Skip to content

2010 MLB predictions

Apr 4, 2010, 4:40 PM EDT

We're about 24 hours from President Obama strolling to the mound at Nationals Park (hopefully not in a White Sox jacket) and ceremoniously declaring the 2010 baseball season open, so this seems like a good time for some predictions.

We'll get to some Nationals season predictions later, either this evening or first thing tomorrow. Right now, let's talk about the 29 other clubs.

My track record on these things isn't the greatest. Last year, I had the Diamondbacks winning the NL wild card, the Dodgers winning the World Series, the Cardinals and Rockies each finishing in fourth place in their respective divisions and Cameron Maybin and David Price winning their respective Rookie of the Year awards.

Then again, I did correctly predict four of six division winners (Phillies, Dodgers, Twins, Angels) and Joe Mauer as AL MVP. So I'm not completely ignorant (despite what many think).

So here we go: My predictions for the 2010 season…Read more ยป

  1. JayB - Apr 4, 2010 at 4:48 PM

    Nats are last again and worst than the Mets????? Man that says a lot Mark…you have seen a lot of baseball in your professional life…..now do you see why I do not think Rizzo did near enough this off season?

  2. JayB - Apr 4, 2010 at 4:50 PM

    That pick also says a lot about 2011….you do not go from last to contention in one year…..Mark do you recall 2006, summer of, when Stan would walk around RFK and tell us all just how close this team was to contention….I said to my face that 2008 was going to be a great year……Why does the Media let them walk on all this stuff?

  3. Mark Zuckerman - Apr 4, 2010 at 4:51 PM

    JayB: I thought long and hard about putting the Nats ahead of the Mets. I think it's entirely possible that will happen. But if I'm forced to go one way or the other, I'm keeping the Nats in last place. Could be a compelling race between the two bottom-feeders, though.

  4. Dick Lee - Apr 4, 2010 at 5:10 PM

    Will the Nats be the worst team in baseball (worst record) again? If not who will be?

  5. PDowdy83 - Apr 4, 2010 at 5:14 PM

    Just out of curiosity JayB, what else would you have liked Rizzo to do? That is a serious question. I don't know who else was out there that would have made the huge impact people were looking for this offseason.

  6. Anonymous - Apr 4, 2010 at 5:20 PM

    We CAN NOT be worse than Pittsburgh again. That would be too much to bear.

  7. Anonymous - Apr 4, 2010 at 5:29 PM

    Mark-I asked this in another post, but I know Livan Hernandez is not on the 25-man roster, but will he still be there physically on Opening Day (as with Zimmermann, Wang, others not currently on active roster but not assigned to another level)?

  8. JayB - Apr 4, 2010 at 5:48 PM

    I would have signed Omar V instead of Kennedy and moved Guzman to 2B before camp opened. I would traded Dunn and Willingham to AL teams to Max their Value as DH's. I would have Signed another Vet Pitcher like Wolf…yes for some real cash, booo hooo for Ted Lerner…I would have traded Dukes for whatever they could have gotten and replaced him with the best young 2 corner OF talents that Dunn and Josh W would have brought at the winter meetings. I would have signed one out of any number of better closers Capps (boo hoo again Teddy) and I would have started Storen at the MLB level instead of Bergmen who should be cut. At first base I would have put Morse and have him work their from day one in the Spring. These are not hind sight moves all things I said all winter.

  9. Section 222 - Apr 4, 2010 at 5:52 PM

    Anon — I'm all for asking the experts what's on your mind, but why does it matter whether Livo will be in DC for the opener? PDowdy– I'll give an answer for JayB, though I'm sure he has other thoughts. 1) Get another major league proven starter. There were many available who are better (though more expensive) than Livo. Rizzo said before the winter meetings he wanted to add two starters to the rotation. Marquis qualifies. Livo and Wang (sure he could be great, but he also could totally flop) don't. 2) Have an actual plan B for right field when he decided to release Dukes. As I've said before, playing a non-entity at the plate like Taveras in right field says just about all you need to know about how serious the Nationals management is about putting an improved team on the field this year. 3) Convince the Lerners to spend the extra 6-10 million needed to land Arnoldis Chapman. Being in it until the end is worth about as much being close in everything except horseshoes and archery. Nothing. Note that none of these involve unrealistic demands like "sign John Lackey" or "trade one of our young pitchers for Joe Mauer." They just required the Lerners to put up the cash that a big market owner should be willing to spend for a winner, and clear-eyed realism about the capabilities of your current roster. Although the beginning of the offseason (Pudge, Kennedy, getting rid of MacDougal) suggested things might be turning around on both fronts, my optimism, and willingness to give them the benefit of the doubt, have been seriously undermined by the right field situation and other developments as the season approaches. I guess we'll soon see.

