2011 MLB Season Preview: BSB-Style

(UPDATE:  BSB is about to begin the 2012 MLB Preview, so we figured it would be a good time to look back at the 2011 Preview in anticipation.  The individual previews were posted on 3/28.  The updates (underlined) were made after the regular season ended.)

With the end of a fantastic college basketball season this year imminent, it is time for Broad Street Believers to officially turn most of its attention squarely on the 2011 MLB season.  And, to kick off what might be a prolific season of baseball coverage, we will run our annual tradition of previewing the MLB season in a unique way you won’t find anywhere else.  We, here at BSB, like to have a little fun with everything and turn as many things as we can into competitions.  And, we found a way to preview various seasons in a competitive manner.  Over the next couple of days, Doogan and I will be “analyzing” all 30 Major League teams by trying to predict who is going to get better, who is going to get worse, and how confident we are in those assessments.  This is the fourth year we have done this for baseball, and Bry has actually won all three – the first two very narrowly, and then last year’s by an 18-12 score.  (You can check out last year’s final recap here.)  So, if you are interested in our picks, check back as we will conduct this “draft” live, with updates, well, whenever we do them until we have picked all 30 teams.  Doogan picked first last year, so Bry will kick off 2011 with the #1 draft pick…

FINAL RESULTS: show final record, winner of the pick.

1. BRY – Seattle Mariners – OVER 61 wins:
Doogan, judging by the trouble I had with #1, this year might be the most difficult yet.  Usually, there are at least 2 or 3 that are obvious right off the bat, but I am not 100% confident with my very first pick.  That being said, I cannot imagine how the Mariners will be worse than they were last year.  They do have talent and the reigning AL Cy Young Award winner, who is only getting better.  I don’t think they are anywhere near contenders, but they will not lose 100 games again.  Your move…

FINAL: 67-95
BRY leads 1-0
The M’s didn’t have a good year, by any stretch, but they did manage to avoid another 100-loss season and get Bry the first point.

2. DOOGAN – San Diego Padres – UNDER 90 wins:
Well, let’s see, nobody could figure out how the Padres won 90 games last year, and they traded away their only legitimate offensive threat, Adrian Gonzalez, in the offseason.  They also lost Jon Garland, who gave them a very solid season.  They could very easily lose 90 games this time around.

FINAL: 71-91
DOOGAN ties it up 1-1
Bry’s first pick was a bit of a sweat, but Doogan’s was drama-free, as the Pads were 19 games worse in 2011 than 2010.

3. DOOGAN – Milwaukee Brewers – OVER 77 wins:
Zach Greinke’s injury may give a moment’s pause here, but with him joining Yovani Gallardo, the also newly-acquired Shaun Marcum, and the still-steady Randy Wolf, the Brewers have one of the better rotations in the game.  The offense still has Prince Fielder, Ryan Braun, Corey Hart, and Rickie Weeks, and Takashi Saito has joined the pen.  In a weak division, they should be able to push for 90 wins.

FINAL: 96-66
DOOGAN leads 2-1
If his first two picks are any indication, Doogan is on point here, as the Brew Crew also wins the point for him with 19 games to spare.

4. BRY – Tampa Bay Rays – UNDER 96 wins:
I strongly considered San Diego with #1, so nice pick there.  I am going to go with Tampa here because 96 wins is a lot for anyone in any division, but this team did lose, arguably, its best offensive player, and most of its bullpen, and they still play in the AL East.  All that being said, I still think this is a very, very good team that could seriously contend because of their incredible pitching, but 96 wins is just too much.

FINAL: 91-71
BRY ties it up 2-2
The Rays made the playoffs with 91 wins, but it wasn’t enough to cost Bry the point.  Still “on serve” after 4 picks.

5. DOOGAN – Oakland A’s – OVER 81 wins:
They have a very promising young rotation with Brett Anderson, Trevor Cahill, Gio Gonzalez, and Dallas Braden, and they took a flier on their former young star, Rich Harden, who has maybe one more shot to get his career back on track.  They’ve made a couple nice additions to the bullpen with Brian Fuentes and Grant Balfour joining young closer Andrew Bailey.  They may still struggle to score runs, but newcomers Hideki Matsui, David DeJesus, and Josh Willingham will certainly help.  They can definitely contend in the underwhelming AL West and win 90 games.

FINAL: 74-88 – WRONG
BRY takes the lead 3-2
The first “break” of the game goes to Bry, as Doogan thought the A’s would be above .500.

