Thursday, March 3, 2011

AL East

The amazing Wieters of Baltimore fame is off to an unprecedented start with a career 266/328/393 line in the majors (to go with his 343/438/576 line in the minors). He is indeed Joe Mauer with Power, and has secured Baltimore's second consecutive World Series title (hell might as well not even play the games next season, it's over already). Unfortunately the beleaguered Yankees and Red Sox must deal with his omnipotence. Baltimore now has quite the lineup actually, with the strikeout king Mark Reynolds alongside the slightly better than Konerko Derrek Lee and the declining but still austere Vlad. Unfortunately much of the rest of their team is terrible, so we expect them to be last place this year.

The Toronto Blue Jays also have quite the lineup and much like the Rays I'd expect them to win half of the other divisions in the league at this point (or at least have a shot), but in the AL East you need to win 95 games at least to get in the playoffs and the Blue Jays are perhaps an 88 win team. Jose Bautista was resigned to a relatively team friendly contract after his ridiculous 54 homer season last year (never hit more than 15 in any prior year) obviously the cynic in you would suggest he used steroids but it mostly looks like his powerful swing combined with the Blue Jays' mysterious new ability to hit HR and greatly enhanced his performance. The Blue Jays pitching staff isn't terrible like Baltimore's, but I'm fairly certain either the Yankees or Red Sox' pitching payroll exceeds their entire team's payroll.

The Tampa Bay Rays are the best run organization in baseball, however their owner doesn't much care for spending money so he lost one of his best players in the offseason, one Carl Crawford, to the Boston Red Sox, the equivalent of giving them 5 wins on the schedule basically. Granted, Tampa Bay is a terrible market for baseball games and even a young, exciting, and frequently competitive team like the Rays failed to draw more than 15,000 fans per game. Florida, that land of dying people, simply does not go to sporting events, even the Heat have pretty terrible attendance considering the hype machine behind them. Tampa Bay still has Longoria forever and David Price alongside excellent pitching but their offense is going to be down quite a lot this year.

The Yankees have a very good team packed with former all stars much like always. However they didn't improve at all in the offseason while their primary rival gained two of the top 20 players in baseball, so obviously their chances of winning the division went to hell. The Yanks have probably the best offense in the league but their pitching leaves a lot to be desired, after the Corpulent Curmudgeonly Sabathia there really isn't another good starting pitcher on the whole staff. In a strange bit of fate Andy Pettitte also decided to retire, he was their third best pitcher last year (or maybe 2nd?) so the Yanks are pretty much going to have to score 6 or 7 runs a game to win 90+ games (which admittedly they probably will).

The Boston Red Sox had the best offseason in the majors. While the Phillies are going to get more hype due to the absurd rotation of 4 aces the Red Sox do look a fair amount better than them as a team. Boston acquired Adrian Gonzalez, one of the best first basemen in the game (roughly half as good as Pujols!) from San Diego and the aforementioned Carl Crawford from the Rays, greatly improving their already potent offense alongside improving their defense. While Adrian Beltre is no longer with the team after a career year and Scott Boras got him a shitload of money from the Rangers the Red Sox have made such an improvement at First Base and in the outfield that it more than doubles that loss of WAR going from Beltre to Youkilis. The one major thing that the Bo.Sox have to deal with is injuries, as that crippled them last season, but I think they could have half the team injured and still win 90 games, they are the juggernaut of the AL.

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