In the world of sequels the second part of this list falls somewhere between “The Substitute 2: School’s Out” and Dick Gephardt’s run for President in 2004. But we move on…
(Thanks for the emails killing me on last week’s list. I was called a Yankee homer and a Red Sox mouthpiece. Also, Mets fans (three, anyway) blame me for Johan Santana’s elbow. Throw in my sexuality being questioned (for caring about who won Best Supporting Actress) and it was a rough week. Hopefully this will be some sort of redemption. I still think Viola Davis was robbed. And if I’m not macho why did I listen to “Easy Lover” six times yesterday? The defense rests.)
52. Dustin Pedroia does not repeat as AL MVP.
53. He does finish fifth in the voting, however, with a .322, 18, 96 line.
Top 10 2009 MVP ballot:
2. Grady Sizemore
3. Joe Mauer
4. Mariano Rivera
5. Pedroia (with one first-place vote, courtesy of Mr. Evan Grant)
6. Vladimir Guerrero (last great season)
7. Justin Morneau
8. A-Rod (more on his season later)
9. David Ortiz
10. Miguel Cabrera (too low, maybe)
54. Number of at-bats for Barry Bonds in 2009: Zero. I think the guy is toxic. You’ll hear rumors all season, but he has played his last game in the majors.
55. Number of days spent by Barry Bonds in prison in 2009? Zero.
(I will confess, however, to some jealousy. How loyal is Greg Anderson? I’m convinced that I have no one in my life that could spend even a month in jail without ratting me out. Anderson’s been in the can for what, 30 years now?)
56. The MLB game with the lowest attendance in 2009?
Padres at Pittsburgh on September 21st. Seems to be the perfect storm (Monday, late in the season, two of the worst teams in baseball, a night game (no kids). I’ll go with 2,084 tickets sold and 688 people in the stands.
57. Chad Finn shatters a glass house.
58. The Padres will be the worst team in baseball (106 losses).
If I were a Padres fan I’d be done. Really, what’s the point? They sign Jake Peavy, a Cy Young winner just entering his prime, to a contract that is probably below market value. And now they decide that they can’t keep him (and announce that they are trying to deal him—smart). So what’ll happen? They’ll trade him for a couple of prospects that are a few years away and control those guys for six years or so. Great. Guess what happens if one of those guys turns into an All-Star? Ship him out to another big market and get three more Single A guys. I don’t know how some fans do it. But at least they locked up David Eckstein and his gritty, gutty .361 career slugging percentage.
59. Both the Pirates and Nationals get near 100 losses but fall just short.
60. The Starbury era goes well. He gives the Celtics 15-18 minutes a game with no headaches. Not Bill Walton, but not Artis Gilmore, either. They still lose to the Cavs, however, and Big Steph moves on to Europe (continent, not the band, though I understand that he, like Gob Bluth, is a fan of this little diddy).
61. The Red Sox do not make a move of any consequence at the trade deadline (although Brandon Webb/Peavy talk is all over the radio for weeks).
62. Mike Lowell will struggle again in 2009 (.266, 14, 64).
63. A return to earth for Cliff Lee. 14-8 with a 3.88 ERA.
64. The other 2008 Cy Young winner? 18-6 with a 2.90 ERA for Tim Lincecum in 2009 as he finishes third in Cy balloting.
65. Should I make the tennis picks? Does anyone care?
French: Nadal over Federer.
Wimbledon: Federer over Andy Murray
US Open: Federer over Nadal.
(No love for my current favorite player, the baseline specialist from Serbia, Janko Tipsarevic. Maybe a quarterfinal at the French. And zippo supremo (to paraphrase the great Rupert Pupkin) from Andy Roddick. Whenever I look at Roddick I am reminded of the Brad Pitt line to Kevin Spacey in Se7en—“You’re a movie of the week. You’re a f---ing t-shirt, at best”. )
66. I almost forget Jason Bay is with the Red Sox (to his credit). His 2009 season? .288, 24, 90.
67. Bay also signs a four-year deal for $42 million in July.
68. A-Rod’s cousin gets a book deal.
69. Obama’s approval rating at the end of the 2009 MLB season? 48 percent.
(By the way, thumbs up to the First Lady the other night. Any other wives of POTUS in history that could’ve pulled that outfit off? A “Michelle Obama MILF” search on Google nets about 50,000 matches. The same search for Roslyn Carter? Just nine grand. And my personal favorite, Sarah Polk? 411.)
70. Though he has yielded the title of Most Exciting Player in Baseball to Hanley Ramirez, Jose Reyes still tops 100 runs (for a fourth straight year) and 200 hits (for the second time) in 2009. A fantasy owner can do a lot worse with a top five pick.
71. I’ll jump on the Daniel Murphy train (uh) and call him out as the 2009 NL Rookie of the Year. He gets the everyday call in LF and hits .290. Here’s what you have to like about Murphy—131 at-bats for the Mets in 2008 and 18 walks (.397 OBP).
72. I’m thinking a big step-back year for Josh Hamilton (any red flags flying over those bombs at Yankee Stadium?). He was lousy on the road in 2008 (.263 average, .448 slugging) and had just an OK second half. I think he struggles to hit 20 homers.
73. Another 2008 All-Star that’ll need a ticket to watch in 2009 is Justin Duchscherer. He was awful in the second half last season (4.91 ERA) and already has elbow pain. The over/under on his starts in 2009 is 9.5 and I’ll take the under.
74. That “other” list of 103 will get leaked sometime in the summer.
75. And it will be a disaster, of course. Former MVPs and a bunch of All-Stars. Toss in another Cy Young winner or two and you’ve got a solid month of headlines.
