It seems like everyone is making their picks for who wins the AL East, I’m going to take it one step further and look at both the AL and NL East, arguably baseball’s best divisions.
start in the National League. The East is a powerful division, will the
defending World Champion Phillies again take the top spot? Will the
Mets suffer another late-season collapse? Can the Marlins overtake them both? Will the Nats actually look good this year? Barring major injuries and some fluky miracle season, here are my picks for the NL East:
- New York Mets (2008: 89-73, 3 GB) Here’s why: K-Rod and JJ Putz should ease the Mets’ bullpen woes,
somewhat. It will at least keep them from hemorrhaging so much at the end
of games. They have a good offense anchored by Wright, Reyes, and
Beltran, the Mets should be able to make the playoffs this year. If
they don’t, I give up, they must be cursed.
- Philadelphia Phillies (2008: 92-10, WS Champs) They kept most of their World Series winning team together, backed by a great offense with players like Utley, Howard, Victorino, and Rollins. However,
the injury bug tends to bite hard the year after winning it all (look
at the Red Sox from last year: same team, new injuries). Look for the Wildcard to come from the East this year.
- Florida Marlins (2008: 84-77, 7 1/2 GB) The Marlin’s
are a good young team on a tight budget, and could surprise everyone
and take over the East this season. With Hanley Ramirez and excellent
pitching, the Marlins are a force to be reckoned with. Look for them to
hang around and make life miserable for the Mets and Phillies.
- Atlanta Braves (2008: 72-90, 20 GB) Atlanta made some good moves in the off-season, with good pitching additions, but a weak offense will have them trailing the Mets, Phils, and Marlins this year. They are young, so look for the Braves to start contending more in a year or so.
- Washington Nationals (2008: 59-102, 32 1/2 GB) The Nats
are young. I wouldn’t look for them to be great this year, but I would
expect a better season than 2008. They’ll still come in at the bottom
of the NL East, but with a much better record.
on to baseball’s toughest division. The AL East has appeared in the
World Series 54 times out of 104 series. Of those 54 appearances, they
have won the World Series 38 times. That’s a pretty impressive
division, and its only getting tougher. Here are my (mostly) unbiased
- Boston Red Sox (2008: 95-67, 2 GB, Wildcard) Boston made a few little moves in the offseason that will have a very big impact. “Bargain” additions of Smoltz, Penny, Saito, and Tazawa make a descent bull pen and good pitching staff into a phenomenal pitching staff with a lights-out ‘pen. They have a few young guys to watch, both on the field and on the mound, and have several key players returning from injury in Lowell, Ortiz, and Beckett. This
team came within one game of the World Series last year when they were
hurt, now that everyone’s back, look for them to retake the East.
- Tampa Bay Rays (2008: 97-65, AL Champions) Everyone is still waiting to see if the Rays are “for real”. They are. The addition of Pat Burrell certainly helped the Rays, but they may have the same issue as the Phillies: health. In order for the Rays to compete, Troy Percival needs to stay healthy, and the pitching staff is a little lacking in depth.
The key cog in the Ray’s wheel is David Price. He came in and pitched
well late in the season, but once there’s a legitimate scouting report
out on him, major league hitters will figure him out. He has to stand
up to the pressure and eat up good innings. If not, the Yankees may
take back the second spot, and with it the AL Wildcard spot.
- New York Yankees (2008: 89-73,
8 GB) Why, if they spend $400 million dollars on stellar players this
off-season, are the Yankees in third? Because they spent millions of
dollars on a very small number of players and neglected to give
themselves some depth.
CC Sabathia ate up a lot of innings last year, many times on short
rest. It takes longer than a few months to recover from that and puts
you at risk for injury. Burnett should do okay, and the addition of Teixeira will definitely help the Yanks, but without much of a bullpen and with
starters who don’t always eat up innings, the Yanks may find themselves
losing games late. Mariano Rivera, great closer that he is, is also
approaching 40, and will start to decline.The Yanks will keep things interesting, and be competitive, making things tough for the Rays and Red Sox.
- Toronto Blue Jays (2008: 86-76, 11 GB) The Jays, in any other division, would be a playoff team every year. The loss of Burnett could hurt them, but they still have Halladay
and a great pitching staff. They are looking for some players to return
to form and some young guys to give them a lift, but probably not
enough to compete for a playoff spot because their division is so
- Baltimore Orioles (2008: 68-93, 28 1/2 GB) Though the
Orioles have a young, good offense, their lack of pitching means they
will again be in last place in the division. Look for them to do a
little better than last year, but with a division this tough, where
they have to face the Rays, Red Sox, Yankees, and Jays in 72 games this
season, its going to be a difficult year.
News from the Weekend:
The Red Sox locked up LHP Jon Lester for 5 years, and ended talks (temporarily) with
OF Jason Bay. Because of his free agent status at the end of the 2009
season and the down economy, Bay decided to wait and see what the
market does. He would like to stay in Boston, but not at a cut rate
when he could get more elsewhere.
has a minor abdominal strain and will need a few days of rest before
resuming baseball activities. The injury is minor and should not effect
his opening day status.
The shortstop debate is over for the Red Sox, at least temporarily. Julio Lugo will have arthroscopic surgery on his knee tomorrow and will be out of opening day. Jed Lowrie will (most likely) start the season as the Red Sox shortstop.
Ramirez started his spring training by being pulled from a game due to
a hamstring injury. After trying to cut off a double in left field, he
felt tightness in his hamstring and was pinch hit for in the bottom of
the 4th inning.