Category: 2013 MLB Predictions

03/21/13

MLB 2013 Preview: New York Yankees

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-Digger's Daily-

Will the 2013 New York Yankees go down in history as the largest payroll team finishing with a losing record? Can anyone remember the last time New York finished with a sub .500 record? Get ready fans, 2013 is shaping up to be a very long season.

Yankees are supposed to be in cost cutting mode. 2013 cumulative salaries exceed $200M. Only one major off season roster adjustment for the first time in ages (Kevin Youkilis). It could be a very long season for Yankees fans accustomed to winning. Then again, perhaps the 2013 version goes back to baseball basics. Hit, run, pitch & field. It's their only hope.

New York limps into opening day missing key cogs. Captain Derek Jeter's ankle is hurting. Curtis Granderson, Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira will miss significant time. Mariano Rivera returns after missing most of '12. This squad reminds me of the late 90's pennant winning clubs. All prognosticators believe the Yankees are cooked. I think there's a great deal of hope.

2013 will not be another fodder of free swinging, no clutch, rally killing strikeout artists. Ichiro & Gardner provide contact, speed, defense and superb base running ability. Youkilis is a solid contact hitter who gnaws away at pitch counts. Robinson Cano is baseball's best second basemen and was WBC's batting star. 1B Dan Johnson is due. A great career minor league hitter for both power and average finally gets a shot in a hitters park after early years in Oakland. I predict a break out season in hitter friendly AL East if he can steal time away from Juan Rivera. Rivera might open the year at 1B and platoon in LF with recent pick-up Brennan Boesch. Rivera is a streak hitter who showed temporary flashes as an Angel. Boesch can rake it and New York's short right porch might make him an instant hit with Bleacher Bums. Russell Martin wasn't retained opening the door for catcher's Francisco Cervelli and Chris Stewart. Both are adequate defenders but can't hit a lick. Travis Hafner will DH. A carefully planned lineup could go a long way. Gardner, Ichiro, Youkilis, Cano, Hafner, Boesch, Johnson/Rivera, Nunez & Cervelli/Stewart on opening day. This lineup will put the ball in play. 2012 lineup struck out an alarming 1176 times featuring six with 90+, three with 100+, led by Granderson's 195. Why hasn't this club fired their hitting coach? Jeter will hopefully return soon. (However, don't expect much range from a surgically repaired ankle which is already causing problems. Nunez time to shine is now or never).

How well will the starting rotation pitch in 2013? CC Sabathia, Kuroda & Pettitte are a solid front three if A.P. can stay healthy. Back end is up for grabs. On again, off again Hughes tries to fulfill expectations (again). Ian Nova & David Phelps are battling for the final starting slot. There's no room for error in April. Hurlers need to come out of the gates in mid-season form or it will be a long season.

Bullpen, if not over worked, is a strength. Rivera returns to close and looks strong. Robertson, Logan, Aardsma, Joba, Eppley & Rapada have live arms. A very formidable pen on paper. We'll soon see how they perform in April.

Forecast: AL East is very tough. Orioles, Blue Jays, Red Sox, Rays & Yanks will battle all season long. Yanks need a strong April or they won't be able to keep pace. Small ball, hit and run, defense & pitching. Rivera is not a long term solution at 1B if Teix is out for the year. Yanks already spurned by Chipper Jones & Derek Lee. This squad may win as few as 79 games or as many as 95.

03/17/13

MLB 2013 Preview: Detroit Tigers

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-Digger's Daily-

Detroit will open the 2013 season as defending American League champions. San Francisco disposed of the Tigers in 4 straight World Series games leaving this squad hungry for revenge. They were simply out played in nearly ever facet of the game. So what's in store for '13?

2011 Cy Young winner Justin Verlander anchors Detroit's rotation. Doug Fister, Anibal Sanchez and Max Sherzer fill out 2-4 slots. Second year man Drew Smyly looks like the favorite to nail down the final rotation spot and would be the teams only left handed starter. Just how far can these guys carry Detroit's title hopes remains to be seen. Big question marks remain for bullpen arms. Former closer (and still unsigned free agent) Jose Valverde was perfect in 2011 (49-49 in save opportunities). 2013 was a different story as he was terrible during September and the post-season. Closer duties are up for grabs this spring and nobody seems to be a front-runner at this time.

On offense, this might be one of the Tigers best lineups in recent memory. Triple Crown & AL MVP Miguel Cabrera and 1B slugger Prince Fielder are the headliners. Veteran Torii Hunter comes to town and takes over in RF. DH Victor Martinez returns after sitting out the entire 2012 season. DP combo of Infante & Peralta are clutch regular season performers. CF is anchored by rising star Austin Jackson. LF belongs to promising Andy Dirks. Runs should be plentiful.

Forecast: Bench depth might be an issue if starters get miss significant time with injuries. Starting rotation will need to go deep into games. Bullpen remains team weakness on paper. Detroit will win AL Central once again. However, if late inning pitching doesn't step up to protect leads then World Series hopes will remain on hold.

03/14/13

MLB 2013 Preview: San Francisco Giants

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-Digger's Daily-

The countdown to opening day has begun. Can San Francisco become baseball's first team to win back to back World Series titles in the new millennium? Winners in 2010 & 2012 has Giants fans believing they can win it all again in 2013.

Not much has changed since last season. The strength of this team lies squarely on the shoulders of starting pitchers. Cain, Bumgarner, Lincecum, Vogelsong & Zito remained injury free last year. They accounted for every start except two. The only question mark on this staff is two time Cy Young award winner Tim Lincecum. He's was far removed from usual domination. His pitching motion isn't the same as Cy Young years and it's safe to assume more of the same until he corrects a major mechanical flaw.

San Francisco's offense usually doesn't dazzle but they're one of the top clutch hitting teams when the game is on the line. Don't forget how they became champs. During the '12 playoffs they came behind from 0-2 NLDS and 1-3 NLCS deficits before sweeping away Detroit in World Series action. Buster Posey was the only hitter to connect for more than 20 HR (24). Pablo Sandival's 63 RBI were good enough for 2nd highest (Posey 103). A full season from RF Hunter Pence will to wonders for scoring a few more runs. However, this one key missing ingredient from their attack as power.

Another strength is one of the National Leagues best bullpens. Relievers get the job done. Somehow they're always ready to go. Giants pitchers only completed 5 of 162. One of the keys in 2013 is keeping these guys healthy. Manager Bruce Bochy seems to make the right moves at the right time.

Forecast: Champs remain the team to beat. NL West will be a dogfight from beginning to end. Expect many dramatic 1 run contests. SF will go as far as their rotation takes them. 2013 will be challenging. 88-92 wins.

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