Baseball BeatMarch 05, 2007
Open Chat: 2007 Predictions
By Rich Lederer

I have two questions for our readers today.

1. Which team is the most likely to win 10 more games than it did last year? Why?

2. Conversely, which club is the most likely to lose 10 more games than it did last year? Why?

OK, I guess that is four questions. Double your pleasure, double your fun. No, that is not a subliminal endorsement of the Cubs. (I guess I'm showing my age as it has been 26 years since the Wrigley family sold the Cubs to the Tribune Company.)

Bonus Question: Would Mark Cuban make a good owner for the Cubs?

For reference purposes, here is how it all shook out last year.

2006 STANDINGS

AMERICAN LEAGUE EAST

TEAM         W    L   PCT  GB
Yankees      97   65  .599  -
Blue Jays    87   75  .537  10
Red Sox      86   76  .531  11
Orioles      70   92  .432  27
Devil Rays   61  101  .377  36

AMERICAN LEAGUE CENTRAL

TEAM         W    L   PCT  GB
Twins        96   66  .593  -
Tigers       95   67  .586   1
White Sox    90   72  .556   6
Indians      78   84  .481  18
Royals       62  100  .383  34

AMERICAN LEAGUE WEST

TEAM         W    L   PCT  GB
A's          93   69  .574  -
Angels       89   73  .549   4
Rangers      80   82  .494  13
Mariners     78   84  .481  15

NATIONAL LEAGUE EAST

TEAM         W    L   PCT  GB
Mets         97   65  .599  -
Phillies     85   77  .525  12
Braves       79   83  .488  18
Marlins      78   84  .481  19
Nationals    71   91  .438  26

NATIONAL LEAGUE CENTRAL

TEAM         W    L   PCT  GB
Cardinals    83   78  .516  -
Astros       82   80  .506   1.5
Reds         80   82  .494   3.5
Brewers      75   87  .463   8.5
Pirates      67   95  .414  16.5
Cubs         66   96  .407  17.5

NATIONAL LEAGUE WEST

TEAM         W    L   PCT  GB
Padres       88   74  .543   0
Dodgers      88   74  .543   0
Giants       76   85  .472  11.5
Diamondbacks 76   86  .469  12
Rockies      76   86  .469  12

Comments

WIN 10 MORE: Cubs.
WHY: Impossible not to.
LOSE 10 MORE: A's
WHY: Loaiza Human. Blanton Subhuman.
Cuban would balance Ozzie Guillen for Chicago Basbeall Personality mouthing his way into controversial headlines.

Win 10 more: I'd have to go with the Cubs as well. They had one of baseball's worst records, and spent all that money...a 10 game improvement would still put them under .500, and also would not be nearly enough for ownership
Runner up win 10 more: The Braves...I could easily see them win 90 games

Lose 10 more: I'd have to say the Tigers, but not all because of their own doing. I predicted their rise last year (it ended up higher than I thought, but I saw it coming), but a lot went right on the team and wrong in the division. Given the talent in the Al Central, it will be a dogfight, and I could therefore see the division winner struggle to get to 90 wins.
Runner up lose 10 more: The Twins, for the same reasons (and a rotation that could be big trouble)

I have to agree that the Cubs are the best bet to win 10 more, but my other picks are the Rays, Indians and Brewers. The Rays will benefit from a full year of Young and bounce back years from Gomes and possibly Cantu as well as improvements from younger players such as Navarro, Shields and Upton. The Indians underperformed last year and strengthened the major weakness, the bullpen, while the Brewers should contend in the central with a solid starting staff and good players at just about every position.

As for losing 10 more, my pick is the Mets with the A's and Marlins as other likely candidates. As good as the Mets' offense should be, their pitching will be shaky and injury prone. The A's have injury and depth problems while the Marlins will regress, particularly in the rotation where injuries have already sent up warning signs.

Win ten more? Indians and Diamondbacks seem like good bets. I predicted the Tribe would win the central last year... I'm sticking with that prediction for '07. The Diamondbacks have spankin' new uniforms. That should be a good morale boost. Oh, and full seasons from Drew, Quentin, Young, etc.

Lose ten more? I know the A's and Mets are favourites based on their pythagorean standings, but I think there's enough talent to keep hope alive. I'm gonna say the Cardinals. They could just as easily win ten more, but I think injuries with continue to wreck havoc on an aging roster.

Win 10 More: Cubs or Red Sox
Why: I think the money they spent and Derek Lee healthy should guarantee at least 76 wins, the Red Sox have a lot of talent and 96 wins is withing reach

Lose 10 More: Mets
Why: They could still win the division with 87 wins, but the Phillies and Braves should be tough, and the Mets pitching is pretty bad.

