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.