Monday, March 19, 2007

Predictions: A.L. East

We'll start with the most predictable division in baseball, the American League East, which hasn't seen a new champion since 1998. Every off-season in this division is full of sound and fury, but signifies nothing. The Yankees and Red Sox escalate their arms race, and the Yankees end up winning the division every year, usually by a comfortable margin. The Blue Jays make nice little pick-ups, but never do quite enough to cross the 90-win plateau. The Orioles make awful, bone-headed moves, but still manage to stave off the Devil Rays for the coveted title of fourth place. And the D-Rays wait forever for their prospects to come of age, which will never happen. So, this year...more of the same.


The Yankees have more questions than the Red Sox, especially in the rotation. And the Yankees' offense is not far enough ahead of the Sox bats to make up for the likely disaster that the back end of the rotation will become. But the Bombers will finish in first again, because that is what always happens.


I do like the Red Sox for the Wild Card this year, in part because the A.L. Central teams will all beat up on one another, and in part because Boston really only needs two of their potential aces to hit big (Schilling, Beckett, Matsuzaka and Papelbon). The bullpen will remain a problem all year. The last time the Sox tried a closer-by-committee, it didn't work out so well. The Boston media and fan base are too impatient to let an unorthodox idea like that develop. I predict a trade for a mediocre Wickman-type closer by June 1.


Yawn. This team is as boring as its country. The only reason to follow the Jays is to see if their manager tries to beat up any of their utility infielders.


I hate everything about this team. The rotation, the offense, the bullpen, the manager, the bench. The Jaret Wright. Erik Bedard is not an ace. There is no reason to think they won't finish in last place, except...


The Devil Rays have NO pitching. None. After Scott Kazmir (Tommy John surgery waiting to happen), their second-best starter is someone named Jamie Shields, a 25-year-old non-prospect. Tampa Bay has some of the most exciting hitters in baseball (Delmon Young, Rocco Baldelli, Carl "I want to be the most important fantasy baseball player of all time" Crawford), some of the most insane (Young, Elijah Dukes) and one of the ugliest (Jorge Cantu), but it will all go to waste because the team E.R.A. won't break 5.50.