by Overeasy (Originally published in HBD forum 10/12/07)
It’s Hayes Swann's world and the rest of us just live in it. After signing the largest contract in league history ($98 mil/ 5 years), Swann has some huge expectations to fill as their slugging first baseman and franchise cornerstone. When asked for comment, Swann stated, “I am worth every penny!” If his big bat cannot live up to the hype, expect the boo-birds to be out in force in Camden Yards. Other hitting standouts, with nowhere near the expectations of Swann, include third baseman Bernie Tatis, shortstop Sean Gwynn, and catcher Kurt McPherson.
Free agency has brought the O’s a veteran leader for their rotation in the form of southpaw Pedro Armas. His steady presence along with that of right-hander Bernie Delgado should provide some quality innings at the top of the rotation.
Closing the door to would-be comebacks is junk balling lefty Pedro Cabrera. His array of nasty breaking pitches has led some to believe that he sometimes doctors the baseball. When asked about it, Cabrera responded, “El doctor check mi arm make sure pitch good.” Clearly his 10 years in professional baseball have done wonders for his English language skills.
Cliff Rivers has what looks to be a major league quality bat right now, but will spend the year at AAA developing his glove work in the hopes to someday take over as the everyday shortstop for the big club.
Jose Roque doesn’t plan to win any gold gloves, but his big bat will make him very wealthy in the near future. He has a great ability to put wood on the ball with a lot of pop behind and he looks to get even better this season in AAA.
Newly acquired Martin Kielty (AAA) and Curt Gaston (AA) are a couple of 20 year old right-handers that look to have the most promising futures on the pitching mound at Camden Yards.
Orioles Season 1 Forecast
While the Orioles have decent quality players on the roster, Hayes Swann and the Swannettes, as the local media has dubbed the team, don’t seem to have enough pieces put together for a serious playoff push. Look for the Orioles to be in the middle of the pack come October.
BOSTON RED SOX
There doesn’t look to be a lot of runs scored by the home team at Fenway Park this season. Leading the way are the young failed catcher turned DH Marlon Swift and the mediocre fielding catching tandem of veterans Pinky Dickerson and Greg Juden. We asked the Sox highly paid hitting coach, Enos Parrish, about the team’s offensive outlook this season, “I don’t give a damn about what the papers have been saying about us. I’ve been working with the guys to take advantage of the quirks of Fenway and I think we will do just fine.” He appears to have his work cut out for him and a chance to earn that big paycheck.
The Sox have got a couple of stud right-handed fireballers to lead their rotation and bullpen. Veteran Jeff Bollea is a possible AL Cy Young candidate provided he can get enough run support. Rookie closer Karim Wallace looks to be the leader of the Sox bullpen for years. As for the rest of the staff, there are a few with some nasty stuff but they just can’t find the plate with enough consistency to be successful. The others appear to be a lot of journeyman major leaguers who just don’t have the skills and/or stamina to be difference makers for the big club. When asked about the Sox staff, Bollea stated, “I am going to step on that mound every fifth day and do what I do best, get hitters out. Hopefully the other guys can follow my lead and we’ll have a good shot at taking this division.”
If the offense struggles as predicted, we may see the call up of Valerio Guillen, a 23 year old Dominican first baseman with supreme skills at the plate.
Young right-handers Mike Brown (AA) and Miguel Padilla (HiA) appear to be the best pitching prospects in what appears to be a ML prospect thin farm system.
Red Sox Season 1 Forecast
The Red Sox have a very shallow talent pool to work with this season and it will take a managerial masterpiece to get this team out of the AL cellar.
The Tribe has assembled some hitters that are going to produce some runs. They have some potent sluggers in second baseman Leon Abbott, first baseman Robert Dunham, and right fielder Elmer Adams. While Abbott and Dunham also have excellent awareness of the strike zone, Adams will swing at anything and looks like a prime candidate to lead the league in strike outs. When asked about his propensity to whiff, Adams countered, “The fans don’t fill the stadiums to watch a guy trot to first base. I’m trying to put the ball into the bleachers and if that means I strike out a few times, so be it.” Accompanying these sluggers are great contact hitters like left fielder Harry Reid and catcher Herb Houston. Opposing pitchers are going to have their hands full with these guys.
For all of those runs the offense looks to score, the pitching may just give them all back. The mediocre pitching staff is without a true ace and is led by veteran righty Boomer Paige at the top of the rotation. The Tribe has tabbed the very hittable Duke Duffy for the closer role to start the season. When asked about his new closer role, Duffy replied, “I was a bit shocked when the skip told me that I would be closing. I don’t know if I’m right for the job but I am going to try my best.” If you could say one thing about this staff, it’s that they are going to make the games interesting.
Young slugger, mediocre catcher, and likely future DH Tripp Devereaux looks like he is going to become one of the best hitters in the game. With a powerful swing and excellent plate discipline, he punishes all pitchers indiscriminately.
ML ready arms are available for the Tribe in the form of lefties Carlos Acosta (AAA) and Garry Mercedes (AA). Considering the state of the ML staff, it is quite likely that we may see both of these young hurlers on the big club at some point this season. In addition to these two, they also have a great prospect in 21-year-old lefty Malcolm Simmons.
Indians Season 1 Forecast
The Indians season is difficult to predict. There is no question that they will be scoring runs, but can they score more than the other team? The Indians look to be the division favorite in what is currently a weak AL East.
NEW YORK YANKEES
After purging their two best hitters, who also had big contracts, the Yankees look like they will struggle to score runs. Their best hope lies with center fielder Graham Daniels and first baseman Alex Mairena to get on base so that developing slugger DH Phillip Grey or slugging left fielder Willie Torres can drive them home.
The Yankee youth movement really took its toll on the ML pitching staff. They only have two legitimate major leaguers among the starters, Darin Lee and Julio Felix, neither of whom belongs anywhere but at the bottom of a rotation. Here they are the #1 and #2. The bullpen lacks anything close to a legitimate closer with the only bright spot being developing setup man, Andrew Newfield. When asked about the current state of his pitching staff, Yankee pitching coach Sandy Maroth said, “What the hell is that GM doing! I had one of the best pitching staffs in baseball with three aces and a lights out closer. Most of these guys should be pitching for the Scranton Wilkes-Barre Yankees (AAA), not the New York Yankees.”
With the youth movement in full force in the Bronx, the majority of talent in the Yankee organization currently resides in AAA and AA.
Francisco Guillen looks to be the future fixture for the Yankees at the hot corner. He has the talent to become a consistent .300/30/100 type of player.
A future starting rotation consisting of (AA) D.T. Porzio, Carter Torres, (AAA) Carlos Rosado, Alvin Sasser, and Roland Coveleski looks very impressive, and with all between 21-23 they could be together for awhile.
The bullpen looks to be in great shape as well with (AAA) lefties John McCall, Billy Washington, Lloyd Hoffman, (AA) Joe May, and Walt Erickson
Yankees Season 1 Forecast
The Yankees are definitely not built to win this season and have their eye on the future. The Yankees will likely be fighting it out with the Red Sox for the AL East cellar.