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Thursday, March 25, 2010

2010 AL East Preview

As we do towards the end of every March here at the Giants Baseball Blog, with the regular season quickly approaching, we're going to start the division-by-division preview and standing predictions for the upcoming 2010 season. Starting as always in the AL East, and finishing up in the NL West, so here we go:

1st Place, New York Yankees
Lineup:
SS Derek Jeter
DH Nick Johnson
1B Mark Teixiera
3B Alex Rodriguez
C Jorge Posada
2B Robinson Cano
LF Curtis Granderson
RF Nick Swisher
CF Brett Gardner

Pitching:
LHP CC Sabathia
RHP AJ Burnett
RHP Javier Vazquez
LHP Andy Pettite
RHP Phil Hughes
SU: Joba Chamberlain
CL: Mariano Riveria

The reigning world champs have again improved themselves over the offseason, bringing Nick Johnson back to the Bronx and trading for the versatile Curtis Granderson. Those two offset the loss of Johnny Damon and Hideki Matsui, so the offense should once again be one of the league's best. With Damon out and Brett Gardner in, their outfield defense improves greatly too. I really liked the addition of Javier Vazquez (2.87 era, 15 W, 238 K's in '09) to an already strong starting rotation. Vazquez teamed with Burnett and Sabathia make the Yanks very tough to beat in a playoff series, and that bullpen should once again be solid, led by the ageless wonder, Mariano Rivera.

2nd Place, Boston Red Sox (*AL Wild Card Winner*)
Lineup:
LF Jacoby Ellsbury
SS Marco Scutaro
2B Dustin Pedroia
C Victor Martinez
3B Kevin Youkilis
DH David Ortiz
3B Adrian Beltre
RF J.D. Drew
CF Mike Cameron

Pitching:
RHP Josh Beckett
LHP Jon Lester
RHP John Lackey
RHP Daisuke Matsuzaka
RHP Clay Buchholtz
SU: Daniel Bard
CL: Jonathan Papelbon

The Red Sox should again be right there on the Yankees heels, but I just don't think they have quite the offensive firepower to overtake the "Bronx Bombers". The two key players on that roster, in my opinion, are David Ortiz and Adrian Beltre. If both rebound after rough '09 seasons, and play closer to their potential, then the Sox will force themselves into the playoffs one way or another. Another strong point for Boston is their defense, as they have one of the top-5 team defenses in the game right now. They have the best bench in baseball, with potential starters Jeremy Hermida, Bill Hall, Jason Varitek and Mike Lowell. That rotation is lining up to be one of the best in the game, if healthy, and their bullpen has notoriously been one of the AL's best.

3rd Place, Tampa Bay Rays
Lineup:
SS Jason Bartlett
LF Carl Crawford
3B Evan Longoria
1B Carlos Pena
2B Ben Zobrist
CF B.J. Upton
RF Matt Joyce
C Dioner Navarro

Pitching:
RHP James Shields
RHP Matt Garza
RHP Jeff Niemann
LHP David Price
RHP Wade Davis
SU: J.P. Howell
CL: Rafael Soriano

In just about any other division in baseball, the Rays would be serious contenders, as they have a nice lineup, a decent starting rotation, and an up-and-coming bullpen. B.J. Upton has the talent to be one of the top 20 players in baseball, but he had a bad season in 2009, and needs to revert back to his 2008 playoff form, when he hit 7 homers, drove in 16 runs and stole 6 bags in 16 ballgames. I also believe Carl Crawford could be the most underrated player in baseball as he has the potential to hit 25 home runs and steal 60 bases. Their young rotation and bullpen should be solid, though they'll likely encounter some growing pains throughout the year. I'm just not quite sure about Soriano as a full-time closer, as he has too much trouble staying on the field.

4th Place, Baltimore Orioles
Lineup:
2B Brian Roberts
CF Adam Jones
RF Nick Markakis
3B Miguel Tejada
DH Luke Scott
C Matt Wieters
LF Nolan Reimold
1B Garrett Atkins
SS Cesar Izturis

Pitching:
RHP Kevin Millwood
RHP Jeremie Guthrie
RHP Brad Bergesen
LHP Brian Matusz
RHP Chris Tillman
SU: Jim Johnson
CL: Mike Gonzalez

The Orioles are a year or two away from really starting to make a push in the AL East. They have their young positional core going with Nick Markakis, Adam Jones, Matt Wieters and Nolan Reimold who are all 26 years of age or younger. They also have a few young arms that are ready to work at the big league level in Brad Bergesen, Brian Matusz and quite possibly their future ace, Jake Arrietta, knocking on the door. They remind me of what the Rays looked like one year before they made their push to the world series. They don't have quite the quality pitching that the Rays have accumulated, but they're on the right track. They can also catch and throw the ball very well, right up there with Boston. Keep an eye on Baltimore, as they should show glimpses this year of what they can be a few years down the road.

5th Place, Toranto Blue Jays
Lineup:
RF Jose Bautista
1B Lyle Overbay
2B Aaron Hill
DH Adam Lind
CF Vernon Wells
3B Edwin Encarnacion
LF Travis Snider
SS Alex Gonzalez
C John Buck

Pitching:
RHP Shawn Marcum
LHP Ricky Romero
RHP Brandon Morrow
LHP Marc Rzepczynski
LHP Brett Cecil
SU: Jason Frasier
CL: Kevin Gregg

The Blue Jays are significantly weaker team than they were at the start of last year. They've lost Alex Rios, Roy Halladay, Marco Scutaro and Rod Barajas. They're counting on in-experienced arms to carry their rotation, as Ricky Romero is the only returning starter to start at least 20 games in 2009. Shawn Marcum and Brandon Morrow should be solid, but are both question marks. Their lineup needs a lot of work too. They have a decent middle order, but the top and bottom of their lineup really needs some work. Jose Bautista (career .238/.329/.729) is hardly your ideal leadoff man and they're really going to miss Scutaro at the top of the lineup. Their bullpen is also a question mark as they still don't have a clear cut closer, although they do have a few legit set-up guys.
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5 Comments:

  • At 2:01 PM, Anonymous J Cunningham said…

    Pretty good analysis, even though -- as an Orioles fan -- I don't really see where things are going to be much different. Yeah, we have a lot of talented players, but whatever the reason, that never translates on the field. We're in a really tough division, and I think we have the worst owner in the sport. My fear is that the Orioles will never be relevant again until Angelos sells the team.

     
  • At 4:43 PM, Anonymous hitnrun said…

    Thanks Trevor. The Yankees and Red Sox are literally the best teams that money can buy. Great lineups, the Giants are lucky they are not in this division or else they would be fighting for third with the Rays, and they would probably finish fourth, even with their starting pitching. Outside of Panda the Giants don't have anybody who would even get in the Yankee or Red Sox lineup. Hope Posey develops quickly.

     
  • At 10:22 PM, Anonymous Carl Benson said…

    I agree for the most part, but I'm picking the Mariners as the wild card team in the AL over Boston. Seattle has such good pitching in a ballpark that matches them perfectly.

     
  • At 5:42 PM, Anonymous Ron Sen, MD said…

    Somehow I think that the Orioles will be a lot more interesting this year, with good core talent of Roberts, Jones, Wieters, and Markakis. Agree that the pitching and the ownership are more suspect than prospect.

     
  • At 2:27 AM, Anonymous Bettiy said…

    Yeah, Orioles are far behind Sox

     

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