Tuesday, March 11, 2008

American League Preview

No dilly dallying today. Much to get through. American League today with National League tomorrow. So excited baseball is warming up. All signs point to a fun season.

AL EAST

Baltimore Orioles: Hard to tell what this team is trying to do. They unload Tejada to the Houston Suckers…er…Astros, making everyone think they’ll build around the young guys. Then they trade Eric Bedard to Seattle and seem intent on getting rid of Brian Roberts. But they keep Jay Payton, Jay Gibbons and Kevin Millar. What the hell? Seems like the only plan Baltimore has in mind involves the bottom line. Sorry, Oriole fans, looks like another depressing season coming up.

Reasons to be concerned: Still have an owner making a mess of things and most of your recognizable players will be wearing new uniforms on opening day.

Reasons to be excited: You still have Cabrera pitching every 6 days or so and there should be some young guns to cheer for.

Boston Red Sox: Sorry, the 2007 World Champion Boston Red Sox. WOOOOOOO!!! YEAH, BABY!! Sadly, this year is already shaping up to be a ‘Hangover Year’ with Beckett showing up out of shape (causing back problems), Schilling injured and Manny already looking forward to next year.

Reasons to be concerned: Beckett and Schilling; Manny continuing his decline?

Reasons to be excited: Full season of Jacoby, Lester and possibly Buchholz; Dice K fully adjusted and under the radar; Manny looking for another big paycheck and Papi’s fully healed knee.

New York Yankees: How great is it to have an insane person in charge of the Yankees again? Hank is carrying the Steinbrenner crazy torch with pride and I applaud him for it. As for the team itself, there are way too many question marks to figure out what this team is going to do. Giambi is 37, Jeter can’t play forever (I don’t think), which ARod will show up this year? Plus, the starting rotation consists of a Pettitte sans performance enhancers, the artist formerly known as Mike Mussina, Phil Hughes, Wang and a player to be named later. Rivera is nearly 60 now and it’s possible Chamberlain could throw his arm clear off his body before June.

Reasons to be concerned: Age, payroll, steroids are now banned from baseball, starting rotation, Igawa still being on the roster.

Reasons to be excited: You just know Hank is going to go apeshit when the Yankees go 10-21 in May and make some crazy trade. Can’t wait. Hughes and possibly Kennedy showing what they’re made of; watching Damon try to throw.


Tampa Bay Rays: Despite having a bus load of young, exciting, athletic players, the flaw in this team will still be pitching. Another season under both Shields’ and Kazmir’s belt can only help, but who is there after that. Garza should be ok, but they’ll need to find some gem in a hurry if they want to do any real damage.

Reasons to be concerned: Can Carlos Pena repeat his 2007 season? Will the pitching at least keep them in games? Losing the most menacing part of your team name.

Reasons to be excited: BJ Upton, Carl Crawford, Jonny Gomes, Akinori Iwamura will be fun to watch. Rocco Baldelli, too, if he can stay healthy. Not an ‘if’ I would bet on.

Toronto Blue Jays: The busiest of all the AL East teams this past winter. Snagged Scott Rolen from the Cardinals and Dave Epstein from….uh…retirement? Did anyone else actually want him? If everyone plays to potential and stays healthy this could be a very dangerous team.

Reasons to be concerned: What does Rolen have left? Is his shoulder fully healed? Is AJ Burnett going to effective?

Reasons to be excited: If Rolen and Eckstein produce; if Burnett, Hallady, Chacin, and Marcum all stay healthy and effective; if BJ Ryan can close games out; if Vernon Wells bounces back from a subpar 2007, this could be a very good team. Lot of Ifs, though.

AL CENTRAL

Chicago White Sox: The additions of Nick Swisher and Orlando Cabrera should provide the energy missing from this team last year. Sure, Cabrera is 33 now, but he’s still one of the better defensive shortstops in the game and always – ALWAYS! – seems to come through with a big hit. Still, it looks an awful lot like the same old with this team and they’re betting their season that two or three of their young arms will be effective enough to carry them in a tough division.

Reasons to be concerned: The age and durability history of Jim Thome and Jermaine Dye; their starting pitching; once again living the Bobby Jenks Experience.

Reasons to be excited: They can only be better, right? Swisher will be fun to watch; Cabrera should bring some needed levity to this serious bunch.

Cleveland Indians: Is bringing back the exact team as last year a good thing or a bad thing? With Sabathia, Carmona forming one of the best 1-2 combos in either league and Westbrook and Byrd, this will be a tough team every night. However, this is the same team that completely collapsed against the Red Sox last October and I have to question the mental toughness of this group.

Reasons to be concerned: Will there be any lingering effects from last year’s playoffs? Sabathia and Carmona pitched A LOT last season. Will Byrd be as effective as last year and will Cliff Lee do anything worthwhile.

Reasons to be excited: This is the same team that nearly eliminated the 2007 World Champion Red Sox (yes, I just like writing that) and they should be just as good if they stay healthy.

Detroit Tigers: With the addition of Miguel Cabrera, this is one of the best – if not THE best – lineup in the league. Check out this hypothetical:

Curtis Grandison
Placido Polanco
Gary Sheffield
Cabrera
Magglio Ordonez
Carlos Guillen
Ivan Rodriquez
Jacque Jones
Brandon Inge (????)

