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American League East Preview

Posted by Paul Boye, Wed, March 17, 2010 08:30 PM | Comments: 28
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The American League East is the toughest, most talented division in baseball. There really isn’t even a close competitor. The Yankees, after providing the rest of baseball with a brief respite from appearing in the postseason, restocked their team with multiple marquee free agents and stormed through the playoffs, only to lose to the Phillies in the World Series.

Nice thought, right?

The Red Sox feature a patient, talented offense and powerful pitching staff. The Rays are young, improving and graduating a number of high draft picks almost regularly. The Orioles sport some talented hitters and an arsenal of prospect starters nearly ready to try and alter the balance of power in the division. The Blue Jays, while clearly not in contention this year, have restocked their farm with solid prospects on a team that could already compete for the N.L. wild card.

The 2009 Season

New York Yankees (103-59, 1st)

It sort of leaves a bitter taste in the mouth to say it, but no team uses the current economic situation in baseball to its advantage better than the Yankees. A team with an impossibly large revenue stream in a league with no salary cap is a recipe for success, and the Yankees have, essentially, been a perennial powerhouse forever. They signed Mark Teixeira, A.J. Burnett and CC Sabathia out of free agency and won their 27th title. It’s no accident; good players means a good team.

So, of course, like any good team, the Yankees made improvements to a team that, even if left alone, would have been a favorite to repeat in 2010. They traded for Curtis Granderson. They signed Nick Johnson. They traded for Javier Vazquez. They retained superprospect Jesus Montero in spite of all that wheeling and dealing. And at the end of the day, they’re an even heavier favorite to emerge from the American League once more.

The only hope for the anti-Yankee is that this team is aging and their pitching is a bit suspect (except for that Rivera dude). Unfortunately, no one has really shown any signs of slowing down, so at least for 2010, it appears age won’t really be a problem.

The pitching is pretty good. The offense is unbelievable. The Yankees are a true force.

Boston Red Sox (95-67, 2nd)

If you’re going to face this team, try to catch them in your home park or they’ll bludgeon you. Hitting a combined .284/.365/.498 at Fenway, as opposed to a more middling .257/.340/.414 on the road, the Red Sox hitter have a true home field advantage. Pitchers also performed better at Fenway – at least in terms of ERA – by more than half a run. In any other division, the Red Sox were division champions in 2009.

Instead, they get the glorious designation of having to play second fiddle to the Yankees once more. That isn’t to say they’re acting like subordinates, though; the Sox made plenty of moves of their own in an effort to keep pace with New York. Bringing in Adrian Beltre, Mike Cameron and John Lackey should help, and with a pitching staff superior to New York’s and an offense that can swat a few baseballs in its own right, the Red Sox are an excellent team.

Tampa Bay Rays (84-78, 3rd)

Winning 84 games in this division is quite the feat, even if missing the playoffs is a disappointing result for the 2008 A.L. Champs. Finally reaping the rewards of high draft picks accumulated from years upon years of losing baseball, the Rays have shaped a young, talented nucleus into a winning team, yet still find themselves at a disadvantage.

The Rays ranked second in all of baseball in team WAR in 2009 – behind only those pesky Yankees – at 34.4, nearly five wins ahead of third-place Anaheim. The bulk of that came on the shoulders of breakout star Ben Zobrist, who put together a wonderful season that didn’t garner nearly the attention it deserved.

Behind Evan Longoria, Carl Crawford and Zobrist, the Rays have a bumper crop of young pitchers looking to move into their primes. They also added Rafael Soriano to bolster an already tough bullpen. Like the Red Sox, the Rays would be a definite division title contender anywhere else, but such is their lot in this life.

Toronto Blue Jays (75-87, 4th)

Roy Halladay is gone, Alex Rios is gone and Vernon Wells has a franchise-hamstringing contract. Scott Rolen was traded, and lame duck G.M. J.P. Ricciardi was canned. Things are not looking bright for Toronto in 2010, but some shrewd trading from new G.M. Alex Anthopolous and top prospect graduation has the offense at least featuring a couple bright spots in Adam Lind and Aaron Hill. Former Philly prospect Kyle Drabek could contribute at the M.L. level as soon as this season, and newly-acquired Brett Wallace could see time at third and first this season.

