Wednesday, March 30, 2011

MLB Preview: American League

After I won multiple awards for my NL preview yesterday, I couldn't very well ignore the American League, especially since that's all anybody around here cares about.  So that's what we got goin' down here tonight, a little American League chatter.  

Also I want to mention as a public service announcement that although the 5-8 Club is famous for their Juicy Lucys you shouldn't ignore the broasted chicken.  It's not quite as good as any random place at least 1 hour north of the cities (and the more norther the better), but for a city joint it's very good.  

Anyway, here you go.


1.  Boston Red Stockings.  There's a reason all thdork Red Sox fans are so excited for their team - they're going to be really god damn good.  They signed the top 2 free agent position players available who filled holes for them in Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford, have an excellent rotation 1-5, a bullpen good enough that they can ship Hideki Okajima to triple-A, and, lest you think their 3rd place finish last year means they're overrated, they still won 89 games and several key players (Pedroia, Ellsbury, Youkilis) missed substantial time last season. In short, no matter how much you hate them and their fans (and I do with one exception) this team is going to be a monster.  The shark move here would be to make sure and get Papelboner as your fantasy closer, since he's going to get a ridonkulous amount of save opps.

2.  New York Yankees.  They're lucky that the offense is loaded up because that rotation is brutal.  Sabathia is good, I guess, but AJ Burnett is terrible, Phil Hughes is a dandy, Freddy Garcia is dead, and Ivan Nova will be in AAA ball by June.  That said, they're going to be tough to beat and should win a lot of 8-6 ball games, plus with Soriano setting up for Rivera they essentially just have to outscore you through 7 innings.  Side note: if you look at the lineup there's absolutely no reason Derek Jeter should be hitting anything other than 8th or 9th.  Other than the intangibles of course.  And those piercing blue eyes.

3.  Tampa Bay Rays.  Whoever stocked up the Rays farm system did one hell of a job, because it seems no matter who leaves there is always a hot young prospect ready to step in, and that especially includes the pitching staff.  This year those guys will have to be dead on, because behind provens David Price and James Shields are a bunch of youngins - talented youngins in Wade Davis, Jeff Niemann, and Jeremy Hellickson - but young just the same.  Two other things:  1.  FREE DESMOND JENNINGS!  and 2.  Kyle Farnsworth as your closer?  Seriously?  I dropped them from #2 to #4 for that reason alone.  Then bumped them back to #3 because Evan Longoria is both awesome and sexy.

4.  Baltimore Orioles.  I feel bad for these guys, I really do.  After years of throwing good money after bad, making poor decisions, and decimating the farm system they're finally starting to do things right.  They got a solid manager (Buck Showalter), good young talent (Adam Jones, Nick Markakis, Brian Matusz, Jake Arrieta), with more on the way (Zach Britton, Manny Machado, Chris Tillman), and are signing reasonable free agents who make sense and fit with the roster (Derrek Lee, Mark Reynolds, Kevin Gregg, and trading for JJ Hardy).  Really they're doing a lot right and in any other division they'd be a sleeper to win it.  Here, however, fourth place is their absolute upside.

5.  Toronto Blue Jays.  This is definitely a fun team if you like a youth movement - the oldest pitcher in the rotation is 26.  They also have fun prospects like LF Travis Snider and C JP Arencibia who are going to be handed starting jobs and told to run with them.  If the youth is good and crap factories Adam Lind and Aaron Hill - two of the biggest disappointments in all of baseball last year - can bounce back this team might be able to threaten for fourth place.  That being said, this team would be a contender in the AL Central.  Thank god the Twins are in such a shitty division.


1.  Minnesota Twins.  Hey, speaking of the Twins being in a shitty division, here I am picking them to win again even though I'm not remotely impressed with this team.  If you're reading this you probably know everything you need to about the Twins so all I'm going to say is I hate hate hate hate hate the middle infield and I still don't understand the Hardy trade, but my biggest question is how they handled the whole Scott Diamond thing.  Trading Billy Bullock, he of the 150 strikeouts in 108 innings in two years at age 22 and the Twins second-round pick just TWO FUCKING YEARS AGO means that Diamond better be the best god damn reliever in history.   AGAGDASHKJ the season hasn't even started yet and I'm already mad.  Let's just move on.

2.  Detroit Tigers.  You know who I love this year?  Justin motherfuckin' Verlander.  He's been awesome the last several years, no doubt, but I think this is the year he goes from awesome to AWESOME.   I also love Austin Jackson, and I think if he can just have half of Delmon Young's plate discipline he's got super star written all over him, and the youngster SP duo of Scherzer and Porcello has got potential.  That's it that I like on that team because I hate everybody else including fat alcoholic and girl hair McGee.  I guess I don't hate Will Rhymes, but that's not because of his play (Punto-esque) but because of his sweet name.  If Snow had just called himself Will Rhymes Informer would have hit #1 on the charts.

