On Day Three of what’s been called Opening Weekend by MLB.com, the Yankees look to go 2-0 with a battle between former ’03 Marlins A.J. Burnett and Brad Penny going off soon on Fox. Meanwhile, the Mets look to bounce back from a 6-2 Opening Day defeat to their Kryptonite the Marlins, who got a John Buck grand salami off losing Met Mike Pelfrey.
The Amazin’s hope to swing the lumber better than getting no-hit for six innings by Josh Johnson before familiar vet Willie Harris came to the rescue. They can at least take solace in Carlos Beltran doubling home their first run. On the mound will be second year southpaw Jonathon Niese taking on Ricky Nolasco.
Before we get to some baseball picks, already Kyle Drabek has had a great major league debut, going seven strong permitting only a run and a hit while walking three and fanning seven Twinkies to push the Blue Jays to 2-0. They are The Program’s own Chris Wassel’s surprise team. If you want to hear some fun back and forth stuff on the baseball, plus New York Ranger suicide watch, be sure to check out last night’s No Goal Sports Show courtesy of The Program. It was Wassel and host Brian Sanborn along with yours truly and Dan “The Man” Wheeler making our quirky predictions. Be sure to check out the replay! We’ll be on every Friday at 11 ET/8 PT. Catch us over at Blog Talk. Next week, an NFL Draft Preview featuring the one and only Rob “Kraze” Davis with perhaps an actual Jeff Bashlor sighting and possibly John “JPG” Giagniorio.
As for my baseball prognosis, I tried to be fair and objective. Ironically, we didn’t get to World Series picks. But I think I’ll get to that good stuff along with awards and where your team(s) will finish in 2011. Just remember. These aren’t etched in stone. So, don’t jump off the Verrazano just yet unless you’re a Mets fan.
AL ROY-Kyle Drabek, Blue Jays
NL ROY-Brandon Belt, Giants
AL Cy Young-Jon Lester, Red Sox
NL Cy Young-Yovani Gallardo, Brewers
AL MVP-Robinson Cano, Yankees
NL MVP-Carlos Gonzalez, Rockies
Why the Yankees over Red Sox: Both possess superb lineups but each have questions surrounding their rotations. Boston packs a nice 1-2 punch of Lester and Clay Buckholz but after that it gets shaky with Josh Beckett, John Lackey and Dice K with the latter trio headed in the opposite direction. Unless that changes, the Sox could get into a lot of slugfests, taxing pen arms Daniel Bard, Bobby Jenks and fading closer Jonathan Papelbon. The Yanks have their own questions in A.J. Burnett, Phil Hughes, Ivan Nova and Freddy Garcia. Not exactly positive when Hughes averaged 89.1 on his heater in a 10-7 loss to the Tigers Sunday. However, the Bronx Bombers are better equipped in the pen with Joba Chamberlain, David Robertson, Boone Logan, new setup Rafael Soriano and Hall Of Fame bound Mariano Rivera. Even if they get nothing from burnt out Pedro Feliciano who Brian Cashman blamed the Mets for him signing (simply amazing), they should be very strong from the seventh on with Soriano also able to spell Mo in save situations.
If the Rays get any hitting from Johnny Damon and Manny Ramirez, they could spoil it with arguably the deepest rotation in the Junior Circuit, featuring Cy candidate David Price, James Shields, Wade Davis, Jeff Niemann and rookie Jeremy Hellickson. They need a monster year from Evan Longoria, who already is banged up, and B.J. Upton to fulfill potential.
Keep an eye on the White Sox, who with the addition of slugger Adam Dunn, could lead the majors in homers- boasting Paul Konerko, Carlos Quentin and Alexei Ramirez. Vet southpaw Mark Buehrle heads a rotation that features Edwin Jackson, John Danks, Gavin Floyd and former Met farmhand Phil Humber. They subtracted closer Jenks but Matt Thornton’s capable of filling the void while having solid setups Jesse Crain (Twins), Chris Sale and Tony Pena. They’ll push the Twins for the AL Central.
In the Senior Circuit, the Phils have the best rotation- featuring NL Cy Young Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt, Cole Hamels and Joe Blanton. The loss of Jayson Werth and no Chase Utley until probably the second half will impact the lineup. Closer Brad Lidge is on the DL, meaning Jose Contreras is finishing games with Ryan Madson setting up. Hardly reassuring. If the offense struggles, it wouldn’t be shocking if they get off slowly before the Dream Rotation carries them to a trademark strong second half with Utley back along with Lidge and rookie outfielder Domonic Brown. That means they could battle the Braves for the NL East with both the Marlins and Mets competitive.
The NL Central should be the Reds to lose with competition coming from the Brewers once Zach Greinke gets healthy. Don’t count out the Cards despite no Adam Wainwright. Albert Pujols will have a monster year playing for a new contract and the rotation’s still solid featuring Cris Carpenter, Jaime Garcia, Kyle Lohse and rookie Kyle McLellan. Just what is Jake Westbrook doing in it?