There is a core taking shape, but Toronto is still some ways – and years –  away from making serious noise in this division. Keep an eye on Travis Snider, a LF/1B/DH type who is only 22 and projects to have a big, powerful bat. He and Lind should form a powerful punch in the middle of the Toronto order for years, hopefully for long enough to allow a competitive core to mature around them.

Baltimore Orioles (64-98, 5th)

Oh, there is a light on that horizon. Nick Markakis is a solid hitter, Adam Jones is a budding superstar – revisit that Erik Bedard trade with Seattle sometime, and marvel at that horde of talent Baltimore pilfered from the unknowing hands on former Ms GM Bill Bavasi – and three stud prospect starters are inching ever closer to the Majors.

Brian Matusz, Chris Tillman and Jake Arrieta have the potential to be the next “Big Three” of starters, in the ilk of bygone days of Zito/Hudson/Mulder  in Oakland. With Tillman already on the roster, Arrieta and Matusz aren’t far behind. Expect the Orioles to catch a few people by surprise this year, but don’t expect a winning season. They just aren’t quite at that point. Yet.

Predicted Standings

Pat Gallen

1. Red Sox: (99-63)

2. Yankees: (93-69)

3. Rays: (91-71)

4. Orioles: (71-91)

5. Blue Jays: (67-95)

Nick Staskin

1. Yankees: (97-65)

2. Red Sox: (93-69)

3. Rays: (86-76)

4. Orioles: (76-86)

5. Blue Jays: (72-90)

Amanda Orr

1. Yankees: (95-67)

2. Red Sox: (93-69)

3. Rays: (83-79)

4. Orioles: (73-89)

5. Blue Jays: (69-93)

Paul Boye

1. Yankees: (99-63)

2. Red Sox: (92-70)

3. Rays: (87-75)

4. Orioles: (74-88)

5. Blue Jays: (70-92)

Corey Seidman

1. Yankees: (103-59)

2. Red Sox: (90-72)

3. Rays: (88-74)

4. Orioles: (81-81)

5. Blue Jays: (71-91)

Michael Baumann

1. Yankees: (102-60)

2. Red Sox: (93-69)

3. Rays: (85-77)

4. Orioles: (76-86)

5. Blue Jays: (64-98)

Now, to wrap up the American League, each writer was surveyed for their projected playoff results and league awards, as well as highlighting a player to keep an eye on that you may not already pay a great deal of attention to. With that, the prognosticating begins!

Playoff Predictions

Michael Baumann

Red Sox over Twins
Yankees over Mariners

Yankees over Red Sox

Paul Boye

Yankees over Twins
Rangers over Red Sox

Yankees over Rangers

Pat Gallen

Red Sox over Twins
Rangers over Yankees

Red Sox over Rangers

Amanda Orr

Red Sox over Twins
Yankees over Mariners

Yankees Over Red Sox

Corey Seidman

Yankees over Mariners
Angels over Twins

Yankees over Angels

Nick Staskin

Yankees over White Sox
Red Sox over Mariners

Red Sox over Yankees


American League Awards

Michael Baumann

MVP: Mark Teixeira, NYY
Cy Young: Justin Verlander, DET
Rookie of the Year: Chris “Disco” Hayes, KCR or Brett Wallace, TOR
Player to Watch: Ben Zobrist, TB

Paul Boye

MVP: Evan Longoria, TB
Cy Young: Jon Lester, BOS
Rookie of the Year: Brian Matusz, BAL
Player to Watch: Denard Span, MIN

Pat Gallen

MVP: Kevin Youkilis, BOS
Cy Young: Jon Lester, BOS
Rookie of the Year: Austin Jackson, DET
Player to Watch: Gordon Beckham, CWS

