The 2010 MLB season is right around the corner, and what would a new season be without bold predictions?
Whether you're a diehard Seattle fan who thinks the Mariners will win the World Series or the faithful Mets fan who still thinks they have a chance to win the division, there is bound to be something inside for everyone.
So let's hunker down and take a look at what the 2010 MLB season has in store for fans. Here are my 50 Bold Predictions for 2010. Enjoy.
He tried two years in a row to compete for the closer's job, and twice he failed. In 2010 the Cubs have basically handed him the job.
While Marmol can throw a ton of strikes, it’s his command and mechanics that are problematic. I just can’t see him lasting beyond June as the Cubs closer. Then the next problem will be, who do the Cubs turn to next?
Ryan Howard is currently hitting in midseason form and has changed his whole approach, which seems to be working like a dream. He's been in the mix for NL MVP every year since 2006 (the last time he won).
This year he's destined to be the NL MVP again. There hasn’t been a year that has gone by that Howard hasn’t won something, and, barring any injuries, it should be his year as the National League's best player and MVP.
As the pitching in the AL and NL gets better and better and we see more new stadiums geared toward pitchers (e.g., New York's Citi Field), home run production will continue to decline. I believe no player is going to eclipse 40 homers, and we’ll be lucky to see any players even reach 40.
The Giants put on a good show last year and gave the Dodgers plenty to worry about; this year will be more of the same. The Giants are loaded with youth and talent, and they are primed to make a solid run at winning the division with guys like Pablo Sandoval, Tim Lincecum, and Jonathan Sanchez.
It’s hard to say, but the Dodgers are beginning to fall by the wayside despite having a good group of players.
In the end, however, I believe the Giants will win the division, and the Florida Marlins will wind up grabbing the Wild Card behind Rookie of the Year Chris Coghlan, pitching sensation Josh Johnson, power hitters Dan Uggla and Jorge Cantu, and, of course, Hanley Ramirez.
The Mets look like they are at a point where they may just want to take out the trash once and for all.
Enter (or exeunt) Jerry Manuel.
Manuel’s inability to prevent collapses, rally the troops, and create a consistent winning team is making him Public Enemy No. 1. Expect Manuel to get the ax before the All-Star break.
Isn’t it hard to imagine?
I mean, the guy is such a fantastic role model for crybabies, losers, and bratty kids who just want to throw fits and blame everyone else, so thinking he is going to do something—ANYTHING—stupid is a very bold prediction on my part. Sarcastically speaking, of course.
Roy Oswalt is beginning to show the ravages of old baseball age, and it began last year with his back.
Despite being able to start 30 games, the pain and discomfort from his back injury (a bulging disk to be more accurate) took its toll on the legendary ace, and I don’t think his body will hold up for another 30 games in 2010.
Even if it does, he will not bounce back from a sub-par 2009 performance.
There is no denying how good the Yankees and Red Sox look this year, or, for that matter any year, but the Rays are quietly becoming just as good, and if they can pitch well in 2010 they should win the AL East and move into a final showdown with...
Yup, hide your children, run for the hills, and say your Hail Marys because the Apocalypse is scheduled for October, when the Cubs finally get to—and win—the World Series.
If you take a deep look at the Cubs, they have all the right hitters, all the right pitchers, good balance in the 'pen, and if Marmol can fix his command issues, and Derrek Lee can learn to eat dinner safely, believe you me, it’s gonna happen.
Say it with me: Hail Mary, full of grace...
The Angels curiously dumped a lot of players that kept the team competitive for many years like John Lackey and Chone Figgins.
Now some say it was because they dumped them at the start of their decline, others say it was strictly a money issue, but either way, they won’t be able to keep up this year in the division with Texas only getting stronger, Seattle only getting stronger, and the A’s secretly putting together a good team.
There are simply too many issues, and too many questions to realistically think the Mets will place any better than last in the division, especially considering every other team seems to be getting better while the Mets get worse.
With Joe Nathan out for the season with an elbow injury and a ton of questions surrounding his future, Francisco Liriano will wind up filling in for the lost closer.
Ironically enough, if he does well—which he should—it will help the Twins’ ability to trade him, which will also probably happen.
Chris Davis would like nothing more than to forget about 2009 and the sub-par performance he turned in, and what better way to that than to have a bounceback season in 2010.
He is already hitting well in spring training, and he is a candidate for 30 home runs and 20 to 25 doubles. Also look for his batting average to hover around .290 or better this season.
Sorry Tim Lincecum, but three in a row seems a bit much with Roy Halladay in the mix now.
The big man has mowed down tougher American League lineups for years, so things will get even easier now that he gets to face weak NL lineups with pitchers hitting. His work ethic and straightforward power pitching will be the reason for Halladay winning the NL CY Young Award.