(Sorta off-topic, but if I’m Tom Verducci and I’ve got what is basically the copy for a Roger Clemens workout infomercial on my résumé I’d be 100 percent sure before I put my name on this.)
76. Lance Armstrong does race in the 2009 Tour de France.
77. He finishes eighth in what will be final Tour appearance (your winner? Marcus Summers. I’m not sure Alexandra Paul ever had a prime, but that movie would’ve been it.)
78. Trevor Hoffman doesn’t last the season as the closer for the Brewers.
79. The best pitcher in baseball that no one knows (except for fantasy losers like myself), Joakim Soria (career batting average against is .178) matches his 2008 total with 42 saves and moves into that elite group of closers.
80. A group that will once again include Joe Nathan, who saves a league-best 46 games for the Twins to further cement one of the most lopsided trades in history.
81. Jonathan Papelbon? 40 saves on the nose and a 1.88 ERA.
82. And his perfect postseason ERA will stay intact.
83. But the top closer in baseball and the 2009 AL Cy Young Award winner will be Mariano Rivera. Pencil him in for 44 saves, a WHIP of .88 and an ERA of 1.68.
This Mount Rushmore bit on ESPN was not to be taken seriously, I guess, but to put Derek Jeter over Rivera is insane. To me, Rivera is the single most valuable pitcher of the last 25 years. This will be his 13th season as the Yankees closer (and don’t forget—many feel his best season was as a set-up man in 1996). Think Jonathan Papelbon will still be getting it done in 2019?
84. The best record in the NL? The Cubs, who finish at 98-64.
85. This may turn out to be the whiff of all whiffs, but I expect Rich Harden to make 30 starts for the Cubs. Look for an 18-10 season (2.96 ERA) and a Game 1 start in the NLDS.
(A fantasy baseball note: Harden KILLED me from 2005-07. Drafted him each year and watched him make a whopping 32 starts in total. Just broke my heart. So we called it quits for 2008 (probably you read about it on TMZ). A little bit of a full disclosure here: I’m going to draft him again, probably a round or two early. So a 30-start season is more of a hope. Gun to my head? He makes 14 starts. And I’ll probably finish fifth again, curse him and then draft him in 2010. Let’s just be honest—the two of us have a hell of a romantic comedy going on.)
86. Ken Griffey Jr. is a non-story in Seattle. 18 home runs (that’ll give him 629 for his career) and then he retires as the unofficial home run king of the steroid era.
87. And the Mariners go further into oblivion, winning 66 games. Hard to believe they won 88 games in 2007.
88. 2009 NFL Draft?
The Pats keep their first-round pick and take D.J. Moore (cornerback, Vanderbilt).
89. But they trade a pair of seconds in 2009 and a fourth in 2010 to Carolina for Julius Peppers.
(There is no way they would dump Cassel and Vrabel for just the 34th pick in the draft. This was a move to shed money to make a big play at Peppers.)
90. Bernard Pollard is instantly Cassel’s favorite teammate. I mean, how strange is sports? If Pollard gets blocked Cassel is living in a condo in North Attleboro, a backup for the rest of his career.
91. Matt Holliday is fine in Oakland (.292, 26, 96).
92. The Athletics don’t challenge for the AL West (or a wild card) but resist trading Holliday, figuring they’d rather have the two first-round picks.
93. Chris Berman will break out a fresh move at the home run derby, suggesting that the balls are going so far that they will land in suburbs of St. Louis (I think he goes with Maplewood, Clayton and Overland).
94. The biggest surprise in baseball this season will be the San Francisco Giants, who win 88 games and the NL West. A rotation of Lincecum, Matt Cain, Randy Johnson, Barry Zito (don’t laugh—6-5 with a .232 batting average against in the second half last season) and Kevin Pucetas is pretty solid.
95. The biggest surprise of 2008 will take a small step back in 2009, as the Rays finish third in the AL East with 88 wins.
96. BC makes the NCAA tournament as an eight seed, knocking off Ohio State in the first round before falling to North Carolina in the second round.
97. North Carolina, Pittsburgh, Louisville (still waiting for that press conference, Rick) and (thinking of a mid-seed team that can make it) LSU in the Final Four.
I’ll go with Carolina over Pitt in the final.
98. Curt Schilling does not pitch in 2009. Neither does any other blogger on WEEI.com. Don’t count out 2010, however (for Schilling, I mean. I firmly believe that Mike Petraglia will stay retired).
(One other bonus 2010 prediction. Jay Leno takes over The Tonight Show in October. Poor Conan. What a trap. Could it be more obvious? Conan struggles at 11:35 because Leno takes a big chunk of the late-night crowd an hour earlier. The ratings are way down and they are forced to make a move. Guess who is still on the NBC payroll and more than happy to take over?)
99. The Red Sox win 94 games, good enough for the wild card. The Yankees win 96.
100. Red Sox over Anaheim in the ALDS (in four), Yankees over the Twins (in four). Cubs over the Marlins (in five) and the Mets over the Giants (in four). Cubs take the Mets out in six in the NLCS.
101. Yankees over the Sox in a seven-game ALCS classic.
102. They lose the World Series, however, to the Cubs in six games (World Series MVP is Carlos Zambrano). A-Rod (who will date Teri Hatcher and join Scientology in 2009) has a brutal series (2-22) after a so-so (for him) regular season (36 homers, 108 RBI).
103. Pete Rose is reinstated at the All-Star Game. With all the stuff in baseball today Charlie Hustle’s gambling (on his own team—dopey but still should be mentioned) seems nearly quaint. Throw in that he has admitted and apologized for what he has done and Selig finally relents.
Kirk Minihane, WEEI.com Contributor, is the resident Fantasy Sports expert for WEEI.com.