3.  Chicago Gay Sox.  Ever have a player you love (Adam Dunn) who goes to a team you hate with every fiber of your being?  I always loved Mike Mussina and it broke my heart when he signed with the Yankees, but I never really really cared because it was AL East crap.  This time it's really going to test me.  I harbor no ill will towards Dunnsy right now, but I'm pretty sure the first time he takes a Nick Blackburn 88 mph heater 500 feet the other way (and you know it's coming) I'm pretty sure the hatred will rise up quickly.  Looking forward to the Twins facing Jesse Crain though, pretty sure we have some guys who will return that 500 foot favor.  Of course I'm assuming/hoping they got old Crain, not fancy new Crain from the second half of last season.  Because that guy was good.  Ah god dammit.  This is going to be so frustrating.

4.  Kansas City Royals.  Holy shit you guys are these last two teams brutal.  Honestly these might be the two worst teams in the entire league.  I'm going to throw the Royals in the lead because I like that fat doubles machine and $nake has a shirt of the Mexecutioner.  There's your upside, plus that Hawai'ian dude who's slugging like 3 in spring training.  The future is supposedly very bright here, which is good because the present is full of Jason Kendall and Bruce Chen.  No shit.  The Chenner.  Want to know how fucked up the Royals' are?  ESPN lists Melky Cabrera as their starting CF and starting RF, and that seems like it might be accurate.

5.  Cleveland Indians.  Carlos Santana is going to be awesome.  That's the entire list of positives I can come up with unless you believe in Justin Masterson (kind of sort of) or think Matt LaPorta might still be good (no chance).  Since I got nothin' else to say, here's a picture of a naked Grady Sizemore:
You know you love it.


1.  Oakland Athletics.  Ok fine, I'm buying in.  If San Francisco can win an entire World Series on the strength of their pitching staff, why can't Oakland win a crappy AL West on the strength of theirs?  Trevor Cahill and Brett Anderson are studs in the making, Gio Gonzalez is nasty, and Dallas Braden has the soft-tossing lefty thing down pat.  Add in bullpen additions in Brian Fuentes and Grant Balfour and I really like the pitching they've got here.  The offense was downright dreadful last year, and although the pick-ups of David DeJesus, Josh Willingham, and Godzilla will help it still isn't going to be pretty.  This is going to be another team that's going to have to win those 3-2 ball games quite a bit if they're going to contend.

2.  Texas Rangers.  These guys are the opposite of Oakland with their potent lineup that gets more potenter with Adrian Beltre at the hot corner, but with Cliff Lee gone the entire rotation is rather underwhelming, especially if you're like me and think they all suck outside of C.J. Wilson.  With such a shaky staff I don't understand why they're so strident in keeping Neftali Feliz as their closer.  Yes he was good last year, but he's easily the most talented pitcher on the team and came up through the minors as a starter, and since that's where they could maximize his value I'm baffled at the choice to keep him closing games.  Good for the rest of the AL, I suppose.

3.  Los Angeles Angels.  Just a massive pile of meh, which seems odd because these guys were perennial contenders not that long ago, but I guess missing out on Carl Crawford and having a back-up plan of standing around doing nothing will generally drag you down a smidge.  Jered Weaver and Dan Haren are a great 1-2 punch, especially since it turns out Weaver is actually good which shocked the hell out of me, but after that everybody is boring unless you think 1B Mark Trumbo can win rookie of the year.  I don't, because I have never heard of him.  When the left-side of the diamond is made up of Maicier Izturis, Erick Aybar, and Alex Rios you know damn well you aren't competing for anything, and don't forget their still trying to force Fernando Rodney to be a closer so they'll lose their share of close games as well.

4.  Seattle Mariners.  I picked these guys as my sleeper team last year.  Turns out I'm an idiot.  Good news though, they've taken major steps to turn this thing around by acquiring Jack Cust, Gabe Gross, Adam Kennedy, Miguel Olivo, and Brendan Ryan.  Jesus Christ guys, you only won 61 games last year and THIS is how you address your issues?  How can you be this shitty and only have three young, high upside guys in the entire system (Justin Smoak, Dustin Ackley, Michael Pineda)?  At least the Pirates and Royals look like they have a plan, and don't forget they had Cliff Lee!  What did they get for him, Smoak and a bag of balls?  This is terrible.  I can't wait until Felix forces his way out, maybe the Twins can get him for Cuddyer and Dusty Hughes.


NL MVP:  Troy Tulowitzki (alternate:  Buster Posey)
AL MVP:  Adrian Gonzalez (Evan Longoria)
NL Cy Young:  Clay Kershaw (Roy Halladay)
AL Cy Young:  Justin Verlander (Jon Lester)
NL Rookie: Domonic Brown (Freddie Freeman)
AL Rookie:  JP Arencibia (Desmond Jennings)
NL Division Winners:  Phillies, Reds, Giants
NL Wild Card:  Brewers
AL Division Winners:  Red Sox, Twins, A's
AL Wild Card:  Yankees
World Series:  Reds over Red Sox


snacks said...

"strident" - I do not think that word means what you think it means.

strident: characterized by harsh, insistent, and discordant sound (a strident voice); also : commanding attention by a loud or obtrusive quality (strident slogans)

rghrbek said...

Screw the predictions, where did you get that picture of the Twins girl?

She's clearly not from here.

WWWWWW said...

The internet.