6. BRY – Pittsburgh Pirates – OVER 57 wins:
If I had to bet on a team to be the worst in baseball, I would absolutely bet on the Pirates.  But, I also find it really hard to believe that in a National League that is very short on great teams will give us any team that loses 105 games again.  Again, if anyone can do it, it would be the Pirates because they have been terrible for so long and haven’t really added anything to make us think they won’t, but young’ins like Andrew McCutcheon and Pedro Alvarez have to improve a little bit, right?  Maybe?

FINAL: 72-90
BRY leads 4-2
This point was probably won in July, as the Pirates improved by 15 games in 2011.

7. DOOGAN – New York Mets – UNDER 79 wins:
You definitely stole my next pick with there with the Buccos, and that’s the end of the gimmes, in my mind.  Considering the new regime in Queens and the whole Madoff situation with the owners, I really see this season being the end of an era and the Mets trading away guys like Carlos Beltran and Jose Reyes in July.  I mean, by that point they’ll be, what, 20 games behind the Phils?

FINAL: 77-85
DOOGAN trails 4-3
In a point that was more dramatic than it may seem, it remains difficult to believe that the 2011 Mets won 77 games, but they did – it just wasn’t enough to cost Doogan the point.

8. BRY – New York Yankees – UNDER 95 wins:
Since we’re in the Big Apple, let’s just head over to the other Borough and pick against them too, while we’re at it.  I know that this team always wins and almost assuredly will end the season with at least one or two more major pieces than they started it with, but I really can’t find 95 wins on this roster – particularly, this pitching staff.  With Andy Pettitte retiring, the Bombers are all of a sudden counting on A.J. Burnett as their #2 starter?  That’s incredibly scary.  Maybe Phil Hughes progresses even more, but still do they win 95 games when Freddy Garcia and Ivan Nova are starting 30-40% of their games?  Yes, in true Yankees fashion, they added the best closer on the market – Rafael Soriano – to be a handsomely paid setup man, but the rest of the bullpen is somewhat shaky, and there will be a time when Mariano is just too old to keep getting it done.  And, speaking of old – have you seen the left side of the infield?  All of a sudden two of the best players of my lifetime look like they’re ready to become the centerpieces of the “stories of my youth.”  I do think Robinson Cano is one of the best players in the game, but I don’t see 95 wins in the Bronx this year.

FINAL: 97-65 – WRONG
DOOGAN ties it up 4-4
Bry’s first misstep comes at #8 with the Yanks.  They actually got 2 games better in 2011, despite injury-riddled seasons from A-Rod and Jeter and a no-show from AJ Burnett.  Curtis Granderson is probably to blame for the improvement of the Bombers this year.

9. DOOGAN – Boston Red Sox – OVER 89 wins:
Well, if the Yanks and Rays are both going under, then those AL East wins have to go somewhere, and the Sox look to be in a great position to take them.  They had a ton of injuries last year, and I see improved seasons coming from Josh Beckett and John Lackey behind Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz in the rotation.  And I haven’t even mentioned the two massive additions to the line-up, Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford.  Add in a couple bullpen reinforcements in Bobby Jenks and Dennys Reyes, and this is team is the clear favorite to win the best division in baseball.  That means 96-97 wins.

FINAL: 90-72
DOOGAN takes the lead 5-4
Most people will remember the Red Sox losing game #162 as a devastating loss, little does everyone realize that they didn’t need that 91st win.  Doogan had already hit his Over with their 90th win.  Much ado about nothing…

10. BRY – Baltimore Orioles – OVER 66 wins:
Ya, that was my next pick as well, but I’ll stay here in the AL East.  Trivia question:  If we split last year into two 81-game seasons, who would have won the AL East in that second season?  Answer:  The Baltimore Orioles.  That’s right, the Orioles had a better record than the Yankees, Red Sox, Rays, and Blue Jays in the final 81 games.  Now, I am not at all implying they are contenders for the title this year, but I think they will be a lot better than the 96 losses they had last year.  They have Showalter for a full year, and I actually kind of like the additions of J.J. Hardy, Mark Reynolds, Derrek Lee, and Vlad Guerrero.  Plus, guys like Matt Wieters and Adam Jones are a year older, and guys in the rotation like Brian Matusz, Brad Bergesen, and Jake Arrieta have another year under their belts.

FINAL: 69-93
BRY ties it up 5-5
While the O’s may not have “taken the next step” in 2011, they did improve by 3 games – which is enough to get Bry the point here at #10.

