Sunday, April 05, 2009

I was hoping to get this done yesterday, but it wasn't to be. However, without further ado, here is my 2009 American League preview!

AL West:

1. Los Angeles Angels: Does it mean I'm old because I still think of them as the California Angels sometimes? Losing Teixeira had to really hurt this team, but they have the best starting pitching in the division and the lineup is still pretty good. I don't think this team would win the Central and would be in 4th place, at best, in the East.

2. Texas Rangers: The eternal Rangers issue is not enough pitching, and nothing much is different this year. Texas will score plenty of runs, but they're going to have a tough time preventing the other guys from scoring. 62-year-old team president Nolan Ryan may have to make an emergency start this year.

3. Oakland A's: Billy Beane stocked up on veterans in a buyers market during the winter. Matt Holliday, Nomar Garciaparra and Orlando Cabrera could very well be trade bait come June/July to help restock the A's farm system. The A's will be OK, but it will be a significant accomplishment if this team finishes .500

4. Seattle Mariners: Too many big contracts and not enough talent. It could be another long season at Safeco.

AL Central:

1. Cleveland Indians: There are at least three teams that could win this division, and I think it's the Tribe's turn after a tough 2008. Grady Sizemore is a potential MVP candidate and Cy Young Award winner Cliff Lee headlines the pitching staff.

2. Minnesota Twins: I think a bunch of the young pitchers are going to step up to keep the Twins in contention this season. Add that to Mauer and Morneau and it'll be another year where Minnesota is right in the thick of things. And they have Boof Bonser, who still has the best name in baseball.

3. Chicago White Sox: The defending champions are still going to be pretty good this year. I think their biggest problem is going to be staying healthy, as they seem to have a bunch of guys who are coming off injuries last season (Jose Contreras, Carlos Quentin, Paul Konerko).

4. Kansas City Royals: The Royals finally seem to be moving in the right direction with some good young talent and some decent starting pitching. I don't think they're quite ready to compete with the top of the division yet, but they could be there next year.

5. Detroit Tigers: Was this team really in the World Series just three years ago? They just ate Gary Sheffield's $14 million contract. With the economy hitting Detroit as hard as it is, there could be a fire sale by mid-season if the Tigers get off to a slow start. Magglio Ordonez, anyone?

AL East:

1. Boston Red Sox: The Sox have the deepest starting pitching in the league, one of the best bullpens and very good defense at nearly every position. The offense will miss Manny Ramirez, but I think Big Papi will bounce back and the top of the lineup could generate a lot of runs, especially if Jacoby Ellsbury can close up some of those holes in his swing.

2. New York Yankees (Wild Card): Sometimes money can buy happiness, although I'm betting A.J. Burnett spends significant time on the DL. The starting pitching is top notch, but the bullpen looks iffy getting to the great Rivera.

3. Tampa Bay Rays: The defending AL champs won't take anyone by surprise this year, and I think that will mean a bit of a fallback for the Rays. I'm talking 85-90 wins, not back to the 100 loss days that were normal at the Trop pre-2008.

4. Baltimore Orioles: After about a decade, the O's finally seem to be headed in the right direction. They won't do a whole lot in 2009, but the prospects they have coming up, headlined by catcher Matt Wieters, bode well for the future.

5. Toronto Blue Jays: The starting rotation after ace Roy Halladay, is downright scary. The offense is unimpressive. They are a long way away from the top of this division.

Red Sox beat Angels
Yankees beat Indians

ALCS: Red Sox beat Yankees (in slightly less dramatic fashion than 2004)

World Series: Red Sox beat Mets (did you think I was going to pick anything else?)

AL MVP: Grady Sizemore
AL Cy Young: C.C. Sabathia

Weather permitting (and it doesn't look good), I'll have an Opening Day report tomorrow.


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