Return to the Beasts of the East

On March 16, 2009, I made the following predictions for the NL East:

  1. Mets
  2. Phillies
  3. Marlins
  4. Braves
  5. Nationals

And I said they were the best division in the National League. I also made these predictions about the AL East:

  1. Red Sox
  2. Rays
  3. Yankees
  4. Jays
  5. Orioles

And I claimed they were the best division in the American League.

How have my predictions stacked up so far?

Lets start with the NL East. I picked the Mets to win the division because they beefed up their pitching and looked good. Injuries and bizarre mental mistakes seem to have plagued the Mets. They’re in fourth, 6.5 games back from the lead. I also predicted that whoever won the NL East, the second place team would win the Wild Card.

The Marlins, as I suspected, were going to be good this year, as well as the Braves. They are young, but talented teams. The Braves aren’t likely to take the division this year, but the Marlins are only four games out and with the Phillie’s pitching woes, that’s not far enough back.

So, my new predictions are this:

  1. Florida Marlins
  2. Philadelphia Phillies*
  3. Atlanta Braves
  4. New York Mets
  5. Washington Nationals

The Mets, Braves, Phillies, and Marlins should stay fairly close to each other throughout the season, but even firing Manny Acta won’t help the Washington Nationals.

*I think the Marlins take this division unless the Phillies manage to land Roy Halliday or Pedro Martinez has discovered the fountain of youth. If one or both of these things happen, the Phillies will take the division.

I no longer believe the Wild Card will come out of this division, the Wild Card will come from the West, and it will either be the San Francisco Giants or the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The second division I delved into was the American League East. I was much closer in my predictions in this division were much closer.

This division has certainly not been a disappointment. Toronto started the season on a hot streak, and though injuries have dropped them to 11 games off the lead, what they did in May and April is still impressive.

The Rays pitching woes have kept them out of first place, but they are hanging around at 6.5 games behind the lead.

Despite spending enough money to buy a small country, the Yankees pitching staff and bullpen have been inconsistent, at best. Wang’s been plagued with issues, Sabathia is good, most of the time. Burnett has been less than stellar, and Chamberlain hasn’t been great.

But their home-run hitting offense, coupled with the launching pad that is Yankee Stadium, have kept the Yanks in the mix just 3 games back.

And despite a rough April and May, and a little rough patch lately, the Red Sox pitching staff has been the best in the division. In the last 16 games that Beckett or Lester have started in, the Red Sox are 14-2, and both are coming off stellar pitching performances.

The offense has slumped slightly, but the balanced batting order can compensate for one player who seems to be struggling.

So how will the second half shape up for the AL East? Roy Halladay is the big bargaining chip that can make a big difference in any team’s fate. If the Rays manage to land him, they will certainly make a run at the Division. If the Yankees land him, they could overtake the Red Sox and win. If the Red Sox take Halladay? No team can stand up against the rotation of Beckett, Lester, Halladay, Wakefield, possibly Penny and Smoltz, and maybe even Clay Buchholz.

So the fate of Roy Halliday aside, how does this division stack up?

  1. Boston Red Sox*
  2. Tampa Bay Rays+
  3. New York Yankees^
  4. Toronto Blue Jays
  5. Baltimore Orioles

*This is a close call. If the Red Sox can straighten out their bull pen and get the offense going again, it will be difficult to take this team out. They’re built for the post-season, and if they continue the domination of the East, they will be difficult to beat.

+The Rays can out-run the Yankees and the Red Sox, but if they don’t get their pitching staff consistently preforming, they won’t be able to beat them.

^The Yankees offense alone keeps them in this race. Their pitching is questionable, and they’ve delt with some injuries that haven’t helped. If this offense hits a road bump, though, the Yankees could be in some real trouble.

My final prediction is this: the Wild Card will come out of the AL East.

We’ll see in December just how good my predictions are.

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