11. DOOGAN – Detroit Tigers – OVER 81 wins:
This is a slightly scary pick because there are a lot of “ifs” that need to turn out on the positive side, but there’s a lot of talent on this roster.  The most important “if”: IF Miguel Cabrera can keep himself alive and out of trouble, he should team with Victor Martinez in the middle of a solid line-up that also features young outfielders Austin Jackson, Ryan Raburn, and Brennan Boesch.  I think Rick Porcello will bounce back with a solid year, joining ace Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer at the front of the rotation.  And Jose Valverde and Joaquin Benoit will form a dependable back-end of the bullpen.

FINAL: 95-67
DOOGAN takes the lead 6-5
A stress-free point for Doogan at #11, as the Tigers were 14 games better in 2011 than the 2010 version.

12. BRY – Toronto Blue Jays – UNDER 85 wins:
This might be odd to talk about the Blue Jays regressing because they seem to a team moving in the right direction, in a weird way, but I just don’t see 85 wins of talent on this roster, especially in the AL East.  They had a slew of career years offensively last year (Jose Bautista comes to mind), so even with the normal regression to the mean for these guys, you have to expect that they will not hit 250 home runs again or score close to 800 runs again.  Plus, as bad as a contract as Vernon Wells had and as great as it was for the future of the team to move him, his loss will be felt in the short-term.  I like the depth of their pitching staff, but it’s just a collection of decent #3’s.  Put me down as surprised if this team goes .500 and pretty sure they won’t hit 85 wins again.

FINAL: 81-81
BRY ties it up 6-6
A decent Blue Jays team was only good enough to go .500 in the brutal AL East, which means Bry takes the point and stays on serve.

13. DOOGAN – Arizona Diamondbacks – OVER 65 wins:
Not gonna lie, it took me a while to find a next pick.  In the end, I’m going with one of the lower numbers out there.  I don’t think this will be a good team.  They don’t really have any stars that can carry them, but I do think they have enough to get into the 70’s in wins.  Daniel Hudson, Ian Kennedy, Joe Saunders, and Armando Galarraga are guys that have gotten it done in the bigs for various lengths of time.  The “future stars” on offense that look like they’ll never quite make it (Chris Young, Stephen Drew, maybe even Justin Upton) are at least solidly productive.  The weak bullpen could be what really derails them, but 70 wins isn’t too much to ask for.

FINAL: 94-68
DOOGAN takes the lead 7-6
The second-best pick of the whole thing comes at #13, as Doogan wins this one by almost 30 wins – wow!

14. BRY – Minnesota Twins – UNDER 94 wins:
Ya, it’s getting real tough already.  Not sure how the rest of these picks are gonna go.  And, as evidence for the difficulty, I have to go against a team that always seems to overachieve.  But, 94 wins is a lot of wins.  I know that they played most of the second half without their second-best player in Justin Morneau.  I know that they played the whole season without their star closer, Joe Nathan.  And, I know that they won 94 games last year, despite all of that.  But, I just think that they may have overachieved a little too much last year.  I could easily see them at 90-92 this year and winning the division again, but I just think 94 is a big number.

FINAL: 63-99
BRY ties it up 7-7
The second-best pick is followed up by the best pick in this middle section of the draw, as the Twins were an ungodly 31 games worse than they were in 2010.

15. DOOGAN – Los Angeles Angels – OVER 80 wins:
The Angels have taken a bunch of steps back over the last couple years, but they still have two really important things going for them:  starting pitching and money.  Jered Weaver and Dan Haren are a great 1-2 combo at the front of the rotation, and Ervin Santana and Joel Pineiro are solid veterans.  The underwhelming offense is relying on three over-the-hill outfielders (Torii Hunter, Bobby Abreu, and Vernon Wells) and the once-great bullpen has been largely gutted, but the starting pitching should help make them decent, and they have the money to add payroll mid-season and make a push in a winnable AL West.

FINAL: 86-76
DOOGAN takes the lead 8-7
These guys are good, as halfway through, there have only been 2 incorrect picks out of 15.  Doogan hits this one with 6 games to spare.

16. BRY – Kansas City Royals – OVER 67 wins:
I think I end up taking the Royals and the OVER every year, so why not get it over with now?  By almost all accounts, this team has the best farm system in all of baseball and it seems like many of these guys are just about ready to contribute on the ML level – at least by July or so.  I don’t think this team will compete this year – or even next – and they did lose their only real star in Zack Greinke in the offseason, but I can see this team getting real feisty in the second half and winning 35-40 games in the second half.  So, if they can just be not awful in the first half (which is no lock, by any means), then I think they’ll be hitting the almighty 70-win mark.  Then again, this may be really stupid, considering their rotation consists of Luke Hochevar, Jeff Francis, Kyle Davies, the immortal Bruce Chen, and a 5th starter-to-be-named-later.  Ugh…what did I just do?

