2010 Forecasts: AL East

Having careened through the NL (Rockies beating the Braves in the NLCS, after the Rockies had beaten the Reds, and the Braves the wild-card Giants), we begin three nights’ worth of AL divisional previews, in the East:

Wow does
BALTIMORE not have pitching. Surely they could
have pitching by 2011, but right now
there is nothing on which to rely beyond Kevin Millwood, and no team relying on
Kevin Millwood has made the post-season since 2002 (and what is the excitement over
a pitcher who has produced exactly three winning seasons since that long-ago
last playoff appearance?). There are also worries offensively. Adam Jones was a
superstar at the All-Star break, but flatlined soon after, and any team relying
on Garrett Atkins clearly has not seen a National League game since 2006.

Here is
the unasked question in BOSTON: would the Red Sox rather have David Ortiz at DH
this year… or Luke Scott? Where, production-wise, will Not-So-Big-Papi fall in
2010? I think he’s behind Guerrero, Kubel, Lind, Matsui, Scott, and maybe
others. If the demise of the beast continues, the Red Sox are suddenly
presenting a very pedestrian line-up, one that might be the second weakest in
the division. Of course, Theo Epstein might have made this determination
already, which would explain the willingness to fill the big openings with the
great gloves of Beltre, Cameron, and Scutaro, rather than slightly bigger bats
that couldn’t have changed the overall new dynamic – the Red Sox are a pitching
and defense outfit. Mind you, as those outfits go, they’re among the best in
recent years. The rotation is deep enough to survive Matsuzaka on the DL, the
bullpen robust enough to survive if that soggy finish by Papelbon in the ALDS
was more than a one-game thing, and the cadre of young cameo pitchers has been
refreshed with the rapid maturation of Casey Kelly. But no matter how the Old
Towne Team fairs in 2010, keep the Ortiz thought in the back of your mind. What
if the second half of ’09 was the aberration, not the first half? Will the Sox
have to bench him? And if so, could the twists and turns of fate find them
suddenly grateful that they had been unable to trade Mike Lowell?

Oh is this
a conflict of interest. This will be the 39th season my family has
had season tickets in NEW YORK, and I’m not convinced the Yankees will be
hitting me up for playoff ducats this fall. Things I do not expect to see
repeated from 2009: 1) A.J. Burnett’s reliability and perhaps even his stamina;
2) Joe Girardi’s ability to survive without a reliable fifth starter (if Phil
Hughes really can pull it off in this, his fourth attempt, he might become the
fourth starter if my instincts on Burnett are correct); 3) Nick Swisher’s
offensive performance (his average and his RBI totals have never
increased two years in a row); 4)
Derek Jeter’s renaissance (as the Baseball Prospectus
folks note, 36-year old shortstops
deteriorate quickly); 5) Jorge Posada’s prospects of getting 433 plate
appearances (which begs the question: if you were hoping to DH Posada on
occasion, why did you sign as your primary DH, a guy who cannot play the
outfield, and can barely play first base?). As I have written here before, I am
not buying the premise that what in essence was a trade of Melky Cabrera,
Johnny Damon and Hideki Matsui, for a full-time Brett Gardner plus Curtis
Granderson and Nick Johnson was necessarily an upgrade – even if Javier Vazquez (9
career post-season innings; 11 career post-season earned runs) was thrown in,
in the bargain. Anybody wanna buy some of my tickets?

In TAMPA
BAY, I’m betting 2009 was the fluke and not 2008. What does one not like about
this team? Is rightfield confused? Stick Ben Zobrist there and let Sean
Rodriguez have a shot at second. That doesn’t work? Wait for mid-season and the
promotion of Desmond Jennings. You don’t like Crawford and Upton? Bartlett and
Longoria? Pena? The law firm of Shoppach and Navarro? The Rays seem to summon a
fully-grown starter from the minors each year – Price in ’08, Niemann in ’09,
Wade Davis in ’10. I do not think Rafael Soriano is the world’s greatest
reliever, but his acquisition is an acknowledgment that championship teams do
not muddle through with closers who pitched in All-Star Games prior to 2001.
What is the most remarkable fact about this extremely talented and balanced
team can be summed up by the caveat I have to offer in praising them. Shortly
after they were ransomed from Vince Naimoli, I discovered to my shock that a
college pal of mine had, for all these years, been married to the man who had just
done the ransoming.
A
few innings later, Stu and Lisa Sternberg and I sat in their seats at Yankee
Stadium and he was earnestly asking how I thought he could convince the players
to accept a salary cap so the Rays could contend. I told him I wasn’t sure, but
he wouldn’t have to worry about it any earlier than our next lifetimes. So what
you are seeing in Tampa is, in fact, Plan “B” – and it may be the greatest Plan
“B” in baseball history. 

