Big League Stew - MLB

With the 2011 season now underway, it's time to let loose our predictions for the season and award races ahead. Feel free to use them against us in the coming months as we're proven terribly wrong time and time again.

Kevin Kaduk
World Series pick: Giants over Red Sox

Am I making this pick because I don't want this post to start off looking like ESPN's why-play-the-season prediction list from 45 Boston Red Sox fans? Sorta.

Am I making this pick to appease the San Francisco Giants who are somehow still defensive and angry after their team won a World Series? Kinda.

But I'm mainly making this pick because it's about time that someone starts extolling the virtues of pitching winning championships at the beginning of the season instead of the middle of October when the team with the deepest set of starters (and bullpen) is racking up win after win. That could be any number of squads this season — the Phillies, the Braves, the White Sox, the Red Sox — but my crystal ball is again showing Bruce Bochy and the Giants standing apart at the end of the season.

(Please, young Giants batters, don't penalize me for my faith in you.)

Playoff results
ALDS: White Sox over Yankees, Red Sox over Rangers
ALCS: Red Sox over White Sox
NLDS:  Giants over Braves, Phillies over Reds
NLCS: Giants over Phillies

* * *

AL MVP
'Duk: Alex Rodriguez(notes), Yankees
DB: Robinson Cano(notes), Yankees
Alex: Adrian Gonzalez(notes), Red Sox
Townsend: Adrian Gonzalez, Red Sox
Ian: Adrian Gonzalez, Red Sox
Iracane: Adrian Beltre(notes), Rangers

NL MVP
'Duk: Albert Pujols(notes), Cardinals
DB: Jason Heyward(notes), Braves
Alex: Albert Pujols, Cardinals
Townsend: Troy Tulowitzki(notes), Rockies
Ian: Ryan Howard(notes), Phillies
Iracane: Ryan Braun(notes), Brewers

* * *

David Brown, BLS editor
World Series pick:  Phillies over White Sox

I'm simply imagining the most enjoyable matchup possible of World Series managers, and Charlie Manuel vs. Ozzie Guillen would give us the funnest -- to use the parlance of our times -- such pairing in recent history. It's too bad their best stories probably would all be off the record, but the combination of homespun humor and bilingual non sequiturs would set a World Series record. It's been too long since Ozzie has been on a national stage (save for his occasional forays on FOX) and this is shaping up to be the best White Sox team since the '05 champs. It's also been too long since A.J. Pierzynski(notes) pissed someone off in a game that meant something. If Jake Peavy(notes) can keep his wayward lat muscle attached, I'm telling you, another South Side Series is in the bag.

The Phillies don't look so good right now, but we have weeks and months to get closer Brad Lidge(notes) and outfielder Domonic Brown(notes) healthy. The Atlanta Braves might have to be considered favorites to win the NL East, but the Phillies will be good enough to qualify as a wild card and then, come October, they will be at their best. Roy Halladay(notes), Cliff Lee(notes), Roy Oswalt(notes) and Cole Hamels(notes) -- not even the finest ninja force imaginable could beat them in the playoffs.

Playoff results
ALDS: White Sox over Rays, Yankees over A's
ALCS: White Sox over Yankees
NLDS:  Phillies over Giants, Braves over Reds
NLCS: Phillies over Braves

* * *

AL Cy Young
'DukJohn Danks(notes), White Sox
DB: David Price(notes), Rays
Alex: Felix Hernandez(notes), Mariners
Townsend: Felix Hernandez, Mariners
Ian: Justin Verlander(notes), Tigers
Iracane: Felix Hernandez, Mariners

NL Cy Young
'Duk: Roy Halladay, Phillies
DB: Josh Johnson(notes), Marlins
Alex: Roy Halladay, Phillies
Townsend: Clayton Kershaw(notes), Dodgers
Ian: Yovani Gallardo(notes), Brewers
Iracane: Roy Halladay, Phillies

* * *

Alex Remington, BLS contributor
World Series pick: Red Sox over Phillies

The two teams which won the offseason are destined to meet again in October. The Phillies have the horses but not the chariot. Halladay and Lee will likely make four starts, and they'll surely do yeoman's work, but the Red Sox offense will eventually be able to wear them down and expose the Phillies' hidden weakness — middle relief. The Philly rotation will make mincemeat of the National League all year, but the injury-depleted Philly offense and bullpen will be no match for the superior Sox roster depth.

