I am going to predict who wins what in the playoffs today. I will start in the NL and then do the AL. This will be listed under “Predictions.”
Dodgers at Cubs
Cubs. The Dodgers are a pretty scary team in the postseason. They have been red hot going into the playoffs, and are a good all around team. Plus, they have a guy named Manny Ramirez. Takashi Saito leads a fantastic bullpen. They have a solid rotation as well. The Cubs are a better team, though. They have a better rotation and a better offense. (Assuming the Cubs don’t pitch to Manny) They have the best three man rotation of playoff teams. Plus, the Cubs are at home where they have been dominant all year. It is going to be really tough for the Dodgers to win this series.
Brewers at Phillies
Phillies. These two teams are very similar. They both have solid rotations and a great lineup. The advantage for the Phillies is a by far better bullpen. Yes, we know CC Sabathia can go 9 innings, and I think the Brew-Crew will take game 1. But after that, you have two pitchers who are returning fron injuries. If both Ben Sheets and Yovani Gallardo are completly healthy, then they’ll easily win the series. But, if those players get injured or have to come out of the game early, the Brewers will have to give the ball to that aweful bullpen. The Phillies have a light-out bullpen, however, so they won’t blow late leads like their oponent could. I like the Phils in this one.
Phillies at Cubs
Cubs. The Cubs have the best rotation of all playoff teams, and pitching is what wins in October. The Phillies have the better bullpen, but if the starters can go seven innings they can give the ball to Carlos Marmol and Kerry Wood to end the game. Both teams have great lineups, and the only thing that separates these two teams is the starting pitching. Since the Cubs have the advantage there, they have the advantage in the series. I sure hope no curse happens this time around.
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The Milwaukee Brewers are probably not going to be as good in 2009 as they were in 2008. Their top two starters: CC Sabathia and Ben Sheets are both free agents. They have a few holes. They need one arm in the rotation, and one or two in the bullpen, as well as a center fielder. They have a good trade chip in JJ Hardy and could possibly entertain trading Prince Fielder. They need to open up spots for top prospects Alcidies Escobar and Mat Gamel. Hardy is more likely to be dealt because his bat would be easier to replace than Fielder’s. Plus, a lot of other good first baseman could be on the market with Mike Jacobs and Ryan Howard in trades and Mark Teixera and Jason Giambi on the free agent market. There should be a huge market for Hardy, with only two above average shortstops avalable via free agency. I have previously said that JJ Hardy for Nick Blackburn would make sense, and I still believe that. Another possibility is Hardy to the Oriols for George Sherrill and Daniel Cabrera. Or to the Blue Jays for maybe Shaun Marcum or Dustin McGowen. The Brewers could always add a piece to make it work. To the Royals for David DeJesus or Ran Mahay and a piece. To the A’s for one of their several pitching prospects. Or maybe for Huston Street instead. To the Giants for Jonathan Sanchez. Or the Dodgers for Scott Elbert or Justin McGownen and a bullpen piece. There are many options. They should pick up the option on Mike Cameron. 10 million is a lot for him, but they have a lot of money to burn and could afford him. I think they’ll spend a lot of money on their bullpen as well. Although, they did that last year and it didn’t work. They could look into resigning Sheets, but Sabathia has no chance of coming back. If they resign Sheets they could be just as good as they were last year, with Yovani Gallardo coming back from injury. The Brewers can still be a very good team in ’09, probably just not as good as they were in ’08.
I think in the offseason, a JJ Hardy for Nick Blackburn trade would make a lot of sense. It is certain that the Brewers will shop Hardy in the offseason to make room for Alcidies Escobar, and would probably want pitching in return. The Twins would likely be in the market for shortstop, like many other teams. Loosing a #3 starter like Blackburn would hurt the Twins, but they have a lot of pitching depth. They could easily replace Blackburn with Kevin Mulvey, or maybe giving Boof Bonser another chance. Hardy would be a big bat that could hit second in the lineup. The Brewers would solve their starting pitching problems, with Blackburn and Yovani Gallardo replacing Ben Sheets and CC Sabathia. They could use the rest of their money to get some bullpen help.