Ben Sheets has had a year off as he nursed an injury and faced a brush with not being picked up by anyone, and you can bet he will not only be ready to open the season with a bang, but he will be crowned Comeback Player of the Year due to a performance that is sure to impress.
Brandon Webb will round out the NL’s portion of pitchers by being crowned the NL Comeback Player of the Year after a disastrous injury-plagued 2009 that put his 2010 return in jeopardy.
Remember, this is still Brandon Webb we’re talking about here.
Verlander won't duplicate what he did in 2009. Rather, I see him stumbling a bit and looking more like he did in 2008. He’ll be lucky to get one game over .500, making him a disappointment for the Tigers.
Projected line: 14-13 / 4.01 ERA / 1.21 WHIP / 179 K / 90 BB
2010 will be a redemption year for Nelson Cruz.
He will finish what he started in 2009 with his ability to mix stolen bases and home runs, and he will avenge his loss in the Home Run Derby by winning it all this year.
To go a step further, I think 2010 will be a banner year for Cruz all around; I am very high on him.
Washington started putting together a legitimate team last year, and, for those of you paying attention, you saw that they were able to hit the ball well; pitching was their weak link.
Well 2010 will be vastly different; expect the Nationals to finish 82-80, which is 23 games better than 2009, as they show to be the most improved team in 2010.
Adam Dunn is a true powerhouse hitter, but 2010 will be the second year in a row that the monster bat does not hit 40 home runs, after five straight years of hitting 40-plus—you heard it first here.
Juan Pierre has always been known for his speed, his ability to hit when given the chance, and the curious happenstance of always being on the bench—something that will change in 2010.
You can expect Pierre to steal at least 60 bags this year easily as he gets a chance to play every day for the Chicago White Sox.
The quality of pitching has improved over the past couple of years, but so has the hitting. I think 2010 will be a showdown between pitchers and hitters with the hitters winning in one sense—no pitcher will reach the 20-win mark.
Not to be outdone by Dunn, Cardinals’ fans worldwide will fall into a deep state of depression when they see that Albert Pujols will also not reach the 40-homer mark this year.
His back has been a nuisance, and the team as a whole has gotten better in the hitting department, so all those years of leaning on his bat will be a thing of the past. But don’t worry, he’ll get close.
I am in no way advocating that Stephen Strasburg will be a bust, only that he will flop early before picking things up by the season's end. The deal is, though, I see him winning six and losing five.
I know the kid has great stuff; I know he is touted as the next "great" thing, but with all the little injuries he has had to deal with, and the superfluous hype that has surrounded him since San Diego State, I have to believe the kid will face a burnout at some point and disappoint more than impress in his rookie campaign.
In addition to winning MVP for the second time in his career, Howard achieves what hasn’t been done since Carl Yastrzemski in 1967 by becoming the next Triple Crown winner.
Every year he is either nominated for some award or just flat-out wins one, so it only makes perfect, idealistic sense, right?
Wandy Rodriguez is one of those guys that most people are misreading and underestimating. In 2009, the kid actually racked up more strikeouts per nine innings than some of the bigger name pitchers in the NL (8.4), and you can bet he will be a top-five pitcher in 2010.
Projected Line: 17-9 / 2.95 ERA / 1.09 WHIP / 205 K / 55 BB
Lance Berkman is 34 and has more mileage than any VW Bus still on the road today.
The Astros, for the first time in a long time, have a good crop of talented young players that are just waiting to get their shot, and I believe—since Berk’s a free agent in 2012—he will simply retire.
Cole Hamels was hit by batted balls multiple times last year, became a father, questioned whether or not he was truly "into it," and genuinely ran out of gas in 2009—even his Comcast commercials were lame.
His 10-11 record and 4.32 ERA was the worst performance of his young career, but Hamels has had a year to recuperate, adjust, and get his marbles together; he will bounce back in 2010.
Projected Line: 16-8 / 2.90 ERA / 1.04 WHIP / 189 K / 40 BB
Josh Beckett's contract talks with the Red Sox have been reported as "seeing progress" despite Boston not willing to offer more than four years—but with the deal they just gave John Lackey, and the fact that Beckett can test the waters, you have to imagine that if Boston doesn’t act quickly, Beckett will pack his bags by the end of the year.
Crawford’s $10 million option was picked up by the Rays, but there has already been friction between him and the club, and you can bet he will in another uniform by the time the break is over.
Chamberlain is not a starting pitcher, just a guy who can throw the ball really fast for short periods of time. He will start, play, and finish the season in the bullpen.
