Blog Entry

More Meaningless Predictions, AL-Style

Posted on: February 20, 2009 3:36 pm
Edited on: February 20, 2009 5:19 pm
 

I promised that I would also break down and predict the American League, and I try not to disappoint. Without any further witty quips, or cleverly phrased A-Rod jokes, here they are:

AL East

Winner: New York Yankees- Much is being made of the whole A-Rod ordeal. Many are wondering if he can handle this new pressure to perform. Read my keyboard: YES. Fans having been finding reasons to lambaste A-Rod since he became a Yankee. He’s been the most heavily scrutinized player in the league over the past 5 seasons, and guess what? He’s won 2 MVPs in that span. Last season was an off-year by A-Rod’s standards and he still put up .302/ 35/ 103. A-Rod will be just fine. So will Sabathia. And Teixeira. And Burnett. And Rivera. And Jeter. Pencil in Wang for 15-18 wins also. They spend money, but they have purchased a winner here, the Yankees are the clear AL favorites and I’m not here to tell you otherwise.

Just missed: Boston Red Sox- Theo was probably squirming in his chair every time he received news of the Yankees latest signing. To his credit, he’s probably also grinning from ear to ear watching “Manny being Manny” in someone else’s clubhouse. All that aside, the Sox are still a very solid team. It’s all about pitching in Beantown. Josh Beckett, Daisuke, and Jon Lester are all outstanding starters. And, come July, throw John Smoltz into that mix.  Just imagine if Brad Penny gets and stays healthy. The lineup is still plenty potent, with Big Papi anchoring in the middle and reigning AL MVP Dustin Pedroia, and I see the Sox finishing just behind the Yanks, which pains me to say because of the…

Tampa Bay Rays- Their Cinderella story of last season was felt by everyone in the baseball world. Unfortunately, the glass slipper is just a little too small this season because the evil step sisters (see above) are meaner than ever. I love what the Rays did, but it took breakout seasons from too many players. They will be good again this year, but a drop-off has to be expected. Evan Longoria and BJ Upton are the real deal, and Carlos Pena and Pat Burrell (who’s signing I thought was perfect for this team) will contribute their share of runs offensively. However, there are durability and depth questions for this team, and in a division with the Sox and Yanks, they can’t afford any missteps his season. Unfortunately, I think they will have a few.  

Outside Chance: Baltimore Orioles- Hear me out on this one. The Orioles are quietly building a contender over in Baltimore. Nick Markakis may be the most underrated player in the sport. Their lineup is pretty good already, and Matt Wieters is on the way to aid that cause. This team just doesn’t have the pitching to compete right now, but they have a lot of young players who could really help this team, especially Adam Jones. If they somehow put everything all together, this team has a shot, but they’re just victims of playing in the AL East. Give them a year or two, and we could have AL East Upset Part 2.

Toronto Blue Jays- Toronto is one of the most loaded teams in the league when it comes to young pitching. Not to mention they still have Roy Halladay at the top, Alex Rios and Vernon Wells in the order, and BJ Ryan at the back end of the 'pen. This is a pretty good team, but they’re not as good as the top 3. The Blue Jays, like the Orioles, are headed in the right direction, but haven’t done enough to get over the hump that is the Sox/Rays/Yankees.

AL Central

Winner: Minnesota Twins- The Twins have to be one of the most well-run franchises in Major League baseball. They are always brining up great talent through the farm system, yet they don’t have to spend like the AL East teams. I see them being heavily competitive this season and like them to take the Central. The only reason I can to see to question the Twins is their rotation. There is a ton of talent from top to bottom and I see big years for Francisco Liriano, Kevin Slowey and Scott Baker. But, these are young pitchers and there could be growing pains. The lineup still features former MVP Justin Morneau, and Joe Mauer is one of the best hitters in the AL. Oh, yeah, and there is still that force named Joe Nathan just waiting for 9<sup>th</sup> inning leads. I like the Twins just barely to edge out the…

Just Missed: Cleveland Indians- This team definitely has a lot to look forward to this year after last year’s awful start. Cliff Lee is coming off a CY Young season, Fausto Carmona is establishing himself as a potential ace for this rotation and I love the pickup last season of Anthony Reyes. Grady Sizemore, Travis Hafner and Victor Martinez are all top-tier players at their positions. So why do I have them missing the playoffs? The Indians have huge injury concerns this year, just like every team, but almost the entire team is coming off of a down season and I don’t see Cliff Lee replicating ’08. The Indians will be good this season, but trying to keep Pronk, Martinez, and Carmona healthy will be paramount this year. If they are, then I like the Indians in the Central, but I just can’t see that.

