Can Giants Repeat? How Good are Cubs & Padres? Is Rendon New Face of Baseball? Collazo’s NL Preview


Can the Giants Repeat? How good are the Chicago Cubs?

Can Matt Harvey help the Mets play meaningful games in September? How good are the Padres or Nats?

Are the Phillies the worst team in baseball??

Here are the predictions of Michael Collazo: Latino Sports Talk’s Official Baseball Yoda and suffering Phillies fan.

NL East:
The Nats
: May be best team in baseball. Their 6th starter, Tanner Roark, would be the Phillies’ second or third starter. Scherzer, Zim, Strasburg, Gio….really good and deep. The DC squad doesn’t have any big weakness really, save maybe a bullpen closer, Drew Storen, that has been good in regular season but has had some horror stories in the post-season. Bryce Harper still hasn’t had the superstar breakout year so we will see if this is the year or not. Anthony Rendon is a better player than Bryce but he was not the media phenom as a teenager like Bryce. The one thing that can kill them would be injuries. They have a few hurt going into opening day.

The Fish: Both the Marlins and Mets should be in the 84-88 games range depending on how things breakout. I have Miami a game or two higher than the Queens Team because the

Marcell Ozuna
Is Ozuna Ready To Help Marlins Make the Playoffs?

“acquisition” they will get in June and July will be Jose Fernandez off of Tommy John. That’s like getting Harvey in the summer. Meanwhile, the Mets – who have a recent track record of keeping their checkbook closed – may not make a trade to upgrade their squad during that same time. Giancarlo Stanton is a beast! 40-plus HR outlook for him. Christian Yelich is a smart AB and a great defender in LF. Really good young player. He and Dee Gordon are tryin’ to bring back those Juan Pierre-Luis Castillo days at the top of the order. Their CF Marcel Ozuna might be a 25-25 or 30-30-type talent. Their starters are Matt Latos, Henderson Alvarez, Jarred Cosart and Dan Haren as they wait for Fernandez. Steve Cishek is important because if he has a bad year, it could cramp the team’s style.

The Metropolitans: I talk up you’re team more than yall! :( I really think they are due to be in the mix in September. The starters are really good and a young arm out of the farm could help in July or August. They have organizational depth there. The O is due to be slightly better because David Wrong, Grandyman, Travis D-Arnaud and even a Ruben Tejada could be a a little better. Michael Cuddyer helps at the plate but not in LF. I always liked Lucas Duda and he proved my hunch last year. Good power, patience at the plate. Bullpen guys like Mejia and Familia have good arms. The rest of that crew of guys you have down there are question marks so that could be an issue to take the next step.

The Bravos: Atlanta is a lesser of two evils pick. Both ATL and Philly could be the worst two teams in baseball. Julio Teheran has a great arm. I have always liked Nick Markakis but he is older now so him in RF is just blah. Freddie Freemen is real solid at 1B. The rest of the team has questions. The organization is playing the long game in anticipation of playing in a new suburban ballpark in a few years so they are in rebuild mode. Their boss is John Hart who built the 90s Indians teams. He’s made a couple of weird moves this winter but has a good track record.

The Fightins: Worst team in baseball. Offense sucks. The OF might hit less than 40 HRs combined. After Cole Hamels, who may not be in a Phillies uniform much longer, there is nothing there. Aaron Harang is just there to eat up innings and be traded. Who else? Jerome “Yes, I’m from Hawaii” Williams? Sean O’Sullivan? Anyone? Anyone? Bullpen is solid but even that can blow up because Pap is getting older and a couple of their big arms walk too many batters. The D is below average. My hope is in August this team is much more fun to watch. By then, you could see a Maikel Franco, a more experience Odubel Herrera and Freddy Galvis play well, a few young arms like Aaron Nola, Jesse Biddle and Ken Giles give us some hope for the future. And maybe we will have a decent young player or two from presumably future trades of guys like Hamels, Harang, Ryan Howard, Chooch or even a Chase Utley. So we will see.

NL Central
St. Louis F#$kin’ Cardinals: I always pick against them so not going to make that mistake. I hate picking them but going for it. They are always just balanced. They got Jason Heyward so knowing them he will have a breakout year. Matt Holliday still hits. Yadier Molina is still going. Their rotation looks good – folks like Adam Wainwright right down to a young bol named Marco Gonzales – and the bullpen seems solid. I just believe in their starters a little bit more than Pittsburgh’s because of Wainwright basically. If he gets hurt or has a bad year (please don’t –

Can McCutchen carry Pirates to playoffs again?
Can McCutchen carry Pirates to playoffs again?

Adam’s on my fantasy team!) then maybe they sink a little.

The Buccos: I am a huge fan of Andrew McCutchen and guys like Josh Harrison, Pedro Alvarez and Neil Walker. Starling Marte and Gregory Polanco make their OF potentially the best in baseball. But this team is like the Orioles in the AL where their crop of position players are really good but their starters are just solid. No big ace. So that holds them back. The key to a big year there is Gerrit Cole. If he breaks out to be an ace, then they can overcome the Cards. If he isn’t quite that good, they may have to ask too much from guys like Francisco Liriano, A.J. Burnett and John Locke.

