The Milton Bradley Lottery

The often hot-tempered, but wildly talented Milton Bradley was benched last night in Seattle’s home game against the Tampa Bay Rays. Bradley was batting clean-up, but manager Don Wakamatsu pulled him from the game after a second strikeout in the sixth inning.

Bradley did not stay around for post-game festivities, and his teammates said, according to the ESPN article, that his mind was “not good” Tuesday night. And all of this brings the question: What will Milton Bradley do next?

He’s confronted umpires (once resulting in a torn ACL) and broadcast personnel, he’s clashed head-to-head with Lou Piniella (a man also known for a quick temper at times), been suspended by his own team, and just about everything else.

In asking what is next, EJSIC does not care about what happens in his baseball career, or where his next team is located. No, we want to know what action Bradley takes next. Does he stab an umpire or even his coach? Maybe even with a trident?

I have no idea what is next, but your guess is as good as mine. I sincerely wish Milton Bradley good luck, and I hope he behaves better, but it sure is hard to root for a guy who constantly finds himself in the middle of controversy.

MLB predictions sure to be wrong

Now that I’ve successfully turned EJSIC into a baseball blog, I will take the next step by providing some predictions for each division as well as the major award winners. I preface these prognostications by saying baseball is one of the hardest sports to accurately predict. It’s difficult enough to choose a World Series champion before the playoffs start and that is after the teams have played 162 games. But despite the odds, I’m putting my neck on the chopping block.

American League

East: New York Yankees – The Yanks are the most complete team in baseball. They have four solid starting pitchers, a potent offense, and Mariano Rivera at the end of the game.

Chicago White Sox – The South-siders are a sleeper team for the World Series. Mark Buerhle and Jake Peavy are a solid one-two combo, and Paul Konerko is poised to have a big season.

West: Seattle Mariners – Seattle will finally overtake the Angels this season. They have a good offense, but Felix Hernandez and Cliff Lee (with the possibility of Erik Bedard returning by June) puts them over the reigning AL West champions.

Wild Card: Boston Red Sox – The Sox have a deep pitching staff (a theme with these picks), and just enough offense to defeat the rest of the contenders.

MVP: Mark Teixeira (New York) – Once ARod returned to the lineup last season, Teixeira’s production soared. With Rodriguez present all season, I expect “Tex” to have a monster season with the short porch in right

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Seattle ace Felix Hernandez

Cy Young: Felix Hernandez (Seattle) – “King Felix” posted Cy-worthy numbers last season, but Zach Grienke won the award (and deservedly so). Hernandez will turn 24 this season and is coming off the best season of his young career. He is only going to get better.

Rookie of the Year: Brian Matusz (Baltimore) – The South-Paw tasted the big league last season after a late call-up, and showed signs of both good and bad. The good was his strikeout to walk ratio while the bad included his low groundball frequency. However, Matusz still has plenty of time to learn the art of pitching.

National League

East: Philadelphia Phillies – Manager Charlie Manuel boasts the most complete team in the league, and with the addition of Roy Halladay, anything short of a third straight World Series appearance would be considered a failure.

Central: St. Louis Cardinals – Again, this is an easy pick for the division. The Cards have Adam Wainwright and Chris Carpenter at the top of the of the rotation plus a full season of Matt Holliday protecting Albert Pujols.

West: Colorado Rockies – Get ready for a second straight Rocktober as Colorado will dethrone the Dodgers division crown. They’re going to score a lot of runs with Troy Tulowitzki in the middle of it and Ubaldo Jimenez leading the pitching staff.

Wild Card: Atlanta Braves – General Manager Frank Wren has built a solid pitching staff with youthful talent and veteran experience. The Braves will also be relying on an increase in run production, especially from the oft-injured Troy Glaus. If Glaus recaptures his 2008 numbers, the Braves will be returning to the postseason.

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Rockies Short Stop Troy Tulowitzki

MVP: Troy Tulowitzki (Colorado) – The Rockies are poised to make a World Series run, and it will hinge on their All-Star short stop. He presents a nice balance of power and contact at the plate as well as playing great defense.

