Thursday, April 14, 2011

The AL East

The East is the toughest division in baseball. This year there have been both improvement and loss to the teams in the East. The Yankees have had their way for decades and can pay for anything they need to win. However, money does not always buy the World Series. You have to have all the pieces to be consistent in the win column. Of course if you only need a piece or two, every team will go out to get them. Thus the Jays of August of ’92; we bought David Cone. Voila!

The Yanks lost Andy Pettitte and it looks like they have not replaced his 15 wins; but Freddy Garcia did have 12 last year. A J Burnett is their number three starter. The Yanks will have paid plenty for his very average year (ERA 5.26) if he can stay mentally healthy as well. The Yankee starters combined for 63 wins a combined ERA of 4.35. A-Rod’s start to the season may be his best yet. When A-Rod has a good spring he seems to start well. Just like this year. Mark Teixeira will have to be better then last year, but by stats alone he will be a big contributor. Russell Martin will have big shoes to fill with Posada moving to DH. Martin has had a couple of bad years and if he can change his party ways he might gain back some of the promise he once had. Will, the Quill, has mentioned all the options for the Yanks behind the plate. Those choices are in the future and Martin will have to step up now or simply be gone. I feel Martin seems to have fit in with the pinstripes. Brett Gardner will have to continue to improve his numbers to keep his LF starting position. Derek Jeter will be his usual self — excellent. The only thing against the Yanks is their age, which has been said of them before. They have played together for a long time and injuries may now play a bigger part. Manny Rivera might just not be invincible this year. No matter what, you cannot count out the Yanks at this point. The Yankees are down but far from out.

Red Sox have made improvements. They acquired Carl Crawford, who has made every other team cringe over the years with his bat (especially the Jays). At first you have Adrian Gonzales who is a consistent 39 HR hitter with high average and OBP with lots of base on balls. The top five starters combined for 65 W’s last year and an average ERA of 3.86. Papelbon is the second best closer in the AL. The Red Sox have added the pieces they need. They are there. Well, that's if they can actually win (2/8). Red Sox nation should not dispair yet.

The Orioles have made big changes this year. Baltimore has Buck Showalter, a great manager. The infield has been revamped in the extreme. Derek Lee is added at first and bats for high average. He is a veteran player. Brian Roberts will continue to produce at bat and on the field. JJ Hardy, the new SS, is expected to return to form after a rough 2010 and reduce his number of strikeouts. Mark Reynolds is taking 3rd. He brings home run power but way too many strikeouts. For DH is Vlad Guerrero. He has hit for high average over a long career with a great BB to SO ratio. His RBI was also over 100 last year. If he can keep up after 17 years, he will add plenty to the batting production. The rookie Arrieta has shown good stuff. Kevin Gregg is the new closer they got from the Jays. He had a career high of 37 saves last year. Still, I don’t see the run production they will need at this point. Showalter will have to find new ways to win.

Rays are down and will need to rebuild. They have lost Crawford’s power. Now that Manny Ramirez has “retired”, Johnny Damon will not be able to fulfill all the offense that is needed. The offense is well below average. The Rays will have to rely on their defense to stay in the hunt. But overall I don’t think they can.

Well, now for the Jays. I want them to take the whole thing but… Not this year, but soon. They have a very young but exciting team and much is expected of them. They have very good bats and gloves. I have mentioned some of the team before but would like to add I really like that the Jays purchased Jason Nix from Cleveland. A fine addition that has surprised everyone. The infield, as a whole, should be better at bat then last year with Lind and Hill back in form. Yunel Escobar has apparently found a home with the Jays and his past performance is long forgotten. Encarnacion has been better with the bat but still can’t throw. Corey Patterson will make a good piece off the bench. The new closer, Frank Francisco, will add much needed heat. The young rotation seems, so far, to be able to handle the pressure. Over all, a much improved and potentially playoff-bound team for seasons to come.I would love for the Jays to surprise the East just as they did last year. With the small ball approach of John Farrell, I think good things will happen. The first inning of the season proved that it is possible to bunt steal (double steal), avoid a pick-off play and generate 4 runs with not one long ball. Beautiful!

So, how do I think it will wind up? Here it is: Red Sox, Yankees, Jays, and Orioles with Rays in the cellar. The AL play-off situation might look like Red Sox vs White Sox and The Yanks vs Rangers. Sounds familiar.


Rick Blechta said...

I find myself completely agreeing with John.

There's a first time for everything, I guess...

John the Tomahawk Trembath said...

OMG,the Earth just moved. Thanks Rick. This is first for sure.

I still am hoping I am wrong and the Jay's surprise the everyone and move into the payoffs.