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10 Preseason Predictions (That Are Sure to Fail)


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By Greg Bearringer, AngelsWin.com Columnist -

I freaking love making preseason predictions-- which is good, because I am terrible at them. In the past few years, I have had the Angels in the playoffs, Michigan winning the Big 10, and four of the worst fantasy sports teams EVER assembled despite getting Chris Davis in every league I drafted last year. But man, something about the month or so before a season starts that gives me the itch to be wrong about things over which I have no control.

Anyway, here are the ten predictions sure to be incredibly wrong (even though one of them will be eerily dead on because, you know, randomness).

1) Pujols and Hamilton Combine for over 65 HR's.

This one isn't all that bold, but it's close enough for it to go terribly wrong. I just think we see Hamilton with a better approach this year, with a better game plan and the higher level of confidence that comes with it.  Pujols, now healthy, will revert to something much closer to his hall-of-fame self.

2) The Angels will lose a Starting Pitcher for an extended period of time.

Which will lead to...
 
3) The Angels will trade a 2B and/or CJ Cron for a Starter.

Of course the Angels will lose a starter at some point, for some period. If none of the "Plan B" or even "Plan C" options seem viable, the Angels will scramble to fill that extra spot in the rotation. Depending on how the offense shapes up, the main piece heading out could be Howie Kendrick or Taylor Lindsey. Or CJ Cron, the slugger with the questionable plate discipline, could be the odd man out. But the Angels will make a move for a starter at some point. Mark my words.

Wait, CJ Cron? The presumed future at DH for the Angels?  Well, that leads us to …

4) Grant Green gets most of the at-bat's at DH for the Angels

The Angels aren't hurting for power, or at least shouldn't be. What the Angels need is someone young and spry and someone who might be able to play a passable 1B, and someone who can do it with a decent OBP. Grant Green, the bat without a home, seems like a perfect fit to me, especially since I am not so sure we can depend on a 41 year old who was good for exactly half of last season. Of course, I'd be happy if Raul Ibanez's deal with the devil holds out, but at some point Beelzebub is going to want Ibanez's baseball soul and he'll flounder.

5) Kole Calhoun will remain underrated.

I can read it now: "Calhoun might not stand out on a team with Trout, Hamilton, Pujols, Weaver and the other big names in the club house," they'll say. "But he's fine with that," they'll write. "He's the lead-off man the Angels have been looking for," they'll tell us, embarrassed that they didn't see just how good he'd be last year. OK, so some people do see it, but still: the dude has gone from zero to Major league player faster than anyone I can remember. Which, of course, has nothing to do with him. He's always been this good. People just failed to see it.

6) The Angels will be in second place after 30 games.

Even if this the Angels miss the playoffs this season, I really hope this happens. If nothing else, when sports writers go to their NARRATIVE GENERATORâ„¢ I'd like to have something else come out of it than "Joe Smith couldn't handle the pressure of getting a big contract" or some such nonsense. It would be nice if they would figure out that "random clusters are random" or even "the definition of luck," but I'm fighting a futile battle there.

7) The A's are mediocre this year!

I don't know what it is about these A's, but the past two seasons have seemed awfully lucky to me. I can't quite put my finger on it, though All-Star performances by Josh Reddick and Josh Donaldson have something to do with it. Maybe it's their freakishly productive young pitchers. Whatever it is, I am calling my shot now: The A's finish in third place. The cult of Billy Beane, however, is not diminished. IT WILL NEVER DIMINISH.

8) The Pittsburgh Pirates win the NL Pennant!

In my "non-Angels related" portion of this list, I offer the Pirates of Pittsburgh, home to a great ball park, an MVP candidate in Andrew McCutchen, the league's premier "Ewing theory" chance with AJ Burnett in Philly, and a boat load of prospects to trade should they want to add a decent shortstop or a front line starter. The crazy thing is that I don't think they do either of those things (though I still think they'd be a GREAT place for Stephen Drew to end up). I think they roll with their youth, get hot in the playoffs, and win the NL Central.

9) Angels fans start calling the "Trumbo trade" the "Santiago" trade

Hector Santiago is going to be fantastic this year. Why? The power of reduced expectations, that's why! Let's call it "The Blanton Effect." For the Angels, "fantastic" isn't "Cy Young Caliber," it's "Solid mid-rotation arm". Hector Santiago can do that. Of course, this won't stop Angels fans from missing the ol' Trumbomber, but making the playoffs might help ease that heartache.
 
