Rollins going all in with prediction

It’s like a 60-win team in the NBA.  Or maybe a 14-win team in the NFL.  Once every couple of years, a Major League Baseball team hits the 100-win mark.

Jimmy Rollins believes his team can win 100 games in 2011.

This year, according to veteran shortstop Jimmy Rollins, the Philadelphia Phillies will reach that milestone.

“We’ll win 100 games,” Rollins said.  “I really plan on going after, what is it, Seattle won 114 or something?  We’ll go get somewhere hopefully in that range.  But that requires everybody doing their job.”

It’s quite a bold prediction, especially since the NL East is slowly becoming one of the most fearsome divisions in the league.

Even the Washington Nationals, perennial cellar dwellers since their move to the nation’s capital, have bolstered their lineup with former Phillie Jayson Werth.  Also new to the mix this year for Washington is Adam LaRoche, who hit 25 homeruns and drove in 100 RBIs last season in Arizona.  Phenom Bryce Harper might also make his debut later this season.

Still, though, the Phillies are highly favored to win the NL East.  With perhaps the most intimidating starting rotation in the history of the game, the beast of the east will surely emerge in Philadelphia.

If Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, and Roy Oswalt can each stay healthy for the duration of the season, I can definitely see each of them winning between 15-18 games apiece.  There’s a good chance at least two of them will win 20+.

But that, my friends, hardly adds up to 100 wins.  And although Joe Blanton, the less heralded fifth starter, could add on a dozen or so wins, there’s still the chance of Philadelphia’s shaky bullpen to blow a number of games.

Saying your team is going to win at least 100 games is a nice way to fire up your team, but Rollins and company will need to not only play at an exceptional level year round, but battle a new and improved NL East as well.

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Fountains of Wainwright

I’m sure you’ve heard by now that the Cardinals were dealt a crushing blow when they found out 2010 Cy Young Award runner-up Adam Wainwright would require season ending surgery.  When you hear the phrase “Tommy John Surgery,” thoughts of a lost season immediately creep into your mind.

Wainwright emotion

Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright will miss the 2011 season.

With their ace out, the Cardinals will have to rely primarily on Chris Carpenter, the 34 year-old 2005 Cy Young Award winner.  He’s made a bit of a renaissance in recent years after a couple of injury plagued seasons, throwing for 235 innings in the 2010 season, second highest of his career.  With his age creeping into the mid-30s, however, one has to wonder just how much he has left in the tank.

One promising sophomore surprise may hold the key to salvaging this season.  Jaime Garcia, who went 13-8 with a 2.70 ERA in his rookie season, has a bright future.  If batters haven’t figured him out yet, a couple of good starts in the beginning of the year might give him the momentum and confidence boost that pushes him to greatness all season long.

It will be interesting to see what the Cardinals plan to do with Wainwright following his return after this year.  His contract officially expires after this season, but the club has an option for the 2012 and 2013 seasons.  Interestingly, though, there is one unique line in this deal that may come into play:

“[The Cardinals] must exercise 2012 and 2013 options at same time, but may void if Wainwright is on disabled list with arm injury at end of 2011 season.”

If the brass thinks that Wainwright can return to his old, Cy Young-caliber self following a daunting rehabilitation period, then there’s a good chance we’ll see him back in a Cards jersey in 2012.  If not, then who knows?

And there’s still the little matter of retaining that Pujols guy.

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It’s right around the corner.

Baseball season, that is.  As well as this blog’s glorious debut.

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