Miguel Tejada's days are pretty much over, and his hopes of an extra special homecoming in Baltimore aren’t going to happen.
Look for him to start the season on the bench...and end the season in the same place.
MLB will make history in 2010 when the World Series finale is decided by an instant replay. The Cubs will get the benefit of MLB's new instant replay policy that owners have agreed to implement by this August.
Carlos Silva doesn’t bring much to the table, and the acquisition was a most curious one on the Cubs' behalf.
He will start the season with the Cubs, but expect him to be designated to Triple-A Iowa for the remainder of the season once Ted Lilly returns, and then probably traded by the break.
The 24-year-old rookie will simply not back down and is now the clear-cut guy in Washington.
Christian Guzman is basically finished—at least for now—and Desmond is a prime candidate for Rookie of the Year. In 2009, at various levels, he hit .321 with 11 home runs and 44 RBI.
You can’t question how much talent the young 22-year-old boasts, but what you can question is his inconsistency, which will be a huge factor this year. I don’t see him doing any better than he did in 2009 and perhaps even going backward a bit.
You have to think the clock is ticking on Manny, and you also have to think he will not leave baseball on a sour note. I expect Manny to have one more fantastic year before saying "sayonara" to baseball altogether.
Projected Line: .311 AVG, 35 HR, 110 RBI, 105 R, 30 2Bs.
Sticking with a theme of shockers, the Indians have the ability to win the division, especially now that Minnesota is suffering a bit. They are relatively young, have potential power and could be a huge sleeper in the AL Central.
Gaby Sanchez explodes in Florida, becoming a solid 20/20 hitter and making manager Fredi Gonzalez look like a genius for giving him the nod at first base over highly touted prospect Logan Morrison.
There is a lot of stress on the pen right now in Boston, and there are still questions concerning Dice-K and whether or not he will return to being a high-quality starter. It will likely end up with Dice-K in the bullpen by June to simply kill two birds with one stone.
Ibanez is a special player, but he does have a small laundry list of injuries, and between the abdominal injury from last year, the sports hernia operation in November, his current bout with his arm and the fact that he is 37, I don’t see him lasting an entire season.
The once larger-than-life Soto has shed over 40 pounds of weight, is far more comfortable behind the plate this year, and is gearing up to make good on a horrible 2009 season.
There is a reason why this kid was so highly touted a couple of years ago, and you'll be reminded of it in 2010.
Pelfrey hasn't even really been known as a stellar pitcher, but this will be the year he finally gets put where he belongs—on the bench. His current spring training ERA is 7.97 and he has already allowed 34 hits in just over 20 innings.
Morgan is now heating up just as the season approaches, and you can bet that he will be among the elite in the stolen base department. But you'll also begin to notice that he will show himself as a better than average hitter and run producer when he eclipses .330.
Bochy has slowly been cultivating a potent team in San Fran, and when he wins the division outright, he will surely win the NL Manager of the Year Award.
The Rangers are primed to win the division, go deep in the playoffs, and Ron Washington will be crowned the AL Manager of the Year winner in 2010.
Ian Kinsler is one of those guys that, when you look at him, you know he can quickly rise to elite status, but damn if he can't stay healthy.
Well this will be the year folks. He has had some issues in spring training so far, but they will be cleared up by Opening Day, and both Texas and Texas' fans will get to see what he is truly capable of.
He has been flirting with this for a while now, and thus far this spring training he has had a sub-par showing, something that is rare for Abreu.
The team has changed for the worse, he is only getting older, and this could even be one of his worst years yet.
Everyone is high on Wolf, but I just don't see it happening simply due to two so-so years. He won't hit the 160 mark in strikeouts, he won't even hit the .500 mark in win percentage, and he will definitely have a down year in 2010 as a Brewer.
What would a prediction list be without at least one crazy, cockamamie prediction, right?
Well, here you are:
The Braves' 2010 season takes a hard, and noble, right-hand turn when Derek Lowe suffers a season-ending injury, but what happens next is the real tearjerker.
In light of Bobby Cox trying for one last run, Smoltzy abandons the broadcasting gig and Glavine says "sayonara" to retirement to join the good fight for Cox.
Shell-shocked by the decisions of the one-time greats, Tommy Hanson get a sudden torrent of sheer inspiration and goes on to pitch lights out for the remainder of the season.
Ron Gant, Steve Avery, and Dave Justice decide to all join the team for free, giving Jayson Heyward an equal jolt of inspiration and together they form the biggest powerhouse team in the National League.
The go on to win the division outright, and smoke the Yankees in the World Series, four games to none, thus putting the final—and fitting—stamp on the storied career of the great Bobby Cox.
OK. Let's file that last one under the pipe-dream prediction category.