Opinions from the MLB Network and Vegas Odds for the 2011 season

I was watching the MLB network yesterday evening.  Mitch Williams, Ken Rosenthal and Harold Reynolds ran down their top 5 teams in MLB as they were looking ahead to 2011.  It brought up a lot of interesting things to me, which I’ll talk about after giving you their picks.

Ken Rosenthal’s Top 5 teams:

  1. Phillies
  2. Red Sox
  3. Rangers
  4. Yankees
  5. Rockies

Rosenthal then said “The Yankees don’t deserve to be there, but they did win 95 games last year.”

Harold Reynolds Top 5 teams:

  1. Red Sox
  2. Phillies
  3. Giants
  4. Brewers
  5. Tigers

Mitch Williams Top 5 Teams:

  1. Phillies
  2. Red Sox
  3. Tigers
  4. Cardinals
  5. Rangers

It was nice of Mitch to throw the Cardinals in there as his number four team.  Jaime Garcia was also on the show and talked about the things he’s done to become more successful since TJS.  It was nice to see Jaime get some national attention.  The Cardinals have suddenly become 3rd best team in the NL Central according to a lot of the expert opinions.  They may be when it’s all said and done, but I can’t help but think the best about 2011. 

We have a lot of things to look forward to as Cards fans.  It’s hard for me to see the Cardinals not winning the division if everyone stays healthy.  I’m excited to see what Berkman has left.  I’m more excited about his career OBP than anything else.  My Christmas wish is for Berkman to have a season similar to 2004 or 2006.  If Berkman hits 2nd, Pujols and Holliday should come close to career years as far as RBI’s.  If he hits 5th (and I can see him hitting there because of his lack of speed), it probably means Colby spends the year feasting on fastballs in the 2 hole.

Getting back to the opinions of the experts, all of them have the Phillies and Red Sox either 1st or 2nd on their list, and I have no argument there.   It seems to me that Rosenthal is reaching a bit though, having the Rangers, Yankees and Rockies as his 3, 4 and 5 teams.  First of all, it seems that all of them are forgetting about the Minnesota Twins.  The Twins made the playoffs last year without the best closer in baseball in Joe Nathan, and Justin Morneau missed the last half of the season and the playoffs.  I also think the Rockies are the 3rd best team in the NL West, behind the Giants and Dodgers.  I think it’s hard to put the Rangers in the top 5 considering they lost Cliff Lee.

Another thing I wanted to point out is I was checking up on the Vegas odds, and the Brewers have gone from 80-1 odds to anywhere between 25 to 35 to 1 odds to win the World Series in 2011, depending on which site you look at.  The Cardinals are around 15-1 on average.  Bodog.com currently has the Cardinals at 20-1 odds.  The teams they have ahead of the Cards are:

Phillies—7/2

Red Sox—9/2

Yankees—6/1

Giants—12/1

Twins—18/1

The other thing I want to point out here is that while most of the experts on the MLB Network or ESPN are picking the Reds or Brewers as NL Central favorites, Vegas has the Cardinals ahead of them in most polls.  Going back to Bodog.com, they have the Reds at 25-1 and the Brewers at 30-1.  Here is a link to gamingtoday.com from December 14th, where they have both the Cards and Reds at 15-1 and the Brewers at 80-1.  I put more stock in Vegas odds than I do analyst, because they aren’t working on hype as much, just pure dollars.  So while the Greinke and Marcum deals were huge, maybe I’ve even fed into the hype a bit too much.  I do see them as a serious threat, and their lineup scares me more now with their solid rotation.

It’s only December, but it’s fun to take a look from time to time.  The Cardinals are probably done shopping, so I like looking ahead with the team we have.  Ryan Theriot may not have been the ideal shortstop we hoped for, but we need to support him and hope he can put up his 2008 numbers.  Lance Berkman had his least productive season since his rookie season last year, but still managed a .368 OBP.  If his knees are really better, his career .409 OBP doesn’t seem unrealistic. 

So, for fun, I’ll pick my top 5 and we’ll do Jack’s Take on his Top 5:

  1. Phillies
  2. Red Sox
  3. Twins
  4. Giants
  5. Cardinals

Jack’s Take

While Jack believes that the Cardinals have some holes, he still believes they are the best team in the NL Central, even with the additions the Milwaukee Brewers have made.  Jack is ready for the season to start now, and he and I will be taking in some spring training games this year while we spend time away from the ballpark fishing near Jupiter, Florida at Lake Okeechobee.  So, here is Jack’s Top 5 Teams to this point:

  1. Red Sox
  2. Phillies
  3. Braves
  4. Cardinals
  5. Dodgers
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