AL East Preview
Just like last year—Rays, Red Sox, Yankees?
Back to normalcy—Yankees, Red Sox, Rays?
It could go either way. In fact, the Red Sox could win the division too. In fact, there are six different combinations that these teams could end up in. The only scenarios that are ridiculous would be the Blue Jays or the Orioles making a move. This is because the Jays refuse to produce/buy positional talent, and the O's refuse to produce/buy pitching talent. The Jays pitching with the O's hitting would still fail to approach the power of the top three in this division.
It is not very often that the best three teams in a sport all come from the same division. The NFC East is very good in the NFL and the Western Conference is very dominant in basketball, but neither of those examples are comparable to this situation. The three best teams in baseball literally cannot under any circumstance make the playoffs.
Lets take a look at positional rankings. For the record, this source happens to favor the New York Yankees, but has made a sincere attempt at fairness:
*2pts for a win, and 1 for second, third gets none
Catcher: Posada, Navarro, Varitek
1st Base: Texeira, Youkilis, Pena
2nd Base: Pedroia, Cano, Iwamura
Short: Jeter, Bartlett, Lowrie/Lugo
3rd Base: Rodriguez, Longoria, Lowell
For the infield the Yankees lead with 9, and BOS and TB are tied at 3.
Left field: Crawford, Bay, Damon
Center: Upton, Ellsbury, Gardner/Cabrera
Right: Nady/Swisher, Drew/Balldeli, Joyce/Kapler
DH: Ortiz, Burrell, Matsui
Things tighten up here. Yanks still lead with 11, and BOS and TB are tied at 8.
SP1: Sabathia, Beckett, Shields
SP2: Kazmir, Wang, Lester
SP3: Matsuzaka, Burnett, Garza
SP4: Pettitte, Sonanstine, Wakefield
SP5: Chamberlain, Price, Penny
Yankees: 19, Tampa: 12, and Boston: 11
CL: Papelbon, Rivera, Percevil
SU: Balfour, Okajima, Bruney
Manager: Terry, Joe M, Joe G
FINAL SCORE: Yankees 20, Redsox 16, Rays 15
Injuries always play an important role in the season, so the chance of the division actually finishing Yankees-Red Sox-Rays is still only slightly above 33 percent.
Notes: All three first basemen are very good... Cano is closer to Pedroia than most people acknowledge....Bay may very well be better than Crawford....Right field was the hardest decision (although DH was killer too)—the fact that Swisher and Nady can platoon is what tilted the scale...Rotation scores work out differently depending on what order the players are put in—more proven starters tended to go higher than rookies and injured players.
This is evident in ranking Wang ahead of Burnett in the Yankees rotation, and putting the fifth starters: Chamberlain, Price, and Penny behind the fourth starters: Pettitte, Sonanstine, and Wakefield. However, it is acknowledged that the fifth starters do have the most upside.... Rivera is better than Papelbon (period), but in an true attempt at public fairness, Papelbon was put first..... Managers are all good, and 20 years from now there is a very good chance that Joe G will be considered the best of them, or so my gut tells me.
This is going to be one hell of a season.
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