Wednesday, March 30, 2016

30 Teams, 30 Haiku: My 2016 Baseball Preview

It seems hard to believe, but the 2016 baseball season starts in a few days. A particularly zany free agent season left more questions than answers; the NL West had more turnovers than a church bake sale, and who finishes last in the AL East is anyone's guess. That followed a bizarre season where Detroit and Cincinnati both finished in last place, a record number of position players pitched in relief --including the ALCS-- and the once-dormant Kansas City Royals hoisted the Commissioner's Trophy (I'm still giddy with disbelief). As I do every year, I'm going to try to make sense of all the mishegoss, 17 syllables at a time.

NOTE: asterisks for wild card picks

1. Blue Jays. Bats over pitching/high-scoring fun ev’ry day/short-term fireworks.
2. Red Sox*. The life of Pablo/gets easier; free agents/will turn things around.
3. Rays. Zen Archer leads arms/they’ll do the heavy lifting/as their bats struggle.
4. Yankees. A-Rod and Beltran/carry the offense; that’s great/...a decade ago.
5. Orioles. Davis, overpaid/Many questions, X-factors/Contenders? Doubtful.

1. Royals. Unlikely world champs/are now sitting ducks; are the/starting arms enough?
2. Tigers*. Beaucoup injuries/derailed last year; weary vets/might prove effective.
3. Indians. Ignore the slow start/Brantley needs to get healthy/to boost dark horse run.
4. Twins. So many prospects/surround old backstop Mauer/expect growing pains.
5. White Sox. Spring training power/surge might not last; weak defense/got a slight upgrade.

1. Astros. Last year's big surprise/another year older; deep/rotation holds edge.
2. Rangers. These old cowpokes have/one more run; too bad the youth/keep getting injured.
3. Angels. Mike Trout, big tuna/superstar, carrying a/mediocre team.
4. Mariners. Ace needs run support/King Felix: "lend me your ears"/Adam Lind helps, kinda.
5. Athletics. Look over Yonder/too many bullpen questions/to avoid dead last.

1. Nationals. Win now or else, Bryce/DC must seize the moment/in spite of Dusty.
2. Mets*. If Wright stays healthy/and Yoenis does more than just/mash, they’ll top the Nats.
3. Marlins. Who is older, Bonds/or Ichiro? Florida/seniors stay active.
4. Phillies. Rebuild in progress/(at last); the future rests in/Nola and Franco.
5. Braves. Freddie Freeman, their/sole legitimate hitter/new ballpark awaits.

1. Cubs. Young guns are ready/win the NLCS or/s*** their pants again?
2. Cardinals. "The Cardinal Way"/is south; don't expect hunt for/Red(bird) October.
3. Pirates. Living on ground balls/and moxie; they're the third best/in a stacked Central.
4. Brewers. Complete overhaul/just beginning; aging Braun/and little muscle.
5. Reds. Votto looks slimmer/younger guys, lighter payroll/but Price writes bad checks.

1. Dodgers. Slight favorites; their/surplus of outfielders will/carry them so far.
2. Giants*. This is an arms race/Cueto joins stacked rotation/in an even year.
3. D-Backs. Not much depth after/Greinke, Miller, and Corbin/more bats needed, too.
4. Padres. Cashner ain't money/healthy hitters make up for/atrocious bullpen.
5. Rockies. Great outfield squandered/can you ask Peyton Manning/if he's ever pitched?

NL MVP: Kris Bryant, Cubs
AL MVP: Mike Trout, Angels
NL Cy Young: Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers
AL Cy Young: Chris Archer, Rays
NL ROY: Corey Seager, Dodgers
AL ROY: Jose Berrios, Twins
First Manager Fired: Bryan Price, Reds
2016 World Series: Dodgers over Blue Jays in 6

Play ball!

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