Sunday, March 28, 2010

The GM: AL East Predictions

In short:

1. New York
2. Boston
3. Tampa Bay
4. Baltimore
5. Toronto

Here's why:

The New York Yankees are the team to beat in the American League East, and really in Major League Baseball. They lost Johnny F. Damon and Hideki Matsui, but those two were replaced by Curtis Granderson and Nick Johnson in the lineup. They also replaced Melky Cabrera with an internal promotion of the Bronx's boy Brett Gardner. It is not debatable whether the '10 Yankees are better than last year's roster would have been had those three guys stayed. It is, however, debatable whether they are better than last year's team. Vazquez could help, but he's not the second coming. I'd be concerned a little about Posada, but the middle of the order, the addition of Johnson and Granderson, and the top two in the rotation (assuming health, which is a big if) should be enough to propel this team to another title. Even if the rotation is not healthy, they'll be trucking Joba Chamberlain and Alfredo Aceves out there--not Aaron Small or Chad Gaudin.

The Red Sox are probably not as good as they were last year. Even if they are a slight improvement (assuming Adrian Beltre is helped by Fenway Park, the Scutaro Renaissance is a product of getting consistent playing time, and all three of the top starters show up this year), let's face it: The 2009 Red Sox weren't even close to being an elite baseball team. It will be nice to not wonder what Smoltz and Penny will do this year, but it will be frustrating to see Beckett pitch well, give up a two-run homer in the sixth, and see a 1-1 tie game turn into a seemingly-insurmountable deficit. And if the lineup is misutilized (i.e. if Drew does not lead off), this is going to happen. Not to mention that the bullpen, especially the closer who has gotten worse ever year, has the potential for big-time combustibility.

I keep going back and forth about whether Boston or the Rays will finish second. Because the Rays' offense is far superior, but their rotation is far inferior. The invincibility of David Price has proven to be exaggerated, and Jeff Niemann doesn't make me comfortable if I'm a Rays fan. Their bullpen caught lightning in a bottle in 2008, and the personnel that composes it this year is more unimpressive than Boston's. Although their new closer Rafael Soriano will be a welcome improvement. Their offense is obviously better than the Red Sox, but they'll need BJ Upton to get his head out of his rear end and they'll need Ben Zobrist to repeat the 2009 effort if Tampa is to come in second place or win the Wild Card.

The Baltimore Orioles are a team that have a lot of players you'd want to draft in the late rounds of a fantasy draft because you think you're really clever. Most of these guys are younger guys, but none of them are really all-stars. I mean, who would you rather have as your first baseman: Garrett Atkins, Carlos Pena, Youkilis, or Teixeira? How about center field: Pacman Jones, Upton, Number 2/Cameron, or Granderson? Markakis might present an edge over the other teams, as would Weiters, obviously. Their #2 starter (Guthrie) gave up 35 home runs last year, and their ace is Kevin Millwood, who is probably a #5 starter in Boston or New York. Two more guys in their rotation are younger than me and Pat, and while Mike Gonzalez is a nice acquisition, this team has a lot of work to do if they want to be the "Next Rays."

CC Sabathia has more innings under his belt in the last two years than any of the Blue Jays' starters. Think about that for a second. Nobody in that rotation pitched more than 160 innings last year, nor has anyone pitched 400 innings in their careers. The Blue Jays have perhaps the best middle relief in the AL East, and both Adam Lind and Travis Snyder are intriguing young power hitters, but beyond that, they don't have much going for them.

9 comments:

jason said...

it will be interesting to see if the orioles can work their way out of the gutter, does anyone think they have the potential to make a rays esque run in a couple of years if their young guys pan out?

from the bronx said...

i was going to write the exact same thing. maybe they are still a year away, but i think they easily finish third in the AL East and it would not surprise me to see them make a run at the wild card.

the gm at work said...

Personally, I think the odds are against them. How much more upside are you gonna see from guys like Markakis, Pacman, and Luke Scott? Their young pitchers have promise, but I feel like there will still be a lot of time where they're going to be taking their lumps. Wouldn't surprise me, but they'd have to catch some serious breaks. Like the Rays did when their rotation was 100% healthy and their bullpen was unhittable.

from the bronx said...

catching breaks is pretty much something that has to happen if you are not a team that can spend to address short-term needs. jones is still young enough to improve considerably, and i like the rest of the OF (the guys you mentioned and don't forget about felix pie). they've also got a future superstar in matt wieters. i think what will really set them off, though, is the development of their young arms. if guys like matusz and tillman become serviceable, then the orioles become a very credible team. if they don't, they are the kind of team that doesn't challenge for a playoff spot but that no one wants to play during the regular season.

but they have some time. markakis is locked up and matusz, tillman, wieters, pie, scott, and jones are all very young. they have a good thing going in baltimore right now... one of these years - it could be this year - it is going to click.

Anonymous said...

DV

This post is always a great one because it means that the season is about to start. Like many Red Sox fans I have my reservations about the 2010 team, but it's still exciting to know that we're less than a week away from another year.

--the Gunn

jason said...

it does make me feel bad that the jays are going to suck this year, at least before they could run out roy halladay out every time they faced the yankees and win a few, now they dont have anyone

the gm at work said...

No faith in Ricky Romero?

That's okay, me neither.

the gm at work said...

Nice to see that the Boston Dirt Dog is spelling "Buchholz" incorrectly nowadays. That site has gone up in flames even more spectacularly than my March Madness brackets in the last four days.

the gm at work said...

A mistake I found: Should be that Sabathia has pitched more innings since April 2009 than any Blue Jays starter has pitched in the major leagues.