by Overeasy (Originally published in HBD forum 1/11/08)
Season 1: 70-92; 3rd Place; 28th best in ML
Hayes Swann, monster contract and all, did not fail to disappoint as he finished as the runner-up for the AL MVP with a spectacular offensive season. You should expect more of the same from Swann this season. Unfortunately, the “Swannettes” were not able to deliver enough help to score runs, leading to their disappointing record. Their most reliable support to Swann last season was good hitting catcher Kurt McPherson, who can be counted on for more of the same this season. The Orioles faithful are also hoping to see late season call-up, shortstop Cliff Rivers, to blossom into another offensive force for this team. Additionally, we will likely see the promotion of the excellent switch-hitting Jose Roque from the AAA squad. His bat looks ready to please the crowds at Camden Yards, while his glove will have them wishing that the other team does not hit it his way.
The quality veteran starters were traded away mid-season last year as the O’s shifted towards a youth movement with their starting pitching. While no one is ready for major success at the ML level this season, we should get to see in the majors this season good young starters Jed Sparks, Doc Osbourne, and Martin Kielty. Expect good things from this trio in the future, as well as from Curt Gaston who is still waiting for his shot down in AA.
Last season Pedro Cabrera showed that he is one of the finest closers in the game. The only obstacle from Cabrera and the Fireman hardware was the fact that the Orioles just didn’t provide him with enough save opportunities.
Orioles Season 2 Forecast
Hayes Swann and the Swannettes look like a team headed in the right direction, but unfortunately for this season they are still in a developmental stage. Expect to see the Orioles have a similar season to the last as they once again finish in 3rd place.
Season 2 Prediction: 74-88; 3rd Place
BOSTON RED SOX
Season 1: 75-87; 1st Place; 20th best in ML
Season 1 Playoffs: Won WC round, eliminated in DCS
The offense performed well last season at Fenway Park with a collection of solid performers and no major standouts. Leading the way are the young failed catcher turned DH Marlon Swift, mediocre fielding catchier Greg Juden, young first baseman Valerio Guillen, and veteran third baseman Adam Parrish. Unfortunately, there are no difference making prospects waiting for their call-up who are even close to ML ready, so unless the Sox make some deals, what you see is what they got.
Jeff Bollea lived up to his pre-season billing and was the runner-up for the AL Cy Young award. Unfortunately, he was the only pitcher on the staff who had any consistent success. There is still no other starter on the team who can be counted on to win more games than he loses without massive run support and there are no prospects to be called up to help.
Rookie closer Karim Wallace had a bit of a shaky rookie season with 10 blown saves, but he should be improved this season and looks to become an annual Fireman of the Year candidate. Raul Astacio and Miguel Tatis, who both had horrible Season 1 campaigns, have the skills to rebound and provide excellent setup work for Wallace.
Red Sox Season 2 Forecast
The Red Sox should again have a good offense and shaky pitching when Bollea isn’t starting. Expect the Sox to once again finish under .500, which in this division should still be good for 2nd place.
Season 2 Prediction: 79-83; 2nd Place
Season 1: 72-90; 2nd Place; 23rd best in ML
The Tribe sluggers did not fail to disappoint in Season 1 as balls were constantly flying into the bleachers. Expect more of the same in Season 2 from players like first baseman Robert Dunham, right fielder Elmer Adams, and young stud hitting catcher Tripp Devereaux. Accompanying the sluggers is great contact hitter, left fielder Harry Reid, who hopes to be on base as much as possible. Opposing pitchers are once again going to have their hands full with these guys.
Veteran righty Boomer Paige will once again lead one of the worst pitching staffs in the league. Beyond Paige, the only other hope for a starter to have a .500 record without extreme help from the offense lays with young lefties Carlos Acosta and Garry Mercedes. The Tribe bullpen is just as bad as the rotation and no lead will be safe at the Jake.
Indians Season 2 Forecast
The trade of big hitting second baseman Leon Abbott for prospects will likely lead to the Indians slipping a bit from last season, which means the Tribe appear destined for a last place finish in Season 2.
Season 2 Prediction: 67-95; 4th Place
NEW YORK YANKEES
Season 1: 68-94; 4th Place; 29th best in ML
The Yankees had one of the most anemic offenses in the league last season. The offseason additions of first baseman Brandon Sutton and right fielder Guy Cunningham provide great hope for the future of this team. While Cunningham will probably have another season of minor league development before he sees the majors, Sutton will instantly improve an offense with returning sluggers DH Phillip Grey and left fielder Willie Torres who each hit 45 homers last season. Also bolstering this young lineup is the call-up of third baseman Francisco Guillen, a potential ROY candidate.
What was left of the decimated Yankee pitching corp after last season’s purge performed admirably, finishing in the middle of the pack in most categories. Veteran Julio Felix hopes to duplicate his solid Season 1 and is joined by young righty Carlos Rosado at the top of the rotation. With some decent contributors, including Rule 5 pick-up Zoltan Figga, filling out the rest of the rotation, look for improvement from this staff. Waiting for their chance in AAA are future quality starters in Carter Torres, D.T. Porzio, Felipe Fuentes, and Bob Garcia.
Lefty John McCall is the leader of an adequate, unspectacular bullpen. Like the rotation, the bullpen has plenty of young talent with some in the majors now and many waiting behind them in AAA and AA.
Yankees Season 2 Forecast
The Yankees are poised to make a big step forward this season. They have a decent shot at becoming the first AL East team to finish over .500, which in the AL East would mean that a divisional banner might be raised at Yankee stadium following this season.
Season 2 Prediction: 83-79; 1st Place; Eliminated in WC round