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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
POSTSEASON AND AWARDS:
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