Now that baseball’s
Hot Stove has finally cooled down and the Free Agent market has closed for
business, we can finally take a realistic look ahead at 2012. It’s time to weed
out the contenders from the pretenders and put some futures next to those
In the American League
East, it figures to be a three-team race with the Yankees, Red Sox and Rays
(not necessarily in that order) battling it out for the division title.
In parentheses are
the current futures MLB odds to win the American League pennant.
New York Yankees (11/4)
finished 2011 atop the AL East with a 97-65 record before being bounced out of
the playoffs in the first round by the Detroit Tigers.
New York though
isn’t getting any younger. Some have retired (Jorge Posada) while others are on
the downhill side of their careers (Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter). Still the
Yankees are listed as the team to beat.
Instead of listing
reasons why I disagree with those who have the Yankees fast tracked to the
playoffs, instead tell me why would you back this team over the Angels or
Rangers? A-Rod missed 63 games last season with a knee injury (no juice, no
healing). New York still doesn’t have any starting pitching behind CC Sabathia and
it seems like it but Mariano Rivera can’t pitch forever. You can include me among
the ‘pundits’ who think NY is just the second best team in the AL East and this
year that won’t mean squat. Not with the Wild Card winner coming out of the AL
Boston Red Sox (4/1)
legendary meltdown of the year, this team needed to be blown up. The only thing
is they used the dynamite in the front office not in the dugout. Boston has
some great players like Adrian Gonzalez who led the best offense in the MLB in
batting average, RBIs, hits and on-base percentage. He’s a fine player but not
a leader and that’s really what this team needs. That and lots of pitching
Boston finished the
year with a team ERA of 4.20 but was especially horrific in September when they
blew their wild card lead. They still finished with a 90-72 record, but if they
had some help on the mound they would have been playing into October.
Offensively, they’re still good but question marks abound elsewhere.
Tampa Bay Rays (15/2)
The Rays have the
pitching but offense remains the problem. They’ve got Evan Longoria and…and…
They did resign 1B
Carlos Pena but they’ll need much more than those two to challenge the Yanks
The Rays finished
second and grabbed a playoff spot thanks to the Boston collapse. That was
almost fluky and the Rays can’t count on that happening again.
The Rays' pitching
staff is solid with James Shields, David Price and Rookie of the
Year Jeremy Hellickson. If they can put up some runs, they’ll make
Toronto Blue Jays (20/1)
I’m one of those
who agree that the Toronto Blue Jays would be a contender if they could somehow
escape the AL East. Since that won’t happen, what are their chances? How does
another fourth-place finish sound?
The Jays finished
2011 by playing at a .500 clip (81-81). Jose Bautista was a stud (43 home runs,
103 runs batted in) but he had very little help in the lineup. The pitching is
just okay and they didn’t do much in the offseason to strengthen the team. The
Blue Jays and Bautista will be looking up again this year.
Baltimore Orioles (45/1)
You know the old
saying; “If you can’t say something nice... The Birds will be bad again this
year losing 100 games isn’t out of the question. They’ve got Mark Reynolds (37
HR’s, 200 strikeouts) and Matt Wieter is improving each year. However the
problem with this team is pitching. They don’t have any, not enough, I mean
none. Not in the starting rotation and not in the bullpen and the in the
American League East that type of roster earns you a ticket south to the
Harvey’s Take: I’ve got Tampa Bay pegged to win the
AL East in my MLB picks, where they’ll get beat by either the Angels or Rangers in the first
round of the playoffs.