September 21, 2019

Clearing The Bases: AL Predictions

April 3, 2011 by · 1 Comment 

Clearing The Bases                                                                                                                                          April 3, 2011

By George Kurtz

Yeah I know the season is four days old as of this writing, but today I’ll make my predictions for each division.  It seems the wildcard is no longer a lock to come out of the American League East, not so much because the Yankees and Red Sox aren’t great teams, but because the Blue Jays and Orioles look to be much improved.  No longer can the big boys hope to take two of three in each series.  The Central looks to be a three way battle between the Twins, Tigers, and White Sox, where whichever team stays the healthiest may have the advantage.  The West is interesting, can the Rangers hit their way to another title, can the Athletics pitch their way ahead of the Rangers, and will the Angels bullpen not implode by May.

American League

East

1.       Boston Red Sox:  From 1-25 they probably do have the best team in baseball, but they are not a perfect team by any means.  Most people question the Yankees rotation, well the Sox have almost as many questions.  Can Josh Beckett fix what was wrong last season?  Spring training certainly didn’t look good.  Can John Lackey pick up from where he left off last season?  Judging by his first start the answer would be no, but pitching in Texas against the Rangers isn’t easy for anyone.  Can Daisuke Matsuzaka not give manager Terry Francona an ulcer with his inability to throw the ball over the plate?  Hitting they will be great, no question about that, but for them to walk away with the East, that starting staff besides Jon Lester has to step up.

2.       New York Yankees:  Like the Red Sox, the Yankees are going to score a ton of runs, and that will make up for deficiencies in their starting staff.  After CC Sabathia the Yankees have more question marks then an SAT test.  Phil Hughes has struggled since the second half of last season and seem to lack an out pitch.  A. J. Burnett may be the biggest head case in all of baseball in that he has a load of talent, but not the greatest mental acumen.  Ivan Nova is still just a rookie which means there will be bumps in the road and Freddy Garcia looks to be nothing more than a softball pitcher.  What could save the Yankees is their bullpen, the addition of Rafael Soriano to Mariano Rivera and crew pretty much turns each game into six innings.  If the opposing team is behind after six, time to turn out the lights.  Defensively the Yanks have some problems as well.  Outside of the right side of their infield and Brett Gardner, there is not a plus defender on the team.

3.       Toronto Blue Jays:  Hard not to like how this team played over the weekend.   They may only be a year away from being a true contender in the East.  That being said, they are going to be no fun to play.  Jose Bautista looks to be for real and although expecting 50+ homers was again is unlikely, 35+ would seem to be well within reach.  The starting staff is young and inexperienced, but it can still be exceptional at times.  Brandon Morrow looks to have finally figured it out and although he starts the season on the disabled list, he should be good to go next week.  Kyle Drabek, the jewel of the Roy Halladay trade, looked fantastic in his first start Saturday and is just another piece of the puzzle for the Jays.  Question marks remain however, the bullpen is iffy at best, and the Jays still need rebound seasons from Adam Lind and Aaron Hill.

4.       Tampa Bay Rays:  Last week at this time I had the Rays as third in the division, a weekend of uninspiring play has dropped them to fourth for me.  The Rays just don’t have the resources to replace a Carl Crawford or a Rafael Soriano.  Even Carlos Pena will be missed.  The addition of Johnny Damon and Manny Ramirez comes about five years to late.  How long until Damon’s misadventures in the outfield lead to the team to place Desmond Jennings out there full-time?  The bullpen is still a work in progress as manager Joe Maddon has yet to announce a closer although most expect Jake McGee to eventually get the job.  The starting staff will have to save this team.  We all know David Price should be good, but once again after him the Rays are young and inexperienced.  Wade Davis and Jeremy Hellickson will be solid starting pitchers in time, but is their time this season.

5.       Baltimore Orioles:  I truly feel bad placing Baltimore last as they aren’t really a bottom feeding team.  Manager Buck Showalter is old school and will have this team playing hard, and playing the right way.  They also have a plethora of young pitching that needs time at the Major League level.  They were dealt a blow when they lost Brian Matusz for 4-6 weeks but that also forced them to call up Zach Britton who could be the ace of their staff.  Now if only Chris Tillman and Jake Arrieta can hold up their end.  The biggest problem for the Os may be keeping their team healthy.  Derrek Lee and Brian Roberts were banged up for most of spring training and would seem to have a difficult time staying healthy all season.  Will Mark Reynolds strike out less than 200 times?  Will Nick Markakis finally have that big season we have been expecting of him for quite some time?  Will Matt Wieters reach his potential?

Central

1.       Minnesota Twins:  I found this division the hardest to predict as any of the top three teams could legitimately claim the title.  I took the Twins because they are one of the few teams in baseball that plays the game the way it should be played.  They catch the ball, run the bases, sacrifice, hit behind the runners, all the little things you need to do to win a game.  Sure I might not like them to win a seven game series, but over a 162 game schedule I do.  That being said, Justin Morneau needs to prove that he has indeed recovered from his concussion and can once again be an offensive force behind Joe Mauer, and speaking of Mauer it might be nice if he could hit double digit home runs this season.  Joe Nathan proving himself 100% recovered from Tommy John surgery would be nice as well.  Lots of questions here, perhaps I should’ve taken one of the other teams.

2.       Chicago White Sox:  With Ozzie Guillen at the helm, even if the Sox aren’t winning they are usually quite entertaining.  The Sox are loaded for bear this year on offense however.  The acquisition of Adam Dunn gives them a huge presence in the middle of their lineup and second baseman Gordon Beckham can only go up after a hugely disappointing 2010 season.  Carlos Quentin is primed for a big season providing he can stay healthy.  Matter of fact the only position the Sox may have to upgrade during the season is third base where Brent Morel seems to be nothing more than a stopgap.  The pitching staff is full of solid pitchers but no real flamethrowers which can present a problem as summer rolls along.  Matt Thornton takes over the closer role for the departed Bobby Jenks, but Chris Sale seems to be the closer in waiting.