FINAL: 71-91
BRY ties it up 8-8
The youthful Royals are going to be the trendy pick to win the Central for the next decade, but we’ll see if it ever happens.  Hey, they improved by FOUR whole games in 2011…Yankees watch out.

17. DOOGAN – Texas Rangers – UNDER 90 wins:
It’s hard not to like the direction this franchise is heading in, but I’ve already gone OVER on the A’s and Angels, so that would put the Rangers in a tough spot.  They also won’t get two months from a certain guy named Cliff Lee.  I feel like they’ll find a way to have a decent rotation, but C.J. Wilson as your Opening Day starter isn’t a great sign.  Adrian Beltre is a nice replacement for Vlad Guerrero in the line-up, but with him joining Josh Hamilton and Nelson Cruz, the team’s three best hitters are all injury-prone, which could certainly come back to haunt them. 

FINAL: 96-66 – WRONG
BRY takes the lead 9-8
The streak of 8 straight correct picks is finished, as Doogan gets burned by another great year in Arlington.

18. BRY – Colorado Rockies – OVER 83 wins:
I have been resoundingly critical of this Colorado team for a couple years now.  I could never really understand how they were any good at all with an aging Todd Helton and heavily struggling guys like Garret Atkins and Brad Hawpe in the lineup every day.  Plus, their leadoff hitter was Dexter Fowler, who almost never got on base.  But, I have come around on this team, particularly because of three guys (who are pretty obvious these days) – Ubaldo Jimenez, Troy Tulowitzki, and Carlos Gonzalez.  When you have a true #1 pitcher, an elite shortstop, and one of the best rising offensive stars in the game, you do not have all that much more building that needs to be done.  Plus, I like Jorge De La Rosa as a #2 and I think Huston Street is an underrated closer (when healthy).  I still don’t see this team as a pennant contender, but I can easily see them winning 85+ games in a mediocre division.

FINAL: 73-89 – WRONG
DOOGAN ties it up 9-9
Bry’s lead doesn’t last long, as he missed badly on the Rox in 2011.

19. DOOGAN – Houston Astros – UNDER 76 wins:
A mediocre rotation, a bad bullpen, and a line-up that really struggles to score.  Ladies and gentlemen, Ed Wade in action!  This team was lucky to win 76 last year.  They’ll be lucky to win 70 without any help from Mr. Roy Oswalt

FINAL: 56-106
DOOGAN takes the lead 10-9
Did they really lose 106 games???  Ouch…

20. BRY – Los Angeles Dodgers – OVER 80 wins:
Clayton Kershaw may be on the verge of being an elite starting pitcher.  If Chad Billingsley ever finds it again, he could be a solid #2; Ted Lilly is already a solid #3; and, you can do a lot worse than Hiroki Kuroda and Jon Garland as your #4-5.  Plus, the bullpen is still very good, anchored by closer Jonathan Broxton.  All of those parts add up to a really solid all-around pitching staff and when your pitching staff is solid, you have a really good chance to win more games than you lose.  And, it’s not like this offense is terrible.  Andre Ethier is not nearly as good as many people may think, but he’s solid.  Matt Kemp is not even close to as good as he probably should be, but he is immensely talented.  Rafael Furcal and James Loney are solid pieces.  This team is probably no better than a third-place team right now, but they could add a piece or two if they figure out their finances.  I wouldn’t be surprised with pretty much any result between 75 and 90, but I think the chances are better they’re over 80 than under it.

FINAL: 82-79
BRY ties it up 10-10
By the skin of his teeth, Bry avoids back-to-back misses, as the Dodgers and Matt Kemp managed a 2-win improvement in 2011.

21. DOOGAN – St. Louis Cardinals – UNDER 86 wins:
Argh, you definitely stole my next one with the Dodgers.  I hate betting against this Cardinal team, but losing Adam Wainwright for the season is a massive blow.  And I’m usually not one to buy into “distractions” affecting a team that much, but this Pujols contract situation is such a dark cloud hanging over this Cardinal season that its hard for me to see it not having a negative impact on just about everyone in the organization.  Also, isn’t about time this “Ryan Franklin as competent closer” phenomenon came to an end?

