Let's start with this post: I'm projecting that reading it will be a bear because it contains a lot of bull.
Apparently, later today some violent people will be inordinately interested in a ball that isn't even round, while some truly excellent commercials will be constantly interrupted by a "football break." Janet Jackson isn't even performing at halftime and I am not especially keen to see the boob of any of the members of The Who, fine a band as they may be. So today I choose to ignore Colts and Saints and to focus instead on bulls and bears.
My predicted "bulls" for 2010:
Kevin Kouzmanoff I think leaving Petco will outweigh moving to a league with tougher and less familiar pitching and that Kouzmanoff will pleasantly surprise with his offensive numbers. Nothing gaudy, mind you, but I'll go ahead and predict a line of .255/.320/.460 with 22 HRs which, when combined with sure-handed and slightly-above average defense overall, makes him several notches above anything the A's have seen at 3B since Eric Chavez was healthy.
Daric Barton Start with the fact that Barton doesn't even have to improve his OBP in order to be excellent. I will admit, when I looked at the stats at the end of the 2009 season I expected to see Barton's OBP at a "solid" .345-.350 or so. I was rather stunned to note that it was .372. Given his age and ability, I expect some improvement from Barton, and if you just add 20 points to the BA and sprinkle in a few more doubles and a few more HRs -- in other words, nothing huge -- Barton becomes maybe a .290/.380/.450, 12-15 HR, 40 2B hitter with very good defense. Welcome back, Scott Hatteberg.
Ryan Sweeney Look, the A's are smarter than I am and they think Sweeney will develop power. I'm skeptical but we did see "doubles power" develop in the second half of 2009 and I'm going to go out on a limb and predict that my past predictions are wrong, and that Sweeney shows more doubles power, and more HR power, in 2010 without a huge drop elsewhere. I'll predict a line of .270/.350/.440, 14 HRs, and gold glove level defense in RF. And that's a very good player.
My predicted "bears" for 2010
Coco Crisp I just don't see him getting on base a lot -- which will neutralize his speed -- and I do see him finding himself odd man out by the ASB as Michael Taylor and Chris Carter begin to put pressure on the 4 "OF/DH" spots. I imagine Crisp is "Rajai-tanks protection" who, if Rajai hasn't tanked come July 1st, won't have a place in Oakland -- and will likely be either shipped to a contender who just lost an OFer or will become an expensive backup OFer. I'll predict a line of .240/.300/.380 with only 12 SBs.
Cliff Pennington Don't fall in love in September. Pennington surprised everyone with his offensive production late last season, but I expect his "Barton 2007" to become "Barton 2008" -- in this case, not because he isn't ready but rather because he isn't a good hitter. I'll predict a line of .225/.300/.350 with initially slightly above-average defense. But as it becomes clearer and clearer that Pennington is overmatched at the plate, he starts pressing a bit in the field and starts making too many errors on routine plays to where he is only an average to slightly below average defensive SS overall. Suddenly, Adam Rosales is pushing him for the job and/or another SS is entering the picture.
Dallas Braden I love the guy and I believe in him. I also believe that you pitch better when you have feeling in all 10 of your toes. I can see a scenario where Braden's balance is off, he compensates and -- like the warrior he is -- pitches pretty well through it, but ultimately injures his arm or back and cannot be the iron man he wants to be for Oakland. Secretly, I wonder if the A's have built a rotation that won't miss too big a beat if Braden goes down, knowing that Duchscherer and Sheets aren't the only health risks in the rotation going forward. My prediction for Braden: 4-5, 4.40 ERA.
Agree or disagree on these? Who are yours and why?
UPDATE 6:47 PST: Congratulations to the New Orleans Saints, and the city of New Orleans, for winning the 2010 Super Bowl.