It's just past the Major League Baseball All-Star break. Here's a roundtable featuring five columnists that are fans of each team in the American League East division.
The writers are Stephen Meyer (New York Yankees), Jonathan Slotter (Tampa Bay Rays), Amanda Bruno (Boston Red Sox), Jeff Wahl (Toronto Blue Jays), and Zachary Ball (Baltimore Orioles).
*Note that the stats are through two weeks ago.
1. Who has been the best player in the AL East?
SM: Robinson Cano.
JS: Robinson Cano. Although he's been in a bit of a slump, he has carried the Yankees when A-Rod and Texiera weren't (and in Texiera's case, still not) hitting. His defense is gold glove caliber and I can't believe he hasn't moved up in the batting order already.
AB: I honestly don't really know, but for the Red Sox, it has to be Adrian Beltre. This guy has met and exceeded all expectations and a lot of people were counting this guy out, not knowing how he'd favor in Boston. On a separate roundtable back in March I did I picked Beltre as the MVP of the team. I wanted to go above the obvious (Youkilis and Pedroia) and I stick by it.
JW: Toss up between Cano and David Price. I’d lean towards Price as he is a legit Cy Young candidate.
ZB: In the “year of the pitcher,” no division in baseball has fit this moniker more appropriately than the AL East. In fact, six of the top ten pitchers in ERA in the AL come from the East. And none has been better than Tampa Bay’s David Price. On the season Price is 12-4 with a 2.42 ERA . Against the AL East, Price has been even better, posting a 6-0 record with a 1.39 ERA and 40 strikeouts in 45.1 innings. No other pitcher has as good a record, or ERA against AL East opponents, and in this division, as strong as the hitting is, pitching is what wins you a playoff spot.
2. And the most disappointing?
SM: Curtis Granderson/AJ Burnett/Josh Beckett/BJ Upton I give a vote for all 4.
JS: Josh Beckett/BJ Upton: Beckett has been hurt but wasn't pitching well before that even. He is supposed to be the ace of the staff but some key pitching by some of the younger stars have picked up his slack. BJ has too much potential to be hitting .230. When he gets on he's great. There needs to be a fix in his swing and his attitude.
AB: Jacoby Ellsbury. Yes I'll admit to it. Cracked ribs are one thing, but the amount of time his "rehab" has taken and two separate trips to the disabled list, it's been a very disappointing year with a lot of hype that accumulated with him on how many stolen bases will he get in 2010.
JW: So much to choose from. As the Blue Jays F/C I’m going with Adam Lind. Last year he hit .305/35/114 and looked to be a great young power source for us. Now he’s on pace for a .220/21/72 season.
ZB: The most disappointing player in the AL East isn’t actually a player, but rather the entire Boston Red Sox strength and conditioning staff. The Sox have been bitten hard by the injury bug, with Josh Beckett, Clay Buchholz, Jacoby Ellsbury, Mike Lowell, Victor Martinez, Dustin Pedroia and Jason Varitek all occupying DL spots right now. That’s $32 million on the disabled list! If I had to single out a particular player, however, it would be Ellsbury. Not only has he missed all but nine games, but he has squabbled publicly with the team about his contract, and hasn’t exactly endeared himself to his teammates by spending all his rehab time away from the team.
3. Who will win the division? And the Wild Card?
SM: The Yankees win the division, the Red Sox win the Wild Card once they get healthy.
JS: Yankees win the division. Rays win the wild card. The Rays have one thing working in their favor over the Red Sox and Yanks. Their remaining schedules winning percentage is .492 and the Red Sox and Yanks is .506 and .507 respectively. The Rays have avoided the injury bug which also helps. The Yankees seemed to have done well enough to right the ship enough through Texiera's struggles. If he rights the ship, the leagues best offense becomes better. The Red Sox just don't have a good enough team to compete against either the Rays or Yanks. They can't beat them head to head and have quite a bit of room to make up. While they do control their own destiny with plenty of games against the Rays and Yankees I have no reason to believe they can come away with series wins. The most disappointing part of the Red Sox season, which will eventually do them in, is their bullpen. Yankees win by a game winning 102 games.
AB: The Yankees will win the division. I do not see neither Tampa Bay or the Red Sox catching up to them. There's no site of them imploding any time soon. As for the Wild Card, if Boston can pull it all together and get everyone back healthy and performing I'll take them, but if they all return and do not pull it together it'll be the Rays.
JW: Yankees Div – Tampa WC.
ZB: I think it’s already a given that the Yankees will win the division. They have dominated thus far with disappointing (albeit, still above-average) contributions from A-Rod or Mark Teixeira. Wild card, I would have to give to the Sox. Beckett is coming back, and Ellsbury and Pedroia should be back before long.
4. Will your team make a splash before the trade deadline? If so, what?
SM: No big splash (Lee was a very very special case), but don't be surprised to see a Scott Downs or Ty Wigginton show up for bench/bullpen help.
JS: No I don't think so. They have too much on the farm. They have the home-run derby champion of triple A, Dan Johnson, waiting for some extra hitting. Also Hellickson for extra starting pitching/bullpen help and of course Desmond Jennings for extra outfield help. They have too much depth and too stingy of a front office.
AB: Everyone keeps talking that the Red Sox will deal for a reliever. Right now it makes sense with the continuing struggles from Manny Delcarmen and Hideki Okajima. Okajima's performance was inexcusable on Sunday. As for who, surprise me on Sunday (or earlier).
JW: We just did. Gonzo to Atlanta for Yunel Escobar. However, I’d be shocked if we did trade a few bullpen guys. That’s it though. No real market for John Buck.
ZB: The only splash I see the Orioles making is most likely shedding either Kevin Millwood, provided he doesn’t continue pitching like crap after he returns from the DL, or Jeremy Guthrie, who could end up in Cincinnati or Minnesota. But honestly, why would you give up any of the young players that will form the nucleus of this team for years to come, and from other team’s perspectives, who would want anyone else off this squad?
5. What's the most important series remaining?
SM: There is no single "most important" series as the Yankees-Red Sox-Rays play each other in probably 12-15 series combined. They will determine who is left at home in a state of depression.
JS: The last two Yankees-Rays series in September. They're within a week and one is a four game series. Lots of ground can be made and lost in this week span.
AB: The last series of the season, New York at Boston Oct. 1-3. Or even possible earlier, when Tampa Bay comes to Boston Sept. 6-8. Both key chances to pick up ground in the wild card and division depending.
JW: For us? None. Season is over. But Tampa plays two 3-game series’ against NY in September while at the same time Boston is playing the likes of Oakland, Seattle and Baltimore. If NY and TB split, Boston could surge past both.
ZB: The two most important series’ remaining has to be the Red Sox two tilts with the Rays. The first comes at the end of August, and the second after Labor Day weekend. I’m about 97% sure the Yankees have the East in hand, so that leaves the Sox and the Rays to fight out for the Wild Card. Provided that the Sox have their entire squad back and healthy, it could be a very compelling series.
Nice comments. If you have differing thoughts or would like to contribute, please comment! My quick answers would have been:
1. Robinson Cano
2. Aaron Hill, Josh Beckett
3. Yankees and Rays
4. NYY/Bal: Wigginton, Bos: Willingham, TB/Tor: Nothing
5.Any remaining TB/Nyy series remaining