Making spring training predictions usually guarantees two things:
1) You will hit on a few.
2) You will miss on a lot more.
Since we’re now through more than a quarter of the 2013 season, let’s take a look at five predictions that I already wish I could have back, and (in the interest of self-congratulation) 5 other shots that landed much closer to the mark.
What I said: “Daniel Bard will spend the entire season on a major league roster, and by Memorial Day his return to prominence will be a major story line.”
What was I thinking? I bought into the hopeful assumption that whatever was wrong with Bard could be solved by reuniting with his former pitching coach, John Farrell. It’s now become quite apparent that the problems are much bigger than that, and certainly won’t be a quick fix. Sadly, as covered by our friends at Over the Monster today, Bard isn’t even pitching in minor league games at this point. He is well on his way to becoming one of those sad stories that reminds us of just how much high-level athletic performance is mental.
What I said: “Newly acquired closer Joel Hanrahan will save 40+ games. Most of them will take years off of your life, but he will be a Top 5 American League closer.”
What was I thinking? I was remembering two Red Sox losses against the Pirates on June 24 & June 25 in 2011. Hanrahan lowered his ERA to 1.24 in those appearances, closing out his 21st and 22nd saves in dominant fashion (2 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 0 BB). Whether or not you want to give him the benefit of the doubt that he wasn’t healthy in his appearances this year, the guy that wore the Pirates’ black and gold two years ago never showed up in a Boston uniform this season.
What I said: “I enter the season with the Shane Victorino signing being my least favorite of the 2012-13 offseason.”
What was I thinking? I was thinking that Victorino was mediocre at best in 2012, posting only 2.6 WAR with the Phillies and Dodgers. I was thinking that I would rather have had Cody Ross’s bat, even though that unfortunately means that you also get Cody Ross’s glove. I failed to realize just how much of an impact the 3-time Gold Glove winning center fielder could have as our every day right fielder. The two game-changing catches (which can be seen here and here) that he made in the 8th inning of last Thursday’s game against the Rays demonstrated just how valuable he can be whether or not he hits. But, when you include his .283 average and .343 on base percentage, he has gone from my least favorite signing to one of my favorites in a hurry.
What I said: “Toronto Blue Jays (92-70) – A rotation with R.A. Dickey, Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle, Brandon Morrow, and Ricky Romero has to win the division, doesn’t it? I’m always hesitant with a team that made so many additions, but on paper they are the most talented team in the division.”
What was I thinking? The Offseason Champion never pans out. Just ask the 2012 Marlins, the 2011 Phillies, or the 2002-2005 Yankees. Shoot, if our own 2011 Red Sox didn’t teach us that lesson, we’ll never learn it. But did that stop me from picking the Blue Jays to win the AL East, the Angels to win the AL West, and the Dodgers to win an NL Wild Card spot? Of course not! (I just set an iCal reminder for next February 1st to re-read that last paragraph before proceeding with any 2014 prediction pieces.) We’re not even to Memorial Day and two of the Blue Jays starting pitchers have missed time with injuries (Josh Johnson got hurt? Unbelievable!) and Ricky Romero has spent his year making Daniel Bard feel like maybe he’s not so alone after all.
What I said: “New York Yankees (84-78) – The starting pitching is still far above average, but other than Robinson Cano, where is the offense going to come from? I just can’t see how this lineup makes up a playoff team.”
What was I thinking? In my defense, I didn’t know that the Yankees would be trading for an offensive superstar like Vernon Wells (OPS+ of 128, the highest for him since 2006), or making a major spring training addition like Lyle Overbay (7 HR in 2013 after hitting 11 total in 2011 & 2012).
But seriously, how is that lineup scoring runs? Kudos to Joe Girardi, because if you had been in a coma since the beginning of April and I showed you the lineups the Yankees are running out there right now, you would give them no chance of being a .500 team.
The Proof: Through 46 games, Ross’ CERA is 2.69, and Salty’s is 4.35. To this point my prediction of a one run difference has actually been pretty generous to Jarrod.
What I said: “Will the 2010 version of Clay Buchholz ever resurface? I think that he will this season, and if he does he will quickly become one of the most valuable players on this roster.”
The Proof: 7-0, 1.73 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, .194 BAA, averaging over 7 innings per start. He has been even better than what we saw out of him three seasons ago. Few, if any, would argue that he has been the club’s MVP to this point in the season.
What I said: “Andrew Bailey will make a minimum of one trip to the disabled list.”
The Proof: Come on, I had to make sure that I got one right. This one was free money. Now let’s just hope that it’s only one trip.
What I said: “Travis Hafner has only played in more than 94 games once since 2007. He’s a classic Brian Cashman low-cost, high-reward signing. If he’s awful they are out $2 million, which is like you and me dropping a nickel and not stopping to pick it up. If he’s miraculously healthy, he’ll probably hit 30 HR over that little league distance right field fence. I’m terrified of him, this is the kind of signing (please reference Raul Ibanez in 2012 and Ruben Sierra in 2004 among many others) that just always seems to come up roses for the Yankees.”
The Proof: Hafner has 8 HR and a .933 OPS in 35 games for the Yankees. Why wouldn’t he?
What I said: “Baltimore Orioles (76-82) – 2012’s luckiest team will likely come back down to earth in 2013. If you think they will go 29-9 in 1-run games or win 16 straight extra-innings contests again this season, you probably have an Oriole logo tattooed somewhere on your body. That’s not happening.”
The Proof: The O’s are 4-3 in extra innings, and 7-6 in 1-run games. Closer Jim Johnson‘s H/9, BB/9, WHIP and ERA are all up from his outstanding 2012 season, and he’s already given up as many HR (3) and blown saves (3) as he did all of last year. The Orioles are a talented team, but the kind of things that happened for this team in 2012 are just not sustainable, although they may be transferable (just ask the Indians).