Wednesday, March 30, 2011

2011 MLB Season Preview Mike vs. TK

Ladies and Gentlemen of the TK Takeout MLB 2011 Preview Jury; I proudly present to you two distinguished commentators with their take on what’s to come this upcoming baseball season. On one side you have a man whose obsession with baseball is known to all who know him, Mr. White Sox aka Mike, and on the other side you have a man who bleeds Yankee pinstripes, Tim. Both have their favorite teams and a passion for them, but all of that has been put aside to bring you the best and least bias predictions and thoughts on the 2011 MLB season.

The American League East: 2010 Winner- Tampa Bay Rays 96-66

Mike’s take on the AL East:

With the additions the Red Sox made in the off season, they are the clear favorites to win their first division title since 2007. The Red Sox Opening Day lineup spent a combined 451 days on the DL in 2010, and they still won 89 games. Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford were added to what was already a very good lineup. With 5 very good starting pitchers, and a solid backend of the bullpen outside of Bobby Jenks (who seems like he would rather rip Ozzie and the Sox instead of pitching. Memo to Bobby, you should just shut up, there are people in the Sox organization, and outside of it, including myself, that can air out some things about you that can ruin your career…just be careful), it is going to be hard for any other team besides Boston to win the division in 2011.

Tim’s Take on the AL East:

The balance of power has definitely shifted in the AL East this past offseason with the Red Sox acquiring arguably two of the biggest free agent names in Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez, both of whom will add some fire power to an already pretty explosive lineup. The Yankees (my team) failed to acquire any of the before mentioned names and missed out on the Cliff Lee sweepstakes, and with an aging lineup, I still see the Yankees being competitive but don’t expect a huge push into the postseason from the Bronx Bombers. 2011 AL East Champion- Boston Red Sox (As much as it pains me to say this I have to go with the team that has the talent and with a loaded pitching staff and an even more loaded lineup their new star acquisitions should carry this team very far in 2011.) But I have been wrong before!

Consensus from Tim and Mike- Boston Red Sox

The American League Central: 2010 Winner- Minnesota Twins 94-68

Mike’s Take on the AL Central:

The AL Central seems to be a 3 horse race. The White Sox, Tigers, and Twins all have a legitimate chance of popping corks by the end of September. The Sox had one of the most memorable offseason in franchise history. Signing one of the best power hitters in baseball, Adam Dunn, got the off season on the right foot. Then re-signing World Series hero’s Pierzynski and Konerko was the icing on top. They weren’t done, as the Sox completed a great offseason by signing setup man Jesse Crain from the hated Twins. The Sox come into 2011 with a balanced lineup, and one of the top pitching staff in baseball. The Sox season can be summed up in two words: Quentin & Peavy. If those two are healthy, the White Sox will win the division, and make a run in the playoffs. Look for Gordon Beckham and Edwin Jackson to breakout in a huge way, and lead the Sox to the postseason.

Tim’s Take on the AL Central:

The injury division, I mean the AL Central is providing this writer with a bit of a head scratcher because with so much uncertainty surrounding the top teams in this division I’m not really sure which way to go this year. There are really a lot of what if’s this year. The health of Justin Morneau for the Twins, the shoulder injury to Sox ace Jake Peavy and the little incident involving Tigers All-Star Miguel Cabrera, all are lingering questions that could carry over into the start of the 2011 season. Three teams could easily win this division this year and it should be a dog fight through game 162. 2011 AL Central Winner- Chicago White Sox (I believe Peavy is out for retribution after last year’s disappointing season ending injury and will have a big bounce back in 2011. The addition of Adam Dunn into an already impressive hitting lineup should put the White Sox near the top for most home runs by a team and if their pitching staff holds up it is arguably one of the best that the American League has to offer.)