  10. Section 222 - Apr 4, 2010 at 5:55 PM

    Well, I guess I wasn't channeling JayB after all. My prescriptions are much less radical than his (I'd re-sign Dunn), but we see things along the same lines. You're either serious about building a winner or you're not. The jury is still out, but not for long, on that one.

  11. Anonymous - Apr 4, 2010 at 5:56 PM

    How many games can the Giants win 1-0, 2-1?

  12. Anonymous - Apr 4, 2010 at 6:00 PM

    Section 222, I'm just curious as to players that aren't on the roster (but are to be depended soon) and whether or not they take in the Opening Day scene.

  13. Sam - Apr 4, 2010 at 6:06 PM

    JayB, your ideas are so idealistic. What makes you so sure that teams are interested in Dunn and Willingham? What teams needs a DH anyway? What in the world leads you to believe the Nationals would get an MLB-ready outfielder for Dunn and/or Willingham?What closers that were on the market are better than Capps? Until last year, Capps has been very solid. .370 BABIP? That is sure to come down, which will make all of his numbers better.You don't think the team tried to trade Dukes before releasing him? You think Rizzo just threw out one of his assets? Do you go home after work and throw your money into the toilet and flush it? Come on, let's be realistic here…It's "Bergmann," by the way, and he has no options. Furthermore, he is serviceable for a mop-up role. If you call up Storen now, you will lose a full year of service. No thank you.Morse has had 392 PA in the Major Leagues. Are you really willing to hand over a prime offensive position to a 28-year old who has yet to prove anything against Major League pitchers?I am not trying to be rude, but you should really consider your projected moves before you suggest them. Your idealistic team is probably 5 wins worse than the team that Rizzo currently has assembled. Besides, someone will be interested in Dunn's or Willingham's bat when the dog days of summer set in and injuries follow. Things will happen. The current active roster will be very different than the one you see in September, for better or for worse.

  14. Sunderland - Apr 4, 2010 at 6:12 PM

    Another take on what we should have done, not that JayB or 222 need any help.We knew we were the worst defensive team in baseball last year. But nothing of significance was put in place to address that. We have 3 plus fielders (C, 3B, CF) perhaps 1 average fielder (2B) and 4 minus fielders (LF, RF, 1B, SS).We knew our bullpen was the worst in baseball last year. And nothing of significance was put in place to address that. Capps & Bruney? There's only 2 or 3 other teams with as weak a closer and set-up guy. This would have been very easy, and relatively inexpensive to fix over the offseason. And with our starting rotation being younger, going less innings than some veteran staffs, and strong bullpen would be a huge plus. In fiscal terms, it would have been an excellent investment with a short and certain ROI.

  15. Sam - Apr 4, 2010 at 6:15 PM

    Section 222, I think your ideas are much more realistic. However, I do not believe the Lerners should spend money for the sake of spending money. This team has a lot of holes. Signing a "veteran starter" won't fill that. I think Stammen will be just as productive as Wolf this year, anyway (except Wolf will get more wins by way of pitching for a much better team).I agree that releasing Dukes was a bit premature, but if you go look at Steven's chart (http://firejimbowden.blogspot.com/2010/03/at-least-no-one-elses-right-fielder-is_25.html), right fielders around the league aren't terribly strong. Harris is definitely an unconventional corner outfielder, lacking power, but he makes up for it with speed, ability to get on base, and good defensive play.If you really want to criticize the organization, you can do so by citing the fact that Willy Taveras is on the active roster. The guy has never hit in his career and plays above average defense. The only way he provides value is by playing remarkable defense (I mean, along the lines of his +18 UZR year).I wouldn't mind resigning Dunn because I really do believe that he makes Zimmerman a better hitter and he proves Willingham with RBI opportunities. His defense is atrocious, so, pretty much, no matter what, the Nationals will overpay. But I like having him around.

