BSB’s 2009 MLB Preview Challenge (Final Results)

So, we are on the doorstep of another season.  A season in which the Phillies are going to try and DEFEND THEIR WORLD SERIES TITLE!!!  Oh, if no one realized, the Phillies did win the World Series last year.  Just wanted to remind everyone.  Anyway, we, here at BSB, like to preview sports seasons in a bit of a different way.  If you want to see how it works, check out last year’s MLB preview.

UPDATE:  Now that we are at the proverbial “halfway” point of the season, it is time to update the BSB baseball preview to see who is doing a better job so far.  The underlined italics are the updates.  The scores at the end of each update show the points (as they stand now) and then in parentheses are the “solid” points–ones that almost definitely will not be changing.

FINAL:  Okay, it is time to catch up on the results of the Second Annual BSB MLB Preview Challenge.  Bry won last year’s MLB Preview Challenge 17-13, but Doogan held a close 16-14 lead in this one at the halfway point.  It is important for Bry to comeback here because Doogan won the Inaugural BSB NFL Preview Challenge, and he also led this year’s NFL version at the halfway point.  Bry won the only NBA version that BSB has done.  So, let’s get on to the final tally for the Second Annual (2009 edition) BSB MLB Preview Challenge.  The Final Updates will be in bold, so you can skip down to the bold parts, if you just want the final updates.

Anyway, without any further ado, Bry will kick off the 2009 BSB MLB Preview with the first pick:

BRY 1. Tampa Bay Rays UNDER 97 wins:  My first selection last year was the Rays and the OVER of 66 wins.  That worked out, well, pretty well for me, so I figure I’ll make them my first pick again this year.  I know that it’s generally a bad idea to pick the UNDER on a team of all young players that is bringing back the same team as last year, but 97 is just a whole lot of wins in this killer division.  Plus, they were the darlings of the MLB season last year; they didn’t face pressure until September and October.  Now, they are the hunted.  Not to mention all the talent added by the Yankees this year and an Orioles team that may not be a doormat this year (okay, maybe I listen to too much Baltimore sports talk radio).  And, the Red Sox still have the best front-end starting rotation in baseball.  I’m not saying that the Rays won’t go back to the playoffs.  I’m not even saying they won’t repeat as AL champs.  All I’m saying is that they will not win 97 regular season games again this year.

UPDATE:  This looked like an easy win at #1 for Bry when the Rays got off to a very slow start.  But, they have started playing really well again and are clearly in the hunt for the AL East.  Currently, they are only on pace for 87 wins, but considering their start, 98 is not out of the question at all.  Losing the #1 pick would be a bad start for Bry, especially coming off a defeat in the NFL Preview.  But, as it stands now, we will give Bry the point, but not a solid one.
BRY 1(0) – DOOGAN 0(0)

POINT:  BRY (1-0)
Bry gets the first pick correct, as the Rays do finish above .500, but not by much (84-78).  Maybe it was Pat Burrell…  This should be an interesting mid-round pick next year because who knows where this team goes from here.

DOOGAN 2. Atlanta Braves- OVER 72 wins:  I’m not as high on this team as some out there and I don’t think they’ll hang with the Phils and Mets, but they are definitely better than a 72 win team.  They have two workhorses, Derek Lowe and Javier Vazquez, joining the rotation and two potential Rookie of the Year candidates in CF Jordan Schafer and SP Tommy Hanson, who will be up later in the season.  They should be good for at least a 10-win improvement.

UPDATE:  The Braves have hovered around .500 most of the season and enter the All-Star Break two games under.  This puts them on a pace to win 79.  This is a decent cushion for Doogan’s pick, but is certainly not completely comfortable.  We will give a tenative point to Doogan here.
DOOGAN 1(0) – BRY 1(0)

A great second-half for the Braves is scary for the Phils heading into 2010, but it is good for Doogan, as he actually gets this pick easily, even though it looked shaky for a while.  The Braves were actually alive for the playoffs until the final week, finishing with 86 wins.  We will see how this team shapes up for 2010, but I would say that they certainly won’t be a top 2 pick again next year.  That 86 number looks pretty tough to work with.

DOOGAN 3. Los Angeles Angels- UNDER 100 wins: I think I went Under on the Angels last season and got burned, but I’m going for it again.  They’ve lost Mark Teixeira, Garrett Anderson, and Francisco Rodriguez, but the bigger problem is that their top FOUR starters are all beginning the season on the DL.  Granted, all four are expected back within 4-6 weeks, but who knows how these injuries could linger, and even if they’re all good to go by mid-May, the team will still be well behind in their quest to hit another 100-win season.