Consensus from Tim and Mike- Chicago White Sox

The American League West: 2010 Winner- Texas Rangers 90-72

Mike’s Take on the AL West:

I might surprise some people with this pick, but I believe the Oakland A’s will win the AL West. I think the loss of Cliff Lee and Vladimir Guerrero will be too much for Texas to overcome. Signing of Adrian Beltre will backfire, as he only has good years when he is playing for a contract. I love Oakland’s pitching. They are deep in the rotation and in the bullpen. Also, adding DeJesus, Willingham, and Matsui will bring in much needed OBP and leadership. Look for Trevor Cahill to complete for the AL Cy Young.

Tim’s Take on the AL West:

As a die hard Yankee fan, I still have a bitter taste in my mouth from when the Rangers knocked the Yankees out of the playoffs in last year’s ALCS but I have matured and I have to be impartial. The Rangers I think aren’t going to be a one year wonder but there are questions. Can their offense do what they did last year? Will Josh Hamilton repeat his success from the 2010 campaign and will their young pitching staff continue to show growth and development now that they have had a taste of the World Series. The Oakland Athletics boast one of the youngest teams in the big leagues and will this be the year they finally get over the hump? Their pitching staff has the potential to be great and with some new additions to their lineup including Coco Crisp and World Series MVP Hideki Matsui, will they provide the veteran leadership that a young team often can need as the season progresses late into the summer? 2011 AL West Champion- Texas Rangers (Sure they lost out on Cliff Lee but with their starting rotation and lineup pretty much intact from last year, I see no reason why the 2010 Rangers can’t duplicate their success in 2011. They are a battle tested team who when faced with adversity came through last year knocking off both the Rays and the Yankees in succession to reach the World Series.)

Difference in the west: Mike-Oakland Athletics & Tim- Texas Rangers

American League Wild Card Predictions:

Mike’s Take on the AL Wild Card:

You would think if you had payroll of about $200 million, you would be solid in every phase of the game. That is not the case with the Yankees, who are going to have 3 big question marks in the rotation going into 2011. Ivan Nova and Bartolo Colon are the projected 4 and 5 starters for the Bronx Bombers. Add that to AJ Burnett, who seems to have forgotten how to pitch since coming to New York, and you have yourself a very shaky rotation despite having one of the top 10 pitchers in the league in CC Sabathia heading your rotation. But these are the Yankees, and we all know if they need something, they will go out and get it. I predict the Yankees rotation struggles the start of the year, and go out and trade for Felix Hernandez in early July. This move vaults them into the post season via the Wild Card.

Tim’s Take on the AL Wild Card:

The New York Yankees; please hold your boos, I’m not just picking them because they are my boys, I’m picking them because they know how to get the job done and win, plain and simple, not to mention their 200 million dollar payroll. But with this team comes a lot of holes and none larger then their starting rotation which is going to make or break them this season. If the Yankees can get anything out of their 4 and 5 starters then it’ll be a good season in the Bronx otherwise the Yankee Universe could be in-store for a long and drawn out season.

Consensus on the panel- AL Wild Card team is the New York Yankees
Now that the American League is taken care of we will turn our attention to the National League.

Up first, the National League East; 2010 Winner- Philadelphia Phillies 97-65

Mike’s Take on the NL East:

All we have heard about all offseason is how great the Phillies are. Whenever you have a front 4 of Halladay, Lee, Hamels, and Oswalt, you have a chance to win. We all know there is more to baseball then a rotation. You still need an offense and a bullpen. Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, and Raul Ibanez are not who they used to, not even close. That and the loss of Jayson Werth will cause the Phillies to struggle to score runs in a very good NL East. The Atlanta Braves are a team that I just love. Their rotation is right up their with the Phillies, although they don’t have as many “name” pitchers. Their offense with the acquisition of Uggla will be very good. They are also in position to make a major move if need be since their farm system is just loaded. Look for new Braves 1B to have at least 25 homeruns in his rookie year. While I think the Phillies have a great rotation, I do believe that they Braves have a better team. I think the Braves will win the NL East, and the Phillies will get to the postseason via the Wild Card, but they should watch out, because the Marlins won’t be too far behind. I was this close to picking the Marlins to win the Wild Card, so look for them to do something’s in their last year at Sun Life Stadium.