Mark Cuban: I think he would be a great owner, he isnt afraid to spend money and hes not gonna sit back and watch his team stink.

Win 10: Brewers, Cubs, Indians.
Close but no cigar: Diamondbacks.

Lose 10: Twins, Mets.
Close but no cigar: Astros.

Win 10 more - Cleveland, and Seattle.

Why - Cleveland has a better bullpen than they did last year to go along with the pieces from last year.

Why - Seattle has the pieces in place to go from a below .500 team to an above .500 team in a weak division

Who could lose 10 more games - Oakland

Why - Oakland looks like a team held together by bandaids. There offence is less than intriguing. How many 1-0 and 2-1 games will their pitching staff have to produce?

Gain 10 wins: Devil Rays, Indians, Cubs

that's my predicted order of probability..

Devil Rays because they are so young and talented. Another year will see more improvements.

Indians, because they can't possibly get that unlucky two years in a row (and under perform their expected win/loss..)

Cubs for obvious reasons..

The lose 10 wins teams are harder to predict..

I'll make 1.. the Yankees. Let's see what happens...

Likely to Win 10 More: Indians
Why: They finished 11 games below their Pythagorean Record last year. A full season from Garko. Improved defense. No Aaron Boone.

Likely to Lose 10 More: Marlins
Why: No Josh Johnson. Someone will have a sophomore slump. Dan Uggla. Unnamed Centerfielder.

Win more: Indians, Cubs and Red Sox. The Cubs have to be better and the Sox and Indians underperformed last year.

Lose 10: The Nationals. That is one of the worst pitching staffs ever. It will be miraculous if they don't lose 100 and nobody is going to care.

Like many others...

Likely to win ten more: Cubs (the oversending on the off-season), Diamondbacks (the offense + Randy Johnson), Indians (young and solid and Peralta and Barfield will be better in 2007), Red Sox (improved offense + Crisp w/o a broken finger and Drew in RF)
Likey to lose ten more: Mets (crappy SPs and Braves and Phillies are better), Twins (pitching down), Cardinals (I just hate the Cardinals), Nationals (a AAA team)

Surprise team: the potential for the Diamondbacks and Brewers to do well intrigues me, and I don't care for either team one bit.

Lose 10 more - Twins - Rotation issues, hitters regressing.

Win 10 more - Braves

Win 10 more: Red Sox, Phillies and Indians. Those are 96, 95 and 88 win teams.

Lose 10 more: Twins, Mets

And Mark Cuban would be INCREDIBLE for the game

Win 10 more: Cubs, Cardinals (who take NL Central once more.)
Lose 10 more: Twins, Astros (as the smoke clears & the mirrors crack.)

Win 10 more:
Diamondbacks - young players progress and improved pitching staff should lead to them being a few games over .500 and competing for the West

Loss 10 more:
Astros - their loss to starting pitching will be too much to overcome unless all their offensive players have monster years

Win 10: I'm going to choose the Brewers. With a full, healthy squad, go-to closer, and the promising bats they have in Fielder and Weeks, there's no reason they won't be be contending come fall.

Lose 10: I'll go with the Twins. Most people are choosing the Tigers as the team to regress, but the Twins are short one guy who won them 12 games last season and lacking in a reliable back-up pitcher to fill that hole. And as much as I like Mauer and Morneau, I think they'll be a little (mind you, just a little) pressed to repeat last year's numbers.

Cuban: I'd rather see him take over the Pirates. Cubs will never be lacking for suitors, fans or support--regardless of the ball they play. It be nice to see a franchise that could really use higher payroll, and a higher profile, benefit.

Win 10 more: Diamondbacks (solid young nucleus), Indians (regression to the mean), Devil Rays (talented and they have to go somewhere eventually)

Lose 10 more: Twins (bad decision-making without reinforcements to help), Astros (loss of pitching and persistent absence of hitting)

Most likely gainers, in order of probability:

1. Cubs - Just because they were so putrid last year. Not a contender in the mediocre NL Central.

2. Rays - Same as the Cubs.

3. (tie) Indians - After being snakebit last year, they should do better.

Brewers - 85 wins is possible, but not much more.

Biggest possible losers:

1. A's - They seemed to get into the playoffs with mirrors in '06. Minus Zito, it's going to be somewhat tougher.

2. Twins: It's going to be much more of a struggle without Liriano and Radke.

3. Tigers: Relatively injury free last year, and the law of averages always catches up in the long run.

Cubs, Devil Rays, Diamondbacks and Indians. The Indians have got to match their Pythagorean one of these years, bad bullpen or no.