UPDATE:  This is another one that looked good at the beginning of the season, but is not nearly as comfortable now.  The Angels have recovered from tragedy and injuries to lead the AL West by a game and a half.  They are on pace for 92 wins, which would give Doogan the point here, but it is not comfortable, especially considering how well they are playing.
DOOGAN 2(0) – BRY 1(0)

Doogan nails his first two picks, but this one got a bit scary at the end.  The Angels actually finished with the second-best record in baseball, with 97 wins.  Had they not started so slowly, they certainly would have hit the 100-mark again.  With the 97 on the board for next year, it should be interesting to see how high they go in next year’s Challenge.

BRY 4. Toronto Blue Jays – UNDER 86 wins:  Sticking in the AL East, the Blue Jays better decide quickly whether they can contend in this division or whether they are rebuilding.  Honestly, it seems like an easy decision.  Roy Halladay may even be the big deadline acquisition, as I don’t see this team finishing above .500.

UPDATE:  Yet another one that reminds us that the season is a marathon, not a sprint.  The Blue Jays were one of the best teams in baseball in the beginning of the year, but they are at the All-Star Break two games under .500.  Plus, with the impending trade of Halladay to the Phillies, it is likely that this team continues to slide.  Because they are currently on pace for 78 wins and fading fast, this one is probably pretty comfortable for Bry.
BRY 2(1) – DOOGAN 2(0)

POINT:  BRY (2-2)
The Jays looked real good early, but their lack of talent and heart (Scott Rolen) caught up to them in a tough division, as they finished with a disappointing 75 wins.  I’m guessing the Jays will get an Under pick next year, especially if they jettison Halladay before the season, but just how quickly will one of us take a shot at a 75 number that’s kind of low for an Under.

DOOGAN 5. San Francisco Giants – OVER 72 wins:  This team has too much starting pitching to lose 90 games again.  Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain are young stars, Jonathan Sanchez is a star in the making, and Randy Johnson actually pitched really well in the second half of last season and should be able to help this team.  Also, the offense should be improved, led by rookie 3B Pablo Sandoval, who’s been getting a lot of hype after hitting .345 as a late-season call-up in ’08 and tearing up the Cactus League this spring.

UPDATE:  A great pick by Doogan here, saying that they have “too much pitching to lose 90 games again.”  Well, it seems like they might have enough to WIN 90, as that the number for which they are on pace.  If the season ended today, the Giants would play the Phillies in the NLDS.  If that happens, do we see an All-Star rematch in Game 1, Lincecum vs. Halladay?  And, then Cain versus Hamels in Game 2?  Let us hope, as Phillies fans, that the Giants fall apart and we don’t have to face those two in a five-game series.  Either way, this looks like a very solid point for Doogan.
DOOGAN 3(1) – BRY 2(1)

The Giants may have been the surprise of the season, as they improved by 16 games this year with 88 wins.  Doogan nails this pick, and we are a collective 5-for-5 so far.  Can they continue their uptick next year?  That 88 number might be tough.

BRY 6. Chicago White Sox – UNDER 89 wins:  Nice pick on the Giants, Doogan.  I am going to go against a team that I ALWAYS underestimate, so I’ll probably get this one wrong.  But, honestly, does anyone see 90 wins on the South Side?  Anyone?  I sure don’t.  I love Quentin and Alexi Ramirez, but the rest of the lineup is mediocre, the starting pitching is paper-thin, and Ozzie is a time bomb.  They’ll probably be around .500, but I’d be less surprised to see 90 losses than 90 wins.

UPDATE:  Yet another pick that looked good early, but may have the ‘picker’ sweating down the stretch.  The White Sox started very slowly, but have recovered and are over .500 at the All-Star Break.  They are on pace for only 83 wins–a 5-win cushion for Bry–but have been hot lately.  We will give this one to Bry, but not comfortably.
BRY 3(1) – DOOGAN 3(1)

POINT:  BRY (3-3)
Six in a row for the BSB’ers, as Bry nails this one.  The White Sox won just 79 games this year, despite making aggressive moves at the deadline.  You gotta think that the 79 number will force an Over pick for next year, but who knows?  And, just how high will they go?

DOOGAN 7. Chicago Cubs – UNDER 97 wins:  I’ll take the Under on the Windy City’s other team, mostly just because there is so much parity in baseball over the last couple years, and I think taking the under on a number as high as 97 is usually a good bet.  As for actual reasons, I think Ryan Dempster will come back down to Earth after an All-Star season, they lost Kerry Wood from the pen, and they have some injury-prone guys, like Rich Harden and Milton Bradley, playing key roles.

UPDATE:  This is a great pick by Doogan, and he should win this point comfortably, even though it is expected that the Cubs will have a much better second-half than their first.  But, this .500 team at the All-Star Break will not win 97 games (it has probably never happened).  Point, Doogan, comfortably.
DOOGAN 4(2) – BRY 3(1)

An easy win for Doogan, as he makes a great pick at #7 here.  The Cubs didn’t even come close to the 97 wins they had a year ago.  Though, it may be surprising to know that they did finish above .500 (83-79), but it was a bad year for the North Siders.  So, 83 is the number for next year.  Should be interesting to see how quickly that comes off the board.  I’m guessing it will have a lot to do with what the Cubbies do this offseason.

