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2013 MLB Predictions- Spoiler: The Cubs Die at the End

March 31, 2013

By Ross Mitchell

I think the last article I wrote before my hiatus was my 2012 MLB Predictions.  And based on how well I did, I should have been banned from posting anything on the internet.  Not just on this blog but on Facebook, the Twitter Machine, even MySpace.  I looked like a genius out of the gates after picking the Dodgers to win the National League Pennant.  They were the best team in baseball for the first two months of the season.  Then Matt Kemp injured his hammy and that horse was gimp.  Then the Tigers, my preseason prediction to win it all, came on strong to finish the season and surpass the surprising White Sox to win the American League Central Division.  In fact they made it all the way to the World Series, finally playing to their potential.  And then reality set in and the Kung-Fu Panda Pablo Sandoval brought me crashing back down to earth.  I was right about nothing, as is usually the case.

But at least I have the Cubs…

Ugh…

So here we are in Year 2 of the Theo Epstein regime.  After impressively fielding a team for all 162 games in Year 1, the Cubs President and company have revamped and retooled for what is sure to be a dynamic, sensational, heart-pounding 70-win season.  Yes, I’m being snide.  Contentious even.  For the second year in a row it appears as if the Cubs have waived the white-flag on the season before it even begins, signing a slew of players to one-year or “moveable” contracts, eagerly assuming the position of trade-deadline “sellers” before the first pitch of Opening Day.  I’ve had numerous conversations with multiple people whom I respect on the Cubs game plan.  For the most part they seem to be alright with the Cubs method of siphoning off the major league roster for prospects.  They weren’t going to win this year anyway, may as well build the farm.  Stop me if you’ve heard that before.

I’ve been stopped.

Prospects.  Prospects.  I’ll say it again, prospects.  Prospects.  Not the team, not the team, not the team that I sacrifice my time and energy for.  Not the team.  We’re talking about prospects.

Apologies to Allen Ivenson’s rant.

That word is the bane of my baseball existence.  Don’t get me wrong, having a strong farm system is one of the keys to having a successful franchise.  But it’s a distant second behind having a competitive major league roster.  And anyone who tells you otherwise is arguing for the sake of argument or has no idea what they’re talking about.  A farm system is like a spare tire.  Yes you should have one readily available should a situation arise for it to be called upon.  But it isn’t more important than the four tires already attached to your car.

Baseball is a game predicated on individual match-ups.  Hitter versus pitcher, runner versus fielder, manager vs. manager.  More than any other sport turnover can be compensated with talent, even basketball.  But to a degree.  Having a fluid roster is not a recipe for success.  If the Cubs plan on being contenders in the near future, they need to start adding those pieces now.  One-year stopgaps and trade bait is not how one paints a picture of making long term investments.  And you can argue said investments are in the form of the prospects they have or will have acquired or drafted, but waiting for a litany of minor leaguers to blossom and mature is walking a very thin wire.  For every Anthony Rizzo there is a Rich Hill.  For every Starlin Castro there is a Felix Pie.

Now don’t mistake me for a meathead fan who thinks he has all the answers.  Baseball, perhaps more than any other sport, requires the most form a general manager (or person/persons responsible for molding a roster).  Essentially you are managing at minimum four teams (A, AA, AAA, and the professional rosters) at once.  A bad elbow or should can end a pitcher’s career in the blink of an eye.  A hitter can fall into a mental funk they never recover from.  And all major league salaries are guaranteed.  It’s an extremely difficult job, I’m not insulting or demeaning the Epstein regime’s intelligence or dedication.  They have a game plan and they are executing it quite well.  It’s the tactic with which I draw issue.

I admit, everything I said about the risks of relying on prospects rings true in free-agency and the trade market.  For every Sammy Sosa there is a Milton Bradley, for every Aramis Ramirez there is a Nomar Garciaparra.  Nor am I saying the Cubs should spend hundreds of millions of dollars on bad contracts like Carl Crawford or Alfonso Soriano (and I don’t assume there is a crystal ball one can read to forecast how a player will perform once they sign), but if the opportunity is there, the Cubs shouldn’t hesitate.  They shouldn’t do nothing.  And they shouldn’t mitigate risk when they do decide to do something.  Which I feel has been their game plan all along.

(And yes, objectively, they shouldn’t make a move for the sake of making a move.  Then again, how can they get much worse?)

To be fair, this free agency class was anything but memorable.  Josh Hamilton was the most sought after free agent.  And if Theo thought he had too many red flags to invest heavily in, I won’t hold that against him.  But they Cubs can’t wait around forever.  Not when the fan-base has in fact been waiting around forever.  As I said earlier in this article and last season, loquaciously mind you, a championship team is not built overnight.  It isn’t built entirely through the farm system or entirely through free agency and trades.  But when 40% of your team are on one-year contracts, 40% of your team is up for arbitration, 10% is on the trading block, and 10% are Starlin Castro, Anthony Rizzo, and Jeff Samardzija, one might question just what direction are the Cubs headed.

At least Bob Brenly is gone.  Oh, they signed Jim Deshaies to replace him.  Oh, he’s exactly like Brenly.  Oh.  Oh.

