Sunday, October 16, 2005


Recap of the 2005 MLB Season

I was supposed to deliver this earlier. See the post below if you want to know why it's late.

I reviewed my pre-season predictions (see them here) against the final season standings (see them here) and feel pretty good about the results. Flip the Yanks and Red Sox and I got the AL East exactly right. Same is true is the Marlins and Mets are flipped in the NL East. I missed the Indians in the AL Central and (other than calling the Cards winners) whiffed badly on the NL Central. I expected more from Texas and less from Oakland in the AL West and didn't give the D-Backs near enough credit in the NL West. On the plus side, though, I called 7 of the 8 playoff teams, tagging the Cubs as the NL Wild Card instead of Houston.

VERY surprised by the playoffs this year, as the ChiSox are showing some real moxie and just what a great pithing staff they have. Three consecutive complete games by one staff is almost unheard of in the regular season, much less the postseason. I think LA wins tonight, but it's all over Tuesday back in ChiTown. And what a run by Houston, who seem to have learned from last year and are taking advantage of some horrible injury luck the Cardinals are experiencing. Houston and the White Sox in the World Series? I could get with that.

I'll get to the Yankees in a minute. First, my season awards:

AL MVP: Consensus seems to be A-Rod this year, and it's hard to disagree. David Ortiz is getting some love, but the knock on him is that he doesn't play defense, and I agree. Rodriguez played an outstanding third base as well as hit the lights out. Nobody's worth $25 million, but A-Rod sure played like he deserves to be the highest paid player in the game. Two dark horses to watch out for: Manny Ramirez (although he's such a hotdog I can't see him getting it) and Paul Konerko, whose .283-40-100 season is pretty good.

AL Cy Young: Mark Buerhle and Jon Garland had both made strong cases for themselves right up until the All-Star break. Their second halves may have taken them out of the running. However, there's not much else to choose from. Johan Santana had a great second half, but his first half was, by his standards, awful. Nobody in New York or Boston distinguished themselves, and I don't think closers should win the award, so I think the best choice just might be Bartolo Colon and his 21-8 record. Don't be surprised, though, if either Mariano Rivera or Frankie Rodriguez' name gets announced.

AL Rookie of the Year: Hmm, which second baseman will it be? Tadahito Iguchi of the White Sox and Robinson Cano of the Yankees both came out of nowhere to post almost mirror-image seasons (Iguchi: .278-15-71, 15 SB in 20 attempts and a .780 OPS. Cano: .297-14-62, only 1 SB and a .778 OPS). Nick Swisher did hit 21 jacks, but a .236 BA is way too ugly to forgive. I son't have a compelling reason to pick him, but I'm going with Iguchi.

NL MVP: Derrek Lee: Great numbers, but your team sucked and you aren't as beloved as Andre Dawson (last player to win an MVP for a sub-.500 team). Albert Pujols, yet another awesome season, but I think St. Louis would still win the Central without you. So, step up, Andruw Jones, as you and your glorious .263-51-128 carry-the-team-to-the-playoffs-on-your-shoulders season gets you props.

AL Cy Young: With a month to go, I was giving the Cy Young to Chris Carpenter, despite the otherworldly performance of Roger Clemens. Then Carpenter decided (for whatever reason) to take September off and Clemens carried Houston to the NL wild card in the face of a furious Philadephia run to the finish. Yep, Clemens again and the Cy Young just might be the cherry on top of an ice cream sundae served in the World Series trophy.

AL Rookie of the Year: Jeff Francouer made such a strong case in July and August before wilting in September. Up to July, the award was Clint Barmes' to lose. But neither of them were around for the full season, like Colorado's Garrett Atkins (.287-13-89 with a .773 OPS) and Houston's Willy Taveras (.291-3-29, 34 SB in 45 attempts and a .666 OPS). However, Taveras gets the nod for stepping in as the leadoff spark the Astros desperately needed to make the playoffs.

Finallly, if anyone other than Eric Wedge or Ozzie Guillen wins AL Manager of the year, it's a travesty. Same thing if anyone other than Bobby Cox wins the NL.

Now, the Yankees.

Yes, they won the AL East. Only because Boston is as big a mess as they are. Yes, they made the playoffs, but look what happened when they got there. The mystique is, I'm afraid, gone. They have a great hitting lineup, but it's OLD. And the pitching is in complete disarray. Let's look at the situation. First, they HAVE to re-up with Matsui, because the need to upgrade from Bernie Williams in centre field is a higher priority and they won't find two outfielders in the free agent market (certainly not one of Matsui's caliber). I don't think Bubba Crosby is a long-term answer in centre and Jason Giambi is more fitting as the DH than as the everyday first baseman. The bench is ridiculously thin, too. The starting rotation should heal over the offseason. I expect a MUCH better Randy Johnson next year, now that he knows what to expect in New York. Combined with Chien-Ming Wang, Aaron Small and Carl Pavano, the Yankees could try to deal Mike Mussina to another team for some young talent. The Devil Rays have a wealth of outfield talent (Carl Crawford, Jonny Gomes, Delmon Young, the returning Rocco Baldelli) and they may be willing to part with an outfielder if they can a) get a pitcher of Mussina's caliber in return and b) the Yanks agree to eat part of the contract. They should be able to find some reasonable-priced pitching help for the bullpen in the free agent market and maybe even a serviceable first baseman. BUT....

The Yankees MUST start restocking the farm. Replacements will be needed in the next three to five years for many current mainstays (Jeter, Posada, Sheffield and Rivera for starters) and the Yankees have little to offer in trades. Besides which, it's inevitable that the Yankees will always be trade-deadline buyers (Steinbrenner wouldn't have it any other way). So, the scouts had better get cracking. 2006 and 2007 will be the last, best chance for a Yankees Series victory until possibly 2012. After 2007, things will get even thinner.

That's enough for tonight.