BRY 8. Houston Astros – UNDER 86 wins:  I mean anything can happen with Ed Wade at the helm…and by “anything” I mean “maybe 100 losses.”  I don’t think they will be that bad, but I also don’t think they’ll be anywhere near 86 wins.  This team screams 75-80 wins and are probably more likely to be worse than that than better.  I definitely don’t see them contending in an improved division.  Plus if they didn’t have that red-hot September last year, they were heading for 86 losses…and they haven’t gotten any better.

UPDATE:  I wonder what odds I would have been given at the beginning of the year for the Astros and Cubs to be tied at the All-Star Break.  The ‘Stros are hanging tough–I have NO idea how–in a pretty good division.  They are .500 at the Break, so they are not on pace to cost Bry this pick, but they are certainly going to make it interesting down the stretch.
BRY 4(1) – DOOGAN 4(2)

POINT:  BRY (4-4)
The ‘Stros fell apart in the second half, finishing only ahead of the Pirates in the NL Central, with 74 wins.  This team is just incredibly flawed, and Ed Wade is not exactly the man to fix it.  74 is probably a going to be a rough number to handle next year because they probably won’t be much worse, but can you really justify an Over pick on the Astros?

DOOGAN 9. Milwaukee Brewers – UNDER 90 wins:  They should get a full year out of Yovani Gallardo, but CC Sabathia and Ben Sheets gave them 330 innings last year, so I don’t see how they lose that and get better.  Preseason injuries to Ryan Braun and Trevor Hoffman don’t help the outlook.  I’ll give them 83-85 wins.

UPDATE:  Doogan’s prediction:  “83-85 wins.”  The Brewers pace at The Break:  83 wins.  Wow!  Considering how deft of a prediction that was and the fact that the Brew Crew do not look like they are going to be able to “buy,” Doogan should be okay with this pick.  However, it is not completely comfortable because they have shown signs of being a solid team, who is capable of getting hot.  They only need to go 45-29 (a little over .600) the rest of the way to cost Doogan this point.
DOOGAN 5(2) – BRY 4(1)

Nine in a row for the BSB’ers.  Doogan’s prediction of 83-85 wins was right on target in the first half, but just missed after a lesser second half for the Brew Crew, as they finished with 80 wins on the season.  This might be one of the higher picks for next year because this is a talented club that should be over .500.

BRY 10. Oakland A’s – OVER 74 wins:  I think the difficulty just went up a notch here, so I’m going to go with the “experts” on this one who believe that the A’s might actually contend in the AL West.  Honestly, I’m not really sold on this team competing, but I do think that they should be around .500.  They added Holliday and Giambi and have a bunch of good, young arms.  Plus, it seems like the ownership might be getting a bit antsy to return to the playoffs, so they might open the checkbooks a bit.  I don’t see this team challenging Anaheim, but I do think that they should be somewhere in the 80-85 win total.

UPDATE:  Well, the experts look wrong about this one.  And, with that, we have are first pick (9 picks in–that is pretty good) that is looking like it will be wrong.  Though, it is certainly not a done deal, as the A’s are on pace for 70 wins, which would only be 5 shy of what Bry needs to pick up the point.  But, there is really nothing that is going to change about this team that will help them–any change could only hurt (selling off veterans, like Holliday).  Doogan will get this one, for now, but not comfortably.
DOOGAN 6(2) – BRY 4(1)

POINT:  BRY (5-5)
Wow, by the skin of his teeth, Bry avoids the first “break” of the match here, as the BSB’ers have now hit 10 in a row.  The A’s, who were on pace for 70 wins at the All-Star Break, finish with 75–ONE better than last year’s total, thus getting the Over for Bry.  This will be another tough number next year because the A’s have proven, now for two years in a row, that they are about a 75-win team.

DOOGAN 11. Washington Nationals – OVER 59 wins:  OK, time for some back-handed compliments.  They do actually have three fairly capable guys in the rotation, plus a promising rookie in Jordan Zimmermann.  Adam Dunn finally gives them a legitimate power hitter, and they could get better seasons from Ryan Zimmerman and Nick Johnson.  65 wins doesn’t seem out of the question.