10) The Angels get a Wild Card Shot-- and Win.

I am predicting this because, well, the alternatives offer too much potential pain. Missing the playoffs would suck so hard because that means "REBUILD" and who wants that? Penciling in the Angels in for the AL West crown means even more disappointment if they miss all together. Making the Wild Card means little if it turns out to be nothing more than a 163rd game. So yeah, I'm predicting the Angels make it to the ALDS. After that, well, anything will be gravy.
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I agree with predictions 3 and 5, which leads me to prediction 4, where I think Borenstein will take away DH ABs from Green and Ibanez by July. And just like Calhoun, Borenstein will remain underrated.

 

I'm wondering what kind of starter we could get for one of our second baseman and/or Cron. Could be a decent haul. And I'm also wondering if we'll trade Kendrick or Lindsey. I'm guessing Kendrick. Lindsey is young and cost-controlled and by the time Kendrick is traded, he should be just about MLB-ready. And if he busts, they'll still have Yarbrough waiting in the wings, assuming he hasn't been traded.

Edited by Llewyn Davis
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I'm wondering what kind of starter we could get for one of our second baseman and/or Cron. Could be a decent haul.

 

We couldn't even pry Santiago from the White Sox for Kendrick straight up. I doubt that we are going to get a "decent haul" during the season. The only way we get anything even remotely meaningful in such a deal is if a club with a lot of payroll falls well out of the race and just wants to dump salary.

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We couldn't even pry Santiago from the White Sox for Kendrick straight up. I doubt that we are going to get a "decent haul" during the season. The only way we get anything even remotely meaningful in such a deal is if a club with a lot of payroll falls well out of the race and just wants to dump salary.

 

Ah, but you're forgetting that Cron could also be in the deal. Cron and Kendrick together is no small prize for a SP or SP prospect.

Edited by Llewyn Davis
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Could Llewyn Davis be Toby Ziegler reincarnate?

 

The one that I particularly agree with is the A's being mediocre.  Maybe baseball is outsmarting me on this one, but I look at the A's and with the exception of Cespedes and a solid young pitching staff, I see a lot of fluke performances carrying them.  I mean Josh Donaldson and Josh Reddick aren't that good are they?

 

Maybe the performance is masked by a collection of effective platoon players and I don't see it because I'm predisposed to look for singular player performances instead of the value of a position as a whole.  

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Not sure what that is in reference to. Who is Toby Ziegler?

 

As far as the A's go, I definitely think they have overachieved the last few years, but I'm actually a big believer in Donaldson. If you look at his minor league numbers, you can see things finally clicked for him in 2012. And when he got playing time in the 2nd half of 2012 with the A's, he was very good. Looking at his splits last year, pretty much nothing screams it was fluky. Hit at home and on the road. Hit righties well. Killed lefties. Was consistent every month, except one.

 

I'm targeting Donaldson in every fantasy league. Loving his Yahoo ADP right now. His BABIP was maybe a bit high, but I could easily see a line of .280/.360/.480 from him this year. Pretty much Freese from 2012. He won't have a 7.7 WAR again, but a WAR above 4 wouldn't surprise me.

 

Reddick, on the other hand, I'm not a believer. He's better than he was last year but not as good as he was in 2012. They need Cespedes to bounce back. Crisp will never have a season like 2013 again. That was a career-year for sure. I think the same can be said for Jed Lowrie, who has always had trouble staying healthy. Brandon Moss is quite good against righties, but he's a platoon player, albeit a very useful one. Callaspo probably shouldn't be a starting second baseman on any team. Gentry will likely struggle some away from Texas, but he's not bad. Not great, either. It sounds like Jaso will be used a lot as a DH. His bat plays as a catcher. Not so much at DH. Derek Norris can't hit righties at all.

 

Pitching-wise, they have some depth. But they don't really have a 1-2 combo like Weaver and Wilson, although Sonny Gray is a stud-in-the-making, IMO. However, he's still relatively unproven, but honestly I think he's got the goods to be an ace. The Halos probably should have drafted him instead of Cron. We might regret that, just like the A's might regret trading Michael Choice. A.J. Griffin and Jarrod Parker are both solid, but I think they're closer to #3 starters than #2. Pomeranz needed a change of scenery because he was awful in Colorado. Kazmir was decent last year with the Indians, but we'll see if he can sustain it. Straily has nice offspeed offerings, but his fastball is straight and flat. Milone is very hittable.