Win More: Indians - Should have won 10 more games last year. Their bullpen has to be better than last year, and their young players have room to improve. Second choice - Tampa Bay

Win less: Reds. They were lucky to be mediocre last year. I see Arroyo and Harang taking a step back; their offense has no upside. Homer Bailey won't be a difference maker this year. Second choice - Washington

Wins:

The Indians are the obvious choice based on their Pythagorean record from last year and the fact that their bullpen has to be better. I also really like the Brewers chances in the Central, where there isn't any really good teams. If Ben Sheets is healthy, a top four of Sheets/Capuano/Suppan/Bush is easily the best in the division. Bush in particular is going to have a breakout season.

Losses:

As much as I hate to say it, I think the Twins may be due to come back down to earth. They really don't have a rotation after Johan, and for some ungodly reason Matt Garza and Glen Perkins aren't penciled into rotation spots. They're going to figure out eventually than Sidney Ponson and Ramon Ortiz aren't the answer, but it may be too late. Is there a worse #2 starter in baseball than Carlos Silva (11-15, 5.94, 1.54 WHIP with 246 H in 180 IP)?

Win 10 more:
Diamondbacks (every reason I thought of has already been stated, so I won't say any more)

Lose 10 more: Tigers
reason 1) Kenny Rogers will realize that he is... Kenny Rogers
2) All of their young pitchers pitched more stressful innings than they ever have in the past. (Verlander is already worn down)
3) Sheffield will undermine the team's cohesiveness much as he did with the Yankees after he came back from his wrist injury.

Win 10 More:

Diamondbacks and Indians. Both teams are going to score piles of runs, and they can't possibly continue to have luck as bad as they had last season (Indians especially). The Indians bullpen will stabilize this year (because that is what bullpens do, not because of the "veteran presence" provided by Borowski and Hernandez), and the Diamondbacks will get one final solid season out of Randy Johnson before his knees implode for good.

Lose 10 More:

Twins and Astros. Santana, Bonser and pray for Terry Ryan to realize that Ponson, Silva and Ortiz are terrible and should be replaced immediately by Garza, Perkins and Baker (or Durbin, or Slowey, or basically anyone else in the organization with a pulse). Also, as good as Mauer, Morneau and Hunter are, they all played above their heads last year (to some degree) and are poised to regress this year. As for the Astros: Weakened Pitching Staff + Outfield of Lee/Burke/Scott = Extra Base Hits!!!!!

10+: Devil Rays, these young guys have to bust out sometime.

10-: Dodgers, their GM is a moron and lots of potential injury issues there, plus many of their division rivals look to be improving.

The Tribe will finish 1st, because it was written in the new novel SWAP by Sam Moffie as so.

Win 10 more games: Indians, Brewers and D-Backs.

The Indians and Brewers were tight going into last season, but both had somewhat dissapointing years, I see them both as post break-out breakout teams. The Prince of Power will take a big step next season, cementing himself among the game's elite power hitters. The Indians' battle to the post season will be hard fought, but the Brewers could do it with 85 wins.
The D-Backs played below their Pythagorean record (80-82) and are much improved this season with the youth movement. I bet on both the D-Backs and Indians to win the World Series in Vegas at 60/1 and 25/1, respectively. I like those odds.

Lose 10 more games: Twins. Johan and pray for rain isn't going to cut it this season, neither will their offense, although I like Torri Hunter in a walk year. I see 30-20 in his future.

Oh and I forgot the Cubs--they'll win about 86 ugly games this season at the very high cost of the massive sums of money they spent as well as their entire franchise's future for the next decade.

Who wants to buy this team?

Win 10 More Games and the NL West: The San Francisco Giants. Why? Just to piss off all the Bonds haters and yes Barry will get the record with 35 bombs.

Lose 10 More Games and last in the NL West: The Los Angeles Dodgers. Why? Schmidt and Kent will spend most of 2007 on the DL and are very likely to be joined by Nomar and Penny.

Win 10 more: Obviously the Cubs, but that's boring.

Indians: Pythagorean record.

Tampa Bay: young team taking steps in the right direction, definitely could do it.

Brewers: Same situation as Tampa. I see them challenging for the Central unless someone else really steps up.

D-Backs: Young offense with tons of potential. Might have the best rotation in the NL.

Braves: Should be back around 90 wins this year.

