Thursday, March 27, 2014

Fearless forecasts for MLB 2014


by: Dan Howard
Staff Writer

(Editor’s Note: Dan has been diagnosed with Eczema, causing a minor skin rash and has been given steroids for his condition. We have asked MLB to not suspend Dan for the use of performance enhancing drugs while typing this article. To our Redlegs Review readers, if any of his predictions seem completely off the wall please remember, it’s the steroids talking.)

Now that we’re only hours away from the start of the 2014 baseball season I thought I’d blow the dust off my crystal ball and give my predictions for the new season. Hopefully they’re better than last seasons!

Beginning in the American League East is there anyone that even comes close to the Boston Red Sox? Sure the Yankees spent more money this past offseason even luring Jacoby Ellsbury from the defending World Champs to the “Evil Empire”. New York has improved their team but I don’t think it will be enough. Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon is a genius and should have his team competing with the Sox for the top spot in the division. The future may be now for Buck Showalter and the Baltimore Orioles, while I believe the Toronto Blue Jays will wallow in last place for the second year in a row.

The class of the American League Central is the Detroit Tigers who, under first year skipper Brad Ausmus, hails the best rotation in baseball. ESPN recently ranked all of baseball’s starting pitchers and four Tigers were in the top 50, which means Motown’s number four starter, Drew Smyly, would be a number two man on every other team in baseball. The Cleveland Indians made a nice run to the Wild Card playoff this season and I really expect them to challenge the Tigers in the division. The rest of the Central, Twins, White Sox and Royals will be jockeying for third place.

On paper the American League West belongs to the Texas Rangers with their offensive acquisitions this winter. Prince Fielder and former Red Shin-Soo Choo have dramatically improved an already potent offense. But they don’t play these games on paper do they! This division should have the wildest race for supremacy with the Rangers, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Orange County, California, USA and last season’s division champs Oakland Athletics. I hope that Lloyd McClendon has a great season managing the Seattle Mariners, while I sincerely believe the Houston Astros will see improvement on their 2013 record of 51 wins 111 losses.

Moving to the National League East, the Washington Nationals subpar 2013 season was a fluke. I expect Davey Johnson’s team winning the division over the Atlanta Braves. The Braves lost Brian McCann to the Yankees and he will be hard to replace for that young pitching staff. The Philadelphia Phillies are the New York Yankees of the National League, old, very old. The New York Mets and the Miami Marlins will probably be eliminated by Memorial Day.

Call me biased, but I think the best division race in 2014 will be the National League Central. St. Louis, Cincinnati and Pittsburgh each leap frogged each other during 2013 and I feel the Reds lackadaisical winter will not be an issue. As I wrote last week with 27 of the first 34 games against last year’s playoff team a great start is important. A 17-17 start should be considered a success. Will Ryan Braun’s return affect the Milwaukee Brewers? He should improve them but if they don’t get better pitching they’re toast. The Chicago Cubs will be the Central’s strongest team, because the other four will be stacked on top of them.

The Los Angeles Dodgers should have no trouble repeating as National League West champions, with little resistance coming from the Giants, Diamondbacks, Rockies and Padres. I think that Arizona’s Paul Goldschmidt will continue his success from 2013. He’s my pick for N.L. M.V.P.

Here are my picks;
A.L. East – Boston Red Sox
A.L. Central – Detroit Tigers
A.L. West – Texas Rangers
A.L. Wild Card 1 – Tampa Bay Rays
A.L. Wild Card 2 – Oakland Athletics
A.L. M.V.P. – Mike Trout, Los Angeles
A.L. Cy YoungYu Darvish, Texas Rangers

N.L. East – Washington Nationals
N.L. Central – Cincinnati Reds (Yeah, I’m biased)
N.L. West – Los Angeles Dodgers
N.L. Wild Card 1 – St. Louis Cardinals
N.L. Wild Card 2 – Pittsburgh Pirates
N.L. M.V.P. - Paul Goldschmidt, Arizona Diamondbacks
N.L. Cy Young – Adam Wainwright, St. Louis Cardinals

2014 Playoffs

A.L. Wild Card – Tampa Bay over Oakland
A.L. Divisional – Boston defeats Tampa Bay 3 games to 1
A.L. Divisional – Detroit defeats Texas 3 games to 2
A.L. Championship – Boston defeats Detroit 4 games to 2

N.L. Wild Card – Pittsburgh over St. Louis
N.L. Divisional – Los Angeles sweeps Pittsburgh 3 games to 0
N.L. Divisional – Cincinnati defeats Washington 3 games to 1
N.L. Championship – Los Angeles defeats Cincinnati 4 games to 2 (Sorry Reds fans, I’ve got to use my head on this one, the Dodgers are that good!)

World Series – Los Angeles defeats Boston 4 games to 3.

Have a blessed week. GO REDS!!!

Dan Howard

(Editor’s Postscript; we heard from MLB and in the words of Chicago White Sox announcer Ken Harrelson – “He Gone!”)

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