Even if you replace Inge with Marcus Thames, this is still a kick ass lineup. See a weakness anywhere? Hell you could replace Jones and Inge with my mother and your mother and this team will still score 900+ runs.

Reasons to be concerned: Cabrera’s dietary habits; Dontrelle Willis adjusting to AL lineups; starting spots 3-4 which coincide directly with the health of Bonderman.

Reasons to be excited: If Bonderman is healthy;
Once again…
Curtis Grandison
Placido Polanco
Gary Sheffield
Cabrera
Magglio Ordonez
Carlos Guillen
Ivan Rodriquez
Jacque Jones
Brandon Inge

Kansas City Royals: Despite showing improvement last year, they didn’t seem to do much this past winter to take that next step. Meche is still there only semi-reliable starter and there infield roster reads like another team’s Double A affiliate.

Reasons to be concerned: The Greinke situation; De La Rosa being your number 3 starter; Brett Tomko being on your roster.

Reasons to be excited: Hey, it’s a new year and anything could happen; maybe this year’s batch of rookies will work out.

Minnesota Twins: Let’s see, they swapped Johan Santana for Livan Hernandez, Torii Hunter for Delmon Young and are counting on Liriano to be fully healthy after Tommy John surgery. If this were any other team than the Twins I would be expecting an epic losing season. But this team has been so well managed in the past it wouldn’t be surprising to see them in first place as late as July.

Reasons to be concerned: Liriano’s elbow; Mauer having peaked at age 23; Delmon Young replacing Hunter as a community leader.

Reasons to be excited: Maybe Liriano is healthy; Young could get his shit together and have a superstar season; you have a guy named Boof on the team.

AL WEST

Los Angeles Angels: If you’re confused, this team is actually in Anaheim and used to be called the California Angels then the Anaheim Angels and now the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim which kind of defeats the purpose of having ‘Los Angeles’ as part of your team name. Look, they have a great team on paper this year, but until you get the city thing straightened out, you ain’t winning shit.

Reasons to be concerned: Vlad’s back; who is playing shortstop?

Reasons to be excited: Let’s see….a pitching rotation that includes Jered Weaver, Jon Garland, John Lackey and Kelvim Escobar (at home only); an outfield that is comprised of Torii Hunter, Vlad Guerrero, Gary Matthews Jr, and Garret Anderson; a lineup that’s going to give other teams absolute fits all year.

Oakland Athletics: This team always gives off the illusion of rebuilding. Trading and Swisher gave that impression last winter, but there is still a good foundation here. With Street and Harden still pitching they have a chance because you know they’ll pull some 20 year old rookie phenom out of their asses in June and go on a torrid second half run.

Fun Fact: Look who’s back from the dead! Glad to have him back. No, really! He’ll always be welcome.

Reasons to be concerned: That whole trading Haren and Swisher thing; Harden’s health (as usual); the rest of the starting rotation (if there is one).

Reasons to be excited: A backup catcher with a great last name; Chavez and Crosby still around (but for how long?); new stadium outside of Oakland soon! Congrats!

Seattle Mariners: Sadly, this looks like another year they’ll be also rans to Anaheim of Los Angeles…er…the Angels. They improved their pitching by picking up Bedard, but they still have Richie Sexson as a regular and starters 4 and 5 are questionable at best.

Reasons to be concerned: You read about Richie Sexson, right? He’s still there; how long can Ichiro keep at it? 37 year old Batista (who could be 45 for all we know) is your fourth best starter.

Reasons to be excited: This is still a better team than last year; Sexson could shock us all and fulfill his potential; Bedard; not the Texas Rangers.

Texas Rangers: I was ready to trash this team until I looked at the roster and realized they really aren’t that bad. Or shouldn’t be anyway. Blalock, Young, Saltalamacchia, and David Murphy (one of my favs) are back. Problem is the pitching. Who starts for this team? We know Kevin Millwood and Kason Gabbard (part of the Gagne debacle) and probably Jason Jennings until his ERA hits 8 by May 15th. Who else? Is there anyone in their farm system? I’m sure we’ll find out.

Reasons to be concerned: See above comments about pitching; newly added Milton Bradley could actually murder someone this year. No seriously, if he forgets his medication it could happen.

Reasons to be excited: They should be included in nearly every trade at this year’s deadline; get to watch Murphy blossom into a star; newly added Milton Bradley could actually murder someone this year.

Can't wait for this year to start.

NL coming tomorrow or Thursday depending on when I can get it together.

Today's distraction: Play some Escape, a quick and fun waste of time.

5 comments:

Jim Hammen said...

Detroit's lineup is even better than you think: they'll have Renteria starting, not Inge. Very solid work here. Do we get any playoff predictions with these previews?

BeachBum said...

Holy shit, that's right. I completely forgot about him. But wait, does that make their lineup better or worse? We saw first hand what happened to Renteria last time he was in the AL.

I've always like Inge, too. Solid all around player and just seems like a good guy to have around.

BeachBum said...

Oh, sorry. No playoff predictions. It's too long a season to guess what's going to happen with these teams. Injuries and trades and unexpected phenoms make it impossible to figure out which teams would be good. Just look at the Yankees. They could be great, they could suck, they could be average.

ThePowerOf10 said...

Wow am I impressed with this. Well done sir. Being a Twins fan, I'm glad you didn't underestimate their constant will to win and the excellent coaching. Not gonna lie, they might not win 80 this year but it should be an interesting year nonetheless.

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