Monday, February 12, 2007

Initial AL West

I have been reading some interesting reads by columnist Tim Brown whose work is posted on Yahoo Sports. He is doing a quick around the league and I am basing much of my comments on his work. The following are the highlights and my added opinion.

Also I would love to point out that once again Yahoo Sports is my preferred internet venue for sports news because of its clean layout. I have tired greatly of the extreme broadband requirements of other sites and love the fact that I can enjoy the site on dial-up or a T1 line.

FYI, I will be making my official predictions about records/playoffs and all before the season begins, but after Spring Training ends.

  • The Orioles look to be stuck in neutral again this year. They might make some early noise in May, but a weak rotation with Bedard as its high point will eat away at the win column. Combine that with an overpaid closer in Baez and the birds will have trouble holding a lead.

  • Here is the scary part: "Devil Rays starters had a better ERA in 2006 than Red Sox starters." So what did Boston do but go out and sign a big name in the offseason. Now their rotation looks like Schilling, Beckett, Dice-K, and Wakefield. If Papelbon is allowed to join them then they look scary. Their bullpen will prove to be either the savior or the Achilles heal for this team.

  • The Bronx Bombers are back once again and a healthy Matsui should prove to be vital. And yes, here we are again discussing whether or not they can outhit the other team. This team is like the Phoenix Suns in their approach to the season. Simply outscore the other team and hope that the defense (pitching) does enough.

  • Tampa Bay is going to be hard to take seriously again because of their general lack of talent. Kazmir and Wiggington will hopefully provide some inspiration to this otherwise AAA team.

  • Toronto is once again going to be bearing the brunt of the AL East haterade. They have a solid rotation in Halladay, Burnett, and Chacin. Their outfield should outhit the world again (unless Vernon Wells had a contract season). Watch for them to take 2nd in the division.

  • The White Sox have a 'great on paper' rotation again that can take them to the top if they regain their form. Dye, Thome, and Konerko need to step up once again though to keep them in contention.

  • The Indians seem to be stuck in neutral and their lineup and rotation seem ok i guess. They seemed destined to be either 3rd or 4th in the division.

  • Detroit looks really scary. They added Gary Sheffield for some extra power and retained their elite pitching staff. The key will be whether or not the staff is worn down or overused. Having 4 starters hover around 200 innings last year was mighty nice, but let's make sure that they don't wear out late in the season.

  • The Royals.... yup.

  • The Twins are going to have to turn into a Yankees-esque team and muscle their way into the postseason. Their pitching is going to be quite down with the loss of Liriano. Even with Santana doing his usual changeup magic, the rest of the rotation is mediocre at best. Having Mauer and Morneau leaves them open to some pop as that could bring them hope. I have them slated comfortably in 3rd.

  • The Angels of 'whatever city they pick this year' look to be stacked to take the division. If Vlad comes back strong and Colon starts blowing people away, their team will do well.

  • Oakland keeps losing good pitchers and so it is hard for me to believe that they will maintain a high level of performance. I am uncertain about the Piazza for Thomas DH swap and think it will be quite hard for Mike to equal Frank's output from last year.

  • Seattle has spent a lot of money chasing contract year players and are getting hit with the brunt of those bad decisions. They look destined to be bottom feeders this year.

  • The Rangers seem to be quite a wild card this year. They have built their team around a lot cheap what ifs that could pay huge dividends. If Sammy starts slammin again and Gagne is lights out with Otsuka in front and Brandon McCarthy steps it up and Hank Blalock decides to play again, they win the division. As it is, it is hard to bet on higher than a 2nd place finish in the division.


David Johnson said...

I don't think Piazza can come anywhere near the Big Hurt's production from last year. Oakland needs to learn how to spend more money, albeit judiciously, if they want to continue to compete. Otherwise they need to learn to start making judicious trades of the players they know they won't be able to resign to keep their farm system producing high-level prospects.

The way I see it, Boston and Texas are the two biggest wild cards in the AL this year. Cleveland and Minnesota will probably be right there knocking on Detroit's door (although if Detroit gets anywhere near the sort of performances from their pitching staff that they got last year, they should have the division wrapped up), and the Yanks will find a way to make the playoffs; Anaheim and Oakland won't be separated by much on that tier that sits just a couple notches above mediocrity, which probably means they'll be vying for the lead in the West.

But Boston's staff is something of a question mark. Will Matsuzaka's enormous arsenal of pitches help him succeed to a greater degree than Ichiro or Nomo before him? Will Beckett stay healthy and pitch well for a full season? Can Schilling be a legitimate ace again? Will Papelbon be able to re-adjust to starting, and can he start at anything like a decent level for a full season? What about the BoSox offense? Can anybody up there besides Manny and Papi hit? Will Boston be able to compete with New York this year or will the Blue Jays again fly higher?

And Texas: all those gambles. Will any of them pay off? Will Blalock return to form? Will Teixeira hit for power for the whole season, or just the last two months? Will this be one of Millwoods dominant years, or one of his mediocre ones? Can anyone else on the Rangers' staff get guys out for six innings or more with any consistency?

Will the Cubs win? Or will St. Louis find a way even with their patchwork pitching staff?

Mad Rappin EW said...

The Devil Rays are goin all the way baby, all the way! You heard it first from me