3.       Detroit Tigers:  The Tigers do have a couple of flame throwers at the top of their rotation in Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer.  Verlander would seem to be one of the few pitchers in the AL who could challenge the Mariners Felix Hernandez for the Cy Young award.  Scherzer needs to prove to the Tigers and the league that he can be the pitcher he was in the second half of last season, and not the first.  The addition of Brad Penny raises some questions as his first go around in the AL with the Red Sox didn’t end so well and Penny was beat around pretty good in his first start.  Can Phil Coke make the successful transition from reliever to starter?  Possibly, he always was a starter in the Yankees system.  The offense should put up quite a few crooked numbers assuming Miguel Cabrera can put his second alcohol related incident behind him and Magglio Ordonez can continue with the type of hitting he displayed before he broke his ankle last season.

4.       Cleveland Indians:  Now we get to the sad part of our show, the part where we talk about a team with few to any redeeming qualities.  There really isn’t much to like here.  Sin-Soo Choo would be a superstar playing on any other team, but in Cleveland he still toils in anonymity.  Grady Sizemore is once again on the disabled list, but should return in mid-April, how often he will play is another question mark.  Can he ever become the player he once was?  Seems highly unlikely now, doesn’t it.

5.       Kansas City Royals:  The best thing we can say about K. C. is that they may have the best farm system in the majors.  This team may lose over 100 games this season, but help in on the way in Mike Moustakas, Eric Hosmer, and plenty of others.  Hopefully Alcides Escobar can make the faithful forget about Zach Greinke, yeah, that’s not going to happen.  Perhaps Billy Butler and/or Alex Gordon can become the players the Royals thought they could become.  Now that seems like a possibility.

West

1.       Texas Rangers:  The Rangers lineup is right up there with the Yankees and Red Sox as far as the best in the majors.  They are loaded with talent from 1-9.  The question for this lineup will be the ability of stars Ian Kinsler, Nelson Cruz, and Josh Hamilton to stay healthy.  All three have proven to have major problems staying in the lineup on a continuous basis throughout the season.  The additions of Adrian Beltre and Mike Napoli just leaves nowhere in this lineup for the opposing pitcher to take a break.  The question mark lies in the pitching staff where the loss of Cliff Lee leaves them without a true ace.  The teams was so concerned about this that they toyed around with the idea of moving closer Neftali Perez to the rotation, a place they eventually believe he will be.  The move would make sense as 180 innings pitched is more valuable than 75.  For now however they have decided to keep the status quo, but they still have Michael Young, he who is unhappy with no longer having a defensive position, who they could deal for a starting pitcher if they feel one is needed as the summer rolls along.

2.       Los Angeles Angels:  The Angels enter the 2011 season with significantly more questions than answers.  When will Kendrys Morales be able to play?  Will he be back to pre-injury form?  Can Mike Trumbo adequately replace him or be an everyday player once he returns?  What will they get offensively from Maicer Izturis, Jeff Mathis, and Peter Bourjos?  Will they move Bobby Abreu back to the outfield if Bourjos fails?  Will Vernon Wells prove that he can hit left-handers and in Angel Stadium?  Will Scott Kazmir ever figure out where his talent went?  When will Fernando Rodney lose the closer role?  Seems the Angels will have to answer these question before they can even think about challenging Texas for the West title.  The starting rotation could be their saving grace as it is good, not great, but good.  Jered Weaver needs to continue to be the anchor of the staff.  Dan Haren is no slouch either and Ervin Santana can be as good as anyone on any given day.  This is their strength, and they will have to play to it.

3.       Oakland Athletics:  The Athletics have one of the best rotations in baseball.  Trevor Cahill, Brett Anderson, Gio Gonzalez, Dallas Braden, and Brandon McCarthy should be good enough to keep the A’s in most games, the problem is the offense is pretty close to non-existent.  These pitchers will have to be at their best night in and night out for the A’s to have a chance to win a game, and in the end that is just to much pressure to put on a staff.

4.       Seattle Mariners:  Talk about a team with a non-existent offense.  Is there even a reason to watch this team other than Felix Hernandez and Ichiro Suzuki, hhhmmm, how bout Michael Pineda as the fifth starter.  Probably not ready for prime-time but the Mariners need to put fannies in the seats so they gave him the job.  This will be a long season in the Pacific Northwest.

Wildcard-Yankees

World Series Representative-Boston

Comments

One Response to “Clearing The Bases: AL Predictions”
  1. Paul Dunn says:

    Mr. Kurtz, (not Conrad’s Kurtz I hope)
    I agree with you about the Yankees but for different reasons. First I disagree with you about the Yankee defense. Granderson is a good center fielder, Martin is a big plus as a catcher and while Gardner can cover ground in left field he has a weak arm. As you stated, the problem is the Yankee pitching staff. Why sign the likes of Garcia, Colon, and Millwood ? Nova is already in the rotation but try some of the younger pitchers such as Brackman, Banuelos and Betances ? You are certainly correct about Hughes, his pitches seem to flatten out. I think he is just throwing as opposed to pitching. BTW, what’s with Cashman and his complaints concerning the “overuse” of Feliciano. I’m not a Mets’ fan, but all one had to do was look at Feliciano’s record .
    Cashman looks foolish with his comments

Speak Your Mind

Tell us what you're thinking...
and oh, if you want a pic to show with your comment, go get a gravatar!