Playoff Results
NLDS
: Braves over Reds, Phillies over Giants
NLCS: Phillies over Braves
ALDS: Red Sox over Twins, Yankees over Rangers
ALCS: Red Sox over Yankees

* * *

AL Rookie of the Year
'Duk: Michael Pineda(notes), Mariners
DB: Mike Moustakas(notes), Royals
Alex: Mike Moustakas, Royals
Townsend: Jeremy Hellickson(notes), Rays
Ian: Kyle Drabek(notes), Jays
Iracane: Mike Trout(notes), Angels

NL Rookie of the Year
'Duk: Brandon Belt(notes), Giants
DB: Freddie Freeman(notes), Braves
Alex: Freddie Freeman, Braves
Townsend: Brandon Belt, Giants
Ian: Freddie Freeman, Braves
Iracane: Freddie Freeman, Braves

* * *

Ian Casselberry, BLS contributor
World Series pick:  Red Sox over Reds

Apparently, I like the movie "The Hunt for Red October" so much that I can't wait for all the bad headlines and puns that await my envisioned postseason. The Red Sox seem like such a solid pick that I spent more time trying to figure out reasons that they can't win. But I was unsuccessful. Boston has a great lineup, deep bullpen and a rotation that could be good, all with a general manager that will work to make them even better. (Buck Showalter might disagree.) Meanwhile, the Reds take the next step from last year's division title and score just enough runs to get past the Phillies into the World Series. Their pitching can't handle the Red Sox lineup, however.

Playoff results
ALDS
: Red Sox over White Sox, Rangers over Yankees
NLDS: Phillies over Brewers, Reds over Giants
ALCS: Red Sox over Rangers
NLCS: Reds over Phillies

* * *

AL Comeback Player of the Year
'Duk: Chone Figgins(notes), Mariners
DB: Grady Sizemore(notes), Indians
Alex: Chone Figgins, Mariners
Townsend: Joe Nathan(notes), Twins
Ian: Manny Ramirez(notes), Rays
Iracane: Derek Jeter(notes), Yankees

NL Comeback Player of the Year
'Duk: Javier Vazquez(notes), Marlins
DB: Clay Zavada(notes), Diamondbacks
Alex: Carlos Pena, Cubs
Townsend: Brad Hawpe(notes), Padres
Ian: Carlos Beltran(notes), Mets
Iracane: Carlos Beltran, Mets

* * *

Mark Townsend, BLS contributor
World Series Pick: Red Sox over Phillies

All that talk about the Phillies not having enough offense will quiet once everyone realizes four or five runs a night is plenty enough to coast into the World Series. Then that talk will resurface in late October when the Phils squeak past Colorado and fall to Boston in six. I expect the Red Sox's loaded offense to put a few dents in the four aces, while Philadelphia's offense again fails to come up with the game-changing hits (reminiscent of last year's NLCS). Also, Theo Epstein's investments will pay off big as Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford(notes) share MVP honors.

ALDS: Red Sox over A's, White Sox over Yankees
ALCS: Red Sox over White Sox
NLDS: Phillies over Reds, Rockies over Braves
NLCS: Phillies over Rockies

* * *

Rob Iracane, BLS contributor
World Series pick: Yankees over Braves in four.

After a grueling set of tiebreaker games between the Yankees, Rays and Red Sox, each of whom finished with 92 wins in the East, New York will emerge on top of the division, snag the pennant, and topple Fredi Gonzalez's team in the Fall Classic. Bartolo Colon(notes) will win two games in relief, Eric Chavez(notes) will collect a walkoff ground-rule double, Andruw Jones(notes) will make a series-ending diving catch, and the Bronx will party like it's 1999 all over again. Break out the Eagle-Eye Cherry CD!

NLDS: Brewers over Phillies, Braves over Rockies
NLCS: Braves over Brewers
ALDS: Yankees over Angels, Red Sox over Twins
ALCS: Yankees over Red Sox

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