Detroit Tigers- I really don’t like putting the Tigers in this category because there are plenty of question marks here. But, the Tigers really embody what the top of the AL Central is about this year. Lots of questions, lots of talent. The lineup that sports writers fell in love with last year is still largely intact. Placido Polanco, Miguel Cabrera, Magglio Ordonez, and Curtis Granderson are all great offensive players, and certainly the Tigers will score some runs this year. But can they stop them? Justin Verlander took a step back last year, like most Tigers, so I look for him to rebound. I’m not wowed by Jeremy Bonderman, Edwin Jackson, or Dontrelle Willis, but all still retain potential. Their season hinges on that rotation’s performance.

Chicago White Sox- The White Sox are the fourth team in my eyes who could end up winning this division. Although I think this team has fewer question marks, they also have less overall talent as well. That’s not to say that this team doesn’t have some great players. John Danks, Gavin Floyd, and Mark Buehrle are a formidable trio atop the rotation. Carlos Quentin and Alexei Ramirez emerged last season so I expect them to suffer slight drop-offs, but both should still be very effective. Jermaine Dye and Paul Konerko are on the down slope, so I’m not sure they can carry this team anymore. If the White Sox can get production from the players around Konerko and Dye and take the pressure off, then this team has as good a shot as any.  

Outside Chance: None

Maybe Next Year: Kansas City Royals- I like what the Royals are doing, but this team just isn’t ready to contend yet. Zack Greinke got the contract he deserved, Alex Gordon will definitely be a star in time, and Joakim Soria is the real deal. This team just doesn’t have a whole lot of depth, and not much power throughout this order.  I almost created a new category because I don’t think they’ll be ready next year, but I also don’t see it taking 5 years either. Give this team 2 years if they continue to build as they are, and they will be competing for a division title.

AL West

Winner: Los Angeles Angels – The cream of the AL West crop. Other than the Cubs, they may have the easiest time winning their division. Losing Mark Teixeira hurts, but the pitching is still in place here. Joe Saunders, John Lackey and Ervin Santana all have top-of-the-rotation stuff, and should win a ton of games this year beating up on the rest of the division. Offensively, this outfield can flat-out rake. Vlad Guerrero, and Torii Hunter are headed downward, but will still put up numbers this year, and Juan Rivera is underrated and should benefit hitting in this batting order. The Bobby Abreu signing was huge because it allows their aging outfield to rotate as the DH to stay healthier. Brian Fuentes is no K-Rod, but he is a serviceable closer that will do the job that the Angels need him to, and if he can’t, Jose Arredondo is waiting in the wings.

Just Missed: None

Outside Chance: Texas Rangers- When I say outside chance, I really mean outside chance. Josh Hamilton is one of the best outfielders in baseball, no doubt. And the Rangers actually will put a very good lineup out there. Ian Kinsler and Michael Young can still hit, and I actually endorse moving Young over to third. Also, their catching depth is hard not to love. Problem is, Kevin Millwood and Vincente Padilla are not a strong 1-2 punch. Their bullpen should perform well; CJ Wilson and Frank Francisco aren’t bad options at the back-end, although neither is dominating. They need the Angels to completely fall apart to have a real shot at the title.

Maybe Next Year: Oakland Athletics- The A’s went out and got Matt Holliday, which was a great pickup since they didn’t give up too much, but there’s not much around him. Bobby Crosby has been very disappointing, as was Daric Barton last year, although I see him bouncing back. Duchscherer is a solid player, but injury prone. There’s not a whole lot behind him in the rotation, either. The bullpen lacks a dominant closer, and that could be a factor for the few games that they have a lead.  

Maybe 5 Years From Now…: Seattle Mariners- The only AL team that I put in this category, the Mariners are a mess. Erik Bedard busted big time last year, so they’ll need a rebound just to make that trade look respectable. Felix Hernandez can be dominating but must deal with his inconsistency and injury history. Ichiro is still Ichiro, albeit with a lower average. You have to give the Mariners PR department credit, though. They found out Griffey had interest from other teams, and went out and got him back into a Mariners uniform. At least they’ll sell some tickets.

Predictions:

AL East: New York Yankees

AL Central: Minnesota Twins

AL West: Los Angeles Angels

AL Wild Card: Boston Red Sox

Divisional:

Yankees over Twins

Angels over Sox

 

AL Champion: Los Angeles Angels

 

I like the Mets to win the 2009 World Series in 5 games.

Comments

Since: Mar 16, 2009
Posted on: March 16, 2009 8:51 pm
 

More Meaningless Predictions, AL-Style

 I agree the Yankees SHOULD be the winner in thier divission BUT! The glass slipper might not be as small as the egos and turmoil are in the east. I think it's going to be closer then you think. As for central, I pretty much agree there. West? I agree there with the Angels but dont you think the A's are going to step it up abit? Just saying.