Amanda Orr

MVP: Alex Rodriguez, NYY
Cy Young: Felix Hernandez, SEA
Rookie of the Year: Brian Matusz, BAL
Player to Watch: Max Scherzer, DET

Corey Seidman

MVP: Evan Longoria, TB
Cy Young: Jon Lester, BOS
Players to Watch: Matt Wieters, BAL and John Lackey, LAA

Nick Staskin

MVP: Alex Rodriguez, NYY
Cy Young: Felix Hernandez, SEA
Rookie of the Year: Neftali Feliz, TEX
Player to Watch: Cliff Lee (who?), SEA

That finishes off our preview of the Junior Circuit. Team-by-team previews for the National League start soon, starting with those in the N.L. West.

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About Paul Boye

Paul Boye has written 58 articles on Phillies Nation.

 
 
  • Posts: 0 John

    I think the easy pick is the Skanks (as much as I hate to admit it) That being said, Boston is really close, it wouldn’t take much of a hiccup from the Bomber’s for the Sox to pull it off. Aside from that if Boston and NY aren’t both in the playoffs, it means either they had some horrendous metsesque luck (all for that!!!) or some other team really overachieved. I’m thinking Yanks, Chisox, Angels, and Boston as WC. Looking at Boston to take the Yanks in a series of 7 pitcher duels.

     
  • Posts: 0 Scotch Man

    MVP: Milton Bradley
    CY Young: Bartolo Colon
    Rookie of the Year: Carlos Carrasco
    Player to Watch: Sidney Ponson

     
  • Posts: 0 Jeff of Nova

    LOL Scotch man keep drinking:)

    I think the yankees are going to have a doner this year and won’t win 90+games.
    wild card but not the division

     
  • Posts: 0 Manny

    I’m with you Pat Gallen! I see the Red Sox coming on top after a three-way battle against the Rays and Yankees… Yankees taking the Wild Card..

     
  • Posts: 0 Jon

    You guys really all had the same predictions? Is that even possible? The rays aren’t getting enough respect as they have the deepest team in baseball. They have about 13 position players that could be legit starters on an average team and about 7 pitchers who could start on an average team. Also the Red Sox are getting way too much respect. Their offense is very mediocre and 3 of their starting 5 are really inconsistent.

    MVP: Justin Morneau
    Cy Young: Feliz Hernandez
    ROY: Wade Davis
    Player to Watch: Sean Rodriguez

     
  • Posts: 0 Chuck

    Paul…

    Not trying to nitpick….but the Yankees have won 27 titles, NOT 28 as you’ve stated.

    It’s bad enough that they are who they are….and that they beat our Phillies to win that last championship.

    Let’s not make that number any bigger than we have to…..even if it was just an honest mistake.

    ——–

    Oh, and yeah…..check out that Eric Bedard deal a few years back…..VERY impressive. Remember, too, that George Sherrill came to the O’s as well in that trade. Adam Jones is a STUD.

    Maybe we all will be saying the same thing about the “You Know Who” trade a few years from now????

     
  • Posts: 0 Ed R.

    Nick….A-Roid for MVP…really? I am disappointed in you buddy.

     
  • Posts: 0 WFC010

    A-Roid is my most hated player on my host hated team, so I would hate to see that joker win any kind of award besides some sort of dishonorable award for cheating.

     
  • Posts: 0 Phylan

    Alex Rodriguez is one of the best hitters in the game, picking him to win MVP is hardly ridiculous.

     
  • Posts: 96 Paul Boye

    Avatar of Paul Boye

    Yikes, sloppy typo. Thanks Chuck.

     
  • Posts: 0 Chuck

    Love him or loathe him…..A-Rod is one of the best. I agree that he’s worthy of MVP talk every year.

     
  • Posts: 0 WFC010

    He may be one of the best players, but that doesn’t mean I have to like him or root for him to win anything.

    Even if he played for the Phillies, I would still hate him.

    There are certain players that I love regardless of the team they play for, and others that i’d hate anywhere.

     
  • Posts: 0 Chuck

    You’d hate him but if he hit game….and SERIES …..winning home runs you might learn to love him a little.