UPDATE:  It is the All-Star Break, the Nationals have played 87 games and they have already cruised past the SIXTY loss total.  They are an abysmal 26-61 at The Break, which is on pace for 48 wins.  To hit the 60 that Doogan needs, they would have to go 34-41 the rest of the way…not likely.  This one is going to Bry, rather comfortably.
BRY 5(2) – DOOGAN 6(2)

POINT:   BRY (6-5)
And, with that, we have our first “break,” as Doogan gets the Nats pick wrong…by the SLIMMEST of margins.  The Natinals were a lot better in the second half, going 32-45 after the All-Star Break, but they needed to go 33-44 to get this for Doogan.  Our tiebreakers always go against the picker, and the Natinals hit their number exactly, so Doogan loses the point.  We will see if someone takes the Over bait on 59 again next year.

BRY 12. Los Angeles Dodgers – OVER 84 wins:  This is tough because I do not really trust their pitching staff (rotation or bullpen), in any way.  But, there are chances that Jason Schmidt returns, Chad Billingsley breaks out, Clayton Kershaw emerges, and Hideki Kuroda establishes himself.  And then there is the great Randy Wolf.  If any of those things happens, this lineup should easily hit the Dodgers to the NL West title because it is STACKED.  A full year of Manny and the addition of a completely overlooked Orlando Hudson should make this offense (ripe with young talent just begging to explode) very, very tough to handle.  Casey Blake is projected to hit 8th…wow!  This looks like a 100-win offense and an 80-win pitching staff, so I’ll split the difference, give them 90 wins, and take the OVER.

UPDATE:  This is probably the most comfortable pick of the whole contest.  The Dodgers are on pace for 103 wins, 18 more than Bry needs for this point.  Hopefully, they will clinch in early September and then, a la the Anaheim Angels, not be ready to play important games.
BRY 6(3) – DOOGAN 6(2)

POINT:  BRY (7-5)
And Bry consolidates the break and takes the first 2-point lead of the contest here with a solid pick of the Dodgers at #12.  They improved by 11 games from last year and finished with the best record in the National League.  Should be an enticing Under next year, but we’ll see how quickly it goes.  Could it even be the #1 pick?  I guess it all depends upon just how cheap they are this offseason.

DOOGAN 13. Cleveland Indians – OVER 81 wins:  Interesting, because I think this team is in a similar position to the Dodgers.  Their rotation is very questionable (though the bullpen could be solid).  That being said, they should score a lot more runs than they did last year because Travis Hafner and Victor Martinez should bounce back, they get a full year of Shin-Soo Choo, and Mark DeRosa is a solid addition.  Also, their division is pretty mediocre, so they should contend for the division title and get up into the 85-88 win range.

UPDATE:  This is another sure-fire point for Bry, as Doogan picked the wrong side of the Indians.  They are not anywhere near a .500 team, which is what Doogan needs, as they are on pace for 64 wins.
BRY 7(4) – DOOGAN 6(2)

POINT:  BRY (8-5)
Bry takes a big 3-point lead now, as Doogan misses on the Indians.  Though, so did a lot of “experts” this year, as a lot of people had them World Series bound.  They finished with an abysmal 65 wins.  That 65 number is definitely low enough to warrant consideration for the #1 pick next year because this team has too much talent to be that bad again…right?

BRY 14. Colorado Rockies – UNDER 74 wins:  That is interesting because I struggled with the Dodgers and the Indians because I thought them very similar.  I actually went Dodgers because I thought their division was actually worse than the AL Central.  Anyway, the Rockies and the UNDER was the #1 pick last year, and it came through, obviously (they were 16 games worse).  So for the UNDER on them to go this high again this year just shows how quickly they have tailspinned since the World Series appearance.  But, honestly, why would anyone think the Rockies would be better than they were last year (and they weren’t that good last year)?  Holliday was the heart and soul of the team and he’s gone.  Troy Tulowitzky might be better, but Garrett Atkins will probably be traded by June, and their pitching staff is really not very good.

UPDATE:  And, just as Doogan seems to have whiffed on his Indians pick, Bry has also done so with this Rockies pick.  Colorado is, inexplicably, on pace for 87 wins.  They are in the thick of the wild card race and their pitching has been very good.  Who knows if the managerial change was really the answer, but under Jim Tracy, this looks like a COMPLETELY different team than the horrid team that started the season (and the team that Bry thought would be there all year).  This point looks comfortably in Doogan’s corner now.
DOOGAN 7(3) – BRY 7(4)

Bry misses HORRIBLY on this pick, as the Rockies made the playoffs and the single-best turnaround in the NL this year (18), in winning a franchise-high 92 games.  I smell an Under coming next year on that 92 number, but just how high?

DOOGAN 15. Cincinnati Reds – OVER 74 wins:  This looks like a team that should be able to win about half of their games.  The rotation is very solid, led by Edinson Volquez, Aaron Harang, and Johnny Cueto, and Jay Bruce and Joey Votto are up-and-coming hitters.

