If it were the Rays and Red Sox, I'd probably be playing Mario Kart or watching Venture Brothers DVDs tonight, but it's not. It's Braves and Phillies. I'm a bit geeked up. I've hit the preset button for Project 9-6-1 about a dozen times to see if the pregame show had come on yet. It's not on as I begin this post, so there's some time to write something before I go park in front of the TV for tonight's festivities. First though, this great news arrived today:
21, 41, 44, 35, 3, 42 and...
Greg Maddux's number will be retired on July 17th. Awesome. Someone needs to start working on a statue for the plaza.
If you're looking for a season preview or predictions from me, I don't exactly have any. I did a sort of preview for Phungo but I didn't plan out anything and time is kinda up. I'll do predictions off the cuff for you though. Now that Sully has predicted the Reds in the World Series, I'm not as afraid of being completely wrong anymore. For you gamblers out there (and I don't mean high-end case rippers) you may do very well to short all these stocks.
NL East: Phillies.
NL Central: Anyone but the Cubs. That includes Pirates. Let's say St. Louis.
NL West: Dodgers
AL East: Rays
AL Central: Twins
AL West: A's
NL Wildcard: Giants
AL Wildcard: Red Sox
World Series: Phillies over Twins in 6
Braves record: 88-74 2nd in NL East
NL MVP: Manny Ramirez, Dodgers
AL MVP: Josh Hamilton, Rangers
NL Cy Young: Roy Oswalt, Astros
AL Cy Young: Francisco Liriano, Twins
NL Rookie of the Year: Tommy Hanson, Braves
AL Rookie of the Year, David Price, Rays
There's absolutely no research or analysis behind these picks, I'm just going with my gut. If I hit 25% accuracy on any of these I'll be thrilled. Here's also some Braves-related predictions inspired by some cards I recently received from fellow bloggers that have not been acknowledged on the blog as of yet.
Javy will have a good year for the Bravos. Let's say 15-8, 3.35 ERA, 200 Ks. The Braves will then strike while the iron is hot and trade him in the offseason.
Brian McCann will be the Team MVP in '09. He will also win an actual MVP before his contract with the Braves is up. This card came from Thorzul.
Smoltz will make a start for the Red Sox and get bombed. He'll then move to the 'pen and pitch in a playoff game. I'm still pissed at Smoltz, but I have to thank him for one thing: thanks to his offseason antics I have completely forgiven Tom Glavine. I love ya Tommy, you may have signed with the Mets but at least you didn't talk shit about the Braves single every day you were on their roster. As for Smoltzie, if he can manage to shut his damn mouth at some point this season, maybe one day in the far distant future I'll forgive him too. As for now, I'll be rooting for North Carolina tomorrow just to stick it to the Bearded One. I got this card in a prize pack from Gritz at Project '62.
Interleague: Braves will be utterly ruined in interleague once again. Boston Twice, Yankees, at Baltimore who owns us for some reason and Toronto. We'll win five games out of the lot and two of them will be against Toronto. This card came from Chris Reed, I'm pretty sure I sent him something already but if I didn't, please shoot me an e-mail.
One of the Braves' biggest strengths will be their bench. There's a ton of depth in the system, especially in starting pitching. I don't mind if Chipper only plays 120 games because I trust Infante and Prado to be an adequate Plan B for the games while he's taking a breather. Omar came from Jack Plumstead, who will be getting a package of Sox as soon as I replenish my supply of the rouge hose. I'll also be doing a series of football sticker posts as soon as I can figure out when the season is.
Chipper. Like I said, 120 games. Also 25 homers, 90 RBI and a .350 average. 120 games with an 1.000 OPS is just fine with me. Card courtesy of Dinged Corners, who have sent more cards to me than I have to them. I shall attempt to even the trade imbalance shortly.
Here's a Sweet Spot Chipper from Adam E. at Thoughts and Sox. I have a package waiting to go to the post office for him and that doesn't even count the vintage cards from his want list I'm looking for. I've already talked about Chipper, so let's discuss my worst fear about the 2009 season. Mike Gonzalez breaks down. Sorano gets hurt. Moylan gets forced into the closer's role and wilts. We blow a bunch of saves in a closer by committee debacle, then trade Freddie Freeman for Kevin Gregg just to get a warm body in the closer's role. Something screwed up always happens during the season and I think this is the most likely scenario that trainwrecks the season (and possibly the future). Yes, I still have Danny Kolb nightmares.
But now is not the time to dwell on such things. For at least a few more hours, all the records are 0-0. The season is all dreamy potential and no stark reality. The bunting is up, the game is on ESPN and all eyes are on Philadelphia. Now is the time for