FINAL: 90-72 – WRONG
BRY takes the lead 11-10
This one burns…what I wouldn’t give for Doogan to have been right about this one.  Then again, at least he didn’t pick…

22 BRY – Philadelphia Phillies – UNDER 97 wins:
Okay, I’ve put this off long enough for six reasons:  (1) I have a hard time picking the Phillies and the Under, in general; (2) I’ve thought about picking them and the Under for the last couple years and I always talk myself into the Over and end up getting rewarded; (3) Roy Halladay; (4) Cliff Lee; (5) Cole Hamels; (6) Roy Oswalt.  It is hard to believe that the best pitching staff of all-time won’t win 97 games, but I’m a little worried.  Let’s do some math, by the dozen:  I think that even these 4 great pitchers will probably throw out 3-4 “off days” a year, so say that’s approximately a dozen losses from them.  Without Brad Lidge, I think that the bullpen could blow at least a dozen leads.  There will probably be 20-30 games with these starters lead tied.  If the Phils win about half of them, that’s another dozen losses.  A non-stud starter will get at least 30-40 starts, so say that’s another dozen losses, at least.  And, there will probably be another dozen losses when the offense just doesn’t do anything (especially without Utley) and Halladay loses 2-1 or 1-0.  So, that is, by my count, six dozen losses…or about 90 wins.  Honestly, I would definitely take the Over on 90, but I think I have go with the Under on 97.

FINAL: 102-60 – WRONG
DOOGAN ties it up 11-11
The best team in the history of the Philadelphia Phillies, and Bry went with the Under – he was unavailable for comment on this one…

23. DOOGAN – Chicago Cubs – OVER 75 wins:
I was gonna go Over on the Phils at some point.  Boo to you, Bry.  As for the Cubbies, it must make their fans sick to see some of these contracts.  This year they’re paying $19 mil. each to Soriano and Zambrano, $17 mil. to Aramis Ramirez, and $14 mil. to Kosuke Fukudome.  Anyway, it looks like they have a .500 team.  Zambrano, Dempster, and Matt Garza is a serviceable trio of starters and Kerry Wood returns to join Carlos Marmol at the back of the pen.  The offense definitely doesn’t thrill you but, again, not terrible.  111 years and counting for the North Siders.

FINAL: 71-91 – WRONG
BRY takes the lead 12-11
The Cubbies are in trouble, as a franchise.  A winnable division, a huge payroll, and 71 wins?  That’s, uh, not very good.  Bry takes the lead back, as the guys are starting to struggle here down the stretch.

24. BRY – Florida Marlins – OVER 80 wins:
Ya, I’m not a fan of my last pick, either, Doogan.  The good news is – if I had to pick one team that I think has the best chance to win the World Series, it would be the Phils because I think that 97 wins or not, they are going to the playoffs and once they get there, with that rotation – watch out.  Anyway, this paragraph isn’t supposed to be about the Phils.  It’s getting pretty tough here with these last couple, but I’ll go with the Fish and their youngsters to at least go .500.  When you have a top 5 starting pitcher and a top 5 shortstop, you should win a lot of games.  Plus, the rest of the rotation is decent and they always have good young talent on the way.

FINAL: 72-90 – WRONG
DOOGAN ties it up 12-12
The 4th straight incorrect pick gives us another tie here after 24 picks.  It’s hard to imagine that this Marlins team was a last-place team in 2011, but it’s true.

25. DOOGAN – Cincinnati Reds – UNDER 91 wins:
Even though, in a lot of ways, this is an up-and-coming team, they look more likely to take a step back this year.  Is Joey Votto really going to repeat as MVP?  Also, even though they have a bunch of decent arms in the rotation, none of them can be considered a sure thing, especially with two of them (Cueto and Bailey) starting the year on the DL.  Aroldis Chapman might turn into a beast in the pen, but they have a bunch of relievers that had really good years last year who could easily be very average this year.  The good news for them is that 87 wins could definitely take the division title again.

FINAL: 79-83
DOOGAN takes the lead 13-12
To get an easy point at #25 is always a welcome relief, but after 4 straight incorrect picks, this one feels pretty important for Doogan’s chances at winning the MLB Preview for the first time.

26. BRY – Chicago White Sox – OVER 88 wins:
The remaining picks are really, really tough, but the Ozzie Guillen/Ken Williams Era has been very underrated on the South Side, so I’ll go with the ChiSox.  This team is always competitive and they always seem to make a big move if they need it.  And, I think that they are arguably the best team in this decent division, which usually leads to 90+ wins.  I really like the Adam Dunn signing and the Paul Konerko re-signing.  And, even though Jake Peavy will start the season on the DL, if they can get anything close to the Peavy of old, this staff could be excellent with Mark Buerhle, John Danks, Gavin Floyd, and Edwin Jackson.  We could even see breakout performances from guys like Gordan Beckham or Alexei Ramirez.

