Crushed Optimists

We are twin brothers who grew up in Central Washington. This blog is devoted to the life of Seattle sports fans, as well as various other topics that we will espouse for your enjoyment. We could be called another OFFICIAL SEATTLE SEAHAWKS site, but we'll take our uneducated crack at the Mariners, Sonics, and Huskies as well. A Seattle Sports Blog? Must be the land... of crushed optimism!

Monday, March 27, 2006

Baseball Season? Already? Plus: National League preview

Well, now that the college basketball season is over for the state of Washington, ending on an extremely (and eerily) similar note to the football season, it must be time for some baseball, right?

Gavin just returned from coming down here to Phoenix, and we took in a couple of spring training Mariners games against the White Sox and the A's. Afterwards, we realized that we had done little to no blogging about the upcoming 2006 season. Blame it on the Seahawks. Blame it on the Huskies. Or.... blame it on the fact that it's usually depressing to blog about the Mariners. Whatever the reason, there have been no words of "wisdom" from us surrounding the upcoming season, with Mariners baseball set to begin on April 3rd against the Angels and Bartolo Colon (I would assume).

That's, sadly, about to change. It's time for us to begin our 2006 Major League Baseball Preview, starting with the NL East. We will endeavor to do this preview with these thoughts in mind:

1. We are not experts, and will not profess to be experts
2. We don't know what half of those cool stats mean, though we wish we did (we're just lazy)
3. We know very little about what cool rookies will rock the world
4. We realize that, if you really want to read about any of the above statements, you should just go to USSMariner or Lookout Landing, because they DO rock

Here's our schedule:
Monday: National League
Tuesday: AL East and AL Central
Wednesday: Anaheim and Texas
Thursday: Oakland
Friday: Mariners
Sunday: Final predictions

Now, the National League!! Am I going to go team by team? Absolutely not. That sounds like a lot of work. No, I'm going to do the "Land of Conclusions" approach instead, where I put forth certain questions and/or statements and agree/disagree with them.

1. Best Team in the National League: St. Louis Cardinals.
There is at least one more year for this group of Cardinals to continue their dominant regular-season performance. They still have Pujols, with Edmonds and Co. to flesh out an above-average offense. They still have Chris Carpenter and Mark Mulder to flesh out an above-average starting rotation. And they still have Jason Isringhausen and Co. to flesh out an above-average bullpen. They don't seem to be great in anything, but they are really good at everything, and that should be good enough.

2. Worst Team in the National League: Battle between the Washington Nationals and the Colorado Rockies. I mean, at least the Nats have uber-rookie Ryan Zimmerman, while the Rockies have virtually no one as they go through another round of pitchers who's careers will be ruined by Coors Field. At some point, don't we have to say that professional baseball in Colorado just doesn't work? The air just isn't conducive to putting together a quality baseball team.

3. Most Improved Team:
There are a few candidates for this award this year. First, the Pittsburgh Pirates (67-95) await a full year of Zach Duke, hope for a bounce-back performance from Oliver Perez, and will depend on another All-Star campaign from Jason Bay. This is one team that I will be watching on my Extra Innings package this season, which I did end up buying once again due to the fact that, regardless of the Mariners losing hard the past few years, I am still a baseball fan, and there is a sports void outside of baseball until August. The other possibility is the New York Mets (83-79), just like every year. Still, they have Pedro, Beltran, Wright, Wagner, and plenty of other high-priced players who have the talent to knock off the Braves.

4. Most Disappointing Team: The Houston Astros. No Clemens, no playoffs. It's that clear. Brandon Backe is not a #2 starter. Willy Taveras can't hit, and neither can the vast majority of players on this team outside of Ensberg, Biggio, and Berkman. I trust Phil Garner to get the most out of this team, but it's probably asking too much for them to return to the postseason. Now, if Clemens returns in May, I might have to rethink this.

5. Player to Watch In A New Town:
Ryan Franklin in Philadelphia. I might plan my schedule around watching his first couple of starts in that bandbox. A fly-ball pitcher..... there? On steroids?

6. What Dumb Move Will Pat Gillick Do Next?:
The correct question is.... what dumb move won't Stand Pat do next?

7. So..... Barry Bonds, huh?:
May that name never be spoken of again. OK, that's too much to ask for. May that name not be brought up on every single SportsCenter from now through September. OK, that's too much to ask for. May that name not be listed ahead of Babe Ruth on the home run chart after this season. OK, that's too much to ask. May that name still elicit bile in my throat years after he retires. OK, that can happen...

8. Will the NL West suck once again?:
Probably, but not like last season. Bonds will be back. Peavy will be back. The D-Backs should be slightly better. The Dodgers will have Gagne and Drew back, at least for part of the season. So.... no, it shouldn't happen again, but none of those teams will make it to the World Series or anything.

9. Can the Atlanta Braves continue their playoff streak?:
Unless the loss of Leo Mazzone hit them like a ton of bricks. I'm through predicting against team until it actually happens. The Mets have the best chance to knock them off, but they are still the Mets.

10. So.... Predictions, Colin?:
Since you asked..... NL West: SF Giants. NL Central: St. Louis Cardinals. NL East: Atlanta Braves. Wildcard: NY Mets.

Other possibilities: San Diego Padres, Milwaukee Brewers, Chicago Cubs (if Prior and Woods are healthy), Philadelphia Phillies.

posted by colin_hesse @ 11:06 AM  0 comments

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