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10 Predictions for the 2010 Baseball Season

Posted on February 04, 2010 by Don Spieles
Detroit Tigers vs St. Louis Cardinals

The addition of Curtis Granderson will help the New York Yankees retain their title in the American League East.

February is here and I have the countdown widget on my Windows Vista desktop that counts down the days until pitchers and catchers report – it’s 15 days, by the way.  Spring training is the time of a thousand story lines – everyone’s a contender and every player who reports is a potential star.

Without further ado, here are 10 things that are could (or should) happen this year in Major League Baseball.

10.     Only one team from the AL East will make the playoffs.

The Yankees were stacked last year.  The additions of Curtis Granderson and Javier Vasquez only add to that.  They dropped the ball (no pun intended) when they opted for Randy Winn over resigning Johnny Damon.  They know it, too, as evidenced by the fact that he’s not listed on their website’s transaction list.  That point notwithstanding,  the Yanks  are going to be insanely hard to overcome, even for the Red Sox.  If the Yankees take the division, they should be the only AL East entrant.

9.     The Tigers will not sign Johnny Damon, mostly because Scott Boras is a liar.

On my list of “People I’d Like to See Slapped,” Scott Boras is pretty high up.  But in this instance he is just absolutely full of bologna.  Sporting News reports that Boras is trying to convince the Tigers that they need Damon.  He’s quoted as saying,  “[Damon] batted .363 at Comerica Park, he has a .412 on-base percentage at Comerica.”  Really?  When was that?  Last year (according to baseball-reference.com) Johnny Damon batted .231 with and on-base percentage of .286 and he only slugged .308 in 14 at-bats.  The numbers Boras is quoting as Damon’s career numbers at Comerica and no one (well, except for Boras) thinks that the Johnny Damon that is currently seeking work is the same one that the Yankees thought they bought in 2006.

8.     The Pirates will have another losing season.

Yes, I know.  This is not exactly a brave, go-out-on-a-limb prognostication.  But the facts are the facts, despite high hopes as expressed by a couple of writers at mlb.com and ESPN).  The did virtually nothing in the off season after giving up Jason Bay and Nate McLouth in ’08 and ’09 respectively.  They’ll be dead last, as usual.

The Mets are confident that Jason Bay will be healthy in 2010.

The Mets are confident that Jason Bay will be healthy in 2010.

7.     Jason Bay’s knees will not be an issue in 2010

The Red Sox have become almost neurotic about trying to preemptively protect themselves against injuries for potential signees.  If Peter Gammons is right (and despite what you might think of Gammons, he usually is, especially when it comes to the Red Sox) the team balked on a four year deal offered mid 2009 because of suspicions about Bay’s knees.  The Met’s aren’t stupid and they think about injuries, too.  Bay contends that he has a clean bill of health.

Bay will play 140 or so games for the Mets this year and their fans will be happy he did.

6.    Boston will not ink a midseason extension with ace Josh Beckett.

Same as above.  Theo Epstein has a great farm system to think about, and think about it he does.  He has been reluctant to hard charge for big name players as of late (as in Matt Holliday or Mark Teixeira).  Add to that the injury paranoia and it’s more than enough to screw up locking Beckett in.  There was shoulder concerns mentioned when they traded for him in 2005.  Add five years to that and what do you think will be on Epstein’s radar now?

5.     Instant replay will have a bigger presence.

Nothing makes Bug Selig happier than being right.  In the case of instant replay in 2008-09, he probably feels like he was.  IR was used 54 times since its beginnings in August 2008 and has resulted in 22 overturned calls.  In its limited use determining “boundary calls”, IR was not too shabby, at least by most folks’ standards.  Look for it to be expanded a little bit more in 2010 – possibly for base path infractions and cases of interference.

Will the new Target Field in Minnesota be a winter wonderland?

Will the new Target Field in Minnesota be a winter wonderland?

4.           The Twins new Target Field will not be the frozen tundra that everyone is making it out to be.

Sure, it’s cold in Minnesota in April, but it is cold in lots of places without covered venues.  The Average temperature in Minneapolis in April and October is actually only a couple of degrees colder than that of places like Colorado and Cleveland.  The only question is whether the Twins fans that are used to being warm in those months will still come out to the park.  The new amenities and the impending signing of Joe Mauer should help with that.

3.    The Yankees will spend another year playing around with Joba Chamberlain instead of putting him in the bullpen where he really belongs.

In 2007, Joba pitched 22 2/3 innings of relief, posting a .038 ERA (that’s one run) with a .786 WHIP.  In 2008, when relieving, he posted a 2.52 ERA and a 1.27 WHIP in 32 1/3 innings.  Starting has been a different story.  In 2009 when Chamberlain was used almost exclusively as a starter, his ERA rose to 4.86, and his WHIP rose to 1.63, which was not even good enough for the top 50 pitchers in MLB.  None of this will convince the Yankees to put him back as the set-up guy where he excels.  He’ll start of as the number five starter and will only go to the pen later in the year is things are bad again.

2.    Joe Mauer will sign an extension with Minnesota.

There are just too many factors in favor of this.  Mauer is a hometown boy who would love to stay with the Twins.  The Twins cannot match the money Maurer would get in New York, Boston, or some other areas, but they will try and in the end he’ll take it.

Will Ben Sheets be able to regain past form after a year out of baseball?

Will Ben Sheets be able to regain past form after a year out of baseball?

1.            The Ben Sheets signing will prove to be the biggest bust of the year.

The contact that the A’s gave to Ben Sheets ($10 million for one year) surprised most folks when the news broke. It seems like a lot of money for a player coming off of an injury, but then again, this is the A’s.  They will not be in contention and, assuming he stays healthy, they will be looking to ship Sheets out to someone in late July.   Maybe he gets lucky and makes the post season with that new team, but it seems unlikely given the strength of pitching in the big contenders.  The A’s spend a lot of money on a health risk who will, at a most, get them some decent prospects.


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