MLB Playoff predictions from the guy who said the Red Sox would win the World Series

Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Roy Halladay (L) and catcher Carlos Ruiz celebrate after Halladay’s no-hitter against the Cincinnati Reds in Game 1 of the MLB National League Division Series baseball playoffs in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, October 6, 2010. REUTERS/Tim Shaffer (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT BASEBALL IMAGES OF THE DAY)

My 2011 MLB season predictions were a little off this year.

I said the A’s would win the AL West and they actually finished 22 games out of first.

I said the White Sox would win the AL Central and they just traded their manager to another team, which sums up how well they did this year.

I said the Giants would repeat as National League champions and in doing so I cursed Buster Posey, Pablo Sandoval, Freddy Sanchez and the 900 other players they placed on the DL this season.

I had the Braves winning the NL Wild Card and we all know how that turned out. Yiiiiiikes.

While I did have the Phillies winning the NL East and the Yankees making the postseason as the AL Wild Card, those were gimmies. My only claim to fame was predicting the Brewers to win the NL Central, although when you have the Red Sox winning the World Series and they don’t even make the postseason you have no right to brag about anything.

So if you’re offended by my postseason predictions below, don’t be. Chances are I’ll be wrong anyway.

ALDS: Yankees over Tigers.
I don’t trust the Yankees’ pitching but I trust it more than I trust Doug Fister. Justin Verlander was the best pitcher in the American League this season but he’s had a knack for coming up short on the road throughout the years. Knowing the Yankees they’ll be down in every game of this series and figure out some way to advance. Derek Jeter will be 16-for-18 with 11 doubles and one game-winning home run or something ridiculous.

NLDS: Phillies over Cardinals.
The Phillies did the Cardinals a favor by beating Atlanta but if I were them, I would have wanted the downtrodden Braves to advance. That team would have just been happy to reach the postseason after a miserable September. Nevertheless, the Phillies’ pitching will dominate the hot-and-cold St. Louis lineup and the Cardinals’ pitching will fail them in Philadelphia. They’ve got Edwin Jackson slated to start Game 2 in that bandbox the Phillies’ call a stadium, which should work out well considering he’s a fly ball pitcher. (Read: sarcasm.)

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Rockies, Marlins and Red Sox all interested in Justin Upton

June 20, 2010: Arizona Diamondbacks right fielder Justin Upton (10) during the MLB baseball game between the Arizona Diamondbacks and Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park in Detroit, Michigan.

A day after GM Kevin Towers said that he would be open to trading young outfielder Justin Upton, teams have come calling.

Initial reports are that the Rockies, Marlins and Red Sox are all interested in dealing with Towers, although the GM’s asking price is believed to be ridiculous. It may take up to four or five prospects to move Upton, but teams have already started kicking the tires on a potential deal.

FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal has been all over the Upton trade rumors thus far. He’s reporting that the Blue Jays are showing “strong interest” and that the Mariners could construct a deal centered around pitching prospect Michael Pineda.

While the Rockies are believed to have inquired about Upton, Towers is determined not to trade the outfielder within the NL West. That means Colorado, Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco are out of luck. Atlanta is probably out as well after acquiring Dan Uggla for a paint-by-numbers coloring book and a half-eaten turkey melt.

Talks between Towers and the Red Sox have apparently cooled, but Boston is showing more interest than the Yankees at this point. Arizona is looking for at least four prospects in return for Upton and aging teams like New York are reluctant to part with that many farm players. Still, if the Red Sox are interested, the Yankees are interested (even though the Bombers may have no place to put Upton in their outfield).

Much like the Cliff Lee situation, new rumors will surface daily about where Upton may wind up. It’ll be interesting to see how this story unfolds over the next couple of weeks.

Hiring Kevin Towers as GM a great move by Diamondbacks

The Arizona Diamondbacks practice at Chase Field in Phoenix, Arizona, in this October 2, 2007 file photo. Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig has to deal with a small but growing movement that wants to either boycott or move next year's All-Star game, in Phoenix. At issue is Arizona's pending immigration law, allowing police to check the immigration status of people they stop for other reasons, if they are reasonably suspected of being in the country illegally.  REUTERS/Jeff Topping/Files  (UNITED STATES - Tags: SOCIETY LAW SPORT BASEBALL)

The deal isn’t completed yet, but once it is the Diamondbacks should reap the rewards of hiring a man that should still be employed by the Padres.