Tim’s Take on the NL East:

Well in arguably the easiest division to predict this year, I’ll say three names- Halladay, Lee and Hamels. Oh yeah I forgot Roy Oswalt and Joe Blanton. Yes the Phillies starting five is going to be a force like none other this season and teams in the National League should be on notice. Now of course I’m theoretically assuming that the big horses all stay healthy and if they do my lord, their could be two 20 game winners on this team and you’ll have Halladay and Lee fighting one another to determine the NL Cy Young Award Winner. (Not a bad problem to have) Their lineup is a bit shaky right now with questions surrounding Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins who had his worst season last year and enters the final year of his contract, so you know he’ll produce for the Phillies. The Mets, well they are the New York laughing stock like always and will just fall flat on their faces for yet another disappointing season in the Big Apple. The Atlanta Braves without manager Bobby Cox are going to have no trouble moving on with a new manager as their lineup and pitching staff look to continue the success from last year and with 2B Dan Uggla on a winning team, I expect a lot of big things from him. 2011 NL East Champion- Philadelphia Phillies (Not only will they win the NL East this year by a wide margin but I predict they will have the best record in all of baseball in 2011. They are too loaded from top to bottom and that’s just their pitching staff. Now if their lineup and everyday guys stay healthy and start to hit the ball, all of the majors should pay attention because they will roll through anyone that gets in their path.)

Ruling- Mike likes the Braves and Tim likes the Phillies

The National League Central; 2010 Winner- Cincinnati Reds 91-71

Mike’s Take on the NL Central:

Central Winner: I was all set to pick the Cardinals to win this division going into spring training, but Tommy John surgery for Wainwright changed my mind. The Reds have big question marks with 3 of their starting pitchers being injured right now. The Brewers, who I was going to pick in place of the Cards, have had rotation questions as well. I feel the NL Central will be a 4 team race to the finish. The Cubs have a very nice rotation, and maybe a better bullpen. As much as it hurts for me to say this, I can see them winning this division. More to come on the Cubs shortly.

NL Surprise Team: Chicago Cubs. This might be a surprise to some people. I really like their top 3 starting pitchers in Garza, Dempster, and Zambrano. I also like Cashner who is going to have a good year. Garza is going to dominate the NL, after doing well in the AL. Wood, Marshall, and Marmol will form a very solid back end of the bullpen. If the Cubs have a lead in the 7th inning, odds are they will win with that pen. Soto, Castro, Pena, Ramirez, Byrd, and Colvin should form a very good lineup, and I look to Alfonso Soriano to have a comeback year. The X factor in all of this Mike Quade.

Tim’s Take on the NL Central:

The only attention the NL Central got this offseason was the hype surrounding the contract situation of Albert Pujols. While I understand he is the greatest player in the game today, his so called ‘demands’ for 30 mil a year are just outrageous and this is coming from a Yankees fan. The Cardinals I think will bounce back this year however and prove once again why for the past few years they have always been a force to be reckoned with. As for the other teams like the Astros, Cubs and Pirates, yeah I have nothing good to say about them because let’s face it, they will be in the basement of the NL Central again all year long. The Reds should be loaded and ready to repeat as champs this year also. 2011 NL Central Champion- Cincinnati Reds (Led by the hitting monster known as Joey Votto, I think he’ll lead the Reds into the promise land yet again this year and with Volquez atop their rotation I expect the Reds to handle the weakest division in baseball with relative ease this year.)

Ruling- Mike likes the Cubs and Tim likes the Reds to repeat.

