The 2011 state of the NL
Posted by keithosaunders on March 30, 2011
Ah, the senior circuit: Land of no designated hitter, the double switch, and the greatest team in the world, the New York Mets! What follows will be a biased and warped view of the aggregations that comprise this fine league. I’ll begin with the…
I moved to Berkeley, California last year, arriving in the Bay Area on August 18th. At that point in the 2010 season the Giants were mired in a slump and sitting three games behind the front running Padres. They proceeded to go on a 10 game winning streak, and in September they won 18 of 26 games, clinching the division on the final day of the season. They did it with stellar starting pitching and a bevy of clutch hitting from the unlikeliest of sources. (can you say Cody Ross and Pat Burrell?) I see no reason, barring injuries, that this year should be any different.
Poor San Diego. Even though they play in a Republican city, they deserve better. They managed to lose over half of their offense to free agency, and by half I mean Adrian Gonzalez.
Speaking of once proud organizations, the Dodgers followed up their putrid 2010 season with an equally putrid offseason. At this writing the bottom third of their lineup features Juan Uribe, Rod Barajas, and Tony Gwynn Jr. Tony Gwynn Jr? I just threw up in my mouth.
Everyone wants to make sexytime with the Rockies. I don’t. Troy Tulowitzki is a top five player, and Ubaldo Jiminez is an outstanding pitcher, but I’m not sold on the rest of their staff, and Huston Street can’t play a full season. Talk to me when Aaron Cook and Jorge De La Rosa emerge as legit 2nd and 3rd starters.
Arizona has John McCain as their senator and J.J. Putz as their closer. Nuff said.
For some reason the central division teams have always reminded me of the more obscure Justice League heros. Like The Atom, Hawkman, and The Flash, they never get as much play as they should. The division is chock full of old-time teams that fly under the radar, but are fun to watch and root for. Call me nuts, but I have a soft spot in my heart for these koo-koo central teams. Even Houston.
2011 could be the Cubs year. Hold on, I’m getting a deja vu. Oh yeah, I said that last year….and the year before that, and the year before that…
I’d like to see Milwaukee finally get over the hump. Be prepared for a monster walk year from Prince Fielder, and enjoy the young studs, Ryan Braun and Casey McGehee. John Axford is a premier closer but their starters, outside of Yovani Gallardo, are a bunch of question marks.
I like the Reds. They’re our oldest, most venerable team, and I wish them the best. There’s a lot to be excited about in the Queen city. Joey Votto is an animal, and Jay Bruce and Drew Stubbs are stars of the future. Reliever Aroldis Chapman can throw a baseball 150 miles per hour — I’ll set the over-under on the date of his first rotator cuff surgery at July 2nd.
Of Tony La Russa and the Cardinals I have this to say: Fuck you and the horse you rode in on. Get out of here with that delicate genius bit of batting the pitcher 8th, and emptying the entire bullpen in a two inning span in a barrage of lefty-righty matchups. Bite me.
If I believed in reincarnation, which I don’t, but just for the sake of the story let’s say that I do — I would want to come back as the Mets team doctor and see to it that INJURED PLAYERS SOMEDAY RETURN TO ACTION! Carlos Beltran hasn’t played in a ballgame since the 80s. He’s on the opening day roster, but I have the feeling that it’s more for show than anything. Johan Santana is working on his third injury as a Met — he is expected to make his return sometime this August, which in Met years means 2015. What can I do, they’re my team. So oil up the home run apple, wheel out Ralph Kiner, and let’s go Mets!
The Phillies. Ugh. Cliff fucking Lee?! Are you ^%$#%^ kidding me?!! I’ve got news for you, though. Their starting lineup, which is missing Chase Utley, and features a brittle Jimmy Rollins, an over-the-hill Raul Ibanez, and a bevy of role players, is not going to make anyone forget the ’27 Yankees. I am not a Brad Lidge believer, nor a Ryan Madson fan. Still…starting pitching. I get it.
The Braves, with their inane Tomahawk-chopping fans, are experiencing a renaissance of a sort, and could well challenge Philly for the division. But I don’t feel like writing about them now — I’m too aggravated.
It looks like a another long year for the Nationals, but if Steven Strasberg’s arm ever heals, and first round draft pick Bryce Harper lives up to expectations, the future could be bright. I’d like to see them finally get good — I always liked the Expos. It was a shame that for all the great players they developed, they were never able to make it to the World Series.
Which brings me to Florida. Has there ever been a team that has able accomplish so much for so few fans? With a roster that boasts Wes Helms, Randy Choate, and Javier Vasquez, this doesn’t figure to be a year rife with accomplishment. In fact, they could break an attendance record of sorts: Most surly Jews ever to attend a ballgame.
Enjoy the season!