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Written by At Home Plate Staff (Contact & Archive) on March 28, 2009
ROB: I see things getting back to normal in the East. However, the Rays are for real and will be in a battle all season long with Boston for the eventual Wild Card. Toronto and Baltimore just do not have the firepower to keep up.
MATT: In the AL East, the Yankees spent approximately 792 trillion dollars on new free agents to replace the last crop of horrible contracts they gave away that have now largely departed. Their payroll actually went down while signing Teixeira, Sabathia and Burnett to ludicrous deals that will universally be hated in 3-4 years when those players are aging and losing their effectiveness. This is all well and good…the only problem is, Boston started the year with a better team and spent about a third as much money to get better depth and more youth. As for the AL Champion Devil Rays, I hate to say it, given how much fun it was watching them shock the baseball world, but I smell a bit of a let down here. They overperformed by quite a lot last year and I don’t think Burrell is going to help them much. The only way they can win this year is if David Price becomes an overnight sensation rather than merely being an intriguing young pitching prospect on the rise.
ROBERT: Tampa Bay. The Red Sox have too holes in their rotation and the Yankees will falter without A-Rod’s bat in the middle of the order. The Rays added a big stick (Pat Burrell) and their young arms are battle tested after reaching the Series.
JUSTIN: People are seriously sleeping on the Yankees. Even if Jeter keeps declining and Posada and Matsui don't play much, this is a seriously good team (assuming Rodriguez is really back by May.) Similarly, there are just too many risks with the Red Sox--too many guys like Lowell, Ortiz, Bay, Drew that are at dangerous age/health stages, Varitek's still a black hole in their lineup, and there's a lot of spotty health with their pitching. I think a lot is going to have to go right for them to win 95.
DANIEL: Boston has the best chances for everything to go right, which is what it’s going to take to win an epically amazing AL East race. The Rays’ vaunted rotation should fall off due to a huge uptick in innings in 2008, while the Yankees are going to suffer without A-Rod.
BJOERN: I switched the first three teams around in my head several times, but it never feels right. The Yankees have reloaded big time, but they are a pretty old team and all their pitchers carry significant risks. With Manny gone, Boston’s offense depends on the health of David Ortiz, Mike Lowell and J.D. Drew, who were all injured at some point last year. The Rays are bound to regress, but they are young and energetic. In the end, I rolled a dice (no kidding). Oh, and Toronto is still better than Baltimore.
MLB2K9: Boston Red Sox
ROB: I see another down to wire run between the Twinkies and Chi-Sox but this year will belong to the Twins. Detroit will be better than last year but still disappointing to their fans. Cleveland is headed in the right direction as are the Royals but they will not compete.
MATT: Although many consider the AL West the weak division, I think the AL Central is just as thin, if not worse. All five teams are deeply flawed, have room for upside and downside, and no major additions to put them over the top. Despite my low opinion of the White Sox, they entered the year the best overall team in the division and nothing has changed. Minnesota got ridiculously lucky on offense last year and that is unlikely to happen again. Cleveland had the reverse problem…horrible bad luck and injuries…and that is just as unlikely to continue.
ROBERT: Minnesota. I love their young starters, especially Baker and Slowey, who should keep the offensively-challenged Twins in the hunt. If Mauer is absent for an extended period, it places enormous pressure on Morneau to carry the offense.
JUSTIN: This division's a total tossup. I would not be shocked if the Royals won it, or if the Twins won it, or if the Tigers won it. Everyone's bunched in around the 78-85 win area; luck with injuries will determine this division's fate.
DANIEL: The Cleveland Indians and Detroit Tigers stage remarkable comeback seasons, but give the Tribe this division. Its offense should be back, while the Tigers will be held back by their starting rotation, the Twins their loss of Joe Mauer. I don’t see anyone else contending this season.
BJOERN: The Central is so wide open, that every team can win it. I picked the Twins, but only if Joe Mauer gets healthy fast. Detroit will score runs, but even Verlander pitches like he did before last season, they do not have enough starters. The Royals actually have a shot if the bottom of their rotation holds up and the bullpen does not get overworked. Chicago is likely to struggle compared to last season with all the players they lost and they have a lot of old sluggers, but I won’t count them out. Finally, I really don’t like the Indians’ rotation after Cliff Lee and I don’t see Martinez and Travis Hafner hit like they did in the past, they are actually the one team I would be surprised to see win the division.
MLB2K9: Chicago White Sox
ROB: Not even close. The Angles will again run away with this Division and the Rangers, Mariners, and Athletics will be left in the cold
MATT: Anaheim is the class of the division again this year, but before we get ahead of ourselves too much, I’d just like to voice my concern over Oakland’s series of highway-robbery contracts and stellar trades this off-season…not to mention my belief that the Angels are due for some bad age decline amongst the core of their line-up Vlad, Hunter, Figgins…) and played way over their heads last year anyway. I am worried that Oakland may have fixed its porous infield defense with the signing of Orlando Cabrera, not to mention stabilizing the middle of their line-up by acquiring Matt Holliday and Jason Giambi (who, yes, I do think still has a few decent seasons left). A lot of folks will pick the Mariners to finish last, and that’s understandable, but they’re another example of a team with untapped potential masked by horrible luck and injuries.
ROBERT: Los Angeles Angels. Even with Ervin Santana beginning the season on the DL, the Angels enjoy the best blend of pitching, speed and defense. Look for Vlad Guererro to have a season more in line with his career stats. Oakland, Texas and Seattle simply don’t have the resources to hang with them.
JUSTIN: I think pretty nearly everyone on earth that isn't a fanboy of one of these four teams has them in roughly this order.
DANIEL: The Angels are the class of this division, but Oakland isn’t too far behind. Texas and Seattle are both rebuilding, which places them at the bottom of this division.
BJOERN: The Angels should win the division unless they are hit by a big semi-trailer of injuries. I actually don’t understand why the Athletics get so much love. Sure, their offense is much better, but their starters are unlikely to be able to carry the team. Texas will never win unless they move to another ballpark and the M’s are probably the worst team in the American League.
MLB2K9: Oakland Athletics