UPDATE:  This pick is very much in play right now.  The Reds have been up and down this year, finishing the first half just under .500.  But, they have been good enough for this point to go, tenatively, to Doogan right now, as he has them winning more than 74, and they are on pace for 78
DOOGAN 8(3) – BRY 7(4)

Doogan nails the Reds pick at #15 to draw back within one.  The Reds have some pieces and played pretty well down the stretch.  We will see what happens next year with that 78 number.

BRY 16. Seattle Mariners – OVER 61 wins:  I was also tempted by the Reds, but they are always tempting.  I do think this year is different because they finally have pitching, so I do agree with the pick.  I know the Mariners were bad last year and they lost J.J. Putz and Raul Ibanez, and only added a washed-up (it pains me to say it) Junior Griffey.  BUT…they were also a trendy World Series pick last year and only won 61 games.  I think they probably have 70-win talent (that’s a funny sentence, actually), so I’m going to take the OVER because 101 losses is A LOT, especially in the AL West.

UPDATE:  This pick, all the way down at #16, is actually the most comfortable point of all at The Break.  They Mariners are on pace for 85 wins–a 24-game cushion for Bry.  Their pitching has been astounding all season and because they are in the thick of the AL West race, they probably won’t be selling–a decision that may actually have a negative long-term effect on the franchise.  Either way, they will be earning Bry a point.
BRY 8(5) – DOOGAN 8(3)

POINT:  BRY (9-7)
As good of a turnaround as the Rockies made, it was dwarfed by the 24-game turnaround in the AL by the Seattle Mariners.  They went from 101 losses to a respectable 85-77 this year.  And, they are making some nice splashed in the Hot Stove League, so that 85 number could be tough to predict, as they might go Over again even after a 24-game improvement.

DOOGAN 17. Detroit Tigers – OVER 74 wins:  The offense is loaded here, led by the lethal Venezuelan combo of Magglio Ordonez and Miguel Cabrera.  The pitching staff is not good, but not so bad that the lineup can’t hit their way to the 80-win range.

UPDATE:  The excellent mid-round picks continue, as Doogan is going to get a point on the Tigers with ease.  They are on pace for a shocking 89 wins–a nice 15-win cushion for Doogan.  And, all of this is without Magglio Ordonez, who looks like he is clearly lacking “something” in this Era of Testing.
DOOGAN 9(4) – BRY 8(5)

Nice pick here by Doogan at #17 (these mid-round picks can be really tricky sometimes), as the Tigers won 86 and got him the Over easily.  This is going to be another tough number for next year’s Challenge, as the Tigers should be pretty good again next year, even though they lost Granderson, Polanco, and Jackson (so far).

BRY 18. Minnesota Twins – UNDER 88 wins:  Even though they were Doogan’s picks, I like the OVER picks on Detroit and Cleveland.  They were probably the most “talented” teams in the AL Central last year, and I think they might be again this year.  But, even if they aren’t the best, they are considerably better than they showed last year.  And, even though I picked the White Sox would be worse than last year and the Twins are, admittedly, probably the favorites to win this division, I still think that whatever team comes out of here is probably going to do it with a mid-80 win total.  So, I will reluctantly bet against the Twins (generally a pretty bad idea, since this is one of the best-run franchises in professional sports).

UPDATE:  This is going to be one of those that might come down to the wire.  Bry looks pretty good right now, as the Twins are only on pace for 82 wins, but you never know with this team and all the talent that they have.  By the way, how good is Joe Mauer?  Honestly?  No, really, he is really good.
BRY 9(5) – DOOGAN 9(4)

POINT:  BRY (10-8)
It doesn’t get much closer than this one, as the Twins do hit the Under, but only by a single game (thanks to the play-in victory).  A great second-half almost cost Bry the point here.  Next year, this pick is going to be brutal again.

DOOGAN 19. Boston Red Sox – OVER 95 wins:  I wanted to go Under on the Twins for the last few picks, but couldn’t get myself to bet against them.  Now we’re at the point where all the picks are really hard.  I think Boston is the best team in baseball.  Great starters, excellent bullpen, and they score a ton.  The big question is whether or not David Ortiz can produce like he was a couple of years ago.  I honestly don’t think he can, but I also think the Sox will not hesitate to make a trade for a power bat if and when they conclude that Ortiz can no longer carry the load as the lone pure power hitter in the lineup.

UPDATE:  Doogan starts the “really hard” picks with a nice, solid, veteran pick.  The 95 number is daunting, but he believes in talent and the fact that big payrolls negate parity.  This is not comfortable–and it never could be because of the high number–but it is looking good for Doogan, as the Sox are on pace for 99 wins.  This is a nice pick this late.
DOOGAN 10(4) – BRY 9(5)

POINT:  BRY (11-8)
Wow, Doogan gets screwed by the tiebreaker AGAIN, as the Red Sox win exactly 95 games for the second consecutive season.  They started to skid in the middle of the second-half and, though they righted the ship, it cost Doogan the point.  And, we’ll both be staring for a while at that 95 number again next year.

