Bullz-Eye 2006 Baseball Preview

The most enjoyable part of writing my 2005 preview for BE was the response from you, gentle readers. The mail that I received on that piece was well worth the hours that I put into it. Some people sent me detailed, Bill James-style stat projections, while others just said that I “suuuuuuuuuck.” That last person was a Washington Nationals fan…at the All Star break, when they were still in first place. We all know who got the last laugh on that one.

So I’m poring over the projected lineups and pitching depth charts for all the teams, and the only thing I can think is, Man, did a lot of players switch teams. Matt Morris is a Giant, Fatty Ponson is a Cardinal, Carlos Delgado is a Met and Josh Beckett is a Red Sock. Some things, though, stay the same: Kerry Wood is already on the disabled list, and George Steinbrenner is overpaying for pitching ($18 million for Kyle Farnsworth? You got served, sucker).

Once again, I attempt the impossible and list my projections for each division, which will surely look ridiculous at the All Star break, and absurd by season’s end.

National League East
1) New York Mets
Theme Song: “At Last,” Etta James
And thus, their season is already jinxed before it’s even begun, by the very notion that I am expecting them to win the East. My stepbrother, a dyed-in-the-wool Mutts fan, will surely kill me. But I can’t help it, that lineup kills, bro. Reyes and LoDuca are at the top, followed by a murderer’s row of Beltran, Delgado, Wright and Floyd. These guys are going to score tons of runs, and while their pitching is still lacking, it’s good enough to keep them in the game (look for Aaron Heilman to break out big time if the Mets give him a shot in the rotation), and putting Billy Wagner in the closer spot in place of the piñata that closed for them last year (Braden Looper, who’s now in St. Louis) is a big boost. Of course, the Mets being the Mets, this could all go horribly wrong; Pedro’s got a bad toe, and Delgado has a sore something or other. But at the moment, the planets seem to be aligned. Even John Smoltz thinks the Mets are going to win the East this year.

2) Philadelphia Phillies
Theme Song: “Long Shot,” Aimee Mann
I took a long look at Atlanta for this spot – after all, I did say last year that until someone knocks them out of the top spot, you have to go with them as the favorites – but it ends here. Like the Mets, Philadelphia has two great table setters at the top of the order in Rollins and Rowand (whom they got from the White Sox in the improbable trade of Jim Thome), and any one of the following four hitters (Abreu, Utley, Burrell, Howard) can go yard seemingly at will. Abreu’s colossal fall-off after the All Star Game was disturbing, but he’s still a perennial 30-30 threat, while Utley is the next Jeff Kent, though hopefully with much less jackassity. On the surface, the starting rotation would concern me, since Cory Lidle and Ryan Franklin are big time Stifley Stiffersons, but if the Phils are smart, they will take two of the three guys fighting for the fifth spot in the rotation, Ryan Madson and Robinson Tejeda, and give them each their own slot, hopefully kicking Franklin to the curb. If that happens, they could cause all kinds of trouble. One question, though: why is management so eager to get rid of Abreu? He was part of every trade rumor out of Philly this offseason.

To read the rest of the preview, click here. And don’t forget to come back to Scores Report to sound off on your picks to win it all.

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom.

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