Wednesday, October 20, 2010

AL Season Preview - East

AL East

Season 12 Recap:
The Yankees won 96 and returned to the top spot after a year's absence. Baltimore improved by a very impressive 28 wins to take 2nd and a wild card. The Red Sox slipped by 14 wins, to 74, while Cleveland matched its Season 11 win total of 71. New York swept the Orioles in Round 1, and pushed Tampa Bay to 5 games before bowing out in the Division Round. The Yanks' Julian Neal took home the Fireman of the Year Award.


Season 12 Rankings: Runs - 10th, Team ERA - 3rd, Fielding % - T 6th
Sayonara: C John Feng (free agency), OF Cesar Aquino (released)
New Faces: 1B Pascual Martin, C Pedro Javier (free agency)
Rookie Possibilities: none apparent
OUTLOOK: The Yanks return pretty much the same aging but dangerous lineup, plus Pascual Martin. It's a power attack - 8 players had at least 20 homers last year (Willie Jose's 36 lead the team). They could use a boost in the OBP department - only 3 batters topped .350. To say they're not a running team would be a gross understatement (40 SB last year). The starting rotation is aging very well - 4 had ERA's under 3.90 and Ozzie Percival was in the Cy Young running. Julian Neal and Daniel Kennedy will need to repeat their sterling relief performances, but there's no reason to believe they won't. It's an old team, but not falling apart yet.

Season 12 Rankings: Runs - 4th, Team ERA - 7th, Fielding % - 1st
Sayonara: SP Donn Sisler, DH Chris Mullens, IF Richard Brea, SP Frank Reagan (free agency); CF Torey Guillen (released)
New Faces: RP Jorge Sierra, RP Gary King, C Frankie Spahn
Rookie Possibilities: 2B/CF Pedro Morales got 69 AB's last year and has made the team in a utility role. It's a season early for SP Ryuu Choi (Season 10 #4 overall), but he'll probably get the call pretty soon.
OUTLOOK: The Birds' attack features one of Kinsella's top young sluggers, Damian Brantley. The team has ended his catching experiment and will apparently try him at 1B this year. Brantley is ably complimented by DH Eric Ducey (.298/24/79), LF Howard Hall (.390 OBP), and RF Rico Segui (.260/25/92). Mark Blank is the official testimonial to the uselessness of the contact rating, although he did enjoy a career high with 27 homers last season. One of these years, Jamie Faulk will have that breakout season - Baltimore is hoping it's this one. Baltimore's pitching hopes, of course, hinge on new ace Kordell Becker, who was inconsistent in Tampa Bay and fizzled in 9 starts (including 1 post-season effort of 5 earned runs in 6 innings) for the Birds in Season 12. The ideal scenario here is 200 innings from Becker (which would be a career first), 210 innings and another career year from Ossie Flynn, and 200+ innings from rookie Ryuu Choi. The bullpen is nothing special, although Jorge Sierra could help.

Season 12 Rankings: Runs - 8th, Team ERA - 8th, Fielding % - T 9th
Sayonara: SS Ed Atkins, LR Erik Monroe (free agency); 3B Nerio Arnold, P Cristian Rhodes (released)
New Faces: SP Cooper Tomlinson, SS Lefty Montgomery, SP Patrick Rivera (free agency)
Rookie Possibilities: Season 10's first-rounder (18 overall), Russ Byrne, could possibly help but will probably spend the year in AAA
OUTLOOK: On offense the Sox bring a good mix of speed and power. 2B Mitchell Moehler and LF Juan Miro lead things off - they combined for 75 steals last year. DH Matt Person, 1B Manny Sasaki and RF Jerry Murray are the primary run-producers. Donatello Bollea heads a rotation that the Sox hope is shored up by 41 year-old Patrick Rivera - #'s 4 and 5 starters Vasco Castillo and Vin Phelps both had ERA's over 5.00 last year. Boston let its most effective reliever from last year (Erik Monroe - 3.32 ERA in 103 innings and still a free agent) go, so the 'pen is a question mark. Wascar Santana closed last season but posted a 5.01 ERA...Alex Barrios seems like a candidate, but who knows? Rivera may end up closing.

Season 12 Rankings: Runs - 9th, Team ERA - 10th, Fielding % - 14th
Sayonara: RP Craig Grace, 1B Vin Benitez, RP F.P.James, RP Otto Molitor, OF Del Wilhelm, SP Albert Ordonez (free agency); OF Joe Christman, RP Torii Mack(released), RP Mac Meng (trade)
New Faces: SP Rusty Little, SP Cristian Rhodes, OF Alex Itou (free agency)
Rookie Possibilities: Season 9's first rounder (#5 overall), RP Randy Coleman, is primed and ready to debut. We'll see him in the majors by Game 20.
OUTLOOK: The Tribe scored a credible 792 runs last year. There's no dominant slugger...nobody knocked in over 100 runs but 12 players had 45 or more. LF Douglas Martin and 1B Pedro Garrido are the main power threats, although at 35, Garrido is showing some signs of decline. 2B/OF Pablo Mendoza might be the team's best all-round hitter...he's also one of the few mild SB threats on the team. Diego Wilfredo is one of the top starters in the AL - he could win a Cy Young or 2 before he's done. Cristian Rhodes will be an upgrade at #2, but the rest of the rotation will be a crapshoot. Among the relievers, Andres Mota had a good rookie campaign - he got 5 starts last year and could get more this season. The rest of the 'pen could use a facelift.


I'm going to go out on a limb and pick Baltimore, if for no other reason than I fear Kordell Becker and Jamie Faulk will spite me with career years. The Yanks still have plenty enough gas for a strong second place, with Boston third and Cleveland fourth.


  1. Seeing Patrick Rivera in a Sox uni seems very wrong.

  2. Something like Wade Boggs and Roger Clemens in pinstripes?