Not that you'd notice, especially if you're in the New York area, but the Baseball season did actually end a week ago. That means very little to most fans, especially the roster of callers to WFAN. Or myself, or the Artist formerly known as El Guapo. We convened during the week and among the discussion was an impromptu selection of who will come out on top in the National League in 2008. You know, without knowing who's on which team and all. But nonetheless, here's our picks, so if either of us end up being dead on, you can know that it was called as of November.
NL East - Mets
NL Central - Cubs
NL West - Dodgers
NL Wildcard - Phillies
NL East - Mets
NL Central - Pirates
NL West - Giants
NL Wildcard - Marlins
As you can see, we are both keeping the faith as far as the Mets are concerned. The Former Guap's picks were, I felt, of the relatively safe kind. True, you have to take the "Torre effect" into account with the Dodgers, but considering they have Kent and Penny and a veritable mishmash of players over 40 and under 25 (sort of like the Mets), I can't be sure that it's going to work out in the long run.
Speaking of the Dodgers, how would you like to be Scott Proctor right now? After basically 2 seasons of having his shoulder turned into ground meat by Torre, he was finally free, feeling good and pitching on a normal reliever's schedule. What do you think his reaction was when he picked up the newspaper on Friday morning and saw this?
But I digress. It's my contention that the NL is basically so parity-ridden that you can't figure out who the hell is going to win, even if you tried to figure it out at the beginning of the season. Think about it. Who the hell thought the Rockies or Diamondbacks would contend at all in 2007? The league is, as a whole, diluted, and there's no dominant team. The case could be made that the NL Central is the worst in Baseball. Any one of those teams could come out of nowhere and win that division and it wouldn't surprise me. So I arrived on the Pirates based solely on their young pitchers, Gorzelanny, Maholm and Duke, and I figure guys like LaRoche, Freddy Sanchez and Bay will continue to improve, and they have a few of those annoying Eric Byrnes/Shane Victorino-type players in Nate McLouth and Chris Duffy, so, why not the Pirates? Same deal with the Giants, who are probably going to end up in some sort of rebuilding state, which automatically makes them a prime candidate to surprise the hell out of everyone. And the Marlins, well, if they hold on to Willis and Cabrera, players like Uggla, Ramirez, Willingham and Hermida perform up to par, and Anibal Sanchez returns from injury and Scott Olsen lays off the sauce (mainly so that they don't have to depend heavily on guys like Byung-Hyun Kim and Armando Benitez), that's as good a pick as any for the Wildcard. Hell, they could win the East if they play out of their minds for a few months.
Then, we have the 3 re-signings by the Mets this week. I'm fine with Easley and I'm more than fine with Marlon Anderson, who, as I've said, should not have been let go after 2005. Then, there's Moises Alou. I guess, given how well he played throughout the latter part of the season, you can't argue with bringing him back too much. But I mentioned it before, and Jason at FAFIF really screamed about it too: Yes, he's a good hitter. But he's not as clutch as he's played up to be, he's going to be 42 on July 3rd, he almost retired, and, most of all, he's only good for the 80-100 games he's healthy for. And that means that the Mets have to figure out who, exactly, is going to play those other 60-80 games in LF when he's out. Endy Chavez is a start. Perhaps Carlos Gomez will ascend. But it was my preference that the Mets go out and find a Left Fielder who will hit and field and hit in the clutch, AND play 150 games in 2008. We can't count on that out of Alou, but here we are again.
OK, fine. Trade Delgado if you have to. A viable Catcher, one big bat and relief pitchers who can get outs are all I'm asking for now. As I say every offseason, just don't do anything stupid.