Final MLB Predictions

Surprise, surprise, the Blue Jays probably aren’t gonna be huge factors in the AL East this year. Bring back  Cito Gaston already!

Well, with the season starting today in a couple hours, I guess the ship has sailed on my division-by-division predictions of the upcoming Major League Baseball season. I guess the honourable thing to do would be to bang out four more 1000+ word previews, but that would also be the insane thing to do, so here’s a quick PKTM preview of the 2014 season. The Al East will be thew only division with a summary, because, well, this was the only division I had stuff written out for. I need to work on this whole “meeting deadlines” thing.

AL East 

  1. Tampa Bay Rays
  2. Boston Red Sox (Wild Card)
  3. Baltimore Orioles
  4. New York Yankees
  5. Toronto Blue Jays

Sure, the Rays may not score the most runs (Or draw the biggest crowds), but their pitching staff is deep enough to the point where it doesn’t matter if Matt Moore or Chris Archer regress, or if Jake Odorizzi doesn’t cut it in the major leagues, because they’re bound to have somebody just as good waiting in the wings. Also, you can’t go wrong with Evan Longoria. Fuck Josh Lueke though.

The Red Sox are a great team as well though, and could repeat as World Series champions, let alone division winners. However, while they may be the harder-hitting team, the Red Sox pitching staff is a lot thinner than Tampa’s, and, while he probably should have won AL Manager of the year in 2013, John Farrell is still an inferior manager to Joe Madden.

The Orioles are far from has-beens, but they’re a bit iffier, what with Nelson Cruz coming off of steroids and Ubaldo Jimenez being Ubaldo Jimenez. The rotation is solid and deep, though, and they still have stars like Adam Jones and Chris Davis, who should hold them off while Manny Machado recovers from his injury.

As for the Bronx Bombers, they will probably miss the playoffs. There are far too many question marks on this team for me to justify predicting even an 85-win season. Can they really count on not only Derek Jeter, but also Mark Teixeira, Brett Gardner, Brian Roberts, Carlos Beltran, Jacoby Ellsbury and Michael Pineda to stay healthy? And on C.C. Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda and Alfonso Soriano to not regress with age? And who knows about Masahiro Tanaka.

And as for my Blue Jays, they may be filled to the brim with talent, but with that rotation? Come on. Maybe in a lesser division, but not in the same division as the Red Sox, Rays and O’s.

AL Central

  1. Detroit Tigers
  2. Kansas City Royals
  3. Cleveland Indians
  4. Chicago White Sox
  5. Minnesota Twins

AL West

  1. Texas Rangers
  2. Oakland Athletics (Wild Card)
  3. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
  4. Seattle Mariners
  5. Houston Astros

NL East

  1. Washington Nationals
  2. Atlanta Braves
  3. Miami Marlins
  4. Philadelphia Phillies
  5. New York Mets

NL Central

  1. St. Louis Cardinals
  2. Pittsburgh Pirates (Wild Card)
  3. Cincinnati Reds
  4. Milwaukee Brewers
  5. Chicago Cubs

NL West

  1. Los Angeles Dodgers
  2. San Francisco Giants (Wild Card)
  3. Arizona Diamondbacks
  4. San Diego Padres
  5. Colorado Rockies

 

AL MVP: Mike Trout, Angels

NL MVP: Yasiel Puig, Dodgers

AL Cy Young: Felix Hernandez, Mariners

NL Cy Young: Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers

AL Rookie of the year: Taijuan Walker, Mariners

NL Rookie of the Year: Billy Hamilton, Reds

 

ALCS: Detroit Tigers over Tampa Bay Rays

NLCS: Los Angeles Dodgers over St. Louis Cardinals

World Series: Los Angeles Dodgers over Detroit Tigers

 

Now, if ya’ll will excuse me, I’m gonna get back to binge-watching the 90’s X-Men cartoon series.

While also mentally willing Jubilee to shut her goddamn mouth.

 

MLB’s Japanese Dream Team (Part 4: The Bullpen)

(Those of you looking for the other components of this Dream Team can look here, over here and here.

 Closer: Koji Uehara

 Japanese Team: Yomiuri Giants (1999-2008)

  MLB Teams: Baltimore Orioles (2009-11) Texas Rangers (2011-12) Boston Red Sox (2013-Present)

  Originally a starting pitcher, Uehara was a former Rookie of the Year, a two-time Japanese champion and a two-time Eiji Sawamura (Japanese Cy Young Award) winner with the mighty Yomiuri Giants. The Giants, a team with an aversion to letting their players go to the U.S., made Uehara wait until he was a free agent to sign a two-year deal with the Orioles. He started 2009 in the O’s rotation, starting 12 games and posting a respectable 4.05 ERA, before being shut down.

In 2010, he was used exclusively as a setup man or closer for some reason. I have the feeling that the Orioles weren’t regretting their decision too much, however, as he had a 2.86 ERA in 2010, and a 1.72 ERA in the half of 2011 that he spent with Baltimore (He was traded to Texas for Chris Davis and Tommy Hunter). While he was excellent with Baltimore and Texas, he will likely be best remembered as the 2013 World Champion Boston Red Sox (I still seethe angrily whenever I read or hear that) closer, after Joel Hanrahan and Andrew Bailey didn’t pan out. A beloved figure in Boston, he signed up for another year with the Red Sox and will be their closer next year.