Anyway, I’ve made 15 predictions for the season for both the National and American leagues.  I’ll be brief.  Then I’ve listed my complete standings and playoff predictions.  After reading them you’ll know who not to put your money on.  And here we go…

American League Predictions:

  1. Jose Bautista hits 55 home runs.
  2. Chris Archer wins Rookie of the Year comfortably over Jackie Bradley Jr.
  3. The Angels have the best offensive in the major leagues.
  4. The MVP stays in Detroit for the third straight season, this time with Prince Fielder.
  5. Justin Verlander edges Felix Hernandez in the closest Cy Young voting of all-time.
  6. The Royals are the most improved team in the American League.
  7. The Red Sox are sellers at the trade deadline.
  8. The Rangers have a big falloff.
  9. The Astros are major players in the wild-card race.  Not because they will be contenders, but because teams in the American League West will benefit from playing them.
  10. Joe Girardi is fired after the season after the Yankees fail to make the playoffs.  Ron Gardenhire is fired during the season.
  11. The Blue Jays have the best rotation in the A.L.
  12. Mike Trout wins the battling title, Jose Bautista wins the home run race, Prince Fielder is the RBI king.
  13. The American League wins interleague play.
  14. Terry Francona makes the Indians respectable again.
  15. Buck Showalter wins Manager of the Year.

National League Predictions:

  1. Antony Rizzo hits 30 homeruns and 100 RBI’s.  Starlin Castro finishes in the top five in batting average.  And the Cubs lose less than 100 games.
  2. The Reds bullpen breaks the league record for lowest era.
  3. Bryce Harper has already won the MVP Award.  Just ask the media.  He’s an awesome player, don’t get me wrong, but something tells me the coverage will get out of hand.  In fact the real race is between Harper and Trout for who garners the most Mickey Mantle comparisons.
  4. The Cubs fire Dale Sveum and hire Joe Girardi after the season.  I can dream.  Seriously, Sweum’s Wikipedia page still features him in a Brewers uniform.
  5. Gerrit Cole edges out Hyun-Jin Ryu for Rookie of the Year.
  6. Dusty Baker…sigh…wins Manager of the Year.
  7. Roy Halladay is unstoppable, returning in a big way.  20-plus wins, 225 K’s, and sub 2.20 ERA.  He wins the Cy Young by a comfortable margin over Adam Wainwright.
  8. Stephen Strasburg pitches the whole season, the post season, and is better than 2012.
  9. The Pittsburgh Pirates are in playoff contention until the final day of the regular season…and make it in.
  10. Matt Garza, Cliff Lee, and Huston Street all end the year in the American League.
  11. The Braves have the most productive outfield in the N.L.
  12. The National League wins the All-Star game.
  13. The Mets are the surprise team in the N.L. and there is no real “bust”.
  14. Tim Lincecum returns to form.
  15. Andrew McCuthen wins the battling title and home run title while Joey Votto wins the RBI race.

Regular Season

American League

East

3. Baltimore Orioles                (93-69)

** Toronto Blue Jays                (90-72)

Tampa Bay Rays                       (87-75)

New York Yankees                   (83-79)

Boston Red Sox                          (73-92)

Central

1. Detroit Tigers                         (97-65)

Kansas City Royals                   (85-77)

Cleveland Indians                     (78-84)

Chicago White Sox                    (72-90)

Minnesota Twins                     (62-100)

West

2. L.A.of A. Angels                     (96-68)

* Oakland Athletics                  (91-71)

Texas Rangers                              (82-80)

Seattle Mariners                          (77-85)

Houston Astros                         (55-107)

National League

East

2. Washington Nationals          (95-67)

* Atlanta Braves                          (92-70)

New York Mets                            (82-80)

Philadelphia Phillies                  (70-92)

Miami Marlins                              (64-98)

Central

1. Cincinnati Reds                      (97-65)

** Pittsburgh Pirates                (89-73)

St. Louis Cardinals                     (88-74)

Milwaukee Brewers                   (78-84)

Chicago Cubs                               (70-92)

West

3. San Francisco  Giants         (94-68)

Los Angeles Dodgers               (85-77)

Colorado Rockies                      (70-92)

Arizona D’Backs                         (64-98)

San Diego Padres                    (60-100)

* Denotes Wild Card 1

** Denots Wild Card 2

All-Star Game MVP: Buster Posey

Playoffs

American League Wild Card

Oakland Athletics over Toronto Blue Jays

National League Wild Card

Atlanta Braves over Pittsburgh Pirates

American League Divisional Series

1. Detroit Tigers over (WC) Oakland Athletics (3-1)

2. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim over 3. Baltimore Orioles (3-0)

National League Divisional Series

1. Cincinnati Reds over (WC) Atlanta Braves (3-2)

2. Washington Nationals over 3. San Francisco Giants (3-2)

American League Championship Series

2. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim over 1. Detroit Tigers (4-2)

ALCS MVP: Mike Trout

National League Championship Series

1. Cincinnati Reds over 2. Washington Nationals (4-3)

NLCS MVP: Jay Bruce

World Series

1. Cincinnati Reds over 2. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (4-2)

World Series MVP- Brandon Phillips

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