Friday, March 25, 2011

2011 Predictions: AL East

1. Boston Red Sox
So, uhh, nice offseason there, eh?  The Red Sox have an absolutely dominant lineup, bolstered by new acquisitions Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford, that will wreak havoc on the AL's pitching.  That much is undeniable.  This team's rotation, while strong, is their wild card.  Josh Beckett hasn't been ace-level since 2007, John Lackey was somewhat of a disappointment last year, and who knows if Daisuke Matsuzaka can stay healthy for any extended period of time.  Thank heavens for Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz, though if they can't repeat their 2010 successes this team could be poised for disappointment
Bottom line: This team can be one of the all-time greats if their pitching falls into place.

2. New York Yankees
This team makes me very nervous, and not in a way that their fans would like.  Is it nice to have Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira, and Robinson Cano in the same lineup?  Of course it is.  The number of questions, however, outweighs the number of certainties.  For instance: who do they have beyond that aforementioned big three?  What happens if age continues to catch up with Derek Jeter?  And what the hell is Andruw Jones, who arguably hasn't been good since 2006, doing in this lineup?  Color me skeptical.  As for the pitching, Phil Hughes and A.J. Burnett have to turn in big years, or this team is screwed.  C.C. Sabathia can't do it all alone, you know?  Honestly, if things don't click quite right for this team, we could see them fall down to third place in the division.
Bottom line: A team that has more questions than answers, and way too much riding on a small number of iffy players, can't be counted on for much.  And yet, they are the Yankees....

3. Tampa Bay Rays
The 2011 incarnation of the Rays is clearly inferior to the Rays of years past.  Evan Longoria anchors a fairly weak lineup that's counting on big contributions from Manny Ramirez and Johnny Damon (which is something of a tenuous prospect).  The rest of the lineup consists of semi-promising players who haven't really been able to get it together.  (Burning question: is this the year B.J. Upton finally breaks out?)  The pitching is a bit more formidable, with ace David Price looking to continue his 2010 dominance.  Past him, though, the Rays are hoping that Jeff Niemann can recapture his pre-All Star break magic, and that top prospect Jeremy Hellickson can deliver.
Bottom line: I don't really see a way that this team beats the Red Sox or the Yankees, but the Rays have surprised before.

4. Baltimore Orioles
I always pick the Orioles to do well and they never do.  This, though, may finally be the year.  Okay, maybe "well" is a strong term, but I don't think they'll finish in the basement!  An already-strong lineup got better with the additions of Mark Reynolds, J.J. Hardy, and Vladimir Guerrero.  While these three won't save the team alone, they should be nice complements to the regular crew (Roberts, Jones, and Markakis).  If Matt Wieters finally shows the potential that has been so written about, look out.  The pitching is not very good, but has some promise with Brian Matusz and Jeremy Guthrie.   Beyond them, though, is a hodgepodge of young guns who the Orioles are hoping will impress.
Bottom line: If their hitting delivers, and their pitching surprises, they could be a team to watch.  If not?  This could be just another disappointing Orioles team in a long line of them.

5. Toronto Blue Jays
I love the direction this team is taking, but that doesn't mean that they'll be any good this year.  Their lineup is comprised of late-20s retreads, save for newly-anointed superstar Jose Bautista, and their rotation consists of near-rookie question marks.  The Blue Jays have a ton of promise for the future, but I don't think that future is now.  The best outcome to the season is the Jays' prospects delivering the team a surprising fourth (or even third?) place finish, signaling a bright future for the team.
Bottom line: Enjoy your stars of the future, Jays fans--just don't expect too much from them yet.


  1. I am a Yankees fan, and agree with your comments, but I was surprised you neglected to comment on Baltimore's first full season with Buck Showalter at the helm. I too see good things in their future.

  2. I can not fathom how anyone could pick the Jays to finish behind the Orioles. Same story every year, and no one learns from their mistakes.