BRY 20. San Diego Padres – OVER 63 wins:  There is nothing that makes me think that the Padres are not one of the two or three worst teams in baseball–and I fully expect them to deal Jake Peavy any time from now until the deadline.  However, to echo Doogan, “these picks are getting hard” and “there is so much parity in baseball over the last couple of years” that I think it’s probably a good bet to go against ANY team either winning or losing 100 games, so I will take the Padres to be just good enough to avoid triple-digit losses, especially because I think they have one of the better home-field advantages because there are very few pitchers’ parks left in baseball, so teams build themselves around the long-ball.

UPDATE:  The difficult picks continue, and Bry may eek this one out.  The Padres, even without Peavy and Chris Young for most of the season, are on pace for a terrible 66 wins–but not terrible enough to cost Bry the point.  He will, tenatively, get this one.
BRY 10(5) – DOOGAN 10(4)

POINT:  BRY (12-8)
Bry takes a pretty commanding lead with 10 picks left, but those last 10 picks are usually REALLY tough and could go either way.  Many people don’t realize it, but the Padres were a real pleasant surprise in the second half of last season, as they went 39-35 after the All-Star Break, to finish with 75 wins (and 5 games ahead of the last-place D’Backs).  This gave Bry a rather comfortable point here at the #20 position.  The 75 number might be tricky next year, though my guess is that the Under will be taken somewhere around #10 or so.

DOOGAN 21. New York Yankees – OVER 89 wins:  This is a real hard team to figure out right now.  They have a lot of new faces, guys coming back from injury-plagued seasons, and guys dealing with injuries as the season gets underway.  It mostly comes down to what they get out of the rotation.  It has the potential to be the best rotation in baseball, but is Sabathia worn down from all the innings last year?  Will AJ Burnett flame out after the big contract?  Can Wang come back strong from the injury?  Will Joba Chamberlain be able to start 30 games?  There are a lot of questions, but it would be hard to argue that the Yanks aren’t a better team in ’09 than they were in ’08, and that’s the name of this game.

UPDATE:  Another solid pick by Doogan as he goes back-to-back on the Beasts of the AL East and the over.  The Yanks are on pace for 94 wins, so with a 4-win cushion, this point is going to Doogan, but not comfortably.  It would be a bit of a surprise, though, at this point if the Yanks did not pull this out for Doogan.
DOOGAN 11(4) – BRY 10(5)

Doogan gets a must-win point here to stop the three in a row for Bry, as he simply nails this pick at #21.  The Yanks were the best team in baseball, winning 103 games in the regular season.  103 is a big number, but this team should be pretty damn good again next year, so we’ll see where they are selected.

BRY 22. Kansas City Royals – OVER 75 wins:  Okay, okay, I took the bait and bit on the “hopes” of the Royals.  I might be biased because I actually really liked this organization before they became mired in complete irrelevancy, but there are a lot of people touting the Royals as the AL sleeper this year.  Honestly, I don’t see them competing, and I am not very confident about this pick, but I want to root for them.  I think Gil Meche and Kevin Greinke is a pretty decent 1-2, and Joakim Soria is the best closer that no one’s ever heard of.  They also have a ton of young hitters that could breakout this year (Alex Gordon, Billy Butler, David DeJesus).  So, I’ll take the Royals OVER, close my eyes, and hope it works out.

UPDATE:  A month into the season, Bry was a genius with this pick.  Three months into the season and, well, you get the picture.  The Royals fast start was a mirage, and this team has faded into their normal poor play.  They are on pace for 68 wins, which means that Doogan will take this point, though it is not quite at the point of “comfortable.”
DOOGAN 12(4) – BRY 10(5)

POINT:  DOOGAN (10-12)
Another big point for Doogan, as Bry completely misses on this pick.  The Royals got 10 games worse and were tied with Cleveland for the third-worst record in baseball (ahead of only the hapless Natinals and Pirates).  Well, since someone bit on the Over at 75, you have to think that the bait will be cast again at 65, but it’s hard to trust this team, as Bry found out this year.

DOOGAN 23. New York Mets – UNDER 89 wins:  “Choke Artists”–Cole Hamels

UPDATE:  Right on, Cole.  They won’t even need to choke this year for Doogan to comfortably pick up a very satisfying point here.  Awesome!
DOOGAN 13(5) – BRY 10(5)

POINT:  DOOGAN (11-12)
Doogan nails this one, and everyone is happy about it.  What a pathetic season turned in by the Metropolitans.  It is beyond me how Jerry Manuel (and even Omar Minaya, for that matter) could still have a job.  Three in a row for Doogan closes the gap to a single point.  Next year it looks like the fun of picking against the Mets might have to stop because 70 is a VERY low number for a team with a $120+ million payroll.  But, who will sell out and make the pick?