     
  • Posts: 0 WFC010

    Ehh, i’d give him some credit for helping the Phillies and maybe respect him a little bit more, but I STILL wouldn’t like him.

    My reasons for disliking him are plentiful, and the Steroids issue isn’t even the biggest one for me.

    He just is too much of a showboat, self-first,overpaid, irritating clown, with vanity issues.

    And I am sure that there are a sizable amount of Yankees fans who probably dislike him too, but they tolerate him because he’s a good player for their team.

     
  • Posts: 0 Phylan

    I don’t ever recall much showboating from A-Rod. He seems to keep it pretty close to the vest, actually. He’s a bit . . . odd in situations where he has to talk to people, but that’s all I’ve noticed. And I don’t really blame him for getting as much money as he could, especially considering how willing the Yankees were to pay it to him.

     
  • Posts: 0 Phylan

    In fact one of the first A-Rod moments I can remember is the 2001 All-Star game, when he took the field, moved himself to third base and goaded Cal Ripken into playing short, since it was likely his last All-Star game. That showed to me that he had a lot of class.

     
  • Posts: 0 Don M

    A-Rod just took the “nice guy” act and rolled with it . . . he never tried to be cooler than Griffey Jr.

    or c0ckier than Barry Bonds..

    He just went about his business . . . and I only blame him for steriods, as much as I blame 80% of the other players who did it at the time..

    We all know what happened… he’ll have to face the music later in life when he can’t get it up while sitting on his yacht

    But I would welcome A-Rod to philly in a heartbeat..


    I hate JOSE REYES, and RUSSELL MARTIN more than any other players in baseball

     
  • Posts: 0 Don M

    A-Rod … went and got the most money that people were willing to pay him

    the same that every other person and athlete would do.

    He doesn’t ever stand and watch his homeruns . . .ala Bonds, Manny, David Ortiz… and ever Ryan Howard (which i’ve b!tched about before)

    If he didn’t play for the Yankees, people wouldn’t care… but now that he does.. he’s gone from the Seattle, Texas, “everyone’s favorite” . . . to now where people can’t stand him

     
  • Posts: 0 Phylan

    If his power keeps vanishing I don’t think you’ll have to worry about Russell Martin much longer

     
  • Posts: 0 Chuck

    Jose Reyes is a punk.

    And Russell Martin is a thug.

    A-Rod is just A-Rod…..sort of like Manny being Manny…..only more tolerable.

     
  • Posts: 0 Brooks

    Scotch – I know its a late post but I just caught what you said. Players to watch – Sidney Pontoon??? Dude? You really need to put that pipe down.

     
  • Posts: 0 Don M

    im 94% sure that he was kidding Brooks.. I think Sidney Ponson might even be dead??

     
  • Posts: 0 Chuck

    What a waste….Sidney Ponson.

    Really talented guy that had SO MUCH potential…..and he basically just pissed it all away.

    Actually, I read somewhere just recently that he just signed a contract with the Long Island Ducks (I think that’s the name?) of the Independent League.

    Guess he figures that he’ll start his comeback.

     
  • Posts: 0 rob5000

    Wow guys… way to get creative with your AL MVP’s… truly thinkin’ out of the box. Gotta’ love that AL East.

     
  • Posts: 0 rob5000

    And not that it really matters, but I do understand it’s probably tough to not go with Boston or NY as 1st and/or 2nd, but you all honestly think it’s going TB, Balt, and Tor the rest of the way? Come on! Stop agreeeing!

     
  • Posts: 0 Gino

    The Red Sox are an aging team lucky to win 90 games..Lowell, Ortiz and Varitek are way past their prime..Cameron and Beltre are mediorce at best and the pitching must stay healthy in order to contend in 2010..

     
  • [...] AL East/Awards Preview [...]

     
  • Posts: 0 Galen Sallies

    woot! (my third blog comment of the month – I am rockin out ). Nice theme, MAN! (hee – couldn’t resist it). In complete seriousness, it is a marvelous write up.

     
 
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