Kevin Towers led the Padres to four division championships and an appearance in the 1998 World Series when he was their general manager from 1995 until he was fired in October of last year. He was let go after two losing seasons in 2008 and 2009, yet before he was canned he built the team that has shocked everyone in 2010. (As of this writing, the Padres are clinging to a one-game lead in the NL West.)

Towers was the person that traded for Adrian Gonzalez following the 2004 season – the same deal that also brought starter Chris Young to San Diego. He also drafted Jake Peavy in the 15th round (472nd overall) of the 1999 MLB Draft and then traded him to the White Sox for, among others, starter Clayton Richard, who is now a valuable piece of the Padres’ future.

San Diego is in first place right now largely because of the success of Richard and Mat Latos (another one of Towers’ draft picks), an outstanding bullpen, Gonzalez and Jon Garland.

Outside of Garland, Towers had a hand in all of the above factors that have attributed to the Padres’ success in 2010. When he left, the San Diego front office did next to nothing to improve the team in the offseason and even thought about trading Gonzalez on several occasions last winter.

Granted, Towers is just one man and it takes a team of scouts and personnel directors to run a baseball team. But given his track record, two losing seasons shouldn’t have cost him his job in San Diego.

No matter – he’s going to be Arizona’s GM soon enough and considering the Diamondbacks are a team that has underachieved over the last couple of seasons, he’s the right man for the job. The club needs an experienced leader – someone that know how to build through the draft and with youth – and that’s what they’ll get out of Towers.

It might take a year or two, but Arizona should be competing again soon.

Unless PTBNL is a stud, the D’Backs were fleeced in the Dan Haren trade

Arizona Diamondbacks' starting pitcher Dan Haren throws a pitch to the New York Yankees in the third inning of their MLB interleague baseball game in Phoenix, June 22, 2010. REUTERS/Joshua Lott (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASEBALL)

With a player left to be named later as part of the deal, there’s still time for the Diamondbacks to even out the trade they struck with the Angels, who acquired starter Dan Haren on Sunday.

But as the deal currently stands now, the D’Backs were fleeced.

Haren is a 29-year-old front-of-the-rotation starter who is under team control through the 2013 season. The Angels aren’t getting a rental player here – they acquired a legitimate ace that should dramatically improve their team over the next three seasons, assuming Haren doesn’t go Scott Kazmir on them.

In exchange for Haren, Arizona received lefties Joe Saunders and Patrick Corbin, righty Rafael Rodriguez and a player to be named later. That’s the epitome of “meh” in deal that netted one team an ace pitcher.

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Diamondbacks fire manager A.J. Hinch and GM Josh Byrnes

The Arizona Republic reports that the Diamondbacks have fired skipper A.J. Hinch and GM Josh Byrnes.

Multiple sources say the relationship between Byrnes and Derrick Hall, the Diamondbacks President and CEO, was strained.

The club has called a news conference for 10 a.m. Friday at Chase Field.

“These decisions come as a first and major step in our thorough evaluation of our team,” Hall said in a statement. “We have all been disappointed in the results over the last few years, and we have come to the conclusion that a change in the leadership of our baseball operations staff is necessary at this time. This franchise has enjoyed tremendous success over the years, and we want to get back to our winning ways. The loyal staff of this organization, as well as all of our fans, hopes for and deserves better results on the field.”

The Diamondbacks went 349-378 in Byrnes’ nearly 4 1/2 seasons running the club’s baseball operations department.

Hinch, who was promoted controversially from farm director to manager in May 2009 despite not having any coaching experience, went 89-123.

Not a total shock. The D-Backs have sunk to the bottom of the NL West with not much hope of turning things around. Injuries to the pitching staff have been an issue, but the club’s young offensive talent hasn’t developed either. While that’s not always the manager’s fault, he’s usually the way that gets the hook in the end.

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