Sunday, March 31, 2013

2013 Season Preview: AL Predictions

Now it is the American League's turn for my fearless predictions.

AL East:
This division is as wide open as it has ever been. Any team could finish anywhere from top to the bottom. So this is tough to predict.  Each team is so evenly matched, so I am not sure a wild card team will emerge here as they will beat up on each other all year long.
Toronto Blue Jays made some major off season acquisitions including RA Dickey, Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson and Mark Buehrle.  They had a pretty good lineup last year before injuries cost him and should draw well at Rogers Centre.  The question mark is health and how well these new players mesh together.  Prediction: 1st Place

Tampa Bay Rays missed the playoffs last year despite David Price's Cy Young year. The 2013 version will not have James Shields, B.J. Upton and Carlos Pena. Do they have enough talent to make up for it? Will rookie Will Myers step in and help some? Mgr Joe Madden should continue to work his magic and Evan Longoria, if healthy, could have a MVP caliber season.

New York Yankees won the division but looked very ordinary in the playoffs especially against Detroit. This year's team is a year older and is already hit by injuries with Curtis Granderson and Mark Teixiera. When will Derek Jeter be back. Arod at all? Still have a solid pitching staff, but if an injury occurs, it could become average.

Baltimore Orioles used some Buck Showalter magic to make the playoffs.  It is very hard to repeat the same momentum into the following year though. The close games won the previous year could lead to more losses this year. Still a good team and will contend.

Boston Red Sox made some off season moves in picking up Shane Victorino, Mike Napoli and Ryan Dempster. Not sure if enough to compete for division title. Sox is more dependent on the return of Jacoby Ellsbury, Jon Lester and Clay Bucholtz to their old forms and the health of David Ortiz and Dustin Pedroia

AL Central:
Detroit Tigers won the pennant in 2012, but lost in World Series to the Giants. The addition of Torii Hunter and return of Victor Martinez should help out the lineup that was very dependent on Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder a year ago.  Big question mark is the closer.  The dreaded "closer by committee" is being used now.  If it fails, look for GM Dave Dombrowski to get one midseason.  Prediction: 1st Place

Chicago White Sox had the division lead until late in the season. Rookie manager Robin Ventura did a great job a year ago. But the southsiders relied on careers years of A.J. Pierzynski (gone) and Alex Rios to contend, along with timely hitting elsewhere and some good pitching.  Not sure if a repeat performance is in order.

Cleveland Indians are a much improved team from a year ago. New manager Terry Francona has decent nucleus of young guys in Carlos Santana, Asdrubal Cabrera and Jason Kipnis. The additions of Michael Bourn, Nick Swisher, Mark Reynolds, etc will help also.  They could contend for a playoff spot

Kansas City Royals pulled off a big trade during the off season in picking up pitchers James Shields and Wade Davis from Tampa and veteran Ervin Santana will add depth to the rotation as well.  A good rotation to go along with a fine nucleus of good young hitters, KC could compete for a playoff spot.

Minnesota Twins still have Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau, but very little pitching. Another long year ahead for them.

AL West:
Los Angeles Angels made THE off season move in signing Josh Hamilton. The lineup is one of the best in the majors and solid starting pitching led by Jered Weaver and C.J Wilson. My biggest question is the health of closer Ryan Madson,  He is returning from Tommy John surgery and will struggle at times returning to his old form.  Prediction: 1st Place

Texas Rangers lost out on some big names during the winter.  Still return a very good team, but can they make up for the losses of Josh Hamilton and Michael Young?  A Midseason trade could be made. Prediction: Wild Card

Oakland Athletics won the 2012 division crown.  They relied much on rookie pitchers and some major momentum in the second half last year.  Can they repeat the magic?, will these young pitchers continue to succeed?  It will be hard, but in the pitching friendly home ball park, they should contend.

Seattle Mariners had very little hitting and good pitching in 2012.  They tried to solve this with adding batters Michael Morse, Kendrys Morales, Raul Ibanez and Jason Bay. Plus moving the outfield fences in.  I am not sure it is enough yet to compete, but will better from a year ago

Houston Astros switched leagues and are thrown into a tough division.. They have a very small payroll and it will show on the field. Going to be a long season as they try to build up talent in the organization.

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