Predictorama! 2011: Something stirs in the East

With the beginning of the regular season just a few weeks off, it is once again time to dive into that fun, murky chasm that is MLB prognosticating. Folks from here to Chula Vista are consulting crystal balls and asking the questions they (apparently) can’t wait to know the answers to… who will arise victorious in the AL East? How bad will the NL Central actually be? Who will surprise us all? Who will fail miserably?

I am here, of course, to share with you the divination of my own crystal ball… it may have a huge crack in it, but I’m pretty sure it still works.

Today we will kick things off with a look at the American and National League East divisions. BEHOLD:

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AL EAST:

Brett Gardner will steal 70 bases this year. Baltimore will officially change its name to “The City of Misfit Cubs”. With the additions of Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez, Boston will will 231 games. Toronto will finish in 4th place, winning 15 more games than any NL Central team.

First place: Boston Red Sox

Last place: Baltimore Orioles

AL Wildcard winner: New York Yankees

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NL East:

Raul Ibanez will take up playing the ukulele. The Phillies geriatric offense will be their Achilles heel… you heard it here first, folks. The Washington Nationals will regret signing Jayson Werth to that obscene contract by the end of the first week of April.

First Place: Philadelphia Phillies

Last Place: New York Mets

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Predictorama 2010: Wagons East!

This is the continuance of my 2010 divisional projections… Last week I covered the West, now it’s time to tackle the big East! So let’s giddyup!

National League East – Will the Phillies keep up a stranglehold on the division? Will the Mets hit rock bottom? Will this be one of those strange random years when the Marlins win the World Series? If you’re looking for real answers to these questions, I’m sorry… you have come to the wrong place.

Philadelphia Phillies: Paparazzi will photograph Ryan Howard eating a sub at Quiznos and scandal will ensue. During a game in July, a stray kitty cat will find it’s way onto the field at Citizens Bank Park and Chase Utley will adopt it on the spot. I predict that the Phillies will not be the best team in the NL. Not because I believe it, but because I just really want to.

Florida Marlins: I’ll finally uncover the truth of Taylor Tankersley’s mysterious origins. Hanley Ramirez will learn to wink with both eyes.

Atlanta Braves: Though Tom Glavine has retired from baseball, expect him to soon announce a new deal with the National Hockey League’s Atlanta Thrashers. Jo-Jo Reyes will still be the only major leaguer with that first name.

New York Mets: Troubled mascot Mr. Met will run away from home. The health of the Mets’ key players will continue to crumble like a stale cookie. Someone will invent a memory erasing machine (like in “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”) so everyone will finally be able to forget 1969.

Washington Nationals: The Nats will make the postseason (YES THEY WILL) due entirely to the acquisition of Jason Marquis. Adam Kennedy will pitch. Nyjer Morgan will be my fantasy steal of the year.

American League East – The most frightening league in the Majors. In so many ways…

New York Yankees: Derek Jeter will introduce some exciting new products in his Avon line! Nick Swisher won’t change a bit. I will go on loving Brett Gardner no matter what he does.

Boston Red Sox: Jonathan Papelbon’s face won’t get any prettier. The green monster will eat Jeremy Hermida. Tim Wakefield will throw some more knuckle-balls.

Tampa Bay Rays: B.J. Upton will melt your heart. Carlos Pena will sign your taco.

Toronto Blue Jays: Bench coach Brian Butterfield will go on the Brian Butterfield diet plan and gain 23 pounds in the first two weeks. Edwin Encarnacion will be eaten by a garfoose.

Baltimore Orioles: The O’s will sign a member of their grounds crew to a major league contract and he’ll become the ace of their pitching staff.

One of those periodic link posts: Dirk Hayhurst Edition

I am running out of sharable links as quickly as I am good audio clips this off-season.  Somehow, though, I have collected quite the surplus of of Dirk Hayhurst related items, which is why today’s post is dedicated entirely to that gentleman.

I was introduced to Mr. Hayhurst (currently a pitcher for the Toronto Blue Jays) and his garfoose (a mythical fire-breathing half giraffe, half moose) through Twitter. I’ve come to find him an original, funny and genuinely admirable human being. Mr. Hayhurst’s fans are eagerly anticipating the March 30th release of his first book, The Bullpen Gospels: Major League Dreams of a Minor League Veteran (you can pre-order it now on Amazon and elsewhere. I would do it if I were you.)

If I can, in some small way, spread the great enjoyment I’ve gotten from Mr. Hayhurst (and the garfoose) I will be happy. The linkage follows… click away.