  Right-handed Setup man: Akinori Otsuka

  Japanese Teams: Kintetsu Buffaloes (1997-2002) Chunichi Dragons (2003) Shinano Grandserows (Independent, 2013-Present)

  American Teams: San Diego Padres (2004-05) Texas Rangers (2006-07)

  A star closer in Japan, Otsuka was posted by the Chunichi Dragons prior to the 2004 season, and he was picked up by the San Diego Padres. As the Padres’ setup man, he posted a fantastic 1.75 ERA in ’04, and was pretty solid the next year, as well.

Before the 2006 season, Otsuka was traded to the Texas Rangers for Adrian Gonzalez, Chris Young and Terrmel Sledge. He replaced Francisco Cordero as the Rangers closer, and had an excellent season, with a 220 ERA+ (See? I can do newfangled stats too!) and 32 saves. The next season, the Rangers, oddly enough, replaced Otsuka with Eric Gagne. This proved to be short-lived, as Gagne was traded to the Red Sox (Where he imploded) and Otsuka took the reins again, but, unfortunately, he got injured and never played another game in the big leagues.

Oh, look! A penny!

Left-Handed Setup Man: Hideki Okajima 

 Japanese Teams: Yomiuri Giants (1994-2005) Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters (2006) Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks (2012)

 MLB Teams: Boston Red Sox (2007-11) Oakland Athletics (2013)

  A four-time Japan Series winner, Okajima was signed by the Boston Red Sox for pretty much the sole purpose of being a friend to big-time signing Daisuke Matsuzaka. His career didn’t get off to that great of a start. He gave up a home run to John Buck on his very first pitch. However, he righted the ship and went on a scoreless streak that lasted almost two months, and got elected to the All=Star Game. He struggled later in the year and was shut down for a bit, but he returned at the end of the season and helped the Red Sox win the World Series. He had a couple more fine seasons with Boston before fading out in 2011. After returning to pitch in Japan for a year, he had a little-publicized five-game stint with the A’s and is currently a free agent.

 Relief Pitcher: Takashi Saito

 Japanese Teams: Yokohama BayStars (1992-2005) Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles (2013-Present)

  MLB Teams: Los Angeles Dodgers (2006-08) Boston Red Sox (2009) Atlanta Braves (2010) Milwaukee Brewers (2011) Arizona Diamondbacks (2012)

 A decent, if unspectacular pitcher in Japan, Saito was a pleasant surprise for Dodger fans, claiming the closer role vacated by Eric Gagne and striking out 107 hitter, phenomenal for a relief pitcher. He returned the next year and only had 74 strikeouts, but he also recorded a 1.40 ERA, which should have gotten him at least mildly considered for a Cy Young Award. He had several more excellent years with different teams, before pitching atrociously for the D-Backs and returning to Japan.

Sasaki’s the one on the left, by the way, although it’s a little known fact that Pikachu did in fact,  have a long and prosperous career with the Seattle Mariners.

 Relief Pitcher: Kazuhiro Sasaki

 Japanese Team: Yokohama BayStars (1990-99, 2004-05)

 American Team: Seattle Mariners (2000-03)

   He may not have left the Mariners on the best terms, but Sasaki nonetheless was probably one of the bigger Japanese stars in the game during his short tenure with the M’s. Winning the American League Rookie of the Year Award in 2000, Sasaki took the closers’ job from Jose Mesa and ran with it, racking up 129 saves and two All-Star appearances over his four years with the club. after a poor 2003 season, he returned to Japan to return to his family…. And his mistress. (Fact: The only player on this team elected into the Japanese Baseball Hall of Fame…Although that’s very likely to change.)

    Relief Pitcher: Junichi Tazawa

Japanese Team: Nippon Oil (Industrial, Service time unknown)

MLB Team: Boston Red Sox (2009, 2011-Present)

  Interestingly enough, Junichi Tazawa is the only pitcher on this team that has never thrown a pitch in Nippon Professional Baseball.  Undrafted by any Japanese team out of high school, he signed with petroleum company Nippon Oil’s amateur team (In Japan, if a player doesn’t sign with a Japanese team after high school ball (Which, incidentally, is a HUGE deal in Japan), he can either sign directly with a big league team (In which case, he would be ostracized by the traditionalist elements in the NPB, of which there are many), sign with an independent team, or sign with an industrial team, which are teams that are backed by some of Japan’s many big corporations (Yamaha, Toshiba and Central Japan Railway have teams, among others). After a certain amount of years pitching in the Industrial League, a player becomes, once again, eligible for the draft.). He was not drafted by a Japanese team, but he was signed by the Red Sox, and fought through some injury problems to secure a place as the Red Sox setup man. He was a minor, but nonetheless important part of the 2013 World Championship.

 Relief Pitcher: Masanori Murakami

 Japanese Teams: Nankai Hawks (1963, 1966-74) Hanshin Tigers (1975) Nippon-Ham Fighters (1976-82)

  MLB Team: San Francisco Giants (1964-65)

  It seems fitting to end this list with the guy who started it all. Masanori Murakami came to the San Francisco Giants with two other Japanese players from the Nankai Hawks as a sort of exchange program. Of the three, Murakami stood out, playing exceptionally well in the Minor Leagues. The Hawks never asked for him back, so the Giants said “screw it” and called him up, making him the first ever Japanese player to play for a Major League team. He played wonderfully in his cup of coffee, and the Hawks must have taken notice, so they demanded the Giants send him back. the two teams agreed to let Murakami play one more season in the Bay Area. He was perfectly non-spectacular in 1965, and returned to Japan, where he had a fine career.

The End (Finally!!!)