BRY 24. Philadelphia Philles – OVER 92 wins:  “The team to beat”–Jimmy Rollins

UPDATE:  Despite the second-worst pitching in the National League, the Phillies still have a good shot at pulling out this point for Bry.  We have to give it to Doogan, for now, because the Phils are only on pace for 90 wins, but it is starting to look like this team is going to catch fire, win 95 and take the East by double-digits.  Add Halladay, and this may be “comfortable” the other way.
DOOGAN 14(5) – BRY 10(5)

POINT:  BRY (13-11)
The Phils come through yet again for their fans (this time for Bry), as they end up one game better than last year at 93-69.  It probably remains to be seen how high they will go next year, as it probably all depends on a certain “available” starting pitcher.

DOOGAN 25. Florida Marlins – UNDER 84 wins:  They have a ton of young talent on the pitching staff, but it’s still mostly unproven talent.  They’ve lost a few solid contributors in Mike Jacobs, Scott Olsen, and Josh Willingham.  I don’t see Jorge Cantu hitting 29 homers again.  In a tough division, they should hang around .500.

UPDATE:  The one pick that is most up for grabs is this one.  Currently, the Marlins are on pace for 83 wins–the exact number Doogan needs to score this point.  But, anything can happen from now.  It would be interesting to see which way we would go on them, at this point.  But, for now, score it for Doogan.
DOOGAN 15(5) – BRY 10(5)

POINT:  BRY (14-11)
Another tough one for Doogan, as the Marlins actually did improve from last year, as they won 87 games this year.  As you can see from the update at the midway point, the second half was not good for Doogan’s picks.  At this point at the All-Star Break, Doogan had a 15-10 lead, but now with the final tally, Bry actually leads 14-11.  The Marlins just keep putting up these enticing numbers for the Under, we’ll see if someone bites again next year.

BRY 26. Pittsburgh Pirates – OVER 67 wins:  Okay, I’m taking more bait here with the Buckos.  I actually think they have some talent here.  The front ownership and subsequent front office changes have actually been doing things that have made baseball sense in Pittsburgh.  This team is not good, but it’s not that bad.  I like Maholm, Grabow, and Duke (a little bit) in the rotation and closer Matt Capps is solid.  Nate McClouth is a budding star in a small market, and their infield with Sanchez, the two LaRoches, and one of my favorites, Jack Wilson, is decent.  Give me the Pirates and 70 wins.  Those fans deserve it.

UPDATE:  Another one that is going to go down to the wire, as the Pirates are currently on pace for 70 wins–a 3-win cushion for Bry’s over pick.  They have let go of some veterans, but it seems like their replacements (particularly Andrew McCutcheon for Nate McClouth) have been just as good, if not better.  Bry should get this, but it is by no means comfortable.
BRY 11(5) – DOOGAN 15(5)

POINT:  DOOGAN (12-14)
The Pirates had just a dismal second half, as they were on pace for 70 wins at the Break, and finished with just 62.  Bry didn’t need many, with the low number, but ended up missing it by 5 games.  I’m guessing there will be another Over pick next year with a 62 number, but will the Buckos disappoint, yet again?  Probably.

DOOGAN 27. Arizona Diamonbacks – OVER 82 wins:  Obviously, the strength of this team is the starting pitching, led by Brandon Webb and Dan Haren.  They’ll probably still struggle to score runs and the bullpen doesn’t look too imposing, but I’ll mark them down for 84 wins.

UPDATE:  What happened to this franchise in the past 14 months?  They were the youngest team in baseball in 2007 when they won their division and made it to the NLCS.  Then, they had, by far, the best April in baseball last year.  But, since then, they have been, well, dreadful.  They are not going to get the 84 wins that Doogan predicted.  In fact, they are on pace to not even reach 70.  And, they have the best pitcher in baseball that no one is talking about–Danny Haren.
BRY 12(6) – DOOGAN 15(5)

POINT:  BRY (15-12)
In a must-win for Doogan, the D’Backs let him down almost as brutally as they let down their fans this year.  The D’Backs finished with 70 wins…ugh.  They have way too much talent for a season like that, and Doogan pays the price, as Bry clinches at least a tie in the BSB MLB Preview Challenge.  You gotta think that the D’Backs and the Over will be a high pick next year, right?

BRY 28. St. Louis Cardinals – OVER 86 wins:  Well, Doogan, you took the lost one left that I don’t think is basically a coin-flip, so I’ll just put my money on Tony LaRussa threatening with 90 victories.  If the Cubs take a step back, then the Cardinals might be right there to win this division.  They only got 25 or so starts from Carpenter and Wainwright last year, and they both “look healthy” (though, we all know what that means with injury-prone starters), so if they give the Cards 50-60 starts, then they should be better…should be.