Did you
know TORONTO is a small market team? Here is something the writers apparently
promised not to tell: the Jays got almost nothing for Roy Halladay. Sorry. When
the reward was Travis D’Arnaud, Kyle Drabek, and Michael Taylor, it was only a
pair of pants being pressed. When the Jays inexplicably swapped Taylor to
Oakland for the lump-like Brett Wallace, it became the full trip to the
cleaners. One of the oldest rules of talent evaluation is: if a prospect has
been traded twice in four months, he may not be quite the prospect you think he
is (one of the older rules is: if one of your starting middle infielders has a
weight clause in his contract, you only have one
starting middle infielder). On top of
which, when you consider the Jays paid $6 million in salary offset for the
privilege of giving Doc away, this trade has to be called what it was: a salary
dump in which ownership was admitting it had no interest in competing. Jays
fans are left to cheer three very exciting hitters in Aaron Hill, Adam Lind,
and Travis Snider; to try to get the correct spellings and pronunciations of the
guys in their rotation (“excuse me, are you Brett Cecil, or Cecil Brett?”);
and, since there really won’t be much else to do under the roof this summer,
buy and read injured reliever Dirk Hayhurst’s marvelous book The Bull…
oh, sorry, did I already mention it?

PREDICTIONS:
Tampa Bay steps back into the forefront in an exciting race with the
well-managed but decreasingly potent Red Sox, and bests Boston by a game or
two. The Yankees contend – possibly even dominate – into June or July before the
rotation, and/or Posada, and/or Jeter, blow up, and they fade to a distant
third. The Jays and Orioles compete only to be less like The Washington
Generals.

7 Comments

Have I got a deal for you! :) You come to Central Florida, and we can go see some Tampa games – and I’ll come to New York and see some Yankee games with you. Deal? :) What do you mean, “who the heck are you?” LOL Seriously, though… if you did come to Central Florida, I’d love to show you around, or attend a game (or two) with you. It’s been a long time since I got to a baseball game, and I really do miss it. And if I ever do make it to New York, I’d be happy to take a couple of tickets off your hands… but I’d be happier if you were there to show me around. Don’t want much, do I? Oh well… the offer stands. Hope you’re having a good night – loved the show!

Just finished watching the late, late, late, late edition of Countdown. Yes, it’s called I-N-S-O-M-N-I-A (chronic for me) and I’ve got it.

OK, AGAIN WITH THE OUTRAGEOUSLY OFF TOPIC COMMENT (but I’m gonna say it anyway):

Keith, the sad truth is that you had NOTHING to complain about on tonight’s Countdown Comment. Really??? I have two words for you: Michael Steele. Tired of looking at him, tired of hearing about him, and despairing of all those unattractive ties he wears. (I’m convinced that talented Beluga whale could do a much better job of painting/designing a decent tie for this fellow.)

Hearing you talk about fulfilling your late father’s wishes made me want to take another look at the picture of the two of you attached to your lovely March 13 tribute to him.

Is that really you in the picture, Keith? What an adorable little boy! I see you have your sweet little alfalfa going on in the back of your hair, there. You know, the only way to tame one of those suckers is to apply a great, big gob of Dippity-Do!

:D

Off topic:Ashoein, I understand about the insomnia part LOL Mine is musically induced right now……too much singing does it to me every time. I have yet to get to sleep and I still have to go sing this afternoon, then I have a break until Saturday night……that’ll give me time to sleep, and also to refill my oxygen tanks.

