Wednesday, March 21, 2012

MLB 2012 Preview: AL East

New York Yankees:

The Yankees won 97 games last year before being ousted by the Detroit Tigers in the ALDS.  The 2012 version of the Yankees looks virtually the same as far as their lineup goes.  The only difference is that these aging veterans are one year older.  The Yanks did vastly improve their rotation adding Hiroki Kuroda and Michael Pineda in the offseason.  If age and injuries do not catch up with them these Yankees look to be just as formidable of opponents as they were last year. 

Boston Red Sox:

The Red Sox are an interesting club this year.  Gone are some of the veterans such as Tim Wakefield, J.D. Drew, and John Lackey.  Gone is Terry Francona.  Gone is Jonathon Papelbon.  They did go out and secure Andrew Bailey (can he stay healthy?).  They also got a few “Moneyball” type of players in Nick Punton, Mark Melancon, Kelly Shoppach, and Ross Ohlendorf.  Looking at this club makes me ask many questions.  Will Carl Crawford show up?  What David Ortiz will they get?  Will Ryan Sweeney and Cody Ross be solid in right field?  Is this pitching staff deep enough?  Will Andrew Bailey make the Boston faithful say “Papel..who”?  Is Bobby Valentine more than an announcer?  Pending on the answer to these questions the BoSox could either be headed for a disappointing season or challenging the Curse of the Bambino again. 

Baltimore Orioles:

The O’s only won 69 games in 2011.  But they are also young and they also had some serious injuries and disappointments last year.  Can some of these young pitchers begin making a significant impact in 2012?  The O’s didn’t really add any big name stars for their 2012 roster.  They also did lose a little pop when Luke Scott and Vlad Guerrero departed.  And also a young arm in Jeremy Guthrie.  It’s hard to see the O’s making a significant leap and I’m not certain they can get much worse.  For now Baltimore fans are left cheering for Poe’s bird. 

Tampa Bay Rays:

The exciting Rays won 91 games last year to make the playoffs.  Virtually the same team (minus Johnny Damon) is returning this year.  They also added a little pop (and a few strikeouts) with the addition of Luke Scott from Baltimore and Carlos Pena returning to the Rays from the Cubbies.  The rotation will also receive a boost from a full year from future ace Matt Moore.  This Rays rotation looks to be very stellar anchored by Shields and Price and supported by the young arm of Moore.  I’m not sold on this bullpen or some of these young bats (Matt Joyce and Desmond Jennings), but the Rays and Joe Maddon just know how to win.  Will they do it again in 2012?

Toronto Blue Jays:

You’ve really got to feel for the Blue Jays.  They kept throwing Canadian dollars at players only to find themselves still looking up at the Yanks, BoSox, and Rays.  So they decided to rebuild and go young, and it seemed to help.  Last year they played .500 ball but still found themselves 16 games out of first place.  That must be frustrating.  Can this years team finally enter the chase?  The bullpen is different this year with Sergio Santos being the closer and Francisco Cordero also providing relief help.  Youngsters like Brett Lawrie will have another year under their belt and only improve at the plate.  The same can be said for their younger pitchers: Brett Cecil and Brandon Morrow.  Can the Jays make a significant run? 

Predicted Order of Finish:

  1. New York Yankees
  2. Boston Red Sox
  3. Toronto Blue Jays
  4. Tampa Bay Rays
  5. Baltimore Orioles

Division Predictions:

Injuries and slumps will hinder the Rays from making a late season run.  They will finish below the upstart Blue Jays.  Even though I hate to say it I think the Yankees will make another run at a World Series.  The Red Sox will slump early but get hot around July and make a run for a Wild Card.  The Orioles will struggle to win 60 games.  Jose Bautista will have an off year.  Andrew Bailey will save at least 45 games.  Matt Moore is the real deal.  So is Michael Pineda.

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