FINAL: 79-83 – WRONG
DOOGAN leads 14-12
Yet another bad pick by Bry, as he is fading quickly down the stretch here – Doogan’s magic number is 2.

27. DOOGAN – San Francisco Giants – UNDER 92 wins:
As good as their starting pitching is, it’s pretty hard to see it getting better.  On the other hand, they’ll continue to struggle to score runs, and it’s easy to see Aubrey Huff, Pat Burrell, and Andres Torres dropping their production level of last year.  They’re hoping rookie first baseman Brandon Belt will help with run production.  This also a brutal defensive team, with Burrell in left, 37-year-old Miguel Tejada at short, Pablo Sandoval at third, and Huff moving to right field to make room for Belt.  Throw in Brian Wilson starting the year on the DL, and I like the Under here.

FINAL: 86-76
DOOGAN leads 15-12 (clinches at least a tie)
A great call by Doogan here at #27 to pick against the defending champs has put him on the verge of the 2011 title.

28. BRY – Washington Nationals – OVER 69 wins:
I have put off this pick for a while now because, while I think they have to be getting better (right?), they really have no starting pitching.  And, we all know that Strasburg is out with an injury, and Jordan Zimmerman may not be ready for The Show quite yet.  But, they do have the most underrated player in the game (Ryan Zimmerman) and they added some guy named Jayson Werth.  I think they’re probably more likely to hit 65 than 75, but I still think that they’re probably around 72 or so, so I’ll take the Over – barely.

FINAL: 80-81
BRY trails 15-13
The champagne will have to stay “on ice,” as Bry cruises to an easy point here, with the Nats nearly playing .500 ball in 2011.

29. DOOGAN – Cleveland Indians – UNDER 69 wins:
I stayed away from this pick for so long because the Indians have a lot of guys that could either way: pretty good or really bad.  The offense has the potential to be average (that’s about it though), but the pitching has the potential to be epically bad (which they showed when the first two starters combined to give up 17 runs in the first two games of the year).  In a pretty tough division with three good teams to play 18 times each, it’s likely to be another long year in Cleveland.

FINAL: 80-82
BRY trails 15-14
Doogan misses another chance to clinch the title, as the Indians (despite playing about .300 baseball in the second half) had a good enough first half to nearly finish .500.

30. BRY – Atlanta Braves – UNDER 91 wins:
After taking the Phils and the Under, I had a feeling that Doogan would set me up here to be the ultimate “bad guy” with a Braves and Over pick.  But, in true stubborn fashion, I refuse.  Give me the Under.  I do like this Braves team, but I think that they are getting way too much love from the national pundits.  Their starting rotation is good, on paper, and very deep, but Derek Lowe and Tim Hudson are another year older.  Jair Jurrjens and Kris Medlin have never proven they can stay healthy for a full year, and Tommy Hanson, Brandon Beachy, and Mike Minor still have a lot more to prove in the bigs.  And, on offense, everyone is talking about how great this offense is and I just don’t get it.  This is the first four in their order:  Martin Prado, Nate McClouth, a 39-year old Chipper Jones, and Dan Uggla.  Is that the first four of a title contender?  No way.  Jason Hayward is a stud, but does that mean that Freddie Freeman is too?  Plus, they lost Billy Wagner and are now counting on a couple of really young relievers in Johnny Venters and Craig Kimbrel at the back of the ‘pen.  But, despite all of what I just said, I would absolutely have picked this team for the Over and possibly thought they had a shot in the NL East, if not for one thing – the best manager of our generation is no longer calling the shots.  It’s hard to quantify what Bobby Cox did for that clubhouse, but I can say that, regardless of his replacement, they have downgraded.  Give me the Under in Atlanta and a fifth straight NL East title for the Phightin’ Phils!

FINAL: 89-73
BRY ties it up 15-15
Three straight wins for the Phils against the Braves to close out the season gives Bry three straight points to close out the Preview, and we’ve got ourselves a flat-footed tie, folks.  And, for the first time in our four-year history, we have to go to the tie-breaker (win differential).

TIEBREAKER:
DOOGAN – 96
BRY – 49

Doogan takes the 2011 MLB Preview Title in a Tiebreaker, 96-49.