The Cubbies: Not yet but they are getting there. Remember Back II The Future 2 had the Cubs winning the 2015 WS in a sweep? Well, not yet. Their young players are exciting. Kris Bryant is going to hit bombs once he gets called up in May. Jon Lester is a solid top of the rotation guy. Jake Arrieta had a really good year, though he might take a small step back just say percentages. Jason Hammel is ok. Travis Wood was really bad last year. Kyle Henricks is not a big K guy. Pitching is no better than Pitt’s at its upside. I Like Carlos Rondon as their young closer. IF has Starlin Castro who is talented but makes mistakes defensively. The key to their year I think is seeing if a Arrieta or a Wood can have a really good year which lets them compete on the mound. They would need one of the young bols to really be ready now, like a Jorge Soler. If Soler does like 25-90-.280 and Arrieta does 2.70 ERA and wins 13 games then maybe they make a run on the Cards.

The Brew Crew: I won’t make the same mistake with these guys. Always my sleeper pick but not this year! The pitching just isn’t there. Their ace is now Matt Garza. On a good team he should be more a third or fourth starter. They need a young pitcher named Jimmy Nelson to help them out. They have a good OF – Carlos Gomez is their best player (sorry Ryan Braun) – and their corner guys Aramis Ramirez and Adam Lind can hit but the team is always shaky defensively. They don’ t have high K starters to help that problem. Likely around 78-81 wins this year.

Redlegs: I think the Red are going to have a 2012-2013-Phillies-type year. Trying to do one more push with Joey Votto, Brandon Phillips, Johnny Cueto, Jay Bruce etc. and it turns into an ugly year. This is a good team to be in trade talks with in June or July. Cueto is a FA after this season. I wonder if a guy like Votto or Phillips could be had for the right younger player package. Todd Frazier and Billy Hamilton are really good young players. But beyond Cueto I don’t like their pitching. Homer Bailey is hurt. Mike Leake is strike thrower but that’s it. The rest of the rotation is scary. Aroldis Chapman – I have seen experts wonder if he is due to blow out his arm. That pen has questions beyond him. in a tough division I think these guys will start thinking future once the summer gets late.

NL West
Los Dodgers: This club is just too talented not to win the division. Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke at the top. Hyun-jin Ryu is hurt, yes, but that won’t be all year likely. Even without Matt Kemp they have Yasiel Puig, Joc Pederson, Adrian Gonzalez and now JROLL and Howie Kendrick up the middle – the first all-African American keystone combination in a while (Chris Rose correctly noted JROLL and Marlon Anderson was the last duo to get a lot of starts together in the early 2000s). Kenley Jansen their closer is hurt but it’s early. Former Rays GM Andrew Friedman is a kid in a candy store now – going from doing more with less to doing more with more. The West probably is the weakest division in the NL so I don’t see any team being able to overcome LA. The playoffs may be a different story.

The Friars: What a great job new GM A.J. Preller has done. The team already had good, younger pitching like Tyson Ross and Andrew Cashner. Then he went aggressive and signed James Shields and got him an entire OF with Kemp, Wil Myers and Justin Upton. SD is improved no doubt. If they can hit just a little they should win more games than lose. But their D isn’t awesome and their infield – Middlebrooks, Amarista, Gyorko and Alonso – aren’t very productive. Little power, not more than average with the glove. This team still has to lean hard on Kemp, who tends to get hurt, Myers who hasn’t done much yet and is out of position in CF and the very consistent Upton who is playing now in a big park. Good but won’t be surprised if they sit around .500 this year.

Los Gigantes: They won another World Series but they only kick butt in even years! They got hot late in the year and Madison Bumgarner shut it down. So this year there’s no Panda, the starters like Jake Peavy, Tim Hudson and Matt Cain are a year older. Hunter Pence is out for two months. Buster Posey is the man. However, in the end I am thinking they sit around .500 as well.

Color-AY-do: If baseball were like basketball the Rockies would have mad playoff appearances on the shoulders of Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez. You can’t though. You have to wonder if the Rockies decide to trade their big two and try to get some return. The team hits – I like Nolan Arenado and Charlie Blackmon. But their second starter may be Kyle Kendrick, whom the lowly Phils no longer wanted. If you trade Tulo and Cargo – who are leaving their prime baseball years at this point – you could build around Arenado, Blackmon, their young arms in the minors and whomever they get back in a trade and the draft. It’s gonna be ugly out there.

Is Cargo Healthy enough to pull of an miracle in the Mile High City?
Is Cargo Healthy enough to pull of an miracle in the Mile High City?

Arizona Occupied Mexico: Dave Stewart is my bol. He’s Jason bol big time! Smoke – with the hat down close to his eyes! Clutch pitcher. He is now GM and he has a tough gig man. He made some interesting moves this off season too. A big signing was Yasmani Tomas, the Cuban slugger. Paul Goldschmidt may be the best 1B in the National League. Mark Trumbo may be healthy. Between the three they may hit 90 HRs. Beyond that their starters are a bunch of fourth starters and defensively they look to be pretty bad. Their catcher was a longtime Phillies minor leaguer. Trumbo is in RF! That’s like sticking Lucas Duda out there. So hopefully Smoke sees a path for a better future.

Let Michael Collazo know what you think of his fearless NL predictions with comments below or on Twitter. Check out Collazo’s AL breakdown on Easter Sunday!

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