Cy Young: Josh Johnson (Florida) – The two easy picks for this award would be Tim Lincecum (since he’s won it two years consecutively) and Roy Halladay (dominant pitcher moving to an easier division). However, I’m going with the young Marlins ace Johnson. He’s a big guy who can take the workload of an entire season and remain consistent. He will keep Florida in the race all season.

Rookie of the Year: Jason Heyward (Atlanta) – Heyward was the minor league player of the year last season, and named the number one prospect in all of baseball before Spring Training. He will be the starting right fielder for Atlanta. Heyward is a five star talent who will make jaws drop across the nation.

Playoffs

American League champion: Chicago White Sox over the New York Yankees in 7

National League champion: Colorado Rockies over the Philadelphia Phillies in 6

World Series champion: Colorado Rockies in 6

Two Questions: AL West

Today, EJSIC takes you to the West division of the American League. The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim have strangled the division in recent years, but it appears very open in 2010.

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
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1. Who replaces departed ace John Lackey? The Angels lost Lackey because, according to his words, he wanted to play for a winning team (and that “winning team” was defeated by the Angels in the first round of the playoffs last season, ironically). The Angels signed free agent Joel Pineiro to take up some of the void, but they will also rely on returning starters Jered Weaver and Joe Saunders.

2. Can World Series MVP Hideki Matsui replace Vladimir Guerrero? Matsui is identical to Guerrero in that both players are declining defensively, but still provide a good enough bat to warrant a spot as the designated hitter. Matsui will bring a more disciplined approach to the plate, but who wants that when you can see Guerrero hit a home run that bounces ten feet shy of the plate (Sabermetrics need not answer)?

Oakland Athletics
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1. Is Ben Sheets healthy? For most of the 2000s, Sheets was one of the best pitchers in all of baseball. Arm injuries kept him out of action last season, but he’s returned this year, claiming to be fully healthy. If he is as healthy as he says, then Sheets can provide a relatively young rotation with valuable experience. Guys like Justin Duchscherer, Trevor Cahill, and Dallas Braden can learn from the veteran.

2. Do they have the offense to compete? The A’s have the pitching, at least they do on paper, to compete in a wide open division. But do they have the offense? They will not be relying on the long ball, instead GM Billy Beane has built a team based around speed and getting on base. Perhaps if the oft-injured Eric Chavez can stay healthy and provide some power in the middle of the lineup, the A’s could find themselves in the race late into the season.

Seattle Mariners
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1. Do they finally challenge the Angels for the division crown? The Mariners seemingly win the off-season every year only to find themselves behind the Angels once again. The Mariners improved tremendously from 2008 to 2009 and now they’ve added All-Star 3B Chone Figgins (former Angel), former Cy Young winner Cliff Lee, and a cantankerous, but good player in Milton Bradley.

2. Can the Mariners have the best rotation in the American League? They have two aces on staff in “King” Felix Hernandez and Cliff Lee. Plus, they are looking forward to the return of Erik Bedard by mid-season. That’s three top of the rotation pitchers if they all stay healthy.

Texas Rangers
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1. Do they have enough pitching? Every season pundits across the nation ask the same question of the Rangers. And each season, they fall short. Now, they’ve traded away or waived their two veteran pitchers from last season in Kevin Millwood and Vicente Padilla. They did trade for Rich Harden who can be outstanding at times, but has struggled with injuries in the past. They will rely on some relative unknowns in Scott Feldman, Derek Holland, and Tommy Hunter.

2. How will the combo of Vlad Guerrero and Josh Hamilton perform? Both players are quality offensive guys when healthy. However, Guerrero has reached his mid-30s and is basically limited to being a DH. Hamilton is still a five tool talent, but he could not remain healthy for most of 2009 after his breakout season in 2008. If the Rangers want to win the division, both guys will need to deliver solid production throughout.