Here we are, another year where the Royals think they can win the division. Another year, when every team has the chance to win. Yes, folks, baseball is finally back. Spring Training is finally getting under way, and we are just under 30 days until the first regular season game.
Thank the lord. I will do one division per day. AL East will be first.
AL East Predictions
1. Boston Red Sox
The Boston Red Sox will contain both the Tampa Bay Rays and the New York Yankees to finish in first. Even though the Yanks got both Teixeira, CC, and Burnett, I love the depth of the Red Sox bullpen.
The Red Sox had really solid moves this offseason with the addition of Saito and Smoltz. Smoltz should have a decent year, and the Red Sox will probably use him as the No. 4-5 starter.
The addition of Saito, is a low-risk, high reward. Coming off a terrible year plagued with injuries, (although he still ended up with a 1.19 WHIP) Saito should rebound to where he was in 2007 when he had a 1.40 ERA and a 0.72 WHIP.
Roco Baldeli is another interesting story for the Red Sox, Baldeli could be a rebound type of guy for them, and could use them as a really good bench player, or even a spot starter.
They also resigned C Jason Varitek which is another big piece to the Red Sox, mainly not for his bat, but he knows the pitching staff, so the pitchers are more comfortable with him. More additions to the Red Sox include SP Brad Penny, which could be another good starter, see Smoltz.
Ramon Ramirez is going to be a stud someday, and the Red Sox are lucky to get him also.
Players to watch: Boston's young pitchers
Watch out for the Red Sox young pitchers this upcoming season. Manny Delcarmen, Micheal Bowden, Clay Buchholz all could be good pitchers for the Red Sox, and their bullpen would be even more dangerous.
So additions to the Red Sox who could be solid contributors:
Roco Baldeli, John Smoltz, Ramon Rameriz, Brad Penny, Takashi Saito.
2. Tampa Bay Rays
Coming off one of the best records in Rays history, the 08-09 Rays have some key players. Adding OF Pat Burrell to the already good lineup is just going to make them better.
Pat Burrell is a power threat in any lineup, and should be the Rays anchor in the No. 4 spot for them. Gabe Kapler, another addition to the Rays OF, will be another good bench player. And finally, Jason Isringhausen another addition, should be a good reliever.
I think the Rays will beat the Yankees because of the better overall depth, and their rotation is more younger, and a bit better.
James Shields, went 14-8, with a 3.56 ERA and a 1.15 WHIP, which is really good, expect the same out of him this year.
Scott Kazmir, went 12-8, with a 3.49 ERA and a 1.27 WHIP.
Players to watch: Can Pat Burrell be the same player the Rays signed? Can the players stay healthy, and finally can Kazmir and Shields be the same pitchers they were last year?
If the answer is yes, then the Rays will finish second.
3. New York Yankees
Man, the Yankees are going to be a tough team to write about. But I think the Yankees will finish third. Yes, you know why? The injuries are already going to get to them. AJ Burnett rarely stays healthy, CC Sabathia pitched how many innings last year?
He will eventually fall of the table, and can the team chemistry remain the same after what A-Rod went through this offseason.
First off, I loved the CC Sabathia signing for the Yankees. Even though I wanted the Brewers to re-sign him (yes, I'm a Brewers fan) the Yankees had one hell of a signing here.
The guy is a horse, but truth is, he pitched a TON of innings last year, and even went 4-5 starts in a row on three days rest. Sabathia will hate the Yankees when he has a bad game, and the Bronx fans are booing him off the field.
AJ Burnett signing was also a "good" one considering it doesn't matter how much the Yankees spend, and they have all the money in the world.
If Burnett can remain healthy and still get somewhere between a 3.5 and 4.0 ERA, with a 1.25 WHIP or lower, then maybe the Yankees have a chance. I don't see that happening.
Mark Teixeira signing was easily the best one the Yankees made. Teixeira is a stud on all levels. Last year, he hit .308, 33, 121 in an Angels lineup, where it's not the best. The defense that he brings is another key thing for the Yankees.
Players to watch: Melkey Cabera and Robinson Cano. In order for the Yankees to be successful, these players, along with the newly acquired players, need to live up to their expectations.
CF and 2B are probably the weakest spots that the Yankees have, and if Cano can live up to his 06 numbers where he hit .342, then obviously the Yankees are in a better spot. Right now though, I don't see the chemistry getting along, and I don't see CC being a star like he was in Milwaukee and Cleveland, so I have the Yankees third.
4. Baltimore Orioles
The O's have the talent to be good someday. Right now though, the Yankees, Red Sox, and the Rays are all better talent wise. The Orioles and Jays will fight for fourth and fifth place respectively, but I still can't see the O's falling to fifth with the talent they do have.
Led by Markakis, the Orioles will end up over .500, and they will get the fans excited again in Baltimore.
Players to watch: Ty Wigginton 3B
Can Wigginton be a solid contributor to the O's? IF so, maybe the Orioles can end up with 84-85 wins.
5. Toronto Blue Jays
The Jays will end up fifth again, and fans in Canada will get impatient with the team. Without Burnett, the Jays do not have a good starting rotation, except for Halladay, although they do have some young pitching in Marcum and McGowan, I don't think they are ready to have an break-out season, which is why I think the Jays will end up fifth.
Players to watch: Young SP
Their season will highly depend on their young SP in both Marcum and McGowan. If those two can remain solid, and Halladay have another Cy-Young type year, then the Jays can make some noise. If not, well then the Jays will end up in the cellar again.
Well, that wraps up the AL East, the AL Central will either be later tonight, or tomorrow. Thanks for reading and all comments are appreciated.