  16. JayB - Apr 4, 2010 at 6:31 PM

    It sounds like you agree with me but just not the timing. I am all for being proactive. Dukes was not working in the winter and that made it clear he was not going to improve….trade him for a bad of balls and move on. Dunn and Willingham both have value and to make it more so eat some salary….they are not long term solutions in the NL…just not good enough defensively….Dunn looked really bad at 1st again this spring when I was in camp. You say trade them later I say be proactive and cut the cord at the winter meetings when you can still make other moves. Better closer than Capps…now that is just to silly to respond to. Defense is what will make this team better….Rizzo said it he just did not do it.

  17. Hendo - Apr 4, 2010 at 6:40 PM

    Dumping guys into a relatively denser offseason market may be proactive but it doesn't maximize their value. Yes, Willingham and Dunn (and Harris and a few others) need to be dealt, but at a time when their value is maximized — which will be during the season when a banged-up contender needs to replace a crucial piece of their roster, not during the offseason when everybody's collecting building blocks.

  18. Anonymous - Apr 4, 2010 at 6:51 PM

    This time last year I would have called JayB the most clueless commenter in the Natmosphere. But not any more. He's been eclipsed by peric/periculum/lerici. (I think that's Latin for "even more annoying than Clint.") However, this doesn't mean JayB has gotten any smarter. Just means peric is even dumber than JayB.The quality of the Nats may still not be good, but it's at least improving. The Natmosphere sadly though is digressing. Comments and blogs by anyone other than Kilgore, Zuckerman and Goessling are unreadable – to put it kindly.

  19. Mark Zuckerman - Apr 4, 2010 at 6:55 PM

    Dick Lee: I do not believe the Nats will be the worst team in the majors this season. I think that honor will go to either the Royals or Astros.Anon 1:29: While Livo may be in D.C. tomorrow, he's not allowed to be in uniform if he's not on the roster yet. So don't expect to see him lining up for pregame introductions.

  20. JayB - Apr 4, 2010 at 7:12 PM

    Anon 2:40….note Mark has Nats last yet again….so you may not like me or my view but maybe it our expectations that are different. It seems to me you cam accept a slow march to a losing drumb year after year and hoping for plan what 5.0 now to be respectable sometime in the future….not me it can be done now without losing any future gain.

  21. Sunderland - Apr 4, 2010 at 8:00 PM

    Sam said: "What closers that were on the market are better than Capps?"I'd say Rafael Soriano was better. I'd say Mike Gonzalez was better.I'd say Jose Valverde was better.What do these three guys have in common?All had ERA's about half of Capps.All had BAA better than .100 points better than Capps.All were free agents.All signed for what was, I would say, more money than the Nats were willing to pay.It's obvious that the Nats could be fielding a better team, and have a stronger farm system, if they were willing to increase payroll to a level commensurate with this market.But so far they have proved unwilling to do so.I don't have too much issue with Mr. Rizzo. There are some things he's done that I disagree with, but I'll allow that he might have more info than me, and he might be smarter about this stuff than I am.But the Lerners, since day 1, have forced this team and its fans to accept baseball in DC on the cheap. And I'll take issue with that.

  22. Section 222 - Apr 4, 2010 at 8:50 PM

    Sam — I've never advocated spending money for the sake of spending money. I want the Lerners to spend some of their billions of dollars to put a team on the field that is worthy of the big city prices that prevail for seats and beer at Nationals Park. I want them to improve the team so that next offseason there won't be top players out there who will say to their agents, "I don't care how much they offer, I'm not playing for the Nationals." I want them to spend their money to build a team that Stephen Strasburg wants to keep playing for in 2017 when the Yankees come calling with their fat wallets. I entirely agree that the fact that Taveras is on the roster, much less starting in right field is an indicator of how pathetic this team is. When the Lerners took over the team in the summer of 2006, we were told that we'd be in the hunt in 2010. Now it's looking like only a blind optimist would hope for the playoffs in 2012. Believe me, I want very much to be proven wrong. I will be out there rooting for Harris, Kennedy, and yes, even Taveras, to have career years, and for Stammen and Mock to be better than anyone expects. But right now, I don't see it happening, and I'm a little tired of being sold a bill of goods about the prospects of this team by management that knows, or should know, better.

