Pass the Old Milwaukee: 2011 Season Preview

Because it wouldn’t be baseball season without a Bull Durham quote: honey, we all deserve to wear white. But only two teams will win the pennant despite their best efforts (well, 29 best efforts and the Pirates), and only one will win the World Series. San Francisco was lucky last season. My money’s on Milwaukee this season.

True, the Brewers aren’t exactly a glamor pick. But only the Reds, Phillies, and Rockies scored more runs in the NL last season, only the Reds and Rockies had a higher SLG% and OPS, and only the Reds hit more home runs. On the other hand, only two teams– Arizona and Pittsburgh– had a worse ERA, and only the Pirates had a worse ERA+. But that was before trading for Zach Greinke. And Shaun Marcum. And Sergio Mitre. (Would you rather have Ivan Nova? Well, probably, but still.) The Brewers won’t exactly tear up the NL– Yuniesky Betancourt’s career OPS+ of 84 will ensure they won’t– but the 2010 Giants only went 92-70, as did the 2008 Phillies. We’ve exorcised the ghosts of Mitch Williams and Willie Mays. Why not Gorman Thomas?

Below are my picks:

NL East

Over/under Phillies wins: 100

Worth watching: The Phab Phour plus Madson, Jason Heyward, Mike Stanton, Werth as a National, the Mets blowing (as opposed to blowing leads, because they won’t have leads).

Ugly (or Uggly): The Braves’ defense, the Mets’ rotation, Werth’s contract, Ryan Howard’s contract, John Buck’s contract, Luis Castillo (wherever he may roam).

Ugly number: 30.9– the Phillies are the oldest team in baseball.

NL Central

Over/under Brewers wins: 92

Worth watching: Milwaukee’s Fab Four of Greinke/Gallardo/Marcum/Wolf, Pujols, Joey Votto, Starlin DeJesus Castro (no relation), Carlos Peña, Aroldis Chapman, the Penguins, the Comets (WNBA).

Ugly: Nyjer Morgan’s career OPS+ of 90, meet Yuni Betancourt; the Cubs’ OBP; replacing Brendan Ryan with Ryan Theriot; the Pittsburgh and Houston offenses (tied for NL-worst OPS+ of 83 in 2010– and that was with Lance Berkman).

Neither ugly nor worth watching: the Astros rotation is now Wandy Rodriguez and the Phab Three of Brett Myers, JA Happ, and Nelson Figueroa. Would Ed Wade want KendricK?

NL West

Over/under Rockies wins: 93

Worth watching: Lincecum, Bumgarner, Carlos Gonzalez, Clayton Kershaw, Hong-Chih Kuo, Mat Latos, Heath Bell, the Phoenix Suns.

Ugly: Tony Gwynn Jr. as a regular, Juan Miranda as a regular, the 2010 Diamondbacks bullpen, the Padres’ Wrong Gonzalez Syndrome, Todd Helton’s contract, Brian Wilson’s beard.

Overrated number:
Ubaldo Jiminez, pre-all star break: 15-1, 2.20, 113 K in 127 IP
Ubaldo Jiminez, post-all star break: 4-7, 3.80, 101 K in 94 2/3 IP
Ubaldo Jiminez BABIP by month: .253, .205, .326, .250, .319, .281

NL playoff teams: Phillies, Brewers, Rockies, Reds

NL winner: Brewers

AL East
Red Sox
Blue Jays

Over/under Red Sox wins: 97

Worth watching: Buck Showalter’s O’s, Kyle Drabek, Russell Martin, Adrian Gonzalez as a Sawk, John Lackey winning 18-20, Mariano Rivera at 41, Jose Bautista, the Rays’ Fab Five of Price/Shields/Niemann/Hellickson/Wade Davis, Brandon Morrow (10.9 K/9 in 2010), Rafael Soriano as a Yankee, Frank Francisco as a Blue Jay (why do I always confuse him with Kelvim Escobar), Yunel (no relation to Kelvim) Escobar.

Ugly: Ivan Nova as a #4 starter, either Manny Ramirez or Johnny Damon in the outfield– ever, the Blue Jays’ OBP (3rd worst in the AL in 2010 despite an AL-best SLG), the O’s Justin Duchscherer as the new Steve Ontiveros (the pitcher— Duchscherer: 33-25, 454 IP in 8 seasons, former A, most of past two full seasons missed to injury; Onto: 34-31, 661 IP in 10 seasons, former A, two full seasons missed to injury).

Ugly number: 30.7– the Red Sox are the oldest team in the AL.

Overrated number: Mark Reynolds’s K’s, if he can slug .500

AL Central
White Sox

Over/under Tigers wins: 95

Worth watching: Mauer, Verlander, the White Sox bullpen of Thornton/Sale/Ohman/Crain, Victor Martinez as a Tiger, Jake Peavy, Thome at 40, Phil Coke as a starter (update: he’s not), Joakim Soria, Shin-Soo Choo, Carlos Santana, Scott Baker (perpetually my “sleeper” Twins ace), Francisco Liriano, Alcides Escobar, Kila Ka’aihue, the 2012 Royals.

Ugly: Nick Blackburn’s K rate, Morneau’s concussion, Luke Hochevar as a #1 starter, Fausto Carmona as a #1 starter, ex-Phil Carlos Carrasco as a #3 starter, Brad Penny as a Tiger.

AL West
Angelus Novus of Los Anaheim

Over/under A’s wins: 91

Worth watching: The A’s Fab Four of Cahill/Anderson/Gonzalez/Braden, ex-A Haren, DeJesus as an A (no relation), Felix Hernandez, Alexei Ogando, Lucas French (Faulkneresque name only; he’s not especially good).

Ugly: Vernon Wells’s 7-year, $126M contract: dumb. Trading for Vernon Wells’s contract: dumber. Trading Mike Napoli for Vernon Wells: really dumb. Also: the Mariners’ offense (2010 OPS+ of 79– not a typo; team OBP of .298, team SLG of .339), the Mariners’ rotation minus Felix Hernandez, the A’s OBP (who would have thought?), Tommy Hunter as a #3 starter, Miguel Olivo’s awful OBP/decent SLG in Safeco.

AL playoff teams: Red Sox, Tigers, White Sox, A’s

AL winner: White Sox

World Series winner: Brewers over White Sox

Phillies fans: enjoy the Harry Kalas reverse black cat.


4 Responses to “Pass the Old Milwaukee: 2011 Season Preview”

  1. […] Maybe it isn’t quite 1968. On the other hand, I did pick the Tigers. […]

  2. […] the season began, I predicted John Lackey would win 18-20 games in 2011. Not, in my opinion, because he was the Red Sox ace– I vaguely remembered some guys named […]

  3. […] to win more than 87 games this year, because I’m always wrong (my World Series picks since 2012: Brewers, Marlins, Blue Jays, Cardinals), and because the Phils will suck. More importantly, I haven’t had […]

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