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Thursday, March 16, 2006

AL East Preview

Over the next few posts, I will do a small breakdown of each division reanking each team in the order I think they will finish. I am going to start with the AL East, and end with the NL West in detail.

1. New York Yankees *Divison Winner
Projected Line-up:
CF Johnny Damon
SS Derrick Jeter
3B Alex Rodriguiz
RF Gary Sheffield
LF Hideki Matsui
1B Jason Giambi

C Jorge Posada
2B Robinson Cano
DH Bernie Williams

LHP Randy Johnson

RHP Mike Mussina
RHP Chin Ming Wang

RHP Carl Pavano
RHP Shawn Chacon/
RHP Jaret Wright
Closer: RHP Marino Riveria

I hate to pick them first, but that scary line-up got even better with the addition of Damon. It is going to be a nice 3-way race between the Yanks, Sox and Jays, but I think the Yankees will once again pull out the division tittle. The AL East looks like baseball's premier division this season. Their pitching is a question mark, but Johnson and Mussina have looked great this spring and Pavano should bounce back from injury and contribute more this season.

2. Toronto Blue Jays * Wildcard

LF Frank Catalanotto
SS Russ Adams
CF Vernon Wells
3B Troy Glaus
1B Lyle Overbay
DH Shea Hillenbrand
RF Alex Rios
C Bengie Molina
2B Aaron Hill

RHP Roy Halliday
RHP A.J. Burnett
LHP Gustavo Chacin
RHP Josh Towers
LHP Ted Lilly
CL: LHP B.J. Ryan

One of the top 3 most improved teams in baseball. They are going to have to mesh, but I think they have a solid mix of youngsters and veterans. If they can stay healthy they will be very tough to beat.

3. Boston Red Sox

CF Coco Crisp
2B Mark Loretta
DH David Ortiz
LF Manny Ramirez
C Jason Varitek
3B Mike Lowell
RF Trot Nixon
SS Alex Gonzalez
1B Kevin Youkilis/ J.T. Snow

RHP Curt Shilling
RHP Josh Beckett

RHP Matt Clement
RHP Tim Wakefield
LHP David Wells
CL: RHP Keith Foulke

I have to pick the Jays ahead of the Sox this season due to all they lost. Damon, Renteria and Mueller where a lot to lose. Their line-up looks pretty deep, but they lack a true leadoff hitter and it's tough for teams to win divisions without good leadoff hitters. If they add a leadoff guy during the year (or if Crisp gets his obp up around .360) and Beckett and Shilling can stay healthy, they will be right there with the Jays and Yanks and it could really be anyones ball game.

4. Baltimore Orioles

2B Brian Roberts
C Ramon Hernandez
3B Melvin Mora
SS Miguel Tejada
DH Javy Lopez
RF Jay Gibbons
1B Jeff Connine
CF Corey Patterson
lF Luis Mattos

RHP Rodrigo Lopez

LHP Erik Bedard

RHP Daniel Cabrera
LHP Bruce Chen
RHP John Maine

CL: RHP Chris Ray

Orioles are not as good as they were last season, but they do have Miguel Tejada and some solid young arms that could carry them to a respectable record.

5. Tampa Bay Devil Rays

SS Julio Lugo
LF Carl Crawford
2B Jorge Cantu
3B Aubrey Huff
DH Johnny Gomes
CF Rocco Baldelli
1B Travis Lee
RF Damon Hollins
C Toby Hall

LHP Scott Kazmir
LHP Mark Hendrickson
RHP Edwin Jackson
LHP Casey Fossum
RHP Seth McClung
CL: Chad Orvella

The Rays are still way too young to compete with the big dogs in the division, but they have a young nucleus that continues to grow. They still have B.J. Upton and Delmon Young waiting in the wings and they will probably be up by mid-season. Kazmir, Orvella and Jackson all have tremendous upside.
The Giants Baseball Blog


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