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Thursday, March 17, 2011

GBB's 2011 AL East Preview

Well, with Opening Day now exactly 2 weeks away, it's time to start our traditional MLB Preview, in which we go division by division and predict how we see the divisions lining up this year! But don't worry, we'll still be mixing in plenty of Giants talk along the way. Like always, we'll start in the AL East and end in the NL West, so here we go:
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1st Place - Boston Red Sox

Lineup:
CF Jacoby Ellsbury
LF Carl Crawford
3B Kevin Youkilis
1B Adrian Gonzalez
DH David Ortiz
2B Dustin Pedroia
RF J.D. Drew
SS Marco Scutaro
C Jason Varitek

Rotation/Closer:
LHP Jon Lester
RHP Josh Beckett
RHP John Lackey
RHP Clay Bucholtz
RHP Daisuke Matsuzaka
CL: Jonathon Papelbon

It's going to be another neck and neck battle all year long between the Sox and the Yanks, but after the addition of Crawford and Gonzalez, the Red Sox really revamped their offense. All they need is health in their starting rotation (mainly Matsuzaka and Beckett), and they'll be a tough train to stop. Still sport one of the best closers in the game in Jon Papelbon.
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2nd Place - New York Yankees *AL Wild Card

Lineup:
LF Brett Gardener
SS Derek Jeter
1B Mark Teixeira
3B Alex Rodriguez
2B Robinson Cano
RF Nick Swisher
CF Curtis Granderson
DH Jorge Posada
C Russell Martin

Rotation/Closer:
LHP C.C. Sabathia
RHP A.J. Burnett
RHP Phil Hughes
RHP Sergio Mitre
RHP Ivan Nova
CL: Mariano Rivera

The Yankees didn't add a whole lot to their squad that disappointed last year by losing to the Rangers in the ALCS. Still though, in any other division in this league, they're the clear favorites. Their core (Jeter, ARod, Mo and Posada) is getting a bit older though, and they need those young guys like Gardener, Granderson and Cano to really step it up. They also have some questions in their starting rotation, where they could really use Andy Pettite to pull a "Brett Favre" and return from retirement.
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3rd Place - Tampa Bay Rays

Lineup:
LF Johnny Damon
CF B.J. Upton
3B Evan Longoria
DH Manny Ramirez
RF Ben Zobrist
1B Dan Johnson
2B Sean Rodriguez
SS Reid Brignac
C John Jaso

Rotation/Closer:
LHP David Price
RHP James Shields
RHP Jeff Niemann
RHP Wade Davis
RHP Jeremy Hellickson
CL: Kyle Farnsworth

The Rays have lost a lot over the last 2 years and are now just a shadow of the that magical '08 squad. They still have Upton and Longoria, and have added a few productive vets in Ramirez and Damon, but their lineup after the first 5 is pretty abysmal. I think they're going to miss Carl Crawford and Jason Bartlett a lot more than they expected too. Especially Crawford, who was an iron man for that team.
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4th Place - Baltimore Orioles

Lineup:
2B Brian Roberts
CF Adam Jones
RF Nick Markakis
1B Derek Lee
DH Vladimer Guerrero
3B Mark Reynolds
LF Luke Scott
SS J.J. Hardy
C Matt Wieters

Rotation/Closer:
RHP Jeremy Guthrie
LHP Brian Matusz
RHP Jake Arrieta
RHP Brad Bergesen
RHP Justin Duchsherer
CL: Koji Uehara

The Orioles have a lineup that can compete with anybody in the AL. They have speed, power, youth, experience and everybody from 1-9 is a threat with the bat. They also are finally putting together a young pitching staff that could turn out to be a solid one. Matusz, Arrieta and Bergesen are all 26 years old or younger and they have some nice mentors in Guthrie and Duchsherer. If they keep developing and JD can give them 30 starts, they could be a .500 ballclub on the rise.
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5th Place - Toronto Blue Jays

Lineup:
CF Rajai Davis
SS Yunel Escobar
2B Aaron Hill
3B Jose Bautista
1B Adam Lind
LF Juan Rivera
RF Travis Snider
DH Edwin Encarnacion
C J.P. Arencibia

Rotation/Closer:
LHP Rickey Romero
RHP Brandon Morrow
LHP Brett Cecil
RHP Kyle Drabek
LHP Mark Rzepczynski
CL: Octavio Dotel

The Jays are putting together a nice young staff. All of their starters are under 28 years of age and all of them appear to have bright futures in this league. Their lineup, however, is a little thin, and doesn't match up with the rest in this division. I'm curious to see how Bautista does coming off his 50-home run year, cause I don't see that happening again. I do think Travis Snider breaks out this year and hits 25-30 homers, but that won't be enough to carry this team in a tough AL East.
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Giants Notes: The Giants play another night game Thursday night, taking on the Angels after winning again Wednesday when Tim Lincecum improved to 3-0 on the Spring. I think it's safe to say, he's ready, after striking out 7 in 5+ innings of work. Brandon Belt also put forth his best effort of the Spring, going 3-4 with his 2nd homer to go along with 3 runs and 2 RBI. There's still plenty of spring left and even though it was starting to appear that Belt would start in AAA, if he finds his groove like he did Wednesday, he may force the issue upon Bochy and Sabean yet.
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4 Comments:

  • At 11:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Call me crazy, but I pick Toronto finshing in 2nd behind the Yanks, with Boston in 3rd and TB in 4th.

     
  • At 12:56 AM, Blogger Trevor Cole said…

    Your Crazy, LOL, J/K

    One thing this division has is pitching. All teams have some sort of either proven winners or youngsters who are extremly tough to hit. So yes, I think this division is by far and away the best in baseball.

    That said, I really have a hard time seeing anyone else other than NY and Boston on top in September, barring any catastrophic injury of course.In a way though, those Blue Jays do remind me of the '08 Rays, just don't quite have the arms.

     
  • At 2:08 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Ahh, My favorite time of the year, baseball preview time, and this site always has a good one. Like a mini version of SI's, and you don't have to pay for it, not too mention better insight IMO.

    Still will get SI's, but I love looking and comparing em both!

     
  • At 8:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Litsch will be the Jays 4th starter, and Drabek is probably going to win the battle with Rzepczynski for the 5th spot. Encarnacion is going to hit 30 HR's this year and Bautista is no fluke - he started hitting a ton late in 2009 - led the majors in HR's in Sept of that year. The Jays should manage a 3rd place finish.

    Red Sox have an amazing lineup and will be tough to beat, despite a somewhat shaky starting staff. They'll be in a lot of high scoring games this year.

    Pavano is in the Twins rotation, and Slowey is likely the one to go to the pen. As long as Morneau is healthy, they should win the AL Central.

     

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