To preface what this is about, it’s simply a bunch of quick thought predictions. I will probably go back on some of them before the baseball season starts, but as of today, it’s how I’m feeling. I’m going off the cuff y’all. I’ll do part two later in January.

Even though the NFL always owns this time of the year, and LeBron, DWade and the Heat (Heatles?) are showing glimpses of what we haven’t seen from two great wing players together since Jordan and Pippen, there has been a ton of baseball news. There’s been huge free agent contract signings, Bert Blyleven and Robert Alomar getting voted into the Hall of Fame, and spring training is just a month and a half away.

(I’ll talk about Blyleven and Alomar getting into the Hall of Fame in my next column, as well as who didn’t make it, and to me, more importantly, who didn’t come close. Writers are judging players based on what they think they did and not judging others for what they think they didn’t do. They have scary power.)

Let’s get to the New Year’s predictions.

The Giants won’t win the NL West in 2011
Yep, I just wrote that. Even though I’m a hardcore Giants fan, I also know how hard it is to defend the title. The players are doing more media and getting more attention. The team will have a target on their back.

What about guys like Tim Lincecum and Brian Wilson who are now so much more famous than ever? Imagine all the groupies that are throwing themselves at these guys. Timmy and BWeezy are pinning panties on their walls like Willie Mays Hayes pinned batting gloves to count his stolen bases.

I imagine this is what it’s been like for Timmy with the ladies over the years.

– As a rookie, he was throwing heat. He was fun Timmy.
– He won two Cy Young Awards and he became cute Timmy.
– After wining a World Series, he’s fine Timmy.

Oh by the way, I think the Colorado Rockies are going to win the West. But I still have the Giants winning the NL wild card.

The Dodgers get worse, before they get better
I was telling everyone within ear shot last year that the reason the Dodgers weren’t going to be good was more so because they wouldn’t be able to add the players they needed at the trade deadline to improve their team. And that’s part of what happened. When you have owner issues and there’s a freeze on spending money, your team isn’t looking to improve. It’s looking to do the best with what it has.

I think it gets worse for the Dodgers this year. They decided to give Juan Uribe a whole lot of money; twice as much as he’s probably worth. I’m all for players getting everything they can get, especially a clutch winner like Uribe, but he’s an icing on the cake type of player, not your key offseason acquisition.

The Oakland A’s make a run in the AL West
The Rangers may have made a huge splash by signing Adrian Beltre (more on him a bit), but the A’s have made some really strong acquisitions of their own. They traded for David DeJesus, a guy the Giants seemed hot on the heels of before he got hurt last year, and Josh Willingham, a guy I wanted the Giants to chase after last year too.

They simply couldn’t hit last year. And it’s not like they’re the 1927 Yankees now, but they’re in a division that is ripe for the taking. Texas lost Cliff Lee who was the key to their World Series run. With their terrific young starting pitching, the A’s are going to compete.

The Rangers don’t get great value from Adrian Beltre
Adrian Beltre is a very good baseball player. Baseball isn’t just about offense. The guy is a top-notch defensive third baseman. But when a team pays you 80 million dollars for five years guaranteed, they’re paying you to be a huge cog in the offense.

I know he had a bounce-back season in Boston last year. He produced for them. But it was an urgent time for him. He is one year removed from his 2009 season in Seattle where he hit eight home runs and drove in 44 runs. That was an anomaly to what his career numbers say, but still, it’s scary. And really, he’s never been a guy who gets on base all that much. Eighty million.

Cliff Lee has a disappointing season (per expectations)
Based on how much people talk the guy up, you’d think that Cliff Lee averaged 22 wins over the last five years with a sub 2.50 ERA.

His average for the last five years is as follows:

– 13 wins
– 3.61 ERA

I know that part of what you’re paying for is his playoff dominance. But, in order for him to be of ultimate value, Philadelphia better make the playoffs every year. 135 million dollars people. 135 million dollars.

I’ll be back to look at the Hall of Fame in my next column and then will follow with part two of my New Year’s prediction column.

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