  23. Sam - Apr 4, 2010 at 10:27 PM

    @Sunderland:What else do they all have in common? Each of them is 5 or 6 years older than Capps.They also had in common that they didn't have the truly, awfully unlucky year that Capps did. If you look at their past performances, they are all very similar in FIP, xFIP, and tERA. If Capps gets up to 1+ WAR like he has in the past, then he signed for market value. Plus, he is only 26 with potential to get better. I really don't see anything wrong with this signing. Plus, at one year, he likely won't finish the season with the Nationals anyway.Section 222, my main belief is this: signing a couple of players, even top players for top money, won't fix this team. Let's use the Rays as an example. They finished in last place for 9 years and stockpiled draft picks, building up their organizational talent. Now they are perennial postseason contenders. The problem with the Expos/Nationals is that they managed to waste picks on the likes of Clint Everts, Bill Bray, etc. as well as being terribly unlucky (e.g. Chad Cordero).They also made a bevy of bad picks (like Smoker, McGeary, etc.). I know it is naive to expect that all of the top picks pan out into Major League players, but even our success rate has been below average. Aside from Zimmerman and Strasburg (who was gift wrapped – it would have been hard to screw that one up), and hopefully, Storen, the team has drafted rather poorly.Once the team has a corps of players (for the Rays, it would be Crawford, Upton, Longoria, Shields, Garza, and Price), then you can start talking about signing a veteran pitcher. Right now, the Nationals' corps consists of Ryan Zimmerman and…John Lannan? Meh. Strasburg and Storen will go a long way toward building that corps, but right now, they have proven nothing in the Major Leagues.

  24. Andrew - Apr 4, 2010 at 10:31 PM

    The Nats had 25 blown saves last year so if the Nats can get the bullpen to back up their starters then 4th place is in reach.

  25. Andrew - Apr 4, 2010 at 10:35 PM

    By the way, Pecota projects the Nats in last place in the NL East although the bright side is the projected 74 wins.

  26. Chris - Apr 4, 2010 at 11:00 PM

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  27. Doc - Apr 4, 2010 at 11:02 PM

    Ah come on Mark, say it ain't so: Nats in last place. You'd have to be really bad to be 2nd to the Mets! Are we????

  28. Wally - Apr 5, 2010 at 12:31 AM

    There are only a few other things that I wish the Nats had done differently this offseason.1. trade for JJ Hardy. If Carlos Gomez got it done, I am sure that Rizzo could have figured it out. Then put Desmond at 2B. That would have been fun to watch.2. Sign Joel Piniero, assuming the Nats could have gotten it done around what the Angels did. It would then be Piniero, Marquis, Lannan, Stammen and whoever warms up Strasburg's spot. That is a respectable rotation.And while I like both of these guys and would only trade them if we get something that we really value, I would see if we could convert either Dunn or the Hammer into a productive prospect or two. Dunn gets all the attention, but Willingham isn't that much less of a player than Bay, although with less MLB longevity. I'll bet Tampa Bay would have been interested in him for DH/part time RF, and has the farm system to make it enticing. If we were willing to take back Burrell's salary at the same time, I'll bet we could have gotten a pretty good package.

  29. Anonymous - Apr 5, 2010 at 8:10 AM

    "This time last year I would have called JayB the most clueless commenter in the Natmosphere. But not any more. He's been eclipsed by peric/periculum/lerici. (I think that's Latin for "even more annoying than Clint.") However, this doesn't mean JayB has gotten any smarter. Just means peric is even dumber than JayB."Its annoying reading posters whose rudeness far surpasses their intellectual capacity. This "anonymous" poster seems relate to criticizing individual posters the same way that teenagers relate tosex. Teenagers *do* actually have sex, but they talk about it andclaim to have done it far more often than it actually happens. Veryrarely does this "anonymous" poster stop posting for longerthan a few days without, with little credibilityin doing so, criticizing the posts of individuals, their frequency, as well as personally insulting them. The idiot or idiots doing this seem to have severe self-esteem problems if they must constantly post their tedious dribble intended to demean other posters.

Archives

Mark joins Rob Carlin and Brent Harris every Thursday at 4 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet for a half-hour show on the Nats, Orioles and rest of MLB. Re-airs Thursdays at 11:30 p.m., Saturdays at 9 a.m. and Sundays at 11:30 a.m.

ON THE RADIO

As ESPN-980 AM's Nats Insider, Mark makes daily appearances on the station's various shows. Here's the 2014 schedule (subject to change)...

MON: 12:45 p.m.
TUE: 2:30 p.m.
WED: 4:30 p.m.
THU: 2:30 p.m.
FRI: 1:30 p.m., 5:30 p.m.
SAT: 10:30 a.m.

*All times Eastern. You can also listen to the station on 94.3 FM, 92.7 FM and online at ESPN980.com.

Follow us on Twitter