Red Sox: 96+ wins is very do-able for this team.

Marlins: Lots of variability, but they definitely could do it.

Lose 10 More: This one's harder.

Astros: Only team on this list I feel good about picking. Biggio is still eating a roster spot. Petitte is gone. Clemens is probably gone. Lee isn't that good.

Tigers: So much young pitching equals tons of injury potential. I wouldn't bet on this, but it's a definite possibility.

Dodgers: Best case scenario, all the vets get hurt and they are forced to use their farm. Otherwise, this team is a walking disaster.

Nationals: So, they were bad last year, but they are almost certainly going to be worse. The only question is how much worse.

Would Mark Cuban be a good Cubs Owner?

Yes and No. Yes because he would spend what it takes to win. No because he might get too involved ala Peter Angelos. Also, Selig would hate him and, although I'm not sure how important that is, it has to count for something.

Win 10 More: Indians
Why? They're too good not to win 10 more

Lose 10 More: Reds
Why? I am not crunching numbers at the moment, bu it seems like they relied on some over-achievers (Aurilia, Hatteberg) last season and really did nothing to drastically improve.

Win 10 More: Cubs
They may not be a contender yet, but how can they not win 10 more with the year they had and the improvements they made?

Lose 10 More: Nationals
Heck, their GM (I think it was) guaranteed that the 2007 Nats would be terrible. They've lost Soriano and Nick Johnson (to injury), and they still have no pitching.

1. Chicago Cubs: $300 million can surely buy you 10 more wins, but can it buy you a World Series ring? Not if you're cursed. Sorry Cubs.

2. Nationals: I hate to say it, but with only one starting pitcher heading into spring training and 30-some others auditioning for the other four spots, the Nats will be glad to wave goodbye to RFK after their 100-loss '07 season.

Bonus question: No, but they could use Dirk Nowitzki on the mound.

1. Cubs, they were so bad last year that they have to win 10 more.

2. Reds, the Central is improving faster than they are.

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Win 10 more--Royals and Indians

Lose 10 more--Red SOX--too easy here

Winners--Royals were so bad last year--they have added a solid #3 guy in Meche(lets not discuss his salary), a solid closer in Dotel, strengthened their middle relievrs and have added the #1 or #2 hitting prospect in Alex Gordon--they will easily win 10-15 more than last year, which may still eave them in last palce in the AL Central.

The Indians--they are just toogood all around!

The Red Sox--c'mom!!! They added a #1 pitcher who has never pitched in the major leagues(lets not talk about the #100M+ pay), they have another #1 who wants to be a US Senator--they have a closer--oh yeah, they DON'T have a closer!!-they have a RF who is a classic Boras guy--all talk and little production. 10 more losses is WAY too easy here.

Ten more:

Hard to forecast three teams in the same Division doing this, but am thinking that Cubs and Pirates and, possibly, Brewers. For that to happen of course, other clubs need to falter given un-balanced schedule.

Braves had 79 last year and to say ten more -- means they are in the hunt. I think they are in the hunt with a revamped BP and a very good offense. Starter uncertainity after JoSmo and TiHud may hurt this forecast.

I decline to forecast AL.

Ten losses --

Entriguing. JJ went to Astros, but I don't think they will be as good as last year ... so Astros will lose 10 games.

I have to also think the Mets -- given their current pitching staff -- will lose 10 more. In fact, would be quite surprised if they were any better than 3rd behind Phillies and Braves who I think will be the two dominant teams in the NL East. Mets fans -- Mets will score a passle of runs, and if they have a lead come the 6th or 7th inning, they will do quite well. The question will be relying on Oliver Perez and John Maine (who has a lot of potential) for #3 and #4 starters until Pedro returns. Also both #1 and #2 starters are in 40s and I have to think health MIGHT be a prospect here.

Lots of runs -- not sure about the starting pitching. Stud relief staff.

10 more wins: Cubs and Indians are obvious bets

10 more loss: this one is harder, i'll take Marlins and the Twins.

Win 10 more: Pirates or Brewers.

Lose 10 more: Reds.

The Cubs did not do enough to address their pitching problems to win 10 more games. They will finish 5th, ahead of the Reds.

Win 10 more: St. Louis. Duncan, Wainwright & Reyes are the real deal.

Lose 10 more: Houston. Lee, Ensberg & the bullpen are not.

Win Ten More: Mets, last year was just the beginning and though their starting rotation is ?able, i still think the offense will dominate and the Mets will make it to the world series and beat the crap out of the sucky yanks

Lose Ten More: Yankees, they suck