2011 MLB Predictions

Let's make some predictions shall we?


AL West Champs - Athletics. Even at the start of the year, it's already come down to a 4 team race! Wait, what there are only 4 teams in the AL West?

AL Central Champs - White Sox. Also already a 4 team race, as the Indians are already out of it, not to mention Rick Vaughn is having some mental issues and Willie Mays Hayes is in prison.

AL East Champs - Red Sox. I mean, have you looked at their roster?

AL Wild Card - Yankees. They always seem to find a way in.

NL West Champs - Giants. Have you seen Pablo Sandoval lately? Kung Fu Panda? More like, Kung Fu Grizzly Bear these days.

NL Central - Brewers. Oh sure, I pick the Brewers and I'm labeled a homer. Well, the Reds are probably the sexy pick, but I still refuse to believe they're good.

NL East - Phillies. I heard they have a shitty starting rotation.

NL Wild Card - Reds. Okay, so they might be pretty good.

World Series - Phillies vs Red Sox. Well, the networks will be happy, but everyone outside of the northeast will be all like "oh hey, it's football season....wait, no football, crap!" Oh yeah, who will win it all?! I say the Phillies win sans Geoff Jenkins, proving doubters wrong that they can't win without him.


AL West Champs - Angels - The Rangers will miss Cliff Lee more than many realize. While C.J. Wilson and his fellow starters had major successes a year ago it remains to be seen whether they can repeat that in 2011. The Angels should be solid, with Dan Haren, Ervin Santana, Scott Kazmir and Jered Weaver. This division is much more wide open than it would appear to be at first glance, but the Angels take it in a tight race.

AL Central Champs - Twins - Let's face it, the Indians and Royals stink, so you can eliminate them straight away. Between the Tigers, White Sox and Twins you have a lot of questions and few sure answers. In the end the deciding factor is Detroit perilously thin pitching staff and the fact that I won't pick a team that could have Juan Pierre starting for them. A healthy Justin Morneau doesn't hurt either.

AL East Champs - Red Sox - It almost seems unfair doesn't it, with the Red Sox lineup and pitching staff. This will be a difficult team to stand against and the only thing that can derail them is injuries.

AL Wild Card - Yankees - If you dropped the Yankees into any other division they would likely win it going away. The AL East will beat up on each other heartily and that could open up the wild card for other teams, but at the end of the season the Yankees have yet another postseason run in them.

NL West Champs - Rockies - The Giants are good, but the Rockies will be better in 2011. Why? I have major doubts about the offense in San Francisco. Colorado will bring just a bit more to the table though this could be a race decided by mid-season acquisition.

NL Central Champs - Brewers - Somewhat of a homer pick, to be sure. But the losses suffered by the Cardinals will daunting. The Reds were good last year, but there are concerns about the Starting Pitching depth. So at the end of the day, Milwaukee appears to be the most complete team in the division... if they can stay healthy.

NL East Champs - Phillies - An easy pick, but one that is aging quickly. The Phillies have one more run left in them, but that is it. The core of Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Shane Victorino and Jimmy Rollins is just getting older. The pitching staff is the same story, with Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Roy Oswalt all in their 30's. Still, Philadelphia has one more run in them.

NL Wild Card - Giants - They won't be good enough to win the division, but they'll be good enough to win the Wild Card.

World Series - Brewers over Red Sox - Why? Because I say so that's why.


What Spring Means to Me

Today, March 30th is the last day of winter! Oh, I understand the whole spring equinox thing happened on the 21st, but, that meant nothing to me. No, the weather was still cold, nothing happened of significance for me to say it was spring, and that we could come out of our holes and once again take back nature.

I think anyone reading this (sports) site, know what I'm driving at, spring, doesn't start until baseball starts! Yes, the boys of summer return tomorrow and I'm officially flipping Winter '10/'11 as it fades away in the rear view.

Now, I get your senses prepared:

-The crack of a bat
-The smell of the grass
-The scents of charcoal, bratwurst, and suds in the parking lot
-The roar of the crowd
-The sound of the organ playing classic baseball sounds
-The sight of kids playing catch and chasing after poorly thrown balls
-The fun of playing bags, washers, or ladder golf
-The taste of sunflower seeds
-The excitement of walking up to Miller Park!

Good Luck to our Milwaukee Brewers!


Goodbye Winter

It's nice to be friends with my Marquette fans again....it must mean one thing. It's baseball season! Today, March 30 2011, marks the last day of no baseball. I miss baseball. I love baseball. GO BREWERS!

This marks the end of Wisconsin Sports Tap's shortest blog ever.


Prospecting: Wily Peralta

With the plethora of injuries to the Brew Crew in this spring training it seems prudent to take a look at the man some consider to have a chance at winning the No. 5 starter spot to start the season: Wily Peralta.

Who is Wily Peralta?

Peralta, who turned 22 on the 8th of this month, was signed as a non-drafted free agent in 2005.  At 6'2" and 225 he doesn't carry the frame of a typical power pitcher but he does have a live arm nonetheless.  Peralta's fastball has been consistently in the 93-95 MPH range and he has a plus breaking pitch.  His change-up needs some work and will ultimately determine whether he is a starter or a reliever.

Starting his career with the Arizona Rookie Brewers in 2006, Peralta struggled to a 6.63 ERA that year.  In the following season he did not pitch due to injury.  2008 was a much better season, when Peralta started with rookie league Helena and pitched his way up to Low-A.

