Posted by: Larry Smith Jr. | December 31, 2010

My Thoughts on the 2011 CAIRO Projections

The Replacement Level Yankees weblog has published CAIRO projections for the 2011 season based on moves that have happened to date. CAIRO is a very strong projection system, but I have alot of questions about these projections. Of course, it is only late December. Some commentary I have on the projections are as follows:

* – Only 98 wins for the Red Sox? Projection systems (all of the credible ones) notoriously project a league of more parity than what ever actually exists, but I have a hard time seeing double digit wins for Boston unless they are ravaged by injury even worse than they were last year. Especially if they sign Brian Fuentes, as the rumor is going.

* – In general there are not enough wins in the AL East and too many in the rest of the AL and MLB for that matter. Boston, Toronto, and Baltimore have all improved — And I’d say they all improved dramatically. They also happen to be the returning third through fifth place teams in the division. I think Tampa got much worse, but they had the 2nd best record in the MLB last year, so “much worse” for them still should be around the 87 win range that they’re projected. I think the Yankees got marginally worse. 89 wins sounds about right. The net effect though, is that I have a hard time seeing a team with less than 76 wins in this division. CAIRO has two of them.

* – On that same note, I have a hard time seeing where Cleveland is going to win 74 games, or where they’ll win more games than Toronto or Baltimore. Even with the unbalanced schedule, Cleveland looks to be an awful baseball team heading into 2011. I’m not entirely convinced they’ll win more games than Kansas City. I could easily see both Cleveland AND Kansas City piling on 95+ losses. I think the drop-off between the 3rd best team in the AL Central and the 4th is dramatic, even moreso than what CAIRO projects. Which brings me to…..

* – How can they have Minnesota still winning this division? To be fair, it’s close. The projection is 86 wins, Chicago 85, and Detroit 84. That’s essentially saying it’s a three way toss-up. I don’t necessarily disagree with that but the ordering is still curious. I think Chicago has to be the front-runner right now. Detroit #2. Minnesota #3. The Twins lost half of their bullpen, Nathan is coming back from injury, they lost their entire middle infield, they lost Pavano (though he could theoretically re-sign), and they have not re-signed Thome. And even if they do, it’s unclear he’ll be as good next year as he was this past year. No way is Minnesota the top dog the AL Central, at least not looking at it at this point in the season.

* – I don’t think the Rangers are seven games better than Oakland, but in general the AL West looks about accurate.

* – I don’t think the Phillies are eight games better than the Braves, but in general the NL East looks about accurate. I think that the Braves are the second best team in the National League and have every bit of a shot at 92+ wins.

* – I’d switch the Cardinals and Reds in the NL Central and I’d narrow the gap between CIN/MIL/STL. I think that division is a three-way toss-up between those teams with an edge to Cincinnati based on the depth of their pitching staff and their decent offense. They’re a more well rounded team than St. Louis or Milwaukee. But really I think all three are very close, instead of the five win gap between first and third that CAIRO projects.

* – I like the Dodgers in the NL West but ultimately I have no problem with what they’ve projected. That’s a tricky division to call. I like the low wins totals though; There are no good, complete teams in the NL West.

One more thing about the NL Central: Even though Cincinnati is a more well rounded team, they don’t have the high end talent that Milwaukee and St. Louis does.

Milwaukee has Fielder, Braun, Greinke, and Gallardo. St. Louis has TWO of the three best position players in the entire MLB over the last five years (Pujols and Holliday) along with Colby Rasmus, Chris Carpenter, and Adam Wainwright. Cincinnati has Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips. That’s it for their high end talent. The thing is, both Milwaukee and St. Louis have ALOT of flotsam on their roster and it is everywhere. Milwaukee’s rotation is decent beyond Greinke/Gallardo, but their bullpen is something of a mess and lineup holes abound. St. Louis’s entire team beyond the five players I named above is a joke. Cincinnati has five legit starting pitchers plus Aroldis Chapman. None are as good as Milwaukee+St. Louis best, but they’re all decent. They have some so-so players at places on the field (shortstop and center, to name a couple), but they have very few spots on their roster reserved for players who are flat out bad, and they have some depth. It is for that reason that I like them over Milwaukee and St. Louis, because I think they make better use of their ENTIRE roster.



  1. When are you going to post something new? Your take on things is far better than most blog posts going. Thanks.

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