I know, singing while on oxygen seems like an impossible combination, but I love music and after I ended up on the stuff I was determined not to give up music. It’s taken almost 5 1/2 years, but I’ve finally got my full vocal power back. The organist/music minister has been having to remind me lately to back off the volume a bit–apparently I’m overpowering the rest of the choir(6-12 people, depending on attendance)……….and they’re around the microphones while I’m a good 10′ off to the side. That’s the honest truth, BTW……maybe I should have studied voice and gone into opera–I sure have the build and the voice to match it ;)

I did watch the 3 AM CDT showing of Countdown since I missed out on the live one………about that programming hint–some Thurber, perhaps??? ^_^

Okay, back on topic: I just checked the pre-season standings in my morning paper……geeze, the Yankees(.464) are doing even worse than the Cubs(.607) and the Cardinals(.519). At least they aren’t as bad as the White Sox(.385) *wince* I picked those three teams because I live in an area where all of them have major fan bases.

Now, about those tickets……..One of the better things about being retired is having the leisure to actually do some traveling and, now that my health has improved, I’d like to visit the East Coast sometime ;) I definitely want to go visit Washington DC, take up the standing invitation of an internet friend of mine to visit Fredricksburg, Virginia, and of course visit New York City to see the sights ;) I wouldn’t object to going to watch some baseball while I’m there, though………and maybe fulfill my dream of singing the national anthem over the PA at a major league ballpark :) However, traveling will have to wait a bit longer, at least until I get through the next round of poking and prodding by my primary doctor and the annual visit to my allergist(saw my pulmonologist a couple of months ago and he confirmed that my lung volume has improved)……hopefully this year the immunotherapy iinjections will finally be finished. Having to go get shots every couple of weeks has sort of tied me down, even though the allergy shots have worked wonders on my health. I’ll just have to wait and see what happens ;)

Sun’s coming up here…..time to take a nap for a while.

NightOwl40

(I wonder if any MLB fans are going to get annoyed with some of the comments posted on here. lol)

I DID see the live airing of Countdown, last night. Loved it, as well.
“Capture Center” lmao……

I hope you’re on “Countdown” tonight Keith because– thanks to MLB Extra Innings– I’m going to be watching baseball from Sunday night through October. 24 hours a day (give or take). But I’ll always have Baseball Nerd’s blog.

Still, I *am* confused about your post yesterday. You wrote:

“So let’s assume the Rockies finish with the best record – they should handle the Giants, and the Braves’ experience should make them favorites over the Reds.”

To me, that sounds like Rockies-Giants and Braves-Reds, not as you stated it in today’s post, and I pointed out that that can’t happen.

As far as the Yankees are concerned– their lineup is better than the Red Sox lineup (Beltre + Cameron = downgrade) even if their rotation isn’t as deep (and will Lackey, Beckett and Dice-K stay healthy and Buchholz repeat his late-2009 performance?) and their lineup and rotation and bullpen are all better than the over-Ray-ted Rays.

Prediction: Prince Fielder is in a Red Sox uniform before the trading deadline. :-(

Keith, I think you’re selling the New York Yankees short. I don’t feel good about Boston’s offense. I don’t think it will produce what they will need over the course of the season. David Ortiz will not be better than last year. And he is the big key to this whole thing offensively. There will be a lot of one run games this year. Which side of those scores the Red Sox are on is going to reflect directly on Ortiz. That said, pitching and defense will be their strong point. But we still need some big guns in our line up to back up our pitching. I see a huge whole in our line without a Manny Ramirez type RBI machine, and Ortiz off. I don’t think we’ve corrected that. And that’s a problem. The Yankees I think will be the best team in the AL when October rolls around. They tend to start off slow, but once they get hot, it will be hard to stop them. TB looks to be v. competitive in the East. I’ll give them the Wild Card.

“I hated to bat against Drysdale. After he hit you he’d come around, look at the bruise on your arm and say, ‘Do you want me to sign it?” Mickey Mantle

Keith, I think you’re selling the New York Yankees short. I don’t feel good about Boston’s offense. I don’t think it will produce what they will need over the course of the season. David Ortiz will not be better than last year. And he is the big key to this whole thing offensively. There will be a lot of one run games this year. Which side of those scores the Red Sox are on is going to reflect directly on Ortiz.

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