What a day in baseball. Glavine, Maddux, Randy Johnson all rocked. Pedro and Clemens strong. And then the soul of the Yankees, Derek Jeter gets crushed by Huckabee, the catcher of the Blue Jays. I was amazed at how little recrimination was directed to Huckabee. Either it was a tremendously dirty play (as it looked to me) or it was a tremendously stupid play by an oaf of a catcher who has no body awareness and no awareness of where he is on the field. The announcers kept talking about how it was a clean play. Excuse me but I've been watching baseball for 40+ years and I've never seen a player totally wipe out another player like that. It was disgraceful. I only hope that Jeter isn't as seriously hurt as it appeared.
Well what else did today show around the majors? It's only one game, but I look brilliant with my Cubs predictions. I'll let you look at them to see what I mean. I know. I know. There are 161 games left.
Tonight, I'll finish off the National League by some prognostications concerning that division.
I really think the Dodgers will win the division. First, the Giants lineup looks weaker to me with no one scary enough to protect Bonds even a little bit. Bonds could walk 200 times this year! In contrast, the Dodgers look balanced and poised to go over the top. Brown is back as is Dreifort and Ishii. And Nomo wins opening night with a four hitter! With Gagne in the bullpen along with Mota and Perez, it's hard to pick against this team. And although their lineup isn't as awesome as others, it seems solid and should score enough to give their pitching something to work with. Hundley was a good pickup as was McGriff.
Homeruns: Shawn Green with 46
RBI and Average: Adrian Beltre who will also be the surprise player of the year for this team.
Wins: Brown with 17
Saves: Gagne with 40
The Giants should come in second simply due to the force of Bond's personality and Felipe Alou's character. But the team is mostly smoke and now Nen is hurting. They have some good pitching with Moss being a good pickup to go with Rueter and Jason Schmidt.
Other than Bonds who should have another big year, J. T. Snow should have a great comeback season. He's been spooked by the new park in San Fran, but he's stronger and he'll be a force.
Homeruns, RBI and Average: A true triple crown candidate every year. His numbers? .350 55 124
Surprise of the year: Snow who will hit .300, hit 25 homers and drive in 100.
Wins: Tie Rueter and Moss with 16
Saves: Nen with 24
I don't see the Diamondbacks coming in higher than third. Sure, they have the potential for great pitching. But their pitching is old and who knows what could happen. But the age factor really comes to play in their lineup. Grace is 38, Williams is 37, Finley is 38, Gonzalez is 35. I just don't see them coming in any higher than 10th in runs scored. They are running on fumes.
Homeruns: Gonzalez with 32
RBI: Spivey with 94
Average: Danny Bautista
Surprise player of the year: Spivey
Wins: Schilling with 24
Saves: Mantai who throws serious gas with 36
I don't ever see the Colorado Rockies contending as long as they have that funky home/away mind game. They have finally figured out that you need flamethrowers and they have some. Again, there will be some fun games of 14 to 12 but that translates to fourth place and maybe fifth.
Home runs: Todd Helton with 42
RBI: Preston Wilson with 118
Average: Larry Walker with .375
Wins: Elarton with 11 wins?
Saves: Jimenez with 28
The Padres are interesting and they might be better than the Rockies. They have so many question marks in young players and they could be great and they could be awful. I think they'll be awful one more year. But you have to like the only team in baseball with a player as old as the Flagrant Fan!
Homeruns and RBI: Ryan Klesko with 29 and 110
Average: Sean Burroughs with a breakout year
Surprise player of the year: Rondell White who is not healthy.
Wins: Oliver Perez with 12?
Saves: Villefuerte (who?) with 29 to be a nice surprise.
Some variables that could affect the order listed above:
Will Adam Eaton regain his status as one of the great young pitchers in the game?
Can Alfonso protect Bonds enough for Barry to get some hacks?
How much will the lost of Dusty Baker affect the Giants?
Will the injury prone Dodgers stay healthy and have a big year?
Can Randy and Kurt pull off another big year together and get Arizona in the show again?
Can Kim make the transition to starting pitching?
Again... one hundred and sixty one games from now, we'll know.