UPDATE:  Just as Doogan is getting a very tenative point for the Marlins pick, Bry will get a very tenative point for this Cardinals pick.  On pace for 87 wins, they are just barely on a pace to get Bry the point.  Regardless of the second half, though, how great of a manager is Tony LaRussa–and more specifically, how AMAZING of a pitching coach is Dave Duncan?  The things that he does with pitchers that should not be good is absolutely amazing.  Ryan Franklin?  Really?  Todd Wellemeyer?  Come on.  Simply unreal.  If I had a vote, I would vote for Duncan as Manager of the Year.  I think he has had more of an effect on his team as the pitching coach than any manager.
BRY 13(6) – DOOGAN 15(5)

POINT:  BRY (16-12)
And, Bry clinches his second straight BSB MLB Preview Challenge with a nice pick at #28.  The Cardinals come through, winning 91 games and putting up a scary number to deal with next year.  But, you can usually count on a LaRussa-led team to come through.

DOOGAN 29. Baltimore Orioles – UNDER 68 wins:  Really no clue where to go with either of the two left.  I know the O’s have a fair amount of good, young position players, with Nick Markakis, Adam Jones, and uber-prospect Matt Wieters due up in a month or two, but Adam Eaton is their #3 starter for God’s sake.  That’s a team I want to bet against.

UPDATE:  Give Bry four in a row here, as Doogan did not see the fast development of the Orioles kids.  They are on pace for an impressive 74 wins, and they are getting better and better every day.  As a Baltimore resident, I have to say that there is something intriguing about this team.  Granted they reside in the AL East, so they are a very long way from competing, but they are doing all the right things and are actually pretty exciting on a daily basis.  Give this point, tenatively, to Bry as it looks like they will go over.
BRY 14(6) – DOOGAN 15(5)

POINT:  DOOGAN (13-16)
Maybe the most disappointing team in the second half was the Baltimore Orioles, and they took a point from Bry and handed it right back to Doogan, who makes a nice pick at #29.  The Orioles, despite all their young talent, only finished with 64 wins, after being on pace for 74 at The Break.  With Bry living in Baltimore, you have to think that he hears enough “hype” to get him to take the Over on a tiny 64 number, but we’ll see how high it goes.

BRY 30. Texas Rangers – UNDER 79 wins:  Ah, so I’m left with the Rangers.  Pretty much a total coin-flip, I think because they looked like a slightly below-.500 team last year and they look about the same this year.  In fact, ever since the 89 wins in 2004 (the year after they lost A-Rod), their win totals have been 79-80-75-79.  I just think that Milton Bradley was very important to the lineup and the pitching is bad.  Plus, the A’s are better and the Mariners can’t possibly be worse, so it looks like they will probably be a game or two worse than 2008.  Nice work, again, Doogan.  We’ll see if I can get you back for beating me in the recent NFL preview.

UPDATE:  And, Bry crashes and burns with the final pick.  After four straight points, it looked like it might be 15-15 at the halfway mark, but the Rangers are doing WAY better than anyone thought, including Bry (even though I put $20 on them to win the division at 10:1).  They are on pace for 89 wins and they seem to be for real.  Which means that this point will go comfortably to Doogan.
DOOGAN 16(6) – BRY 14(6)

POINT:  DOOGAN (14-16)
And, Bry falls on his face here at #30, but does hang on to win this year’s Challenge 16-14.  The Rangers finished with an impressive 87 wins–a number that might also be really tricky to handle next year.  They might not last until #30, but it should be close to that.

So, if nothing changes, Doogan will eek out a second straight win in the BSB Preview Challenge.  But, then again, this is the baseball marathon–there is NO chance that nothing changes.  Until next time (which I guess will be the NFL Preview)…

Congratulations to Bry for winning the Second Annual BSB MLB Preview Challenge.  He is now leads Doogan 2-0 in MLB and 1-0 in the NBA, but Doogan leads 1-0 in the NFL, and is on pace to win the NFL again this year, but we shall see.  We missed this year’s NBA, so the next time the BSB Preview Challenge will be unearthed will be for the Final Results of this year’s NFL Preview.  So, until then, enjoy the end of the NFL and the beginning of NCAA Hoops…

4 Replies to “BSB’s 2009 MLB Preview Challenge (Final Results)”

  1. I just watched Oliver Perez give up 6 runs in the 1st inning. I can’t believe the Mets gave this guy $12 million/year for 3 years. But I am really happy about. He’d be pretty high on my list of Pitchers I’d like to See on a Rival Team.

  2. Did you see Pat Burrell leading off for the Rays at The Bank and hitting a home run against Cole Hamels before being taken out of the game? Kind of a nice story, actually. You know, before Cole gave up three more runs in the inning…

  3. I’m obviously ready for baseball season to start, I’ve been watching the Nats-O’s preseason game during commercials of the UConn-MSU game….

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