The National League West; 2010 Winner- San Francisco Giants 92-70 *World Series Champions*

Mike’s Take on the NL West:

I can see the NL West going any of 4 ways. Each team has a chance to win the division, each team has great rotations. It is really hard for me to bet against Lincecum, Cain, Sanchez, Bumgarner, and Zito. And now Buster Posey will have an entire year to do his thing. WOW. I still think they are a bat away from running away with this division, but they did win the World Series last year, so they must be doing something right. I think all 4 teams will be within 7 games of each other, but I still think when it is said and done, the Giants will repeat as NL West Champs, and have a chance to defend their title.

Tim’s Take on the NL West:

Yes the Giants won the World Series, it just feels weird to type that out because who would of thunk it? This division was a tight one all year last year and really wasn’t decided until the last week of the regular season. The Rockies have been busy locking up some of their core players and the Padres should be right around the same win plateau as last year. But the big question is will the Giants experience the common World Series hangover? I personally think it will happen this year and that a new team will overtake the champs to take the west crown. 2011 NL West Champion- Colorado Rockies (Led by Troy Tulowitzki, Todd Helton and pitching phenomenon Ubaldo Jimenez the Rockies I think are finally poised to make a serious push not only for the NL West Crown but for a deep run into the postseason as well. They are a young bunch who last season I think gained a lot of feel for what’s it like to play in close games but how it felt to lose in them as well. I think it’s going to be a real motivation tool that drives this team all season long and I think the Rockies are set to have a breakout 2011 season.)

Ruling- Mike likes the Giants to repeat and Tim likes the Rockies to emerge.

National League Wild Card Predictions: As Mike said in the NL East preview he likes the Phillies to capture the Wild Card and Tim likes the Braves.

Tim’s National League Wild Card Winner- Atlanta Braves- The Atlanta Braves to me are a fun and exciting team to watch. I really liked the addition of Dan Uggla whose going to play with a lot more determination now that he is on a team who has a serious good chance to make a deep run into the postseason and even the World Series. Their young lineup and solid pitching staff should keep them within some range of the Phillies but I think the Braves win a lot of close games this year and find themselves when it’s all said and done representing the National League as the Wild Card, just beating out the SF Giants.

So now that the division winners are set and the wild cards from each league here is a breakdown of what Tim and Mike have come up with.

Mike’s 2011 Postseason teams:
AL East: Boston Red Sox
AL Central: Chicago White Sox
AL West: Oakland A’s
AL Wild Card: New York Yankees

NL East: Atlanta Braves
NL Central: Chicago Cubs
NL West: San Francisco Giants
NL Wild Card: Philadelphia Phillies

Tim’s 2011 Postseason teams:
AL East: Boston Red Sox
AL Central: Chicago White Sox
AL West: Texas Rangers
AL Wild Card: New York Yankees

NL East: Philadelphia Phillies
NL Central: Cincinnati Reds
NL West: Colorado Rockies
NL Wild Card: Atlanta Braves

The boys’ ALDS/NLDS Predictions:
Mike- Red Sox vs. A’s & Yankees vs. White Sox/Braves vs. Giants/Cubs vs. Phillies
Tim- Red Sox vs. Rangers & Yankees vs. White Sox/Phillies vs Rockies/Reds vs. Braves

The boys’ ALCS/NLCS Predictions:
Mike- White Sox vs. Red Sox/Braves vs. Phillies
Tim- White Sox vs. Red Sox/Phillies vs. Braves

The boys’ World Series Predictions:
Mike- Boston Red Sox vs. Atlanta Braves....Braves in 7 Games!!!
Tim- Boston Red Sox vs. Philadelphia Phillies....Phillies in 6 Games!!!

So there you have it friends, all 162 games combined into a simple but yet difficult game of predicting who has the most to fight through the grueling stretches of the season to emerge victorious and win the World Series.

Agree or disagree with our picks? If so leave comments and PLEASE feel free to leave us your predictions to for the upcoming season. Let’s see who has what it takes to de-throne Mike and Tim from the top with their own picks!


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