Since: Mar 8, 2009
Posted on: March 15, 2009 10:53 am
 

More Meaningless Predictions, AL-Style

 

 i agree MN. i think that the yankees could easily be defeated by the twins if they can bring there "a" game to the playoffs. I also afree that sabathia will struggle because he has been used to pitching against teams with less hitting ability. The only person that in my mind has a hugeq uestion mar is the sox picther matzusaka. It always seems to me that he is a streaky pitcher who is somewhat afraid of contact, so i think that his consistency could be what pushes the sox over this year




Since: Jun 26, 2008
Posted on: March 9, 2009 5:18 am
 

More Meaningless Predictions, AL-Style

Well written blog, but as several others have pointed out I think you've missed the boat with both the Rays and the Royals.  The Rays are comprised almost entirely of players under age 30, they lost nobody of note in the off-season, added Pat Burrell to the line-up and you have them out of the playoffs this year?  I don't know which of the other AL East powers are not going to make it, but it isn't going to be the Rays.  I kind of think the Yankees are going to wind up in third again.   Steinbrenner and Cashman still don't realize that money doesn't buy chemisty and that's what they have to overcome with the Rays and the Sox.   The Sox will have some question marks such as how well Lowell recovers from his hip injury and I think they're going to be week in the catching position.   The Yankees have Posada, Damon, Matsui and Jeter all on the wrong side of 30 and probably in decline.  Who knows whats going to become of ARods hip injury and how he responds to the added pressure of the steroid story.  Will Burnett pitch like its a contract season or will he have another often injured seasons where he struggles to get 20 starts?  The Rays may not have any top 5 starters but the starters they have are all solid and give their team a chance to win and I think its one of the 3 or 4 best staffs in baseball. 

The Royals started 2008 with only 2 good starters in Gil Meche and Zack Greinke and one of the most anemic offenses in baseball.  They finished 2008 with the 25th ranked offense, yet managed to stay out of the cellar.  This year, Kyle Davies will emerge as a solid #3 starter and I guarentee you this team will score at least 100 more runs this season....minimum.  I figure the Royals to finish in 3rd in the Central and pushing hard for second.  They're good for 81-88 wins.




Since: Jul 3, 2007
Posted on: March 2, 2009 10:21 pm
 

More Meaningless Predictions, AL-Style


I like the Rays rotation, but there are no real proven guys in there. Kazmir has had an injury-plagued start, Garza and Price could be great, but they're young and unproven, and the same could be said for Sonnestine and Shields. I just don't like that they don't have a Beckett or Sabathia at the top. Not every team needs that, but the AL East winner does. The Rays don't even have a Daisuke or Wang (everyone needs a Japanese pitcher, ha, kidding) that you can already just put down 15 wins for.

I value veteran pitching, and that's why I like the Yanks and Sox over the Rays, but it's going to be a great race.



MajorE.Reckshun
Since: Dec 13, 2008
Posted on: March 1, 2009 4:12 am
This comment has been removed.

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Since: Jan 18, 2008
Posted on: March 1, 2009 12:38 am
 

More Meaningless Predictions, AL-Style

There is no way that all of the Yankee signings will stay healthy. Sabathia and Burnett always have injuries. Burnett was injured a ton when he played with the Marlins. I think this is the most overrated team since.... the '08 Yankees. I see them to win the division but get beat in the divisional round by the Twins. Sabathia's magical second half with the Brewers was an extreme aberration and he will never even come close to the Cy Young he had in '07 when he pitched against a very weak AL Central. Against good hitting teams like the Rays and BoSox he won't get it done.




Since: Aug 15, 2006
Posted on: February 27, 2009 11:49 pm
 

More Meaningless Predictions, AL-Style

BigKen,

wake up ! Beckett , (no way he gets 200 IP) , Dice K (solid) , Lester ( due for a down year) ... Wakefield ( .500 pitcher, at best) , Bucholz sucks, neither Bowden nor Masterson has proven they can pitch the whole year ... RSox set up for a fall, and may get passed by the Jays... letting Manny go was a huge mistake from which will take 4 years to recover.

on the other hand ... Sonnestein, Price, Kazmir , Shields, and Garza a much more solid starting rotation, and the team is better defensively to boot.

btw, i am a WSox fan, so know that this is objectiveness I gives.




Since: Sep 12, 2006
Posted on: February 27, 2009 8:13 am
 

More Meaningless Predictions, AL-Style

The Red Sox missed the WS last year by one game. Their biggest problem in 2008 was the bullpen in the middle innings. They didn't have anyone to come in and pitch 2-3 innning of solid relief if a starter struggled. Hideki was the only guy they could bring in and he was wearing down by Sptember.

