milwaukee - I'm not quite ready to believe the hype, but that's more my own contrariness than any actual analysis. Still, being a Brewers fans is probably kind of fun right now. I put them ahead of the Cubs just to rub it in.
Pittsburgh - Pittsburgh's still in the league?
St. Louis - Yeah, they're a mess at second and left. But they exact same thing was true going into the 2004 season, and they won the pennant. The rotation is thick with quality, and Pujols, Edmonds, and Rolen can make up for a lot of So Taguchi. I keep waiting for Jim Edmonds to fall off the proverbial cliff, but I'm starting to get the feeling that he's going to be playing part time for someone and hitting 20 homers a year long after Scott Rolen tearfully announces his retirement.
Arizona - Why did I pick Arizona to win the West? Because I think the Dodgers and Giants are going to suck and I'm sulking about the Padres, that's why. They're not going to do it.
Colorado - I don't want to talk about it. This could have been a premier fucking franchise with just a little bit of goddamn competence -- they led the league in attendance their first seven years, and don't act like you already knew that. They drew almost 4.5 million people their first year. You know how many teams have done that? None. But they pissed it all away and now they draw like the Marlins. It's a damn shame.
Los Angeles - Anyone else chuckle when DePodesta got fired? I'm in the middle of my own personal Moneyball backlash, so yeah, I giggled a little bit. It's Michael Lewis' fault. That dude's a prick. Anyway, the Dodgers have a much crappier rotation than I figured, and they're pretending Nomar Garciaparra's a first baseman. I was about to pick them to win the division, but then I wondered what happens after J.D. Drew and Nomar get hurt, not to mention the fact that they have 1996 All Stars Kenny Lofton and Sandy Fucking Alomar starting. This team could really suck. Not as bad as the Rockies or anything, but still.
San Diego - Brian Giles was the best free agent signing of the winter (NB: last year I said it was Adrian Beltre, so ignore me), but I'm still really pissed at the Padres for having the gall to make the playoffs last year despite being quite obviously worse than the Nats, to name just one. So I hope they do badly.
San Francisco - The Giants seem to be collecting Cardinals, but not . . . like . . . the good ones. I expect Bud Smith and Bo Hart to make appearances at some point during the season.
Baltimore - I really want the Orioles to be good, if only so that there's a non-Buck Martinez reason to watch the games, but there's not a whole lot to look forward to this year. Tejada's always fun, and Nick Markakis could be a guy to watch. Other than that, it all comes down to Leo Mazzone. Will he be able to harness the raw power of Joseph Gribble look-alike Daniel Cabrera, or will Cabrera be the next Bruce Chen? And will Mazzone be able to harness the lefty slop of Bruce Chen, or will Chen be the next Bruce Chen?
Boston - Man was that Theo Epstein shit lame. This is still a damn solid team, and the Wily Mo Pena trade is going to wind up being a steal. Did you ever notice that when Bodes talks about getting a guy he actually should get it never happens, but the instant he mentions picking up some lame-ass scrub it's fucking guaranteed he'll wind up at RFK? Get yourself ready for Nook Logan right now is what I'm saying. Hey, this wasn't about the Red Sox. Good. Fuck the Red Sox.
New York - I'm going out on a limb here, but the Yankees could be pretty good. A little luck with the starting pitching, and I'll have another reason to ignore the AL. And it's really nice of them to keep Bernie Williams around. It's just like the American WBC team letting Al Leiter tag along just to be, you know, charitable.
Tampa Bay - I bet a lot of you are rooting for this ragtag bunch of misfits to pass up the Orioles. It ain't gonna happen. Yet.
Toronto - As you may recall, the Jays spent piles of money this winter. It won't do them any good -- they won't be vaulting over the traditional and tiresome powerhouses in this division, and if they were going to up the budget like this, why didn't they just hang on to Carlos Delgado? They couldn't have been all that upset about the national anthem thing. Getting rid of Delgado so you can afford B.J. Ryan (no, I would not enjoy having that as my nickname, thank you) is like selling your car to get a swanky new pimp cup.
Chicago - Goddamn that's a sweet rotation. It might be enough.
Cleveland - These jockjaws really let me down at the end of the 2005 season, and I'm still a little mad. Remember that? There could have been a bunch of three-way ties and one-game playoffs and stuff, but Cleveland screwed it all up. I forget exactly how. So I guess I'm rooting against them, but it's more likely I'll forget all about it as soon as I quit typing.
Detroit - Well, Kenny Rogers isn't going to jail, so that's good news, and that right there is the best uniform in baseball, so they at least have that. Who knows, maybe they'll surprise everyone. I have no idea. I don't spend a lot of time thinking about the Detroit Tigers, I got to admit.
Kansas City - Nats fans, take note: the Royals have an owner and an apparently rather nice ballpark, and they've been spinning their wheels, doing absolutely nothing, and making their fans cry themselves to sleep every night for a decade. So two things to keep in mind here: 1) having an owner isn't going to fix everything and b) we don't have it as bad as we could. Except for the TV situation.
Minnesota - Tony Batista! Nice job on that one, you idiots.
Los Angeles - You've already forgotten about Hector Carrasco, haven't you? Nice team, but not as good as Oakland. The starting rotation is really deep, and the bullpen is nice, but I don't see where the offense is going to come from. It'll be interesting to see the production of the first two martyrs of Jim Bowden's reign of terror, Juan Rivera and Maicer Izturis.
Oakland - This is a good team. Seriously, there's not much not to like here -- they're my Wishful Thinking Because I Hate the Yankees Best Team in the AL. So why are they making their stadium 10,000 seats smaller? I mean, what the hell is wrong with these people? I'd love to watch this team. You think I relish the idea of going to RFK and seeing Ramon Fucking Ortiz?
Seattle - Jamie Moyer didn't retire? Damn. I guess I was thinking of Kirk Reuter. Seattle is going to suck, but you're used to that by now. Maybe they'll get WBC/contract year Adrian Beltre instead of suck-ass Adrian Beltre. That might be good for third place.
Texas - I should hate the Rangers. First they stole our team, then I lived in Texas for four years and was surrounded by homer-ass Juan Gonzalez fans, then they robbed us of Brad Wilkerson. But I guess the statute of limitations has run out on the first two, and it's not their fault Bowden insisted on trading his best outfielder for some magic beans. If they hadn't ripped him off, someone else would have, though I guess they could have called a social worker or something. But mostly I feel sorry for the Rangers because they're relying on Kevin Millwood to be their ace. Good luck with that, y'all.