2009 was the season that really put him on the radar screen of scouts and prospectors.  Pitching for Wisconsin in the Midwest league, he struck out 118 batters in 103.2 innings pitched and put up a 3.47 ERA.  Combined with good velocity and strikeout stuff he found himself a consensus top 15 prospect.

Last season Peralta split his season between High-A Brevard County and Double-A almost exclusively as a starter.  He put up a 3.79 ERA and pitched 147.1 innings, solid numbers and he actually pitched better after his promotion.  Not a perfect season by any stretch though, more on that later.

The Good

One area that stands out is Peralta's ability to strike batters out.  As mentioned earlier he struck out 118 batters in just over 103 innings in 2009.  His strikeout numbers took a dip last year but he still struck out 104, the stuff is definitely there.

Also, Peralta has seen his innings counts steadily rise after missing a season due to injury.  His inning counts have gone up and he has stayed healthy.  Any starter who can strike guys out and pitch over 150 innings has value and Peralta looks like he could be one of those players.

Another area that holds some promise is his ability to keep the ball down and keep the ball in the ballpark.  In 2009 he gave up just five homers in over a hundred innings and last year he gave up only 10 homers in nearly 150 innings.  At every level he has consistently recorded more outs by ground balls then fly balls.

The Bad

Walks have been a consistent problem the last two seasons for Peralta.  In 2009 he walked 46 batters and followed that up with 64 in 2010.  Those are just bad numbers, there really is no way around that.  The walks played a major part in his 1.58 WHIP with Huntsville last year.

Peralta's got good stuff, but if his is nibbling in the minors he'll get eaten up in the big leagues.  Area number one to watch for Peralta in 2011 is his walk rate.  Less walks would likely lead to more innings this season and would also make him a legitimate major league starter.

The Outlook

There seems to be little doubt that Wily Peralta will be a Major League pitcher but there is a fair amount of question as to what role he will play when he gets there.  He has the arm to be a closer or set-up pitcher but if he can continue to develop his third pitch he could also be a very good starter.

Milwaukee will give him all the chances in the world to be a starting pitcher, but they also have a good number of legitimate pitching prospects at the Double-A and Triple-A levels.  Look for Peralta to pitch at Triple-A next year and with marked improvement he could find his way into the rotation by the end of the season or the start of next (sorry Chris Narveson).


Monday Morning Reverie: The Badgered Edition

1. How good weren't the Badgers during their 70-65 victory over Kansas State on Saturday?  K-State out-rebounded Bucky, offensively and defensively.  The Wildcats shot better from three point land (Well... Jacob Pullen did) and better overall.  Wisconsin star Jordan Taylor shot an anemic 2-for-16 from the field and seemed lost at times with his shot selection.

But there are two very important areas that Wisconsin won in the box score: Turnovers and Free Throws.  Kansas State turned the ball over three more times and the Badgers hit four more free throws.  It wasn't pretty, it was gritty.  It had everything a tournament game needed; a star player taking over for Kansas State, bloody post play, big shots and big blocks.

At the end of the day, it was a Bo Ryan team winning in true Bo Ryan fashion.

2. The legend has begun and his name Bruesewitz.  Yes, the player affectionately nicknamed "Bruiser" has been the under-noticed star of the 2011 Wisconsin Badgers.  Big shots and big rebounds, that's what Mike Bruesewitz has done in the tournament so far.

You can't help but love watching a player like Bruesewitz play.  He has such toughness and energy, no flash but he'll be the first player on the floor for a loose ball.  After he committed the immediate comparison was made to Joe Krabbenhoft, another gritty glue player with a knack for hustle plays.

That comparison isn't wrong, but it doesn't do Bruiser justice though.  Krabbenhoft never brought the same sort of energy to the table and never developed as an offensive player.  Bruesewitz has improved drastically from year one to year two, and if a similar improvement is there in year three he could be a star in the college game.

3. Boy howdy, Jordan Taylor was absolutely terrible in Saturday's game.  Sometimes players are just cold but even Taylor's shot selection became questionable after a few ill-conceived drives in the second half.  The best way to judge a point guard like Taylor on a poor shooting day is does he let it effect the rest of his game?  He didn't.

Taylor was a perfect 6-for-6 from the charity stripe, hitting big free throws in the last minute of the game to help seal the win.  He hit a huge three point basket late to keep Wisconsin in the game.  He had six assists, four rebounds and one pivotal blocked shot of Jacob Pullen's three point try to tie the game.

Jordan Taylor was off on Saturday.  He'll be fine, because even when he's off, he's still on.

4. It's hard to say a match-up with the defending runner-up is a good one for the Badgers next week, but if I'm Wisconsin I would rather see Butler than Pittsburgh every time.  Butler pulled out a very tight game on Saturday, in large part because of some very questionable decision making by the Pitt.

If not for a foul, that game goes to overtime and if that game goes to overtime than I'd be more willing to put my money on the Panthers to win the game than the Bulldogs.  But Butler won and the Badgers will now face an No. 8 seed instead of a No. 1.  It will be no easy task but the Badgers are in prime position to make a very deep run in this year's tournament.

5.  Congratulations should also go out to the ladies in the red sweaters.  The Badger women's hockey team took on Boston University in the National Title game on Sunday and came away with a convincing 4-1 victory.  It's Bucky's fourth since 2005, a very impressive feat.

Leading the way for Wisconsin was Carolyne Prevost, who netted two goals in the contest. The Badgers finished the season on a 27-game unbeaten streak.