The FAN 590 Toronto radio interview: Listen to the man himself discuss his book, Roy Halladay, the garfoose, etc.,

Another interview, but the kind you have to read

Get a sample of Mr. Hayhurst, the author: Thank you, Baseball America

Word of the Christmas-time snow and cookie garfoose contest made its way around the internet. Yes, the snow garfoose pictured is the one constructed by my siblings and I.

Read about the origins of the garfoose. Thank you, random Tampa Bay Rays blog.

Because I don’t trust everyone to actually click on all these links, I’m just going to go ahead and insert this video right in the post. All you have to do is press play. So DO IT.

In case I missed anything, you can just stop by Mr. Hayhurst’s own website. That should cover it.

Hot Soup Report: “Shhh! I gotta focus. I’m shifting into soup mode.”

The hot stove hasn’t been so hot for much of this offseason, and that is my excuse for neglecting the hot soup reports. Now there is suddenly a whole pile of soup-worthy tidbits. I’m just going to jump right in.

Trades

The big news since yesterday is the Roy Halladay deal, which has all but been finalized. Mr. Halladay will go to Philadelphia, Cliff Lee will go to Seattle and a tidy bundle of prospects will go to Toronto. It’s hardly thrilling to have Mr. Halladay join the National League. At the same time, I remember back when Johan Santana made the jump and we all thought nobody else would have a chance to win the Cy Young for years upon years to come. Not that that means anything. I’m just blabbering, trying to pretend that this move means anything to me. The Cubs will likely face Mr. Halladay and lose, yes. We probably would have faced Cliff Lee and lost as well. So what can I say?

The only other monumental trade was the Curtis Granderson tragedy, which I did mention previously.

Signings

Chone Figgins (Mariners): I was surprised how quickly this went down. I’ll tell you one thing… everybody is talking about Roy Halladay and such. Nobody seems to be noticing the Mariners. They’re getting things done, boy. They signed Mr. Figgins and have now traded for Cliff Lee. I’d say they’re looking pretty good. When one further considers that the Angels are losing Mr. Figgins, as well as John Lackey, well… one has to think that the AL West is gonna be a little more interesting this year.

John Lackey (Red Sox): Since his name already came up anyway… I don’t have anything to say about Mr. Lackey, besides that I’m not much of a fan. I randomly felt glad that the Cubs don’t have money to spend on such individuals this year.

Jason Kendall (Royals): I like Jason Kendall. I’m glad he isn’t a Brewer any more. For the record, I don’t like him so much because of the brief time he spent as a Cub (although he was charming in pinstripes), but because I used to enjoy his breakfast cereal.

Hideki Matsui (Angels): The only comments I can think of for this are attacks on the DH “position,” so I’ll refrain.

Randy Wolf (Brewers): Somehow, I don’t feel threatened.

Ivan Rodriguez (Nationals): This year, Pudge will become a lock to win the ‘Player-I’ve-seen-play-with-the-most-different-teams’ prize. Wherever this man goes, I end up seeing him play.

Mike Cameron (Red Sox): This pretty much narrows the Cubbies’ options for center-fielder down to Marlon Byrd. Unless we trade for someone. I vote for trying to talk the Yankees into giving us Brett Gardner. Otherwise, just give Sam Fuld or Tyler Colvin the job.

There are a bajillion other signings, but what interesting can really be said about Pedro Feliz to the Astros, or Bobby Crosby to the Pirates? This brings us to…

The Remaining Free Agents

Jason Bay: He won’t be returning to the Red Sox, according to the latest from MLBtraderumors.com. The front runners are said to be the Mets, Angels and Mariners, and the Yankees are “interested” (When are they not?) I want to see it down to the Angels and Mariners, don’t you? AL WEST INTRIGUE!

Matt Holliday: The Cardinals have, to my chagrin, made Mr. Holliday an offer for some obscene amount of money. If I was in power in St. Lou, the offer would have been: a box of Peeps from last Easter, a used copy of the original ‘Oregon Trail’ on CD-rom, a home-made Christmas tree ornament, and $1.42 in pocket change (lint included.) And that is my final offer. Not because I think ill of Matt Holliday, but because in this scenario I am obviously a mole trying to take St. Louis down from the inside.

Mark DeRosa: My offer to Mr. DeRosa would be the exhumed remains of my sweet baby turtle and a black shoelace. Anything to get him out of a Cardinals uniform.

Final Notes

The Pittsburgh Pirates picked up former Marlin prospect John Raynor in this year’s rule 5 draft. Here’s hoping he sticks! REBEL ALUMNI POWER!!!

Matt Murton, a former Cub and favorite of mine, will be pursuing his baseball career in Japan. I just want to publicly wish him the best. He’s a talented guy. I hope he finally gets a real chance to play and mops up over there.