Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Squawker Scoop: A look at Sports Illustrated's MLB Preview issue

Hooray! It looks like neither the Yankees nor the Mets will have to worry about the dreaded Sports Illustrated jinx too much this year. I was lucky enough to get a sneak peek at the Yankees-related and Mets-related items in SI's upcoming MLB preview issue, courtesy of the PR folks at Time Warner. Here's the scoop:

Sports Illustrated picks the Philadelphia Phillies to beat the Tampa Bay Rays in the World Series, saying that the Phillies "have the one element they’ve been missing for a quarter of a century: a big-time winner at the front of the rotation. That would be righthander Roy Halladay, obtained from Toronto in December, whose first trip to the playoffs should end with Philadelphia clinching its second World Series championship in three years."

SI picks the Yankees to win 100 games - and the AL East - but see them losing in the ALCS to the Rays. (No Red Sox in SI's playoff scenario!) Here's the logic:
The Yankees could muscle their way back to an October rematch with the Phils, but it would require the same off-the-charts good health and production from their older players that they received last year. That means the door is open in the American League for Tampa Bay, which has the deepest collection of young, versatile talent in the game.
I agree that the Yankees had a lot of luck last year - and 15 walkoff wins - which is why I'm projecting them to win fewer games this year (my prediction for Heater Magazine was 95 games.) But I still think they'll win the World Series. At any rate, though, I'm relieved that SI didn't pick them, given the dreaded Sports Illustrated jinx! Don't believe in it? Look what happened to the Mets last year, after SI picked them to win the World Series!

In other Yankee news, the magazine lists Javier Vazquez as a player to watch, and writes:
Catcher Jorge Posada says Vazquez struggled in his first Yankees stint because a sore shoulder made his release point drop and pitches flatten. “After I left, I didn’t think I was coming back,” Vazquez says. “I really wanted to stay.”
The magazine also has a nice little piece on Alfredo Aceves, praising his pitching and saying that the "Yankees should find a bigger role for him, either setting up Mariano Rivera as a multiple-inning reliever or as the fifth starter." Gee, I hope this article doesn't somehow jinx Ace; he's one of my faves!

As for the Mets, unlike last year's audacious prediction, when SI predicted them to win the World Series, Si projects the Mets to finish in fourth place and win just 79 games. Given the way last season was such a star-crossed one for the Mets after that prediction, maybe it's just as well the Mets are ranked so low! But even I think that they'll finish above the Marlins. In SI's NL East scenario, the Mets are ahead of only the Nationals!

Daniel Murphy is SI's Met player to watch, with hitting coach Howard Johnson saying that Murphy is "going to surprise a lot of people this year with some big numbers."

Sports Illustrated also thinks the Mets should take a chance on R.A. Dickey, the knuckleball pitcher. Me, I think the Mets ought to re-sign Pedro Martinez, the pitcher some would say is a knucklehead! But that's me - Pedro returning to Flushing would immediately give me something Mets-related to squawk about every five days.

Anyhow, Sports Illustrated's MLB Preview issue will be on newsstands today, and I'm sure there will be plenty of other stuff to rehash - and squawk about - in the issue. For one thing, I'm curious to read what they say about the Red Sox, and why they're ranked in third place. I have them getting the wild card in the predictions I did for the Baseball Bloggers Alliance - more on that soon.

What do you think? Tell us about it!

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