Edited by Llewyn Davis
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You mean July.............2016 right?

 

He's 23, not some fresh-faced kid out of high school. He'll turn 24 late July. He's nearly had enough seasoning in the minors. If he rakes for half a season in AA or AAA, why not bring him up if there's a need (there is) and the organization feels he might be ready (who knows).

Edited by Llewyn Davis
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I don't see his upside being all that high and I think Borenstein will have an adjustment period in AA.  Not saying he won't be a major leaguer, but I think he's a year and a half off at least.  I think Cron's got the upperhand in terms of upside, fitting the profile as a DH and the fact that he should be ready to go after the all-star break.

 

But you are right about Sonny Gray.  The Angels certainly should've drafted him.  

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He's 23, not some fresh-faced kid out of high school. He'll turn 24 late July. He's nearly had enough seasoning in the minors. If he rakes for half a season in AA or AAA, why not bring him up if there's a need (there is) and the organization feels he might be ready (who knows).

 

Jump straight from high A to major? I don't think so!

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We couldn't even pry Santiago from the White Sox for Kendrick straight up. I doubt that we are going to get a "decent haul" during the season. The only way we get anything even remotely meaningful in such a deal is if a club with a lot of payroll falls well out of the race and just wants to dump salary.

This has been posted and corrected more than a few times. The Angels tried to trade Kendrick for Jose Quintana. 

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Borenstein is one of the Angels prospects that I'm most interested in watching in 2014. Right now I think he projects as a good platoon/marginal regular, but hopefully his stock will rise this year. If he can manage a .290/.900 line in AA, all of a sudden he's a legit prospect.

 

Cron on the other hand is one of the most disappointing prospects of the last few years. He was supposed to be Ric Wilson's clarion call to draft better college hitters, but his numbers have plummeted in each of the last two years. 2014 will also be an important year from him, because he really must turn things around. His power could really start to show up in Salt Lake.

 

I think there's a decent argument that Borenstein is the better prospect at this point--not least of which is the fact that he did much better in A+ ball than Cron did, at the very same age--but right I'd call them basically even. Let's see how 2014 looks.

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From a performance standpoint, you're right. But from a tools standpoint, they don't really measure up. Despite Borenstein's build, Cron's actually the stronger if the two. Cron's also better at using the entire field and despite not being a great defender, his shortcomings are more masked at 1B. Borenstein was a below average defender in the OF and the scout I spoke with actually brought up a move to 1B for him, if the bat holds up.

I do think Borenstein will be alright in AA because the field isn't too rough on LHB, whereas Cron's more of a CF and LCF type of power hitter and his numbers were suppressed in a big way there. Notice that as soon as he got to a hitter friendly environment in the AFL he went off. Whereas Borenstein was ineffective against talented pitchers in the same environment.

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From a performance standpoint, you're right. But from a tools standpoint, they don't really measure up. Despite Borenstein's build, Cron's actually the stronger if the two. Cron's also better at using the entire field and despite not being a great defender, his shortcomings are more masked at 1B. Borenstein was a below average defender in the OF and the scout I spoke with actually brought up a move to 1B for him, if the bat holds up.

I do think Borenstein will be alright in AA because the field isn't too rough on LHB, whereas Cron's more of a CF and LCF type of power hitter and his numbers were suppressed in a big way there. Notice that as soon as he got to a hitter friendly environment in the AFL he went off. Whereas Borenstein was ineffective against talented pitchers in the same environment.

 

I can't speak to their tools, but at the end of the day I'll take the guy who produces over the guy whose on-field production doesn't measure up to his potential. Josh Booty had all kinds of tools. I'm guessing Chevy Clarke and Ryan Bolden had a lot of tools as well.

 

Everything I've read about Borenstein says he's an average corner outfielder, not below average. And an average corner outfielder is always going to be a much better fielder than a below average defensive first baseman, if that is indeed what Cron is.

 

As far as using the whole field, their spray charts tell a different story. Borenstein appears to go oppo quite a bit more than Cron if you look at their hit location breakdown.

 

http://www.baseballsavant.com/player.php?player_id=605148

 

http://mlbfarm.com/player.php?player_id=543068&position=1B

Edited by Llewyn Davis
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