The Sox only went after one offensive threat and the Yanks stroked them. So Theo decided to make pitching his focus and from this point of view he hit a 650 foot HR. The starters are solid. Beckett, Dice-K, Lester, Wakefield and one of the three kids:Bucholz, Bowden or Masterson. The bullpen is set. Okijima, Tawaza, Ramon Ramirez, Javier Lopez, Delcarmen and Saito with Paplebon.

No one has a better staff and then you can add Brad Penny and Jon Smoltz. Smoltz said he'd like to do long relief to build himself up and then either start or sub for Paplebon, where ever he's needed. Tawaza will be the odd man out and off to the minors when Penny or Smoltz is ready as will Bucholz, Masterson and Bowden. But this is a real group of studs and no where in the majors is there as much talent.

If the Sox do need a bat, they certainly have sme wood like Lars Anderson in the minors, but they also have the arms to make a deal to get a bomber.




Since: Aug 15, 2006
Posted on: February 26, 2009 11:28 pm
 

More Meaningless Predictions, AL-Style

cincy,

keep aspiring in your chosen career and don't let anyone stop you. That said, you have a lot of work to do in the art of grabbing someone's attention . I stopped reading halfway through the TB Rays piece because you didn't bring anything new up until then. And btw, don't the Rays still have the best starting pitching in the division? No mention of it in your post , though.

While these words may seem harsh , they are meant sincerely in the hopes that you will turn it around soon enough. Keep fighting, dude.

Now , your turn , click on the link under my name and read my blog on Election Night part one or Inauguration Day, and I want your unfiltered as well.

 




Since: Jul 31, 2008
Posted on: February 23, 2009 12:25 pm
 

More Meaningless Predictions, AL-Style

You've put quite a bit of thought into your predictions and I agree with much of what you have predicted. 

However, I do think you are giving the Twins too much credit.  Granted, they are a team that manages to overachieve every year.  That leads to overvaluing the players.  The Twins benefitted from a monumental collapse by the tigers in 2007.  In 2008, they managed to hang in with a group of struggling teams.  The Twins could once again find a way to win the division.  They could just as easily finish last.

The offense is capable of getting men on base, but struggles in bringing them home.  The Twins have two legitimate All Stars.  The rest of the offense is a patchwork of journeymen and potential. 

Catcher- Joe Mauer is an All Star catcher with a wonderful hitting eye.  One does have to wonder how long he will be able to stay in the position.  He has suffered through injuries nearly every season.  Sooner or later, the wear and tear will be too much.

First Base - Justin Morneau is great middle of the order bat and a very good first baseman.  He is already the best first baseman in Twins history.  Hitting behind Mauer gives him ample RBI opportunites, but he has little protection behind him.  In 2008, some teams began to pitch around him. 

Second Base- Alexi Casilla has the potential to be a good second baseman.  He's a talented, if sporadic fielder.  He has a little speed and could develop into a good top of the order guy.

Third Base - Joe Crede has had one year, 2006, in which he produced above a journeyman level.  If he struggles with injuries again, the job will fall to Brian Buscher and Brendan Harris.  Neither option strikes fear into opposing pitchers.

Shortstop - Nick Punto?  Really?  Punto is a good defensive player without much offensive potential.  He would make a fine utility player on a contending team.  He is not the everyday shortstop of a contending team.

Outfield- The Twins have four players for three positions.  None of the players is a sure bet.  Michael Cuddyer is very good fielder with average power and a lengthy injury history.  Carlos Gomez has world class speed and the potential to be one of the most exciting players in the game.  However, he has yet to show that he can hit consistently in the major leagues.  Denard Span is not quite as talented as Gomez, but has shown the ability to be a leadoff hitter.  Delmon Young has a great deal of ability that may never be realized. He may turn out to be one of those maddening players who make you wonder what might have been.  He has the potential to hit for power and average, but seems to lack the right approach at the plate.

DH- Jason Kubel has some power, but has yet to show that he can hit left handed pitching.

The starters all have potential.  How good would the staff have looked if the Twins had not traded Matt Garza to the Rays?

Francisco Liriano is the cream of the Twins crop and has the potential to be a dominant stopper.  His downside is his injury history.  He came back strong from Tommy John surgery last year.  His durability is questionable as he had also had arm problems while with the Giants.

Scott Baker, Kevin Slowey, Nick Blackburn, and Glen Perkins all seem interchangeable at this point.  While they have potential, they may be nothing more than a group of number three or four starters.

Joe Nathan might be the best closer in the game.  However, the setup men in front of him have been less than dependable. 

The Twins team will have to be greater than the sum of it's parts for them to contend this year.    



The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com